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5 Facts About U.S. Marine Corps Firepower

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1. “Every Marine a Rifleman” is an axiom that represents the willingness and ability of every Marine to engage the enemy in direct combat. To Marines, marksmanship matters. But the infantry units of the United States Marine Corps are getting a new rifle. And it’s not really a rifle, it’s a carbine. The Marine Corps will equip all its infantry battalions and those that support them directly on the front line with the 14.5-inch barreled M4 and M4A1. This will supplant and replace the M16A2s and M16A4s that were previously the front line infantry rifles for the Marine Corps.

2. While the U.S. Army, followed by the other branches, adopted the Beretta U.S. M9 back in 1985, the Marine Corps finally got around to adopting its own version of the 9 mm service pistol. That gun is the M9A1. It features an integral accessory rail on the dustcover, upgraded sights and a few other things the Marine Corps wanted on his own version of a service sidearm. While the Army is looking to replace its M9s, the Marine Corps appears to be very happy with its choice.

3. Only accurate rifles are interesting. And even more interesting are accurate rifles you make yourself. The Marine Corps Weapons Battalion in Quantico, Va., has a Precision Weapons Section that makes the sniper rifles used by the Marine Corps. It started off with a Remington Model 700-based M40, but they have continued to upgrade the platform over the decades that have passed since the Vietnam War. Now Marine gunsmiths—often the same ones who build accurized rifles for the U.S. Marine Corps shooting team—build M40A5s in Quantico.

4. One rifle can make a difference. During the Marine Raider Operation on Makin Island in August 1942, Carlson’s Raiders took the British Boys anti-tank rifle. While the big 0.55-inch guns would have been perfect for shooting up a light Japanese tanks, they didn’t find any. What they did find were Japanese floatplanes. The big ones the Japanese used for hauling troops and cargo throughout its remote Pacific bases. The destruction of these flying boats using a Boys anti-tank rifle diminished Japanese ability to reinforce and resupply crucial garrisons.

5. In the Marine Corps, marksmanship matters. It mattered probably more than at any time in the Corps’ history at the fight for Belleau Wood. German machine gunners, well emplaced and with good fields of fire, took repeated head shots from Marine rifleman. Apparently the Marines didn’t know that you were just supposed to go to ground and be mowed down as had occurred for the previous 3 1/2 years of war. No, Marines and their ’03 Springfield’s used the lessons of the target range to inflict long-range precision rifle fire on the Germans. The Marines, especially in interservice matches and at the NRA National Matches, took rifle shooting very seriously. A lot of Germans could’ve attested to that had they not been shot.

Article by Mark Keefe

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