Somebody once asked me why I preferred the outdated, heavy Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol as a defense weapon, and I told them that I carried a .45 because they don’t make a .46.
I was reminded of that when I read a recent Associated Press news report that claims that the Army’s M-4 rifle has been found less than effective under current battlefield conditions in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s more primitive but longer range weapons allow the enemy to fire effectively from distances longer than American rifles can reach reliably.
The report said that while the M-4, a workhorse with a 40 year history of service, fires more rounds, and fires them faster than the Taliban’s outdated long range rifles, the M-4’s 5.56 mm bullets do not have enough accuracy or stopping power at 500 to 600 meters to be effective. This gives the Taliban a major advantage over U.S. troops.
The M-4, which is an updated version of the famous M-16, is a fine weapon for close quarters combat and urban warfare, but it is the wrong weapon for battle in Afghanistan.
In response, the Army is arming nine soldiers in each infantry company with higher powered M-110 sniper rifles, which fire a larger 7.62 mm round, and is accurate out to 800 meters. The problem with this plan is that a typical infantry company has 150 to 200 men, so that still leaves most of the troops outgunned.
The trend toward lighter weapons started in Vietnam, when the Army replaced the heavier, more reliable and more powerful (read lethal) M-14, which fired a 7.62 mm bullet, with the M-16 and its much smaller 5.56 mm cartridge. The M-16 had less recoil and allowed soldiers to carry more ammunition, but in my own experience, I found it a less than satisfactory round in the jungle, where it seemed like any twig or leaf could deflect the bullet off course.
The idea seemed to be “spray and pray,” with the hope that if you threw enough lead at the enemy, you might eventually hit something. The Taliban is proving today that marksmanship with an accurate long range rifle beats that theory all to hell. A hit is always worth a few dozen misses.
I’m a very big fan of overkill. Nobody who has ever been shot at ever wished he had a smaller weapon to shoot back with. Rifles are better than pistols, big rifles are better than small rifles, and artillery is even better!
It was just announced that Marine Corporal Jacob C. Leicht was killed last Thursday, making him the 1,000th American serviceman to die in Afghan fighting. The 24 year old Marine was on his second tour of duty when he stepped on a landmine. We’ve lost another hero. I wish I could tell you that he will be the last to die, but we all know better than that.
I wish we’d bring our troops home from every one of these Third World hellholes, but if we won’t, they at least deserve to be armed with the best weapons to get the job done right. On second thought, how about we use a big freakin bomb? Hey, it worked in Japan!
Tags: 5.56 mm bullets, 7.62 mm bullet, Afghan fighting, Afghanistan. war, American rifles, American serviceman, ammunition, Army, artillery, Associated Press, battlefield, bomb, Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol, defense weapon, enemy, infantry company, Japan, landmine, long range rifles, M-110 sniper rifles, M-14 rifle, M-16 rifle, M-4 rifle, Marine, marksmanship, pistols, Taliban, U.S. troops, Vietnam