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This topic contains 20 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Just Jack 1 week ago.

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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 1 week, 3 days 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 1 week, 2 days 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

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