Carrying Weight: Ammo & Plates: Thoughts
Incidentally, I think I may have broken the internet with my post yesterday: ‘CUTT Maneuver: Patrol Formations & Actions on Contact’. I can see tumbleweed blowing past across my computer screen, so maybe that was a tactical bridge too far? Perhaps we should just stick to talking about gear? That is little tongue in cheek – but it does illustrate a frustration, which is that despite all this ‘talk’ and all this interest in learning tactics, most people out there won’t even do the basic thing, and get a grip of their tactical fitness. Beyond that, most can’t get beyond gear talk. Those of you who read this blog and are on the forum happily seem to be at a level beyond that.
But no. I’m not going to rant about lack of tactical fitness. The essential point remains the same, that you are wasting your time training for self-defense and tactics if you don’t do effective physical training. But I’m sick of the sound of my own voice on this one. So, moving on to the topic. But wait, it involves PT! Darn it…..
The has been some discussion on the forum revolving around my recent posts on the utility of .308, and the use of body armor. In summary:
1) I theorized that for a ‘graduate level’ Citizen Unconventional Tactical Team (CUTT) serious consideration should be given to the option of employing .308AR rifles as an optional upgrade on 5.56. Links:
Now, one of the first things that happens is that people start complaining about the weight of a 308AR and the ammunition. To me, that isn’t the point, and it’s not the right mindset. Disclaimer: I did discuss this for a ‘graduate level’ CUTT which takes for granted that you have the PT side squared away. I am not telling you to scrap your AR15. I am suggesting that a 308AR may be a really good option, for the reasons given in the links.
The way I view it, is that if you decide that the ‘right tool from the toolbox’ is to take out your 308AR today, then you better have your fitness and gear squared away. The bottom line is your PT level, without which you are being delusional if you think you can conduct SUT.
Note: UWGear are currently in the process of creating a new rig for me, which I believe will be excellent and I will do a review on as soon as I receive it. One of the features will be mag pouch inserts so it will take either 6 x 30 round standard 5.56 mags, or 5 x .308 20 or 25 rounders (open top mag pouches). Excited. I’m running my DPMS 308AR named ‘the bitch’ because she kicks like a mule compared to my AR15. I TAB with her. She sits in her stable next to my AR15, so I have options. When you feel the kiss of that .308 recoil on your shoulder, it’s a beautiful thing. It’s like perfect hate going downrange. Learn to love it kids, and stop whining.
So, if you take out your 308AR, you will have to carry heavier ammunition. You are making trades for the desired effect. If you feel an operational need, then make it work. Let’s look at the load in that rig I am talking about from UW Gear. I am either carrying 9 x 30 round 5.56 magazines (one on the rifle, two on the belt) at a total of 270 5.56 rounds. Or, I am carrying (with 25 rounders) 8 .308 magazines at a total of 200 .308 rounds (or 160 with 20 rounders). That is less ammunition, but the point is that you are carrying it for a reason, which is either long range shooting, or close range effects on cover (see cover shooting), or both. You are not going to pew-pew with your 308AR: you need to make your hits with aimed accurate fire, like a trained rifleman should do. Just because we may have lost the art of being a rifleman, doesn’t mean it’s right. So, no more tacticool square range pew-pew madness please.
In contact a trained rifleman will likely fire less rounds than in training, particularly if you are engaging PID targets, or suppressing steadily and accurately. Make your hits. Whatever caliber you are shooting.
Now, it doesn’t mean that you have to show up for class with a 308AR now. You should do most of your training with your AR15 anyway, and keep her ready to go. I prefer that we stick with the AR15 at class anyway – because the 308AR is for ‘graduate level.’ Notice how I keep reinforcing that? If you can’t carry it and get the job done, then don’t try. If you can’t carry your AR15 and get the job done, then stay home and fight from the porch, and good luck to you.
Sustained fire is a rate of 10 rounds per minute, or 1 round every 6 seconds. Rapid fire is 30 rounds per minute, or one round every 2 seconds. Who shoots that slow on the pew-pew range? That is way too uncool for school. In contact, ammunition is time. Make your hits and shoot like a professional. Shoot to kill. Give shooters a toy and they will shoot it like a toy. No, I didn’t suddenly become an AR15 hater, I think it is great weapon. I also think the 308AR is a great weapon. Get your head around that – a non-extreme rational position on the caliber debate, based on utility of employment! I do however think that one of the dangers with the 5.56 is that its ease of use can lead to bad habits and pew-pew madness.
2) Body armor. This is a complicated one. If you get shot in the plate coverage area, then clearly you needed to be wearing body armor. Again, if you can’t carry it and move because your PT is not up to it, then you shouldn’t wear it. Mobility is the overriding factor. Then again, if you are immobile due to lack of PT, maybe you need body armor! But given the actual poor body coverage of plates, the enemy will keep pumping little tiny 5.56 rounds into your corpulent body as you are rolling around on the ground. So you will die anyway, and die tired. So guess what, we get back to PT again.
If you can’t move with it, don’t wear it.
I think the steel patriot plate thing is madness and simply a con, particularly given most peoples poor level of fitness. It goes to a lack of understanding of basic skills and the need to take cover. You stand up on the square range right in front of the targets, so that how you will fight your ‘gunfight’ right?
I think also the reality is that in the kind of post-collapse environment that we are talking about, when this is day to day life, people won’t be wearing plates. They will get discarded. The reality is that the basic skills of a rifleman need to be worked on before we think about the need for ballistic plates. Do your PT and learn to take cover. I am increasingly going away from the use of plates, despite that fact that it is a good idea to be wearing them in a kinetic environment. Remember that the plate coverage area is very small, the last resort form of cover, and any kind of angle negates them. If you don’t take cover, you will take rounds to all the peripheral parts of your body anyway.
So by all means have plates. Have them as an option for specific missions. A sensible route with plates is to spend the money on lightweight effective plates (DKX plates are being talked about, and appear to be lightweight and excellent: JRH Enterprises is offering a discount on them if you mention you heard about them at MVT). I may well go this route. I think it is madness to consider wearing very heavy plates. You will become exhausted and your alertness and effectiveness will drop off.
So if you want to wear plates, do the PT and spend the money to get something lightweight. That is the sensible route.
So on the one hand I am telling you that more ammo weight is OK, but that plates may be too heavy. WTF? Because: do it if you reach the right tactical fitness level. PT is the key!
Let’s not just copy the military. One of the main things I try to do here at MVT is to learn the right lessons and turn military concepts, training and operational experience into something that works on the civilian side. Mobility is vital. You can’t perform SUT effectively if you are overly weighed down. Yes, you will have to carry a fighting load, which is no small amount of weight, but don’t end up like a turtle. You need to be fit enough to carry the required reasonable weight and move about the battlefield at a pace.