Q&A 52: Sam Colt was a Jerk, the NGSW will not be Adopted, and German WW1 Wunderwaffe

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0:00:27 – Stocked pistols as submachine gun substitutes?
Shanghai stocked pistol: https://youtu.be/Lf6S7faQbhg

0:03:20 – Haunted guns?
0:03:58 – Is the NGSW hybrid cartridge case a gimmick?
0:06:23 – My loadout for Desert Brutality 2021 (and Finnish Brutality 2021)
0:08:42 – M60 vs FN MAG
0:11:49 – Why so few 10mm Auto PCCs? Also, 10mm H&K Mk23.
0:14:15 – Best design for an assault rifle in WW1
0:16:37 – Did WW1 accelerate or decelerate small arms development?
0:21:11 – Why no more hammer prices in auction videos?
0:22:23 – Actually trying volley fire with rifles
0:25:13 – Using the same bore diameter for pistol, PDW, SMG, rifle, and SAW
0:27:55 – [in French] Do my videos change the prices of milsurps?
0:30:08 – Gun collecting in 2121 – will modern rifles still be cool?
0:35:28 – Were other countries trying to develop smokeless powder at the same time as France?
0:37:23 – Making .44 Automag form .308 Winchester
0:38:30 – How do NFA sales at auction work in terms of possession and transfer paperwork?
0:41:54 – Garand or SKS?
0:43:26 – How is the LMG project (Lage Max11/15A1) going?
0:46:57 – Was Sam Colt a charlatan?
Colt company history: https://youtu.be/fk_TxE1d9HY

0:48:58 – Why weren’t more top-fed guns made/adopted?
0:52:22 – German “wonder weapons” for the 1919 spring offensives?
0:54:12 – Was the Thompson made in .38 Super?
0:57:37 – Did German miss an opportunity for the Vollmer M38 to be an early Sturmgewehr?
0:59:27 – Are small arms obsolete in an era of hypersonic missiles and cyber warfare?
1:01:12 – How did designers or inventors handle the NFA legalities before 1968?
Hill H15: https://youtu.be/tAZs7GdLreI

1:05:00 – How to donate a collection to a museum
1:10:37 – Advanced Primer Ignition: is it really a thing? (Bloke says no)
Oerlikon: https://youtu.be/6yCxITYzW-0

1:13:09 – LMGs other than the Breda using round-nose ammunition?
1:16:09 – Difference between “carbine” and “light rifle”?


  1. The “heat extraction thru metal cases” had ALWAYS only meant “in respect to caseless ammos”.
    Caseless ammos are ineherently hotter than brass ammos, because the burning powder is in direct contact with the chamber.
    Here’s the opposite. Plastic shields the chamber from the heat of the burning powder MUCH better than brass. Heat remains in gasses (that expand more, that’s why plastic ammos need less powder for the same muzzle speed) and it’s expelled from the barrel with them, because also gasses are very bad at heat transfer.
    Plastic cased ammos actually heat up the weapons MUCH LESS than brass ammos.

    • You know how Niti changes shape? Well assuming you do, does that heat = work in regards, heat exchange. Might not. But if it did, then polymer cases could use that for gas seals “expansion of Nitinol” maybe, and perhaps heat transfer I.e. Hot chamber, heat used to expand niti… Type thing.

      Just a thought, might be erroneous. Was an guestimate “ill-educated guess” he he.

      • Multiple chamber ring delay. Polymer case… Niti does the seal lark via rings, polymer holds the propellent/bits I.e. Niti rings etc; 5 with 5 chamber rings, and said type of polymer works with heat as oppose becoming goo. Well I think it is a good idea anyway, he he. Delay and gas seal & heat transfer; maybe.

        Should make one in a garage somewere legal; Texas or something.

        • Eon stop dying from rona like everyone else and answer is heat from the chamber converted to niti expanding inside, via work or something. Heat. Yes I know it’s hot, outside. Heat exchange… Confusing my mind with such things, he he.

          “Hope you are well obviously” Clearly 🙂 (I don’t know the answer to me. He he.)

  2. 5.7x28mm & 5.45x18mm both solve the pistol/rifle production bbl issue rather neatly, albeit both pistol bullets will be spinning faster than necessary. 7.5 BRNO could be fired out of blem machine gun bbls, though I can’t see any adoption of it for a general issue pistol cartridge.

    • I think barrel commonality – especially given the fact that not just chambers (and twists as you and Ian noted), but also contours are completely different – is a false economy. It’s also FAR down the list of military procurement challenges in 2021.

      That said, I’ve often thought it would have been fascinating if, when the Soviets decided to downsize, they had necked 7.62Tok down to 5.45 (.22TCM on steroids!) instead of changing to 9Mak. A lot of subsequent decisions might have been different.

    • I don’t see stabilizing the pistol or PDW at 50 yards as being “that” important, other than keeping armor penetration capability, so maybe 5.56X45 and 5.7×28 would allow for cutting down flawed barrels. Yeah, I know….that sucks.
      Besides, today, with the extremely low rejection rates of modern industrial work, as Ian said, it’s not really a beneficial idea.

  3. “(…)German “wonder weapons” for the 1919 spring offensives?(…)”
    Also, they were developing monstrous tank http://landships.info/landships/tank_articles.html?load=/landships/tank_articles/K_Wagen.html
    which was supposed to weight 120, but knowing reality it would end above that, c.f. with French 2C
    and also inter-continental bomber https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mannesmann-Poll-Dreidecker

    “(…)LMGs other than the Breda using round-nose ammunition?(…)”
    Sweden also used round-nosed bullets in Kg m/21
    as Spitzer bullet for 6,5 x 55 was introduced skarp patron m/94 prickskytte m/41 firstly for sniper use then common.

    Greece used Hotchkiss LMG for 6.5mm Mannlicher-Schoenauer
    thus making it another LMG using round-nosed bullets

    • “0:14:15 – Best design for an assault rifle in WW1”

      Ian’s answer to this one avoids reference to video games that create the impression that assault rifles were maybe, possibly on the horizon in WWI… SMGs were simpler, as Ian noted, due to pistol caliber cartridges and all that, as well as simpler blowback operating mechanisms… The actual, really existing closest thing to an assault rifle in WWI was the unloved and unlovely, gawd-awful CSRG Mle. 1915 Fusil mitrailleur, aka. Chauchat. Produced in an automobile and bicycle factory with no previous firearm manufacturing experience, using simplified construction, but utterly hampered by retention of the 8x50mmR Lebel cartridge and the crummy magazines designed for it… Fully a quarter of a million produced and fielded. It was a wonky, terrible weapon of course, but its all they had. At first there was a two-man crew, then later three, and by the end of the war, six! This led to LMG development postwar, as again Ian noted: The French left WWI with a need for an LMG that led to adoption of the Browning Automatic Rifle with top-feed 25-rd. magazine in the FM 1924/29!
      It is supposed that France acquired a few thousand blowback-operated Winchester Model 1907 self-loading rifles in .351 SL caliber. This, in turn, served to be the basis for a blowback operated select-fire weapon designed by Ribeyrolles using the .351 parent case, but necked to the “Balle D” 198gr. 9mm bullet. The French army didn’t know what to do with a 14 lb. weapon with only a maximum range of 400 meters… Too heavy to be an individual weapon, to short-ranged to be a crew-served weapon like the Chauchat… And like the British, the French army experimented with SMGs but didn’t really take to them until the eve of WWII.

      In the USSR in the 1930s, a student/acolyte of Federov’s urged against adoption of a pistol-caliber SMG in favor of a 6.5mm Avtomat… If not Fedorov’s 6.5x50mmSR version, perhaps something similar using .25 Remington, since the “ideal caliber” already existed, or at least “good enough for” the erstwhile workers and peasants state…
      A 117-gr. bullet at 2100+fps or 100-gr. at 2330fps…

      “0:16:37 – Did WW1 accelerate or decelerate small arms development?”

      This was an interesting question… And a great answer too… I think the French, Germans, and British left WWI with a sense that individual weapons were not that important in the greater scheme of things? The UK apparently had ambitions of 100k self-loading rifles, but basically spent the interwar years working on keeping tanks in budget, air defenses, strategic bombing and much self-delusion about it as a labor-saving, war-winning weapon, aircraft designs, but as far as infantry weapons went: A squad based around an LMG, retaining the bolt-action rifle, even if made more industrially efficient? Most “squaddies” in the “section” carried more ammo for the Bren LMG of the late 1930s than their own service rifle, no? Germany looked into tanks and mobility and so on, but as far as squad armament went, held out for a GPMG with a bunch of ammo and spare barrel porters, no? As for the French, they seemed to look to an improved LMG, and a series of within-budget two-person tank designs, and the ouvrages of the Maginot system… A “super trench” that would allow for fewer troops to do more defensive work than the costly meatgrinder that chewed up an entire generation. It would block attack, permitting the two-person tanks to go deliver a knockout blow through Belgium of their own… As far as infantry weapons, I guess France couldn’t fail but note that they had the most-dated rifle in WWI, and got through the war with improvisations like the Berthier 07/15… So small wonder they fielded no fewer than seven different rifle designs in two calibers in June 1940?

      “0:41:54 – Garand or SKS?” I own both. Shoot both. Enjoy both. If I’m equipping an actual fighting force? How about an SKS carbine but with Garand-type sights? So at the rear of the SKS receiver there’s a metal block with aperture sights mounted. Instead of taking the receiver cover off by unlatching it and sliding it off, it gets pushed forward against the mainspring tension until a dovetailed unit clears, and then gets moved upward and back to remove it… 10-round “any-side up” charger/stripper clip fixed magazine, lots more ammo carried vs. 8 round en block clip. Make the M1 Garand a .276 Pedersen 10-shot version, with plenty of ammo, and that might be the tie breaker of sorts?

      “0:52:22 – German “wonder weapons” for the 1919 spring offensives?” Oh yes. In addition to the Daweo-mentioned monster landship tank or K-Tank, there were over 500 copies of the British “medium” Whippet tank under construction, the Leichte-Kampfwagen or LK:

      Some were secretly transferred to Sweden before/after Versailles to become the m/21. Some had machine guns, others the same 57mm gun as the crazy A7V crawling pillbox…
      Imagine: Junkers had an all-metal fuselage ground attack plane ready, protected by parasol-wing monoplanes… But by then the war was lost. When the German army sustained defeat on the Western Front in WWI, there were actually discussions about arming everyone and creating a “levee-en-masse” but the idea was rejected because handing out weapons to the rabble would only further revolutionize the nation, with sailors revolting at Wilhelmshaven and Kiel, the Ruhr, Berlin, etc. So the idea was quashed. Fast forward to WWII, and they did attempt a Nazi-party militia, the Volkssturm, except I suppose there were few weapons to be doled out, and the war was clearly lost… Still, I expect far more resisted the Soviets versus the western Allies, unless the SS was on scene to ensure the proper levels of suicidal commitment.

      “0:57:37 – Did German miss an opportunity for the Vollmer M38 to be an early Sturmgewehr?”

      Yes. The 7.75x40mm Geco M.35 cartridge. There was a Soren Hansen Bang-type selbstladegewehr 29, and then the Vollmer M.35. Ian pretty much nailed it, I think… Everything I’ve seen or read is that it was complicated and expensive to manufacture. Truly strangely, is that it actually looked a lot like the Kar98k and so too did the Hugo Schmeisser Maschinenkarabiner 36.III, which is just a 9mm SMG dressed up like a Kar98k… Odd.

      • On WW1 “assault rifle”, you appear to have omitted the original M1918 BAR. It’s what an assault rifle would be if it had to be in 30-06.

        • Perhaps so. It first saw action in September 1918, and the war ended less than two months later. Certainly I’ve read an account of a wounded U.S. lieutenant ruefully noting that after 11 Nov. while still in France, his unit had their Chauchat automatic rifles finally replaced by Browning’s design. Went on to be the automatic rifle of WWII and Korea of course. So “honorable mention” for WWI?

        • What about it? Apparently not too many made, and used in the Russian Civil War… Some appeared a time or two in Soviet campaigns like the Soviet-Finnish “Winter War/ Talvisota.” As I said, an acolyte of Federov’s was apparently opposed to wasting development time and resources on pistol-caliber blowback submachine guns, and thought an “avtomat” built around neither Federov’s ambitious prototype 6.5mm cartridge nor the 6.5x50mmSR cartridge, but the .25 Remington would be a reasonable course… One other course not taken.

          How many Federov Avtomats did Russia manage to field before her armies collapsed and mutinied in WWI, versus, say, the Chauchat’s use by the French and U.S. armies in WWI, hmmm?

          • “What about it?(…)”
            Fyodorov’s Automatons were used during WW1, according to http://zonwar.ru/avtomat/Automat_Fedorova.html
            …В 1916 году эта винтовка, первая из русских автоматических, получила боевое применение. Она была названа автоматом и введена для частичного вооружения армии, по 4 единицы на взвод…
            that is
            …In 1916 year this rifle, first from Russian automatic, got combat usage. She was called automaton and it was planned to provide 4 examples per platoon

          • “planned…” How many? After the Russian Civil War, the decision was taken to stick with the rimmed Russian 7.62mm cartridge with spitzer bullet adopted in 1908. 6.5mm firearm development was shelved. The only photo from the posted site shows Soviet troops in the 1939-1940 Soviet-Finnish War. The CSRG Mle. 1915 Chauchat is a dead end, but leads to LMG development being prioritized by the French, and certainly the U.S. followed suit with its BAR as an automatic rifle. What happens to Fëderov’s Avtomat? Did it lead to successor weapons? Or did it remain as something of an odd curiosity to be extolled as the “firstest ever prototype” of a weapon that is now ubiquitous, but at the time played little role in development, I wonder?

          • “(…)Did it lead to successor weapons(…)”
            Fyodorov Avtomat spawned other production weapon – namely Fyodorov-Ivanov tank machine gun in Shpagin ball mount, installed in T-18 (early) tank, see 1st photo from top: http://forum.guns.ru/forum/36/73410.html
            Also many various other machine guns were developed, see photos: http://www.airwar.ru/weapon/guns/65fedorov.html
            They did not went into wide usage, but I suspect concept of similar weapons for different roles influenced V. G. Degtyaryov who developed DP (infantry), DA (aviation), DT (tank) machine gun having many in common

  4. Ian’s 10mm response is surprising, following so soon on after his first response.

    Everything is a tradeoff until it isn’t. Pistols trade away a whole lot of capability in exchange for concealability. For people who need not (uniformed police, home defenders) or cannot (military) conceal, if NFA is not a factor, a compact 10mm PDW is superior to a conventional handgun in basically every other respect. Why reject A because it lacks commonality with B, the inferior product it replaced?

    WW1? Not really an “assault rifle” per se, but – given that MGs effectively filled the long-range fires role – I think most grunts would have been better off with Winchester’s early semiauto rifles than either bolt guns or SMGs.

    • I love 10 mm, I have two pistols and a carbine, but in terms of military use…it’s too much. Too much money, too much weight, and too much politics, for what is really less than a 1% need, much less a desire.
      A 10 mm subgun makes some sense in the day of good recoil compensation, but supply chains say that’s still not a good solution, when the M4 is doing that job pretty well already.

      • AL JOLE,
        I agree with you about the M4, and wasn’t talking about replacing it. I was referring to the many troops (and others) who for various reasons (cramped vehicle interiors, complex or physically demanding work, etc., today receive pistols as primary / only weapons, and would be much better off with PDWs. Between bureaucratic inertia, NATO standardization, etc. I admit that’s unlikely to happen for the military, though.

      • Any decent SMG allows you to fire short, controlled bursts, and the number of stopping-power problems that can’t be solved by a “triple-tap” of 9mm is extremely small.

        And most people and institutions that use carbines/SMGs/whatever, will have at least some use for concealed and/or holster guns. So you’re looking for the set of people who can’t use full auto, have no use for pistols, care greatly about stopping power, and don’t care about ammunition cost. That’s probably not enough of a market to justify developing a new firearm to production status.

        • Full auto use by rank and file police is extremely rare, costly and a paperwork hassle even for them (practically impossible for private citizens – certainly for anything new), and likely to become increasingly rare amid the constant barrage of excessive-force claims and protests.

          Some police will always need concealable pistols, true, but (until VERY recently – still true for .40/.45) very few 9mm pistols were compact enough for most people to conceal consistently, so departments are likely used to dual-caliber (.38 or .380 for detectives) situations already.

          Ammunition cost? Most outside SWAT likely expend a box or two a year ($10-15 difference). Based on my limited experience in military personnel planning, I’d estimate most departments’ personnel expenditure (not what the officer sees) at close to $100K / person.

          • You seem to be suggesting that the policeman’s holstered-but-not-concealed pistol is going to go away and be replaced by a pistol-caliber carbine or SMG. That is unrealistic. Policeman need a lethal weapon that won’t get in the way of the 99.9% of their job that doesn’t involve shooting people, and they need a one-handed weapon because even when they have a weapon in hand, they’re still usually doing something that doesn’t involve winning gunfights and does require a free hand. Slung carbines/PDWs/whatever do not meet that requirement, and the pistols aren’t going away.

            Also, the person who expends a box or two of ammunition a year, is the person for whom “meh, it’s a gun and about the right sort of gun” is enough. The sort of person who actually cares enough about the difference between 9mm and 10mm to demand the latter, is going to be a high-volume shooter. And at the agency level, anyone who cares enough to insist on the Very Best Gun for the ranks, is going to care even more about training and they’re not going to handicap themselves in that fight by locking in expensive training ammo that the bean-counters will be looking for an excuse to limit.

          • “Policeman need a lethal weapon that won’t get in the way of the 99.9% of their job that doesn’t involve shooting people”
            Agreed. This is precisely the purpose of a PDW (which, admittedly, some “PDWs” don’t do all that well). The military troop classes for whom PDWs are designed generally spend more time performing detailed and/or strenuous manual tasks than police.
            “they need a one-handed weapon because even when they have a weapon in hand, they’re still usually doing something that doesn’t involve winning gunfights and does require a free hand”
            Agreed again, and in those cases a “one hand and a shoulder” grip is going to be more steady and comfortable than a “one hand” grip.

            As regards your last paragraph, the person making acquisition decisions isn’t necessarily the person making training decisions (and again, the cost difference in context is insignificant, even if you multiply it a few times). It isn’t the “meh” patrolman-recruit either. OTOH, while he may (or may not, depending on departmental policies, neighborhoods, etc.) be less likely to get in a gunfight than SWAT, once he does he is more likely to lose and be shot, miss and incur a lawsuit, etc.

            I realize the majority of my arguments are in support of a shoulderable weapon rather than a particular caliber choice. The side-benefit of 10mm (getting back to your point about logistics commonality) is that replacing conventional pistols with compact PDWs could also replace shotguns and the majority of rifles for a department with an urban or wooded jurisdiction.

    • If you mean the old Winchester blowbacks – the 1905, 1907, and 1910 – they’re hardly soldier friendly, especially when it comes down to charging, clearing, and chamber inspection. A convenient charging handle would go far towards alleviating those shortcomings, but the patent covering a convenient charging handle is exactly why those guns exist.

      • I did, and you raise a good point.

        On the other hand, the military was better at IP management back then, without being hamstrung by today’s “all or nothing” / “package deal” policies.

  5. In regard to the M60…I carried one, back before they were worn out, beat up and the internet decided they sucked. They didn’t suck. They were generally excellent weapons, that provided something the US didn’t have, and did it for a few decades. Used on foot, in helicopters, on perimeters….they got the job done, no matter what the younger generation thinks about them. Gunner up wasn’t just a meme…

    • Al, with all due respect… The M60 sucked, period. It was never a “good” weapon, in terms of “machine gun”, when looked at as a system. About all it really did was manage to suck slightly less than the M1919A6.

      I presume your experience is of Vietnam War vintage. The thing that a lot of your peers never saw was the Herculean efforts it took to keep that system working, or what it cost in terms of logistics support. The M60’s primary flaw was that it was not an affordable weapon, in terms of system cost. You had to replace those flimsy composite receivers so often that (per the personal testimony of a Vietnam War-era Small Arms Repair warrant officer that was there…) you rarely saw the same gun go out even on consecutive missions, and they had to keep a continual float of operational guns available to send out with resupply. They were that fragile–10,000 round lifespans are not things of malign myth–They happened. I personally witnessed a 1968-vintage M60 taken out of POMCUS, issued to myself, taken on one field exercise where we put around 10,000 rounds through it due to my company having to provide weapons for the entire battalion’s M60 qualification. I unwrapped that weapon out of the vapor barrier prior to the exercise, and I cleaned it right before it went to 3rd Shop for repair (loosened receiver rivets) where it was coded out.

      All of you guys who laud the things experienced them when the Army was spending big money to keep them going, and could not afford to admit they’d bought a lemon. Once Vietnam ended, the money taps were turned off, and they quit replacing the receivers when they wore out, along with the rest of the parts. Because of that, they had a well-earned reputation with my generation (late Cold War) as unreliable pieces of shiite. If the Army had not fudged the readiness reporting system by taking the 7.62 machine guns out of the reports for ground units, nobody would have achieved a passable rating throughout most of the 1980s, even with all the money we had then. They literally raped the ground units to keep the aviation guys operable, because they were still reportable. There were entire years during the late 1980s and early 1990s where we never had more than one or two guns that weren’t deadlined and out of action in every company. That’s how bad it was, and that’s directly relatable to what an utter POS the M60 was in terms of design.

      Which is something you guys out on the pointy end of things during its early days never, ever saw. If we’d gone to war during most of the time I was down at that level, we’d have been doing it without 7.62 machineguns for the most part.

      That’s why I hate that system. It sucks up money and maintenance time, for little to no reward. It’s a stone bitch to train gunners on, because you spend more time teaching them all the things you can do wrong in reassembly than you do teaching them how to be effective machinegunners–Which is another way entirely that that system sucks. The fact that they had to issue aircraft safety wire pliers, and required the armorers to have to lace the gas systems to keep them from falling off the weapon in routine operations? The multitude of ways you could put the damn thing together wrong, and still have what would look to a tyro like an operational weapon…?

      The M60 had “good bones”, in that it was based on several very successful weapons. It should have worked; it should have been an excellent weapon. However, it signally failed on that count, and about the only reason most guys of your era think it didn’t is precisely because the only thing you had to compare it to was the M1919A6. Any of us who came up in the 1980s and experienced other weapons like the MG3, the L7, or the MAG-58…? We knew better, because we’d seen other weapons in that class. We’d also come through the era when the Army quit spending the money to keep that thing running, and had decided to simply pencil-whip the issue by making a deadlined M60 non-reportable for readiness outside of the aviation community. We came by our opinions honestly, and I would strongly submit that yours is based on an incomplete picture of the reality of things.

      My source of the maintenance information from Vietnam was a WO4 who’d been there as an enlisted guy and as a WO1 and WO2. He recalled being sent to Tan Son Nhut AFB to personally pick up pallet loads of critically needed M60 parts and brand-new weapons in order to keep the ones out in the field operable, and it was a narrowly-run thing that the M60 didn’t wind up being investigated just like the M16 by the Ichord Committee. It was his opinion that it should have been, and that the people responsible for its adoption should have been burnt at the stake. You did not want to hear his other opinions on the M73/219 or the M85; if you got him going, paint blistered on everything within 50 meters.

      • If you were running the show, how would you test a machine gun design to ensure it was idiot-proof?

        • By the time you get to testing, it’s already too late. Many of the features about the M60 that piss me off are things that should have never gotten off the damn drawing boards, let alone into the field.

          Idiocies like parts that can be installed backwards? That’s simply lazy design. The other stuff, like the discovery that the threaded parts of the gas system like to come undone when the weapon is fired? That should have resulted in a return to the designers, with the simple instruction “Do better”. Instead, they decided to “solve” the problem via the simple expedient of issuing out aviation safety wire and the special twirly-pliers to install it to every company armorer, while forbidding the users from disassembling the gas system… Oh, and as a really schizoid move, if you wanted to clean the gas port as a gunner, you were issued a combination wrench with the gas-port reamer on it, but no means of reattaching the safety wire to keep it from coming off after you availed yourself of that particular feature…

          I’m here to tell you that there are better ways to go about designing and fielding a weapon, and that if you want a case study for “How not to do that…”, then you go look at the M60 and its design history. They copied features from the MG42 and the FG42 that they somehow “simplified” into dysfunction, creating issues that had never been seen with those weapons, and occasionally repeated some of the things that the Germans had had to correct in the course of their development. It’s like they did everything in a state of epic half-assery…

          I’m not even sure you can name the “one guy” responsible for the M60; unlike the MAG-58, which is clearly the work product of Ernest Vervier.

          And, despite the insistence of multiple internet sources…? I have never been able to find anywhere that comparative competitive testing was performed on the M60 and the MAG-58 prior to the coaxial MG competition in the 1970s that resulted in the adoption of the M240. Anyone can point me at anything that describes what these sources allude to, I’d appreciate it. So far as I know, the only thing that really got tested as a comparison were the various Browning .30 caliber MGs…

          • Well, there you go. You’ve already pointed out the problems that would have been sorted out with a little “aptitude test.” If it is possible for a novice gunner to take the gun apart and put it back together WRONG even without losing any of the individual pieces, or if the design cannot actually perform as intended without requiring post-production “modifications” that should not have been done and instead required a modification to the original blueprints and materials-selection, then the gun in question is a horrible design altogether.

          • One of the really amazing things to me in all of the stuff surrounding the M60 is that the less-than-stellar intellects behind the whole thing were unable to recognize the obvious defects and issues with the design. I mean, for the love of God, the very first time I was presented with that thing, I’m like “Huh…? You can put parts in backwards? WTF?”. How that got past all those highly-educated and experienced people, I’ll never understand.

            Of course, those were the same set of “geniuses” that couldn’t get the M14 production off the ground, and when you compare what that rifle cost compared to the freakin’ Beretta BM-59 along with the amount of time spent on each…?

            We definitely had something in the water, back in the day. And, whatever it was, it produced lousy small arms.

          • Spring button clutches that prevent parts from unscrewing are things that exixted in 19th century bolt actions. The fact that none thought to put one on the M60 made me wonder if the guys that designed it had any previous experience with firearms.
            Not to say of the idea to attach the bipod to the barrel, so that’s impossible to keep the weapon in line during the barrel change (unless it’s on a tripod). A issue that much of the WWII LMGs already solved.

          • “(…)I have never been able to find anywhere that comparative competitive testing was performed on the M60 and the MAG-58 prior to the coaxial MG competition in the 1970s that resulted in the adoption of the M240.(…)”
            May be this be reference to 1957 British trials, where M60 and FN MAG but were not sole contenders?

            The X-11 was entered into British Army trials in 1957, where it competed against the X-16 made at Birmingham Small Arms, the Belgian FN MAG, the American M60, the French AA-52, the Danish Madsen-Saetter and the Swiss SIG MG55. The X-11 proved itself a worthy opponent to the FN MAG, but the MAG was ultimately victorious…

          • @Dogwalker,

            The other really egregious thing with regards to the M60 was the fact that while they brilliantly designed a quick-change barrel that was made of Stellite, and which was by itself a triumph of manufacturing design, the idiots set it up such that the sights on each barrel were fixed, totally non-adjustable. So, that meant that a.) each barrel had to have its own separate zero, and while those could sometimes be fairly close, they could also be wildly different, and b.) you had to remember what the flippin’ settings were for each one. Did I mention that the way you zero the rear sight for elevation was by loosening a screw and moving a cute little flimsy-ass aluminum numbered thingy? That quite often deformed?

            A lot of the time, you zeroed one barrel for precision work, and then just did wild-ass Kentucky windage on the other one. And, since you had to headspace each barrel to each bolt, and could not casually swap them between weapons? Yeah; you were screwed.

            The Germans did it a hell of a lot smarter with the MG42 and MG3. I’m told that the barrels were all headspaced the same, such that every barrel worked in every gun, army-wide. This means that you could, in confidence, use any barrel you ran across. Some German units carried as many as a half-dozen spare barrels per gun, and were able to maintain fire with them to the point where you’d think you were getting shot at by somebody with a Maxim or Vickers water-cooled weapon.

            The people who designed the M60? I’m convinced they had never used a machinegun in combat, because if they had…? None of those “features” would have been on the weapon. I mean, WTF? Fixed sights on “quick-change” barrels, that also have permanently attached bipods? And, the rear sight is only windage-adjustable via a little tiny fussy-ass screw, and adjusting a leaf by guess and prayer…?

            Seriously; f**k those assholes. There were so many little issues like that with those guns, and the people that used them and loved them? The only thing I can think is “They never actually knew what the hell they were doing, in terms of anything past basic blasting away with a belt-fed in the general direction of the enemy…”. Swear to God, the few Vietnam vets I’ve talked to that loved that weapon…? You ask ’em about zeroing the sights, and they’ll blithely tell you that they never did any such thing, just fired it. “Oh, you don’t ever use the sights… Not with a machinegun…”.

            Which is why I generally don’t take their affection for the gun with any real credulity. Most of them, when questioned about the details…? They don’t even know what they don’t know about gunnery, period. I’ve met guys that told me that you couldn’t even zero the M60, and that you “don’t ever zero a machinegun…”, let alone worry about the sight settings between barrels. Most of those guys were never properly trained, and never really knew what the hell they were doing in the first place–Which is really embarrassing for all concerned.

          • Just realized I fumble-fingered things… The rear sight adjustment I’m referring to isn’t the windage, it’s the elevation. Windage is adjusted acceptably well via a fairly robust knob, but that fine elevation adjustment…? Yikes. Not only is that fiddly little screw prone to loosening and then allowing your elevation zero to change randomly, it also likes to fall out and… Well, it’s just a lousy design.

            The parts I’m talking about here are in this diagram:


            Specifically, the range plate, and the range plate screw. Zeroing the weapon means you take and fire the weapon at a known distance, and then adjust that plate to match that distance with the setting on the sight. If one of your barrels has a significant difference in height for the fixed front sight, well… Yeah. I think you can see where the problems come in, because unless you’re relatively close or just don’t give a damn, you wind up having to make a couple of tick marks on the sight itself in order to line things up quickly for each of your barrels. Carbide scribers were something you learned to take to the range so you could do that with your barrels, and be able to swap them expeditiously and still have sights that were sorta on for the right range.

            It’s not a huge deal if all you are doing is blasting away at guys that are right up close and personal, but if you’re trying to use your guns to defend a worksite out in open terrain, you kinda need to be able to use the damn sights out at range. Especially if you’re trying to provide cover for your LP/OP guys coming back in before you unass the AO and turn the target over to the scouts or infantry…

            There are a lot of reasons I loathe the M60. This is actually one of the more serious ones, as a gunner. Maintenance? Yeah; stone bitch. Which would have been worth it, if things like this hadn’t also been essentially FUBAR as well.

          • @ Kirk
            Meanwhile, in Soviet Russia.
            “This Is PKM. It’s an upside down AK that fires big bullets.”
            “Perfect! Now vodka. Vodka for everyone!”

      • It says much that MACVSOG guys were sawing the barrels short on captured RPDs as their idea of an SAW. Sometimes you are in places where there are no spare parts coming.

        • I think a lot of that stuff happened due solely to the extremely close terrain and vegetation. As well, probably 90% of the effect they were looking for was purely psychological, because I can’t see anyone hitting a damn thing much past arm’s length with those sawed-off barrels in either the RPD or the M60.

          Of course, when you’re operating in dense triple-canopy where you can literally walk entire companies past each other at under 10 meters, and never notice the other unit was even there…? Yeah; something to be said for what amounts to a hand-held belt-fed Claymore at close quarters. The muzzle blast and flash alone from one of those damn things is enough to make you crap your pants when you’re the guy firing and know when to expect it. I can only imagine what it would be like to be humping along in the misery of the jungle, and then out of nowhere, someone starts blasting away at you with one of those guns. It wouldn’t be doing a hell of a lot for anyone’s morale, that’s for sure.

          I do have to say that a lot of that “off-issue” stuff happens because someone hears a rumor, or has a particularly vicious visit from the “Good Idea Fairy(tm)”, and it never really actually works as well as they think it does. Sure, it’s good for morale, but… Seriously; how on God’s green earth are you going to hit anything with an M60 that’s sawn off to the gas port, and how effective are you actually being with it? Other than damaging everyone’s hearing, that is…

          Few, if any, of those “in-theater” modifications were ever tested and/or validated in any rational way. I still remain dubious about the value of a lot of them, especially the ones where you’re sawing off the friggin’ sights…

        • What is the reliability of sawed off RPD ?

          From what is known and presented, these Delta Force guys in jeans and with other nonstandard equipment, went on single missions that lasted like only a night.
          I suppose that looked cool for some time, but somebody quickly realized its not an effort thats enough to win that damn war.

    • Uh-huh… That must have been WAY back, before it was discovered that the M60 was NOT idiot-proof. What do I mean by idiot-proof? Ask yourself how some relatively new grunt managed to shatter the receiver into a million pieces just by yanking the charging handle back without having loaded an ammunition belt into the breech first. Or how anyone thought a spring-loaded firing pin was necessary in a weapon that never fired from a closed-bolt anyway…

  6. No intermediate cartridges in WW1’s timeframe? There was the Model 8’s cartridges (primarily .35 Remington, and .30 Remington) and (if rimmed cartridges are considered) the much loved .30-30. What could have been done to the Model 8 to make it an effective infantry rifle with the technology of the 1910s is actually a very good question. A spitzer bullet version of one of its cartridges (as it uses a box magazine and doesn’t worry about tubes) is the obvious start.

    • There was nothing to be done with the Model 8. At least at the level of technology at the time.
      These rifles could not withstand the “trench life” and wore out rather quickly before failure.
      In aviation, they live a little longer, but they are also clearly not enough for full-fledged military use.

  7. .38 Super does indeed fit in a Thompson magazine – I just tried it. I don’t think it would be a major undertaking to reform the feed lips and follower to accommodate the smaller cartridge. The problem as I see it would be that .38 Super is semi-rimmed and rimlock is a distinct possibility, as I found when I unloaded the magazine.

  8. Not watched the whole thing. As far as 10mm carbines, Ian, you really need to get hold of an MP5/10. In my limited experience twenty years ago, that thing is a lovely piece of work.

  9. I have to beg to differ with Ian about much of what he says in the “M60 vs. M240” segment.

    For one thing, it was never ever a question of “how did the M60 win the competition between the two weapons”. Such tests were never conducted. The Army developmental line was from the T161 through to the T161E3, and was based on early experiments with applying the MG42 feed system to the FG42.

    So far as I am aware, there were never even any comparative tests done, and there was not a competition between competing designs. Ever. All they looked at was “Is this an improvement on the Browning .30 caliber machineguns?”, and that was it.

    If anyone knows anything different than that, I would appreciate a citation. What I know about the M60 is encapsulated here:


    My opinions on the dubious virtues of the gun are to be seen elsewhere. Copiously.

    The other issues I have with what Ian says in that segment have to do with the precise way in which the transition happened between the SAW and the M60, then the M240. I lived through that process, participated in it, and I’m here to tell you, it wasn’t as neat or clear-cut as the records seem to make it look.

    For one thing, the M60 was never seen as the successor to the BAR. That was supposed to have been the M15, the full-auto version of the M14. Which never made it out of testing… Then, with the adoption of the M16, the initial thinking was “Well, everyone has full-auto, we don’t need that Automatic Rifle role weapon in the fire team…”. Turned out, no, that wasn’t the case–So, what they did was issue a couple of bipods to each squad, and you were supposed to have a guy on each fire team that carried more ammo, had his rifle on the bipod, and kept his selector switch on “full” by default. The M60 was still there, in order to provide the “punch” that the M16 lacked. That was the status quo coming out of Vietnam, and was maintained until the mid-1980s when the M249 started coming on line.

    Initially, the thinking was that the M249 would be able to do the M60’s mission; turned out, not so much. Initially, they issued it as a dual-role weapon: Automatic Rifle and Light Machine Gun. The difference was supposed to be that you’d get a tripod and some other extras in order to fill the LMG role, and that was supposed to supplant the M60 in most Combat Support and Combat Service Support units. Down in the line combat units, they were seriously schizoid about it all–For awhile there, it was “in the line platoons, the M249 is an AR-roled weapon; HHC and Headquarters units, it is an LMG…”.

    This stuff was constantly changing, and then in the mid-1990s, they suffered an epiphany: The 5.56mm MG systems could not do the things that they needed them to actually do, sooooo… All that BS was forgotten, and what concluded out of it all was that the M249 eventually just replaced those M16s-on-full-auto out in the fire teams.

    I’m not sure that there was ever a “one moment” there, where that realization was had. It just kind of… Crept up on us. I’m sure that if you were to go back and interview the guys writing the MTOE documentation, they’d be able to articulate something, but what we saw out on the ground, in the “real Army”? That was it.

    The other thing was, there really was no real “competition” or “field testing” of the M240-in-the-ground-role. It was just snuck in by the Rangers and Marines working in tandem, and the whole thing was shady as hell. For one thing, the Marines pulled a fast one on Congress, telling them that all the guns they wanted from war stocks were “excess” because of all the tanks taken out of service during the so-called “Peace Dividend”, and because of that, the war stocks were still run down to the point where there were no replacement coaxial machineguns in the system when OIF happened–Which the Marines had the temerity to bitch about. The program managers in charge of running that system were not happy campers about that whole deal, and were still bitching about the whole thing years later. From the standpoint of the program managers, the Marines basically got most of their guns for free, by raping the war stocks, and then bitched when there weren’t any available when they were needed during OIF.

    All in all, the whole transition between AR-role M16s, the M249, the M60, and the M240 was a period when even those of us who thought we knew what the hell they were doing were in a state of confusion. I remember having to turn in a bunch of stuff that made our M249s LMG-role weapons one year, then having to go draw it out again when they decided that we really were going to replace the M60 with them, then back yet again. Overall, it was not a well-managed or thought-out process, and what eventually wound up happening was that it was the M249 as a replacement for the AR-role M16s, and the M60/M240 staying right where it was, for the most part.

    The end of the day, the fact is that the dual-caliber solution down at the squad level is what everyone finds themselves defaulting to, no matter what. The various and sundry automatic weapons that they try to shoehorn into the fire support role which are the same caliber as the lighter individual weapon are nice and all, but the mass of firepower that can chew through most cover and is capable of disabling light vehicles is what you absolutely have to have–Which means, 7.62 NATO for most Western countries, and 7.62X54R for everyone else.

    One of the frustrations for all of this discussion, and a reason I can’t blame Ian for not being on top of it all is simply that there’s really no documentation or one-stop books available out there to describe the schizoid nature of the whole thing. I lived through a lot of it, and I’m here to tell you, it was damned hard to tell what was going on from the worms-eye view out in the field. You’d get a new manual, then there’d be an article come out in Infantry magazine that totally blew most of that manual out of the water, and then there were the totally insane and diametrically opposed sets of guidance that you’d get from the STRAC standards, which for a couple of years, bore no relation whatsoever to what was in the friggin’ FM for the weapon in question. I swear to God, you were sometimes making things up on the fly, with regards to readiness reporting for training on these systems, because the standards would say one thing, the manual another, and there’d be a third thing required by the ammunition allocations.

    About all I can say is that it’s a damn good thing that we don’t really rely on the machine gun as much as we used to, because they sure as hell aren’t emphasizing it enough for us to get more than “mediocre” on the things. Something I always found really frustrating, because where I was, we had about zero access to all that lovely fire support that the line infantry had, and we were often out in front of them while doing our jobs. Go figure.

    • Everything is much simpler than simpler.
      During the period under review (from Nam to the SAW program), it was believed that there were enough machine guns.
      There are heavy Browning .50 and .30 caliber.
      There is a GPMG M60, which the USMC and the US Army were quite pleased with.
      There was a coaxial M73.
      All niches are filled.
      If they paid attention to any weaknesses, then it was small. Since the main efforts were directed to the SALVO and SPIW programs.

      The paradox of history.
      Stoner gave the US an undoubtedly advanced M16. But by doing so, he killed the rest of the programs.
      And (possibly) caused irreversible harm to the entire industry.
      Since the closure of programs is not just a note in the military-industrial bulletin.
      This is a sudden cessation of funding, which entails a reduction in the staff involved in these programs.
      Who, disappointed by this plot twist, leave the industry to do something more profitable and less nervous.
      And they never come back.
      You can buy any raw materials and technologies.
      Brains are not.

      And Stoner, in general, is not to blame…

    • Ha! Brutal, but it did make me laugh.

      I’m thinking there may be meds available? Personally, I watch dog zoomie videos when something ticks me off as much as the M60 experiences have you… Good luck and all best!

      • Dude, that’s a solid 15+ years of frustration with that system, built up and never satisfactorily addressed. Back around the time we were turning those abominations in to receive our M240s, if someone had said “Hey, SFC K… Why don’t you take a couple of these out into the woods and beat them to flinders…? It’s on us; have fun!”…

        Well, let’s just say that I might not retain quite as much animosity. You really do not grasp the frustration those things created in anyone who a.) knew what they were about, with regards to machineguns (which I flatter myself by thinking I do…), and b.) gave a f**k. The M60 was one of those things that as soon as you got one working, out of the nine assigned your company, one of the other ones that had been working would crap out in some other delightful fashion. No joke–After months of frustration due to parts not being available, and not being able to persuade the nice people over at 3rd Shop to code a couple of them out, I finally got in my parts to fix two of my deadlined weapons the same day I finally persuaded them to code three more out. I literally drove back from 3rd Shop whistling, only to arrive at the Arms Room and find out that three of the other four guns that had been up were now down due to a variety of other tragicomic causes.

        From about 1986 to around 1997, I don’t think that there was a single month in any of the units where I was assigned that all nine of our assigned M60s were ever fully functional. There was always something, and there were times when we literally had zero weapons available–And, to add insult to injury, when talking to the nice people over at the Logistics Center there at Fort Lewis about what would have happened had we gotten deployment orders, they casually informed me that no, they had no “float” weapons to issue us–Those would have to come once we got to wherever we were going, and we’d better hope that there were some still available in the prepositioned stocks for issue.

        There’s nothing quite like knowing full well that none of your primary firepower was likely to be there, should war come. I spent a lot of those years seriously disturbed by the issue, and since I felt responsible for keeping that stuff up and running wherever I was, well… Yeah. Happiest day of my military career was turning those &)*&@(**&* things in, and drawing our M240s. Do note this, too: The M240s were never, ever down the way the M60s were. You’d be hard pressed to even find serious wear in those weapons after running them twice as hard and firing twice as much ammo as the M60. We went to Iraq in 2003 with M240s we drew circa 1997-ish, and which had spent those six years doing things that generally would have meant coding out a bunch of M60s for wear–Which, typically, was about 3-6 weapons across the battalion fleet over the course of a year. No M240s were ever coded out in that period, and when we returned from Iraq in 2004, the only reason they took our M240s back for depot rebuild was refinishing exterior finish wear: None of our weapons had any appreciable wear that could be found via gauging by the maintenance contractors. I know for a fact that some of those guns were run hard and fast in Iraq, yet none of them showed the slightest signs of wear to their internal parts. I’ve seen L7s that the British Army brought over to train with that had been in continuous service since about 1967 without ever needing rebuilding or even depot-level maintenance, some of which they could document doing at least 5,000-15,000 rounds per year. MAG-58s may be heavy and unwieldly bastards to carry as light infantry, but the damn things have one signal virtue: They keep running.

        M60s? LOL… Those aren’t even tissue-paper weapons, in my experience. They’re more like that cheap-ass single-ply “toilet paper” they include in field rations: Utterly unfit for purpose. By comparison? The M240 is more like a piece of that urethane-impregnated canvas they use for military trucks these days–Again, utterly unfit for purpose as toilet paper, but for totally different reasons. I’m not even sure you could wear one out, in less than a couple of decades of normal peacetime service…

        • Kirk:

          The British were pretty pragmatic about the adoption of small arms, until the SA80 fiasco. We did not seem to suffer the “not invented here” curse. We took the Lee bolt action, the Lewis gun, the Maxim, the Bren. After the .280 stab in the back from America, the FN FAL and MAG were adopted without a problem. America should have done the same, it would have avoided a lot of heartache. But as the Superpower, I expect the idea of adopting foreign designed weapons was just too much to bear.

          • I think the root issue boils down to the arrogance and egos of the people involved on the American side. There was also very little actual cross-fertilization between the guys who’d “been there and done that” and the permanent rotating bureaucracy that ran the things like the Ordnance Branch at the time.

            Fundamentally, I think that the majority of them simply did not experience the reality of war during the periods between the middle of WWI and the post-WWII era. Studler was a bureaucrat in uniform; he was not a combat officer, and he arrogated the decision-making power about “what worked” and what we needed going forward. It wasn’t until those fantasy ideas encountered reality in the Southeast Asian jungles that we reached a point where the utter failure of them became undeniable–Which, instead of humbling themselves and saying “Yeah, that intermediate cartridge idea the British showed us? We were wrong, we shoulda gone with that…”, and then backtracking and adopting the .280, the assholes chose to act like they’d been right all along, and that high-risk SCHV thing that had been hanging about the periphery since God alone knows when…? Well, certainly… That’s the way to go, and we’ll never have to admit we were wrong.

            Of course, they also had their other fantasy-idea going on at the time, the nascent SPIW-which-eventually-became-the-OICW, which I think they actually used as their excuse to munge up the fielding and adoption of the “interim” M16. Which is now the longest-serving US individual weapon in the history of the friggin’ country, something I find highly ironic due to the essentially accidental nature of its meandering path to being type-standardized.

            If there’s anything that proves that God looks out for fools, drunkards, and the US Army, that would be the whole “How we got the M16” saga. There is no rational way that we should have gotten what is arguably one of the most influential and effective small arms in the history of this planet out of that cluster-f**k of a developmental history, and yet… Here we are.

  10. Read the book REVOLVER, by Jim Rasenberger for the full skinny of Sam Colt. His ego often got the best of him, but he helped promote The American System of Manufacturing before Ford.

    • Yes, Sam Colt was a showman, which was sort of SOP for entrepreneurs back then. But he also was a good businessman.

      Read Civil War Guns by William B. Edwards (Stackpole, 1962);


      Colt manufactured the Colt Special Model 1862 .58 rifle musket for about half what an 1861 Springfield cost the government. How? By essentially designing a “product improved” 1853 Enfield, which as Edwards points out at one stroke gave him the ability to get all the springs he would need from the job-shop makers in Birmingham, England. And springs are the single most critical component group of a weapon like that.

      He also created innovations in tactics with the Colt revolving rifle. (BTW, the story about multiple discharges is largely a myth; those that happened were the result of improper, DNRTFM loading.)

      Again referring to Edwards, the unit of militia which Colt raised and which was properly trained in the use of those rifles introduced the concept of assaulting by a combination of fire and movement; half the unit moved while the other half provided covering fire, and the men in movement could also fire effectively.

      They were the world’s first true assault infantry since the time of the Roman legions, and were in a very real sense the first “storm troopers” in any army, a concept that would resurface fifty years later in Flanders.

      The same tactics were used with brutal effectiveness by Berdan’s Sharpshooters, who were originally equipped with the Colt revolving rifles at Col. Berdan’s specific request. Berdan understood that concentrated firepower was what was needed on the then-modern battlefield, and prior to the advent of the Spencer and Henry repeating rifles the Colt rifle was the only type that could deliver it.

      The Sharpshooters would repeatedly demonstrate just what that sort of firepower could do to much larger enemy units they subjected to it, notably at Chickamauga.

      Throughout the war, for every Sharpshooter with a muzzle-loading, highly-accurate scoped target rifle, there were ten armed with Colt revolving rifles, Sharps breechloaders, or a mix of both, in each squad. They provided the base of fire to protect the sniper while he went about the business of killing officers, senior noncoms, and in one case anybody fool enough to try to load a certain howitzer.

      Sam Colt probably should be remembered more for his work with rifles than with pistols. He and Elisha K. Root knew how to design both, but Colt seemed to have an innate feel for the way rifles should be used in combat.



      • @eon, respectfully. Berdan’s Sharpshooters requested Sharps rifles. Single-shot, combustible cartridge breech-loading rifles. My understanding is that while these were being privately purchased by Connecticut and other states, General Ripley of Ordnance determined that it would severely crimp the supply of Sharps carbines to cavalry units, which had priority for breech-loaders. With no Sharps rifles forthcoming, the USSS of Berdan received the Colt-Root 1855 revolver rifles instead. They were not happy about this. Eventually, they got their Sharps rifles.

        The battlefield exploits at Chickamauga you mention, performed with the unloved Colt Root Model 1855 revolver rifles was the 21st Ohio Infantry:

        These troops punched well above their weight and used these arms very effectively indeed. Eventually, however, they ran out of the combustible cartridges for the weapons, and were overwhelmed and mostly captured. They did demonstrate the value of a repeating rifle, certainly. U.S. Ordnance for one did not notice… Single-shot rifles were the order of the day until the Krag’s adoption in the 1890s.

        As for Sam Colt being a self-promoter with elastic moral compass, probably all true… For a real s.o.b., look no further than Hiram Maxim. What a cad!

      • A bit off-topic, but what did you mean by Colt’s militia being the first true assault infantry since the time of the Roman legions? Specifically, I don’t understand the reference to the Roman infantry, which was very good at holding the line and wearing down enemy attacks, but was not particularly excellent at attacking. Less so in any case than the Greek phalanx, which was an almost purely offensive formation designed to “cut through” enemy infantry.

        • Interesting perspective. I think of the legions as more maneuverable, flexible, and adaptable than the phalanx (basically, a palisade with legs). Phalanx battles were usually indecisive and low-casualty shoving matches unless one broke and fled.

          In terms of results, while the phalanx-forged empire was of equal or greater extent as the legionary one, it was the product of a handful of battles (some decided by cavalry or siege), mostly against one major opponent uniquely suited to lose battles to phalanxes. Roman frontiers advanced through hundreds of battles over the course of centuries.

          • Yes, absolutely the legion was more flexible than the phalanx, but it still, in my opinion, was not assault infantry, that is infantry which excelled in assaulting enemy formations. I also agree that a palisade with legs is a good way of describing the legion: it was able to maneuver more freely than the phalanx, which usually moved only to one direction. Perhaps I’m wrong, but my understanding is that the greatest strength of the legion was still its ability to receive enemy attacks and wear the enemy down in futile attempts to try and break the formation.

            Of course if the enemy refused to attack, the legion would have to, and it certainly could attack; I am not claiming that the legion was a purely defensive formation, but only that it wasn’t specialized assault infantry.

          • Euroweasel,
            Sorry if I was unclear, but when I began a sentence writing about the legion and finished with “phalanx (basically a palisade with legs)” I intended the parenthetical modifier for the latter formation. The Phalanx was a line of very long pointy things that held cavalry at bay or (as you said) mostly moved in one direction.

            The legion threw most of their (shorter) spears to soften up enemy formations before charging in between pikes to stab opponents up-close and personal. That to me makes them more offensive in nature.

        • Hmm. Excuse the diversion back to antiquity, but I had it the other way around? I mean the heavy infantry Greek phalanx would crash into another like body of hoplites, the whole thing would be a massive rugby scrum but with bronze armor and weapons and stabbing spears, and when one or another side lost their footing or gave way, or lost some of the file leaders, the other side would break up their opponents formation and stab them to death as they tried to flee or reform … It was the Roman maniple that had greater tactical flexibility. By the time the Romans took on Hellenistic polities, the latter had adopted the sarissa, the longest and largest pike ever, in a sort of “super-phalanx.” On rough ground, gaps and fissures appeared in the wall of pikes and shields, and the Romans, wearing at the time armor and weapons largely copied from the Celts, but with some local innovations like the javelin or pilum, albeit not fully developed, made their way into the gaps and hacked apart the pikemen at contact distance with swords.

          The Spanish tercios of the late Renaissance era were copies of what Iberians thought the Romans fought like, and similarly used a combination of sword and rodela-armed fighting men as well as pikes and so on…

          As far as the Colt Root revolver rifle goes, it was used by some Civil War units, but never very many. Even a group of black USCT cavalry from Mississippi, I believe. But the fighting at Chickamauga where the Colt was used most effectively was by Ohio volunteers, not the Berdan sharpshooters.

        • Nor the Oplite phalanx nor the Macedonian phalanx were designed to cut through anything. The first and only Greek infantry formation designed to cut trough something had been the short-lived Teban oblique phalanx.
          On the other side, there had been hundreds of battles won by the legion alone. The legion didn’t need the cavalry to complete the job, it only needed it to keep the enemy one at bay.

  11. Garand vs. SKS: Wouldn’t the deciding factor, given that the question explicitly involved equipping an *army*, be the quality of the associated same-caliber squad automatic weapons? I’m with Ian that, past a certain level of training, a dozen men with M-1s beats a dozen men with SKSs. But ten M-1s and a BAR, vs ten SKSs and an RPD, and I’m probably going to bet on Team 7.62×39.

    • The Simonov 1941 self-loading rifle was developed to replace the SVT, as it is less laborious, more reliable and with better accuracy.
      It turned out to reduce the cost and improve the accuracy, but the reliability turned out to be a complete ass.
      At the same time, the SVS (with its own from 4,5 to 100% of delays) turned out to be even better than the other systems and even got into military trials, which took place only in 1944.
      The verdict of the army and the training ground was unambiguous: “Overall not bad. Make it the same, but working. Otherwise, throw it away.” 😉
      Since the M43 cartridge had already appeared by that time, the rifle was altered and renamed into a carbine.
      Thanks to the reduced load, reliability has improved, although the AK47 (as well as the M1) is far from it.
      But this became clear later.
      At that time, AK47 did not yet exist, and when it appeared there were VERY big doubts that the industry would master it at all. Therefore, AK47 and SKS45 were produced in parallel. And they even managed to make a couple of million, when by the end of the 1950s it finally became clear that there was no point in such a carbine.
      Officially, they did not remove it from service, but simply shoved it into the “auxiliary” units. So, SKS’s career in the Red Army ended.
      And at the same time, it began with all sorts of partisans, to whom these carbines were either presented or sold at the price of scrap metal.

      • It may be that sks was produced alongside milled AK because, at least that seems to me, milling sks receiver from billet is less work than AK (or at least being somewhat equal). In other words, if making sks was more expensive then making AK, they would not bother with it. Later, with AKM, situation drasticly changed…

        • The SKS was produced in parallel with the AK47 because nothing worthwhile came out with the stamped AK47 receiver until 1959, when the AKM appeared.
          The milled receiver AK47 was not only laborious, there were a lot of defects.
          If I am not mistaken, for the entire production period of this model, the plant has never fulfilled the monthly production plan.
          The received AKMs were used to equip units of the first stage.
          All the rest were content with SKS and other rubbish.
          For example, Mosin rifles, even before the end of the 70s, were found in bear corners like Kamchatka, etc.

          What was shown (and shown) at the parades reflects “as they would like”, but not “as it is.”
          And so in everything, starting with aircraft with tail numbers, which after each departure were replaced with new ones (to exaggerate their actual number) and ending with tanks, on which non-main booking was made of ordinary steel, since there was simply not enough armor steel.

          When Hitler pronounced “giant with feet of clay,” he knew very well what he was talking about.

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