Sunday, December 01, 2013

Marines With Guns?

After the Fort Hood shooting, in which 13 soldiers were killed and 30 were injured, I heard some gun-banning idiots saying "See, even highly-armed military facilities aren't secure against nut jobs with guns. We need to ban guns." Of course most of these slack-jawed milksops have probably never been anywhere near an Army post. If they had, they'd know that military bases are largely "gun-free zones" just like Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary, etc... At least one high ranking military official would like to see that changed.

According to an article at The Truth About Guns (TTAG): "The decision to disarm military bases—DOD Directive 5210.56—was a political one implemented during Bush the Elder’s administration and allowed to continue to present day[.]" (Bush 1 was a pencil-neck who was definitely no friend of the Second Amendment.) The way it stands now, except for a few military policemen and soldiers on live-fire shooting ranges (or in actual combat), our servicemen and women are disarmed while on duty.

After seeing the Ft. Hood massacre, U.S. Navy Yard shootings, and an on-base murder-suicide, the head of the least PC branch of our services is calling for a change to that policy. The Marine Corps commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, outlined his plan to his senior officers in September. According to "It calls for a variety of new initiatives, including the installation of security cameras in each barracks, the incorporation of more staff noncommissioned officers and officers on duty, and the arming of all officers on duty and staff NCOs on duty at all times[.]"

Given the skinny anti-gun wussy who is the commander-in-chief, I doubt such changes will come to fruition. As long as we have a national policy where American Devil Dogs can be killed from a lack of shooting back, that remains completely unacceptable.

Monday, November 25, 2013


I know I make the same point on a frequent basis, but in case any evil gun-grabbing hacks out there didn't get the word, I must once more repeat my favorite FN FAL phrase, "No legitimate sporting purpose my ass!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

X-Mas Idea

Bawb, here's a gift idea for all of us AR-15 shooters on your Christmas shopping list. Perhaps it might even come in 9mm!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Potentially Fatal ‘Knockout’ Game Targeting Strangers May Be Spreading

Okay we've all heard of flash mobs. But now urban youths have found a new way to get their jollies, a violent game called "Knockout." In this game a young punk will sneak up and punch a random passerby on the street, trying to knock the other person unconscious with one punch. In the following video a man offering directions gets sucker-punched out, a teacher walking down the street gets punched in the side of the head and an unsuspecting woman gets punched from behind in the base of her skull. Several people have been killed already.

Video: Potentially Fatal ‘Knockout’ Game Targeting Strangers May Be Spreading « CBS DC

Do the Ruskies still have nukes pointed at our major cities? If so, let's taunt them.

Update 11/24/2013: Sometimes they "knock" back. 60 Year Old Woman Shoots and Kills 2 Teens After Being Punched. Hope this sends other punks a message.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


So, awhile back I tried a new FAL product created by Brian Brodhead out at J&TEnterprises in Idaho. Their Light Tactical Rail LTR scope mount for the FN FAL and L1A1 SLR has got to be the lightest weight FAL scope mount on the planet and yet seems to be solid as a rock. I’ve got two FALs wearing them and have been very happy with the LTR mounting and have encountered no problems after approximately a hundred rounds through each rifle, mostly surplus ball and a smaller percentage of factory ammo.

My favorite combination is my first & best FAL “Queenie”, a Century R1A1 that has become my Hunting FAL. The combination of LTR, A.R.M.S. Picatinny-to-STANAG adapter, and German Hensoldt ZF24 scope has proven a winner for me, cut a little weight off the rifle, and made shooting it much more comfortable. Anyone who’s tried the regular STANAG FAL mount knows why…with the latter you need a built-up cheek pad on the stock just to get a “chin weld”. Although an inch-pattern stock technically doesn’t “fit” on a Metric FAL, I made this British L1A1 Maranyl stock work on Queenie, with the only modification required being a small hole drilled for the tang screw. I never have really liked the standard Metric humpback stock, finding it a tad too long and the comb a tish too low for me personally. The British Army SLR stocks came with three sizes of butt pads; I use the shortest one and it makes the FAL very comfortable for me to shoot.

 Queenie the Hunting FAL all gussied up in spray paint sagebrush cammo.

Queenie proved to be extremely accurate for an FAL right out of the box. With the FAL’s tilting block bolt system it just inherently can’t be quite as accurate as the rotating bolt lock system found on M1/M14 type rifles, ARs or bolt guns. Queenie somehow proved the exception to the rule. The only accurizing I did was a good trigger job and installing an Entreprise Arms Free Float Barrel Tube.

To my disgrace, even though I did put a new roof on the Man Cave Shed this summer, I still haven’t gotten all my reloading equipment set back up. Shamefully, I donned my Groucho glasses disguise and slipped into my favorite sporting goods store right before closing time to actually purchase factory ammunition for hunting. Oh, the horror! This situation has arisen once or twice before, however, so I’ve shot and been very happy with either Federal or Hornady ammunition over the years. Probably because of DHS buying 8 bazillion rounds of it, even though my favorite well-stocked gun store had all the .30-06, .270 or .300 Win Mag ammo you could possibly want, the .308 cupboard was bare. This being Montana, I was fortunate enough to find a nearby gas station that sold ammo. The only 150-grain .308 ammo they had in my above approved brands was Federal Fusion. Since antelope season was fast approaching and my options fast disappearing, I went ahead and actually tried something new since I've found it's hard to go wrong with Federal.

Of this new bullet, Federal’s website says, “This specialized deer bullet electrochemically joins pure copper to an extreme pressure-formed core to ensure optimum performance. The result is high terminal energy on impact that radiates lethal shock throughout the target.” In this day and age of self-censoring media electing fictitious persons to high office, I have become extremely jaded and skeptical about any and all advertising claims. But this was Federal speaking, not some snake-oil medicine show huckster like Tom Brokaw or Brian Jennings, so I thought I’d give these new 150-grain Fusion bullets a try.

Rather than drive forty odd miles to the Rod & Gun Club Range, I took Queenie out to a nearby state-owned section of land about five miles from home where I shoot safely into the bare dirt at the base of this big steep-sided butte. I set up a portable target at exactly 300 meters, lased with the Nikon range-finder. By zeroing at 300 meters I figured I would mostly average out the trajectory difference between the 150-grain Fusion and the German 146-grain FMJ the Hensoldt’s BDC is calibrated for. I was shooting under “semi-field conditions”, lying prone resting the rifle’s forearm on my pack and using a bean bag under the toe of the stock.

Granted, I was only shooting 3-shot groups rather than my usual 5-shot groups because I’m really cheap when it comes to factory ammo, but still…Holy Underwear, Batman! Is that really a 2-inch group? Yup. Actually a hair inside two inches going from center hole to center hole. I was pretty pleased with that but figured it was just one of those cases of what my Dad would term, “Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then.” Adjusting the windage and elevation on the Hensoldt, I shot another three shot group. I was once more very pleasantly surprised. This blind hog was really going to town on them acorns! Another group hovering right there at 2 inches, a little over but only by a tish. That’s just some unheard of accuracy for a FAL…I can’t get a group that good at 50 yards with my DSA Para.

 Federal Fusion 150-grain 3-shot groups at 300 meters from Queenie.

A few days later, my wife and I were out for Montana’s antelope opener. We were within range of a couple of different bunches of speed goats in the morning, but they were bunched up tight and moving right along, so we never had an opportunity for a good shot. It was getting on towards about four in the afternoon when we went to one of my favorite antelope hunting spots and sure as heck there was what looked like a really nice buck bedded down out in the middle of the wheat stubble. I glassed him good with the Swarovski binos and Tasco spotting scope from better than ¾ mile away and could tell he’d probably already been hit. Even bedded down he had a kind of hunched-up look to his posture and, when I got closer, it looked like he was exerting a lot of effort just to keep his head up. It was also making him, I figured out later, lay his ears back which, in turn, made his rack look huge, especially when viewed from a distance and silhouetted against that light colored wheat stubble background. I thought I was looking at a 15-16 incher.

In years past I’ve filled my antelope tag on obviously wounded animals at least twice. There’s always some idiot out there trying a shot he (or she) has absolutely no business even attempting and they seem to assume every shot fired is either a clean miss or an instant kill. Just after lunch we’d seen one such idiot; resting the wood forearm of her bolt action directly on the top of a fencepost (harmonics!), she’d shifted her cigarette over to the other corner of her mouth and took what had to have been a 600-yard Hail Mary shot at a herd of moving antelope. Of course, I was young and dumb once myself. About 20 years ago I was still new in Montana and while antelope hunting I saw a young buck that somebody had busted one front leg on. He couldn’t keep up with the herd and was all by his lonesome. I didn’t think he’d make it through the winter anyway and I’d be doing him a favor shooting him, so I figured I’d just walk right on over there and whack him. After all, how fast could a 3-legged antelope run? Pretty darn fast, it turns out; a lot faster than I had thought possible. But he circled a bit and I did manage to get him running broadside at 125 yards or so. That was back when I had two fully functional eyes and used Scout scopes all the time.

Having long ago learned that lesson, I gave this buck the benefit of the doubt and the full stalk treatment. Antelope rely primarily on their sight for their best defense; their normal eyesight is equivalent to us looking through 8x optics. So they like to bed down in the big wide open where they can see trouble coming from a looonnnnggg ways off. I had to work my way down the far side of a brushy creek bottom for a quarter mile and then hunched over up a dry irrigation ditch for about another quarter mile. Then I had to low crawl the last hundred yards or so to get to where I could see over the stubble enough to get a clear shot. I was able to hit him with the range-finder; 298 meters. I adjusted the Hensoldt’s BDC to 300, looped up tight in the Langlois Ching Sling, and scooted ahead on my elbows just a little bit more because of the stalks still showing in the scope view. He had a single nervous doe with him who busted me at that point, but she actually did me a favor in getting the buck to his feet rather than lying down. I took the prone shot and heard a good solid hit. Leave it to the Germans, they actually have a word for that heavy, meaty slap of a bullet hitting solidly home; Kugelschlag. The buck took about two very unsteady steps and toppled over.

 Installing an Entreprise Free Float barrel tube and a third sling swivel amidships allowed the use of this Langlois Leather Ching sling for a shooting aid.

He was DOA when I got to him. Field dressing him I discovered, sure enough, somebody else had already hit him earlier that day. A “California Brain Shot” we call it, a bullet up the ass. The top of one hind quarter was partially ruined and inside the membrane the body cavity already contaminated by both intestinal and gut content. So I was glad I put him out of his misery no matter what size his horns, which are a little over 13 inches.

The Federal Fusion apparently both held together well and mushroomed even at 300 meters. It took a chunk out of the back of a leg bone and a rib on the way in but still had enough oomph and had expanded enough to make a sizeable hole through both lungs. I’m definitely looking forward to deer season with this combination in hand.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Normal Government Function

Government Function During Shutdown

Anyone willing to scrape off a little bit of the golden patina left by the MSM (who themselves have spent billion of dollars trying over the past few years to disprove the old adage "No matter how much you polish a turd, it's still a turd.") can find the real stories behind the the Obongo Regime's "Campaign of Pain" Government shutdown. It really boils down to petty harassment and childish tantrums incited by the current administration aimed directly at annoying the hell out of John Q Citizen so Barry S and the Tax & Spenders on the Hill can get their way and keep right on behaving in the same fiscally suicidal manner that (along with a lot of that turd polishing) keeps them in power. 

And what better harassment can the government inflict upon the average taxpayer than screwing with the National Parks? Yes, it's deliberate, spiteful and penny ante, but what else can you expect from Sodom on Potomac? About the best explanation I saw was an interview with an NPS Ranger who flat out said they had been given orders "to make life as difficult for people as we can." What? You thought government public servants were here to do something crazy like, oh, I don't know, serve the public? Get real.

Somehow I'm not terribly surprised that even the Taliban has a better grasp on the government shutdown than the MSM and the drooling, slack-jawed zombies who still listen to them. "In a statement released to AFP, the terrorist group accused American lawmakers of 'sucking the blood of their own people.'" I didn't even bother to go look at Pravda's or Putin's take on this, as I already knew it would be more accurate and realistic than all three major US networks and CNN combined. Geez, some days I almost miss the Cold War.
In case you were wondering how we got to the point where our poor, starving, bedraggled little Federal government cannot afford to keep the National Parks open (except, of course, for special cases like Immigration Reform Rallies protesting that the government isn't giving away enough money to non-US citizens), The Waste List is a terrific help in showing us the subtle differences  between "essential" and "non-essential" government spending. The following handful of examples is just a microscopic portion of what our own Washington royalty deems as "essential government spending" which cannot possibly be cut.

1. The IRS is about to pay out $70 million in bonuses even though discretionary bonuses are supposed to be cancelled due to the sequester. And if these reward  "bonuses" are distributed in any way like the Forest Circus does theirs, the might as well call it, "Worthless Quisling Bureaucrats passing big wads of money back and forth to stroke each others' fragile egos and assuage their guilt for never having done any actual work during their entire careers."

2. The Obamas have to take another trip to Africa because...well, they need to, just trust us. Cost to the US taxpayer; $100,000,000. You could buy an entire country in Africa for that. On the bright side, at least the First Family is too chintzy to tip the help. If they did, it would cost the taxpayers half again as much. As it is, we taxpayers already shell out $1.4 billion a year to keep the Obamas in the royal style they've become accustomed to, although Michelle still thinks the Whitehouse is a bit like a prison. I say "royal style" because the Brits only spend a trifling $58 million on their entire royal family.

3. Hat's off to "Shotgun Joe" Biden for his frugality with the taxpayers' money in these times of crises. When he and his staff spent a single night in Paris, the hotel billed the taxpayer $585.000.50. Joe and his posse then really tightened their belts and got the cost of their single night in a London hotel down to a mere $459,388.65. Way to go, Joe!

4. The US Senate has been doing their part all along. For the past fifteen years, they've only spent a miserly $5.25 million on haircuts. 

5. To make sure America's domestic animals are as neatly coiffed as our politicians, in 2012 Congress alloted over a half a million dollars "to promote specialty hair and beauty products for cats and dogs."

6. We can't afford a single new metal folding chair in the waiting room at the VA hospital, but the Obama Administration is giving his homies in the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt sixteen General Dynamics F-16 Falcon fighter-bombers (window sticker price $19 million a pop) and two hundred M1-series Abrams main battle tanks ($8.5 million apiece). The new Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has at least expressed his grateful appreciation for the gifts "Thank you Infidel Yankee Pig Dogs for these wonderful killing machines that will help us slaughter all non-believers with impunity. Today we butcher the few remaining Christians in our midst, tomorrow the Jew Devils in Israel. Although we may have to ask for more of your Yankee Imperialist weapons before we come to eradicate you, the Great Satan, as well. Allah Akbar!" With friends like that...

7. Speaking of expensive military gear, we're planning to abandon 7 billion dollars worth of it left on Afghanistan's plain. Much of this involves million-dollar MRAPs that are being reduced to scrap metal and sold to Afghan versions of Sanford & Son for pennies on the dollar. This is in perfect keeping with the Obama Administration's policy of keeping "high-powered military-style assault weapons" out of the hands of those violent drug gangs; unless, of course, it's the US Government itself giving high-powered military-style assault weapons to violent Mexican drug cartels. Just think, if not for our current administration, those vicious gangstas might be legally purchasing .30-40 Krags or Model 1903 Springfields from the CMP to use in their drug wars and drive-by shootings.

8. Last but certainly not least, and a prime example of why satirists, humorists and snarky bloggers who have to try to make up outrageous shit on their own are rapidly joining the ranks of the unemployed..."The National Institute of Health has spent more than $5 million on a website called Sexpulse that is targeted at 'men who use the Internet to seek sex with men'....the website 'includes pornographic images of homosexual sex as well as naked and scantily clad men' and features 'a Space Invaders-style interactive game that uses a penis-shaped blaster to shoot down gay epithets.'"

Talk about unfair. I could have eaten the mushrooms off of half the cow pies in Park County Montana and washed them down with a gallon of tequila and still not have been able to come up with something that ludicrous as a high dollar program.

So the next time your elderly tour group gets bludgeoned, maced and handcuffed by Park Ranger SWAT Gestapo working overtime because "we" can't afford to have the National Parks open, I urge you to call the President. Tell him you support his petulant bullying, demand that he raise your own household taxes by at least 50%, and encourage him to spend, spend, spend with no restraint. It's not like the government is just going out and pissing away your hard-earned money. No sirree, Bawb; it's for the future, for the parks, and, of course, for the children. Think about it. If the government doesn't pay for them to have video games where they can shoot giant laser penises at gay epithets, who will? 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Ben already posted this little gem awhile back which pretty much covers it.

However, me being as long-winded as I am, I thought I would delve a little further into the world of bipods and why I don't like 'em on an infantry/battle/utility rifle. First of all, it's more weight and my FALs and Garands are heavy enough as-is. Balance and handling can be affected, too. Despite hunting every game animal I can get a tag for, and doing a lot of that hunting in the seemingly wide-open endless high sagebrush country of Montana, one thing or another, usually vegetation, prevents me from ever being able to take a prone shot the vast majority of the time. Between the sagebrush and the steep slopes, I find the sitting shooting position, properly looped up with a shooting sling, to be useful most often and pretty darn steady to boot. If I do shoot prone, that ol' strap of leather hanging from the bottom of the rifle can get me pretty darn solid there too. Lastly, I've seen too many people come to use bipods or sticks or supports as a shooting crutch rather than a shooting aid. Without 'em, they're afraid to take the shot and all too often botch it if they do try to take it.

The biggest thing about military-style rifles is that when a bipod is used, its often attached directly to the rifle barrel metal-on-metal. Via conventional wisdom "they" know that this affects barrel harmonics and accuracy. Well, via conventional wisdom "they" also told me, "Just save up your money for a DSA/Springfield Armory/(Insert Cool Name De Jour Here) brand-name and you'll be sure to get a really fine rifle." That turned out to be a crock of shit, so I thought I had better test the bipod thing firsthand myself too.

For my little experiments, I used my Century Arms Franken-FAL "Gertie" which was originally an StG-58 kit. The Sturmgewehr StG-58 was the Austrian version of the FN FAL, a very good quality rifle manufactured under license by Steyr. The hammer-forged barrels in particular are noted for quality and accuracy.

As an aside, you'd think that in running about the Alps the Austrians would have wanted a lightweight rifle, but the StG-58 is actually the heaviest of the standard FAL infantry rifles. The Swiss out-did even that with their SIG Stgw 57, a beautifully over-engineered pig that weighs over 12-1/2 pounds empty.

At any rate, the Austrian StG-58 came with a folding aluminum bipod as standard equipment. It is kind of a cool little unit which folds neatly flush into grooves on the bottom of the handguards when not in use. The bipod feet have both spikes for traction as well as wider, flared feet for soft ground/snow. Total weight, including all the mounting hardware, is just a tish over 12 ounces. Actually sounds kinda nice. What does Bawb have to bitch about?

 Austrian StG-58 type FAL with standard issue bipod extended.

When not in use, the bipod legs fold neatly into grooves in the handguards.

First off, long legs may be a desirable feature on women and horses, but not on bipods IMHO. The StG bipod legs measure 11-1/2 inches in length. When you're shooting prone off a low bipod (the 6-9" Harris comes to mind) you can get quite steady and solid by just putting the fist of your non-shooting hand under the toe of the butt stock. With legs this long, you put your fist under the toe of the stock and your bore is still pointing about 20-degrees over the top of the target. At the range, you wind up making wobbly houses of cards from sandbags and ammo cans and folded shelter halves and what not to jack the butt up enough to get the barrel on target.

Not a deal breaker, though. You can still do pretty solid shooting from this bipod just because you still have both elbows on the ground.

Now for the weenie. Does such a bipod really affect accuracy and if so, how much? Gertie and I went to the old Forest Service gravel pit one day last spring to find out for sure.

For the first test I shot two 10-round groups at two targets side by side at 100 meters. The first group was fired with the bipod folded and the forearm resting on a folded-up shelter half. The second group was fired from the bipod. It wasn't like I was putting any weight or torque on the rifle, either. There was only the weapon's own weight resting on the bipod.

10-shots, 100 meters, bipod folded, forearm rested.


 10-shots, 100 meters, same rifle &ammo fired from bipod.

I was expecting some difference but I was a little surprised at just how much I got. My semi-auto shooting was a tad sloppy and the zero on my SUIT scope was a tad's supposed to be four inches high and 1/2-inch left at 100 meters...but what we're looking at here is the center of the groups, both of which were shot with the tip of the reticle pointer right in the center of that little orange circle in the middle of the bullseye. Going from group centers, the rounds fired from the bipod impacted roughly seven inches higher at 100 meters.

10-shots, 300 meters, bipod folded, forearm rested.

 10-shots, 300 meters, same rifle & ammo fired from bipod.

I repeated the test with two 10-shot groups on two targets at 300 meters and got similar results. At 300 meters, the bipod-fired group was impacting approximately 12-14 inches higher. That's more than enough to completely miss a prone target.

So there you have it. A barrel-mounted bipod really can affect accuracy and zero. Your mileage, of course, may vary. There's a hundred and one little tiny factors that can influence barrel harmonics. Your personal rifle may be only slightly affected, or not at all. But then again, it could be just as bad or perhaps even worse.

It's eleven o'clock and you have a bipod. Do you know where your zero is?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


"As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron."
H.L. Mencken, 1920

Friday, September 13, 2013


We’ve already discussed other attributes of the 7.62x51mm ball round before, such as long-range performance and terminal stopping power. Today we’ll focus entirely on penetration of the humble ball round.


The standard military 7.62 NATO ball round here in the ‘States is the M80, which launches a 147-grain projectile consisting of a soft lead core wrapped in a gliding copper jacket at a muzzle velocity of 2,750 feet per second. Although still standard military issue, this is the Old School Original Recipe T65-type .308 load of 1953 vintage. Some of our NATO allies improved upon the recipe a bit. Belgium’s FN Herstal began feeding the FAL rifle and the MAG58 machine gun with their SS77 ball round and later many of the countries which adopted the CETME/HK G3 and the MG3 machine gun used the 146-grain “NATO Reference” ball load.

The SS77 fires a 144-grain FMJBT bullet at 2,750 fps. The significance of the “BT” is that the bullet is Boat-Tailed, which gives it a better aerodynamic shape and ballistic coefficient. This translates into increased accuracy, especially at longer ranges, and the more streamlined SS77 keeps much of its stabilization during the velocity transition from supersonic to subsonic, somewhere out there around 900 meters, depending on how far above Sea Level you are.

Interesting to know, if you’re a gun nut, but we are getting out there to real sniper ranges and beyond the realm of the humble battle rifle and designated marksmen types. For me and my FALs, 600 meters is our effective range.

Any decent NATO ball round will do the job here. Some of the really good foreign-made surplus ammunition includes the German DAG (145-grain/2,785fps), Portuguese (143-grain/2,740 fps) and South African (143-grain/2785 fps) ball. Also noted their very high quality and consistency are the Lithuanian (146-grain FMJBT) and Malaysian (147-grain FMJ) manufactured surplus ball and at one time Australian equivalent of the M80 was readily available.

At any rate, the M80 ball round can, according to the military, penetrate a quarter inch of sheet steel at 300 yards, pierce an old steel pot helmet at 400 yards and, at 620 meters, penetrate a 3.45mm standard NATO steel plate.

There are a wide variety of factors affecting bullet penetration but the most crucial is the angle of impact. A projectile striking at a flat angle of 90-degrees has the best penetration. As the angle becomes sharper, the penetration becomes less and the probability of a ricochet greater, hence the use of sloped armor on tanks since WWII.

As a quirk of ballistics, modern high-velocity small arms rounds actually deliver much less penetration at closer ranges than at longer ranges. In fact, the 5.56x45mm round performs best at 200 meters and the 7.62x51mm ball achieves maximum penetration at 600 meters! The 5.56x45mm round striking cover at close range is particularly affected due to the small but very fast projectile destabilizing almost instantaneously; the poorest penetration actually occurs inside of 25 meters range. Even with the SS109/M855 62-grain “green tip” projectile, combat in Iraq showed that, “5.56 mm bullets were regularly defeated by the sandwich effect of sheet metal and plastic door linings.” Automobiles being such a common media in urban terrain, this is a decided disadvantage.

The 7.62 NATO and to some extent even the 7.62x39mm AK round offer better penetration of common urban media, to include cars. The old 1993 FM 90-10 offered the following data concerning the penetration of a single round of 5.56mm and 7.62mm ball at 200 meters.

The data shows penetration values nearly double those of the 5.56mm for the 7.62mm but doesn’t really tell us all that much. It confirms that dirt/sand is, as Bert Gummer says, “The best bullet-stopper there is.” and that a single layer of sandbags will stop an individual shot from even a 7.62x51mm round. The 7.62 will penetrate up to 50 inches, or just over four feet, of stacked pine boards, but this information would only seem particularly relevant if you were having a firefight in a lumber yard.

          The new MOUT manual lists the penetration of a single round of 7.62x51mm ball round through various media at different, more common, urban ranges. Note that the greatest penetration of sandbag-type material is achieved at the longest range and that the new manual lists only 41 inches of penetration in pine boards as opposed to the old manual’s 50 inches.

In terms of cover, the manual specifically lists the following as being able to stop a 5.56mm round fired at less than 50 meters.
1.     One thickness of well-packed sandbags.
2.     A 2-inch concrete wall (non-reinforced).
3.     A 55-gallon drum filled with water or sand.
4.     A small ammunition can filled with sand.
5.     A cinder block filled with sand (block will probably shatter).
6.     A plate glass windowpane at a 45-degree angle (glass fragments may be thrown behind the glass).
7.     A brick veneer.
8.     A car body (5.56mm rounds penetrate but may not always exit).

As for the 7.62mm NATO ball it noted: “Barriers that offer protection against 5.56mm rounds are also effective against 7.62mm rounds with some exceptions. The 7.62mm round can penetrate a windowpane at a 45-degree obliquity, a hollow cinder block, or both sides of a car body. It can also easily penetrate wooden frame buildings.”

“Internal walls, partitions, plaster, floors, ceilings, common office furniture, home appliances, and bedding can be easily penetrated by both 7.62mm and caliber .50 [no shit, Sherlock] rounds.”
The following illustrations come from an experiment conducted by an Australian Army infantry officer. Building construction materials were engaged at various ranges, with one hundred rounds of 5.56x45mm ammunition linked four rounds of F1 (SS109) ball to one tracer fired from an M249 SAW and one hundred rounds of 7.62x51mm ammunition linked four rounds of F4 (M80) ball to one tracer fired from an M240B machine gun. Considering that the SS109 5.56mm achieves maximum penetration at 200 meters, the results of the hundred rounds fired against stacked bricks is particularly illustrative. At the same range, a solid block of non-reinforced concrete was engaged by each weapon, and the results viewed side by side are equally revealing.

Since all this information just shows penetration under ideal conditions, i.e. a perfect 90-degree angle on the bullet strike, perhaps more enlightening are the tests from the Jarheads’ technical training video Concealment Does Not Equal Cover.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, at the Marine Corps’ Project Metropolis, conducted a more recent series of tests with current weapons against various commonly found wall/building materials, to include sheetrock, plywood, brick and cinder block. The ammo for the 5.56mm weapons consisted of M855 (SS109) 62-grain penetrator core ammunition; the 7.62x39mm AKM and 7.62x51mm weapons used standard FMJ (M43 and M80) ball rounds. All weapons were fired in 3-round bursts at the average urban engagement range of 19 meters, first at a 90-degree flat angle to the wall and then at a 45-degree angle.

I was a little surprised that the AKM did as well as it did and that the SAW didn’t do better. All the 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm weapons penetrated all media at all angles. The M16A2 failed to penetrate a single layer brick wall at 45-degree angle and also failed to penetrate a single layer cinder block wall at any angle. The M249 SAW with the same ammunition penetrated the brick and cinder block walls at a 90-degree angle but failed to do so at a 45-degree angle.

90-degree angle
45-degree angle
Cinder Block

7.62x39mm Burst (AKM)

90-degree angle
45-degree angle
Cinder Block

5.56x45mm Burst (M16A2)

90-degree angle
45-degree angle
Cinder Block

5.56x45mm Burst (M249 SAW)

90-degree angle
45-degree angle
Cinder Block

7.62x51mm Burst (M240B GPMG)

I’ve posted this before but I see that the old link doesn’t work anymore. Here’s a new link to the video over at Live Leak.

Watching this video should send a shiver down your spine. The military is always (supposedly) training to fight “the next war”. This meant that back when I was a Cold Warrior, MOUT training sites closely resembled the towns and villages of Western Europe, as we expected to conventionally fight “the next war” against massed mechanized Warsaw Pact armies pouring out of the Fulda Gap. Of course, we wound up fighting the next war in the open deserts of Iraq instead, but that’s beside the point.

Going by where the never-ending Global War on Terror has actually been fought since 2002, one might reasonably expect a modern military MOUT training site to resemble the architecture and lay-out of cities like Mogadishu, Baghdad, Fallujah or Kabul. Sarajevo or Grozny might also be possible candidates.

Instead, Project Metropolis doesn’t look like any city on foreign soil. With its red brick school, steepled white church on the corner, porched duplexes, green lawns, fire hydrants and stop signs, its looks a helluva lot more like Mainstreet, USA rather than anyplace in the Middle East or Southwest Asia. If the US military is training for the next expected war, then watching a conventional combined arms assault of heavily armed Marines supported by armor, helicopters and Harriers blasting their way down Mainstreet, USA should set off a couple of little alarm bells in the back of the American citizen’s mind.

So far you may be thinking this all falls under the “interesting, but so what?” category, but all this information has been put to good use militarily for decades. I’ve seen US Army WWII documents recommending the use of the commonly available .30-06 162-grain Armor Piercing round in the M1 Garand and Browning Automatic Rifle for combat in European forests specifically for shooting through trees used for cover by the Germans. GIs and Marines armed with the 7.62x51mm M14 in Vietnam commented on its ability to shoot through jungle foliage and tree trunks, as did ANZAC troopers armed with the L1A1 version of the FAL.

A still shot from the old US Army training film Infantry Weapons and their Effects. This is the moment of impact of a 150-grain FMJ .30-06 ball round hitting a bucket of water after penetrating an oak tree approximately 12 inches thick. Range: 100 yards. Performance of the 7.62 M80 ball is almost equivalent.

The Rhodesian Security Forces during the Bush Wars of the 1970’s really put the penetrative power of the “7.62 long” as they called it to good use with their Drake or Cover Shooting. This excellent article by “Ian Rhodes” which appeared in the Small Wars Journal is the best explanation of the tactic I’ve ever encountered and well worth the read.

An excerpt explains: “FAL 7.62 long rounds have the power to punch through the tree trunks generally found in the African savanna and jesse bush. AK47s using 7.62 short, on the other hand, generally did not. This fact was used to great effect by the Rhodesians. When firing into an area that included trees, rocks or ant hills etc, a single round down the left hand side of a solid object was good practice (not forgetting most opponents are right handed), then double tap the base of the tree and continue to the right, squeezing off single (or double) rounds in fairly close proximity. (In a conventional situation, moving from left to right takes out the trigger man before the machine gun loader or second.) Smallish rocks, strange “lumps” or “bundles of rags” were to be killed. In fact, anything out of place was to be dealt with—the “rocks” may be heads, hands, or a pattern on a camouflage uniform etc. The soldier then moved his aim to the next area of cover and repeated the process.”

The Rhodesians were tactically the finest light infantry the West has produced since perhaps the days of Daniel Morgan and there is a great deal to be learned from their common-sense approach. Consider that even when reserve policemen and farm guards are included under the overall umbrella of “Security Forces”, they still maintained an 8-to-1 kill ratio against an enemy who enjoyed staggering numerical odds and the latest Soviet and Red Chinese military gear. Well-trained crack units like the battalions of the Rhodesian Light Infantry Regiment achieved kill ratios on the order of 35-to-1 and sometimes as high as 50-to1. If shooting through cover worked for them I’m more than glad to do the same.

Beyond Africa, for a decade or more after the regular line infantry switched over to 5.56x45mm assault rifles, European nations which fielded elite mountain troops retained 7.62x51mm battle rifles for their special use. In mountain warfare, the long-range capabilities and wind-bucking abilities of the heavier caliber comes into its own.

Long after the rest of their army had switched over to the 5.56mm Steyr AUG, Austria’s Jagdkommando Special Forces retained their StG58 FAL-type rifles. In the event of a Soviet invasion of Europe, the Jagdkommando were trained to stay behind and operate behind the Soviet front lines. Under such circumstances, the Austrian mountain troops could sit back at 500 meters or so and engage Soviet support elements and security troops from beyond the effective range of return fire from their 7.62x39mm Kalashnikovs. Additionally, the 7.62 NATO’s heavier bullets and superior penetration were expected to prove more effective at disabling and destroying light wheeled vehicles and trucks, particularly with fire directed specifically against the engine blocks.

In urban areas the penetration of the 7.62 was also appreciated, as noted by a former British soldier.

“In places like Northern Ireland, if fired upon from a building’s window, fire was normally not returned at the window, but at the walls either side of the window. At likely places a firer would move to for cover. The SLR’s 7.62mm rounds could punch holes through brick walls. Many a surprised dead sniper (could he speak, that is) would testify to that fact.”

         On a whim, I decided to personally do a little informal testing of my own one day. I used some old British-style Figure 11 “Charging Commie” silhouette targets I printed out poster-sized, glued to heavy duty cardboard backers. There should have been more holes in these targets than there are, but I was playing with a Gat trigger device on the Century Franken-FAL StG58 that day. I'm pretty certain that rapid but aimed semi-automatic fire would have produced a lot more actual holes.

 Optics good, optics your friend. The photo was taken at approximately 75 meters, but the targets are hard to discern even at relatively short range.

 Where's Commie?

 Two of the targets were deliberately placed so that I would have to shoot through cover to hit them. One went behind some fairly serious cover; a mature Douglas fir with a trunk about 18 inches thick near the butt end had fallen over in a recent wind storm and I put the target fully behind it except for the head and shoulders. Engaging the target from 300 meters with an FAL shooting 145-grain Port FMJ, all rounds that hit the tree trunk penetrated fully with plenty of power left over to penetrate the target. One round blew out a sizeable chunk of wood that left a hole about two inches by inch in size through the Charging Commie as well.

 This wind-downed Doug fir looks like good cover, just over a foot and a half thick. This particular Figure 11 target was printed to be 18 inches across the shoulders for reference. At 300 meters, three 7.62x51mm FMJ rounds hit the log and all three fully penetrated it and the target.

The first picture didn't turn out, so this was a second Fig 11 perforated while behind the same cover with the same ammunition. Here the "exit wounds" in the tree are readily apparent.

A second Figure 11 was placed behind a large, flat rock that did not actually stand up high enough to provide true cover. More importantly, about 15 meters in front of the target was a sizeable standing Doug fir. From my firing position 300 meters away, the Figure 11 could not be seen except for a few patches of white color through the green boughs of the tree. Once more, the 7.62x51mm rounds made it through the boughs and limbs to hit the target. Two rounds hit low, striking the sloped surface of the flat rock in front of the target, and these produced a half a dozen long thin rock chips which themselves had enough velocity to slice through the cardboard. Even if these would not have been lethal against a human target, they no doubt would have made for a helluva distraction involving pain and blood flow.

Target #2 taken from 25 yards. The actual firing position was further to the left and required shooting directly through the tree boughs at what little was visible of the target.

          Red circles indicate bullet strikes while blue circles indicate rock chip "shrapnel wounds" from two low shots hitting the stone in front of the target (indicated by blue arrows).

          I actually considered the ability to shoot through fairly thick foliage the more important performance. British small arms expert Tony Williams explained why this is an important consideration: “Due to its small size, a 5.56 mm bullet can also be more easily deflected in flight on its way to a target. Thick vegetation, wooden posts and even soldiers’ web equipment have all caused 5.56 mm rounds to ricochet or bounce-off harmlessly, depending on the angle of attack. This tendency increases with distance and is again attributable to the rapid loss of energy at longer ranges.”

          Just for shits and giggles, I tried a "Rhodesian Cover Shoot" on the way home. A wolfy lodgepole pine with a bole roughly a foot thick alongside the abandoned logging road I was hiking became cover for a skinny Charging Commie. At an “ambush range” of less than 15 meters, I simply gave the tree trunk a double-tap from the FAL square in the middle of the trunk. The results in the photo pretty much speak for themselves.

Fig 11 Charging Commie before; he hides behind this lodgepole pine for cover.

Figure 11 Charging Commie after a 7.62x51mm ball double-tap to the opposite side of the tree trunk.

This penetration is something easily overlooked. No real hunter would ever shoot at game through foliage. In training, military MILES lasers, paintballs, Airsoft pellets and even Simmunition cannot support this type of shooting. In fact, I recall an NCO I knew whose solution to any tactical problem was, “Pop smoke, because MILES can’t shoot through smoke.”

Penetration is something you have to just keep in the back of your mind, and an occasional experiment like mine serves as a good reminder. Either that or you can tie a string around your finger.