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2 million shells in 28 years

The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery Regiment (2-2 FAR), best known as “Big Deuce,” dates back to 1901 when the prior U.S. Army regimental designation of artillery units was dropped and Corps organization was adopted.

After serving in the Philippines and in the Great War– the latter with the 8th Division– the unit reformed to protect the Panama Canal Zone from 1930 through the first stages of WWII. By August 1944, as part of Patton’s Third Army, they landed on Utah Beach and earned three streamers for actions in Central Europe before VE Day.

Since 1946, 2-2 FAR has been a school unit at Fort Sill off and on in different formats. It’s the latest incarnation, using M119 105mm light howitzers, reactivated February 05 1991. They have been very busy since then.

The Battalion fires in excess of 60,000 artillery rounds and hauls more than 100,000 rounds annually, training new artillerymen and forward observers from both the Army and Marines.

In 1997, they fired their one millionth shot out of their 105s.

Last month the “Bulldogs” of Bravo Battery 2-2 FAR, got a chance to rocket off the battalion’s two millionth round. The three millionth is expected to be fired in 2035.

Meet the Mk21 sniper rifle, SOCOMs newest long distance service

Tennessee-based Barrett Firearms on Monday got a nod from the U.S. Special Operations Command for new Advanced Sniper Rifles.

The $49.9 million five-year, indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract announcement is slim on details other than that is for the ASR program. The program itself was identified in SOCOM’s FY19 budget justification book as part of an effort to continue “development of enhanced capabilities to improve performance” of “individual sniper weapons to engage out to 1500 meters.”

A 2018 solicitation described the ASR as a “modular, multi-caliber, bolt-action sniper rifle” chambered in 7.62×51 mm NATO, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Norma Magnum with caliber conversions capable at the user-level.

The gun that will become the Mk21? Barrett’s MRAD.

The MRAD is available in 338 LM, 338 NM, and 300 NM, with the ability to swap out the barrel, bolt, and mag to change that up in the field.

A Norwegian sniper with the Barrett M98 which later grew into the MRAD. Turns out, Norway made a nice choice of rifle

More in my column at

Bringing down the house

A WWII-era staple, the M2 105mm howitzer was a handy little popgun tipping the scales at 5,000-pounds. Over 10,000 specimens were produced by 1953 when the line ended in favor of the more advanced M102 howitzer which was adopted in the 1960s.

Still, with all those M2s out there, the gun remained in active service in Vietnam and the Cold War with Guard and reserve units, only just being put to pasture for good in the 1990s when the new fangled M119 light 105 started coming online.

However, for decades they have fought another sort of “cold war,” as they have been a standard of the U.S. Forest Service who use them in avalanche control. You see the service had started using 106mm Recoilless Rifles but had three pretty stout accidents with their finicky rounds and needed something more effective– which left the old M2 (rebranded the M101 in the 1960s) as an ideal replacement.

“Howitzers have performed very well as avalanche control weapons and their users tend to be very enthusiastic about their capabilities,” reads a history from the USDA Forest Service National Avalanche Center. “They do not have a dangerous backblast, they are much less loud, and users can fire them from beneath a covered structure, protected from harsh winter elements.”

In Canadian service, the M2/M101 is known as the C3 howitzer, and 17 of them get a workout every year keeping Rogers Pass in BC open to traffic. Not bad for 70-year-old field guns.


Shameful confession: I like the occasional tin of canned tiny fish. Be they the always-maligned sardine, kippers or the bargain-basement “fish steak,” they have all spent time in my cabinet. I grew up eating them with hot sauce as a kid and still keep them around for hurricanes/camping/kayaking/hunting trips and the like and keep the stockpile rotated through the occasional midnight snack.

With that being said, did you know that, between 1946 and 1948, Springfield Armory packed M1911A1s, M1 Garands, M2 Carbines, M2 BHMGs and M1918A2 BARs like sardines?

Cosmoline free! Just pop the top and add ammo!

More in my column at

Want to know how many guns CMP has in the warehouse?

By the numbers from a recent 44-page GAO report on the government-chartered Civilian Marksmanship Program:

304,233 – The number of former military rifles the group sold to U.S. citizens from 2008 through 2017.

$196.8 million – The revenue from those sales, or about $650 per rifle.

279,032 – The number of rifles transferred by the Army to CMP at the same time (note the less than 1:1 replacement in inventory).

$85.8 million – The cost of the program’s marksmanship activities in the past decade, mostly promoting youth in the shooting sports nationwide

$3.6 million – CMP’s cost of the program providing free ceremonial rifles to veterans groups during the same time

$15.6 million – The non-profit’s expenses for 2017, ranging from targets and ranges to keeping the lights on to guarding the expansive warehouses and inspecting/repairing pallets of sometimes moody guns and ammo.

$0 – The number of taxpayer dollars the group has collected. The only support they have had from Uncle since 1997 has been through the transfer of surplus gear and guns.

228,791 – The number of rifles CMP had on hand in Aug. 2018.

More in my column at

President’s day: Campaigning with a British general’s pistol

A young George Washington, sitting for his 1772 portrait as Colonel of the Virginia Regiment done by Portrait of George Washington – Charles Willson Peale. Washington had been appointed colonel in 1756– the year after Braddock was killed. (Photo: Washington-Curtis Collection, Washington-Lee University)

Aged just 20 years, George Washington was appointed a major in the provincial militia by Virginia’s Royal Governor, Robert Dinwiddie, in February 1753. As the tensions between Britain and France boiled over into the Seven Years’ War/French and Indian War, Washington found himself on the colonial front lines along the frontier at Fort Necessity and all points west. Appointed as an aide to British Maj. Gen. Edward Braddock in the summer of 1755 during the failed attempted to capture French Fort Duquesne (now in downtown Pittsburgh), the 60-year-old professional campaigner and veteran of the Austrian War of Succession was taken with Washington. So much so that he gave the young man one of his personal guns, a large .71-caliber horse pistol made by English gunsmith William Gabbitas. Engraved with Braddock’s initials, Washington carried the gun throughout most of his military service

(Photo: Smithsonian NMAH-JN2014-3130)

Of course, Braddock was killed during his campaign in the Ohio Valley, but Washington continued to carry the pistol, which was engraved “EB” after its former, late, owner.

In 1777, although he had numerous pistols (Mount Vernon has no less than seven sets) Washington was still carrying the old British horse pistol as commander of the Colonial Army. After mislaying it briefly, a note sent behind in an effort to retrieve it just before the Battle of Brandywine noted that, “His Excellency is much exercised over the loss of this pistol, it being given him by Gen. Braddock, and having since been with him through several campaigns, and he therefore values it very highly.”

The gun is now in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

S&W’s M1917: Packing up to head to Uncle’s house

The Smith & Wesson Model of 1917 was a beauty.

Popular and easy to use, they equipped military police, officers and the like as the U.S. Army girded for the Great War. The six-shot M1917 used “half moon clips” to hold the rimless cartridges. Weighing in at 36-ounces, it was very close to the same weight as the Colt 1911, which held one round less; was considered by some to be more accurate with a slightly longer barrel/sight picture; and reliable as any Smith & Wesson revolver. Best of all, it could be placed into production immediately.

Want to see how they were packed?

Head on over to my column at for the magic.


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