FACT CHECK: Did the Las Vegas shooter have better rifles than the US Marines do?

By Kush Desai, DCNFDCNF

The Daily Beast claimed that the Las Vegas mass shooter used guns more powerful than the Marines in a Tuesday article.

“Stephen Paddock used guns that are more powerful and accurate than what Marine infantry carry—and they’re totally legal to buy,” the subhead and tweet read.
Verdict: False

The Daily Beast article relies on comparing the Vegas shooter’s assault rifles that were specially equipped and modified for increased accuracy to the U.S. Marine Corps’ standard issue rifle. This comparison does not account for the full suite of rifles and equipment that Marine infantry use.

Fact Check:

The Daily Beast’s article makes note of how law enforcement officials uncovered, among almost two dozen firearms, some “AR-15-style rifles.” The author characterized these AR-15-style rifles as “the equivalent of the U.S. military’s standard service rifle.”

The author goes on to describe how released photographs taken of the crime scene indicate the guns were equipped with accuracy-improving features like a “free floating barrel” and an advanced optical sight.

The standard service rifle of the U.S. Marine Corps – the “equivalent of” the AR-15-style rifles found at the hotel – is the M4 assault rifle.

The M4, a variant of the M16 rifle that was first introduced in the 1960s, has a caliber of 5.56 millimeters (mm). Its effective range for single point targets – as opposed to more spread out area targets – is 500 meters, and it shoots at a rate between 700 and 900 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2970 feet per second.

This is the standard rifle issued to all Marines – whether in active duty combat situations or working in administrative functions. The M4, however, is not the only or the most powerful weapon used by Marines.

The M240 Bravo (or M240B), for instance, is a machine gun used by U.S. Marines. It has a caliber of 7.62 mm and fires up to 950 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,970 feet per second. The firearm also has an effective range of around up to 1.1 kilometers – its firepower far exceeds the M4’s on almost every metric.

The U.S. Marine Corps issues numerous other rifles with superior firepower than the M4 – such as more specialized firearms like Barrett’s M82 sniper rifle – and other, non-accuracy-related attachments on rifles like grenade launchers. This is in addition to other firepower equipment issued to Marine Infantry that the Vegas shooter did not have, such as Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The Daily Beast article’s claim that the Las Vegas legally acquired rifles that are “better” than those used by the U.S. Marine Corps – a claimed substantiated by evidence of the shooter’s use of standard issue rifle “equivalent” guns with accuracy-improving equipment – does not reflect the reality of the firepower of U.S. Marine Corps.

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