By Sgt. Jon Heinrich, 1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)February 17, 2012
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Feb. 17, 2012) -- A bitter, cold morning has no affect on Soldiers when it comes to training.
Company C, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, demonstrates this as they spent the day shooting their M203 and M320 grenade launchers at Range 22B.
Twenty-three Soldiers from the Cannibals Company and two from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st BCT, fired from various positions using 40mm Target, Practice Trainer orange paint rounds.
The M320 is an improved version of the M203 that can be attached to the rifle or fired as a standalone weapon system, said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin H. Patterson, a platoon sergeant with Company C.
"The M320 actually has a day and night sight on it and an infrared aiming laser so that you can actually fire the weapon system with [night vision goggles] at night, whereas the M203s do not have that," said Patterson.
Specialist Rodney C. Wall, a training room clerk with HHC, 1st BCT, has mixed feelings about both grenade launcher systems.
"Honestly I'm torn between the two as they both have advantages and disadvantages," Wall began explaining. "The M203 makes my M4 heavier and more challenging to operate effectively. However, the M203, as part of the M4, does not require me to put away my main weapon in order to employ a secondary weapon such as the M320.
"The M320, in its stand alone configuration, has the advantage of being lighter than the M4/M203 combo and easier to accurately aim and fire," continued Wall.
"There is an option to attach the M320 to a rail system as it was designed to do. I feel that doing so would make it more challenging to use. I also feel that the M320, when mounted to a weapon, makes for a much more bulky weapon combo," he said.
"In the end, if given the choice I would choose the M320 as a standalone weapon," he said. "I would take the M203 off of my M4 and carry an M320 separately."
The group began the morning zeroing their launchers by firing rounds into targets marked with a giant "Z." After everyone was zeroed, they began the qualification.
According to Patterson, shooters had to engage a total of eight targets, ranging from 100-350 meters. Each target was worth 10 points, with 80 points required to score expert.
With just over two years in the Army, Wall never misses an opportunity to qualify on a weapon regardless of his job.
"I enjoyed it. The weapon system is uncomplicated and performs better than I had expected," said Wall.
Wall also stated that the M320 offers an easier platform for Soldiers to quickly and accurately aim fire upon and destroy their targets.
"Like with any other weapon system, the operator needs to learn what the weapon can and cannot do," said Wall, "and needs to practice with the weapon until he or she is comfortable firing under any condition."