The M60 Machine Gun
by Kevin Dockery, Osprey Publishing, 2012
Standardized for the U.S. Army in 1957, the M60 was the product of a protracted evolution that led from the emergence of light machine guns during World War I, alongside heavier models such as the Browning .30-caliber machine gun, to a squad support weapon that combined the best elements of both. It was development of the German MG 34 and MG 42 that set the basic pattern for what became the M60: murderous weapons capable of a high rate of fire, portable enough to accompany a squad through any terrain and capable of maintaining steady fire by means of a mechanism that allowed the user to quickly replace an overheating barrel with a fresh spare. Seeing its debut during the Vietnam War, the M60 was nicknamed “the Pig” by those who still found it heavier and more awkward than a rifle, but it soon earned a sterling reputation for reliability and for the support it afforded in a firefight. On the debit side, a Pig gunner was as disliked by the enemy as he was appreciated by his squad, and tended to become a prime target for the opposition.
A gunsmith, former armorer and ordnance technician, Kevin Dockery has— like countless soldiers—done his share of handling and firing M60s. His treatment in Osprey’s Weapon series covers its history, its many derivatives and its combat use, with Vietnam playing as prominent a role here as the iconic Pig played during that conflict.
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Vietnam. To subscribe, click here.