.45 Magnum MagSub for Special Operations.
Strike fast and suddenly. Attack without warning. Secure victory before the foe is aware of his danger. Remember always, a war is easily won if your enemy does not know he is fighting
I actually found this quote in a tabletop wargame but I'm certain that Sun Tzu and Miyamoto Musashi would be nodding their heads in agreement.
Inspired by the above quote I was recently discussing certain forms of unconventional warfare with a friend. I asked him about potential equipment choices and he suggested that the Vikhr might be a very useful weapon. The Vikhr is easily concealed but the reason my friend suggested it rather than a compact machine pistol is that the Vikhr uses a 9x39mm round. This round uses a heavy bullet for superior performance while still remaining subsonic. In short, the Vikhr is easily hidden, quiet and hits hard.
The Russians describe the Vikhr as a mini-automatic rifle and this got me thinking that an equally valid approach might be a magnum machine pistol. Most machine pistols use the 9x19mm or .45ACP round and very little investigation has been made into using more powerful pistol-type ammunition in this class of weapon. One of the first potential rounds that sprang to mind was the .45 Win Mag. This is a lengthened .45 ACP round with the case extended to 30.43mm and an overall length of 40mm. The longer case means the round can take more powder and/or heavier bullets.
For convenience we'll call the proposed .45 Win Mag machine pistol a Magsub
A quick websearch turned up a company that offers an AR15 based weapon firing the .45 Win Mag. This might be a far more prudent choice for SWAT and SRT teams that the 5.56mm M4s currently in vogue. One round the company offers uses a 260gr bullet producing 1,400fps from their weapon. Another round is a 350gr subsonic round at 950fps. They also offer a combined shot and ball round.
Note that at 500yds the 260gr .45 Win Mag has a velocity and energy level similar to that of a 230gr .45 ACP at the muzzle.
While energy levels always look impressive, a better indication of how a bullet will affect the target can often be determined by the momentum.
A 260gr .45 at 1400fps gives a momentum of around 1.62 ftlb/sec. The 350gr subsonic round at 950fps works out at a respectable 1.48 ftlb/sec
- 9x19mm 124gr at 1200fps is about 0.66 ftlb/sec
- 5.56x45mm 62gr at 3100fps is 0.85 ftlb/sec
- 230gr .45 at 870fps is about 0.89 ftlb/sec.
- 150gr 7.62x51mm at 2750fps is around 1.83 ftlb/sec.
Since the .45 Win Mag has a greater cross section it is not unreasonable to expect its stopping power to be at least equal to a 7.62x51mm Nato round.
Ammunition types other than FMJ will need to be made available, and some can be adapted from existing .45 bullets. A JHP round will be needed, and we will probably see full calibre, saboted and APCR type Armoured Piercing loads. A frangible round suitable for destruction of locks and hinges during breeching operations is also a possibility.
The AR-15 based weapon is a little large for many of the applications I envision but the performance of the ammo shows the potential of this round.
The high power level and momentum of the .45 Win Mag may raise questions about recoil levels. One of the main weapons to use the .45 Win Mag is the LAR Grizzly, which is essentially a modified M1911. Videos clips of the LAR being fired seem to indicate that recoil and even rate of fire with this weapon are not too extreme.
This proposal is to use the round in a machine pistol-sized weapon that has the advantages of greater weight, a compensator, stock and foregrip.
The .45 Win Mag round is probably a little too big to fit in a double column magazine that will insert into a pistol grip. Since we can't use this option, Nate Turner suggested that the Marshal Arms weapon configuration might be worth investigation. This would certainly make the weapon easier to conceal. Not having a vertical magazine would be useful when the weapon is fired from a prone position, such as when used by recon troops in a cramped OP.
Nate also brought my attention to Magpul's PDR-C. (left) The 5.56x45mm round from a 10.5-12 barrel is a suboptimal combination. Magpul should consider a 14½ barrel variant of the PDR-D if they want to use 5.56mm.
In .45 Win Mag the shorter PDR-C weapon would be a much more useful proposition, well suited to the needs of SWAT and Special Forces units or any other user that needs a compact, hard hitting and suppressible weapon. I quite like the idea of using a locked breech for this round, since it will cut down bolt weight and be more consistent with suppressed applications. As a bullpup design some attention must be paid to ejection. I believe the Magpul PDR can be switched from right to left side ejection without needed to disassemble the weapon. I've also been told that due to the weapon ejecting diagonally the Singapore Technologies Kinetics SAR-21 bullpup can be fired from either shoulder without the user needing to make any alterations. This useful capability of the SAR-21 doesn't appear to be widely publicised. I know someone who has fired the weapon from his left shoulder. He was sceptical and wanted to see someone else do it first, but confirms that the feature does work.
What applications would a Magsub be used for? It would be a good choice for nearly any mission where a rifle's power or size is undesirable.
- The Magsub's small size and weight and low signature make it a good choice for recon troops and those that have to man cramped OPs.
- The Magsub is a useful weapon for VIP protection personnel since it can be easily concealed in a case or under a jacket. Its accuracy and terminal effects will make it a good choice for threat neutralization with minimal risk to bystanders.
- The Magsub's compact size and capability to be suppressed make it a good choice for SWAT teams and other units that have to operate inside buildings. The weapon's anti-material capability may prove useful in the destruction of locks and hinges. The shotshell round already in existence suggests that an effective round with reduced penetration against interior walls may be feasible.
- The Magsub's ability to be easily concealed makes it a good choice for many forms of special operation unit that will benefit from having more firepower than can be provided by handguns.
- The compact size of the Magsub allows it to be more easily fired from the interior of civilian vehicles. Its balance would make it useful armament for the riders of escort bikes. Having a greater anti-material capability than weapons using conventional pistol/SMG ammunition gives the Magsub a useful capability against soft skinned vehicles.
Design features of the Magsub:-
- Many of the Magsub's potential roles require it to be suppressed. The provision of an effective suppressor that can be easily and quickly fitted and removed is a priority.
- Many of the Magsub's missions may require it to be concealed. For this reason attention must be paid to making the Magsub's exterior smooth and snag-free. Related to this is the weapon's ergonomics. Despite its short length it should be easy and comfortable to fire accurately and the balance of the weapon should allow it to be fired single handed with reasonable accuracy if necessary.
- Many of the Magsub's applications may require it to be brought out of concealment and brought into action rapidly. At least one variant of Magsub should include a double action trigger system or some other system of equivalent function. The Spectre SMG and Brazilian LAPA Assault rifle were both fitted with double action triggers so there is no reason that the Magsub cannot have such a feature.
- The Magsub will often be used indoors so the option of fitting a Visible/IR light source and Visible/IR aiming laser should be designed in from the start. Since the pistol grip does not contain a magazine this may be a good position for a power source or circuitry.
- To conserve ammo and encourage accurate shooting the Magsub should include a two or three round burst fire option.
- It should be possible to switch between high velocity and subsonic rounds with minimal adjustment.
- Since there is no requirement for the magazine to fit in a pistol grip it may be interesting to try a four column magazine, such as used in the Italian Spectre, Finish Suomi and Swedish m/45.
- The 9x39mm OC-14 Groza Assault rifle is issued as a kit that includes a grenade launcher, a long barrel, short barrel, suppressor and a forward handgrip. The operator fits together the correct mix of parts to create the configuration of weapon needed for the mission. Such a modular approach may be applicable to the Magsub.