A question for any active duty military?


December 20, 2005, 11:40 PM
(I suppose there are at least some active duty here)--or if you’re not active duty but once were or were never military and might still know anyway then maybe you can help me out. :rolleyes:

Anyway I got a question regarding issued weapons.

If you are able to qualify on a weapon system other than that which you are issued with are you then allowed to use that system in combat?

For instance; you're most likely to be issued with an M16A4 (or possibly there's a newer, latest config. out now) or an M4--or is an M4 only issued to certain units or for just anyone operating in CQ environments?

Back to the point:
So, if you are able to demonstrate proficiency with another US-issued weapon system--or non-US?? (such as the M-14 or 1911 as opposed to the 16 or M9) are you allowed to then use this during combat?--That is notwithstanding if one can scrounge up a 14 or 1911.
Or is this far too much a liability issue? --Is this more lax in the SF units?

Okay, so, if it's not too much an issue who do you take this up with? Who in your higher command that is.
While on this question; I've heard here and there about soldiers (non SF) using confiscated weapons from the opposition. Such as AK's etc. Is this true or not? How wide spread is that? If at all?
I know for 'blending in' behind the lines--or otherwise--it's definitely the way to go but, anyway.

Hm, one more thing--Are the weapons soldiers are issued with dependent upon the theatre of operations or not? Given the terrain of Iraq and Afghanistan the 14’s obviously come into play.

One more question however unlikely: I am vaguely aware that if something is not available (with the intention that the item will be used during operations) then often times soldiers will purchase something with cash out of their own pocket.
What all is allowed under that situation? Are weapons allowed if they meet USGI spec?--again I doubt this but have to ask. :D
What about weapon attachments, load bearing gear, etc.?

Bear with me I know little of the military therefore maybe my line of questioning is entirely off the mark altogether.

Thanks from a noob.

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December 20, 2005, 11:43 PM

I'm active duty USAF, but I'm only an intel weenie. They don't give me a gun. :p


December 20, 2005, 11:50 PM
hah thanks anyway esheato you always seem to be the first responder to my questions. Strange. Are you stalking me perhaps? :what:

December 20, 2005, 11:59 PM
Five years active duty Marine, two Iraq tours. EASed and am now in grad school.

When we switched from M16A2s to M16A4s (late 2003), folks went in and BZOed their new rifles, but didn't have to re-do any training. Not sure on M4. The guys who got issued ACOGs had to take the official ACOG class before they were allowed to mount the optics.

Come to think of it, I do know of at least one guy who was handed a Benelli shotgun as he came to relieve a guy on gate duty, despite having zero Benelli training. The offgoing sentry gave him a ten-second lecture on the shotgun, oncoming sentry received the shotgun and promptly discharged it down the back of his leg, missing flesh but probably clipping a few leg hairs. Offgoing sentry was NJPed IIRC, oncoming was sufficiently punished by near coronary.

IRT Non-US weapons: Not generally allowed, but if you're in a small unit with an easygoing platoon sergeant, or are SNCO or officer and willing to be teased, it can work. Our base's EOD team carried lots of confiscated weapons, partially because a lot of them were only issued pistols by T/O. A few pistol-bearers picked up folding AKs or collapsing G3s, and a couple of the rifle bearers had subguns (Sterling) or sawed-off single shot shotguns (no, I am not kidding). The intent behind the folding/small weapons was to keep them handy in the vehicle, especially for the driver to use one-handed in an absolute emergency. Said EOD unit was run by a major-league gunbuff, thus the laxness. I also saw a handful of non-SF guys carrying AKs, no idea how they got permission.

I have never personally seen anyone who carried a personal weapon purchased in the US and brought on deployment. I've heard of it happening as recently as the late 90s, but we were clearly told that it was forbidden before Iraq deployment. We had enough trouble getting permission to wear civilian drop holsters (which, ironically, were almost forbidden in 2003, but issued gear in 2004).

So that covers a few of your questions, from the 2003-2004 Iraq Marine side. Hope that helps. It seems you're full of questions since you arrived, glad you're enjoying the THR experience. Just make sure to run an archive search on your questions before asking *grin*.


December 21, 2005, 12:00 AM
I served 4 years as an infantryman in the US Army. I had no say in what weapon I was issued. I used what I was given dependent on what my job was. I was in the mortar section of the weapons platoon, so when I was an ammo bearer, my issued weapon was an M16A1. When I became a gunner, my issued personal weapon was a 1911A1 pistol.

It is the same in the line platoons. The unit has a TO&E that it adheres to and it's members are armed accordingly. You don't get to choose what you would like to use. You cannot use your personnally owned firearms either.
There isn't a whole lot of leeway allowed for other items such as LBE, and clothing either. For example, when I was in, we were issued a cold weather face mask. It was kind of like an old hockey goalies mask, without the hard plastic. I wear glasses, and when I tried to wear that mask with my glasses
I couldn't see a thing since my glasses would immediately fog up and stay that way. Not a good thing when you are the TC (track commander). I had to have something to keep my face from freezing, yet would still allow me to see where we were going. I bought a black ski mask that worked like a charm.:) Then the Battalion Sgt. Major saw me one day. :eek: You wouldn't believe the "scolding" I got for being out of uniform. I had to get my First Sgt. to intervene on my behalf to get the Sgt. Major's ok to keep from freezing my nose off! :rolleyes:

I understand that the elite forces have more leeway in how they equip themselves, but in regular units, you pretty much have to use what you are given.

December 21, 2005, 12:44 AM
In regular units, using non-organic weapons is usually a big no-no. You will get issued whatever in in the armsroom, at the descretion of your platoon SGT or CDR. If you have M-14s and are a good shot, you may end up with the M-14 as a designated marksman.

As for SOF units, they have a weapons SGT that is trained in foreign weapons. His job is to train others in their use, keep them running and get captured weapons into action for use by them or the attached indig forces. Getting permission to use foreign weapons while in a SOF unit is pretty easy, if you can show that you are at least as competent as the indigs (which is easy, because if you weren't you would be back in a leg unit).

I am not a wrestling fan, but Monday night WWE was in Bagram AFB, Afghanistan. They kept trying to stay away from this group of guys in black instead of DCU's or ACUs. But in one shot, the camera man had no choice but to show them. Here were all these dirty bearded guys in ball caps and their black fleece jackets, ALL with foreign weapon. Most of them looked like they just rolled in from the firebases. Gotta love those SF guys! They could have blamed it on the SEALs if half of them didn't have on hats with the SF crest on it.

Then again, it could have been those da#@ed SEALs trying to get those SF guys in trouble.......again:D

December 21, 2005, 01:09 AM
Okay so looks like the question is what generally what I expected it to be . . . And that there is no one easy answer.
Seems it depends more upon the individual situation, case by case basis as to what can be done.

And that as I suspected, SF personnel enjoy a far greater array of leniency. I suspect this is because they know fully well what they’re doing out there and should be able to get what they want.

Anyway. All my floating-around questions have been answered.

Next time, I guess I should title it something like question for active duty infantry/combat personnel.

Thanks again.

December 21, 2005, 09:05 AM
Good thing too Ed! I've seen yo shoot. :neener:

Hope all is well there. ;)

December 21, 2005, 09:17 AM
Just signed out to the user for a specific time. If you are "rifle" qualified, they'll give you basically any rifle you have had a FAM fire with. (Familiarization fire)
Same with pistol. Some units (read: ships) have as many as four different handgun types and three to five rifle types. A guy could shoot expert with the M-4 and get handed an M-14 for his watch or boarding or whatever. He's only shot the M-14 for familiarity, not for qual, so there is NO evidence that he can hit anything with it.
Same with Handguns. I have qualified expert on the 1911, but only shot the M-9 for familiarity. I get handed an M-9 all the time. Same with the M-11 (Sig P228)
So, Navy guys who can't shoot a specific weapon worth a damn can get "issued" that weapon as long as their record reflects familiarity training (10 minutes max) with that weapon. Happens all the time.
Fo what it's worth, and to put your mind at ease, last time we had a friendly match with an Army component at Ft Story, we out- shot them five to three. With their weapons.

December 21, 2005, 09:50 AM
My first four years were in AFSOC. We were deployed a lot, and carried everywhere. First we had the M-15, then the M-9 for handguns. Rifles were the standard M-16 or GAU-5.
Some of us with friends at the CATM got to train on the M-60, SAW, and some other stuff. But we were not allowed to carry anything other than what was issued.
I worked closely with other units during this time, and they were always equipped with "normal" arms.

Be safe,

December 21, 2005, 10:45 AM
I was an Armorer, stateside Ft. Ord, 1986-89. I was issued an M16A1, but qualified with M60, M249, M1911A1, M9, M10 (S&W and Colt 4" .38 Spl. issued to aviators), M2, SKS, AK-47, and RPK. (The last three were at an Enemy weapons familiariztion course run by the AMTU.) My issue rifle was also my boss' issue rifle. I carried it in the field so she didn't have to, but it might have been interesting if we were actually deployed as to who would have ended up with it. I had an M60 and an M249 'on standby' for such an occasion. :evil: BTW, I had the trigger on that 16 honed so sweet, and one of the clamp-on Colt scopes for it, sighted for 300 m. and 'pre-postioned' with the Arms Room equipment. We would have left behind the few POW (Personally Owned Weapons) that were stored in there, much as my buddy Steve would have wanted to bring his DW .357 Mag. :)

December 21, 2005, 10:59 AM
i was a cavalry scout for four years, 1.5 in iraq. i used to carry around an electric AK that shot plastic BBs. our nightly room clearing exercises were abruptly outlawed after a tanker was shot in the eye. he returned to duty.

December 21, 2005, 12:20 PM
you always seem to be the first responder to my questions. Strange. Are you stalking me perhaps?
Nope...I'm a night shift guy and I believe you always post late in the evening, hence I usually see it first.
Good thing too Ed! I've seen yo shoot.
Wait a minute here...that was uncalled for. ;)


December 21, 2005, 12:52 PM
Administratively, you will not be assigned, nor would you under normal circumstances be allowed to carry, other than to move it from point A to point B, a weapon you had not qualified on.

That being said, combat zones have thier own quirks. ALL Army soldiers receive training on the M203 and SAW, and are expected know how to load, fire, reduce stoppage, unload, and clear. This training is done in Basic, and I believe by now they should have added M240B, M2, and MK-19 to the list.

That being said, I can't imagine being qualified on a weapon is the most important thing in a combat zone. The important thing is to keep key weapons manned. If the 240 gunner goes down, or goes home for his 2 weeks leave, the gun doesn't just stay in the FOB. Somebody else mans it. And there aren't many qual ranges in the Sandbox.

Oh, and Pvt Pyle-pretty much everyone in the Army has those black fleece jackets now. Hell, I train Guard troops and I have one. Now, the beards and foreign weapons-yeah, that's SF.

Old Dog
December 21, 2005, 01:08 PM
To clarify a bit of steveracer's post ... While what he says may be true of policy for issuing weapons for duty section watchstanders on certain classes of ships, it does not apply for those assigned to commands where personnel carry weapons as part of their jobs.

For example, if one is assigned to a physical security department (base police and force protection), one must qualify at least to the minimum level of formal qualification (sharpshooter) on the handgun and rifle courses. It should be noted that the Navy's Basic Handgun Qual course now is pitifully easy (most of believe we should be using only the older Navy Handgun Qual course but that's neither here nor there). Some commands/units also require that personnel qualify on a Practical Weapons Course as well (where one actually has to move around a bit) and there's also a Nightfire Course. The old "fam fire" courses are still used to qualify people to carry the 12-gauge shotgun, but there is a pretty decent shotgun practical weapons course as well.

There is also the issue of "PQS," the Navy's Personnel Qualification Standards, checklists assigned to each individual for each weapons system, where the individual must get "signed off" on each line item to demonstrate familiarity with the platform (i.e., M-2 .50 cal machine guns, M-60 machine gun, M-240B lmg, M-9 pistol, 12-gauge shotgun, M-16, M-14, etc.). These are commonly used on larger ships where weapons department personnel and watchstanders qualify on these weapons.

Often, it depends solely on what type of unit one is assigned to as far as how stringent the qualification levels are. I was at one security department where the base CO made every patrolman take the MMPI and pass a psych eval before he'd sign off on a gun card for the patrolman.

At one of my last commands, we performed our rifle quals on both M-14s and M-16A1s, but then finally got M-4s issued as well. We haven't used the 1911 since 1994 (at least, that's when the department I was at transitioned to the M-9) but I've been at two places where we had M-11s (the SIG 228) available.

For those Navy vets who've been out for a while, and only remember standing quarterdeck watches with an unloaded 1911, the Navy's changed to the point where it's truly an armed force now, which is a good thing (if one is a gun person). Even junior officers, yeomen and supply personnel get to go to the range for qual a couple times a year ... And for me, nothing like getting to go down to Fort Lewis for a day or two and rip off a few belts or boxes full auto ...

December 21, 2005, 08:04 PM
I was in Kuwait briefly last year, and "issued" an M-9 for my entire stay, and I signed out an M-4 for a couple of weeks. I was simply trying to illustrate that the old days of graduating bootcamp and getting your rifle are long gone, and the Surface Navy is better armed, but in my opinion not nearly as well qualified as we were nine years ago when I joined this canoe club.

December 25, 2005, 06:38 PM
Just droppin back in to say thanks again to everyone for their responses.

December 25, 2005, 09:20 PM
Last time I deployed I got an M16A2.

If we had the chance, a couple of us would have basterdized them into pseudo M4's by slapping our own collasping stock & shorter upper on them.

December 26, 2005, 04:49 AM
We all were qualified with all of the organic weapons of our unit for the very reason you are stating. All of the us would be able to operate an M60, M249, M2, MK19, M203, etc. if the need arose. It may have not been their primary weapon and of course no one got to choose what they were carrying. As far as POW's.... that is risky and very FROWNED upon. I brought my own mil spec 1911 and carried it in a mil spec holster while deployed in 1990-91. I also brought 300 rounds of 230gr ball 45acp ammo. Eventually I had to turn it over to my Company CO during an "amnesty" period before we were redeployed back to Camp Pendelton. There were several in the Company that had brought their own POW's and surrendered them. We all received them when we got back. There was no paperwork so I think none of it was official. The outcome of this type of situation is going to be completely up to the disgression of the CO. The reason I brought a POW when deployed is because the bombing of the engineer company's barracks in Beirut and the whole situation was still fresh in my mind. Circumstances, attitudes, mind-sets and SOP has changed since then so if I was deployed today I don't think I would take that risk.

December 26, 2005, 08:22 AM
Oh, and Pvt Pyle-pretty much everyone in the Army has those black fleece jackets now. Hell, I train Guard troops and I have one. Now, the beards and foreign weapons-yeah, that's SF.

Without seeing a picture of those fleece jackets, but with with the above quote it seems that the jacket in question must be the ECWS (Gore-Tex Parka) Liner.

I got my liner system and Gore-Tex pants after I PCSed here to ND, and all I can say is wow, is it a warm system! Since working on aircraft is sometimes stationary, I still need a heater but it is a big improvement over the old "carhart" insulated coveralls. The best thing is that I will still have the liners to put under my big coveralls!

December 26, 2005, 11:39 AM
Oh, and Pvt Pyle-pretty much everyone in the Army has those black fleece jackets now. Hell, I train Guard troops and I have one. Now, the beards and foreign weapons-yeah, that's SF.

But how many commanders would allow their troops to be seen in them on AFN and at home? I am sure the CJSOTF got more than a few nasty grams about it.:D They gave us crap about the ball caps on Lara Logan's 60min piece.

Jim K
December 26, 2005, 03:02 PM
There is some paperwork called the Table of Organization and Equipment, which spells out what each member of a unit does (primary job) and his or her weapon. Normally, each soldier/Marine would have at least fired for familiarization each type of weapon assigned to the unit.

But in combat, it would be silly to think that if a soldier's weapon were disabled he would be in trouble if he picked up and used any weapon that was handy, U.S. or enemy.

There are reasons, however, for the Army to frown on use of enemy weapons. I remember a WWII vet telling me that he really wanted to get hold of a "burp gun" (MP.38 or MP.40). When he finally did, he fired off a magazine toward the Germans, feeling (as he said) a sense of amusement in shooting at them with their own weapon. Not for long. The other Americans opened up on him because they recognized the unique sound, and the Germans fired at him because he was shooting at them. He threw the SMG away and never again wanted to use an enemy weapon, no matter how good it appeared to be.


December 26, 2005, 08:32 PM
Exactly JK.... That's why picking up an AK and lugging it around would be a really bad idea.

December 26, 2005, 09:07 PM
Bottom line is if it's in your unit's arms room, you have a CHANCE of geting it issued to you.

December 26, 2005, 10:14 PM
yes thats true,but i have seen the SF and they use what ever they like.they buy what ever they need or want.what ever gets the job done.

December 27, 2005, 03:05 AM
Whose SF and what unit? The term SF is thrown around so generally for specific units it boggles my mind. Do you mean CIA, Green Berets, The Mossad, The Bohemian Motorcycle Brigade?

December 27, 2005, 03:07 AM

I'm active duty USAF, but I'm only an intel weenie. They don't give me a gun. :p


....in the good ol' ONW days, I carried one as an ANG intel weenie....but then again I supported a rescue unit.

For us USAF/ANG/AFRES intel folks we are able to dual qualify on weapons....officers can qualify (and carry) on the M-16/GAU/M4 and e's on the Beretta M9....but those were the only weapons we could qualify on.

December 27, 2005, 01:17 PM
Whose SF and what unit? The term SF is thrown around so generally for specific units it boggles my mind. Do you mean CIA, Green Berets, The Mossad, The Bohemian Motorcycle Brigade?

Thats because the media and game makers have dumbed people down to an even lower level than I previously thought possible.

SF, or Special Forces is the Green Berets. Period. Everyone else is either SEALs, Force Recon, SOTG, PJ's or whatever their unit names actually are.

Now SOF is a different ball game. But luckily most common joes dont use that term, it leaves even more room for butchery and mis-use.

December 27, 2005, 01:33 PM
PvtPyle, that is exactly what I'm talking about. The term SF's is thrown around so much that it has lost it's meaning.

December 27, 2005, 01:42 PM
Well, what confuses the media is tha fact that most of the groups mentioned-Army Special Forces, Rangers and 160th Special Ops Aviation Regt, Navy SEALs, AF PJs, and the new Marines special warfare battalion-all fall under the command of SOCOM-Special Operations Command. (For some reason, I don't think Force Recon does. The Marines keep them separate.) Since SOCOM has Special in the name, reporters and editors who don't know any better-because they never were in the military and are to lazy to open up Jane's Defense Guide-call all of them 'special forces.'

January 1, 2006, 04:27 AM
Just like the "news" article I read that stated that the USMC is adding "Special Forces" to their infantry inventory for the first time in it's history. In reality the USMC isn't adding anything..... The Corps is revising some strategy by making certain MEU's Special Operations Capable, (SOC); These designated MEU's have organic resources and training that make them fast moving, hard hitting and strategically located which should be bad news for terrorist types. They are highly mobile, agile and hostile but do not have the same mission as Green Berets.

January 1, 2006, 09:27 PM
Not to sound like a dick, but that kind of question is usally associated with 16 year old's who "dream" of being a 'SF Delta Sniper" and have seen the movie BlackHawk Down way to many times.

Your issued your weapon based on your MOS and your assigned units TO & E. Period. their is little lattiude in the Big green Army for anyone to use what they want. as to purchasing your own....forget about it. There is a General Order from CENTCOM that covers personnel weapons. Sure if you get over their you will most likely Barter/trade/buy a pistol,AK, etc. but you CoC will most likely take it away from you. and you certaily will not be bringing it back. Go enlist and find out for yourself....:rolleyes:

January 2, 2006, 12:11 AM
Not sure what harm he did by asking his questions. If your only exposure to the military is the media and hollywood then you might not have a very accurate picture of reality.

I have no military experience and, while I feel like I'm a little better informed than the average joe, I learned something from this thread. And I'm certainly not a sixteen-year-old even though I have seen Blackhawk Down. :)


January 2, 2006, 12:16 AM
I may be missing something here, but if you know how to use an M16 and can't figure out an M4, there's something seriously wrong, and I don't want you anywhere near my area of operations.

January 2, 2006, 01:51 AM
"I may be missing something here, but if you know how to use an M16 and can't figure out an M4, there's something seriously wrong, and I don't want you anywhere near my area of operations."

Okay.... With the current 5.56 ammo what is the difference of one click elevation between the M16 and M4? How about windage? Okay so I'm nitpicking but even transferring from an M16 to an M4 requires training to use it "proficiently". Yes, I know it doesn't make a difference if someone is trying to hit their grandmother's butt at 20 paces.

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