1. Effectiveness and Control of Automatic or Burst Fire - Automatic or burst fire is "inherently less accurate" than semiautomatic fire". The first fully automatic shot fired may be on target, but recoil and a high cyclic rate of fire often combine to place subsequent rounds far from the desired point of impact. Even controlled (three-round burst) automatic or burst fire may place only one round on the target. Because of these inaccuracies, it is difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of automatic or burst fire, and even more difficult to establish absolute guidelines for its use.
2. Factors for Use of Semiautomatic versus Automatic or Burst Fire - Trainers must ensure that Soldiers understand the capabilities and limitations of automatic or burst fire. They must know when it should and should not be used.
a. Semiautomatic Fire - "M16 rifles and M4 carbines should normally be employed in the semiautomatic fire mode." Depending on the tactical situation, individuals should employ the semiautomatic fire mode in the following conditions:
• Ammunition is in short supply, or resupply may be difficult.
• Single targets are being engaged.
• Widely spaced multiple targets are being engaged.
• The target is located more than 50 meters away.
• The effect of bullets on the target cannot be observed.
• Artificial support is not available.
• Targets may be effectively engaged using semiautomatic fire.
b. Automatic or Burst Fire - In some combat situations, the use of automatic or burst fire can improve survivability and enhance mission accomplishment. Clearing buildings, final assaults, final protective fire (FPF), and ambushes may require limited use of automatic or burst fire. Depending on the tactical situation, Soldiers should employ automatic or burst fire in the following conditions:
• Ammunition is readily available, and there are no problems with resupply.
• Closely spaced multiple targets are located 50 meters away or less.
• Maximum fire is immediately required at an area target.
• Tracers or some other means can be used to observe the effect of bullets on the target.
• Leaders can maintain adequate control over weapons firing in the automatic fire mode.
• Good artificial support is available.
• The initial sound of gunfire disperses closely spaced enemy targets.
3. Modifications for Automatic or Burst Fire - Automatic or burst fire is inherently less accurate than semiautomatic fire. Trainers must consider the impact of recoil and the high cyclic rate of fire on the Soldier’s ability to properly apply the fundamentals of marksmanship and other combat firing skills, such as immediate action procedures and rapid magazine changes.
4. Marksmanship Fundamentals - The following paragraphs describe the modifications necessary for Soldiers to apply the four fundamentals when firing in the automatic fire mode.
a. Steady Position - Consider the following modifications to achieve a steady position:
• Make sure that the weapon is well-supported.
• Grip the weapon a little more firmly and pull it into the shoulder a little tighter than when in the semiautomatic fire mode. NOTE: This support and increased grip help offset the progressive displacement of weapon/target alignment caused by recoil.
• To provide maximum stability, assume the modified supported prone firing position. NOTE: If the weapon is equipped with the ARS, use the vertical pistol grip to further increase control of the weapon.
b. Aiming - Consider the following recommendations to properly aim the weapon:
• Do not change sighting and stock weld during automatic or burst fire. Keep the cheek on the stock for every shot, align the firing eye with the rear aperture, and focus on the front sightpost.
• Although recoil may disrupt this process, try to apply the aiming techniques throughout recoil.
c. Breath Control - Breath control must be modified because the Soldier does not have time to take a complete breath between shots. Consider the following modifications to achieve proper breath control:
• Hold your breath at some point in the firing process.
• Take shallow breaths between shots.
d. Trigger Squeeze - Training and repeated dry-fire practice aid the Soldier in applying proper trigger squeeze during automatic firing. LFXs enable him to improve this skill.
5. M16A2/3/4 Rifles and M4 Carbines - Until the weapon fires, trigger squeeze is applied in the normal manner. To use the burst fire mode:
a. Hold the trigger to the rear until three rounds are fired.
b. Release pressure on the trigger until it resets.
c. Reapply pressure for the next three-round burst.
d. Do not slap or jerk the trigger. Squeeze it, and then quickly release pressure.
e. Depending on the position of the burst can when the selector is moved to the burst fire mode, the weapon may fire one, two, or three rounds when the trigger is held to the rear for the first time. If the weapon fires only one or two rounds, quickly release pressure on the trigger and squeeze again, holding it to the rear until a three-round burst is completed.
6. M16A1 Rifles - Until the weapon fires, trigger squeeze is applied in the normal manner. Because three-round bursts are the most effective rate of fire, pressure on the trigger should be released as quickly as possible. To use the burst fire mode, keep the index finger on the trigger, but quickly release pressure to prevent an excessive number of rounds from being fired in one burst. With much dry-fire practice, the Soldier can become proficient at delivering three-round bursts with the squeeze/release technique.
7. Immediate Action - To maintain an increased rate of suppressive fire, Soldiers must apply immediate action quickly. Repeated dry-fire practice using blanks or dummy rounds, followed by live-fire training and evaluation, ensures that Soldiers can rapidly apply immediate action procedures.
8. Rapid Magazine Changes - Rapid magazine changes are vital in maintaining automatic or burst fire. Rapid magazine changes must be correctly taught and practiced during dry-fire and live-fire exercises until the Soldier becomes proficient.