Veteran Navy SEAL Remembers the Stoner 63

    SEAL with Stoner 63A with belt drum, Vietnam, 1968 (National Archive)

    Arms of the 80’s, a blog that focuses on firearms advertising from the 1980s, has uploaded and shared a fascinating documentary made in the 1990s. The Stoner Machine Gun: A Navy Seal Remembers, features an interview with retired SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Michael J. Walsh.

    While the documentary doesn’t go into a great deal of detail about the origins or design of the Stoner 63, the interview with Lt. Cmdr. Walsh is well worth a watch. The documentary begins with an overview of the Stoner 63 weapon system including the 4 machine gun configurations – light (belt fed), light (top-fed box magazines), medium, and solenoid fired and the standard magazine fed rifle and carbine configurations. While the 63 was famously adaptable, able to switch configurations and fire from both an open or closed bolt, however, the conversion process for the various configurations was not quick,easy or field expedient.

    Later KAC-made Stoner 63A in LMG configuration (Rock Island Auctions)

    The video then transitions into an interview with Walsh interspersed with contemporary footage of SEALs in Vietnam (and probably training exercises in California) and of the 63 in action. Walsh discusses the tactical use of the weapon at the platoon and squad level and recounts how canteen pouches were used to carry ammo belts with each man carrying up to 500 rounds.

    The video also covers some of the user-driven developments Cadillac Gauge made to the weapon during the war, the development of the ‘dead man’s pin’ after a fatal accident and discusses the reality of SEAL operations in Vietnam. The documentary concludes with Walsh explaining the importance of the fire superiority the Stoner 63 gave the SEALs: “if you had 6 Stoners and 4 M60s in a 14-man SEAL platoon you’ve got company-sized firepower just with machine guns alone… that got you home.”

    Check out the video below:

    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]