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Shotgun Sniper


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.

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  1. I retired in 2005 from the US Army. I’m glad to see patriots still wanting to serve. Be safe out there. You don’t need to die for this country. You make sure the SOB’s die for their country.

    • Thankfully, there’s been plenty of dying for politicians in Washington DC.

      Absolutely delicious karma and it cleans up the gene pool. Nice!

      • I think your karma is probably a Ford…. and will soon leave you afoot on the side of a lonely road.

      • There’s an excessive amount of extra flags every Memorial Day. I doubt many of those under them would much approve of your backhanded bitching about it.

        + you can empty the gene pool, but until it is, those genes will harbor human nature. Part of that human nature (a small part) likes to make the trouble you are slinging, that often grows into the trouble that those under the flags have in their nature, in their DNA, to fix.

        • Many anthropologists disagree with the infantile notion that government violence is somehow embedded into the human genome.

      • You’ll be happy to know that for every casualty, there are hundreds of thousands of us that leave and use the G.I Bill to get a better education than your parents gave you. I hope you find solace in the knowledge that you’re more likely to die a poor liberal arts major at the hands of Thor than your average Marine will get shot in Afghanistan.

        • They died like animals in some faraway land, killed by better people defending their homeland. That’s all that matters. More dead invaders please.

          Also LOL @ the GI Bill, as if the majority of welfare queens don’t waste it just like years of their lives. Not to mention the lost years of earning a wage, but hey, dumb military animals have never been good at math.

    • They taught him to chute, but they didn’t teach him Engrish. Seriously, where is the editor for this rag?

  2. Pistols are freaking fun. Small, not much gear to carry, lots of feedback and things to work on to get better. Nothing says operator like drawing then popping a couple targets after popping from cover.

  3. because they can buy them a M-249 or M-60 is rare and expensive. The M-9 has a reputation outside of the Army as a good reliable handgun many like them so that’s why they want to lay with one.

  4. Wait — a 12 gauge no-stock pistol grip with a bipod? Why, that’s so Pentagon of you! I can’t wait for the day when all GIs are issued $3000 electric forks.

  5. Thank you for your service.

    With that being said, I completely disagree. I’d take my Sig 226 TacOps over a beat up M9 any day. My my buddy’s Benelli M4 is awesome. He’s a WI State Trooper, and was able to get his purchase authorized by his live-in marital management unit. That’s a better gun than my Mossberg 930 SPX, which I believe may be the best firepower per dollar gun in existence.

    I’d grab either shotgun, the Benelli or the Mossberg, over a my duty 870P or a Mossy 590 / 500. Semi autos just get rounds on target much faster than pump guns.

    I’d also take several of my ARs over my old beat up USMC-issue M16A2s. Plus the 300 BLK is a better CQB / subsonic / short barrel performer than the 5.56.

    However, the M203, M249, AT4, M240G, Mk19, and the Ma Deuce – especially the Ma Deuce – are just flat-out awesome. The Mil-Spec Trijicon is also a pretty sweet scope.

    Regardless, keep calm and carry on, sir.

    • My 870 is a bit of a joke, and it was always meant to be. Ive spent at least twice as much as the original on parts alone, and haven’t gotten into the hardcore stuff (I wanted a chassis for a spraypaint finish experiment). Then CNN invented the “assault shotgun” and my punchline turned into a concept album.

  6. I liked my M9 when it was holstered. I could barely hit the paper with it on the range, though. I think it had 100,000 rounds pass through it before it was issued to me.

    Since exiting the Army, however, I have shot quite a few 1911’s. My M9 is to a well kept 1911 as Phyllis Diller is to… Kate Moss.

    Yeah. That’s a good comparison.

  7. I call bs. M9s are common, shotguns not so much.

    As a tanker, the coolest guns I saw and never shot were the Mk19 (which you mentioned) and the Barrett .50 (next to a joe in the chow hall — poor guy only had a carrying handle, no sling).

    Oh and EOD teams and their escorting units showed up with some cool stuff from time to time. Saw one of the EOD guys with an ultra-compact AR (first and only time Id seen one), another escort with an M14 (in Baghdad), and another escort guy with a can on his M4.

  8. back in the day that would have a nine round extended magazine charged with # 4 Buck {better pattern} probably brass shells,no bipod and used as a back up weapon when main weapon ran dry! or in CQB because it is easy to maneuver, the 9 is a lousy bullet and pistols deserve better! especially if your life depends on it! note the full auto ones sucked {hard to control}
    actually a Tomahawk and Kukri were preferred weapons when up close and personnel! 5.56×45’s suck when compared to a 7.62×39, plus the .223 had more armory problems, weak stocks, snapped easy at recoil spring attach point to receiver if dropped! best defensive weapon was Puff! or 12 stacks of flying ordnance! Of course ARTY on call worked wonders especially using wille Pete ya I know I’m ancient as the Hills & slightly out of date

    • What frigging decade are you in when you consider a hatchet superior to an AR15 for close quarters stuff. Go back to the 50s, gramps.

      “Back in my day the Krag–Jørgensen would drop them Fillipinos like cordwood I tell you what, no fancy schmancy .30-06, our boolits had rims, I tell you what!”

  9. “Wishing you just had a little pistol on your hip or thigh. Eating in the chow hall would be so much easier!”

    Ha, memories . . . I remember certain individuals who would wait for a buddy with a M9 to return from the DFAC so they could borrow it and then go eat!

  10. I think we got a winner, here! I might be a little drubk right now, but this was waaay better than that fudd a-hole!

  11. Guys wanted a pistol for the chow hall, px and mwr runs. It is easier to carry a pistol or shot gun with px bags or a chow hall tray.

  12. I do need to correct you on something:

    Air Mobility Command doesn’t have any “perfectly good airplanes.” “Reasonably serviceable” is all I ever expected when I was at Bragg.

    Obligatory weapons content: I made NCO in an MI unit shortly before I went to jump school. As such, in addition to my M16A1 (we didn’t transition to the M16A2 until after Desert Storm*), I was assigned an M9.

    Eventually, I left Bragg and transitioned to the National Guard, where I was assigned an M16A1 (later an M16A2). On range days, I would tell my fellow Guardsmen about having been assigned both weapons, then ask them the following questions:

    Q1: Which one do you think I jumped with? A1: The M9, of course!
    Q2: Which one do you think I went to the field with? A2: The M9, of course!
    Q3: Which one do you think I went to war with (I participated in Just Cause [no mustard stain] and Desert Shield/Desert Storm/Desert Sabre)? A3: Both, of course! (The only time I ever jumped with my M16 was when I was selected to represent my unit in the mass jump returning from Just Cause. We had 20 C-141s and just under 2000 paratroopers filling the skies over Sicily DZ the morning of 12 January 1990….)

    On my deployment as a Guardsman to Kuwait in 2003, not only did I have my unit-assigned M16A2, I also carried an M9 that the unit I was mobilized to support issued me. Not only that, but the duty position to which I was assigned had an M60 as an additional assigned weapon. That’s right, this Intel weenie got to be a pig man!

    *When I went to PLDC in 1988, I was one of only two Soldiers in my teaching squad who carried an M16A1 (the other was assigned to Womack Army Community Hospital); everyone else had an M16A2. As such, the rest of our squad offered me and the other Soldier assigned an M16A1 a deal for the Field Training Exercise phase of the course: we would be used as field-expedient SAW gunners (6-9 round bursts), and the rest of the squad would clean our rifles in exchange. Of course, that meant we had to carry extra magazines of blanks, but given that blanks make a rifle mighty dirty, it was well worth the tradeoff.

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