By Vince Little, The Bayonet
The Maneuver Battle Lab just wrapped up a weeklong evaluation of a modified rear sight for the MK19 40mm grenade machine gun, comparing its effectiveness to the current version from mounted and dismounted platforms.
Ten Soldiers from B Company, 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment fired the weapon using both sights at Ruth Range and then took it to Buckner Range for vehicle exercises aimed at testing the new sight's durability. The experiment began Sept. 30 and ended Thursday.
Steve Howard, a project officer for the Maneuver Battle Lab's Soldier team, said the upgraded sight incorporates new scale increments that are a closer match to the current ammunition ballistics and is redesigned to lower fabrication and maintenance costs. The Army wants to enhance precision and reduce potential collateral damage on the battlefield, he said.
Developed by General Dynamics, the modified rear sight has 27 fewer parts and doesn't require a slide for determining target ranges.
"This sight could potentially take out a whole step in the firing process -- there's no slide to move up and down," he said. "We think that's going to make it a faster transition between targets. Theoretically, it could speed up engagement times for Soldiers."
Under the existing configuration, Soldiers in combat often save time by setting the slide on 400 meters and adjusting fire as needed, said Staff Sgt. Caleb Lisenby, an MK19 instructor with the company.
"You can see where the bursts hit," he said. "Then, the spotter or TC gets a fix and you just walk the gun on target. (The modified rear sight is) a little more accurate because of the offsets. In that aspect, it might be quicker getting close on targets."
Staff Sgt. Thomas Taylor of the Maneuver Battle Lab was among four Soldiers who conducted initial shoots with the prototypes earlier this year. Based on feedback, modifications were made to the range "fan" -- engineers added a 400-meter view because the sample product's span went from 200 to 500 meters, he said.
"You're doing away with a lot of maneuvers of the sights," said Taylor, who attended the assessment as an observer. "There was a lot of adjusting with the old sight. That takes time. With the new sight, you find it, target it and shoot it. You're just locating targets within the sight; there is no adjustment time.
"Right now, the new one seems to be working very well. It's a lot easier for the Soldiers to put rounds on a target in less amount of time."
Howard said the evaluation's main objectives included testing accuracy and getting average interval times of Soldiers shifting between targets. The Soldiers' input could lead to additional design changes to any final product, he said, but no decision has been made on whether the modified rear sight will be fielded.