Borgundian Mechanized Infantry Loadout

Let’s get this started. I’m following my own challenge rules, which you can find here. We’ve made a bunch of decisions so far, so let’s get those out of the way. Oh, and all weights are going to be in pounds, because I’m an American. Divide by 2.2 to get weights in commie kilos.

Carbine: HK 416. I didn’t specify a barrel length preference then, but we’ll go with 14.5 inches. Comes to 7.69 lbs empty. We’ll also need ammo in that gun. Thirty rounds of 62 grain M855A1 or similar in an aluminum, 30 round magazine comes to 1.06 lbs. Per doctrine, we’ll need a suppressor and an optic. We’ll take an Aimpoint Comp M4 red dot (0.74 lbs with mount and killflash) and a Surefire 556RC2 suppressor (1.06 lbs.). Also, we’ll need an IR laser/illuminator, because battles don’t stop at night. My choice there would be the B.E. Meyers MAWL-DA. I don’t have a weight for this, so I’m going to guesstimate 0.5 lbs based on other, similar devices. Plus a sling, which is going to set us back about another quarter pound. All of that adds up to 11.3 lbs, which is kinda sucky, actually. Oh well. Lots of capability there, not much to be done about it. Quit complaining and drop and give me thirty.

Armor time. See here for why I picked what I picked. IOTV (and we’ll add the deltoid (fragmentation) protectors, but not the side plates) is 26.69 lbs for a size medium. Size medium ECH is three pounds. Ballistic Eyewear adds 0.15 lbs, foam earplugs add 0.1 lbs, and knee and elbow pads add another 0.4 lbs. An FM50 gas mask rounds out the protective equipment list, adding another 1.85 lbs. Total weight for protective gear is 32.19 lbs.

Ammo. Pretty straightforward. Six spare thirty round magazines. Two M67 frag grenades. And two smoke grenades. Something like the M18, but with added thermal obscurants. Six mags comes to 6.36 lbs, two M67s comes to 1.76 lbs, and two M18s comes to 2.38 lbs, for a total ammo load of 10.5 lbs. Which doesn’t seem like a lot, but remember the vehicle holds more.

On to comestibles. I’ll go into more detail on this elsewhere. Since these are mechanized infantrymen, they have a big armored vehicle to move them around and carry stuff like food and water in reasonable quantities. Only the essentials need to be carried. For the standard, temperate European operating environment, we think two liters of water is an adequate amount to carry on the person, and we can top this off as needed from the vehicle stores or resupply. For food, we really only expect the soldier to carry an iron ration with him. This will take the form of something like the US military’s First Strike Ration, which is a hot-pocket-like sandwich that supplies the calorie and nutritional needs for one battle day. A full two-liter camelbak-type1 bladder is 4.88 lbs, and a First Strike Ration is 1.95 lbs, bringing total comestible weight to 6.83 lbs.

There are a few other items we need to list out. There’s the IFAK, the Individual First Aid Kit. This is for two reasons. First, it means a soldier can perform some first aid on his buddy. Second, a medic can always find some basic supplies (tourniquet, pressure bandage, sterile gloves) when he needs them in a pinch. Add a pound. We also need to issue a knife. For knife fighting duties, I’d like a double-edged knife, like the Gerber Mk. II. However, most knife tasks are utility tasks for the modern soldier. For these, a tough single-edge knife will work better. Something like a Ka-Bar. Tough, effective, legendary. I have one and love it. Add another 1.23 lbs for a Ka-bar and sheath. And we’ll need some night vision kit. I’ve been going for the high-end, feature-rich stuff. No sense in stopping now. We’ll take the PSQ-20B, which gives us third generation image intensifying optics plus thermal optics in one rugged, two pound unit. At least the battery pack is detachable and can be affixed to the back of the helmet for balance. Finally, we’ll need a radio. The PRC-159 from Harris should do nicely. Compatible with the once and future frequencies, plenty of encryption, good battery life. With battery, it weighs 1.72 lbs.

Almost done, I swear. The standard poncho with liner is a really great piece of kit. It’s waterproof, surprisingly warm, and extremely packable. That’s my one concession to weather that might crop up unexpectedly. Obviously, coats are worn when you can expect bad weather, like say in the winter. 1.5 lbs for the poncho and liner. And we’ll add a multitool, because they are ridiculously useful little things. 0.6 lbs for that.

Let’s wrap up by looking at what we’re not issuing. Recall that this is a regular rifleman. He is not a squad leader. Therefore, he does not usually need navigation equipment so he does not have a lensatic compass, maps, or a portable GPS receiver as a matter of course. He might be given these things as part of a specific mission, and that’s fine. Spare batteries for the various electronic devices mentioned are carried aboard the vehicle normally. As a side note, just about all the devices here take AA batteries. Logistical commonality strikes again!2 Similarly, cleaning kits are generally expected to be carried aboard the vehicle. as are entrenching tools. Further, since they aren’t on soldier’s backs, we can issue full size picks and spades, not the lame folding versions.

All-up weight for our kit is 68.87 lbs. Which is on the heavy side, but about on par with other modern armies. Remember, the pack is normally left in the vehicle, so it’s not counted in the fighting load.

1.) I actually prefer the Source brand bladders.
2.) Did you expect anything different from me?

10 thoughts on “Borgundian Mechanized Infantry Loadout

  1. John Rowe

    You didn’t have to tell us you were a Yank. It was pretty obvious after a couple of posts: all that tech, money no object, a love affair with one of the worst designed rifles of the 20th century, and a serious pimp-my-gun fetish. Out here in the civilised world we use metric -which was invented long before communism by the way – something even your military has been forced to accept. The days of the 30.06 and .308 are long gone. Today it’s 5.56×45 and 7.62×51. I’m afraid your parochialism is showing. But then you’re a Yank. You guys wouldn’t know civilisation if it dropped on you from a MIRVed warhead! πŸ™‚

    1. parvusimperator Post author

      Civilization? Civilization?! We ain’t got no civilization. We don’t need no civilization. We don’t got to show you no stinking civilization. πŸ™‚

      And see, being a Yank, I was worried you might miss my obvious ‘Muricanness. You can’t see my cowboy boots or hear my thick American accent over the internet.

    2. parvusimperator Post author

      So do you have some numbers to back up your assertions about the unreliability of the M16, or are we going to repeat tired old stories about how “muh rifle jammed in ‘Nam.”?

      Anyway, the SAS and Aussie SAS seem to like their M4s, but that’s clearly because they’re uncivilized Americans. πŸ™‚

    3. parvusimperator Post author

      Fun fact: The designation “.308” was chosen to make it stand out on the gun store ammo shelf amongst lots of “.30-somethings” and “7.62xSomethings” and “7.62 Somethings”…

  2. John Rowe

    Ok. I’ve read this again so let’s dissect your choices more seriously.

    HK416. A definite improvement over the Colt but still not a great choice. I recall reading a reliability test in an American magazine some years ago and while the M16 was the worst of the crop by far, the HK was the next worst. Only half as many stoppages as the M16 but much less reliable than any of the others. I don’t recall what they were now but I do recall that the AK was the best. In terms of ordinary troops I think reliability trumps sub-MOA accuracy.

    Armour. I can’t really quibble here. Basically you want the best protection with the least encumbrance and armour technology and design is advancing at such a rapid pace that whatever you purchase today will be out of date inside a year.

    Ammunition. Six mags would be the very, VERY least, even for mech infantry. You get stuck in a trench fight or urban combat and half your guys are going to be running back and forth replenishing the ammunition. I recall an article, many years ago now, of a trench assault and clearance at Sennybridge in the UK, where the ammunition expenditure was so heavy that the fourth guy in every fire team in contact spent all his time reloading magazines for the other three and then several teams were assigned just to fetch and carry ammo from the tracks to the teams in contact. Even in the best-trained armies you need SHITLOADS of ammo in positional battles.

    Ratpacks. You need more water. Two litres would be the absolute minimum on the man. Personally I’d add a bladder in your daysack plus jerry cans of the stuff on the bucket. Next to running out of ammo, running out of water is the worst. And take a brew kit with you (a pocket cooker, tea bags, sugar sachets, creamer if you must, and a spoon). A cup of sweet tea in a lull is a wonderful restorative. This may just be a Commonwealth thing, but it does wonders. It restores morale, allows you time to think through your tactics and generally catch your breath. Don’t leave your PC without it!

    IFAK. Yes and it should be SOP to put it in the same position on every man in the army. When patching a casualty use HIS kit first!

    Knife. They still issue bayonets. Fuck knows why. But the AK bayonet is a useful little tool, depending on the quality of the steal. Don’t spend more on your knife than you do on your rifle. What is it with people and knives?

    Optics. Oh FFS! You’ve already got optics on your rifle. Use those unless you’re a FOO or a Rupert.

    Radios. Budget, budget, budget! Radios are seriously expensive. Don’t waste time buying features your soldiers will never use. On the other hand don’t skimp either. You get what you pay for. A kilo or two of radio that never works is a waste.

    Word to the wise: be VERY aware of the kind of signals you’re pumping out. The Soviets were seriously good at direction-finding so if you’re constantly pumping out signals to maintain ‘situational awareness’ expect a care package from the nearest enemy mortar or artillery unit soonest! Frequency hopping and burst transmission are your friends but seriously expensive. Not everyone in your section needs to talk to Washington!

    Ah yes. The famous Woobie. Yes, very useful. Forget the poncho, you need two sheets the same size, without head holes, and with reinforced grommets along all sides, plus six bungies. That’s you summer evenings sorted. Basha as a ground sheet, another one as your roof, stretched out and kept up with bungies, and then the Woobie to wrap yourself in.

    No compasses, GPS, or maps? Are you mad? Every man should have a compass, preferably two – a prismatic on the webbing and a Silva in a pocket. Every gets lost at some time. I’ve never used a GPS so I don’t know what I’m missing.

    Spare batteries. Add a few to your webbing. There will be times you can’t dash off to the track, And what happens if your track it hit by something unpleasant? Oh, and I have a list a mile long of bits of kit that DON’T use standard batteries.

    Yes, I agree with you on the tools, but what happens if your bucket is buggered and you have to dig in where you are?

    Mech infantry is easy. Anything not carried is dumped in the track. Try doing this for a light infantryman and see how you go! πŸ˜€

    1. parvusimperator Post author

      The above radios are frequency-hopping, burst-transmitting, encrypted, buzzword-laden, superfancy little things. Google them, they’re awesome. And yes, expensive. No worries. Here’s my Visa Black. πŸ™‚

      (And of course it’s way harder for light infantry. But I started with my beloved mech infantry, because you can fix a lot of things (e.g. rations, ammo, water) by throwing extras in the vehicle). Water is so damn heavy. Also, I think I assumed “generic European-like” operating environment. For someplace drier, I’m with you on more damn water.

      PSQ-20s are for night vision, which is an entirely separate problem than the sighting optics on one’s carbine. You might disagree with the model choice, but if you’d fight at night without NVGs these days you’re nuts.

      Oh boy. The HK 416. I’m not actually sure that (or the M4) has been compared directly with the AK in some formal test, but I’m totally open to links proving otherwise. You might be referring to the (infamous) 2007 Dust Test, which compared the M4, HK416, SCAR-L, and XM8. It was pretty contentious at the time, and probably still is (because it was a really badly designed test). For a great breakdown of that test, the results, and the problems of that test, look here. Even if I take the M4’s numbers at face value, 624 stoppages out of 60,000 rounds fired is a pretty solid 98.6% reliability rate. The 416 is a 99.6% reliability rate. That’s really good. And that’s in a bizarre sustained sandstorm environment. If you have MRBS numbers for, say, an AK-74, I would love to see them.

    2. parvusimperator Post author

      Hmm. So most of the radios (the -159s) are designed for communicating locally (i.e. amongst other squaddies and the vehicle(s)). They’re walkie-talkie looking things. I didn’t put in a bunch of maps/compasses/GPS, because I didn’t plan on a lot of squad separation.

      How would you set up your comms, then?

  3. John Rowe

    No evidence I’m afraid. I just recall what I read aeons ago. Even if I’d taken a copy of the article, I’d never be able to find it in this palace of paper, graveyard of forests. πŸ˜€

    1. parvusimperator Post author

      Ok. Well, I’ll attempt to defend the thing anyway. I don’t think its perfect. But I do think it’s an excellent choice given the technology we have available. Loooong comment incoming.

      Lots of M16/M4 problem stories come out of Nam, and a few more have come out of Wanat. At Wanat, it was used like a GPMG, running the damn thing cyclic (i.e. stopping only to reload) until it came apart. No carbine can take the sustained rate of fire that a GPMG with a quick-change barrel can. I babble quite a bit more on heat problems, and how many rounds you can shoot until things break here.

      The Vietnam stories come from some actual problems. The M16 was the adapted version of the AR-15, a private venture from Armalite. The 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington cartridge was also a private venture, and it was designed with DuPont IMR8208M stick powder in mind, and that’s how it was tested and approved. The rifles in the field got cartridges made with Olin Mathieson WC846 ball powder, which fouled a lot more (it leaves a lot of calcium carbonate residue behind). The M16 was designed to be lightweight, so it has a piston on the back of the bolt, which means no op-rod weight. Instead, there’s a gas tube, which can clog. On top of this, the soldiers were told the rifle was “self cleaning”, and were not issued cleaning kits. And it jammed. This powder issue was corrected. Note that the powder change also caused extraction failures. Which also got corrected (before the poweder fouling if memory serves).

      There was also the massively stupid decision to not chrome-line the chambers, and in Southeast Asia, this caused all manner of rust problems. Again, this problem has also been corrected. Annoyingly for us analysts, lots of fixes have been rolled in over the years, so that the M4 of today is a lot more reliable than the M16A1 of Vietnam. And that’s really what makes it so hard to dethrone: the bugs are long since tweaked away. With a rifle developed through a normal trials program, these bugs would have been dealt with earlier. The M16 had the misfortune to have skipped the “final development” phase and get put in service early. So final testing was done by men in combat. That said, despite the problems, S.L.A. Marshall still said it did better (i.e. was more reliable) than the M1 Carbine did in Korea.

      Really though, with modern ammo QC, the big thing is keep your M16 oiled. Here‘s a copy of an article from S.W.A.T. magazine about a rifle made to the mil spec (ok, different handguard…) that went for well over 31,000 rounds with no cleaning, just lubrication adding.

      As always, the question is who is using your rifle, in what environment. The M16 requires more user-level maintenance than an AK, though not as much as some claim. It is also easier for an armorer to service an M16 (swap uppers, barrels, etc). The AK does better in sand tests. The M16 does better in mud tests. Both will hate you if you get crap in the trigger group. Both were developed for conscript armies, albeit armies with very different ways of doing things. And both rifles were developed to suit.

      Wow I wrote a lot. For more information, see Collector Grade Publications’ The Black Rifle.

  4. Checkmate

    I’ve always disliked comparing the M16 and the AKM. Apples and oranges to my mind, since they belong to different stages in weapons design. The counterpart to the M16 is the AK-74 (in 5.45) while the counterpart to the AKM/AK-47 is the FN FAL.


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