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Old January 14, 2021, 12:24 PM   #1
dahermit
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The Evolution of the Battle Rifle.

The M1 Garand although beloved by those who were issued it in Basic Training and as an infantry weapon, had some faults. Firstly, the rounds in the internal magazine could not be "topped up" handily during a lull in combat. Secondly, the ammunition was so heavy that it limited the amount an individual could carry in combat. Thirdly, the recoil was unpleasant enough that the military concluded that some soldiers would neglect to fire even in a "target rich" environment (e.g., Korean War, mass attack.) or so I have read. Fourthly, the open slot behind the operating handle allowed debris to enter and interfere with the hammer strike against the firing pin (I personally experienced that in the Basic Training infiltration course). Fifthly, the M1 Garand was just too heavy.

The adaption of the M14 solved one of those problems, but not all. Namely, the detachable box magazine allowed topping-up (with a fully loaded magazine), a partially empty magazine during lulls in battle while increasing the loaded round-count from eight to twenty. The M14 was still a heavy weapon, used heavy rounds which limited the ability of the average soldier's capacity, it still had a punishing recoil, and still had the open slot into which debris could enter the firing mechanism.

The adaption of the M16 seeming solved more of the remaining problematic features inherent to the combat rifle. It was lighter than the M14, recoiled less, ammo was much lighter allowing more rounds to be carried by the individual solder. It also was designed with fewer points of entry of battle debris (dirt, sticks, gravel, etc.). The down side was that the 5.56 bullet lacks the better penetration of the heavier 7.62 round...something that would seem advantageous if the enemy were behind some light barriers.

Despite my affection for the M1 Garand, if young again and stupid enough to become involved in an armed conflict, I would rather be issued a modern 5.56 battle rifle than my beloved 1603418 (the serial number on the Garand issued to me, 1962 Basic Training, Fort Knox KY).
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Old January 14, 2021, 01:12 PM   #2
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Garands can be topped off, take one hand hold back the op-rod insert rounds from top with other. I have done it hunting and at the range. Here's a video with a fellow doing it as well.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8C0KdP6BdI
Also I have a hard time thinking that a GI faced with a mass attack will hesitate to fire his weapon in defense of himself. I would rather shoot a semi auto Garand than a high power bolt action, recoil is much softer.
Yes they are heavy and ammo is heavy but that was the norm at that time, large caliber, heavy bullets.
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Old January 14, 2021, 01:15 PM   #3
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As a young soldier in the late 80s, there were enough old grunts still around, and I bought into the claims that the M16 was defective and unreliable and had caused thousands of soldiers to die with an inoperative but loaded weapon in their hands.

As time went on, I noticed that stoppages we’re actually pretty rare, in the hands of a well practiced soldier. I still left the army years later feeling that something better may have existed in the past.

I think it’s a pretty good style of rifle. The weapon gets a bad rap, I think. I hope this isn’t another caliber war, which has been discussed here ad nauseam.

Last edited by rickyrick; January 14, 2021 at 01:16 PM. Reason: Fighting autocorrect
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Old January 14, 2021, 01:25 PM   #4
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faults

The M1 was cutting edge in its day and a product of its environment. By '62 when the OP received his rifle, technology had moved on, and today, there are young shooters who do not even recognize the Garand!

The Germans recognized the practicality of the intermediate rifle cartridge by the end of WWII, as did the Soviets. The M1 used the .30 caliber '06 cartridge because it was available in large quantity during the Garand's development, despite the mild interest in the .276 Pederson. Other weapons in the inventory were chambered in .30 as well. No point in going with another cartridge on the brink of war. The M1 used the big .30 because that's what there was......and a lot of it. Where the US and NATO missed the boat was in the post-war years and the adoption of the M14. I LIKE the M14, but it was more of the same thing in a different package, and not the best rifle for the Vietnam jungle war (just like the M1 was a bit ill suited for the Pacific).

I've never taken the M1 nor M14 into combat, but have shot a fair amount of both examples. As a grown man, raised with firearms, I cannot say that either displayed "punishing" recoil. Bamboy, at the tender age of 15 and likely not more than 145-150 lbs, shot my M1's well, both from the bench and prone, but he too was a shooter early on. I always thought the recoil of the M1/m14 family, a .30 cal rifle, gas operated, at 9+ lbs, was about like shooting a 20 ga shotgun. Perhaps the average recruit or draftee, w/ no experience with firearms, found the rifles a handful, I cannot say. Certainly, today's video game young people, find the soft shooting AR family attractive. I've read S.L.A Marshall's and Col. Grossman's comments about soldier's not firing their weapons in combat and always perceived that was a mindset issue and not fear of recoil. Some soldiers did most of the fighting, others did little. Please note, Grossman and Marshall said that (paraphrased) NOT bamaranger.

America's most decorated soldier, Audie Murphy, like the M1 CARBINE. I've not read any comments by Murphy on his personal choice of weapon, but am aware that in his book, he "borrowed" weapons for different tasks,and this is portrayed in some degree in his movie too. Murphy was not a large man, and the portable carbine , and it's light ammo load, likely appealed to him, and I suspect a bunch of others who could choose, for the same reason.

The M16/AR is not without its faults, initially and to date and it revolves around the 5.56mm cartridge. Most everyone is aware of the reliability problem when first appearing, due to ammo and training/maintenance issues. The 5.56mm cartridge has been criticized for lack of penetration and stopping power with FMJ ammo in urban fighting, (addressed in the book Black Hawk Down as one example) and now in the desert and mountains, lack of range. Green Tip ammo addresses penetration, but the increase in twist rate needed to stabilize penetrators and tracers, does not improve the stopping power factor. There has been a search for a new cartridge, but with the US involved steadily in conflicts, I do not see it happening in the near future.

The AR as a platform has evolved into a reliable weapon and I would not be surprised that it is retained as the basis for the U.S.'s new cartridge, should that day ever come. Perhaps 6mm ARC?
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Old January 14, 2021, 03:16 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rickyrick View Post
As a young soldier in the late 80s, there were enough old grunts still around, and I bought into the claims that the M16 was defective and unreliable and had caused thousands of soldiers to die with an inoperative but loaded weapon in their hands.

As time went on, I noticed that stoppages we’re actually pretty rare, in the hands of a well practiced soldier. I still left the army years later feeling that something better may have existed in the past.

I think it’s a pretty good style of rifle. The weapon gets a bad rap, I think. I hope this isn’t another caliber war, which has been discussed here ad nauseam.
The Garand stoppages I observed in Basic Training were all pretty much cleared by standing the gun upright and stomping the operating handle with the heal of the boot. However, standing up right in a combat situation may not have been an ideal remedy. As I understand it, once the M16's extractor pulled off the rim of the round, they were pretty much out of action unless one had a cleaning rod ready to go.
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Old January 14, 2021, 03:36 PM   #6
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Also I have a hard time thinking that a GI faced with a mass attack will hesitate to fire his weapon in defense of himself. I would rather shoot a semi auto Garand than a high power bolt action, recoil is much softer.
Too narrow of a scenario ...picture an enemy solder exposed but not advancing or running away after an intense fire fight. Nevertheless, it was what I read about soldiers who neglected to fire their weapons, and was given as a reason why the Army went from .30 caliber to 5.56...true or not, I don't know.
As for the recoil of an M1 being "softer", it kicked the hell out of me in Basic and when it came time for qualification, I started out knocking down the Trainfire targets with hardly a miss ...until later in the course. Then I began to miss. At the end, with a very sore shoulder, I was five hits from Expert (but one more hit than my company commander). The C.O. selected those of us who had shot well, had us switch fatigue jackets with those who had shot that A.M. but not qualified, and sent us to shoot their afternoon stint in their place, in an attempt to get them qualified. I was so beat up from the recoil that even though I shot better than the guy I was pretending to be, could not shoot high enough to get his qualification.
Also, in regard to how "soft" an M1 Garand shoots, during rifle practice at Fort Knox, the bare ground was that sunbaked hard red clay...when shooting prone, my elbows soon became bloody from the recoil sliding me back with each shot. The next day I wrapped a woolen G.I. sock around each elbow under my fatigue jacket to act as elbow pads. Long story short, the socks worked as elbow pads alright, the sweat from the heat made for an unpleasant long itchy march back to barracks. Likewise when I used an M1 Garand in my local shooting club service rifle matches, I only took third place...(three times), but when I switched to a Colt H-bar for my last match, I shot the highest score (High Master?...cannot remember the name for sure now), but was beat by a young guy shooting next to me who turned out to be a rifle instructor for the Michigan National Guard. In sum, I can see how the recoil of an M1 Garand could indeed cause a soldier to hesitate about firing and also effect his ability to hit his target while wincing from a sore shoulder...just from my own experiences.
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Old January 14, 2021, 11:56 PM   #7
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The M-16 acquired a bad reputation for jamming, the problem was traced to ammunition which deposited too much carbon. Unlike the M-1/M-14 the M-16's gas port cannot be cleaned by the soldier. In wartime you often have to take what industry can provide-"substitute standard". Then there's the problem that they seem to be unable to develop a round for the 5.56 that provides the range and punch necessary for a machine gun. Hence in my war the M-60 (I humped one) often seemed to doing the fighting, the riflemen just target spotters. I have read that was German doctrine in WWII, with us, the other way around. So much for simplifying ammo supply.
Regarding the M-14's "punishing" recoil, when I went through BCT, C-4-2, Fort Dix, Summer of 1967, they would show how "punishing" the M-14's recoil was by having an instructor fire one fully auto from his chin and his crotch-and they used tracers, so you could tell they weren't faking it.
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Old January 15, 2021, 08:36 AM   #8
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...claims that the M16 was defective and unreliable and had caused thousands of soldiers to die with an inoperative but loaded weapon in their hands.... the M-16's gas port cannot be cleaned by the soldier.
Gas port was/is never an M16/Stoner design problem. Nor was the design defective.

The problem was
- Use of ball powder that Stoner specifically told them would foul up the bolt -- but was cheaper
- Use of ball powder that Stoner specifically told them would over-gas/over-stress the operating system on full-auto -- but was cheaper
- Not chrome lining the chamber as was laid out by Stoner -- it was cheaper
- Not issuing cleaning rods/training materials/training troops --it was cheaper

Keep it even moderately clean/wipe off the bolt and -- on balance -- the M16/M4/Stoner-based design as now evolved is the best battle rifle ever developed to date.
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Old January 15, 2021, 09:07 AM   #9
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Regarding the M-14's "punishing" recoil, when I went through BCT, C-4-2, Fort Dix, Summer of 1967, they would show how "punishing" the M-14's recoil was by having an instructor fire one fully auto from his chin and his crotch-and they used tracers, so you could tell they weren't faking it.
I saw my instructors doing similar with the M1. Nevertheless, my bloody elbows and sore shoulder seemed to convince me otherwise.
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Old January 15, 2021, 09:35 AM   #10
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I can’t comment on the M1, but the M14 I was issued in the Marines had a stout kick. And I’m a guy that been hunting since he was 10 or 11 years. The recoil didn’t bother me, but I can’t speak for all the city boys that had to shoot their M14. Later, when we got M16’s, I was not impressed by the rifle or the cartridge. I have an AR these days, and I hunt varmints with it, but the 223 still isn’t much of a game stopper. And it isn’t a light rifle any more.
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Old January 15, 2021, 10:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 603Country View Post
I can’t comment on the M1, but the M14 I was issued in the Marines had a stout kick. And I’m a guy that been hunting since he was 10 or 11 years. The recoil didn’t bother me, but I can’t speak for all the city boys that had to shoot their M14. Later, when we got M16’s, I was not impressed by the rifle or the cartridge. I have an AR these days, and I hunt varmints with it, but the 223 still isn’t much of a game stopper. And it isn’t a light rifle any more.
Yeah...last Winter I built a pseudo Car15 (looks like a Car15 but just short barrel, no suppressor) for something to do. I have always liked the idea of a Car15 instead of an M16 due to my perception that it would be lighter weight. However when finished, its weight was disappointing to me.
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Old January 15, 2021, 02:28 PM   #12
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Raiding a dope house or lab with an M4 was not much different than raiding one with a 14.5" FAL. There was a difference in recoil (those pesky Newtonian physics again), but the perception of recoil was missing completely...i.e. I didn't feel any difference in the moment, and with a can on both platforms muzzle blast and relative concussion was also ameliorated and this was most likely aided sensory occlusion. Meh...either way...

Neither the M4 or the FAL were on equal footing recoil wise as the shotgun as an entry weapon. I carried the FAL for better barrier penetration on initial entry, and not for any other reason. (I am sure I need to check with dahermit and ask his permission before adding this sentence as a context builder)...but the relative felt recoil during of the "battle rifle" versus an assault rifle (or defensive carbine in the non-military-LE world) during a critical incident in my experience is largely overcome by technique and training.

If I were working in Panama again doing direct interdiction, then I would choose the M4 out of trust and familiarity over decades, and simply because of the ability to seal the platform against crud and intrusive debris by simply closing the dust cover which the FAL, Cetme, G3, and M1, and M14 platforms all lack.

I carried 6 spare magazines for the FAL, or the 7 for the M4 (with the M4 I carried a clamped set of mags IN the carbine). I preferred carrying the 240 rounds of 5.56 over 140 rounds of 7.62 for obvious reasons (before anyone blows blood on a manpon, I am including the number of rounds in the magazine IN the rifle/carbine in the total round count) and the ability to stay in a fight longer because no one will ever say "Golly, I wish I had less ammo right now" in the middle of a fracas.

Still....I love the hell out of classic, old, full power, wood stocked blasters from the old days.
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Old January 15, 2021, 05:13 PM   #13
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but the relative felt recoil during of the "battle rifle" versus an assault rifle (or defensive carbine in the non-military-LE world) during a critical incident in my experience is largely overcome by technique and training.
In the scenario as you outline it, I would not argue that felt recoil may not be a factor. However, the article I read years ago referenced the mass attacks via Chinese and North Koreans wherein the G.I.s would fire hundreds of rounds from a defensive position. That was the scenario and conditions referenced in the article that the author claimed that G.I.s were loath to pull the trigger on retreating enemy soldiers. As I remember the author claimed that data came from after action field reports. All I can say for certain is that the M1 Garand beat the hell out of me when firing more than about fifty rounds.
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Old January 15, 2021, 05:19 PM   #14
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There's a lot of late 20th century and early 21st century opinion being applied to 1940s, 50s and early 60s weapons here...

I'm apparently in the minority here, as I found the recoil of the M14 to be relatively light, by my standards, which were formed from shooting a 6lb bolt action .308 Win for the couple years previous to my military service.

None of the designs has ever been without drawbacks and areas where other designs perform better. There is no "one gun does everything the best".

The open action designs do let in more crap than the closed ones, but they also let some of that crap out, which closed designs don't do well.

Since the general mechanization of all militaries following the Second World war, the priorities of what is most useful on the modern battlefield changed a lot. One of the big changes is modern rifles are not designed to be well suited to hand to hand combat.

Shorter lighter rifles, lighter recoilling rounds and lots of them is the way its done today.

I'm tired of hearing about how everything in the old days was "too heavy". Having seen 5' 100lb ARVN troops humping an 18lb BAR and keeping up with everybody else, I think "too heavy" is more of an attitude than a real issue.
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Old January 15, 2021, 10:38 PM   #15
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I truly love The Atlantic....
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine...rouble/383508/

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Old January 16, 2021, 10:15 AM   #16
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Regarding the M-14's "punishing" recoil, when I went through BCT, C-4-2, Fort Dix, Summer of 1967, they would show how "punishing" the M-14's recoil was by having an instructor fire one fully auto from his chin and his crotch-and they used tracers, so you could tell they weren't faking it.
I don't find firing a full-auto .308 punishing at all. Keeping all the rounds on target is another matter.
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Old January 16, 2021, 02:49 PM   #17
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I don't find the recoil of the M14 to be punishing on full auto, but it certainly is surprising when first encountered!

Performance test range, USAOC&S APG, MD 1975
We drew numbered rifles with known defects. We inspected and repaired the rifles (filling out the form correctly was HALF of your grade), then test fired them.

Indoor test range, firing ports were small windows in one wall, set low so you had to either kneel or sit.

Instructor gives test weapon a brief check, then hands you a magazine with 10 rounds, and instructs you to fire 5 rounds semi auto and then 10 full auto in short bursts.

I was the 3rd guy finished. I listened to the guys ahead of me firing full auto, 2 shot bursts. I was young, and, admittedly a little cocky, especially after the semi auto firing showed me the M14's recoil was a pussycat, compared to my .308 Win bolt action deer rifle. So I decided I would fire 3 shot bursts.

What I did not realize at that point in time was that full auto recoil is cumulative. You don't get recovered from the recoil of the first round before the second one hits and then the 3rd, and so on.

I got educated in that right there. The full auto recoil surprised me, and my "3rnd burst" was 6 rounds, and moved me from a kneeling to a sitting position! I kept the muzzle inside the firing port (which is probably why I didn't fail), but it was an eye opening experience. The instructor tapped me on the shoulder and firmly stated "SHORT bursts!" I fired the remaining 4 in 2 shot burst....

After that, I knew what to expect, and didn't have trouble with it.

I have personal experience with a number of battle rifles M1, M14, FAL, H&K, and Soviet SVT-40. Also the assault rifles, numerous belt fed machine guns, and civilian semi autos. None is perfect, but for a battle rifle, I think the M14 is the best mix of features overall.
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Old January 16, 2021, 03:36 PM   #18
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With respect to WW II era weapons, it is very interesting to read Bruce Canfield's "U.S. Small Arms of WW II". Most of the issued mentioned above (weapon weight, reliability, round penetrating ability, weight of ammo, recoil, etc.) are addressed by commentary from recognized combat veteran experts, and not tall stories or unsubstantiated personal opinions (e.g., "the M1 carbine would not penetrate Chinese winter uniforms..."). The issues remain the same today.
One wonders why DoD would not chrome plate barrels of M-16's in the 1960's (used in small numbers in '65-'66, formally adopted in 1969) as Stoner recommended, when the Russians were chrome plating SKS;s in the 1950's.
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Old January 17, 2021, 07:42 AM   #19
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Battle rifles are a result of combat experience, theoretical considerations, national pride, logistical and manufacturing considerations-budgets. Look how long the Danes and Norwegians stayed with the Krag. MacArthur rejected the adoption of the M-1 in .276 Pedersen for logistical and budgetary reasons. Part of the reason for the adoption of the SMLE and the M1903 was so the infantry and cavalry could use the same long arm. The long bayonets of the SMLE and the M1903 were designed to allow the foot soldier to defend against a mounted opponent. The magazine cutoff was to have the soldier fire single shots and keep the magazine in reserve for an emergency, the tubular magazine-the Lebel, the Kropatschek-was quickly dropped because they were too slow to reload.
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Old January 17, 2021, 08:48 AM   #20
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The long bayonets of the SMLE and the M1903 were designed to allow the foot soldier to defend against a mounted opponent.
Do you have any proof to support that? It seems that just the rounds in the gun would be more than adequate defense from cavalry.
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Old January 17, 2021, 10:16 AM   #21
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Bayonets on firearms -- in design and length -- were holdovers from 350-400 years of linear infantry tactics. Soldiers with non-repeating/inaccurate arms quickly closed on/into the other line for hand-to-hand combat. Think "pike" mentality. Horses were the last thing on their mind, save for a line of effective "pikemen" in a battle-square facing a cavalry charge.
https://www.warhistoryonline.com/gun...y-bayonet.html

A long bayonet at the end of a long rifle is extremely intimidating when facing an individual steadily advancing upon you -- intent on shoving it through your gut and out your back. Absent repeating firearms, you tend to run.

But with longer-range/faster-loading/repeating firearms ...including artillery... these tactics became disastrous no later than half-way through our own civil war. The lessons were of course ignored opening into WW-1. Slaughter was the result.

Short bayonets became the rule for last-ditch situations. ... but useful only if you have thought about it ahead of time.


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Old January 17, 2021, 11:34 AM   #22
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Short bayonets became the rule for last-ditch situations. ... but useful only if you have thought about it ahead of time.
It would appear that the main use of bayonets in modern warfare is two fold...Firstly, to guard/control (via intimidation) POW's. Secondly, to finish-off (eliminate any potential threat from) enemy wounded. Logically, used more for those purposes than as a close-quarters combat weapon.
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Old January 17, 2021, 11:39 AM   #23
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Garands can be topped off, take one hand hold back the op-rod insert rounds from top with other. I have done it hunting and at the range. Here's a video with a fellow doing it as well.
Have you done it from the prone position, in battle? Just ask'en.
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Old January 17, 2021, 11:54 AM   #24
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We don't bayonet wounded. (And while the Japanese did, the European powers simply shot them)

Still used on occasion in combat though

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
During the Second Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan, the British Army units mounted
bayonet charges. In 2004 in Iraq at the Battle of Danny Boy, the Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders bayonet-charged mortar positions filled with over 100 Mahdi Army members.
The ensuing hand-to-hand fighting resulted in an estimate of over 40 insurgents killed
and 35 bodies collected (many floated down the river) and nine prisoners. Sergeant
Brian Wood, of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, was awarded the Military Cross
for his part in the battle.

In 2009, Lieutenant James Adamson of the Royal Regiment of Scotland was awarded
the Military Cross for a bayonet charge while on a tour of duty in Afghanistan: after
shooting one Taliban fighter dead, Adamson had run out of ammunition when another
enemy appeared. He immediately charged the second Taliban fighter and bayoneted
him. In September 2012, Lance Corporal Sean Jones of The Princess of Wales's Regiment
was awarded the Military Cross for his role in a bayonet charge which took place in October 2011.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We Americanos have done it as well ... though not lately.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Millett
Quote:
Historian S.L.A. Marshall described the attack as "the most complete bayonet charge
by American troops since [the Battle of Cold Harbor]". Out of about 50 enemy dead,
roughly 20 were found to have been killed by bayonets, and the location subsequently
became known as Bayonet Hill.
Used two-handed, the short stabbing assegai -- that is what a bayonet-equipped rifle becomes -- is a terrible
weapon in a close-quarter melee.


.

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Old January 17, 2021, 01:18 PM   #25
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We don't bayonet wounded.
While it is not American military's policy to kill defenseless (A.K.A. wounded, etc.) American solders were know to have killed some of the civilians with bayonets at My Lai. I am sure that there were many wounded V.C. and NVA soldiers that were bayoneted (shooting is too reveling) when found on the battlefield and not likely to live anyway. Many, many instances of G.I.s doing non-policy things.
https://abcnews.go.com/US/vietnam-wa...ry?id=63303682
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