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Of cold steel and brass buttplates

The Enfield P53 bayonet, standard at the time of the Crimean War, and the Enfield L85 (SA80) bayonet, still standard issue today. While the blade has changed the basic concept endures (Photo: Chris Eger)

The Enfield P53 bayonet, standard at the time of the Crimean War, and the Enfield L85 (SA80) bayonet, still standard issue today. While the blade has changed the basic concept endures over the past few centuries (Photo: Chris Eger)

FM 23-25, War Department Basic Field Manual, Bayonet, WAR DEPARTMENT WASHINGTON 25, D. C, 7 September 1943:

1. THE SPIRIT OF THE BAYONET
The will to meet and destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat is the spirit of the bayonet. It springs from the fighter’s confidence, courage, and grim determination, and is the result of vigorous training. Through training, the fighting instinct of the individual soldier is developed to the highest point. The will to use the bayonet first appears in the trainee when he begins to handle it with facility, and increases as his confidence grows. The full development of his physical prowess and complete confidence in his weapon culminates in the final expression of the spirit of the bayonet—fierce and relentless destruction of the enemy. For the enemy, demoralizing fear of the bayonet is added to the destructive power of every bomb, shell, bullet, and grenade which supports and precedes the bayonet attack.

2. USES OF THE BAYONET

•    a. A determined enemy may not be driven from his position by fire alone. Making full use of cover and concealment, he will often remain in his position until driven out in hand-to-hand combat. The bayonet or the threat of it, therefore, is the ultimate factor in every assault.
•    b. At night, on infiltration missions, or whenever secrecy must be preserved, the bayonet is the weapon of silence and surprise.
•    c. In close combat, when friend and foe are too closely intermingled to permit the use of bullets or grenades, the bayonet is the primary weapon of the infantry soldier.
3. PRINCIPLES OF BAYONET FIGHTING

•    a. The bayonet is an offensive weapon. With it, aggressiveness wins. Hesitation, preliminary maneuvering, and fencing are fatal. The delay of a fraction of a second may mean death.
•    b. The bayonet fighter attacks in a fast, relentless assault until his opponent is destroyed. He takes instant advantage of any opening; if the enemy gives no opening, the attacker makes one by parrying his opponent’s weapon and driving blade or butt into him with killing force.
•    c. As the throat area is especially sensitive to attack by the bayonet, an opponent will act instinctively to protect this area from a thrust. By threatening his opponent’s throat with the point of the bayonet, the attacker will frequently cause him to uncover other vulnerable parts of the body. Other sensitive parts frequently exposed to the attacker’s thrust are the face, chest, abdomen, and groin.

4. DEVELOPING BAYONET FIGHTER From the outset bayonet training will be conducted with constant emphasis on developing proper form, quickness with the rifle and bayonet, footwork, and accuracy. Continued striving for these four essential qualities will develop the coordination, balance, speed, strength, and endurance that mark the expert bayonet fighter. Differences in conformation of individuals may require minor deviations from the prescribed bayonet technique. Those deviations which do not detract from the effectiveness of the individual’s attack will be disregarded.

A young Marine goes into battle with his bayonet and M14. Vietnam, 1965. Photograph by Eddie Adams

With the above in mind, check out the brutal dissection of how the rifle butt is traditionally used as explained by Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria:

The background may change, but the stare remains the same

Found this haunting image of a Marine with the “2,000-yard stare” currently in storage at the National Museum of the Marine Corps awaiting display. (If anyone recognizes the artist, please let me know).

in-storage-at-national-museum-of-the-marine-corps

It is, of course, an homage to war artist Thomas Lea’s The 2000 Yard Stare of WWII fame:

"2000 YARD STARE" "Down from Bloody Ridge Too Late. He's Finished - Washed Up - Gone" "As we passed sick bay, still in the shell hole, it was crowded with wounded, and somehow hushed in the evening light. I noticed a tattered Marine standing quietly by a corpsman, staring stiffly at nothing. His mind had crumbled in battle, his jaw hung, and his eyes were like two black empty holes in his head. Down by the beach again, we walked silently as we passed the long line of dead Marines under the tarpaulins. He left the States 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases. He half-sleeps at night and gouges Japs out of holes all day. Two-thirds of his company has been killed or wounded. He will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?” Life Collection of Art WWII, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

“2000 YARD STARE”
“Down from Bloody Ridge Too Late. He’s Finished – Washed Up – Gone”
“As we passed sick bay, still in the shell hole, it was crowded with wounded, and somehow hushed in the evening light. I noticed a tattered Marine standing quietly by a corpsman, staring stiffly at nothing. His mind had crumbled in battle, his jaw hung, and his eyes were like two black empty holes in his head. Down by the beach again, we walked silently as we passed the long line of dead Marines under the tarpaulins. He left the States 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases. He half-sleeps at night and gouges Japs out of holes all day. Two-thirds of his company has been killed or wounded. He will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?” Life Collection of Art WWII, U.S. Army Center of Military History, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

 

Devils get more tactical/practical shooting in at qual time

She was named after the 1944 Battle of Peleliu, where US Marines had to fght for every inch of real estate. Note the BAR and M1919 dropping it like its hot.

Battle of Peleliu, where US Marines had to fight for every inch of real estate. Note the BAR and M1919 dropping it like it’s hot.

I figured if this was new to me, it was likely new to some of your as well, but did you know that the table two portion of the Marine’s annual rifle range qualification has changed to become more practical?

Among the changes:

•Keeping up the heart rate: Instead of Marines staying stationary while shooting, they are required to start at the standing position and quickly get into the kneeling or prone position when the targets are ready to appear.

•Engaging the enemy: Marines begin qualifying at the 500-yard line then advance towards the 100-yard line, where previously they trained the other way around.

•Maintaining situational awareness in combat: New targets show both friendly and enemy forces and Marines must maintain awareness of the targets to determine when to shoot forcing them to make combat decisions.

More info here

Mattis, arriving

Douda, Djibouti (Dec. 5, 2006) - U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Commander, Lt. Gen. James Mattis visits with local officials from Douda, Djibouti, home base for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa command. U.S Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement (RELEASED)

Douda, Djibouti (Dec. 5, 2006) – U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Commander, Lt. Gen. James Mattis visits with local officials from Douda, Djibouti, home base for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa command. U.S Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric A. Clement (RELEASED)

By a 98-1 vote, the 115th U.S. Senate confirmed retired Marine Corps Gen. James Norman “Mad Dog” Mattis to be the 26th secretary of defense Jan. 20, and Vice President Michael R. Pence administered his oath of office shortly afterward.

Mattis is the first retired general officer to hold the position since General of the Army George C. Marshall in the early 1950s. Congress passed a waiver for the retired four-star general to serve in the position because law requires former service members to have been out of uniform for at least seven years to serve as defense secretary.

Mattis retired from the Marine Corps in 2013. The former CENTCOM commander previously led I MEF, United States Marine Forces Central Command, and 1st Marine Division during the Iraq War as well as 1/7 Marines in the Persian Gulf War. He reportedly carried a worn copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius throughout his deployments while his extensive library has earned him a reputation as something of a warrior monk.

His first message:

Message to the Department of Defense from Secretary of Defense James Mattis

Press Operations
Release No: NR-020-17
Jan. 20, 2017
***

It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.

Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.

Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.

I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.

MATTIS SENDS

Endangered Marine XM-3s being preserved via CMP

In 2004, the Marine snipers deployed in the sandbox needed a rifle that was shorter and lighter as well as quieter, than their standard M40s.

This led a small group of sniper wonks including Steve Reichert (then SNCOIC of the 2nd Marine Division’s Pre-Sniper course) and others to hammer out what was known as the DARPA XM-3 rifle, using an 18.5″ Hart 416R Stainless Steel (Mil-Gauged) barrel that was suppressor ready.

That's a full length rifle

That’s a fully asssembled sniper rifle…

What was so special about them?

From Steve Reichert:

-The receivers were clip slotted to accept the reverse-engineered titianium picatinny rail (IBA Design) to fit firmly.
-The receivers’ internal threads were opened up to 1.070” to allow a perfectly true alignment with the bolt face and chamber/bore dimension. The chamber was cut to accept M118LR ammo.
-The titanium recoil lug was built with the 1.070” diameter opening for the larger-barrel threads and surface ground true.
-The stainless steel magazine box was hand fitted and welded to eliminate movement when assembled.
-The stocks were custom made for the project.
-The barreled actions were bedded in titanium Devcon and Marine Tex to allow for decades of hard use without losing torque or consistency.
-Nightforce made a full 1 MOA elevation adjustment on their NXS 3.5-15X50’s to allow for faster dope changes at distance. These scopes had 1/4 MOA windage.

While successful and a hit with the Devils who got to use them, the 56 or so XM3’s were all pulled from service by 2014.

Thankfully, some have made thier way to the CMP and, as surplus bolt-action rifles, can be sold to the public.

They just auctioned off XM-3 rifle, serial number S6534025 with a factory green stock finish, built at Iron Brigade Armory by D. Briggs, USMC (Ret), 2112.

The rifle included the scope, sniper data book with some firing information; PVS22 Night Vision Device and other goodies.

xm-3-rifle-serial-number-s6534025-has-a-factory-green-stock-finish-and-shows-signs-of-use-but-was-well-maintained-and-cared-for-was-built-at-iba-by-d-briggs-usmc-ret-2112 pvs-22

Talk about functional history…

Magpul, USMC

pmag-30-arm4-gen-m3-window-in-black-and-medium-coyote-tan-mct

It looks like Wyoming-based Magpul will be providing the mags for the Marines moving forward, with their PMAG being the only authorized mag for field use while the USGI EPM will be relegated to training.

In government administered tests, the Gen M3 PMAG ran through 20,400 rounds of M855A1 ammo without any magazine-related stoppages, so there is that. The mags will be in two types, GEN M3 PMAG in Black (NSN 1005-01-615-5169) and the new Medium Coyote Tan (NSN 1005-01-659-7086).

“In light of the results from an enormous body of reliability and durability testing and 4 years of combat use, today it was announced that the PMAG 30 AR/M4 GEN M3 Window, in Black and Medium Coyote Tan (MCT), would be the official magazine of the entire United States Marine Corps,” noted the company in a statement on social media.

The company says the MCT mags with the NSN will be available around SHOT show for commercial sale and were designed with the HK416/M27 in mind, which is a big plus.

And it also means their will probably be about 2 million old metal body GI M16/M4 mags hit the surplus pipeline in the coming year or three.

Sometimes copper is your best friend

Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT) 8222 was deployed to Bala Murghab in 2009-10. The team was tasked with partnering with national Afghan forces to train them to stabilize a remote valley in northwestern Afghanistan.

This specialized beryllium copper knife was used by the team breacher to cut plastic explosives.

beryllium-copper-knife-was-used-by-the-team-breacher-to-cut-plastic-explosives

Currently on exhibit at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

This knife cut every charge used by MSOT-8222 during this deployment.

It’s a Strider BD Beryllium Copper (CuBe). These knives, made in St. Paul, MN, have a 6.5-inch blade, paracord wrapped handle, and go an impressive 0.25-inches wide. They run four-figures but are guaranteed non-sparking & non-magnetic.

They are extremely corrosion resistant and doesn’t spark like a steel blade would. Precisely the type of knife you’d want if your job involved cutting through hundreds of blocks of high explosives.

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