Monday, March 1, 2010

Stoner

I have a vague recollection from my ROTC days. There were some guys that wanted to be SEALs. Only one, that I know of, actually got to BUDS training. And he was a bit of an ass. Don't know what happened to him after. He could of washed out or he could be, right now, under Osama bin Laden's bed waiting for the guy to fall asleep, and then...

Anyway, these fellows 20 years ago were studying any material about SEALs that they could get their hands on. They came to the same conclusion that the literature and everyone else did. The “M-16 sucked!” More importantly, the secretive SEALs used a BETTER rifle… A rifle that HAD to be better because the SEALs used it. (you see where this is going?) Why the rest of the US military didn’t use this weapon was a mystery to us, but the DoD can be stupid, we all figured. The thing is, the weapon designer for this wonder weapon was the same guy that designed the M-16. Eugene Stoner.

And now, since time has passed and Al Gore invented this wonderful intarwebz thingy and research is easy and something triggered a dusty memory in my head and I need blog fodder…

The ultimate, coolest, yet mysterious, fighting rifle (according to us college idiots ca 1988) The Stoner 63.


Now let me sum up what the internet thinks of it today, and what I’ve learned past the 20 year old notion of “it’s just COOL!”

It works like the SAW is supposed to. As a mag fed or belt fed light machine gun. But it’s ALSO modular, so you can switch to a carbine version or whatnot. It’s .223. When it came out I don’t know of any other belt fed .223 guns there were extant, so that was a good thing for the time, and I can understand why small SEAL teams would want a to do a lot of shooting.

It looks to be piston operated, instead of direct gas. No spring in the buttstock, so you can make it a folder back there for mucho compactness.

It fires from an open bolt. That can't be ideal for long range accuracy, and there is no single-shots possible, unless you are very good with the trigger. But for automatic fire... yeah you may want that open bolt.

For the time it was kinda novel. So that's good. I guess, in a parallel universe, where this gun is adapted instead of the M16, we wouldn't be complaining about the lack of gas piston today. But we'd still be complaining about .223, the open bolt, and who knows what the Stoner 63 weakness in mass use would have proven to be.

It's weight is comparable to a M16 when used like an M16 and to a M249 when used like a M249 (or M240).

Ok, that all makes sense. So far.

Looks like drawbacks were: 1) the Army Ordinance folks had it in for Stoner, just like they did for the AR, and gimped the development process. 2) the system sounds kinda maintenance intensive, from what I can read about it. Certainly compared to the M16. 3) the open-bolt thing.

And the design was overcome (made superfluous) by events, with the adoption of the SAW and the relative modularity of the M16 now. A short production run of Stoners just eventually got replaced by newer guns that did the same things as the older rifles wore out.

So they were kinda good, and were kinda cool. Not hugely revolutionary then, and not even too unique, today. It looks normal. But no, it is not a magic wand of bad-guy-killing some may have assumed in their useful exuberances.

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Hey, T-Bolt! What the difference between open bolt and closed bolt. I'll tell you! But in another upcoming post.

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UPDATE. OOOOooo! Look at that picture. The short fluted carbine barrel is on the rifle, but beneath it was the easily swappable heavy barrel and rifle barrel, to give you a comparison.

20 comments:

Crucis said...

For all of the wonderfullness of the 5.56mm cartridge, there is a battle rifle still being used that's been in service longer the the AR platform.

It's the M14. Still in use, still in combat after all these decades. Yes, it has faults. But those faults must be much less than the advantages of the rifle or it'd not continued to be used.

Old NFO said...

It worked for the environment and the people that were carrying it... :-) At least most of them came home, so that's a good thing!

Ian Argent said...

According to the coworker who did visited Iraq twice as one of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, once as an MG Platoon sgt, you don't open an ambush with an open-bolt weapon. If it misfires, the surprise-party guests still hear the bolt function...

juandos said...

Not a bad posting but one should remember it is bad form to use wikianything as source material...

Now try this Russki site... Replete with good photos and information...

Diamonds are where you find them and one won't find diamonds in wiki...

Stoner 63 weapon system: light machine gun XM202 and Mark 23 (Mk.23 mod.0) (USA)

Matt Groom said...

I do believe the Rifle and Carbine configurations fired from the closed bolt, but they required a different trigger group from the SAW configuration and the Bren-Gun style configurations (which was the least reliable in testing). Each configuration (within reason) was it's own firearm, using it's own parts, which were not interchangeable with the other configurations. This was kinda a drawback from a logistics perspective because even if you had parts for the right receiver, you couldn't necessarily make the weapon run.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I use wiki for link fodder for the ease, Two-John. Not neceassarily as primary research fodder.

Geodkyt said...

The Stoner system had a LOT of issues that get ignored -- like every other fighter/bomber/transport/recon/tanker "one size fits everything" weapon system.

The SEALs were able to keep it running with meticulous maintenance and intensive training.

When the Army field tested them with typical soldiers, it was a nightmare.

Big shock -- highly trained specialists can work with gear that PVT Snuffy just can't hack.

At the time, teh Stoner was really teh only game in town -- other than the eternal "let's make an LMG out of an AR15!" Little Rascals goings on at Colt. (Still ongoing to this day. . .)

operationiceberg said...

This posting makes it sound like this weapons system is no longer around. ROBINSON ARMS still produces a civilian legal version they call a M96. Chartered Industries of Singapore produces the Ultimax 100 (created by Jim Sullivan, co-designer of the Stoner-63) which is basically a stretched out Stoner-63.

Advocate said...

WOW!
now that's FA control... very cool :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV6WHA2efm4

Anonymous said...

"And now, since time has passed and Al Gore invented this wonderful intarwebz thingy..."

Al Gore never said that. It's fine if you're okay with attributing things to people they never said, but the right did get their feathers all ruffled when people were saying Sarah Palin said, "And I can see Russia from my house" when she didn't say that (Tina Fey did). Just a little consistency is all I ask for. Personally I don't think it's good to repeat things that aren't true about anyone.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

But Al Gore DID invent the internet. Just ask anyone!

Breda said...

No, no - AlGore created the internet. Big difference.

http://www.snopes.com/quotes/internet.asp

That said, I don't trust snopes as a source either, lefty bastards.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

See? If a reference librarian says it's so, how can you contradict that?

mcthag said...

The bottom feed fire control parts fire closed bolt. The top feed (bren and belt) fire open bolt. You should see if you can get an invite to Reed Knight's Museum/Shrine to Mr Stoner in Titusville, FL; really informative about the M63.

The Robinson M96 is no longer in production, they've switched their focus to the XCR which it totally unrelated to a Stoner.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Bottom feed are closed bolt? What about the Thompson and M3 Grease Gun? I thought they were closed bolt.

Geodkyt said...

Bottom feed group for a Stoner is closed bolt, top feed group is open.

Doesn't apply to other guns, necessarily -- although most "top feed" guns (almost all belt fed MGs are "top feed" in the way the guts are put together) are light or medium machineguns, and thus are generally "open bolt".

Geodkyt said...

Thompson and Grease gun were both open bolt, as almost all SMGs are. . .

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Ooops, meant to say open bolt for Tommy and Greasegun. Thanks Geo.

Ooooooooo! And thanks for that cool Stoner detail!

Geodkyt said...

Yeah, the FN Minimi (M249 SAW in US service) was designed specifically to fit the role the Stoner was marginally good at, but far, far, better.

And it does.

Sure, the mag feed of the SAW is unreliable (it's a function of how fast the action cycles when it's not lifting a belt), but then, the Stoner in belt fed mode could not take magazines AT ALL. You either had the magazine feed installed, or you have the belt feed installed.

One of teh things they did with teh Minimi was up size it so it functions more like a miniature GPMG. . . and it is WAY more reliable than trying to push a rifle sized operating system and receiver into an LMG role.

Of course, th Ultimax is even better at doing "Stoner" stuff than the Stoner or the FN Minimi. AND it's lighter than the Minimi/SAW.

I'd say, I could live with Ultimax (the latest version they offered teh Marines a year or two ago) OR the SAW as the squad LMG. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

The Stoner, on the other hand, reminds a LOT of the M1919A6. For all it's suck, it's what was available in a US caliber for the role. So it got used.

Davidwhitewolf said...

Modular .223 LMG, eh? You might check out the Ultimax.... Lusted after that as a kid. Hell, I still do.