Sunday, March 04, 2018

A Rifle is a Rifle is a Rifle - Unless It's America's Favourite Assault Rifle

I remember when the United States introduced the M-16 for use by its troops in Viet Nam (back when that was two words).  It was a real departure from previous military rifles such as the M-14 or the FN-FAL, big, heavy rifles that fired large and powerful rounds.

The M-16 was chambered in .223 calibre. Its bullet was scarcely bigger than a .22 long rifle, the rifle most often used by young people learning how to shoot. The cartridge was bigger, there was more powder, but still this wee little bullet.

Then it emerged that the M-16 brought an entirely new ballistic dimension to military firepower. Yes it fired that diminutive bullet at a great muzzle velocity but the magic was in what happened when that bullet met flesh and bone.

Instead of just punching a neat little hole like earlier full metal jacket rounds, the .223 was designed to tumble on impact. They not only dumped all their energy in the tumbling effect but tore up everything in their path.  From The New York Times.

Many factors determine the severity of a wound, including a bullet’s mass, velocity and composition, and where it strikes. The AR-15, like the M4 and M16 rifles issued to American soldiers, shoots lightweight, high-speed bullets that can cause grievous bone and soft tissue wounds, in part by turning sideways, or “yawing,” when they hit a person. Surgeons say the weapons produce the same sort of horrific injuries seen on battlefields.

Civilian owners of miliary-style weapons can also buy soft-nosed or hollow-point ammunition, often used for hunting, that lacks a full metal jacket and can expand and fragment on impact. Such bullets, which can cause wider wound channels, are proscribed in most military use.

A radiologist at the hospital that treated victims of the Parkland attack wrote in The Atlantic about a surgeon there who “opened a young victim in the operating room and found only shreds of the organ that had been hit.”

The article quotes Dr. Jeremy Cannon, a trauma surgeon who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The tissue destruction is almost unimaginable. Bones are exploded, soft tissue is absolutely destroyed. The injuries to the chest or abdomen — it’s like a bomb went off.” If a bullet hits an arm or a leg, he said, the limb often hangs at an unnatural angle. Such victims can need a dozen surgeries over months. “Some eventually decide to undergo an amputation if there is severe pain in the limb and it is dysfunctional,” he said.

Dr. Martin Schreiber, also a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

What makes injuries from these rifles so deadly, he said, is that the bullets travel so fast. Those from an M16 or AR-15 can depart the muzzle at a velocity of more than 3,000 feet per second, while bullets from many common handguns move at less than half or a third that speed. The result: “The energy imparted to a human body by a high velocity weapon is exponentially greater” than that from a handgun.

“You will see multiple organs shattered. The exit wounds can be a foot wide.”

“I’ve seen people with entire quadrants of their abdomens destroyed.”

The AR-15 uses the same lethal technology as its predecessors, the M-16 and the more modern M-4. It is designed for maximum lethality, to put down its target with one massively destructive hit.

I was surprised to discover how popular the .223 calibre is even here in Canada. How can the AR-15 even be sold in Canada?  Yet you can snag one for $699.99 from Cabelas. At that price you should have plenty of cash left over for a shitload of ammo. And, compared to the cost of a box of 20 rounds of quality .308 hunting rounds, that .223 stuff is about half the price. You can even pick up a 1,000 round pack, "For practice, target shooting, training exercises or any other high-volume shooting situation UMC centerfire rifle ammunition offers value without any compromise in quality or performance."

"High volume shooting situation" - is that code for ripping up a school?


I'm unsure that using the .223 round is legal under the Hague Convention, 1899. The Convention consists of three treaties and three declarations, the final declaration prohibiting bullets that can change their form or expand within the human body.

I expect Canada was initially bound by the Hague Conventions when Britain signed on in 1900. However Canada signed on in its own right in 1960.

Whether the .223 used by military forces actually deforms as it enters the human body is unclear but it certainly fragments.  And its explosive tumbling quality does seem to violate the spirit of this the Third Convention.

If you can stomach it, here's an article by a US Special Forces physician on why, if he had to choose, he would sooner by shot by a Russian AK-47 than an M16/M4/AR-15 any day.


Trailblazer said...

even be sold in Canada and yet you can snag one for $699.99 from Cabelas.

Cabelas is starting to give me some concern.
Appart from driving out their competitors they are gun heavy in their marketing.
Most significantly they seem to be giving away Browning decals, the one that looks like a deer, to evey yobo that will stick one in the window of their truck.
It's another example of the USA exporting it's culture.


The Mound of Sound said...

That's called the "Buckmark" logo, Trailblazer, and I have to admit, I'm a Browning guy.

Anonymous said...

The AR-15 platform was built with one purpose in mind - maiming and killing people. I certainly wouldn't use it for hunting, where the bone fragments and tissue damage it causes ruin large parts of the animal for eating. Even stranger is using soft or hollow-point ammo, unless the hunter likes biting down on metal fragments.

I simply don't understand why assault rifles aren't in the prohibited weapons category. I know the ammo-sexuals don't consider semi-automatics to be assault rifles, but when the weapon maximizes maiming by design, I don't care what lame justification you have for possessing it.


The Mound of Sound said...

Until recently, Cap, I had assumed the AR-15 was prohibited just as the FN-FAL is prohibited. Somehow it wound up reclassified as a restricted weapon and now there's a Tory MP from up Prince George way who is leading the charge to have the AR reclassified as an unrestricted firearm.

Some time ago I stumbled on an American website that offered machined aluminium receivers for the AR-15 that came with a paper template and instructions how to use a drill press to modify it for fully automatic fire. They claimed that in certain states it is legal for the owner of an AR to modify it for automatic fire.

What I don't get is that we've seen what these weapons have done in the States. Why in hell did we allow them to be sold in Canada?

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Meanwhile, south of the border, the madness continues as Florida refuses to ban AR-15s and instead votes to arm teachers.

Once they've got guns, how many of those teachers will use them on themselves, their students, their families or other people? It's a safe bet this will result in more casualties than the current school shooting death toll, while doing nothing to prevent further mass shootings. They're insane down there.


the salamander said...

.. this stuff is driving me crazy.. I'm a former gun owner who finally sold them to finance my budding photojournalism career. Yes its true - I sold my guns and bought cameras & lenses. I was 12 when my western family bought a century farm near Hillsburgh Ontario from an old beef farmer.. but as a few years went by, a classmate was allowed to come over to shoot groundhogs who were running riot in our hayfields. He let me use a 22 cal for the easy close shots but he had a scoped 22/250, astonishing skills and was handloading (there were no groundhogs left on his family farm)

We had approx 200-400 groundhogs per acre easy & easily 80 acres in hay, trefoil or clover .. and the mounds (sorry) and escape holes were killing off haying equipment.. whether mowers, swathers, rakes, tractors, balers or wagons. We would walk the farm after dinner & 40 or so were killed. I shovelled in the mounds (sorry again) the next day. It took years to get back control of the fields. When alfalfa grew in you could not see them, after 1st cut the visible groundhog population was astonishing.. as were the scalped mounds (again my apologies) after we mowed the hay.. baled etc

When I was 16 or 17 I bought a similar rifle, black walnut stock, all custom. Next came an over under shotgun for trap and skeet as my friend was very into that. I never killed a living creature.. groundhogs yes, birds no, plenty o clay creatures

In Texas I lent a friend a fair bit o $ and he gave me his Browning 243 bolt action as security.. at the range that beauty shot so flat at 100 yards it was amazing.. not as flat as the 22/250 but so close it didn't matter..

Later a best best friend planned to bear hunt on west coat, Vancouver Island.. I had no intention to shoot a bear, by age 20 had experienced plenty o bear in our national parks.. the Kawarthas & Kooteneys. Our research & top maps suggested we would either be on logging or fire roads or extreme vertical clear cutting slash environments. Pursuit of a shot bear would be dangerous. I went with my Browning 308 lever action saddle gun, only to back him up. He went 270 cal Ruger, that was also his deer rifle. Another flat shooting cal.. flatter than my 308 carbine.

We shot never a bear in 7 days of insane monsoon slogging through crazy up down all over slash.. at times we were tightwalking 6-10 feet above solid ground.. Hell we never even saw one bear.. and they are everywhere there.. Vancouver Island is black bear central. Every early eve was spent in the Tofino laundromat drying clothing and camp gear and whuffing down the most supreme chowder on the planet.. A local finally took mercy upon us & took us home.. an elderly retired German merchant mariner who survived two torpedoings.. and after being a released POW became a BC fisherman. Never have I had such smoked Alaskan cod.. It was manna from heaven.. a sacred food he smoked himself with his wondrous & kind German wife Effie, in their backyard

I sold those guns.. and have the images to this day..
Sometimes you eat the bear & sometimes the bear eats you (The Big Lebowski)
The bears and I have a deal .. and nobody gets eaten

But those calibres.. were wicked ass
The greatest deer weapon in the world is probably 30-30 Winchester lever action
I should say, the most prolific.. as the 30-30 was and remains a weekass load
but how many millions of that carbine by Winchester or Savage are out there..
The 30 odd 6 mebbe a step up up.. and took many a deer
but the cals I describe above were major league for their job description
The military grade 7.62 ml was & is hardass lethal
but as the articles you reference suggest were far less destructive..

When I read about people 'hunting' deer with semi automatics
after scattering apples near a tree mounted blind
I question their sanity.. their twisted reality