05 December 2011

FWS Armory: What Gun Killed Osama Bin Laden?

On May 2nd, 2011, the most harrowing Special Forces mission ever undertaken by the US since Operation: EAGLE TALON, was launched to the kill the most wanted man in the world, Osama Bin Laden. Before bullets hit the skull of UBL, there was years of work to find his location, and it was the his own courier that unknowingly led the US front door of the three-story house in Pakistan. That courier was followed by CIA teams in summer of 2010, and in August, the CIA discovered the unusual compound built in 2004.
Here UBL was attempting to hid in plain sight, by burning his trash, no hardlines for phones or internet, and with very high walls (about 12 to 18 feet tall). The CIA put all manner of surveillance onto the compound, satellites, drones, this included rented a house near the compound, and for months the CIA gathers on-site eyes-on intelligence on the complex. By February of 2011, the CIA all but confirms that the compound is home to UBL, and it seemed that the only real opinion to terminate the target with certain, was to go in with Tier-One operators. With the intelligence that the CIA as gathered, a mock-up of the compound was constructed in A-Stan for ST-6 to train. This is similar to workup to the 1989 rescue of Kurt Muse by DELTA during the invasion of Panama.
On May 1st, two "stealth" Blackhawks flew 160 miles into Pakistan, however, due to the walled compound, one of the helicopters could not achieve lift, crushing into the courtyeard, scrubbing a portion of the assault, where one team was taking the building from the bottom, and the other from the top. Instead, they adapt, blowing through the walls, link-up, securing the parimeter while two strike teams (about 24 assaulters) took the buildings. They ran into only light security, few armed guards, but lots of women and children, only complicating the SEALs mission further, and in addition, UBL had the interior designed to delay the assaulters. During the assault teams' rush up to third floor,one of UBL's son gets capped, and UBL himself lends over the railing to see assaulters, who fired, barely missing him.
He ran back into his bedroom, while two fleeing screaming girls flying into the arms of a SEAL, who removed them out of the line of fire. Then it came time to take out the trash. Two DEVGRU operators kicked in the door, it is unknown if a flash-bang device was used, but they were greeted by UBL's wife running at them, she was taken down with a GSW to the leg, and the next SEAL pops two rounds, one into the chest, the other through the eye. UBL dies unarmed, at the hands of an unnamed DEVGRU operator, and by an unknown gun. While the mission went extremely well, if the Pakistans had shown up and ex-fil was impossible, than the Plan B was for the SEAL teams to use the walls of the compound, hold up, and wait for Washington to get them out.   

The Weapons/Gear of NEPTUNE SPEAR
There were 79 members DEVGRU's "Red" Squadron that took down UBL, and would have been kitted out in the best weapons the most important of their careers as Tier-One operators. Since the mission was to be at night, low-profile, and time being a critical element, the operators would have been going in light, with the latest of PEQ technology, NGVs, possibility some sort of "night camo", and above all; sound suppressors. I doubt that the SEALs would have been rolling in with sniper rifles, grenade launchers, and heavy machine guns, despite the backup plan of using the compound if they were discovered and unable to ex-fil out of the hotzone. The four SEALs that setup the parameter, could have other weapons, like a M110 sniper rifle and a Mk.46 LMG, but given the mission, most would have been armed with an assault carbine.

The Possible Candidates for the Gun that Killed the Most Wanted Man

The H&K 416
If one googles the topic of this blogpost, the general opinion of the internet is that UBL was killed by the Hecker & Koch (5.56mm) 416. Is this the gun? And why was a Tier-One Specops unit using it?
The easy answer is that this German-made assault rifle was Hecker & Koch's attempt to redevelop the 40+ year old  American M16 system for the demands of these new 21st century wars, and hopefully get the contract to rearm the US military.
H&K turned to former DELTA operator Larry Vickers for help. The advantage of the 416 for members of DEVGRU was that they received a short-stroke piston free-floating weapon that is greatly improved in reliability and accuracy, but still retains enough of the Colt M4 design to allow the Tier-One Operators to unitize their lengthy muscle memory, making the 416 an out-of-the-box winner for SOCOM. The weapon performed at such level that other allied governments adopted the 416/417 as their standard assault rifle, but not the US armed forces as whole, only DELTA and DEVGRU, and this speaks volumes about the 416.The gun has been photographic with portered Team Six and DELTA operators during combat operations, and FOX news showed imagines of H&K 416s' being recovered from the crash site of the Chinook shot down in A-Stan in August of 2011 (FWS will not post the pics out of respect). When it came to the job of killing Bin Laden, the 416 was more than up to the task, and that is why, most likely, that this assault carbine that double-tapped that son-of-a-bitch into flaming afterlife he so richly deserved.

H&K 416 links:
A small article about the H&K 416 and the Army

All about the sorted history of the M4

A nice short video of the 416

The Colt M4 CQBR (MK 18 Mod 0)

If the operation to kill Bin Laden had been launched a few years ago, than this variant of the Colt M4 carbine would have gotten the call. The close quarters battle receiver was developed by Naval Surface Warfare Center: Crane Division in 2000 as a replacement for the normal M4 carbine receiver, converting it to a close quarters "commando" length, from 33 inches to 29.3, mostly through a 10.3 inch barrel. The CQBR hearkens back to the supershort Colt M16 Commandos that were in-service from Vietnam, to the Gulf War, to the operation in Somalia. It was well-received by NAVSPECWAR, DELTA, EOD, and the Coast Guard, however, the CQBR's fatal flaw was it being based on the M4/M16, giving it lackluster performance in sandy conditions of Iraq and A-Stan. This results in poor soldier reports, daily cleanings, and failure in combat, caused Tier-One Operators searching elsewhere for another 5.56 NATO carbine, the H&K 416 was result of that search (which as a 10inch barrel variant). It is doubtful after all of the bad field reports and failures of the M4, especially at the Battle of Wanat, that a Red Squadron to trust the mission on a faulty rifle system. These factors negate the M4 CQBR from being on Operation: NEPTUNE SPEAR.    

The New Colt CM901 Modular Weapon System

The rumor running about the internet is that not only was this new Colt assault rifle modular rifle at NEPTUNE SPEAR, but, it was the gun that killed UBL with a 7.62x51mm double-tap.
Is that true? Aside from the H&K 416, this looks like the other best guess of the gun that killed the most wanted man in the world. I am embarrassed to admit this, but I only learned of the existence of the Colt Modular Rifle after it was announced for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and since then, I've been attempting to unlock it on Survival (on rank 38!).
In keeping with the current trend in next-gen military assault rifles, Colt engineered the CM901to have variable barrel lengths, and cambering various calibers, including the 5.56mm and 7.62mm NATO, along with the AK-47 7.62x39mm, and the up-and-coming 6.8 Remington SPC. There are rumors of the CM901 be able to camber more calibers in the near future, like the AK-74 5.43x39mm, 6.5mm Grendel, .50 Beowulf, and the .338 Lapua Magnum.
Due to the rarity, specialized purpose, and relative newness of the CM901, there is a lack of pictorial evidence of it being used by the SPECOPS community. This could be chalked up to the similar cosmetic appearance to the H&K 416 and other specially built AR15 clones. As with the H&K 416 and the SCAR, Colt must likely was in the hands of Tier-One operators years before its 2010 perimeter, being tested and refined. This relationship between firearms and Tier-One was explained by Mark Bowden in this book Blackhawk Down: "They all had custom-built weapons with hand rifled barrels and such. Gun manufacturers outfitted them the way Nike supplies pro athletes (pg 70)". Much like the H&K 416, there is a strong case for the Colt CM901 being on NEPTUNE SPEAR, and possibly in the room when UBL caught the express elevator to Hell. The element blocking Colt's modular rifle from that possibility, is unlike the H&K 416, which as been tested in actually battle conditions for a few years, the relatively new CM901 does not have in-field time that a weapon of DEVGRU would require.

The FN SCAR, like the cancelled H&K XM8, was to be a family-style weapon systems, accepting of two different calibers, and for awhile it seemed that the SCAR was going to be the next widely next-gen rifle for the US military. The SEAL teams started using a few themselves, and everything looked on track until summer 2010. SOCOM cancelled their contract with FN for the 5.56 "light" version, and folded remaining money into the the 7.62x51 "heavy" version and the Mk. 20 sniper version, which SOCOM would still be using. It seemed that the 5.56mm Mk. 16 variant did not separate itself from the pack in order to get more funding. This mostly likely equals that the FN SCAR was NOT on the gun that delivered the fatal shots to end UBL's shitty existence. There could be a chance (a slim one) that the Mk.20 sniper variant was there in case of plan 'B'.  

For a period of about thirty years, the H&K 9mm MP5 was the submachine gun of choice for counter-terrorism forces, SWAT teams, and hostage rescue, and if Operation: NEPTUNE SPEAR had taking place in the 1980's or 1990's, then UBL would have been capped with an MP5. However, given the mission's AO of being inside Pakistan, the backup plan if the SEAL team was discovered was to have the SEAL use the walled Abottabad compound to keep Pakistan security forces out while the diplomats in Washington D.C. talked the SEALs out (http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/05/ap-raiders-knew-mission-a-one-shot-deal-051711/). This backup backup would exclude the use of SMGs as a offensive tool if the shit went bad. In addition, it is likely that intelligence on the site could not confirm if UBL's bodyguards had bodyarmor, and given his resources, it would be a good bet that he did have access. That reason alone for an experience Tier One operator NOT to use an 9mm sub. The only justification for the use of the 9mm MP5 was its integrated sound suppressor, that, according to research, is one of the quietest suppressed weapons.     

The SIG SAUER P226 9mm has served as the Navy SEALs sidearm since 1985, replacing the Colt 1911 .45ACP, while is it fact that SEALs carry this sidearm into battle, what is unsure that DEVGRU carries as their sidearm. It is possible that like DELTA, DEVGRU can and does carry the sidearm that they want, not what the Department of the Navy thinks they should. Would this mean that DEVGRU Operators carry the Swiss-made 9mm? I've read that Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts, a member of DEVGRU, fell out of Chinook helicopter on Takur Ghar, and was forced to engaged AQ and Taliban fighters with his LMG, then when that ran out, he switched to his P226.
One thing that operators relays in the thick, is training, and in the course of a being a SEAL then transforming into a DEVGRU Tier-One operator, this soldier is bombarded with firearms training. For hundreds of hours, that SEAL has fired a P226 on the range and in kill-houses, making this pistol as familiar as his wife's backside. That is a great deal of muscle memory to fight against, especially when you deal with such a fine piece of Swiss firearm engineering (yeah, I love SIG, does it show?). It is more than possible that some of the operators that stormed UBL's house in Pakistan had SIGs in their holsters. But was it the firearm that double-tapped him to the afterlife? No, the facts simply do not support the use of a sidearm in the situation. Pistols, as a rule, are secondary, and only drawn when the primary is down or too bulky for CQC. That was not the case with the DEVGRU operators on NEPTUNE SPEAR, they were fully prepared for the conditions of the target building and had time to select a primary weapon for the task. It is unlikely when the operators followed UBL into his room after taking a few shots at that they switching out, especially if they didn't know what was behind the door. When in doubt, go in with your best gun.

H&K 45C
For the same reasons listed above, I doubt that UBL was sent packing, via a sidearm, and if he was, I'm more certain it was P226 and not the newly acquired H&K 45C.
In September of 2010, NAVSPECWAR  adopted the .45 ACP handgun, and according to some research, it replaced the H&K Mark 23 SOCOM Offensive pistol that was adopted in 1996.

H&K Mark 23 SOCOM
In 1991, SOCOM put out a contract for a "offensive handgun in the .45 ACP.", and after a gurgling contest of tortuous tests, the H&K Mk.23 SOCOM was awarded the contract for about 2,000 handguns. By 1996, these large-frame .45 sidearms were delivered to SOCOM and soon mated with a sound suppressor and LAM device. The general public became aware of the Mk. 23 in 1998 with it being in Metal Gear Solid as the "SOCOM", along with being featured in the excellent movie Tears of the Sun, and the Navy SEALs SOCOM games.
However, the gun in the real-world seemed to have possessed a lackluster career. It is fact that NAVSPECWAR had this .45 in their inventory, being was seen at Fleet Week and SEAL public demonstrations, but there no evidence supported that the Mk. 23 was ever used in battle, and is being discontinued by SOCOM. Research that I did talked of operators not liking the heaviness of the weapon along with the added weight to their already overloaded gear loadout, and casts a major doubt over the H&K Mk. 23 even being on the mission, let alone, the gun that double-tapped him to the seventh layer of hell.  

Colt M1911 .45ACP
When the US Naval Special Development Group was formed in 1980, they, like DELTA and the rest of US armed forces used the 1911 Colt .45 ACP, then in 1985, when the 9mm round was officially adopted over the .45 ACP, the 1911 days were ended, save for in the realm of Special Operations, where .45 ACP continued to be used by DELTA until today. But was it used by DEVGRU and was it the gun that killed UBL? There is some internet speculation that some of the DEVGRU operators carry the MEU SOC .1911 45 ACP used by the Marines, and that maybe true, but given the conditions of last moments of UBL's shitty life, a pistol wasn't a sound tactical choice.

With the vast majority of Special Operation Teams turning away from traditional Submachine guns evokes the prospect of an SMG being used during Operation: NEPTUNE SPEAR. However, the  H&K MP7 PDW that fires the specially developed 4.6mm round as been photographed in the hands of NAVSPECWAR Operators in A-Stan, and was seen in the 2010 video game Medal of Honor, which was developed with the help of former Tier-One operators, which all speaks highly of this little gun's abilities. Does this mean that the MP7 was on the mission to Abottabad? Not as the main tool of the assault teams, given its limited offensive abilities, especially during Plan B, but I do think that it is a possibly for a sound suppressed MP7 PDW was in the hands of the dog handler.

Phased Plasma Rifle in the 40 Watt range


  1. lol phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range! XD

  2. H&K 416C Assault Rifle! Hooyah!

  3. Well, it definitely beats a "phased plasma rifle." (The advantage being - a plasma rifle can be set for stun. The 416 can't. Oh yeah, the 416 isn't used by little green men from outer space, either.

    1. I suppose in the movie Terminator, Ah-nold's character didn't know the exact technologies of the 80s and therefore probably was going through all of the possible weapons to determine what he would be working with.

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