Engagement in BaQubah, Iraq Nov, 14, 2004

Today we have a  guest post from  friend of the website  Max  writing about his experience in Iraq.

Engagement in BaQubah, Iraq

Nov, 14, 2004

 

We were rabbits.  That was our job.  Every morning we would travel the MSR (Main Supply Routes) and try and get AIF (Anti Iraqi Forces) to detonate IEDs on our HMMWV convoy.  If they waste their munitions on us in the morning, then the supply trucks had a better chance to make it to their destinations.  Plus, if they engaged us, we were prepared for engagement with a QRF Bradley platoon at the ready if we need them.

Our Lieutenant was new to our platoon.  He was a finance officer just transferred in from Kirkuk so he can get the ever coveted ‘combat experience’ that can really make or break an officer’s career.

We had been in country for 10 months and today was the final day of Ramadan.  Earlier that morning we had already had an engagement.  A few IEDs exploded as we travelled down a highway that I can’t recall the arbitrary name we assigned to it.  One of our vehicles had taken a bit of damage to a tire, but we closed the distance and engaged the enemy.  Which meant we had to wait around for another platoon to take the wounded enemy fighters to FOB Warhorse.  After releasing the wounded people that were only minutes earlier trying to kill us we receive a radio call notifying us that someone had called in to the hotline saying that a large group of men were carrying RPGs and AK-47s.

 

This is a call we received often.  Occasionally, you would engage the enemy, but most of the time you just drove around looking and finding nothing.  With one vehicle down (we dropped the damaged vehicle off at the Iraqi Police station to repair the damage to the tire) we took three vehicles and headed to the location given to us.

 

This time was different.  As soon as we rounded the corner the women in their black robes all started running.  I was in the gunner’s hatch manning the 240b.  I lightly tapped the Lieutenant with my foot and told him, “Here it comes, sir!”

 

The only thing I heard him say was “Here comes what?”.  After that I gazed down the street and identified an individual turning around and lifting an RPG.  He fired the weapon and I could hear the RPG round skip across the pavement.  The rocket propelled grenade skipped under all three of our vehicles, finally popping up behind us before detonating.  Being in the lead vehicle, I spun the 240b around and began firing controlled bursts of 3-5 rounds at the individual that fired the RPG.  He dropped quickly.

This is the moment when time started to slow down.  As the driver hammered the gas and we began to pick up speed I started looking down the alleys.  They were all full of cars with the trunks open.  I could see the RPG launchers, RPG rounds, RPKs, and AK-47s spilling forth from the open trunks of the standard orange fender taxi cabs that are all over Iraq.  These guys meant business.

It was our luck that we came up from behind the ambush that was being prepared.  Another individual with an AK-47 raced across the street.  I fired and missed.  Out of ammunition.  I scream for the AG to feed me more ammunition for the 240b as the vehicle slides around the corner.  We are face to face with a guy holding an AK-47.  His face covered by the red and white checkered head scarves typical of the area.  His AK-47 was jammed.  He was slamming the charging handle back and forth trying to clear the jam.  I called for ammunition once again.  Still nothing.  I scream at the driver, “Hit this motherfucker!”  Hit him we did.  The vehicle lurched forward toward the man before us.  I remember his eyes were green, and I thought that was a bit odd for an Iraqi.  I could see his eyes clearly because they widened to the size of saucers when he realized that we were just going to run him down with the vehicle.  The driver slammed directly into the man before us, sending him and the HMMWV through a wall.  The driver backed up, and ran him down again.

Finally fed the ammunition I desperately needed, I reloaded the 240b and the HMMWV was maneuvered around back to the original road we traveled down.  We arrived at the first intersection and stopped, all three trucks taking defensive positions and we quickly set up a 360-degree security.

Another individual wearing what was lovingly referred to as a ‘man dress’ popped around the corner and fired his AK-47 directly at me.  Honestly, I have no idea how he missed me, he was only about 25 meters away from our position.  I didn’t waste any time pulling the trigger and dropping him, dumping a few extra bursts into the body to ensure the threat was removed.

At this time my squad leader called for me to exit the vehicle, and the AG and myself switched places.  I handed two cans of ammunition to the AG in the gunner’s hatch and headed over to my squad leader.  I was the grenadier of the squad, which meant I had the m203 attached to my M-16 (yes, we still used the long musket M-16s at this time).  I was instructed to destroy the vehicles in the alley before us with HE 40mm grenades.

This was where I made my mistake.  My first shot landed directly in the trunk.  No detonation.  We were too close.  A 40mm grenade must travel about 50 meters before it would arm the round to explode.  So, I backed up, fired again.  Still to close.  This round bounced off the wall, off the car, and down the street (unknowingly, the round landed and exploded at the feet of a couple of AIF members severely injuring them.

Also, unknowingly, I had positioned myself directly in the intersection.  I had zero cover.  It was at this moment when I felt the impact to my chest.  The best way I can describe it is this:  take a 6’7” 320lb professional baseball pinch hitter and let him swing full force into your chest.  One moment I was kneeling in the intersection and the next I was laying on my back, bleeding from my neck.  The next thing I knew, I was being dragged behind a wall by my own personal lord and savior, SPC Grive (thanks, man… you really save my ass).  The medic looked at my neck and said I had bullet fragments and plate fragments in my neck.  Honestly, I couldn’t feel any pain, but I could see the blood that covered my IBA and the hole that was now in my IBA.

I quickly got my head back in the game and ran back to my HMMWV to meet up with the driver who was outside the door of the HMMWV engaging the enemy across the street.

“Phil, I don’t want to be here anymore.” I said louder than I wanted to.

“I don’t want to be here anymore, either man.” SPC Philips said.

We now began to engage the enemy with as much firepower as we could.  Everything was so hectic I didn’t even hear the Bradley’s roll up directly behind us.  SPC Philips and myself dropped back a bit and let the Bradley through.  The Bradley placed itself between the HMMWV and the enemy.  Giving us perfect cover.

As the Bradley’s fired, we began to check our magazines, grabbing a few out of the HMMWV to refill the ones that were empty.  It was at this time that the mortars started to fall.  They had already set up a mortar team to engage us – because they knew exactly what we would do.  Stop and make a 360-degree circle to defend.  Worse yet, they were perfectly aimed to air burst above us.  One of the mortars exploded and my left leg felt like it was on fire.  A piece of shrapnel had pierced my calf and sank itself deep.  I fell to the pavement.  SPC Philips pulled my Israeli bandage from my cargo pocket and wrapped my leg up at the point of entry and called for the medic.

The medic didn’t arrive.  He was engaged, so I drug myself across the ground and began to fire from behind the Bradley.  Honestly, at this point I was only firing randomly down the alleyway towards the sound of incoming fire.  I cannot say exactly how long we were engaged by the enemy, but after the Bradley’s arrived, the enemy all quickly exfiltrated.

For the next four hours we kicked in doors and questioned the people that lived in the area.  I turned out that the mosque right across the street had been allowing jihadis to store weapons inside of it.  Not only that, but the jihadis had been recruiting locals to attack us.  We discovered this from one of the women in a rather large house.  She told me that her son was one of the people that had agreed to take up arms against us for the ambush.  I remember telling her, “Lady, your son is probably dead.”  Her response?

“Good.  Kill them all.”

Winchester Model 1897 Riot

I have always loved the Model97.  Just it’s look is iconic.  I doubt any one has made it to adulthood as a gun enthusiast and not seen pictures of Marines in the Pacific, GIs in Vietnam or even some Doughboy in the trenches with a M97.    That isn’t counting all the police units who have used it over the years.   And even in the hands of lowly  Joey Shmoe in the woods and fields for hunting,

The M97 is another  masterpiece from the Master , John M Browning himself.  A more refined and beefed up version of the earlier M1893.  It’s production running from  1897 , Natch, to 1957 with over 1 million made by USRAC, AKA Winchester.  It came in a variety of barrel lengths and in take down and non take down models but offered only in 12 and 16gauge.    On top of that we have seen clones from varies over seas makers since then.

The shotgun is like most in that it feeds from the bottom into the magazine tube and the “pump” is used to cycle the ammo with empties ejecting from the right hand side ejection port.  It does however have an external hammer and a slide does travel reward outside of the action while cocking the external hammer.     If you are not familiar with this, care has to be taken with your grip or you may end up  getting a little love bite from the gun.     Capacity is 5 rounds in the magazine plus  1 in the chamber of an un plugged gun.

The M97 also lacks a disconnector  for the trigger.  Yes that means that as long as you hold the trigger to the rear, and work the action the gun will fire as soon as the action closes and achieves lock up.   The gun can be fired very quickly this way and it is a big thing for guys now a days to want this.  It’s usefulness is arguable though and  in less experienced hands it can be dangerous for the careless.   But then again, what isn’t dangerous when in the hands of the careless? Oh, and the safety is the trigger at half cock.

The saw action in all those ways I mentioned above, and more.  It has certainly qualified as being in any gun hall of fame.    I’m not going to go into its vast detailed history here since everyone and his mother in law has a website somewhere talking about it.   I am going to show how mine shoots.

I fired some 00 bucks and  rifled slugs through the gun only.   My number 4 buck and various other shotgun loads are all 3 inch shells and the old ’97 is a 2-3/4 shell only affair.    Hopefully I will round up some more variety later and edit it into this  and repost  in the near future.

Having an open choke.  I kept it to normal shotgun ranges.   I did intend to fire slugs out to 100 but  there is only so much  the old shoulder can take  from a hard buttplate.

First picture below is  one round of 00 buck at 20 yards.  I fired this at the head of  the target and all but one pellet stayed on the “head” zone.

Above is one round of 00 from 25 yards.    Well within what I would want it to do.    I have noticed though that the federal “military ”  00 buck   full brass buck does not shoot as tight as the  federal low recoil low brass  00 buck load the local police use.   I did not have it on hand today , but in the past the low recoil load shoots excellent in every shotgun I have  used it in.   For a look at that  check out my review of the Inland/Ithaca  trench gun review from last year.  If you are too lazy to do that here is a target fired with the excellent federal low recoil 00 loads  from the other shotgun.   This is pretty standard performance in all shotguns when using this ammo in my experience. It shoots nearly identical in the m97.  The patter in the orange stick is from the shotgun.

You can see how well the low brass/low recoil load shoots even at distances I would  never actually risk shooting at some one with if I were a cop in a urban environment.   I wish I had  some  for this test by I had grabbed the wrong loads before I left sad to say.

Next up was the federal  rifled slug  load.

Above you can see my 3 shot group from 40 yards, off hand.   I really surprised myself because I hate and dread shooting slugs.  I hate shooting them and if I had some other sucker with me I would have made them shoot the slugs as I am wont to do.   The hole that looks like another slug hole is from  the wadding from an earlier shot.   The top left  hole that seems to be a flyer was  a slug I fired from 75 yards as I was finishing up.  I aimed a little higher and since I was off hand and hate firing  12ga slugs , I wasn’t able to  put it into the group from 40 yards.  But I will take it!   I also  fired two  last slugs at the  “head” from  50 yards and was able to keep them nice and tight. This was from a supported position.

The gun is pretty old but it is still very capable  in these modern  times.   It is fast to the shoulder, handles terrific and the action is slick and fast.

Beyond all that is just the plain cool factor. It is a classic and has been something I wanted  for many years.   Mainly since I saw William Holden and his pals wasting people in The Wild Bunch.   A film that obviously has spawned the wild bunch matches in cowboy action shooting.  Those matches have done more than anything to drive up the prices of models and make them harder to find.    Shooters of those matches quickly scoop up any original riot/trench model they can find as well as  longer barreled models for conversion.  Even the Norinco 97 copy  has  become a collectors item more or less.   Even made in China it  is fine gun  if you do run across one  by the way.  Do not hesitate to buy one if you find it and wonder.

The Model 97 Winchester is one of my favorite guns and when I see it and use it I always think of The Wild Bunch.  In fact the two are so intertwined in my mind I sought out the display  at the NRS museum  while in D.C. a few years ago  and took a picture.   The display model is the  gun used by Holden in the film.

 

 

 

More Belt Fed: A Reader Shares His H&K23e

After the last post with videos of me  firing the H&K21   GPMG,  a readers has checked in adding some detail and sending some video of his 5.56mm HK.  After mentioning how I would like to try one in 5.56mm we get the next best thing.

Will,  one of the readers that found us through the Hognose at weaponsman.com, (RIP) joined the tet-a-tet in the comment sections and shared some video of his gun in action.

Will’s gun is obviously a newer model configured to be infinitely more useful in a fight in modern times.  You can see the control ability and recoil  from the 556 variant and compare to the videos I posted earlier.

 

I wanted to edit in to add some  words from Will about the gun  above.

“Shawn, thanks for posting this. Some details on the gun: it’s a Michaels Machines MM23E, which is not quite a true E spec gun.

Most notably, it uses a hybrid barrel that has the E extractor cutout but also the non-E safety mechanism. Both the HK21 and HK21E include a safety mechanism to prevent the gun from firing while the barrel is not locked into the receiver. On the HK21 a small pin sticks out of the rear of the barrel and interfaces with a matching indentation on the bolt face. If the barrel is unlocked, the pin prevents the bolt from going into battery.

On an E gun, a pin sticks out the side of the barrel opposite the barrel handle. When the barrel is unlocked, this pin prevents the charging handle from releasing.

You can use German E barrels on a MM21E or MM23E, but you have to remove the safety pin, which is a little scary. If you fire the gun while the barrel is not locked, it will fly down range and the barrel handle will tear off the front half of the receiver cage as it goes.

Like a real E, you can convert it to 7.62×51 by swapping the bolt, barrel, and feed mechanism, which can be done in a minute or two. German feed mechanisms work fine with the MM guns, supposedly. The bolt group is different, however, since it has a slot and ramp cut into it to actuate the trip lever for transferable sear packs. A real German 21/23E uses a one piece sear/trip lever, and isn’t compatible with a transferable sear.

As for Michaels Machines, owned by Mike Otte, I had a terrible experience, and am still having the occasional issue. They are very expensive guns with long lead times, but mine did not work well out of the box, had a multitude of finish and function issues like a canted front sight that was so far off to the side that I couldn’t get it on paper, and a botched job on my sear install in a 4 position burst pack. My feed mechanism is currently back with Otte since some of the parts are warping or wearing at an unusually high rate and causing jams, almost like the heat treat wasn’t quite right.

If I were to do it all over I’d let TSC build the gun out of a German 21E parts kit and HK91, which would cost twice as much but be as close to the real thing as possible, and undoubtedly work well.

Here’s a picture of the whole gun: 

 

I always take flak for changing to an AR style stock, but with the riser it gives the correct cheek weld with the optic, and also shortens up the length of pull to a more manageable distance, which brings the center of gravity rearwards to aid with offhand shooting”

 

H&K 21 General Purpose Machine Gun

Over the weekend   we were able to shoot the HK21 purchased by my friend, a Class 3 dealer.  The HK21 is  a belt fed  light machine-gun based off the G3 rifle made by H&K firing 7.62mm NATO.  It’s been around since 1961 and has seen considerable use in various world armed forces.  One stand out reported use was by US Army Delta Force.  In the past I have even seen pictures of it being fired in Iraq by US Forces at a firing range.

Having fired the full auto G3 several time over the last few years I was a little surprised by just how rough the 21 was.  It has considerable recoil.  While heavier than the G3, the cyclic rate much higher and it is a brute.

I was able to get some hurried video when firing the gun the first day. You can watch below.

 

on the video below you can see the cross pin that holds the gopro camera in the head mount was vibrated out by the recoil of the gun

Last video.  I did try to stand up and hold the gun with one hand  i.e. Rambo but sad to say the belt kinked on me and it didn’t make for a very compelling video.  Next time I will try with a shorter belt.

Sad to say I did not have time for any kind of accuracy test.  I will have to think up some method to test out its “accuracy” while fired in busts and  semi auto in the future.  I think I still have some of the US Army reduced range machine gun targets.

The gun is a fun. I doubt you needed to be told that though.   It is rough however and there is technique to firing it prone so as not to ruin your shoulder and give yourself a headache.     As a GPMG the gun does have a quick change barrel that i forgot to video a demonstration of.   In coming weeks I will try to attempt a longer instructional video on the weapon for anyone interested.  Comment below if you want to see something like that.  I personally always  worry that videos like that appear as “showing off”  or a “look what I get to play with and you  never will” kind of things.   I wish everyone could own and use MGs etc as a normal part of gun ownership. For those that can’t I  hope maybe to at least  answer questions about it and not  play it up as the ULTIMATE!! experience.

A  class 3  M60 and a STG 44 will be arriving in the next few months and I will do my best to get more entertaining videos of those for everyone.

The Atlas Flush Cup 3.35″ 1913 Rail

For years I had been using a Harris bipod mounted to one of the two factory swivel studs on the free floating handgaurd/tube that is standard on the colt HBAR Elite.   It worked out fine and I really have no complaints.  But  like everyone else these days, all my more higher end rifle accessories are meant to easily  interface with the 1913 rail.    After getting an ATLAS bipod that uses a QD lever mount last year I  kinda wished it was more like the harris,  By that I mean, it came  in a configuration that let it mount to the stud and with an additional part, mount to 1913 rail.

After getting a second ATLAS bipod , my desire to use it on the HBAR Elite just grew stronger.   At the urging of my Dad I started to look for something that would allow it.

I ran across the subject of this post.  The ATLAS bipod mount and ordered it.

The Atlas Flush Cup 3.35″ 1913 Rail will accommodate hole patterns with a center to center spacing of 1.76 – 2.78″ with a relieved base to accommodate curved surfaces. A standard sling stud and sling stud spacer can be used as one fastener or two button head machine screws can be used. NO HARDWARE IS INCLUDED (see P/N 640382) to attach this rail to the forearm of standard rifle stocks. The Atlas Flush Cup 1913 Rail can also be attached to a horizontal surface on the butt section to attach their BT12 or BT13 Precision Rail Monopods. This rail also has a flush cup for that style of sling swivels.

This short section of rail can be ordered curved to fit  the tube, or to fit a more flat traditional forearm.

You simply remove the two factory studs and replace with the longer allen bolts in place.   These two bolts do not come with the part and must be bought separate.  The hole spacing  is pretty common for most factory guns so it shouldn’t be a issue.   You can see that you have some room for adjustment on the part itself.

It also comes  with a flush cup sling swivel hole.  I have come to prefer using the flush cup QD sling swivels  myself.

The part is very well made as you would expect from Atlas.  After installing it and using it I wished I had known about it sooner.  I would have bought and used this part even without the Atlas bipod.  I like the flexibility that comes with a section of rail. This would have let me move my Harris bipods around faster from gun to gun since I already had a picatinny adapter installed on them and had to remove it to use on this rifle.   On top of that It would have allowed me to use my preferred method of sling swivel.   Obviously since it is a 1913 rail, you can use it to mount anything else you may want,  Like a light or laser depending on your needs or position of mounting.

 

Since I ordered it to be able to use one of my Atlas bipods, that’s what I its used for.   The two mate together perfectly  naturally, is a solid high quality piece of  gear and it just looks nice and tidy.

I am really, really happy with this.  In fact the more I have messed around with it, the more I like it.    My only regret is I did not find out about this part and buy one sooner.

I can give this my highest recommendation.  If you have a precision bolt action rifle or anything that you want to upgrade the front or rear mounting point this is a great choice.   Even better  it was only 19.95.