letter: A Vet weighs in on his M231 experience

A Colt M231 Firing Port Weapon mounted in M2 Bradley door 1986 (Photo: Christopher B)

A Colt M231 Firing Port Weapon mounted in M2 Bradley door 1986. Stoked with tracers, the gun was sighted via periscope (Photo: Christopher Barzyz)

After seeing a post about the M231 Firing Port Weapon, a former Soldier with the 1st Cavalry Division reached out to relate his experience with the odd 5.56mm full-auto.

Back in 1986, Christopher Barzyz was with the “Black Knights” of C 1/5 Cav where he got to see the Colt-made M231 up close and personal, fixed to one of his M2 Bradley fighting vehicle’s firing ports. The greatly modified and chopped down M16, with its 1,200rpm rate of fire and lack of sights, was intended to be fired with M196 tracer rounds to help direct its fire as it had no sights.

The thing is, his unit didn’t get a lot of trigger time on the weapon. “Well, we only fired it once in the 12 months I was with the unit. When I went to Germany, we never fired it in 18 months,” Barzyz said.

Shooting the FPW was altogether different from firing a normal M16 or M4. “The one time we did shoot it we parked the Bradley at a 90-degree angle from the target area (troop targets) and we set up two M231s on the starboard side. Each crew member was given three 30-round magazines (all tracer) and you had to sit and look through the periscope,” he said.

“When it was my turn I found that you had to walk the rounds to the target. By the time you got to the target area you had to change magazines again. The extremely high rate of fire went through the magazines fast,” he said.

Today, while an estimated 27,000 M231s were made, currently fielded M2 Bradleys have reportedly had most of their firing ports closed, but that hasn’t prevented the guns once made for them from popping up downrange from time to time.

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