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Sniping With The M16A1

Today the precision AR15 is taken for granted. There are all manner of variants of the AR that will fill damn near every long range precision shooting need you have. This includes a wide range of rounds that can be used. It took a while to get to that point though and a lot of people think it’s a recent effort. Not true though. Efforts to have the M16 adapted to sniper use started as early as the Vietnam war.

By the time the last combat forces had been withdrawn from Vietnam, the 5.56mm, M16A1 rifle manufactured by the Colt Forearms Division, Colt Industries, had emerged as the standard US infantry arm. From the standpoint of sniper use, contrary to most beliefs, the M16 did receive official consideration as a sniping arm.”

Unsuited as the M16 may have been for specialized long range shooting, the right combination of marksman, rifle ammunition and telescope accounted for documented hits at ranges up to 700 meters. Nevertheless, results such as this were far from common”

The above quotes are from The Complete Book Of US Sniping By Peter Senich, a book published in 1988. We now know that the Ar15/M16 is quite capable of 700 meter hits and beyond. At the time however, the M16A1 was still the Army’s standard service rifle. The M16A2 did not become adopted by the Army until 1987 and obviously Mr. Senich’s book was researched and written before this rifle became standard even if the book was published a year after. The M16A1 was not suited for precision long range accuracy. The barrel, the ammo it was limited to and no satisfactory way to mount an optic to the gun as it came standard were among the main reason. Good as the M16A1 is, and really it is still a very good gun for a lot of things, it is not however, a sniper rifle

“Compared to the M14. rather simple score mounts could be readily attached to the M16’s integral carrying handle directly over the receiver in line with the bore, With this advantage, a considerable number of telescope sighted M16’s were pressed into service in Vietnam well in advance of the of the match grade M14s. “

Yes, it is easy to come up with mounts to attach optics to the M16, it wasn’t very easy to get an optic or the rifle. This lead to commercial optics being purchased ad brought into the country by units or single soldiers on their own initiative. Because of this, a good variety of M16s pressed into service as sniper rifles went out into the field. This when you start to see photos from the period show up of the M16 with the Colt 3x optic, the ART I scope and various other optics mounted to the rifle. Some of the mounts being fabricated in Vietnam by armorers.

An Army Lieutenant attached to MACV while serving as and advisor to and infantry battalion of the 5th ARVN Division, Parrish was armed with an M16 mounting a 3x-9x variable powered commercial scope and mount he reportedly had purchased from a gun shop in Hawaii. Among the field experiences with the scope sighed M16 that Parrish made note of was the following.”

“This was too good to be true. You rarely saw live VC, and to have them running across a 300 meter field in broad daylight was really something. I told the riflemen that I’d take over for a while and carefully laid my M16 on the pile of dirt in front of me. I had just gotten ready when another charlie broke for a stump. He was about 200 meters away, and I put the scope’s cross hairs just a little in front of the chest. I squeezed the trigger and the rifle kicked. When I brought the scope back on target, he was nowhere to be seen, but the cheering from the soldiers told me it was a good kill.”

Honestly that quote from the LT. on his shot isn’t very impressive. A 200 meter shot on a man in an open field being something special enough for him to write about says more about the Army’s marksmanship training at the time than it does about how good the M16 could be with optics. It does illustrate how much better even so-so shooters can be with optical help though, Something finally learned decades later and resulted in ACOGS and Aimpoints being standard issue items.

Other that Parrish, other soldiers gave impressions of the M16 and its accuracy. In the Jan. 1966 issue of American Rifleman, Louis Garavaglia gave his thoughts in an article titles “Snipers in Vietnam Also Need Firepower”.

Despite derogatory remarks published about reliability, our sniper teams used the weapons quite successfully”

His unit was the 4th Infantry Division LRRP and used the M14 rifle with M84 optic for sniper purposes. Even with access to a stock M14 with optic, they found the M14 with 3x very useful. Foreshadowing the M16A4 with ACOG and M4/ACOG becoming a standard system years later.

We found the M16A1 accurate as issued. The crack shots in my unit could hit 6″x6″ targets off hand at 200 yards. Not only is the distance greater than taht which most kills are made, it also indicates the weapon can hit more closely than most men will hold under combat conditions. When we used the M16A1s as substitute sniper rifle. we equipped them with the Colts 3X scope with the upside down tapered post reticle, Firing this combination from a supported position, our snipers could hit the army “E” silhouette targets at 400 meters”


Considerable efforts to increase the M16s long range capabilities based on evaluations of heavy barrels, different cartridge loading and bullet weights were to continue through the course of the war in Vietnam. Despite such efforts, and excepting limited field tests, the M16 rifles utilized for sniping purposes in Southeast Asia were as issued.”

As we can see now, the limitations at the time kept the M16 from seeing official sniper use at the time. Some one remembered that potential though. We have seen the M16 change into an accurate precision rifle that dominated high power rifle competitions after the development of heavier bullets thanks to the faster barrel twists. The free floating hand guards and the flat top upper. This evolved into the MK12 and of course the 7.62 pattern rifles now mainly used as sniper rifles.

Complete Book Of US Sniping- Senich

The Long Range War-Senich

American Rifleman January 1966 issue

The Beretta Model 38

There was a lot of iconic guns that became famous, or more famous, during WW2. The submachine guns seemed to get special attention. A lot of those are familiar to even the non-gun person. The Thompson, the Mp38/40, the PPsh. But perhaps the best SMG of the war, is not very well known at all in comparison.

Produced from 1938 to 1950 it fired the 9mm round. The gun was machined and produced to a very high quality standard. Magazines for the gun came in 10s, 20,s 30, 40. The M38 was highly regarded by Roy Dunlap, a Sgt. of Ordnance in WW2 who gave his opinion on most Axis and Allied weapons in his book Ordnance Went Up Front.

“Their Beretta M38 is one of the best ever built. Of 9mm parabellum caliber, taking a powerfully loaded Luger cartridge, simple blowback operated, it is hard ot beat for performance”.

“Sights were adjustable 100 to 500 meters with blade front sight. The gun has a 3/4 length stock , and barrel jacket perforated with round cooling holes and incorporated a built in compensator to aid in control under automatic fire. A dust cover on the magazine port keeps out dirt when carrying unloaded.”

“The magazine enters from the bottom and ejection port is on the right hand side of the tubular receiver, just forward of the operating handle which incidentally is free of the bolt and does not move with it in action, serving only to cock it, as in the case of our BAR. Fire is controlled by two triggers, front for semi automatic fire, rear for full machine action. The gun fires from an open bolt.”

“The Beretta 38 is my favorite gun of its class, as it was of the Eight Army. As easy to fire and control as a 22 sporting autoloader, it had terrific punch and range. The special 9mm cartridge loaded for it made it effective at 300 yards and dangerous to 500( when you consider the .45 caliber Thompson is an even money bet at 100 yards you will understand why we liked the Beretta). It would operate well with German, British or American 9mm Luger ammunition. No one every bothered with any other kind of submachine gun if he could get hold of a M38 and keep it. even the Germans liked it and they hated to admit anything was good except their own stuff. “

The M38 and its variants was so good it was issued to elite units like the Italian 185 Airborne Division which used it exclusively. Other elite units within divisions used theM30 as their sole infantry arm, making it even more associated with special troops. and as Roy is quoted above, everyone who could get theirs hands on one used it.

The Vietnam Liberator Pistol

Most people reading this are already familiar with the liberator ( FP-45) pistol of WW2.A cheap single shot hand gun for use by the underground to use against Axis troops. The idea was to air drop these simple unmarked pistols to resistance forces to use to waste of a axis soldier and then take his weapon. Claims of them actually being used are dubious at best but the idea was not a bad one.

What most people d0on’t know is there was a version cooked up for use in Vietnam.

the “deer gun”

Thought up by the CIA the idea was the same as the FP45 in WW2. This time it would be used by RVN resistance to use against PAVN ( commie) troops. Instead of being .45ACP, these were made in 9x19MM and came with three rounds, and a rod to knock a fired case out of the chamber.

instructions on how to load, fire and shoot a commie in his degenerate back

Supposedly about 1,000 were made in 1964 and some even made it into South Vietnam to be tried out. Well, the war went from clandestine small scale guerrilla war to full blown B-52 war pretty quickly after. Not much need for something like this when the full logistical support of the US Military starts pouring equipment into your country to bolster Indig forces. Did some make it into North Vietnam? Maybe. But doubtful due to a weird policy about having a direct hand in creating a armed resistance movement in North Vietnam. The things that could have been…

Gettysburg Battlefield Pics 3

me at yankee center objective of “Pickett’s charge

wall as seen while attacking
Meade
spot where General Hancock was wounded and was refused to be carried off the battlefield. Hancock’s early actions during the first days of the battle were decisive.
canon on cemetery ridge
the approach up Little Round Top while walking the yankee line
ground covered by CSA to try to make it to the top
view of most of the battlefield and ground from Warren’s position on Little Round Top. It’s obvious how he saw it as a critical position that dominates the area
me on little round top. looking down the yankee line and cemetery ridge in the distance, beyond the trees behind the statue is where Hancock was when wounded
20th Maine position
Devil’s Den

I will have more up tomorrow. I know some will want to see pictures taken from the position of the Army Of Northern Va , it is yankeeland however and sad to say, they didn’t bother to put much up for the CSA men. I will put up the rest of the pictures tomorrow. More from around Devil’s Den and the few from the CSA position. I ran out of camera battery by the time I got there and a major ice storm was starting so we had to follow Master Lee’s example and make a strategic withdraw. This was Jan. 2014 and a major snow and ice storm began a short time After he last pictures were taken and withing a few hours it was covered in ice and snow. Driving on in to Philadelphia from Gettysburg in the dark was so nerve wracking it took 5 years off our lives.

Gettysburg battlefield Pics 2

Continuing with the pictures today to recognize the anniversary.

Main monument on Yankee side, you can climb to the top and view most of the field
one angle of the view from monument

A few monuments around the area today. I will continue with more tomorrow with more if you all enjoyed these last two days.