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GPMG as a replacement for the M-60.
The following paragraphs are pieces of e-mails in response to one that mentioned that the US military was going to replace the M-60 machine gun with the NATO GPMG. Please keep in mind that most of this is based on personal opinions.
I got a lot of experience with the M-60 machine gun while I was a scout, and I liked them, but they were belt feed only. There was a piece of the feed tray on the left side that you could hang a canvas bag from, which I think contained 50 rounds. Usually they were fed from a can. That isn't too practical in Vietnam-like situations where you absolutely need to keep your head down after getting into action as quickly as possible. Only special units were issued BARs or M-14A1s with the auto mode option. So for anything that required sustained fire that wouldn't be significantly deflected by brush, etc., the M-60 was very much in demand. Only the most disciplined units were able to keep their people from adopting the 'Mexican bandit' look with belts of 7.62 ammunition strung all over them, getting dirty and causing secondary damage or explosions when hit by enemy rounds. That was the one area that I felt the M-60 was really deficient in. Is the GPMG different?
In response to this I received a message from Doug saying that he had heard that the M-60 was too heavy and had a tendency to jam and misfire, especially when firing blanks.
My response was:
Yes, it was heavy. The bipod was not ordinarily removable. The barrel was fairly heavy because it was not expected that the replacement barrel that the gun crew should have had would always be available. Like the M-2HB, the heavy barrel was a heat sink.
I'm not sure about fitting standard Browning mounts. I am not sure that I have ever seen one of those.
I think a lot of the stoppages that made an impression on people (happened in combat situations) were caused by dirty ammunition. Who is it that makes the weapons with the fluted chamber? Sure, the brass may not be reusable, but the US doesn't reload brass anyway, I don't think.
The problem with firing blanks is, I think, a combination of two problems. First, the powder in the blank cartridges is very poor in quality and leaves a lot of residue. (Lowest bidder) Second, the BFA, or Blank Firing Adapter, is adjustable to allow for differences in the climate and the powder in the blank rounds. Unfortunately, I have never met anyone who had the knowledge or tools to adjust one. The one experience I had with firing a long burst of blanks worked out rather nicely, but the weapon and the BFA were both freshly cleaned and had been working as a unit for a while.
By the way, I just ran across a photo of a US Navy SEAL in Vietnam in 1970 holding both a Stoner 73-A and the SEAL version of the M-60 machine gun. The Stoner fired 5.56 from either a 110 round (plastic, what a concept) box or 150 from an aluminum drum, but could also be fed, from either direction, with linked belt. The modified M-60 is at least an inch shorter than the Stoner, has no bipod or sights, is still belt fed, and uses the helicopter door-gunner butt stock.
My thanks yet again to Rory.
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