It's not accuracy, looks, or weight that matter most in a gun - it's that it goes bang when you want it to.
“Watch out for the mortars and RPGs,” screamed Captain Simon Chalmers, above the shooting and the revving of trucks. “My gun's f****d,” he added, helpfully.
His weapon was not the only one that malfunctioned. As I huddled beneath the muzzle of one 50-cal machinegun, a soldier struggled to fire more than one round at a time. I could hear other gunners screaming “weapon jam” as they dodged incoming Taleban rounds. I watched two mortars slam into the dust to our left and right while the nearest 50-cal guns were unable to return fire.
“It's f***ing crap ammo,” one soldier screamed at his patrol commander.
As we moved off, three things happened that will stay with me for ever: the tow rope broke, the guns on the second vehicle stopped working and we were now taking incoming rounds from our left and right. I was speechless with fear.
Jim jumped out and helped to replace the tow rope while one of the Pathfinders pushed me to the floor of the vehicle and removed the gun. All the time AK rounds pinged off the rocks and sand around us.
And we are trying to get our Afghans to stop using AKs and use our weaponry! Out in the rocks and sand they know better.