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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

Did you get your M1 Guam Quarters?

Just released by the U.S. Mint, the 48th America the Beautiful Quarter depicts U.S. forces coming ashore at Asan Bay, Guam during the liberation of that territory from Japanese occupation in 1944 complete with iconic M1 Garand rifles and LVTs.

Sculpted by Michael Gaudioso, the design is for the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam and “honors the bravery, courage, and sacrifice of those participating in the campaigns of the Pacific Theater during World War II.”

In the scene on the coin’s reverse side, in the arms of the troops coming ashore from landing vehicles are a number of distinctive M1s.

I grabbed a couple rolls at my local bank, and, besides the Bicentennial Quarters that remind me of my childhood, are my new favorite U.S. coin in common circulation.

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.

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

Same as it ever was

From the National WWI Museum and Memorial, this 1919 Independence Day flyer, with a sentiment that is 100 years old today, and is still on target.

Don’t think so? Check out this Pentagon Hall of Heroes speech by Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia, MOH:

Not bad for a platform that some deride as a 300-yard rifle, at best

Sgt. Cleland got it done 80 out of 80 times, out to 600 yards, with an M16 (Photos: U.S. Army)

A member of the U.S. Army’s elite Marksmanship Unit’s Service Rifle Team landed all 80 rounds in the 10-ring at a High-Power Rifle Course earlier this month.

The competitor, Sgt. Benjamin Cleland of Swanton, Ohio, pulled off the feat with a score of 800-34x. This means Cleland not only notched 80 back-to-back hits in the 10-ring but that 34 of those nailed the even smaller “X” ring at the target’s dead center. For reference, at 600 yards, the 10-ring measures 12 inches while the “X” is 6 inches.

According to the AMU, it is something that has never been recorded as on a service rifle in this type of match. Outstanding job, Sgt. Cleland!

More in my column at

You can never really wear out one of these…

When I was a kid, as a military brat, I inherited a very well-traveled OD M65 Field Jacket and wore it throughout junior high and high school. It finally came up missing at a party in college and I suspect that somewhere it remains, probably in the closet of a hipster, with mustache wax on the collar.

Later, in the state guard, I got one of my own woodland camo model– that my son now wears occasionally– before they were phased out altogether in 2009.

This Vietnam-era OG-107 classic, which has long since past its (official) wear-out date, is still in use at the Washington Naval Yard with the 8th & I Marines.

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