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Belt feed instead of Magazines for Rifles?

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  • Belt feed instead of Magazines for Rifles?

    To start with, this is not my idea but a user on the link below mentioned that the likes of belt fed KAC LMGs should be standard issue to soldiers instead of magazine fed weapons (except for sniper weapons etc). He claims that magazines get jammed and more damage prone as belts would allow more ammo, save reloading and ease logistics etc. Also mentions of using different barrel lengths and using ammo backpacks with feed chutes. To be more real, if it was used most of the squad could use small ammo boxes with the weapon where as the predominant LMG gunner would have the spare barrel etc.

    The idea of a belt fed rifle existed before, the ARES Advanced Individual Combat Weapon which did use a belt feed.

    Im not saying field this out for real (except for special forces etc) but find the idea intriguing though.

    https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/...#disqus_thread

  • #2
    So many things wrong...
    1. Ammo getting dirty.
    2. Excessive ammo expenditure.
    3. Weight.
    4. Not being able to carry other essentials.
    5. Barrels overheating.

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    • #3
      The only thing I can think of is a belt fed rifle would tend to be unbalanced to the feed side. Johns covered the rest I thought of.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        The first question I have is, How does someone carry say, 50 round belts?
        Next would be with movement. A belt is flexible so it would be flopping around as the user ran, maneuvered, etc. Worse would be the belt snags on something and comes apart. The user is left with an issue with the snag and worse, if the snag causes the belt to break up.
        Then there's the issue of sharing ammunition. This would make it harder to do, particularly if the weapon were fed from a pack of some sort. If there's a jam, snag, or problem with the feed, the user would have to remove the pack to access it and fix the problem. With a magazine, you drop that one, load another.
        Magazines can also be reused and reloaded in the field. Belts are not. So, if you had loose ammunition and belt feed, you're sort of SOL using it other than maybe single shots.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          The first question I have is, How does someone carry say, 50 round belts?
          Next would be with movement. A belt is flexible so it would be flopping around as the user ran, maneuvered, etc. Worse would be the belt snags on something and comes apart. The user is left with an issue with the snag and worse, if the snag causes the belt to break up.
          Then there's the issue of sharing ammunition. This would make it harder to do, particularly if the weapon were fed from a pack of some sort. If there's a jam, snag, or problem with the feed, the user would have to remove the pack to access it and fix the problem.
          Thought of this one myself, the ammo backpack with feed chute looks clumbersome and would cause problems if there were a jam etc, wouldnt bother with it.

          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          With a magazine, you drop that one, load another.
          Magazines can also be reused and reloaded in the field. Belts are not. So, if you had loose ammunition and belt feed, you're sort of SOL using it other than maybe single shots.
          As for the average soldier, how about if the 'belt fed rifles' had select fire switch and part of the doctrine was to fire short controlled bursts as possible. The soldiers could be issued with and advised to use separate 30/40/50 round belts that would be stored and threw in each time in a small detatchable ammo box underneath the weapon. Also thought if the belts got damaged/ran out of ammo, it could possibly be sorted out by simply hooking up another belt to it and so on.

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          • #6
            Where are all these belts going to be carried? They won't fit on a soldier's LBE. If they are carried in a rucksack, you can't get to them. Also, soldiers have to carry much more stuff than a weapon--water, rations, spare batteries for radios, spare belts for real MG's, etc. Have you ever fired an AR? It takes about 2 seconds to change a mag. A belt is more cumbersome and fragile. What about urban combat or hand to hand fighting? You don't see machinegunners first through a door or fighting with enemy soldiers.
            Also, don't you think that if it was such a good idea, that someone in one of the militaries of the world would have thought of it in the last 100 years?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by johns624 View Post
              Where are all these belts going to be carried? They won't fit on a soldier's LBE. If they are carried in a rucksack, you can't get to them. Also, soldiers have to carry much more stuff than a weapon--water, rations, spare batteries for radios, spare belts for real MG's, etc.
              The ammo would be small calibre (IE 5.56x45mm NATO etc) and could be rolled up and packed in exclusively made webbing pouches beforehand. Nylon cloth/polymer strips of the previously mentioned amount may help. Polymer ammo is also under development.

              Originally posted by johns624 View Post
              Have you ever fired an AR? It takes about 2 seconds to change a mag. A belt is more cumbersome and fragile.
              No i havent (off limits here in the UK) but i did see some on Army Recruitment stalls so i do get the jist. The belt may or may not be the same type used on LMGs but something similar to the mentioned ARES AIWS prototype. Have you seen a video on the KAC LMG?, the belt can be stuffed in the feed without flipping the lid up.

              Originally posted by johns624 View Post
              What about urban combat or hand to hand fighting? You don't see machine gunners first through a door or fighting with enemy soldiers. Also, don't you think that if it was such a good idea, that someone in one of the militaries of the world would have thought of it in the last 100 years?
              The 'belt fed rifle' would obviously be better off in open field environments and just becouse if it uses belts doesnt make it an LMG. As for urban combat/cqb, the belts would be in a small narrow detatchable ammo box that it would nearly be like an existing magazine.

              Im not saying its a good idea but just going along with what someone else mentioned. The idea of belt fed firearms other than machine guns was once used over 100 years ago with a bolt action rifle, the first tommy gun prototype etc but technology/stuff etc may have been different back then. The idea of the electric driven Gatling gun was invented in the late 19th century and brought back decades later and became one of the most successful effective weapons on the battlefield.
              Last edited by Cutaway; 29 Jan 20, 22:41.

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              • #8
                Worse, what do you do about weapons that are only occasionally used? This would be the situation I found myself in in an MIUW (Mobile Inshore Underwater Warfare) unit. We were essentially "coast watchers." That is, the unit monitored all sea traffic, had lookouts, sonar for underwater threats, etc. But, everyone was issued an M-16 for "self-defense" if it came to that.
                A belt fed weapon for that purpose would have been idiotic. We didn't even get issued pouches for magazines because most of us carried like 2 or 3 extras at most and were close to the resupply point if we somehow needed more. In field exercises I know I rarely went through two magazines.
                Since the majority of people in the military getting issued a weapon are in my position (eg., needing it for self-defense and having only limited ammunition needs) a belt fed weapon is just a cumbersome, heavy, thing I have to now drag around.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cutaway View Post

                  The ammo would be small calibre (IE 5.56x45mm NATO etc) and could be rolled up and packed in exclusively made webbing pouches beforehand. Nylon cloth/polymer strips of the previously mentioned amount may help. Polymer ammo is also under development.


                  You mention strips. Just want to also mention that there are any number of weapons that were strip fed, and they weren't the most successful, despite being produced in some quantity and used in warfare extensively. The Japanese and Hotchkiss (IIRC) are two that come to mind. The US specifically went with a strip fed MG and then went away from it rather quickly after they found it to be cumbersome in action (against Pancho Villa).



                  No i havent (off limits here in the UK) but i did see some on Army Recruitment stalls so i do get the jist. The belt may or may not be the same type used on LMGs but something similar to the mentioned ARES AIWS prototype. Have you seen a video on the KAC LMG?, the belt can be stuffed in the feed without flipping the lid up.

                  A number of MGs don't require you to flip the lid up to place the belt (although it's faster to do so for an emplaced gun that threading the belt starter in and charging it a couple of times to get the first round into position.



                  The 'belt fed rifle' would obviously be better off in open field environments and just becouse if it uses belts doesnt make it an LMG. As for urban combat/cqb, the belts would be in a small narrow detatchable ammo box that it would nearly be like an existing magazine.

                  So, to ask the obvious question from the above. If you're putting the 'belt' in a small, narrow, detachable, ammo box.....why not go with a small narrow detachable ammo box that also feeds the weapon, aka a detachable box magazine? With a belt, you're adding in room for failures, as well as manufacturing complexities and assembly complexities. The Belt gets over the magazine in 'economy of scale', IE over 100rds. Anything under 100rds, and the magazine is generally the superior option as history has borne out.

                  One of the few belt-fed squad weapons is the M249 SAW. The gunner typically carries the SAW with a 100rd 'nutsack', and follow on boxed belts of 250rds. The only reason for the 100rd bit is so it's portable, as the bloody thing gets obnoxious with the 250rd box attached and at that point is really only suitable for shooting from a supported position or ripping off some from the hip in an assault.



                  Im not saying its a good idea but just going along with what someone else mentioned. The idea of belt fed firearms other than machine guns was once used over 100 years ago with a bolt action rifle, the first tommy gun prototype etc but technology/stuff etc may have been different back then. The idea of the electric driven Gatling gun was invented in the late 19th century and brought back decades later and became one of the most successful effective weapons on the battlefield.
                  Ok, to try to explain some of the differences between the feeding systems, here goes:

                  Belt:

                  Advantages: Scaleability (you can link them together ad infinitum). No feed rate limitations (the gun is pulling the belt, so as long as the gun can pull it, the belt will feed properly). Team reloading (if you have a team and a modern metal link fed gun, you can link belts together and avoid the reload pause (in theory)).

                  Disadvantages: Crud...Belts are exposed to the elements to a degree, and are drawing dust, dirt, mud, and other foreign objects in as they're consumed. The Belt itself....it's a foreign object going into the gun, and sometimes they get hung up causing malfunctions. On-body storage....this can be very cumbersome. Complexity of the weapon, you have to have a feeding device pulling on the belt, delinking, and feeding the round to the bolt.

                  Magazine (detachable box type):

                  Advantages: Ergonomics, you can make them to whatever size you desire (within reason) to fit your application/equipment/people. Dirt ingress, the Box Mag fills the portal that allows ammunition into the weapon, reducing ingress of FOD via that route, the magazine also protects the ammunition from damage or dirt if designed properly. Weapon simplicity, the magazine feeds the gun, the bolt need only pick up a proffered round.

                  Disadvantages: Feed rate, there's an upper limit for a given magazine dependent on the magazine design, follower design, and strength of the spring. Scale, somewhere between 50-80 rounds you're going to run into the upper limit of what a magazine can handle without being either ridiculous, unreliable, or both.

                  Overall, belts make sense for machine guns. They don't for individual infantry weapons. The specific advantages don't carry over into the duties of a common rifleman. The specific disadvantages could cause malfunctions and will drive up weapons costs substantially. Conversely, magazines aren't the best for machine guns, even light'ish' ones that are going to be used for heavy suppression work as the specific disadvantages of capacity and feed rate limitations apply to that type of weapon system. Dual-feed systems are typically only reliable for one feed device and hopelessly useless for the other (M249 SAW firing from 30rd rifle mags as an example).
                  Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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                  • #10
                    magazine fed, definitely preferable.
                    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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