USOrdnance MK 43

Text & Photos by BorHan Jiang

Edit by Jennifer Kosh

At the 2009 Taipei Aero Defense Show, I was fortune enough to befriend the general manager of US Ordnance, Mr. Steve Hezler. I had made an appointment to visit US Ordnance’s facility inNevada.USOrdnance is a legend within the industry; this company successfully improved the performance of the M60, and also transformed the M60’s role from a GPMG into light weight Squad Support Weapon. Since 1957, many companies and military units have tried to improve the M60’s performance and reduce its weight. In the ’90s, SACO Defense took over the project and by the year 2000 General Dynamic merged SACO Defense and along with it, its M60 project. Nonetheless, General Dynamic had little interests in the M60 project at the time and decided to transfer the project to US Ordnance. Currently US Ordnance’s main product line includes the H2B 50, M60 E4, M60 D Enhanced and M60 Upgrade kit, the M 4 Series and M40A3 Sniper rifle. US Ordnance’s M60 GPMG includes two series; M60E4 GPMG (Naval Code MK43) and M60 D. M60E4 Mod 0 has no pictanny rail nor hand grip but Mod 1 does.

Currently US Ordnance’s main product line includes H2B 50, M60 E4, M60 D Enhanced and M60 Upgrade kit, M 4 Series and M40A3 Sniper rifle. US Ordnance ‘s M60 GPMG include two series; M60E4 GPMG (Naval Code MK43 ) and M60 D.  M60E4 Mod 0 has no pictanny rail nor hand grip but Mod 1 has.

US Ordnance realizes that many countries have a huge quantity of old M60 and have little interest buying new machine guns due to budget. In response to that, US Ordnance supplys M60 upgrade kit which cost 40 % less than a brand new M60 E4 but capable of matching the ability of a brand new gun. US Ordnance’s Small Arms Readiness Evaluation Team with Repair (SARET-R) program always come with their products and go where the front line soldiers are; these location range from Philippine South to Columbia jungle. An additional product value SARET-R brings is the knowledge of proper fixing small arms. In most military, soldiers and even armors were taught in certain way to maintain and repair firearm though generation of experience instead proper mechanical and armor training. Sadly, many these methods were wrong and can damage the weapons.

During my visit, Mr. Hezler mentioned that some factories fromAsiaoffered that they can supply some parts for US Ordnance but US Ordnance had to decline due to their heat treatment standard. This leads to our conversation about what the difference between “Military Specification” and “Military Standard“ is. Many weapon industries advertise that their products are Mil-Spec but what Mil-Spec means is following a government design on specific products. What is more important is Mil-Standard. Military Standard means a specific requirement on materials and product quality for the weapon system regardless of the current market value of the material. Companies without such ties with theUSgovernment can purchase cheaper materials and reduce expensive heat treatment to maintain profit margin according to the market; therefore causing a reduction of the quality.

Mk43 Testing 

I have my fair share of experience dealing with GPMG, having spent some time in Armor Reconnaissance Unit with the Canadian Forces. In the CF, we used C6 GPMG (USmilitary designation: M240 or FN MAG) in various roles including as a platoon support weapon. The C6 is an excellent weapon system but its weight or 11.79 KG and length of 1,263 cm make it almost impossible to shoot it from a standing or kneeling position. While the new Mk43 only weighs 9.53 Kg, and its length of 939.8 cm is even shorter than the M249’s 1,041 cm. Because of that, Mk43’s weight balances very well upon shooter’s upper body.

Shooting in kneeling and standing positions, the MK43 can easily project rounds 100 meters away with great accuracy. While firing short bursts, the MK43 has a lower firing rate compares to FNMAG. This is because the MK43 has larger gas chamber because of that slower action movement. Along with slower action movement, the MK43 hydraulic buffer reduces the recoil to a minimum.

PS: FN MAG firing rate 650 – 1000rds per min, MK 43 is about 500-600rds per min.

Shooting an MK43 from prone position is harder than shooting an M240. My experience while shooting the M240 involves putting my left hand on the buttstock and using the bipod to move muzzle. Because the MK43 is shorter, its bipod is a lot closer to user’s body, it is slightly harder to move the muzzle. However, this is a small price I would willingly pay to have a 7.62 mm Squad Support Weapon. Of all the weapons I have ever cleaned, the MK43 is one of the cleanest after fire and it only requires a little CLP. This is because MK43’s action is a tube instead a metal box like the FNMAG, while the MK43’s action travels with less friction inside the gun itself. A few drops of CLP on the MK43‘s action will be good enough. This feature makes a life and death difference in desert environments, where too much CLP causes jamming.

Cpl Medrano ( CDN Army ) and I were cleaning our own mess after range.

Above: M240 breach block assembly        Bottom: Mk43 bolt carrier assembly

In today’s battlefield, many soldiers are not satisfied with the penetration power of 5.56 rounds. The M249 SAW shows its disadvantages when it comes to range and buildings. Soldiers are fond of the 7.62 mm GPMG but its weight and design make it impossible to serve the role of a squad support weapon. The MK 43 becomes a perfect match point between the two worlds, having enough fire power as a GPMG but light enough to be carried around like a SAW.