I hope that this article proves useful as there are many misconceptions and outright fabrications drifting through the netherworld of the internet regarding military weapons and how they are employed. Every year or so I see a chain e-mail popping up on message boards, Facebook, and other venues on the internet. It is supposed to be a “weapons report card” written by an Army officer or a Marine, depending on which version people are re-posting that day. The problem is that this “report card” is widely circulated and is filled with inaccuracies and misconceptions. The end of the message also contains an amateurish geo-political break down of the situation in Afghanistan. Many believe the entire thing to be fake and I think that the vague political overtones hint as to why it was written to begin with.

With this in mind, I’ve written my own “weapons report card” with a special focus on the type of information that I think re-enactors and enthusiasts are interested in, such as how Army Special Operations troops carry and employ various weapons systems.

M4

The M4 rifle is a shortened M16 carbine and is by far the most common weapon found in the hands of US forces today. Special Forces troops carry the M4 and utilize the new SOPMOD 2 package which includes the EO Tech 553 holographic reflex site, LA-5 infrared laser, foregrip, the M3X visible bright light (tactical light) and associated accessories. Also included is the Elcan Spector telescopic sight which is adjustable from 1 power to 5 power via a throw lever on the side of the optic. While this is an interesting idea, nearly all Special Forces troops leave these sights in their card board boxes to collect dust and simply use to EO Tech 553. We felt that the Elcan was a little bit too much and perhaps over engineered. Now, if we had been facing long range engagements in Afghanistan, rather than precision raids in Iraq, maybe we would have felt differently. Along with the EO Tech, the LA-5 is much smaller than the PEQ-2 and together these are the most valued items in the SOPMOD kit.

M9

The M9 Beretta pistol is essentially the military version of the civilian 92F. I never cared for the pistol due to the double action trigger and poor placement of the decocking lever. Another failing of this weapon is that it is chambered for the 9mm round. Most of us would have preferred a .45 caliber hand gun. The manner in which this pistol is carried may be unfamiliar to some so I will explain here. To load the pistol, the slide is locked to the rear, a loaded magazine is inserted, and the slide is released to chamber the first round. The decocking lever is then depressed to safely drop the hammer. Next, the decocking lever is switched back up into the fire position. Special Forces do not consider the decocking lever to be a safety and do not use it as such. The weapon is considered to be safe while on fire with a round in the chamber due to the fact that it has a double action trigger. At this point, the pistol is safely holstered.