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UpInArms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:29 AM
Original message
.50-caliber ammo used so much (in Iraq) that (military) supplies run low
http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/ba...

Washington- U.S. troops in Iraq are firing .50-caliber machine guns at such a high rate, the Army is scrambling to resupply them with ammunition - in some cases dusting off crates of World War II machine gun rounds and shipping them off to combat units.

In the conflict that has intensified in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, the gun that grunts call the "fiddy-cal" or "Ma Deuce," after its official designation, M-2, has become a ubiquitous sight mounted on armored Humvees and other heavy vehicles.

Above the staccato crackle and squeak of small arms fire, the fiddy-cal's distinctive "THUMP THUMP THUMP" indicates that its 1.6-ounce bullets, exactly the weight of eight quarters, are going downrange at 2,000 mph. The bullets are said to be able to stop an onrushing car packed with deadly explosives dead in its tracks from a mile away. A .50-cal round can travel four miles, generally not with great accuracy.

<snip>

Small wonder, then, that the steady increase in .50-cal use began to drain ammo stockpiles rapidly. At the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Ky., ammunition left over from Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea and even World War II had been stored in massive concrete bunkers, including some 12 million rounds of .50-cal.

...more...
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davepc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. wow
Ammo meant for P-51 Mustangs and B-17 waist gunners being used in Iraq...

We sure produced a lot of ordinance during World War II.
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izzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:42 AM
Response to Original message
2. From the death of every day people looks like they are----
gunning down anything that moves.
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okieinpain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #2
15. yes sir, that is what they are doing. can you imagine the damage
those things do in a neighborhood setting.
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Mithras61 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 11:34 AM
Response to Reply #2
16. Maybe, and then again, maybe not...
As fast as these rounds move, and since they are designed to be armor piercing, they have a tendency to go through things (like cars, jeeps, like armor, etc.), so it may in fact not be necessary for them to have been targetting people for them to be killing people with these weapons. I recall a Cap-Ex I went to in 1981 or 1982 where they had targets "hidden" behind an APC that they took out by shooting THROUGH the APC with an M-2.
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Squatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 11:37 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. Lot's of different types of .50 BMG ammo:
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Mithras61 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 11:40 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. Question for you...
Edited on Tue Nov-01-05 11:40 AM by Mithras61
Since the original article makes this claim, I won't take full responsibility, but...

How much armor will a "ball" round go through at 2000 mph (the speed quoted in the original piece)? It may not penetrate an Abrams, but I bet it'll go through an M113...


edited for speeling...
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Squatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 11:52 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. Depends on range and thickness of armor on the vehicle.
At 1000 yards, a .50 shooting ball will make a good-sized dent in a M-113 and might penetrate around the seams (like the engine hatch seam, crew ramp seam, etc).

At close range, 0.50 cal has a greater probability of penetrating a M-113.



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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. One of the reason for developing the .50 as a Machine Gun
Was the concept of repeated hits on a target, each hit weaken the point of impact permitting the next round to penetrate even further into the Tank. Remember the .50 cal was developed as an Anti-Tank weapon in the 1920s and 1930s (Developed actually started during WWI but no weapon was fielded till the late 1930s). The reason for a machine gun instead of a single shot rifle as an Anti-Tank gun (as the rest of the World was developing in the 1920s and 1930s) was the .50 cal ability to shot multiple rounds at a single point of armor over a very short time period. This was based on steels (and other metals) fatigue, i.e. repeated actions against steel will slowly weaken it till its breaks do to the constant impacts. This concept had been used in the days of Castles, Catapults and later Artillery were NOT designed in destroy a Castle's wall with one punch, but several hits, with each hit weakening the war at the point it was being hit. In Such siege Warfare effort was made to constantly hit the same point in the wall over and over again, each round weakening that point in the wall. The .50 cal was design to do the same, repeated hits at one point that weakens the armor at the point.

Thus while one round may only do as the above thread points out, several rounds will weaken the armor plate and permit subsequent rounds to penetrate even heavier armor (provided the Armor is not to thick, as tank armor became after 1940). Thus if you would hit an APC with 5-6 .50 cal round at one point it is armor (for example as it was standing still) the first round may NOT penetrate the armor but the 4th or 5th round might penetrate the armor at the single point all of the rounds were hitting. Thus the reason the US Army adopted the .50 caliber round in a Machine Gun as its Anti-Tank weapon in the 1930s.

Similar the .50 cal can be used to penetrate concrete, by just hitting a single spot round after round. The concrete like Armor will fail after a number of rounds hit the Concrete.

To avoid this situation, armor is rarely stopped unless in safe areas OR behind some sort of natural Cover. Thus never permitting consecutive hits at any one point in its armor. This quickly became known by 1940, in fact the Germans were throwing away their Anti-tank rifles in the summer 1941 invasion of Russian do to their ineffectiveness against the heavily armored Russian tanks. The US Army still liked the .50 cal and used them in Aircraft during WWII and as Anti-Aircraft weapon during WWII (and as such supplied to the troops who used them against ground targets also). By 1941 the .50 cal was ineffective against tanks, but effective against other vehicles, emplacements, etc. and thus has stayed in US Army service since WWII. Its main advantage over 7.62mm Machine guns is its greater range and greater power against aircraft. Where infantry is the main concern, a 7.62 or 30'06 Machine is used instead do to their lower recoil, greater firepower and smaller size. When the main fear is Aircraft the .50 cal is used to to its greater range AND greater penetration. A .50 is also used in areas where infantry can use local conditions to protect themselves such as concrete houses (Very Popular in the Mid East do to their low cost and coolness in summer). Thus you see excessive .50 cal use do to the the Iraqi's use of Cars to protect themselves AND use of Concrete Housing to protect themselves.
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. interesting
thanks for the info :thumbsup:
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Mithras61 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:09 PM
Response to Reply #21
26. Thank you both for this information.
I'm curious now how they managed to "down" the targets behind the M113, unless it was already in pretty bad condition (not out of the question, as far as I'm concerned - we were mislead on a number of occasions about the effectiveness of weapons in various applications).
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Charles19 Donating Member (353 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:47 AM
Response to Original message
3. Isn't it against the Geneva convention to fire 50 cal's at people? (n/t)
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Tandalayo_Scheisskopf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. You are correct.
This is why M1A2 tanks also have mounted 7.62mm machine guns, as an anti-personel weapon. The M2 is supposed to be used against vehicles and soft targets like buildings.

But then again, we do seem to be wiping our national asshole with The Geneva Convention these days, don't we?

In defense of the troopers, however, in a firefight, you just want that guy who is shooting at you to get really dead, really quickly, so you go for what works best. If the aforementioned is any defense at all.
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Squatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. No
The various conventions limiting what weapons are allowed is that the forbidden weapons are ones that:
1.Are deliberately designed to cripple, not kill
2.Have a high risk of harming civilians (land mines)
3.Are inherently uncontrollable (gas, germs)

The Geneva Conventions rarely deal with weapons themselves. They usually deal with rules of war and treatment of combatants/non-combatants.

The Hague Accords, which are different, deal with weapons and ammunition. So if you see someone mention that the Geneva Convention forbids the military use of hollowpoints (for instance), they should be referring to the Hague Accords.
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Realityhack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:17 PM
Response to Reply #5
27. Yep.
You know the geneva conventions are easy to look up if anyone wanted to see that for themselves (as are the Hague Accords).
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davepc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Nope. Thats a myth
Edited on Tue Nov-01-05 09:12 AM by davepc
It was US Army policy that crew served weapons were only to be used against vehicles and equipment, not personelle...but thats only because some bureaucratic bean counter in the pentagon did a cost/benefit analysis and determined that heavy caliber ammunition was too expensive to be 'wasted' on individual soldiers.

That directive has always been ignored, and was done away with.

The running joke among machine gunners was that they weren't shooting for the man, but at his uniform, canteen, and rucksack...which counted as equipment.
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Centered Donating Member (295 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. That is just a Myth
.50 Caliber weapons have been used in many areas of the world... including sniper rifles

That doesn't mean I would like to get hit by one.

The reason smaller arms are being put onto other vehicles is that the ammo is lighter and smaller.
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losdiablosgato Donating Member (649 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:30 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. Yes, but
As I was told in Basic training it is legal to shoot at there equipment. Such as their rifle, ammo belt, shirt..... If they get hit to bad. The M2 Browning Heavy machine gun AKA Ma Deuse is a very effective weapon.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #3
13. Common misconception
Edited on Tue Nov-01-05 10:12 AM by happyslug
Since the .50 cal is NOT explosive it can be used against people. The Story came out of Vietnam where do to "political concerns" the troops were told NOT to use the .50 cal against anything but equipment (LBJ actually did try to win the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese, something Bush is not even attempting). When I was in Boot Camp in 1981 the story that you could NOT use the .50 cal on people but could use it on equipment was still being told. During Desert Strom in 1991 the troops were told that it was NOT against the Geneva Convention but that the rule had been adopted by the US for Vietnam and the political considerations of Vietnam did not apply to Iraq in 1991.

The adoption of the .50 on the M1 Tank was a reflection of the increase concern of Air Attacks that both NATO and the Warsaw Pact for saw in the 1980s. The .50 cal was designed in the late 1930s as an anti-tank round, when tank's armor became to thick for the .50 cal it was found to be a nice Anti-aircraft. Thus during and since WWII the .50 cal has stayed in Service as an Anti-aircraft weapon.
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Kagemusha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #13
20. The misconception was spoken of in "Black Hawk Down".
Myself, I read the articles the book and the movie were based on, and saw the movie, but didn't read the book version. But, the stuff about the .50 cal conventional usage was in there. However, I do not believe that there was any claim that this violated the Geneva conventions themselves, but rather, other conventions/understandings and the US' own rules on the matter to comply with those understandings. (Also mentioned was a 40mm grenade launcher; one grenade supposedly went right through a Somali and impacted some moderate distance behind him when the grenade struck the road itself.)

At any rate, the reporter was only mentioning this to illustrate a technicality, one that was obviously widely ignored. He had other points to make (like re: lack of tanks, for instance) throughout the narrative...
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. When I was in Basic in 1981, I was told it was against the Geneva Con.
But the Convention only forbids the use of "explosive" below .75 caliber (Thus the 20mm round can be explosive, but the .50 cal can not be). .75 was adopted for it had been the standard Infantry Caliber about 1800, through by the time of the First Geneva Convention all the major powers has adopted weapons about .30 caliber (Through Shotguns were still .75 in caliber in 1800 and thus can NOT have explosive rounds. This ban came do to accusation by the French and Germans during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 that the other side were using "Explosive Rounds (It appears the Soldiers were reporting Explosives rounds were actually just the then new .45 caliber round hitting concrete and stone structure with enough speed to sound like they were exploding) AND the accusations that the British adoption of a Hollow Point Bullet (Called Dum-Dum Bullets do to its first being made in a factory in "Dum-Dum" India) for its .303 Rifles was Cruel and inhuman. Thus for rounds under .75 no expansion bullets (Hollow point or Soft point) may be used by the Military nor can such round be explosives (Through rounds over .75 can be explosive but NOT Soft Points or Hollow Points).

Anyway since 1906 such bullets are illegal. During Vietnam LBJ was trying to win a no-win war and new the only way he could do so was to move the South Vietnamese people from pro-Viet Cong to neutrality. Various programs were adopted to help this situation including air borne messages (Which the Viet Cong later said was more Frightening to them then the US Army). Thus the .50 cal ban was to make sure any damages to local farmers would be minimized and thus undo all of the good the propaganda program was doing. Now the Propaganda program ended when Nixon became President (as American Strategy in Vietnam switched from trying to win the war to one of not losing it during Nixon's Presidency i.e. the war was lost but Nixon did not want it to occur as long as he was President). Thus the .50 cal ban became while know to the NCOs of the Army who later became the Drill Sergeants of the 1970s and 1980s who taught most of the soldiers in the Army today (who who taught the people you taught today's soldiers). The .50 cal ban just took a life of its own and probably did more good than harm.

By the way, the ban on .50 cal was against people, it could be used against Equipment. As my Drill Sargent said, equipment like the rifle the person was carrying, his load bearing Equipment (LBE) which held his spare ammunition, canteen etc. In effective no real restriction but just claim to to aiming at the guy's gun not him. Typical Nixonain corruption of a good idea to make it useless.
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DS1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 10:11 AM
Response to Reply #3
14. No, you can use a Howitzer against a guy in a parachute if you want
It would be terribly inefficient, but if it's all you have...
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Silverhair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 07:59 PM
Response to Reply #3
34. NO. However, the Army does strongly discourage the use of .50
against troops. It is a matter of logistics. The size and weight of 100 rounds of .50 ammo is about the same a 400 rounds of 7.62mm machine gun ammo, or about 1,000 rounds of 5.56mm. So if you use up the .50 on a soft target that could have been taken out by 5.56mm, then you may not have it available when you need it for a hard target.

BTW - The .50, is one of the most accurate bullets ever made. It has such great areodynamics that the first supersonic aircraft's shape, the X-1, was just a scaled up .50 bullet.
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Wilber_Stool Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:31 AM
Response to Original message
9. There was a post here
last week that said it took 250,000 rounds to kill one insurgent. Rounds used divided by number killed.
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Squatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. That's always the case in modern and not-so-modern warfare...
It was estimated that it required more than the equivalent of a person's weight in lead to kill one soldier during the civil war...and that's not just attributable to inaccuracies in the weapons of the era.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #9
25. Studies I have read use the following numbers
Civil War: 999 rounds per person hit
WWII: 17,000 per person hit
Vietnam: 55,000 per person hit

Yes, they has been a progression in the number of rounds used per hit since the Civil War.
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AllegroRondo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. No surprize there
a vast majority of rounds fired are to make the other guy keep his head down, so you can move and outflank him.
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davepc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. well the 'bad guys' don't line up in a neatly ordered line anymore
Edited on Tue Nov-01-05 03:36 PM by davepc
that and the volume of fire available to a rifleman has increased exponentially.

The fact that an individual solider has a weapon that can hold and fire more ammunition against a opponent who makes a much more concerted effort to use cover and concealment to not be hit is why the average rounds be kill has jumped so high.

I don't quite understand what people are trying to illustrate with this statistic.

If somebody is making a good effort to not get shot by a another guy with a high capacity fully automatic weapon, then yeah its gonna take more bullets to score a hit then against an opponent who gets in a shoulder to shoulder line with his comrades in and open field not 100 yards away from you.

Also, tactics have evolved along with the introduction of the machine gun where the objective is to keep the opponents heads down while another element of soldiers moves to close in to finish them off.

Both the German and US Armies in World War II adapted such tactics, just with different interpretations. Fire often wasn't meant to score a hit per say, just to provide suppression for the maneuver element.
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Sabriel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 05:13 PM
Response to Reply #9
33. That's assuming you believe the government's estimates
I'm going out on a limb and supposing that they don't give us all the numbers killed. Ya think?
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SnowGoose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
11. Mechanical difficulties associated with such old ammo?
I'm wondering if, when firing such old munitions, there's increased risk of duds, jamups, etc. Any gun-o-philes know about this?
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Squatch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 10:02 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Depends on how they were stored...
Outside in a coffee can? Not so good.

In packing crates in a humidity-controlled constant-temperature bunker? Probably OK.
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #11
24. My Concern is the wear on the Weapons
When weapons switched from old fashion "Black Powder" to "Smokeless Powder" in the 1880s excessive rusting of the weapon were found to occur. This was blamed on the then new Smokeless powders. IT later came out the problem was in the primers not the Powders. In Black Powder days the soot from the black powder would build up quickly in the weapon forcing people to clean it after 50-60 rounds (This is why people did NOT carry more than 50-60 rounds before the advent of Smokeless Powder). Anyway cleaning the weapon do to the soot from Black Powder also removed he residue from the primers. Thus primers were NOT a problem as long a Black powder was being used. With the adoption of Smokeless powders the soot of black powder disappeared and people would not clean them for their looked clean. This permitted the residue from the Primers to stay in the weapon and causes it to rust.

This was a problem from the 1880s till the 1950s. Now in the 1920s a rust-less primer was invented, but it took decades for the military to adopt it. Most rounds were using rust-less primers by the late 1940s but most rounds made for WWII used the old rusting primers. Thus our troops in the field have to be extra careful to clean their M2 machine guns to make sure all of the residue of the primer is gone. Now as a general rule Soldiers do clean their weapons frequently and should NOT be a problem, but can be if cleaning is delayed for any reason including needing to man the M2 .50 cal machine gun at all times to protect gates.
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daleo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
30. Maybe Wal-Mart stocks these.
Made in China.
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enfield collector Donating Member (821 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 03:46 PM
Response to Original message
31. it's playing havoc with the cost of milsurp 50cal on th domestic market,
it's approaching $2 a round.
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Lisa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 05:00 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. reminds me of a cartoon (up here in Canada)
It showed a sign in a military surplus store -- "Sorry, no army surplus -- the army is using it all!"
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Endangered Specie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:08 PM
Response to Reply #32
36. Wonder how long it will be before they start calling the .30 Garands back.
:crazy:
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pinniped Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:16 PM
Response to Reply #36
39. Along with the brave fighting men that carried them into battle.
.
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fshrink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:06 PM
Response to Original message
35. At about 130 pounds/thousand,
how many tons of copper are we talking about?
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Endangered Specie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:15 PM
Response to Reply #35
38. 650 Tons for every 10 million rounds
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pinniped Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 08:13 PM
Response to Original message
37. Steel pennies here we come!
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 11:39 PM
Response to Reply #37
41. The penny's been Zinc since 1982, so NOT a problem.
Edited on Tue Nov-01-05 11:39 PM by happyslug
Yes, under Reagan even the Penney became even more worthless, it is now 97.5% Zinc and 2.5% Copper. Prior to 1982 the Cent was 95% Copper and 19% heavier than the Cents made from 1982 onward.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_one_cent_coi...
http://www.usmint.gov/index.cfm?flash=yes
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pokercat999 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-01-05 10:53 PM
Response to Original message
40. Firing a .50 cal from the top of an APC
is one of life's "must dos". Watching the rounds tear shit up and the tracers setting the woods on fire will really get your heart pumping.
If you like that kind of thing. Now if we could just roll one down PA Ave.........
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