Some time ago, a Marine I knew mentioed the intention/ambition of the USMC to adopt a 6.5-7mm assault rifle -now as you know, I'm in favour of the 7mm, but an alternate plan occurred to me the other night.
The USMC is an internationally deployed force and the vast majority of their potential enemies will be equipped with the AKM. (so will quite a few potential allies for that matter). The idea is quite simple -equip the USMC with a rifle capable of firing the same ammo and using the same magazines as the AKM.
This has various advantages, not least of which in "small unit supply" scenarios -which is a posh way of saying looting bodies for reloads. To quote a Vietnam vet I know
"Just drop the last one close enough to harvest."
Many of the attacks in the Falklands could not have continued if troops had not been able to used Argentine ammo. On a bigger scale it allows an AK equipped allies to contribute something.
Now, you could be saying here,
"Why not just arm the USMC with AKMs?"
Israel has quite a few ex-Egyptian models, and there are several AK producing countries such as Finland and China that would love greater trade links. I've several reasons for suggesting a new weapon:-
Firstly, I hope that we've made a few advances in gun design and production since 1947.
Secondly there are several improvements I'd like to see, such as three round burst mode and a telescopic stock that can be set to suit the user's reach. It would make sense for the weapon to have a manual of arms like the M16, and to use certain components and furniture of the M16 too. The weapon would have to be compatible with US issue accessories such as grenade guns, bayonets and sighting systems too.
Although this weapon can fire standard 7.62x39mm ammo, I'm hoping that the US issue round would be better designed -the standard loading is a little light for its calibre, so the US round might be of a more optimum weight with a more suitable propellant. The option of using a saboted 6.5-7mm round is also worth exploring, particularly since the projectile would not touch the rifling and could be of an optimized aerodynamic shape.
As long as standard AKM mags are still compatible the US issue magazine could also be different, being semi-transparent and/or disposable. I'm in favour of charger top-ups for assault rifles to decrease the infantryman's burden, and this may work with this weapon -a good look at the Chinese type 68 rifle might tell us if this is possible -I know this can reload via chargers and AKM magazines can be loaded into it if the bolt stop is ground off -can you charger load an unmodified AKM mag? -you could with a Canadian SLR.
AR15/M16/M4 rifles are already available chambered for the 7.62 x 39mm round so all that is needed is a redesigned receiver bottom with a magazine well that will accept AKM magazines and drums.
Such a weapon will also be useful to Special Forces and LRRPs and Raider Formations that operate for extended periods behind enemy lines.
Phil. info follows
OK, I found it. The article is in July Popular Mechanics, page 24.
The pic is of a kind of beefy looking M-4 carbine.
"The hottest new weapon in the special forces arsenal is a modified M-4A1 carbine that can fire ammunition designed for a common type of Soviet rifle.Clips (magazines dammmit) AK-47 Kalashnikov rifle, fielded in 1949, and used by 50 armies, are sometimes left behind by fleeing terrorists. To enable its new SR-47 to fire these "battlefield pickups" Knights Armament of Vero beach Florida, modified the M-4A1 by extending the upper and lower recievers, bolt carrier and firing pin. They also modified the magazine release to handle the Kalashnickov's distinctive curved magazine. The designers are looking into a similar modification that would allow the M-4A1 to fire ammunition from the newer AK-74 assault rifle."
You can tell the writer is a civvie, right? Just thought I'd pass it on.
Ralph ZumbroRalph also writes
"Re the taper in the 7.62x39, etc. In old handloading parlance, we used to be able to "fireform" cases to create new shapes. That meant that the barrel was removed, put in a vice, and a broach run through it. The result was a chamber with a straighter shape and a slightly sharper shoulder. If we do this to the x39, we get a straighter case, more capacity, and less taper to hash up the magazine. when the bullet was fired, the old cartridge simply "Fireformed" itself to the new dimension.
The added advantage is that we can use our ammo and they cannot use it. The only question is the adaptability of the steel case.....Will it take fireforming without splitting. Brass is a more ductile metal, BUT, the Russian steel cases must have been softened a bit in order to have the springiness necessary to function in full auto. It would be nice to be able to use their ammo on the battlefield, but deny them the reverse.
Ralph's idea is to have a weapon that will accept both standard M43 rounds and rounds with the case shoulder moved forward a few milimetres. This would allow the Soldier to use "battlefield pick-ups" but prevent the enemy doing the same or using stolen ammo.
This rifle could also be fitted with a 9mm barrel, allowing it to use 9x39mm ammo and 6-7mm saboted rounds. By changing the barrel it could revert to 7.62mm rounds, and by changing some interior components it could fire 5.45x39mm.
"Use and Lose" -a revised approach.
Weapons dropped by the enemy can a useful resource. A professional Soldier should have some familiarity with how to use common enemy weapons.
Picking up an enemy weapon to continue fighting is a sound strategy but often Soldiers do not attempt to do this until they begin to run low on ammo for their issue weapons.
An alternate approach is to pick up an enemy weapon whenever one comes across one. This conserves the supply of ammunition you carry on your webbing. When the gun is empty you either reload it, pick up another weapon or toss it away and continue to use your issue rifle. If in a defensive position enemy weapons can be collected and used, again conserving the issue ammo and weapons till needed.
Two things are worth bearing in mind when using enemy weapons.
The first is one of Fratricide. Units that sound like the enemy may be fired upon as enemies. Since collateral damage and civilian casualties are a major concern in modern military operations no unit should fire upon a target unless positively identifying it.
The second is not to use weapons or magazines that appear to have been abandoned for some time. Such weapons may be sabotaged or booby trapped by such measures as filling a cartridge case with plastic explosive.
The following instructions are about the AKM. The same procedures apply to the AK-47, AK-74, RPK and RPK-74:-
- The AKM has no bolt hold open device. If the last round in the magazine has been fired the bolt will have to be re-cocked before firing can be resumed. The selector lever must be set to a fire position to allow the weapon to be cocked.
- The bolt handle reciprocates (moves back and forth) during the firing cycle. The handle can be used as a forward bolt assist should this be needed.
- To load a magazine the forward edge must be inserted in the magazine well first and the magazine rotated back until it locks. The magazine release is the small lever at the front of the trigger guard. If a live round is not already chambered the bolt will need to be worked when the new magazine has been inserted.
- The selector of the AKM is the large lever on the right side of the receiver. The uppermost position is “Safe” and in this position it acts as a dust cover and blocks the rearward movement of the bolt. The bolt can still be retracted enough to inspect the chamber. To fire the lever is moved down. The first position selects automatic fire, all the way down semi-automatic fire. This can be remembered by the letters “S-A-S” = Safe, Automatic, Single.