If being fun to operate makes it a "favorite" weapon then I'd like to amend my list to include the flame thrower and M79 grenade launcher. But I still say the BAR is the absolute BEST so long as you didn't have to carry to far. Darn thing weighed about 20 lbs and that doesn't include all those loaded magazines.
Hi Greg. The M-79 certainly wasn't a bad weapon either as long as one had someone to back them up when reloading.
When I first got to Vietnam, I was issued an M-16 - one of the "brand new" ones with the forward bolt assist device. On the first day of my very first patrol we made contact with a squad of NVA. We had left the LZ and were climbing the finger of a ridgeline. When we stopped to listen for a while and rest, as the FNG I was sent back down the trail as a rear point listening post. I was sitting in the brush alongside the trail with my back up against a tree when the NVA trackers walked right up on me. They hadn't seen me and I engaged them with the M-16; it fired one round and failed to extract. I then picked up the dropped AK to engage the rest of them until my buddies began returning fire from up the hill. So much for confidence-building re. the M-16.
After my second patrol, the M-79 gunner rotated home and I volunteered to carry that. I thought an M-79 that fired when the trigger was pulled was more desirable than an M-16 that didn't. It only took a short while to learn how to aim it effectively; we never used the sights - in fact, I taped it down to the Bbl to keep it from rattling and it was fired somewhat like a mortar. See the picture below. This picture was taken before my first patrol as the M-79 man....yes, those are several bandoleers of 40mm HE rounds draped over my belt. This was in the days before the handy grenadier vests and I liked to keep them readily accessable. In the end, though, it was not the best solution and I ended reverting back to wearing only 2-3 bandoleers around my waist and put the rest in my rucksack.
The Army and Air Force had shotgun rounds for the M-79 but they were not available in the Marine supply line but I was able to make a trade with the Air Force SP supply guy at Danang AB; a captured Tokarev pistol for a box of shotgun rounds - seemed like a good deal to me! With a 40mm shotgun round in the M-79, I often ran point on patrol. I would (hopefully) get off the first round, then drop to my knee to reload while the back-up point fired over my head with his M-14. I carried the M-79 until I took over the M-60/Stoner MG......Sorry, I didn't mean to go into another dissertation and apologize for the length of this post.
By the way, until I left Nam in Jun 68, we were continually authorized one M-14. Since there was no grenade launcher cartridge available for the M-16, we used the need for that capability as the rationale for keeping one M-14.
Edited by USMCRECON, 14 September 2007 - 08:42 AM.