Weapons of the War in Afghanistan
In the world of war, weapons and technology are ever changing, each war is characterized by the weapons and tactics used to fight it. As new environments and enemies are encountered, the parties to those wars develop new - more effective tactics, technologies, and weapons to counter and defeat their adversaries. The ingenuity seen in war has existed since (and most certainly before) the first wars of recorded history and continue to this very day.
Keeping with that theory, let’s take a look at the weapons that have characterized the wars and conflicts that the United States has been a party to over the course of it’s history. During the course of this series, I aim to breakdown the weapons used in each conflict by their classification, and to which party they were employed by. Having served in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, I would like to start our series with the War in Afghanistan.
For our fourteenth installment let's take a look at the some of the common submachine guns used in the War in Afghanistan.
GG&G MOSSBERG 590 SHOTGUN MAGAZINE FOLLOWER
Part I: The United States
Heckler & Koch MP5
The Heckler & Koch MP5 is a 9mm submachine gun of German design, developed in the 1960s by a team of engineers from the German small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch GmbH (H&K) of Oberndorf am Neckar. There are over 100 variants of the MP5, including some semi-automatic versions.
The MP5 is one of the most widely used submachine guns in the world, having been adopted by 40 nations and numerous military, law enforcement, intelligence, and security organizations. It is widely used by SWAT teams in North America.
The primary version of the MP5 family is the MP5A2, which is a lightweight, air-cooled, selective fire delayed blowback operated 9×19mm Parabellum weapon with a roller-delayed bolt. It fires from a closed bolt (bolt forward) position.
The fixed, free floating, cold hammer-forged barrel has 6 right-hand grooves with a 1:10" rifling twist rate and is pressed and pinned into the receiver.
The first MP5 models used a double-column straight box magazine, but since 1977, slightly curved, steel magazines are used with a 15-round capacity or a 30-round capacity.
The adjustable iron sights (closed type) consist of a rotating rear diopter drum and a front post installed in a hooded ring. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation with the use of a special tool, being adjusted at the factory for firing at 25m with standard 124 grain FMJ 9×19mm NATO ammunition; the drum provides four different apertures of varying width used to adjust the light entrance in the diopter system, according to the user's eye relief and tactical situation.
The MP5 has a hammer firing mechanism. The trigger group is housed inside an interchangeable polymer trigger module (with an integrated pistol grip) and equipped with a three-position fire mode selector that serves as the manual safety toggle. The "S" or Sicher position in white denotes weapon safe, "E" or Einzelfeuer in red represents single fire, and "F" or Feuerstoß (also marked in red) designates continuous fire. The SEF symbols appear on both sides of the plastic trigger group. The selector lever is actuated with the thumb of the shooting hand and is located only on the left side of the original SEF trigger group or on both sides of the ambidextrous trigger groups. The safety/selector is rotated into the various firing settings or safety position by depressing the tail end of the lever. Tactile clicks (stops) are present at each position to provide a positive stop and prevent inadvertent rotation. The "safe" setting disables the trigger by blocking the hammer release with a solid section of the safety axle located inside the trigger housing.
The non-reciprocating cocking handle is located above the handguard and protrudes from the cocking handle tube at approximately a 45° angle. This rigid control is attached to a tubular piece within the cocking lever housing called the cocking lever support, which in turn, makes contact with the forward extension of the bolt group. It is not however connected to the bolt carrier and therefore cannot be used as a forward assist to fully seat the bolt group. The cocking handle is held in a forward position by a spring detent located in the front end of the cocking lever support which engages in the cocking lever housing. The lever is locked back by pulling it fully to the rear and rotating it slightly clockwise where it can be hooked into an indent in the cocking lever tube.
The bolt rigidly engages the barrel extension—a cylindrical component welded to the receiver into which the barrel is pinned. The delay mechanism is of the same design as that used in the G3 rifle. The two-part bolt consists of a bolt head with rollers and a bolt carrier. The heavier bolt carrier lies up against the bolt head when the weapon is ready to fire and inclined planes on the front locking piece lie between the rollers and force them out into recesses in the barrel extension.
When fired, expanding propellant gases produced from the burning powder in the cartridge exert rearward pressure on the bolt head transferred through the base of the cartridge case as it is propelled out of the chamber. A portion of this force is transmitted through the rollers projecting from the bolt head, which are cammed inward against the inclined flanks of the locking recesses in the barrel extension and to the angled shoulders of the locking piece. The selected angles of the recesses and the incline on the locking piece produce a velocity ratio of about 4:1 between the bolt carrier and the bolt head. This results in a calculated delay, allowing the projectile to exit the barrel and gas pressure to drop to a safe level before the case is extracted from the chamber.
The delay results from the amount of time it takes for enough recoil energy to be transferred through to the bolt carrier in a sufficient quantity for it to be driven to the rear against the force of inertia of the bolt carrier and the forward pressure exerted against the bolt by the recoil spring. As the rollers are forced inward they displace the locking piece and propel the bolt carrier to the rear. The bolt carrier's rearward velocity is four times that of the bolt head since the cartridge remains in the chamber for a short period of time during the initial recoil impulse. After the bolt carrier has traveled rearward 4 mm, the locking piece is withdrawn fully from the bolt head and the rollers are compressed into the bolt head. Only once the locking rollers are fully cammed into the bolt head can the entire bolt group continue its rearward movement in the receiver, breaking the seal in the chamber and continuing the feeding cycle.
Since the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge is relatively low powered, the bolt does not have an anti-bounce device like the G3, but instead the bolt carrier contains tungsten granules that prevent the bolt group from bouncing back after impacting the barrel extension. The weapon has a fluted chamber that enhances extraction reliability by bleeding gases backwards into the shallow flutes running along the length of the chamber to prevent the cartridge case from expanding and sticking to the chamber walls (since the bolt is opened under relatively high barrel pressure). A spring extractor is installed inside the bolt head and holds the case securely until it strikes the ejector arm and is thrown out of the ejection port to the right of the receiver. The lever-type ejector is located inside the trigger housing (activated by the movement of the recoiling bolt).
Heckler & Koch MP7
The MP7 is a German Personal Defence Weapon (PDW) manufactured by Heckler & Koch (H&K) and chambered for the HK 4.6×30mm cartridge. It was designed with the new cartridge to meet NATO requirements published in 1989, as these requirements call for a personal defense weapon (PDW) class firearm, with a greater ability to defeat body armor than current weapons limited to conventional pistol cartridges. The MP7 went into production in 2001. It is a direct rival to the FN P90, also developed in response to NATO's requirement. The weapon has been revised since its introduction and the current production versions are the MP7A1 and newest MP7A2. The proliferation of high-quality body armour has begun to make guns that fire pistol ammunition (such as Heckler & Koch's earlier MP5 submachine gun or USP pistol) ineffective. In response to this trend, Heckler & Koch designed the MP7 to penetrate body armor, but small enough to be used in place of either a pistol or a submachine gun.
The MP7 uses a short-stroke piston gas system as used on H&K's G36 and HK416 assault rifles, in place of a blowback system traditionally seen on sub-machine guns including those by H&K. The 4.6×30mm ammunition is virtually exclusive to the gun (save for the now-cancelled Heckler & Koch UCP and a planned variant of the Brügger & Thomet MP9) and also offers low recoil. This ammunition is unique among submachine guns in that the bullet is made almost entirely of a hardened steel penetrator instead of softer copper or lead.
The weapon allows a conventional 20-round, 30-round, or 40-round box magazine to be fitted within the pistol grip (the 20-round magazine being comparable in size to a 15-round 9×19mm magazine, while the 40-round magazine compares to a 30-round 9×19mm magazine). The weapon features an ambidextrous fire selector, bolt catch lever and magazine release. It has an extendable stock and a folding front grip; it can be fired either one-handed or two-handed. It is compact and light, due to the use of polymers in its construction.
The MP7's specially designed armour piercing (AP) high velocity rounds consist of either copper plated solid steel (DM11), alloy plated steel jacket (DM21) or copper-alloy-jacketed lead core projectiles (Fiocchi FMJ ZP). Standard AP high velocity DM11 (Ultimate Combat) round with a 31 gr. projectile has a muzzle velocity of 2,362 ft/s and has a muzzle energy of 373 ft-lb. The DM11 round penetrates the NATO CRISAT target (20 layers of kevlar with 1.6 mm titanium backing) even at 200 m. The round has a small diameter, allowing for redoubling penetration capability and high capacity in a very small magazine.
VBR of Belgium produces a 4.6×30mm 2-part controlled fragmenting projectile that is claimed to increase the content of the permanent wound cavity and double the chance to hit a vital organ. Heckler & Koch claims that the CPS Black Tip ammunition made by Fiocchi has a muzzle energy of approximately 525 J, which would be comparable to 9×19mm Parabellum rounds.
|Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.|
For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:
For Use of Photos by Shawn
"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."
Labels: 1-26 INF, Afghanistan, Cactus Tactical, Firebase Vegas, Korengal Valley, Kunar province, MP5, MP7, Operation Enduring Freedom, War In Afghanistan, Weapons of War