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Small Arms in Iraq: What Worked, What Sucked What a Hoax?

by noahmax on November 16, 2005

I’m getting this e-mail, about how some small arms are working in Iraq, about fifth-hand. So I can’t vouch for its authenticity. But it sounds right to me.
Soldiers, Marines: Is this on-point, or not?
UPDATE 11/18/05: A whole heap of people have written in, saying that the letter’s author is either badly misiniformed, or that the whole thing is a hoax. (I’m guessing misinformed, since it’s not a first-person account.)
For example, the note says that the Interceptor Body Armor only weighs “6 lbs.” To which one reader says:

We only wish it weighed 6 pounds. The IBAs with SAPI plates weighs in at just under 16 pounds and when you add in the neck, shoulder and groin protection you’re back up over 20 pounds.

In response to the item on the “M243 SAW,” the same reader notes:

First off, it’s the M249 SAW, and it’s not drum fed. It’s belt fed. Granted, the plastic box magazines the 200 rd belts come in, could be mistaken for a drum magazine by someone who had never seen one before, but I would think that a Marine would know the nomenclature of this weapon.

Decide for yourself.
—–Original Message—–
From: XXXXXXXXXX
Sent: XXXXXXXXXX
To: XXXXXXXXX
XXXXX saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here, just a Marine with a bird’s eye view’s opinions:
2guns_small.JPG1) The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. XXXXX says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it’s lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the picattiny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.
2) The M243 SAW (squad assault weapon)
[I’m guessing he means this –ed.] : .223 cal. Drum fed light machine gun. Big thumbs down. Universally considered a piece of shit. Chronic jamming problems, most of which require partial disassembly. (that’s fun in the middle of a firefight).
3) The M9 Beretta 9mm: Mixed bag. Good gun, performs well in desert environment; but they all hate the 9mm cartridge. The use of handguns for self-defense is actually fairly common. Same old story on the 9mm: Bad guys hit multiple times and still in the fight.

Click here for more, including reviews of the Ma Deuce, and the new body armor.


4) Mossberg 12ga. Military shotgun: Works well, used frequently for clearing houses to good effect.
5) The M240 Machine Gun: 7.62 Nato (.308) cal. belt fed machine gun, developed to replace the old M-60 (what a beautiful weapon that was!!). Thumbs up. Accurate, reliable, and the 7.62 round puts ‘em down. Originally developed as a vehicle mounted weapon, more and more are being dismounted and taken into the field by infantry. The 7.62 round chews up the structure over there.
6) The M2 .50 cal heavy machine gun: Thumbs way, way up. “Ma deuce” is still worth her considerable weight in gold. The ultimate fight stopper, puts their dicks in the dirt every time. The most coveted weapon in-theater.
7) The .45 pistol: Thumbs up. Still the best pistol round out there. Everybody authorized to carry a sidearm is trying to get their hands on one. With few exceptions, can reliably be expected to put ‘em down with a torso hit. The special ops guys (who are doing most of the pistol work) use the HK military model and supposedly love it. The old government model .45’s are being re-issued en masse.
8) The M-14: Thumbs up. They are being re-issued in bulk, mostly in a modified version to special ops guys. Modifications include lightweight Kevlar stocks and low power red dot or ACOG sights. Very reliable in the sandy environment, and they love the 7.62 round.
9) The Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle: Thumbs way up. Spectacular range and accuracy and hits like a freight train. Used frequently to take out vehicle suicide bombers ( we actually stop a lot of them) and barricaded enemy. Definitely here to stay.
10) The M24 sniper rifle: Thumbs up. Mostly in .308 but some in 300 win mag. Heavily modified Remington 700’s. Great performance. Snipers have been used heavily to great effect. Rumor has it that a marine sniper on his third tour in Anbar province has actually exceeded Carlos Hathcock’s record for confirmed kills with OVER 100.
11) The new body armor: Thumbs up. Relatively light at approx. 6 lbs. and can reliably be expected to soak up small shrapnel and even will stop an AK-47 round. The bad news: Hot as shit to wear, almost unbearable in the summer heat (which averages over 120 degrees). Also, the enemy now goes for head shots whenever possible. All the bullshit about the “old” body armor making our guys vulnerable to the IED’s was a non-starter. The IED explosions are enormous and body armor doesn’t make any difference at all in most cases.
12) Night Vision and Infrared Equipment: Thumbs way up. Spectacular performance. Our guys see in the dark and own the night, period. Very little enemy action after evening prayers. More and more enemy being whacked at night during movement by our hunter-killer teams. We’ve all seen the videos.
13) Lights: Thumbs up. Most of the weapon mounted and personal lights are Surefire’s, and the troops love ‘em. Invaluable for night urban operations. XXXX carried a $34 Surefire G2 on a neck lanyard and loved it.
I cant help but notice that most of the good fighting weapons and ordnance are 50 or more years old!!!!!!!!! With all our technology, it’s the WWII and Vietnam era weapons that everybody wants!!!!

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