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Old January 31, 2014, 12:41 AM   #1
Skribs
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What is the benefit of Full Auto?

Beyond just "for fun", what is the benefit of having a fully-automatic weapon? I mean, I have a pulse, so obviously I suffer from "I can haz?" syndrome regarding these weapons, but I'm wondering what the real purpose is.

For home defense? I would think semi-automatic would be preferable. Gives you more control over your rounds to leave enough in your magazine for BG #2, and gives you better shot placement.
For police? Full auto seems to be a liability waiting to happen, especially for some departments (cough, NYC, cough).
For military? I know we transitioned to burst fire on the M-16 to conserve ammo, but went back to full auto with the M4. What is the benefit over a semi-automatic?
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Old January 31, 2014, 01:56 AM   #2
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If you're asking why people buy registered machine guns, the answer is almost always gonna be some variation of "it's fun"/"because I can" which is a perfectly valid reason. A Ferrari and a civic will do essentially the same thing, but if you enjoy driving you'll have a lot more fun in the Ferrari. A MG is the same thing to a gun owner.

Another way to look at it is with a machine gun you have the option to use FA, but you are not necessarily required to use it (i'm assuming you're talking about select fire weapons and not belt feds etc). If there was no NFA and it was only $50 more to have a select fire AR, I would have one but would keep it in semi 90% of the time anyway.

For home defense, having the gun set on FA doesn't mean you're gonna be wasting a whole magazine on one person. Even on semi-auto I expect to be putting at least 2-3 shots into an attacker, what do I care if it takes 3 trigger pulls or just 1?

For cops, well it doesn't make much sense for them to dress up in all that cool, expensive tactical gear and then just use the same gun that anyone could pick up at Walmart, they've gotta have ALL the cool toys
But seriously, same reason as an individual using one for home defense.

The military is an entirely different ball of wax. Of course the previous methodology applies, but most modern military tactics (at least small unit tactics) are based around setting up a base of fire and then maneuvering around the flank to kill the enemy. Machine guns are a great tool to set up that base of fire and keep heads down so your enemy doesn't outflank YOU. Another reason is that when an enemy is about to overrun your position, every person firing has the ability to shoot FA, which might give a squad just enough of an edge to not be destroyed. From what I understand, M16s and M4s are left on semi 99% of the time. But then again, they have the OPTION of using FA if it is needed.

Oh, I'm pretty sure that both M16s and M4s have different variations that are both FA and burst. IIRC the M16A1 is FA, A2 is burst, A3 is FA, and A4 is burst. I believe the M4 also has a similar alternating pattern with burst/FA trigger packs, but I'm not positive which variation is which.
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Old January 31, 2014, 03:05 AM   #3
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Not to mention class III weapons will only go up in value, so they are an excellent investment. I'm pretty sure people with FA weapons keep them locked up pretty tight and don't use them for home defense. I definitely wouldn't use a $15k+ m16 for home defense over an ar-15.
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Old January 31, 2014, 06:00 AM   #4
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From the military perspective, I've shot fully automatic 9mm all the way up to .50 M2. I don't think it provides much of a tactical advantage unless you are firing it in more of an overbuilt action like the M240. The ability to provide covering or suppressive fire is why we usually employ it...massing of fires and all that goodness.

For a regularly issued battle rifle like the M4 - we don't even use the burst selector.
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:10 AM   #5
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You can lay down a lot of fire very quickly with a full auto, but you can also go through your entire ammo supply very quickly. Military applications abound, but I don't see any rational civilian utility (meaning, beyond entertainment) for a full auto.

That said, there's no real utility (beyond entertainment) in a Corvette or a 70" TV, but I still think anyone who has the resources should be able to buy them.
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Old January 31, 2014, 09:58 AM   #6
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why is full auto good?

Let me give you the Joe Dirt answer:

Well, huh, might as well ask why is a tree good? Why is the sunset good? Why are boobs good?


They just are.
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Old January 31, 2014, 10:14 AM   #7
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The benefit is Full Auto is the fastest way possible to turn money into noise.

Besides repelling human wave type attacks and maybe covering fire, I can't see many military applications for full auto either.

Just my .02,
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Old January 31, 2014, 11:13 AM   #8
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For the same reasons I keep motorcycles, classic cars, horses, dogs, snakes...

Because they're fun and cheaper than therapy.
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Old January 31, 2014, 11:20 AM   #9
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I don't need or "much" want one. I suppose if I were a wealthy man then I'd probably have one or two... but then I'd probably have an armored tank too.
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Old January 31, 2014, 11:27 AM   #10
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They are extremely efficient to free up lots of space in the ammo cabinet. ;-)
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Old January 31, 2014, 11:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Beyond just "for fun", what is the benefit of having a fully-automatic weapon? I mean, I have a pulse, so obviously I suffer from "I can haz?" syndrome regarding these weapons, but I'm wondering what the real purpose is.
I assume you're asking as a citizen/civilian in the peacetime USA.

Quote:
For home defense? I would think semi-automatic would be preferable. Gives you more control over your rounds to leave enough in your magazine for BG #2, and gives you better shot placement.
Indeed. While it is not inconceivable that certain home defense applications might be served with a submachine gun or assault rifle, the risks of unintended damage rise dramatically. You're responsible for EVERY bullet that leaves your gun. Unless you really do live by yourself a very long way from anyone else, full-auto fire, even with pistol cartridges is a terrible idea.

Quote:
For police? Full auto seems to be a liability waiting to happen, especially for some departments (cough, NYC, cough).
Indeed. The situations where law enforcement could/should use full-auto fire are so limited as to be pretty much negligible.

Quote:
For military? I know we transitioned to burst fire on the M-16 to conserve ammo, but went back to full auto with the M4. What is the benefit over a semi-automatic?
From a military perspective, the phrases "suppressive fire" and "area denial" are really THE reason. Our infantry doctrine is to use maneuver warfare. Get group A to fire a lot of rounds at the enemy's position to keep their heads down, while group B sneaks around and flanks them and kills them at closer range. Use the cones of fire from your machine guns and "A" squad riflemen to deny the enemy the ability to move across openings or get up out of their fighting positions while your "B" and "C" squads get close enough to toss grenades or use precise rifle fire to take them out.

There is also the subject of "CQB" use of submachine guns and assault rifles in Urban Operations (especially) wherein, again, you're going for a shotgun approach -- putting a lot of lead down range at once to overwhelm multiple hostiles in a close space, with no concern for collateral damage. This is somewhat contested as the best procedure, as semi-automatic assault rifle fire does the job very very well.

Then you can get into specialized items like Phalanx systems and air-to-air or anti-aircraft systems where they're used very similarly to how a wingshooter uses a shotgun, taking down missiles and aircraft that are moving far too fast for single precise shots. But those have no civilian analogs.
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Old January 31, 2014, 11:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
I suppose if I were a wealthy man then I'd probably have one or two... but then I'd probably have an armored tank too.
I haven't looked recently, but I think a few years ago you could get a BMP for around $20,000. About the same as a registered receiver M16
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Old January 31, 2014, 11:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
What is the benefit of Full Auto?
Because I can (If I could afford to buy one and the ammo for it).

Showing off at the range.

Invite friends who live in anti-gun states to come down and shoot it.

Zombies

Another Rodney King Riot type of situation.

Protect against bands of looters after a hurricane, tornado or earthquake.

Civil Unrest.

Ukraine situation happening here.

Would be more fun to shoot $500 on ammo rather than losing $500 at the casino.
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Old January 31, 2014, 12:25 PM   #14
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The truth is that a modern semiautomatic rifle is more effective than a machine gun in most combat situations. (Machine guns tend to be ammo-wasters.) This fact is not lost on the antigunners, and explains their rabid push to ban so-called "assault weapons."

The machine gun mystique really started in the WWI era, when you had machine guns, on the one hand, and bolt-action rifles, on the other, with very few (if any) semiautomatics present on the battlefield. (Not counting pistols, of course.) The mass issuance of the M1 Garand rifle revolutionized the situation in WWII.

It's worth noting that the National Firearms Act was enacted in 1934, two years before the M1 rifle was standardized. I think that if the NFA had been enacted, say, in 1954 instead, after the experience of WWII, semiautomatic military rifles would have been included in it. (In the 1950's, M1 rifles in civilian hands were a relatively rare thing.)
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Old January 31, 2014, 01:33 PM   #15
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I agree. The assault rifle (as in select fire) tried to bridge the gap between the battle rifle and SMG and does a second-best job in either role.

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Old January 31, 2014, 04:29 PM   #16
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I should have mentioned that crew-served weapons and anti-aircraft were a bit outside the scope of tbis question.

Good answers. Scary answer re: NFA timing.

Is therapy really more expensive than a 20k rifle plus all that ammo?
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Old January 31, 2014, 05:33 PM   #17
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What's more deadly? Two machine gun crews bearing down on a company of men, in a crossfire, or a company of well trained riflemen with semiauto rifles? I truly do not know who would be the victors, but I'd BET on the riflemen.
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Old January 31, 2014, 06:07 PM   #18
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Is therapy really more expensive than a 20k rifle plus all that ammo?
Well...if you're an SOT 02, they don't cost $20K each. (Though I bet Bubbles & crew have more than made up the difference one way or another...)
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Old January 31, 2014, 07:23 PM   #19
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Last week during a concealed carry class, my instructor mentioned that during SWAT training, his guys all get one fully-loaded 30 round magazine at the end of their course of fire. They can then let loose those 30 rounds in full-auto but just for fun, that is the ONLY time their selector switches ever turn that far.

He explained how each and every bullet that is fired has a lawyer attached to it. They simply do not, and will not, use fully-automatic fire in their operations. It is absolutely not needed anyway.

The ONLY time full auto fire is a valuable thing is during times of war, and even then, it's only real use is suppressive fire when you need to throw a wall of lead downrange to keep the enemy from advancing. Even at close range, most of your MOUT room clearing guys have the selector on "SEMI" for precision. In a moments notice one might need to take a careful shot that will save someone's life, not spray lead in the general direction hoping a friendly isn't hit in the next room over etc. etc.

In my military training on the M16A2 and M4, the vast majority of shots fired were on semi-automatic. When put on burst, placing most of the rounds on target was difficult. We were not allowed to put in the rounds to learn to effectively control burst/full auto, but that was just fine. Well aimed, carefully placed shots will put more people in body bags FASTER than just spraying rounds everywhere.

If a civilian really thinks that "full-auto" capability is a "must have" for there tactical carbine, IT ISN'T. In most cases, it would be very counterproductive. If they still persist, there are several bump-fire stocks on the market that are 100% civilian legal that will accomplish the same thing.

JMHO. YYMV. TGIF.

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Old January 31, 2014, 07:58 PM   #20
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Full auto is maybe necessary to lay down suppressive fire in a military operation involving 'Holy Crap! They are coming through the Wire!! situations.
But only if you can gamble on the chance of wasting a whole lot of your remaining ammo supply in the hopes of slowing a few of them down.

Other then that, it serves no useful purpose in military, law enforcement, or civilian offensive or defensive operations.

But they are fun, IF you can afford to own & feed one.
The show-off factor is over the top for those with no military experience or training I betcha!

IMO: The M-14, and especially the M-16 is deadly at 100 yards plus on full auto.
But only on very short 2-3 round bursts.

And only with a very tight sling from a very supported firing position.

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Old January 31, 2014, 08:06 PM   #21
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Why would I buy one? Less trigger pulls, that's why :P
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:13 PM   #22
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Infantry doctrine dictates that MG's in full auto can be used as covering fire suppressive weapons for movement and to flank. Constant lead keeps the enemy pinned so you can maneuver to close with and destroy him.

For a single individual who is armed with full auto against a home invader or many, you would only want it on a pistol caliber submachine gun to put as many hollowpoints on target as possible in a controlled manner. I would not recommend it on a rifle or anything bigger. Also, the sound is phycological for the perp.

Also, the M4 is not fully automatic. It retains burst the same as the others. The only automatic was the M16A1 and CAR-15, which in addition to auto had burst. (4 selection settings)
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:17 PM   #23
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The new M4A1 has been reverted back to full-auto.
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Old January 31, 2014, 08:23 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Sam1911 View Post
The new M4A1 has been reverted back to full-auto.
Interesting, just read about that. Happened after I got out. I wonder how they will implement the auto feature in training, as standard riflemen were meant for accurate killing - but giving auto would give suppressive fire to everyone in the squad at the cost of exhausting ammunition fast.
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Old January 31, 2014, 09:11 PM   #25
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I suppose the idea is that, if absolutely necessary, anyone in the squad can play the part of the 249 gunner, for a second or two anyway.

I wonder how it fits in with the idea of the M27 IAR. Or maybe it doesn't. I don't know if the Marines issue the M4A1 and I don't know that the Army is interested in the IAR idea.
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