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Old February 17, 2014, 12:59 PM   #26
Theohazard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzcook
I have been told by a former Ranger and sniper that it is against international law.
The military is full of rumors and bad information. I heard that same rumor throughout most of my Marine service. And I even believed it until a JAG officer told us it wasn't true.
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Old February 17, 2014, 02:54 PM   #27
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During my military service there was never a policy stating the .50 BMG could not be used against troops. This persistent myth started some time after my retirement from the US Army in 1979.

By the late 1980s the myth was so widespread that USMC and US Army intructors were teaching it as fact. The Marine Corps Gazette published an article debunking the myth that a .50 BMG could not be used against troops.

Quote:
More recently, instructors at Marine Corps Recruiting Depot Parris Island and at The Basic School were teaching that the .50 caliber machinegun could not be used against ground forces.

Instructors at the U.S. Army Infantry School, apparently laboring under the same impression, resolved it by teaching that:

Quote:
The .50 caliber machinegun can be used against enemy military equipment, but not personnel. So be sure to aim your .50 caliber machinegun at the enemy soldier's belt buckle.

http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/killing-myth
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Old February 18, 2014, 06:52 AM   #28
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Good article, Thallub.

The only problem with it...

"The first U.S. musket, made in 1795, was .70 caliber. The first U.S. percussion musket, the Model 1842, was caliber .69..."

The US Model 1795 musket was .69 caliber, not .70. After receiving tens of thousands of muskets from our French allies during the Revolutionary war, the US adopted as standard the French .69 caliber, as opposed to Britain's Long Land Musket (Brown Bess) standard of .75 caliber.


I don't think that this is true, either...

"In 1885, the U.S. Army standardized the caliber .58..."

By 1885 the US was well into the .45-70 era. The .58 was first adopted with the Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifled musket in 1855 (along with the adoption of the Model 1855 rifle). The Mississippis were rebored from .54 to .58 to take the new Minie ball.
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Old February 18, 2014, 03:45 PM   #29
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They transposed a number. It was the 1855 Springfield that started the .58caliber musket, not 1885.

That changed to .50 in 1866 with a hodge podge of calibers during the war.
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Old February 18, 2014, 06:35 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzcook
I have been told by a former Ranger and sniper that it is against international law.
I took a Barrett long range ballistics class from Jon Wiler who was an Army sniper who specifically used his Barrett in Iraq against human targets. His creds here now...
http://www.professionalmarksmen.com/...y/instructors/

With that said, being a former ranger or former sniper does not indicate one is up on international law. The appeal to authority here is a classic logic flaw. They may be authorities, but not authorities in the topic under consideration here. I do know that despite his endeavors often being a matter of public record, discussed on various programs on the military channel and in a couple of books on snipers, Jon has never been prosecuted for the supposed breech of international law.
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Old February 18, 2014, 08:27 PM   #31
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If I'm not mistaken the .50 BMG is technically larger than .50 prior to firing through a rifle. That is the bone of contention. Some authorities are against anything larger than .50 caliber being used on enemy combatants. However, after being fired the projectile IS actually .50 caliber. So that argument went right out the window.

But I could be completely wrong.
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Old February 18, 2014, 08:47 PM   #32
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I doubt it.

The issue of calibers larger than .50 is a serious one in US domestic law (NFA AOW). It is not a serious one in international law, at least not that I've ever heard of.
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Old February 18, 2014, 10:01 PM   #33
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Quote:
The issue of calibers larger than .50 is a serious one in US domestic law (NFA AOW). It is not a serious one in international law, at least not that I've ever heard of.
Furthermore, there are all kinds of military weapons greater than .50-caliber that are routinely used in anti-personnel applications.

Case in point: Aircraft. Almost all modern gun-equipped combat aircraft have 20 to 30mm cannons; .30 to .50-caliber machine guns are now the exception, not the rule. Do you think the pilots and gunners aboard such aircraft are expected not to fire on enemy ground troops? Hardly.
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Old February 19, 2014, 12:54 PM   #34
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There are videos of Apaches firing their 30 mm at humans in Iraq.

If someone can come up with a document proclaiming such that would be an argument ender.

It's like the folks who proclaim gun X or Y was designed just to wound and some told them that the military was taught to wound.

NO such documentary evidence has ever surfaced. What we do have are reports about how services deal with wounded and how many it takes. Never a document then saying because of that use gun Z to wound and shoot it to wound.
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Old February 19, 2014, 01:13 PM   #35
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Unfortunately there are videos of Apache helicopters firing at civilians.

With some exceptions war crimes have more to do with how a weapon is used rather than what that weapon is.
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Old February 19, 2014, 02:52 PM   #36
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No prohibition exists in the Geneva Conventions, any other law of war treaty, nor in any other part of the law of war on the use of weapons such as the 23mm ZU-23 or the .50 caliber machinegun as antipersonnel weapons.
- See more at: http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/k....AJJSvuZz.dpuf


Quote:
This gun may be mounted on ground mounts and most vehicles as an anti-personnel and anti-aircraft weapon.
http://usmilitary.about.com/od/marineweapons/l/blm2.htm
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Old February 19, 2014, 11:02 PM   #37
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Hogan's Heroes & Gomer Pyle....

I think many people rely on mixed messages & impressions of the US armed forces from TV shows like Gomer Pyle USMC or Hogans Heroes.
It's been nearly 2 decades since I was in the US armed forces & Im sure that rules/SOPs/ROEs/etc have changed a lot.
Today's forces must be very aware of the laws/memoranda/orders. Lawyers & legal advisors are a part of every op or mission.
There's no "aw shucks" or "hey so what" mindsets anymore. If you shoot anyone, even in combat, it better be explained or justified.

I even heard pilots & air crews used caution with bombs/ordinance in OEF/OIF because they didn't want to cause "collateral damage" or "accidents".
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Old February 20, 2014, 12:10 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Double Naught Spy
http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/k....AJJSvuZz.dpuf
I found this little tidbit from the article rather interesting, and potentially illuminating regarding the source of this myth.
Quote:
During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps had in their inventories the M40 106mm recoilless rifle. Designed primarily for antiarmor use, the M40 was equipped with the M8C .50 caliber spotting gun. The M8C was used to assist the gunner in determining range and leads to the target...

Although the M40 could be used against enemy personnel... the M40 essentially was a single shot antitank weapon that relied on concealment and surprise in order to attack enemy armor and survive on the battlefield. Utilization of the M8C .50 caliber spotting gun against an individual soldier would have compromised the position of the M40, making it and its crew vulnerable to attack. Hence tactical, not legal, limitations were placed on the employment of the M8C .50 caliber spotting gun against enemy personnel. It appears that this practical limitation... somehow was transferred to all .50 caliber weapons, and that in time it was assumed that the restriction was based on some aspect of the law of war.
(emphasis mine)

Info on the M40 system here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M40_recoilless_rifle
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Old February 20, 2014, 01:42 PM   #39
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The .50 caliber spotting round for the 106mm recoilless rifle uses a shorter cartridge case than the .50 BMG round. The projectile of that spotting round is dangerous: It contains a small detonator and a phosphorus spotting charge.

http://www.gunauction.com/buy/114374...ng-rifle-round

http://cartridgecollectors.org/cmo/cmo08dec.htm

Last edited by thallub; February 20, 2014 at 01:48 PM.
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Old February 20, 2014, 01:48 PM   #40
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And that adds more to the likley source of the "ban" - WP (Phosphrous) is not supposed to be used against personnel
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Old February 20, 2014, 01:57 PM   #41
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Good catch carguychris.

My only question is how frequently did the M40 get used against Vietnamese tanks?
While Vietnam fielded some T50 series tanks I don't remember them being used much against the US.
So that would leave the M40 as mostly an anti personnel weapon.
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Old February 20, 2014, 02:08 PM   #42
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http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide/free-fire-zones/
While it doesn't mention the .50cal this article gives an overview of the problems with free fire zones in Vietnam.

BTW a search of the site doesn't give any hits for .50 caliber. It does mention that there is a difference between a weapon used in aircraft as opposed to by infantry.
http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide/weapons/
Quote:
It should be noted that a weapon may be unlawful if used for one purpose, and yet lawful if used for another purpose. For example, during World War I, the British armed the machine guns on their warplanes with incendiary bullets. The initial reaction of the German government was to threaten to try captured British airmen as war criminals for violating the St. Petersburg Declaration. Upon reflection, however, the German government backed down. Today, legal experts generally regard the use of incendiary and small caliber explosive bullets as lawful in air warfare, though their use in infantry rifles would still be forbidden. - See more at: http://www.crimesofwar.org/a-z-guide....Kk1cJBQg.dpuf
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Old February 20, 2014, 02:41 PM   #43
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Ok,

Article 23 of Section 4, Law of land warfare, Hague 1907.

It is forbidden to:
  • To employ poison or poisoned weapons;
  • To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;
  • To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;
  • To declare that no quarter will be given;
  • To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering;

This "calculated to cause" language allows us to use Boat Tail Hollow Point bullets for sniper rifles. The bullets are designed to fly true and maintain high accuracy, not to cause unnecessary suffering.

The intent behind the bullet design is the legal issue, not the caliber. I'm not sure if there has been a JAG determination memorandum on 50 Cal API rounds, but I don't know if it matters as anything a 50 BMG sends downrange is going to smack things with authority.

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Old February 20, 2014, 03:36 PM   #44
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Quote:
And that adds more to the likley source of the "ban" - WP (Phosphrous) is not supposed to be used against personnel
Starting a new rumor of some sort????

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_phosphorus

Quote:
On November 15, 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense confirmed to the BBC that white phosphorus had been used as an incendiary antipersonnel weapon in Fallujah, stating "When you have enemy forces that are in covered positions that your high explosive artillery rounds are not having an impact on and you wish to get them out of those positions, one technique is to fire a white phosphorus round into the position because the combined effects of the fire and smoke - and in some case the terror brought about by the explosion on the ground - will drive them out of the holes so that you can kill them with high explosives."[15][16
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Old February 20, 2014, 11:26 PM   #45
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Not trying to start a new set of FUD. I was taught in the British Army that WP wasn't to be used against personnel. Very specifically our smoke grenades and those on our armoured vehicles.

I'll grant that was 25 years ago and may be as much a fallacy as anything else we have discussed in this thread.

However the way WP keeps burning in air could be related to the unnecessary suffering clause.
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Old February 20, 2014, 11:33 PM   #46
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Oh - and thanks for the link to the Wiki. Some very interesting data in there
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Old February 21, 2014, 09:10 AM   #47
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However the way WP keeps burning in air could be related to the unnecessary suffering clause.
The only problem here is that this is as sketchy as the purported claims of unnecessary suffering causing by the round itself. WP and WP ammo are not precluded for use against human targets by international law.
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Old February 21, 2014, 09:13 AM   #48
Mike Irwin
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"This "calculated to cause" language allows us to use Boat Tail Hollow Point bullets for sniper rifles."

But those aren't really hollowpoints.

They're generally called open points, and are NOT designed to expand upon hitting a target.

They have the open nose because the jacket is drawn from the base to the nose and the base is solid (unlike standard military ball ammo, where the nose is solid and base generally has exposed lead).

By having a solid base, it allows the base to be pretty much ballistically perfect, giving levels of accuracy that generally can't be achieved with standard open-base FMJ ammo.
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Old February 21, 2014, 11:32 AM   #49
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Mike Irwin,

Actually we normally refer to them as "Open Tip, Match" bullets, "OTM", but they are the same as the Boat Tail Hollow Point "BTHP" as made by Sierra (Nosler was involved with the Mk262 Mod0 lots, but Sierra is a sole supplier now as far as I know).

But no matter what we call them, the point is that the bullets were not designed to cause unnecessary suffering/wounding.

However if you take that same bullet, and chuck it into a mini-lathe to open up the open tip with a small drill, then you have a "law of land warfare" violation.

After all, our job is to kill the enemy as humanely as possible within the rules of engagement. But then again, when the enemy is not a uniformed military of a recognized combatant nation, the use of expanding ammunition by military personnel conducting "police or stability actions" was approved through the SOCOM channels.

So it would be totally legal to shoot a terrorist with a Winchester Ranger hollowpoint through your M9 when deployed in a FID role, but completely illegal to shoot that same guy with a hollowpoint if he happened to wear a uniform and you were deployed in a "war" role. Then to CYA you would use FMJ.

There is no human activity that cannot be made more complicated by getting lawyers and politicians involved.

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Old February 21, 2014, 12:57 PM   #50
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"Boat Tail Hollow Point "BTHP" as made by Sierra"

Jimro,

I just looked through Sierra's online catalog of .30-caliber bullets, and at one time they offered true expanding hollowpoint bullets, suitable for hunting, that differed from the MatchKings in that as the jacket got closer to the tip of the bullet, it got progressively thinner. It appears that they no longer offer such bullets.

MatchKings are not suitable for hunting (something that the website also states) because they perform like a full metal jacket bullet and do not expand.



Edit In:

Wait, I found it. Item 2140, 165-gr. hollowpoint boattail expanding bullet suitable for use in hunting applications becase it expands due to the larger hollow point and the progressive thinning of the jacket towards the tip.
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