Friday, August 27, 2010

Preppers, Survivalists, and Military Weapons

Welcome Preppers and Survivalists,

Spartan, one of my brothers, read my post titled Preppers, Survivalists, and Military Equipment, He suggested I write an article about hiding and fleeing because I had stated that preppers and their family should leave the country, if we started seeing military weapons.

Then I got to thinking. Maybe, I made a mistake; maybe, preppers do need to know about military weapons because most preppers won't be able to flee. Plus, this is the United States of America a bunch of fighters live in this country.

Before we begin.

First, this is what I know from experience, so I am going to cover the basic military weapons that a prepper/survivalist would see during a period of violent upheaval.

Second, you will notice I will address these tools as rifles, pistols, weapons, and all their variations, but I never called them a "gun."


Visualize in your mind a group of new young soldiers and an old grizzled Drill Sergeant (at the advanced age of 27) with a young, new, fresh-faced soldier running around the group shouting in a loud and thunderous voice (that never seems loud enough)

"This is my weapon" (holding up your rifle)

"This is my gun" (grabbing your crotch) (Yes, this includes you ladies)

"This is for killing" (holding up your rifle, again)

"This is for fun" (grabbing you crotch, again)

Now, this young soldier will run and shout, until the Drill Sergeant is tired of hearing it and everyone gets the message. Remember, these tools are for killing, nothing else.

Third, this article relies on Wikipedia to provide additional information, general and technical. Most of this information, from Wikipedia is correct; however, you must check with the appropriate military manuals for the final word.

Lastly, if you are really interested or think you will need to know how to use these weapons, you can download and read the appropriate military field manuals and technical manuals to gather more, a lot more, information.

So let's begin.

Military weapons are categorized into two groups, individual weapons and crew-served weapons.

Individual Weapons
Individual weapon is the term used by the military to label a soldier's individual weapon. It is either a pistol/revolver, rifle/carbine, shotgun, or sub-machine gun that a soldier carries for protection and combat, day to day.


M-9 Pistol
The majority of the United States military uses one pistol, the M-9; it is based on a Beretta 92F pistol. The 92F is a pistol that you can buy at your local gun store. The M-9 fires a 9 millimeter bullet. Its standard magazine holds 15-rounds.

When the military first started using the M-9 pistol, it had some problems. The biggest problem was the slide cracked. The problem has been taken care off by removing a very small section of the slide.

There are other pistols used by the military, some exotic. Pistols that are used mainly by the military's truly elite forces, (Special Forces, Delta Force, and SEALs) but they are beyond the scope of this article. I have also not mentioned the pistols used by the Coast Guard.

Lastly, I was going to be uber-cool and write about US military revolvers, carried by undercover military police, then I realized that these weapons are rare, so I'm not writing about them, either. Plus, the revolvers are mainly civilian models purchased by the military. Nothing special or unique about military revolvers; just like the ones, you can buy in a gun store.

Now, most folks new to firearms confuse the black rifles you see in a gun store for military rifles. They are not military rifles; they are rifles based on military rifles.

Military rifles are selective-fire. Selective-fire allows you to fire automatic (one squeeze of the trigger fires multiple cartridges) or semiautomatic (one squeeze of the trigger fires one cartridge) Newer military rifles have a "burst" option instead of automatic. The rifle in burst will fire three cartridges for each squeeze of the trigger.

There is a reason for the military's switch from automatic to burst. The reason, the average soldier could not effectively control a rifle firing on automatic.

Now, don't get all grandiose on me thinking that you could fire a rifle on automatic because you are better than the average soldier. Trust me, it is a lot harder than you think.

By the way, to tell a military rifle from a military-style rifle is easy, just check the price. A M16 will set you back $12,000. Yes, that is twelve thousand dollars. Oh, don't forget the federal tax and paperwork issues. A military-style rifle will cost only about a grand ($1,000)

M-4 Carbine
The M-4 carbine is a shortened version of the M-16. It is just under 30 inches long with the stock collapsed, and it is about 33 inches long. It uses standard 30-round and 20-round magazines. The M-4 carbine has a collapsible stock, uses the standard 20 and 30 round magazine, and it fires a 5.56 millimeter (,223) bullet.

M-16A2/M-16A4 Rifle
The M-16A2 and M-16A4 rifle are the full sized version of the standard rifle carried by the United States military. It is a little over 39 inches long and weights over eight pounds. It uses the standard 30-round and 20-round magazines, and it fires a 5.56 millimeter bullet.

M-14 Rifle
The M-14 rifle was used during the Vietnam War as the basic Infantry weapon. It was replaced by the M-16. Well, no good intention goes unpunished, so the military had to pull some out of storage because the M-16 wasn't effective at the long distances in desert warfare.

The M-14 is under 47 inches long and weighs just over 11 pounds. Its standard magazine hold 20 rounds, and the M-14 fires a 7.62 diameter bullet.

The U.S. military uses modified civilian shotguns. Two of the three shotguns I am going to mention are pump-actions. All three fire the standard 12 gauge shotgun round and hold from 5 to 8 rounds.

The M-870 is based on the popular Remington 870 pump-action shotgun. As far as I know, it is rarely seen in use by the United States military.

Model 590A1
The M-590A1 is based on the Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun. It is the most widely used shotgun by the U.S. military.

The USMC uses the M-1014 Combat Shotgun. It is a semi-automatic shotgun based on the Benelli M4 Super 90.

Submachine Guns
Sub-machine guns are weapons that shoot a pistol cartridge, usually the 9 millimeter round. They have been replaced by the M-4 carbine in most cases.

I am mentioning them because they were originally conceived to replace the pistol for military officers and other personal that rarely use their weapons for combat.

M-3 sub-machine gun
The M-3 sub-machine gun shoots a 45ACP cartridge just like the M-1911 pistol. It is usually seen in the hands of mechanics. (very rarely now a days)

This is the German sub-machine gun from the '80s. It fires a 9 millimeter round, the same round as the M-9 pistol. They are rarely used by anyone in the military.

If you have seen Stargate, you have seen a P-90. As far as I know, these are also very rare in the military.

Grenade Launchers
The U.S. military is in the process of developing a new grenade launcher for its soldiers. I don't know when it will be finished and implemented, so I will only talk about the M-203, in this article

The M-203 grenade launcher mounts to the barrel of a soldier's rifle. It shoots a 40mm grenade out to about 300 meters. The path of 40mm grenade is arc-shaped this allows the person shooting the M-203 to hit targets behind walls or through windows, killing anyone within 15 feet of the exploding round.

Crew-Served Weapons
These are the weapons that need more than one person to operate. They include machine guns, grenade launchers, mortars, and anti-tank missile systems.

Machine Guns

M-249 Machine Gun / M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon
The M-249 fires the same round as the M-16 rifle. It is belt-fed (means the rounds are linked together in a metal belt that disintegrates when fired) The belts come packed in plastic magazines holding 200-rounds. The machine gun is carried by one soldier and can be mounted on vehicles.

Unlike the M-16 rifle, this weapon is designed to fire only on automatic. The gunner (the person firing the machine gun) squeezes the trigger and fires 6 to 9 round bursts. The assistant gunner, if there is one, will carry extra ammo and help the gunner effectively use the machine gun.

The M-249 can be fired laying down with its attached bipod or a tripod. If the M-249 is going to be used with a tripod, the assistant gunner will carry the tripod and other needed equipment, along with extra ammo.

M-60 Machine Gun
The M-60 machine gun is being removed from military service, if it hasn't already been removed.

The M-60 fires the same round as the M-14 rifle and is belt-fed. The M-60 machine gun takes two people to fire the machine gun. One is the gunner; the other is the assistant gunner. The assistant gunner feeds the ammunition into the machine gun and helps change the barrel of the M-60. Changing the barrel allows the machine gun to fire longer without overheating.

The machine gun also comes with a tripod, pintle, and T&E mechanism to help stabilize the machine gun and provide a method of aiming the weapon during the night. The assistant gunner carries these when moving from place to place.

M-240 Machine Gun
The M-240 is the replacement for the M-60 machine gun. It fires a 7.62 round (same as the M-60). It can be mounted on a vehicle or carried by one person. Just like the M-60, it is belt-fed and has an attached bipod. An assistant gunner helps feed the ammo and change the barrel. The assistant gunner carries the tripod, pintle, and T&E mechanism, also.

M-2 Machine Gun
The M-2 machine gun is heavy; it is rarely carried a long distance. It is usually mounted on vehicles. When the M-2 machine gun is ground mounted, it is always on a tripod, no bipod.

It fires a round 1/2 an inch in diameter. The round can kill someone 1.42 miles away. (No, I don't count the current record because the soldier used a purpose built rifle for his record kill, 1.51 miles)

As a little factoid: The M-2 machine gun has no safety. The inventory, John Browning, believed the gunner was the machine gun's safety (at least according to military legend)

Grenade Launchers

The MK-19 is a 40 millimeter grenade launcher. Like the M-2 machine gun, it is usually mounted on a vehicle, and carried only a short distance. It uses a different round then the M-203 that is belt-fed and can shoot a round over 1,00 yards.

Mortars fire various explosive projectiles in a high arc. This allows the military to engage targets behind tall building, hills, and other obstacles that prohibit machine guns or rifles from directly hitting the target.

M-224 Mortar
This is the smallest and lightest of the three mortars. Being the lightest and the smallest also means that it is the one with the shortest range and the least explosive effects. I believe, it will be the most likely one to be seen by the prepper or survivalist. In extreme situations, it can be fired by only two soldiers.

M-252 Mortar
This mortar is the next most likely to be seen by civilians. When walking, it can be moved by a group of about four soldiers, but they will have a limited, very limited, number of rounds. It is really only effective with some kind of vehicle support or in a fixed position that allows stockpiling of mortar rounds. After the M-224, it is the most likely to be seen by a prepper or survivalist.

M-120 Mortar
This one is heavy, over 300 pounds. I have only seen it once; it was mounted in an armoured personnel carrier. As far as I know, it has never been moved a long distance by foot.

Anti-Tank Missile Systems
I have very limited experience with anti-tank missiles, but anyone with a basic education and the proper manuals should be able to fire one of these missiles.

M-47 Dragon
According to Wikipedia, this missile is no longer in service with the United States military.

FGM-148 Javelin
This is a fire-and-forget anti-tank missile. This means that a soldier can shoot the missile and leave, very quickly.

Miscellaneous Weapons
These weapons are neither individual or crew-served weapons, but they can be used by anyone who needs them. Usually they are used by combat soldiers such as Infantrymen, Engineers, Cavalrymen (Scouts and Tankers), and Military Police.

Hand Grenades

M-67 Grenade
This is the standard grenade carried by soldiers in the United States Army and Marine Corps. It has a kill-radius of 15 feet, and a casualty radius of 45 feet. This means you have to throw it that far or take cover to protect yourself.

AN M-8/AN M-18 Smoke Grenades
The M-8 smoke grenade gives off a thick white smoke; it is used to block the enemy's view during an attack or retreat. The M-18 smoke grenade comes in various colors, like the M-8, it is used to block the enemy's view or signal your comrades.

Land Mines
There are two types of land mines in the military, anti-personal and anti-tank mines

Anti-Personal Mines
Anti-personal mines are small mines designed to kill or maim people. US soldiers receive training experience with two anti-personal mines, the M-16 mine and the M-18 claymore mine

M-16 Mine
You usually see this type of mine on tv shows; the hero or his buddy steps on a "Bouncing Betty," and the hero must save them. The hero takes a knife and slowly renders the mine harmless until they can get to safety.

In real life, the mine shots into the air, about waist high, killing everyone within its kill radius. Yeah, the hero or his buddy would be dead about 1 second after stepping on this type of mine.

Plus, this mine can be used with a trip wire.

M-18 Claymore
This is a mine that you can use to cover specific areas because the mine's blast can be direct towards a specific area. It has a curved form; the mine's front has a gazillion steel balls embedded in a sheet of C-4 explosives. (Military legend says the steel balls are government rejected ball bearing)

To effectively aim this mine, you need a popsicle stick, so ask a soldier how to sight the claymore properly. OK, you can use any straight stick, such as a pen or pencil to aim the mine.

By the way, just like a grenade, if you aren't behind cover when you detonate this mine, you can be hurt or killed.

Anti-Tank Mines
Anti-tank mines are used to stop vehicles and tanks. Soldiers usually receive training on two of these mines, the M-15 and the M-21.

All I can say is they are big and heavy, and they work.

Lastly, My Thoughts
Most people assume that military weapons are prohibited in these United Stated; they are not prohibited. Military rifles, carbines, machine guns, and hand grenades are legally available; you just have to look.

And illegally buying a military weapon can get you many years in prison. Be warned, national, state, and local law enforcement operate stings to apprehend stupid folks trying to illegally buy machine guns and other military weapons.

Now, with that said. During a Yugoslavia-type national break up or an Iraqi-style ethnic cleansing situation, military weapons may be available to preppers and survivalists on the black market or from supportive government organizations. Another situation, where military weapons may be available is during a severe economic collapse or drug war.

So be warned.

In the movie "Panic in the Year Zero," Harry Baldwin assumes automatic weapons fire is from the military. It might not be in real emergency.

Next, if you have to use land mines to protect your family, please, please, please make sure to record where the mines are. All over this world, farmers still can't use fertile fields to feed themselves and their families because folks didn't draw a simple map of where they put the mine fields.

Lastly, this article was a very brief overview of the common military weapons that a prepper or survivalist might see during a severe disaster/conflict. Hopefully, these weapons are never used on a large scale in these United States; however, it is a possibility that has happen before around the World (Mexico, Iraq, Yugoslavia, and ...) and in this country during our Civil War.

Update: 28 Aug 2010
I talked with my wife, and she told me that I should list the field manuals (FM) and technical manuals (TM) that would be used for these various weapons.

Now, don't go out and buy these manuals. If you cut and paste to a search engine, you can find a free copy in .pdf or go to the military websites to download the appropriate manuals.

Update: 5 September 2010
Rewrote some of this article and added more information. There is still more information to be added.


M-9 Pistol
FM 3-23.35
TM 9-1005-317-10

M-1911A1 Pistol
FM 23-35
TM 9-1005-211-12
TM 9-1005-211-35


M-16 and M-4 Rifle/Carbine
FM 3-22.9
TM 9-1005-318-10

TM 9-1005-249-10
TM 9-1005-249-23&P

M-16A2 Rifle
TM 9-1005-319-10
TM 9-1005-319-23&P

M-14 Rifle
TM 9-1005-223-10
TM 9-1005-223-20
TM 9-1005-223-34


MODEL 500 and 590
TM 9-1005-338-13&P

Sub-machine Guns

M-3 Sub-machine Gun
TM 9-1005-229-12
TM 9-1005-229-35

Grenade Launchers

M-203 Grenade Launcher
FM 3-22.31
TM 9-1010-221-10


Machine Guns

M-249 Machine Gun
FM 3-22.68
TM 9-1005-201-10
TM 9-1005-201-23&P

M-60 Machine Gun
FM 3-22.68 or FM 23-67
TM 9-1005-224-10
TM 9-1005-224-23&P

M-240 Machine Gun
FM 3-22.68
TM 9-1005-313-10

M-2 Machine Gun
FM 3-22.65 or FM 23-65


M-224 Mortar

M-252 Mortar

M-120 Mortar

Anti-Tank Missile Systems

M-47 Dragon

FGM-148 Javelin

Hand Grenades

FM 3-23.30 Grenades and Pyrotechnics Signals

Land Mines

FM 23-23


Wikipedia - List of Individual Weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces

Wikipedia - List of Crew-Served Weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces

Wikipedia - List of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles - U.S Military: United States Military Weapons of War

Impact Guns - Machine Guns

Wikipedia - Combat Shotgun

Wikipedia - M-1911 Pistol

Wikipedia - Stargate

Wikipedia - Machine Gun Tripod

Wikipedia - United States Hand Grenades