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Posted: 2/18/2006 4:40:58 AM EDT

I don't know a heck of a lot about this weapon, but I've never heard a bad thing about it. A reliable, very lightweight LMG long before the FN minimi was in the picture. Why did it only see limited use during the Vietnam era?

Link Posted: 2/18/2006 4:44:59 AM EDT
The M16 had JUST been adapted, so they weren't in the market for another weapons system. It only saw use in Nam with the SEALs to the best of my knowledge.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 5:08:24 AM EDT
i read somewhere there was too many parts and too hard for the average soldier to keep clean.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 5:23:44 AM EDT
Didn't actually need to be kept spotless in order to not jam a lot? As in, all the myths about the AR actually apply to it.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 5:41:24 AM EDT
Stoners sales team didn't buy as many hookers as Colt's team.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 5:45:07 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/18/2006 5:54:42 AM EDT by desertmoon]
There were many things that kept the 63 out of the average soldier's hands, many unfortunate, but true.

The Stoner 63A was and is one of the most amzing and comprehensive weapon systems ever developed. Like the AR-15 is was WAYYYYY ahead of it's time. One of the biggest issues with the system was that it was so comprehensive and that made it rather complex. The carrier assembly could not be fully maintained without tools and the weapon had numerous parts. This, and the fact that interest in the weapon was sadly minimal beyond the SEAL programs left the Sixty Three little time for better developement, even though Cadillac Gage had reps in the field forwarding suggestions on a VERY regular basis.

This is one of the more heartbreaking stories of weapons developement considering the Army is just getting around to figuring out that it needs EXACTLY what Eugene Stoner was trying to sell them over forty years ago.

Sweet Stuff about the Stoner:

Ambidexterous

Piston Operated with an adjustable gas system

VERY quick barrel change feature

Used boxes and drums for protecting belted ammunition. These were mounted to the chassis of the weapon. The feed tray was also a protected mechanism.

Several different mission essential weapons could be built around one main chassis, including: a rifle, a carbine, paratrooper versions of either, a Light Machine gun, belt fed right hand feed, Light Machine gun Left Hand feed, automated mounted machine gun, Light machine gun Bren style with top mag, Commando LMG, and even a short range sniper rifle ( what we now call a DMR ).
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 5:56:06 AM EDT
The M16 did for the AR18 too.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 6:13:33 AM EDT
This is my local C3 dealer, and one of the few transferable stoners in existance. I was told there are only around 7, not sure of this, just what I heard. BTW this was at a loacal MG shoot in 2004.

Link Posted: 2/18/2006 6:52:17 AM EDT

Does Robinson Armament offer a belt fed semi version? I understand that was in the works a while back, as well as a top-feed model.

Link Posted: 2/18/2006 7:00:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:
Does Robinson Armament offer a belt fed semi version? I understand that was in the works a while back, as well as a top-feed model.




I don't think so. I did a thread about it last week and no one said they had seen or herd anything about it.

A belt fed M96 would be kick ass.

Link Posted: 2/18/2006 7:06:06 AM EDT
I've always liked the Stoner 63. I believe it used a proprietary link system, which was one of its weak points. The weapon was well-liked by the Teams during the southeast Asian conflict of the 60's.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 9:19:50 AM EDT
The SeALs arent the only ones to have used this weapon in Vietnam.

There was a company of regular line Marines who used the Stoners exclusiely for a year. I wanna say it was around the 67-68 time. They used every kind of Stoner 63 available at the time as an expieriment to see if the system could either replace or augment the M-16 family. After that year, the unit was asked how they fealt the system had performed, and everyone in the unit agreed it was superior weapons system to what the militayr was using at the time. However, the upper echelon decided to stick with what was being used.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 9:24:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:
Does Robinson Armament offer a belt fed semi version? I understand that was in the works a while back, as well as a top-feed model.





I think ARES is going to have a Shrike made for it.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 11:29:36 AM EDT

I believe it used a proprietary link system, which was one of its weak points.



???

What other belt fed .223's were around at that time?

The Minimi/M249 wasn't developed until years later, and the fact that it uses different links can't be blamed on the Stoner design team.

Eugene Stoner himself said "Timing is everything" and the military had just spent big $$$ on the M16, and there was no enthusiasm after the war.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 11:35:39 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jmarkma:
This is my local C3 dealer, and one of the few transferable stoners in existance. I was told there are only around 7, not sure of this, just what I heard. BTW this was at a loacal MG shoot in 2004.

img.photobucket.com/albums/v519/jmarkma/DSC00455.jpg



From my Inquiries there are around 100 Stoner 63s and 63As, and each runs > $100,000
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 11:42:11 AM EDT
Originally it was designed as the model 62 in 7.62mm NATO. When it was recognized that 5.56mm was the way of the future, it was redesigned into the 63.

The entire weapons system was tested extensively by the Army and USMC. The Army tested the rifle and carbine as the XM22 and XM23, and the LMG as the XM207. During these tests, problems showed up and the 63A came out to correct some of them.

The Navy tested the LMG and used a short, fluted barrelled model as the MK23 for the SEALs.

The USMC was pretty hot for the system. It would solve alot of logistical problems with Marines afloat, since the number of unique spare parts could drastically be reduced, and parts from one gun could be used to repair another, even if it might not be the same version. Also it enhanced training in that you trained with one type of weapon, and you knew all of them because it was a system with few uniqe parts. They managed to get the test platoon mentioned above going, but even though it showed that it could be an attractive system, they never got funding to proceed any farther and it was dropped.

You have to remember what was going on at the time and place it in that context to understand why it was left unfunded. Having a different weapons system for the Marine Corps was opposite of the direction that McNamara was taking the DoD. Remember him forcing the USAF to buy F-4 Phantoms and A-7 Corsairs? He asked some pretty logical questions as to why services needed different colored shoes, to why they needed this that or the other thing that was uniqe to the service. In many instances there really wasn't any good reason that one service needed, say different socks, than another. The result was a great deal of financial savings on buying just one item and using it in all services, rather than buying a different, but similar item for each service. As with the F-4, this practice was taken as far as it could go. So The logical question was asked, "Why are we going to buy a different 5.56mm rifle when we already have one?" Hey, alot of people asked the same question about the HK XM-8 right here on the board.

With the M16 program mature to the point of millions of dollars spent, buying the 63 would run the risk that it too would probably need some development as well, so you're re-buying that process with a different weapon. Remember, McNamara came from FORD, and the American auto industry is definately one that feels you should use a design as long as possible, even if it's out dated, as long as it's profitable. The DoD had already paid to fix the AR-15. It had no intention of paying to fix yet another weapon.

Also you had a great deal of "old school". Many senior officers felt that 7.62mm was what Marines should be shooting in the first place, not 5.56mm. So ANY 5.56mm wasn't going to get much backing from dinosaurs. Those that could see ahead liked the Stoner 63, but even today there's people (some right here on this board) that opine the replacement of anything they used "back in the day" with something new.

Finally, we were in a shooting war at the time, and the Army was the lead service in the fight (similar to today) due to numbers and money. Once you got above the division level, it was pretty much an Army show as far as logistics and even command went back then. So the DoD felt it would be simpler to have everyone equipped the same in theater. This does make some sense, as in order to support a uniqe rifle/LMG for the Marines, you'd either have to run a parallel support system, or add those lines of supply into the existing Army system, which would have no other purpose than support Marine units there. Either way would cost money, and probably off-set any savings that the weapon system achieved.

Money, politics, timing, whatever. It's usually the same story. The weapon itself was a good one, and it would have been interesting to see where it would be today.

Link Posted: 2/18/2006 11:43:40 AM EDT
I wonder how much intrest would have to be shown to get Robinson Armament to really push to put out a belt fed semi M-96.

I mean if the real full auto M63's are going for over 100,000 I am sure there are folks who would pay a reasonable price to have a semi auto copy.

It's not like there are any other semi .223 beltfeds on the market.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 11:52:30 AM EDT
Mogo63a's Stoner uses 249 links without a problem.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 1:21:55 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/18/2006 1:22:35 PM EDT by HeVGunner]
I believe the the link issue was that links were generally in short supply- not that they were unique (but, I don't recall the US having any other belt fed 5.56 at the time)

And ya, I'd definately buy a beltfed m96...
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 1:26:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:
Does Robinson Armament offer a belt fed semi version? I understand that was in the works a while back, as well as a top-feed model.




The top-fed version was released, but it will be a cold day in hell before the damned belt-feed attachment is ever released.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 1:32:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HeVGunner:
I believe the the link issue was that links were generally in short supply- not that they were unique (but, I don't recall the US having any other belt fed 5.56 at the time)



Thank you... I stand corrected.

I understand that the weapons can be modified to use the modern-day Minimi links.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 4:41:26 PM EDT

Ross, thanks for the very informative post.

Link Posted: 2/18/2006 4:45:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By RikWriter:
The M16 had JUST been adapted, so they weren't in the market for another weapons system. It only saw use in Nam with the SEALs to the best of my knowledge.



Nope, it was available to LRRP teams also.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 5:05:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HELOBRAVO:

Originally Posted By RikWriter:
The M16 had JUST been adapted, so they weren't in the market for another weapons system. It only saw use in Nam with the SEALs to the best of my knowledge.



Nope, it was available to LRRP teams also.



the last of team 2s stoners were destroyed in the early 90's. my dad carried one '79-'83
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 1:35:13 AM EDT
Sweet firearm.I've seen quite a few Vietnam era photo's including those weapons.

So,is the Robinson you all are talking about suppose to be some kinda replica,or similar remake of this gun?
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 8:22:10 AM EDT
anyone?
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 8:55:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By byron2112:
anyone?



The M96 ws an outwardly similar firearm based loosely on the 63. I owned one for a few years and it had some great attributes. Nearly zero recoil, extremely reliable and almost corrosion proof. The weapon was made mostly of stainles steel and then finished with a surface conversion that I was never able to scratch despite the amount of use and abuse I dished out. Sadly there were several issues with the gun that took Robinson forever to sort out....the safety location was absolutely LOUSY (you couldn't deactivate the safety from the shoulder) and considering the rifle was of such late manufacture it SHOULD have been ambidextrous like the original Stoner. One the early weapons the barrel retention spring was WAY too weak and barrels were known to suddenly launch downrange. The M96 also used a gas piston system like the Beretta AR70 instead of the carreir fixed piston like the Stoner 63. Why? I have NO idea. The orginal version was problematic ( though it was later improved ) and there was no provision to configure the system with a top cocking knob like the real Stoner. Now the main reason for this was due to the prevalent use of optics on todays firearms but the fact is that most folks who bought M96s ( such as me ) were looking for something much more akin to the Stoner than the M96 really was.

There were other "hinted" at goodies that the M96 was SUPPOSED to have available that never materialized. one of which was a 7.62 X 39 conversion unit that would allow the M96 to use either AK mags or switch back to the 5.56 AR platform. The belt feed was also rumored, though it, too, never materialized.

It is a real shame that RA didn't put serious time and effort into the M96....it had a shitload of potential....just like the original Stoner.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 9:46:58 AM EDT
The USMC field trials of the Stoner in SEA seemed to be very positive and show it to be more reliable and versatile than the 16's of the era. There was just too much institutional momentum carrying the 16 forward.

Small Arms Review has a nice article a while back by some of the Marines from the unit that tested the Stoner.
Link Posted: 2/21/2006 5:44:02 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Gamma762:
The USMC field trials of the Stoner in SEA seemed to be very positive and show it to be more reliable and versatile than the 16's of the era. There was just too much institutional momentum carrying the 16 forward.

Small Arms Review has a nice article a while back by some of the Marines from the unit that tested the Stoner.



Completely off topic: Gamma, what on earth is your avatar????? I have to know!
Link Posted: 2/21/2006 8:18:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By desertmoon:

Originally Posted By Gamma762:
The USMC field trials of the Stoner in SEA seemed to be very positive and show it to be more reliable and versatile than the 16's of the era. There was just too much institutional momentum carrying the 16 forward.

Small Arms Review has a nice article a while back by some of the Marines from the unit that tested the Stoner.



Completely off topic: Gamma, what on earth is your avatar????? I have to know!


It appears to be a porcupine with a gas mask.
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