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Old November 18, 2016, 15:01   #1
madmax_fal
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Exclamation Rhodie Cover Shooting: a must read!

RHODESIAN COVER SHOOTING
Prelude
Also known as Drake Shooting, Rhodesian Cover Shooting may be defined as the shooting
technique employed to quickly kill concealed insurgents through the various phases of close
quarter combat in the African savanna and jesse bush. The method did not replace "fire and
movement" procedures, but was rather the primary activity of them. Cover shooting has also
been described as a "flushing" action, but this is not strictly accurate. While flushing terrorists
from their concealment has obvious advantages, particularly when working with close helicopter
support, the first objective of cover shooting was to kill the enemy without the need to see him or
locate his exact position first. Likewise the method should not be confused with other foreign
practises such as walking suppression fire directed "at the jungle." Cover shooting was not a
random spraying of bullets, but a deliberate and methodical routine designed to elicit maximum
effect for the least expenditure of ammunition.
After the declaration of U.D.I. in 1965, the Rhodesian war continued for another 15 years and
tactics changed greatly as lessons were learned during that time. For this reason experiences may
well disagree on opinion and detail. This discussion is also somewhat biased towards the
practises of the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) and the combat patrols of the Police
Anti-Terrorist Unit (PATU). As such, it cannot be held up as either definitive, or complete.
In 1964 the Rhodesian Light Infantry changed roles to that of a Commando Battalion. Deployed
in rapid reaction "Fire Force" operations designed to vertically envelop insurgent groups, the
cover shooting technique played a significant part in the Battalions overall success. In it`s 19
years of existence, most of those fighting at the very forefront of a bush war, the Rhodesian Light
Infantry never lost a battle.
Rhodesian SOP
1) The Rhodesian Light Infantry`s platoons, called Troops, and those of many other units
including PATU, were subdivided into "sticks" of 4 men each, the number of armed soldiers that
can be carried by an armed Allouette III helicopter, called a "G-car". Stop groups (stops), patrols,
ambushes and often sweep lines were made up of single sticks, although larger sweep lines could
be made up from sticks para-dropped by a Fire Force (FF) Dakota, or by combining the stops
positioned by G-cars, or from those sticks transported by land vehicles.
2) Excluding the pseudo gangs of the Selous Scouts and others, each stick usually consisted of
three riflemen with FAL (FN) 7.62 rifles, and one machine gunner with an MAG-58, similarly
loaded with 7.62 long. One, and sometimes two of the riflemen carried an A76 radio, while the
third rifleman was a fully trained combat medic and carried fairly extensive medical supplies for
the stick i.e Ringers Lactate drips, drugs, bandages etc. Obviously the stick NCO/Officer carried
a radio.
3) All weapons were zeroed for 100m, and sights were set to the same range. Riflemen usually
carried 7-8 magazines of 19, or even 18 rounds each (Placing a full 20 round load into an FN
magazine damages the magazine spring in the long term and caused stoppages). These would be
supplemented with a few extra boxes of 20 rounds each for reloading. The gunner generally
carried 500 rounds in 100 round belts (2 belts x 50 rounds linked together), while in earlier times
the gunner carried 400 or less. On external ops into Zambia or Mozambique etc, the gunner
would carry 800 rounds, with the stick riflemen carrying extra belts and a spare gun barrel - It
was not unusual for Rhodesian units numbering a few hundred to attack training camps
containing many thousands of terrorists (Usually, but not always, with mortar and full air support
etc).
4) All webbing for magazine storage was designed to enable quick magazine replacement.
Unlike methods used elsewhere, riflemen generally did not tape two magazines together to
enable a "quick" reload, largely due to problems of dirt getting into the up ended magazine.
While the AK47 is easily capable of firing when in a filthy condition, an FN with dirt in the
breech area is guaranteed to suffer from stoppages - Very bad news for a stick in a "Contact."
Every third or fourth round of a magazine load was a tracer, and troops generally loaded two
consecutive tracers as the final rounds to indicate the end of supply. For some, the preference
was to make the last round a single tracer, the previous two or three rounds normal ball, and prior
to those were loaded the tracer pair to WARN of end of supply. In this way we were already
thinking of a reload before reaching the need to do so. Keeping an eye on the breech block was
also normal practise, the sliding block remaining to the rear when the magazine was empty.
5) FAL 7.62 tracers were red, while the AK47 tracer rounds of our opponents were green.
Tracers were a good means of directing the stick`s fire onto an observed target when using the
command, "Watch my tracer," and could be used as the "Fireball" to mark a target for strike
aircraft i.e when commanded to, "Send Fireball." Other means of identifying a terrorist position
to aircraft included smoke or phosphorus grenade, or mini-flare (pencil flare). I am aware of the
use of a S.N.E.B rocket by the Selous Scouts on O.P. as the Fireball.
6) Patrol formations were usually single file, extended line (sweep line), or a "Y" when with a
tracker (Tracker at the junction of the Y`s arms, protection at the forward two arms, and a
controller at the back who directed the tracking operation). Double file formations were, to my
knowledge, never used, due to the unnecessary confusion that they add to an ambush, and
increased risk of A.P. mines on dirt roads etc. In all formations the gunner was next in position to
an NCO or Officer.
7) Troops of all units generally used a standard webbing arrangement having magazine pouches
mounted on the belt, with the belt attached to an over-shoulder harness to help bear the load.
Others however, including the RLI, used chest webbing or "Fire Force jackets" to carry the
magazines and one phosphorus grenade, one shrapnel grenade (M962), and one or two smoke
grenades of different colours. FF jackets also had pouches built in for essential kit, including a
sleeping bag, or an A76 radio etc. The jacket has been copied with many versions still available
all over the world today. The riflemen`s jackets were similar to those worn by gunners, the
latter`s having large side pouches for the ammunition belts. Two water bottles (or four depending
on the time of year and so availability of water) were carried on the belt, together with essential
supplies in two kidney pouches. If on an "extended" stay, all non-essential kit was stowed in light
weight Bergen back packs, which could be dropped when speed and mobility were again
required, leaving the soldiers carrying battle kit only.
8) Use of grenades (apart from the obvious): Blue smoke has been used to indicate a call sign
requiring a "Casevac" (pronounced Kazz-er-vack) of a wounded stick member, although any
smoke colour could be used depending on the stick`s grenade loading. Smoke grenades were an
essential for marking "FLOT" to aircraft (Forward Line of Troops), and often the Fireball, or for
rapidly identifying the stick`s position to a K or G-car, such as when a quick up-lift by G-car was
required to reposition the stick elsewhere on the battlefield (K-cars were command/killer
Allouette III`s with a side mounted 20 mm Hispano canon instead of the usual G-car`s side
mounted twin Brownings. All weapons were operated by the chopper technician/gunner. G-cars
were troop transports first, becoming close support Gun Ships after troop deployment, while the
K-car carried the Fire Force Commander, usually the relevant Commando`s Commanding
Officer, who over saw the battle). When required for marking a friendly position, FF sticks also
spread out maps on the ground, and had day-glo panels stitched into their bush caps etc that
could be placed next to each soldier individually.
Some Rhodesian Army units, including the Police`s combat patrols of PATU, carried the Zulu 42
rifle-grenade, but there was much debate about it`s effectiveness and it was not a popular choice
with the RLI - It took time to load, requiring the magazine to be removed and a Ballastite round
fed manually into the FN breech for firing. Care also had to be taken in case a live round were
accidentally and fatally fired into the grenade - which was not unknown. For the rapid reaction
operations of the RLI, where speed and agility were required, it was a clumsy and ineffective
weapon. Nevertheless other units have patrolled with the grenade already loaded and with the FN
magazine in place - On one occasion a soldier of the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR)
accidentally fired a mounted Zulu 42 inside a Fire Force helicopter (This was an unusual incident
as generally cocked weapons were not allowed on the choppers.) However on another occasion a
PATU stick broke up a skirmish line attack when the three riflemen dropped their Zulu 42`s right
into the line of skirmish by firing their grenades in the mortar role - Rifle butt placed on the
ground, barrel to the sky. The stick`s MAG had been hit in the gas works, the bullet ricocheting
to hit the gunners hand, and the gun was refusing to fire anything other than a single round
between a manual cocking. Consequently the gunner attempted to use it as a sniper weapon
instead, making sure every round counted! While perhaps unimpressive in the "damage"
department, and dangerous to use when in the hands of the inexperienced, Zulu 42`s did produce
a large amount of black smoke on detonation and may have retained a useful demoralizing value
(Not worth the weight!)
The Phosphorus grenade, while officially carried for "night demarcation" and excellent as a
general smoke indicator, was also superb for flushing out terrorists from thick or rocky cover, for
breaking up enemy skirmish lines, or for taking out a cave or bunker etc. It was never to be
thrown up-wind, but nevertheless remained a very popular choice by the usually out-numbered
Rhodesian units - On one operation where terrorists in a cave were proving particularly difficult
to evict, the stick attempting the eviction placed a bunch of assorted grenades and all their
camping gas cylinders into a back-pack. The "bomb" was then lobbed into the cave, to very good
effect.
Depending on the operation, and especially on externals, RLI troops could be issued with a
"home-made" grenade called a Bunker Bomb. This was a pure percussion weapon built with two
plastic caps from the cases of mortar bombs. The caps were joined together and fitted with a
standard grenade detonator, pin and handle mechanism, and filled with plastic explosive. It was
obviously much larger than a normal grenade, but it could still be held in the hand, and within
reason, thrown in the same fashion. Bunker Bombs detonated with rather spectacular results,
particularly in small buildings.
9) Air Support: The Rhodesian Light Infantry, occasionally the Rhodesian African Rifles and
SAS, and less so other units including PATU, had available real-time helicopter support (I can
already hear howls of hysterical laughter!) As many helicopters were tied up in Fire Force
operations or on externals toward the last years of the war, a common complaint from other units
was the lack of, or delayed response to a request for a Casevac (All Rhodesian helicopter types
could act as a Casevac, with the original French designed seating in the Allouettes rearranged by
the Rhodesians to make this so). For the RLI or RAR Fire Force teams, having three or more
G-cars and a K-car overhead added an extra dimension to their cover shooting, which included
directing the exploding 20mm canon shells of the K-car, or the twin .303 Browning fire of a
G-car into the terrorist position as well. Terrorists flushed out of cover and running were also
particularly vulnerable to attention from above. A Casevac, if needed, was immediately available
once fire from the terrorist position was dealt with and the stick medic had completed his work.
Fire Force ops similarly had the provision of a spotter aircraft, usually an armed "push-pull"
Cessna 337, called a Lynx. This had Browning .303 machine guns mounted in the wings, and
could carry an assortment of weapons including mini-Golf bombs, and S.N.E.B rockets. The
Lynx has also been used to Casevac wounded, as were other aircraft.
For bigger problems Rhodesia had Hawker Hunter jets for air strikes with 30mm Canon, a pair of
superb 1000 pound Golf bombs and so on. There were also a few dated Canberra Bombers which
were first class on external operations, where they dropped hundreds of the bouncing balls from
Alpha bombs onto terrorist training camps, usually timed to catch a few thousand terrorists on
their parade square.
Lastly a few old British Vampire jets were also used on air strikes. One of the unique weapons
carried by this aircraft was a converted 250 gallon drop tank loaded with darts, referred to as
"Fletchets." Another cheap invention, Fletchets were basically 6 inch nails fitted with a cheap
plastic fin arrangement pushed down the length of the nail to the head. The Vampire would dive
at some speed onto the target and drop the tank, which would then break open releasing many
hundreds of Fletchets capable of easily burying themselves up to the tail fins in very solid trees.
10) In every army there remains the difficult issue of how to deal with inexperienced command, a
problem that can be exacerbated by the nature of small unit COIN operations in Africa that often
required a good level of bush craft and hunter/killer type skills - things that cannot be taught
within six months by the Officers School of Infantry. As a result of having this experience, often
many years of it, Rhodesian stick leaders, usually NCO`s, were given far greater say in
immediate combat actions than would be normal elsewhere, and this without apparent conflict
with good junior Officers. While a Troop Officer played a significant role overseeing his Platoon
during pre-deployment, it should be recognized that in "stick" sized operations the same Officer
had less influence over the actions of the other sticks within his Platoon once they were
deployed. This was especially the case when the action of all sticks was directly overseen by a FF
Commander. The Troop Officer`s influence however changed dramatically when the sticks
reformed to Platoon strength, as for example when on larger sweeps or during full scale
Commando assaults of external training camps. It was in these situations that a junior Officer`s
overall leadership skills and "field of battle" training came into clear play.
The "Bottom Line" of Rhodesian Combat Ops
11) The stick will be out numbered. It was not uncommon to make contact with 10-30
opponents, or more.
12) While the general area of incoming fire would be known, the exact location of individual
terrorists may not. It takes too long to locate their exact position.
13) It was absolutely essential from the moment of "Contact" to react with immediate, accurate,
and overwhelming return fire (Referred to as "Winning the Fire Fight").
14) The indigenous people of southern Africa are forced by culture to be right handed. They will
be "viewed" on the left hand side of trees and other solid objects if they are shooting around
them.
15) Poorly trained terrorists always tend to group too close together. When one is sighted, there
may well be others concealed in close proximity. While insurgents would often break and scatter
(in Rhodesianese: "take the gap") on hearing an aircraft especially a helicopter, when caught in
groups the bunching effect would get worse as pressure from incoming fire and the
anti-clockwise whirl of helicopter support took effect. This bunching increased the effectiveness
of the cover shoot.
16) Terrorists generally fired on fully automatic - "spray and pray." This would often start high,
and would rise. The indiscriminate use of ammunition on fully automatic usually meant they
would run out long before the Rhodesian troops.
17) Terrorists fleeing a scene were trained to fire their AK47`s resting on their shoulders pointing
backwards.
18) A wounded terrorist in the path of a sweep or patrol would often wait until the "point of
inevitability" was reached, before opening fire at very close range. The same can be said for
non-wounded terrorists attempting to hide from sweeps, patrols, or helicopters. These were
responsible for many of Rhodesia`s casualties. In areas of known incursion, helicopters on search
missions have fired into very thick cover just to see if anything foolishly fired back.
19) Due to poor training, Mashona combatants of ZANLA tended to open fire at distance, while
the Matabeles of ZIPRA with better training and naturally aggressive natures as a warrior race
(Zulu), would tend to open fire from a more combative range - A fact that needed to be
considered when patrolling at different ends of the country. ZIPRA were also capable skirmishers
etc, using flank movements directed by voice commands or a soccer whistle, and they undertook
a great deal more Conventional Warfare training with the ultimate intention of carrying out a
classic invasion. This fact was gathered from captures, and eventually encouraged a Rhodesian
SAS raid into Zambia to destroy a great deal of stockpiled weaponry which scuppered the plan
(As an example of poor training, school children kidnapped by Mugabe`s ZANLA on the
Mozambique border were often given only three weeks or so of communist politicizing and basic
AK47 training before being sent back to "liberate" the country. In one instance Rhodesian sniper
fire at long range was used to kill some of the escorting men seen issuing orders after the group
re-crossed the border. The children panicked and ran from the sniper position, straight into
another intentionally set up on a hill two kilometers away. The children, all of them teenagers,
some as young as 14, then used up the remainder of their ammunition shooting up the
countryside. Out of ammunition and in a right state, they were picked up and sent back to
school.)
20) It was not unusual for some terrorists to have had extensive training in Tanzania, Russia or
China etc, who were given command - In one instance a terrorist commander and his men put on
a very impressive roll and fire display, something the entire PATU stick commented on after the
action. The rolling technique did not help this particular gang, as they rolled into a cover shoot.
Fire and Movement
21) Other than employing the normal visual search attributes of, "Shape, Shadow, Shine,
Silhouette and Movement," frequently terrorist positions could be detected simply because
"something" just did not look right, even though the viewer might be hard pressed to say exactly
what he saw. This ability is very instinctive, and develops with "bush time." RLI`s troops were
trained to look THROUGH the African bush and to visualize from the shapes and shadows etc as
to what might be lying in it, rather than just looking AT the bush and so seeing only the obvious.
Sometimes terrorists would wear their camouflage uniforms over civilian clothing in order to
become "civilians" in a hurry if needed, while many simply crossed the border to do battle with
no camouflage uniform at all! Another irregular practise among terrorists was to place bunches
of elephant grass or small, leafed branches, into their clothing or webbing, apparently to increase
the "camouflage" effect. While useful for ambushing as long as the terrorist did not move at all,
normal camouflaging techniques were intended to blend the Rhodesians into the African bush,
not to make them appear as an object of that bush! In a cover shoot, increasing the natural foliage
content of one`s camouflage was merely guaranteeing to have it hit even sooner, as all natural
flora capable of hiding a terrorist within the active arc of fire was "killed" as part of the cover
shooting technique. Moving, flinching, or twitchy bushes and grass tussocks only served to
“flag” the terrorist, and were killed on the spot.
22) When patrolling it was usual to carry out "close to contact" drills when shortening the range
to an otherwise oblivious terrorist or group, before making contact, cover shooting, and
skirmishing their position. However any targets suddenly sighted within effective range were
taken out immediately, usually by snap-shooting from the shoulder with a single round or double
tap (usually double). Soldiers would then drop to take cover, roll or "crab" away from the drop
position, cover shoot the same terrorist position again, and then cover shoot any other clumps of
cover in the near area capable of hiding a terrorist. For those unfamiliar with southern Africa`s
bush, "other clumps" included the base of trees, rocks, bushes, ant-hills, areas of elephant grass
and so on.
23) When no clear indication of a terrorist`s general position could be ascertained (i.e a "one
burst wonder"), the practise was to "kill" any cover within the active arc to the front of each
soldier, beginning with cover nearest to that soldier before moving further out. In the case of a
sweep line, once a member "walked into" or sighted a terrorist, he immediately shot him, while
the other members of the sweep would react to the rifle shot and cover shoot into their OWN arcs
of responsibility directly to their front. In all situations the command "Watch my Tracer" (or just,
"Tracer" or "Visual"), allowed the rest of the stick to switch their attention to a problem - This
did not mean that other areas of possible concealment were then ignored. The affirmative reply to
"Watch my Tracer" was, "Seen." Other verbal methods of indicating a target position would be
employed if a tracer shot etc would blow the sticks own closing position or ambush.
24) In responding to sudden incoming fire, a sweep or patrol would immediately return fire from
either the prone position or from down on one knee, depending on the nature of the surrounding
bush. By dropping onto the knee, soldiers often placed themselves below the level of fire from
badly trained terrorists, however remaining in position would not be maintained, especially as
terrorists usually deployed an RPD machine gun. This fires at effectively the same cyclic rate as
an AK47 (650 rpm instead of 600), but the RPD is far more accurate. The Rhodesians spent
some time in live-fire training identifying different weapons and their position from the different
sounds that they made.
25) While immediate actions drills, the distance to the target, and the nature of the intervening
bush and terrain largely dictated the overall response to an attack, where possible a contact at
very close range always resulted in an immediate run through of the terrorist position -
sometimes difficult or impossible in the thorn scrub of the jesse found in the Zambezi Valley, for
example. It remains obviously unacceptable to remain within the killing zone of an ambush.
When the range of the terrorists was more substantial, the use of the "crack and thump" method
to determine the distance and direction of their position was a useful technique.
26) Skirmishing: At some appropriate point after the initial stages of the fire fight, a deliberate
attacking movement called a Skirmish was carried out, ending in a run through of the terrorist
position. Three basic skirmishing techniques were employed, usually by sweep lines containing a
few sticks. The first method of skirmishing involved splitting the sweep line into two equal
sections, called flanks, with one flank moving forward (say 2-5 meters as an example) while the
second flank covered the first. When the first flank went prone and restarted cover shooting, the
second flank would then run forward until some meters passed the line of the first, and so on.
This method is the least likely to result in a "friendly fire" incident, but it is also the easiest to
counter. All soldiers running forward did so using open-sighted snap shooting (both eyes open),
from the shoulder if a rifleman, or forward of the hip if a gunner. The second skirmish option had
every second member of the sweep line designated as one of the flanks, with each member of
that flank passing between and through members of the other, leap frogging forward so to speak.
Obviously the covering flankers stopped shooting as those moving forward passed them. The
third option was called a Pepper Pot, and was usually what option two "degenerated" into as a
consequence of the difficult situation. This involved individuals of the sweep line or stick,
randomly getting up and moving forward, or going prone and covering, and so on. It is more
difficult to implement when in larger numbers, but is also the hardest to counter because prone
troops rise from their positions in a very random and seemingly "uncoordinated" fashion. Sticks
of four always used something resembling the Pepper Pot when on the assault, or split pairs if a
serious attempt at out-flanking the terrorist position was intended, and so on.
27) At no time in the fire fight was any stick member to stop and attend to another wounded
member. To do so increased the likelihood of the soldier lending assistance getting hit, and
prevented him from continuing with the attack while tending to the wounded man. The exception
was a silent MAG in a 4 man stick, this was to be restarted ASAP.
29) For the run through, on command the entire skirmish line would rapidly assault the terrorist
position by literally running right through it, firing from the shoulder using open sights and with
both eyes open. The practise was to aim over and along a line of a "sweeping" barrel and kill
anything within the arc of responsibility as the soldier sprinted through the position and out the
other side.
28) Having run through a terrorist position, a head count of friendlies and a return slow sweep
was conducted. A particular difficulty arose when the head count came up a stick member short.
The Rhodesian Cover Shoot - "Kill" the concealment, kill the terrorist.
29) In general, Rhodesian cover shooting was the deliberate "killing" of probable cover used by
terrorists. No actual visual sighting of terrorists was therefore needed to "take them out," and no
time was wasted attempting to identify the exact location of individual terrorists by first
searching for muzzle flash or blast, a movement, a shape, and so on. Rather, careful observation
of the terrorist`s position was carried out while "killing" their cover.
30) When cover or “drake” shooting, riflemen were to shoot directly into and through the
terrorists position, keeping their aim deliberately low, while gunners were required to aim at the
ground immediately to the front of that cover - Tumbling rounds, dislodged stones, or fragments
of smashed rocks and trees do great injury to those lying in cover, while the earth that MAGs can
kick up has excellent distraction and demoralizing value. The basic action was to draw the barrel
of the rifle or machine gun across the cover area, usually beginning left to right, while squeezing
the trigger at appropriate moments so as to "rake" it from one side to the other. Each round or
burst is fired in a deliberately aimed fashion. Experienced riflemen sometimes used two, but no
more than three round bursts on fully automatic when snap or cover shooting. Again the first
round was aimed deliberately low because the design and power of the FN causes the barrel to
rise rapidly on fully automatic. By aiming low, the first round was intended to "skip" and strike a
prone target, while the second would go directly home as the barrel lifted. Obviously with a
standing target, the terrorist would be "stitched" by the burst. Squeezing off two or three round
bursts on fully automatic was also useful for dealing with positions on rising ground or hills.
31) FAL 7.62 long rounds have the power to punch through the tree trunks generally found in the
African savanna and jesse bush! AK47`s using 7.62 short, on the other hand, generally did not.
This fact was used to great effect by the Rhodesians. When firing into an area that included trees,
rocks or ant hills etc, a single round down the left hand side of a solid object was good practise
(not forgetting most opponents are right handed), then double tap the base of the tree and
continue to the right, squeezing off single (or double) rounds in fairly close proximity (In a
Conventional situation, moving from left to right takes out the trigger man before the machine
gun loader or second.) Smallish rocks, strange "lumps", or "bundles of rags" were to be killed. In
fact anything out of place was to be dealt with - the "rocks" may be heads, hands, or a pattern on
a camouflage uniform etc. The soldier then moved his aim to the next area of cover and repeated
the process.
32) To "Win the Fire Fight," riflemen would consume the first two magazines as quickly as it
remained practical to maintain accuracy, using single rounds or double taps (While trained to use
the double tap, my Commando`s policy was the use of single rounds - Aim, Squeeze and
Switch). As with the rifleman`s use of magazines, the gunner was free to offload the first one or
two belts. Each stick member was responsible for monitoring his own ammunition usage during
the fire fight, and running out was an unforgivable sin!

"Ian Rhodes" served in 2 Commando, the Rhodesian Light Infantry

https://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A...JPKFKHWHfGCOWg

share this with all your shooting friends!!
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Last edited by madmax_fal; November 18, 2016 at 16:35.
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Old November 18, 2016, 15:30   #2
Sgt Rock
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A Hell of a lot of useful info here. Thanks S Rock
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Old November 18, 2016, 19:32   #3
01BIRDDOG
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Read

A quite long read but lots of good info. Will save for future reference and thanks for posting it.
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Old November 24, 2016, 02:31   #4
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The Terrs were usually not well trained or disciplined so if you put a couple rounds close to them they would run. They were great runners and could easily run a couple hours. Many Rhodesian troops went to shorts, light gear and black canvas boots similar to our "converse all star" so they could also run after them. Most RA solders could track a person through the bush. A skill most armies today have no clue or even close to an African tracker. A good tracker can track a deer in a herd or remember a deer that he tracked days earlier. You can tell if it's tired, limp, hungry, in good condition or frightened by just reading the "spoor"...sign.
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Old November 24, 2016, 08:34   #5
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seems like I read an article like this buried in the rhodie pics thread.
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Old November 24, 2016, 13:30   #6
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This caught my attention:

Quote:
(Placing a full 20 round load into an FN
magazine damages the magazine spring in the long term and caused stoppages).
Is this true?
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Old November 24, 2016, 13:42   #7
machinegunner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fang View Post
This caught my attention:



Is this true?
yes if stored that way for a few weeks.
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Old November 24, 2016, 13:52   #8
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Excellent article, thank you.


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Old November 25, 2016, 09:52   #9
madmax_fal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machinegunner View Post
seems like I read an article like this buried in the rhodie pics thread.
hahaha you sent it to me!
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Old November 25, 2016, 12:17   #10
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Wow great read
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Old November 25, 2016, 12:40   #11
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Many Rhodesian troops went to shorts, light gear and black canvas boots similar to our "converse all star" so they could also run after them.
In the early '70's this was true, but, by the latter half of the decade, full camos had taken over.
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Old April 16, 2018, 06:28   #12
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nice read.
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Old April 16, 2018, 09:56   #13
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Very interesting read. I truly enjoyed it!
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Old April 16, 2018, 10:05   #14
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I was personally at a site on my cousin in Rhodesia's farm near Marandellas in 1979 where they had one heck of a contact a couple of weeks before. The terrs tried hiding behind these huge anthills and small trees, they were mowed down to the ground by a MAG58 and buried in shallow graves. Probably at least 6 of them.

The area was littered with 7.62X51 cases, but I could not find a single AK case. My cousin told me they were picked up and sent to the forensic branch.
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Old April 16, 2018, 10:34   #15
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Read twice but tagged for later.
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Old April 18, 2018, 00:04   #16
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Great information!

I visited Zimbabwe in 1985 and saw soldiers wearing the same Rhodesian uniform of the bush war but carrying AKs. It was a sad sight.

The inevitable rundown of the country was just becoming noticeable then but some of the old ways still were in force. I was required to dress for dinner at the grand old Vic Falls hotel with jacket and tie.

The Garrett articulated steam engines huffed and puffed on the railway nearby. What a time!
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Old April 18, 2018, 13:23   #17
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Fantastic read, I've heard of cover shooting but never seen it explained like this. Makes it so us lay-persons can wrap our minds around it, and now makes perfect sense. Thanks for sharing!
-Jesse
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Old April 19, 2018, 06:25   #18
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yes if stored that way for a few weeks.

Nonsense ! I've proved it to be nonsense and so have others. When I first heard this BS years ago I had FAL mags which had been loaded 20 rounds sitting in my 782 gear for over a year. I went out and fired every mag without incident. Loaded them up and did the same a few months later. Still use these same mags as range mags and keep them loaded all the time.
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Old April 19, 2018, 06:26   #19
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‘ Riflemen usually
carried 7-8 magazines of 19, or even 18 rounds each (Placing a full 20 round load into an FN
magazine damages the magazine spring in the long term and caused stoppages).’

Wow - I wonder where I heard that before ? But that’s right; on here we are all supposed to bow to the knowledge of people like Gunplumber who spent one stint in the Army.... I forgot 🙄
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Old April 19, 2018, 09:18   #20
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Originally Posted by Larry Vickers View Post
‘ Riflemen usually
carried 7-8 magazines of 19, or even 18 rounds each (Placing a full 20 round load into an FN
magazine damages the magazine spring in the long term and caused stoppages).’

Wow - I wonder where I heard that before ? But that’s right; on here we are all supposed to bow to the knowledge of people like Gunplumber who spent one stint in the Army.... I forgot 🙄
+1, Larry. I have kept FAL mags loaded for years, and never had any problems.
They all functioned fine.
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Old April 19, 2018, 09:36   #21
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Hunting

I use this technique when I go animal hunting. Which animal? .........
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Old April 19, 2018, 11:36   #22
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yes if stored that way for a few weeks.
Well damn!!! I hope I haven't screwed my mags up then. Been stored fully loaded for years and everytime I grab one out of the boxes to go shooting with it's not failed. Guess I better go pull a couple of rounds out of each one when I get home tonight.
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Old April 19, 2018, 14:01   #23
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+1, Larry. I have kept FAL mags loaded for years, and never had any problems.
They all functioned fine.
Here’s the difference; the guys in the RLI were staking their lives daily on those mags working ; we are not. I’m sure they decided in many cases to err on the side of caution. Combat has a way of changing ones perspective on things.....
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Old April 19, 2018, 14:04   #24
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Well damn!!! I hope I haven't screwed my mags up then. Been stored fully loaded for years and everytime I grab one out of the boxes to go shooting with it's not failed. Guess I better go pull a couple of rounds out of each one when I get home tonight.
We always loaded 18 rounds in our 20 round M14 and M16 magazines and 29 in the 30 round M16 magazine. Maybe it was not needed but we never had miss-feeds when they were loaded that way.
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Old April 20, 2018, 09:20   #25
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Here’s the difference; the guys in the RLI were staking their lives daily on those mags working ; we are not. I’m sure they decided in many cases to err on the side of caution. Combat has a way of changing ones perspective on things.....
It sure does. I have loaded mine 1 round short, no issues there.

You were right by saying that we are supposed to bow to the knowledge of people like Gunplumber who spent one stint in the Army.

His infinite wisdom is something us mortals can never match.
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Old April 20, 2018, 09:56   #26
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Here’s the difference; the guys in the RLI were staking their lives daily on those mags working ; we are not. I’m sure they decided in many cases to err on the side of caution. Combat has a way of changing ones perspective on things.....
Wait a sec...we've had this discussion already. The physics and metallurgy of steel springs has something to say about this. After reading the discussions on this very forum about this issue I decided to do some research myself and educated myself a bit more on this issue. Once you have the appropriate knowledge and information the need to err on the side of caution subsides. Besides, it could be argued that deliberately short loading your magazine rather than loading it to full capacity is the opposite of erring on the side of caution.

Think of it like this; if you choose to think that, contrary to physics and the engineering data that went into designing these springs, you need to load your magazine two rounds short then you are guaranteed to have to reload sooner, and have one additional magazine change in a firefight that requires you to expend all of your ammunition. Not to mention that in such a situation you are have approximately 20 or more fewer rounds at your disposal depending on the number of magazines you are carrying unless you choose to carry one or two extra magazines to hold the loose rounds that you chose not to load into your standard compliment of magazines. As opposed to the possibility of having to deal with a malfunction occurring due to some perceived problem with a damaged magazine spring in a fully loaded magazine. I agree with the mindset of trying to eliminate any likely malfunction and thus I am a huge fan of the Kalashnikov family of weapons; but I just do not see this a s likely malfunction. First of all, I have never heard of it happening with FAL or any other quality designed weapons. So for me, even if I ignore all of the engineering data pointing to the fact that properly designed steel springs will function correctly when a magazine is loaded to its designed capacity; I would still load my magazines to full capacity if for no other reason than to err on the side of caution.

Just my .02...I could be wrong.
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Old April 20, 2018, 10:03   #27
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I keep 15 mags loaded to the gills. They always work when I rotate ammo through them at the range.
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Old April 20, 2018, 20:31   #28
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Wait a sec...we've had this discussion already. The physics and metallurgy of steel springs has something to say about this. After reading the discussions on this very forum about this issue I decided to do some research myself and educated myself a bit more on this issue. Once you have the appropriate knowledge and information the need to err on the side of caution subsides. Besides, it could be argued that deliberately short loading your magazine rather than loading it to full capacity is the opposite of erring on the side of caution.

Think of it like this; if you choose to think that, contrary to physics and the engineering data that went into designing these springs, you need to load your magazine two rounds short then you are guaranteed to have to reload sooner, and have one additional magazine change in a firefight that requires you to expend all of your ammunition. Not to mention that in such a situation you are have approximately 20 or more fewer rounds at your disposal depending on the number of magazines you are carrying unless you choose to carry one or two extra magazines to hold the loose rounds that you chose not to load into your standard compliment of magazines. As opposed to the possibility of having to deal with a malfunction occurring due to some perceived problem with a damaged magazine spring in a fully loaded magazine. I agree with the mindset of trying to eliminate any likely malfunction and thus I am a huge fan of the Kalashnikov family of weapons; but I just do not see this a s likely malfunction. First of all, I have never heard of it happening with FAL or any other quality designed weapons. So for me, even if I ignore all of the engineering data pointing to the fact that properly designed steel springs will function correctly when a magazine is loaded to its designed capacity; I would still load my magazines to full capacity if for no other reason than to err on the side of caution.

Just my .02...I could be wrong.
Question; have you ever served in the military? And if the answer is yes in what capacity ? Just curious
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Old April 21, 2018, 00:24   #29
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Springs fail over time

I carried a sidearm at work for 30 years.. They made us carry them topped off...15 rounds in each magazine. Then when you locked one into the gun there was even more force on the spring due to the first round bottoming out on the bottom slide.

I had a failure while shooting a course of fire at the range-luckily---I watched as one of the range staff armorers removed the springs out of all three mags... Then he said there's your problem just like I thought...Here's a new spring and he laid it beside the others... ALL three of my magazine springs were over an 1" shorter then the new one! He replaced all three springs. After that day until the day I retired... I had one mag in the weapon and a double pistol mag pouch.. 1 st of every month I took the mag out of my pistol put it in the bottom pouch>>rotated the bottom to the top pouch>>TOP one went in the gun..That way all of my mags got a two month break from being overworked leading to magazine failure. Those mags were still under the stress of a completely compressed spring.

You do what you want but Id rather have three magazine with 18 then SIX mags of 20 not knowing when one would fail...

Ill have to check with a Marine combat veteran of mine, but I believe the Marine Corp load out is 27/28 in a 30.
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Old April 21, 2018, 05:18   #30
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I carried a sidearm at work for 30 years.. They made us carry them topped off...15 rounds in each magazine. Then when you locked one into the gun there was even more force on the spring due to the first round bottoming out on the bottom slide.

I had a failure while shooting a course of fire at the range-luckily---I watched as one of the range staff armorers removed the springs out of all three mags... Then he said there's your problem just like I thought...Here's a new spring and he laid it beside the others... ALL three of my magazine springs were over an 1" shorter then the new one! He replaced all three springs. After that day until the day I retired... I had one mag in the weapon and a double pistol mag pouch.. 1 st of every month I took the mag out of my pistol put it in the bottom pouch>>rotated the bottom to the top pouch>>TOP one went in the gun..That way all of my mags got a two month break from being overworked leading to magazine failure. Those mags were still under the stress of a completely compressed spring.

You do what you want but Id rather have three magazine with 18 then SIX mags of 20 not knowing when one would fail...

Ill have to check with a Marine combat veteran of mine, but I believe the Marine Corp load out is 27/28 in a 30.
Ok - got it
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Old April 21, 2018, 08:14   #31
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I made it a habit of loading all my rifle mags with the first round in being a tracer.

First round in, last round fired out of that magazine, clearly indicates when the magazine runs dry and needs changed.

There was also folks that put in the first two rounds being tracer, and then 17 or 27 rounds on top, depending on capacity.
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Old April 21, 2018, 08:31   #32
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Very interesting reading. Thanks for the OP

I have never been in combat, but the idea of loading the 3rd round as a tracer seems to make the most sense to me.

A visual warning that you only have two shots left before needing a mag change, seems to be preferable to an "oh shit I'm out of boolits" tracer (which you can tell by the feel of the riFAL when the BC locks back anyway).

My two cents.....
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Old April 21, 2018, 09:25   #33
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Very interesting reading. Thanks for the OP

I have never been in combat, but the idea of loading the 3rd round as a tracer seems to make the most sense to me.

A visual warning that you only have two shots left before needing a mag change, seems to be preferable to an "oh shit I'm out of boolits" tracer (which you can tell by the feel of the riFAL when the BC locks back anyway).

My two cents.....
Loading the 3rd round as a tracer makes more sense to me too.

Thanks for mentioning it.

Maybe we can get Mr. Vickers input on that....

Another thing I did, was marking the mags at the bottom with a piece of red electrician’s tape when loaded with tracer. That way I can visually identify them.

There might be some situations where tracer is not needed or not wanted, so it is an easy way to tell.
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Old April 21, 2018, 13:23   #34
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Well, never been in combat, but I will say I have kept FAL, BM59, M1 carbine and others all loaded to full rated capacity for many months, sometimes well over a year, with zero problems. Was given an '03 Baby Browning and two spare mags all of which had been loaded to rated capacity for over 25 years and never had a problem. Not claiming to know more than the Rhodies or others with combat experience, just sharing my own experience FWIW.

Also, there is more to it than comparing the length of a used spring vs a new one. Not gainsaying btrapr1s experience, as there are many variables, but a brand new spring is often a tad longer than the optimal designed spring length for exactly the fact that a small initial "set" can take place, but if a spring is not compressed past its elastic limit and is also properly made from the correct materials, long term fatigue caused failure ought not to occur. In my examples above, all mags utilized original military mags and springs, or in the case of the Browning, FN factory components.

I'd read the cover shooting article before, but it is always worth re-reading. Good info !
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Old April 22, 2018, 18:29   #35
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Well, never been in combat, but I will say I have kept FAL, BM59, M1 carbine and others all loaded to full rated capacity for many months, sometimes well over a year, with zero problems. Was given an '03 Baby Browning and two spare mags all of which had been loaded to rated capacity for over 25 years and never had a problem. Not claiming to know more than the Rhodies or others with combat experience, just sharing my own experience FWIW.

Also, there is more to it than comparing the length of a used spring vs a new one. Not gainsaying btrapr1s experience, as there are many variables, but a brand new spring is often a tad longer than the optimal designed spring length for exactly the fact that a small initial "set" can take place, but if a spring is not compressed past its elastic limit and is also properly made from the correct materials, long term fatigue caused failure ought not to occur. In my examples above, all mags utilized original military mags and springs, or in the case of the Browning, FN factory components.

I'd read the cover shooting article before, but it is always worth re-reading. Good info !
It is indeed good info !
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Old April 22, 2018, 19:15   #36
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In my experience you keep a m16 mag loaded to 27 or it causes the spring to compress if left for long periods of time. I'm not saying that if you load them to 30 and leave it it won't work, but I am saying that ya don't do that in a real life it's one more thing that can go wrong when hell falls down on your head. To sum it up hear you aren't relying on that mag to save your life more than likely and if you are merpheys law will **** you anyway it got us all in Marjiah one way or another

And antoher thing you learn in basic infantry training is after contact is established and over you reaload you weapon with a fresh mag no matter how many rounds you fire it's a pain in the ass and a tight fit with a full loaded mag vs one with all few less
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Old April 23, 2018, 15:06   #37
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This caught my attention:



Is this true?

Loading a standard FAL mag to 20 rounds does not damage the spring, but it doe put the spring close to coil bind.

Down loading to 19 or 18 rounds gives more reliable operation and consistent feeding and was common, if not semi standard operating procedure for FALs
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Old April 23, 2018, 18:23   #38
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I have so far loaded all my FAL mags down by 1 round, back in my army days and later on still followed that practice.
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Old April 24, 2018, 11:47   #39
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All of my mags- FAL, AR, G3, Glock, P38, Hi Power, MAS- are loaded to stated capacity and stored that way. Never has it been an issue.
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Old April 25, 2018, 05:36   #40
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Full mags, stored upside down.
Empty mags lips up and visual.

Tracer to start. number 10, 20 and 28-29-30 are tracers too

Also one spare mag full tracers. As a CO it's easy to point the target with TRAC ammo.

We use those heavy steal FN made mags. Indestructable to my opinion.
I never used a FAL in combat, only the FNC, MAG, minimi and the Big 50
The FNC never jammed, the big 50 stopped often (in Afrika)

After 3 or 4 times unloading in the base, i dropped that round and took a new one.

my 2 cents
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Old April 25, 2018, 11:49   #41
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Full mags, stored upside down.
Empty mags lips up and visual.
This guy's got it.^ .30 cal. ammo cans were made for FAL mags. Interestingly, I can only get nine aluminum mags in a can. That's alright: the remaining mag lives in my Para.

I don't do tracers since I don't want any added potential to make it easier for a potential adversary to discern my position (although a gunshot does a good job of that) and everything here in AZ is a fire hazard.
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Old May 23, 2018, 09:00   #42
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OP good read and thank you for posting.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Vickers View Post
Question; have you ever served in the military? And if the answer is yes in what capacity ? Just curious
Larry, Im a former career Marine Infantryman, 28 rds in my 30 rounders for my M-16’s and M-4’s mags is just how it is. Kalashnikovs are good to go full. Im just getting into FALs now in my old age. Boy does this topic seem to start some flame fests if you search around. Im at a loss as to what to do with my stored mags now. But I guess its probably better to do what warfighters did on the ground.
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Old May 26, 2018, 08:15   #43
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Marine Corps vet - in Iraq, we were told to load 28.

I have heard the spring argument elsewhere, for other firearm types as well. I dunno if compression will happen - in the case of the military, we just did as told. With my own firearms, I rarely load to full capacity either - mainly because at the range I am plinking, or going for groups. I usually just load 5 at a time really... as I hop around between whatever guns I have brought along.
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Old May 26, 2018, 08:41   #44
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I'm a materials engineer. It's what I've done for over 4 decades now.

Here's the deal (with knowledge of how Government contracting and manufacturing variability work - or don't) - there are large variables in manufacturing processes. You can do all the QC you want but materials vary within lots and batches. There are always "flyers" - (kinda like my 5-round "groups" at the range... but I digress)

The metallurgy in the springs can vary, tolerances in feed lips, performance in adverse conditions... so many factors to consider.

So if the platoon/squad leader has told you to load down one or two, follow your orders. They have their reasons.

Your range bag won't care how you loaded-up.

I leave my DSA mags fully loaded in the HOPE that the spring will creep a little and reduce the tendency for first couple rounds to feed badly. I've also had to polish the feed lips (no, do NOT go there you perverts!). MilSurp mags I leave unloaded in another state (I live in the PRC)

I am NOT (nor have I been) Military. Just commenting on why, if my life depended on it, I'd opt for reliability over and above any other consideration - like having another couple rounds in a 30 round mag. That's why the squad has a GUNNER. HE'S the one with all the rounds. I don't think that in a modern urban "firefight" in my city that I'll be facing massed troops. Hell, if I ever get my ancient pot-belly off the couch to join the battle, I'll forget WTF I was doing before I get to the door.
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Old May 26, 2018, 09:32   #45
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While not scared to load magazines to capacity this is what happens to my 1911 range magazines which are a mix of Wilson eight rounders and McCormick ten rounders. As per Wilsons recommendation try to replace my springs very year in high use magazines. The compressed spring on bottom is what happens after a year using Wilson chrome silicone rebuild kits. I do run my 1911 range magazines on average of 200 to 500 rounds per week in two to five sessions.



My high use AR magazines which are stuffed full get replaced when springs get week and start having first issues with last few rounds bouncing due to weak springs and bolt occasionally doesn't pick up on of the final rounds or doesn't have enough snap to engage the bolt hold open.

Keep 25 rounds loaded in my 30's, 20 in my 25's and 17 in my 20 round long term storage magazines. All it means is one or two extra mags in each pile. Have studied springs for some time whether compression, torsion, extension, constant force or die types for more than just firearms applications. Have used round stock, wound wire and flat wire springs made from everything from plastic to some exotic materials.

I suggest on compression springs to measure the free length when new and if that length compresses more than 25% to 30% over time consider replacing as the spring rate has changed as well as its free length. Torsion springs almost never wear out in firearms applications but do get brittle and can break but only time I see this is in antique firearms with a lot of use. I have magazines that have stayed stuffed for years and am fully sure they will perform when called upon but like changing the oil in your vehicle or occasionally cleaning your gun, springs do wear so caring for them and servicing can't hurt.

Otherwise I find the posted information very informative. There are two guys that hang around the LGS that fought in Rhodesia and while they have some great stories neither is allowed to purchase firearms due their service and can't pass a background check though fairly sure both are always carrying.
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Old May 26, 2018, 11:33   #46
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Thanks all for contributing I thought for sure I’d dicked up by posting in a “dead” thread.

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Originally Posted by VAplinker View Post
Marine Corps vet - in Iraq, we were told to load 28.

I have heard the spring argument elsewhere, for other firearm types as well. I dunno if compression will happen - in the case of the military, we just did as told. With my own firearms, I rarely load to full capacity either - mainly because at the range I am plinking, or going for groups. I usually just load 5 at a time really... as I hop around between whatever guns I have brought along.
Yut, Thank you for your service, I was Iraq ‘03, Afghanistan ‘04 both with F 2/8, active duty, and several times back to both as a PMC. I live here on the base as retirees are authorized now.

I also Dl’d to 28 in M-16/-4 mags as well, mainly in case I was making ready bolt forward. Thats the only weapon I do it on however my AK mags both 47 and 74 have been fine stored long term full no issues, all millsurp mags. Im not super prepper but I keep things stored ready to go, mags stored filled. want to store a combat load for my FAL and right now ,to me, that is what the combat vets who toted the FAL in conflict consider a combat load, full Rhodie chest rig plus two 30 rouders and all are downloaded by 2 rds. At least until a few of them tell me Im f&$ked up and to fill them up. Also want to store some more full mags for long term storage.


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......Hell, if I ever get my ancient pot-belly off the couch to join the battle, I'll forget WTF I was doing before I get to the door.
Dont sell yourself short. You will fight like you train generally but you never know. Ive been in firefights both short and long. Some were over so fast you are wondering what just happened, and some where gas tubes are burned through and dudes are firing single shot and one things for sure. You dont know how you are gonna react until someone actually starts shooting at you. Ive seen lots of big tough guys blubber in fighting positions like babies, and nintendo recruits run to be the first man through the breach although neither is common or not. I do know that if you dont practice and prepare your showing will be piss poor.



Quote:
Originally Posted by hueyville View Post
While not scared to load magazines to capacity this is what happens to my 1911 range magazines which are a mix of Wilson eight rounders and McCormick ten rounders.......

Otherwise I find the posted information very informative. There are two guys that hang around the LGS that fought in Rhodesia and while they have some great stories neither is allowed to purchase firearms due their service and can't pass a background check though fairly sure both are always carrying.
I use Chip micks Shooting Star 8 and 10rounders in my carry 1911 (older series 70 Colt). I mostly carry a Glock 19 with a spare Glock 17 mag.I Always keep them full and I do use them alot, Not quite as much as you mind you but a-lot. When they start acting wonky I rebuild them as well.

You have bush war vets that cant own a firearm BECAUSE they are vets, ( Im guessing ‘Nam and then Bush War, few of those here) is this the VAs 2A right forfeiture due to financial trustee? Such unfair BS, shit infuriates me. They were gonna do this with my Olady, Shes a retired Navy Corpsman with a TBI, Im her caregiver through the VA as she can no longer drive , walks with a cane and cant work. As long as she dont say that I “have to pay all the bills cause she cant” to the VA, they cant sieze her 2A rights and by way of cohabitation MINE! Ridiculous, but I digress....

I just wanted to know if taking full milsurp FAL mags and storing them , like say in a .50 cal can for long term storage ,was a good idea or if I should DL them. I guess I should DL them. Every weapon has its quirks, just wanted to check.


Thanks very much again all for your replys.
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Old May 27, 2018, 09:54   #47
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Originally Posted by crashmaniac View Post
Thanks all for contributing I thought for sure I’d dicked up by posting in a “dead” thread.

Dont sell yourself short. You will fight like you train generally but you never know. Ive been in firefights both short and long. Some were over so fast you are wondering what just happened, and some where gas tubes are burned through and dudes are firing single shot and one things for sure. You dont know how you are gonna react until someone actually starts shooting at you. Ive seen lots of big tough guys blubber in fighting positions like babies, and nintendo recruits run to be the first man through the breach although neither is common or not. I do know that if you dont practice and prepare your showing will be piss poor.

This is exactly Chuck Taylor's main point in practice, practice, practice... but practice PERFECTLY because under stress you WILL react how you've been trained and practiced.

Wifey and I do dry practice at home a couple times a week with "target" to front, to left, to rear. Practice tactical reload, malfunction clearing. Just a half hour or so to keep the moves imprinted.

Today we're going to the range again. July we'll be at Chuck Taylor's 2-day advanced course (highly recommended)
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Old May 27, 2018, 10:46   #48
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This is exactly Chuck Taylor's main point in practice, practice, practice... but practice PERFECTLY because under stress you WILL react how you've been trained and practiced.

Wifey and I do dry practice at home a couple times a week with "target" to front, to left, to rear. Practice tactical reload, malfunction clearing. Just a half hour or so to keep the moves imprinted.

Today we're going to the range again. July we'll be at Chuck Taylor's 2-day advanced course (highly recommended)

^^^ Good for you man thats great. I get the “I wasnt in so Im not cool” thing alot. I just point to similar courses and HIGHLY encourage folks to take one. There is nothing wrong with that. For a long time this country was protected by nothing but local militia, and Im not talking about racisit or ignorant crazies hiding in the woods. Im mean a well trained and regulated civil militia that whole communities participated in, in one way or another.

Practice correctly is important, I used to tell students when teaching combat reloads and immediate action, that it takes thousands of reps to build muscle memory, and twice as many thousands to un-do BAD muscle memory. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast sonslow yourself down and do it right then worry about doing it faster. I would get students who had never reloaded on the hoof, moving in a formation or online with an assualt element, you cant always just stop and do it, ya know walk and chew bubble gun thing. Also learning to use your non firing hand to do secondary manipulations, charging handle, grab that fresh mag and gas up the rifle/carbine while keeping the weapon pointed downrange is a big one too that some folks have issues with.
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