RIA: Semiauto FAMAS

The French FAMAS was one of the first bullpup rifles to be adopted and built in large numbers by a military power. It was adopted by France in 1978 at right about the same time as the Steyr AUG was being adopted by the Austrian military. Bullpup rifles offered a short overall length without sacrificing barrel length, an advantage that seemed quite valuable for troops who were to spend significant amounts of time in vehicles, where space is at a premium. In French service, the FAMAS was also made the formal replacement for both the MAS-49/56 rifle and the MAT-49 submachine gun, thanks to its compact nature.

The FAMAS is interesting mechanically, as it is one of very few production delayed-blowback rifle designs (the other common one being the CETME/HK series). The FAMAS uses a lever-delaying system, which allows a very simple bolt and action mechanism. The F1 model (adopted by the French Army and still in use today, making up the bulk of FAMAS production) has a 1:12″ twist to its rifling, effectively limiting it to 55 grain projectiles – and it also requires steel-cased ammunition to run reliably. The G2 variant (adopted in 1995 by the French Navy) changed to a 1:9″ twist, introduced a full-hand trigger guard, and also uses NATO standard AR15 magazines instead of the proprietary 25-round magazine of the F1.

In the late 1980s a small number of semiauto FAMAS rifles were made by St Etienne and imported into the US by Century. Most people say 100-125 rifles, although serial number suggest this may have actually been 225-250 rifles. Regardless, they are quite scarce and expensive today.

134 Comments

    • Really? It won’t work reliably with most of the ammo produced in the caliber it’s chambered for, but it’s the top bullpup system in the world? Why are is the French military replacing it if it’s so stellar? Meanwhile the Austrians, along with just about every other military that’s adopted the AUG are keeping their rifles. Sorry, but I think I’d pick the Steyr AUG as the top bullpup design in the world.

      • I can’t work well with LOW QUALITY ammo. Which is also the case with the HK G3 series of rifles and derivatives, the M16, the CETME, and more or less every rifle that is not a long stroke gas piston system.

        It’s the most robust rifle in its category, it can withstand to be ran over by a 60 tons tank, it’s service life without parts breaking is 40 000 rounds (in the 1970’s, remember) and, when in good condition, it’s more manoeuvrable, accurate and powerful than ANY other rifle of same barrel length and caliber. So, yes, FAMAS is one of the top rifles in the world and its performances were undethroned for more than 20 years. By today’s standard, FAMAS is still one of the most effective design in the world and some of its performances still are unparalleled.

        If the rifle is abandonned is because of political, economical, and aging reasons. And again political reasons.
        Do you think an M16A1 could have been used from 1977 to today ? Fact : it couldn’t, that’s why they were all replaced quite fast. FAMAS could.

        • By political reasons, I presume you mean the need to use steel-cased ammo, which nobody in France is still making? And I’m sorry, but the need for special, steel-cased ammo, because it’s been known to tear the case heads off regular, brass-cased NATO standard ammo prevents it from even being a particularly good rifle, in my view, never mind top of its class. Its primary extraction is simply too violent — a common problem with delayed blowback designs, as you observe. Designers used to solve that problem with lubricated ammo, which was not a great solution for a number of reasons. Then, toward the end of WWII, the German designers of the StG45 rifle found that fluting the chamber was a better solution to that problem.

          But a still better way to solve the problem is to ditch the delayed blowback mechanism entirely and go with something better. There’s a reason that the HK G36 is not a continuation of the Stg45/CETME/G3 roller-delayed blowback design lineage. Heckler & Koch ditched that setup for the fundamentally better short-stroke gas piston system they cribbed from the Armalite AR-18.

          And yes, I do think the M16A1 could have been used from 1977 to today. It very likely would have been but for the decision by NATO to standardize on the Belgian SS109 cartridge. There was no need for a new rifle until the adoption of that round, with its heavier 62 grain bullet created that need. The heavier bullet meant that the M16A1, with its 1/12 twist rate wouldn’t stabilize the new projectile, and since they needed new barrels, they might as well modify the whole rifle to get the heavier barrel, better handguards, and more adjustable rear sight. But when I went into the US Army in 1996 as an infantry soldier, I met a number of senior and retired NCOs around Fort Benning who felt that the M16A2 was NOT superior to the M16A1. The new, round handguards were nice, since supply officers didn’t have to maintain separate left and right handguards anymore, but the new ones would fit on the old rifles anyway. As for the heavier barrel — it made the rifle heavier, without improving accuracy all that much (since only the front portion was increased in size — under the handguards, it was the same diameter barrel as the M16A1’s). The three round burst, they felt, was a step backward, since it was trying to find a mechanical solution to a training issue, and deprived the rifle of full auto capability. And as for the new sight, with its greater range of adjustment — that was nice on the target range, but in the field, 95% of soldier will never bother with it. Yeah, I actually do think the M16A1 could still be in use today just as it was, except perhaps for the deletion of the carrying handle to allow modern optics to be mounted on the weapon.

          • No, by “political reasons”, I mean “political reasons” : a melting-pot of economic, public opinion, fashion, diplomatic relations and collusion.

            Because, if I wanted to say “need to use steel cased ammo”, which I by the way already told you is not true, I would have said it. The FAMAS can work with brass case. French civilian market has very few steel cases (I never saw any in .223 nor .222) and it never prevented French shooters to shoot FAMAS without any problems.
            This gun just need good quality cases, being steel or brass cases.
            Consequently, it can shoot a standard brass case 5,56 NATO round without problems. The FAMAS has problems with low quality ammo, which are what French government bought since 15 years and especially since 4 years, that’s why the guns are TODAY, and only today, in the current context, unreliable.

            Besides, I said “an M16A1” from 1977 until now. Not “M16A1”. The M16A1 ? Good rifle, indeed. Excellent rifle even ! But… An M16A1, a specific rifle of the M16A1 model (or A2, or A3, or A4, or an M933 or an M4A1, choose the one you prefer), could not bear to be used for 40 years non stop by 8 soldiers one after another (because a soldier’s service in France is 5 years, so a 40 years serviec life is equivalent to 8 soldiers in a row), it could not bear to shoot 40 000 rounds without parts beakage, in fact it simply couldn’t shoot 40 000 rounds, period.
            I don’t care what model, or if the tweaks between A1 and A2 are relevant for a trained soldier in combat, that’s not the question (that’s a good question by the way. I always wondered if these tweaks were necessary, M16A1 was a good design). The question is “is it as much reliable, accurate and robust as a FAMAS and could-it tolerate to be treated the same way during the same length of time ?” and the reponse is no.

            No, the M16 is not an overly reliable (in fact it is not so… Even if it still is a reliable rifle), overly accurate (it is, but not that much. Accurate as a military rifle is meant to be. The FAMAS – with a non-worn out barrel, obviously – is a very accurate rifle) and overly robust (it is not at all. An M16 is easily bent by a simple civilian car or a brutal impact on a rock. A FAMAS is virtually impossible to destroy by hitting, smashing or crushing it by any mean. You need a 300 tons industrial press to destroy it).

            The M16 was meant to be replaced after each slight damage : it is a cheap, well made but fragile and sensitive weapon. The FAMAS was meant to be a rock, and it is indeed.

            Remember by the way that M16 during Vietnam were unreliable because of… low quality ammo. Same problem.

        • “But… An M16A1… it could not bear to shoot 40 000 rounds without parts beakage, in fact it simply couldn’t shoot 40 000 rounds, period.”

          I’m not bothering to respond to the rest of your post, because you’re spouting nonsense. An M16 could never fire 40,000 rounds, period, huh? That’s interesting, considering that commercial AR-15s are able to shoot in excess of 200,000. http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2015/09/08/ar-endurance-findings-at-a-rental-range/ By comparison, the vaunted AK-47, widely hailed as the ne plus ultra of rifles when it comes to reliability and durability showed cracked receivers at half that number of rounds.

          I carried an M16A2, and then an M4 in the army. They were VERY reliable weapons. In fact, I never had a single malfunction that wasn’t traceable to a bad magazine. Bottom line: the AR-15 has been in service for almost twice as long, and is still staying in service for the foreseeable future. The FAMAS is being replaced. It’s not as good.

          • what was the life of the barrels? the military has a requirement that after a number of rounds a barrel has to be replaced chiefly because the rifling is worn out. now for range practice or fun full auto dumps this isn’t a big deal to fire with non existent rifling. but for military usage or police this lack of rifling is a big deal.

            also steel cased ammo is made a ton in war of since brass becomes more valuable in war time. steel cased ammo was used heavily by the Russians and their firearms were designed to use it.

  1. Thanks Ian for your review. As a Frenchman, i’m very glad you were able to do it.

    France was the 4th western country to adopt a 5.56mm Assault Rifle as the standard weapon for infantry. Before, only the US (1967), Israel (1975), Austria (1977)had adopted an 5.56mm rifle as their standard rifle. All other western countries switched from Battle Rifle to Assult Rifle after 1980.
    At the same time (mid 1980s) the US switched from the M16A1 (1:12″ twist)to the M16A2 (1:7″ twist).
    Our Army didn’t want to change a newly introduced rifle, and kept on with 1:12″. The other Nato countries followed the US and choosed, directly, a 5.56mm 1:7″ twist, assault rifle to replace their battle rifle.
    I don’t know if Israel and Austria had the same problem with their Steyr AUG and Galil.

    Thanks again
    Regards

    • Technically France was not a NATO member when 5.56x45mm was standardized on the Belgian SS109; so it makes sense they went their own way with the round.

  2. I like bullpup platforms in principle, 25″ barrels get the most out of 5.56mm apparently. And a bullpup allows you to fit a 25″ barrel and still have a relatively compact weapon, I know bullpups tend not to have barrels of this length but the platform does facilitate it.

    Longer barrels achieve a higher velocity because they trap the powder burning behind the bullet for longer, as is my understanding- Effectively making them more powerful I.e. You get more range.

    Here’s a thought, if you had a telescopic sleeve around the barrel, that you could slide out forward of the muzzle when in use and back over the barrel when it’s not. Would this extended tube act in a similar manner to a longer barrel in respect of channeling more of the gas behind the bullet for longer, if so that would be it’s use- More power.

    I’ve been having a look at this Famas, instead of scrapping it, I think the French should modify it. They made a G2 model in attempt to better this F1 version, but they didn’t do much to the insides seemingly.

    I think you might be able to fit a gas block in the area of the front carry handle mount, and mount a gas piston tube to it going rearwards obviously. Then instead of a the cocking handle rod running above the barrel, you would have a piston that attaches to the bolt carrier.

    The bolt would hold a modified lever, and the carrier would be modified to house a cross pin that sits behind/under the rear of the levers upper. In this position the pin would prevent the lever from moving, while it was engaged with the cut outs for it in the receiver untill gas moved the carrier via the piston.

    The carrier would move rearwards slightly over the bolt, while it remained in place- The delay is down to a modification to the lever in that it’s rear upper curve would be more pronounced, extended- Imagine the pin passing through the upper curve of an S shape the longer the top of the S is the more time it will take for the pin to clear it allowing the lever to move.

    Basic outline, anyway just a thought, I think countries should try to use their own rifles really.

  3. A couple of very minor nits:

    Higher twist rates are often described as required for heavier bullets, but being more geeky-nerdy I believe the issue is that longer projectiles require a higher twist rate to be stabilized. In practice of course longer projectiles of the same caliber are heavier in almost every case, but a 55 gr. copper projectile would probably require a higher twist rate than 55 gr. FMJ lead projectile because the copper bullet would be longer at the same weight.

    Also, I think the “accelerator” increase (as you mention) the velocity of the bolt carrier relative to the bolt, which actually means that it reduces the force at the tip of the long lever arms (same force spread over a longer distance.)

    That’s my super-geeky contribution for today,

    • Yes, longer projectiles (i.e. projectiles with higher Length-to-Diameter or L/D ratio) require higher twist rate. A good example is the Aguila .22 lr SSS cartridge, which has a very long projectile loaded to a .22 Short case. It will keyhole when fired from many firearms with lower twist ratio.

      There is also a limit to L/D after which spin stabilization is not possible at all, about 6/1 if I remember correctly. That is the reason why modern discarding sabot armor piercing projectiles for tank guns and increasingly also for IFV autocannons are fin stabilized. For armor penetration you want maximal sectional density for the projectile.

    • The classical formula for calculating the rifling twist rate required for projectiles is the “Greenhill”
      https://duckduckgo.com/?q=greenhill+formula+for+rifling&t=ffab&ia=web
      It tends to over stabilize.

      best accuracy results occur when the bullet can still alter its orientation so it remains with its point in the direction it is travelling.

      compared to a projectile which is so strongly spin stabilised that it remains pointing upwards as it descends, and effectively travels sideways through the air.

      the approximate practical limit for spin stabilised projectiles were the relatively short nosed, thick jacketed soft points made commercially by Fred Barnes

      he experimented with several cartridges named “QT” for quick twist
      the rifling pitch was (according to Ackley, who made the barrels) one turn in five and a quarter inches.

      IIRC the .22 QT was a necked down 7 x 57 case and it propelled a 125 grain .228″ bullet

      There were a couple of cases for the 6.5mm QT, at least one of them was a belted magnum case, propelling a 200grain .264″ bullet

      There was also Dr Samovia’s .25 calibre “Condor”. IIRC there were two case designs experimented with there as well. It fired a 160 grain .257″ diameter bullet.

      None of those bullets was particularly aerodynamic, so performance and wind drift beyond a couple of hundred meteres wouldn’t be anything special, and I’m not sure what any of them could achieve that couldn’t be done equally well and with much less fuss and far longer barrel life with a 215 grain loading in a .303.

    • In effect, it’s more accurate, since the lever doesn’t “delay” anything, but exchange part of the weight of the bolt (required to slow down the rearward motion of it to a safe level in a conventional blowback design) with the faster acceleration of a part of it (the carrier), according to the usual kinetic energy formula (the energy required to accelerate a mass in a given time increase quadratically with it’s speed).
      “mass acceleration” would be more accurate though.

  4. The FAMAS is the pride of the French weapon industry.

    It surely has some flaws, but it remains one of the best rifles out there. Yes, even today. Yes, even compared to “brand new” things that already existed 60 years ago like that FN SCAR joke. Especially compared to the FN SCAR !

    The main flaw of the FAMAS is its non-captive pins. They are easily lost, especially when the rifle is old, as the rifles in the French army which are 35 to 40 years old now.

    Its trigger is not that bad, considering that bullpup triggers usually are long, soft, floppy triggers. On the contrary, the FAMAS’ trigger is firm, crisp and sharp. Its sole flaw is to be very heavy, which is a French tradition and does not have any link to the bullpup nature of the rifle. It has link to the dumb nature of French politicians which consider our soldiers to be dangerous cranky polio patients.

    The FAMAS is equiped with polygonal rifling which increase bullet speed to about 970-980 m/s in its 48,5 cm long barrel, which is about 40 to 50 m/s more than the same bullet fired from a 50 cm (20 inches) M16 barrel. In this respect, it packs some more punch than other 5,56 rifles as the bullet has 150 to 200 more jouls of energy.

    Among the other flaws of the FAMAS is its carry handle, which is not adapted to the usage of optics. The FAMAS surbaissé (“over-lowered”), the FAMAS valorisé (“enhanced”) and the FAMAS FELIN (which is a FAMAS surbaissé modified to use the FELIN system) are not concerned, as they have flat tops with picatinny rails.

    It is also a heavy rifle. If the 1970s soldiers used to the 49-56 considered the FAMAS “light”, its 4,2 kg empty (yeah. More empty than a fully equiped and loaded M16) are considered way too much by soldiers of today.

    Another flaw, which is THE flaw that leads to its removal and replacement, is its necessity for good quality cartridges. When the Hollande government arrived, they… well, stole (there is no other word. They stole) a part of the budget of the French army (which was accumulated since four years and was 14 billion euros) to buy Ipad for schools. This lead to two problems : firstly, the Ipads aren’t used by anyone because they were distributed to Educational Priority Area were the schoolboys stole them, so it was decided to store them and don’t use them anymore. Secondly, the army had not budget for buying new cartridges which lead to the purchase of low quality ammunitions with weak brass, leading to frequent stoppages. Meanwhile, soldiers are dying.

    • I don’t like that FN Scar, I dread to think what we will replace the SA80 with eventually. 4.2kg thats heavier than ours, funny how something so short can weigh that much. I thought the L85 was to heavy, the M16’s are light.

      • Yes, it’s very heavy. And it is compact : not only does it weight more, but in a smaller space, which makes it a very dense rifle. 75% of the volume of an M16 for 120% of the weight. The FAMAS thus seems even heavier than it is.

        Today, the bullpup is not well regarded, but it’s still the best option. Short barreled rifles does not work, they sacrifice too much, so a bullpup is necessary. The HS Produkt VHS-2 is the best option and the Desert Tech MDR is the most promising new design. Kel-Tec rifles are good designs also but they won’t ever be adopted by an army because of a too avant-gardist design and its “civilian only weapons producer” reputation.

        • I like those new bullpup designs, interesting ejection mechanism- Out the bottom. Wonder how that works, conventional ejectors ping rounds out to the right when it leaves the chamber… This one must hold it all the way back, over the loaded mag, and knock it out when it is over the port.

          • Indeed, the brass is held over the magazine and drope behind it. The machanism takes 0,125 seconds to act, which is very long and gives a low rate of fire, but it’s not a problem. I like the idea of a fast rate of fire for a military rifle, but it’s more frequently a problem than a solution and full auto fire is rarely used nowadays.

          • I don’t like any of these new guns, they are fake, p.c, phoney like the politics, crony capitalist heaps of shoite.

            By the big companies I.e. The only ones who get contracts of governments, via back handers and prostitutes.

          • “I don’t like any of these new guns, they are fake, p.c, phoney like the politics, crony capitalist heaps of shoite.”
            Can you explain: what fake gun is? for me is thing that looks like gun but does not fire, but in this context it doesn’t make sense

            “By the big companies I.e. The only ones who get contracts of governments, via back handers and prostitutes.”
            You might doesn’t like way how this or that company is securing orders, but this doesn’t automatically imply that their guns are bad.

    • Can you tell us why the improved Australian version of the Steyr AUG (F90) was dropped from the competition so early? In advance many thought that it would be the best replacement for the FAMAS. Was it because the Belgians speak better French? 😉 On the other hand, the manufacturer of the F90 is a subsidiary of Thales, a French company, which even this day and age should mean something.

      • I think the reason why the Thales F90 wasn’t adopted (in fact it was proposed but not even tested, from what I could read) is because the bill of specifications involved that production took place inside the EU from a EU producer and with EU produced spare parts. Thales does not have a production line for small arms in France nor in EU, so they were ejected from the program from the beginning.
        The F90 was surely among the best, if not the best, replacers for the FAMAS. It is a lightweight, efficient, rugged and proven design. Too bad.

        In fact, the reason is maybe more subtle and pernicious : French government stated that the new rifle would NOT be French and would NOT be produced by France. Because, you know, France is not like these agressive, belligerent warmongers of a Country that produce weapons (which, as we all know, are evil objects imbued with the spirit of the devil himself). France is not (not at all) the kind of countries that are in the top 5 weapon producers in the World !
        You see : it’s only a matter of self-righteous, misplaced politically correctness, aiming to be well seen by the people. And a matter of money, too…

        • I remember reading that Thales was “working with Steyr” regarding the F90, which I took to mean that Steyr might have been willing to manufacture the rifle for France. Which brings to my mind: did Steyr offer the AUG A3 at all?

          • Indeed, Steyr proposed a rifle. I read that it was the AUG A1, and I wonder if it is a typo or if it is really the A1 variant.
            Whatever the version, if it was proposed it surely and in all respects was a serious competitor ! But it was rejected quite fast. I suspect a bad behaviour when firing to much rifle grenades (which is, miraculously, not abandonned by our government !)

    • You as local with respect to rifle origin have certainly valuable input to make. And yes I understand your justifiable pride of the result. I was myself one time fan of that solution…. not so much now after the years.

      What you mentioned at tail is the pitiful state of ground forces of French military (used to be one of the greatest in Europe) and I can only sympathize with your view; read about it a plenty. Looks you need to change the government 🙂

      • My friend, we need to burn everything in our government (yeah, politicians included) and rebuilt it all over again from the beginning… The problem is, we have three choices : “socialists” (in French terms. Not what US people think when they read “socialist”) that are no socialists at all and doesn’t know the meaning of the word “dignity”, right wing that is merciless, ruthless capitalists and extreme-right wing that are facists. Where do we go from here ?

        My pride for the FAMAS may sound like chauvinism, I know. FAMAS has its flaws, indeed. Bullpup is a questionable solution, indeed (well, I personaly think it is not so questionable, but let’s be fair, there is no wonderful miracle solution, bullpup included). But, hey, do you know any rifle in the whole rifle history that can withstand to be ran over by a 60 metric tons tank ? There is one : the FAMAS (yes it does !)

        • “Where do we go from here?”
          : nationalist Le Pen? , new (uncompromised) democratic left coming from grassroots? I am not sure myself to tell you truth and I follow on Euro affairs since I am an ex-Euro.

          Regarding your new rifle + kits + optics + ammo, you will pay substantial amount if purchased from Germany meaning more debt for France. It would be better to buy from elsewhere (Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, CR); but centralized politics do not allow for that. Not very good future lookout.

          • Le Pen and other nationalists are facists disguised as saints (well, they try, at least).
            I don’t want to throw out of France every person that is not white skinned, I just want to find a job without searching for 5 years and that my pay is enough to eat something. The problem is that Le Pen can bring the first and not the second. Today, in France, if you do not have made high-level studies (and sometimes, even if you did), your pay is enough for having a place to live or food but not both at the same time.
            Ok, I’m not the upstanding citizen, thus my case is special… But unemployement still is a real problem for EVERY people in France. Having a job, then a pay, but living in your car because a place to live is too expensive IS a problem for many people in France.
            I could talk about it for hours but it won’t change things… Future is sombre (is the word correct ?). There is something rotten in the kingdom of France.

            Yes, Croatian VHS-2 is a good economic solution. And one of the best rifles developped since decades ! The General Staff of the French army is fighting to have a french gun, but the government is deaf to this. If the rifle of our army is not French, then the choice of the General Staff is pointing toward the VHS-2. It is a well designed gun, very well thought, and it is in fact some kind of heir of the FAMAS, improving wathever flaws it had : HS Produkt never hid they were inspired by the FAMAS, but they also wanted to create a new gun, not just copy it. They then created the VHS-1, which is a good alternative to the FAMAS (let’s say it’s a FAMAS with a gas system) and, then, they refined it to bring the VHS-2, which is everything the aging FAMAS should have been, had it been improved instead of being abandonned.

            We used our own rifles since 1717, and now it end for no valid reasons because of a band of dumbass whose favorite sport is to buy rolex with our taxations and then saying to people like me to “be brave and make efforts to cost less”. Macron, our Secretary of State for Economy, once said to a man criticising its 2500 euros suit (2,2 times the average pay in France for a suit. I don’t talk about the watch, the shoes, the belt, the tie) “if you want a suit, you have to work, idler”. That man was working since he was 16, because a high-school was too expensive for his family. He couldn’t affort to simply eat despite his job. Macron hiimself never worked, since he is the son of a millionaire banker.
            I’ll spit on their grave.

          • I like how you explain the continuation of Famas into more ‘mature’ weapon in form of VHS. You do not seem to be biased at all. There might be possibility of setting up factory in France.

            You also seem to have balanced judgment on societal affairs. As far as your country’s issues, you have my sympathies. It is NOT good idea to run away – emigrate, like I did. Stay and fight. Good luck!

          • You can’t compete against communist China, they knew our weakness- Greed, and exploited it. We have to end it now, they aren’t our chums.

            Aye, they are right, about this that and the other. So what. They won’t be any different than us.

            Factories here, how? 10p pay.

          • Thanks for your kindness, Denny.
            Don’t worry, I won’t flee. This is a country I love where live people I love. I fight and will continue do so.

            I try to not be biased. Obviously, I surely am, as everybody is. But I try not to.
            The FAMAS is old and, even if old designs are not neccessarily worse than new designs, novelty can bring progress through improvements, experience and new technologies and materials.

            Yougoslavia was one of the best weapons producer of Europe, making good designs and producing high quality weapons (yeah, they even produced high quality AKM 59 ! Quite the achievement), so there is no valid reason to not trust Croatian producers.

            Someone just said that FN and HK are the two finalists (I couldn’t fine any source for that information, but it is nevertheless the more plausible outcome, so I think the info is to be trusted).
            If it is so, then it is done : the new French army rifle will be a regression from the FAMAS, which was the prototype of what should have been the XXIst century rifle. THE XXIst century rifle, today dethroned by no more than a rifle from the 1950’s with some trendy tacticoolization. 300 years of French weapons just vanished, and it took only 4 years to the government. Well done.
            Our wonderful Nana was also dethroned by another 1950’s weapon : the MAG58 (M240). This unique machinegun was junked away in favor of an old, heavy, cumbersome, less reliable weapon because of… Well, because of nothing.

          • There certainly seems to be a world wide trend towards political candidates that even if you believe a government is necessary, you’d need to be a complete fool to want to vote for.

            the rifle choice looks like crony cRapitalism the whole way

            Colbert and Louis 14th would have been proud

          • Indeed, Keith, they surely are.
            Even if, being French, a king and its minister are not necessarily examples to follow…

  5. I never knew the F1 needed steel case ammo to run properly. This is opposite of most U.S. made auto loaders that run great with brass case but get fussy when fed steel case. A steady diet of Wolf, no problem for this rifle. Very cool.

    • This is what they say elsewhere. But from my short experience, the brass (Cdn made) ammo worked just fine. Maybe this applies for full auto function only; I do not know.

    • In fact it is not “steel” case but “high quality, tough and rugged case”.
      Thin brass cases are not strong enough for the FAMAS, but a good quality brass case is fine. With steel, even with thin cases, you do not have problem as steel is way stronger than brass.

      • Sounds like this rifle has a really violent extraction cycle. About how far will the F1 throw the fired cases on extraction? I guess soft brass cases means torn case heads, but I think it would still run well off of Russian steel case 5.56mm (.223rem). It would be cheaper to feed it steel case. So it’s a win in my book.

        • It seemingly wath not that cheaper (even if I agree with you, steel cases are theoretically cheaper than brass), as it’s because of financial problems that France bought low quality brass cases ammunitions iinstead of steel cases.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkD48nCubfg

          On this video, a 0:55, look on the top right corner : you’ll see how powerful indeed is the extraction. The case fly horizontally for almost 5 meters before falling.

          • Thanks for the video link, thanks for the info. It throws cases pretty hard. I’ve shot a HKg3 parts kit build and it threw the casings quite a distance. With the F1 being delayed blowback I expected the same result.

          • Ejection on the FAMAS is indeed similar to the one on the HK G3 rifles. Maybe a little more powerful, as the FAMAS is known for having a very early breech opening and fast breech movement, even for an unlocked breech rifle.

  6. The missing recoil buffer probably also acts as a rate reducer, in that it slows the transition from the bolt/carrier moving rearward to forward. Somewhat out on a limb, but when the bolt goes into battery, do the accelerators act as decelerators, reducing bolt bounce?

    • Yes, exactly. I may look like an afterthought, but it may have been the plan from start.

      I do not think accelerator/ delay lever will be cause of action bounce; it depends on many other factors such as speed of impact, material of buffer (its returned vs absorbed energy), motion guidance and so on.

      • To me it appears that the bolt, carrier and accelerators are movably fixed in relationship to each other, in conjunction with the accelerator lugs on the receiver. As the bolt hits the rear of the barrel, and if there was any tendency to bounce, it would be dominated by the heavier carrier moving forward thus working against bolt bounce. IMHO.

        • “Movably fixed” was probably picked up from some patent jargon and wasn’t real clear. What I was trying to say is that the bolt and carrier are levered together. If you know the location and direction of travel of either one, you know where the other one is and which way it is going. After the bolt hits the rear of the barrel, it can’t move back without the carrier doing the same, give or take parts breakage and distortion.

    • Depending on its design,a buffer can speed or slow the cycle.

      the lever delay probably slightly reduces bounce,

      the other thing, it will act to lever a tight case into the chamber, and I’m not sure if that leverage is available to manually extract a tight case.

    • Indeed, as Keith said, the buffer does not necessarily reduce rate of fire. On the FAMAS, the average rate is (in accordance with different and not agreeing sources) about 950 to 1100 rounds per minutes. By slow motion videos study, I would say it’s rather about 1000 to 1050. The G2 is said to have a faster rate of fire, with about a 100 rpm increase.

      I would then say that the buffer would rather accelerate the rate of fire.

  7. One item which was not mentioned is that the “F” version had ‘typically French’ 3 groove rifling instead of common six.

    The magazine looks solid and made out of steel (aluminum GI style one is not so great as we know) which prevents casual lips damage. Also, I consider capacity of 25 rounds to be smart in terms of accounting for issued live ammo. The straight shape (pending smooth feeding) is certainly welcome feature given proximity of pistol grip. As I mentioned time ago, I had once chance to get acquainted with this weapon on range and outcome was quit positive; heavier trigger pull did not bother me.

    All in all – very nice presentation, as we are used at FW.

  8. You could change ejection side in few second (half minute) : open rifle rotate the bolt (mickey mouse head) and switch the side of the check piece.

    • I see this is as ingenious feature, IF you are say left handed person and set it for yourself for permanent use. BUT, if tactical situation requires sudden change, you are stuck. This is precisely what Berreta tried to solve in their new rifle.

      • Does anyone tried to make bull-pup rifle ejecting downwards and magazine sticking upwards? If yes name it, if no – why?

        • The magazine sticking upward would be a major hassle in a bullpup, since that’s the location of the cheek of the shooter.
          Yes, Beretta made the ARX160 almost instantaneously ambidextrous. But, for the ’70s, the FAMAS had very advanced ambidextrous features. Unfortunately, for a leftie soldier that lost his rifle and has to pick one from the field in a dire situation, the difference from “it could be made in a minute” and “it could be made in 30 seconds” is really small. Or it could be made instantaneously, whithout dismantling the rifle (like in the ARX160) or is useless.

  9. That was my gun. I still have it’s sister. Couple notes here. I can confirm that yellow gunk in the chamber is a preservative. That grease is actually original from the factory so if it is undisturbed in the chamber that rifle is indeed unfired. When Rock Island got that rifle from me the grease encased tape was still covering the muzzle. They took it off to sell the rifle but I have photos from 2012 to prove it was on there at the time. When I sold that rifle in Sept 2012 it had two mags, a green mag case, the bayonet and the cleaning kit with spare bolt parts in a little plastic case. It looks like everything returned for the second time especially since the writeup mentions a Galati soft case. I sent the gun in that same case to protect it so it’s even more likely the rifle was never messed with-EVER. I did not have the manual at the time I sold it, but found it later on if the eventual purchaser is interested and reads this site.

    The gun may be heavy, but it’s built like a tank as you might be able to tell from the video here. That receiver is massive.

    Interesting note here- Ian talked about swapping the bolt to shoot as a lefty, but he didn’t demonstrate it. Let me say- this is probably the easiest rifle to switch from right to left handed firing and MUCH nicer than the AUG which requires a separate bolt. It takes about a minute with zero tools. Field strip it to get to the bolt, pull the top pin, swap the parts and put it back together- I did it as a 15 year old with the sister rifle I still have. I actually never messed with 209 at all so you will get a gem of a rifle.

    I would not base total importation numbers off these two rifles- the numbers of 125-150 are probably correct. These two were a special case with special approval granted by the BATF to import two in October 1989 for scientific research. Dad was a physicist working for a defense contractor at the time and these were the only ones I know of to get out of jail in the Canadian warehouses. I don’t know if I still have the letters but I did a few years ago.

    As an FYI- these two were even more expensive that what Ian said. I just pulled my notes on these and they cost $1023.95 in 1989. The extra mag cost $100 (which is included in that price). As imported, they only came with one magazine.


    FAMAS SA00209B 2012

  10. I’ve heard a retired colonel opine that any bullpup that isn’t instantly ambidextrous is only good for landfill. That’s a bit extreme, but seems to me that genuinely ambi bullpups ought to take over the field, provided they can pass Ian’s mud test.

    As for the Famas being picky about its ammo: all Kiralyi designs are like that; it’s a feature of that approach to delayed blowback.

    • Strictly speaking, any autoloader is picky about ammo.

      an adjustable gas system is possibly the quickest to adjust,

      recoil operation, eg the Browning long recoil shotgun and the current Franchi production of it, has an adjustable friction ring to accomodate varying loads

      the various blowbacks and delayed blowbacks could probably all benefit from an additional ballast weight which could be placed either be ahead of the recoil spring or behind it, to adjust the recoiling mass to the loads being fired, as in the open bolt .22rf Gevarms.

      actual extraction with blowblack and delayed blowback is going to be a trade off between gas sealing, and deliberate gas leakage due to fluting of the chamber to reduce the stress acting normal to (at right angles to) the direction of the slip between case and chamber wall.

      • “Strictly speaking, any autoloader is picky about ammo.”
        I agree. So it is important to test weapon with ALL types of ammunition which might be used BEFORE starting weapon production. Most soviet weapon were heavily tested and thus if passed trials they have enough reliability, but fails happens – namely DS-39 machine gun – http://world.guns.ru/machine/rus/ds-39-e.html
        which doesn’t “like” brass cases. Finally after German attack it was decided to abandon DS-39 production and make Maxim 1910 instead, which was heavier and harder to manufacture, but was reliable.

    • I won’t argue with Buddy- He’s in the right place to come across alot of that info. so maybe these represent some of the very last to come in.

  11. Another fine FW description. We especially enjoyed Ian’s description of the FAMAS’ accelerator lever. Last time I saw an accelerator lever was in a Browning heavy machine gun.

    On a related note: when are you going to explain the feed mechanism on the obscure Czech zB-47 submachinegun? It is rumoured that a ZB-47 is displayed at the Prague Police Museum.

    On a second related note: I am still baffled by the feed mechanism on Fabrique Nationale’s PS90 Personal Defence Weapon???????

    As for French and Canadian politicians not wanting to be seen as manufacturing – evil – weapons. Hah! Hah!
    Politicians are so hypocritical!
    Canadian factories have been making (M-16 clone) “assault rifles” for decades and selling them to: the Canadian Army, British SBS, etc.
    Canadian politicians would be scandalized to hear of all the bad guys who died of lead-poisoning delivered by the SBS and other “quiet” military units.

    Canadian factories have been producing MOWAG Piranha armoured cars since the late 1970s: supplying the Canadian Army, USMC, etc. But Canadian journalists recently made a big stink about selling LAV 3 APCs to Saudi Arabia. Sure Saudi Arabia may have a poor record on human rights, but they are one of the few Moslem nations that have almost succeeded in pushing Al Queda (and like-minded religious nutbars) outside their borders. If some of those fanatics died at the hands of Saudi police ….. so be it.

    • Politicians are one ‘thing’ and then you have even something much worse – misguided public. There was series of protests over CND rifles production plant and one time they (who knows, protesters I suppose) at night vandalized the building. There is so much crap in common folk’s heads it’s unbelievable.

      I try to stay away of deeper philosophical contents on justification of arms in general (which there is)… but in practise it is mostly matter of profits of their makers.

      • Denny,
        and other guys who had the misfortune to go to schools teaching Marx.

        do you think that the lefties blaming inanimate guns for human evils…

        might be a rather stupid extension of dialectical materialism – where the social relations are determined by the MATERIAL productive forces (whatever they might be – Marx never defined them, just like he never defined what he meant by “Value”)???

        whatever the MATERIAL productive forces were, Material things were supposed to be determining how humans acted and interacted.

        • Keith,

          firearms and weapons in general are above ideologies although they are often (mis)used by deviant political objectives. Ultimately, they belong to hands of free people – citizen-soldiers under sound and elected (non-corrupt) leadership.

          The fact they are used for profit making of few is an aberration or premeditated mischief (conspiracy). They should be manufactured and controlled by state; this is not in contradiction with previous statement. I am describing an ideal state of course which is not a burden to free citizen.

    • The P-90 feed system is actually remarkably simple for how complex it looks, it’s just a spiral ramp at the ‘end’ of the mag that that rotates the cartridge down in line with the barrel. That’s probably my favorite thing about the P-90 it looks like a ‘space-gun’ but it actually has relatively dirt simple internals, the innovation comes from the mag, cartridge and ergonomics (which are apparently really good, but haven’t held one to tell).
      I don’t want to veer too far into politics but the issue with Saudi Arabia is that they get rid of Al-Quaeda in their borders by basically funding it (either directly by private citizens (or government if you’re very conspiracy minded) and government sponsorship of more radical Islamic schools) in other countries as a ‘compromise’ between the religious elite and the monarchy. And they have an atrocious human rights record.

      • “Conspiracy” is a term which is used memetically

        it implies bad intent, for example plans for the allied invasion of Normandy in WWii are hardly described as a “conspiracy”, or at least they wouldn’t usually be described that way in polite company.

        Whereas planning by the Axis leadership could very easily be described as “conspiring”

        there is a value judgement hidden in the use of the word.

        In practice, there are a whole bunch of “conspiracy” facts out in the (almost) open; Operation Gladio is one example.

        In terms of AQ and IS
        AQ was the name for the groups being funded and aided by various means in Afghanistan, during the Soviet involvement there.

        There’s a de classified united state document out in the open (Judicial Watch obtained it) which clearly states that IS is funded and supported by, I think the words were “regional powers”

        It doesn’t take much thought to work out which states might have an interest in doing that, even if we don’t know for definite who they actually are.

        Sensible reasoning by ordinary pee-ons, about what is likely to be going on is obviously not going to be very popular with various politicians, mandarins etc – so we see attempts to ridicule the practice and individuals who are participating in it,

        a possible example of that ridiculing would be individuals and their web sites which suggest that we are ruled by actual shape shifting lizards…

        rather than by humans who are rather cold in terms of their empathy for others (psychopathic).

        • I used conspiracy because it’s always hard to tell what it is official policy with Saudi Arabia because the government and members of the monarchy are so intertwined that its hard to tell sometimes whats a government directive and what’s an unsanctioned pet project using government resources. I’m not denying that a lot of the gulf states do fund various groups for their own projects. But AQ funding may be a bridge to far for the government because it is in part dedicated to attacking the House of Saud, IS on the other hand has territorial ambitions so that helps keep it away. Also I’d say there definitely is bad intent here regardless. (anyway we’re getting side tracked back to FAMAS.)

  12. Last week, news have announced Beretta, SwissArm and HS Produkt models have been discarded from competition to replace current FAMAS.

    We will know by the end of the year if Belgian SCAR or German H&K 416 will be adopted as the next standard infantry weapon by French forces.

    • Globalist heaps of junk, they aren’t Belgian or French, I mean i’ve nothing against prostitution per se. But it’s no way to run a national economy.

      • I come to this conclusion via this site, it is possible to make the best gun ever, everything is there.

        Jigsaw.

        But no, they come up with shoite for politicians.

        We are over the curve, of conventional ammo, this stuff now wants to be good, very good.

        It’s mediocre.

    • Where did you see this ? The last new I could find date back to the 26 of june and it says that “it seems” that FN and HK are the finalists.

        • It read this article and it seems to be another “I write about guns without knowing anything about them” article. Lots of typos, of misunderstanding and leaps…

          But it seems indeed (with or without this article) that the new rifle of the French army will be the HK or the FN. I would bet on the FN, even if I find that the HK is better. Nevertheless, I only make my opinion on technical documents and apparent features, not in actual usage of these rifles. Let’s hope the FN SCAR is more than it seems to be, because I bet it will win the contest.
          The HS Produkt VHS-2 is the better of the contest, in my opinion, but the government doesn’t seem to simply consider it, and the fashion is in short barreled, standard architecture rifles like the SCAR and the 416.

    • FAMAS is more heavy from the rear than the front, but only for about 200-300 grams. It can be shot one-handed without over-force on the grip to keep it horizontal, if you can withstand the heavy weight of the rifle.
      It can stand vertically on its barrel or its buttstock.

    • French designed weapons have usually been fairly good historically, and small arms are no exception. They have had their share of lemons, but so has pretty much every major weapon producing country in history.

      Cars have very little to do with weapons designs. Have you ever driven a cold war era Russian/Soviet car like a Lada or Moskvitch? They were easy to fix with basic tools and included a fairly extensive tool kit in the orice, so they did have some good properties 😉

      • It would be nice to try models made for people (such as the iconic Zhigulis) as well as army UAZ models.

        (Some people from Eastern block told me to have seen neighbours spending more time fixing the old car on Sunday than with their wife, or having to refill several time water tank while going in vacation… I don’t know which part is a legend, but they tended to agree army stuff was reliable.)

        • Classic rear wheel drive Lada based on the Fiat 124 is still a popular hobby car in Finland, even though it has not been commercially imported after 1997. People put turbochargers in them and bore out the cylinders for countryside amateur rally practice. For others its represents Cold war era nostalgia. Spare parts can be still bought very cheaply in Russia.

          The UAZ-469 and variants also have a cult following. The Finnish Army used to have a lot if them, but they are now replaced by Land Rover Defenders and MB G-Wagens. The cross-country performance of the UAZ is legendary. It’s very light, which gives it an edge over most other 4×4 utility vehicles. Creature comforts were non-existant, of course, and driving one required more skill than for example the Defender. Reliability was just okay, but fixing one was easy and fast even for a semi-skilled car mechanic.

      • I seem to recall that the French had a disproportionately high percentage of lemons in their small arms history, probably explains why they never did very well in the military export markets outside their former colonial spheres of influence. It is my understanding that the French have whittled down their final two replacement candidates for the FAMAS to the HK416 and the FN SCAR, which also speaks volumes in itself…

        Clearly remembering back in the day East block relatives experiences with Ladas & Moskvitch’ cars, unequivocally condemned by them and others as unreliable garbage. I also remember my late father’s flirtation with Renault’s, Citroen’s and Peugeot’s, now happily a long distant memory put well in perspective by many more decades of satisfied Japanese and Korean car ownership.

        • I don’t recall that many “lemons” actually… The M1886/93 was a curse. State of the art, but then rushed out without much contemplation of where magazine feed, ergonomics, etc. were headed… Then couldn’t be rejected until something qualitatively better came along… Like a semi-auto! Berthier was really wonky, certainly, but it was probably one of the cheapest to produce service rifles of the WWI era.

          The CSRG Mle. 1915 is one súper-über-lemon, certainly. As is the Saint-Etienne M1907 MG.

          The LMG FM 1924/29 was outstanding.
          The MAS Mle 36 is much maligned, but it is a superb bolt-action rifle. The MAS Mle 1938 is derided for its 7.65mm caliber, but is actually quite small and compact. The MAT-49, FSA 1949/56, and MAC-50 are all outstanding weapons.

          • “The LMG FM 1924/29 was outstanding.
            The MAS Mle 36 is much maligned, but it is a superb bolt-action rifle. The MAS Mle 1938 is derided for its 7.65mm caliber, but is actually quite small and compact. The MAT-49, FSA 1949/56, and MAC-50 are all outstanding weapons.”
            I would add: Mle. 1935A automatic pistol – http://world.guns.ru/handguns/hg/fr/mle-1935a-1935s-e.html – for using trigger-hammer module (easier disassembly)

          • The Mle. 1873 revolver was a lemon in the sense that the original loading of the 11mm cartridge was badly underpowered. 181 grains @ 427 fps for 73 ft·lbf is pretty weak by any standard. There was nothing wrong with the actual gun, though.

            I would disagree about the Chauchat being a “super lemon”. The French version of the gun chambered for 8×50R Lebel did work after a fashion. Sure, the magazines got dirty easily because of the window and they could not be filled to full capacity and except them to work. The gun would sometimes jam up after getting hot due to uneven heat expansion. But still, it was the first Automatic Rifle deployed in large numbers by a major power and it beat having the same guy armed with a Lebel or Berthier by a mile.

  13. Clearly armies should have two rifles. One for the combat arms and the other for the rest. Giving a cook or bulk fuel man (really about 80% of a modern army) a SCAR or HK416 is a waste of resources. Most will never fire their rifle. Most of those that do will fire at targets at no more than 100 m. Few of those will aim. For the French the Mini-14 seems ideal for most troops if the FAMAS must be replaced and no one can make more of them at a reasonable cost. Mini-14s are already widely carried by French police. Simple. Same ammo. Better mag system. Light. You can shoot it off either shoulder.

    I believe that much of the drive in US SOF for a rifle other than the M4 was driven by SF types losing it as they watched postal clerks drag M4s with high end optics, gangster grips and laser designators in the dust behind them on the way to the PX. Like beards and special camo patterns the new rifles weren’t really needed, they were just another way to stand out from Big Army.

    • Your concept of war is mired in a fantasy that hasn’t really existed since, oh, say… 1939?

      The linear battlefield, with its clearly delineated “zones of war” doesn’t exist anymore. There are no safe rear areas, or “non-combat jobs”. Any soldier can find themselves in direct combat at any time and at any place; not even recruiters in “safe” stateside assignments may find themselves under attack by well-trained, organized, and very well-equipped enemy troops.

      This being the case, it is insane to think you can have different standards of equippage based on jobs. That driver or mechanic who is running convoys along the lines of communication from the port bases to your camps in the interior? That young man or woman probably stands a better better chance of seeing action against the enemy than his infantry peers, and he or she had better be at least as well-equipped and trained for direct combat as those infantrymen are.

      Here is a news flash for all of you foolish souls who advocate for things like the PDW: That kind of war, one where that sort of specialization could be tolerated, is over and done with, likely forever. Your ideas that there are troops you can cheap-jack by isssuing them less-capable weapons and cheaper, less-capable field gear are ludicrously out of contact with reality.

      Of course, that puts you into the same place as a majority of our military officers, which is a sad commentary on things in general.

      • While I agree with you to a degree, I think you go too far in your conclusions. Firstly, “zones of war” did exist for a very large part of WW2, Korea and even the First Gulf War. Every time when you have clearly defined state actors on both sides, the situation is likely to become more well defined. Even as recently as the Second Gulf War there were phases where “front” and “rear” areas could be differentiated. In fact they can be at some places differentiated today in Iraq and Syria. Guerrilla activity at the rear areas is not anything new; it happened even before the WW1 concept of a clearly defined “front line” became pervasive.

        Secondly, it is not practical train your logistics people to the same standard as first line infantry. This applies to both professional and conscript armies. You can and should train everybody the basics of infantry combat, but that’s about it. If you have a long lead time before the start of hostilities you can possibly give additional training, but these days that is a luxury.

        Necessary and in practice unavoidable specialisation is the reason why weapons such as PDWs do make sense. A good PDW is easier to use than an infantry rifle, so that it’s more effective in self defense situations. Statistics do not support your claim that logistics people have an equal chance as infantry to encounter well trained and equipped enemy infantry on their own. The last part is important, since any general worth anything will use actual infantry to escort convoys and protect bases and not left the rear echelon personnel to their own devices. That makes much more sense than trying to train everybody to be fully proficient infantry soldier.

        Another question is of course are specialized PDWs actually needed or can you just use carbine versions of your service assault rifle? The FN P90 is a very good PDW, but is it actually that much easier to use and handier to carry than a 5.56mm Nato carbine to make a separate weapon with different ammo worth while? I would say that it probably isn’t, but since the P90 has not been used in its intended role as a PDW practically at all, there is no actual combat experiences on the matter.

        • Such “zones of war” only exist in the imaginations of the delusional. If you bother to read the histories, the clear antecedants to the modern diffuse battlefield are there to be seen in WWII, on the Eastern Front, throughout the Korean War, Vietnam, and in all the varied “bushwar” campaigns in Africa.

          Regardless, when Islamic terrorists are killing troops in the continental US, at recruiting stations and in deployment processing centers, the handwriting is on the wall. Lee Rigby ring any bells, for you? The enemy answer to our battlefield prowess is simple: Engage off the formal battlefield we delusionally imagine exists, and avoid all contact with “combat troops”. Dealing with this effectively means that every man and woman in uniform must be prepared to fight and win, even inside their own homes at home station. With the OPM breach and Facebook, it is only a matter of time before we see our soldiers, sailors, and airmen targeted in their own beds, in their own homes. That cop in France was only the precursor to what you will see and experience in the decades ahead.

      • ” at least as well-equipped and trained for direct combat as those infantrymen are.”

        That’s not happening and it couldn’t. It’s an impossibility to train support people as well for combat as infantrymen. Even if you had the time they would want no part of it.

        In Iraq and Afghanistan the majority of US troops never left the confines of bases except to fly between them. They lugged M4s around (or if officers M9s) more as a badge of office than an actual weapon. The “rear” has never been safer- there’s no chance of a Panzer Corps/ NVA battalion over running your division admin area.

        Mini-14s aren’t PDWs. They’re carbines and are perfectly suited for what most of the army does.

        • All I can answer to your excuse that such a course of action is “impossible” is this: Prepare to lose every war you are foolish enough to engage in.

          Nobody is going to be stupid enough to tackle modern Western combat troops directly. They can’t win, and they know it. So, they engage what they can win against, rear-area “support” troops. Thus, we have the spectacle I witnessed in Iraq, where the combat troops were driven to exhaustion chasing ghosts, finding dry hole after dry hole when they went out looking for the enemy. Meanwhile, every night, somewhere in sector, the enemy was ambushing convoy after convoy of support troops doing their missions. Most of those ambushes were “blown through”, and never developed or followed up, except by being entered into the databases whenever the support units bothered to remember they were supposed to.

          That’s modern war; first experienced on the Eastern Front by the Germans, who discovered the hard way that support troops need to be at least as “toothy” as line infantry. Or, pretty soon, you’re going to wake up one morning to discover that your vaunted combat troops are unfed, unmaintained, and out of ammo.

          The modern battlefield is diffuse, and you have to engage the enemy where he exposes himself. Whatever troops he engages must follow that contact up, and run him to ground until he is dead, dead, dead. Anything less is a waste of time, and an invitation to defeat via a death of a thousand cuts.

          • You want a maintenance platoon to abandon it’s vehicles and follow up an ambush to hunt down the enemy. Really? Maybe a prerequisite for E-5 clerks to be promoted should be Ranger school.

          • If the maintenance platoon is the only element in the battalion getting contact…? Hell, yes.

            I sat in 101st Airborne Division HQ for a straight year in Iraq as brigade-level LNO. In that time, I’d have to say that about 80-90% of the directed operations by the combat elements were “dry holes”, where they rarely saw contact, let alone ran the enemy to ground. Meanwhile, every night, there’d be two-three engagements on the MSRs in sector, where the CENTCOM logistics guys were getting hit. SOP for them was to blow through, and probably ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they’d get a report back to us when they returned to base in Baghdad after the run to Mosul, so there would be a 48-hour lag time between them having contact, and us finding out about it.

            That is not how you make war. The enemy engages, you engage right back, and run the bastards to ground. Every uniformed military member in theater has to be prepared to engage and win when the enemy decides to initiate contact. You cannot win these conflicts by having a two-class system, where the logistics bubbas who are the primary targets due to their lesser combat skills and equipment simply blow through and “get away”, while the combat troops are spending time in fruitless searches for the enemy. The Army didn’t want to have the combat arms guys out with the logistics convoys because that was “not their job”, but at the same time, they were blind to the fact that the only time the enemy was popping their heads up to engage us was with the “rear-echelon” elements. Because of this, we were basically running a training and morale program for the insurgents–They’d start out with a bit of harassment fire, as a US convoy went through late at night, and work their way up to IED attacks, and eventually be doing full-bore engagements.

            Sheer stupidity. I raised the issues of us perhaps doing what the Rhodesians and South Africans did in their wars, and running false convoys with “Q-Ships”, manned by the same guys who were out walking around looking for the enemy fruitlessly, but the JAG blew that idea out of the water, saying it was a violation of the Law of War.

            Honestly, I have to say that the US Army isn’t really interested in winning these wars, and the politicians aren’t smart enough to be asking some pertinent questions about organization, strategy, and tactics.

            The root problem is that this kind of war has to be fought where the fight is, and if the enemy refuses to engage the combat troops we send out trolling for them, then we need to accept the fact that we have to engage them when they do engage us, which is during these incessant attacks on the logistics and lines of communications. Every contact needs to be run to ground and utterly destroyed, such that the locals refuse to get involved. You shoot at a US convoy, that needs to be a death sentence. Period.

            And, the implications for that are that there can be no more toleration for the idea that there are multiple classes of soldier–Every man and woman in uniform needs to be equipped and trained to at least the proficiency of line infantry, and has to be inculcated with the same “killer instincts” as those “combat soldiers”. There can be no dichotomy, no second-class “combat support/combat service support” mentality that says “fighting isn’t our job…”. The hell it isn’t–If you are the guy the enemy chooses to engage, you’d better be the guy who’s going to run that fight out, and win. If not, you’re wasting the nations time, treasure, and lives in an effort of utter futility.

          • Kirk:

            You make some interesting points.

            The JAG cannot have been serious surely? It might be against the “laws of war” (the laws our enemies break every day) for US troops to disguise themselves as civilians, but it can hardly be illegal for US Rangers to “disguise” temselves as supply troops. If the lawyers truly think that, they can escort the next convoy.

            Anyway, thank you for your service.

          • John, I kid you not: The JAG shot that “Q-Ship” idea down, based on the idea that concealing combat troops among logistics convoys and using them to engage and destroy ambush forces would constitute an illegal ruse de guerre. We weren’t even suggesting that we conceal them in, say, a KBR semi-truck, or something like that–We were suggesting the “Q-Ships” be up-gunned military logistics vehicles. The JAG still had kittens, and the idea never got past the initial discussion after the JAG ruled that such things weren’t permissible.

            The other rock that the idea foundered on was that the logistics units refused to participate, on the theory that if they fought back, they’d suffer retribution in return. They actually expressed the issue as being one of “Well, they’ll attack us more seriously if we take part in this immoral subterfuge…”. The mentality seemed to be akin to that of a shopkeeper in a gang-controlled area refusing to cooperate with the police, so as not to anger the gang-bangers.

            There’s a reason I retired after my second tour over there, and it’s not just because I hit the retention control point, either. The US Army is fundamentally broken, in a lot of critical ways–Not the least of which is that the organization can produce officers who think like this, and then keep promoting them to higher and higher rank. I literally had to break out the history books to even explain to some of these guys, a couple of whom had degrees in military history, just what the hell the term “Q-Ship” even meant, and how it might be relevant to what we were doing.

            Don’t even get me started on the whole MRAP/armored route clearance vehicle fiasco. Or, rear-area battle issues, in general. Everything that happened in Iraq in 2003-2005 was predicted back in the 1990s, and the authorities running the various branch schools and procurement systems refused to listen to anyone advocating for MRAP vehicles, armored route clearance equipment, mine dogs, mine clearance, and better training for the so-called “rear area troops” like the 507th Maintenance Company. Anyone with half a brain could see the light of an oncoming train, and nobody wanted to even entertain the idea that getting the f**k off the tracks might be a good idea.

            What happened to the 507th is a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about, with this: You’re going to have these guys and girls who are in units upon which you’ve performed training budget triage on, and then stick them into the rear echelon of a combat division in modern war? If you were a part of that decision-making process, you ought to be taken out and have a bullet put into the base of your skull for professional malfeasance and betrayal of the trust you were given when you were commissioned as an officer and put in command over those young men and women who basically died because they weren’t properly prepared or trained for war.

            There are no such things as “non-combat troops” in modern war; hell, there aren’t even civilians, really. Disbelieve me? Ask the Yazidi, or the Kurds…

          • In response to J Harlan’s snark about E-5 clerks being Ranger-qualified…

            I don’t know what role, if any, that you ever played in the military, but one of my abiding frustrations as a combat-arms senior NCO was that I could never tell what the hell I was dealing with, with any of the NCOs and officers outside my unit. Oh, this kid that got stuck in my convoy, wearing Sergeant’s rank…? Is he capable of running a fire team? Does he know what the hell to do if the s**t hits the fan, and can I entrust my junior enlisted’s lives to him?

            Here’s a subversive thought for you: If you can’t run a fire team, with proficiency and confidence, maybe you shouldn’t be wearing that rank insignia, then? If a Staff Sergeant can’t run a squad, and perform the tactical mission of a squad leader, why the hell is this clown running around with that rank on his chest? My personal belief is that the rank ought to match the combat role you’re capable of fulfilling, and your pay ought to match the job you’re doing. If you’re a guy who can’t “tactical” his way out of a paper bag, but are a great mechanic/administrator, maybe your role in a combat situation ought to be “rifleman”, and your pay grade for running a maintenance shop ought to be commensurate with an E-7?

            We’ve had to throw together ad-hoc units too many times to count from polyglot collections of troops that just happened to be available. If I have to throw together these things, it would probably be really, really smart if I can just glance at someone’s uniform, and know that a guy with two or three stripes can run a fire-team sized element, and that guy with the three stripes and a rocker can be effective running a squad. The same problem exists in the commissioned ranks, as well–That supply LT may actually be a kick-ass combat leader, a frustrated grunt, but… I’ve got no damn way of telling that, at a glance. Hell, they even took away the branch insignia off the ACU, which was classic stupidity.

            I think you meant to be a smart ass over this question, but you actually raise a valid issue, especially when you’re having to throw together ad-hoc units, like in mixed convoys. One of the great strengths of the WWII Wehrmacht was that the Germans put a lot more time into selection, qualification, and training of leaders at all levels, which is why the Allies got their asses handed to them so many times by these little ad-hoc Kampfgruppe that were thrown together in the face of an Allied break-through. Some of those “accidental units” performed so well that our intelligence outfits were convinced they’d run into Waffen SS, when it was really a collection of rear-area cooks, clerks, and supply troops.

            We’d be smart to go back and look over just how the Germans pulled that off. But, first, we’d have to be smart. Which we ain’t.

          • Kirk:

            Very interesting points again.

            The JAG seems like some sort of moron. I get it that Q ships were considered sneaky (like unrestricted submarine warfare wasn’t?), but the idea of playing by arcane rules of war when fighting a savage enemy is absurd. Your idea made good sense. If the enemt knows he will get handed his ass if he attacks a supply convoy, he will be very much more circumspect about doing so. The supply troops who were scared that it might provoke the enemy do not sound much like soldiers to me, more like logistics men in uniform.

            I wonder if too many people are joining the forces for reasons such as college tuition and the like? They certainly don’t seem to be showing much martial spirit, that’s for sure.

            As for the vexed saga of MRAP vehicles, the British army was just as bad. The top brass did not want to spend money earmarked for shiny new air portable vehicles on clunky MRAPs. They had to in the end, but not before many men were needlessly killed and maimed, and we were chased out of Basra by the Mahdi army. Shameful.

        • John, this wasn’t just one JAG–It was the considered opinion of the collective thoughts of the divisional JAG section. Although one or two former combat arms types in that section differed with their peers, all of the JAG officers who’d come into the Army as lawyers supported that finding.

          And, you’re right–The problem is a result of too many officers and enlisted joining the forces for the wrong reasons. A lot of those JAG officers would tell you, in private conversation, that they’d joined the JAG as a means to “change things”. One of those idiots was one of the ones that had ruled on the OTM bullets being illegal by the Hague and Geneva rules, so it’s not like they had a f**king clue about anything to do with the military.

          The minority of officers working JAG who were former military that then went to law school were a different breed, entirely. Unfortunately, they were in the distinct minority.

          The problem permeates the force, as is exemplified by people like JHarlan. They think they’re entitled to a “safe” role on the battlefield, and completely unwilling to acknowledge or understand that the title “soldier” implies that you have not only a likelihood of seeing combat, but a veritable imperative to be prepared for it. The way we organize and train is sadly set up and managed by the grass-eating part of the military, while the meat-eating part just has to deal with the BS these types come up with. Worse still, the mentality is apparently communicable, because a lot of the combat arms leadership doesn’t see anything wrong with the idea that it is even remotely acceptable to refuse combat, when the enemy engages you.

          Time was, you could get away with this hierarchy of combat capability. Nowadays? It’s not working, and likely never will in the future, either. The enemy we’re engaging with is not a traditional “Fight on the battlefield” enemy; the tradition they come from is that of the desert bandit, of the Razzia and the slave raid. For them, the natural mode of war is the campaign of harassment and minor murder exemplified by the Arabs who came out of the desert in the wake of Justinian’s Plague, and that’s how they intend to go on. Saudi Arabia is supposedly a recognized nation-state, with all the trappings and responsibilities, and yet some significant fraction of the national government saw no issue with supporting bin Laden and al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. The mentalities behind this are not ones that are going to cooperate with engaging us on clearly marked battlefields by appointment, and just like dealing with the various bandit organizations of the past, you have to engage them when they chose to engage you–And, those engagements are very, very unlikely to be your combat-trained troops, if you are so foolish as to tolerate multi-tier combat capability in your forces. By the time your combat forces can react, the “hit” part of the “hit-and-run” is over; odds are not at all good you’ll manage to find the enemy once they’ve transitioned to the “run” part, after having successfully hit the soft underbelly of your support troops.

          Fact of life. Failure to recognize this fact, and successfully cope with it? Indicative that our armed forces leadership is both inept, unaware, and oblivious to implication. By the time we see them get a clue, a good chunk of Europe will likely be under the Caliph’s flag, and you’ll be seeing ISIS-style beheadings of off-duty military and police force members here in the US. That’s where this is going, and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’m not counting on that, though.

          • Kirk:

            What a staggering attitude from the JAG people. We are dealing with an enemy who will castrate you before they behead you, and the JAG is worried that having American soldiers pose as… American soldiers would be a war crime. Amazing. Clearly the lions are still led by donkeys.

            I agree with you about bullpups. Now that women are serving throughout the army, the service rifle will be used by people from 5ft to 6ft 6in or taller, and, as you say, body armour and equipment also alters reach. The bullpup cannot compensate for this, added to which, as you say, it is awkward to use. British Army training for the SA80 is to keep the right hand on the pistol grip, so to use the charging handle the rifle has to be canted over so the left hand can reach it. It’s not fast or instinctive.

            I also agree about the likely fate of Europe. We have been importing our enemies by the million, and demographics mean that within a few decades there will be religious wars similar to those of the 17th Century. I don’t look forward to it, but i can’t see how it can be avoided now. What a bloody mess.

  14. Hi Ian,

    For the record, the nickname “clairon” (and not “claRIon”) is not, I repeat, is NOT in use in the french armies. Or if it ever were, it would date back to the infancy or early adoption of the rifle in the late 70s, and has since been TOTALLY forgotten (I swear I’ve never met a single french soldier who even knew about it)… except for the english-speaking Internet gun community !

    To put that into perspective : TODAY’s new army recruits weren’t even BORN (the current youngest ones were born in 1998 !) that such nickname had been forgotten for TWENTY years already.

    So please, stop using it. Let it rest in its historical grave.

    Thanks. 🙂

  15. I have been hoping for a piece on the FAMAS, as I have an interest in French weapons.

    It is clear that it is a well thought out little rifle, better in many respects than the SA80 in its original form. However, I am not a fan of the bullpup configuration. The weight will always be in the butt, whereas for a properly balanced rifle it should be between the hands. A well balanced rifle like an M14 does not feel its true weight, whereas a badly balanced rifle like an SA80 feels even heavier than it already is.

    I was keen to see Pal Kiraly’s lever delayed blowback system. The French clearly liked it as they used it on the AAT52 GPMG as well. However, I must confess that I have a problem fully seeing how it works. In reality, it seems that it is a bit of a marginal system, hence the fluted chambers and steel cartridges. Nonetheless, it will be a shame to see it go, as it is nice to see different solutions to the same problem being tried.

    Now all we need is some footage of a FAMAS actually firing!

    • The ergonomics of the FAMAS are excellent if you hold it correctly- many people want to grip the for-end as they would a normal rifle when cupping the end is the more effective way to do it. I admit to having never tried this with short arms. It locks up very tightly in standing or prone. In prone the pistol grip can be pushed into the left forearm and to get a very steady hold.

      The weight in the rear isn’t really a problem. Try a Galil CAR for an example of what happens when the weight is forward.

      • I think you mean the Galil ARM, not the SAR. The SAR is really quite handy with that 13″ barrel, albeit somewhat heavy due to the milled receiver and stock. The ARM, on the other hand, is much more of a balance disaster due to the bipod and long barrel.

    • I’m a fan of lever delayed blowbacks, and surely today it could be designed better than in the late ’60s. Lever delayed blowbacks exchange part of the mass of the bolt required in a simple blowback with the increased speed of a part of it, so their functioning is a delicate balance between the weight of the bolt, the weight of the carrier, the lenght of the lever, it’s form… At that time the the calculations were made by hand, today is possible to computer design a bolt that, once phisically made, performs exactly as expected.
      But I’m not a fan of bullpup configurations.
      In respect to it’s disadvantages, the only advantage of bullpups design, compactness in tansport, is often void if compared to standard designs with collapsible stock (that bullpups can’t have).
      Comparing the FAMAS and the Steyr AUG with another 5.56 NATO European design of the same years (the Beretta SC70/90), we see that the SC70/90, with the stock collapsed, is 756mm long with a 450mm barrel. The FAMAS is 757mm long with 488mm barrel, The AUG is 790mm long with 508mm barrel.
      So, the lenght advantages of the FAMAS and AUG designs, for the same barrel lenght, are of mere 36mm (1.4 inches) and 24mm (1 inch) respectively. Hardly noticeable when the rifle is carried by a soldier in a truck.
      Obviously armies could have good reasons to prefer fixed stocks over collapsible ones (economy, ruggedness…), but, compared to the drawbacks of the bullpups…

  16. RE: Bullpups in general…

    I’m of the opinion that the whole idea starts to founder the moment you start putting your troops in body armor, and then put them in vehicles, to boot. Classic belt-order web gear is what you need with a bullpup, not a chest rig, and a chest rig is what you really want in most vehicular operations. The two diametrically opposed needs make the whole bullpup idea a non-starter, for me.

    I have normally proportioned arms. In a modern armor vest like the various iterations of the IBA with plates, and coupled with a chest rig, I start to resemble a Tyrannosaurus Rex in terms of reach. A lot of other people are even worse off–I spent a good chunk of time screwing around with a captured FAMAS and AUG that we had in 101st Division headquarters, sourced from God alone knows where. Both weapons, I concluded, would be fine if I weren’t wearing armor and a chest rig, but with the configuration I had to have in order to be able to get in and out of a damn up-armored HMMWV, the bullpups were essentially unmanagable. Magazine changes, which are already problematic for speed, become ridiculously difficult when you can’t even reach across your front chest in most positions to get at the mag well for a reload, without removing the weapon from your shoulder and taking it completely out of the fight. Meanwhile, the “primitive” M16 and M4 allow everything to happen and be performed right out in front of you, and you don’t even have to break your cheekweld to do it. I’ve shucked through an entire basic combat load on an M4 without ever having to remove the weapon from my shoulder, break the cheekweld, or remove my attention from what was in front of me to serve the weapon.

    You can’t do that with any of the bullpups I’ve tried doing that with. None. To me, the whole question founders on these “minor issues” of combat ergonomics and skill at arms that everyone in bullpup-armed militaries like to hand-wave away. There are some truly scary British Army “Close Quarter Battle” videos up on YouTube, where they’re demonstrating a complete disregard for the basic rules I had drummed into me as a private about managing your weapon under fire–The troops armed with the SA-80 are shown in shoot houses changing magazines by stopping, breaking weapons lock from the shoulder, and looking down at the weapon in order to find magazines on webbing, remove the empty, and then reload before taking up aim again. This is a damn good way to get your ass shot, or to have a “blue-on-blue” incident, because once you remove your attention and lose situational awareness, it’s all too damn easy to mistake that flash of movement created by one of your own guys as being enemy, or to miss that someone moved up on you while you were swapping magazines.

    Bullpups are just not good combat weapons, in my mind, especially now that we’ve lugging all this armor and gear around on our upper bodies. If this were the 1980s, and we still had mostly belt-based web gear, with no armor? I’d be a lot less skeptical. The conditions of today being what they are…? Bullpups are a poor choice of arm, for combat.

    • My comment on E-5 clerks was to use mile sarcasm to point out out of touch with the nature of a modern army you are.

      If you hadn’t noticed the people assigned to or who choose to go into combat service support MOS do so for a number of reasons. One of them is not that they want to be infantrymen and would be good at it.

      You might also notice that mechanics etc fix things during their work day. When did you want them to train for combat to the same level as the infantry? What level of unserviceability of vehicles and equipment will the div commander allow so his mechanics can practice live fire platoon attacks? How will having IT repairmen and bulk fuel people injured during tactical exercises aid mission accomplishment?

      How much ammo did you want the brigade commander to take from the infantry and give to service support people during workups? 20%? 30%? How many AT missiles should a supply platoon fire?

      • So, what you’re saying is you want more incidents like what happened to the 507th, and you want to waste more time “looking for the enemy” with the combat troops, while the lion’s share of the contacts go to the logistics guys who aren’t equipped, trained, or aggressive enough to even fix the enemy in place for a ready reaction force to tackle them?

        Because that’s what your course of action means.

        The facts are that the enemy will continue to refuse to engage the combat forces. This cedes initiative to them, and puts us at a serious disadvantage. Further, by offering up the weak flank of effectively combat incapable logistics forces for them to attack, we’re basically setting the battlefield conditions such that these attacks are more likely.

        Your protestations about people who don’t want to fight, and who choose combat service support jobs because of that…? Well, we have a word for those people where I come from: Civilians. If you don’t want to fight, you shouldn’t be in uniform and carrying a weapon in the first place–The mentality you espouse is a large part of the reason we have these issues in the first place.

        Not to mention that your position is basically bullshit, anyway–There is no reason to say that the CS and CSS elements can’t meet or even exceed the basic standards of the infantry. All that is lacking is the will, and the attendant supporting culture out in these units. I was an Observer/Controller out at the NTC for 2 1/2 years. In that time, I saw all kinds of ineptitude for even survival in the “rear echelon” of even combat brigades. But, do you know what else I saw? I observed that some units, and the specific example I am thinking of is the 3rd ACR back circa 1999, had their acts together. The maintenance warrant who was running the RSA Engineer element was a scarily competent guy–His OPORDs to the maintenance folks under his control were better than a lot of line combat units, and the very few times the OPFOR engaged with them, they came out with their heads handed to them. On one occasion, they managed to infiltrate most of a platoon of light infantry into the RSA, and once that crew opened fire, it was game on. The maintenance elements and other rear-area types turned that whole attack on its ear inside about a half-hour, and had either killed or rounded up the majority of the light infantry platoon without suffering a single friendly casualty. I think the most interesting thing I witnessed that afternoon was the use of the rough-terrain forklifts as combat vehicles, running around the RSA with guys up in the man-baskets, being used to effectively spot and herd the light infantry around. The mechanics had a couple of guys with M249s up in those baskets, and a couple more riding shotgun. It wasn’t even a fair fight; afterwards, the OPFOR element chose not to do anything more than desultory indirect fire with mortars.

        It is possible to get these units up to a very effective level in combat skills. Equipping them, and depriving them of training time and money to attain these skills is both a disservice to the troops, and an open invitation to having our logistics efforts gutted by the enemy. The mentality you espouse was dated circa 1945, and should have been abandoned after all the rear-area fiascoes experienced in Korea. Instead, we’ve simply institutionalized them, and fantasize about clearly delineated battlefields which really weren’t ever in existence. As far back as WWI, we had German saboteurs and sympathists active in the continental US; the Soviets had multiple programs going for conducting operations in our rear areas, even back to the continental US. This isn’t anything new, nor is it the product of paranoia. The real problem is that we fail to even want to acknowledge these things and then deal with the implications. Hell, even now, after the Fort Hood debacle, we still refuse to arm the troops on our bases. At some point in the next few decades, you’re going to see attacks made on US forces a la Lee Rigby, and we’re still going to be standing there wringing our hands, and asking “Oh, what can we do? This is awful… Whatever can we do…?”.

        There are no such things as “non-combat troops”. If you’re in uniform, you’re a combat soldier, period. If you’re unwilling to take the fight to the enemy, you’d better find another line of work, because you’re useless as a military member. We can hire civilian contractors to fill jobs that are specifically and only “maintenance-oriented”, and that’s what we should be doing instead of having this two-tier system of front-line combat troops and then the rest of the inept and combat-ineffective herd.

        Of course, admission of this fact and then dealing with the implications would mean that about 80% of the existing CS and CSS structure would wind up being fired for being useless mouths in a combat situation, but that’s as it should be. If you are unwilling to fight, and just want to turn wrenches? Fine; that’s what DA civilians and contractors are for.

        If it were up to me, I’d have a much smaller set of armed forces than we do. But, I can guarantee you one damn thing: Our enemies would be huddled up in their cellars, twitching, as they remembered what happened the last time they fired on US troops of any kind. That’s how you prevent things like what happened to the 507th; harden the f**k up, and make those units just as deadly as the line infantry.

        We did this in WWII, where the separate Combat Engineer battalions had more firepower and were as well-trained as the line infantry for combat. During the Battle of the Bulge, LTC David Pergrin’s 291st Engineer Battalion effectively stopped Joachim Peiper’s Kampfgruppe dead in its tracks–The Germans thought they’d stumbled into at least a brigade’s worth of infantry, when it was merely an Engineer battalion that had been running lumber mills and building roads immediately before the attack. Every single logistics unit ought to be able to emulate that performance, and if we could do it then, we could do it now.

        And, frankly? As one of the guys who was expected to backstop the infantry when the s**t hits the fan, and who was consistently shortchanged for training and combat equipment? Y’all can kiss my ass: You want me to play infantry, you’d best be giving me the same gear and training they have, or you can forget me taking my guys up against tanks with satchel charges, which is about all we’ve got for AT weapons, in all too many Engineer units these days.

        • Combat engineers are not service support. They are combat arms.

          Whatever happened on an exercise in the US is of minor interest. No one was dying or being hurt. Lots of people can be quite brave under those conditions.

          Your entire position- ignoring it completely disregards the real nature of the army and the people who join- is insulting to the infantry. A bunch of clerks, supply people or mechanics (often reserves) should have the same combat power as an active duty rifle platoon. Being an infantry commander is something you pick up after a day spent in front of the computer. It’s not scores or perhaps hundreds of repetitions of tactical scenarios under arduous conditions that make good infantry. Any bunch of IT techs and carpenters should be able to replace a rifle platoon. It’s so laughable it would make a good movie plot. “Crazy general mistakenly orders 6879th Logistics platoon filled with colorful characters to prepare for raid to capture head of AQ. Hilarity ensues”.

          • I think you are building a false dichotomy here. Support troops should be able to defend themselves effectively, but I agree with Harlan that it’s not practical or even possible to require the same level of proficiency from them as from actual infantry. So clearly some kind of middle ground between “support troops don’t fight” and “support troops should fight like infantry” is the answer here.

          • You’re exhibiting signs of deliberate obtuseness and imbecility.

            The point was, and let me spell this out for you as clearly as I can, that the 291st Engineers under LTC Pergrin was, at the time of the attack, tasked and roled as a CSS element. They were not assigned as divisional engineer troops; they were working for echelons above division, out running sawmills for the First Army winterization program. That they transitioned so easily to acting in a direct combat role stemmed from the fact that they had been properly and thoroughly prepared for that role beforehand, while going through training at Camp Swift.

            They, and every other Engineer element in the vicinity of the battle, were flung into the breach. The only real advantage that they had was that the Army then had such units fully motorized on trucks, and quite heavily armed with machineguns–Some units had scrounged enough extra weapons that their companies had more machineguns than some infantry battalions. This made for a hell of a difference when the Germans attacked.

            There is no reason that similar expectations cannot be adopted for all elements of the military, today–What’s missing is the idea that support units should be able to carry their own weight under fire. By not training or equipping them to meet the challenge, they are avoiding it, and we are ceding a significant space on the overall battlefield when we do that.

        • Few decades ago, in some armies, it was clear for professionnal militaries to send conscript in first line to receive the first bullets before risking their “pro” lives.

          And for guys working for non-direct combat tasks (communication, supply, long range artillery, etc…) they consider fighting was not their role.

  17. Ian
    Will you be bidding on this rifle? Being a Francophile and with the FAMAS being easily changed to left hand operation I think this would be right up your alley.

    please keep the great vids comming.

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