Latest posts by Bob Ward (see all)
- Ward’s Dual-Sport Adventure Research and Trip Journal - November 9, 2015
- 046 Plan to Backpack Yellow River Again and Doing So with Jack and Joe - August 19, 2015
- 045 Truck Toppers and Panel Vans - July 18, 2015
First, I’ll note that 223 and 5.56 mm are the same round. The only difference is that 223 uses the imperial system of units while 5.56 mm uses, obviously, the metric system of units. A whole separate issue, but the United States needs to join the rest of the industrialized world in adopting the metric system. In my novel Sea Turtles, I used the metric system for all distances and put the imperial equivalent in parenthesis, such as “Her eyes looked frightened behind her mask as we hovered eight meters (26 feet) underwater.” I was trying to get myself used to the metric system as it relates to diving.
Second, I had access to a fully automatic M-16, so I dropped everything and went to join the firing squad to kill a couple pumpkins and water jugs. Ask no more about my connection to the person who had the fully automatic weapon, because I cannot recall his name, his face, or anything else about him. Truth is, in forty-one years I’ve never had the opportunity to shoot a full-auto weapon, so I wasn’t going to ask too many questions regarding the same. I just did it. I know this…it is completely legal to shoot a fully-automatic weapon on private property. It is completely illegal to own a fully-automatic weapon. I do not own one myself. I don’t have one in my possession now.
Next, on to my assessment of the weapon…
As dusk was fast approaching, we loaded the magazine with about 20-30 rounds of Winchester 5.56 mm ammo. We (4 males) each wanted an opportunity to dump the clip with a single trigger pull, and we wanted to film ourselves in action. So we took turns. I have the video of myself, which I will upload later.
Personally, I wasn’t as interested in aiming as just feeling and observing the rounds spray from the barrel. Within 5 seconds, the entire magazine was empty. The feeling was similar to an air hammer whapping. The muzzle rose despite attempts to hold it steady. The eye could not remain locked on the target but in the general area of the muzzle, where what seemed like mist (smoke) was ratcheting out. In general, the target was a distant blur because I was more interested in the gun and how the gun was jumping and trying to come up out of my forward hand. Upon examining the destruction on the ground around the pumpkin, I did (to my complete surprise) see that I had managed to hit the pumpkin with a few rounds. Only then did I consider that hitting the target was supposed to be the objective, and that I had failed miserably considering I had well over 20 rounds buried somewhere in dirt around the pumpkin.
We loaded another magazine, filmed my buddy, same result. Almost total misses. Very little pumpkin carnage. But good video.
On my next try, I pulled the trigger in short bursts, trying to aim at the target, to hit it, and to control the rifle more. This worked much better, though was not nearly as exciting. Letting it all go at once was certainly more fun. Laughable fun, because we all agreed immediately that full auto was a complete waste of ammunition for anything but laughable fun (if you cared about hitting anything). And I’d say we were only about 18-20 meters (60-65 feet) from the target.
I must note this one very insightful fact. The oldest member of our group was 78 years old. Although his vision in the dim light was far worse than the rest of ours, he put us all to shame (although that wasn’t his goal) by turning one pumpkin into orange pulp. He shot the weapon last, with purpose, taking his time, aiming, shooting in 3 round bursts at most. He wasn’t trying to experience the weapon (or so I gathered observing him), only trying to hit the target. Nor did he laugh. Nor did he seem to find the experience exciting. Nor humorous. It seems to me he only considered the weapon a tool, useful for hitting a target, period. Plus, I didn’t feel he was super impressed with the necessity to kill pumpkins and water jugs. So what I learned is that an “Old-timer” might have a different view on the purpose of weapons. And having fun is not very relevant.