Firing some Taliban guns in Afghanistan

In 2004 my Task Force rounded up a former (current?) member of the Taliban who was up to no good.  I won’t mention his name here for OPSEC reasons, but I will say that we were forced to release the jackass a few weeks later due to lack of evidence.  In the meantime we shot the guns we confiscated from him out at the range.  It’s the least we could do, I did have to carry crates of his ammunition down the side of the mountain he lived on.

The PPSh-41 is a Soviet WWII era Sub-Machine Gun that was designed for close in fighting in urban and forested areas.  Like other drum-fed machine guns, I found this one was very prone to Failure to Feed malfunctions.  On the other hand it could be that this specific gun was as old as Uncle Joe Stalin and had been kept in a Taliban cache for god knows how long.

Firing a .303 Lee Enfield rifle.  Strong recoil but a nice rifle to shoot.  I’d love to know the back story of how some of these weapons found their way to Afghanistan.  Among other confiscated items we had laying around was what looked like a Rhodesian web gear harness…I can only imagine.  One thing I found notable about the .303 was that the sights can be adjusted out to 1000 meters.  A friend told me that in the old days the British were prone to sending volleys of fire.


Filed under Afghanistan, Gear, Pictures, Weapons and Tactics

15 responses to “Firing some Taliban guns in Afghanistan

  1. Very cool. The PPsh might jam a bit (and like you say, that one is probably ~65 years old…), but I’d rather have that while engaged in city fighting in Stalingrad than a bolt-action rifle. A powerful cartridge for a sub-gun with a very high-cap magazine and what appears to be a pretty solid design.

    As for the .303, I have a weird love for that cartridge. My dad has a Parker-Hale bolt action rifle in .303, it’s a good 30+ years old, essentially the old SMLE MK 4 action “sporterized” for the civilian market. It’s a solid-reliable rifle, and a pleasure to shoot – he’s taken deer, black bear, and even a bull moose with that rifle.

    Although the .303 ballistic profile is a little more “hyperbolic” than that of the 7.62mm or .30-06, I have no doubt it’s perfectly capable of dropping a man at a thousand yards. The British apparently even practiced plummeting fire with the Vickers MG well beyond 1,000 meters, and I suppose a rifle company firing volleys at advancing enemy formations could easily be deadly at that range.

    Taking a close look at that photo, you appear to be firing a SMLE No.4 Mk 1 – one of about four million produced. Easily distinguished by the exposed barrel and the sights above the bolt as opposed to forward of the bolt in earlier models. Some day I’d love to have one, myself. A fine piece of history.

    • Sorry, that’s “plunging fire”, and the P-H .303 isn’t a MK4, it’s a No.4. Anyhow, copied from Wikipedia’s entry on the Vickers:

      “The Vickers was used for indirect fire against enemy positions at ranges up to 4,500 yards. This plunging fire was used to great effect against road junctions, trench systems, forming up points, and other locations that might be observed by a forward observer, or zeroed in at one time for future attacks, or guessed at by men using maps and experience. Sometimes a location might be zeroed in during the day, and then attacked at night, much to the surprise and confusion of the enemy. New Zealand units were especially fond of this use. A white disc would be set up on a pole near the MMG, and the gunner would aim at a mark on it, knowing that this corresponded to aiming at the distant target. There was a special back-sight with a tall extension on it for this purpose.”

      Now, that’s pretty cool…

  2. Thanks for the information about the .303, I was wondering about it as well as I was going back and looking at these pictures. I was sort of wondering if it might be a jungle carbine. That clears that up.

    Interesting information about the Vickers as well. That gun saw service in Africa until relatively recently, hell, I’m sure some are still using it. When I was a Gun Team Leader in weapons squad we had our gunners carry the M240B and the Mk48 depending on the mission. I’d say current machine gunners owe a lot to the old school for coming up with range cards and developing some of the old SOP’s, we used do those all the time. In fact, I think I still have a few kicking around in my 18B book somewhere.

    Now you got me thinking, I have my home made 18B book I could upload some day…

  3. I put some rounds through a war-era Enfield .303. Jeez, it kicked like a mother. That brass buttplate didn’t help, I guess.

    Pretty cool you got to fire a PPSH. I’ve only seen pictures–never seen one in the flesh.

  4. The PPSh isn’t anything to drool over, believe me. Now a Sten gun or a Carl Gustav SMG…those are pleasure to shoot. I’m surprised the design isn’t more wide spread today. You can hold one of those on target while burning through the entire magazine on auto, it’s pretty impressive.

  5. How does the Sterling compare to the Sten? They look very similar but I’ve heard the design is quite different.

    Of course the Sten was simple enough it could be built out of junkyard scrap by Resistance fighters with hand tools; and I imagine the Sterling is a bit more precision crafted.

  6. Doing a little research I can now see that what we had in Iraq was the Sterling, not the Sten. I found that the Sterling and the Carl Gustav were almost identical aside from the Sterling being loaded horizontally. I would have to look up some information on the operating systems of the Sten and the Sterling to offer a good comparison, I think they are pretty similar.

  7. The biggest design difference between the two British SMGs is that the Sterling feeds from a double-column magazine right into the open bolt, while the Sten feeds from a double-column magazine, but at the bolt it becomes single-feed. Because of this, the Sten suffered from Failure to Feed malfunctions a lot any time the magazine suffered the slightest ding or got a bit of grime into it, as the rounds had to “re-shuffle” themselves in the mag to feed out one at a time.

    Funny enough, in Killer Instincts, the main character gets taught how to use an SMG with a black-market Sten gun that’s had that little feature fixed. Part of the underlying layers in the story is the weird black-market networking that goes on, and (at least in the setting of the novel) you’ve got little black market cottage industries building simple weapons like the Sten to avoid federal laws regarding the importation or trade of automatic weapons.

    Fun little fact, looking at the BATF website the other day after watching some Sons of Guns; if you have in your possession an unregistered Federally controlled firearm, there is apparently no legal way for you to register it. For example, every privately owned automatic weapon that’s out there right now is accounted for, and if, say, you dug around in grandpa’s attic and found an old Thompson SMG, you’re pretty much breaking Federal law just by looking at it and not immediately contacting the BATF.

    • Thanks for the insights. I know some old timers who still have gripes about those dangfangled double stack magazines. It is a shame about privately owned machine guns in the US. Once the grandfathered ones are worn out beyond being refurbished I guess that is it, or at least that has been my understanding from reading the legal notes in Small Arms Review.

      I’m stoked to read your book, it sounds like hit touch on exactly the subject matter I was hoping you would as far as bizarre black markets, underground crime rings, ect… As the PROMIS series continues I plan to go into some of this stuff later on.

  8. Well, fingers crossed. As I am not in face a black market mercenary vendor and (sadly) have no formal association with one, I’ll be making a lot of shit up as I go along. In my mind, KI and a lot of PMP fiction exists in a “shadow world” similar to, but different than, our own world, where mercs and serial vigilantes can do what they need to do and can seemingly avoid being caught by some CSI-esque FBI nerd who runs a bunch of data through a computer and convicts our poor hero due to some clothing fibers or whatever.

    So as the story progresses, things like how the character gets some alternate (but not “fake”) IDs, how he gets guns and intel, etc. are going to surface. I think it’ll be cool, and build the sort of environment that will be showcased better in later stories.

  9. The thing about vigilante justice is that it has never really been practiced the way you see it in movies and books so it’s hard to say how fast they would get caught. Look at bad guys like the DC snipers or especially the Unabomber. They concealed their identities but their crimes were intended as a public spectacle and look how long it took law enforcement to catch up with them. Somebody with brains and skill would still get caught eventually, the law of averages and all, but I think a real life Mack Bolan or Frank Castle would have a pretty good run.

    That “shadow world” you mention does in fact exist, I’ve seen bits and pieces of it once or twice. It’s really just a system or way of doing things that relies on concealment so the public doesn’t give it much thought.

  10. Yeah, real-life “vigilantes” (and by this we typically mean “domestic terrorists” like the DC Snipers or the Unabomber) suffer from sloppiness because A) they are probably mentally unhinged, and B) they’re at best, gifted amateurs.

    A real life Mack Bolan, even today, would be a tough nut to crack. Living off of captured collateral (found crime money, guns, etc.) and operating under strict professional OpSec standards, especially if he had any kind of support team providing passive intel / running a little interference.

    And yeah, I’m sure the Shadow World exists in one fashion or another – our motto was almost “Don’t Tread On Me” not for nothin’, so especially in a post-Patriot Act US, as you read about the militant groups forming and the back channels and back-back channels they must use, it becomes just a matter of postulating what probably already exists. This becomes even more interesting when you realize there must be law enforcement and goverment employees sympathetic to their causes, or just well paid to look the other way – it’s a whole Fifth Column humming along under the surface, whose agenda ranges from “I just don’t want my guns tracked by the Feds” to way way more dangerous plotting and planning.

    So much to think about, so little time…

    • Although, Ted Kaczynski DID have a 20-year run before being caught by the feds. Living off the grid in a very on-the-grid world, he was terribly difficult to track down. The only reason he was caught was his own sister turned him in once she saw his “manifesto”. If he had avoided his soap-boxing, he probably would have had an even longer run.

  11. Yeah, Ted was a whack job and he only got busted because his family dropped dime on him to the Feds. When you look at militias (the bad kind) and racist groups, they are heavily infiltrated by the FBI and other agencies. Those groups also have ridiculously bad OPSEC, tactics, and planning. The feds seem to be only slightly smarter, in fact they literally plan, plot, and indoctrinate many of these morons to commit acts to terror so they can come in, make arrests and act like heroes. Look at the Hutaree militia, I think that entire case fell through later on because of lack of evidence. They mobilized about a battalion’s worth of Law Enforcement to arrest six people. Hey, at least some cops made good overtime… Look at a lot of the young Muslim kids getting arrested on terror charges in the US. The FBI groomed some of this kids with undercover informants for YEARS to try to corrupt them.

Leave a Reply to reflexivefire Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s