While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?
For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.
From the Hungarian site Kapszli comes a great piece on the Swiss Army’s innovative Model 1851 Federal Rifle, otherwise known as the Feldstutzer or Eidigenössischer Stutzer.
Via Cap & Ball (Kapszli)
“The Model 1851 rifle at the time of the acceptance was truly the best military rifle of its age. First of all, it fired a much smaller diameter and lighter bullet than any other military rifle. While the French military rifle fired a 17 mm bullet, the American and British a 14.7 mm bullet, the Swiss rifle fired a 10.4 mm bullet weighing only 16.5-17 g. The bullet was pushed from the bore with a relatively high 60-grain charge of fine grade black powder resulting in a 440 m/s muzzle velocity and a flat trajectory.
The flat trajectory was a key feature in Switzerland the soldier had to master shooting downhill and uphill. The Swiss army consisted of free people for many centuries. These civilians were more important to the state than to let them be killed in melee combat so sniping the enemy from a safe distance was always an important element of the Swiss tactics since the introduction of firearms. It is also a reason why the shooting sports have been always so popular in this beautiful little country.”
Much more here
DEFENSE DEPT. PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A4503022. May 8 1965, Sgt R.O. Shaw.
Caption: Locating a Sniper—A rifle squad from Company “D,” 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, searches for a sniper firing at the position inside the International Safety Zone in Santo Domingo. Note the M1 helmets, Korean War style flak vests and M-14.
The action in the Dominican Republic was not the pushover some often chalk it up to. In the end, Johnson lamented ordering troops into action there. The below doc from the invasion is surprisingly gritty, and directly addresses the sniper problem in the above photo.
Law enforcement snipers are a special breed of officer who is prepared to engage a criminal threat with precision rifle fire. This training advances from the basics rifle through advanced tactics, observation and intelligence training. Police sniper training is conducted by both federal and state training facilities and private contractors.
History of Police sniper training
Beginning in 1966 with the long range shootout with Charles Whitman in the University of Texas tower, law enforcement agencies began to train and maintain skilled riflemen. At first men who were simply good shots were authorized to carry their deer rifle with them on call outs. Training mimicked the US Army’s basic rifle training especially in departments that issued an AR-15 style weapon. By the 1980s specialized sniper rifles such as the Steyr SSG and Remington 700-Police began to find there way into the racks of dedicated SRT units and SWAT teams. During the same time period matching law enforcement precision rifle
classes began to be offered which trained on the unique scenarios faced by police snipers.
Read more in my Column at Firearms Talk.
On a hot August morning in Samarra, Iraq a four man Reaper Team of the 82nd Airborne’s 2-505 Parachute Infantry Regiment’s Scout Platoon found themselves in a tight spot. Led by 22yr old Sergeant Josh Morley the team contained 21-yr old Specialist Tracy Willis, 23-yr old Specialist Chris Corriveau and unit armorer 23-year-old Specialist Eric Moser. Detailed to provide an over watch for a search operation below, they secretly climbed an apartment rooftop set up shop. With the search operation coming off without a hitch, the Reaper team went to displace, only to find that insurgents had followed and surrounded them. Armed Al-Qaeda foot solders held the stairwells and streets below them, trapping the team on the roof. Within the first few minutes a bad situation got worse. First Sgt Morley and then Spec. Willis were killed, leaving only Corriveau and Moser in the fight. Bombarded by grenades thrown up the stairwell by unseen hands and taking fire from multiple weapons the two snipers fought on unsupported, with a blown radio and dwindling supplies of ammunition.
The ten minute firefight ultimately ended with a nearby friendly infantry platoon coming to the sound of combat and the insurgents withdrawing. An after-action review found that the Reaper team had held off a squad to platoon sized group of men and inflicted no less than ten casualties. More importantly they kept both the bodies of their fallen brothers and their own from falling into the insurgent’s hand- preventing a propaganda victory for the insurgents. Morser and Corriveau were promoted to Sergeant and awarded the DSC, the 2nd highest award for valor in the Army. Morley and Willis were posthumously awarded the Silver Star. Read more in Jeff Emanuel’s excellent piece.