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calendar   Wednesday - April 01, 2009

Army Still Dicking About

Army’s ‘Subcompact’ Rifle Search in Doubt

It could be a perfect fit for cramped cockpits and truck cabs—a weapon potent enough to penetrate body armor, but sporting a bantam package that won’t turn maneuvering in tight spaces into a Houdini act.

Though the Army says it’s interested in putting a so-called “subcompact” carbine into the hands of certain Joes, the effort is likely to get kicked to the curb in favor of a new, full-sized carbine—the victim of withering budgets and the service’s focus on updating the M4.

Late last summer, the Army embarked on an ambitious analysis of the latest weapons the small arms industry had to offer. The effort focused mainly on possible alternatives to the M4 carbine, but its secondary goal was to look at subcompacts, or so-called “personal defense weapons.”

Hey, I like the term. “Personal Defense Weapons”. I think that’s what all us citizens need. More than a pistol, less than a battle rifle, and make the whole package about 17” long. I’ll take 4 please.

These handy little guns can be anything from a submachine gun to a chopped-down carbine. The Army first announced it was interested in such a weapon in 2007, to give pilots, tankers and truck drivers a little more firepower than the Beretta M9 9mm pistol.

“The subcompact has to serve a lot of different people ... it’s much too early to say this is what we are looking for,” Jim Stone, the head of the Soldier Requirement’s Division at Fort Benning, Ga., told Military.Com recently.

Such a cautious approach has veteran gun makers doubtful that these new, compact weapons will ever make it to formal testing, let alone into Soldier’s hands.

“I see this as an uphill battle,” said C. Reed Knight Jr., owner of Knight’s Armament Company. “The government still doesn’t know what it wants.”

Gosh, more non-news. A bunch of us have been saying that the 9mm just ain’t enough gun for a long time, especially not in a full size pistol. And the 5.56 NATO just doesn’t cut it at longer ranges.
So what is it the Army wants? Who knows? They probably want something the size of a derringer that is accurate to 800 yards, can defeat light vehicle armor, has no recoil, and fires 1000 rounds a minute without overheating. Seriously ... how about a little reality check guys?

“The 5.56mm is too big and the 9mm is too small,” he said. “We really need something in between those.”

As part of the request for information, Army weapons officials maintain the service is looking at all calibers for both the carbine and the subcompact.


The state of the economy will also force the Army to consider “is this worth my investment or not?” Stone said. “Separating wants and needs sometimes is very tough.”

It’s this kind of talk that makes Knight doubtful he will get a return on the $2 million his company spent developing its new PDW.

Knight said he knew when he started that the weapon would have less than “a 50-50 chance of it getting adopted.

“I think it will probably die a slow death,” he said.

I think the line between rifles and pistols has been smeared, blurred, and half erased. Rifles have to be a decent length to get any kind of power out of them. If you want a close quarters weapon, get a knife. Anything a bit further, get a pistol. Maybe what they need is a change in combat. That’s NEVER going to happen the way they want it to. So the search is on for a short gun, a “PDW” that can close the big old gap between a pistol and a short range rifle (ie an assault weapon). But you can’t beat physics: if they want power, it will mean recoil. Only way to fight that is with weight. More weight means less maneuverability. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Power vs recoil vs weight vs range vs maneuverability. Choose two, and pay for it in the coins of the others.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/01/2009 at 10:41 PM   
Filed Under: • Military •  
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