The Marine Corps employs a specialized set of tactics, techniques, and procedures across the force to meet its goal of winning our nation's battles. The weapons utilized by Marines in the fight are key to the Corps' success, as each must be as dependable as it is lethal. Each weapon fielded is rigorously tested through both series of test and real world application to ensure they can operate in the harsh environments Marines often find themselves. In today's blog, we will discuss some these weapons and their use by Marines in the fight.
Based on Eugene Stoner's late '50s version of the AR-15, the M16 is one of the most iconic weapons in the Corps' arsenal. Most commonly seen in its M16A4 and M4 variant, the Marine Corps has employed versions of the M16 since the mid '60s. This rifle which chambers a 5.56mm round and has seen combat in Vietnam, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and every other area of conflict the Marine Corps has found itself since its introduction. has seen combat with Marines since the jungles of Vietnam. Both officers and enlisted are exposed to the M16A4 on the training grounds of Quantico, Parris Island, and San Diego, and they remain proficient with the weapon well beyond their time in uniform. Every Marine qualifies with their service rifle at ranges from 25 to 500 meters on stationary and moving targets. Marines are trained to employ the weapon utilizing a 30-round magazine firing ball rounds capable of dispatching targets at over 800 meters. This weapon is also utilized by partner nations across the world, so Marines on advise and assist missions have the ability to directly translate their proficiency with the weapon to allied forces.
The standard sidearm for Marines is the M9 pistol which has been in service since the early '90s. The M9 pistol chambers a 9mm round from a standard 15-round magazine. It is the standard sidearm for officers, senior enlisted, and law enforcement personnel. Marines can effectively engage targets up to 50 meters away, and they regularly qualify with the pistol annually if they are above the rank of Staff Sergeant. Other pistols such as the Glock 19 and M45 are also employed by Marines, but only in limited, specialized roles such as special operations and security forces. Currently, the Marine Corps is working to field a new service pistol in the form of a military SIG Sauer P320.
Machine guns are a key component to the Corps' arsenal. Weapons firing 5.56mm all the way to the 40mm grenade round are regularly used to support ground maneuver and aviation fires alike. The most iconic of Marine machine guns is the M2 Browning, also known as the Ma Deuce. In service since 1921 (yes, almost 100 years!), and weighing in at over 120 pounds, the M2 fires the deadly .50 caliber round at targets up to 1,800 meters. It can be mounted on a tripod, a main battle tank, or a variety of other vehicles, and is fired by a thumb trigger rather than the traditional pull trigger on most weapons.
The Marine arsenal is filled with a variety of weapons designed to put effects on target. Whether the lone sniper with their rifle, or a team of Marines on a howitzer, each weapon system has stood both the test of time and battle. The Marine Corps is constantly testing new weapons for its Marines to utilize in combat, and new weapons will find their way to a battlefield of the future.