Scout sniper codename “Cool Breeze”, a member of the Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT) with his Barrett M107 SASR that sustained a direct hit in the magazine well from a PKM’s 7.62x54R tracer round.
While returning fire on an RPG gunner in the village, my M107 SASR was struck in the magazine well by a PKM machine-gun round. The force of the impacting round knocked me off the gun. The round that impacted my rifle was a tracer, and it was still burning. The tracer caught the magazine on fire, which caused a round inside the weapon to explode.
The magazine itself contained the force of the exploding round. My team leader, Andy, worked to put out the now burning gun. The fire was out; Andy turned to me and asked if I was okay. I replied by saying “yeah, that scared the shit out of me”. I was fine, just a few bullet fragments in the neck, nothing major.
I took a moment to look the gun over and knew instantly I wasn’t going to be able to use it for the remainder of the fight. I picked up my M4 that was next to me and began firing at a Taliban fighter that was on a hill approximately 300 meters to my southeast. After about 10 shots, I felt like the 5.56 wasn’t cutting it. I crawled on my stomach for about 20 feet to where my 7.62 was and grabbed it. I used it for the remainder of the firefight. We fought for about an hour until our Joint Terminal Air Controller (JTAC), “Ski” dropped 4 X 2000 lbs. JDAMs. The bomb impacts took any remaining fight from the surviving Taliban. When the fighting stopped, I picked up the M107 SASR and Andy snapped a picture.
I tried to manipulate the bolt, but was unable to get the weapon to cycle. Using a pair of pliers, I removed the lodged bullet from the side of the rifle. The magazine had to be pried out of the gun due to the damage it received. Once the magazine was free, I was able to pull the bolt back. There was a spent case still in the chamber. I punched the bore and the casing dropped out. I then took the rifle apart and cleaned it for about an hour; put it back together. To everyone’s amazement, it still worked and the scope was still zeroed! Though unable to insert a magazine into the weapon, I fired that rifle single shot, while breach loading it over and over again more than 100 times for the next two days. I used that rifle to cut off Taliban re-supply/reinforcement lines and kept enemy fighters pinned down for hours. In short, that weapon and I wreaked havoc over the Taliban’s stronghold for four days straight and many months to follow.
When we finally returned to FOB Todd on New Years Eve day, I used a Dremel hand grinder to clean up the damaged areas. Once the grinding was complete, I inserted a magazine and the rifle worked as well as the day it was issued. I continued to use that same rifle for the next four months, with my last engagement being on April 29th, 2010. At one point our Company armorer sent out another lower receiver to replace the damaged one. I refused to change them out.
This rifle saved my ass, so I wasn’t about to take Elvis out of the fight.