Home Forums Modern Sniping and suppression

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  • #105061

    Nick Riggs
    Participant

    I recently came across a snippet of information on a US Army or Marines site while looking up range estimation. Apparently, snipers firing standard rifle calibre rounds prefer to work at a range of 800-1000 m, as their bullet goes subsonic at a range of about 600 m and it’s the supersonic crack that alerts the target to the nearby passage of the 7.62 mm round. As long as there’s other background shooting going on, they can keep sniping until they hit their blissfully unaware target.

    This lead me to:

    Speculation 1: squad support weapons are usually quoted as having an effective range of about 500-600 m (correct me if I’m wrong). I assumed this was due to inaccuracy of the weapon but perhaps it’s due to the rounds becoming subsonic at that range?

    Speculation 2: Afghani fighters have been described as not easily suppressed and this has been ascribed to some feature of their fanaticism or received wisdom – but is this merely an artifact of the increased range and lack of an audible suppression effect at those ranges?

    Apologies if this is a well-known/discussed issue, but it would be interesting to hear if you have any experience, data or speculation on this topic.

    #105065
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Speculation 1: squad support weapons are usually quoted as having an effective range of about 500-600 m (correct me if I’m wrong). I assumed this was due to inaccuracy of the weapon but perhaps it’s due to the rounds becoming subsonic at that range?

    Modern sniper rifles aren’t ‘squad support weapons’, or even ordinary infantry personal weapons. They’re purpose designed for killing at distance, and come with telescopic sights, recoil compensators, often bipods, and different ammo to the vanilla NATO 7.62. Many, like the Barrett family, fire large calibre rounds.

    Snipers themselves have training and aptitude beyond the average squaddie.

    All of which is only vaguely peripheral to gaming.

     

     

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #105068

    Nick Riggs
    Participant

    You’re missing my point, which is about the suppression effect of squad support weapons, informed by the characteristics of a rifle round as noted by snipers using that type of round. I’m specifically not talking about using sniper rifles in some suppresive role or as a squad support weapon.

    #105096

    Just Jack
    Participant

    Nick,

    I’ll take a shot.

    “Speculation 1: squad support weapons are usually quoted as having an effective range of about 500-600 m (correct me if I’m wrong). I assumed this was due to inaccuracy of the weapon but perhaps it’s due to the rounds becoming subsonic at that range?”

    My experience was that effective range gets at your ability to deliver effective fire on the enemy, and that had more to do with the ability see and put a round into a point target (human), in the days before every weapon had an optic on it, nothing to do with subsonic rounds (or the round losing enough energy that it wouldn’t effect a human it hit).

    Your standard M-16 can throw a 5.56mm round out several kilometers, though I have no idea at which point that round reaches a velocity that won’t hurt you.  I assure you it’s more than 800m, and your SAWs have even higher muzzle velocity/range (with the same bullet).

    “Speculation 2: Afghani fighters have been described as not easily suppressed and this has been ascribed to some feature of their fanaticism or received wisdom – but is this merely an artifact of the increased range and lack of an audible suppression effect at those ranges?”

    I’ve heard the “Afghans (or Arabs, or Muslims) can’t be suppressed” because of the whole ‘Inshallah’ thing, I don’t really put too much stock in it.

    At extreme close range (firefights occurring within a compound or house), there’s not really a lot of time to be suppressed.  At extreme long range (700-1200m, the complex ambushes so commonly initiated by an IED, then direct fire from 12.7mm HMG, RPG, recoiless rifle), it’s hard to be suppressed because of the extreme dispersion of rounds within the beaten zone, and precision fires tend to whack one and the rest break contact.

    At medium range, suppression can be incredibly quick, but the Afghans simply break contact, very adept at picking ambush/defensive positions with covered and concealed escape routes into/through inhabited areas to limit the use of supporting fires.  You had to be very aggressive with envelopment to try and cut off the escape, but then you just might run into another ambush/IED.

    Regarding a lack of audible evidence of being under fire, it’s definitely hard to suppress someone that doesn’t know they’re under fire! 😉

    And if you’re simply whacking them one at a time, who’s left to be suppressed?

    For what it’s worth.

    V/R,

    Jack

    #105097
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Speculation 1: squad support weapons are usually quoted as having an effective range of about 500-600 m (correct me if I’m wrong). I assumed this was due to inaccuracy of the weapon but perhaps it’s due to the rounds becoming subsonic at that range?

    I seem to recall that S L A Marshall said (I think in “Night Drop” at least, and possibly in other places) that LMG fire tended to be ineffective over 500 yards because it was impossible to see the bullet strike. Obviously that will vary strongly with the weather and ground type. The other thing that happens around 600m for lots of rifle bullets is that the trajectory becomes bendy enough that fire is no longer grazing along the whole trajectory. Time of flight is going to be about a second at that range, and the longer it gets, the more susceptible the bullet is to wind, and to target movement. The ability to hit anything at 600m requires some pretty fancy shooting or a lot of ammunition in any case, but I understand that bullets typically suffer a loss of precision in their transonic phase. So I think there are probably a whole bunch of range-dependent effects all conspiring to become pretty much decisive at about 600m.

    Speculation 2: Afghani fighters have been described as not easily suppressed and this has been ascribed to some feature of their fanaticism or received wisdom – but is this merely an artifact of the increased range and lack of an audible suppression effect at those ranges?

    I suppose it’s possible, but I also wouldn’t discount that fact that soldiers tend to whinge about the effectiveness of their small-arms, as shown by all the stories about the “lack of lethality” of the 5.56mm SS109 when some of the treacherous Afghans refuse to fall when hit. I also tend to disbelieve some of the more over-heated claims about the increased range of small-arms engagements.

    Apologies if this is a well-known/discussed issue, but it would be interesting to hear if you have any experience, data or speculation on this topic.

    It’s a new one to me.

    My attempt at generating trajectories from Gavre drag curves in a Python script seemed to indicate that most military rifle bullets go subsonic at 600, 700 or 800 metres, with exceptions like the 7.62mm M43 at 500m, and the 6.5mm Carcano, also at 500m, but that’s not even a spitzer bullet.

    The only formula I have for estimating the suppressive effect is the “perceived dangerousness” index from Kubala & Warnick’s 1977 paper, which is based on KE and bullet mass rather than on acoustic signature. Using this, it appears that “perceived dangerousness” falls to zero at ranges where the incapacitation index (using either Courtney & Courtney or Sperrazza & Kokinakis models) is still around 60%. All these models are IMHO very dodgy indeed, and the only excuse for using them is that I have yet to find anything better.

    All the best,

    John.

    #105104

    Just Jack
    Participant

    John,

    “…that LMG fire tended to be ineffective over 500 yards because it was impossible to see the bullet strike.”
    Depends on what you’re shooting at, but I’d say maybe even shorter than 500 yards.  My experience was not so much that you can’t see the bullet strike (or tracer burnout), a lot of times you can, it’s the making adjustments to get and hold on target that are problematic.  First, I’m assuming when you say ‘LMG’ you mean a machine gun on a bipod, not a tripod, and to be clear, it’s not (or shouldn’t be, doctrinally) the gunner seeing the strike, it’s the gun team commander or A-gunner, and he’s calling out adjustments like “come left ‘x’ degrees (or even mils),” or “come down ‘x’ yards.”  So the issue is that the gunner can’t really see what he’s firing at, he’s being told to come left 50 mils and up 50 yards, which equates very imprecisely to moving his feet left (to push his shoulders right) and scrunch back a few inches (to raise the barrel of the gun), then squeeze off another burst, with the gun bouncing all over the place, meaning those 5-7 rounds are going to end up scattered across a three square mile area (my wild-ass guess, used only for demonstration purposes).  It works reasonably at 400-600 yards if you’re shooting at something with a vertical face, like a building or a truck, but not so much on people.

    I think SAWs still have their place in front-line infantry use, particularly in urban environments, but it’s for this reason I’m really a fan of the US Marine Corps’ adoption of the M-27.

    “The other thing that happens around 600m for lots of rifle bullets is that the trajectory becomes bendy enough that fire is no longer grazing along the whole trajectory.”
    My experience was that it’s not the arc fire that kills the ability to perform grazing fire with a gun on a bipod, it’s the inability to control the gun.  Due to the issues mentioned above, holding grazing fire (where you’re killing with the cone of fire, rather than the beaten zone) with a gun on a bipod is pretty much impossible past a couple/three-hundred yards, and even then you need a definitive aiming point, like a gap in a hedgerow, or an opening in a wall (so that you’re not having to re-lay the gun, you’re just sighting in on one location and doing everything in your power to lock your body into that position).  With all the bouncing on the bipod the cone is absolutely humongous, totally uncontrollable in terms of grazing fire.  If you can put a five-round burst into a 3-foot group at 100 yards you’re doing fairly well; quick, one you mathematicians extrapolate that group out to 600 yards.

    This is why the tripod was invented 😉

    “I also tend to disbelieve some of the more over-heated claims about the increased range of small-arms engagements.”
    They’re called ‘sea-stories’ for a reason 😉  In any case, I’d love to hear some examples of what you’re talking about.

    I think there have been plenty of gunfights in Afghanistan between 700 and 1200 yards; not a whole lot of people hit, probably not even a whole lot of people involved (riflemen in cover smoking cigarettes while the crew-serves go to work and supporting fires are dialed up).  I know of quite a few cases of bad guys being hit between 500 and 600 yards by DMs (w/ACOG on an M-16A4, not M-4); admittedly, those were usually bad guys not in cover, apparently thinking they couldn’t be reached, but very impressive hits nonetheless.

    V/R,
    Jack

    #105113

    Nick Riggs
    Participant

    Thanks guys for those considered replies!

    #105159
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    “…that LMG fire tended to be ineffective over 500 yards because it was impossible to see the bullet strike.”
    Depends on what you’re shooting at, but I’d say maybe even shorter than 500 yards.

    Well, yes — “Obviously that will vary strongly with the weather and ground type.” There’s also the problem that terrain in NE Europe tends to be damnably crinkly, and it is often impossible to see individual infantrymen over about 300 metres even when they’re standing up and walking towards you.

    My experience was not so much that you can’t see the bullet strike (or tracer burnout), a lot of times you can, it’s the making adjustments to get and hold on target that are problematic.

    That just seems bizarre to me. I suspect that this bizarritude (bizarreness? bizarrity?) is accounted for by the long-standing differences between British (indeed European) MG terms and tactics and American. I say tomahto, you say tomayto. Just as with the difference between British and American English, the American — cultural stereotypes to the contrary — is often the more traditional and better-pedigreed usage. I’m now wondering if an expert panel of wargaming nerds could tell the nationality of the writer of a set of 20th century infantry tactical rules by the way the rules for MGs were framed.

    As to tracer burnout — Mr. Picky is more than a little disappointed at the dearth of information available on the topic. I doubt it plays any role in the normally-quoted “effective range” of LMGs: in British service the GPMG in the light role is reckoned effective up to 600m, whereas tracer burnout is at 1100m. In the SF role this sets the effective range unless strike can be observed by other means, in which case it goes up to 1600m. In WW2 I suspect that tracer performance was worse, and tracers much less widely issued. Nonetheless the dear old Vickers could work at much longer ranges, and once the boat-tailed Mk VIII bullets came in, could do predicted fire out to 4,500 yards. That’s proper old-fashioned craftsmanship, that is.

    First, I’m assuming when you say ‘LMG’ you mean a machine gun on a bipod, not a tripod,

    Well, yes, because that’s what “LMG” means (aways assuming we are not having an excursion into Cyrillic and are not referring to the LMG rocket-mine). I believe (and you can slap my bottom and call me Abigail (US: slap my ass and call me Sally) if you can find a counter-example) that this is now universally accepted, and even the US had only one eccentric departure from this pretty-general-since-about-1914 convention, and that was in calling the Browning M1919A4 (and for all I know its tripod-mounted brethren) a “light” machine gun. Really, that’s not kidding anyone. The M1919A6, MG08/15 and Maxim-Kolesnikov are all bad enough, but at least they had the decency to stand on bipods. I understand that “nullachtfünfzehn” remains a German term for something distinctly mediocre, so the awfulness of the MG08/15 has not entirely faded from popular memory after a hundred years.

    In recent years the Americans have even come round to calling the Minimi (US: M249) an LMG, and not by that fearfully troublesome TLA, SAW. I often think it would have been better for the world if the term “SAW”, and its corresponding Briticism “LSW”, had never been invented. If one wishes to preserve the logical French distinction between une mitrailleuse légère (light MG) and un fusil-mitrailleur (machine-rifle, automatic rifle) then the best way is the logical French one that an MG is belt-fed, and an AR is mag-fed (a distinction maintained in America long after it had been forgotten in the rest of the English-speaking world). Of course this is a complete pain in the call-me-Abigail if every soldier carries an assault rifle that is both a rifle and automatic, and therefore might fairly be described as an automatic rifle. One might, perhaps, need a new term to describe those half-bred abortions such as the RPK, FALO or M-14 Modified, which are standard infantry rifles with a false beard and stuck-on nose (well, a bipod and a heavy barrel) masquerading as LMGs and fooling nobody. The term for these, I reckon, is HBAR (heavy-barrelled AR), but as they are neither light enough to make a good rifle nor heavy enough to make a good LMG, I consider them one of the more uneccessary classes of military equipment, along with the spade-mortar and the ADE-651 mine detector.

    and to be clear, it’s not (or shouldn’t be, doctrinally) the gunner seeing the strike, it’s the gun team commander or A-gunner, and he’s calling out adjustments like “come left ‘x’ degrees (or even mils),” or “come down ‘x’ yards.”

    Maybe in your army (or, rather, Marine Corps); not, I think, in anyone else’s. I would expect to spot my own shots as a (light role) machine gunner, and I would expect my no. 2 to concentrate on keeping the weapon fed, watching for approaching baddies I can’t see because I’m focused on the target, and quivering with readiness to take over the gun if I put my hand up or try his best to emulate burst firing with his personal weapon if I shout “stoppage!” and start doing my immediate actions.

    So the issue is that the gunner can’t really see what he’s firing at, he’s being told to come left 50 mils and up 50 yards, which equates very imprecisely to moving his feet left (to push his shoulders right) and scrunch back a few inches (to raise the barrel of the gun), then squeeze off another burst, with the gun bouncing all over the place, meaning those 5-7 rounds are going to end up scattered across a three square mile area (my wild-ass guess, used only for demonstration purposes). It works reasonably at 400-600 yards if you’re shooting at something with a vertical face, like a building or a truck, but not so much on people.

    See, this just sounds weird. I have never felt obliged to engage in this sort of body-scrunching; according to taste, one would either maintain the traditional British left-hand-wrapped-around-the-stock grip and adjust by moving the elbows, or, for those of a more cosmopolitan disposition, have the fingers of the left hand facing backwards holding the cut-out in the bottom of the buttstock for fine fingertip control in the continental stylee (notice that little jaggy bit at the bottom of MG-34 and -42 butts — that’s what it’s for).

    Never having fired any kind of M-60, I obviously cannot comment on how bouncy it is when firing. I have, however, fired the L4 (Bren), L7 (GPMG/British MAG) and MG-4, and I would be a very unhappy bunny if they threw rounds about the place in the manner you describe. The GPMG is, as I have mentioned before, a noticeably less accurate gun than the L4, but this is the difference between putting all the rounds on the black at 300m and putting all the rounds on the fig. 11 target. And I would be really quite concerned if I was in a rifle group being shot in by an LMG gunner who couldn’t see what he was shooting at.

    I think SAWs still have their place in front-line infantry use, particularly in urban environments, but it’s for this reason I’m really a fan of the US Marine Corps’ adoption of the M-27.

    Having followed the debate over recent years in the Marine Corps Gazette, I remain convinced that the M27 is a lamentable brainfart that the Corps will come to regret. As I said in another thread not so long ago, “In peace, the cry is always for accuracy, in war, for weight of fire”.

    Having earlier fulminated against the evils of rifle-based pretend-MGs, I shall now proceed to protest against the foolishness of making the poor saps carrying these weapons work without a no. 2. I am reasonably strongly convinced (on the basis of S L A Marshall’s “Men Against Fire” and “Infantry Weapons Usage in Korea”, Peter Watson’s “War on the Mind”, Leo Murray’s “Brains and Bullets” (now “War Games”), Sandy Pentland’s “Honest Signals”, Michael Fagan’s software quality inspection method, and personal experience) that giving people a specific role in a team makes them perform much better than they otherwise would, and that the roles of no. 1 and no.2 on the gun represent the minimum possible nodule of collaborating fighters to achieve this effect. Yes, MGs are more effective than the weapons of individual riflemen because they throw bullets faster, and part of the no.2’s job is carrying those extra bullets, but there is also a psychological bond that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This bonus is lost when people employ otherwise fine weapons as one-man guns, as people have been known to do even with the FN MAG.

    “The other thing that happens around 600m for lots of rifle bullets is that the trajectory becomes bendy enough that fire is no longer grazing along the whole trajectory.”
    My experience was that it’s not the arc fire that kills the ability to perform grazing fire with a gun on a bipod,

    Oooh, I know what you’re going to say, it’s the shape of the ground. Well, yes; the maximum ordinate of 7.62mm NATO is 1m (STANAG height for grazing fire) to 600m, but that assumes you and your gun are set up on a billiard table, or surface of comparable flatness. In real life, as already mentioned, the ground is frightfully crinkly.

    it’s the inability to control the gun.

    Oh, okay, I didn’t know what you were going to say.

    Due to the issues mentioned above, holding grazing fire (where you’re killing with the cone of fire, rather than the beaten zone) with a gun on a bipod is pretty much impossible past a couple/three-hundred yards, and even then you need a definitive aiming point, like a gap in a hedgerow, or an opening in a wall (so that you’re not having to re-lay the gun, you’re just sighting in on one location and doing everything in your power to lock your body into that position). With all the bouncing on the bipod the cone is absolutely humongous, totally uncontrollable in terms of grazing fire.

    I say again, weird. I never felt the slightest need to lock my body into any position for any MG I have fired, which were all perfectly controllable. Does the M-60 have bouncy springs in the bipod, or a tactical trampoline for the gunner to lie on?

    If you can put a five-round burst into a 3-foot group at 100 yards you’re doing fairly well; quick, one you mathematicians extrapolate that group out to 600 yards.

    In the British Army you’d fail to qualify on the GPMG if you didn’t put 70% of your rounds on a triple fig-11 target at 300 metres. 1 yard (3 feet) at 100 yards subtends 10 mils; reckoning a fig.11 target to be 1.5m tall, at 300m it subtends 5 mils. of course this is an apples-and-pears comparison, because grouping is about consistency and hitting is about precision, and “fairly well” isn’t a defined term in probability, but one way and another I’m getting the impression you expect a great deal more ballistic dispersion than British (or I suspect German or French) light machine-gunners would tolerate.

    This is why the tripod was invented ??

    …which would explain the greater US fondness for tripoddery.

    Having browsed through a couple of DTIC-downloadable reports and a Youtube video on M-60 training, it seems to me that the US tendency is to regard the bipod-mounted GPMG as a temporarily-embarrassed MMG. The training standards include searching and traversing using the bipod, which I think other armies would reserve for the SF role (certainly the British does). The doctrinal rates of fire for the M-60 in the light role are 100 rds/min sustained and 200 rds/min rapid, as against the British Army’s 30 rds/min deliberate and 120 rds/min rapid. However the Brits do use 100 rds/min deliberate and 200 rds/min rapid for the GPMG in the SF role (down from 125 and 250 rds/min for the dear old Vickers). It also seems that, until the 6-round burst was determined by analysts to be “ideal”, US machine gunners fired much longer bursts than we Brits would. I was taught short burst of 3-5 rounds against personnel in the light role (long bursts of 15-30 in the SF role, or if engaging vehicles) and would often tick off pairs on the GPMG, singles on the Bren (WW2 doctrine stressed the use of the Bren with the change lever set to singles — we never bothered with that because you could easily get “bursts” of one round just by trigger control). The higher US rates would certainly feed into greater gun-jiggliness and higher ballistic dispersion. It is also noticeable that the (American) report writers comment on what they consider to be the modest ranges and small number of rounds used in German and British LMG qualification courses of fire.

    So, to conclude this ramble, I reckon the US view of the roles of the MG and AR still somewhat reflects the sort of distinctions made by everyone in WW1, but largely abandoned by European countries at least since the 1930s. I suspect that a lot of this is accounted for by the lack of a really good LMG for the US for a very long time, whereas lots of other countries had become accustomed to decent LMGs with the Madsen, and, especially, the Lewis — ironically, an American design.

    “I also tend to disbelieve some of the more over-heated claims about the increased range of small-arms engagements.”
    They’re called ‘sea-stories’ for a reason ?? In any case, I’d love to hear some examples of what you’re talking about.

    I think there have been plenty of gunfights in Afghanistan between 700 and 1200 yards; not a whole lot of people hit, probably not even a whole lot of people involved (riflemen in cover smoking cigarettes while the crew-serves go to work and supporting fires are dialed up). I know of quite a few cases of bad guys being hit between 500 and 600 yards by DMs (w/ACOG on an M-16A4, not M-4); admittedly, those were usually bad guys not in cover, apparently thinking they couldn’t be reached, but very impressive hits nonetheless.

    That will have to wait for another time, as I’ve finished by bottle of Burgundy and polished off a Frank Sullivan to boot.

    However it does remind me of Phil Barker’s wise dictum, “most combat occurs just outside the effective range of the weapons involved”.

    All the best,

    John.

    #105164
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    In any case, I’d love to hear some examples of what you’re talking about.

    I think the kind of thing in this discussion here is what was being hinted at.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #105167

    Just Jack
    Participant

    John,

    “There’s also the problem that terrain in NE Europe tends to be damnably crinkly, and it is often impossible to see individual infantrymen over about 300 metres even when they’re standing up and walking towards you.”
    For what it’s worth, I think there’s plenty of crinkly terrain worldwide, even in ostensibly flat places like Iraq, but certainly in Afghanistan, especially when firing uphill (just getting back to what the OP was talking about).  In any case, I believe my issue was with SLAM saying fire was ineffective over 500m because you couldn’t see the bullet strike, with my opinion (terrain/weather notwithstanding) being the issue causing the fire over 500m to be ineffective being the instability of the firing platform (a machine gun firing from a bipod).

    “Well, yes, because that’s what “LMG” means (aways assuming we are not having an excursion into Cyrillic…”
    Fair enough, but being ‘Mr. Picky,’ surely you can appreciate that during my time in the service there was no such thing a light machine gun.  We had SAWs (operated by riflemen), machine guns (operated by machine gunners, either assault-fired, fired from a bipod, fired from a tripod, or fired from a vehicle mount), and heavy machine guns (operated by machine gunners, in either the .50-cal or 40mm  variety).

    “In recent years the Americans have even come round to calling the Minimi (US: M249) an LMG…”
    I dunno, I’ve been out of the service for 14 years now, so maybe that’s true.  When I was in the US Army called the M-249 a light machine gun while the US Marine Corps called it a SAW.  I see you’re not a fan of the SAW concept; I’m certainly biased, but I think it works for the USMC.  I know it has since changed (or is changing), but I would submit that having 9 SAWs in a bog-standard rifle platoon is a significant amount of organic firepower.  And SAWs are physically a different weapon than machine guns (lighter round that is the same as the riflemen’s, lighter combat weight) because machine guns fulfill a different doctrinal role in the Marine Corps.

    “Maybe in your army (or, rather, Marine Corps); not, I think, in anyone else’s…”
    Does no other country utilize machine gun teams with three-man (or more) crews?  And what would be the role of the gun team commander than to direct the fire of the gun?  Maybe this gets to the issue behind the comment of LMG fire becoming ineffective over 500m due to the inability to see the strike of the round?  Maybe in a two-man team, the gunner, due to recoil of the weapon and muzzle flash, can’t see the strike of the rounds, but a third crew member, offset from the line of fire and utilizing field glasses, can?

    “…and I would expect my no. 2 to concentrate on keeping the weapon fed, watching for approaching baddies I can’t see because I’m focused on the target, and quivering with readiness to take over the gun if I put my hand up or try his best to emulate burst firing with his personal weapon if I shout “stoppage!” and start doing my immediate actions.”
    See, you’re absolutely right about doctrinal differences.  That is not what we expect out of a ‘number 2’ (‘A-gunner’); everything you describe is what we have riflemen for.  A lot of times we’d have the A-gunner break the belt and perform a barrel change (which, technically speaking, is moving straight past immediate action to remedial action, but if you had a stoppage after you’d been firing a bit, you might as well change barrels, too) when we experienced a stoppage.

    “See, this just sounds weird. I have never felt obliged to engage in this sort of body-scrunching…”
    We have the same hold with the left hand, even taught to extend your left index finger to keep your helmet from dropping down over your eyes.  Regarding the body scrunching, it’s the same concept as manipulating your elbows to raise or lower the strike of the round, only you need to go further to get your rounds on target than your elbows will allow 😉   And please note that I’m being serious here, not a wise-ass: we weren’t much for sight or bipod manipulation under fire, it was purely moving your body (or the gun) to move the strike of the round.

    “The GPMG is, as I have mentioned before, a noticeably less accurate gun than the L4, but this is the difference between putting all the rounds on the black at 300m and putting all the rounds on the fig. 11 target.”
    I’m not talking about only the M-60E3, I’m also talking about the M-240G, so we’ve got that piece of gear in common (we got rid of the M-60s in 1997).  But the point here is that we weren’t talking about 300m, we were talking about 600 yards (“…extrapolate that out to 600 yards”).

    “And I would be really quite concerned if I was in a rifle group being shot in by an LMG gunner who couldn’t see what he was shooting at.”
    Well, war is hell, I guess.  But it’s one thing to talk about a rifle group being shot in by the gun group when the objective is at 250m, and another when the objective is at >600m.  I would submit you’ve devolved to section fire and maneuver to soon if that were the case.

    “…I remain convinced that the M27 is a lamentable brainfart that the Corps will come to regret.”
    I dunno, only time will tell.  It does occur to me as a rather theater-, or problem-specific solution, and not a universal one.  But I understand it; if you continue to conduct ‘presence patrols’ and you continue to be on the end of direct fire from 600 yds+ and uphill, you’d probably want a weapon in the squad that could reach.

    ““In peace, the cry is always for accuracy, in war, for weight of fire”.”
    Ahh, but this is coming during a war, after about 15 years of combat.  So I don’t pretend to know everything, but maybe they’re on to something?

    “…evils of rifle-based pretend-MGs, I shall now proceed to protest against the foolishness of making the poor saps carrying these weapons work without a no. 2.”
    Now the Marine Corps is screwing up my statement by leaving the automatic capability in, but I would argue, the US military does that with M-4 carbines as well, and no one would argue that they’re a machine gun.  My point is that I don’t think the M-27 is supposed to be a rifle-based machine gun, I think it’s meant to be an extended-range rifle (both in terms of round, muzzle velocity, and optics) that, in the hands of the squad’s Designated Marksman, can deliver precision fires at ranges that have proven typical, or at least recurring.  And this gets to the heart of the issue of effective fire: you could fire an M-240G off a bipod at the target or an M-27 from a prone, supported position.  Would anyone argue that the M-240G is going to be more accurate than the M-27?  So if we grant the M-27 is more accurate, what is more effective in terms of effective fire, the M-240G putting 200 rounds a minute into a box 3 square miles (back to my patented, exaggerated example from my previous post), or 20 rounds a minute into a box 25 square meters?  My opinion is the latter.

    “Oooh, I know what you’re going to say, it’s the shape of the ground. Well, yes; the maximum ordinate of 7.62mm NATO is 1m (STANAG height for grazing fire) to 600m, but that assumes you and your gun are set up on a billiard table…”
    Well, you’re right, that’s not what I was going to say, but I’ll still take a shot at this.  In the Marine Corps, doctrinally (within the rifle company, in terms of a company fire plan) machine guns are not there to kill (don’t misunderstand, killing is cool, but I’m speaking conceptually, and I’m not talking about the FPF; if things go well in the defense, the enemy never reaches the FPL), they’re employed to break up formations, deny the enemy the ability to maneuver, then pin him down so that the mortars (60mm mortars, the Company Commander’s artillery) can cut them up.

    So performing grazing fire doesn’t require a billiard table, because in real life you’re not mowing them down like hay, you’re breaking up the attack, stopping them from getting into position to close assault you.  So the enemy is welcome to break the momentum of their attack by taking cover in the crinkly terrain, at which time our mortars will begin pounding them.  Killing (or forcing into cover) with grazing fire is preferable to killing (or forcing into cover) with the beaten zone because it requires less manipulation of the T&E (fixed or traversing fire vice search and traversing fire, or worse, unlocking the T&E and free-gunning it) and because it’s easier to direct the fire of the gunner (to kill/force to cover with the beaten zone you have to see the strike of the round, which, we’ve established, though varying in degree, can be difficult based on a range of variables to include crinkly terrain).  Here we’re talking about machine guns on tripods engaging at 600-700m.

    “I say again, weird. I never felt the slightest need to lock my body into any position for any MG I have fired, which were all perfectly controllable.”
    I have not doubt that you’re a physical specimen to make Adonis weep, with no problem muscling the gun onto the target, but am I misunderstanding, or are you saying that the recoil involved in firing a machine gun does not affect the ballistic dispersion (as you call it, or ‘group,’ as I call it) of the bullets?  Perhaps it’s down to length of burst, which you address later in your post, the difference between British and US doctrine.  And I’m talking about the M-240G, though trampolines would have been swell.

    “In the British Army you’d fail to qualify on the GPMG if you didn’t put 70% of your rounds on a triple fig-11 target at 300 metres.”
    After many spirited discussions with members of 45 Cdo in Afghanistan, even a physical altercation, there’s no doubt in my mind that I could never have made it in the British Army. But with regards to our current predicament, we were talking about 600m, not 300m…

    “…the US tendency is to regard the bipod-mounted GPMG as a temporarily-embarrassed MMG.”
    Amen!  But not an MMG, just an MG.  Which is different than the weapon used in the rifle squad, both by type, role, and function.

    “I was taught short burst of 3-5 rounds against personnel in the light role…”
    And I think this gets to the heart of our differences here.  When you say 3-5 rounds, I think “that’s a rifle, not a machine gun.”

    “The higher US rates would certainly feed into greater gun-jiggliness and higher ballistic dispersion. It is also noticeable that the (American) report writers comment on what they consider to be the modest ranges and small number of rounds used in German and British LMG qualification courses of fire.”
    Indeed.

    “…I reckon the US view of the roles of the MG and AR still somewhat reflects the sort of distinctions made by everyone in WW1, but largely abandoned by European countries…”
    With the exception that I would replace ‘US’ with ‘USMC,’ I agree wholeheartedly with this statement; I think the US Army is much closer to the European countries in this matter.  You can dislike the M-249, but it was used in the traditional ‘one per squad, squad has a gun team and a rifle team, and has at various times (and in different organizations) been displaced by the M-60, M-240B, or Mk48.  My humble opinion is that NATO elements (minus the USMC) do not use machine guns in the traditional doctrinal role of machine guns, because they were built for mechanized operations vs the Warsaw Pact.  You see this in the reduced squad sizes (to fit in AFVs/APCs), machine guns in the squad but not in separate Weapons Platoons, pretty much getting rid of the 60mm mortar and reducing the usage of the 81mm mortar, bumping up to he 106mm/120mm mortar, the incredible proliferation of ATGMs, etc…

    The US Marine Corps is (or was, when I was in) a very traditional heavy infantry unit.  Foot mobile, machine guns are not in the rifle squad, they’re in the Weapons Platoon, 60mm mortars at the company level, 81mm mortars at battalion level, rocket launchers (the SMAW, for bunker/strongpoint-busting, not tank busting) at platoon level.  There are no ATGMs in the platoon; there are no ATGMs in the company (well, there was a period where a couple sorry-ass Dragons were at the company level, but not while I was in)!!!  You don’t get TOWs (now Javelins) until you get to battalion level!  It’s really a totally different capability set, which, I think, explains the differences in doctrine.

    “That will have to wait for another time, as I’ve finished by bottle of Burgundy and polished off a Frank Sullivan to boot.”
    Fair enough.

    “However it does remind me of Phil Barker’s wise dictum, “most combat occurs just outside the effective range of the weapons involved”.”
    Depends on the enemy, I suppose.  We’ve seen our non-peer opponents go to the opposite ends of the spectrum (generalizing, of course): in Iraq, they seemed to like to get into urban areas and get nice and close where they had a hope of hitting us and melting away.  In Afghanistan, they seemed to like to get to high ground, reach out with long range direct fire (12.7mm HMG, RPG, recoiless rifle, some clumsy attempts at using 107mm and 122mm rockets in a direct fire mode off of improvised launchers), cache the weapons, then melt away into nearby villages.

    Who knows what we’ll see with peer/near-peer opponents.  I have no experience and not even any educated guesses…

    V/R,
    Jack

    #105168
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    One wonders if the recent decision in the British Army to get rid of the LSW and the Minimi is because the former is not brilliant at being an LMG, the latter is not great at hitting anything at distance.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #105172
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    You cannot help but see mission creep pushing up the size of the section support weapon. Now we have one with all the attributes of an LMG but a 30 calibre round. Why not go to a 0.280 calibre LMG with a No2 and a bipod?

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by grizzlymc grizzlymc.
    #105242

    Just Jack
    Participant

    “Whirlwind” John – An interesting article.  First, I wonder what the basis for the statement that the SAW/Minimi “…did not offer any significant advantage over the SA80” 5.56mm assault rifle and, “despite the popular view, it is far heavier but less lethal and effective”.”
    Does that mean there’s not a difference between belt fed and magazine fed LMGs in the rifle squad?  Does it mean neither is really used as an LMG, just used as a heftier service rifle (I saw that in close combat in urban environments, even with 7.62mm MGs, gunners essentially acting as a rifleman, assault firing the weapon, i.e., firing from the shoulder or the hip), and so you don’t need one at the squad level?  Are they saying the SAW/Minimi is such an utterly horrible weapon that it performs worse under combat conditions than the LSW?

    With the “L129A1 Sharpshooter,” looks like the British Army is getting it’s own version of the M-27!

    “Originally 440 examples were procured in 2009, specifically for operations in Afghanistan where the enemy had taken to attacking from beyond the effective range…”  Honestly, if that’s where we’re at nowadays, why not just issue it to all the riflemen in a squad?  You put a reflex sight on top and it can still be used for CQB, guys with ACOGs had no problems clearing houses.

    “…entered service in 2008 to replace the 51mm mortar as a light capability within Mortar Platoons.”
    I thought the 51mm/2″ mortar was 1 per rifle platoon, never heard of them being used in mortar platoons, but may just be my ignorance.

    “… it is able of provide close support down to just 180 metres and can be speedily fired hand-held but the reason given for dropping it is that its high weight and relative inaccuracy resulted in a lack of use.”
    That matches what I saw with our 60mm mortars, you had to fire them on their bipod and baseplate.  In that manner they were quite deadly, hand firing was pretty worthless.  And I think the 60s work in a Weapons Platoon, where they operate in a section with personnel dedicated to carry the heavy gear and ammo, and since they’re Wpns Plt and not part of the Rifle Plt, they’re further back, out of the gunfights and thus easier to keep resupplied.

    Grizzly – I dunno if it’s mission creep, or just moving to weapons tailored to the tactical situation rather than doing what’s always been done, using ‘universal’ weapons.  Of worse, picking weapons for a specific tactical situation but using them universally…

    Can’t really speak to the new generation(s) of ammo (6.8mm, etc…).

    V/R,
    Jack

    #105243
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Are they saying the SAW/Minimi is such an utterly horrible weapon that it performs worse under combat conditions than the LSW?

    Hi Jack,

    I think what the problem is (and I have some of the references somewhere on a dusty part of the hard drive) is that the stats show the Minimi is pretty horribly inaccurate from 400m onwards: and my personal observation would tend to think this is spot on (plus you can’t have your helmet rim as low down).  Lots of people like it though because it can get a lot of rounds down the range quickly, which the SA80 and the LSW can’t.  So the basic maths are that the two latter weapons put the same number of bullets closer to the target but cannot put as many into the air.

    Part of me does wonder what the last 40 years in small arms have all been about. For all the messing around, I can’t really see that there has been much of an improvement.

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #105248

    Nick Riggs
    Participant

    Seems to me there’s a book waiting to be written about what really goes on at the sharp end, similar to Brains and Bullets but perhaps more focused on the dynamics of small units, ballistics, weapon performance etc. I can’t think of anything that fits the bill right now, and you guys are the ones who can write it.

    #105271

    Just Jack
    Participant

    John – This kind of stuff is interesting to me because it’s always anecdotal (or perhaps idiosyncratic), and often at cross purposes with doctrine.  I met plenty of Marines that hated the SAW; when I asked why, it seemed most of them didn’t actually hate the SAW, they were just bitching about their gear, which is what Marines do (and Marines generally take a perverse pride in having the shittiest gear, the worst chow, the crappiest barracks, the most deployments, it’s part of the ethos).

    Plenty were simply complaining about mis-use issues: it was too heavy, had to carry too much crap (ammo and A-bag), hard to maneuver in vehicles and houses. Answer: it’s not a rifle.  Some were complaining about the difficulties in holding up true sustained fire at ridiculous distances (for a rifle squad). Answer: it’s not a machine gun.

    Regarding the 400m issue, that’s interesting, but as discussed above, what does accuracy mean in terms of machine gun gunnery?  Should it be accurate in terms of a rifle, or is accuracy the ability to deliver fire to pin/suppress the enemy at (pick a) range?  The two are not the same thing.  Another issue was the whole ‘paratrooper SAW’ thing.  I never fired one, but I recall seeing US Army guys with them and thinking ‘what the hell is a SAW with no barrel and no butt-stock going to accomplish?”

    Again, maybe it was incredibly useful for fighting inside compounds, but it had to be worthless outside of them.  But hold my hat, I’m sure there’s someone out there that used it in combat and thinks it’s the greatest weapon ever devised.  I myself am on record as being absolutely in love with the M-16A2, because I carried it in a lot of places and it never let me down, and I’d take it over any other rifle currently available.  Maybe bump up to the -A4 so I can have all the cool gadgets, but I already had the PEQ-2, did fine with iron sights, and my favorite ‘gadget’ was my -203  😉

    Regarding small arms development, I dunno.  Certainly it’s been evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but I think there’s no doubt ‘Battle Range” has become extended and increasingly lethal, day and night.  I’ve seen my son playing the Call of Duty video games, and it took me aback: there’s one of them that looks just like Iraq, and when they put they’re NVGs on with the PAC4s, it looks exactly like the real thing. Point being, infantry now have the ability to literally turn night into day, which is an earth shattering experience against foes without that capability.

    Nick -You guys?  I believe you’re treading in Mr Salt’s domain.  I can barely read, and what I can write is all done in crayon.

    V/R,

    Jack

    #105286
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Regarding the 400m issue, that’s interesting, but as discussed above, what does accuracy mean in terms of machine gun gunnery?

    IIRC in this context it was how many rounds were getting within what the UK considers as suppression distance (within 1m of the target) on field firing exercises, so (in theory) they weren’t suppressing better than a rifle or an LSW and were waxing much more ammo to do it. I might need a day or two to confirm that and dig out the original stuff, presuming I have an obtainable copy in reach.

    Point being, infantry now have the ability to literally turn night into day, which is an earth shattering experience against foes without that capability.

    Totally this.  I think the important change has been in the optics rather than the character of the weapons themselves.

    I think there’s no doubt ‘Battle Range” has become extended and increasingly lethal, day and night

    Maybe.  Terrain probably plays the biggest part so there is no one answer.  I think I remember Sidney Jary on about the usefulness of having a long range for one’s rifles in the polder country in Holland, so you could suppress anti-tank gun crews at 1.5km(!); and IIRC there were plenty of complaints doing the rounds in the 80s from the Soviets about being outranged by Mujahedin rifles. OTOH, if you are going to spend all your time fighting in the majority of Western Europe, or the jungle or whatever, then other things become more important than rifle range.

     

    John D Salt absolutely needs to get a book out: “Everything you need know about combat but don’t know to ask”, or something.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by Whirlwind Whirlwind.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #105347

    Just Jack
    Participant

    Whirlwind John,

    “Just Jack wrote:
    I think there’s no doubt ‘Battle Range” has become extended and increasingly lethal, day and night

    Maybe.  Terrain probably plays the biggest part so there is no one answer.  I think I remember Sidney Jary on about the usefulness of having a long range for one’s rifles in the polder country in Holland, so you could suppress anti-tank gun crews at 1.5km(!); and IIRC there were plenty of complaints doing the rounds in the 80s from the Soviets about being outranged by Mujahedin rifles. OTOH, if you are going to spend all your time fighting in the majority of Western Europe, or the jungle or whatever, then other things become more important than rifle range.”

    No doubt terrain affects engagement ranges, I’m just saying that with the advanced optics being so widely available, practically everyone could be considered a ‘sniper’ by WWII standards.  And while we’ve discussed since at least the 80s the idea that modern anti-tank capability has reached the point of ‘if it can be seen it can be killed,’ I think we’re there from a small arms standpoint, with ‘seeing’ the target being the limiting factor.

    I still haven’t read the Jary book “18 Platoon,” but only because I’ve never been able to find one for less than $100 USD (call me cheap!).  I have every reason to believe the Soviets complaining about their AK-47s/AKMs/AK-74s being out-done by Enfield .303s, but suppressing at 1500m is quite fantastic!  No doubt the round can get there, but you can’t see a human at 1500m without some sort of optic.  And if they could see ATGs 1500m away, that should blow away any advantages in WWII games that we give to them!  In any case, I’m not even saying I don’t believe that account, just that there may have been a confluence of factors leading to that being somewhat of an outlier.

    V/R,
    Jack

    #105348
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    In any case, I’m not even saying I don’t believe that account, just that there may have been a confluence of factors leading to that being somewhat of an outlier.

    TBH it is probably me totally misremembering what the guy said!  Although I do definitely remember that he was strongly of the opinion that long range fire (800m – 1200m) did happen and was a useful capability for the infantry section to have.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #105375
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    On checking, I see that I have misremembered: he did talk about using long range rifle fire and he did talk about suppressing AT guns at 1500m around Elst, but was on about using MGs for the latter.

    I have sent you a bit of Jary’s stuff Jack, in lieu of the book.

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #105399

    Just Jack
    Participant

    Gotcha, Whirlwind John, that makes sense.

    And I received the email, thank you!  I’ve been through two of the four, very interesting, still processing, I’ll get back to you.

    V/R,
    Jack

    #106009
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Apologies for the delay in replying, I seem to have wandered off into collecting a mass of snippetry on the LMG/automatic rifle confusion throughout the 20th century…

    Just Jack:

    “Well, yes, because that’s what “LMG” means (aways assuming we are not having an excursion into Cyrillic…”
    Fair enough, but being ‘Mr. Picky,’ surely you can appreciate that during my time in the service there was no such thing a light machine gun. We had SAWs (operated by riflemen), machine guns (operated by machine gunners, either assault-fired, fired from a bipod, fired from a tripod, or fired from a vehicle mount), and heavy machine guns (operated by machine gunners, in either the .50-cal or 40mm variety).

    There may not have been such a thing as an LMG in the USMC or USA, but I’m pretty sure there was in almost every other ground combat force in the world, as there have been since 1916 or so. Of course non-anglophone countries use their own terms. Some in the Germanic languages are obviously identical to “light machine gun” (Danish “let maskingevær”, German “leichtes Maschinengewehr”, Norwegian “lett maskingevær”). A light machine gun might also be described as a light “lead-thrower” (Czech “lehký kulomet”, Swedish “lätt kulspruta”, and the Russian “ruchnoi pulemyot” for hand MG rather than light MG). The Romance langages often have a term for machine-gun based in the word for grapeshot (“mitrail” in French) and so say something like “light grapeshooter” (Portuguese “metralhadora leve”, Spanish “ametralladora ligera”) or “rifle-grapeshooter” (French “fusil-miltrailleur”, Italian “fucile mitragliatore”). It is this Francophone “rifle-grapeshooter”, fusil-mitrailleur, that was carelessly translated into English as “automatic rifle” (for which “fusil automatique” would have been the exact equivalent) instead of the more accurate “machine-rifle”, thus causing sad confusion between the categories “automatic rifle” and “light machine gun”. Most countries had pretty much got over this by the end of WW1, and certainly WW2, and some, like the Germans, never suffered from it; but it seems to persist in the United States, like the quaint old habit of saying “fall” instead of the new-fangled Frenchified “autumn”. SAW was a neologism (or neobreviation) coined for the role filled by the M249 when it was introduced into service, but this had always been called an “automatic rifle” in US service until then.

    Just Jack:

    “In recent years the Americans have even come round to calling the Minimi (US: M249) an LMG…”
    I dunno, I’ve been out of the service for 14 years now, so maybe that’s true. When I was in the US Army called the M-249 a light machine gun while the US Marine Corps called it a SAW.”

    The current USMC designation of LMG is confirmed in the officer’s course notes on squad weapons at

    https://www.trngcmd.marines.mil/Portals/207/Docs/TBS/B2E2657%20Squad%20Weapons.pdf

    This confirms that the redesignation occurred when the M249 was replaced in the automatic rifle (SAW) role by the M27. The document also contains a definition of the difference between an automatic rifle and a light machine gun that says an AR has a fixed barrel and is mag-fed, whereas an LMG has a removable barrel and is belt-fed. Wargamers will be able to think of countless counter-examples, unless one really does consider the Lewis, the ZB-26, the Bren, the DP, the type 99, the Johnson gun and the Vickers K to be “automatic rifles”.

    Just Jack:

    I see you’re not a fan of the SAW concept; I’m certainly biased, but I think it works for the USMC. I know it has since changed (or is changing), but I would submit that having 9 SAWs in a bog-standard rifle platoon is a significant amount of organic firepower.

    I’ve never fired it, but I rather admire the M249, which was the first weapon to fill the role of SAW after the term was invented as a synonym for AR (in the USMC sense). I’d consider it a good LMG, and, as an LMG, it is best operated with a no.2. In any case, I strongly doubt that a platoon with 9 M27s would be able to match a platoon with 9 M249s for firepower.

    Just Jack:

    And SAWs are physically a different weapon than machine guns (lighter round that is the same as the riflemen’s, lighter combat weight) because machine guns fulfill a different doctrinal role in the Marine Corps.

    The role is certainly different, but the weapons are often physically identical. The M249 used in the AR role differs not at all from the M249 used in the LMG role. In the 1970s, the M60 was used in the AR role, which led to the crackpot situation of a USA mechanized infantry platoon having five M60s, three of them in the AR role and two in the LMG role. I would be quite surprised if there was ever a squad or platoon leader who appreciated the difference.

    Just Jack:

    “Maybe in your army (or, rather, Marine Corps); not, I think, in anyone else’s…”
    Does no other country utilize machine gun teams with three-man (or more) crews?

    Oh, certainly, lots do. My point was that other armies have light machine guns, called light machine guns, operating as integral weapons in the rifle squad or section, and providing its main source of fire. Almost every army in the world had at least two LMGs per platoon by the 1930s, a typical pattern being two rifle and two LMG squads in the platoon. Once the war started, it was quite rare to meet any squad or section in a rifle platoon lacking at least one integral LMG. The nearest thing to the USMC-style distinction between AR and LMG I can think of occurred in the Red Army, where the usual DP LMG (“hand machine gun”) might be replaced by the Tokarev automatic rifle (the term is the same in Russian) AVT-40. This was an emergemcy measure, halted before the end of the war, and it was acknowledged that the automatic rifle was an inadequate substitute for the LMG. In the Wehrmacht, belt-fed LMGs (leMG-34 or -42) were sometimes substituted by captured mag-fed LMGs (so ARs by the USMC definition) such as the ZB-26, without acknowledging any doctrinal difference in tactical usage. Post-war, the British Army used both the belt-fed L7 GPMG and mag-fed L4 LMG as section weapons, and, again, no difference in tactical usage was perceived or acknowledged, both guns did precisely the same job in the rifle section.

    Just Jack:

    See, you’re absolutely right about doctrinal differences. That is not what we expect out of a ‘number 2’ (‘A-gunner’); everything you describe is what we have riflemen for.

    AIUI the USMC has different MOS numbers for riflemen and machine gunners. I’m not aware of any other nation making such a sharp distinction, but it is reminiscent of the WW1 British formation of a separate Machine Gun Corps (formed 1916, disbanded 1922) and the WW1-era belief of Lt-Col Hutchinson in his “Machine Guns: their history and tactical employment” that MGs form a distinct arm of serivce, alongside infantry, cavalry, and artillery.

    Just Jack:

    “And I would be really quite concerned if I was in a rifle group being shot in by an LMG gunner who couldn’t see what he was shooting at.”
    Well, war is hell, I guess. But it’s one thing to talk about a rifle group being shot in by the gun group when the objective is at 250m, and another when the objective is at >600m. I would submit you’ve devolved to section fire and maneuver to soon if that were the case.

    Indeed so. I cannot remember where I read it — probably the 1962 GPMG pamphlet I can’t put my hands on right now — that the beaten zone of the gun is 1 mil wide. WW2 doctrine with the Bren — and again I can’t recall where I read it, some pamphlet or another — said that it was not worth getting any closer than 300 yards from the target to improve fire effect. The standard Bisley safety angle is 200 mils. On those figures you should theoretically be safe shooting 60m in front of your own assaulting rifle group if they are coming in at a nice broad angle, and I expect people would be happy to go quite a bit closer. I recall one exercise where some Chieftain-driving donkey-walloper suggested that, thanks to the excellence of the sights in his panzer, he would expect to shoot friendly infantry in from 1800m with bullets passing less than five metres in front of them. When this was greeted with open-mouthed disbelief, if not horror, by all the infantrymen present, he failed to gain any friends with his declaration “They’re only lumps of lead, aren’t they? Not HESH or anything.” It’s things like that that convince me the infantry needs to be able to get itself forward with its own firepower when necessary, and that’s why I want a proper LMG in every section.

    Just Jack:

    “…I remain convinced that the M27 is a lamentable brainfart that the Corps will come to regret.”
    I dunno, only time will tell. It does occur to me as a rather theater-, or problem-specific solution, and not a universal one. But I understand it; if you continue to conduct ‘presence patrols’ and you continue to be on the end of direct fire from 600 yds+ and uphill, you’d probably want a weapon in the squad that could reach.

    My impression of the history of machine gunnery in the 20th century suggests to me that every army that has tried to replace a proper LMG with a jumped-up assault rifle has come to regret it, and returned to the path of wisdom eventually.

    What’s more, this whole horror-story of being outranged by Terence strikes me as being a bit in the tradition of superstitious fear of the deadeye marksmanship of the wily Pathan (as my pal John Peaty once put it: if you must get mixed up in a land war in Asia, try not to pick an enemy traditionally described as “wily”). Kipling told how “Two thousand pounds of education/drops to a ten rupee jezzail” and described the “Kurrum valley scamp” who “being blessed with perfect sight/Picks off our messmates left and right”. But not only do the locals have poor uncorrected vision as often as anyone else, they can’t afford the ammuntion for as much range training as Western armies do, and Terry’s personal weapon is going to be in either 5.45x39mm or 7.62x39mm, neither of them very long-legged rounds. If he’s hurting you at 600m, I’d bet it will be with 7.62x54R, so either an SVD or a PKM — the latter being, of course, a proper belt-fed GPMG being used in the light role. Indeed the Russians have gone all retro with the Pecheneg variant of the PK, and produced a dedicated belt-fed LMG with a forced-air cooling system vaguely reminiscent of that on the Lewis. As so often, the Russians are being quite sensible about small arms.

    Just Jack:

    ““In peace, the cry is always for accuracy, in war, for weight of fire”.”
    Ahh, but this is coming during a war, after about 15 years of combat. So I don’t pretend to know everything, but maybe they’re on to something?

    So if we grant the M-27 is more accurate, what is more effective in terms of effective fire, the M-240G putting 200 rounds a minute into a box 3 square miles (back to my patented, exaggerated example from my previous post), or 20 rounds a minute into a box 25 square meters? My opinion is the latter.

    Since the whole accuracy vs. throw weight thing is so interesting, I have done a few calculations on the tiny bit of data I trust on small-arms accuracy under combat conditions. Rather than push this thread yet further from its original topic, I’ll start a new thread on that.

    Just Jack:

    I have not doubt that you’re a physical specimen to make Adonis weep, with no problem muscling the gun onto the target,

    Even back then, I’m sure that if my physique wouldn’t make Adonis weep, it would make him burst out laughing, or snort with derision. However we didn’t really see aiming the gun as a wrestling match. I don’t recall any of the female cadets having any difficulty with it.

    Just Jack:

    but am I misunderstanding, or are you saying that the recoil involved in firing a machine gun does not affect the ballistic dispersion (as you call it, or ‘group,’ as I call it) of the bullets? Perhaps it’s down to length of burst, which you address later in your post, the difference between British and US doctrine. And I’m talking about the M-240G, though trampolines would have been swell.

    My impression was that it was not so much the recoil as the jiggling about, caused by the bolt zooming back and forth, that governed the dispersion. At least if you have your gas regulator set at some non-insane position; I’m sure it’s possible to induce excessive recoil if you try. AIUI this was not an option on the M60, as it has a self-regulating gas regulator in a sealed unit, a design decision I would regard as questionable.

    Just Jack:

    After many spirited discussions with members of 45 Cdo in Afghanistan, even a physical altercation, there’s no doubt in my mind that I could never have made it in the British Army.

    Mr. Picky points out that the Royal Marines are not in the British Army, either. They are a bit special, and even though my former regiment had a tradition of sea service that permitted us to drink the loyal toast sitting down, we were really not in the same class at all.

    Just Jack:

    But with regards to our current predicament, we were talking about 600m, not 300m…

    …which is why I’ve been quoting mils, on the (possibly questionable) assumption that you can simply double the dispersion to reflect the doubling of range.

    Just Jack:

    “…the US tendency is to regard the bipod-mounted GPMG as a temporarily-embarrassed MMG.”
    Amen! But not an MMG, just an MG. Which is different than the weapon used in the rifle squad, both by type, role, and function.

    …except that, since the adoption of the German WW2 idea of a general purpose machine gun, they have very often been physically the same weapon (MG-42/59, MG-3, FN MAG, AAT-52, PKM, M60, MG-51).

    Just Jack:

    My humble opinion is that NATO elements (minus the USMC) do not use machine guns in the traditional doctrinal role of machine guns, because they were built for mechanized operations vs the Warsaw Pact. You see this in the reduced squad sizes (to fit in AFVs/APCs), machine guns in the squad but not in separate Weapons Platoons, pretty much getting rid of the 60mm mortar and reducing the usage of the 81mm mortar, bumping up to he 106mm/120mm mortar, the incredible proliferation of ATGMs, etc…

    Yup, and Jac Weller in his “Weapons and Tactics” pretty well says as much. He seems to think the traditional MMG applications such as barrrage and indirect fire ded out after Korea. A year or two back I had the great pleasure, while visiting the Vickers MG collection, of meeting a chap who had served in Korea, in an MG battalion (as the British Army had them then). He described to me the technique of night harrassing indirect fire using Vickers MMGs during the static front period. Careful calculations would be made matching the shape of the trajectory to the reverse slope of an enemy-occupied hill. At night, when the ration parties came up, barrage fire would be opened at extreme range (up to 4,500 yards with the Mk VIIIZ bullet). Coasting down from their culimnating point just above the hill crest, subsonic but still with enough power to kill, the bullets would sleet down the reverse slope and skittle down carryng parties bringing up food and ammo. That’s proper machine gunnery.

    I woud say, though, that “machine guns in the squad” is not particularly associated with the mechanized warfare thing. As mentioned earlier, most armies adopted squad LMGs long before their horse-drawn phase came to an end. And I think one of the reasons for the otherwise bizarre popularity of jumped-up assault rifles (RPK, RPK-74, LSW) is that you don’t need a decent squad LMG if you are being accompanied everywhere by what is effectively an armoured gun group toting a 20mm or 30mm cannon and a co-ax.

    Whirlwind:

    One wonders if the recent decision in the British Army to get rid of the LSW and the Minimi is because the former is not brilliant at being an LMG, the latter is not great at hitting anything at distance.

    It might be because Dave Benest was a Para that the British Army got the para version of the Minimi as a UOR, but I find it hard to believe that the shorter barrel can make all that much difference to the ballistics of the round. The USMC course notes references above credit the “proper” Minimi with an effective range of 800m against point targets, 1000m on area targets.

    grizzlymc:

    You cannot help but see mission creep pushing up the size of the section support weapon. Now we have one with all the attributes of an LMG but a 30 calibre round. Why not go to a 0.280 calibre LMG with a No2 and a bipod?

    Of course the section gun has gone *down* in calibre from the first 60 years or so of “full power” rifle cartridge LMGs. But why not have a belt-fed .280 LMG, based on the proven Bren layout? Why not, indeed? Britan could have had the TADEN accompanying the No. 9 rifle in service in the early 1950s if it hadn’t been for the American insistence on standardising the too-big 7.62x51mm round for NATO (and then buggering the standard right up by unilaterally adopting the too-small 5.56x45mm a few years later). I’m sure I’ve posted this before, but a rare short clip of the TADEN firing can be seen from 1:30 to 1:45 on the Pathé newsreel “New Rifle Test for Experts”, at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ry_NOXwCBX8

    Whirlwind:

    Part of me does wonder what the last 40 years in small arms have all been about. For all the messing around, I can’t really see that there has been much of an improvement.

    What gets me is that we have known what an “ideal calibre” would look like for about a century now. The old 7mm Spanish Mauser (which the British and Americans felt the bitey end of in the Boer war and Spanish-American War respectively) would probably be a better general-purpose bullet than either of the two NATO standard calibres. Since then, we’ve had:

    .256 Arisaka (6.5×50SR)   	Arisaka rifles, Avtomat Fyodorov
    .276 Enfield (7×60)       	Enfield pattern 13
    8mm Ribeyrolles (8×35)    	Ribeyrolles carbine
    .276 Pedersen (7×51)      	Pedersen rifle, M1 Garand
    7.92mm kurz (7.92×33)       	StG44, FN FAL
    7.62mm M43 (7.62×39) 		SKS, AK, RPD, RPK
    7.62mm Czech (7.62×45)      	Vz. 52, ZB-53
    .280 Enfield (7×43)       	EM-2, TADEN
    6mm SAW (6×45)            	XM-233, -234, -235, -248
    6mm Nikonov (6×49)		UMG
    6.5mm Grendel (6.5×39)
    6.8mm SPC (6.8×43)
    5.8mm DBP 87 (5.8×42)		QBZ-95 rifle, QJY-88 LMG
    

    We seem to re-invent the ideal calibre even more frequently than the flying car, and the Russians and Chinese seem to take it more seriously than we do in the West.

    Whirlwind:

    IIRC in this context it was how many rounds were getting within what the UK considers as suppression distance (within 1m of the target) on field firing exercises, so (in theory) they weren’t suppressing better than a rifle or an LSW and were waxing much more ammo to do it. I might need a day or two to confirm that and dig out the original stuff, presuming I have an obtainable copy in reach.

    I suspect that one of the reasons British defence analysts seem to be (IMHO) overrating the benefits of accuracy and underestimating those of weight of fire is that the UK criterion for suppression under-states the suppressive effect of near misses. I have no idea where the 1m miss-distance comes from, and it seems amazingly difficult to find data on suppression recovery times, but I’d expect small amounts of fire to have much greater suppressive effects than they seem to be credited with, if only because of the duration of small arms engagements in real life.

    I am also very dubious about graphs presented by LSW-strokers and Minimi-bashers that show numbers of “effective rounds” against number of rounds fired, rather than time spent firing.

    At all events, the decision to remove LMGs from the rifle section strikes me as one of the most harmfully stupid defence procurement decisions I have ever heard of, and that’s some pretty fierce competition.

    All the best,

    John.

    #106010
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    He bit.

    Thanks for the link, it’s the first time I have seen the No 9 shooting.

    #106085
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    It might be because Dave Benest was a Para that the British Army got the para version of the Minimi as a UOR, but I find it hard to believe that the shorter barrel can make all that much difference to the ballistics of the round. The USMC course notes references above credit the “proper” Minimi with an effective range of 800m against point targets, 1000m on area targets.

    This seems so out of kilter with British Army experience it is hard to believe that they are talking about the same weapon.  I don’t think I have ever heard anyone talk about effectively hitting point targets with the Minimi at 800m.  Most of the chat was whether the Minimi could usefully hit stuff at 400m, or if it was more like 250-300m.  You are quite right about the shorter barrel not making that much of a difference, apparently it didn’t.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #106113

    Just Jack
    Participant

    John Salt,

    “There may not have been such a thing as an LMG in the USMC or USA, but I’m pretty sure there was in almost every other ground combat force in the world, as there have been since 1916 or so.”
    We seem to talk past each other a lot, apparently.  I understand what you’re saying and your perspective, but I guess my perspective isn’t clear.  I was relating personal experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, and during that time was a US Marine.

    “The current USMC designation of LMG is confirmed in the officer’s course notes on squad weapons…
    Okay.  As I mentioned, I’ve been out for 14 years now, and that’s not how it was when I was in.  For what it’s worth, that looks to be some sort of lesson plan or pamphlet for The Basic Course, not a FMFM or MCWP, so it may not be actual doctrine.  If someone cares, they should look at the corresponding technical or doctrinal pub.

    “In any case, I strongly doubt that a platoon with 9 M27s would be able to match a platoon with 9 M249s for firepower.”
    I agree, though I don’t think I ever made that assertion.

    “The role is certainly different, but the weapons are often physically identical. The M249 used in the AR role differs not at all from the M249 used in the LMG role.”
    Not in the Marine Corps (during my time).  There were no M-249s in machine gun roles, those were M-60E3s and M-240Gs, and there were no machine guns in SAW roles.

    “In the 1970s, the M60 was used in the AR role…”
    Not in the Marine Corps.  First it was an M-14 with a pistol grip and bipod, then it was an M-16 with a bipod.

    “AIUI the USMC has different MOS numbers for riflemen and machine gunners. I’m not aware of any other nation making such a sharp distinction, but it is reminiscent of the WW1 British formation of a separate Machine Gun Corps…”
    You understand correctly.  03XX is the branch field for infantry in the Marine Corps, with 0311 being riflemen, 0331 machine gunners, 0341 mortarmen, 0351 assaultmen, 0352 Anti-Tank Missilemen, etc…  So, not a separate Corps, part of the infantry, different Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) because they have differing doctrinal roles.  An 0311 will handle an M-16, then an M-249, then an M-203 (before going back to an M-16) as they progress through the ranks of Pvt/PFC, LCpl, Cpl, and Sgt.  Once an infantryman becomes a “staff NCO” (E6-E9 on the branch side) he becomes an 0369 (except for E8s that chose the ‘leadership’ route, becoming a 1st Sgt and then SgtMaj, as opposed to the branch side, a Master Sergeant and then Master Gunnery Sergeant).  See, I can get way off topic too! 😉

    “I would be quite surprised if there was ever a squad or platoon leader who appreciated the difference.”
    Being Army, I’m sure you’re right 😉

    “Post-war, the British Army used both the belt-fed L7 GPMG and mag-fed L4 LMG as section weapons, and, again, no difference in tactical usage was perceived or acknowledged, both guns did precisely the same job in the rifle section.”
    Why did the British Army get rid of the L4?  Because of the GPMG being belt fed?  It’s always interesting to me that rifle squads/sections went to open bolt, belt fed weapons.  Being a former machine gunner, I absolutely understand the need/desire for sustained fire, but the weight of the weapon, the weight of the ammo, the need to change barrels (because of the sustained fire), the need for an assistant gunner/number 2 (which reduces the number of available riflemen), the combat hazard of maneuvering with an open-bolt weapon, all seem, in my humble opinion, to make it a poor choice in the rifle squad/section.  It’s just my opinion, but to me it seems to lean too far to the ‘fire’ side of ‘fire and maneuver,’ making it more difficult for the rifle squad to close with and destroy the enemy. It’s funny to say this as a former machine gunner, every army needs riflemen, a 12-man rifle squad can’t simply be six two-man machine gun teams, someone has to actually go in and clean the enemy out of their house/bunker/trench, and a machine gun is not the tool for that job.

    And it’s funny that you call the L7 a light machine gun even though its title is “GPMG.” 😉

    “On those figures you should theoretically be safe shooting 60m in front of your own assaulting rifle group if they are coming in at a nice broad angle, and I expect people would be happy to go quite a bit closer.”
    As with your story, machine gunners are always happy to go closer, the riflemen not so much.  I’ve had people ask me about, or suggest that those safety precautions don’t apply in combat.  That was not my experience; phaselines were always built in and ‘shift fire’ was a key part of every signal plan.  No one wants to get shot, least of all by their own guys.

    “It’s things like that that convince me the infantry needs to be able to get itself forward with its own firepower when necessary, and that’s why I want a proper LMG in every section.”
    I know I’m a victim of my own indoctrination, but I just don’t get that line of thinking, at least in the manner in which I believer your expressing it.  You’re saying ‘the infantry needs to ‘shoot itself in,’ but to do that “the infantry” needs a LMG in each squad/section.  First, as I demonstrated with the MOS structure (above), machine gunners are infantrymen.  Second, while technically speaking machine gunners are not part of the rifle platoons (they are part of the rifle company’s Weapons Platoon), 99.9% of their time is spent attached out, two guns to each of the three rifle platoons, in direct support of that rifle platoon commander.  Lastly, the ‘shooting in’ aspect occurs, but doctrinally is carried out by to different elements at different stages of the assault.  When the assault kicks off, troops cross the line of departure and the guns are engaging the objective area (there are too many variables to get into every one, but let’s say this is a rifle platoon operating independently, with two guns attached). So, roughly speaking, the machine guns are going to engage the objective area from somewhere around 6-700m, and they’ll keep up that fire until the rifle platoon is forced to break down into platoon fire and maneuver (the guns are firing on the objective while the platoon is moving en masse, and once the platoon commander decides that is no longer appropriate, he’ll begin having the three squads leapfrog each other, providing their own base of fire).  Once platoon fire and maneuver has begun, doctrinally they’ve entered the rifleman’s space; they’re within 300m of the objective area and they’re shooting themselves in (with those 9 SAWs, 9 M-203s, and 18 rifles).  At this point the machine guns do one of a few things, depending on the tactical situation: typically the guns are either going to sit tight and shift fire to other targets (isolate the objective to keep the enemy from reinforcing/withdrawing, engage other enemy positions/targets of opportunity) or pack up and displace somewhere else (follow the riflemen to consolidate on the objective, get into position to support another unit’s maneuver, or to cover an exposed flank, etc…).

    “My impression of the history of machine gunnery…”
    Ahem, machine gun gunnery… 😉

    “…in the 20th century suggests to me that every army that has tried to replace a proper LMG with a jumped-up assault rifle has come to regret it, and returned to the path of wisdom eventually.”
    I don’t know, only time will tell.  As I previously mentioned, I think what they’re doing makes sense for a very specific problem, and maybe we’ve reached the point of specialization and capability that infantrymen will no longer be issued one weapon (a service rifle, for example, not the particular model), but they’ll draw a different weapon based on the tactical situation and mission parameters (as many Special Operations elements do).  If that is the case, I think the M-27/L129A1 have their place.  If the tactical situation and mission parameters change, I’d expect he drop the M-27 and pick up whatever weapon meets his needs.

    “What’s more, this whole horror-story of being outranged by Terence strikes me as being a bit in the tradition of superstitious fear of the deadeye marksmanship of the wily Pathan…”
    Hmmm…  First, that’s a very easy thing to say from the comfort of your living room.  Second, not sure what all this talk about Taliban personal weapons is about; when I was there (December of 2001 to May of 2002), AQ and Taliban loved crew serves, particularly Dshk and recoiless rifles.  Lastly, my comments had nothing to do with any enemy soldier’s deadeye marksmanship, or how much range time he’d gotten in, they had to with not wanting to get hit by a 12.7mm round fired from a mountain top a klick, or even two, away.  He’s not likely to hit anyone, but, as we’ve been discussing, machine guns put out a lot of rounds, do you want to be his lucky day?  At this point your options are: 1) take cover and call in supporting fires (most likely air); 2) disengage by pulling back; or 3) resolve to go get him.  Remember, we’re on foot, humping everything we own, so we’re not particularly quick, especially moving up a mountain, and we’re going to have to cross the next 400m under (wildly inaccurate) fire without being able to return effective fire, knowing he’ll be going long before we get anyone near him.  So more than likely we’re spending a couple hours moving uphill just for fun, and if the day goes really shitty, one of our guys got hit and now we’ve got to have a team head back down the mountain in order to carry out CASEVAC…

    But let’s get back on topic: PKs are quite ubiquitous, so let’s say he’s using one of those, and he’s only 800 or 900m away on his mountain top.  He’s still got the same basic chance of hitting one of us, but something has changed.  In the first scenario there was no way we could reach him with what we were carrying, but now we can, because he’s closer and we’ve got SAWs or GPMGs.  But here’s the problem: due to the inherent inaccuracy associated with firing a machine gun in the light role or a SAW at 600+m, we have the same chance of hitting him as he has of hitting us.  But if we can introduce a Designated Marksmen with a weapon that has the reach and the optics to make target acquisition and engagement possible, he may not hit the bad guy, but now the bad guy has a lot more rounds impacting immediately around him, as opposed to the giant area covered by the ballistic dispersion from our LMG/SAW.  Again, my opinion is that the latter is much more likely to suppress the bad guy.

    “I don’t recall any of the female cadets having any difficulty with it.”
    Good one.

    “My impression was that it was not so much the recoil as the jiggling about, caused by the bolt zooming back and forth, that governed the dispersion.”
    First, I’m amazed that you’re going to break the effects of firing a machine gun into separate issues of recoil and from the force of the round and the cycling of the bolt; hats off to ya, I was quite content to just lump them together, but I guess that’s why you call yourself ‘Mr. Picky’.  Second: again, are you saying that the recoil of the weapon has no effect on the ballistic dispersion of the rounds?  I would submit it’s both the recoil AND the cycling of the bolt, which we typically just lump together, and the two are not only physically moving the gun, they are also upsetting the sights (for the folks out there that have not shot a machine gun, only a rifle or pistol, think of squeezing the trigger of a semiautomatic weapon every time the sights settle, and why that’s done).  At 600 yards ONE MIL of difference is moving the strike of the round almost two feet (forgive me, I don’t recall exactly), and the standard 7.62mm round is designed to hold a 12″ group at 600 yards, IN A FIRING CRADLE (a vice, firing one round at a time), and that’s just the ammo, the weapon itself is looser.  Then you need to understand that that group is different than the MAG-58/L7/M-240’s cone of fire, which is two mils, or almost four feet, wide at 600 yards, and that’s on a tripod!

    So in the best of conditions you’re on a tripod, sandbagged down, locked into a T&E, and even then you’re spreading rounds over a four-foot diameter cone of fire (which is where I take issue with the concept of ‘ballistic dispersion,’ which, to my mind, speaks to the issue of where the rounds go in the cone of fire, understanding that the rounds are not evenly distributed in the cone of fire).  Now take away the vice-like tripod and T&E and insert the human element, which is now ‘muscling the gun’ onto target, fighting the recoil (and cycling of the bolt) to keep the gun on target and then making adjustments to move the cone of fire/beaten zone to get/hold on target.  John and his female cadets notwithstanding, I submit the cone of fire (and thus the area at/around the bad guy being struck by your fire) is going to be considerably larger and thus much less effective.  I really don’t get how we’re arguing about this: recoil in carbines causes sight misalignment that causes shooters to miss their target at 10 yards.  The M-240s recoil is worse than an M-4s, and at 600 yards is going to cause significantly more problems with out ability to deliver effective fire.

    “AIUI this was not an option on the M60, as it has a self-regulating gas regulator in a sealed unit, a design decision I would regard as questionable.”
    You are correct, and I agree.  However, I was not approached about machine gun design or machine gun acquisition practices…

    “Mr. Picky points out that the Royal Marines are not in the British Army, either.”
    I was being a bit silly; I mentioned it because they were having the same problems I’m describing, so I guess Royal Marines would never make it in the British Army, either.

    “…which is why I’ve been quoting mils, on the (possibly questionable) assumption that you can simply double the dispersion to reflect the doubling of range.”
    That’s what I’m doing, from memory, so very questionable…

    “…except that, since the adoption of the German WW2 idea of a general purpose machine gun, they have very often been physically the same weapon (MG-42/59, MG-3, FN MAG, AAT-52, PKM, M60, MG-51).”
    But I wasn’t talking about anyone but the USMC.  I’d swear I mentioned that 😉

    “Yup, and Jac Weller in his “Weapons and Tactics” pretty well says as much. He seems to think the traditional MMG applications such as barrrage and indirect fireded out after Korea.”
    Not familiar with Mr. Weller’s work, and, to me, traditional MG applications isn’t about barrage/indirect fire.  Using machine guns as machine guns means employing them as stable platforms to deliver fire within the rifle company’s fire plan (i.e., beyond the range of rifle platoon weapons) in order to break up enemy formations, halt their maneuver, and fix them so the friendly rifle platoons may maneuver.  NOT using them as overgrown, belt-fed assault rifles that actually hinder the rifle platoon’s ability to maneuver to close with and destroy the enemy.  But that’s just me 😉

    And please don’t confuse what I wrote with what we did; in the tactical situations we found ourselves in, using a -240 was primarily (almost exclusively) done off a bipod.  Like an overgrown, belt-fed assault rifle, in which case we’d have been better off trading them in for SAWs, or even rifles.

    “I woud say, though, that “machine guns in the squad” is not particularly associated with the mechanized warfare thing.”
    Okay.  But I thought the Bren, ZB26, DP, BAR, FM249, etc…, were all automatic rifles 😉

    “And I think one of the reasons for the otherwise bizarre popularity of jumped-up assault rifles (RPK, RPK-74, LSW) is that you don’t need a decent squad LMG if you are being accompanied everywhere by what is effectively an armoured gun group toting a 20mm or 30mm cannon and a co-ax.”
    I agree, and if I were them, I wouldn’t issue them anything but rifles and anti-tank weapons.

    “…but I find it hard to believe that the shorter barrel can make all that much difference to the ballistics of the round.”
    I agree that a short barrel wouldn’t change the ballistics of the round, but it sure as heck is going to change where the round lands!

    “The USMC course notes references above credit the “proper” Minimi with an effective range of 800m against point targets, 1000m on area targets.”
    Ludicrous.  Well, to be fair, we’d really have to dig in to what constitutes ‘effective.’  In a range card (for a gun on a tripod) we’d mark targets out to 1100-1300 yards, but that target was an intersection, or a ford, or an obstacle, but that was not particularly common given the terrain limitations.  So, on a tripod and locked into a T&E, with the intersection already plotted on our rangecard and pre-registered (much like artillery), with someone with field glasses spotting, could you reliably (‘effectively’) put rounds onto the intersection?  Yeah, you could.  Not very practical in the assault, or from a tactical movement.  You can empty plenty of ammo cans for not a lot of return.

    “At all events, the decision to remove LMGs from the rifle section strikes me as one of the most harmfully stupid defence procurement decisions I have ever heard of, and that’s some pretty fierce competition.”
    I don’t expect I’ll change your mind, but hopefully I’ve at least laid out the case for a different perspective that shows why I view things the way I do.  If I wanted to win an argument I suppose I’d just flip it on its head and say the Marine Corps has (had) three LMGs per squad, beat that! 😉

    “Thanks for the link, it’s the first time I have seen the No 9 shooting.”
    Me too.  Amazing how much it looks like the SA80.  And look at that recoil!

    “This seems so out of kilter with British Army experience it is hard to believe that they are talking about the same weapon.”
    I understand completely.  Like the difference in capability in using a machine gun on a tripod vs one on a bipod.

    “I don’t think I have ever heard anyone talk about effectively hitting point targets with the Minimi at 800m.  Most of the chat was whether the Minimi could usefully hit stuff at 400m, or if it was more like 250-300m.”
    I dunno, there’s two separate tracks here.
    1) The regular, long-barreled SAW is a very accurate weapon in terms of engaging point targets.   IF you’re firing it one round at a time.  But…
    2) That’s not what you’re supposed to be doing with a SAW.  You’re supposed to be ripping off bursts of automatic fire, either prone or supported on the bipod, or shouldered, like a big, heavy, belt-fed assault rifle.  In which case the accuracy seriously plummets.  Feeding off what I wrote above, the concept for the SAW is to lend weight of fire within the rifle squad’s space, which is 300 yards and in.  Actual machine guns are supposed to be doing the work further out, and since the MGs are organic to the rifle company (and almost always chopped out in direct support to the rifle platoons), they’re actually there.

    “You are quite right about the shorter barrel not making that much of a difference, apparently it didn’t.”
    Again, I’m just not following.  I haven’t done any reading/research regarding short-barreled vs long-barreled M-249s, but I thought a tenet of rifled firearms was longer-barrel=more accurate.  If that’s not the case, why do infantry not just carry service pistols?  I’m not trying to an ass, I’m just saying that a big plank in my world is going to come down if longer barrel does not equal more accurate.  I know an M-4 is more accurate than an M-9, and an M-16 is more accurate than an M-4, and an M-14 is more accurate than an M-16.  I thought the big part of why that was true was barrel length (and yes, I’m aware of differences in rifling, barrel materials, inherent accuracy of various types of rounds, muzzle velocity and chamber pressure, the load of the round, etc…, but I’m working under the old adage of ‘all things being equal’…).

    Well, I’ll be damned if I didn’t get any of the stuff I intended on getting to after work done because of this thread 😉

    V/R,
    Jack

    #106116
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    “You are quite right about the shorter barrel not making that much of a difference, apparently it didn’t.”

    Again, I’m just not following. I haven’t done any reading/research regarding short-barreled vs long-barreled M-249s, but I thought a tenet of rifled firearms was longer-barrel=more accurate. If that’s not the case, why do infantry not just carry service pistols? I’m not trying to an ass, I’m just saying that a big plank in my world is going to come down if longer barrel does not equal more accurate. I know an M-4 is more accurate than an M-9, and an M-16 is more accurate than an M-4, and an M-14 is more accurate than an M-16. I thought the big part of why that was true was barrel length (and yes, I’m aware of differences in rifling, barrel materials, inherent accuracy of various types of rounds, muzzle velocity and chamber pressure, the load of the round, etc…, but I’m working under the old adage of ‘all things being equal’…).

    I am not privy to the detail, so I proceed with caution here: this is very much third-hand stuff.  But the killer claim from the experiments appears to have been that it just didn’t make enough of a difference to change the conclusion.  This applied to both weapons systems (LSW & Minimi) which is why they are both getting dropped.   It appears that the “other stuff” (basic weapon design, using a bipod, the sights) dwarf the effect size of the longer barrel for accuracy.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #106151

    Just Jack
    Participant

    Whirlwind John,

    I dunno man.  I’m not particularly familiar with the M-4, so I googled it.  The M-4’s barrel is 5 1/2” shorter than the M-16, listed max effective range on point tgt is 500m, area tgt is 600m (which sounds fishy; personally I’d put more stock in the latter than the former, but of course I would, it supports my point!).  The M-16 is 550 and 800, and the only difference is barrel length.

    Regarding the M-249, FN’s page lists the regular as 800m point target, 3600m max range (doesn’t give area target), while they list the Para model also as 800m point target, but max range is only 1800m.  Again, I’ll believe the latter (max range), but the point tgt seems a bit fishy.

    That damn Marine Corps officer’s school pamphlet lists the SAW as 800m point/1000m area, but several others list a much more reasonable 600m/800m.

    The Army actually lists 600m/800m for the bipod, but 800m/1000m for the SAW on a tripod, so maybe that’s where it’s coming from?

    In any case, I’m not finding much on the M-249 “Para,” just FN’s website, though I’d say their claimed max ranges of 3600m and 1800m is emblematic of the barrel differences.

    V/R,

    Jack

    #106160
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    I give you fair warning that I have yet more glurge to dump on this thread, but for the moment let me content myself with saying that

    a big plank in my world is going to come down if longer barrel does not equal more accurate.

    Just Jack’s plank ought to remain safely in place. The question is how *much* difference a few inches of barrel makes, and that will also depend on internal ballistical mysteries such as the location of the all-burnt point. Of course it is possible in principle to make a barrel so long that the rifling slows the bullet to a halt before it gets to the muzzle, but that would be performance art rather than gun design.

    Googling around different nation’s armed forces pages for what they think is the maximum effective range of the Minimi, we find:

    Australia (F89)		400m
    Belgium (Minimi M2)	400m
    	(Minimi Mk2+)	800m
    Canada (C9A2)		600m
    France			500m
    Luxembourg (Minimi SPW) 400m
    Slovenia 		600m
    UK                      400m
    US                      600m
    

    All over the place like a madwoman’s breakfast, although I was surprised how many people are now tending towards the 400m end of things — I’m sure they never used to. Of course there are lots more countries that use the Minimi, the above are just the one who have nice informative army web pages. Indeed, considering what a crap weapon the Minimi is now apparently supposed to be, it must come as a bit of a surprise that so many countries have used it for so long.

    Well, to be fair, we’d really have to dig in to what constitutes ‘effective.’

    …seems on the money, and it could mean anything from putting the first burst on a head-and-shoulders target to expending a belt to cause a prudent individual seriously to consider lying down instead of standing up. There is also the question of whether we care about body armour, and what CRISAT level or other standard is being used, but that only applies after a hit is obtained, and I would worry about hitting first.

    The “definiton” of effective fire I was taught was fire heavy enough that casualties will be sustained if the advance is continued, which would have been a lot more useful if we had also been issued with clairvoyance or the ability to perform short hops backward in time.

    All the best,

    John.

    #106161
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    All over the place like a madwoman’s breakfast, although I was surprised how many people are now tending towards the 400m end of things — I’m sure they never used to.

    Helpfully the UK also provides figures of 300m (the range it is capable of imposing sustained suppressive fire at) and 800m (its effective range) too.

    Just Jack wrote: a big plank in my world is going to come down if longer barrel does not equal more accurate. Just Jack’s plank ought to remain safely in place. The question is how *much* difference a few inches of barrel makes

    Quite.  And I think that what the British Army is now saying is that the answer is “not nearly as much as we thought”, the crucial bit here being the determination to get rid of the LSW, since it is so little improvement on the SA80 rifle even on its own terms.  Apparently.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #106163
    grizzlymc
    grizzlymc
    Participant

    I appreciate that this may be somewhere above, but what is the difference between the Minimi M2 and M2+, you seem to get an awful lot for your +?
    And how do all the other nations’ minimis fit into the M2 M2+ thing?

    Or, if you cluster on >500m and <500m for the two apparently quite different weapons, does the madwoman’s breakfast look a bit less scrambled.

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