Pilot dumps M4 for M249 and M203

Kit Up has an amusing story about Army Black Hawk pilot, and former infantryman, who decided that his M4 and M9 did not offer his enough firepower, so he swapped them for a M249 Para (with custom mods) and a M203 (with FD-203 standalone conversion).

I like this pilots style, although I can’t help feeling his personality is better suited for a AH-64 Apache with its M230 Chain Gun and Hellfire missiles.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • SpudGun

    Hey, we all saw ‘Blackhawk Down’ where the dude out of Entourage had to fight off 80 Kabillion Somalis with his MP5. I don’t blame the guy for wanting to ‘upgrade’ his firepower. Besides, it’s not like he has to lug the stuff around on foot.

  • Arifonzie

    That’s my kind of guy!

  • Sev

    maybe it’s provide covering fire on the side gun’s blind spots while troops are fastrapoing, it’d probably be pretty effective too

  • TCBA_Joe

    This infantryman approves. Would seem more appropriate for a Kiowa pilot though.

  • JM

    I don’t get it. The M249 fires the same round, with a slightly faster cyclic rate. What’s the benefit? More rounds, I guess?

  • Mr Maigo

    Well SURE, but because he only has to drag it to and from the chopper once a mission.

  • Wayne H Morgan (CW4 Ret)

    There wouldn’t be room in an AH-64 for that setup. I have to wonder how that particular “swap” was arranged.

  • charles222

    Yeah, they’ll be useful for the 11-Bs in back to grab when the helicopter is crashed and they’re the only ones still alive. :p

  • Ladyfox

    Can’t say I really blame the guy especially after that one scene in Black Hawk Down which still sends shivers down my spine and brings tears to my eyes. I’d never wish for anyone to be in that situation but if they were I surely would wish for them to have as much firepower as they could handle to avoid a similar fate and come back home safe.

  • Martin (M)

    Neat story. Too bad other BH troops frown on his choice of sidearm. I personally dig it. Apache’s don’t get shot down like Blackhawks do, so he’s got the right idea. A couple of full-auto bursts are a much better deterrent than some single pops.

  • Jeremiah

    Git’r done!

  • JMosesB

    When your bird goes down I bet a Beretta and an M4 feel pretty skimpy.

  • PRO

    It makes sence. The guy is not preparing for a 30mile escape and evade sprint. He is just ready to make a stand for as long as it takes for the CSAR helo to come to the rescue. And that makes alot of sence. It should be standard with every hellicopter. 1SAW+1M203 or even better 1 revolver GL,(M32?).

  • Cam

    All I can ask is why? If your helicopter goes down and you find yourself needing to defend yourself, wouldn’t a light weapon that you can easily carry around be a little more useful? Seems like it’d be easier, and more practical, to haul an M4 around trying to get from your downed chopper to an extraction zone than it would be a SAW and a grenade launcher.

  • Junkball

    Michael Durant talked about his personal MP5 he had while flying in Somalia, and how they tended to jam with the dust and sand. I’m pretty sure he would have like to have emulated this guy.

  • max

    his personality is “better suited for a AH-64 Apache with its M230 Chain Gun and Hellfire missiles”? you won’t even get room to store those stuff on an Apache.

  • Nadnerbus

    Seems like it would be most effective on one type of scenario: getting overrun by swarms of enemy. In just about every other scenario, it would be less than ideal, the way I see it. Less accurate, heavier, more likely to jam. I can see the desire to have as much fire power as possible if the worst happens, but I’d think a select fire M4 with lots of mags and an under barrel M203 would be the better all-around package.

  • “I like this pilots style, although I can’t help feeling his personality is better suited for a AH-64 Apache with its M230 Chain Gun and Hellfire missiles.”

    To the contrary, that’s probably why he’s not suited. He’d have more fun in it, but the military isn’t about fun; it’s about missions. And nowadays missions require even more restraint and patience than earlier ones.

  • drewogatory

    Dude is a pilot, not Delta so this makes total sense. He’s not going to be standing there all calm and collected, squeezing off rounds with his M4 while being overrun. He’s going to use that 249 like a garden hose. Trust me, you would rather charge a guy with a carbine all day than one with a SAW.

  • Lance

    Sure his name is not Rambo? 🙂

  • ragnarok220

    Don’t think M249 would make much difference in “Blackhawk Down” situation. Sooner or later he would run out of ammo.

  • As a former door gunner / crew-chief on Chinooks in Afghanistan I can say that the crew of the birds he pilots aren’t happy trying to find somewhere to stow that crap.
    On our Chinooks we carried two extra M4’s and an M249 in addition to the 3 M60’s and our personnel rifles / pistols. But a CH-47 has the room. A UH-60 does not have room to spare for toys. But it’s the crew members and not the idiot officer that have to climb around those guns and stow them.

  • Matt

    That m249 is straight sexy. It looks shorter than my m4!

  • heavydrop

    fly-boy needs to man-up and get himself a 240G…

  • charles222

    It is, although not by much; the barrel is a full inch shorter.

    But yeah, I’m not even sure where you’d stick these in a Blackhawk; the crew chiefs dismount through the gun ports, for the love of crumbcake.

  • Matthew Carberry

    If he -did- fly Apaches just think what he’d change out the 30mm with…


  • charles222

    btw-his M249 is not “custom” in any way; the short barrel and collapsing buttstock are standard issue. The real kicked is the EOtech; we use specific optics-generally the M145 MGO and the new machine gun specific ACOG-because the vibration from firing can destroy your zero very quickly on normal (M68, EOtech, non-machine-gun specific ACOG) optics.

  • Ponzo

    The link is broken and I can’t find it on the website.


  • Rambo

    1) Saw is stored between R seat and armor panel accessable to shoot from cockpit if needed or Stored between L seat and lower console also very accessable to pick up and shoot, crew chie-fs are not allowed to touch.
    2) 203 is bungeed to front door frame L or R (doors off) strapped to go- bag with doors on. Again very accessable.
    3) when asking a crew chief how long it will take to un-ass the 240, get it into ground configuration, ammo ready, lay down suppressive fire- and you get the reply “30 seconds to a minute” you realize that there is a problem and hope just became a course of action.
    4) the Eotech does not turn off from SAW vibrations, it also fairs just fine on a GTV mounted M-134 minigun.
    5) the mad minute applies heavily to a downed aircrew. relying on M-4s that eat tons of dust from landing 10-20 times a day, in addition to mags that maybe got loaded at the start of the deployment-if not just swapped with the outgoing guys, along with the fact that direct gas impingement translates to melting gun -if you can get the thing to dump 3 mags in a sustained suppressive profile.
    6) one of my good friends was downed last month in a KW, he waited a while on the ground, alone, before the first PJ showed up, said that he would have greatly benifitted from that weapons package.
    7) A 100rd SAW pouch holds 150 rounds and functions just fine, 7 loaded SAW pouches in the go-bag is not an easy lift/sprint for everyone, good thing some people go to the gym and it is very practical.
    8) That article on kit up made me look like a tool, I only wanted to get the info out on the 203 stock to provide pilots something to think about/discuss at minimum, and maybe implement into training and/or planning. I did not want to be quoted, or have it spun about me being a rogue action figure with a SAW.
    9) I AM NOT AN EXPERT on anything but have some experience working on these guns (45b), employing these guns (11b) and teaching others how to employ these and their guns (18b) prior to my flickering career as a pilot
    10) I have screamed the importance of having a solid plan, practicality and realistic training will save your life, PACE plan applies to more than commo, etc. and have had my junk kicked in for it. I may not have the right audience, but maybe someone will get something out of it.

  • heavydrop

    Rambo: You are a professional who is carrying the gear you think is best for your mission, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We have lost several pilots at my FOB since I arrived; it is dangerous work and I thank you and your peers for doing it. Good luck, and stay safe!

  • Chris B

    A professional should be allowed their choice personal weapon. It just better be clean and working. Helicopter pilots and crew are a rare breed of men who fly in big fragile targets – they can carry anything they want if it makes them 1% happier!

  • Nick

    First, I just want to say that I have an incredible amount of respect for these pilots, they are some of the bravest people out there…

    I think the M249 is a great idea… It would make sense to me that the birds should have enough man-portable weaponry onboard that, in a downed-bird situation, the 2-3 people (crew) would be fully equipped to defend themselves for a 24hr period of time. IMO, that would equate to some or all of the following:
    – Sidearms (M9, Sig P226, Kimber 1911, HK USP, etc) and 6-9 magazines for each depending on capacity and caliber
    – 2 M4/HK416’s (10.4″ barrel, RIS) with VFG, 1 each EOTech/ACOG, Weaponlights, and a total of 20-25 30rd magazines (AN/PEQ15 for each to be used at night or in case air support arrives prior to rescue)
    – 1 HK MP5A5 (Surefire Foregrip) with 10-12 magazines OR 1 HK MP7 with 10-12 magazines
    – 1 M249 Para (14″ barrel, M4 stock, RIS Foregrip) 5-8 150rd Bags
    – 1 M320 40mm Grenade Launcher (collapsible stock and sights) with 20-40 Grenades
    – 7-10+ Claymores (setting defensive perimeter around crash)
    – a dozen or more Fragmentation Grenades
    Any door-mounted weapons should have quick-detach mounts as well as each having a bipod/tripod (locked “closed” during normal operation) so that they can be removed and used defensively, such as: M240 7.62mm Medium Machine Guns (a very-much man-portable weapon), M134a 7.62mm Miniguns (although I don’t know if that is possible or probable), Mk19 40mm AGL’s (which could supplant the need for the 40x46mm launchers, as well as providing immense firepower for the downed pilots), and so forth… Perhaps even the side doors, if attached and intact, could be removed quickly to provide a >4ft tall and >5ft wide plate of rolled homogenous armor (assuming the chopper was so equipped).

    While I realize that is a lot of equipment, and it wouldn’t fit in most choppers, I believe that these men and women deserve to have as much firepower as possible in the event of a crash, and it needs to be portable firepower so that they can move from the site (which will undoubtedly attract attention) to a more secure location and “dig in” while waiting for rescue. All the while, they will have enough in the way of firepower to keep anyone from getting close, and even to maintain fire superiority with the use of something like a Mk19 Automatic Grenade Launcher (until anything heavier than trucks show up).
    I know that if I was a pilot, my chances of surviving the time until rescue would drastically increase if I and my copilot were able to hustle and get the aforementioned weapons 300yds away, use sections of the chopper to act as (modular) armor, set up 2 rows of Claymores from the front approach while using them to secure any rear approaches as well, and then just sit quietly and hope that no one gets too suspicious….

  • Jim Raynor

    I noticed this photo that, why do they need to pixelized His face. Is there any classified reactions of that?

    Give “100 Words”.

  • thebronze

    Unbelievable, the amount of armchair warriors commenting on this story…