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Subject: Out of Ammo! rss

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Confusion Under Fire
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Would a WW2 soldier know when his rifle was out of ammo? Say for example an M1 Garand which has an 8 round magazine. Would the soldier instinctively know when he had fired 8 rounds, would he count the 8 rounds or would he know when he pressed the trigger and the rifle went 'click'. I am guessing in a firefight situation that he wouldn't be able to keep track.

Would a soldier reload his rifle, even mid way through a magazine if he was going into a dangerous situation to ensure he has a full magazine?

Although I want the information for WW2 I would imagine that the same applies in modern warfare so any vets or current military personnel can offer their experiences too.

Thanks
Mike

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The M1 Garand is a special case. When the 8th and last round is fired, the loaderclip is ejected from the breech with a loud ping - even the enemies might hear
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LeZerp wrote:
The M1 Garand is a special case. When the 8th and last round is fired, the loaderclip is ejected from the breech with a loud ping - even the enemies might hear


I was watching a documentary on WW2 weapons a few weeks ago, and they talked about that ping when the M1 Garand ran out of ammo. When the enemy began holding fire until they heard the ping, telling them you were out of ammo but also generally where you were, some of the GIs got creative. They would hold on to spent ejector clips, throw them onto the ground to produce the pinging noise, and then wait for someone to pop up.

I have never been in the military, but from watching and reading histories about WW2 and talking to friends who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would seem war zones are a breeding ground for solutions to these kinds of problems.
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LeZerp wrote:
The M1 Garand is a special case. When the 8th and last round is fired, the loaderclip is ejected from the breech with a loud ping - even the enemies might hear


You can see and hear it at the four minute mark... and it is worth the wait!



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After the battle of Gettysburg Union ordnance officers found hundreds of muskets on the battlefield that had two or more bullets rammed down the barrel. In the chaos of battle men had loaded their weapons and failed to fire, then inserted another round of powder and ammunition.
Soldiers might have forgetton to place a percussion cap in position in these situations. Some rifles had several rounds jammed in the barrel.

With troops firing all along the line in the smoke and confusion of combat these men had failed to realize that their weapons had not discharged. These results were also blamed on poor training (in 1863, after two years of war!) so by the spring of 1864 every soldier in the Army of the Potomac was required to load and fire his musket in the presence of an officer to prove he knew how to properly use his weapon.

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Another problem with the M1 Garand was that once loaded, those rounds and clip had to be shot/removed before the weapon could be reloaded. If, for example, you fired six of eight rounds, you need to either shoot or eject those last two rounds and eject the clip before you can reload. Major hassle corrected when they developed the M14.

The M1 carbine can be loaded through the receiver with ten round stripper clips. The normal magazine holds 15 rounds and can be "topped up" without removing it from the weapon.

The German K98 Mauser used 5 round clips and also loaded through the receiver. It only held five rounds but you can press individual rounds into the magazine to "top up" if you fire a couple and get the chance to do so.

Tube magazine shotguns can be "topped up". Just shove rounds into it through the loading port under the receiver. Magazine fed shotguns must remove the magazine.

Typically, magazine fed, side ejecting weapons like, 1911 .45 Pistol, Thompson, M16, AK47 can't be topped up without removing the magazine.
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whatambush wrote:
Would a WW2 soldier know when his rifle was out of ammo? Say for example an M1 Garand which has an 8 round magazine. Would the soldier instinctively know when he had fired 8 rounds, would he count the 8 rounds or would he know when he pressed the trigger and the rifle went 'click'. I am guessing in a firefight situation that he wouldn't be able to keep track.

Would a soldier reload his rifle, even mid way through a magazine if he was going into a dangerous situation to ensure he has a full magazine?

Although I want the information for WW2 I would imagine that the same applies in modern warfare so any vets or current military personnel can offer their experiences too.

Thanks
Mike



It depends on the weapon. With the M1 Garand, as someone else already pointed out the en bloc clip ejects with a nice resounding ping. I'm not sure about others, but it would depend. I'm not sure on bolt actions. Trying to remember when I shoot my M91/30, but I think I basically shoot til I hear click and then reload.

For some weapons, I'd probably magazine weapons with bolt hold open on last shot, there's a distinct feel to it to let you know that it's empty. Like with my M4, I know when I'm out.

And yes, a soldier would/could reload. It's called a tactical reload. Basically, if you're unsure of how many rounds you fired, you swap it out with something you know is full before going into a dangerous situation.

But that's for magazine fed weapons. Considering the bolt is extracting the round each time, I don't see how you could do a tactical reload on say a M91/30 unless you shot once, and didn't bother to close the bolt, but top it off.
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halobungieman wrote:
LeZerp wrote:
The M1 Garand is a special case. When the 8th and last round is fired, the loaderclip is ejected from the breech with a loud ping - even the enemies might hear


I was watching a documentary on WW2 weapons a few weeks ago, and they talked about that ping when the M1 Garand ran out of ammo. When the enemy began holding fire until they heard the ping, telling them you were out of ammo but also generally where you were, some of the GIs got creative. They would hold on to spent ejector clips, throw them onto the ground to produce the pinging noise, and then wait for someone to pop up.

I have never been in the military, but from watching and reading histories about WW2 and talking to friends who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would seem war zones are a breeding ground for solutions to these kinds of problems.


I think it would have been rare for infantry in contact to be close enough to hear "the other guy's" rifle ejecting spent cartridge clips to be honest, so that always seemed a bit like an urban legend to me. In the middle of a firefight, even if your ears aren't ringing and the adrenaline isn't flowing, you're probably not really listening for pinging cartridge clips.

The whole point of fighting in teams and squads is to cover each other while they reload anyway. "Fire and movement" dictates that while one element is exposed, another element has its weapons ready. It's no different when a gun is jammed, or has to reload.

Quote:
Would a soldier reload his rifle, even mid way through a magazine if he was going into a dangerous situation to ensure he has a full magazine?


Don't know what the SOP was in the Second World War, but as noted above, we were taught specifically to do this on my basic training as part of Battle Procedure under "Prep for Battle."
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I hope you're working on something that tracks to the single bullet.
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It all depends on the fire fight. Laying in the prone an providing a base of fire, I could probably tell within two or three rounds what was left in my magazine or drum. Responding to an ambush, or fighting inside a building, it's easy to lose count. During a pause in fighting, it is an NCO's responsibility to receive a report on ammo levels and for each rifleman to check their weapon. This step being built into the textbook consolidation phase speaks to the fact that people have always lost track.

The Americans famously threw those eight round magazines away before they were empty because they wanted a full mag and couldn't reload them by hand. (that point is in the Banzai! Historical notes). As someone said earlier, it is common now to replace any magazine that has been fired with a full one during any pause, because the 1st, 29th, and 30th round that you always regret not having, so it makes sense to me.

Edit: They could reload the clip, but it was too difficult to mess with in combat. Nowadays everyone wears a dump pouch to drop magazines into quickly to be reloaded later as opposed to fighting them into your pockets or mag pouches in the middle of a gunfight. Mag retention is part of marksmanship training now. I wonder if they did something similar or just dropped them and got new ones.

Edit: My best friend, when asked how many rounds he had fired during an ambush on the Euphrates, said "6, maybe 7". When we did the official ammo count he had fired 28 rounds, switched mags and fired a half dozen more and didn't remember firing that much or even reloading. The whole gunfigt was about three minutes long.

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M1 Garand was the only semi-auto weapon issued en masse to infantrymen in WWII and as mentioned, it's a special case. There's anecdotal evidence that soldiers, when left with one or two rounds in their Garand after a firefight, would discharge them anyway and load in a fresh magazine. (The Garand cannot be topped up with individual rounds.)

Other armies used bolt-action rifles. Many, like the Mausers and Lee-Enfields, have magazine followers that will stop the bolt from being closed after the last round is fired, so you know the rifle is empty. Bolt-actions can also be topped up with individual rounds.

Most (but not all) modern assault rifles also have magazine followers that will hold the bolt in the open position when the last round is fired. Most assault rifles have 30-round mags and it is time-consuming to manually top up individual rounds. Soldiers would just change to a fresh magazine instead if time was pressing.
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elijah234 wrote:
Most (but not all) modern assault rifles also have magazine followers that will hold the bolt in the open position when the last round is fired. Most assault rifles have 30-round mags and it is time-consuming to manually top up individual rounds. Soldiers would just change to a fresh magazine instead if time was pressing.

My Plinkster (.22 semi-auto) makes a distinct sound after the last round, as the magazine follower prevents the bolt from closing. Not sure if that would be distinct enough in a combat situation, but I am usually listening for it after 7 or 8 rounds, as I never count rounds fired.
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pete belli wrote:
After the battle of Gettysburg Union ordnance officers found hundreds of muskets on the battlefield that had two or more bullets rammed down the barrel. In the chaos of battle men had loaded their weapons and failed to fire, then inserted another round of powder and ammunition.
Soldiers might have forgetton to place a percussion cap in position in these situations. Some rifles had several rounds jammed in the barrel.


There are other theories to account for this, too, including the argument put forward by SLA Marshall and continued by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, PhD (that man is collecting initials) that, until very recently, the majority of the combatants in any military action simply did not fire their personal weapons to injure or kill the opposition.

I'd suggest reading Grossman's 'On Killing' if anyone is interested.
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wolvendancer wrote:
pete belli wrote:
After the battle of Gettysburg Union ordnance officers found hundreds of muskets on the battlefield that had two or more bullets rammed down the barrel. In the chaos of battle men had loaded their weapons and failed to fire, then inserted another round of powder and ammunition.
Soldiers might have forgetton to place a percussion cap in position in these situations. Some rifles had several rounds jammed in the barrel.


There are other theories to account for this, too, including the argument put forward by SLA Marshall and continued by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, PhD (that man is collecting initials) that, until very recently, the majority of the combatants in any military action simply did not fire their personal weapons to injure or kill the opposition.

I'd suggest reading Grossman's 'On Killing' if anyone is interested.


I saw a video of him talking at a Guard conference I think. "On Killing" is definitely a book I plan on reading. Some of the information I've heard in it seems fascinating. Like something like less than 10% shoot to kill so to speak.
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I played the first Red Orchestra videogame, Eastern Front WWII FPS, a few years ago.

IIRC, if your weapon had clips of ammo it would only tell you the relative weight (like Heavy, medium, light or something similar) so if you switched out all of your clips during the confusion of battle before they were empty you never knew exactly how many rounds were remaining. If you went back to one of these exchanged clips it would only tell you 'heavy' or 'light' and you would have to hope there was enough rounds to last you.

maybe an more knowledgeable person playing RO or ROII can provide better info?


whatambush wrote:
Would a WW2 soldier know when his rifle was out of ammo? Say for example an M1 Garand which has an 8 round magazine. Would the soldier instinctively know when he had fired 8 rounds, would he count the 8 rounds or would he know when he pressed the trigger and the rifle went 'click'. I am guessing in a firefight situation that he wouldn't be able to keep track.

Would a soldier reload his rifle, even mid way through a magazine if he was going into a dangerous situation to ensure he has a full magazine?

Although I want the information for WW2 I would imagine that the same applies in modern warfare so any vets or current military personnel can offer their experiences too.

Thanks
Mike

 
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It's easy to lose track of rounds spent. It was customery with the M-1 to fire and when in doubt to finish off the clip to have a fresh one. A common phrase for the infantryman was one round to knock him down, seven rounds to keep him down, basically clear the weapon in the direction of the enemy and reload.

When I severed in the Army we put two ball rounds in the magazine first and then two tracer before filling it up. This might give us the chance to see if we're running out before actually running out. This wasn't done for night maneuvers in order to not give ourselves away, tracers work both ways.
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Thanks for all the replies, it is enlightening, and I didn't know about the ping of the Garand.

calandale wrote:
I hope you're working on something that tracks to the single bullet.


My game is time dependant, and when I started delving into how many shots could be let off in a turn it related to one shot per average turn (Turns are not of a fixed length). This relates to non automatic weapons, most pistols and rifles fell within this time period. So it was easy to transfer this info from real time to game time.

The question came about because the game is an umpired game, ammo usage is known but in the heat of battle it is easy to forget when you run out. I had 3 choices.
1).Should the Umpire tell the player when his ammo is expended?
2).Should the umpire give the player the info on ammo usage but not remind him when he runs out of ammo?
3).Should the player not be given any info regarding ammo usage?

The third option is a non starter but I was unsure as to which of the other 2 options was more real to life.
 
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halobungieman wrote:
LeZerp wrote:
The M1 Garand is a special case. When the 8th and last round is fired, the loaderclip is ejected from the breech with a loud ping - even the enemies might hear


I was watching a documentary on WW2 weapons a few weeks ago, and they talked about that ping when the M1 Garand ran out of ammo. When the enemy began holding fire until they heard the ping, telling them you were out of ammo but also generally where you were, some of the GIs got creative. They would hold on to spent ejector clips, throw them onto the ground to produce the pinging noise, and then wait for someone to pop up.

I have never been in the military, but from watching and reading histories about WW2 and talking to friends who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would seem war zones are a breeding ground for solutions to these kinds of problems.


An Australian tele-movie 'The Last Bullet' (see here: www.imdb.com/title/tt0113606/) relies largely upon this idea (ie: the ping, and Japanese soldiers holding fire and waiting for the ping).

The movie's ending hinged upon the idea of the 'ping'. I recommend seeing the movie, but if you can't wait, the spoiler is below:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
In the final moments, the main Australian soldier and the main Japanese soldier are exchanging shots and trying to count bullets. In the final scene, the main Australian character made the 'ping' noise using an empty clip thrown against his rifle, his opponent raised his head to fire, believing the Australian's clip to be empty, and the main character killed his opponent with his last bullet.


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whatambush wrote:
My game is time dependant, and when I started delving into how many shots could be let off in a turn it related to one shot per average turn (Turns are not of a fixed length). This relates to non automatic weapons, most pistols and rifles fell within this time period. So it was easy to transfer this info from real time to game time.

The question came about because the game is an umpired game, ammo usage is known but in the heat of battle it is easy to forget when you run out. I had 3 choices.
1).Should the Umpire tell the player when his ammo is expended?
2).Should the umpire give the player the info on ammo usage but not remind him when he runs out of ammo?
3).Should the player not be given any info regarding ammo usage?

The third option is a non starter but I was unsure as to which of the other 2 options was more real to life.


If memory serves, I seem to recall your game being a sort-of RPG based in a combat situation. Although I haven't seen much of your game, I'd probably prefer (from a player and gaming perspective) option 3. I think it would add to the sense of 'realism' and encourage players to keep some track of their own situation, rather than relying upon being told absolutely everything. Then, only tell them if/when they try to fire an empty clip.

Alternatively, you could base this on some kind of relatively easy 'awareness' or 'initiative' roll (if you have those in the game). If they pass, you tell them they are out of ammo.
 
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Amnese wrote:
whatambush wrote:
My game is time dependant, and when I started delving into how many shots could be let off in a turn it related to one shot per average turn (Turns are not of a fixed length). This relates to non automatic weapons, most pistols and rifles fell within this time period. So it was easy to transfer this info from real time to game time.

The question came about because the game is an umpired game, ammo usage is known but in the heat of battle it is easy to forget when you run out. I had 3 choices.
1).Should the Umpire tell the player when his ammo is expended?
2).Should the umpire give the player the info on ammo usage but not remind him when he runs out of ammo?
3).Should the player not be given any info regarding ammo usage?

The third option is a non starter but I was unsure as to which of the other 2 options was more real to life.


If memory serves, I seem to recall your game being a sort-of RPG based in a combat situation. Although I haven't seen much of your game, I'd probably prefer (from a player and gaming perspective) option 3. I think it would add to the sense of 'realism' and encourage players to keep some track of their own situation, rather than relying upon being told absolutely everything. Then, only tell them if/when they try to fire an empty clip.

Alternatively, you could base this on some kind of relatively easy 'awareness' or 'initiative' roll (if you have those in the game). If they pass, you tell them they are out of ammo.


Your memory serves you well, the game does have a slight RPG element to it.
There is Initiative in the game but as ammo usage as well as several other factors are quite easy to monitor with the help of Excel it does not cause a problem. The game is also detailed at the man to man level and a random ammo usage would not fit the game. I do accept that option 3 is not as obsolete as I first imagined.

On a deeper level when I first started my game I intentionally hid as much info from players as possible and as time has passed I have tried to feed more info which I think might be appropriate. One of the things we do as players when wargaming is to make decisions based upon what we know. It may be possible to work out the odds for a hit and then decide whether to go for a shot or not with a random factor such as a die roll or cards. One thing I realised was that the less info a player has the less he can make a decision and so the less he feels he has control over a character and therefore feels like he is playing a game of luck rather than skill. Giving a player enough info to have a reasonable idea is my aim. The other consideration is the players themselves, I have seen a player before now spend several turns attempting to spot the enemy with an empty weapon when his Status sheet clearly shows he is out of ammo, then attempt to fire to hear "click".
 
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pete belli wrote:
You can see and hear it at the four minute mark... and it is worth the wait!


Accounts of offensive rifle fire against a visible target seem to have a frequency of about one per memoir [if you're lucky].

It wasn't so much the Ping! as the ping-to-bang time, and I think this is why the British rejected the Garand, along with the worries about birdsnests, dead mules and mating racoons taking up residence in the cavernous magazine. I imagine it was manually reloaded at every opportunity, given its rate-of-fire, just like a Counterstrike player. The Brecourt video shows actors trying hard not to have each others' eyes out with this unwieldy weapon in the confines of a trench system, plus the wartime reasons for the popularity of the carbine and the Thompson. The B.A.R. was worse. Amongst its numerous shortcomings, a very big bottom-loading magazine on weapon with a bipod looked and felt its age, which was considerable by 1944. A Bren gunner would whip off his empty magazine and his number two would be staring at it, ready to stick on a full one, all in one smooth motion that took no longer than the pause between two bursts.

The Australians loved their short-barreled Lee-Enfields, as the 303 recoil let you know it was a man's gun and they talked of "palming" rounds as they got their bolts to slide with minimum resistance. Reloading just as smoothly & quickly was no less a point-of-honour.

A bigger problem may have been the quality of wartime ammunition.
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whatambush wrote:
Your memory serves you well, the game does have a slight RPG element to it.
There is Initiative in the game but as ammo usage as well as several other factors are quite easy to monitor with the help of Excel it does not cause a problem. The game is also detailed at the man to man level and a random ammo usage would not fit the game. I do accept that option 3 is not as obsolete as I first imagined.

On a deeper level when I first started my game I intentionally hid as much info from players as possible and as time has passed I have tried to feed more info which I think might be appropriate. One of the things we do as players when wargaming is to make decisions based upon what we know. It may be possible to work out the odds for a hit and then decide whether to go for a shot or not with a random factor such as a die roll or cards. One thing I realised was that the less info a player has the less he can make a decision and so the less he feels he has control over a character and therefore feels like he is playing a game of luck rather than skill. Giving a player enough info to have a reasonable idea is my aim. The other consideration is the players themselves, I have seen a player before now spend several turns attempting to spot the enemy with an empty weapon when his Status sheet clearly shows he is out of ammo, then attempt to fire to hear "click".

I opt for number 3, but: You should include a player option of either shooting off the clip or replacing a potentially partially-used clip (the former is actually more realistic, but the latter was also done) at a modest time penalty (if you are not aiming, a clip can be fired off rather rapidly).
 
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whatambush wrote:

Although I want the information for WW2 I would imagine that the same applies in modern warfare so any vets or current military personnel can offer their experiences too.


I've been reading many accounts of Iraq and Afghanistan and one that particularly stands out in many ways is House to House. During one house clearing action the author recounts ejecting partially spent magazines, at the time it's clear he has no idea how many rounds remain. During a pause in the action he is able to count the remaining rounds in his partially spent magazines and later reuses some of these magazines when all of his full mags are exhausted.

House to House is one of the best detailed accounts of infantry combat I've ever read. It's extremely explicit about what the soldiers do, and how they feel about doing it. Highly recommended.
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adorablerocket wrote:
whatambush wrote:

Although I want the information for WW2 I would imagine that the same applies in modern warfare so any vets or current military personnel can offer their experiences too.


I've been reading many accounts of Iraq and Afghanistan and one that particularly stands out in many ways is [geekurl=http://amzn.com/1416546979]House to House[/geekurl]. During one house clearing action the author recounts ejecting partially spent magazines, at the time it's clear he has no idea how many rounds remain. During a pause in the action he is able to count the remaining rounds in his partially spent magazines and later reuses some of these magazines when all of his full mags are exhausted.

House to House is one of the best detailed accounts of infantry combat I've ever read. It's extremely explicit about what the soldiers do, and how they feel about doing it. Highly recommended.


I have just bought Phantom Fury so this book would make an excellent accompaniment for the game. Thanks
 
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I read about soldiers drilling holes in AK-47 magazines so they could see how much is left...
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