Automatic Rifleman

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Chris Tsamados
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Automatic Rifleman

Postby Chris Tsamados » Mon Jan 26, 2004 9:08 am

I was wondering what the role of an Automatic Rifleman would have been in Vietnam. I've read that when the M14 was in service the Automatic Rifleman was armed with the squad support version of it, the M14A1. However the book made no mention as to what they would have been armed with after the M14 was succeeded for the M16, was the Auto Rifleman phased out or armed with something else?

Thanks.
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Re: Automatic Rifleman

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jan 26, 2004 11:38 am

In Vietnam the M60, belt fed, machine gun suppled the rife squad with extra fire power. The M14 continued to be used as a sniper rifle.
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Reply

Postby Chris Tsamados » Mon Jan 26, 2004 2:23 pm

Thanks, but what of the role of the Automatic Rifleman was this no longer used after the M14 weapon was replaced?
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Re: Reply

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jan 26, 2004 3:51 pm

First there was the BAR, Browning Automatic Rifle. This , effective for the time weapon, was used in WWII under the French concept of "Walking Fire" by US troops. But it was heavy, hard to fire with any accuracy from the shoulder, and had to be reloaded often. The M14A1 was short term, modified M14, rehash of the same idea and with nearly the same results. Only a very few were ever made according to my sources. The major reason was that the M16 delivered auto fire from a magazine in the same manner as the modified M14. There was no advantage to the heavy to carry M14A1. (Back in WWII the M1 Garand 30.06 delivered semi-auto fire eight rounds at a time giving the BAR an advantage in fire power that made it useful for its time

The M60 shooting the same 7.62x51 Nato round, was a true light machine gun and extra ammo belts were carried by other members of a rifle squad to supply a lot of fire power. The M14 was used as a sniper rifle in the war although some might have been issue weapons in some times and places.
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Automatic Rifleman

Postby Delta75 » Mon Jan 26, 2004 8:17 pm

I had one Lt who directed our basic riflemen to fire semi-automatic unless otherwise directed. He had specific riflemen defined as the Automatic Riflemen and these guys always fired auto. This experiment was, however, short-lived, because after firing several magazines fully automatic, we experinced too many "cook offs" (or whatever the heck we called it when the rifle got so hot....that it fired as soon as you inserted a new magazine....without having to pull the trigger).

We went back to semi as SOP with full auto in more unique situations.
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Re: Automatic Rifleman

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jan 27, 2004 1:40 am

From what I understand, the modern M16A2/ M16A3 both have an auto, a single shot and a three shot burst selection. I think as I remember reading, the BAR from WWII was used in short bursts, ideally three round bursts.
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Grenadier

Postby Chris Tsamados » Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:26 am

Thanks alot for your replys, you wouldn't believe how much searching on the net I've done to find these answers! Delta I never realised that the M16 fired on full auto could cause those problems.

It looks like a source I read somewhere seems to be correct, that the term Automatic Rifleman was deemed a bit of a joke because there was no difference between one and a Rifleman.

I have another question that I'd appreciate it if you could answer. With regards to a soldier who was a Grenadier, would he have carried just an M79 and a sidearm or an M16 aswell?

Also the actual M79 round did it have to travel a certain amount of distance before it would arm itself? For instance could he have fired it into a brick wall a few metres from himself and it would have detonated, or would it just sort of bounce off without exploding?
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M79

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jan 27, 2004 10:53 am

Chris,

My M79 guys carried only the M79 and a bunch of rounds. I can't envision anyone being able to carry both an M79 and an M16.....but maybe they did...and no one in my platoon carried a pistol...well, every now and then I would have an M60 machinegunner who would carry one for a while.....but usually not for long. The M79 guy had several types of rounds available. HE (high explosive), flechette (spelling? like a shotgun), Willy Peter (White/Phos), and Tear Gas. My guys carried mostly HE with a few flechette rounds and maybe a couple of Willy Peter and tear gas. So....for close contact the grenadier would use the flechette round, and the good grenadiers could shoot those things pretty fast.

I have seen the combo M16/M79 but I never had one in my platoon.

Yes....the M79 armed itself after so many feet...but I can't remember how far. "Niner" probably knows....and yes, technically a round shot at any object short of the "arming" range would "bounce off"......but I would never want to test that out. Ha!

BTW....every grenade was supposed to have, I believe, a 6 second delay......but at times the delay was longer...or shorter. So....I never wanted to hold one for very long after it was armed.
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Re: M79

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jan 27, 2004 11:30 am

I haven't a clue about how far an M79 round would have to go to arm. Like Jerry, I wouldn't want to be hit by one at even the less than armed range as I imagine it would be like being hit by a major leaguers fast ball from ten feet away. But I contacted an old M79 guy to see if he would comment.
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M70

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jan 27, 2004 12:05 pm

Found a website with all the history and info on the M79.
The "Arming" distance was "spec'ed" at 30 meters.


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Reply

Postby Chris Tsamados » Tue Jan 27, 2004 2:54 pm

So the M79 could almost be used like a shotgun with the flachette rounds, doing away with the need for a pistol. Thanks for the replys and the link, I noticed the link describes other weapons, it has a decription of an RPD but the picture is the RPK, I suppose it must be a mistake.
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M79

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jan 27, 2004 3:03 pm

Chris,
Yes...the M79 could be used "just like" a single shot shotgun.

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M79

Postby m79ermchsicom » Tue Jan 27, 2004 4:25 pm

In training they told us it had to spin for 28 meters before it would arm, so you wanted to be at least a 100 feet off the contact. I never fired it at my feet to test the theory, but can remember being close enough in sometimes, that it would not go off.

I carried mostly gernade rounds [gold tipped], a few flare rounds [white tipped], a tear gas or two [gray tipped], and a few shotgun rounds that had double aught buckshot [I think it was]. The last wouldn't have been much use against an automatic weapon, if you missed the first shot, or ran into two rifles, although a Lt. once put me on point with the 79. And at least in my case, there was no 45 or any other weapon, just the 79.

With the 79 I inherited a vest with pockets for the rounds, but I don't remember how many it held. I want to say 40, but that's been too long ago. A bit of weight to drag around, but probably not as bad as the guys lugging M60's and M60 belts and radios. Add in a few hand gernades, smoke gernades, Claymores [some C4 for cooking], etc., there is a reason everyone was called grunts.
The 79 came with a large sight, that could be raised up and locked, but took too long to mess with, and were always taken off, as they folded forward and caught in the brush. You just learned to "judge the angle" without sights. And as in horseshoes, "close" also counted with the 79, so you didn't have to be perfectly on target.

My favorite was after we came out of a place we called VC Island after making contact. More troops were brought in and we surrounded the area, and they gave me a case or two of flare rounds. I spent the rest of the night keeping our side of the area illuminated. Fourth of July sort of thing, and I was too high on adrenaline at the time to sleep anyway.

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Re: M79

Postby Niner Alpha » Tue Jan 27, 2004 4:29 pm

Hey John, just happened to be home for lunch. Thanks for posting.

Just did a conversion of the 76 meters per second velocity. It comes out to 169.9 miles per hour. Lots faster than the best fast ball.
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Vest

Postby Chris Tsamados » Tue Jan 27, 2004 6:19 pm

That was a bit nasty putting you on point with an M79! Is this the sort of vest you had?

http://www.special-warfare.net/data_bas ... mm_01.html
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M79

Postby Delta75 » Tue Jan 27, 2004 8:01 pm

BTW: Some of my M79 guys preferred to not use the vest but to carry their rounds in two "bags"...one over each shoulder....one hanging on their right side and one hanging on their left side....both around waist level. I seem to remember these being claymore "bags"....but I could be wrong.

They believed that this approach had two advantages....(1) they could get to their ammo really fast and (2) they could "dump" the bags quickly if they ended up "over their head" in water...while crossing a canal or river (of course, then we had to retrieve the bags..but at least we didn't lose a guy).

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vest

Postby m79ermchsicom » Tue Jan 27, 2004 8:28 pm

Mine was a vest with huge pockets, not individual pockets for each round. Probably twenty in there, and then another twenty in a couple of bags slung around my neck. Always thought it was makeshift, instead of Army issue???

The 79 had quite a kick. I was taught to keep my thumb on the right side of the stock, as if you stretched your thumb across the back, the knurled release in back would work on the webbing of skin between your thumb and forefinger.

Also, something more stupid than that Lt. putting the M79 on point, was that that M79er walked it. Now, I would have handed him the M79 and volunteered to follow him up, but I was a lot dumber in those days, and assumed all officers knew what they were doing.

jhb
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Reply

Postby Chris Tsamados » Fri Jan 30, 2004 9:06 am

I 'm suprised to hear that no one in your platoon had a pistol I always thought they were standard issue to US troops. I know from friends that the British army don't give its soldiers a sidearm and they have to rely on the SA80, which is very prone to mailfunctions.

With regards the M79 was the flechette round tha same as the shotgun round?
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79

Postby m79ermchsicom » Fri Jan 30, 2004 11:08 am

45'S were only issued to officers, as far as I know, maybe with some exceptions.

Flechette rounds are the same as shotgun rounds, my Missouri terminology. Think the name fleshettes stuck to them because they were originally loaded with some kind of dart. By the time I came along, they were filled with buckshoot. Think they were a sabot type round, with some sort of carrier inside holding the buckshot. Don't remember what kind of spread they had. Never actually fired many of them, probably was goofing off when I did.

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Reply

Postby Chris Tsamados » Sat Jan 31, 2004 7:40 am

Thanks for all the information..
In the books and articles I've read regarding US Marine squad structure in Vietnam, most say that the the Rifle Platoon didn't actually contain a soldier armed with an M60. From what I can gather the machine gunners and anti tank troops were taken from the Weapons Platoon, and spread around the Rilfle platoons in the company. Is this the same as the Infantry?

Actually heres one of the links I got the info from:

www.marzone.com/7thMarines/Hst0010.htm
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M60

Postby Delta75 » Mon Feb 02, 2004 10:49 am

Chris....not the same in the Army. Our 60 guys were not part of the Weapons Platoon. They were "our" guys. I believe that there was a Weapons platoon but it was...I believe...the mortar guys.

I believe that the standard was suppposed to be 2 M60's per platoon?????...but my platoon had one per squad...we had four squads...thus 4 M60's. As far as I was concerned...you could never have too many M60's...I loved those things. Great fire support.

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Reply

Postby Chris Tsamados » Mon Feb 02, 2004 1:47 pm

Thanks for clearing that up. The US army is so confusing in its organisation and structure, theres so many different ground based forces Army, USMC, Rangers, SEALS, Green Beret etc.
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Re: vest

Postby ChrisT » Fri Feb 03, 2006 5:06 am

m79ermchsicom wrote:Mine was a vest with huge pockets, not individual pockets for each round. Probably twenty in there, and then another twenty in a couple of bags slung around my neck. Always thought it was makeshift, instead of Army issue???

The 79 had quite a kick. I was taught to keep my thumb on the right side of the stock, as if you stretched your thumb across the back, the knurled release in back would work on the webbing of skin between your thumb and forefinger.

Also, something more stupid than that Lt. putting the M79 on point, was that that M79er walked it. Now, I would have handed him the M79 and volunteered to follow him up, but I was a lot dumber in those days, and assumed all officers knew what they were doing.

jhb




m79ermchsicom was this the type of vest you were given?

www.thevietnam-database.co.uk/Usmc/M1955.jpg
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Postby Niner Alpha » Fri Feb 03, 2006 11:03 pm

Chris what you have a picture of is a regular flak jacket. The M79 guys had vests made out of regular jungle jackets. Pockets were sown into the face of the jacket to hold individual 40mm rounds. The sleeves of the jacket were cut off in the process.

This is a picture of Rick Ollendorf with a like jacket made for M16 magazines. Maybe someone has a picture that will show the M79 vest.
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Postby philt » Sat Feb 04, 2006 11:18 am

I can't believe I missed this post until now. Oh well here is my 2 cents.........I carried a M79 in the recon platoon. I ususally carried a couple of "beehive rounds" in case I walked point, which I did every once in a while. But it seems to me there was a lot of misfires with thoese, so I would sometimes carry a .45 semi-automatic pistol, but we usually ended up crossing a river or 2, so it stayed wet a lot. The best way to handle that was not to walk point!

I made my vest. I took a jungle fatique shirt and cut the sleeves off of it to fasion a vest of sorts, then I took the bandoleer that we got our rounds packaged in and sewed them on the "vest".
Here is a pic of the bandoleer.

They came in 3 round "holders" and I would cut them up and sew them all over the "vest" It worked pretty good.
I hope this helps
Phil
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