2-Gun With New US Army Weapons: SIG Spear and M17

Yesterday we looked at the new SIG Spear/M5 in detail, and today I’m taking it out to a 2-Gun match to try on the clock. The most suitable pistol pairing would naturally be the other recently-adopted new US Army weapon, the M17 pistol (in this case, a commercial M17).

The Spear/M5 is a really great rifle to shoot. It’s soft-shooting (granted, with the down-loaded training ammo) and very accurate. The suppressor is effective and doesn’t cause any gas blowback into my face whatsoever. That said, it is also both heavy and specifically front heavy. Is it the right choice for today’s US Army? I don’t know; time will tell. Personally, I think I can say I would rather have the M5 than an HK 416…but I’d rather have a modernized (lightweight) M16A1 than either of them.

As for the M17, my troubles hitting with it were me, not the pistol. The pistol shooting requirements in this match were particularly challenging, and I wasn’t quite up to them. The repeated failures to go fully into battery were annoying, though.

Thanks to Illumined Arms for the loan of the rifle!


  1. Some of the weight plus being front heavy is a given with the Army’s requirement for a suppressor; There’s just no way around it if sound reduction is mandatory. So many people I see want to compare this to their experience with non-suppressed (and possibly non-scoped) alternatives which strikes me as a dishonest comparison. Also the velocities with that standard powered ammo seem very similar to what I get out of my grendels.

  2. Yesterday’s thread didn’t get in to this, but what are the interchange hazards between 6.8×51 and 7.62×51?

    Unless 7.62 won’t seat to full battery in 6.8, kaboom looms.

    6.8 in 7.62, if seat-able, might be just bang+wobble in a training load, but the consequences for full power load are unclear.

    • Should this rifle/cartridge make it to actual issue to actual line units? I’m sure we’ll find out. You can never, ever underestimate the lowest common denominator soldier in terms of “things he might do”. And, that “lowest common denominator” soldier can come in any rank, any position, with any specialty.

      I was once sitting in a field Ammunition Holding Area, running ammo for a battalion field exercise with live ammo. I’m doing paperwork in the tent, my subordinate actually running issue/turn-in of ammo comes in and tells me he’s got a problem with a unit trying to turn over ammo. My guy was well-trained, by me, and he wouldn’t just take any old thing they tried turning in, soooo… I go outside. Where I find that the unit is trying to turn in three (3) live MICLIC charges w/rockets… Which were misfires they’d had on the range the day before. MICLIC systems consist of a 3-inch naval line throwing rocket and a 2,000lb line charge of C4. The policy is, and I know this very well because I probably fired more live shots with those things as an observer/controller at the NTC, you DO NOT move misfired MICLIC systems until QASAS has been called out and OK’d even touching the bastards. These ‘effing morons have blithely taken the systems apart, thrown them into a truck, and then transported them 15 miles through the desert to park themselves outside my ammo point that has several more tons of munitions stored in it. And, ohbytheway… The reason the systems misfired? ‘Effing morons decided to “field improvise” a means to fire the system from a distance, which included them cutting into and splicing the sealed electrical firing system on the tubs and rockets.

      Which they’d then left unshunted as they drove them through the high mountain desert. With, to add insult to injury, troops riding in the vehicles with the missiles and the tubs of line charge on a trailer. Can you say “static electricity”?

      The entire chain of command in that company was livid after I blew my stack on their little chain of stupidity. They were even more livid when I decided that the only way to make enough of a point with the entire unit was to call QASAS directly, and have them come out and deal with it. EOD got involved, and the obliviot battalion commander who wanted to sweep that BS under the carpet got to have a conversation with the post commander. Looking back on it, I’m pretty sure that incident put paid to any prospect I had for promotion, but the lack of urgency or recognition of what had been done, along with the lack of concern over potential consequences left me with no other choice, really. It’s a harsh choice to call in outside authority when the commander doesn’t take something seriously enough, but I felt like I had to make it. Don’t regret it, either–Stupid bastards were out there driving around with what amounted to a 6,000lb bomb, and hadn’t bothered to shunt the charges or the rockets, ‘cos they’d cut the purpose-built shunting plugs out of the systems.

      All the above were performed by theoretically “expert” combat engineers who “knew their stuff”. EOD and QASAS had other, different opinions.

      So, yeah… Someone, somewhere is almost certainly going to stick 6.8 into 7.62 and then be utterly bewildered by the resultant “KABOOM”. Hell, the dumbf*cks get live and blanks mixed up, all the damn time. GEN Petraeus got shot in the chest due to something like that, if I remember the details of that incident correctly. Back when he was still a battalion or brigade commander… If I remember, someone equally well-known now was his surgeon, and he nearly didn’t make it off the operating table.

      • “Should this rifle/cartridge make it to actual issue to actual line units? I’m sure we’ll find out. You can never, ever underestimate the lowest common denominator soldier in terms of “things he might do”.(…)”
        Wait so something like http://www.blastwave-comic.com/index.php?p=comic&nro=53 is not as far from reality as one might think?

        “(…)And, that “lowest common denominator” soldier can come in any rank, any position, with any specialty.(…)”
        This reminded me about one F8U (full-fledged carrier fighter, so they would not give that to beginner, would they?) pilot who take-off without troubling himself with unfolding of wings in 1960
        Happily he managed to land said aeroplane without crashing in process.

        • I think this one perfectly encapsulates the “combat engineer ethos/worldview”…


          We ever get into a “Twilight 2000” general European war scenario? Something like that is gonna happen, I guarantee it.

          Hell, back when I was a junior NCO? I was tasked with finding a “least resource required” solution to destroying a bridge across the Rhine, not so far from Frankfurt. I did a little look-round, and found all these nice, neat storage facilities filled with liquid gases and fuels. I turned in a plan using a lot of det cord and a few hundred pounds of explosives, intending for a series of BLEVE events to take place.

          The brass did the calculations on what my little plan would have unleashed, and I basically would have probably started the nuclear phase of WWIII, ‘cos the resultant energy release would have been measurable in kilotons. They told my bosses to never, ever let me out of their sight on one of those missions, after that…

    • The case neck diameter of the .277 Sig is .310″, so a .308″ bullet could enter the neck of the chamber. However, a .308 case would not fully chamber as it’s neck is .344″.
      But, you may be able to get a shorter case like the .300 Savage to chamber & fire (kaboom…). I haven’t heard of anyone doing this with a 7mm/08, so I doubt it’ll be much of an issue.

      • One mind-boggling question for non-U.S. dwellers
        shows 300BLK cartridge with peculiar shaped bullet, which is claimed to be dictated by .223 magazine shape.
        Why one wants to have cartridge specially designed for functioning in magazine not designed for it? What would happen if one attempt to shove magazine with said cartridge inside fire-arm with .223 and then try to use it?

        • The guns blow up regularly since .300 Blackout was introduced. The H2 buffer is popular in the US, as are AR-15s w/ the forward assist, so if the H2 buffer doesn’t override the bullet crimp in the case, the forward assist does, & Kaboom! Fortunately, the AR-15 handles gas overpressure spectacularly well from a shooter’s perspective and explosively deconstructs in a safe manner, channeling gas away from the shooter’s face as the upper and bolt carrier come apart.

        • .300 Blackout is a cartridge that never, ever should have been designed. It’s not stated anywhere, but an implied consequence of the things they wanted it to be able to do automatically implies “Create perfect conditions for unintentional KABOOM incidents”.

          I foresaw that when it came out, and I was not disappointed at all when the idiocy immanentized. What really entertained me? Friend of mine that I’d expressed my reservations to, and who had pooh-poohed my concerns? He blew up one of his rifles on a range in precisely this manner. Did I refrain from “I-told-you-so’s”? Oh, hell to the no…

          • The French Gendarmerie adopted 7,62*39 in suppressed CZ BREN2 rifles to not make this very mistake. The slightly reduced ammuniton capacity does not really matter for police use. For other purposes they have FAMAS and HK416 and SG55x rifles.

        • Yeah, that was something I looked at and thought “Yeah, there’s a good idea… NOT.”

          Does anyone actually, y’know… Pay attention to history, and try to, like, learn from it? Did the inclusion of the so-called “forward assist” ever do anything in the M16, aside from enabling the force-fit jamming of cartridges? In my experience, if you’ve got a situation where the forward assist is necessary, there’s an underlying causative condition you absolutely need to address before you go cramming a cartridge into a chamber.

          I had the questionable pleasure of removing a live round out of a weapon that had experienced a failure to extract wherein the cartridge base was torn off, leaving the rest of the cartridge in the chamber. The soldier with the weapon proceeded to use his “forward assist” to pound the fresh cartridge into the chamber with such vigor that he nearly managed to actually close the bolt. He was only a millimeter or so shy of that, when the range safety caught him hammering on the forward assist with a rock…

          Yeah, that was a jam for the ages. Live round, too, so even getting that thing safed to the point where I could get it off the firing line was a treat.

          I remain dubious as to the actual benefit of a forward assist.

  3. In my humble opinion it is not at all possible to form any realistic opinion about a weapon by only firing down-loaded “training” ammunition.
    I think “Train as you fight” includes firing the real stuff.
    The very existence of down-loaded “training” ammunition should raise serious questions.

    • Gotta remember… In today’s world, common sense is a superpower.

      I actually want someone to do a movie, a comic book, or something with the premise that the protagonist is this guy who isn’t that smart, has no real “powers” as they usually write them, but just stands there going “Uhmmm… Wouldn’t it work better, if…?” and then states the blindingly obvious to whatever convoluted thinking/scheming that is going on in terms of the rest of the story. Done right, I think it’d be funnier than hell.

      • I’d actually pay to see that movie. But given the dumb Tac-Sit I posed yesterday (the dudes with Hakim rifles and Madsen-Saetters bushwhacking the “proper American platoon” armed with M5’s and M250’s), what do you think would happen if the ambush initially started in Red Team’s favor, with Blue Team’s M250 gunner getting decapitated by an incredibly obvious landmine tied to a low-hanging tree branch? Yes, I put together a ridiculous scenario that would probably be better off in some B-budget Eurowar movie…

      • “(…)has no real “powers” as they usually write them(…)”
        I tried to find something like that, after cursory search I was not, but I found one might buy COMMON SENSE is so rare it should be SUPERPOWER T-Shirt

      • There is the movie “Idiocracy” by Mike Judge.
        The protagonist is an absolutely average unremarkable guy of average intelligence with IQ exactly 100 (which is the exact middle of the scale), that gets frozen and wakes up in the future where he is basically the smartest human on earth, because all other people have dived into idiocy. That would be pretty close to your description.

        Overall much of our society nowadays seems caught and entangled in their own complicated thinking making everything silly complicated and argueing over unimportant details like the scholars of the middle ages that discussed the number of angels dancing on the tip of a needle in all seriousness.

    • I see this situation with the reduced pressure training loads of .277 Fury/6,8*51 mm as the acknowledgement, that the full pressure loads are just too hot for actual daily use. The training loadings are pretty much the same as 7 mm-08 cartridges anyway and reinvent the wheel.

      IMHO the most sensible way to save part of this project would be. to rebarrle the rifles to regular 7,62*51 mm and the US Army gets a bunch of nice .308 rifles that can be issued like the SVD in the soviet army on each infantry squad. That would get something useful out of this, as the MCX rifles seem fit for purpose.

      • “(…)rebarrle the rifles to regular 7,62*51 mm(…)”
        This apparently Australian thinking as, though here it seems as part of plan rather than hastily after-tough as according to
        they are also developing a training rifle chambered in 7.62mm NATO as a surrogate training rifle to reduce cost, retaining the 6.8mm weapon for operations. This will include a 7.62mm frangible round which is less damaging to training range infrastructure and facilities.

  4. Y’know… Training ranges are something I never thought about.

    I presume that there are going to be changes, but the existing ranges on most major bases should be adaptable. Where they’re likely going to have problems is out in the hinterlands with the various reduced-range National Guard training areas.

    Ah, well… No longer my problem, other than as a taxpayer. I suspect this ain’t going to survive the budget triage coming after the next economic crisis, once they “discover” the fact that you can’t just keep printing money.

  5. Ya know….Gen. Hatcher noted in his “Hatcher’s Handbook” that a good many M1903’s were damaged after being fed 7.92(8mm) Mauser rounds. So the problem is not new.

  6. Nice farmer tan

    I think you and I could compete for most pasty, and my wife swears that she can see my internal organs.

    As for the gun, yes, they picked the right contender, but man, heavy and limited ammo,

    Now on open terrain, yeah you want the distance and power, urban it seams you need the extra ammo(note, not a vet, don’t claim to be an expert on military tactics),
    Also, is the need to defeat the latest and greatest body armor really that much of a tactical advantage

  7. Well, with the world as it is; I hope somebody kept the “Technical package/tooling for the grease gun.

    • Somewhat off topic; but I once went camping in some woods “Aye them” near Ben Nevis. And it was winter and I was cold, but… Had adequate equipment. Now. And I was with one other person. Now, now… A leprechaun, aye. For want of a better word (Size of an action man, bright illuminous green/yellow, chap… With a big red hat; that looked like a Tulip bulb, aye. He had two coal black eyes, and a mouth.) started hurranging me in Gaelic or something “You could tell he was annoyed about something- Think my tent was over the door to his wee house thing- But not sure.” Right… And I said to my mate (Which he remembers, can you move; no… Was the answer, but he said there are shit loads of wee lights around me, and I said same here and there is a fucking “as above” wee action man fucker having a right go at me in Welsh or some shit on my chest.) Anyway to cut along story short, some Google engineer said his A.I went “Sentinent” and A.I is like the new thing, and we have heard of Alexas coming out with odd comments. Er… Are/is tech “Poltegest” so to speak proof even, even aside it developing it’s own mind type lark. Just thinking, might be worth looking into a bit more, before we hand over the control of Nuclear power stations etc, he he.

      • Alternatively it was too cold; and the gear was inadequate, which anyone who does have experience of being “rather cold, which I have via inadequate gear.” will know, you can; sort of trip out. Anyway interesting stuff, anyway… 20 yrs ago, he he.

      • So many “weird” events can be ascribed to the human mind glitching out in extremis… I don’t doubt that people have been kidnapped by aliens, but I strongly suspect that most of those aliens are from inside their heads, not Arcturus.

  8. Seems a positive move here but what will this do to interoperability (hate this cumbersome word) with our allies as regards ammunition calibers?

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