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Petzal: Your Chance to Chat with Chivers

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October 21, 2010

Petzal: Your Chance to Chat with Chivers

By David E. Petzal

In my post of October 8, I introduced you to C.J. Chivers, a senior correspondent for The New York Times, former Marine officer, and the only Times staffer who knows which end of a gun the bullet comes out of, which makes him as rare as a coelacanth. Due to an arrangement far above my pay grade, Chris has agreed to field questions from you on his book, AKs, the military, The New York Times, or anything else he could reasonably be expected to know about. To prime the pump, here are my two along with his answers. When this post appears, chime in with your own questions and Chris will answer them shortly.    

Petzal: In your book, our small arms procurement system, and in particular the Army Ordnance Department, come off very badly, and over a long period of time. Based on what you’ve seen in the past ten years, are things better now?  

Chivers
: How could they not be better? The introduction of the M-16 into American military service (to which The Gun devotes considerable space)  was so badly executed that it’s hard to imagine worse.

But let’s do a fuller answer about the present day, and channel some of what I hear from the field or have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

My sense is that the many people in the procurement system of today have tried to find and field weapons that meet the particular needs of troops in these wars. In some cases they have done well. In others their system has not. And there is a strong bias among some of the people in the procurement system to embrace the status quo, and defend it. How has the status quo performed, in the troops’ eyes? This is important, because the final and lasting test of any infantry arm is how it performs in the field, not what the people within the bureaucracies or at the test ranges think of it. And my sense of that measure, the most important measure, is that the reviews are mixed, and many troops are not satisfied.

I say this having spent years walking patrols and riding between missions with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and having seen a lot of these weapons in fights in varied circumstances and conditions, and as someone whose email box is often loaded with a rich set of insights from soldiers and Marines. So allow me to try a rough summary. Some weapons seem well-regarded. I would say without hesitation that the M240 is better weapon than the M60E3, which I trained on in the Marines, and was a dog. The M249 SAW has its supporters, but I often hear credible complaints in and from the field about its reliability, and when I have been with units in Afghan fighting I have wondered about its effective range in the open vistas that often accompany Afghan shooting. It’s fairly heavy, hard to clean, and as a machine gun it does not work especially well beyond medium ranges, in part because it tends to be fired more as an automatic rifle than a true machine gun.

I’ve seen cases where troops did not bother to fire at escaping Taliban fighters who were in the open, say 8,00 or 1,000 yards away, feeling they could not hit them. And so I’m very interested in the newer IAR, which the Marines have been testing. I don’t know enough to have a strong opinion, but I do know enough to say that the research and testing effort in a replacement for the SAW would seem well-placed, given the many concerns about this weapon, and many troops aren't quite satisfed with what the procurement system has provided them.

Pistols? The 9-millimeter Berretta is unpopular and in some corners it is loathed. You’ll remember that not long after it was introduced it had a slide problem—that's an understatement, actually, considering that slides shattered in use—which did not speak well of those who fielded it. But let’s talk pistols for a moment. As a former infantryman I say this: Why wouldn’t the Berretta be disliked by the grunts? Most sensible grunts, while they might appreciate a well-made pistol as a firearm or law-enforcement arm, don’t hold pistols in high regard as battlefield weapons. Sometimes I hear people saying they wish they had a .45. But knowing what we know about how the .45 was accepted a century or so ago I’m not convinced that the .45 is all it’s made out to be either.

The Colt .45 is certainly well-made and reliable; I don’t mean that as a slap at Colt's product per se. But pistols simply are not, in almost all circumstances, effective infantry weapons. But it still matters that the Berretta is unpopular, because its low reputation has helped strengthen many troops' perspectives that the procurement system does not listen to them.   

Back to rifles. Perhaps surprisingly, given the AR-15 line’s history, I find the M4s and M-16s are generally well-liked, as far as 5.56-millimeter rifles go. I do read a lot of complaints about them on-line, and while some fraction of those complaints are probably true, many have the feel of urban legend. A large fraction of what you hear is unverifiable, and the failures described are not accompanied by essential information—the names of people involved, the dates and locations of the firefights, the units involved, descriptions of steps taken after to report and remedy the problems. Over the years, when I have been in the field and interviewing soldiers and Marines involved in the fighting, I have not been able to replicate these complaints, and I have grown suspicious of them. And in the many firefights and engagements I have been present for, I have yet to see an M-16 jam or have some other stoppage. I’m open to being wrong here, and I invite anyone who has fresh information to share it with me. Until I see better evidence, I’ll go with what I hear and have seen first-hand, which is that Colt’s and FN’s current M-16 variants are generally regarded as rifles that work—again, within all the limits of the current NATO-standard 5.56-millimeter round.

All of this said, the situation remains imperfect. Here’s a question that points to one example: why did it take a half-century to find reliable magazines for the M-16 line? You’ll remember that the first magazines for the first M-16s, the straight box magazines, were both designed and manufactured poorly, and the lips were prone to damage, and would bend out of shape. When I had the chance to read Colt’s internal correspondence from the 1966-1968 I was amazed at how extensive the magazines’ problems were, and how well documented the problems were within the company. The early magazines were long ago replaced, but the replacements and the new designs were never satisfactory. And often when the credible reports of jamming in recent years have been examined, the results have pointed not to flawed rifles, but to failing magazines. The Army and the Marines have both made strides in this regard, and I have seen new magazines in the field this past year. But why did it take decades? This does not speak well of procurement.

Now, you’ll notice my description of the M-16 line had a caveat—about the cartridge choice. I do think there is a widespread sense among the troops and those who follow military small arms in the field, that there has been a certain inflexibility, even an outright unwillingness, at the Pentagon to examine other possible caliber choices and consider making a change. Is the 5.56 round really the ideal choice for general issue for troops fighting worldwide? I know this is a whole other discussion, and that rifle and caliber (and bullet composition) choices are perrenial arguments. But I raise it here because it goes to the sense out there among reasonable, experienced people that things could be much better in the Pentagon's procurement system, though, to be clear, it has not failed on the order of how it failed American and allied troops in Vietnam.

The introduction of the early M-16 was a problem of a different scale of magnitude. I remember something you once said to me. You said (and this is a paraphrase, working from memory) that there were many differences between how the USSR and the USA developed and fielded infantry rifles. And one difference was that if Stalin's designers had fielded a rifle the way their American counterparts fielded the early M-16, they would have been shot.    

Petzal: You were a student at Cornell University in 1983 when you joined the Corps. Tell me about that.

Chivers: In 1983 I was a college freshman, and a few weeks into my freshman year, in October, a suicide truck bomb leveled the barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines and sailors. As a high school student I had considered joining the Marines. And a few days after that attack I was looking at the pictures in Newsweek of those Marines in Lebanon, pulling at the rubble, trying to save their friends or recover their friends’ remains. I was drawn to join them. I looked around the university campus and found that what those young men were doing, and who they were, was more compelling and important than anything I could see at college. There seemed to be a new war on. Not many people in the states had yet defined it that way. But you could feel it in that event. So I went to see the recruiters, and I began to tell my family my plans, and by the summer of my sophomore year I was standing in front of Marine Corps drill instructors and on the road to the infantry.

I come from a family with strong and enduring traditions of military service. We can trace relatives to American uniforms in World War I, and perhaps to the Civil War. So taking this step was not especially hard. I had thought of dropping out of school as I entertained my options in the Corps. But the Corps told me it was not the best plan. They wanted me to study, and to have the discipline to study well, and not to waste the opportunities I had. They made that clear—that I should push myself as hard at school as I was willing to push myself in anything else. That was very good advice. I picked up a ROTC scholarship and I completed my studies and started active duty a few years later as a lieutenant. I left as a captain in 1994, having commanded a platoon and a company. And that war? We’re still in it. The Cold War went away, or mostly did. And this other war took off. More than a quarter-century has passed since I signed on. Trying to understand it remains a large part of my life.  

Thanks for your questions, David. Now let’s see what’s on your readers mind. I’ve been doing a lot of conversations with readers lately, and have found them very valuable. Let me open the floor to questions with a declaration or two. Like this: I'm not a firearms' expert. I know a thing or two about infantry arms, and have a certain amount of field experience and have passed years in my own study and immersion in tactics and the experience of small-unit ground war. But I do not pretend to expertise. So I'm here to listen to and to learn from your readers, as much as to talk. If you have readers who don't want to ask something in public, or want to communciate with me directly, send them to cjchivers.com or to thegun.book@gmail.com. For questions posted here at "The Gun Nut," or any message sent to me directly, please understand that I travel a lot, and I have many deadlines for my writing, and a lot of ongoing stories in the works. So if I don't answer immediately, don't worry. I'll be back to you as soon as I can.  —Chris Chivers

Comments (44)

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,

In regards to caliber choice, has it ever been seriously considered to do an "upgrade" to a cartridge that carries a bit further than the 5.56 but could still utilize the M16/M4 platform in a reasonably unaltered state?

I'm thinking some of the 6mm to 6.8 mm variants out there that have been adapted to the AR, such as the 6 X 45.

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from Mike Plotner wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

wow thzt was a good story. realy good

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from The White Slug wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Awesome. Nothing ever replaces first hand knowledge.

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from MJC wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,

What, systemically, do you think the Pentagon's problem is with procurement? If they're not listening to Marines and soldiers on the ground, why aren't they listening? If they're stuck on the 5.56, why? Why the trend towards status quo? Does government bureaucracy really make it impossible to be innovative or are there are factors at work?

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from IowaGuy wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Can you talk a little about the impact the use of optics on individual weapons (M4 M16) has had and troops experience/thoughts?

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I think ALL soldiers should have the 6.5 Grendel (SP) what say you Capt Chivers? Incidenatlly I had a job at SHAPE in Chievres,Belgium.

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from King Kavika wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

When you mentioned small arms procurement system, and in particular the Army Ordnance Department, I have to agree. My nephew, who I claim as the son I never had, enlisted in the Army and was in sent to Baghdad for two years. Before he left he asked me if I had a knife he could use. I asked if he wanted a Buck or a Bowie, he said, "more like a bayonet". What about your M9 bayonet? "They're out of them!"he said, Shipping my boy off to a CZ without his gear, what kind of idiots...I gave him mine.
As a gunner in a Humvee he operated an M2 50 cal. He said the cleaning supplies WOULD NOT WORK! Clean before you climb in your bunk and the next shift it was rusted again. I went to "Carters Country" here in Houston, they hooked me up w/ stuff that he said "kept it cleaner than new". We then started suppling his entire unit with the stuff. He's back safe and sound now and we thank our local gun store and cuss the government who apparently thinks sticks and stones are still acceptable against IED's, RPG's, and AK47's

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from Jeff Bowers wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

What would your own view be on the 7.62? I felt that rather than just complain about the M14, there could have been a request to rebuild the rifle and keep a decent round. Was not the Stoner such a rifle?

And now they are making AR-style .308s with little recoil.

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from Bernie wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Very interesting, Capt. Chivers! I wish too, Amflyer, that we would adapt a 6.8 caliber cartridge instead of the 5.56. I suspect the 5.56 was the creation of some brainless colonels and generals--the same sort who didn't put guns on the early F-4 Phantoms.

I never had my M-16 jam in combat with the Marines in Vietnam, but I know a retired Lt. Col. who lives 50 miles from me in Montana who did. He was awarded the Navy Cross as a captain at Con Thien in 1967 and says he lost a number of Marines because their M-16s jammed. He blamed it on improper gun powder loaded in the cartridges at the time.

Speaking of screwed up procurement, I was in the bush for two months before I got a poncho liner--fished a half of one out of garbage can when I was in the rear. My canteen covers were WWII junk that didn't close properly. Never was issued a Kabar or a knife of any kind. When I got back to Camp Lejeune in '71 they had all new canteen covers for their senseless inspections.

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you for your service to our country and for your book, sir.

The 5.56 was probably the right caliber for 'Nam; shooting unarmored enemies hiding less than 300 yards away in jungle foliage. But it isn't any kind of a round for 800 yard shots, even on a man sized target, and never mind penetrating any kind of cover at that range.

Yet the 7.62 can only be fired from a big, heavy rifle, and the round itself is fairly heavy. It's enough to ask a soldier to wear body armor in 120 degree heat, without giving him another 10 pounds of gear to hump.

This points us at the 6.8 SPC. The round carries only slightly heavier than 5.56, yet can be fired from the same platform and packs almost twice the punch at any range.

So we are in a situation that is all upside, no downside. Here is my question: what would you have to do to get this caliber into the hands of our ground forces? What would be the process? How long would it take? And is the success of our mission and the lives of our forces worth the red tape and trouble?

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from MyDogRem wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you sir for your service to our great country.
In reguards to handguns, what would you like our service men and women carry?

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Better yet, give all the soldiers this round.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.458_SOCOM

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from Teodoro wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Could you talk a little bit about what sorts of AKs (and variants, I suppose) are available where? I don't really shoot that sort of weapon, but I've always been curious. I heard a bit of an interview of yours on NPR where you discussed some of the very old, original AKs (you mentioned they have distinctive cuts) making it to the Afghan battlefield. What makes up the majority of the stock there? Does it vary by affiliation or by region? What about the clones we have here in the states. Obviously, they're not the selective-fire Soviet arms, but what do we get? And how about random hellholes like the Sudan? In the NPR bit, you mentioned that once the guns are in the free market, they behave like any other good. As an American with a very limited understanding of how guns move around the third world, could you elaborate a bit?

I know this is a bunch of questions all rolled up together. Thanks for your already great responses, and please feel free to answer all, some or none of my questions.

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

You were allowed to graduate with a degree from Cornell being in ROTC? Incredible.

Being in Officer Corps in 70's and 80's there was present a big, savage debate within the Officer Corps between "leadership" and "management". e.g. A conflict is managed, but troops are led, not managed to their deaths; AND: Staff is there to support, not to be supported.

How did this debate fare in the end, or is it the debate still active?

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Why does the military prefer the 5.56 over the .308 in the M-16? Wouldn't the Glock 17 be a better choice for a sidearm for the military than the Colt .45? What are your thoughts on the Dragonov rifle and the 7.62 X 54R cartridge.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Chivers, among the things you said and I paraphrase: Stalin would have his men shot if they fielded the M16. Amen brother, Robert McNamara should be dug up and shot many times over for that peice of junk he allowed to go into battle. jmvho

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from Fruguy101 wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers,

The 30-06 was the American military round of choice for almost half a century. What made the military go away from that caliber, and would they consider going back to it since it was such a good round for so long?

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from Cbass wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers, congratulations on your book, and thank you for your service to our country.
I am curious about the 50 BMG's prevalence in the sandbox; in particular the M107, or other man-portable variants. Has the elongated battlefield merited the 50 progressively more use as an anti-personnel weapon versus say, the M40a5? Realizing the 50 has seen much use in the Afghan mountains, are snipers in an urban environment also choosing the 50 for engaging personnel?
Thanks,
Cbass

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from Logan C. Adams wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,
Your book is currently on my "books I want to read list." I would like your opinion on another book, if possible. Have you ever read "American Rifle: A Biography" by Alexander Rose and, if so, how accurate would you consider it to be?

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from AlaskanExile wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt Chivers; I agree that the M-9 Beretta is univerally loathed. I too loathe it. A gun that large should be of a more substantial caliber. As someone writing to you from a B-Hut in Camp Lacey, Afghanistan, I can tell everyone that what I have observed agrees with what you say about the current weapons issued.
As an Air Force enlisted aircrewman, I would prefer a gun much smaller than the M-9, I frequently take mine off and stow it aboard the airplane because it gets in the way of the work I must do. Something along the lines of a 357 snub or a 44 Bulldog would be a lot more practical.
A revolver would be easier to train with and we could then separate Air Force pistol training into people who may be called to shoot a lot (Security Forces, EOD)and the rest of us who are protected by them (thankfully!) and would only likely have to shoot for self defense.
As someone who never goes outside the wire unless I'm traveling 150 knots or better; if I have a problem I can't fix with 1 or 2 shots I'm going to need an M-16 or an M-4, but there are likely to be a few of those lying around at that point.
The 1911 is not the answer, in my opinion. It's an old design that needs constant tweaking and fitting to keep it going. The 1911 design supports an entire cottage industry to keep it running and hitting.
A Night Guard Smith & Wesson, or one of those compact Kahr PM-45 pistols would be my choice.
AKX

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I like his realistic view of handguns for military use. All due respect to gunwriter fans of the 1911 who label the 1911 as "a gun that won 2 world wars", but in reality, modern artillery and machineguns did most of the killing in WW1, with rifles coming in 3rd. poison gas probably killed more people in the trenches of France and Belgium than all the handguns combined.

And plane-dropped bombs, artillery, torpedoes, machineguns, rifles and submachineguns did the most damage in WW2.

Statistics cited by Al Miller from WW2 show that only about 40% of rifles were ever fired in anger. Imagine how much lower the percentage for handguns is.

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I think the problem with procurement is an age-old one.

Flintlocks converted to caplocks instead of caplocks built from scratch. Presumably to save on costs. Given that firearms were expensive and handbuilt at that time, they probably had a point in saving costs, but the conversions were still clunky.

Muzzleloaders converted to Sniders. The result being weak actions and cartridges so weak they make the .30 Carbine seem like a powerhouse.

Springfield Trapdoor carbines still in use by US troops when the rest of the world was already using bolt actions.

Magazine cut-off devices because of fears that troops might waste ammunition.

How else do you explain the fact that in WW2, US and British troops were eating rations left over from WW1? An amazing feat of refrigeration/preservation, no doubt, but who likes eating food more than 20 years old?

Or Frank Whittle inventing the jet engine in 1929, only to see it languish for more than 10 years in bureaucrat desks because "there was nothing wrong with the Spitfire?"

Fortunately, this afflicted the enemy as well. Hitler also delayed the development of the rival German jet program because "there was nothing wrong with the BF-109." Hitler repeatedly blocked attempts to adopt an "intermediate" round (and its "assault rifle" platform) because he knew he had 7 billion rounds of 7.92x57 and millions of Mausers, and he wasn't just going to throw those all away. Had Hitler greenlighted the Jet and the Sturmgewehr much earlier, they might have devastated the Soviets, and then he could have dealt with Britain and the US without pressure from the East.

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers,
Since the US led the way in the adoption of 7.62x51 "NATO" and later 5.56x45 "NATO", should it not lead the way again in revising the standard? Why are the top brass reluctant to move away from 9MM and 5.56?

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from sgaredneck wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,

If you had to ask your same questions in turn to the Afghans, what do they think of their weapons?

If you had the the ultimate last word in procurement, what would you outfit our troops with?

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from KJ wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

No questions, just a word of thanks for serving our country and bringing some sense to the Times.

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from firedog11 wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt Chivers thank you for your service. Concerning bullet size and weight if a pistol is desired or wanted why have other calibers such as the 40 cal not been tried. Also why not the lighter composite materials used in firearms such as the Glocks. It seems that rifle cal could be upgraded using the 6.8 or even the .308 in the AR10 platform yet still have a firearm that would lighter then the old M1 or M14. Also on a side note, I wondered if there are plans to look into the concussion injuries to the brain and hearing damage from explosions and constant weapons fire. Is there any studies or plans to build a metal mesh in the helmets to stop EMP from affecting the brain? Is there any practical hearing protection that works in the field? Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with Dave and us. God Bless you and all the other service people.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

KingKaviska;
Once again our eyes are opened the the complete failure of our government. And i mean every branch and twig associated with it.
I challenge every body out there to name me a board, body, dept. or branch of the government that works.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

from O Garcia wrote 8 hours 58 min ago

Mr. Chivers,
Since the US led the way in the adoption of 7.62x51 "NATO" and later 5.56x45 "NATO", should it not lead the way again in revising the standard? Why are the top brass reluctant to move away from 9MM and 5.56?

Good question Mr Garcia, I will take a politically INCORRECT stabe at it, mainly because I am safely RETIRED . The BIG BRASS does not actually get out in the fighting or use the weapons they have been told to buy by CIVILIANS!

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Captain,

I like the majority of the good questions tossed to you, and would gladly read your responses, but---is the real question one of gear? Which works best in the end---a 110 grain bullet or a chocolate bar and some friendships with the locals? Shall we get sharper swords, or better overall tactics? The Soviets seemed to fall to a determined Afghan, often armed with an old Brit MkIII, and a fierce disposition for a feud.

I am for giving our troops the best, and am an old .45 1911 believer. Have carried the .45 and .38 in harm's way, but always felt better with the bigger bullet---and some intelligence.

Thank you for your service.

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Wow, I'm trying to understand the dislike of my last post, I guess there are some vets out there who don't particuarly like the Dragonov rifle, if I had to carry a .223 against it I wouldn't like it much either! I'm guessing the reason the military adopted the 5.56mm over the 30-06 and the .308 as America's battle weapon is today's soldiers cannot handle the muzzel jump and keep it on target, maybe its better to kill your enemy with 3 or 4 shots rather than 1. As far as the Glock, it just seems to be a more cost efficent, lighter weight and more reliable sidearm than the Colt. What our military should be using is the .308 Vepar, a AK variant in .308. That durable action along with the .308 really rock and rolls!!

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Weight is the big issue with small arms and ammunition. A heavy rifle in a larger caliber will be a superior long range weapon, but the penalty will be the weight. The weight of the larger caliber bullet quickly makes the weight of the round go up. Most of the modern weapons, outside of the sniper rifles, are intended for urban combat and are short and light.

Ammunition should be readily available and it is not desirable to have too many different calibers in service. On the other hand, a multipurpose round is a compromise. Better to have a round designed for a specific purpose.

Pistols should be for back up and should be light weight. Even security personnel would be better served by a light weight short rifle. I favor my Glock 22, but a 9mm would be acceptable because of the widespread availability of ammunition.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I think that the real question is not weight, at all. It is effectiveness. That is why we chose the .45 ACP in the first place, and that is why we find ourselves gearing back to the M-14. The heavier bullet works better--so we use it.

The service experience in the trenches of Belgium and the close quarters of combat all over the world in WWII proved the effectiveness of the big Colt pistol. Why should we put a sidearm on a serviceman or woman that will not do the job, in those crisis moments? I never objected to the weight of the .45, personally. We shouldn't ask a filet knife to do the work of a K-Bar, IMHO. Going to the Nato 9mm after defeating it in Europe in two world wars makes no logical sense to me, unless we enjoy being uniformly poorly armed.

Teddy Roosevelt was correct, not just quaint, when he said: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far".

if you must fight with someone, take enough gun.

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from rock rat wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Long time fan ever since that school hostage story from Chechnya. Waiting on book at library. Thanks for many years of terrific reporting.

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from Robert Dawson wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you Mr Chivers!

There is virtually no Miltary and Naval knowledge in today's "lame stream" media! The blow dried airheaded newsreaders typically haven't a clue about what they are Reporting on.

My only questional is would the M9 Beretta still be disliked by the troops if they were using good jacketed hollowpoint bullets that expanded. Versus the standard full metal jacket ammo?

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

@blueridge

Having grown up shooting .45s, I was very disappointed in the performance of the .45 ACP vs the .40 S&W, which is what I now shoot. I grew up shooting .45 ACP military ball ammunition and packed a 45 Colt for years. These days, I find myself choosing a revolver over a semi when I am in the field, but I'm not in a combat situation or on patrol, where I may not get to replenish my ammunition supply for several days. I usually shoot .38 spl +p and sometimes .357 mag because they perform well and don't punish me. I also shoot .41 mag, but full power loads sting too much to shoot more than a few shots.

I remember a few years ago when a friend wanted to go out and shoot his SKS and I took my 03-A3 Springfield. I could shoot rings around his SKS, but my shoulder suffered tremendously. I think that I shot 21 rounds of 30-06 that day. I wasn't prepared and my shoulder wasn't toughened up, but the light recoil of the 7.62 X 39 was nothing. I don't shoot .308, but I do shoot .243, which is the same cartridge necked down. The recoil and punishment of that cartridge is much less than the 30-06 and I can easily shoot 100 rounds in a session. I have shot the M1 Garand and I didn't think that it was as punishing as the 03-A3.

Performance is a double edged sword, what kind of terminal performance do you get vs the punishment that you inflict on the shooter. Both have to be satisfactory. Are you shooting a specific target or trying to keep the enemy's heads down. You get a lot more mileage out of a light weight cartridge if you are just spraying lead.

I never got to shoot one, but I always thought that the M-14 would be a nice rifle.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

@ wgiles...

Good questions, re: 30-06 vs. the lighter 7.62 X 39, and the recoil of the 03-A3 [also 30-06, as with the M-1]. The question is effectiveness, with some nod toward 'firepower', but not all that much. The Garand and the subsequent M-14 both reduce felt recoil, and can be comfortably kept pointed at the opposition all day. The M-14 is also in the lighter .308 round, yet carries the .30 bullet, for effective fire at longer ranges. It is a beautiful weapon, and shoots like a match rifle, in my experience. The modern Army is reaching back for them, and equipping with optics and taking advantage of their effective fire out to long ranges. The 5.56 round is also effective at long ranges, but not so much--having that first-hand from a sandbox sniper--even with the longer heavier bullets that I will not name. How heavy is the .50 caliber rifle, but notice that the few men in the field who have them are not complaining.

What keeps our men and women alive, and eliminates the opposition is...'effective'. I would be most interested in the Marine Captain's opinion about all this, as Marines are first of all, Riflemen. I am an old guy, now, and still love the Garand, the '14, and the .45 ACP. I have a Colt 5.56 AR, but honestly, would rather have it in 6.5MM, like the Grendel or Creedmore. And this is not to cast rocks at Gene Stoner or praise the AK's. They have both taught us some things, but not everything. There does NOT have to be severe punishment to one's shoulder, but an infantryman must have the right tool for a multitude of tasks.

I would suggest getting a plethora of veterans and snipers together, to ask for their opinions and take a few polls. Let the armorers sit in, and keep the brass out. But most of know that this will never happen. These kind of decisions are usually made at a higher level of rank, but without the consensus of the key players.

A bull-session stopper with my comrades about the .45 was often the simple question, with a single bullet in my hand---"Which would you rather be hit with? Mine, or yours?"

Regards, wgiles.

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

even if the government decides to abandon 5.56mm, there are still options that would allow it to retire the stockpiled cartridges without totally writing them off as scrap.

-sell them to American citizens who own guns safe to fire with the round
-give them to the National Guard
-sell them to police departments
-sell them to allies (Taiwan, Israel, Philippines, etc.)

all frontline troops should be armed with something better. As one of you commented a long time ago, it will cost the US less money to convert all frontline infantry rifles to 6.8 or 6.5 than it takes to buy a single F-22 Raptor.

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from Zermoid wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

As far as military handguns goes I think a heavier caliber would be better, because if a soldier finds himself needing to use his pistol he's probably in deep doodoo!
A 44 mag or 357 mag revolver would be more suitable IMO. Something which can put a person down in 1 shot. And the likelihood of a revolver not firing is slim to none. Can't quite say that about any Auto, even my personal favorite the 1911A1 sadly can malfunction at times.

Same thought line for rifles, up to a certain point bigger is better!
Why not use 308 in all battle rifles? Alot more punch than a 5.56 and already in use.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers -- I look forward to reading your book. My question has already been raised several times - based on the feedback from troops in the field, what is needed to replace the current 5.56 mm? Are they looking for something that has greater range and downrange energy? As has been mentioned already, I would think something in the 6 mm category might offer something closer to the ideal, particularly in more open country.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

So, Dave...when do we get to hear from Captain Chivers?

Interested in his take on the comments and his experiences.

blue

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from pandora wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

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from rock rat wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Blueridge,

Maybe he didn't like that first sentence. Probably a few veterans, plus a lot of guys that get shot at often. One staffer got blown up last week. Probably a couple of them have acquired the knowledge about which end and all.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Hey, rock rat...

Yeah, don't hear much response from El Capitan, or other vets. Which is understandable, perhaps. The blog may be mostly to stir things up, not settle things out. Still, I like it, and enjoy any learning curve there is to whatever topic. I still believe in chocolate bars to pacify the locals, and big bullets to pacify the hostiles.

Hang in...there is more on the way, I'll bet the farm.

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from Robert Dawson wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Dear Mr Chivers,

Any comments on my earlier question about the M9/M9A1 Beretta using an effective ammo versus 9x19 NATO FMJ?

sincerely, idahoguy101 AKA Rcdaw@aol.com

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from King Kavika wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

When you mentioned small arms procurement system, and in particular the Army Ordnance Department, I have to agree. My nephew, who I claim as the son I never had, enlisted in the Army and was in sent to Baghdad for two years. Before he left he asked me if I had a knife he could use. I asked if he wanted a Buck or a Bowie, he said, "more like a bayonet". What about your M9 bayonet? "They're out of them!"he said, Shipping my boy off to a CZ without his gear, what kind of idiots...I gave him mine.
As a gunner in a Humvee he operated an M2 50 cal. He said the cleaning supplies WOULD NOT WORK! Clean before you climb in your bunk and the next shift it was rusted again. I went to "Carters Country" here in Houston, they hooked me up w/ stuff that he said "kept it cleaner than new". We then started suppling his entire unit with the stuff. He's back safe and sound now and we thank our local gun store and cuss the government who apparently thinks sticks and stones are still acceptable against IED's, RPG's, and AK47's

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I think the problem with procurement is an age-old one.

Flintlocks converted to caplocks instead of caplocks built from scratch. Presumably to save on costs. Given that firearms were expensive and handbuilt at that time, they probably had a point in saving costs, but the conversions were still clunky.

Muzzleloaders converted to Sniders. The result being weak actions and cartridges so weak they make the .30 Carbine seem like a powerhouse.

Springfield Trapdoor carbines still in use by US troops when the rest of the world was already using bolt actions.

Magazine cut-off devices because of fears that troops might waste ammunition.

How else do you explain the fact that in WW2, US and British troops were eating rations left over from WW1? An amazing feat of refrigeration/preservation, no doubt, but who likes eating food more than 20 years old?

Or Frank Whittle inventing the jet engine in 1929, only to see it languish for more than 10 years in bureaucrat desks because "there was nothing wrong with the Spitfire?"

Fortunately, this afflicted the enemy as well. Hitler also delayed the development of the rival German jet program because "there was nothing wrong with the BF-109." Hitler repeatedly blocked attempts to adopt an "intermediate" round (and its "assault rifle" platform) because he knew he had 7 billion rounds of 7.92x57 and millions of Mausers, and he wasn't just going to throw those all away. Had Hitler greenlighted the Jet and the Sturmgewehr much earlier, they might have devastated the Soviets, and then he could have dealt with Britain and the US without pressure from the East.

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from Jeff Bowers wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

What would your own view be on the 7.62? I felt that rather than just complain about the M14, there could have been a request to rebuild the rifle and keep a decent round. Was not the Stoner such a rifle?

And now they are making AR-style .308s with little recoil.

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from Bernie wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Very interesting, Capt. Chivers! I wish too, Amflyer, that we would adapt a 6.8 caliber cartridge instead of the 5.56. I suspect the 5.56 was the creation of some brainless colonels and generals--the same sort who didn't put guns on the early F-4 Phantoms.

I never had my M-16 jam in combat with the Marines in Vietnam, but I know a retired Lt. Col. who lives 50 miles from me in Montana who did. He was awarded the Navy Cross as a captain at Con Thien in 1967 and says he lost a number of Marines because their M-16s jammed. He blamed it on improper gun powder loaded in the cartridges at the time.

Speaking of screwed up procurement, I was in the bush for two months before I got a poncho liner--fished a half of one out of garbage can when I was in the rear. My canteen covers were WWII junk that didn't close properly. Never was issued a Kabar or a knife of any kind. When I got back to Camp Lejeune in '71 they had all new canteen covers for their senseless inspections.

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from Fruguy101 wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers,

The 30-06 was the American military round of choice for almost half a century. What made the military go away from that caliber, and would they consider going back to it since it was such a good round for so long?

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from Amflyer wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,

In regards to caliber choice, has it ever been seriously considered to do an "upgrade" to a cartridge that carries a bit further than the 5.56 but could still utilize the M16/M4 platform in a reasonably unaltered state?

I'm thinking some of the 6mm to 6.8 mm variants out there that have been adapted to the AR, such as the 6 X 45.

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from MJC wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,

What, systemically, do you think the Pentagon's problem is with procurement? If they're not listening to Marines and soldiers on the ground, why aren't they listening? If they're stuck on the 5.56, why? Why the trend towards status quo? Does government bureaucracy really make it impossible to be innovative or are there are factors at work?

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from IowaGuy wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Can you talk a little about the impact the use of optics on individual weapons (M4 M16) has had and troops experience/thoughts?

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from Mark-1 wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

You were allowed to graduate with a degree from Cornell being in ROTC? Incredible.

Being in Officer Corps in 70's and 80's there was present a big, savage debate within the Officer Corps between "leadership" and "management". e.g. A conflict is managed, but troops are led, not managed to their deaths; AND: Staff is there to support, not to be supported.

How did this debate fare in the end, or is it the debate still active?

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from Mike Plotner wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

wow thzt was a good story. realy good

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from The White Slug wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Awesome. Nothing ever replaces first hand knowledge.

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you for your service to our country and for your book, sir.

The 5.56 was probably the right caliber for 'Nam; shooting unarmored enemies hiding less than 300 yards away in jungle foliage. But it isn't any kind of a round for 800 yard shots, even on a man sized target, and never mind penetrating any kind of cover at that range.

Yet the 7.62 can only be fired from a big, heavy rifle, and the round itself is fairly heavy. It's enough to ask a soldier to wear body armor in 120 degree heat, without giving him another 10 pounds of gear to hump.

This points us at the 6.8 SPC. The round carries only slightly heavier than 5.56, yet can be fired from the same platform and packs almost twice the punch at any range.

So we are in a situation that is all upside, no downside. Here is my question: what would you have to do to get this caliber into the hands of our ground forces? What would be the process? How long would it take? And is the success of our mission and the lives of our forces worth the red tape and trouble?

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from Teodoro wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Could you talk a little bit about what sorts of AKs (and variants, I suppose) are available where? I don't really shoot that sort of weapon, but I've always been curious. I heard a bit of an interview of yours on NPR where you discussed some of the very old, original AKs (you mentioned they have distinctive cuts) making it to the Afghan battlefield. What makes up the majority of the stock there? Does it vary by affiliation or by region? What about the clones we have here in the states. Obviously, they're not the selective-fire Soviet arms, but what do we get? And how about random hellholes like the Sudan? In the NPR bit, you mentioned that once the guns are in the free market, they behave like any other good. As an American with a very limited understanding of how guns move around the third world, could you elaborate a bit?

I know this is a bunch of questions all rolled up together. Thanks for your already great responses, and please feel free to answer all, some or none of my questions.

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I like his realistic view of handguns for military use. All due respect to gunwriter fans of the 1911 who label the 1911 as "a gun that won 2 world wars", but in reality, modern artillery and machineguns did most of the killing in WW1, with rifles coming in 3rd. poison gas probably killed more people in the trenches of France and Belgium than all the handguns combined.

And plane-dropped bombs, artillery, torpedoes, machineguns, rifles and submachineguns did the most damage in WW2.

Statistics cited by Al Miller from WW2 show that only about 40% of rifles were ever fired in anger. Imagine how much lower the percentage for handguns is.

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers,
Since the US led the way in the adoption of 7.62x51 "NATO" and later 5.56x45 "NATO", should it not lead the way again in revising the standard? Why are the top brass reluctant to move away from 9MM and 5.56?

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from sgaredneck wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,

If you had to ask your same questions in turn to the Afghans, what do they think of their weapons?

If you had the the ultimate last word in procurement, what would you outfit our troops with?

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from KJ wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

No questions, just a word of thanks for serving our country and bringing some sense to the Times.

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from O Garcia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

even if the government decides to abandon 5.56mm, there are still options that would allow it to retire the stockpiled cartridges without totally writing them off as scrap.

-sell them to American citizens who own guns safe to fire with the round
-give them to the National Guard
-sell them to police departments
-sell them to allies (Taiwan, Israel, Philippines, etc.)

all frontline troops should be armed with something better. As one of you commented a long time ago, it will cost the US less money to convert all frontline infantry rifles to 6.8 or 6.5 than it takes to buy a single F-22 Raptor.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I think ALL soldiers should have the 6.5 Grendel (SP) what say you Capt Chivers? Incidenatlly I had a job at SHAPE in Chievres,Belgium.

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from MyDogRem wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you sir for your service to our great country.
In reguards to handguns, what would you like our service men and women carry?

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Better yet, give all the soldiers this round.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.458_SOCOM

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Chivers, among the things you said and I paraphrase: Stalin would have his men shot if they fielded the M16. Amen brother, Robert McNamara should be dug up and shot many times over for that peice of junk he allowed to go into battle. jmvho

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from Cbass wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers, congratulations on your book, and thank you for your service to our country.
I am curious about the 50 BMG's prevalence in the sandbox; in particular the M107, or other man-portable variants. Has the elongated battlefield merited the 50 progressively more use as an anti-personnel weapon versus say, the M40a5? Realizing the 50 has seen much use in the Afghan mountains, are snipers in an urban environment also choosing the 50 for engaging personnel?
Thanks,
Cbass

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from Logan C. Adams wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt. Chivers,
Your book is currently on my "books I want to read list." I would like your opinion on another book, if possible. Have you ever read "American Rifle: A Biography" by Alexander Rose and, if so, how accurate would you consider it to be?

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from AlaskanExile wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt Chivers; I agree that the M-9 Beretta is univerally loathed. I too loathe it. A gun that large should be of a more substantial caliber. As someone writing to you from a B-Hut in Camp Lacey, Afghanistan, I can tell everyone that what I have observed agrees with what you say about the current weapons issued.
As an Air Force enlisted aircrewman, I would prefer a gun much smaller than the M-9, I frequently take mine off and stow it aboard the airplane because it gets in the way of the work I must do. Something along the lines of a 357 snub or a 44 Bulldog would be a lot more practical.
A revolver would be easier to train with and we could then separate Air Force pistol training into people who may be called to shoot a lot (Security Forces, EOD)and the rest of us who are protected by them (thankfully!) and would only likely have to shoot for self defense.
As someone who never goes outside the wire unless I'm traveling 150 knots or better; if I have a problem I can't fix with 1 or 2 shots I'm going to need an M-16 or an M-4, but there are likely to be a few of those lying around at that point.
The 1911 is not the answer, in my opinion. It's an old design that needs constant tweaking and fitting to keep it going. The 1911 design supports an entire cottage industry to keep it running and hitting.
A Night Guard Smith & Wesson, or one of those compact Kahr PM-45 pistols would be my choice.
AKX

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from firedog11 wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Capt Chivers thank you for your service. Concerning bullet size and weight if a pistol is desired or wanted why have other calibers such as the 40 cal not been tried. Also why not the lighter composite materials used in firearms such as the Glocks. It seems that rifle cal could be upgraded using the 6.8 or even the .308 in the AR10 platform yet still have a firearm that would lighter then the old M1 or M14. Also on a side note, I wondered if there are plans to look into the concussion injuries to the brain and hearing damage from explosions and constant weapons fire. Is there any studies or plans to build a metal mesh in the helmets to stop EMP from affecting the brain? Is there any practical hearing protection that works in the field? Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with Dave and us. God Bless you and all the other service people.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

KingKaviska;
Once again our eyes are opened the the complete failure of our government. And i mean every branch and twig associated with it.
I challenge every body out there to name me a board, body, dept. or branch of the government that works.

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from Jere Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

from O Garcia wrote 8 hours 58 min ago

Mr. Chivers,
Since the US led the way in the adoption of 7.62x51 "NATO" and later 5.56x45 "NATO", should it not lead the way again in revising the standard? Why are the top brass reluctant to move away from 9MM and 5.56?

Good question Mr Garcia, I will take a politically INCORRECT stabe at it, mainly because I am safely RETIRED . The BIG BRASS does not actually get out in the fighting or use the weapons they have been told to buy by CIVILIANS!

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Captain,

I like the majority of the good questions tossed to you, and would gladly read your responses, but---is the real question one of gear? Which works best in the end---a 110 grain bullet or a chocolate bar and some friendships with the locals? Shall we get sharper swords, or better overall tactics? The Soviets seemed to fall to a determined Afghan, often armed with an old Brit MkIII, and a fierce disposition for a feud.

I am for giving our troops the best, and am an old .45 1911 believer. Have carried the .45 and .38 in harm's way, but always felt better with the bigger bullet---and some intelligence.

Thank you for your service.

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Wow, I'm trying to understand the dislike of my last post, I guess there are some vets out there who don't particuarly like the Dragonov rifle, if I had to carry a .223 against it I wouldn't like it much either! I'm guessing the reason the military adopted the 5.56mm over the 30-06 and the .308 as America's battle weapon is today's soldiers cannot handle the muzzel jump and keep it on target, maybe its better to kill your enemy with 3 or 4 shots rather than 1. As far as the Glock, it just seems to be a more cost efficent, lighter weight and more reliable sidearm than the Colt. What our military should be using is the .308 Vepar, a AK variant in .308. That durable action along with the .308 really rock and rolls!!

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Weight is the big issue with small arms and ammunition. A heavy rifle in a larger caliber will be a superior long range weapon, but the penalty will be the weight. The weight of the larger caliber bullet quickly makes the weight of the round go up. Most of the modern weapons, outside of the sniper rifles, are intended for urban combat and are short and light.

Ammunition should be readily available and it is not desirable to have too many different calibers in service. On the other hand, a multipurpose round is a compromise. Better to have a round designed for a specific purpose.

Pistols should be for back up and should be light weight. Even security personnel would be better served by a light weight short rifle. I favor my Glock 22, but a 9mm would be acceptable because of the widespread availability of ammunition.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

I think that the real question is not weight, at all. It is effectiveness. That is why we chose the .45 ACP in the first place, and that is why we find ourselves gearing back to the M-14. The heavier bullet works better--so we use it.

The service experience in the trenches of Belgium and the close quarters of combat all over the world in WWII proved the effectiveness of the big Colt pistol. Why should we put a sidearm on a serviceman or woman that will not do the job, in those crisis moments? I never objected to the weight of the .45, personally. We shouldn't ask a filet knife to do the work of a K-Bar, IMHO. Going to the Nato 9mm after defeating it in Europe in two world wars makes no logical sense to me, unless we enjoy being uniformly poorly armed.

Teddy Roosevelt was correct, not just quaint, when he said: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far".

if you must fight with someone, take enough gun.

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from rock rat wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Long time fan ever since that school hostage story from Chechnya. Waiting on book at library. Thanks for many years of terrific reporting.

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from wgiles wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

@blueridge

Having grown up shooting .45s, I was very disappointed in the performance of the .45 ACP vs the .40 S&W, which is what I now shoot. I grew up shooting .45 ACP military ball ammunition and packed a 45 Colt for years. These days, I find myself choosing a revolver over a semi when I am in the field, but I'm not in a combat situation or on patrol, where I may not get to replenish my ammunition supply for several days. I usually shoot .38 spl +p and sometimes .357 mag because they perform well and don't punish me. I also shoot .41 mag, but full power loads sting too much to shoot more than a few shots.

I remember a few years ago when a friend wanted to go out and shoot his SKS and I took my 03-A3 Springfield. I could shoot rings around his SKS, but my shoulder suffered tremendously. I think that I shot 21 rounds of 30-06 that day. I wasn't prepared and my shoulder wasn't toughened up, but the light recoil of the 7.62 X 39 was nothing. I don't shoot .308, but I do shoot .243, which is the same cartridge necked down. The recoil and punishment of that cartridge is much less than the 30-06 and I can easily shoot 100 rounds in a session. I have shot the M1 Garand and I didn't think that it was as punishing as the 03-A3.

Performance is a double edged sword, what kind of terminal performance do you get vs the punishment that you inflict on the shooter. Both have to be satisfactory. Are you shooting a specific target or trying to keep the enemy's heads down. You get a lot more mileage out of a light weight cartridge if you are just spraying lead.

I never got to shoot one, but I always thought that the M-14 would be a nice rifle.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

@ wgiles...

Good questions, re: 30-06 vs. the lighter 7.62 X 39, and the recoil of the 03-A3 [also 30-06, as with the M-1]. The question is effectiveness, with some nod toward 'firepower', but not all that much. The Garand and the subsequent M-14 both reduce felt recoil, and can be comfortably kept pointed at the opposition all day. The M-14 is also in the lighter .308 round, yet carries the .30 bullet, for effective fire at longer ranges. It is a beautiful weapon, and shoots like a match rifle, in my experience. The modern Army is reaching back for them, and equipping with optics and taking advantage of their effective fire out to long ranges. The 5.56 round is also effective at long ranges, but not so much--having that first-hand from a sandbox sniper--even with the longer heavier bullets that I will not name. How heavy is the .50 caliber rifle, but notice that the few men in the field who have them are not complaining.

What keeps our men and women alive, and eliminates the opposition is...'effective'. I would be most interested in the Marine Captain's opinion about all this, as Marines are first of all, Riflemen. I am an old guy, now, and still love the Garand, the '14, and the .45 ACP. I have a Colt 5.56 AR, but honestly, would rather have it in 6.5MM, like the Grendel or Creedmore. And this is not to cast rocks at Gene Stoner or praise the AK's. They have both taught us some things, but not everything. There does NOT have to be severe punishment to one's shoulder, but an infantryman must have the right tool for a multitude of tasks.

I would suggest getting a plethora of veterans and snipers together, to ask for their opinions and take a few polls. Let the armorers sit in, and keep the brass out. But most of know that this will never happen. These kind of decisions are usually made at a higher level of rank, but without the consensus of the key players.

A bull-session stopper with my comrades about the .45 was often the simple question, with a single bullet in my hand---"Which would you rather be hit with? Mine, or yours?"

Regards, wgiles.

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from Zermoid wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

As far as military handguns goes I think a heavier caliber would be better, because if a soldier finds himself needing to use his pistol he's probably in deep doodoo!
A 44 mag or 357 mag revolver would be more suitable IMO. Something which can put a person down in 1 shot. And the likelihood of a revolver not firing is slim to none. Can't quite say that about any Auto, even my personal favorite the 1911A1 sadly can malfunction at times.

Same thought line for rifles, up to a certain point bigger is better!
Why not use 308 in all battle rifles? Alot more punch than a 5.56 and already in use.

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from rock rat wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Blueridge,

Maybe he didn't like that first sentence. Probably a few veterans, plus a lot of guys that get shot at often. One staffer got blown up last week. Probably a couple of them have acquired the knowledge about which end and all.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Hey, rock rat...

Yeah, don't hear much response from El Capitan, or other vets. Which is understandable, perhaps. The blog may be mostly to stir things up, not settle things out. Still, I like it, and enjoy any learning curve there is to whatever topic. I still believe in chocolate bars to pacify the locals, and big bullets to pacify the hostiles.

Hang in...there is more on the way, I'll bet the farm.

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from Robert Dawson wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Thank you Mr Chivers!

There is virtually no Miltary and Naval knowledge in today's "lame stream" media! The blow dried airheaded newsreaders typically haven't a clue about what they are Reporting on.

My only questional is would the M9 Beretta still be disliked by the troops if they were using good jacketed hollowpoint bullets that expanded. Versus the standard full metal jacket ammo?

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Mr. Chivers -- I look forward to reading your book. My question has already been raised several times - based on the feedback from troops in the field, what is needed to replace the current 5.56 mm? Are they looking for something that has greater range and downrange energy? As has been mentioned already, I would think something in the 6 mm category might offer something closer to the ideal, particularly in more open country.

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from blueridge wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

So, Dave...when do we get to hear from Captain Chivers?

Interested in his take on the comments and his experiences.

blue

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from pandora wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.

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from Robert Dawson wrote 3 years 24 weeks ago

Dear Mr Chivers,

Any comments on my earlier question about the M9/M9A1 Beretta using an effective ammo versus 9x19 NATO FMJ?

sincerely, idahoguy101 AKA Rcdaw@aol.com

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

Why does the military prefer the 5.56 over the .308 in the M-16? Wouldn't the Glock 17 be a better choice for a sidearm for the military than the Colt .45? What are your thoughts on the Dragonov rifle and the 7.62 X 54R cartridge.

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