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"A service member attached to Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 2nd Marine Logistics Group reviews his shots on a target during a shotgun qualification aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 22, 2013. The Marines trained to use M-1014 Joint Service Combat Shotguns to defend ammunition supply points on future deployments. (caption and photo courtesy

“Marines who guard ammunition have to use shotgun. The low velocity of the [shotgun rounds] won’t detonate ammunition if it hits it. High-speed projectiles from rifles can set off the explosives, and we wouldn’t want that.” Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Giacomelli, Ammunition Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd MLG, Marines train to guard ammunition supply point with shotguns [via]

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  1. That reminds me of the time I was assigned to be the nuclear security officer for my air groug (MAG-11) when they briefly had the nuclear mission back in the late 1980’s. One of our A-6 squadrons was assigned to drop a QAST (quality assurance subject test) which is a nuke pulled from inventory and the fissable material removed and replaced with a smoke marker. The test is to see if the bomb would have gone off if used, and also tested the air crew’s skills.

    I had to create a team and train them within a week to guard this weapon and escort it by helicopters from North Island to El Toro. We should have used shot guns but someone decided to stick with the M-16A2 since none of the guys were familiar with the shot gun. The rest of the training was pretty intense with exclusionary zones, and all the Personnel Reliability Program, etc., that this made sense.

    MAG-11 resented having this mission as they were a fighter group and didn’t like this addition of the A-6 to their collection of aircraft and especially resented inheriting the nuke mission with them. Too much opportunity to get fired.

    Well, the day of the QAST, the Group S-4 came to me and apologized that they sent a guy to pick up the ammo who didn’t have the proper license to drive with ammo, so they had none to deliver to me. Keep in mind that Khaddafi was still around and I was being briefed that he and others had a lot of interest in getting their hands on this weapon and I was to guard it as though it were intact: deadly force was authorized.

    So what to do? They were not going to cancel the test. I complained to the group adjutant, it’s good to keep friends in all the shops, and he rummaged in his desk and found 30 rounds of 5.56 and 30 rounds of .45ACP. So I gave two 5.56 to each of the Marines and my staff sergeant and I split the pistol rounds. And that’s how I guarded a nuclear weapon that day.

    A couple years after that, the USMC announced that it was dropping the nuke mission. I’m glad that no one tried to attack that day in sunny Southern California.

    • Nice story. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for your service. My biggest regret in life is not serving.

      • Who is stopping you from signing up? I mean, regrets can eat a man up. Prove your manhood! SIGN UP!!

        • At this point, could be age. Some folks don’t meet the health requirements for various reasons when they’re still young enough. Doesn’t mean you don’t regret that stuff, just that you’re regretting something that can’t and potentially never could be changed, which is pretty much par for the course in terms of human experience.

    • That’s crazy! I was stationed on both sides of San Diego Bay during that timeframe and there was plenty of ammunition in the neighborhood.

    • I did a little time with HAZMAT driving in the Corps as well. I don’t doubt you one bit that they wouldn’t give you ammo if you had a license expiration.

      • Don’t give any ideas to California that 2 rounds in long rifles and 1 round in hand guns are good enough to protect a nuke. They may try to use that to out do NY SAFE ACT.

  2. Pardon my weirdness, but last I knew shotgun pellets travel with a tidge more zip than a bolt, firing pin or hammer.

    I suppose one could pack the cases radially, with the ammo all pointy end outward and the primers out of harms way, but something tells me that’s not what they do.

    Along with “this end up” and “use no hooks,” the cases should maybe be marked “shoot other side.”

  3. Sounds like a topic for Mythbusters. I bet it would be pretty difficult to get the ammo to detonate if it was all stacked primer side down.

    • Um, “ammo” includes claymores, rockets, grenades, mortars, howitzer rounds, tank rounds, etc.

    • Causing 5.56 rounds to ignite isn’t a problem. It’s the HE charges in other ordnance that is the risk. Getting them to blow is affected both by velocity of impact (see ‘blasting caps’) and heat caused during penetration. The 5.56 penetrator rounds typical of the US military are much more likely to penetrate shell casings, carry almost three times the velocity of the shotgun buck (out 20 meters from the barrel), and generate much more heat of friction when they are decelerated by the shell contents. I’d choose the shotgun. (I had the sad experience to see a bored crew chief test his M16 while waiting around at LZ Kilo, just south of Khe Sanh. He picked an assumed-to-be-a-dud M79 HE round lying nearby as his target. Go figure. His testicles were destroyed by fragments and he was medivac’d home.)

      • Ouch. Yeah, C-4 is supposedly immune to detonation by small arms, but I don’t know what’s in an M79 shell.

        Also, even indirect shock might trigger the detonator. That it was a dud of course didn’t mean that they’d forgotten to stuff it full o’ goodness back at Sunflower.


  4. In the Army, we were smart enough not to shoot at the ammo we were supposed to be guarding.

    • 🙂

      Shot guns are good for guarding material like that and limiting collateral damage to other people and things. A 5.56mm round goes a long way, and you can’t always shoot in a direction that doesn’t point towards your CP. I think the concern about the ammo going off might be one of those myths, but it might not be. I’m no expert on that. Shot guns are less likely to penetrate through the wooden crates than the 5.56 is, but not by too much.

      • Great story at top, Skyler… a round for you, a round for me… I was on a ballistic-missile sub in the late 70s. Submarines are (far as I know) unique is that they are the only Navy units with nukes that do their own security (.45s and M-14s) instead of having embarked Marines. But the “floating pier” sub-repair tenders we tied up next to had Marine detachments that were always armed with shotguns (Ithaca 37s, for the most part) when ICBMs were being craned on and off the boats. Reason given was that buckshot was do less damage to the warhead than an M-16.

  5. Didnt the guys at the Demolition Ranch Youtube channel set off a 9mm round with a bb gun? If memory serves correctly, a daisy red rider is a smidge slower than buckshot.

  6. I spent a number of years as an USAF SP with far ranging duties that included working in the armory and weapon storage areas. We carried M-16s or GAU-5S with no concerns that we would miss and penetrate any of the containers we protected. i am uncertain what they are protecting that couldn’t take limited small arms fire especially when most military weapons are designed to be stored within combat zones. Of course, you still want to avoid poking holes through anything that can go boom. We did, however, issue shotguns (and pistols) to those who weren’t SPs, but for an entirely different reason. We wanted to limit the distance the less trained technicians could fling lead so we could deploy our 15-in-5s with less chance of a friendly fire incident. These technicians would only engage opponents that were within 50 feet, which is perfect for a shotgun, whereas an M16 has a maximum range of something like 2600 meters, if memory serves right.

    • they made us repeat 3534 meters incessantly, but that’s assuming you aim up and lob the round as far as it will go.

  7. Having experienced large explosions during my service time and having the ringing ears to show for it I understand the desire to err on the side of caution. Is a shotgun round less likely to detonate an ammo dump than a 5.56? Fvck if I know. But it’s at least worth considering.

    I was tossed on my azz by the shockwave by a big blast and scooped up my an overzealous team of medics and rushed for medical care. Other than being mostly deaf for a while and being in shock I didn’t have any real injuries. 1 guy was killed in the same blast.

  8. I’ll remember this the next time I try to open a spam can of 7.62X54R. I’ll use a shotgun instead of an AR.

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