Ray Grandi is a 5 grade warrant officer who has served forty years in the rifle divisions of the USCM, a participant in the Vietnam War.
“Nine marines died today in battle, six of them in paddy checks right in front of the fortifications of the enemy. Their bodies were found compressing the M16 in a semi-disassembled state with cartridges stuck in the chamber. There were traces of gunpowder in the bullet holes on the heads. ” The commander of the company "N", 3 bmp / 5 PMP. Operation Swift 4-15 September 1967, Vietnam.
And M249 - automatic weapon offices (SAW), has the potential to create equally tragic consequences? This tragedy was brought about by the circumstances that were themselves generated by the vicious system of tests and adoption. What will it cost to draw the attention of our high command to the fact that the M249 SAW has serious problems with the performance of the functions of an automatic rifle (AR)? History will repeat? I believe, and many gunsmiths of the units agree with me that the M249, having a good potential in the role of a light general-purpose machine gun (LMG), very poorly copes with the role of personal weapons. In the following text, I will try to highlight the characteristics of the M249, which make it difficult to find in combat formations.
М249 SAW survived its estimated lifetime in the troops. The M249 of our infantry battalions work unsatisfactory, if we consider the ratio of the number of shots to the number of delays. In addition to the SAW modernization program in service, a four million additional purchases program was adopted at 2001 fiscal year. Based on the facts below and the well-known depressing experience, I urge the ILC command to conduct in-depth research to determine how reasonable it is to procure new models of such a poorly-shown model. It is necessary to conduct comparative tests of the M249 and the appropriate real AR in the interests of the amphibious MP groups.
The weight of the M249 (less than 10 kg with a two-wrap duct), which allowed it to be classified as AR (personal weapon serviced by one marines), was achieved by reducing the reliability in comparison with the M240G single machine gun or the heavy M2 machine gun. After being put into service in 1984, the M249 was praised as an analogue of the machine gun, which would give a noticeable increase in the firepower of the infantry unit. However, for five years of operation, a modernization program was required. The upgrade consisted of adding a hydraulic buffer to the butt in order to reduce vibration (increased accuracy) and the introduction of a second barrel into the kit. This first upgrade has already indicated that the tests for adoption were insufficient to call the M249 a full-fledged personal weapon.
Meanwhile, М16А2 replaced М16А1 as the main combat rifle of the KMP. Unlike М16А1, which had both a self-loading and automatic mode, the М16А2 has only self-loading and fixed three modes. The adoption of the M16X2 meant that the squadron was deprived of the shooter with automatic weapons. Thus, the core of the fire power of the link (fire team) floated away into history textbooks. Then KMP attacked the M249, thinking that it will be a new AR. Below I will show that it was the wrong choice.
Consider the problems arising from the fact that the structure of the link uses weapons with ammunition that have different nomenclature codes MO. We know that the M249 shoots the M855 (A064) supplied in tapes, and the M16X2 shoots with the standard M855 (A059). These differences in ammunition can lead to unnecessary friction in the conduct of the battle and in relations within the rifle squad. With different ammunition inside the link, the exchange of ammunition between the shooter with an automatic weapon (automatic rifleman) and other arrows at best is complicated. For example, if the shooter runs out of ammo, he will have to pick out the cartridges from SAW tapes. This is a very time-consuming process. In the opposite case, when the gunner SAW ran out of ammunition, he would have to insert the shops from the rifle. The inability to accept stores from the M16 normally is the main problem of the M249 system. I quote the Charter of the Marine Corps Warfighting Publication 3-15.1, Machine Guns and Machine Guns Gunnery: “As an emergency measure in SAW, you can use 20- and 30-cartridge shops, but this increases the likelihood of delays when shooting.”
Is this an acceptable characteristic of the weapon used in close contact with the enemy, around which the link is built? I think not.
Problems with the use of two types of ammunition in the course of the chaos on the battlefield arise from shooters and at the rear men. Since both nomenclature codes are packed in identical containers, it is easy to distinguish between them during the day, but at night this causes confusion. For example, imagine yourself in the role of commander of a rifle squad. Your squad started the attack as part of eight marines, and now, after the loss, you have only five fighters. You drove the enemy all day. Sunset is approaching, the unit is ordered to stop and dig in. Because of the loss you have only one M249. You desperately need two things: ammunition and water. Around the mess. Since stocks are small, ammunition is trying as quickly as possible to drag on the position. Just after sunset, the Marine collapses into your trench and hurls a box of 5,56 cartridges. He thinks that these are cartridges in stores. By law, Murphy will be the cartridges in the tapes.
The advantage of adopting genuine AR in the department will be the huge savings of money on ammunition that can be redirected to other important matters. Now KMP purchases 249 boxes with single tracer for four conventional cartridges (А5,56), 064 in tapes without tracer (А5,56) and idle 062 (А5,56) for М075. Replacing SAW with a normal AR will destroy these three additional item codes, which will reduce costs and at the same time significantly increase the level of fire training of shooters. Look at the experiment schedule. Only after a five-minute briefing did the Marines hit the targets from Colt AR perfectly well (created on the basis of the M16).
KMP can learn from the Soviet Army, which in the early eighties decided to get rid of the 7,62 mm RPD with tape power in its rifle platoons and replace them with the Soviet AR RPK. The PKK is the same AK rifle with a longer and heavier barrel, a bipod attached to the barrel, a slightly modified butt (for firing automatic fire from a prone position) and a sector magazine of increased capacity. The Soviet people understood the problems that arose in the power-supply compartment, and got rid of them, returning to the basic concept of an automatic rifle. If you do not understand why they did this, contact any infantryman, a war veteran. His answer would be something like this: “Tapes are too much weight and too much trouble. That's why".
The Soviets thought of this and made the right conclusion. I am afraid that we will need to incur senseless losses in various situations, so that it can be understood that the light machine gun is not suitable as an automatic rifle.
Why is a spare trunk included in the kit? If you figure it out a bit, then quickly find out that the original M249 was taken into service with a single barrel. Then why did the CMP add another barrel? At first, the M249 barrels were supplied with gas controllers that had two installations. Theoretically, the shooter, noting that the pollution leads to a slowdown in the recharge cycle, could switch the gas control to a larger value and continue to use weapons. The normal setting of the gas regulator is 700 shots per minute, the greater the value 1000 shots per minute. Unfortunately, the marines did not receive sufficient training and immediately put on 1000, which led to increased wear and destruction of the trunks. Instead of starting to properly prepare the shooters, they decided to correct the problem by giving a spare barrel.
Understanding the SAW fire modes will confirm that a spare barrel is not needed to use SAW as an AR. The frequent fire from SAW for a long time - 85 shots per minute. Rapid fire - 200 shots per minute with a barrel change every two minutes. Show me a Marine who can move and fire in bursts of 3-5 shots at a rate of more than 85 shots per minute. This will be the image of a Marine, who misses targets and spends precious ammunition in vain. In short, the ILC in vain added a spare trunk - it is not needed.
Let's take a closer look at the idea of a spare trunk. When does the shooter change trunks? In attack? It is absurd to think that this is possible. Change barrels in defense? During the production of a solid barrage, probably? The second problem with the spare barrel stems from the fact that it is impossible to establish a spare barrel uniformly with the first one on the horizon. Pillar installations are made on the basis of the shooting data of the main barrel. No two trunks can be machined with such precision as to give exactly the same trajectory. As a result, a spare trunk is brought to normal combat by adjusting the front sight with a wrench vertically. In the horizontal plane, you cannot move the middle point of impact. If you do not fit in .5 mil (0,5 thousandth) per 36 yards (~ 33 m), then it will be 6 inches (152 mm) per 300 yards (~ 274 m). The US Army Charter "Field Manual 23-14, M249 Light Machine Gun in the Automatic Rifle Role" states: "When used as a machine gun, it is installed on a tripod machine, adjustable horizontally and vertically, and supplied with a spare barrel." This problem is further complicated by the semi-moving (semifixed) nest of flies on the M249 trunks. In the photos (not in the archive) you can see two trunks nearby. Notice that the trunk “A” on the right has a base of the front sight shifted to the right, and the trunk “B” is displaced to the left. This non-central location of the base of the flies caused a noticeable deviation of holes. Holes marked “A” are shots from the barrel “A”, and “B” are shots from the barrel “B”. Marked aiming point is located in the middle.
KMP should overestimate the policy of issuing a spare trunk for the M249. If it is decided to leave the spare trunk in the kit, then all trunks should be inspected to ensure that the bases of the flies are properly centered. A spare barrel is an unnecessary burden for an already overloaded marine. In the role of automatic weapons separation of the spare barrel is not needed.
I am sure that the M249 apologists are fixated on the capabilities of two hundred-cartridge tapes. I believe that this detail prevents them from seeing a large number of M249 shortcomings in the role of AR. Carrying a large amount of ammunition is not an end in itself for us, we need to hit the enemy with the ammunition we have with us. Here is a quote from the book “My rifle, the faith of the American marine” by Major General KMP retired William H. Riperthus: “We, my rifle and I, know that this war is not counted for the number of shots, not the noise of shots and do not smoke from shots. We know that hits are counted. We will fall.
Recent comparative field tests of the M249 and the Colt AR at the KMP Preparatory for Combat Preparatory Center showed that the riflemen (automatic riflemen) hit more targets from the Colt AR with less ammunition consumption than from the M249. Experienced gunners M249 SAW on the 36 meter sighting shooting range and the 103 shooting range designed for automatic shooting were used for the tests. During the tests, it turned out that marines successfully hit emerging targets from the Colt AR. At the shooting range for automatic shooting, the Marines, on average, missed lifting one or two targets while reloading the Colt AR. SAW gunners on average missed lifting five targets during reloading. All marines who participated in the tests, in the end, preferred the Colt AR, rather than the M249 SAW. Shouldn't we listen to these marines? The numbers speak for themselves.
We need to recognize that SAW is an extremely difficult weapon to master. This is not something you can take and immediately apply successfully. To become a skillful shooter with SAW (automatic rifleman), it takes a long training process. It can be expected that with losses the skilled arrows will end. Would it not be wiser to adopt an automatic weapon that will have characteristics similar to another link weapon? CMP is known for its ability to improvise and think unconventionally. Regarding SAW, however, we seem ready to return to what it was before.
My assessment of the M249 SAW is based on my own field experience. How many times have I seen the SAW shooter forced to stop the attack to eliminate the delay! The nightmare begins after the feed tray lid rises to determine the cause of the delay. Often the tape slips out of the tray and falls into the box. The marine is in a desperate situation. In addition to finding out the reasons for the delay, he needs to decide what to do with the tape. Do I need to shake this tape out of the box, or is it better to look for a new box? All this time he is not involved in the battle. His weapon does not work, he does not shoot at the enemy and can not protect himself. His unit continues to attack, and the fire cover, which he must provide, is absent. In such a situation, the shooter could at least protect himself, the ILC should equip the shooter with the SAW with an МХNUMX pistol, as they arm with the М9 machine gunners.
I do not see the logic in the continuation of saving the M249 system. As a general purpose LMG light machine gun, it has its merits. However, in the role of AR, this is a separation problem. This is too heavy a weapon. It violates the interchangeability of the ammunition link, does not work very well with the stores, accurately shoots only from a bipod and is usually transferred to the “three position” (cartridges on the supply tray, the bolt in the front position, the chamber, empty, the fuse removed) because we are not sure about this system.
These problems are complicated by the fact that these weapons are still very difficult to master. Imagine the advantages of a situation where weapons with similar characteristics, with the same ammunition, are used in the rifle department. Imagine the benefits of standardization M4, M16A2 and Colt AR. Every marine, male or female, it does not matter, gets acquainted with the Colt M16A2 on KMB. Having received a Colt AR, in which the device is the same as that of the M16А2, it is easily re-qualified from the arrow to the automatic rifleman.
Another issue to consider is optics. KMP switches to riflescopes on a rifle and SAW. It will be two different optical sights - rifle for M16A2 and machine gun for SAW. If SAW remains in service, the KMP will be forced to purchase two different sights for each link. Replacing SAW with Colt AR, we get one type of procurement, reporting, repair and training instead of two.
Recently, I was asked to make a short report in the group of advisers on infantry actions (IOAG), consisting of acting and retired regimental commanders, on the topic of the possibility of replacing a light machine gun (LMG M249) with an automatic weapon (rifle). As a result, the group recommended that the commander of the CMP replace the M249 SAW with the AR. It is clear that the most convenient and best choice in this case is the Colt AR. If our average SAW proficiency skills are insufficient even in ground components, then what about other parts of amphibious tactical groups where marines do not deal with these weapons on an ongoing basis? You can state that you need to spend more ammunition to improve training. You can remove the spare barrel, but, in any case, it will be a light machine gun as an automatic rifle, and in this role it will be the Achilles heel of the rifle squad.
However, the bets have already been made. The decision to replace the old M249, which are in service with infantry battalions, with new ones is a reality. Have we lost the chance to correct the situation? I would recommend to suspend further purchases of new M249. Why should we continue to operate a system that does not meet the requirements for an automatic rifleman weapon? I am convinced that the CMP should conduct comparative tests of the M249 SAW with the corresponding AKMoid, as the Soviet Army did. Do we really want the light machine gun to work as an AR? Cushion strategists say I value SAW too hard. But experience confirms my grades.
Let's not let the souls of the dead remind us that if we made the necessary decision and replaced the M249 SAW, we would be more successful and save their lives. М249 continues to be a problem of small office.