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40+ years of GI M16 mags detailed in about 17 minutes

Black rifle expert Chris Bartocci convenes class on the evolutionary process of GI 30-round M16 magazines from Vietnam to today.

Going back to the old black-follower mags and moving through the new blue-follower EP mag, touching on everything in between, Bartocci breaks down the reason for changes to the feed lip angles and the body itself, and points at the ammunition-based reasons for each.

It’s a scholarly look and you don’t get any wackiness or Tannerite explosions in the 17-minute clip, but if you are curious about the what, when and why there are so many GI mags and followers out there, this is worth your time.

Goodbye ‘Harrier Carrier, welcome to ‘Lightning Carriers’ (CV-Ls)

Tyler Rogoway has an interesting write up on the USMC/USN’s take on using Marine F-35s on the new class of 40,000-ton LHAs, which are basically the same size as WWII fleet carriers.

Under the “lightning carrier” plan, 40 sorties can be fielded in a 14-hour period with 16 F-35Bs from the deck of one of these ersatz flattops, which is arguably more than just about any other carrier afloat not already in U.S. service. Plus, things really get interesting if you add an F-35 tasked LHA to an existing amphibious strike group, bringing both a full Marine expeditionary unit coupled with a baby carrier to the littoral.

From Rogoway:

Some concepts exist where a pair of amphibious assault ships work together within a single, albeit larger, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). One carrying a couple dozen F-35Bs and the other carrying a few dozen helicopters. Such a concept would allow for a continuous F-35B presence over the battlefield, and would even allow for the ESG to mount fixed wing “alpha strikes,” where the majority of the F-35B force prosecutes a set of strategic enemy targets during a single mission, much like a Navy carrier air wing currently is capable of.

Neighborhood Watch

Cpl. Robert Lea, a scout sniper with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, sights in with his M40A6 Bolt Action Sniper Rifle during an unknown distance range as part of Exercise Sea Soldier. Scout snipers are Marines who are highly skilled in marksmanship and can hit long-distance targets with great precision from a hidden location.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. April Price)

Note the difference in the A6, above, and the A5, below.


The “Alpha 6” was fielded beginning last summer and brings a lot of modularity (rails) to the legacy M40A5 as well as improved ergonomics and an easily adjustable (folding!) stock which makes carry a lot more efficient.

More on the gun below.

ARDEC 3D prints their own 40mm blooper

Produced in a joint collaboration between the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, the U.S. Army Manufacturing Technology Program and America Makes, the group used additive manufacturing techniques to craft a direct copy of the M203A1 40mm grenade launcher commonly mounted under the M16/M4 series rifles.

Every part of the weapon, save for the springs and some fasteners, was sintered in aluminum or printed in 4340 alloy steel in 35 hours of production.

Of the more than 50 parts of the M203A1, ARDEC was able to 3D print about 90 percent from scratch

The project name? RAMBO (Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance)

Andi it has even fired 3D printed grenades to prove it works.

More in my column at Guns.com.

1970s bullpup compared to modern life

 

A Royal Oman Army soldier with an Austrian-made Steyr AUG, standard issue not only in Austria and Oman nut also Australia Bolivia, Ecuador, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Pakistan

A Royal Oman Army soldier with an Austrian-made Steyr AUG, standard issue not only in Austria and Oman nut also Australia Bolivia, Ecuador, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Pakistan

The modern Austrian Army, the Bundesheer, was in a tough spot in the 1970s. Although Austria was officially neutral, to the East, the country shared a border with the Warsaw Pact countries of Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and to the West, it bordered NATO West Germany. In the event of World War III kicking off, the prospect of having to fight either Soviet/Warsaw Pact or US/NATO forces wishing to pass through was very real. As such, the Bundesheer used conscription to have a large force of reservists ready for war. This meant that the tiny 30,000-man force could swell to almost 300,000 in wartime. Heck a young Arnold Schwarzenegger even served his time in the ‘heer back then.

Well the thing is, 18-year old draftees in the Bundesheer prior to 1971 were given a year of initial training before being sent home to the reserves. Then, after that date, draftees were only given six months. The standard rifle of the time was the FN FAL, license built by Steyr as the Sturmgewehr 58. The FAL was a beautiful 7.62x51mm NATO standard battle rifle, but it was long (at 44-inches), heavy (at 9.5-pounds unloaded), and the average soldier needed a good bit of training to keep it running properly. With already short training times cut in half and declining numbers of healthy draftees, the Austrians needed a more efficient, compact, and easy to use rifle.

Steyr, long the supplier of rifles to the Austrian Army, submitted a prototype rifle called the AUG (standing for Armee-Universal-Gewehr—”universal army rifle”) for testing.

From just a glance at the Steyr AUG, you can see that the gun is very different.  The entire action including the chamber, slide, bolt, hammer, guide rod, magazine, cocking piece and retaining bolt are all to the rear of the trigger, hidden inside a club-shaped hollow polymer (plastic) buttstock. The only thing above and in front of the trigger is the barrel and barrel grip. Lightweight was a huge factor in the weapon’s design. Polymers were used so much that even the trigger pack except for the springs, steel bearing pins and catch hold-open was synthetic. This allowed the full-sized rifle to be just 31.1-inches long, and weighing in at 7.9-pounds. This is more than a foot shorter– not to mention a pound and a half lighter– than the FN FAL the Austrian Army used at the time. Likewise, the AUG used 30 and optional 42-round lightweight polymer magazines for the more controllable 5.56mm NATO rather than the FAL’s 20-shot 7.62mm steel boxes.

The thing is when compared to a 14.5-inch barreled M4 of today, is it really that much of a difference? The 6.36-pound M4 is just 33-inches long with the stock extended, and goes a couple inches shorter when collapsed.

Observe this shot from a recent outing for Exercise Sea Soldier ‘17 at Rabkut, Oman, with a U.S. Marine with an M4 (or M27) compared to a Royal Omani Army trooper with an AUG.

RABKUT, Oman (Feb. 26, 2017) U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Aquino-Williams, an infantryman with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), peeks behind a corner before leading soldiers with the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) into a building while conducting Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training as part of Exercise Sea Soldier ‘17 at Rabkut, Oman, Feb. 26. During the training, Marines coached the Omani soldiers and supervised each team execute room clearing techniques. Sea Soldier 2017 is an annual, bilateral exercise conducted with the Royal Army of Oman designed to demonstrate the cooperative skill and will of U.S. and partner nations to work together in maintaining regional stability and security. The 11th MEU is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce and enhance regional stability. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. April L. Price)

RABKUT, Oman (Feb. 26, 2017) U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Aquino-Williams, an infantryman with Company A, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 4th Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), peeks behind a corner before leading soldiers with the Royal Army of Oman (RAO) into a building while conducting Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) training as part of Exercise Sea Soldier ‘17 at Rabkut, Oman, Feb. 26. During the training, Marines coached the Omani soldiers and supervised each team execute room clearing techniques. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. April L. Price)

Now I have shot TAVORs and X95s as well as an L85/SA80, and they are neat, but are they really that much more compact when in use?

The beauty that is an M2 60mm mortar with reusable ammo

The hard working heavy weapons guys at ordnance.com broke out their sweet M2 60mm mortar and give an impressive performance showing off their Training Re-Usable Mortar Projectile (TRUMP) round.

Designed by mortar tube genius Edgar Brandt, the M2 was adopted by the U.S. military in 1940 as the country edged closer to World War II. The 42-pound company-level artillery piece was portable by a three-man crew and could lob hero sandwich-sized mortar bombs out to nearly 2,000 yards with the reasonably accurate (for a mortar) M4 collimator sight.

The M2 was so groovy that the Army and Marines kept it in use not only through WWII, but Korea and Vietnam as well, only replacing it in 1978 with the now-standard M225 LWCMS (Lightweight Company Mortar System) which, ironically, is heavier.

The above video by ordnance.com runs through the unpacking and set up of the M2, which is super informative if you aren’t a mortar guy, then proceeds to break out their new TRUMP shell, which uses a 20-ga full blank to give some boom to the impact down range. The shell is projected by a 20-ga half blank.

As far as legality, they advise that, “The 60mm mortar is classified as a ‘Destructive Device’ by the BATFE, and you must have an NFA approved Form 1 or Form 4 for legal possession. The 60mm TRUMP ammunition is not classified as a Destructive Device by the ATF, but it is a restricted sale item, and is only available to individuals that possess a valid/approved Form 1 or Form 4 for their 60mm mortar.”

The noise the mortar shell makes as it whistles back to the ground is enough to give you IBS.

Fire in the hole!

I’ll keep an eye out for you

Sgt. Johnathan Stamets, a radio operator with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, looks through his M8541A optic attached to the M-110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System rifle aboard the USS Somerset (LPD 25) Ombudsman. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.)

Sgt. Johnathan Stamets, a radio operator with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, looks through his M8541A optic attached to the M-110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System rifle aboard the USS Somerset (LPD 25) Ombudsman. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.)

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