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Old February 20, 2014, 12:10 PM   #38
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Join Date: October 20, 2007
Location: Richardson, TX
Posts: 7,222
Originally Posted by Double Naught Spy
I found this little tidbit from the article rather interesting, and potentially illuminating regarding the source of this myth.
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:
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