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Old 01-31-2018, 08:36 AM   #371
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Default Re: Moving on from grenade launchers to AK-type SBRs

Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
In my role as Assistant GM, I suggested that such a team already existed and was held in reserve if it proved necessary to sterilise the mission upon a sufficiently terrible failure.
Makes sense. When you employ a team of potential supervillains, having a way to cut them off seems wise. Of course, more pieces on the board means more ways to mess up the game.
Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
And no matter how ancient, cosmic and incomprehensible the horrors, I want a fair shake at humanity giving as good as it gets.
The scenario in question was diplomacy with the Elder Things, given that they and humanity had a common interest. It's just that there's a risk that people will wig out when they meet their first aliens.
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Old 01-31-2018, 12:13 PM   #372
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Default Re: Moving on from grenade launchers to AK-type SBRs

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Makes sense. When you employ a team of potential supervillains, having a way to cut them off seems wise.
Especially when the last team of supersoldiers you employed ended up deserting en masse while on the same mission.

Possibly because you gave them orders they found immoral. Though it could also be that they had been planning it for a long time and maneuvered into a position where they could control all aspects of the operation and force Onyx Rain to focus on multiple important issues at once, preventing any immediate pursuit. It may be that Col. Ortiz is long gone from Mexico, having only left a rear guard to lay a false scent and divert Onyx Rain into conflict with Vargas' Caballeros templarios.

Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Of course, more pieces on the board means more ways to mess up the game.
There were already many, many ways to do that, of course.

The benefit of all the pieces is that the GM always has a plausible excuse to have Raymond Chandler's proverbial Man with a Gun in His Hand come through the door, if there seems to be a lack of action sequences.

I mean, one member of the PCs' team is very much against solving problems with violence, at least if it involves messy violence happening near him. Two team members have strong reasons to oppose any course of action that would bring them into conflict with Vargas. One team member would be very much against any violence directed at Col. Ortiz and the other Special Forces men. And the team leader has her own moral scruples, being, at least for the moment, a loyal agent of Onyx Rain.

So having people that all or most of the PCs' team can defend themselves against without moral controversy could prove important to allow for sufficient action. I'm not sure how much patience the GM will have for careful surveillance, step-by-step investigation and session after session of tradecraft only broken up with interpersonal soap opera. The GM is very much more fond of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than John le Carré or even Tom Clancy, Alistair MacLean or Stephen Hunter.

Happily, Juarez Valley is within driving distance from the territory of several violent Drug Trafficking Organisations (DTOs), not to mention some five street gangs, and there is more or less an active war going on between them, with rapidly shifting allegiances. So there will never be any lack of a Man With a Gun in His Hand bursting through doors, if the GM gets bored.

But this way, there's an ultimate threat, ready to jump to if the rest of the adventure appears too likely to be resolved with diplomacy, at least if that diplomacy is not to Onyx Rain's liking.
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Old 02-01-2018, 03:36 AM   #373
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Default Military Career, Enlistment Length, Extending, Re-enlistment, etc. 1996-

This isn't specifically a technothriller gear question, but US SOF operate under the assumption that humans are more important than hardware.

I'm trying to narrow down a vaguely plausible career for Ilana Rubio in the US Army. She joined up after a couple of years in college. Theoretically, she could have joined at any point between early 1995 and late 1997, but if it was 1997, she'd have enlisted with a degree. Most likely year of enlistment is 1996.

Ilana did ROTC in college, but decided against finishing school and going the commissioned officer path. Possibly someone informed her that the chances of a female officer being allowed to attend fun training schools in killing people and breaking things were even lower than for enlisted women.

She is a native Spanish-speaker, having grown up in bilingual household in Orange County. As a result of that language proficiency, high ASVB scores (IQ 14) and her interest in becoming a federal law enforcement officer (DEA, specifically) after her enlistment ends, she asked for, and got, MOS 97E, Human Intelligence Collector (now 35M).

I'm guessing her initial enlistment was either two years active, six years reserve or four and four. Just enough to allow her to apply to the DEA as a veteran and maybe earn enough college credits from her HUMINT training and a distance learning program to finish a degree.

If she were male or if she had been enlisting after 2013, she would have volunteered for selection to special operations forces, direct action, counterterrorism, air assault or some other exciting, kinetic assignments with any elite unit that would take her. Airborne, Rangers, Special Forces or something secretive and acronym-rich. She was into extreme sports and genuinely wanted the Army to provide her with sheer cliffs to scale, storms or typhoons to survive, fast vehicles to drive, tacticool guns to shoot, exotic locales to be lost in and perfectly good airplanes to jump from.

As it was, the closest that I can find to excitement for a female 97E in the late 90s would be pursuing an assignment with the intelligence support for Special Operations Forces (SOF). Not a combat assignment, but at least deployable, combat support. And they have to be Airborne-capable, so she got to attend Jump Scool at Ft. Benning. So, excitement-adjacent.

No Ranger School, probably no SERE (though if there was a way for a female 97E to get into it, she'd have tried) and none of the fun schools with lots of rounds expended, playing with explosives or defensive driving. If anyone knows of military schools or training programs open to women in the 1990s, which would appeal to an adrenaline junkie determined to prove herself better, harder and tougher than everybody else, please suggest some.

In her own time, she started to learn Arabic, expecting to perhaps deploy on something similar to Gothic Serpent in Africa. Also, in case the No Fly Zone or the Kurds led to clashes with the Iraqis, it would prove invaluable, maybe get her in country with advisors or SOF. It might even have some application in the Balkans, at least with the foreign trainers that were rumored to be there. She also started learning Farsi/Dari, probably in connection with a relationship with someone of Central Asian, Persian-speaking origin, and ended up liking the language, culture, literature and poetry. She might have had some fantasy that it would be useful in getting her noticed by Top Secret Iran-watchers, but mostly, I suspect, she had personal reasons for wanting to understand someone better.

[The player hasn't detailed her past, just giving me verbal notes, but did mention 'a string of failed relationships'. Until he objects, I shall insert suggestions for failed relationships where appropriate.]

Because of her Spanish proficiency, law enforcement interest (pursuing a Criminology degree) and excellent performace reports, she was assigned to Joint Task Force - North in El Paso shortly after she finished her training. Her next assignment, after attenting Jump School, was Ft. Bragg, as an intellingence specialist in support of special operations.

I don't know what kind of training that usually entails, as the position usually involves staying in a FOB base and assist the SOF staff with briefings or being responsible for the debriefings of friendly foreign nationals, deserters and possibly enemy combatant detainees, but that would usually not be done on site.

In any case, during her assignment to support the 7th SFG (A) at Ft. Bragg, Ilana came across an opportunity to attend special operation type training. True, not genuine SFQC and it wouldn't lead to any combat assignment, but she, and some other selected volunteer women, would train with current SF operators, as well as SFAS candidates, and get to attempt all the same tasks.

The fact that Project Jade Serenity was also a drug trial for some kind of new nootropic drugs, as well as a wide variety of other, supposedly performance-enhancing supplements, given to different groups of participants at various times through the year long duration of the program, didn't matter much to Ilana Rubio. She'd get to play with all the same toys as the boys!

She also got abbreviated language school for a few months, mostly to serve as a convenient subject to measure the effects of the nootropic drugs, but she did get her Dari up to Accented, her Arabic up to Broken (better at reading it or quoting directly from the Quran), as well as making some strides in learning Central Asian CF and memorizing the Quran. She also attended Spanish classes with most of the SF candidates, studying Central and South American dialects.

Her teacher in the exotic languages was an Afghan Tajik, a defector from the Soviet Army who'd worked for the CIA until they lost most of their interest in Afghanistan with the fall of the Soviet Union. He also taught her some words of Pashto, but it didn't even reach Broken, as he didn't really know the language of the rural tribesmen that well. He was employed more because he already had a TS-SCI clearance and a friendly relationship with the Head of Security at the Project than because Dari was a sought after language in US SOF circles.

Now, whether she enlisted for two years of active duty, and extended by another two when she had a chance for Jump School, or was four-and-four from the start, Ilana's enlistment would run out just as Project Jade Serenity ran its course. I imagine that this was unacceptable to TPTB and a contract clause similar to those for real SFQC was inserted.

That specifies a minimum of 36 months remaining Time-in-Service (TIS) after the completion of SFQC. If the soldier would have less, he has to extend or re-enlist prior to starting SFQC. If we assume identical wording in her case, what would that mean for her, practically? Depending on when, precisely, she enlisted, she could have anywhere from six months to two years left before starting Project Jade Serenity. And there would be those four reserve years left, too.

Would the simplest and most reasonable way to meet the remaining TIS requirement have been to agree to convert the four reserve years into active duty? Or would she add extra years to her current enlistment, still having those four reserve years?

Or would she re-enlist for a period of another four-and-four?

Which would a male soldier do, having finished SFAS and going into SFQC, if he had about a year left of his original active duty enlistment and four years of reserve enlistment? Or, as having to meet minimum remaining TIS requirements to qualify for expensive or sought after school billets is not unique to secret squirrel spec-ops, what do soldiers usually do?

Re-enlist or extend for exactly the required period? Serve the reserve years of their original enlistment as active duty or just add the extra time of the extension before the reserve years start counting?

After Jade Serenity, she was not tainted by the cluster-buggery of failure and recriminations among the officers and civilian staff in charge. I imagine that in 2000-2001, she found returning to the duties of intelligence support dull, but that may have changed with 9/11.

Some evidence suggests that after 9/11, 97-Echos or the later equivalents were used by some commanders in Afghanistan and Iraq to provide translation during classified missions where the local interpreter wasn't trusted, exploit sensitive sites, interview detainees during operations to determine whether they were worth detaining or should be left behind or to obtain current actionable intelligence.

Local commanders of Rangers, Airborne units, SF and others would also sometimes set up informal intelligence networks, with paid and unpaid informants, as well as data obtained from open sources (RUMINT :-). 97-Echoes or 35M who had language proficiency were invaluable in such efforts.

So, Ilana Rubio had interesting duties and possibly a greater degree of latitude in how close she got to action than the peacetime Army would have allowed. All the same, she wasn't at the tip of the spear, which would rankle, especially now as she had passed similar selection and went through similar training.

So, when would her enlistment run out and force her to decide whether to go back to her original plan in life and apply to the DEA or to stay a soldier?

2003, when the minimum three years of extra extension would have been up?

2004, when her original eight year enlistment would have run out, counting both active duty and reserve years?

2007, if extending by three years didn't affect the years you had remaining as reserve and the Army decided that an interrogator with functional, if not perfect, Arabic and Dari knowledge was too valuable to lose?

Even later, through some combination of stop-loss, extension bonuses or re-enlistment bonuses that made leaving early a really stupid decision?
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Last edited by Icelander; 02-01-2018 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:13 AM   #374
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Default Norinco Weapons

The Knights Templars (Caballeros templarios) cartel, a surviving splinter faction of which Raul Vargas leads*, used to control the majority of Michoacán's exports of iron ore to China. They also bought most of their precursor chemicals for methamphetamine production through their Chinese and other Asian connections.

With millions of tons of cargo worth literally billions of dollars (at one point, the cartel controlled 44% of all Mexico's iron exports, generating a profit of approximately a billion a year for the organisation) going out from the Lazaro Cardenas docks, it makes sense for the ships not to return empty. Granted, the vast majority of the cargo that came back was probably Chinese-made clothes, electronics, entertainment and other consumer goods.

But I figured that a dedicated criminal enterprise might as well import illegal stuff as well. Couldn't just be precursor chemicals and counterfeit fashion. So, I imagine that the Caballeros bought Chinese-made weapons.

Not sporting weapons or even pistols, because these are available through smuggling over the US border, and, frankly, the Hollywood-saturated buyers of illegal firearms prefer Colts, Smith & Wessons or Brownings to Norinco-made Makarovs. Well, actually, I suppose that the Norinco M1911 pistols were very well made and there might be a market for them, especially if Norinco can sell them .38 Super models and/or the Cabelleros found a gunsmith to custom decorate them. Nothing a Mexican narco gunman likes more, apparently, than a pimped-up, sweet-ass, hella-fancy, narco-chic, religious, skull-decorated, Santa Muerte featuring, engraved, golden or silvery, Colt 1911 in .38 Super. They'll take a .45 if sufficiently classy.

Mostly, though, they were buying the military hardware that they found it hard to acquire by other methods. Perfectly legitimate export firearms from Norinco, all the paperwork in order, with end-user certificates that may have been less than factual. Small parts of shipments marked as exported to somewhere like Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Phillipines, Pakistan, Bolivia, Paraguay or a wide variety of African countries, actually diverted for shipment to Lazaro Cardenas.

In light of this, I'd like to get some stats for these weapons.

Norinco CQ (clone of M16A1)
Will this differ in any way from an M16A1? By which I mean, is it a faithful copy, improvement or an inferior copy?

CQ-A 5.56mm Type A assault carbine (M4A1 clone)
Would this have stats that differed in any way from the M4A1 listed in High-Tech? Even if it's just a single ounce of weight or something. It's not a completely slavish copy, at least, it's got a 1:9 twist barrel, instead of the 1:7 barrels that the M4A1 is issued with (1:9 twist frankly works better with most 5.56x45mm ammunition other than military tracers).

QBZ-56C (compact carbine variant of Type 56-II (AKM copy))
Ironically, Wikipedia includes more English-language information than most anything else I can find online, though obviously I don't know if it's accurate or, for example, whether the listed Weight is given loaded, without magazine or perhaps with unloaded magazine.
And do we have official stats for 7.62x39mm out of an 11-inch barrel?

Norinco LG2 under-barrel grenade launcher (looks very like an M203 clone)
Do we know if this differs in any way from the weapon it is built to emulate?

QLZ-87 automatic grenade launcher
Do we already have official GURPS stats for this in some supplement I have forgotten or a Pyramid article that slipped my mind? Because if not, I'll certainly have to stat it...

QSW-06 (suppressed pistol in 5.8x21mm subsonic)
The replacement for the QSW-67 (Tactical Shooting p. 56) silent pistol. Much more exotic and likely to be harder to acquire than the Norinco rifles, as I have not heard about foreign sales of this weapon. On the other hand, the potential utility for ninja-style, honest to goodness assassinations means that it would be at least worth the effort for Vargas to try...
Hard to stat, as I've seen contradictory information on the velocity of the subsonic DCV05 round (from ca 500 fsp to ca 980 fps, with 900 fps sounding fairly plausible) and haven't yet confirmed whether it uses the same 46 grain APHC bullets as the DAP92 round in the same caliber (not likely, as the subsonic round needs to have much lower velocity, which usually means a heavier bullet). And I have no idea whether the suppressor rates -1, -2 or -3. Or even -4, despite that being extremely rare with real suppressors.

*From the briefing information available to our characters, apparently as allies, subordinate enforcer gang or perhaps even a semi-independent sub-branch of the Sinaloa cartel. More accurately, perhaps, as mercenaries or foederati, granted territory in disputed border areas and expected to hold it against Los Zetas (as well as any of their splinter groups), CJNG, recalcitrant remnants of the Juarez cartel, including the Nuevo Cartel de Juárez, former Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO) crews, whatever remains of CDG and any independent operators.
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Old 02-01-2018, 10:34 PM   #375
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Default Re: [Modern Firepower] Technothriller gear for secret DHS team in 2017

Isn't there a super cool 'totally not a M14' Norinco?
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:30 PM   #376
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Default Re: [Modern Firepower] Technothriller gear for secret DHS team in 2017

Originally Posted by Kalzazz View Post
Isn't there a super cool 'totally not a M14' Norinco?
I knew Norinco made the M14S rifle, apparently a reasonably close copy of the M1A, itself a civilian-legal, semi-automatic version of the M14, but was hitherto unaware that it was considered especially cool.

It's fairly popular as a hunting rifle in Canada. And I note, upon checking it out now, that it's also made in a 18.5" barrel version, the M305, which certainly moves it in the direction of 'cool'. Still just a fairly plain looking hunting rifle with an unimpressive plastic stock. Wooden stocks are much classier, whereas there exist many cooler and more tactical synthetic scopes than the neither fish-nor-fowl plastic stock Norinco puts on their M14S and M305 rifles. However, installing an aftermarket stock is easy and will not usually run more than $50 to $200, depending on what stock you want.

Using an iPad, I can't actually Google in another tab while writing a post, not without losing the text, so I can't check if Norico makes any other copies of the M14, such as perhaps one incorporating the various modernising, tacticool features of the Mk14 Mod 0 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR). Now, that would qualify as 'super cool'.

Actually, I suppose that a competent unit armourer from any military that wasn't completely primitive*, as well as any reasonably handy hobbyist gunsmith, could order all the aftermarket parts necessary to make a Norinco into an EBR clone and do the work himself. Of course, that would probably cost enough to wipe out most of the savings from buying a Norinco M305 instead of just starting with a Springfield M1A. Might still be cheaper than faithfully copying all the features on an American rifle, though I seem to recall that either Springfield or someone else sold a factory rifle with most of the tacticool traits that make an EBR. Probably was ridiculously pricey, though. Edit: It's Fulton Armory that make commercial versions of Mk 14 EBR rifles, and yes, they are ridiculously expensive, at north of $3,000.

And, unlike the CQ (M16A1 copy), CQ-A (M4A1 copy), Type 56-II (AKM copy) or the CBZ-56c (compact Type 56-II, equivalent to an AKMSU), the Norinco M305 rifle isn't a copy of the selective fire military version, but is more or less functionally identical to the civilian-legal, semi-automatic only rifles that you can have a straw purchaser buy in any Texas, Arizona or New Mexico gun store just over the border.

That's not to say that selective fire is actually all that useful in the M14, though, and I think that as a marksman's rifle a semi-automatic copy of it would be entirely acceptable. But it still means that the Norinco M305 is merely a cheaper version of a weapon they can already source elsewhere fairly easily, whereas the Norinco military rifles are something that just isn't available absent special connections, whether with a corrupt police department, the commandant of a military arsenal or Central American paramilitary movements.

And even then, what you mostly get from corrupt government officials or foreign revolutionaries are old, poorly maintained weapons of military design, not factory new weapons like they could source from Norinco while they were doing so much business with Chinese businessmen entirely comfortable with manipulating the grey market.

Were you thinking of the M14S, the M305 or some other Norinco copy of the M14, which could absolutely exist without me being aware of it?

Edit: Google tells me, now that I have dragged myself out of bed and to an actual computer, that Norinco has made copies of the selective fire M14. Still haven't found whether that was a one off a long time ago or whether they are selling someone a regular supply of it. In the latter case, it would be much easier for the Knight Templars to arrange to buy some with fake end user certificates.

It's not like the cartel gunmen were ever going to be buying enough to justify Norinco retooling and making a new production run of something they're not selling anymore, after all. At least I think not. I don't imagine that a couple of dozen sales justify even a minor variant of a factory made good, but I'm not certain how expensive (or not) it would be for Norinco to produce their M14 clones to slightly different specifications than the ones they are currently selling to Canadian hunters. And, I imagine, it's not like it was common knowledge among Norinco executives to whom they were selling. A few morally and legally flexible executives somewhere in the supply chain, yes. Not necessarily someone who could order a new variant made, even if he had the power to divert a small percentage of sales meant for somewhere else.

Of course, Vargas wouldn't be very interested in any battle rifle / DMR unless it could easily mount modern optics and accessories and preferably adjust the stock to the user (especially if he's wearing body armour), which means P-rails and a new stock, at least. In fact, reasonable ergonomics would matter more to him than selective fire capability, at least for a rifle meant to be used by marksmen. The NAR-751 might have met with his favour, but given that the Knight Templars' control over the port of Lazaro Cardenas became contested in 2012 and pretty much ended in 2014, it wasn't available while they were receiving shipments from China. Apparently, the earlier NAR-10 rifle was not a commercial success, but if that was unrelated to poor functionality, they might have bought some of those.

*Like many other cartels in Mexico, Vargas' faction of the Knight Templars actively recruits from the military and police. Vargas also used his contacts with veterans of special operations and commando units in Central and South America (from having been a member of 7th SFG (A) for many years, thus training every year with special units in Latin America) to bring in some old comrades with combat experience, when he first got involved in the drug trade. He has continued to recruit from wartorn Central America through the connections of those of his men who come from there. So he might well have an armourer from the Mexican Army or some police unit; or from the militaries of Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia or from other armies that have worked with US Special Forces in 1980-1999.
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Old 02-03-2018, 06:13 AM   #377
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Default AAC Honey Badger LVC and the Hearing Distance Table

AAC Honey Badger LVC .300 Blackout

I want to stat the AAC Honey Badger .300 Blackout, in the prototype configuration that DEVGRU received as the Low-Visibility Carbine.

I haven't been able to find conclusive data on the exact configuration that Advanced Armament Corporation supplied to DEVGRU for testing, but the information from Silvers in 2012 should be pretty close, as he was head of R&D at AAC at the time.

What information I mostly lack is how long the carbine is overall without the suppressor, how much the suppressor weighs and how much trouble it is to remove and attach. I know it's probably not a QD model, but does that mean two seconds longer than a QD model to remove or attach or does it mean five minutes with tools?

I also lack data on how many weapons AAC ultimately delivered during the classified testing process, where the AAC Honey Badger competed against the SIG MCX, an offering from LWRC, possibly a version of the LWRC M6, and one or more manufacturers who have elected to have their involvement remain secret, but whose products might have included versions of the Colt SCW, HK416c or FN SCAR-PDW/FN SCAR-P, either in 5.56x45mm or re-chambered for .300 Blackout or 6.8mm SPC.

I'll only be featuring a couple of AAC Honey Badgers with the DEVGRU operators, unless I find evidence of two different configurations that both seem intriguing, in which case there will be two of one configuration and one weapon in the other. No matter how few were delivered for testing, it doesn't seem unrealistic that a platoon from Black Squadron could manage to scrounge up 2-3 examples still in DEVGRU armouries two years after testing finished.

And, yes, I am aware of the Honey Badger by Q, a company founded by Kevin Brittingham, the original founder of AAC and driving force behind the AAC Honey Badger. However, there are substantial cosmetic changes from the original AAC weapon which was tested by DEVGRU and these may reflect some significant mechanical modifications. In any case, not the exact same weapon and not with the exact same stats, not to mention, an entirely new suppressor. It may even be a better weapon, but as I have no reliable information that anything designed or built by Q has been delivered to DEVGRU or any JSOC unit, I was going to avoid featuring it. The weapons available will be remaining test carbines and thus made by AAC.

GURPS rules question about the AAC Honey Badger: Do I give the suppressor a -2 to Hearing or a -3?

It's basically a question of rounding up or down for the measured dB performance and selecting which benchmark we wish to be consistent with.

Combined with the subsonic bonus, even -2 would be generous in actual dB terms (measured performance is 124-126 dB, possibly up to 128-130 dB for the compact suppressor). However, if we compare to stats for other suppressors that GURPS already has statted, then suppressors of this expense level and quality (other AAC suppressors appear in GURPS products) are often -3 to Hearing. If we limit the purpose-built suppressed weapon to -2 Hearing, you can reach better GURPS sound-suppression with subsonic rounds in weapons that demonstratably are noisier than the AAC Honey Badger in real life.

In a nutshell, do we go with consistency with an externally measurable dB number* (and and the usual mathematical convention of rounding up for 5 and higher) or do we elect consistency with already published stats for suppressors, which allow more variation in quality and differentiate between weapon systems considered distinct in real life?

Which would mean that the best suppressors in common calibers were basically limited to -2 Hearing penalty, plus a -1 subsonic bonus. Importantly, and contra published stats, with the combined penalty of -3 Hearing and -2 subsonic bonus being unknown, as far as I know, for 5.56x45mm, .300 Blackout, 6.8 SPC or .458 SOCOM, and, in fact, may only exist for huge rifle rounds which start out at a higher dB rating. Not to mention that pistols would be limited to -2 or very rarely -3 combined Hearing penalty from subsonic ammo and suppressor, for all common calibers like .380 ACP, 9x19mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP.

A problem here is that the MP5SD is given -3 Hearing, which does not specify whether it already includes the subsonic ammo bonus. Assuming that it does, this is actually pretty fair for the measured dB of the weapon system, which ranges from 123 dB to 132 dB, depending on who is measuring and how. The problem lies in the fact that the H&K Mk23 pistol and the M4 are both given -3 Hearing with their standard military issue suppressors, giving them both the same GURPS dB level as an MP5SD, even using standard ammo.*

Measurable dB for supersonic 5.56x45mm from a suppressed M4 and the .45 ACP +P fired from the Mk23 are both around 138-139 dB. It's possible that the best AAC suppressors and other, 2010s era, suppressors for the M4 might give slightly better performance, as in 130-134 dB.

This is not to say that giving -3 Hearing for the excellent quality suppressors used by SMUs under JSOC for these weapons is wrong. In fact, they can both perform well enough to reduce sound signature by over 30 dB.

It's just that starting from 150 dB for .45 ACP or supersonic 5.56x45mm is very generous. It's rounding down from 158-159 dB to 150 dB, before we start modifying the sound signature.

Of course, no matter how good the suppressor is, it won't silence the supersonic crack of 5.56x45mm using standard military ammunition. So one should not expect a suppressed M4A1 carbine using M885/M885A1 ball or Mk262 Mod 1 Black Hills 77 grain SMK to be effectively as covert as an MP5SD sub-machine gun, no matter what GURPS rules say.

So, do I base the Honey Badger suppression stats on consistency with MP5SD stats or with H&K Mk23 and M4A1 stats?

Of course, it's possible to interpret p. 158 of High-Tech as simply using another definition of measured dBs than simply peak pressure at muzzle, given that High-Tech states that the values are 'weighed for human hearing'. As gunshots are short, sharp noises, perhaps the system is rating them as lower dB than their peak, which causes them to be assigned a line about 8-15 dB lower than the measurements commonly cited in firearm publications?

This would mean that a suppressor could be measured as 120-124 dB, but still be accurately placed a line or two lower on the Hearing Distance Table, because it's harder to notice and place over a long distance, with environmental noises, than sustained noise at its measured level. If this is a possible interpretation, I like it. It allows GURPS stats to work as written, even if real world measurements of suppressor performance are sometimes not as low as the lines they are assigned on the table.

*Especially egrerious with the M4 using supersonic 5.56x45mm ammo, of course. And using subsonic 5.56x45mm (which has many issues in actual practice, but whatever), we get the 100 dB 'Airgun, silent ammo, revvying gas engine' line on High-Tech p. 158. Suppressed, subsonic .223 are very quiet (ca 117 dB), but I've never seen an experiment where they could reach dB ratings quite that low.
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Old 02-03-2018, 06:14 AM   #378
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Default SIG MCX LVAW 'Black Mamba' .300 Blackout

SIG MCX LVAW 'Black Mamba' .300 Blackout

The rumour is that a JSOC contract for a Low-Visibility Assault Weapon (LVAW) was won in April 2015, by the SIG MCX in .300 Blackout, dubbed the 'Black Mamba' for its ability to 'kill' the Honey Badger's chances at the same contract.

From uncomfirmed reports on the Internet, as well as Leigh Neville's Guns of Special Forces 2001-2015, CAG/1st SFOD-D were working with SIG Sauer in developing a weapon with very similar qualities as the Honey Badger that DEVGRU was working on with AAC.

The CAG/Delta test weapons were allegedly SIG uppers with a 6.75" barrel and either a 1:5 or 1:6 twist rate (sources differ, both may have been tested or the 1:5 could have been only tested with the shorter 5.5" barrel), attached to a lower from JSOC armouries, probably an M4A1 lower, but conceivably a unit purchase of another AR-15 type lower.

JSOC may or may not have received complete carbines from SIG Sauer later on in the testing proccess, with 'Guns of Special Forces 2001-2015' making specific references to SIG MCX weapons, mentioning one with a CQB 9" barrel (MCX SBR) and one with a 16" barrel (MCX Carbine). Due to the modularity of the MCX design, changing barrels would be easy to do by the individual operator, so it is possible that all three barrel lengths were available on the same weapon.

From what I can tell, it appears that the SOCOM tender for a new PDW, which sounds very much like what JSOC was seeking with its Low-Visibility Assault Weapon, will be met by SIG Sauer uppers designed to make M4A1 carbines into weapons very close to the SIG MCX.

Of course, Special Mission Units (SMU) under JSOC, like CAG/1st SFOD-D and DEVGRU, have not always been bound to use the same weapons as the larger SOCOM command and not only does JSOC have its own budget and logistics chain, the individual units have wide latitude for unit purchases of necessary equipment.

However, it must be considered unlikely that JSOC will bother to acquire similar capabilities from another source if SOCOM has indeed accepted the SIG MCX (or as good as), especially as the acquisition process here seems likely to have been driven by JSOC and to reflect their internal selection of the SIG MCX LVAW 'Black Mamba' in 2015.

That weapon was apparently chosen after a testing process which seems to have been an informal exchange of ideas and development with AAC and SIG Sauer between 2009-2011, and may have become formal, well, as formal as classified acquisition contests ever are, around the year 2012. The selection of the SIG MCX LVAW (or LVAW upper from SIG, perhaps) was made in April 2015, as noted above.

Now, when our campaign is set, in February 2017, a year before SOCOM reached its decision (a couple of days ago in real life), and almost two years after JSOC allegedly bought an unknown number of LVAWs from SIG Sauer, in an unknown final configuration, there could have been a range of configurations of the SIG MCX available to operators from DEVGRU's Black Squadron. It's not certain or even likely that all the weapons JSOC tested, or the one eventually adopted by JSOC in 2015, is identical in specs to the PDW upper adopted by SOCOM in 2018.

Unless I hear arguments or find evidence that this is implausible, I shall be assuming that the 6.75" barrels were available for at least two and probably more weapons that the operators could get their hands on.

Edit: CAG/Delta was using 6.75" barrel MCX LVAW in late 2016, so we'll call availability of that one confirmed. DEVGRU is rumoured to be less fond of the compact MCXs than CAG/Delta, but they were allegedly running some .300 Blackout carbine with a 12.5" barrel in 2016. Can't confirm whether they were MCXs with a special order for barrel length or a different weapon / upper receiver group for AR-15 type lowers acquired as a unit purchase. Also, there are rumours about the new version of the Honey Badger by Q being tested on an individual or unit level by DEVGRU, even after JSOC as a whole selected the SIG MCX.

I can't confirm whether the operators have complete rifles from SIG or are using M4A1 lowers with SOPMOD accessories and standard M4/CAR/RRA 6-positions stocks. The SIG MCX lower is not identical in function to the M4A1 lower and perhaps the most vital difference is that the MCX doesn't use the stock as part of the gas system/buffer tube. As a result, the MCX can mount a folding stock or a stock that is fully retractable, and the weapon would fire without the stock deployed. This allows a significant reduction in overall length (OAL), which makes the weapon much more concealable during covert insertion or low-profile bodyguard missions. So a SIG-made complete MCX LVAW carbine would have an advantage over a weapon constructed from existing JSOC lowers and only buying uppers from SIG Sauer.

Does anyone know whether some of the MCX LVAW carbines tested by CAG/ACE (1st SFOD-D/Delta) and the rest of JSOC between 2012-2015 were early production models of complete MCX weapons or whether they were all just assembled by unit armourers from existing parts and SIG MCX uppers?

Does anyone have a guess as to which they'd find plausible?

My personal guess, unless convinced otherwise, is going to be 'both'. It was a testing proccess, they tried several variations. But the test weapons might have been only a half dozen or a dozen, over the whole command.

What about the more numerous order of low-visibility carbines in .300 Blackout they bought as part of the LVAW contract between April 2015 and February 2017?

More expensive, but objectively slightly superior, complete weapons from SIG?

Or a more economical purchase of only SIG MCX uppers in .300 Blackout, because they have enough M4A1 lowers with shot-out barrels, even if they end up half a foot longer when folded for concealment?

The cheaper option would be cheaper by maybe $100 to $500 per unit, depending on how much of the SOPMOD Block II furniture they could re-use from their existing stocks. I don't know the per unit replacement price of an M4A1, let alone just the lower, but in the civilian world, similar lower receiver groups with stocks go for $150-$250. SIG probably sells theirs for more.

The rails and various other furniture adds to that, so the savings could be fairly substantial. On the other hand, existing rails and a lot of what they have in stocks as part of SOPMOD Block II kits can just as easily be mounted on complete SIG MCX carbines, if they are ordered without any extras that you already have.

The third option for the MCX configuration available to the SEALs watching over our PCs is if I assume that in our world, in early 2017, JSOC had already done what SOCOM is doing this week, with the ten PDW uppers they are buying (probably the first of several orders), and just bought SIG stock adapters, folding/telescoping stocks and skeletonised PDW stocks as parts with their ordered uppers, allowing them to still get some use out of their old M4A1 lowers, even if they are by now replacing most of the original parts.

That way, all the SIG MCX carbines used for testing could still be available from the JSOC armouries, but with the stock that operators are likely to have preferred in a weapon designed for concealment, regardless of how they originally arrived. This is actually quite plausible.

Sound suppression

The 'Black Mamba', as supplied to CAG/1st SFOD-D during testing, is allegedly 10 dBs quieter than the AAC Honey Badger model which was supplied to DEVGRU. That's another -1 Hearing, no matter what I give the Honey Badger. Of course, if I round favourably to the Honey Badger, I will also end up giving the 'Black Mamba' stats that are more favourable than the actual measured dBs, I imagine, possibly more favourable than any existing firearm other than slide-locked .22 LR pistols with the best suppressors in the world and some kind of hypothetical bolt-action carbine with small, low-powered subsonic rounds and a massive suppressor.

Once I have the stats for the AAC Honey Badger, working up the 'Black Mamba' stats ought to be a snap.
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Last edited by Icelander; 02-04-2018 at 09:15 AM.
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Old 02-03-2018, 05:33 PM   #379
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Default Accuracy of AK-type weapons, barrel length and quality

I've been comparing the various rifles and carbines that would be suitable to a cover identity as Mexican private security (of dubious legality), autodefensas, militia or cartel gunmen. Assuming the planners at Onyx Rain wanted to leave the option of kinetic engagement open without leaving forensic evidence that points to elite Tier One US military special mission units (SMUs), they should avoid chamberings that aren't used by the cartels in Mexico.

From what I can find out, the most common calibers used by cartel gunmen would be 7.62x39mm, 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington, 9x19mm, .380 ACP, .38 Special, .38 Super, .45 ACP, .30-30, 7.62x54mmR, 7.62x51mm/.308 Winchester, .22 LR, .32 ACP and .25 ACP. I'm not certain about the relative order, it's more of a guess in some cases.

I do know that 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm are by far the most common in cartel murders. 5.56x45mm ammunition is available from deserters from the military, corrupt supply personnel for security forces and military and smuggled from the US. Seems to have higher street value than illegally imported surplus 7.62x39mm or even 7.62x54mmR.

7.62x51mm is fairly easily available for DTOs in Mexico, due to military stockpiles of G3A3 and G3A4 rifles and the rate of desertion from the military. As it turns out, however, it is not all that popular with cartel gunmen, with the recoil being hard to handle for mostly low skill users with little practice time.

The .30-30 is a common chambering among rural people, who may or may not have bothered to register an old lever action rifle passed down from the time before strict gun control. Winchester 94 in .30-30 sometimes called 'the poor man's AK'. More likely to be used in neighbour disputes than drug murders.

Pistols are used much less in actual drug-related murders in Mexico. This may be due to the risk that the intended victims may be armed and the limited usefulness of pistols as combat arms. .22 LR, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .380 ACP and .38 Special, i.e. the smaller, cheaper calibers theoretically legal for civilians in Mexico, were the most common criminal weapons before the militiarisation of the cartels and security forces.

This has changed post-2006 or so, with 9x19mm Parabellum having become the most common pistol round for murders at some point before 2011. .38 Super has long been the most prestigious caliber in Mexico and still remains the caliber that 'classy' narcos with lots of cash want their custom decorated Colt 1911s in. Both .38 Special and .380 ACP still enjoy some popularity with street level criminals, being cheaper and easier to get than smuggled 9x19mm Parabellum, but still almost as effective as other handgun rounds.

A lot of media attention focuses on 5.7x28mm and .50 BMG, but these are extremely rare. Rifles in .50 BMG require fairly sophisticated tactics and shooter skill to be used effectively, with the average cartel gunman being much better off with a cheaper and less cumbersome semi-automatic AK- or AR-type rifle.

The Five-SeveN has a significant cachet in narcocultura, but most of the gunmen who listen to the narcocorridos about their mystical 'matapolicia' qualities can't actually afford to get one, let alone keep it supplied with ammo to practice (or shoot for fun).

The 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm are obviously the most practical rounds. In this post, I'll focus on the 7.62x39mm, but since I was looking at AK accuracy, I felt that I might as well compare it to 5.45x39mm as well. The 5.45x39mm is actually not common at all in Mexico. It does not , however, immediately suggest 'US special operation forces'. If an ME or a homicide detective comes across some in Mexico, they will probably assume a cartel import.

Actually, that would probably apply to nearly any caliber that isn't something nearly unknown* in civilian hands or Third World military use. Like the 4.6x30mm, .300 Blackout, .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf or .500 S&W that certain parties are already packing...

For 5.45x39mm rounds, military weapons left on battlefields (or issued to local forces) in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have somehow turned up in cartel arsenals before, and it would not be any more implausible for cartels to acquire factory-new weapons from Bulgaria, Russia or Romania than it is for them to somehow acquire the factory-new H&K weapons that have been seized on occasion. Still much more notable than 7.62x39mm or 5.56x45mm, but not a dead give-away, I guess.

*Yes, I'm aware that civilians can get these in the US and that weapons and ammo are often smuggled over the border, but; a) AP ammo is not available to civilians, b) advanced subsonic ammunition is even rarer than the exotic calibers already are and c) only the .300 Blackout is actually used by enough civilian US shooters to maybe not immediately raise eyebrows.

Accuracy of AKs in 7.62x39mm

AK-type rifles in 7.62x39mm will usually have accuracy between 3 to 6 MOA with surplus military 7.62x39mm M43/57-N-231 ammunition. That's solidly Acc 4, with the worst performance arguably being Acc 3 (and Cheap rifles, e.g. the Russian military will reject any rifle which doesn't shoot better than 6 MOA).

Getting 1.75 MOA to 2.5 MOA from a mostly unmodified AK-type rifle looks doable, being mostly a matter of decent commerical or military-issue ammunition, with a well-maintained rifle that either arrived without any problems or has had minor issues with the gas system or parts fit fixed, either with a Dremel or switching out a part or two. I'll call this either Match ammo or a Fine (Accurate) rifle, for Acc 5, with the Cost difference usually being 'paid' mostly in user time to find a decent commercial rifle, to configure a rifle with a minor issue or to find commercial ammo that the rifle likes.

Extremely short-barrelled 'Krinkov' type 7.62x39mm SBRs might be represented with Acc 3, especially if not using Bullet Travel rules adjusted for individual chambering ballistics, but note that having a shorter barrel doesn't actually make them less mechanically accurate, just harder to shoot accurately with iron sights. And the difference in external ballistics between a 11.9" barrel (PM md 90 carbine) and a 16.3" barrel (AKM) is pretty much negliable anyway, at least in so far as concerns the ballistic trajectory.

Accuracy of AK-rifles in 5.45x39mm

Does anyone have good arguments why modern AK-type rifles chambered in 5.45x39mm should not have Acc 5, assuming that they are not defective or damaged?

From what I can find, the accuracy one can expect with surplus military 7N6 5.45x39mm ammunition from the few commercially available semi-automatic rifles in the US in the caliber is around 1.4 MOA to 3 MOA. When accuracy is worse than 4 MOA with 5.45x39mm, it's usually user error or some problem with the gas system, which can be a problem with certain models.

It looks like TL8 military models of Bulgarian, Polish, Romanian and Russian AK-74 type rifles mostly shoot 2-3 MOA. I'd call that functionally equivalent to most rifles which get Acc 5 in GURPS, including numerous common rifles chambered for 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington or .30-30 with military issue or common ammunition (better ammo and a decent rifle can yield MOA or better with these calibers, of course).

And, obviously, the 5.45x39mm 7N6 shoots flatter and retains velocity out to longer distances than any 7.62x39mm ammunition of which I'm aware, even from the longer RPK barrel. From a 16.3" barrel, the 5.45x39mm 7N6 is about equal in terms of trajectory to the NATO standard 5.56x45mm M885 from a 20" barrel and the round gets better external ballistics from carbine length barrels, i.e. 8" to 14.5", than 5.56x45mm M885.

I can find no justification for giving the AKS-74U (or similar short 5.45x39mm rifles) Acc 3 while the MP7A1 gets Acc 4. Or, rather, the MP7A1 is about equally accurate and has better ergonomics within a 100 yards. It gets rapidly less accurate after that, with the AKS-74U being easily capable of 'minute-of-bad-guy' accuracy at 300-500 yards, depending on user skill, but the MP7A1 being essentially useless at longer than 150 yards.

The H&K MP7A1 gets 3 MOA at a 100 yards, but given the rapid loss of velocity with distance, it's only 4 to 6 MOA at 200 yards and even worse after it goes transonic. It's got a 9" sight radius, which is pretty much exactly the same as the AKS-74U. Sure, the MP7A1 has much nicer sights, but if that has any game effects, it would be more elegant in rules terms to model it by calling it a +1 to skill at up to 100 yards.

The AKS-74U gets 2 to 5 MOA, depending on brand of ammo and exact rifle (not Fine, just differences between individual stock rifles), at ranges up to 400-500 yards. I couldn't find data for anyone shooting them at longer ranges, but I expect their accuracy gets worse as they hit the transonic zone. At any range, though, the 5.45x39mm rounds, even from only a 8" barrel, will have greater velocity and a flatter trajectory than the 4.6x30mm rounds from the 7" barrel of the MP7A1.

So either the AKS-74U rifle is Acc 4 or the MP7A1 is only Acc 3, with a special +1 bonus within 100 yards.

Considering that a lot of 3 to 5 MOA rifles with less velocity and worse trajectory than the 5.45x39mm from a short barrel get Acc 4 in GURPS, I think that I prefer just giving AKS-74Us Acc 4 unless they are shooting poor or unsuitable ammunition.

Actually, one reason why AKS-74Us might have a poor reputation for accuracy is that many rifles referred to by that name are made by individual gunsmiths or hobbyists (or are Khyber Pass copies) by cutting down a longer barrel. This will result in the wrong twist rate to shoot standard 53 grain surplus or military issue ammunition accurately from such a short barrel.
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Old 02-05-2018, 12:55 PM   #380
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Default Concealable Sniper Rifle (CSR)

According to unclassified information provided to firearms industry representatives, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) (well, a 'a command within SOCOM') was looking for a takedown precision rifle which would fit in a very compact case, be capable of being assembled quickly and delivering very accurate fire without re-zeroing. It also had to meet unspecified, but fairly predictable, requirements for sound suppression, compatibility with both existing and proposed accessories, reliability and ruggedness.

Technically, the U.S. Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) was the government organisation which released a BAA to the firearms industry in November 2011, but Leigh Neville' Guns of Special Forces 2001-2015 states that JSOC had started looking for a Clandestine Sniper Rifle / Clandestine Break-Down Rifle with the exact same technical requirements in 2010. As the Tier 1 Special Mission Units (SMU) under JSOC are exactly the end users one would have guessed had these requirements (along with CIA SAD/SOG), I find that assertion credible enough.

It looks like some or all of the McMillan Alias CS5, DRD Tactical Paratus P762, Remington CSR and Surgeon CSR rifles were designed to try to meet the JSOC requirements. No doubt other manufacturers also expressed interest and may even have participated in the selection proccess.

I have found no solid evidence, either way, on whether JSOC has made an ultimate decision yet. Unlike SOCOM contracts, JSOC contracts or discretionary unit purchases aren't published. There are sometimes credible rumours, most often quasi-verified by recent pictographic evidence of what appear to be Tier 1 unit operators (as evidenced by their other equipment) carrying the weapons that were rumoured to have been acquired. It's that sort of rumours I'm hoping for from forumites.

Nor do I know if JSOC plans to eventually acquire a dozen rifles or hundreds, though I can make a guess that any more than a couple of hundred would be implausible, considering how comparatively few operators there are in the Tier 1 SMUs under JSOC and that necessarily only a subset of them will be sharpshooters, snipers or covert infiltration specialists who might have a need for a weapon with such a narrow operational niche.

There are, however, several signs that the selection proccess has come far enough for there to be rifles in operational use with units under JSOC. And, obviously, the fact that several companies are seeking commercial sales for what appear to be their entries into the JSOC trials suggests that the trials may have ended.

Rumours from the end of 2016 suggest that the Remington CSR might have been acquired, possibly because of parts and accessories commonality with the Remington PSR, which was acquired SOCOM-wide as a sniper rifle.

At the very least, reports from Tampa, Florida are that some unspecified shooters from an unrevealed unit falling under SOCOM (which is usually code for CAG/Delta or other JSOC Tier 1 SMUs) were demonstrating Remington CSR take-down rifles to USASF soldiers, SOF support personnel like SOCOM logistics officers or civilian employees of SOCOM procurement organs and an audience of industry people with at least Secret clearances.

Does anyone have theories on which of the several competing take-down sniper rifle designs the DEVGRU operators in our campaign are most likely to have access to in February 2017?
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