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Posted: 9/14/2004 5:55:43 PM EST
Today was the kickoff of the three day annual expo at Quantico. It's like a great gun show...only with the top of the line high-tech weaponry and support systems.

I and some of my colleagues manned our booth all day but we had plenty of time to stroll and checkout the great stuff being exhibited to the Marines and others of lesser fame.

Here are my observations:

The Hk folks had the most popular firearms booth. They had lots of neat EBRs and pistols. The one getting the most attention was the XM-8 system. I LIKE IT! My fav was the baseline carbine. I got to fondle it for a while and do everything but shoot the thing. What I saw impressed me. It is light, well made and very easy to use from either side. Everything is ambi. The rifle without a full mag tends to be a bit muzzle heavy. Loaded, it balances nearly perfectly. The infinitely adjustable stock was a joy to use. It mounted quickly and comfortably for all sized of grunts that tried it out.

I asked the Hk guys if they were going to build the rifles in Columbus, GA as advertised. They said yes, IF they win the contract to go into full-rate production after OPEVAL. I THEN ASKED THE KEY QUESTION: Will it be available to us in semi-auto and how much will it cost? Again...IF they win the contract, and he estimate the cost to be about $1k.

The Trijicon guys said they have doubled their factory size and their production capacity but still can't meet the military demands. We must wait about 10-14 months for an ACOG or similary sight. I postulated a ratio of 100:1 and he agreed. The manager told me that the plastic tube holding the tritium on top is nearly indistructable and don't worry if it cracks: It will continue to work just fine. (FTR...mine is NOT busted....I just was wondering.)

The Remington booth (right next to ours...) is manned by a formed Marine sniper. We had some nice conversations during the lulls. He says that the Marines at WTB use just the Remington receivers for their sniper rifles and build each one from scratch using custom parts from other mfgrs.

The Harrier jet is smaller than I had imagined. I got up close and personal.

The MV-22 is bigger than I thought. When I noted the stell cables in the cargo/personnel compartment aft, the crew chief told me thay were doing tests with Army paras just before coming to Quantico. The office in that plane is really high-tech. VERY kewl!

The M777E1 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer is the shnitz! I just loved that damn gun! The BAE guys were 'splaining all of the neat things to me. They told me that in just about two minutes from the time the tow vehicle stops a trained crew can have friendly mail is headed downrange. The damn thing is connected digitally to the FDC so all they have to do is get withing a few degrees (It looked like about 45deg. based on the traverse ring gearing between the trails.) of the enemy targets and that big bitch is shooting fast! It is light too. An H-47 Chinook, an MV-22 a C-130 and any like plane can carry one.

LaRue Tactical had the coolest modfication kits for an M-1A I ever saw! All of the wood furniture disappeared and all sort of combinations of collapseable stock, cheek piece, front rails and forward handgrips were demoed. I really liked it...but I'm not changing mine. VERY tactical looking.

FN Herstal had a cool booth. I especially like their replacement for the Ma Deuce HERESY!!! I know...but hold on to your water for just a sec. The new .50BMG was a very hot looking weapons system. Imagine if you can, a Ma Deuce that is lighter, much easier to control and fire ACCURATELY, fires from an open-breech (No headspace problems...and NO cookoffs!), a big side mounted cantilevered cocking handle for much easier operation, and a firing rate 1100 rpm! Think of that for a sec...a .50 cal MG with a firing rate equaling that of the MG-42! The Marines are using them on their helos on a sweet pinel mount and they like them a lot.

Sackups and SandViper gun protection bags...pretty cool.

Patriot PAC-3 missile. Very cool. One fast, capable AAW weapon system.

Glock...as expected, very cool booth. They always had a crowd too.

Laser Devices...kewl lights, lasers and accessories.

All sorts of other "stuff" was there too: Tactical Tomahawk, new radar systems, new arty ammo, new vehicles and bazillions of Marines Plus there was shelter, body armor, comms, hydration, ghillie suits...just about everything to make your mouth water. I can guaranty you that the "bug-out" crew would have loved it.

Finally, I have to toot our own horn. One of the things we're showing off is an Infantry Recce Round that can be fired from a bloop gun, an M203, a 60mm or 81mm mortar...carried on a UAV or tossed out of helos. The round parachutes down and uses a micro camera, compass and a radio transmitter to send pics of the enemy pos back to a receiver station laptop computer. A cool way to check out a target location for the BGs before getting too close and letting them take the first shot. Surprisingly enough...it's cheap too. The coolest part is that the mortar rounds are ballistically a perfect match for standard HE rounds....sooooo, as soon as our grunts spot the BGs from above, HE to follow!

One thing of note too: While I was at the Hk booth, the lead Hk guy was actually edjumicating a young Marine corporal on the AWB! The kid just did NOT understand what we all know about the AWB and what was banned and what was not. This Marine began talking about full-auto weapons. Clearly he has been watching far too much TV.
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