Thanks to ROCK6 over on Lightfighter's forums for originally posting this. I've not seen this yet over here and it has some very interesting feedback on weapon performances in the recent Iraq campaign.
Since the full report is 78,682 chracters long and this board is limited to posts of 8,000 characters, you can go to this link to see the full report.
Below are some of the more interesting points concerning small arms.
5.56mm vs. 7.62 Lethality ~ 5.56mm "definitely answered the mail" and "as long as the shots were in the head or chest they went down" were typical quotes from several Marines; many who were previously very skeptical of 5.56mm ammunition. Most of the interviewed Marines who reported targets not going down and/or could still fight were referencing non-lethal shots to the extremities. There were reports of targets receiving shots in the vitals and not going down. These stories need not be described, but are of the rare superhuman occurrences that defy logic and caliber of round. Some Marines did ask about getting the heaver-grained 5.56mm rounds, up to 77 grain if possible.
Weapon Take-Down Pins ~ Many weapons, M16 and M249 in particular, were having problems with takedown pins breaking and/or falling completely out of the weapons. Marines held weapons together with duct tape and/or zip ties. The problem seems to be that sand would get into the spaces around the pins, grinding down the metal.
Enemy Engagements ~ Almost all interviewed stated all firefight engagements conducted with small arms (5.56mm guns) occurred in the twenty to thirty (20-30) meter range. Shots over 100m were rare. The maximum range was less than 300m. Of those interviewed, most sniper shots were taken at distances well under 300m, only one greater than 300m (608m during the day). After talking to the leadership from various sniper platoons and individuals, there was not enough confidence in the optical gear (Simrad or AN/PVS-10) to take a night shot under the given conditions at ranges over 300m. Most Marines agreed they would "push" a max range of 200m only.
SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert) ~ To no surprise this item was worth its weight in gold. SAPI plates saved lives. In five separate incidents at 2D Tank Battalion the SAPI prevented death or serious injury. In the words of Capt. David Bardorf, 2D Tank Bn., "SAPI is God's gift to the Marine Corps."
Marines were hoping that the future could bring a lighter version that was slightly wider in the front, but these requests for modification were minimal and insignificant compared to the positive feedback and effectiveness of the plates.
M9 Pistol Magazines ~ The magazines are not working properly. The springs are extremely weak and the follower does not move forward when rounds are removed. If the magazine is in the weapon, malfunctions result. If out of the weapon, remaining rounds fall out of the magazine. Dirt and sand does cause some of the problem with follower movement, but multiple cleanings of the magazine each day does not alleviate the problem. The main problem is the weak/worn springs. (note: I personally encountered this problem as well. Say what you will, but I had to break down all magazines daily to clean them. Despite this effort, rounds routinely "fell" out of the magazine. Forces in contact did not have the time or the luxury to break down each 9mm magazine daily. M16 magazines worked well. Like many officers, I also traded up to a rifle).
Weapon Backup ~ Many infantrymen are requesting that all operators have an issued backup weapon, (i.e. M9 pistol) to augment their T/O weapon. If they can't get pistols for secondary weapon purposes, they need more pistols available for MOUT operations to operate in very confined spaces, stairwells, etc. They request at least one per squad; minimum, one per fire team; better.
Rifle Propelled Grenade ~ Many Marines are requesting Rifle Propelled grenades to augment or replace the M203. The M203 doesn't have an adequate range capability. (note: this desire stems from the fact that the most effective weapon employed against coalition forces was the RPG).
M16A4 with associated combat optic (ACOG 4x), the West Coast's SAM Rifle ~ All interviewed were extremely pleased with the performance and felt it "answered the mail" for the role of the Squad Advanced Marksman (SAM). All said the fixed 4-power ACOG sight that was included was the perfect solution. It gave them the ability to identify targets at distance, under poor conditions, and maintained ability to quickly acquire the target in the close in (MOUT/room clearing) environment. As above, many "stacked" it with the AN/PVS-14 to get a true night capability. No Marines present in interviews knew of any situation where the shooter could shoot the gun to its full capability or outshoot it. Interviewees included STA platoon leadership and members who are school trained MOS 8541 Snipers. They saw no need for the accuracy and expense involved in the version being built for the "East Coast" SAM Rifle by Precision Weapons Section (PWS), WTBN, Quantico. The standard M16A4 with issued optic more than satisfied their requirements.
Distribution among battalions varied. One battalion received (6), one went to each of the three line companies and three to STA Platoon for the spotters. Other battalions received one per rifle squad.
Regular M16A4's, no optic, were sent over to theatre to replace M16A2's. However, they arrived too late to be distributed and BZO'd prior to start of the war. These weapons remained in storage in Kuwait.
M4 Carbine ~ Many Marines commented on desire for the shorter weapon vice the longer M16's. They say that it would have definitely been better in the urban environment because of the confined spaces. Since most of the operators were operating from a vehicle platform, the smaller weapon would have helped tremendously for mounting and dismounting.
There were numerous comments that the M16 is too long and cumbersome in the urban fight. Several Marines even opted to use the AK-47s that had been captured from Iraqi weapons caches. Others were trading the rifle for pistols to go into buildings to allow mobility in confined spaces.
There has been a push to get M-4's to crewmen of the mechanized vehicles, LAR in particular. The distribution needs to include LAR, AAV's, Tanks, Motor Transportation, and any other units that may have a requirement. IWS has fielded some assets to LAR, but not all others. LAR still has mostly M16's. The M-16's are too cumbersome/long for crewmen to employ (get out of the cupola or out of a door/window) in a timely manner while under stress such as when receiving fire.
M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) ~ The SAW's are worn out and apparently beyond repair. They have far exceeded their service life. Many Marines are duct taping and zip tying the weapons together. Reconnaissance units were requesting parasaw, infantry units requesting collapsible buttstock.
M240G Medium Machine Gun ~ Marines who did not really know what to expect were extremely impressed with effects on target.
The thread that had that here has apparently vanished. At least, i can't find it. Still hoping to find a source for the complete PDF file. Someone drop me a PM if they can get it to me.
Go the Lightfighter forum [URL]http://lightfighter.net/6/ubb.x[/URL] Then go to: General Discussion The thread is called: Equipment Feedback from Iraq...good read... [URL]http://lightfighter.net/6/ubb.x?a=tpc&s=7336015661&f=5436084761&m=3866055713[/URL]
BTTT Some people were asking me about it so pushing it back to the top will make it easier to find.