Where Has Johnny Got His Gun?

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"My favorite gun is the M-16 that saved my life and that of my crew in Vietnam," Senator John Kerry tells Outdoor Life magazine. "I don't own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle."

Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb shoots back: "Senator Kerry, where's the rifle? In which one of your mansions are you hiding that gun? Why should it be okay for you to have a Communist Chinese assault rifle when you think nobody else should have one? And if you don't have one, why would you intimate to Outdoor Life that you do?"

I've got a deeper suspicion about this story. I may have been misled by my boyhood readings of Michael Herr's Dispatches and William Turner Huggett's (scandalously out of print) Body Count, but I thought all real Vietnam veterans looked back on the jam-prone, unreliable M-16 (which of course is not a "gun" but a "rifle" or "weapon") with disgust, revulsion and bitterness.

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  1. Improvements were made to the M-16 by the time Kerry was in country, making it much more reliable than earlier versions.

    At least, that’s what the History Channel says.

  2. A friend who was “in the shit” tells me the M-16 was so prone to jamming that grunts he knew took to carrying AK-47s captured from Charlie.

  3. When I was over there 65~66 it was known as the “Mattel 16”.

  4. The M-16 never got rid of its bugs until the A2 version was brought out. Even then, the rifle is subject to jamming, especially with brand-new or very old magazines.

    My SKS, on the other hand, simply works-no matter what.

  5. “I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.”

    If, as he implies, this is a souvenir, it is almost certainly full auto.

    Which means that if he didn’t either de-mil it or get the right paperwork (highly unlikely) then he is committing a felony.

    Assuming the whole story isn’t just made up.

  6. R C Dean:

    It depends on two things: What kind of weapon it was and when he brought it back. If it was an AK-47 (really probably an AKM), it was certainly full-auto. If he returned it prior to the 1968 ban on importation of machine guns, he’d be okay as long as he properly registered it into the National Firearms Registry by paying the transfer tax to the ATF and filling out the appropriate importation forms (U.S. soldiers were allowed to bring full auto weapons back as souveniers as late as 1968 (well, early 1969 if you include the amnesty registration period)).

    However, it’s not certain whether he is referring to an AKM or an SKS. The VC used SKS rifles quite a bit, I’m told…they are semi-automatic only.

    In either case he would have had to fill out importation documents…

  7. In addition, if he were to have a full-auto weapon in his home state of MA, he’d have to have special machine gun license (MA has some of the strangest gun ownership statutes in the country, and almost the most restrictive).

    I have also heard stories that Ted Kennedy was once the owner of a full-auto M-14 rifle presented to him by the Springfield Armory, of Springfield, MA. No one, except perhaps our good friend Edward and (hopefully for him) the BATF, knows its whereabouts.

    In all cases of full-auto weapons, the owner is required to keep ATF apprised of the firearm’s location…you change your address, you must notify the ATF of the new permanent location. There are also restrictions on taking them across state lines (permission must be secured from BATF).

  8. Tim.

    Not completely true. The initial M-16 was plagued with problems, most of which stemmed from the misinterpretation by administrational types (and misrepresentation) that it was a weapon which didn’t need cleaning. Anyone who spends more than two minutes around firearms knows that a rifle must be cleaned.

    From that moment on, that reputation has stuck rather hard. However, there are plenty of veterans who swore by it, and never had a lick of trouble with it. This is undoubtedly one of those things that will spur heated debate, but I believe (and I’m sorry, I have no personal experience, just scholarly knowledge) that the weapon ended its Vietnam service in a fairly good light.

    I do know a veteran (I asked him about his thoughts on your post) and his opinion was that as long as they were maintained, he and his unit never, ever had an ounce of trouble with them.

    Paul

  9. Until the advent of the forward assist, the M1911A1 was your ace in the hole.

    A little known fact… if you Teflon-coat the inside of your gas tube, you’ll be jam free even in harsh conditions. Hoppes has spray-on Teflon for just such a job.

    (The preceding will probably only make sense to those familiar with the Eugene Stoner design.)

  10. Chrome lined barrels and chambers make a big difference.

    Ask today’s soldier about the M-16, and some will gripe about the gas system, most will gripe about the small bullet, but none would trade the ability to engage at 700m with an M16 for the ability to engage at 300m with an AK.

    Another interesting thing to consider for Reasonites. The AR15/M16 design, thanks to a combination of executive orders and the recently deceased assault weapons ban, is the only rifle design of its type that has undergone significant market pressures. Based on the same lower receiver that the government had dubbed ‘the gun’, you can order or create a super lightweight 4lb carbine, a tack driving competition rifle, or even a .50 cal monstrosity. You can get modular rail systems that let you attach hundreds of accessories. Civilian market barrels are much better than the ones the govt buys, and you can get them rifled for your preferred weight in ammo. The AR15 is whatever you want it to be these days because the government said that every assault rifle had to be based on an AR or AK lower receiver.

  11. I wonder what the efficacy is of the 5.56mm that is used in M-16’s and the new M-4? I know that 5.56 is equivalent to a .223 caliber rifle, which is good for killing squirels, but not strong enough to knock a deer down unless you penetrate the eye sockets or the juggular. The M1 Garand had a 7.62 or .30 caliber bullet which would knock the shit out of about anything it hit.

    I was told by several returning soldiers, who had fought in the mountains of Afghanistan, that the M4 would not penetrate the thick coats required to survive the cold, and were utterly useless unless one was fairly close to the target

  12. Richard:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that deviation from .45 ACP was the second worst thing the military ever did?

    The big bullet debate will go on forever …

  13. The AR-15 gas system is one of the only flaws in the design of a near-perfect weapons system. It relies on redirecting some of the gas driving the bullet out of the barrel back into the receiver of the rifle iteslf. This differs from most other gas-operated weapons in that it also deposits carbon and other gunk from the combustion of gunpowder directly into an area of the rifle that requires very tight tolerances to operate. Most other designs feature a piston that is driven by the gas, which drives the bolt indirectly, thus keeping much combustion-related debris out of the receiver/bolt carrier/bolt interface area.

    In the early days, the powder used in the military 5.56mm cartridge was prone to incomplete combustion, leaving lots of debris and unburned powder particles to get stuck in the action. Once the powder issues were addressed, many of the M16 problems went away. The AR-15/M-16 still has to be cleaned frequently and thoroughly due to the tight tolerances in the receiver area.

    Eugene Stoner himself addressed the main design deficiencies of the AR15/M16 in his design for the Stoner 62/63 series rifles. The Stoner 63 saw service in Vietnam with Navy SEALs and was selected by the Marine Corps over the AR-15. However, Pentagon politics got in the way and the word came down from on high that all branches had to use the AR-15/M-16. This decision was made prior to the powder issues being solved, leading to problems in the field.

    In addition to the functional issues with the AR15, there was a problem with the buttstock–evidently water would get inside it, and would react with the plastic resin, forming an acid that would cause degradation and embrittlement which would lead to breakage of the stocks.

  14. Richard.

    Slow down. I love a big bullet just like the next muscle bound, oiled up man-machine with a big hairy chest.

    But let’s be real. I can personally point you to 10 (or so) people in the Washington D.C. area who would (if they were still alive) spin you a yarn on the effectiveness of the .223 round.

    And having lots of experience with firearms meself, the .223 is not a .22. It’s no more a .22 than a .45 is ‘nearly’ a .50 caliber fired out of the WWII era machinegun. The diameter of a round gets completely different dynamics based on overall shape and more importantly, how much powder is deployed behind it.

    Taking two numbers of the slug caliber and comparing them is not a valid expression of power, manliness, or how good you look in a tank top, all oiled up ‘n sech.

    Paul

  15. What about the argument that a smaller round is more likely to leave the enemy with wounded to worry about, thereby taking not just the man shot but his buddies, carrying him to a medic, out of the battle? Of course, subhuman VC commies may not have cherished human life enough for that to have been a concern, so an elephant gun might have been more practical.

    Kevin

  16. Here is the weapon that will replace the M-16. One key feature is a piston which prevents the gas system from fouling the barrel. Hopefully, as Hackworth says, they will also upgrade to the 6.8 mm (.270) round.

  17. What about the argument that a smaller round is more likely to leave the enemy with wounded to worry about

    This is exactly the ‘harvard business school’ thinking that dominated the Robert Macnamara philosophy on fighting a war. The idea that one could ‘bean count’ their way to victory. Nickel and dime the enemy:

    Force them to spend more on parts and service after the sale. Get them on the video games, not the console. Don’t kill the enemy, make them spend time and materials on wounded, infrastructure, and a socialized health care system.

    No, the .223 is an effective killing bullet. Not under all circumstances. But if the U.S. military can topple governments in 48 hours with it, it’s not as bad as some would have you think.

    Paul

  18. Oh, and say what you will about the U.S. Military, but they tend to not keep stuff around for 40 years that doesn’t work. They may get stuff into use that doesn’t work, but it doesn’t stick around long.

    Paul

  19. BB,

    I’m no gun nut, but even an amateur can tell by looking at the picture that the weapon you’ve linked to fires laser beams or plasma bolts or some such, not regular bullets, whatever the caliber.

  20. The virtue of the 5.56/.223 is that it is light (55 grain bullet I believe), and a soldier can carry a hell of a lot of ammunition. US soldiers in Viet Nam typically carried 3 or 4 times the number of rounds their AK 47 armed enemies carried, a significant advantage in full-auto warfare.

  21. Errr, that was me, not BB talking to himself. Unless I’m pulling a GG/JB thing.

  22. Read Ralph Zumbro, _Tank Sergeant_, to get an idea of what war is like when competently conducted. In the military, they have heavy weapons, and rifles and pistols are subordinate to heavy weapons. Perhaps ninety percent of American casualties in Vietnam were due to gross negligence and incompetence at the command and staff level, eg. sending troops to patrol on foot where a fighting vehicle could be made to go, especially with suitable modifications. Helicopters were misused. They make good gunships but bad troop carriers, because the helicopter cannot carry a fighting vehicle. Gen. Maxwell Taylor’s cult of airmobility worked out in practice to troops advancing on foot against prepared positions.

    John Kerry comes out of a minority tradition. The Navy did things somewhat differently. The major armament of a Swift boat was of course the 50-caliber machine gun. A 50-caliber machine gun is heavy enough, and has enough recoil, that it can only be fired from a mount. When Kerry talks about M-16’s and AK-47’s, he is mostly playing to the gun lobby.

    The Viet-Cong were almost equally incompetent. Their characteristic form of incompetence consisted in trying to overrun forts by human wave attacks, and their most disastrous losses stemmed from the most extreme form of this tactic, eg. Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive. Things like Swift Boats could work in Vietnam, because they were a cut above the prevailing stupidity.

    The war in Iraq is being conducted at a vastly higher level of tactical expertise on both sides than was characteristic of Vietnam. The insurgents use RPG’s, mortars, land mines, improvised explosive devices, car bombs, etc. The issue is not their possession of small arms, but the extent to which they can get or make heavy weapons of a sort. Additionally, in place of the human wave attack, the insurgents have substituted operations like Falluja and Najaf, which are halfway to being political demonstrations. The American weakness is basically political. There are very few American soldiers who really speak Arabic, and know the Koran from being brought up on it.

  23. JDM,

    That M8 most certainly fires real bullets. I can’t find the web page just now, but I’ve seen demonstration firings on the ‘net, and the weapon looks to be very effective. I got excited watching them fire a 100 round drum, and the recoil was almost non-existant.

  24. Here’s a link to some video of the m8 in action: http://www.armytimes.com/story.php?s=1-292925-xm8_dust.php

  25. Anybody ever seen the AR derivation that uses the piston instead of gas return? I think the israelies use it. I played with one in the arms room of my old unit, but never got to fire it.

  26. RE: Senator John Kerry tells Outdoor Life magazine. “I don’t own one of those now, but one of my reminders of my service is a Communist Chinese assault rifle.”

    Gag! For the love of God, will someone in the Kerry Campaign please buy a clue!

    Yes, it’s probably a semi-automatic SKS. PROBABLY. Someone needs to ask the Senator to make sure. However, I’d be curious to know WHERE this weapon is because I though that the SKS is strictly forbidden in Massachusetts. (Some Bush supporter may want to look it up.) Of course, the weapon probably doesn’t exist, or it is something like the SUV he doesn’t own.

    Even worse. How does he justify attacking Bush for not pushing to get the assault weapons ban renewed, when he owns a gun that is strictly forbidden by the very law he supports?

  27. The criticisms of my previous comments are correct, if you believe the BS spouted by those who never had the chance to fire both .30 cal. (7.62) and the .223 (5.56).

    The fact that soldiers could carry more ammo is indicative of the perverse mindset of overwhelming “firepower.” At one point, the military taught and lived by the mantra of “one shot, one kill.” For better or worse, because of McNamara’s policies, this mantra was tossed out the window. This policy directly led to the use and implementation of the M-16 and, I argue, an increase in “friendly fire” incidents in Vietnam over World War 2 and Korea.

    Further, the argument that smaller caliber bullets cause more collateral damage ala injured personnel is bullshit. If the end result is to cause medical casualties, the North Vietnamese did a hell of a good job by using wooden bullets which would splinter and churn and contaminate a soldier who was unlucky enough to get shot by one.

    However, I acknowledge that the kill ratio of our military has increased dramatically since WW1, and this ratio had its highest increase in Vietnam and Gulf War 1. I believe that this ratio would have been higher with higher caliber bullets.

    One thing that McNamara seemed to gloss over in his “Harvardization” of the DoD is that a dead soldier is no threat and the training to replace a veteran soldier is extremely expensive.

    I have shot both M-16 and M1. It is my belief that in close combat, the M-16 is superior, but in combat of over 250 yards, the difference is unbelievabbly in favor of the bolt-action M1. For the sake of our fighting forces, I hope that my experience is in the minority.

    For the argument that the military wouldn’t use something for 40 years unless it is effective, I say look at the history of the Bradley APC, the B1 Bomber, the Crusader Artillery System, the Comanche Project, etc.,.

  28. Richard,

    The M1 isn’t bolt action. The M1903 is, and the M1917 is. Care to clarify?

    (Both the M1 Garand and Carbine are gas-piston operated semi-auto.)

  29. Guy:

    The Israelis are currently using M4s, but for years they used an AK derivative called the Galil. It has a piston, but is a very well made AK. South Africa had the R4, which is a similar design.

    The Stoner design with the better gas system is the variant db referred to and is currently sold under the name of the Robinson Armament Expeditionary Rifle. Only problem is, due to those market forces, the actual AR is a more versatile tool and is much cheaper for higher quality.

  30. Richard,
    A number of points. the 7.62 X 51 and it’s US precursor, the .30-06 are TOO powerful for combat. The 30-06 is the same round used in WWI, when rifles were sighted for use to 1,000 metres. A rifleman can’t SEE 1,000 metres much less engage a target at that range.
    WWII studies showed a significant portion of infantry combat occurred at ranges from 0-50 metres, that over 50% (IIRC) occurs from 0-250 metres, and that the vast majority of infantry combat occurs at 400 metres or less. 30-06 or 7.62mm are overkill. 5.56 CAN do the job at most realistic combat ranges. 6.8 X 43 (Winchester .270 SPC)might very well be the better candidate, but 7.62mm, .30 caliber, and 30-06 are simply too large a round for the average infantryman. It recoils too much and weighs too much.
    I didn’t follow your point about the Bradley and other weapon systems. Are you saying that the M2/M3 are INFERIOR weapon systems? If so, you’re dead wrong. The only IFV that is better is the Swedish cv9040, designed and built a decade AFTER the M2. The M-2 is proof to 30mm hits across the glacis, it is the most heavily armured IFV in the world, except for mayhap the CV90. It has an excellent gun, thermal sights, and a heavy ATGM. In the Second Gulf War (’91) M-2’s successfully engaged T-72 MBT’s!!! The m-2 is a success story I don’t know what you’re on about.
    The B-1 is a fine weapon system that sadly the USAF doesn’t like, prefering the B-2… 40% of the ordnance dropped by bomber in Afghanistan was delivered by the B-1. It has performed very well in the roles it has been given, it simply doesn’t get the Air Force “Press” that the B-2 gets, it’s not as “sexy.” Again, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
    The Crusader was an excellent weapon system, second only to the Bundeswehr’s Pzh 2000. Simply the system was designed for another era and that era has/had passed.
    I think only the Comanche would meet the criteria for a failed system.
    If you’re one of the “Simple Effective Weapons” People I think the last 20 years have shown that the Reagan/Carter build-up focussed pretty much on the right weapons.

  31. Andrew,

    “When Kerry talks about M-16’s and AK-47’s, he is mostly playing to the gun lobby.”

    Apparently, the Swift Boat crews left their craft to fight on land, with M-16s, fairly regularly. When ambushed, the standared tactic was to have part of the squadron beach downstream, and close back to the ambushers on foot with rifles, while the other boats pinned them down. What won Kerry his Silver Star was implementing a new tactic of turning right at the ambush, .50s blazing, and jumping off right at the point of contact, thus routing the attackers (who usually disappeared before the foot patrol could get back to the action using the old technique).

    There’s footage of Kerry (bad, bad man who made souvenier films) carrying an M-16.

  32. Since we’re having fun with gun-talk, I’d like to comment that the M-16 was not the first rifle that used the mechanism of gas impinging directly on the bolt face. The French adopted a semiautomatic rifle in the late forties that was similar. It was made in 7.5mm (before NATO standardization) and large numbers of them were rechambered for the 7.62mm round in the 70’s. They survived in front-line service until the 80’s. The design was generally trouble-free because the gas tube was fairly large, which allowed for a certain amount of fouling. The fact that it was a semiauto no doubt meant that fewer rounds were fired, as well.

    Regarding the 5.56mm round: its muzzle energy is slightly lower than that of the 7.62mm M1943 round used by both the AK-47 variants and the SKS. But its velocity is much higher-higher than even the “full-sized” rounds used in pre-assault rifle era. This means that it remains supersonic over a longer distance. The shock wave produced by the bullet does considerable damage despite its small size. It was never intended as a “wounding” weapon. It was designed the put the power of a light machine gun into the hands of every infantryman, and it does.

    As for the McNamara-bashing, that’s become a rather tired cliche. The M-16 was in the works long before McNamara, and was progressively developed long after he was gone. He had very little to do with it.

    For those who dig this sort of thing, I offer an address which should take you to ballistics table:

    http://www.imagina.com/~bbroadside/General_Info.html

  33. just to confuse the issue a little more (arguing about small arms for the military is one of the great eternal debates in the US)…the US Army has, over the last decade or so, moved to increase marksmanship, as opposed to the old “spray the area” idea of supressive fire. strategypage.com made note of one of the ways you can tell who’s shooting at who in Afganistan….the Army tends to go for single shots, the Al Queida/Taliban/insurgents/rebels tend to go for full auto. Ironic, considering that the Army’s logistics are a lot more certain than the mujahadeen’s….
    Another note: The xm-8 does look futuristic, but the end users seem to love it. It can be converted in the field, uses a rail system for sighting, so it’s easier to keep accurate. And it’s got the ability to be converted into a shorter carbine model, useful as the Hegemony’s troops take more fire in urban areas, and on supply lines, like the convoys in Iran. Excuse me, Iraq. Iran’s NEXT year…

  34. Joe, the history of the Bradley is a mixed bag of shit. The Army tried out several versions of it after Vietnam and found tha the aluminum siding would catch fire if an incendiary device hit it and the fumes would be toxic. The Israeli’s hated it so much that they cancelled a huge contract to buy several 100 of the Bradleys. Only after almost 30 years of development and billions of dollars down the tube did the Bradley undertake its current form.

    The B1
    http://www.pogo.org/p/defense/do-020514-failures-b1bomber.html

    sucks

    For more on the Bradley, read
    the book “The Pentagon Wars”

    http://www.mindef.gov.sg/safti/pointer/back/journals/1998/Vol24_4/9.htm

    Fore more on the Crusader

    http://www.pogo.org/p/defense/do-020308-failures-crusader.html

    And Joe, when did Carter build up the military?

    http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2004/8/12/161746.shtml

    Never? Or, no wait, it had to be never.

    Side note to Joe. The little line that you penned in the discussion on Jack Kerouac was hilarious and brilliant.

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2004/09/kelleys_heroes.shtml#comments

    at 2:19 pm

  35. BB & Richard, I’ll take your words on lighter v. heavier rounds. I was never totally sold on the idea, remembering the problem with the Moros in the Phillipines that convinced the services to adopt a .45 Colt as a sidearm. Stopping power is good. 🙂

    After seeing what the XM-8 looks like, I remain convinced that if Uncle Sam had only issued these to the groundpounders, we would have won in VN.

    http://www.timewarptoys.com/oma1.jpg

    http://www.bigredtoybox.com/cgi-bin/toynfo.pl?johnny7index

    Kevin

  36. Gordon Liddy where are you when we need you.

  37. I’ll take credit for the faux-Kerouac quip, but I’ve never written a thing about the Bradley.

  38. Joe,

    You said:
    “Are you saying that the M2/M3 are INFERIOR weapon systems? If so, you’re dead wrong. The only IFV that is better is the Swedish cv9040, designed and built a decade AFTER the M2. The M-2 is proof to 30mm hits across the glacis, it is the most heavily armured IFV in the world, except for mayhap the CV90.”

    The Bradley is the M2/M3, so yes, you did write about the Bradley. I was commenting that the backstory of its development makes it a big piece of crap turned gold, but only after billions of dollars that were spent on revamping the entire concept. I don’t argue that it isn’t a good weapon today, just that the Army makes huge mistakes about weapons systems and just because a weapon has been used by the Army for a long period of time doesn’t mean it didn’t/doesn’t suck.

  39. Richard

    Joe L and joe are two different people.

    Regular posters know them both well.

  40. The Bradley is a mixed bag.

    1) They screwed up in making it non amphibious. I think it is technically sold as being capable of swimming, but show me the unit that will try it and I will show you some drunk soldiers. IFVs need to be able to swim.

    2) The armor was initially crappy and had the unpleasant tendency of releasing toxic fumes and burning, but that has been corrected. The replacement armor is better but makes the vehicle too heavy.

    3) This is the biggie according to a friend of mine who used to drive an M1A1 – it is too tall. Tankers refer to it as The Barn Door. The turret makes it a threat priority for undisciplined tank units who see tall thing with turret and think ‘tank’. It draws fire and is hard to miss.

    4) On the plus side, reports from Iraq are that the gun system with the tall turret is very effective against bunkers, guys in buildings, APCs and even cheap tanks. It shoots very accurately sitting still and fairly accurately on the move.

    The tankers are saying that if it could swim and be a bit lower of profile, it would be an unholy beast on the field.

  41. Richard,

    I’m very (case) sensitive about my screen name.

  42. Sorry about that joe, but Joe L didn’t post on this board so I didn’t even think about it.

  43. A little known fact… if you Teflon-coat the inside of your gas tube, you’ll be jam free even in harsh conditions. Hoppes has spray-on Teflon for just such a job.

    Actually, you don’t have to do anything to the inside of the gas tube. The pressure will clean it out every time . . .

  44. Another note: The xm-8 does look futuristic, but the end users seem to love it. It can be converted in the field, uses a rail system for sighting, so it’s easier to keep accurate. And it’s got the ability to be converted into a shorter carbine model,. . .

    It’s rail system is H&K propriety, so it can’t use all the neat attachments that the M16 varients use. It’s plastic has mealted under during heavy fire, and it’s optics are crap compared to the ACOG. It offeres a lower muzzle velocity vs. the M16 for a given barrel length.

    At this point, I think the XM-8 has a lot of catch up to do.

  45. Regarding the 5.56mm round: its muzzle energy is slightly lower than that of the 7.62mm M1943 round used by both the AK-47 variants and the SKS. But its velocity is much higher-higher than even the “full-sized” rounds used in pre-assault rifle era. This means that it remains supersonic over a longer distance. The shock wave produced by the bullet does considerable damage despite its small size.

    The “shock wave” (I assume you mean “temoprary cavity”) typically does little damage. The 5.56 M193 and M855 rounds do considerable damage due to bullet fragmentation. When 5.56 bullets do not fragment, the damage done is more like that of a .22 long rifle — except when the bullet tumbles (5.56 bullets are longer).

    The fragmentation of 5.56 bullets is dependent upon velocity. Fired from an M16 with a 20″ barrel, M193 ball will begin to tumble at a depth of penetration of about 6″. At that point, the bullet will break in half, and the nose portion will fragment further, essentially pulping an area 3″ – 4″ wide from a depth of 6″ to 9″. The base of the bullet will penetrait to a full depth of 13″ – 14″.

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/M193.jpg

  46. To add to the above, the Soviet 7.62 x 39 mm round (used in the SKS and AK) doesn’t fragment. It basically makes a .30″ hole except for where it tumbles. Consequently, people shot with it have a high survival rate.

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/AK-47%20762x39mm.jpg

  47. joe: Improvements were made to the M-16 by the time Kerry was in country, making it much more reliable than earlier versions.

    At least, that’s what the History Channel says.

    Actually, one of the very first uses of the M16 in Vietnam was made into the Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers”. Gibson’s character was Lt Col Hal Moore, who gave the M16 credit as one of the major things that allowed his troops to hold their position. It appears to have performed well in that action–no mention of any jams.

    It is hard to determine at this point what caused the M16’s problems in Vietnam, but from what I’ve read, it was probably a combination of the powder the USA insisted on using combined with a lack of cleaning. The lack of a chrome chamber probably caused problems in some cases as well. The forward assist wasn’t really necessary.

  48. I have shot both M-16 and M1. It is my belief that in close combat, the M-16 is superior, but in combat of over 250 yards, the difference is unbelievabbly in favor of the bolt-action M1.

    Well, at the 600 yard line on Camp Perry the AR-15 kicks ass on M1As (civilian legal M-14s) and any M1s that show up (the M1 now have their own match so they can still be used in competition).

    ARs have even been beating the M1As on the 1,000 yard line for the past few years.

    In actual combat, a modified M16 with a free floating barrel and ACOG sight, shooting the 77 gr match bullets, should outperform any M1 or M14 at long range. Of course, at over 600 yards the .223 will only make .223″ holes (no bullet fragmentation), but the bigger guns will only make .308″ holes . . .

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