Tag Archives: M240

Cracking the Army’s Budget Book on SmallArms

The Army’s recently announced budget request for the fiscal year 2022 includes at least $114 million for new rifles, handguns, and the next generation of small arms. 

While the overall FY2022 Defense Department Budget is $112 billion, most of the non-operational dollars are for high-level R&D and big-ticket items like the F-35 fighter. The Army’s budget book for weapons and tracked combat vehicles meanwhile has a low nine-figure ask when it comes to individual small arms. 

The bulk ($97 million) is to go to the Next Generation Squad Weapons, with much of the balance to acquire new Barrett-made Precision Sniper Rifles, and a few crumbs for M4s, M17s, and the like.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Could the Army Ditch Brass for Plastic?

The hybrid polymer-cased cartridge, developed by Texas-based True Velocity as part of the Army’s Next Generation Squad Weapon program, is compatible with legacy firearms as well.

The 6.8mm TVCM composite case design, coupled with the Army’s 6.8mm (.277-caliber) common cartridge projectile, was originally developed and optimized for use in the NGSW-Rifle and NGSW-Automatic Rifle submissions submitted to that military program by General Dynamics-OTS. It performs better ballistically than 7.62 NATO and weighs 30 percent less.

However, using what True Velocity characterizes as a “switch barrel” capability, they have demonstrated it can work with much of the Army’s currently fielded small arms including the M240B belt-fed machine gun, the M110 semi-automatic sniper system, and the M134 minigun.

Which could mean that, even if NGSW tanks, there could be a revolutionary advance in the ammo used by U.S. troops in the near future.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Sig: Next-Gen Weapons Delivered to the Army

Sig Sauer this week announced it has completed the delivery of the company’s Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army.

The company is one of three contractors who in 2019 got the nod from the Pentagon to continue with the NGSW program. The sweeping initiative aims to replace the Army’s 5.56mm NATO small arms – the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Sig’s program consists of an in-house-designed lightweight high-performance 6.8x51mm (.277-caliber) hybrid ammunition, NGSW-AR lightweight machine guns, NGSW-R rifles (based on the MCX carbine), and next-gen suppressors.

They certainly look the part and, if selected, would give Sig the small arms hattrick as their P320s have been adopted as the DOD’s standard handgun to replace everything from the USAF’s lingering K-frame 38s to the Marine’s M45 CQB railguns and everything in between. At that point, the only man-portable system used by the Army not made by Sig would be the M240 and M2, which FN still has a lock on.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Goodbye RIVRONs, hello MESF

The Navy announced recently they have “officially changed the name and mission of the Coastal Riverine squadrons to reflect their role amid a new era of great power competition; they are now known as the Maritime Expeditionary Security Force.”

The prerequisite moto video, tying the new units to the old Brown Water PBR gang of Southeast Asia (although the SWCC guys of SBT22 will most likely dispute ownership of this lineage, as they carried the dim candle of the small boat shop at Rodman for decades):

“As we maintain a connection to our legacy we must honor those warriors that come before us and learn from their heroism,” said RADM Joseph DiGuardo, commander NECC, “we must continuously evolve to meet the needs of the Navy and the Nation for Great Power Competition, crisis, and conflict. The change to Maritime Expeditionary Security Force clearly articulates the mission of our sailors to reinforce lethality in the blue water and dominate in the littorals.”

The MESF now consists of two groups; one in San Diego and one in Virginia Beach. The force includes two expeditionary security detachments in Guam and Bahrain, seven Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadrons, and 31 Maritime Expeditionary Security Companies.

The original three Coastal Riverine squadrons of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (RIVRON 1, 2, and 3) were all formed in 2006-07, modeled after the Marines Small Craft Company (SCCO) of 2D MAR Div– then the only specialized small boat company in the Marines– which had been disbanded the year prior although that forgotten unit of Devil Dogs in tiny boats had been bloodied and proved their mandate in the marshes and reservoirs around Haditha, fighting the kind of war that was familiar to Vietnam. Their Riverine Assault Craft, zodiacs, and Raider boats were handed over to the Navy, although Big Blue soon bought lots of new go-fasts.

Marines from Small Craft Company tether their Riverine Assult Crafts together during a break in training. Marines from Small Craft Company, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, demonstrated their capabilities to Paraguayan Marines in the Joint Training Exercise Unitas. The exercise was conducted in Asuncion, Paraguay. USMC Photo by LCPL Tyler J. Mielke. 29/09/1999

“People think it’s money or manpower problems, but no one knows for sure why they’re getting rid of us,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Brian Vinciguerra, who had spent 14 years with the SCCO, on the occasion of the unit’s disbandment in Feb. 2005. “The capabilities we provided to the Marine Corps, Special Forces, and Navy SEALS in Iraq are too big to be gone for long. We’re leaving an avenue of approach open for the enemy now,” he said. “I think Small Craft Company will be back in a few years when people realize what we brought to the fight.”

Now, after a similar 14-year run, the Navy’s trio of RIVRONs have a name change, and, notably, are moving to more 80+ foot platforms such as the MKVI. Not a lot of “river” about that.

Oh well, at least SBT22 and NAVSCIATTS are still around, keeping that lamp tended for the next time.

Now that’s a bass boat

In a former life, I spent a good bit of time in and out of Stennis Space Center in that great green buffer zone along Mississippi’s Pearl River back when I was doing a lot more federal contract firearms training and, besides all the NASA stuff and the Navy’s AGOR/METCOM guys, there is also another very low-key tenet DOD tenant on the huge complex– the river rats of Special Boat Team 22 and NAVSCIATTS.

The Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School dated back to the 1960s and was based at Rodman in the Canal Zone for decades, specializing in running a hands-on schoolhouse for teaching riverine warfare, mainly to students from Latin America. Basically the Navy’s version of the old Army’s School of the Americas.

These days, they have expanded their reach but still run regular courses for brown water navies and coast guards from not only down south but from points more Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as well. They recently posted some photos of AFRICOM students on a training ex in the muck of the Pearl River showing some interesting watercraft.

“NAVSCIATTS students from U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) area of operations participate in a Patrol Craft Officer Riverine training exercise on the Pearl River near the John C. Stennis Space Center, Dec. 2, 2020. Our 21-1 semester consists of AFRICOM students from Chad, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierre Leon, and Togo. (Photos by Michael Williams)”

Note the twin M240 GPMGs. Now that’s a go-getter

While SBT22 runs 33-foot SOC-Rs (built here in Gulfport), the NAVSCIATTS schoolhouse seems to be using some pretty neat Gator-Tail aluminum skiffs. Made in Loreauville Louisiana, Gator-Tail is well-known (around here anyway) for their mud motor outboards, which are ideal in moving around in the swamp and bayou where traditional motors would get gummed up by vegetation and sediment every five feet.

Speaking of which, it is getting duck season.

NGSW? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The current NGSW field 

The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.

In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.

And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.

Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.

The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.

Machine guns and torpedo tubes, the more things change…

Here we see a warrant officer in dress whites aboard USS Walke (Destroyer # 34) leaning jauntily on a stanchion-mounted machine gun, circa 1914. This weapon is a .30 caliber U.S. Model 1909 Machine Rifle (Benét-Mercié), a modification of the French Hotchkiss Portative. The gun appears to be on an AAA mount, which is novel for the time.

Courtesy of Jim Kazalis, 1981. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 92544

Walke, an early Paulding-class destroyer, carried as her main battery a half-dozen 18-inch deck-mounted torpedo tubes, intended to poke holes in enemy ships. Her gun armament consisted of five 3-inch guns and a few European-designed machine guns, as shown. Commissioned in 1911, she remained in the fleet until 1934.

Fast forward 105 years…and you still have destroyers with a few .30-caliber European-designed machine guns as well as a half-dozen deck-mounted torpedo tubes, intended to poke holes in enemy ships, albeit of the submarine nature.

200111-N-TI693-1268 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Jan. 11, 2020) Master-at-Arms 1st Class Jeffrey Deason, left, from Trenton, New Jersey, monitors Ensign Kelsey Ohm, from Huron, Ohio, as she fires an M240 machine gun during a crew-served weapons qualification aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64), Jan. 11, 2020. Carney, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its seventh forward-deployed naval force patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of regional allies and partners as well as U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV/Released)

Le Glock Mle 2020

French trench raiders during the First World War, winter 1917 Bezange Forest, Lorraine, note the Ruby pistol.

The French military has flirted with modern semi-auto pistols for longer than most. During the Great War, thousands of Spanish-made Ruby and Star pistols augmented the country’s rather lackluster Modèle 1892 revolvers.

This cleared the way for the later FN 1922-inspired MAB Model D pistol and Charles Petter’s famous Mle. 1935, the latter design one that went on to morph into the Swiss SIG P210, arguably one of the best handguns of the 20th Century.

After WWII, the MAC Mle 1950, itself very P210-ish, was adopted and, coupled with the PAMAS G1, a domestically-made clone of the Beretta 92F, is still in service today.

The French MAC 50 PA modèle 1950 pistol

Now, 115 years after the Ruby was first ordered, the French defense ministry has placed an order for 75,000~ new Glocks.

The Glocks, reportedly a two-tone Gen 5 G17 MOS with a threaded barrel, suppressor-height night sight, and optics plate, will be delivered through 2022.

Besides the Austrian polymer pistols, the French are also going FN when it comes to a rifle to replace their venerable FR F2 (itself a souped-up MAS1936).

Sniper overwatch by a 3e RPIMa marksman with a French FR-F2, Rwanda, 1993. These rifles will be upgraded to SCAR H PRs in the coming years. 

More in my column at Guns.com.

That’s a lot of oily M4s

So I told you guys that I spent some time in the Palmetto State last month filming at FN with Guns.com. Want to see how the tour went? I think you will find the M240 and M4 production lines interesting. Do you know FN makes roughly 500 M4s every single day?

After they’re test fired, they’re disassembled, cleaned, then reassembled and given a 101-point inspection. Then, they’re literally dipped in preservation oil and packaged 50 rifles to a large wooden crate.

Some poor Joe or Devil is going to have to clean that off one day…

Anyways, check out the full video below.

MII Board clears HITRON shoot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Phillips, a precision marksman at Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, shows a group of VIPs the weaponry used at HITRON during missions Tuesday Feb. 23, 2010. The VIPs were at HITRON to view an advanced screening of an upcoming episode of Top Sniper featuring HITRON on the Military Channel Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bobby Nash.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Phillips, a precision marksman at Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, shows a group of VIPs the weaponry used at HITRON during missions Tuesday Feb. 23, 2010. The VIPs were at HITRON to view an advanced screening of an upcoming episode of Top Sniper featuring HITRON on the Military Channel Thursday at 9 p.m. EST. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bobby Nash.)

The U.S. Coast Guard last week announced the fatal shooting of an Ecuadorian man was in accordance with U.S. and international law and fully complied with the agency’s tactics and procedures.

Javier Darwin Licoa Nunez, 35, of Ecuador, was killed during a law enforcement operation 195 miles north of the Galapagos Islands Aug. 30, 2016. The USCG’s Major Incident Investigation Report made public this week found that Nunez, part of the crew of a suspected “go-fast” cocaine smuggling boat, died from fatal internal injuries caused by bullet fragments after a helicopter-borne Coast Guard marksman fired 10 rounds into the engines of the vessel while attempting to stop the craft.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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