Two Man Tactics – Part 2 – Rates of Fires & Talking Guns


I know I said I was going to do sectors of fire next, but this was quicker and easier to talk about first.

In the past I was taught than when your buddy is reloading or if their weapon malfunction, you need to pick up your rate of fire to compensate for their lack of shooting. I believed this and taught it to others.

Now I don’t think so.

A good example of when this would be necessary would be if you had two mortar teams and they were going to fire 4 rounds each for a total of 8 rounds on target. If one gun were to go down during the string of fire, the other would fire more rounds to get the proper number of rounds on target.

But if you are talking about a 2 man team, I don’t think this applies.

Back when I carried a M16A2, I found that my buddy and my self would each start with 30 rounds in a mag, and end up having to reload around the same time. If the other guy had to reload first, if I tried to pick up my rate of fire I would nearly immediately have to reload. Leaving us both reloading.

On that note, it might make sense for small teams to plan for some individuals to reload early to prevent everyone from reloading at the same time.

I think this advise comes from military highers ups looking at individuals as a commodity. If each individual rifleman is suppose to be outputting 15 rounds a minute, if one soldier goes down you have a deficiency in your firepower. So you tell one of your guys to increase their output to 30 rounds a minute to maintain the total unit firepower.

Let us back up a moment. Why do we shoot? We shoot when the alternative would be worse than not shooting. This isn’t just about combatives, we shoot to test equipment, hone our skills, or to have fun. Not plinking is a worse outcome that plinking.

So, if we are in a fight, touching off rounds for no reason gives us no benefit. If I shoot uselessly, the enemy might initially be deterred by the noise, but once they realize I am not effectively engaging them, they will be emboldened to effectively press the attack.

If I am in a fight, I need to strive to be as efficient and effective as possible. Wasting any resources, ammo, energy, etc, mean that you might not have that for the next fight.

Instead of adjusting your shooting rate off what your partner is doing, you should be adjusting your tactics off what your partner is doing. If they are unable to shoot, you may need to cover their sector of fire. But you should be shooting what ever amount and rate of fire is necessary do get the job done.

If you are shooting to destroy the enemy, shouldn’t you already be shooting as fast as you can do it effectively? If you are shooting to suppress the enemy, shouldn’t you be shooting just enough to keep the enemies from returning effective fire to you? Why in either of those cases would you shoot faster because your buddy is reloading or clearing a jam?

I think this concept makes sense when you are talking machine guns. If there are two teams of belt fed weapons firing 3-5 round bursts and one gun needs to reload, it would make sense for the other gun to fire longer bursts during that reload. But if you and someone else are fighting with handguns or rifles, our rate of fire should be dependent on what is necessary to engage the enemy, not some set number.

If shooting fast will let you win faster, do it. Doesn’t matter what your buddy is doing. If shooting faster won’t make you win faster, don’t.

Now, on a similar topic, let us talk about “talking guns”. My intent it to explain the concept of “talking guns” and then explain why a two man team is not likely to be using that tactic. Then I will contradict my self and wrap up with an example of when it might be useful.

With machine guns and machine gun gunnery there is a very common and well known tactic known as “talking guns”. Talking guns is where two or more machine guns alternative firing bursts. There are many reasons for using this strategy. First it can keep constant rounds going downrange towards the enemy, while each of your machine guns are just firing normal bursts. A second, but not lesser reason, is to make it harder for the enemies to pin point the location of your machine guns if your machine guns are alternating bursts.

Now I read people claim that well practiced Machine Gunners will have their alternating gun fire sound like a single long burst from a single gun. I never heard that from when I was in and I somewhat think that this is a bullshit idea from people who are not machine gunners. It would be easy to mess up and have both guns fire at the same time

If you are a two person team of automatic riflemen or machine gunners, this would be a great tactic for for the two of you. Out side of that, not so much.

I’ve sometimes heard or read people suggest using talking guns for any two man team.
I think people suggest this because the concept of talking guns is cool and just seems like it would be good for a group of two.

Let us imagine that Shawn and I each are carrying our pistols and facing down a hoard a baddies.
What justification would there be for us to hold fire in order to alternative taking shots?
Each of us would want to shoot as efficiently as we could.

Especially once you get distance involved. You and your buddy should not be side by side as that would make it easier for the enemy to engage the both of you(or an explosion taking out both of you). Dispersion aids survival. But that distance means that you and your partner see different things. Each one of you may see different enemies or have very different experiences.

If I can see two enemies, and my team mate can not see any, should I hold off firing at the second baddie until my team mate fires?

Let me use another example. Different people have different skill levels. One shooter might be slower at lining up and making good shots. Another much faster and more effective. If the better shooter waits for the slower shooter to shoot, they are drastically reducing their own effectiveness. In most scenarios, there is little to gain by alternating shots.

But to wrap up, it isn’t bad to know or practice these things. Imagine a situation where you have a two man marksman/sniper team working individually in separate locations. If the two shooters engaged their enemies from different locations, alternating shots, it would make it much harder for the enemy to locate each shooter and/or respond appropriately.

With this silly drawing, you can see how a situation where two marksman in two different locations can cause quite the problem for the enemy. If they take cover from one shooter, they are exposed to the other. If they actively move to engage and destroy one marksman, the other can still engage them.

In the initial engagement, our 2 man team might want to alternate shots to help prevent the enemy forces from identifying where the shots are coming from, delaying their ability to effectively respond to the incoming fire. If one of is spotted, using the tactic of talking guns would be pointless.

Most of the time, in a small team, each individual would be best off shooting to their full potential. Rarely would you want to limit that rate of fire, or push someone to shoot faster than they can engage their targets effectively.


  1. Thank you for this write up it explains much better and in fewer words the ideas I’ve tried to communicate to buddies.

    Ammo gets heavy gotta make it worth it.


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