M240 Bravo: America Replaces the M60

In 1977, the US military adopted the FN MAG as the M240 in vehicular configuration to replace the less-than-successful M73/M219 machine guns. The USMC would get an early start adapting the 240 to ground configuration (the M240G), but it wasn’t until 1995 that the Army formally replaced the M60 with the MAG in M240B layout. The M240B has a number of differences from the standard MAG:

– Single-position gas regulator, giving about 600 RPM
– Picatinny rail on the top cover for mounting optics
– Front heat shield over the barrel to prevent heat mirage
– Top cover can be closed with the bolt either forward or back

The M240B has since been adopted by the Marines as well, and served extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. It I a quite heavy gun (24+ pounds) but very well liked by its users for being exceptionally rugged, dependable, and accurate. The one we have today is in pristine condition, and one of just 11 transferrable examples registered in the US.


  1. I take it from Ian’s comments that this gun was registered prior to 1986, hence why it can be legally owned.

    The arbitrary ban on post 1986 full auto arms, which are without a shadow of a doubt militia weapons, really needs to come before the Supreme Court. If they could strike down Roe v Wade, and make the left’s heads explode, anything is possible.

  2. Gad, and I thought the Pig was heavy in OCS w/ a bum knee at 38.

    Isn’t it interesting how reliable machineguns are the heavier they get?

    • “Quantity has a quality of its own”. See WWI MGs, so overbuilt that they could fire millions of rounds without a fuss.
      But the FN-MAG, to me, is too heavy for what it delivers. Both for the riveted construction and the action that, locking on the rear of the receiver, requires the receiver to be really sturdy from the bolt face to the locking surface.

    • Weight isn’t really a contributing cause for the superior durability of the M240. Yeah, it’s there, but mostly because the design requires it. The design is what makes the M240 a superior weapon, and that design means it’s heavier. You could, with even better design, have a much lighter weapon: See the Negev and the SS-77, along with the PK-series guns.

      The heavier weight of reliable machine guns ain’t necessarily the reason they’re more reliable. If that really helped, then the solution to most of the M60’s basic issues would be to fill it with molten lead, or something. Which ain’t going to do much to improve its performance or reliability, TBH, unless you’re evaluating for use as a boat anchor…

  3. I am a veteran with 40 years of service in the Argentina Army (1966-2005). In my experience, when firing a MAG which is too dirty,specially in dusty desert environments, the sear will get stuck and the MG it will continue firing when the pressure on the trigger is released. It happened to me a few times when I was a company officer. I wonder if the newer models have fixed that bug.

    • There is a tripper which releases the sear when trigger is let loose. If the spring behind it is weak or dirt is present it may not activate. It is good idea to clean weapons whenever time and situation allows. This applies right across. You can test how much contamination a gun can take, it will eventually stop firing.

  4. The grip assembly is a little misleading. It looks and works like an MG42/MG3 grip assembly, but the crossbolt safety is reversed. On the German machine guns and the French AA52, crossbolt to the left means SAFE. On the MAG (L7A1, M240) it means FIRE.

    Does anybody know why this change was made?

    • The whole thing is arbitrary as hell, just like “Red means ready-to-fire”. You could, from some standpoints, make an argument that either one is “more natural” for someone of a statistically more prevalent handedness. I don’t see that, however.

      I’m trying to think of a reason why it would even make a difference, and I can’t. Unless, it has to do with the way that the designers envisioned the crews working the guns, but I’ll be damned if I can think of a rationale for that making a difference.

      It could just be down to Belgian anti-German cussedness, after having their country raped twice in less than forty years by the same bunch of assholes. Were that the case, however… Why the hell even copy the MG-42 trigger assembly in the first damn place?

      There’s either a reason, or the whole thing was accidental. No idea, basically…

      • Kirk:

        That’s a reason I am not a fan of cross bolt safeties. It is arbitrary and not immediately apparent as to whether the gun is on safe or not.

        There is an argument that if you have it safe with the button sticking out of the left, then the right thumb can easily push it to the fire position, which I think works with a pistol grip. But on a gun like the Remington 870 it is more convenient to push the safety off from right to left with your index finger.

        I can only say that it should be easier to take the safety off then to apply it, but there is no hard and fast rule, hence I am not a fan.

        • I’m kinda with the French and Gaston Glock; the weapon safety is something I just don’t trust for some weapons. Handguns and machineguns? I don’t think a safety necessarily needs to even be on one, the way they’re used. I also don’t trust the bastards enough…

          An individual weapon, like the M16? Safety/selector switch is a must, and it needs to be at least as usable and user-friendly as the M16’s. You go to do any kind of IMT (Individual Movement Techniques), you want something that you can use to turn off the “bang” every time you get up or get down. You also want something that’s enough of a flag such that your leadership can observe it.

  5. I used the C6 version in the CF(infantry) and loved using it, not so much carrying it. The quick change barrel was easy to swap out and overall it was reliable.

  6. Ian’s chronology on the adoption of the M240 as the B and the G models is wrong. The sequence of events was not as he describes it. The Marines did not get into the M240 as an infantry ground-mount version until they -and- the Army, specifically the Ranger Regiment, were looking for a new MG to replace their superannuated M60s. The way it went down was that both the Marines and the Rangers were tired of worn weapons and the attendant issues; the Marines with their M60E3 and the Rangers with their basic M60s. Both parties went to the small arms proponent and said “Hey, the M60 is costing us too much money and time… Availability (time when the guns were actually functional and usable, from a maintenance standpoint) is shiite, and we need something that works. Whatcha’ got?”

    What they found out was that there was nothing in the pipeline and nothing in the budget. They didn’t have the ability to force Big Army to do anything, because Big Army didn’t think there was a problem, despite the fact that Big Army had had to take company support MG systems out of the readiness reporting system because if they hadn’t, then every unit in the Army with an M60 on the MTOE would never have attained tolerable readiness levels for reporting.

    So, they pulled the M60 off the books, for that purpose. Except for Aviation units that used them for door guns. Which led to every other unit getting raped to keep the Aviation guns working…

    So, that left the Marines and Rangers with a problem: No money, no options other than what was in the system already. Thankfully, the guys at FN had been trying to sell the Army and the Marines the Ground kit for the M240 since the beginning. That’s where the “G” comes from–It’s a standard M240 coax/ring mount M240 with the Ground kit applied. That was the initial variant that went to the testing done by the Marines and Rangers; it did well enough that the rest of the Army wanted in on it, so that forced the procurement folks to run a “competition” between the two options, M60 and M240. Which is how we got the M240 B model, the one that Ian says he’s showing here. It, however, cannot possibly be a “B” variant because it had to be produced and put on the registry before there ever even was such a thing as a “B” model; this is actually an M240 that probably had the original “G” kit applied to it, and then someone went and got the early “B” furniture to stick on the barrel and receiver to make it look like a “B”. It ain’t, however. Granted, there’s really not all that much difference between any of the M240 variants; it’s pretty much what you stick on it. The only way to tell is by the receiver markings and the serial number (assuming you’ve got access to the production/acceptance records outlining all of what the US has bought).

    Other minor quibbles: The handguards were slapped on for the “B” variants mostly because Big Army thought it was necessary to keep the troops from burning their widdle handsie-wandsies. That top piece that clips onto the barrel is a waste of damn time, and a consistent nightmare for keeping track of; once the spring clips wear out, they’re constantly coming off the guns. “Heat Mirage” as a phenomenon was not why they bought those and put them on; I’ve yet to see anything that short do much about mirage; you want to stop heat mirage, it’s gotta pretty much be full-length on the barrel, not just the rear third. It was all about the “burnt hands” issue, basically. The Marines initially didn’t go with that, thinking it was a waste of time. Most other armies around the world which issue the MAG58 just train the troops not to touch the hot barrels… Which, to me, makes more sense than adding more parts that you have to worry about tracking and which a.) don’t do shit to really protect anything when changing the barrels because it’s not just the little bit that that cover covers that burns shit up, it’s the whole length of it, and all you’re really doing is nothing, and b.) which, when worn, can flip around and actually make it a lot harder to install a new barrel.

    Were I a gunner or running a gun crew? Those POS clip-on top covers would be taken off and carried in the spare barrel bag. Period. They’re a useless affectation adopted by idiots for idiots. Guns don’t need ’em, and neither does a properly-trained gun crew, of which we have vanishingly few.

    M240 is a good gun. It was several orders of magnitude better than what it replaced. That said, we never should have procured it in the ground role. They should have opened the procurement up to do a couple of things: One, determine what we really needed for humping around as leg infantry, which ain’t the M240 in any of its guises, and then we should have looked at the world market for what was out there. Nobody with extensive experience of the MAG58 wanted it in the light GPMG role; both the Israelis and the South Africans wound up designing their own, much lighter MG systems in the Negev and the SS-77. There’s a reason both of those countries did that, despite having critically tight defense budgets, and that has a metric butt-load to do with the fact that both of them had the MAG58 in the light infantry role and loathed it there. We should have taken a hint, from that…

    We did not, of course, and so we have the spectacle of the M240 being built in the “lightened” mode, in all sorts of cut-down configurations and even titanium. Which is, flatly, ‘effing nuts. Hell, the least-effort path would have been to pay someone like the Poles to give up the TDP for the PK series that they had, and then just rolled our own for light infantry use. That would have been too smart, though.

    TL;DR: We have the M240B mostly because of the ineptitude and stupidity of the procurement system. They should have had something going, ready to replace the M60 when they all wore out. That was predictable; it was easily observable in the costs we had trying to keep those POS in service. The fact that we did not, and were spending billions on things like the ACR and OICW while basic infantry weapons were languishing unrefreshed? Criminal incompetence. For more of the same, look at the basic 40mm grenade, the HEDP that we still haven’t got a really satisfactory “better than” replacement for. We’re still buying the same POS version that we recognized as inadequate as far back as the post-Vietnam era.

    US small arms is a horror-show litany of incompetence and sloth on the part of the majority of the proponent agencies. Go ask someone “in charge” why the f*ck we’re still buying and issuing M16 and M4 rifles and carbines with button-broached barrels, vice the superior and longer-lived Cold Hammer-Forged versions. They still haven’t updated the TDP to match modern technology; only the M4A1 variant coming out of Crane has the superior and longer-lasting CHF barrel. Although, I think they’re applying that Army-wide, these days. Long past the point where it should have been standardized, back in the late 1970s, when the technology became cheap enough to use everywhere.

      • MK.48 was a totally different lineage, and came out of Crane. No idea what the deal was with the timeline, on that. So far as I know, it was never, ever an option for the Army or the Marines when they were trying to replace the excremental M60.

        And, again… To call the process by which we wound up with the M240B a trial or a test, or much of anything? An insult to any rational procurement process.

        Basically, what it came down to was that the powers-that-were in the small arms procurement field demanded that those nasty Marines and Rangers justify what they were doing. So, they ran the test between that which was, the M60, and the only other feasible option (because it was in the system as a coax…), which was the M240. There was no “Yeah, let’s see… What do we need a machine gun for the light infantry to be able to do, and what characteristics should it have…”, and no evaluation of anything else on the market. This was the era of the ACR; I can about guarantee you that if those morons had opened this up to a “competition”, it would have wound up looking a lot like the ACR program, and we’d still be using the M60.

        It still floors me that they had nothing even in the pipeline in terms of testing, let alone fielding. To my way of thinking, they should always, always have the next generation of weapons ready to go, designs locked in and on the shelf for whenever it becomes too damn expensive to keep the current set fielded. Weapons are fungible items; they wear out. You know they’re going to, and it is entirely a predictable and knowable thing. You know you’re going to have to periodically re-capitalize the fleet; why the hell don’t you have a system to where the next time the stuff wears past economic use, you already have the next weapon ready to go into service, tested, validated, and with the production machinery already set up and ready to go?

        They should have been doing the work to replace the M60 starting back in the 1970s. By the time it was unavoidable in the 1990s, then they could have had a much better solution ready to go, something light enough to actually hump around in the Hindu Kush on foot.

        Common sense, however? It’s a f*cking super power. It’s also impossible to discern as any component of the procurement process.

      • The Mk48 in 7.62mm Nato was developed at FN Herstal years before its Minimi 5.56mm version. It received the designation Mk48 after it was adopted by segments of US military, prior to it was called Minimi. Its production was held back because MAG58 enjoyed steady clientele. There are some characteristics of Minimi however which makes it less durable and less accurate than MAG 58. Minimi’s receiver in both calibers is pressed sheet with welded-in guides and gussets. It cannot compete in that regard with machined and riveted one.

        • You are mixing the dates here. Design of the Minimi started as a 7.62 but this one never came to the market. It quickly evolved into 5.56 which ended being adopted by the US as the M249.
          Special forces variant came later in 5.56 as the MK46. And upon customer requests, MK48 in 7.62 came next.
          And next FN had gone full circle developping a “conventional forces” Minimi 7.62.

          • That is what I tried so say, perhaps with wrong wording. Basically, the 7.62 version was the first, the 5.56 second.

        • The Mk48 is an LMG, the M240 is a GPMG. The M240 is going to be heavier, as it has to serve as a tripod mounted medium machine gun. If you ditch the GPMG concept you can have an LMG which is light enough to carry and an MMG which is heavy enough to provide automatic fire support. One gun can do both, but if it is heavy enough to be an MMG, as the M240 is, it is too heavy to be a good LMG.

          • I think the PKM and the MG42/3 systems present questions whose answers would tend to refute your thesis, here.

            I’ve got very limited experience with the Mk.48. That said, I don’t think it’s a serious solution to the problems presented by the weight of the M240, mostly because of the fact that the gun’s design is inherently incapable of matching the long-term performance of the PK or the MG42/3 families.

            FN is a great company, but they’re not particularly good at sheet steel designs, at least in the era when they were coming up with the Minimi family. From what I understand, the idea was to develop a Western interpretation of the PK, and I’m here to tell you, they failed. The M249 is an outgrowth of that program, and while it’s a decent little gun when brand-spanking-new, it’s got nowhere the longevity or durability of the PK going for it. It’s a hell of a lot better than the M60, but it’s still not all it could be.

            The PK uses a lot heavier sheet metal than the Minimi series does, and has the additional feature of having that heavier sheet metal effectively wrapped around the trunnion forgings, which is also riveted and welded. A PK is a weapon that you can find still running in some warlord’s arsenal forty years after it was first captured from the Soviets; you ain’t doing that with a Minimi of any flavor. Same-same with the MG42/3 family, although I’ve yet to hear of anyone managing to abuse one to the extent that the PKs routinely withstood in Central Asia and Africa.

            I’d lay out that the real differentiation between “LMG” and “GPMG” isn’t weight, but capability. The “light” in LMG refers to the amount of sustained fire you can expect out of one, not the carry weight of the damn things, which is something I don’t think a lot of people get. A true GPMG is an inherent compromise, and that means it’s not going to do as well at everything as a true purpose-built weapon for that specific role. The folks at FN weighted the MAG58 design towards the heavier end of the spectrum, and that’s why it’s so damn heavy. I’m actually kind of surprised that they didn’t work up a water-cooled barrel system for it, TBH.

            I don’t think that the solution is to ditch the GPMG concept; it’s too damn useful. What I do think they need to do is recast the design criteria somewhat, and look harder at making the basic weapon more suitable for the LMG role, which is more than doable if you care to do the work.

          • Kirk:

            The MAG is said to weigh in at 26lb, the MG3 at 25lb, so really not much difference there. I think they are both MMGs which can be made to work as LMGs.

            The PKM is a shade under 20lb, so I’d say it works well as an LMG. Can it provide the volume of fire from a tripod as a MAG or MG3? If so, then it looks like the best of all worlds.

            But by and large I would prefer the LMG, or “squad automatic weapon” to be in the 15 to 20lb range. The tripod or vehicle mounted MMG can be as heavy as you like. The idea of a water cooled MAG has now begun to intrigue me!

    • Kirk:

      You must be right, if this MG existed before 1986 it cannot be an M240B. Is there any clue in the length of the flash hider, which seems rather short to me.

      • I think it’s possible that someone bought new M240B barrels to put on this, or did something else. The original M240 flash suppressor was indeed longer, to my eye. The latest M240B ones were similar in size to the ones on the M16, and I’ve no explanation for why they did that… It ain’t like you’re gonna be launching 20mm-tail grenades off of one, or using an M16 or M4 blank adapter.

        The receiver markings are also off for an M240B. All the examples I saw, which were actual new production “B” variants, were marked as such.

    • Can confirm that in actual practice, as soon as we hit the field the cheese grater comes off the barrels and gets stashed in somebody’s kit (to be quickly produced and reapplied in the rare case that someone who a). could identify that something’s missing and b). would object to the gun crews making their lives easier should appear over the parapet of a pit).

    • If your going to go ask someone in charge…ask why we still use any m16 varient. ineffeciant, over length ( it’s the bullpup era and has been for thirty plus years) poorly laid out, etc.
      It’s all money and politics. welcome to capitalism. If the procurement system was for the benefit of the services rather than the pockets of arms dealers we would have adopted the G-11. Look at the historical record. the official reason why NATO didn’t move to 21st century firearms was because the us had several hundreds of billions of unexpanded .223 rounds and fat lobbyists insuring long term orders for .223 ammo, because that’s whatare yns use… Which then feeds back into the excuse that we have to stick with antiquated guns because they fire the rounds we have stockpiled……

      As long as we continue to be capitalists the military will continue to live to serve arms companies. Take the profit motive off of mass destruction and we get a procurement system that works for the military. Until then the soldiers can’texpect to be any better cared for than any customer at Dollar general.

  7. Amen, Kirk. And re: buying the PKM TDP from Poland, we now even have a direct-feed 762NATO version of the PKM made, now replacing the good ole’ PKM in Polish Army, called the UKM2000. Just put the belt in M13 links and squeeze trigger 😉

  8. The famed MAG58 aka M240 is not by any means an optimized weapon. It is a composition of BAR rifle turned upside down supplemented by MG42 feed. They made it happen by means and methods they had to their disposal at the time.

    Barrett Arms demonstrated that the basic gun, while keeping same tilt link operating mechanism, can be made shorter and lighter. https://soldiersystems.net/2015/02/16/barrett-m240lw/

    I am not aware it was adopted into inventory of any army though. Purchasing cost may be an issue. At the end it is still the same old boxy gun; it does not shoot any better or further. Anyone who is serious about adopting new GPMG is better off considering Negev or UKM 2000. So far the overall best universal machine gun is PKM Pecheneg; it does not require changing barrels.

  9. dp, I would disagree about the Pecheneg being “best GPMG”. That barrel swapping thing is ‘effin-ay critical for a sustained-fire role. No spare barrels? No sustained fire.

    Were you to say that the Pecheneg is the best LMG-incapable-of-sustained-fire? I’d have to agree. Anything beyond that, and I’m not in agreeance.

    Hell, to be absolutely honest, I have my doubts about anything other than the MG42/3 family in the really-sustained-fire role. There comes a point in the engagement when you’re unable to get just two barrels to work, and because the MG42/3 family is barrel-agnostic, you can swap in any other barrel from any other gun and have it work. That’s a pretty good thing, when you’re dealing with potential overrun attacks. One of my German WWII gunner informants described his minimal load-out for his MG42 doing sustained fire as being some ungodly number of barrels, like five or six when he could get them, and he’d have one of the ammo bearers staging them through a carefully-planned cooling process to avoid warpage. Some of the engagements he described were straight out of a WWI battle so far as amount of ammo expended. He casually described feeling like 15,000 rounds a day weren’t quite enough…

    I’d think he was BS’ing me, but I have seen historical documentation of ammunition expenditures from historical German units that indicate this wasn’t entirely nuts for an engaged unit on the Eastern Front.

    • According to what I gathered thru my years in armament industry is that the “sustained firing role” is limited by barrel’s ability to produce aimed fire without major bore erosion. We have done a specific tests in that direction and I can tell you it takes a LOT of firing before this takes place. Besides, what is exactly a “sustained fire”? Is it one long burst or frequently interrupted short ones? You were with military, you tell me.

      You will much earlier run out of ammunition load before you wear out barrel. I believe the designers of Pecheneg ran thru this exercise meticulously. But then, everything is an acceptable compromise. In any case, by avoiding to carry spare barrel you provide yourself with larger ammo load per mission. That kind of compromise works for me.

      As for Pecheneg the gun weights 7.8kg empty and one 100rd belt weights 3.4 kg – a telling numbers. With one loaded and one spare belt you are a tad over M240’s weight empty. Two hundred rounds is almost like 7 magazines for rifle; not bad. That is the bottom line.

    • Regarding the experience from Eastern front you received, I completely believe what you say. We travelled shortly after the war thru areas of Slovakia where fights took place. The locals who saw parts of it and survived were unanimous about “ungodly” amount of fire German gunners had to produce to slow down attacking Soviet infantry. In many cases they were out of ammo with guns overheated and wrecked. That is the ultimate test by fire. At that point everything is perishable and debate is becoming meaningless.

      • If what the manufacturer claims about the Pecheng is true, then it doesn’t need a spare barrel, since its single barel does what about three barrels do in a standard MG.
        But let’s say I higly doubt about the claim. The Pecheng is not the first MG with a ribbed barrel and/or forced air cooling, and the gain had always been marginal.

      • Klaus’s hearing was horrible. He’d always had hearing aids from the time he got out of the Soviet prison camps after the war, until the day he died.

        I don’t think the German Army of those years was too concerned about health and safety issues. His stories about the winter months on the Eastern Front were… Epic. I’m really not to sure how the hell he lived through it all, either, except that he managed to get wounded at just the right times to miss a lot of the major disasters. He had (I think…) the equivalent of about six Purple Hearts. I’m not sure how the Germans worked their wound badge system, and the way things had worked out for him, not a lot of the things he went through was reported. Probably to his benefit, once the Soviets got their hands on him during his last hospitalization. If I remember what he told me properly, he was wounded the last time right before Hungary fell, and his buddies got him on what had to have been one of the last trains out to Austria, where they put him back together well enough to go into captivity sometime in late 1945, straight out of the hospital. Soviets kept him until the early 1950s because he was a draftsman/machinist, and they had him doing blueprints, maps, and so forth for the camp system in Siberia. He got lucky and they failed to recognize the security risk inherent to letting him go…

        It did not pay to be a religiously-observant Catholic dissident in Nazi Germany.

        • Yes, I had a feeling that would be the case. I notice that it seems to have been German army doctrine for the assistant gunner to hold the MG on his shoulder whilst the gunner fired standing up. Quite a good system, apart from the guy whose face is 6 inches from the muzzle of a gun firing 20 rounds a second.

          • Yeah, the improvised AA stand wasn’t good for one’s hearing. I shudder to consider how many of those guys wound up with heavy metal poisoning, too…

            As an aside, an acquaintance once warned me that most WWII German ammo was a serious health hazard, so far as the composition of a lot of the propellant gasses. Lots and lots of lead and other heavy metals; he wanted to have such ammo banned from firing at the indoor range, although I’ve got zero idea where the hell it would have been coming from. By the time we were talking about this, most such ammo was purely on the collector’s market.

            Soviet-era ammo has some of the same issues. Or, so he told me. That wasn’t really a “thing”, when we were talking about this, however. I’d love to see the spectrographic data for what comes out the end of Soviet-era weapons when fed period ammo; I’d wager it would turn your hair white with the toxicity. Supposedly, this was part and parcel with the “why” the Germans abandoned the idea of using former East German stocks of ammo and weapons; the stuff was simply too dangerous to the user, by their health and safety standards. Which was why almost all of it wound up demilled in situ at the ammo dumps in the former East Germany.

  10. That somehow Nazi era small arms ammo was somehow more dangerous to the firer than Soviet era small arms ammo seems a bit unusual proposition.

    • Dude had the spectrographic analysis to prove it. He was a bit of a monomaniac on the issue, given that he and his son (both religiously non-smokers, as well…) had had lung cancer that he was convinced was linked to all the surplus ammo he fired off in the 1950s and 1960s.

      The propellant byproducts were horrid, and he felt they were even risky on an outdoor range.

      Same guy was telling me about the risks and hazards of taggants in propellants, back in the day. Supposedly, he was one of the people that raised enough stink about the issue to make that whole idea go away, because of liability risk.

      Do remember that even the Norwegians had problems with their supposedly “environmentally safe” 5.56mm ammo when they adopted the HK 416. I don’t know if that was psychosomatic, or a real thing, but propellant gases are no joke when they’re from the wrong sort of propellant.

      And, again… There were reasons that the Germans ceased issue on their version of the AK-74, relating mostly to the health and safety factor with the ammo. About all they kept were those wonderful (not!) AKM bayonets. There were reasons they moved to the G36 over the alternatives they had.

      Interestingly, I was told by some of the guys on the ACR testing phase that they’d been cautioned about “breathing deeply of the fumes” with the G11, especially when firing from within close quarters. Apparently, the Octal explosive that Dynamit Nobel modified wasn’t actually all that good for you when you breathed in the gases it gave off. Lots and lots of carcinogens. A further rumor was that one of the reasons they failed with the caseless program for the recent developmental trials which resulted in the cased telescopic rounds were that they couldn’t get the formula right on the caseless once they rendered it safe to breathe after firing it…

      Can’t vouch for any of that, but it is what I heard from folks that claimed they knew whereof they spoke. Which is why I label it “rumor”. That said, I’m pretty sure that there isn’t anything really 100% safe when it comes to this crap; I have elevated lead levels from all the years of training I did, last time I looked. Not enough to warrant treatment, but enough to raise an itty-bitty red flag that says “Maybe don’t go shooting in enclosed ranges all that much, any more…?”

      • Kirk,

        That’s interesting. I have never given it any thought, but given Soviet manufacturing processes, why should their ammunition be any safer than an RBMK reactor?

        • Soviets were not always like that. IE Soviet Union banned radium for watch indexes at the end of the ’50s, a decade before western countries, or, when western tecnicians could analyze the most recent Soviet warplanes’ ejection seats, post 1991, they discovered they were safer than their own.
          Both 7.62X54r and the 7.92X57 used a double-base propellant, but there is a lot of other crap added to nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin to control the combustion. It has to be seen who added the worst one.

          • The Soviets had some weird ways of looking at things and prioritizing. Everyone notes the proclivity that Soviet and Russian ammo dumps have for spontaneous combustion, but few ask “Why?”.

            If you talk to Western EOD guys, they hate dealing with Soviet munitions. This is for two major reasons, one being that the Soviets went for ease of production and “cheap” for most of their explosive fillers, which usually leads to the side-effect of “decays readily into less stable compounds” and the second reason being that the Soviets biased their designs towards “functions” rather than “safety”. Case in point: Western 40mm grenades all have complex clockwork fusing that requires them to be fired and spun before the fuse will actuate; Soviet 30mm mostly just has impact fuses that are dead simple and reliable for ignition. Side effect? Don’t be the guy who has one go up the spout with an obstructed bore or be the one out clearing duds. Not that 40mm is any more fun to clear once downrange…

            The other contributory factor for Soviet-style ammo depots going up in massive “bang” events is the insouciant way they handle ammo and store it. The videos coming out of Ukraine with the guys just tipping over the crates to get them out of the rail cars? The casual way they stack everything within handy blast radius, with no attention paid to separating initiators from main charges? Yikes… I’ve watched those videos from the captured Russian stocks, and they flatly just raise my hackles. “Best practices” do not include just stacking all sorts of things together somewhere under cover; you have to separate and mitigate potential blast damage. You see no attempt to do that; it’s like someone put schoolkids in charge of running their ammo supply points.

            I would probably be running around like a mother hen with twenty chicks and a flock of hawks circling overhead, if I were an NCO over there right now. There’s so much in need of correction that it’s not even funny; you want to reach through the screen and start shaking people while yelling at them for their manifest incompetence and unprofessionalism.

            End of the day, that’s going to be the epitaph for the Russian effort in Ukraine: No NCO cadre, no victory; lots and lots of entirely unnecessary casualties. I mean, it’s mind-boggling to observe the overhead views of the positions they’ve constructed, with trash strewn everywhere. Do they not connect “A” with “B”? If you make your positions obvious from the air, with trash and debris scattered all about them, that just draws in the UAV assets with the bomblets… Which leads to death, literally from above.

            Small unit fieldcraft and discipline are two things contributing massively to Russian casualties in this conflict. You almost have to feel pity for them, in that regard. It’s like watching small children sent to war without adult supervision… Where are the NCOs? Oh; that’s right, they don’t have them.

          • @ Kirk
            Yeah. It’s a thing I noticed too. ukrainians trenches are tidy for what’s possible, and Ukrainian soldiers tend to be clean.
            Every place where the Russians sleep looks like a pigsty.
            Without an NCO to keep the men in line, every place conforms to the level of the worst soldier there.
            Now that the Russians are entrenching, wait for trench feet.

          • Dogwalker,

            I venture to predict that you’re going to see some epic stories of failure come out of the withdrawal from Kherson. I shudder to even project what we’ve been seeing of Russian basic military competence on those staging areas for their river-crossing operation, which are now within artillery range of the Ukrainian forces. I think they’re going to be lucky to get even a fraction of their troops on the western bank of the river across; most are going to wind up either dead or captured. This may even be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, in terms of morale and discipline.

            Someone said, back last February, that the invasion was a world-historic moment. I’m coming to suspect that they were right. It’s going to get ugly as Russia and the Russian people begin to realize the depth of their problems with all this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.