What is the difference between theoretical fire rate and combat fire rate?

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According to the weapons developers calculations, most machine guns can fire at a rate of 600 rounds per minute, but in actual combat, the rate of fire is only 80 rounds per minute. So why is there such a big difference?

For many military lovers, the heavy machine gun is definitely one of the weapons that is no longer strange, whether it is the heavy machine guns that frequently appear in war movies, or the regular machine guns, all of which appear with very strong firepower.

In fact, machine guns have entered their prime; there are hardly any breakthrough improvements, which can enhance the physics of the gun even more. Take, for example, the Browning M1 heavy machine gun, which has been in development since 1917, but over the past 100 years, it has made only minor improvements in terms of barrel changes or materials; the principle of operation remains the same as the original design.

In fact, machine guns have a difference between theoretical rate of fire and combat rate of fire. The so-called theoretical rate of fire means that the rate of fire is calculated under ideal conditions, its purpose is to fire a lot of bullets in a very short period of time, mainly for performance testing.

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There are machine guns with a theoretical rate of fire as high as 1,200 rounds/minute, if at such a rate of fire, it will create a devastating “rain of bullets”. But not all machine guns can fire at such speed, and no single army, can provide enough ammunition in combat conditions. In actual combat, the machine gun can only fire 80 rounds per minute.

In fact, the way to use the machine gun in combat conditions is completely different from the experimental calculation. This leads to the fact that the fire rate in real combat is much slower than the theoretical figure – which is given only for advertising purposes.

In addition, the battlefield, even if one side completely dominates, cannot completely meet the requirements of combat material. For example you want 10,000 bullets, the logistics are ready to give you 10,000 bullets, which is not available; in fact, with such a request, the logistics of meeting 1/10 of the required time is already quite good.

Therefore, it is impossible to “dismiss bullets” at the opponent without thinking. Theoretically, the rate of fire of 600 rounds/minute does not mean that the soldier will have to fire 600 rounds/minute on the battlefield; From a technical perspective, with the maximum rate of fire of a machine gun, the barrel can’t stand it for a long time.

Therefore, during the training process, the gunner needs to learn how to save bullets, how to both control the enemy’s fire, and maintain the firing of 3-5 short points, that is, the gunner’s rate of fire on the battlefield is equivalent to a speed of 80-100 bullets/min.

With the advantage of having a large magazine or a long ammunition line, the machine gunner can create a continuous dense fire screen, helping to suppress the enemy, creating conditions for teammates to maneuver.

The gunner’s rate of fire can vary depending on the actual situation, but when firing the machine gun at too high a speed, the accuracy will definitely decrease. At this time, the dense fire screen will no longer have accuracy, but the continuous firing sound will affect the enemy’s psychology.

For example, many machine gunners, when resisting the enemy’s “sea of ​​people” attack tactics, had to shoot “red barrel” to provide firepower for their teammates to fight. In such combat conditions, to ensure the machine gun can work, must constantly use water to cool the barrel or change the barrel frequently.

Although in some cases like the above, the combat rate of fire is also very large, which also shows that machine guns can achieve theoretical rates of fire in special cases; but this does not mean that the gunner has to continuously maintain fire at this speed.

It is worth noting that in order to maintain the theoretical rate of fire, the gun would have to fire continuously, regardless of reload time, aiming time and other external factors; which means that the gun is locked, very secure, and free of vibrations – a condition only found in experiments.

But in fact, the battlefield is always changing and therefore, after providing firepower, the gunner will have to move the firing position to ensure that it is not exposed to the enemy; Therefore, it is very difficult to achieve the theoretical rate of fire.

Not only the rate of fire of the machine gun can reach 600 rounds/minute, even the theoretical rate of fire of the famous AK-47 submachine gun can also be up to about 600 rounds/minute, some documents also say that the speed of theoretical rate of AK-47 is up to 800 bullets/minute.

Remember that the ammunition box of the AK-47 gun has only 30 rounds and the number of bullets for a soldier in a battle is only 120 rounds (this ammunition is installed in 4 cartridges, 1 box is attached to the gun). and 3 carry-on boxes); if fired at theoretical speed, the soldier will run out of ammo in just 12 seconds.

The reality of the battlefield shows that, when the soldiers have combat experience, they also never shoot a lot in the “discharge” style, which is usually a “short point of fire”. Therefore, the theoretical speed of a machine gun or an assault rifle is for reference only.

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