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Video: The M65 'Davy Crockett' Nuclear Rifle

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October 19, 2011

Video: The M65 'Davy Crockett' Nuclear Rifle

By Phil Bourjaily

The FieldandStream.com “50 State Guns” gallery is coming soon. As you’ll recall, the Utah and Arizona legislatures have named official state guns and we thought it would be fun to come up with suggestions for the other 48. Trying to come up with one distinctive gun to represent each state has been a challenge, even with all the good ideas you sent in.

Nevada, for instance, has been tough to figure out.

My latest, not very serious thought, was the Davy Crockett Nuclear Recoiless Rifle, which was tested at the Nevada Test Site, in the early 60s, with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the audience. The recoilless rifle fired a 51 pound shell containing a very small nuclear warhead to a maximum range of three miles. One of the weapon’s flaws was that unless the wind was blowing the right direction, the crew stood a very good chance of being irradiated by the blast.

Since Davy Crockett was known for marksmanship, and the Davy Crockett Nuclear Rifle was very much an area weapon, it seems the army picked an odd namesake. On the other hand, we can speculate that if Col. Crockett had one of these at the Alamo, history would have been somewhat different.

Comments (21)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Tom-Tom wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Sort of gives new meaning to your phrase, Phil, "How to smoke 'em on station six".

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Audie Murphy meets Dr. Strangelove?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

???....what were they THINKING!!??

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Don't know if you caught that, .01 kilotons? That's equal to 10 tons of TNT. So what's the point? They can do that with conventional bombs, without all the radiation. Fission bombs are very inefficient as the yield gets smaller and smaller, so there's lots of unfissioned nuclear material left around and lot's of radiation. Maybe that was the point, to contaminate a fairly large area with a small weapon, instead of blowing something up. Otherwise, chalk it up to, "Big boys and their toys". Fun, expensive toys to play with though!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

This weapon, together with Atomic Annie (280mm) were designed to give soldiers a means of stopping waves of Soviet tanks.

This was at the time when it was thought (or the government wanted Americans to think) that the USSR had a huge "tank gap" over the NATO allies, and that a Soviet invasion of Western Europe was inevitable.

I'm sure most of those involved in the test firing received some unhealthy dosage of radiation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ricardo Rodríguez wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I have always wondered how small an atomic bomb, or an atomic explosion can be made, uselness or cost left aside

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

checked out the wiki of this one, it's small payload was designed to stop an attack by both blast and radiation contamination of the ground, denying Soviet troops access long enough for NATO troops to mobilize. The ground is supposed to be safe (for NATO troops inside armored vehicles and wearing protective gear, I suppose) after about 24 hours.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Tom Tom --
When you shoot skeet with a nuclear rifle, you smoke all the stations at once.
Mike55 - the idea was to have a portable launcher that would be mobile and could be served by a small crew. So a 50 pound warhead that was the equivalent of 10 tons of TNT made by those criteria. It doesn't mean the Davy Crockett was a good idea, though.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

@ Ralph the Rifleman,

We're talking about Washington and the Pentagon here, both of which seem to be 'No Thinking Zones'!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RandyMI wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I think the M65 was featured on the History channel a while back.... :-] An official state firearm is a more interesting topic, though.... :-)

For Michigan I'd like to nominate the Savage Model 99 in .358 Win. cal. as the official rifle; the Remington 1100 in 12 ga. as our official shotgun; the Ruger .22/45 as the official pistol and the Marlin model 60 as our official small-bore rifle..... :-)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Seems like a sure way to get that one big monster buck you've been baiting for years. Who could complain? ;)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I was near one of the tests of that weapon, and in Germany when it was deployed it was effective at the time as a deterrent along with the "Honest John".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpJeyiDLPXA

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Atomic Annie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M65_Atomic_Cannon

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Army Surplus Store had a training model of one.

Speaking of nukes, I could have killed an Airman one day!

While I had my back turned popping rivets in the Bombay door of a B52 on alert, he drew a little cartoon with his initials on one of the AGM-69 SRAM’s.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I watched most of the Charlton Heston-narrated "Secrets of War" DVDs, in case you're all wondering. The Davy Crockett and Atomic Annie are included in the "Superguns" episode.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

First, they dug a deep trench.
Then they wore their Personal Protective Equipment.
Then they fired the weapon.
Then they dived into the trench as fast as possible to avoid the blast wave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

What's the BC on that thing?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cbanks wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

If they could solve the blast radius problem (maybe by working on increasing the range), I'm sure Melvin Forbes could have figured out how to make an Ultra-Light shoulder-mounted version. I always suspected that Melvin's "secret project" involved small nuclear devices.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Phil B.
This might just be the ticket to raising my skeet averages, these days. I think the only way I could break a 100 straight would be to drop a case of targets out of the high house window anymore,,,,

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from BScrabber wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

I dont think there is a man on the entire continent that would pass up an opportunity to fire a Davey Crockett. Although acquiring and paying for one and the ammo might be a little costly and difficult. Price per shot is probably calculated by the 5 million dollar bill per shot at a minimum. It sure would be fun though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from RES1956 wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

Phil B.
This might just be the ticket to raising my skeet averages, these days. I think the only way I could break a 100 straight would be to drop a case of targets out of the high house window anymore,,,,

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from philbourjaily wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Tom Tom --
When you shoot skeet with a nuclear rifle, you smoke all the stations at once.
Mike55 - the idea was to have a portable launcher that would be mobile and could be served by a small crew. So a 50 pound warhead that was the equivalent of 10 tons of TNT made by those criteria. It doesn't mean the Davy Crockett was a good idea, though.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Sort of gives new meaning to your phrase, Phil, "How to smoke 'em on station six".

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckstopper wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Audie Murphy meets Dr. Strangelove?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

This weapon, together with Atomic Annie (280mm) were designed to give soldiers a means of stopping waves of Soviet tanks.

This was at the time when it was thought (or the government wanted Americans to think) that the USSR had a huge "tank gap" over the NATO allies, and that a Soviet invasion of Western Europe was inevitable.

I'm sure most of those involved in the test firing received some unhealthy dosage of radiation.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ricardo Rodríguez wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I have always wondered how small an atomic bomb, or an atomic explosion can be made, uselness or cost left aside

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

checked out the wiki of this one, it's small payload was designed to stop an attack by both blast and radiation contamination of the ground, denying Soviet troops access long enough for NATO troops to mobilize. The ground is supposed to be safe (for NATO troops inside armored vehicles and wearing protective gear, I suppose) after about 24 hours.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RandyMI wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I think the M65 was featured on the History channel a while back.... :-] An official state firearm is a more interesting topic, though.... :-)

For Michigan I'd like to nominate the Savage Model 99 in .358 Win. cal. as the official rifle; the Remington 1100 in 12 ga. as our official shotgun; the Ruger .22/45 as the official pistol and the Marlin model 60 as our official small-bore rifle..... :-)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mike Diehl wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Seems like a sure way to get that one big monster buck you've been baiting for years. Who could complain? ;)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I was near one of the tests of that weapon, and in Germany when it was deployed it was effective at the time as a deterrent along with the "Honest John".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpJeyiDLPXA

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Army Surplus Store had a training model of one.

Speaking of nukes, I could have killed an Airman one day!

While I had my back turned popping rivets in the Bombay door of a B52 on alert, he drew a little cartoon with his initials on one of the AGM-69 SRAM’s.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

I watched most of the Charlton Heston-narrated "Secrets of War" DVDs, in case you're all wondering. The Davy Crockett and Atomic Annie are included in the "Superguns" episode.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

First, they dug a deep trench.
Then they wore their Personal Protective Equipment.
Then they fired the weapon.
Then they dived into the trench as fast as possible to avoid the blast wave.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

What's the BC on that thing?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cbanks wrote 2 years 25 weeks ago

If they could solve the blast radius problem (maybe by working on increasing the range), I'm sure Melvin Forbes could have figured out how to make an Ultra-Light shoulder-mounted version. I always suspected that Melvin's "secret project" involved small nuclear devices.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

???....what were they THINKING!!??

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Zermoid wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

@ Ralph the Rifleman,

We're talking about Washington and the Pentagon here, both of which seem to be 'No Thinking Zones'!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jere Smith wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Atomic Annie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M65_Atomic_Cannon

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BScrabber wrote 1 year 51 weeks ago

I dont think there is a man on the entire continent that would pass up an opportunity to fire a Davey Crockett. Although acquiring and paying for one and the ammo might be a little costly and difficult. Price per shot is probably calculated by the 5 million dollar bill per shot at a minimum. It sure would be fun though.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mike55 wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Don't know if you caught that, .01 kilotons? That's equal to 10 tons of TNT. So what's the point? They can do that with conventional bombs, without all the radiation. Fission bombs are very inefficient as the yield gets smaller and smaller, so there's lots of unfissioned nuclear material left around and lot's of radiation. Maybe that was the point, to contaminate a fairly large area with a small weapon, instead of blowing something up. Otherwise, chalk it up to, "Big boys and their toys". Fun, expensive toys to play with though!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

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