I joined the Airborne infantry because jumping out of a perfectly good airplane seems easy when the static line pulls your shoot for you. That was honestly my line of thought when signing up. A $3000 airborne bonus didn’t hurt either. Between basic training, and the range days at Fort Bragg, I got to shoot most of the current U.S. Military’s small arms. I carried an M249 SAW on my first deployment and an M4 on my second. I was a gunner behind a .50 cal and M240B. There I was, surrounded by all these guns I would probably never own in civilian life. Actual assault rifles and machine guns. Grenade launchers, like the M203, M320, and the MK19 . . .
Why then, would people always want to fondle my Mossberg 500? A gun that anyone could walk into any gun store in the country and buy? The same thing would happen to the machine gunners in my platoon. They were among the few issued the Beretta M9. People always wanted to play with their pistols. The same pistols you could buy at those same gun stores that sold the Mossberg 500.
We all know the answer to this question. When constantly near these “exotic” weapons, you get used to them. Especially if they are cumbersome, or unwieldy at times. But then one day that sexy little pistol catches your eye. You start to daydream of not having a SAW slung across your chest whenever you’re not sleeping or doing PT. Wishing you just had a little pistol on your hip or thigh. Eating in the chow hall would be so much easier!
This shotgun? Yeah, it’s a 12 gauge. I could blow a watermelon-size hole in an insurgent at 15 paces. Yeah, those are Harris bipod legs, I know it doesn’t make any sense, but it sure looks sweet. How many shells do I have? Three, and I don’t even know if they are any good. That pretty much sums up what it was like to carry a shotgun on deployment.
My squad leader dared me to put the bipod legs on my pistol grip Mossberg. I got so many comments, ranging from chuckles to confused anger. Looking back, I’m surprised I didn’t get in any trouble from some bored sergeant major, or first sergeant. I guess that’s why deployments are sometimes considered better than being back in the rear; people aren’t looking to make unnecessary trouble.
And that, in my humble opinion, is why M9s and shotguns are cooler than machine guns.