Four Annoying Gun Myths, with Bloke on the Range

I had a chance to meet up with Bloke on the Range in Switzerland, and we decided to spend some time discussing a few of the myths that have managed to get themselves solidly affixed in the beliefs of the shooting and collecting community. Where did they come from, and can we maybe refute them?

While one video surely won’t make these myths go away, but hopefully we can give you some interesting information on them that you didn’t know before! The specific topics are:

  1. M1 Garand “Ping”
  2. The Bren is “too accurate”
  3. Unrealistic WW2 bolt action accuracy
  4. Mythical versions of the “Mad Minute”

 

40 Comments

  1. The Garand ping is similar to the Arisaka bolt cover rattle in that neither makes any significant difference in a full blown shootout. And stealthy missions would not require that one use standard infantry rifles anyway! The only “too accurate” machine gun might be the Type 92 HMG, which probably could have been used for taking out commanders. I could be wrong but the majority of American infantry casualties in the Pacific theater were by machine guns, flak mounts, and artillery.

    • “majority of American infantry casualties in the Pacific theater were by machine guns, flak mounts, and artillery”
      All such data must be estimated, notice that machine guns and rifles of that era often use same cartridges, so it would be very hard if not impossible to say which weapon kill on basis on wounds. Similarly with (artillery) shells and (aviation) bomb.
      See for example percentage of battle wounds to british soldiers by weapon 1939-45 overall here: https://forum.axishistory.com//viewtopic.php?t=46534
      (post from 31 Mar 2004, 11:00) notice that mortar, grenade, bomb, shell are treated as one category.

    • With the general racket in the middle of a hot infantry firefight, somehow I suspect either (a) nobody is going to notice that “ping” or (b) everybody’s ears are already ringing and they wouldn’t be able to distinguish it anyway.

      I know that on a nice, quiet firing range, even with Wolf’s Ears on, the Garand “ping” isn’t nearly as noticeable as the “clack” when a magazine is dumped from an AR-15, or the ka-CHUNK of removing and replacing the magazine in an AK, M14, or etc., let alone a Thompson.

      Actually, removing and replacing the 50-round L drum on a 1921 Thompson in a hurry sounds a lot like railway cars coupling and uncoupling. I’ve done it enough times to know.

      😉

      cheers

      eon

      • So in reality that ping might count in say 1 in 1000000 cases or so. Bigger issue should be early M1 Carbine magazine release, as according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_carbine
        in the heat of combat, the M1 carbine’s magazine release button was often mistaken for the safety. This caused soldiers to accidentally release the magazine when they meant to disengage the safety. As a result, the push-button safety was redesigned into a rotating lever-type safety.
        Is that also present among collectors? Dropping magazine when you want able your weapon to FIRE, seems to be much bigger problem than ping.

        • The real danger on the range is a stiff flipover safety on an M1 carbine. My only AD in my entire career was a case of a stiff safety on a Universal carbine suddenly going FLIP, my finger slipping past it and hitting the trigger, and BANG.

          Fortunately, I just dug a divot fifteen feet in front of the bench. The moral being, keep it pointed downrange, and preferably downward at something the slug won’t ricochet from if it goes off.

          cheers

          eon

        • I own a carbine with the early push button safety and have never experienced the problem of hitting the mag release instead of the safety myself. I suppose it was enough of a problem to warrant a change to the safety as it and the mag release are about the same size and fairly close together.

  2. “specific topics are”
    I would want to one myth created by some WW2-themed video games, namely every German soldier has MP40, which in reality wasn’t. In fact they have serious lack in numbers of sub-machine gun, so various available were used, like MP717(r) or MP41(r) or Maschinenpistole 738(i)

    • According to the Osprey book on the MP38 and MP40, originally the NCO in charge of a 10-man squad would have the Erma, and maybe one other man, like the PFC or LCPL in charge of the second 5-man “stick”. Contrary to war movies, officers generally had only pistols, not MP40s.

      The MG gunner’s assistant had only a pistol, as well, because he had to hump the spare barrel(s) for the MG34 plus the kit, extra ammo belts or saddle drum, etc.

      Everybody else had the 98k Mauser.

      It was only in the paratroops (who were “owned” by the Luftwaffe) that you saw more than a couple of men per squad with SMGs. Sometimes they did indeed have entire five-man “sticks” armed with the Erma, or even the earlier MP.28 or etc. They had those plus the EMP at Eben Emael, by all accounts, because it was expected that the fighting inside the fortress would be in confined spaces where the length of the 98k would be a handicap. They probably wished they’d had American WW1 “trench shotguns” for that one, although in the event they literally caught the garrison napping.

      And the Fallschirmjager,/em> really preferred rifles anyway, after getting mauled on Crete because they had mostly SMGs and the defenders had mostly SMLE bolt-action 0.303s. Hence the FG42, a rifle that was shorter than the Mauser, and had the firepower of the SMG, but could still reach out and hit like the Mauser. They liked the MP43 machine carbine, too, but not as much as the FG. (You could actually fire it prone without having to dig a pit for the magazine, for one thing.)

      It was only toward the very end of the war (1944-45) that you would see entire squads armed with SMGs, and that was mainly on the Russian Front where they would often be fighting at close quarters vs. Russian infantry squads who were also armed entirely with SMGs, usually the PPSh-41 or PPS-43.

      And half the time, the Germans would be armed with captured Russian SMGs, themselves. There were a lot more “Pa-Pa-Shas” made than there were Ermas.

      But then again, Hollywood almost never gets anything right.

      cheers

      eon

      • Officers may have had only pistols in the official TO&E, but in practice most low ranking officers would somehow acquire a rifle or SMG. A guy with only a pistol would advertise his rank to enemy snipers and machine gun crews a bit too much.

        • Not to mention Germans lacked automatic pistols too. Current service automatic pistol was P38, despite other were used too, examples are P08 Parabellum (German-made, older pattern), P35(p) (produced in conquered Poland, dubbed RADOM by U.S. collectors), P640(b) (produced in conquered Belgium) and Astra 600 (Spanish-made)

          • Contrary to another myth, the P35(p) and P640(b) were not preferred by German troops to the P08 or P38. Because they were being made under duress, and the Polish and Belgian workers tended to not make them very well- deliberately.

            The SS ended up with a lot of both of the Browning-type pistols because even at the end of the war, the Wehrmacht just didn’t like the Brownings or the SS either one very much. The SS felt about the same way about the Wehrmacht, and wanted P38s or at least P08s instead.

            The fact that there seemed to be more SMGS per unit in the SS than in the Wehrmacht might have been a side-effect of this.

            And no, as a general rule “Occupation” Radoms and High Powers should not be fired, especially not post-1943 examples. And not just due to possibly affecting their collector value.

            cheers

            eon

  3. The Japanese placed much emphasis on night-time infiltration given the great disparity in firepower vs. the U.S. A bit like the hoary old Oskar von Hutier “Stoßtruppen” tactics. The Americans thought that the Japanese were expert at all sorts of underhanded trickery and murderous chicanery. Check out some of the buck-toothed, caricatured propaganda sometime. There is at least one training aid entitled “The punch beneath the belt” from 1945 that discusses the supposed IJA penchant for “treachery and craftiness,” “cunning as a rattlesnake,” etc. with chapters including “Ruses,” “Deception Tactics,” “Ambushes,” “Snipers,” Camouflage and dummy positions, “anti-personnel mines,” and, of course, “Booby Traps.”

    Sneaky enemy personnel infiltrate forward under covering fire, seeking out American positions. When they find one, they lob in a hand grenade. (p.33). In this type of setting, K-bar knives were given out and soldiers instructed that they really would need them given the nature of the foe. And so, through exaggeration in the Pacific Theater where Dutch, UK, Australian, but mostly U.S. and Chinese personnel fought the Japanese, the idea emerged that any “give away” noise would draw Japanese capitalization on it. Thus, the myth of the “ping” of the empty M1 Garand rifle clip allowing the enemy to attack. The essential idea, as erroneous as it may be, had it that a Japanese infiltrator with a bladed weapon and a couple hand grenades was literally lurking just outside your fighting hole, awaiting the right opportunity… And so when your rifle was out of ammo, he’d leap atop you in a frenzy of stabbing and slashing and whatnot…

    Basically, that is the origin of the lurching Frankenstein monster of the “M1 Garand ping giveaway” that continues on disconnected from the context that created it.

    Happy Halloween!

    • “The Japanese placed much emphasis on night-time infiltration given the great disparity in firepower vs. the U.S.”
      Lacking in firepower of Japanese land-warfare forces were logical outcome, as they earlier fought with enemies having limited numbers of machine weapons.
      To be honest Japanese-Russian war of 1905 was first in which both side used machine gun in numbers.

      • And both sides of said war had to resort to explosive means of removing machine guns, if I’m not mistaken. Grenade spam is the machine gunner’s worst nightmare if enemy artillery is absent. And it’s difficult to tell who’s got the bomb when the action happens after dark. Search lights tend to get shot first.

        Addressing the earlier infiltration problem, any Japanese scout would prefer that his intended victims not shoot at all. Shots fired meant his cover was blown, and that the other team was on high alert. Waiting for an empty rifle would have been pointless as there was no guarantee that the user doesn’t have several friends next to him with their own weapons readied. This the myth is busted in more ways than one.

        • “Grenade spam is the machine gunner’s worst nightmare if enemy artillery is absent.”
          Still at that time hand-throwed grenades were (re-invented) novelty.
          Anyway Russo-Japanese War of 1905 or if you want more ear-catching name War Of Two Empires, was of importance from political point-of-view, as Japan challenged long-established empire, despite yet until mid 19th century Japan foreign politics might be described as isolation.
          Despite that Japanese have awareness of technical progress via Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan–Netherlands_relations

  4. In listing people the US fought with M1s don’t forget the Italians and the French. Yes the French who effectively switched sides in WW 2 for a couple of years. The Germans even allowed the French Army to carry on, with 100,000 troops, in France after 1940.

    • According to one of my college profs (USMC, Class of ’42, Guadalcanal), they went ashore mostly with M1917 Enfields, not 1903s. The Springfields were mainly used by the few “sharpshooters” (snipers) they had, with Warner & Swasey telescopic sights, which was sort of odd, as during WW1 it was the M1917 that was considered the better sniper rifle on the basis of inherent accuracy.

      In spite of the myth of the 1911 Colt, there were probably as many revolvers (M1917 S&W .45s) used there as there were .45 automatics. Mostly, the pistols were either carried by heavy machine gunners, the guys with the flamethrowers, or officers.

      Marine airmen, like the Cactus Air Force at Henderson Field, mostly had S&W Model 10 M&P .38 Specials with 4″ barrels, as that was standard Naval Aviation issue at the time.

      Another myth was the use of combat shotguns. They only had a few, mainly WW1-vintage M1897 Winchester “trench” guns from naval SP stores. They were mainly used for guard duty, not flank protection of MG pits, as some have claimed. The guards at ammo stores and fuel dumps had them, to reduce the chances of inadvertently shooting a hole in a crate of mortar rounds, a drum full of avgas, or etc. while potting a Japanese infiltrator at 0200.

      As for automatic weapons other than Browning medium and heavy MGs, they had the Marine version of the BAR with a selector giving two rates of full-auto fire (350 R/M and 750 R/M), and Reising .45 SMGs. He said the Reising worked perfectly well as long as you kept it clean. Since that was pretty much a lost cause on the Canal, they were definitely happier when the Army showed up and they could draw M1 Thompsons from Army stores. They still fired from a closed bolt, but they had gotten rid of the quirky Blish lock, and they were definitely more reliable in the jungle environment than the Reising.

      He drew one and carried it through the rest of the Pacific campaign until he was wounded on Okinawa (mine), and ended up in the base hospital at Pearl Harbor- which was where he was when the A-bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

      cheers

      eon

      • _Shots Fired in Anger_ p. 280: “The great mass of rifles which I have so far seen in the hands of Japs [sic] has been almost entirely made up of the types commonly referred to as the Arisaka rifles. … we found large numbers of British Enfields, Dutch Steyrs, American M1917 Enfields, Mausers and Krags in the possession of the Japs on Gudalcanal, whith ample evidence that their use was not the idea of individuals, but rather the carrying out of a directive from higher authority. The M1917 Enfields I saw had been modified a bit to take the Jap bayonet, and quantities of Japanese-loaded ammunition were on hand in .303 British caliber for use in the captured British weapons.” “the long-barreled Arisaka .25 being seen most often.” e.g. far more common than any captured rifle. Lauds the Arisaka’s simplicity of design, explains it is generally a good rifle but for its straight bolt handle and excessive length and weight.

        • “quantities of Japanese-loaded ammunition were on hand in .303 British caliber for use in the captured British weapons.”

          That would have been easy, as most of the Japanese ground forces there were Naval Infantry detachments, and one of the standard IJN MGs for both air(flexible) and ground use was the Type 92, a copy of the Lewis gun chambered for the 7.7 x 56R mm round, which was a direct copy of the 0.303in Enfield.

          Note that the Japanese Navy Type 92 MG was not the same as the Japanese Army Type 92 MG, a Hotchkiss type firing the 7.7 x 58SR mm Arisaka round. Two MGs with the same designation, in the same notional caliber, firing two non-interchangeable rounds. Being a quartermaster on that side must have been interesting, to say the least.

          W.H.B. Smith cited this as an example of the near-complete lack of co-ordination between the Japanese armed services, who didn’t have a rivalry so much as a tendency to try to ignore each other whenever possible.

          cheers

          eon

          • “Being a quartermaster on that side must have been interesting, to say the least.”
            Somewhat similar case was with 89-Shiki and 89-Shiki Tokubetsu. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_89_machine_gun
            Both fired 7,7×58SR Type 92 however otherwise they were different – 89-Shiki is derived from Vickers Class E when 89-Shiki Tokubetsu is gas-operated and relative of Hotchkiss design. Despite both share common cartridge feed system are different – 89-Shiki is belt-fed, when 89-Shiki Tokubetsu use own peculiar magazine with clips inside it. I am not sure if cartridge were delivered loose or loaded in clips, but if second then if it would be delivered for 89-Shiki it needs to be unloaded first.

          • “Being a quartermaster on that side must have been interesting, to say the least.”
            Imperial Japan even manage to introduce three different ~13 mm machine gun rounds: 12,7×81 SR (also used by Regia Aeronautica during WWII), 13×64 B (used in Japanese-made MG 131) and 13,2×99. It must be noted that 13×64 B is noticeable smaller and allow creating of more compact machine gun, however 12,7×81 SR and 13,2×99 are quite close, so viability of having them both is dubious.

  5. My favorite gun myth is the “We threw Sten Guns into rooms full of Germans and they would go off and kill them all”. I also heard how Brens would put entire bursts through the same whole at 600. I was also taught to “walk” bursts from SMGs into the ground and then up into the target and you started shooting a pistol by holding it above your head in one hand and lowering it.

  6. The lack of ammuntion and training standards still happens sometimes. When I was in the regular Army September 2008- September 2012, we shot often for my first 3 years and then when the whole government shutdown crisis happened, We only shot for yearly qualification that year. It also affected our fuel and medical supplies so that training suffered too. I was in a Line units so we were used to shooting every month under normal conditions. I also spent 10 months in the reserves and lack of supplies was also an issue there, I never went to the range once, nor did I receive any equipment.

  7. I share your annoyance about the (entirely) mythical Garand “ping.”
    A small unit shoot-out involving say platoon sized units on each side DOES NOT sound like a measured sequence of “boom, rat-tat-tat, pow, pow,pow, blooie, pow, pow, more rat-a-tat, etc.” like you hear/see in the latest war movie.
    NOT!
    It sounds like a winter 50 car/semi pile-up on I-94.
    In other words, “CRASH!” Or more like, “CRASSSSSHHH,” that just goes on and on…and on.
    No one is either counting enemy rounds or your own and nobody can hear a low-volume “ping” in any case.
    The “ping” story does have one undeniably useful aspect however. It invariably identifies the teller/writer of such as an unknowing, inexperienced bullshiter, not to be believed or with any palpable credibility.

  8. Lt. Col. John B. George, _Shots Fired in Anger_ (Plantersville, SC: Small Arms Technical Publishing Co., 1947): “The Garand was a particular offender in the matter of shiny reflecting surfaces. Its gas chamber and front sight base, necessarily made of corrosion-proof metal, would not blue or parkerize … It always came off after a few days, presenting a bright nickel surface, rounded to catch and reflect each gleam of sunlight. … I am certain that several of our men [U.S. Army] were killed on Guadalcanal because of this one ordnance defect.” p. 219.

    p. 238: Derides the T38 as too long and heavy… Adds, “Another fixed idiocy of the Japs [sic] was manifest in the adoption of the receiver cover for all rifles. Its utilization necessitated the cutting of two deep grooves for almost the full length of the receiver, which certainly did nothing to strengthen the action [sic!]. The protection which that foolish contrivance could give to the working parts of the rifle was negligible … Whenever the action was operated with the receiver cover on the weapon rattled like all of the proverbial tin pots and pans in hell. *I know of at least two Japs [sic] who were located by our people because of that rattling sound as they operated their bolts, and who were killed before they fired a second shot.” … Moves on to approve of the firing pin arrangement vis-a-vis the Springfield’s…

    • The latter entry is nothing more than a myth borne of stupidity, willful ignorance of jungle conditions, and racism. The bolt covers on the Japanese rifles were hardly going to allow you to locate them if the rifles were OVER 100 yards away from the intended victims in dense jungle. And besides, the bolt cover WON’T rattle if it were properly fitted and assuming the bolt is closed, NO RATTLE AT ALL. If the user of the Type 38 Rifle operated his bolt SLOWLY with his hand gripping the bolt cover as well, there will be no rattling sound. Watch this video of a Type 99 Rifle being test fired with mud thrown on it. The bolt cover does not rattle when the rifle is shaken.

  9. I clearly remember, when doing infantry basic training (Australian Army 1969), an instructor sergeant telling us that the M60 spread its rounds around in a more desirable fashion that the Bren, which tended to put ‘all of its rounds through one hole’. So he must have started the rumour? Note that the Bren has something of a legendary reputation in the Australian Army, and it was ‘readopted’ for a while following the introduction of the M60.

  10. Two slightly socially awkward firearms experts, slightly lubricated by single malt, sitting on a hotel room bed, discussing obscure firearms ideas and myths. Full of awesome. Kudos and thanks to both of you chaps.

  11. To follow up on the comment about Roy Dunlap going ashore with only two Springfield stripper clips – my father told of being an MP in Germany shortly after the surrender, and having to find dropped ammunition for his rifle along rail lines, since they could get very little through normal supply. He was a railway MP in Mannheim, then.

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