The juggernaut of the FPS genre has returned. One thing this series has reminded us of, is humans like killing other humans. Doing it with a surgically precise, advanced piece of professional weaponry, or a vintage icon of the firearm pantheon, just makes it that much sweeter. As Infinity Ward has tweaked the graphics and game engines of the series over the franchise, they’ve made the weapons more fluid, fun and faithful. But have you ever put much thought into what makes those guns what they are? How does the Javelin do what it does? Are those bar graph ratings faithful to each weapon’s real-life counterpart?
Ahhh… Light Machine Guns. If you’re looking for “more power” (argh, argh, argh! …sorry, Tim the Tool Man humor:) ), look no further than these babies. In CoD, these rapid-fire death machines allow you to play a variety of styles with one class. You can hunker down from a high- vantage point, overwatching a heavy-traffic area, main objective or the enemy’s favored perimeter stronghold, and just wait for the lil’ duckies to line up like a shooting gallery at the county fair. If you favor a highly mobile approach you can run wild, confident in your weapons superior capability to quickly and effectively drop anyone unlucky enough to cross your path, without ever raising it from your hip. Also, very effective at holding down an important piece of real-estate for your squadmates or providing cover fire while they advance to said location, comfortable with it’s never ending box/bag of bullets. These advantages translate to real-life conflicts as well, though they’re mostly utilized in the cover-fire and position holding manuevers, allowing teams of riflemen to move up and assault the enemy from a flanking position. Being a specialized tool, it hasn’t changed much over the years. As long as it can deliver an accurate and massive amount of firepower for a sustained period of time, it’s an effective weapon. There are some subtle differences between different manufacturer’s offerings that don’t come through in the game. Read on to learn about them and the struggles for comfort and reliability that have led to the pick-up trucks of the firearn world.
Manufacturer: BAE Systems/Heckler&Koch
Ammo: 5.56x45mm NATO
Capacity: 30-round STANAG
Weight: 14.5 lbs
Length: 35.4 in
Rate of Fire: 775 rds/sec
Muzzle Velocity: 3,182 ft/sec
The L86 Light Support Weapon is a variant of the British SA80 family of rifles developed to take advantage of the NATO’s cartridge standardization after World War II. It has a longer barrel than the L85 assault rifle variant, also due to the bullpup configuration, which gives it it’s reliable accuracy at long ranges. It’s otherwise identical to the L85, sharing magazines and sighting systems. It’s a selective fire weapon for semi or fully-automatic fire and also features a gas regulator that can be adjusted for 3 conditions : normal, difficult environments and a closed system for launching rifle grenades. The weapon is mostly of steel construction though synthetics were used at contact points (handguard, pistol grip, etc.). It came standard with a SUSAT sight system, an 4x magnified optical sight with a tritium enhanced pointer. There has since been developed a Picatinny rail system to accept multiple sights (ACOG’s, red-dots and such) The weapon is exclusively for right-handed operators as the ejection port and reciprocating cocking handle are on the right side. There was also numerous complaints over the firearms function and reliability. Though a light support weapon, its not able to sustain automatic fire due to its lack of a quick-change barrel and no concessions made for a belt-feed system. Following the first Gulf War, a report was commissioned to determine the effectiveness of the rifle. It required good lubrication, as dry-firing made it prone to seizure. Though, in sandy conditions the dirt would stick to the oils, jamming the moving parts. There was also an issue of the magazine release catching on clothing, thus inadvertantly releasing the magazine from the catch, a firing pin that couldn’t stand up to automatic firing and a plastic safety plunger that became brittle in colder climates. All total, they found over 50 faults. Modifications were performed, but they only addressed 7 of the issues and complaints continued. H&K was contracted in 2000 to upgrade the SA80 family of firearms. Thus, the A2 variant was born, at a cost of 400 pounds for each rifle. The British Ministry of Defence has since called it the “most reliable weapons of their type in the world”.
Manufacturer: Heckler & Koch
Ammo: 5.56x45mm NATO
Capacity: 100-round C-mag drum
Length: 39.3in (29.8in retracted)
Rate of Fire: 750 rds/sec
Muzzle Velocity: 3,018 ft/sec
A variant of the G36 assault rifle developed in the 1990′s to add a NATO standardized service rifle to the German armed forces and to replace the aging G3 rifle. While the G11 was originally slated as the replacement (with its unique 4.73 caseless ammunition) it was dropped in the series of budget cuts that resulted with the reunification of East and West Germany. The MG36 variant is equipped with a heavier barrel for increased heat and cook-off resistance. Features shared with the other variants include it’s lightweight, corrosion-resistant, mostly synthetic construction (majority is a carbon-fiber reinforced polyamide), an ambidextrous fire selector and ejection port and a cross-pin system that allows the weapon to be broken down and reassembled without the use of tools. H&K no longer offers the light support variant MaschinenGewehr 36.
Capacity: 100, 200 or 250-round belted box
Length: 45.4 in
Rate of Fire: 650 rds/min
Muzzle Velocity: 2,707 ft/sec
A modernized version of the PK series of machine guns developed in Russia and in service since 1999. Named for the Pecheneg warrior tribe of Turkic origin, living in what is now the steppes of Russia and Ukraine. It’s design incorporates lessons learned from the Soviet’s war in Afghanistan. It can provide more sustained fire than the RPK-74 as well as well as longer effective range and better penetration of light and improvised cover due to its heavy, non-removable, forced air cooling
barrel. The barrel is unique in that it uses radial cooling ribs and is encased in a steel jacket all the way to the muzzle. Cooling air enters through oval windows at the rear of the jacket and exits at the muzzle. It also features a handle that eliminates the haze effect from hot gases to keep the barrel cooler. The manufacturer states that the barrel can withstand 600 rounds of sustained fire without any danger to the barrel. A noteworthy characteristic is the placement of the non-removable bipod near the end of the barrel. It is said to improve stabillity and long-range accuracy but it makes it considerably difficult to shoot from the shoulder or hip. It has no handguard and the bipod is too far away to be used as a foregrip.
Manufacturer: FN Herstal
Ammo: 5.56x45mm NATO
Capacity: 100-round disintegrating belt
Weight: 15.44 lbs (empty)
Length: 36.22 in
Rate of Fire: 750 rds/min
Muzzle Velocity: 3,000 ft/sec
A variant of the M249 SPW (Special Purpose Weapon) adopted by US SOCOM in 2001. The original M249 came about through the US Army’s desire after Vietnam, for a man-portable automatic weapon that could maintain a heavy, sustained fire. Studies were performed in the 1960′s to determine the viability of different light support weapon configurations. In the 1970′s, the Squad Automatic Weapon nomenclature was born. Contracts for several manufacturers were awarded and requirements were drawn up for their designs. The weapon had to weigh in at under 20lbs (including 200 rounds of ammunition) and a maximum range of 800m with no specified caliber. During testing, it was determined that the 5.56 NATO was the most logistically sound decision. In 1980, FN’s entry was selected as the best candidate performance and cost-wise. By 1984, the weapon was adopted for US Army service as the M249. Over the next year, complaints were issued concerning safety with it’s exposed hot barrel and sharp edges. So in 1985, production was halted while a program was implemented to improve on the weapon’s design features. The PIP (Product Improvement Program) provided a kit that changed the stock and carrying handle, lowered the high cyclic fire rate, beveled the sharp edges, added a handguard, changed the ammo container to a soft, fabric material as well as changes to the pistol grip, bipod and flash suppressor. The SPW variant was developed strictly for special forces use and the changes made to it were made to reflect US SOCOM’s requirements. The carrying handle, magazine insertion well and vehicle mounting lug is removed to reduce weight. This takes away the capability of sharing M16 magazines and mounting to vehicles. Picatinny rails were added for mounting of accessories from the SOPMOD kit. The Mk. 46 variant was headed by the US Naval Special Warfare Command and modified further elements of the SPW. It retains the standard plastic buttstock of the M249 (containing the hydraulic buffer system for reduced recoil) rather than the collapsible SPW buttstock. There is the option of using the SPW’s lighter barrel or a thicker, fluted barrel of the same length.
Manufacturer: Saco Defense, US Ordnance
Capacity: 100 or 200-round belted box
Weight: 23.15 lbs
Length: 43.5 in
Rate of Fire: 650 rds/min
Muzzle Velocity: 2,800 ft/sec
Developed in the late 1940′s as part of a program for a lighter 7.62mm calibered machine gun. Influenced by the German FG42, and to a lesser extent the MG42, while utilizing concepts in the M1918 BAR’s (Browning Automatic Rifle) design. Intentions was as a replacement for the BAR and the 1919A6 Browning machine gun. Officially adopt in 1957, it served in the Vietnam War as a support to any vehicle-mounted .50 cals (for example, a pair of M60′s would accompany the main gun on the M113 APC). It was there it earned the nickname “The Pig”, due to it’s large size. In the 1980′s it was replaced by the M249 but maintained a general-purpose role due to the more powerful and longer range 7.62 ammunition over the M249′s 5.56 caliber. It also saw prominent use as the door gun for helicopters and continues to do so to this day. The original variant has held a reputation for being unreliable and prone to jamming in even the lightest dirt and dust conditions. It was a high-maintenance weapon that was harder to clean and maintain than comparable weapons. The weapon had many design flaws that would render it inoperable or unable to fix in a combat situation. Parts of the fire control mechanism can be installed incorrectly leading to a “runaway gun” (weapon firing until empty whether or not the trigger is held). Like wise with the gas system, it could be assembled incorrectly and fail to function or it could unscrew and come apart if not safety wired in place. It was known to tear the rims off of cartridges during ejection causing a jam. The barrel latch could catch on something and unlatch the barrel, causing it to fall out of the gun. The grip/trigger housing assembly is held in place by a spring clip that is fragile and prone to breaking, leading soldiers to improvise with duct tape and cable ties (just one of many fragile, frequently failing components of the weapon). There were minor complaints of the safety being awkward to operate and its working the opposite way of the other weapons the soldiers were trained on, the M16 rifle and M1911 pistol. The bipod on the barrel was fixed and unremovable, there was no handle for barrel changes and the sighting system forced to weapon to be readjusted after every barrel change. Numerous variants were produced, intended on improving on the weapons many design flaws, eventually leading to the M60E4 variant that is highly superior and more reliable than the original model.