Automatic weapons are the primary US Army weapons used for battle. Each automatic weapon is battle tested and has been proven to be a vital part of our combat forces. The most important military weapons used by elite army units, infantry, rangers, and any combat team are the M2, 240B, 249 (SAW), and MK19. These have all been there and have led us in battle for decades and will continue to support and defend our fighting forces.
Start with Practice
The biggest problem in the Army with regards to weapons is the lack of time and practice provided to become more proficient experts at firing the weapons. It is ridiculous that we have a “once a year” or that some people wait until they deploy to fire them. Wait, I forgot about the all-familiar “fam fire” as well. Our weapons are our lifeline. However, each person needs to spend more time on the range with them just sitting there firing at a junked car or truck or moving piece of plywood that looks like a truck or car. Yes, it is true that other than the SAW, these are all area weapons. However, it only takes the enemy one shot to wound or kill a soldier. We should be allowed more time to fire these weapons, so when the moment comes and you have to fire one of them to defend yourself and your soldiers, you can do it with confidence that you’re going to eliminate the threat. The time to practice is not when you’re trying to stay alive. And when I say practice, I do not mean sitting around having races to see who can take them apart and put them back together correctly.
Here are a few weapons I’ll talk about in this article:
- the M2
- the 240
- the 249 or SAW
- the MK19
The proven winner of any combat situation is the M2. The sound of this weapon alone puts fear into the enemy. This is an area weapon that can and will eliminate any threat and at very long distances. Sometimes it is mounted on a combat vehicle or is stationary in a fighting position or tower. The M2 has been around for decades and now there are new ones that have a new barrel and head space, and the timing is preset so it’s “joe” proof of failing.
This is just my opinion, but based on my experience using this and all other weapons in combat, I believe the 240 is the best automatic weapon the infantry has. I say this because of its versatility and capabilities. The 240 (especially when it’s mounted with an MGO or other optic) is extremely accurate and can send massive amounts of rounds down range in a short period of time. This weapon has also been used for decades. There is no easier weapon to break down, clean, and put back together. The ability for a unit to have this weapon ready and on the go in seconds makes it the best for going into remote areas and setting up a fighting position.
The 249 or SAW
The 249, or SAW, is a great weapon. SAW stands for “squad automatic weapon.” This is a great weapon for when you’re on the move and suppressing the enemy. I would take this weapon into battle anytime, anywhere. This is not as much of an area weapon as some would like to think, even though it is a full auto weapon, it’s also a 5.56. This is a great weapon when it’s used during an ambush from troops on the ground and it’s concealed. The cyclic rate of fire on this weapon makes it such a great weapon to defend a position or use in a small arms ambush. This will always be a favorite for “joe” over the 240B on those long ruck marches. It’s not as heavy or awkward to carry, especially with the short barrel.
The MK19 is another great weapon. This weapon is best used in a mounted stationary fighting position where collateral damage will not be a factor. You can mount this on a vehicle, but this is a pain. This too is an area weapon with a variety of different types of munition, making it outstanding for use against large groups of enemy troops in cover. The biggest problem with this weapon is that not enough time is spent educating soldiers on loading and firing the weapon accurately. Yes, you will be told (like with the M2) to “walk it in.” That’s great, but while you’re walking it in, the enemy is still firing at you.
Our weapons are our calling cards to our enemy. They know the sound and thump of our fifty and the damage it can do in a short period of time. These weapons, along with highly trained, expert gunners, will always be one of the reasons we will defeat our enemies and save lives in battle. By defeating them, they will never have a chance to harm one of our great American soldiers! Let’s change our TTPs and train how we fight. Stop making excuses and accepting mediocrity due to laziness or poor training. I would rather have an expert who is proficient in each weapon not need his weapons, than to need the weapons and not have the training to use them adequately!