June 5, 2007:
What weapons are available to
military divers? You know, SEALs or other underwater combat troops. There's
always the knife, but you have to get in close, too close, to use it. Think of
the knife as a last ditch weapon. If you are carrying a pistol, that will work,
but the bullet will stop after about fifteen feet, and won't hurt anyone after
two or three feet. The water slows down the bullet real quick. Rifles send the
bullet a little further, but still becomes harmless about three feet out.
However, if fired from just above the water, say from a dock or boat, bullets
will hurt someone underwater to a depth of 5-10 feet. When fired outside the
water, the bullet is able to get up some speed before hitting the water and
starting to slow down.
During the Cold War, especially in the 1970s, The
Soviet Union and the United States (with a lot of help from West Germany) came
up with some more effective underwater weapons. These weapons fired heavier
bullets that created an air bubble around them (cavitating) which enabled them
to maintain higher speeds for longer distances. These projectiles could hurt
you out to about a hundred feet. Beyond that, most of the time, you can't make
out a target. The Russians still have their underwater "nail gun" (as
underwater warriors call this type of weapon), in both pistol and assault rifle
(it looks like a bulked up AK-47) forms.
The U.S. still arms underwater troops with a similar pistol. And then there's also the spear gun. It's
used for hunting fish, is a one shot affair, and has a range of about 14-24
feet. Now you know.