A Brief Look at New and Old Weapons of the Taliban

The recent and hasty withdrawal of the United States Armed Forces from the country of Afghanistan has been somewhat of a controversy. Many say that the withdrawal of US forces was irresponsible while others are lauding the decision as a step towards a more peaceful world. No matter what side you fall on, if you’re a serious gun aficionado then you are probably curious about all the shiny new hardware the Taliban has found themselves now owning. Today we’ll take a brief look at some of the new weapons of the Taliban and how they are already starting to integrate some US and European weaponry into their arsenal.

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LSAT Cased Telescoped Ammunition, and the Problem of Cookoff (Brief Thoughts 002 Follow Up)

In the comments section of my recent Brief Thoughts article regarding caseless ammunition, there was a discussion about whether the cookoff issues of caseless would also be problem for LSAT-style polymer cased telescoped ammunition. Based on conversations I have had with subject matter experts regarding polymer cased ammunition in general, I noted that a lower cookoff threshold is one of the challenges I would expect CT ammunition developers to face. However, after some back-and-forth in the comments, I decided to contact LSAT/CTSAS program officer Kori Phillips regarding this issue (as it was not something I covered in my three-part interview with her), and she kindly agreed to allow her comments on the matter to be published here on TFB. They are below:

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"It'll Never Happen" – Until It Does! Caseless Ammunition, and Looking Back – Brief Thoughts 002

Caseless: The ammunition designer’s holy grail, and the engineer’s worst nightmare. It would obsolete the cartridge case overnight, resulting in cheaper, lighter, and more compact ammunition. Weapons would be able to carry 50, 60, or more rounds in slim, inexpensive magazines, and expel them at a rate of fire much higher than current weapons are capable of – not only because the ammunition is lighter and therefore more could be carried to feed such thirsty guns, but because the extraction and ejection cycles of the weapons themselves could be eliminated.

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The Home Team Advantage: Ammunition, Compatibility, and Why Change Is Bad

If we can make a round that is significantly better than the existing 5.56mm or 7.62mm ammunition, shouldn’t the military just bite the bullet and switch, to the benefit of the servicemen and women in harm’s way? What’s stopping the powers that be from making the incremental improvements that everyone knows are possible?

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Trump Administration to Ease ITAR Export Restrictions, Industry Stocks Spike

The current US administration is looking to release many of the restrictions on weapons exports, according to a recent article at Reuters. Currently, International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) limit the ability for US arms companies to sell weapons overseas. However, the Trump administration is reportedly planning to change the jurisdiction for most arms exports from the State Department to the Commerce Department, which would likely make such exports substantially easier. The State Department’s focus is primarily on security and stability, which means they generally err on the side of less exports rather than more, but the Commerce Department is primarily focused on facilitating international trade. This strongly suggests that arms exports as handled by the Commerce Department would be facilitated by the agency, rather than obstructed, as the trend has been under the State Department.

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USSOCOM Issues Presolicitation for new Small Arms Optics

Naval Sea Warfare Center Crane (NSWC-Crane) has issued a pre-solicitation notice that it intends to purchase new optics for small arms. It is NSWC Crane’s intent to set requirements for three optical systems on small arms, the Miniature Aiming System – Day Optics (MAS-D) Squad – Close Quarters Sight (CQS) and Clip-On Magnifier (CM). It is anticipated the contract will purchase a minimum of 30 units and maximum is set at 39,300 units. Dollars will vary from $36,000 to $47,160,000, respectively.

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The Future Is Urban: Chief of Staff Milley Says Megacities Are the Future of Infantry Combat

Much of the recent discourse regarding the future of infantry combat has centered around the long engagement distances encountered during the Afghan campaign, and the rise of designated marksmen as key elements in the infantry squad. However, arguably more important than the long-range ambushes of the Taliban were the urban engagements in both that campaign and the operations in Iraq. It seems the highest echelons of the US Army agree, as Chief of Staff General Mark Milley commented recently about the future urbanization of the battlefield (via Military.com):

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Weapon Worship in India

There is an interesting cultural element of worshipping weapons in India. It is called Shastra Puja or Ayudha Puja, which literally means weapon worship. It takes place during an Indian religious annual festival in September. The celebration is dedicated to the Goddess Durga. During this event, people decorate their weapons with flowers and some religious ornaments and pray to them. This is also some sort of an act of gratitude and appreciation of the weapons and the protection they provide.

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A Short Discussion on AR-15 and AK Safety Levers

The AR-15-style combined safety/selector thumb lever has become a hallmark of modern assault rifle and carbine design, proving to be an ergonomic and simple design for fire control management. However, it wasn’t always that way. The AR-15’s selector lever goes all the way back to the Johnson Light Machine Gun‘s selector, which was mounted on the right side of the gun, with “AUTO” at the rear, “SAFE” at the vertical, and “SEMI” in the forward positions. In the Johnson, the current setting is indicated by the checkered end of the selector itself, and in the very earliest AR-10 prototypes this design was retained, even though by this point the lever had been moved to the left side of the gun. By the production AR-10s, though, the selector markings were flipped to the opposite side, and indicated by a pointer on the selector, opposite the lever, which remains today. However, as Ian of Forgotten Weapons explains below, the actual positions of the selector were retained from the Johnson LMG all the way through the initial development of the AR-15:

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Do Guns Work in Space? Scott Manley Covers Small Arms Use in Null G and Hard Vacuum

Due to both tradition and treaty, space today is a realm of peace between nations (although firearms have been taken up). However, it wasn’t always clear that it would be. At the dawn of the Space Race, both the Americans and Russians sought to weaponize space before the other, and plans were drawn up for everything from weaponized satellites to military Moon bases. Of course, it’s also true that even though space is peaceful now, in the future it may not be. Either angle begs the consideration: Could firearms be used in space, and if not, what sort of weapons would space infantry use in null gravity and hard vacuum?

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Modern Personal Defense Weapon Calibers 002: The 4.6x30mm HK

If the 5.7x28mm FN is the first successful modern PDW round, then the 4.6x30mm HK is the second, and its biggest rival. German firm Heckler and developed the microcaliber 4.6mm in the 1990s as a response to a NATO solicitation for a Personal Defense Weapon, to which they submitted their new HK PDW (later MP7) chambered for the new round.

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What Is a Caliber System, and How Does It Affect Ammunition Design?

In a previous post about the sometimes ambiguous meaning of the word “caliber”, we discussed how the word had mutated through the centuries, picking up different definitions and connotations along the way. In that article, I wrote:

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Future Firearms Ammunition Technology 008: Plastic-Cased, Telescoped Ammunition - Lightening the Load, Pt. 4

Previously, we discussed different concepts for lightening the soldier’s load, including aluminum-composite-cased and caseless ammunition. Today we’re going to look at the weight-reducing concept that many believe is the horse to bet on when it comes to next-generation small arms ammunition, and that is the plastic-cased telescoped ammunition concept, often referred to as cased, telescoped ammunition (CTA).

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Future Firearms Ammunition Technology 003: Sabots - Performance-Enhancing Shoes for Your Bullets

One of the problems of small arms ammunition is that of swept volume. That is, the most ballistically efficient projectiles are the longest and thinnest ones, which cut through the air more easily than squatter, fatter projectiles. Yet, the best projectiles from a propulsion perspective are the widest ones, as they have the most area at their base for the expanding gases to push on, making them more efficient, especially from shorter barrels.

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Business Insider's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad List of Weapons the Military "Should" Bring Back

Earlier this week, Business Insider released an article written by Christian Lowe entitled 6 weapons the US military should bring back from the dead with a very self-evident, but interesting premise. However, the weapons (all firearms, oddly) that the article outlines are very poor choices, so today I want to talk about why these choices are so poor, and maybe suggest some better alternatives of my own. Let’s take it point by point, quoting his text and following that with my responses:

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