Shooting during the HOTTEST day on Earth ever recorded: Worst Shooting Experience EVER

Shooting in Kuwait

Shooting in Kuwait

Editor says: This post was submitted to us by a TFB reader stationed in Kuwait. 

In the Middle East it is typical to reach around 120°F during the summer. Regardless of the frequency, it’s nothing you’re able to adjust to, and is always going to be bitched about. However on July 22, In Kuwait, the temperature had rose to a record 129.2°F (54°C), the hottest recorded temperature outside of the Death Valley*. Unfortunately, for my platoon and me, we had to go to the range that day. The range was essentially just a berm with sandbags placed 25 meters away. The only escape from the heat was getting back on the bus from where we came. We were in full kit (IOTV, ACH, Gloves, Ear/Eyepro) and we hated every minute out there. The only thing stopping us from becoming heat casualties was plenty of cold water in a cooler.

[ * Editor says: It is thought by a number of weather historians, yes that is a profession, that the temperature in Kuwait on that day matched the true highest temperature of the Death valley, making it tied as the hottest day on Earth in recorded history ]

kuwait

We all loaded up the magazines with standard green tip (18 rounds to zero) and then walked to the firing line. It crossed my mind many times that putting my rifle on burst and would end this ordeal as fast as possible.  We were supposed to do three round groups, walk to the target, correct and reshoot. By the time we had assumed a good prone supported position knew how much this was going to suck: the sand was hot, really f******* hot. To alleviate this, while waiting for the command to shoot, I assumed the “paint me like one of your french girls” pose, followed by giving my buddy who I was facing the finger, and mouthing the words “F*** this shit”.

I have to say it was the worst groupings I have done ever, both shooting recreational and in the Army. Although I did manage to zero my Aimpoint M68, which held up fine in the heat, and each weapon was properly maintained and lubricated, we still ran into many malfunctions. The soldier next to me had serious extraction problems with his rifle (rifle bottom in photo above), one round that was chambered expanded to the point that it took him and another soldier to yank it out ( one grabbing the handguard, one grabbing the charging handle). After ejecting the round we discovered a small chunk of the previous rounds casing was lodged into the star chamber, this was nothing I had seen before.  My issues were purely with the ammunition, two out of the 18 rounds hand expanded to the point that they would not seat into the chamber, nothing catastrophic. Others had double feeding and stovepiping, our weapons went from Colt M4 carbines to Calico 100’s.

I have 20/20 eyesight, but my vision was definitely hindered. The target was by no means a crisp black silhouette, but a blurred black blob. Everyones heart rate was through the roof, just going to take a piss made me feel physically exerted (and I am a grunt in good shape). The only basic shooting fundamental I was able to have a handle on was trigger control. Overall it was the worst shooting experience of my life, and I’ve shot in the rain laying in a puddle with full kit and pneumonia after a ruck march. Overall If it’s the earth’s hottest day, I wouldn’t recommend shooting.



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.


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  • PK

    “Overall If it’s the earth’s hottest day, I wouldn’t recommend shooting.”

    Hold on, I’m taking notes…

    • Paul White

      It hit 119 here a couple of years ago; I stayed indoors as much as I could. Screw going outdoors in that crap

  • TankGuy

    It may have been the hottest day “officially”recorded, but I’m sure there are other people on here who experienced the summer of ’03. I was in Samarra (Iraq) then, and my 1SG had a digital weather station his wife had sent him, mounted in the shade outside our CP. On 5 July 2003, when we got called in off of our presence patrol to have steak and baked potatoes that had been sent to us by Outback Steakhouse (God bless them, the first real meal we had eaten since crossing the berm in April!!), I went to the CP to buy my crew some cold drinks. The temp on the digital display? 136 degrees Fahrenheit. Funny thing is, that is so freaking hot that you don’t really notice a difference between that one, or 115. Or 120. That year marked the best physical condition I’ve ever been in. I wonder why? LoL

    • Dan

      Hey I remember when outback did that, I forgot all about it until you mentioned it! Great day to be in the 82d!

      • TankGuy

        Yeah, that day was a highlight of that deployment. I was with 1/66 Armor -4 ID at the time, and Samarra was like Falujah. Before Falujah was like Falujah,lol! We had a blast, even if it got scary pretty often. Remember the ICE (Iraqi currency exchange) fight? That was us, and that was really really fun. Those guys that ambushed our convoys really, really regretted popping that one. I mean instantly! I remember seeing that they blocked the streets with buses stacked on top of each other, and just about passed out from laughing so hard,-) But I was still launching a HEAT round center mass…. Good times, good times~

        • Sermon 7.62

          Must be good times. Must be that people of Iraq had good times, too. Liberated at last.

          • ReadyorNot

            Ah, the resident Russian keyboard troll, how’s the weather in St. Petersburg? Coffee machines running okay?

          • Sermon 7.62

            On May 12, 1996, Madeleine Albright (then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations) appeared on a 60 Minutes segment in which Lesley Stahl asked her “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” and Albright replied “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.” Albright wrote later that Saddam Hussein, not the sanctions, was to blame.

  • Giolli Joker

    I don’t know about Kuwait, but what’s really hard with the weather around here (UAE) is that not only summer is scorching hot, but it’s also humid; the “real feel” temperature is sometimes really unbearable.
    Too bad there were no EOTechs to be tested.

  • Mud

    It feels like sticking your head in a preheated oven.

  • Ron

    In summer 08 in Garmsir AFG we had to replace the PCCMs on the M777A2 howitzers because they were overheating. They were designed to work to temps up to 150 ambient air temperature, but it was too hot for them

  • Harry’s Holsters

    That’s the internal temp of a medium rare steak! Crazy to think you can do anything in that weather.

    • Gary Kirk

      That’s the internal temp of an over done steak.. What are you doing to your steaks!? LOL..

      • Harry’s Holsters

        For a filet or sirloin I’ll agree but for a ribeye just a tad longer! 750 degrees on the big green egg at two minutes and 20 seconds per side produces a perfect ribeye!

        • Gary Kirk

          Yes, I can agree to that to a point.. For most store bought over fat ribeye. But, when able to raise, control growth, and slaughter your own.. Ribeye becomes the best steak on a harvest.. Nothing beats a good quality cut bone in ribeye with proper marbling

  • Dave

    Chasing terminal authority tasking’s in Afghanistan’s eastern mountain ranges during 50-53C weather back in 01 and 02 was pretty fun when the thermals decided to just suddenly drastically change your exterior ballistics at will.

  • USMC03Vet

    Could have been worse. Could have been patrolling for hours in that heat wishing someone would shoot at you so you could shoot back to let off some steam.

    • Cal S.

      Is this literal steam or emotional?

      • Gary Kirk

        Both…

      • Anonymoose

        Maybe a mixture of both?

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      • jcbauerca

        Perfect, I always use this line when it gets hot in California.

    • A bearded being from beyond ti

      “Patrolling the middle east almost makes me wish for a nuclear winter”

  • ReadyorNot

    The hottest it got in the Air Force office was 78 degrees, tough life, I know.

    • PK

      78°F? That’s awful! Was the A/C broken?

      • ReadyorNot

        Nope, that’s the crazy part. Don’t even wish this upon my enemies!

  • Sunshine_Shooter

    What temp does an EOTech start to lose zero? Everyone says it gets hot enough in a car trunk in summer, but in this case it was the ambient temp!

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I vote we have the next war someplace nice like Oregon.

    • Cymond

      California has nice weather all year.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Thats true but I know this great winery up in Oregon where my girlfriends best friend got married.
        We could all wake up in the morning and fight for a while then get a massage and have brunch.

        • Paul White

          so….Valhalla?

          I am OK with this. Venison, bourbon, and nerf wars!

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I wanna see eye pro, people!

        • iksnilol

          Wine?

          Fine, I guess I can try that. Feels like going against my Eastern European heritage though.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Free your mind, dude.

          • iksnilol

            I know, it is just that wine seems… I dunno, bothersome to drink.

            I prefer 2-3 strong drinks that keep me reasonably buzzed for the evening without having to constantly drink… + beer is just horrible.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            “…beer is just horrible.”

            Can the mods please strike this offensive post?

          • iksnilol

            It is. It smells horrible, it tastes horrible. Rather have some vodka or whiskey.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            I shall now turn a deaf eye to you, sir.

          • iksnilol

            Fine, more rum for me then 😛

          • Sermon 7.62

            I’ve been to Yugoslavia in the 80’s. There is a drink that is made of plums. Nice.

          • iksnilol

            SLJIVOVICA!

            😀 WOO! Now I am not a hipster for liking it.

          • Sermon 7.62

            People there are the most kind-hearted people I have ever met. Didn’t let us sleep in a hotel. Because “Russians are our brothers”. Imagine, some people I just met on the street are calling me to their house. I expected to be robbed. But instead I was offered delicious food and drinks, and asked to spend the night in their house. Just like that.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, it’s rude to not offer accomodation.

          • kbroughton77

            Sounds like someone who has never had a good craft stout. Now that domestic p*ss water some people think of as beer does smell/taste god awful

          • iksnilol

            I dunno, I had a regular beer in Norway at a decent bar.

            I am not a pro so what do I know.

          • Bob

            I salute you good sir (or ma’am), you clearly have taste. Beer is nasty.

            I don’t like carbonated beverages and during college where beer was the most common drink got the rep of not being a drinker and therefore a light weight that couldn’t handle alcohol. Everyone went nuts when I proved otherwise at a party where they were mixing shots of vodka with other drinks. Someone asked me what I wanted mine mixed with. I reached around her to grab the shot glass, uttered the words “Stomach acid” and downed it. Everyone cheered… And went back to their sissy vodka diluting practices.

          • iksnilol

            Eh, I don’t mind “diluting” it to improve taste. I drink to enjoy myself, not to prove how good or though I am.

          • truthsayer

            Pulque or fermented yak milk will realign your assessment of beer. (laughing)

          • Riot

            For me it’s “cider cider cider cider”

            also vodka

          • iksnilol

            Protip, mix some lemonade and lime or kiwi with vodka.

          • Riot

            Never had that, I tend to drink it neat.

          • pieslapper

            Vodka with lemon ice Gatorade. Get a buzz and stay hydrated.

          • Paul White

            pint of cider, with 1-2 ounces of decent bourbon mixed in. It’s godly.

          • Shocked_and_Amazed✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            Then you’re not drinking the right kind

      • BryanS

        Last time I was in CA (2 weeks ago) it was 115, at 3pm.

        • Marcus D.

          I think it only got to 112 at my house. This after a week of temps between 105 and 110. Actually, 105 isn’t bad, particularly where the relative humidity is 10% or less. If I am just running errands, I don’t even turn on the AC. Highway trips though are mighty uncomfortable, so AC is a must. Above 105, I stay inside as much as possible. 115 is downright stifling. It hit 121 once since I moved up here (northern California, central valley) and that was unbelievably hot.

      • Art out West

        Somehow I was under the mistaken impression that Death Valley (with the highest recorded temperature on Earth) was to be found in California.
        Heck, even the San Joaquin gets pretty dang hot sometimes.
        Californian weather varies a lot.

      • Machinegunnertim

        That is a common myth. Only small areas do.

      • valorius

        Some parts of california…death valley is in california.

      • Phil Hsueh

        The coastal parts of CA can be pretty nice pretty much all year long but once you get more inland it can get pretty bad. Most of CA is desert, LA itself was previously a desert until people started settling there and pumping water in. Try spending some time out in 29 Palms and you’ll find out just how not nice CA can get weather wise.

        • Uniform223

          Ft. Irwin… need I saw more?

  • Tyler Frizzell

    Hey I was there too. Although I was on the airfield.

  • Cal S.

    Insert: “An AK would have performed flawlessly!”

    Because steel casings don’t expand in the heat at all. Nope.

    • Riot

      The cartridge taper might help a little I think

      • Cal S.

        Perhaps, but heat + expansion leads to galling. Not sure how much of an issue that is, but the material differences between brass and steel would at least preclude galling.

    • Sermon 7.62

      No. Because it’s AK.

    • Bob

      I can’t speak to such extremes, but my AK has shot fine from about -5 or so all the way to about 105 F*. Standard Midwest temp shift throughout the year…

      *Although it gets hot and stays hot for quite some time when it is that warm out. You know when the receiver you’ve got in a so called mag well grip is getting hot, it is hot out.

    • RealitiCzech

      Steel has a lower rate of thermal expansion than brass does, so it would indeed have less impact. Since the rifle’s chamber is also steel, it will expand at the same rate if raised the same number of degrees.

      • Cal S.

        Yes, in the opposite direction. The chamber would get tighter while the casing grows.

        • RealitiCzech

          No it doesn’t. As all atoms in the structure expand minutely due to the heat increase, the chamber gets larger.

          • Cal S.

            That’s exactly what I said. It will get tighter, as in less room. It’s circumference will shrink. I think we’re saying the same thing?

          • RealitiCzech

            No, the opposite. The volume of empty space within the chamber increases as the temperature of the chamber goes up. The surface area of the inside and outside of the chamber increases due to thermal expansion, and the hole grows larger.

          • Cal S.

            I need to bone up on my thermal expansion principles. What you say rings true, guess it’s just been too long since I’ve dealt with it. Thanks!

          • Jim Page

            Just like a hot brake drum

    • Joshua

      Dont forget 5.56 is loaded far hotter than 7.62×39 and temps do crazy things to gun powder.

      • Sermon 7.62

        Don’t forget 5.45 is loaded not hotter than 5.56

        • Joshua

          What?

          • Sermon 7.62

            AK74

  • Bob Gallucci

    Thank you for your service and all the men and women that serve and try to do the toughest job in the world in such punishing conditions.

  • Sermon 7.62

    “Although… each weapon was properly maintained and lubricated, we still ran into many malfunctions”

    • BryanS

      Some lube has a funny habit of drying or even getting too thin at high temps

      • Sermon 7.62

        You mean, the rifle is fine, but the lube is not good? I get it.

        🙂

    • RealitiCzech

      Thermal expansion of differing metals is a beyotch.

    • Zachary marrs

      “. My issues were purely with the ammunition, two out of the 18 rounds hand expanded to the point that they would not seat into the chamber”

      Maybe try reading?

      • Sermon 7.62

        Maybe try thinking?

        • Zachary marrs

          Perhaps that is something you should look into.

          I can think, and i can also read.

          Judging by your comments, you lack these skills

          • Sermon 7.62

            Judging by your comments, you lack intelligence.

          • Anon

            Coming from you, that must be some kind of a joke, right?

  • Riot

    “Sir my M4 doesn’t work!”
    “Why?”
    “Well my handguard is dripping through my fingers!”

  • Darhar M.

    SW Storm Trooper or Fett’s Mandalorian armor is perfect for hot/freezing climates.
    Temp. controlled with built in AC or heat.

  • Freedoooom

    Look at those non-issued M68 CCOs that are the reason why SOF chooses EOTechs because they are the only ones issued…

  • Anonymoose

    I do not understand why anyone would want to live in the desert when there are so many other nicer, more fertile places to live.

  • Gary Kirk

    As my boot company gunny said (in true corps fashion) “It’s only the hottest day, until there is one hotter. Move!!”

    Parris Island in August is beautiful.. 😉

  • Gary Kirk

    Coming back to this one.. What gen pmags were they using? I’m wondering if they could have been to blame for some of the malfunctions? Just a thought.. Pmag fans please don’t go ape$#!+..

  • Machinegunnertim

    I was in a similar circumstance in Kuwait in 2002. Only we had to run around and clear trenches. I was the lucky M240 gunner that day. One guy had a thermometer on his watch and it topped out! I always remembered that he said it was 145 degrees, I could be wrong though, it was a few years back.

    • Tim

      My nephew did tours in Iraq and Afganistan. He mentioned temps in that range. Since he and I are in Phoenix, 115-120F are no big deal. I’ve had aerosol cans blow in the garage and soda cans pop in the car in a parking lot of the grocery store.
      The big problem is this is not ground temp and it’s not the temp of an object sitting in direct sunlight.
      I’ve gotten instant blisters picking up a black wrench sitting on my driveway while working on a car. A firearm sitting in the sun when the ambient air temp is 129F will get much hotter than normal and after a few rounds will start to cook (especially direct impingement). The tolerances and material properties go out the window in that heat.
      The military may test in 120F ambient or more, but that is far different than an object in sunlight. That includes personnel. It ain’t the heat, it’s the sun.

      • Machinegunnertim

        Thanks, i knew I hadn’t lost my mind. So if I remember temps of 145+ and your nephew does too why does the article claim 129.2°F as “tied as the hottest day on Earth in recorded history” from a weather historian?

        Also, sounds like you live in quite the miserable place and it reminds me of one reason why I’m trying to turn all my black guns tan or grey.

        • Tim

          LOL. I’m in Napa right now trying to chill and drinking grape before I return.
          I see a lot of black or otherwise dark cars in Phx and shake my head.

          Weather folks use ambient temp for records measured as air temp in shade away from the ground and structures. If your thermometer isn’t mounted according to specs, which basically means where the direct sun can’t affect it, you will get higher readings. Your buddies watch was probably in sun and my nephews thermometer was probably mounted on a building heated up in direct sun.

          Btw in another life I lived in a place my farmer neighbors told me “nothing between here and the North Pole but a few barbed wire fences.”
          -27F before wind chill. I’ll take the heat. Don’t have to shovel it and take clothes off, not put them on to go outside. But I try to stay in shade as much as possible this time of year.

          • FarmerB

            Exactly, there a “standard” for measuring temp, and it’s in a shaded box. Out in the sun, a thermometer will get hotter, possibly MUCH hotter – depending on what it’s made of. Put it on the ground and it’ll blow up (been there, done that – even ones that read up to 212F), esp if the soil is dark. Or asphalt – it melts at these temps.

            I grew up in a semi-desert and we had these sort of temps, and we worked outside all the time, although we retreated during the middle of the day to shade (we had no A/C). First rule you learn is to NEVER place work tools on the ground. All tools (shovels, crowbars, hammers, axes) had to be placed upright, and off the ground if possible. You cannot use them for the rest of the day if they were metal and you left them on the ground.

            The worst (silliest) part of this soldiers experience was expecting people to go prone. That could get you seriously burnt.

          • steveday72

            Which is why people (idiots who don’t think mostly) are warned not to walk their dogs when it’s hot – their paws will burn and blister.

  • James Young

    If you can’t sustain fire without issues isn’t that a problem since it’s always hot out there?

    Is it the same in 115° weather like AZ summers? Also, how does 100° and ~100% humidity affect shooting?

    Just thinking out loud. Guessing you guys have done an article on weather impact already

  • Billdo

    I was passing through Arifjan that day and it was a kind of hot that I have never experienced. Even the birds refused to fly, instead choosing to hide under the shower trailers. Just one more reason to hate Kuwait…

    (that said, the internet service that day was outstanding)

  • Take a breath it will pass

  • Dan

    Please, by all means do tell us about your worst day shooting. Then have it posted here and let us all see if you are as great of a writer as you expect others to be.

    • Pro-gun guy

      Crickets……………………But, when I try to find my response it looks like it was moderated, or maybe this grunt is just too stupid to understand how this blogs comment board works.

  • valorius

    Good job by the chain of command not cancelling the range day.

    Thank god im a civilian.

  • John

    Automatic weapons do not work properly in temperatures approaching 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Really good to know.

    • steveday72

      Affix bayonets!

  • steve

    yea, but they say it’s a dry heat…

  • jonp

    They always sent us into the field during the hottest weather. Egypt in July and August, 29 Palms in July, Central America in the middle of summer, Israel in August…we started to see a not so good plan for us in the future. Everthing sucks over 110 and I dont care if its a dry heat or not. Seemed 30yrs ago someone saw what was coming and tried to get us prepared. Only good part was the 55gal barrel of .25 iced beer for us off duty. Course it was Hamms or Olympia but at least someone tried

  • CavScout

    When it’s 120 degrees out there, it’s acutally about 140 degrees in the sun. Also, the sun beating on the water tanks all day means that the water in the above-ground tanks are also about 120 degrees. Warmer than is legally allowed in a a shower max, stateside. Wasn’t fun.

    • CavScout

      And hot tubs usually max out at 104 degrees. If that’s any indication of showering in 120 degree water.