Gary's U.S. Infantry Weapons Reference Guide
The submachine gun is a secondary individual weapon which fires a pistol-caliber cartridge and is intended primarily
for self-defense in close combat, where quick shooting is required. It is highly effective at close quarters. It is
very dependable, because of the simplicity of its mechanism. The soldier who uses the weapon properly can attain
considerable accuracy in firing automatic fire at close ranges.
The high rate of fire, and the ability of the soldier to move the direction of fire at will, make the submachine gun
particularly effective against moving personnel.
RIFLES & CARBINES
The rifle is the soldier's basic weapon. The soldier must develop two skills to an equal degree: he must be able to
fire his weapon well enough to get hits on battlefield targets, and he must know enough about its working parts to
keep them operating.
Machine guns are classified as light, medium, or heavy. Classifications are determined by a combination of weapon caliber,
weapon system weight, crew size, and the primary type of intended target.
- The light machine gun (LMG) classification generally includes .22 to .250 caliber (5.45mm to 6mm) automatic weapons.
An LMG typically weighs between 15 and 30 pounds, complete. An LMG is normally manned by a crew of one or two individuals depending
on the accessories being used. Neither a tripod nor a spare barrel is normally used with an LMG when it is manned by a single individual.
They are optimally employed against exposed and lightly protected personnel at ranges less than 1,000 meters.
Example: 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
- The medium machine gun (MMG) classification generally includes .264 to .33 caliber (6.5mm to 8mm) automatic weapons.
Typical MMG weights are 25 pounds or more when loaded with 50 rounds of ammunition. Remaining ammunition, ground tripod, spare
barrel, and other accessories can add another 25 pounds or more to the overall weight of MMG systems. The MMG is generally employed
by a crew of three. Optimally, they are employed against personnel and light materials ( e.g., motor vehicles) at ranges of 1500
meters or less. Examples: 7.62mm M60, M240B, and M240G machine guns.
- The heavy machine gun (HMG) classification generally includes .50 caliber or larger (12.7mm to 15mm) automatic weapons.
The system weight of a heavy machine gun is substantial. In a ready to fire configuration using a ground tripod, an HMG without
ammunition can weigh more than 125 pounds. An HMG is normally manned by a crew of four or more personnel (although a crew of three
may be sufficient if motor vehicles or draft animals are employed for transportation over distance). HMGs are primarily employed
against field fortifications, vehicles, and aircraft. They are generally effective against these types of targets at ranges of
1,000 meters or greater. Examples: .50 caliber Browning M2HB machine gun and the 40mm MK 19 MOD 3 grenade machine gun.
GRENADES & GRENADE LAUNCHERS
Grenades are small bombs of a size and shape convenient for throwing by hand or launching from a rifle or grenade launcher.
- The hand grenade is thrown by hand; therefore, the range is short and the casualty radius is small. Hand grenades are
used to supplement small arms against an enemy in close combat, as a riot control agent, for smoke screening and signaling, and for
incendiary purposes. Some hand grenades may be launched from a rifle grenade projection adapter and by a special grenade cartridge.
- The rifle grenade is a fin-stabilized projectile launched by a special grenade cartridge from a rifle equipped with a
grenade launcher attachment. Rifle grenades are used against armored targets, fortifications and personnel, and for screening and signaling.
- The 40mm low-velocity grenade cartridge contains a primer and an integral propellant charge. The round uses a a high-low
propulsion system to propel the spin-stabilized grenade from a grenade launcher.
Simplicity, ruggedness, maneuverability, and effectiveness are the principle characteristics of mortars. The primary role of mortars
is to provide immediately available, responsive indirect fires that support the maneuver of the company or battalion, and that
reinforce direct fires during close combat.
The three primary types of mortar fires are:
- High explosive. High-explosive rounds are used to suppress or kill enemy dismounted infantry, mortars, and other
supporting weapons, and to interdict the movement of men, vehicles and supplies in the enemy's forward area. Bursting white phosphorus
(WP) rounds are often mixed with high-explosive rounds to enhance their suppressive and destructive effects.
- Obscuration. Obscuration rounds are used to conceal friendly forces as forces maneuver or assault, and to blind enemy
supporting weapons. Obscuration can be used to isolate a portion of the enemy force while it is destroyed piecemeal. Some mortar
rounds use bursting WP to achieve this obscuration; others employ more efficient technology. Bursting WP is also used to mark
targets for engagement by other weapons, usually aircraft, and for signaling.
- Illumination. Illumination rounds are used to reveal the location of enemy forces hidden by darkness. They allow the
commander to confirm or deny the presence of the enemy without revealing the location of friendly direct-fire weapons. Illumination
fires are often coordinated with HE fires to both expose the enemy and to kill or suppress him.
- Light anti-armor weapons (such as the M72 LAW and M136 AT4) are used to attack enemy personnel, field fortifications,
and light armored vehicles. They have limited capability against main battle tanks, especially those equipped with reactive armor
(except when attacking from the top, flanks, or rear). Light weapons usually fire unguided (free-flight) rockets.
- Medium anti-armor weapons (such as the M47 Dragon and Javelin) have greater penetration and longer range than lighter
weapons, but are heavier, bulkier, and less portable. Medium weapons usually fire guided missiles.
- Recoilless weapons (like the M67 Recoilless Rifle) vent part of the propellant gases to the rear of the weapon. The
vented gases counteract the forward momentum of the projectile and propelling gases leaving the muzzle. Recoilless weapons are
much lighter than conventional guns, but produce a tremendous back blast.
Flame is a valuable close combat weapon that burns, depletes oxygen, and impacts psychologically.
Since man fears flame, it is used to demoralize troops and reduce positions that have resisted other forms of attack.