Slide background


South China Sea (April 18, 2023) – U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Gordon Adams, top, a machine gunner assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, points at targets as Cpl. Vince Silva, a machine gunner assigned to BLT 2/4, 13th MEU, fires an M240B machine gun mounted to a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle during a deck shoot aboard the amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), April 18, 2023. The 13th MEU is embarked with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the amphibious transport dock ships USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and John P. Murtha, and operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with Allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Quince D. Bisard)

Aboard the USS John Murtha. (July 14, 2023): In this photo by Corporal Quince D. Bisard, Marine Staff Sergeant Gordon Adams points out targets for Corporal Vince Silva, both members of Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit as they practice gunnery while at sea. Officially called a “Deck Shoot,” Marines must maintain their weapons proficiency while being transported to trouble spots around the world.

The Marines are firing the M240B Machine Gun mounted to a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle that would go ashore during an amphibious assault. The M240B replaces the M60 machine gun, affectionately called the “Pig” by infantry types, that dates to the Viet Nam War.

The M60 was both loved and hated by American troops. It was highly valued for its reliability, but soldiers hated the weapon for its weight and the difficulty of carrying the weapon in dense jungles. The M60 could be fired from the shoulder or on the hip as dramatized in the Hollywood movie Rambo starring Sylvester Stallone. While firing this way made great film, the reality was that it was near impossible to aim accurately and was much more efficient with a two-person crew. Even worse, the M60 had parts that worked loose in the heat and humidity of the jungle which caused what infantry soldiers called a “runaway gun” in combat.

The 240B is configured for ground combat but also has the flexibility to be mounted on ground vehicles, aircraft, and aboard ships and small boats. The 240B has a maximum rate of fire of 950 rounds per minute and has a range of up to 4,000 yards and is now the standard weapon for the Marines and Coast Guard.

Although most of the armed services have switched to the M240, there are still elements that cling to the veritable M60 to this day.