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Squad Designated Marksman Rifle, inbound

What’s not to love about an HK417, especially when it is set up as a DMR? (Photo: Chris Eger)

Heckler & Koch announced last week they are preparing to deliver a shipment of new rifle weapon systems as part of the U.S. Army’s Squad Designated Marksman Rifle contract.

The SDMR is a variant of the company’s G28 (HK241) chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO. The platform, which itself is a development of the HK417 series. was evaluated at Fort Bliss by the Army’s PEO Soldier program earlier this year. Manufactured in HK’s Oberndorf, Germany plant, the rifle will soon begin arriving at the company’s Columbia, Georgia facility to marry up with optics, mounts, and accessories provided from a field of a dozen U.S. companies.

According to HK, there are some 6,000 such guns in the pipeline.

More in my column at Guns.com.

SMGs are white hot again, in an NFA-compliant format if nothing else

LWRC International is best known for its high-end AR platforms. That makes their new offering kinda neat divergence from that. I give you, the SMG-45:

LWRCI SMG45 c

David Golladay, LWRCI’s marketing director, told me that the SMG, as its name would imply, originated as a select-fire submachine gun for a military customer, complete with a folding stock. This month’s NFA-compliant release doesn’t need a tax stamp and is pitched to the discerning gun owner as the first installment of a broader pistol caliber carbine series.

It’s got a lot of things going for it, like a folding brace, UMP-style mags, and a compact (15.3-inches with the brace folded) envelope. Plus, chambered in .45ACP, it is subsonic all day and suppressor ready right out of the box.

More in my column at Guns.com

Talisman Sabre ’19

I just love PHOTOEX shots!

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anaid Banuelos Rodriguez)

TASMAN SEA (July 11, 2019) The U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), top left, the U.S. Navy Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), left, the Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Regina (FFH 334), center, the Royal Australian Navy Canberra-class landing helicopter dock ship HMAS Canberra (L02), top right, and the Legend-class cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL 752), right, transit by the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) in a photo exercise (PHOTOEX) during Talisman Sabre 2019. Green Bay, part of the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group, with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently participating in Talisman Sabre 2019 off the coast of Northern Australia. A bilateral, biennial event, Talisman Sabre is designed to improve U.S. and Australian combat training, readiness and interoperability through realistic, relevant training necessary to maintain regional security, peace, and stability.

That TC 3-20.40, though

You know this target. The necessary evil that is the 25 Meter Alternate Course “C” target:

25 Meter Alternate Course C

Used a lot (especially in the Guard and Reserve) across the Army, the idea is that this bad boy, when shot at 25M, keeps those with M16s/M4s up to date on their rifle qual out to 300M. While it is better than nothing, it is really lackluster as a training tool and gauge of a rifleman’s skill. Its only saving grace is that it can be used on small (pistol) ranges, which are far more common than a nice 300M+ rifle range, with a minimum of range control support, thus giving Joes something better than just holding a FATS/EST trainer and listening to the sound of compressed air.

The good news is that the 25M ACT is headed on its way out the door (to some degree), replaced by the new TC 3-20.40 training strategy for the rifle, carbine, and automatic rifle qualification. A video from Ft. Benning covers the new course, below. While it is a little dry, it is still interesting and a welcome change.

Three greyhounds, fitting out

While putting my kayak in at the Point in Pascagoula, I saw these three across the way at Ingalls SB’s West Bank.

Three greyhounds, fitting out USS John Basilone (DDG-122) USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) Ingalls Eger July 2019 3000

(Photo by Chris Eger)

PCU USS John Basilone (DDG-122) is afloat and fitting out to the far left, with her bow forward. Meanwhile, PCU USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) is in the center, showing off her stern and twin helicopter hangar. To the far right, with her bridge visible between the cranes, is PCU USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123), which is still land-bound and nearing launch.

They are named for the famous Marine machine gun Rembrandt of Henderson Field, the first Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) and the Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I.

All three are Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, the 72nd, 70th and 73rd such ships, respectively, of that huge tin can family. All are what the Navy calls “technology insertion” ships, containing elements of the Flight III ships, projected to begin with DDG-124.

Fightin’ Fitz

While in Pascagoula a few days ago, I spotted this familiar old girl in the shallow waters of the muddy Pascagoula River along Ingalls SB’s West Bank.

USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) under repair Ingalls West Bank Pascagoula River July 2019 eger (2)

(Photo: Chris Eger)

Note her Union Jack on the bow, which was only recently raised a couple of weeks ago.

About that…

Commissioned at Bath in 1995, USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) carries the nickname of “Fightin’ Fitz” and recently made international news when, on 17 June 2017, the destroyer was involved in a collision some 50 miles off Japan with the 40,000-ton Philippine-flagged container ship MV ACX Crystal. The encounter damaged the ship, killed seven of her crew were killed– lost in a flooded berthing compartment in the predawn collision– and left a number seriously injured. With her hull open to the sea, swift and effective damage control by her crew saved the vessel.

Fitz has since been in Pascagoula for the past 18 months undergoing a $400~ million repair/refit.

Three weeks ago, at morning colors on June 17, 2019, her crew unveiled a commemorative flag honoring the Sailors who died in a collision in the Sea of Japan two years ago. In addition, the National Ensign and Union Jack were raised on the ship for the first time since November 2017.

From the Navy’s presser:

Designed by current crewmembers, the flag memorializes their seven fallen shipmates. The flag is blue with “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” emblazoned above the names of the seven Sailors. The motto is a common Navy phrase, but all Fitzgerald Sailors embodied that spirit on June 17, 2017, when they fought significant flooding and structural damage following the collision.

190617-N-BR740-1106 PASCAGOULA, Miss. (June 17, 2019) The crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) unveiled a commemorative flag June 17, 2019, during a remembrance ceremony honoring the Sailors who died in a collision in the Sea of Japan on June 17, 2017. The flag, designed by current crew members, is blue with “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP” emblazoned above the names of the seven Sailors. (U.S. Navy photo by Samantha Crane/Released)

“I am proud of this flag and proud of our shipmates who helped design it, as it is a product of respect and professionalism that symbolizes their great service and sacrifice,” said CDR Garrett Miller, Fitzgerald commanding officer, who unfurled the commemorative flag for the first time.

Fitzgerald’s crew designed this flag from scratch as a way to embody those shipmates we lost,” said Cmdr. Scott Wilbur, Fitzgerald’s executive officer. “It will be flown every year on 17 June to honor them and to never forget their sacrifice. The current crew continues to live out that motto while bringing the ship back to the Fleet.”

What will be filling the holsters of U.S. Army brass for the next few decades

When an Army colonel is promoted to brigadier (one star) general, their promotion ceremony typically includes the pinning of their star by a family member and the presentation of the General Officer pistol and pistol belt. The latter, a thick black leather belt with an 18-karat gold-plated buckle and imprint of an eagle, was first produced in 1944. The rig is worn at the discretion of the general.

As for the GO pistol, the first issued were Colt 1908 .380s in 1943.

These bad boys.

Then came Rock Island Arsenal-made R15 .45ACPs in the 1970s before Beretta M9 GOs became the standard in the mid-1980s. All have had special “GO” serial number ranges.

Now, Sig Sauer has a GO pistol model that is part of the Army’s handgun switchover as of late.

Sig’s M18 GO series

And to get more on that, I reached out to Sig. More on that in my column at Guns.com.

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