Over the last couple years, the U.S. Army has been holding the Individual Carbine competition — a program designed to evaluate if the M4A1 rifle is still the best firearm for our soldiers over 50 years after its introduction, or if there is anything better out there. The project has been under fire from the start, and they canned the competition back in June of last year claiming that everyone failed to meet the specifications. According to new information acquired by the Washington Times, it sounds like that decision to cancel the project may have been for other reasons . . .
Last week SIG SAUER gave both Tyler and myself a crash course in using firearms in CQB situations. Using some UTM training rounds and some of SIG’s firearms, we spend a good part of the day endlessly clearing rooms under the direction of the SIG SAUER Academy’s instructors — the same guys that teach this stuff to SWAT teams and military units on a regular basis. We weren’t anything even resembling what you would call good at it, but we got the basics and I figured some of you armchair operators might be interested in what we learned . . .
The German Defence Ministry has halted new orders of H&K’s G36 rifle. The Defense Ministry took the action after troops in Afghanistan complained that the H&K built rifles couldn’t hit their targets during prolonged firefights. It’s a serious problem; engagement distances in Afghanistan have tended to be much greater than originally envisioned when the rifle was designed. From the AFP (via ChannelNewsAsia) . . .
As wjla.com reported, Marine Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter will be awarded the Medal of Honor at a ceremony at the White House today. In November of 2010, Cpl. Carpenter and another Marine, Cpl. Nicholas Eufrazio were on a rooftop in Helmand Province, Afghanistan when an enemy grenade landed near them. “Carpenter placed himself between the grenade and Eufrazio to shield him. The blast deflected down, with Carpenter absorbing most of the explosion. Eufrazio received a head injury from shrapnel. But Carpenter was severely wounded, sustaining a depressed skull, a collapsed right lung, multiple facial fractures, the loss of a third of his lower jaw and fragment injuries to his arms and legs” . . .
The eternal debate rages on about just how useful the bullpup design is in modern firearms. Some people really like it, especially those who need a compact firearm for close quarters fighting. Some people also really hate it, usually those who need to hit things at a slightly longer distance. While the discussion continues, a number of countries have already adopted bullpup style rifles for their military, and today I would like to present you with one of the lesser-known examples. No, it’s not
The Stig Steyer Aug, it’s his Singaporean cousin the SAR 21.
There are very few firearms as iconic as the MP5 family of submachine guns. They’ve starred in just about every action movie from 1970 through the 1990’s, appearing in such groundbreaking cinematic tours de force as Navy Seals starring Charlie Sheen, UHF starring Weird Al Yankovic, Escape from L.A. starring Kurt Russel, Sheena: Queen of the Jungle starring Tanya Roberts, and Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach starring Bubba Smith. You know — the classics. While Hollywood might like the gun for its sleek lines and super-cool looks, there’s a reason that the gun has been just as popular with military units and SWAT teams across the world for the last fifty years . . .
The venerable M16 rifle is a design so old that it qualifies for AARP membership. But nothing is perfect. In its fifty-plus years of U.S. military service, a few suggestions have been made as to how to improve on the old girl. Things like the original rifle being too large and awkward to tote around a battlefield all day long, the need for an adjustable stock, and a preference for an operating system that keeps things a little cleaner than the gas expansion system Eugene Stoner designed for it. In 2005 the Teutonic tinkerers at Heckler & Koch introduced their own updated and more perfect vision for the M16 platform: the HK416 . . .
Over the last hundred years, the military mantra where ammunition is concerned has been “bigger isn’t necessarily better.” Battle rifles moved from .30-06 Springfield to 5.56 NATO. Handguns and SMGs went from .45ACP to 9mm Para. And even the king of the battlefield, the heavy machine gun, is being downsized from .50 BMG to .338 Lapua. The reason is pretty simple: smaller rounds means a more controllable gun and a higher ammunition capacity. KRISS disagrees. They think the future of the submachine gun isn’t paved with tiny shell casings. Instead, they favor a return to the roots of the gun . . .
The M249 is one of the most successful squad automatic weapons ever introduced. Where previously an entire crew was required to set up and run a machine gun, the M249 allowed a single soldier to carry all of the necessary equipment and operate the firearm. It was a major leap forward, but the gun wasn’t perfect. As nice as the FN-produced firearm looks, there are some improvements to be made. Israel’s IMI figured out a way to fix all of those issues and produced a light machine gun that is superior to the M249 in almost every way. They call it the Negev, and I had a chance to get familiar with it this past weekend . . .
Apparently SOFIC, the “Special Operations Forces Industry Conference” run by the NDIA, is a big deal. I had never experienced it before, but then again I’ve only been in this industry for a couple years. This year I twisted Robert’s arm enough to get me a front row seat to the shindig, and boy was it worth the price of admission. Not only were there rows upon rows of product to salivate over, but the special operations community put on a small demonstration of their abilities live in the harbor in Tampa. From my seat — which was even closer to the action than the generals and dignitaries — it was amazing. I’ve patched together a quick video to showcase a taste of what went on. Needless to say it’s on the schedule for next year, too.
If there was a theme to SOFIC this year, it was that lighter is better. Lighter rifles, lighter silencers, lighter gear…lighter everything. Except marketing budgets and corporate waistlines, that is. Keeping in line with that theme, KAC has introduced a new rifle designed to give our boys in the field a lighter designated marksman rifle with some built-in signature reduction. The SR-25 rifle is chambered in 7.62 NATO and sports a 14.5 inch barrel, onto which is (more or less) permanently attached a .30 caliber silencer — KAC designates this puppy the M110K5. It makes sense since the barrel will be shot out long before the silencer, and eliminating the need for a QD mounting system and perfectly tuning the can to the gun make it lighter and more accurate. We’ll see this on the civilian market about the same time the Stoner LMG is available for commercial sales, though.
By James “Bud” Harton
Years ago, actually eons ago, I was a crew chief/door gunner on a UH-1D helicopter in Vietnam. I was assigned to an assault company and our unit was comprised of 24 UH-1D “slicks” as troop carriers and eight UH-1C gunships in our armed platoon. The “slicks” earned their nickname as they did not have any outboard weapons, just the M60D machineguns mounted on each side of the rear of the cargo hold. Slicks carried the troops into the landing zones and then kept them supplied while in the field and the gunships, armed with mini-guns, rockets and 40mm automatic grenade launchers, escorted the slicks in and then provided overhead cover for the grunts in the field . . .