.50BMG Against Geneva Convention?


August 24, 2006, 06:37 PM
I heard a rumor that soldiers issued the .50BMG M82 Barrett semi-automatic sniper rifle are not allowed to engage human targets. This didn't seem right, but it came from the mouth of a marine. Anyone know?

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August 24, 2006, 06:43 PM
I've heard that every so often, as well. Never did know the validity. But, then again, most of the stuff the insurgents are doing is against the Geneva convention as well.....so should we really be bound to it, when fighting an enemy who jumps with joy that we don't use what we have at our disposal? :mad:

August 24, 2006, 06:43 PM
I heard that when I was in the Marines too.
I think it's an old wive's tale.

Ed Ames
August 24, 2006, 06:46 PM
AFAIK they are procured for anti-materiel sniping (destroying truck engines and the like). 7.62 is fine for human targets out to any range you can think of and it isn't worth the extra effort (50BMG rifles are heavy SOBs)/risk/money to use the 50s against soldiers.

Doesn't mean they aren't allowed... just a "primary role" thing.

August 24, 2006, 06:47 PM
It's got nothing to do with the Geneva convention. There is something about the Hague convention but I think it's mostly a myth.

Ed Ames
August 24, 2006, 06:55 PM
Hague in 1899 (which is included by reference in Hague 2 in... 1915?) said you couldn't use explosive or expanding bullets against soldiers. It was a reaction to the British use of soft-points in India (the original Dum-Dum bullets) as much as anything.

That's your "FMJ only" rule... but an FMJ .50... or 30mm... is fine...

August 24, 2006, 07:03 PM
Besides the US never signed the Geneva Convention anyways

Jorg Nysgerrig
August 24, 2006, 07:20 PM
The .50 caliber thing is a recurring myth.

From https://www.tbs.usmc.mil/Pages/Training%20Corner/sho's/J/BOJ4704%20Law%20of%20War%20-%20Code%20of%20Conduct.doc
Small Arms Projectiles. Small arms projectiles, those weighing less than 400 grams (14 ounces) must not be exploding or expanding projectiles. An example of an expanding projectile is hollow point ammunition that is designed to expand dramatically upon impact. Much “mythology” exists about the lawfulness of sniper rifles, .50 caliber machine guns, and shotguns. Bottom line: They are lawful weapons although rules of engagement, commander’s guidance, and tactics may limit their use.

Besides the US never signed the Geneva Convention anyways
The US has indeed signed and ratified (http://www.cicr.org/ihl.nsf/Pays?ReadForm&c=US) the Geneva Conventions of 1949, with reservations. They have also signed protocol additions since, however, those haven't been ratified.

August 24, 2006, 08:42 PM
...6 or 7 of them line up in my sights.


"Knowing the past, I'll not surrender any arms and march less prepared into the future." B.E.Wood

August 24, 2006, 09:15 PM
AFAIK they are procured for anti-materiel sniping

Well, that load bearing harness on the enemy's torso is "materiel" :D :D

Handgun Midas
August 24, 2006, 09:42 PM
The author of Jarhead, a Marine sniper during Desert Shield\Storm, describes how when the instructor brought the 50's to the desert to introduce it to the snipers, he did state that it would be against Geneva to use on infantry.

August 24, 2006, 10:05 PM
This doesn't make much sense..what about the .50 machine gun?

August 24, 2006, 10:12 PM
Yeah my cousins husband who was a Marine Told me about that when we were shooting my .50. Then he just laughed, and said their excuse was, they were aiming for the belt buckle. lol Anti material, right?

August 24, 2006, 10:23 PM
a topic on this a little while ago gave the best advice

its an anti material rifle, used for engaging enemy material... so aim at thier uniform.

August 24, 2006, 10:28 PM
It's a myth that continues to have life despite being refuted over and over, much like the claim that shotguns, flamethrowers, napalm, and anti-aircraft weapons are prohibited for use against personnel.

The Hague Convention of 1889 prohibit use of explosive rounds against personnel. The std. load for the .50 rifles (the Raufoss) doesn't contain enough explosive to fall within the Accords, and, IIRC, JAG has ruled they are legal for use against personnel.

August 24, 2006, 11:01 PM
The Marines who tell you that you can't use 50BMG on combatants are the same Marines who tell you that the AK-47 uses the same round as an M-14. You get a ton of really bad gouge in the military on any technical subject that's not actually physically unfolding in front of the speaker.

I'm not saying that your friend made it up, he probably heard it from a guy who heard it from a guy, etc., who all thought it was true.

I was stationed with a LCpl who was dead convinced that it would be illegal if he shot a burglar with his gunshow 8mm Mauser, because "the Geneva Convention says that it's illegal to use a weapon over 7.62 caliber on a person, Gunny told us so." Everything about that sentence is wrong, except the last part...


August 24, 2006, 11:45 PM
I Like The 50BMG For When...
...6 or 7 of them line up in my sights.

Like the scene in "Quigley Down Under" when he took out two of the opposition with one shot from his Sharps...

August 25, 2006, 12:04 AM
so i guess we arent allowed to us the m2 browning machine gun? or what about when we target humans with the strykers 20mm? :rolleyes:

Ive heard rumors, but they hold no water. The hell with the UN and the geneva convention.

August 25, 2006, 12:32 AM
They're all just rumors.

August 25, 2006, 02:10 AM
Soldiers aren't experts on all things "firearm" by virtue of wearing a uniform. They are proficient with the weapons they routinely train on and carry and know what their Drill sergeant and squad leaders tell them. If they have firearms knowledge beyond the narrow scope of their duties, it either comes from listening to other soldiers/NCO's who may be talking outside their knowledge base or from extracurricular firearms activities like being a "gun-nut" and/or visiting THR.;)

pete f
August 25, 2006, 03:21 AM
If any of this would be true, It would be against the "rules" to use Arty on any place containing people, and you know that ain't true.

My moms cousin flew p-38's during the war and in late 44 and early 45, was used almost exclusively as a ground support/ground attack role. He operated a H model and it had one or two 20 mm cannon in the nose as well as 4 .50 BMGs. He had home movies made from gun camera film where you can see him strafing troop columns leaving the Ardennes in january 45, No one was complaining about using 20mm or .50 BMG against troops then.

During Viet Nam, the use of Spad's and their four 20mm cannon in ground support roles was common, as was the use of gun trucks, http://academic.uofs.edu/faculty/gramborw/atav/gunstory.htm

We are currently using 50 bmg for convoy protection in iraq, too


As well the army has no problem with using 120 mm main tank gun in an anti personnel role if needed either.

He talks about the rumors of "unfair munitions" also read that he talks of taking out individual enemy with the main tank gun. 120 mm Heat DP rounds are certainly more than a few ounces of HE, again, in war, what works, works. http://avengerredsix.blogspot.com/2005/07/12-november-broken-arrowor-something.html read the first comment after the little story.

Most of this is just BS. in war, what ever works, works.

August 25, 2006, 03:45 AM
When I served in the US Army(1989-1993), we were trained that the .50cal could not be used directly at enemy soldiers. You could fire a M-2 .50 at vehicles, aircraft, etc but not directly at human targets. Now the "loophole" is a US military service member could say they were aiming at "equipment" like eyeglass frames, ;) . It's tricky but if you are shooting a .50BMG you can get around those rules.


August 25, 2006, 03:50 AM
The only thing I could find was a mention in the Hague convention about weapons and ammunition that caused undue suffering.

I think an argument could be made that the .50 is a weapon that virtualy eliminates suffering on the battlefield when used in an anti personell role.

If it is discouraged in its use on human targets, its probably just the bean counters thinking about how much each round costs vs the worth of one of the enemy. (joke)

August 25, 2006, 04:07 AM
I wonder if the terrorists read the geneva convention.

August 25, 2006, 04:30 AM
I wonder if the terrorists read the Geneva convention.

If it can be used or abused against us, you can bet your bottom dollar they have read it.

We all know they can care less about following it them self, but if it can be used as a weapon against us...

August 25, 2006, 04:39 AM
The geneva convention only applies to army's and millitias who wear a uniform, are easily identifiable over a distance, and go about openly bearing arms.

If you're not willing to stand up and be a target, then you don't get the protection of the law.

Spies, assasins, and terrorists can still be stood up against the wall and shot.

August 25, 2006, 05:23 AM
Actually you cannot just put spies, assassins, or terrorists up against the wall and shoot them, you might want to actually read the geneva convention.

Actually, as mistakenly pointed out earlier,America is a signee to the geneva conventions. even if we did not sign it, we did sign the hague convention on warfare, and thus by the text of the geneva convention, are also a signee to the geneva convention unless we publicly withdraw from it, which we have not.

Niether the hague convention nor the geneva convention have rules about the size of the bullet used on personel, just rules about expanding ammunition or ammunition designed specifically to maim, it does have rules against using wooden bullets for all the vampire killers in the audience.

AFAIK the .50 cal BMG is a perfectly lawful weapon to use against people by either convention.

August 25, 2006, 07:32 AM
HE isn't a common round for the .50. Above a certain caliber, it becomes impractical to use ammo for antipersonnel, unless you're targeting groups.

August 25, 2006, 10:18 AM
This defines who the prisoners of war are that the geneva convention applies to.

Article 4

A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:

1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.

2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:

(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;

(c) That of carrying arms openly;

(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

If the convention is not applicable to the prisoner, then they have no protection under it.
Article 6

In addition to the agreements expressly provided for in Articles 10, 23, 28, 33, 60, 65, 66, 67, 72, 73, 75, 109, 110, 118, 119, 122 and 132, the High Contracting Parties may conclude other special agreements for all matters concerning which they may deem it suitable to make separate provision. No special agreement shall adversely affect the situation of prisoners of war, as defined by the present Convention, nor restrict the rights which it confers upon them.

Prisoners of war shall continue to have the benefit of such agreements as long as the Convention is applicable to them, except where express provisions to the contrary are contained in the aforesaid or in subsequent agreements, or where more favourable measures have been taken with regard to them by one or other of the Parties to the conflict.

I've read the Geneva convention, it defines very clearly who it considers a prisoner of war, it does not provide any protection to participants when there is no uniform. It does not provide protection to participants who engage in:

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

If they violate the rules of war by engaging in hostile acts such as the taking of hostages, especially while not wearing a uniform, It is my understanding that the geneva convention does not apply.

I understand that there are different ways to read it, but I believe the current reading of it suspends all rights to capturee's who do not meet the chriteria for protection under it.

That is why I stated that spies assassins and terrorists could be put up against the wall and shot.

I could be wrong, but thats what I got out of it.

August 25, 2006, 11:06 AM
It may have origniated related to the quad-mounted .50s used as AAA in WWII -- not saying they're actually against any convenstion, just saying that's where the myth might have originated.

Then again, my dad (AAA in WWII) said that in Normandy, the brass sometimes had them shoot the quads blindly into hedge rows to make sure they were clear of Krauts. Talk about hedge clippers! He also said they saw heavy anti-personnel use in the Battle of the Bulge.

Edited to add (from http://www.skylighters.org/quad50/index.html):Quadmounts were used in both the Pacific and European theaters. As enemy aircraft became less plentiful near the end of the war, the quadmount evolved into an antipersonnel weapon. In Europe, when enemy snipers were hidden in trees, it was not unusual to pull up a halftrack and quadmount to counter the threat. Instead of firing at the suspected location of the snipers, the quadmount gunner would aim at the base of the trees and fire. The high concentration of projectiles would literally mow down the trees taking out the snipers along with others at the same time. In the Pacific theater, the quadmount was effective against "dug-in" Japanese positions because of its high rate (450-550 rounds per minute) and high concentration of fire. It was affectionately nicknamed the "meat chopper."


August 25, 2006, 04:10 PM

art 3,A,,1,d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Kinda rules out field executions, dont it?

art 4,A,6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

Generally regarded as removing the absolute requirement to were a uniform for consideration as a pow. It would not be an absolute defense, but would provide a reasonable grievence.

Article 5

The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

You must give anyone a hearing before declaring them not a pow. Guess what, the geneva convention also has rules about tribunals, and what constitutes them.

Now start looking up the geneva convention on protection of civilian persons in time of war.

Article 5
Where, in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.

In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity, and in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with the security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.

Even if you by using a tribunal declare them not a POW, you gotta give them a trial and treat them humanely.

We as a nation a violating other parts of the geneva convention in some major ways.

Personally I am all for withdrawing from the treaty, It is not applicable to todays warfare. We probably would not fight any of the countries that would actually keep the treaty terms.

But until we do withdraw from it, we should at least try follow its rules.

August 25, 2006, 04:47 PM
I was specifically told that the Browning .50 was for use against both infantry and soft or very ightly armoured vehicles. The .50 rifles were for mine clearance and destroying other explosives, but I don't think there was a rule against using them against infantry. Nowadays we have the .338 lapua rifles which are used against infatry and tbh will give you just as much of a headache as a .50 BMG...

Napalm I think was actually ruled as illegal because it caused 'unnecessary suffering' which makes it illegal under international law, but I may have picked that up from some one who didn't know better so don't take my word for it.

August 25, 2006, 04:48 PM
The legality of this issue was settled back in the late 80s or early 90s. Yes it is legal to use the .50 BMG against personnel. I'll have to dig up the reference to it.

pete f
August 26, 2006, 08:14 PM
QUOTE "HE isn't a common round for the .50. Above a certain caliber, it becomes impractical to use ammo for antipersonnel, unless you're targeting groups."

While theoretically true, The new SLAP rounds have some HE effect.

Also, I am in touch with three guys who are in Iraq right now, as well as one in Afghanistan. Believe me, they do not agree with you. They have used 120 mm Abrams main guns multiple times against single point, sniper targets, I also saw the video of the M1A2 removing a RPG carrying rebel from duty, He runs out, tries to get the round off and than there is a huge plume of smoke and his sandals are all that you can see where he was standing. I have no idea of what 20 pounds of depleted uranium does when it hits a body at 5600FPS, because he was there one second, gone the next.

They have also related cases of calling in 155 or 8 inch arty fire on a position they believe to be holding a IED observer.

The one in afghanistan has used Hellfire missiles against a single point individual. When they want to kill a badguy, they use what ever has the best chance of doing it. After a road side IED, they were able to see a guy who had been watching the road take off in a hurry driving away at high speed on a scooter, they were able to run a Hellfire directly into him at a traffic light. In the wreckage were as many as fifty cell phones, all with preset numbers used for detonators.

August 26, 2006, 08:38 PM
I wonder if the terrorists read the geneva convention.
Why do you think they hide behind women and children, and stash their ordnance in mosques?

August 26, 2006, 08:39 PM
Large caliber weapons like cannons are exempt from the 'no explosive ammunition' ban as has been stated previously in this topic.

August 26, 2006, 08:54 PM
It's not like that the recipient will file a complaint, right? Go ahead!


August 26, 2006, 08:59 PM
no, it isn't agianst the rules

even if it were, I wouldn't care

I think ammo restrictions in war are stupid, extremely stupid. Hell if you're gonna shoot me do it with a round packed with enough explosive to send me and my block the way of the dodo, I'd rather it be quick then bleeding out in a helo on the way to a hospital.

August 26, 2006, 09:02 PM
I think the army sniper from Canada who is now documented for the longest documented kill used a Barret .50cal/model 82a1 rifle. ;)

This was in 2002 in OEF(Operation Enduring Freedom).


August 26, 2006, 09:21 PM
Nope, it was with a McMillan TAC-50.


August 26, 2006, 09:51 PM
What about for CCW?

Is that a Barret in your BDUs or are you happy to see me???????

August 26, 2006, 10:48 PM
im sorry but the candian making a kill with a rifle MADE and TUNED and TESTED to do just that in no way compares to hathcocks kill in vietnam with essentialy a home made gun. ( it was an M2 with a scope right?) even if the candian did outrange him ( and it want by too much was it?)

August 26, 2006, 11:36 PM
it wasn't made for that kind of range. If I remember correctly he needed to hold the crosshairs about 11 feet over the target and admitted he probably couldn't make the same shot agian with a whole box of ammo or something to that effect.

Kelly J
August 27, 2006, 12:28 AM
Rumor, fact, fiction, or whatever, as far as I'm concerned this is not a Sundy School Picknic it is a war and wars are ugly and if people havn't got the Stomach for it then, there are alturnatives, but I don't think until after GODS WAR WILL PEOPLE BE CONTENT TO LIVE TOGETHER AS BROTHER AND SISTER< FATHER AND MOTHER< FRIEND OR NEIGHBOR.

Untill then we must and should use any Conventional Weapon at our disposal to prosicute this war.

No Nukes, Chemical, or Biological weapons should be deployed by any combatant, but if one side uses them against the other, there should be a situation of NO QUARTER GIVEN, REGARDLESS!

There is no differance between a .22 and a 16" naval gun, they both are potential KIllers.

Kimchi Raven
August 27, 2006, 04:49 PM
Official Narrative
For Medal of Honor Recipient

Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company B, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Holtzwihr France, 26 January 1945.

Entered service at: Dallas, Tex. Birth: Hunt County, near Kingston, Tex.

G.O. No.65, 9 August 1945.

CITATION: 2d Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by 6 tanks and waves of infantry. 2d Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, 1 of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. 2d Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, 2d Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from 3 sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad which was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued the single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. 2d Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective.

August 27, 2006, 05:44 PM
Rumors are typically worth what you paid for them.

August 27, 2006, 06:33 PM
Guess those of us who employ the 20mm or 30mm gun from airplanes on personnel are going against the Laws of Armed Combat....not.

This is a ridiculous rumor.

August 27, 2006, 06:53 PM
Nitpick - While we generally follow it, we never signed the Hague conventions. We just generally follow it's proscription of expanding bullets as being cruel under the Geneva conventions.

And the .50 is legal on humans. It's just the largest round that's under the requirements of being non-expanding/explosive.

August 27, 2006, 06:58 PM
Ahhh how I remember basic training and classes on MA Duce.

Myth or not, We were instructed by our Drill Sgt's not to use .50 cal on people. Seems strange when you are shooting up a light armored vehicle filled with troops that you can say that but its diplomatic speak. Its not the .50 cal killing the troops its the fragmentation of the metal that is. Anyway our Drill Sgt's impressed on us that you cannot engage troops with Ma Duce. In other words you cannot shoot people with a .50 cal. but you can engage their vehicles and equipment. Yes its a fine line and seems silly but that is the way it is. I also don't think our Drill's were BS'ing with us on the .50 cal issue.

I heard this today at the match.
Remember. A well armed society is a polite society.

August 27, 2006, 07:53 PM
Just don't tell the enemy how many rounds you have or he will be able to bypass your hail of machinegun fire and wipe out the entire US army :eek:

Creeping Incrementalism
August 28, 2006, 01:08 PM
Nitpick - While we generally follow it, we never signed the Hague conventions.

While I can't find a URL link, I know that while the USA did not sign the first Hague (1899), it did sign the second one (1907). The second was essentially an expansion of the first.

The Deer Hunter
August 28, 2006, 01:13 PM
Why would it be against geneva conventions?

Its not cruel and unusual, its going to kill the person.

August 28, 2006, 07:54 PM
Ethiopia VS Eritrea

I've been told of personal accounts of Zu-23 being used against personel... And all other crazy stuff...

Thats 23mm VS 12.7mm :what:

The person that told me this this was in the thick of it during the 80's (IIRC) when it happened.

August 30, 2006, 12:15 AM
Doesn't violate one Iota of anything! Total BS. That stuff circulated and passed around and probably passed around for as long as the .50 has been around. My Drill instructor said the same thing to me and his Drill instructor probably said the same thing to him. Malarky! What about 20mm rounds, 25mm rounds. 81mm mortars? Multiple rocket launchers with thousands of antipersonnel explosive balls the Iraqis dubbed "Metal Rain"

August 30, 2006, 12:26 AM
brerrabbit - I stand corrected, I was focusing on the wrong section of the convention.

August 30, 2006, 01:18 AM
Again, those who told you that .50 can't be used on personnel were wrong. End of story. No law, no treaty, nothing prevents it.

Your DI, your buddy, the guy at the gunstore... all wrong. :banghead:

August 30, 2006, 01:40 AM
I've heard the same line from EVERY member of the Ary or Marines I've ever met: "use of the .50BMG is against the Geneva Convention". And I always explain that the Geneva Convention has NOTHING to do with what weapons or calibers can be used, and NOTHING is said anywhere about use of the .50 against personel. I have yet to convince one serviceman...

August 30, 2006, 03:03 AM
Have not been able to find any information of this in English :( , but 12,7 mm by itself is not "illegeal" in anny international law. What *might* be illegal is the Norwegian "Raufoss Multipurpose" amunition if used against personel. This ammunition is exploding and possibly in violation of the "St. Petersburg declaration" (of 1868) where exploding projectiles of wieght under 400g is illegal against individual troops. But as many have pointed out so is 20mm, 40mm some mortars and many other weapons, and have been that way for 100+ years. The manufacturer of multipurpose ammunition (Nammo) have in cooperation with the Red Cross (and others) altered the design of this amunition to make it not explode inside humans, with a delayed fuse so it explodes after it is on the other side of you and other methods. Nammo claims their ammunition passes the criterias of international law, and therefor is legal. The Red Cross says that only the 1994 design meets the criterias and that whitout more testing earlier and newer designs are "illegal". Will try to find the documents in English ass well, but for what it is worth here they are in Norwegian:

Norwegian article from norwegian Red Cros (http://www.rødekors.no/ungirodekors/Article.asp?ArticleID=7286)

Norwegian link from "the norwegian millitary journal" (http://www.nor-miltids.com/NMT2001/nr3/Lund.htm)

Edit to add: http://www.prio.no/files/file47911_bwb.pdf?PHPSESSID=b8a30ac#search=%22multipurpose%20red%20cross%20petersburg%22

August 30, 2006, 03:26 AM
Complete and utter myth. I blame the respective JAG officers for failing to quash the boot camp mythology. There needs to be a day of instruction to clarify these matters. I hate to think US servicemen have died because some bonehead thought he had to hold his fire over this bravo sierra, but chances are some have.

August 30, 2006, 04:55 AM

August 30, 2006, 06:22 AM
I've been told the same thing about 7.62X51 by a corpral. Didn't belive a word of it.

August 30, 2006, 09:15 AM
So from what I'm reading is that my Drills just made this up. That the Army's classes on the Geneva Convention were just made up. Guess TRADOC was out to lunch that day. All made up. Wow. Yet somehow if I had to pick who to believe.. Well I guess you get my drift.

August 30, 2006, 10:02 AM
So from what I'm reading is that my Drills just made this up. That the Army's classes on the Geneva Convention were just made up. Guess TRADOC was out to lunch that day. All made up. Wow. Yet somehow if I had to pick who to believe.. Well I guess you get my drift.

We understand you perfectly.

Despite the ample evidence provided herein, including express reference to the treaties themselves, medal citations expressly referring to the use of .50 BMG against personnel and the obvious opportunity for you to Google the documents and read them first-hand, you choose to believe myths and misinformation. :rolleyes:

Which further explains why these nonsensical stories keep making the rounds. :barf:

August 30, 2006, 10:40 AM
Referring back to post #34, a couple of thoughts:

1. The fellow on the recieving end of the round did NOT suffer (he never knew what hit him).

2. That is an excellent example of gun control. One round, one kill.

3. Anybody near the recipient probably left a BIG pucker mark in their uniform (or what passes for a uniform).

August 30, 2006, 01:40 PM
>So from what I'm reading is that my Drills just made this up. That the Army's classes on the Geneva Convention were just made up. Guess TRADOC was out to lunch that day. All made up. Wow. Yet somehow if I had to pick who to believe.. Well I guess you get my drift.<

Ahh yes... "this was how I was trained, so it must be true". Which also explains the other wonderful bits of weapons knowledge that I gained from military friends:

- the AR series of rifles, in all variations, are absolutely worthless jamomatics (funny... I still haven't been able to MAKE mine jam, and I've tried)
- the 1911 is only good for as far as you can throw it, having absolutely no accuracy (odd that all the comp shooters use 1911s)
- the AK series of rifles has no accuracy, relying entirely on "spray and pray" (again odd: I've seen some damn fine shots made with AKs)

Should we also go into all the bs about "tumbling bullets" and such, that get "taught" in basic?

It's been my understanding that the whole "no .50s against personel" comes from a supply issue: commanders in Vietnam didn't want to "waste" .50 ammo on troops, fearing to run out while out of pocket...

August 30, 2006, 02:14 PM
So from what I'm reading is that my Drills just made this up. That the Army's classes on the Geneva Convention were just made up. Guess TRADOC was out to lunch that day. All made up. Wow. Yet somehow if I had to pick who to believe.. Well I guess you get my drift.

Can anyone say Armchair Warrior?

August 30, 2006, 02:17 PM
The use of the .50 BMG round, in either rifles or machineguns, against personnel targets is not against the Geneva or Hague conventions. You hear this all the time, even in the military, but it is not true. Even if it were true the conventions only have to be followed when fighting another signatory nation. Al Queda, AFAIK, isn't a signatory to either convention.

So from what I'm reading is that my Drills just made this up. That the Army's classes on the Geneva Convention were just made up. Guess TRADOC was out to lunch that day. All made up. Wow. Yet somehow if I had to pick who to believe.. Well I guess you get my drift.

You never had a TRADOC approved class in any component of the US Army stating that the .50 BMG is illegal for use against personnel. You have never had a block of instruction citing the conventions, US Army or DOD regulations or policies that indicate using the .50 against personnel was in any way illegal, because there are none such. I promise.

You MAY have been subjected to a poorly-prepared ad hoc hip-pocket class where the instructor stated that this was so, but he was talking out his @ss and without documentation. You MAY have heard an NCO such as a Drill Sergeant state that this is so in conversation or during a BS session. He was wrong.

Soldiers "hear" things as they progress thru their careers, then pass that "information" on when THEY become the senior man without really researching to see if what they "heard" was true. Drill Sergeants are not exempt. Trust me. Every single thing about the Army, from the Geneva conventions to how military pay and allowances work to how promotions work to how the military justice system works, SOMEBODY has the wrong idea about it and passes it on to his troops instead of finding the expert in that particular thing or doing the research and getting his troops the straight word. Sometimes it's laziness, sometimes it's just being mistaken, but it happens all the time.

Art Eatman
August 30, 2006, 02:23 PM
Go to Google for "50th AAA Bn". We had M-16 halftracks with a Quad-.50 mount in back. During my occupation duty in 1954/55 in S. Korea, guys who'd been in combat spoke of the utility against the Chinese Army's human-wave attacks. Somebody bossing the 2nd Inf. Div. must not have heard about Conventions...

Not all military folks really know what they're spouting. During my first eight weeks of Basic, in January of 1954, a Sgt. explained the Garand: "The chamber pressure is 50,000 pounds per square inch. That means there's 25,000 pounds pushing the bullet, and 25,000 pounds pushing back for reloading." (Well, awful danged close.)

"Everybody knows." No, he sure as (bleep) doesn't. I've never met Mr. Everybody; don't think I want to. Dumb (bleep).


August 30, 2006, 03:46 PM
I have to wonder if there is more than ignorance and myth going on here.

Is it possible that the actual concern has more to do with your HMGs wasting ammo and time engaging the softest targets when they should be hitting the harder ones? In other words, maybe one of the original purposes of the myth was actually to make the gunners concentrate their fire on trucks, APCs, buildings and so forth that a rifle would have more trouble killing.

When things are at their worst you are going to do what you need to do - one way or another. People who believe wholeheartedly that their .50 can only legally engage enemy materiel aren't going to go take a smoke break when 1,500 naked enemy troops come charging at their position. On the other hand, in another situation, the fear of breaking international law might cause the same gunner to pass on the easy shot on a lone guy crawling for cover in order to engage the BRDM-2 rolling by.

Just an idea.

August 30, 2006, 03:58 PM
I have to wonder if there is more than ignorance and myth going on here.

When dealing with bureaucracies, hearsay to the tenth power and internet drivel, I'll vote for ignorance as the driving source every time. :scrutiny:

Jorg Nysgerrig
August 30, 2006, 04:34 PM
Well, this started as a reply to dragongoddess, but kind of grew larger than that. However, hopefully this will put this thread to rest. At least until someone brings it up next week. :)

So from what I'm reading is that my Drills just made this up.
I doubt that your drills made it up. I'm sure they heard it from some who heard it from someone who heard it from someone. See the article below for the possible origin of this myth.

That the Army's classes on the Geneva Convention were just made up.
If they told you not to shoot .50 calibers at people in your class on the Geneva Conventions, they obviously went outside the scope of the Geneva Conventions. The full text of the Geneva Conventions and Hague Conventions are available online. You can see for yourself if the Army's training class made it up as there is nothing regarding the use of .50 caliber weapons in either one.

Guess TRADOC was out to lunch that day.

Please show us where TRADOC published this information. There is a ton of TRADOC information available online. Yet, no one can provide a link to the infamous TRADOC manual where this information is outlined.

While it's quite easy to find something as obscure what the Army suggests for a garrison menu during a periods of brownouts (FM 10-23-2, Chapter 7), this supposedly well known rule against violations of international law is impossible for anyone to cite.

However, it seems that TRADOC isn't always out to lunch. From page 6-79 of TRADOC PAMPHLET 600-4:
This weapon provides automatic weapon suppression fire for offensive and defensive purposes. This weapon can be used effectively against personnel, light armored vehicles, and low flying/slow flying aircraft. (emphasis mine)

All made up. Wow.

They are myths. But don't take our word for it.

Sniper rifles, .50 caliber machine guns, and shotguns. Much “mythology” exists about the lawfulness of these weapon systems. Bottom line: they are lawful weapons, although rules of engagement (policy and tactics) may limit their use. (US Army Operational Law Handbook, 1 Jan 2000.)

For example r[sic] many people erroneously believed that the use of a .50 caliber machine gun against individual enemy combatants was a violation of the Law of War. (INTERNATIONAL AND OPERATIONAL LAW DEPARTMENT THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL'S SCHOOL, U.S. ARMY CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA LAW OF WAR WORKSHOP

The use of the .50 caliber machine-gun is perfectly lawful under treaty law and the customary practice of states. (ibid)

Use of .50 caliber weapons against individual enemy combatants does not constitute a violation of this proscription against unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury. (Navy Warfare Publication (NWP) 1-14M, 9.1.1)

50 Caliber legal to use against personnel.(Col. Robert Maguire USMC , Laws of War presentation (http://www.tecom.usmc.mil/cce/references/pme/Law%20of%20War%20-%20McGuire,%2029%20Aug%2002.PPT))

For example, many of our soldiers have been taught that the law of war prohibits firing a .50-caliber machine gun at personnel. That is wrong. The law of war does not prohibit the use of .50-caliber or other large caliber weapons against personnel. It is true that many soldiers have been taught otherwise, and because a supposed rule like that does not make sense, it has left these soldiers with a bad feeling about the law of war in general, with a feeling that it ties our hands behind our backs and gets in the way of mission accomplishment. The Office of The Judge Advocate General of the Army recently attempted to discover how this misconception about large caliber weapons made its way into law of war instruction. It appears that the confusion arose from application of the principle of war, economy of force, to the employment of large caliber weapons. Application of the economy of force principle to the use of the .50-caliber machine gun results in the conclusion that it is usually wasteful to employ such weapons against people. This is a weapon intended for bigger targets. Additionally, such wasteful use of the weapon can give away its position in our deployment. Thus, we can see that rules of tactics, not rules of law, dictate the use of the .50-caliber machine gun. (LAW OF WAR (https://atiam.train.army.mil/soldierPortal/atia/adlsc/view/public/7777-1/accp/mp1023/lesson.htm#partb), Subcourse Number MP1023, EDITION B, United States Army Military Police School, Fort McClellan, Alabama, June 1994) (emphasis mine)


Here is the pièce de résistance (or the coup de grâce, depending on how you look at it). This is from "The Army Laywer, Department of the Army Pamphlet 27-50-172, April 1987, pp. 36-37, http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/pdf/04-1987.pdf. It is a scan and as such, doesn't cut and paste properly. I fixed it as best as I could for the time I was willing to invest. However, for the most accurate version, use the preceeding link. All emphasis is mine.

International Law Note
Use of the .50-Caliber Machinegun

One of the recurring myths surrounding the law of war involves a supposed prohibition against the use of the .50 caliber machinegun against enemy personnel. The following opinion, DAJA-IA 1986/8044,21 Nov. 1986, issued by the International Law Division, Office of The Judge Advocate General, dispels this myth, definitively demonstrating that use of the weapon against personnel in the field is consistent with both customary and codified international law:

There is a long history of employment of infantry weapons up to .70 caliber against enemy personnel. The first U.S.musket, made in 1795, was .70 caliber. The first U.S. percussion musket, the Model 1842, was calibber .69, as was an 1847 musketoon developed for use by cavalry, artillery, and sappers. In 1855 the U.S.Army standardized the Caliber 58; the Navy chose to retain the larger caliber .69. Larger wall pieces-up to caliber .75-were manufactured as long range sniper rifles for defense of frontier posts. Muskets and rifles used by other nations during this time also ranged up to .70 caliber.

With the introduction of better grade steel, the breech lock system, rifling, and more powerful propellants, calibers decreased. By 1900, projectiles ranging from calibers .236 to .3 15 had been adopted by the major nations of the world. In contrast with the issue at hand, some argued that this decrease in caliber (and a commensurate increase in muzzle velocity) caused greater suffering than previous larger-caliber weapons, an argument similar to that proffered by Sweden in the 1970s against the 5.56mm (.223 caliber) M-16 rifle. This argument was not supported by medical evidence on either occasion, and was rejected at the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 and the 1978-1980 United Nations Conference on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects [hereinafter UNCCWJ].

Larger-caliber weapons have remained in the inventories of virtually every nation. For example, the Soviet Union mounts the NSV .50 caliber machinegun on its tanks; it can be removed and employed on a tripod in a ground mode. Nations generally employ 50-caliber machineguns 8s antiaircraft, antimateriel, -and antipersonnel weapons. On occasion, they have been employed specifically as longrange sniper weapons. The Soviet PTRD was a 14.5mm (.58 caliber) bolt-action, single-shot antitank weapon employed during World War II; because of its long-range accuracy, it was frequently employed as a sniper weapon against German troops. Similarly, the Browning Machinegun Caliber .50 HB, M2 currently in use by U.S. forces, was employed as a single-shot sniper rifle during the Vietnam War.

Doctrine for the Browning Machinegun Caliber .50 HB, M2, is contained in U.S.Army Field Manual 23-65 (May 1972). Paragraph 80 provides in part:
Types of targets. Targets presented to the machinegunners during combat will in most cases consist of enemy soldiers in various formations which require distribution and concentration of fire .
a. Point targets are targets which require the use of a single aiming-point. Enemy bunkers, weapons emplacements, vehicles, small groups of soldiers, and aerial targets such as helicopters or descending paratroopers are examples of point targets. . . .

During the 1978 to 1980 UNCCW, as well as at separate conferences of government experts held at Lucerne and Lugano in 1974 and 1976, respectively, discussions of small-caliber weapons included all weapons up to .50 caliber. There were no proposals to restrict the use of the larger small-caliber weapons against personnel. In addition to their universal employment as antipersonnel weapons, there was the practical realization that in firing .50caliber projectiles at other legitimate targets (for example, enemy vehicles), some rounds inevitably would strike exposed enemy personnel. Hence it would have been impossible 'to attempt to limit the intentional attack of enemy personnel with .50 caliber weapons when those personnel could be struck by the same projectiles as the result of the lawful attack of materiel targets.

Employment of the .50 caliber machinegun or other .50 caliberweapons against enemy personnel does not violate the law of war. There remains the question of how the misperception arose as to its purported illegality. There appears one plausible explanation.

During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps had in their inventories the M40 106mm recoilless die. Designed primarily for antiarmor use,the M40 was equipped with the M8C .50 caliber spotting gun. The M8C was used to assist the gunner in determining range and leads to the target. It fired a spotter-tracer round containing a tracer element and an incendiary filler. On impact, the incendiary filler produced a puff of white smoke intended to aid in adjusting fire. The spotter-tracer round was designed so that its trajectory matched the trajectory of the 106mm recoilless rifle service ammunition. The spotter-tracer round was designed to be used in the spotting gun only.

Although the M40 could be utilized against enemy personnel (using the flechette-loaded M581 APERS-T round), the M40 essentially was a single shot antitank weapon that relied on concealment and surprise in order to attack enemy armor and survive on the battlefield. Utilization of the M8C .50 caliber spotting gun against an individual soldier would have compromised the position of the M40,making it and its crew vulnerable to attack. Hence tactical, not legal, limitations were placed on the employment of the M8C .50 caliber spotting gun against enemy personnel. It appears that this practical limitation on the use of the M8C somehow was transferred to all 50 caliber weapons, and that in time it was assumed that the restriction was based on some aspect of the law of war. Such transfer of this tactical limitation and the assumption of a law of war basis are incorrect.

Current Army doctrine providing for the use of the .50 caliber machinegun as an antipersonnel weapon is consistent with the law of war obligations of the United States. No treaty language exists (either generally or specifically) to support a limitation on its use against personnel, and its widespread, long-standing use in this role suggests that such antipersonnel employment is the customary practice of nations.


Yet somehow if I had to pick who to believe.. Well I guess you get n my drift.
Still choose to believe your Drill Sgts?

I was told the same thing as many here. The people who told me were wrong.

While rules of engagement or other tactical concerns may restrict the use of .50 caliber weapons, anyone who says engaging personnel is with .50 caliber weapons is against the Geneva Convention is 100% wrong for multiple reasons. Period. Anyone who says they are against the Hague Conventions is wrong. Period.

Edited: a couple of typos and formatting errors.

August 30, 2006, 04:40 PM
FABULOUS post Jorg . a little long read. but excellently presented arguement. and most of all. referanced

August 30, 2006, 05:44 PM
the "Geneva Convention prohibits .50 BMG against personnel" myth.

Notwithstanding that sterling piece of research and writing, I am sure many reading this thread will ignore that post and continue to regurgitate the lie. :rolleyes:

August 31, 2006, 11:09 AM
It appears that the confusion arose from application of the principle of war, economy of force, to the employment of large caliber weapons. Application of the economy of force principle to the use of the .50-caliber machine gun results in the conclusion that it is usually wasteful to employ such weapons against people. This is a weapon intended for bigger targets. Additionally, such wasteful use of the weapon can give away its position in our deployment. Thus, we can see that rules of tactics, not rules of law, dictate the use of the .50-caliber machine gun.
Ha! Looks like I might have been close after all.

August 31, 2006, 07:05 PM
Guess what else I heard while I was on Active duty. You couldn't shoot at a paratrooper while he was floating down strapped to a parachute. BS! He still is a combatant and as a combatant I certainly would have engaged with a .50 cal.

August 31, 2006, 07:07 PM
It's the ejected pilots you're supposed to let hit the ground before shooting. Gentlemanly and all... :D

August 31, 2006, 07:14 PM
It's the ejected pilots you're supposed to let hit the ground before shooting. Gentlemanly and all..

I believe that is dependent upon whether said airman is over HOME or HOSTILE territory. IF the former, he retains combatant status; if not, he is deemed a non-combatant/imminent prisoner.

Jorg Nysgerrig
August 31, 2006, 07:28 PM
Guess what else I heard while I was on Active duty. You couldn't shoot at a paratrooper while he was floating down strapped to a parachute. BS! He still is a combatant and as a combatant I certainly would have engaged with a .50 cal.

Your post seems awfuly confrontational, yet I'm not sure towards whom it is directed. My posts clearly said "descending paratroopers are examples of point targets."

As carebear said above, you can shoot paratroopers to your heart's content. parachutists (aircrew from a disabled aircraft) on the other hand are off limits until they hit the ground and have a chance to surrender.

From http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/law/low-workbook.pdf:
Parachutists. FM 27-10 para. 30. Paratroopers are presumed to be on a military mission and therefore may be targeted. Parachutists who are crewmen of a disabled aircraft are presumed to be out of combat and may not be targeted unless it's apparent they are engaged on a hostile mission. Parachutists, according to GP I, Article 42, "shall be given the opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack" and are clearly treated differently from paratroopers.

August 31, 2006, 07:33 PM

He wasn't arguing, just pointing out another Law of War mis-stated in training.

Don't be so jumpy, not every post is an argument waiting to happen.

August 31, 2006, 07:35 PM
I believe that is dependent upon whether said airman is over HOME or HOSTILE territory. IF the former, he retains combatant status; if not, he is deemed a non-combatant/imminent prisoner.

Can you allow for possible drift? If he seems to be drifting toward friendly lines, or they're to windward or something. Can I shoot him then, just in case? :evil:

August 31, 2006, 07:36 PM
So how do the folks who say "the .50 is against the convention" explain the videos circulating of helicopter chain guns being used (unbelievably effectively) against individual insurgents?

August 31, 2006, 07:50 PM
I know .50 is perfectly legal and I'm not arguing it is but just because something is done by the military does not mean it is legal. US personnel abused prisoners in Iraq, dosn't make it legal. Sadam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran, dosn't make it legal.

Art Eatman
August 31, 2006, 10:21 PM

It's settled that Ma Deuce is legal. Been settled since way too many posts ago. Anything to the contrary is BS, okay?

Enuf! Sheesh!


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