Non-regulation weapons in war?

I watched The Bridge At Remagen today. It’s a mediocre WW II movie from the sixties. Anyway, one of the US soldiers carried a German MP 40 machine pistol instead of a US weapon. How often does this happen, soldiers carrying non-regulation weapons in war?

I’ve seen some stories about U.S. soldiers taking Iraqi soldiers AK-47’s and using them instead of the issued M16 because they’ve shown to be more reliable then M16’s in the dry sandy climate.

Maybe sometimes but getting ammunition for a non-issue weapon can be real pain in the ass.

What are the military regulations on using non-issue weapons? Are there regulations saying soldiers are only supposed to use what they’re issued? I assume in some cases, like soldiers using Iraqi AK-47’s or Patton carrying his pearl-handled revolvers, the military is willing to overlook these things. But what would happen if some amateur chemists whipped up a batch of chlorine gas in the field and used it against an enemy bunker?

Court-martial would ensue.

That might be a bad example, since chemical weapons are specifically prohibited by various international laws. How about if our kitchen chemists make some explosives, instead?

I would think the military would frown on that. Your basic foot soldier isn’t going to have more than a basic understanding of chemistry if he has any at all. Its more likely he would blow his squad and himself up making the explosive than using it against the enemy.

The mission always comes first. In a shooting war, if an improvisation works and doesn’t break any important regulations (i.e., Geneva conventions or the like), any army will encourage its soldiers to think outside the box. Of course, if your Rube Goldberg device doesn’t work and turns out to jeopardize the mission, it’s court-martial time.

Taking weapons from the enemy as spoil of war, then using them to return ordnance to the rightful owners has always been encouraged if practical. Obviously, it’s not always so, but that’s a self-correcting problem - most grunts are very much aware that the satisfaction of turning an enemy weapon against the former owners is secondary to having a weapon that works as expected and can be resupplied. And, of course, everything that looks like a fine souvenir (such as, for instance, a submachine gun) is just the thing to booby-trap…

The military uses prescribed equipment because everyone knows how to use it, and the fewer types of hardware you have, the more efficient the logistics become. When everybody uses different weapons with different ammo, then supply and repair become complicated.

My understanding is that it’s overlooked as long as you don’t compromise your or anyone else’s safety and combat effectiveness. That is, as long as you are in no greater danger of running out of ammo, getting injured from a weapons malfunction, or having the weapon stop working.

I know that special ops groups often use non-standard weapons. The question then becomes: do individuals choose their own weapons, or are they chosen by the squad leader/unit commander? I’ve heard that in the most elite units, everyone chooses his/her own weapons, subject to approval by the mission commander.

All that is hearsay but it makes logical sense from what I know.

This is interesting, someone said that the AK-47 is more reliable than an M-16. This debate has been going on since the M-16 was developed. Veterans from Vietnam said that the weapon was good as long as it was cleaned properly. Other Vietnam vets explained that the VC used AK’s only because they could not get M-16’s. Only a few years ago, a local gun-smith who lives near me swore that the M-16 is the best weapon in the world. He explained that the ergonomics of the weapon made it the easiest to operate, that factory-shipped weapons were more accurate that many other rifles tricked out for sniping, the weapon was lighter than many, and the ammo was lighter than AK ammo. As for the AK being a better weapon, I just don’t see it.

The main reason for using an AK is that the weapon in cheap. The AK costs less to purchase than an M-16. In the states, you can buy an AK for around $400.00 or so. An M-16 costs upwards of $1800.00. And that is why most other countries use AK’s as opposed to M-16’s.

There are other reasons to use AK’s in hostile territory. If you do not want the enemy to know that you are an american, then using an AK is the way to go, for example. There are probably other reasons for keeping a few AK’s around. I would buy this sort of explanation before I would that the M-16 is inferior to an AK-47.

BTW are the Iraqi’s using AK-47’s or AK-74’s? The AK-74 is an AK-47 that has been chambered to a 5.56mm round.

They neglected to mean that “cleaned properly” meant “disassembled and thoroughly cleaned after every magazine fired.” I never fired an AK, but I know from experience that the M16 is a habitual jammer in field conditions where it can’t get the TLC that it really needs.

We must remember that the M-16 used today is very different from the one used in Vietnam. The design of the weapon is in a state of contimual development. And, I know that many men in Vietnam and in Desert Storm and in Iraq today ran many more than one magazine through the weapon before cleaning it. Where did the term, “spray and pray,” come from anyway.

Forgive my spelling, I meant that the weapon is in a state of continual development…

Y’all know that already…

I was reading a book by a grunt in the Vietnam war the other day. Something I saw lying around while I was waiting so I didn’t read the whole thing or get the Author/Title.

Anyway, he said that the M16’s issued during the first year jammed as a matter of habit. He said that after the first 60 seconds of a firefight, only the M60’s and the M79’s were still firing, and everyone else was clearing a jam.

He said that after the first year, a New Improved version came out which still jammed occasionally but wasn’t too bad, but the M16’s reputation was forever tarnished.

My understanding is that the main problem with early M-16s was not so much the weapon itself but with the ammo, which fouled the weapon up and caused jammings.

Ya, early on the M-16 was plagued with filthy ammunition, lack of proper cleaning kits and procedures, and rusting magazine springs. These issues have long since been remedied, and current issue M4/M16 is certainly one of the more reliable rifles out there. Just look at the standard weapon of the elite around the world: The M4 carbine (and variants, M4CQB and whatnot.) Those guys do not settle for second best.

The AK, contrary to popular belief, does require care and maintenance. Less, maybe, but you still need to clean and lube the things.

As for troops picking up AKs over in Iraq, I know the practice is (was) widespread with tank crews, who didn’t have enough rifles to go around, but I can just imagine what would happen to some private that ditched his M16 and now does not have a NVG compatable rifle… Besides, with the advent of ‘dry lubes’ (TW-25B and others), the M-16 performs wonderfully in the desert…when properly maintained. And that isn’t very difficult to do; just ask the Marines.

They were ivory-handled revolvers. Only a pimp in a cheap New Orleans whorehouse would carry a pearl-handled pistol.

In WWII German Infantry had more access to machine guns while the Allies used more rifles didn’t they? Maybe it was someone taking advantage of a temporary boost in firepower.

Lugers were also valued as trophies too weren’t they?

Well, the bulk of the German Army was equiped with bolt action rifles, while American troops had the semi-auto M1 rifle as standard issue. There was a difference in tactical doctrine, that you may be thinking of - to put it simply, in the German army, the riflemen supported the machine gunners, while in the American army it was the other way around. An American GI who needed a submachine gun for close in fighting would be using a Tommygun, the standard American submachine gun.

Note that submachine guns are close range weapons, as they fire pistol rounds, and wouldn’t really help that much against German machine gunners. Towards the end of the war, the German Army was issuing the MP-44, the first true assault rifle, with a cartridge roughly right inbetween the size of a pistol & rifle rounds.

while such things do happen on a local basis it seldom lasts longer than the captured ammunition holds out…and that won’t be long. Armies are disciplined organisations and people doing their own thing is not tolerated for long. The Soviets did make extensive use of captured smallarms in WW2, but only because there wasn’t enough to around to start with.
Also, using the enemy’s weapons can be a poor idea because you get to know the difference between the different sounds they make and you can attract friendly fire.