Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Press ignores FBI study about gun laws: "For more than two months, a damning report on a five-year study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about how cop-killing criminals ignore gun laws and where they get their guns has languished in the shadows, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms revealed today. 'The public has a right to know the contents of this report, which was revealed to the International Association of Chiefs of Police last year,' said CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron."

The M-16

The following post is excerpted from Captain's Journal

Every so often the issue of the M-16 comes up.  I published some thoughts on it in Kill Versus Wound — The M16A2 .22 Caliber Round.  I have been following the issue of the M16 and more discussion has occurred recently.  I also recently enjoyed shooting an M4 (actually, A-15, M4 mil specs) on a range in Pickens, S.C.  Eugene Stoner is universally regarded as a genius for the design of the Stoner system of armaments, and properly so.  The rifle I shot was light, tight, compact and accurate, and the sights could be trained on the target quickly due to the minimal recoil.  In my opinion it is a magnificent weapon (with one significant caveat).

The Strategy Page recently had informative article on the 5.56 mm round:

The debate over the merits of 7.62mm versus 5.56mm bullets has been going on since the M-16 was introduced in the 1960s. While each side has its proponents, only the “slow and heavy” crowd gets anything published, since only opposing the establishment is news. But there are plenty of supporters for the 5.56mm round. Many of them are in the US Army, and serving in combat.

Most of the complaints come from people who just like the larger (US or Russian) round, and their preference is more visceral than logical (as it is with many supporters of 5.56mm). The fact remains that soldiers would be able to carry fewer of the larger, 7.62mm, rounds. This is not a popular option among troops in the combat zone. Those combat troops know how to aim properly and take down the target, and find that the 5.56mm round does the job.

When a 5.56mm round hits one of those “slender” targets “that keep coming”, what nobody mentions is that the serious wound (the idea that they cause little damage is incorrect) means that the target is probably going to bleed out in not too long (unless he gets treatment from a medic, which takes him out of the fight). This is because the 5.56mm round is a “tumbler” and will “tumble” at very high velocity. This causes enormous flesh and organ damage.

Global Security documents the use of the M16A2 in Iraq, including some of its problems (such as barrel length, making it difficult for close quarters combat, and of course pointing to the M4 with its shorter barrel and retractable stock as the solution).  However — and here is the caveat to the magnificence of the Stoner system — it sustains frequent jams, and this is a problem that has had real consequences.  It is customarily asserted that weapon cleaning can prevent or reduce the frequency of jamming, but my experience is that jamming occurs as a result of ammunition and machining tolerances, and not necessarily having anything to do with weapon cleanliness.

The Marine Corps Times has an extensive article on a potential replacement for the M4/M16 initiated by special operations forces (followed on by a discussion thread at the Small Wars Journal).  But this will likely not be available to be implemented large scale for some time.  Weapons, in this instance, are like body armor.  There is significant inertia associated with the Department of Defense, and fielding equipment that is seen as “better” is not customary.  Difficulties with funding, studies, procurement and QA programs, usually causes the delay in deployment of new equipment until all known liabilities have been perfectly rectified (or at least that is the intent).  This means that the M4/M16 will likely be in service for the foreseeable future.  I have heard reports from members of the armed forces that for the well-trained infantryman, any jam can be cleared in five seconds or less.  While I am certainly not capable of this, I don’t doubt that training decreases the down time from a weapons jam.  There isn’t much an NCO or officer can do about the defense budget.  But they can ensure well-trained infantrymen.

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