Thursday, January 08, 2015

Oh, Jesus, not this again...

Once upon a time I worked in a gun store whose owner had invented a rather colorful Vietnam-era military past for himself. It's called "stolen valor" now, but back then it was still just plain bullsh!t. One of his favorite topics on which to hold forth was how awful the M-16 was, and how, when his unit had switched to the new rifle from the old M-14, he threatened to kill his sergeant and so he was allowed to keep his M-14. I managed to refrain from pointing out that when the Army switched from the 14 to the 16, he was too young to lift either one and, as a consequence, was barely old enough to have been drafted to help pack boxes for the inactivation of Tan Son Nhut.

Every time an AR-15 came in the shop, we'd get an earful about how he wanted to kill Eugene Stoner (who was three years in the grave already) and about all the times his unit had been ambushed and wiped out almost to a man and he had to (and I quote, here) "turn over the bodies of his boys and each and every one of them had a broken-open M-16 with a cleaning rod jammed down the barrel!" The travails of the XM16E1 as reported to the Ichord Subcommittee have taken deep root in American gun nut culture indeed when even semiliterate Bubbas can repeat them as though they were first-person happenings.

Let us leave him to wrestle with the demons of other people's flashbacks and fast-forward to the present, in which a retired general who was a leftenant of cannon cockers back in the late Southeast Asian Unpleasantness tells us in a piece in Atlantic magazine:
At 3 o’clock in the morning, the enemy struck. They were armed with the amazingly reliable and rugged Soviet AK‑47, and after climbing up our hill for hours dragging their guns through the mud, they had no problems unleashing devastating automatic fire. Not so my men. To this day, I am haunted by the sight of three of my dead soldiers lying atop rifles broken open in a frantic attempt to clear jams.
This is alleged to have occurred during the Battle of Hamburger Hill in 1969, and we will treat the general's reminiscences as fact since, unlike my former boss, he was at least verifiably there.

The article meanders on with a paean to gas pistons and a dapper, Atlantic-audience-friendly restating of the "sh!ts where it eats" shibboleth of the He-Man AR Haters Club. All this is stated in such a way that indicates that while the general has a superficial knowledge of how various guns work, similar to the layman's "well, the gas goes in the tank and then the pistons go up and down and turn the wheels" knowledge of automotive mechanics, he doesn't actually like them very much.

His talking points are dismantled (and possible ulterior motives examined) in far more splendid detail than anything I could equal over at WeaponsMan in a two-parter: Here and Here.

Meanwhile, Ballistic Radio just finished up some recent gun testing...

I'll close with a quote from friend Justin O. on FaceBook:
"I find it amusing that when it comes to describing the M4/M16 in a military story, the media has nothing but awful accusations to sling about how these rifles are anemic jammomatics.

But as soon as a civilian picks up an AR15, they're described as military-derived rifles capable of allowing their user to rack up an astonishing body count with no training or knowledge.
Ain't that the truth?