Something completely different

by D.

Weapons gadgets, mods, add-ons, whatever you call them, they all have a weight that also adds to your weapon.

I am not against add-ons, they definitely have their place, and over my life time I had been sucked into trying many of them. Almost all of them are useful, just not all at once. They should be tailored to the mission. When your weapon starts to look like a prop from “Aliens”, you have gone too far. “Less is more” is always a good rule, especially after you have carried it all day, day after day.

I have been surprised at clips and pics of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, with their weapons loaded down with: ACOG , flashlight, laser, forward hand grip, IR illuminator, and bipod attached to a multi-rail fore end. Then go on to plug in two 30 round mags lashed together. In Vietnam we did not have any of these items, but we did have the immensely heavy Starlight Scope. Even though it was a force multiplier, they rarely left perimeters, and if they did, were to be destroyed if capture was imminent. I recall running patrols with an M-14, 5 20 round mags, a canteen and IFAK on my pistol belt, no vest and a soft cover, minimal gear. (I did also hump a PRC-25 radio; I liked the idea of being a mic squeeze away from supporting fire. Something we will not have.) New guys would take all manner of junk to the field and later jettison it when the load and heat got them. (Providing the Viet Cong a nice supply source)

D. Get to the point!!!

Some gear provides real advantage at very little weight gain. I like extended mag releases, charge handles and bolt releases, and most other mods that provide for easier, positive operation of the weapon under stress. Any item that facilitates keeping your trigger hand on the weapon as you perform other operations is desirable. Speed loading devices are also useful (I have a tube loader on two of my shotguns that loads 4 rounds each from two tubes in seconds, takes some practice but works. I haven’t seen them around in some time.) I like bipods, in the prone position, which you should use every chance you get. With a bipod you can get unparalleled accuracy. Carry a quickly attachable bipod in your cleaning gear pouch (you do carry minimal cleaning gear to the field, don’t you?) I have an old fully adjustable Stoner bipod that snaps and locks to the barrel of my SP1 at the front sight base, it does not reside there.

I like Holo dot sights as opposed to tube type dot sites, being an old fool shooting 3 gun IPSC for years with deteriorating vision; I liked the fast target acquisition and openness of the design that allows tracking multiple targets.

I do not like lasers. They are an arrow directing the way to your position. Even IR lasers if the opposition is using basic NVDs. Passive systems all the way. Lasers have their place as directors for heavier weapons and snipers that you wish to keep concealed, but you are still advertising your position.

I am not a fan of full auto. This said from the position of being the M2 “go to guy” in RVN as well as training a number of officers at a MACV compound in the M1917 .30, and having dealt with a great number of auto weapons.

Particularly in an austere environment, in unskilled hands they waste ammo and are inaccurate. I like the concept of a SAW (heavy barrel, bipod, dot sight, 100 round mags), but in a prepper context, I would build it up as semi-auto and use rapid aimed fire. I do not like the 90 rounder drum (you cannot go prone.) I do like the 100 round dual snail drum.

That being said I am about to test the Slide-fire stock, just to have the capability available. So far I do not like the construction, but that has little to do with its operation. (I also hate everything about the UZI, other than the way it shoots. All else goes by the wayside if it performs.)

I LOVE thermal, and really like Night Vision, particularly GEN 3. I am finding it difficult to integrate them into my tactical plans without spending a king’s ransom. My plans are: To use a thermal imaging device that also has HD video and a laser designator on a PTZ platform that will be operated and monitored from the radio shack. (The OD will have command, control and comms to the patrols, guard posts, IR illumination and NVDs) There are two GEN 1 NVDs on the perimeter, and a GEN 3 that will reside with the patrol group when not on the perimeter. All IR illuminators (IR floods on the perimeter edge) and lasers will remain passive until hostile intent is known and initiated. Lasers and tracers will then direct fire for other weapons. Use and integration of all this will require training, training, training, and familiarization. (I would really appreciate comments and other viewpoints on this)

I like small light weight illuminated low power scopes on select weapons. Try to set up your squad, fire-team to allow for all eventualities covered without loading each and every weapon down with add-ons. Keep it simple, keep it light.

Tailor your set ups to your member strong points, not everyone is a sniper or machine gunner, and train them in that position.

Here comes the Marine Corps indoctrination. AIMED FIRE and fire low. It was found in Vietnam that troops generally had an inclination to fire high (or not at all), sending their rounds into the trees. Low fire will still inflict casualties by grazing fire. Spray and pray does not work. They put those sites on there for a reason, use them.

OK, enough babble from me, hope this helps clear out some deadwood from your gear and tactics. D.

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  1. Ah yes, Ol’ Starlight, Starbrite. How the years go by.
    These seldom left the perimeter and when they did cross the fence line it was carried by the FNG.
    Compared to the technology of today, crap would be a compliment to that state of the art monstrosity of yesteryear.

  2. Dale:
    I actually have one of those monsters. Given to me by a good friend. Intensifier is fried, but it’s a reminder to how far things have come in NV. My Aries GEN 3 is half the size and weight and 10X the performance. My Gen 1’s fit in my hand, but after using the GEN 3, I think that they are broken. BTW, Welcome home! (those were too long in coming weren’t they?) Regards, D.

  3. Thank you D. for your illuminating wisdom. Nothing like the counsel of first hand experience. I thought I was righteously pi**ed off when my ob in Da Nang in 1968 didn’t put me in the bush with the real Marines ( 0311). After seeing what was coming in from combat bases aboard Marine C-130s in green bags, I guess I secretly felt quite fortunate. Even though I didn’t learn the skills I thought I wanted….. well I am grateful to you and other brothers who will share your knowledge.
    Semper Fi, Brother and Welcome Home,

  4. Youre not going to like the slide fire stock. Dont waste $350 on it. I know several people with them, and while they will tell you theyre actually more accurate then a full auto, they tend to jam fairly regularly. Id rather have controlled rapid fire in a stable platform, then unreliable full auto “bump fire”. There is a good article on on how to construct your own bump fire stock that is more sturdy and much cheaper. Or you could always just remove the sear from the trigger group. Only problem then, is you have full auto fire all the time.

  5. Great article. I agree with the minimalist approach. also I concur with another comment that the slide fire stock should be avoided. Firstly it is a trickey gimmick I would not want to rely upon in a fight. Secondly, even though the slide fire is legal, you do not want anyone to have the impression that you are firing an automatic weapon. It brings unwanted scrutiny where it is not needed. And may get you a home visit from an alphabet soup agency to check your possesions. I am also with you on lasers, never had much use for them. I like night vision. People also need good body armor. You made a great point on aimed fire. Only hits count.

  6. “I have been surprised at clips and pics of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, with their weapons loaded down with: ACOG , flashlight, laser, forward hand grip, IR illuminator, and bipod attached to a multi-rail fore end. Then go on to plug in two 30 round mags lashed together.”

    I’m not sure about other units, but my infantry unit we use ACOG, and the laser and the illuminator are one unit called a peq 15, and while some vert grips ahave a built in bipods most of my guys don’t use ’em, actually most of my guys don’t even bother with vert grips period. and I’ve NEVER seen a guy with a mag coupler, all that sand would ruin a magazine, must be pogs who never leave the wire.

    We also carry all that excess stuff cus we actually use it now, the nature of how we fight has changed friend. Body armor has saved lives, and we regularly move with around 300 rounds for our M4s and even more for our SAWs and 240s. It’s cus we expend a lot of ammunition, as you are aware It’s much more effective having support by fire when you’re moving a team to flank enemy opposition. we are also organized differently than your old rifle platoons, with the advent of the saw the army has adopted 9 man squads made up of 2 fire teams. in each fireteam there is an e5 team leader usually armed with an M4, a grenadier with an M4 and a M320 GL, a rifleman with an M4 + extra ammo for the SAW and or an AT4 depending on load out, and a SAW gunner armed with the SAW obviously. and that’s just one fire team, imagine the fire superiority of 3 squads which equals 6 of those fireteams. if we factor in the weapons squad armed with 2 to 3 M240 MMGs which are our modern day equivalent to your venerable pig. and let’s not forget our Forward Observer who can call down lead.

    yes, we carry more, it’s heavy and it sucks, but it keeps us at an advantage. just my two cents friend

    and for all the problems that “exist” with using IR lasers, I’ve rarely heard of an issue where enemy combatants have backtracked the IR beam with their own NODs, and they are also used as a form of silet communication which does also make ’em useful. Not doubting your experience, but unless you’ve utilized the new gear in this context it’s hard for you to imagine how we operate.

    I’d take my heavy IOTV with plates ( that stops ball 7.62 NATO) over a cotton uniform any day.

  7. Drew:
    Not much different really other than waaaay upgunned now. Early,early fire teams were Four M14s one with selector as AR and a M79GL and the M60s and Laaws in weapons. Ammo load is now way up, nice, 100 maged 7.62 probably weights 300 .223. When we transitioned to the M16 the load upped to 280 or better IF you could get the mags. usually in cloth bandoleers.
    Great comment, wish you had expanded on NV usage.
    As to armour..I hated the useless flak jacket. I now have a break away plate carrier (work around a lot of water) with 7.62 level plates and a 280 rd. load out. POINT: I am not discusing combat but retreat defense and local patrols, two entirely different animals, as are our respective TAORs. Other wise I would just key the set and call in “snake and nape”! I hope your tours are a thing of memory only. Regards, D.

  8. Drew:
    You Might be surprised to find that the “new”structure and most of the tactics you mention were SOP for the Marine Corps in the 60s (Three 4 man fire teams, three squads to a rifle platoon) much later adopted by USArmy. All this was used to great effect in the street fighting of the TET offensive.(a lot of combined arms, Tanks, Ontos Mule mounted Recoiless,ANGLICO (air and naval gunfire liason Co.)) My main complaint, even with my Marine Corps is that we seem to have to re-learn the old tricks over and over. I have no problem imagining it, I wish I could forget some of it. I certainly don’t doubt your experience either, but you might give some thought as to who wrote the book on how you are operating now. It was us old farts that survived it, and did it all on the cheap, back in ancient times. If I read an edge into your post, friend, my apollogies. We are all a little thin skinned when it comes to our service and skill sets. These posts are just some observations of an old cold warrior.
    Semper Fi. D.

  9. What bank did you rob to buy all the stuff you have now (or want to have)?
    I like the new Starlight and thermal vision stuff, but at $5k a pop for good one’s, I’m afraid my Surefire X-400 is gonna have to do. Weight? Yeah. I’ve had the privilege of talking to a few men who have been to “the sandbox” and back. When I hear of a 130 pound troop humping a 150 pound load at 9000 feet, all I can say is “God help him, please”. At 66 I don’t think they’ll be sending me off to war, but there may come a time of serious civil unrest that will require a war-like weapon. From what I have been told by those who were in Hue, you went from hunted to hunter and back again so from that I drew the conclusion that I need to be able to do both as time and circumstances demand or allow. Thank you for your service, and the others too, and giving us “the voice of experience.”


  10. Donald:
    I recently retired. Rather than watch my retirement money turn to toilet paper, I pulled it out, took a nice tax hit, and turned it into items that actually have or will have some value (see my other posts on MSO). A gen 3 NVD in hand is worth more to me than a few thousand in the bank making nothing. In a collapse I do not envision getting too many Govt. checks (Fed retired) so I have/am buying up items that will allow me to live off grid and self-reliant. That is real retirement security.

    The ’68 TET offensive encompassed much more than Hue. It just got the press. Just about every city and compound in the country was hit hard.

    During my time in RVN I had the oportunity to use many personal weapons as well as crew served. Fought on beaches, rivers, desert, swamp, jungle, cities and mountains in I corps. I was a Marine grunt running 2 man S3 patrols to a Tank commander of a Patten tank. Worked with US Army, ARVN, ROK marines and civilians. I was shot at by AKs, Heavy machineguns, RPGs, recoiless rifles, 122 and 140mm rockets, mortars, and blown up by a 250 lb. US aircraft bomb wired as a command detonated mine (IED) that dam near destroyed my tank (I have a chronic back condition thanks to that). No I was not spec ops, nor a remington raider. Virtually all of my time in country was in combat arms and thank god I escaped unscathed.

    There have been no good or easy wars. They are all a hell to be endured. In a WROL situation you would do well to model the Vietcong. You just got my mini military bio. Thanks for your comment. D.

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