SEAL fighter Greg McPartlin with a Stoner machine gun in his hands. Vietnam, 1968-1969. Photo: “The Coronado Times”
In March 1962, fighters from the US Navy SEAL (seals) were sent to South Vietnam as military advisers, as well as for hydrographic support. However, a year later, the CIA began to use SEAL fighters in its covert operations. For example, they carried out reconnaissance, landing and sabotage operations. They also shared their experience with the soldiers of the Armed Forces of South Vietnam.
The author was able to find in The Coronado Times several photos in an article related to this topic. It should be noted that Coronado (Coronado, California, USA) is the name of the city near which the naval base of the same name is located. The 1st separate SEAL regiment is stationed on the territory of the base.
The article is dedicated to a military doctor named Greg McPartlin (Greg McPartlin). He served with SEAL, a Vietnam War veteran, author of Combat Corpsman. The book describes operations around the world in which he was able to participate. For example, Greg McPartlin was on a mission in the Apollo 11 lunar module landing area. According to the official version, the module contained astronauts who had visited the moon. Much later, Greg was a military consultant during the filming of Pearl Harbor. And about Vietnam in his book there is a phrase: “Many tags and bags …”
All “seals” are armed with various configurations of Stoner 63. On the fighter’s shoulder on the right is a machine gun with a detached butt. Photo: “The Coronado Times”
Greg McPartlin with a Stoner 63 machine gun in his hands. Vietnam, 1968-1969. Photo: “The Coronado Times”
As a young man, Greg McPartlin joined the Navy and became an orderly. He was assigned to the 3rd Depth Reconnaissance Company (3rd FORECON). In 1968, his unit was sent to Vietnam, just in time for the start of the Tet Offensive of the Vietnamese Communists.
Returning from his first “business trip”, Greg was sent to the US Navy Scuba Academy (Key West, Florida). Upon completion of his training, he was assigned to SEAL Command, Alfa Platoon, and assigned to Coronado Base. Our orderly went through the entire training course along with the special forces soldiers. The only test he was released from was Hell Week. Soon he went to Vietnam for the second time.
Thus, the paramedic became a fighter of an elite unit. And while on patrol, he took with him not only a first-aid kit with medicines, but also a belt-fed machine gun. Greg McPartlin recalled that he loved his Stoner. The weight of the weapon was relatively small, he scribbled regularly, and the recoil was practically not felt.
It is common knowledge that soldiers are allowed a lot in war. For example, fight with captured weapons. Or use enemy equipment. The main thing is for the soldier to fulfill the assigned task. This was the case during the Vietnam War. American soldiers went into battle with captured AK and RPD, gladly wore captured “unloading”, modified their standard weapons, etc. Pay attention to the photo below.
A fighter with an automatic weapon in his hands. Pay attention to the homemade twin and barrel length. Frame from the documentary chronicle of the Vietnam War
In the photo we see a fighter in a vest. It is believed that this is a trophy “bib” Type 56 (or 58) made in China. The so-called Chi-Kom (Chinese Communist), which is designed to carry 3 magazines for AK and hand grenades.
Also pay attention to the weapon in the hands of the fighter. The gas tube is located at the bottom, but this is not a RPD. The shape of the forend, stock and grip suggests that this is clearly a Stoner system. You already know that the barrel above the gas tube was installed on magazine-fed and belt-fed light machine guns. The reloading handle under the forend is an additional confirmation of this. But the store-fed Stoner machine gun is similar to the Bren. It turns out that we have a Stoner belt-fed machine gun in front of us. Note again the unusual shape of the homemade twin. These are 2 ammunition boxes connected together under the letter “G”.
Stoner’s belt-fed machine gun. Power comes from a standard cartridge box. Photo: Forgotten Weapons
The standard box contains 100 rounds of tape. In Vietnam, the side wall of the main box was cut out and an additional one was attached to it. As a result of their combination, the machine gunner received a cartridge box of increased capacity, with a tape for 180-200 rounds.
I also ask you to pay attention (previous photo) to the lack of standard bipods for the machine gun, as well as the length of the barrel. This is the shortest Commando machine gun barrel. Apparently, it was more convenient for the hero of Vietnam to wade through the jungle with a short-barreled machine gun, but with a high-capacity cartridge box.
The American Marines also adapted round ammunition boxes from the Degtyarev light machine gun (RPD) for their Stoners. They were so popular among the fighters that the manufacturer soon proposed on the basis of the RPD box its own development for 5.56 × 45 cartridges and with mounts suitable for the Stoner system. She held a tape for 150 rounds. Perhaps the prototypes were the ammunition boxes for the machine guns modernized in Holland, which were tested in the USA under the designation XM207.
Stoner system machine gun with belt feed and round ammunition box. There is also a box for ammunition (M2A1), containing 800 rounds of 5.56 × 45
Open cartridge box with stowed tape for 150 rounds. Frame from the documentary chronicle of the Vietnam War
TTX Stoner 63
It is believed that Eugene Stoner developed the Stoner 63 complex, using the experience gained while working on the M16 rifle, not just to improve it, but to replace it in the army.
Relying on an improved system design, on the ability to configure one or another type of small arms from modules, the designer planned that the Stoner 63 would serve to replace not only the M16 itself, but also the M1 Garand, M14 rifles, as well as Browning M1918 (BAR) machine guns and M60. According to the designer’s idea, a high degree of unification of components and assemblies would greatly facilitate all stages: from production and logistics to its maintenance and use. And from an economic point of view, unification also promised certain benefits.
Despite the seemingly obvious advantages of the Stoner 63 system and numerous accolades from fighters from Vietnam, the modular weapon system of the Stoner system did not meet the designer’s expectations.
Yes, it was used to a limited extent in real combat conditions during the Vietnam conflict by the US Navy Special Forces (SEAL) and Marine Corps. Yes, after a detailed study of the mechanisms, individual “fit” of each sample, as well as the use of higher quality cartridges, the soldiers were convinced that they received an excellent weapon. After successful trials in Vietnam, the US Army also received experimental batches of Stoner 63. US law enforcement agencies also received a scanty number of complexes. According to unconfirmed reports, a small number of Stoner 63s were used during the US Armed Forces operation to invade Grenada (1983).
The only unit that continued to use this weapon was the US Navy Special Forces (SEAL). To solve their problems, the “seals” chose a belt-fed machine gun. But they were not satisfied with the length of the barrel. A shortened machine gun barrel was developed specifically for SEAL. The new version of the machine gun (63A1) received the designation “Commando”, under the index “Mk 23 Mod 0” the weapon was adopted by the US Navy. The Stoner machine gun in the “Commando” configuration was used by the US Navy special forces until the end of the 80s. At that time, rearmament took place, and the M249 SAW light machine gun (FN Minimi version) came to replace the Stoner 63. The remaining machine guns of the Stoner system were disposed of.
We started talking about purchasing. Depending on the condition and configuration, the cost of the Stoner 63 complex is estimated at $ 35,000 – $ 75,000. So, at the well-known online auction, the Stoner 63 belt-fed machine gun was sold for $ 69 thousand.
History of one auction lot
This lot was a “subject with history.” We are talking about the Stoner 63 complex in the “assault rifle” configuration with the serial number 001461.
By the way, the Stoner 63 is one of the rarest and most valuable items from the Vietnam War that are available for private collectibles. There are only a few original Cadillac Gage Stoners listed in the National Firearms act registry, and this item is one of them.
Stoner 63 with serial number 001461. Photo (here and below): Morphy auction
Thanks to the examination carried out before being put up for auction, the path of the rifle, 54 years long, became known. It was found that this product was manufactured on 11/18/1965, and 01/12/1966 was sent to the Marine Corps warehouse. The manufacturer (Cadillac Gage) received it back on 08/30/1966. The weapon was stored in the manufacturer’s warehouse for about two years, and then (05/05/1968) the rifle was transferred to the St. Clair Shores police department, Michigan. Some time later, Dr. Leon Mitchell from Massachusetts became the owner of the weapon, and then Ralph Merrill from Utah.
In total, in August 1966, the US ILC returned 286 Stoner 63 units to the manufacturer. Almost all of them were disposed of, and very few of them survived due to the fact that they were transferred to the law enforcement agencies of the states of Michigan, California and New York. The rifle with serial number 001461 is the only one that was sent to the St. Clare Shores Police Department.
Complete set: 4 shops and a pouch.
Estimated cost: $ 40 – $ 75 thousand
Minimum bet: $ 20K
Number of bets: 11.
Sold for $ 60K
Closing (sell) date: 10/23/2019.
Location: Morphy Arms Auction.
In total, Cadillac Gage has released no more than 4 thousand copies of the Stoner 63 of all configurations and modifications. Of these, 170 bolt boxes were manufactured at the Costa Mesa (California) plant. Serial numbers from one to 000230 were used, and the range 00040-00100 was never applied. At the plant in Warren (Michigan), the bolt boxes began to be marked starting with the number 000231. It was not possible to obtain data on all numbers.
Why has such a successful complex not received the proper distribution? Since the times of Ancient Rome, nothing has changed: “Look for who benefits from it.” Find the names of corporations that have been producing M16 rifles and M60 machine guns for decades in a row and have filled half the world with them. Perhaps this will be the answer to the question.
Stoner 63A system in cinema
Quantum Leap (USA, 1989-1993). Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), Stoner 63 belt-fed machine gun
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004). Stoner machine gun in the “Commando” configuration for the US Navy Special Forces
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (2010). Stoner machine gun in the “Commando” configuration for the US Navy Special Forces. note the shortened barrel
Bad Company 2 Vietnam (2010). Machine gun Stoner 63 “Commando” (left-hand power)
Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010). Stoner 63A assault rifle configuration
Killing Floor 2 (2017). Пулемет Stoner 63A «Commando»
Stoner M63A for airsoft
Hong Kong-based G&P Industrial has designed and produced a replica of Stoner’s airsoft version for airsoft. G&P chose the 63A1 in a belt-fed machine gun configuration. The model received the designation G&P M63A1 Tactical Rail Version.
Magazine capacity: 1200 balls.
Caliber: 6 mm.
Ball initial speed: 120-130 m / s (395 FPS).
Weight: 4.6 kg.
Depending on the seller and his location, the price ranges from $ 439.99 – € 749.90. In Russia, the G&P M63A1 is offered for 60 thousand rubles.
Stoner 63A1 for airsoft. Photo: RedWolf Airsoft store
In the next part, you will learn about some of the weapons that are the development of the 1963 Stoner system.
To be continued…