FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Aug. 1, 2011) — Seven Missouri National Guard engineers were among those recently invited to help test and validate the effectiveness of a new Army weapon system — the M-26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System.
Sgt. Kerry Proffitt, a St. Robert resident and member of the 1138th Engineer Company (Sappers) from Farmington, fires the M-26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System recently at Fort Leonard Wood.
Guardsmen from the 1138th Engineer Company (Sapper), of Farmington, spent a day on the range with the 12-gauge shotgun weapons system. Weapons testers, which mainly consisted of Army engineers and military policemen, fired lethal, non-lethal and door breaching ammunition at various distances in the weapons three different configurations.
Sgt. Kerry Proffitt, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the group from the Missouri National Guard, said he was honored to help test the shotgun.
“This was excellent,” said Proffitt, who lives in Saint Robert. “It’s nice to know that they let the Missouri National Guard unit give their input. As a deploying unit, it’s also nice to know what we may expect from future weapons systems.”
The non-lethal and lethal ammunition comes in buckshot, birdshot or slugs, while the breaching cartridge is an M1030. The weapon system has a push-pull action and is box magazine fed, with five- or three-round box magazines.
The shotgun offers flexibility in that it has two stand alone configurations — one like a rifle with a butt stock and the other a pistol grip — or can be used as an attachment to the M-4 carbine, much like the M-203 grenade launcher.
“It actually handles a little bit better than the M-203 because you can use the M-26 magazine for an extra grip,” Proffitt said.
For breaching, the shotgun has a “stand-off” feature that extends the barrel three inches.
“That way you make sure you get accurate distance for door breaching,” Proffitt said.
Proffitt, who has deployed in the past, says the main advantage of the M-26 is it gives Guardsmen more options quickly.
“This may come in handy as an attachment to the M-4 for non-lethal purposes,” he said. “That way we can maneuver quickly between non-lethal and lethal ammunition — use the shotgun for non-lethal and the rifle for lethal purposes.”
The shotgun can speed things up in the same manner for door breaching and room clearing.
“We can breach through a door real fast and then use our rifles,” Proffitt said. “We can also use the shotgun for its scatter shot ability, in case there are multiple targets in one general area.”
Spc. T.J. Hubbert, who lives in Ballwin, is a veteran of three deployments during his more than eight years in the Guard. He said he’s used the Mossberg 500 pump action 12-gaugue shotgun while in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I think the M-26 is better,” Hubbert said. “If you need a shotgun, the Mossberg is a second weapon that you have to carry. But with this one, you attach it, and you have both. This one is also a little bit lighter.”
Having the push-pull action as opposed to a pump action also is faster for firing, according to Hubbert.
Using the M-26 as an attachment should require more training, Hubbert said, and Soldiers who are assigned the shotgun, should qualify with their M-4s with the attachment on.
“If you are used to shooting an M-4 when it’s light and you put that attachment on it and you’ll hold it differently too, that will throw some people off on how they shoot the M-4,” he said.
As a proud citizen-soldier, Hubbert found it appropriate that the active Army included the Guard in the testing.
“We actually do need the training on all of this because we are deploying as much or more than our active-duty counterparts, so it’s a good thing to get all of this extra training,” he said.
Spc. Daniel Zerr, who lives in O’Fallon, said he’s also used some of the Army’s other shotgun options and is quickly becoming a fan of the M-26.
“The M-26 is a lot easier to handle,” he said. “I just need a little bit more practice and I should be efficient with it — it’s real easy to use.”
The different stand-alone configurations have different uses in Zerr’s mind. He said the pistol grip is great for firing non-lethal ammunition, but thinks he’d stick with the rifle configuration for lethal firing.
“As a standalone, it’s lightweight and not bulky,” Zerr said. “You could probably keep that on your back and carry an M-4 rifle pretty easily.”
Zerr also said loading the weapon is easier with a magazine, instead of loading it one shell at a time.
As an avid shotgun hunter, Zerr was pleased to get hands on with some new shotgun technology.
“This is a new weapon that no one has really used at all yet,” Zerr said. “I was really excited about being able to do some new training and I’m pretty proud they picked me to help test it.”
The day before going to the range, the guardsmen spent a day in the classroom reading the operator information and familiarizing with the shotgun.
“They instructed us on use of the weapon, clearing the weapon, loading the weapon and maintaining the weapon,” Proffitt said. “We then critiqued the class and gave our point of views on what should be added and what may be removed.”
Proffitt said the instruction proved valuable before the Soldiers took to the range.
“The majority of us have good familiarization with shotguns, but this being a new system it was an excellent class they provided us,” he said. “We gave them great feedback. They did an outstanding job.”
Overall, Proffitt said the M-26 will be an excellent addition to the Army’s arsenal.
“It’s good because we don’t have to carry an actual additional weapon around with us – it can be set up as an attachment,” he said. “Instead of using the M-203 grenade launcher, we can use the M-26 shotgun instead for more close-quarters combat.”
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