By: Peter Sessum
When the going gets tough, the tough get cyclic. That is why you gotta love machine guns. A sniper rifle is like a surgeon’s scalpel, removing bad guys one at a time. A machine gun is like focused chaos. I know that the M240 might be easier to takedown and clean, but I love the M60.
I used to say it is like a good woman, it is best when oiled and a little dirty. (Give me a break; I was a grunt not a philosopher.) While it fired well clean, it fired even better after you put some round through it.
From a ground pounder’s perspective, a higher cyclic rate sucks. If a gun fires twice as fast means I have to carry twice the ammo. No matter if it is coming out the barrel at 500 or 950 rounds per minute, if a bad guy gets hit with a 7.62, he is taking a time out. That is why you still need good aim rather than just spray and pray.
Here are a couple of my favorite M60 memories.
So there I was, in Grafenwoehr, no shit. I had my M60 all dialed in and was at the qualification range. It is simple, one meter high targets out to I think 800 meters. This is how my run went.
I fired about three rounds and my squad leader reminded me. “Six to nine round bursts.”
The next target popped up and this time I fired two rounds. “Six to nine round bursts,” he reminded me.
The third target popped up. “Bang!”
SSG T. smacks the back of my helmet, “I SAID six to nine round bursts!”
“But the target is down,” I answered.
I would stop firing when I would see I hit the target. Of course you are not supposed to try and snipe with a machine gun and iron sights. But what could I do? My sights were really dialed in. At the end of the qualification time the range safety officer asked who still had left over rounds. I was the only one who raised his hand. I must have had almost half a belt. They put all the targets up and let me have fun.
An open range, a bunch of green targets and a fully loaded machine gun. My inner 13-year-old boy was so happy. I was actually given one of my favorite orders. “Fire all remaining rounds.”
So there I was, at Fort Lewis, no shit. This was before it was Joint Base, it was just Lewis. I was at the range with my PSYOP unit. They had 10 pigs to take to the range. It was a night fire, which in grunt terms is “fun as fuck.”
Every fifth round on the ammunition belt is a tracer so the range looks like a bunch of supersonic, radioactive pissed off bees heading toward the targets. You can also see the ricochets better at night. Going to the range is fun, but cleaning the pig is a pain in the ass. Fortunately, this was just a fam fire, so I Jedi mind tricked my platoon sergeant into letting me not put my gun on the line. I immediately wrapped it in plastic to keep it clean and helped out on the range.
Once a unit draws live rounds, it is a pain to turn them in. Turning in spent brass is easy. So we were told to fire off the rounds. Proof that they are POGs, most of the unit did not want to shoot. Like a grunt, I was more than happy to blow off a few hundred rounds. Especially when I don’t have to clean the weapon.
I grabbed a soldier and brought him over to the ammo point. Throwing belt after belt over his shoulder I gave him very simple instructions. Just feed me smooth. We went to the firing line and linked the belts together. I easily had over 1,000 rounds in one long continuous belt.
If firing 50-75 rounds on a range in Germany was fun, this was like a gungasm. Yes, it was so awesome it needed a new word. I think this was the most fun I had shooting. And not having to clean it was the icing on the cake.
Not that they didn’t try. I went to turn in my weapon and the armorer tried the regular bullshit. He tried to say I didn’t clean my ’60 well. I told him he had two choices, take the unfired weapon and I would help other people clean their weapons, or I would sit on this clean one for a couple hours and do nothing. Then the other arms room guy said, “This guy was active duty Infantry.” They took my weapon without another word.
I know that the M240 is a better machine gun. It is easier to dissemble and more reliable but I just like the pig better. It isn’t about function or look, just one of those things. I am an old school guy I guess. And the pig is old school.