Interview With Kris “Tanto Paronto
Kris Paronto, or “Tanto” as he is known in security contracting circles, is a former US Army Ranger and private security contractor who has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa, often carrying the M4 carbine.
He was part of the CIA annex security team that responded to the terrorist attack on the US Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, on II September 2012, and is credited with helping to save over 20 lives while fighting from the annex for over 13 hours.
“I’m proud to say I’m a former Ranger” offered Paronto. “I make a point of saying that I was in the 75th Ranger Regiment – 2nd Battalion – because I think that some of the other special operations units are always out there talking and getting the spotlight.”
Now, the 75th [Regiment] may not get a lot of publicity. but that’s also their way too: It shows their quiet professionalism. “I have to say right away that I do not personally epitomize the quiet professional.” he quickly added.
“Some folks may have even seen me on TV. But the Ranger Regiment is full of quiet professionals, and I don’t think they get enough credit for how awesome they are.” Paronto drew from his personal experiences – both as a Ranger and security contractor – to offer a few observations on SOF small arms trends and developments over the past decade.
A MATTER OF INCHES
“Think about everybody having the ability to go from a long barrel M4 carbine to a short barrel.” he began. “Certainly, that’s been one of the big trends. Way back in Vietnam, just the team leaders had carbines known as Colt Commando (AKA: XM177). But now everybody carries a shorty.”
He continued. “Another thing, based on recommendations from the field, is a move for each guy being able to have his own set of uppers, so if he wants to transition to a 16-inch barrel, he can change it. depending on the mission. There’s an example where it failed us in Benghazi,“ he said.
“I had a ten-inch barrel, and I would have loved to be able to transition to a 16-inch barrel at some point in time, because of the targets and how far out they were. But I didn’t have that luxury, because we didn’t have that interchangeable uppers set up as contractors, whereas a lot of the SOF community now does.”
Paronto said that another trend in SOF small arms involves lessening the recoil. Acknowledging a current business relationship with Maxim Defense, he pointed to its buffer spring designs, where the company has cut them down and adjusted them.
“As a result, recoil is reduced and you can get back on target quicker. The CQB [close quarter battle] and MOUT [military operations in urban terrain] requires you to engage targets quicker.” he explained.
“You see one: engage; hit: then see another. Recoil reduction saves you a little bit of critical time in that process.” He noted that reduced recoil also enhances the ability to shoot while moving.
“When you’re walking tactically, and you’re doing ‘a duck walk,’ your body naturally goes up and down.” he said. “And if you add a lot of recoil when you shoot that just creates more of that sloshing effect. I think that’s one of the reasons that so much gear design is moving toward stabilization.”
Additionally. Paronto noted the increasing availability of M4 carbine sights, lights, lasers, forward grip handles and other add-on devices, highlighting their impact on “the changing real estate” on SOF weapons. They started with a quad rail system and now they have all sorts of rail systems, so you can put every little gadget you want on the weapon.” he noted.
“And some guys still want even more for their M4 carbine. So now they can put on rail systems at different angles, giving themselves the ability for something like a 3x or beyond on their top rail with a little reflexive sight part-way down the side.” He said that such a configuration would allow rapid transition from long-range combat to CQB environments by a simple rotation of the barrel.
“If the sight is on, it doesn’t matter if you have the barrel turned to the eleven o’clock, two o’clock or three o’clock position,” he said. “As long as that dot is on and visible to you. you can hold it any way you want.”
Asked for his guesses on future small arms directions. Paronto quickly asserted that designs will continue to follow the battlefield. “I wish I could say that I think it will go into a long-distance direction, where we would go back to 16-inch barrels for every gun,” he offered. “But I still think it goes to a concept where one gun can do everything, depending on the mission and the elements that you change out on the platform.”
In closing. Paronto offered one final message “to his brothers in the 75th.” noting. “I wish I was as good as they are. They have more training than I did. A lot of them were in a lot longer than me. I’ll be honest: I’m a junior Ranger; a peacetime Ranger. I got all my time overseas as a contractor.”
“Granted, it was for ten years. But all I can say is that I am proud of today’s Rangers, because they are operating at levels that I couldn’t imagine. I am humbled by them.”
USA: Looking like something out of a scene from Hollywood’s Starship Troopers, the US Army’s next generation of personal weapons known as the Objective Individual Combat Weapon has entered its next phase of development.
Designated the OICW, the new weapon is light and fires kinetic energy projectiles and air burst fragmentation rounds. The OICW is designed to replace the M-16 family of rifles and the 40mm M-203 grenade launcher currently in service with the US Armed Forces.
The M-16 entered service as the AR-15 in 1963 and the M-203 entered service in 1968 when it began replacing the M-79. Capabilities include a fire control system using a laser range finder that pinpoints the precise target range for the 20mm ammunition.
This sighting system also incorporates a full 24 hour capability that allows uncooled IR technology for night vision. The weapon and sight combination are said to enable the individual infantryman to take out personnel and light armor with the 20mm grenade with hit probability ratios of 50 percent at 300 meters.
The dual munitions projected from the OICW have greater lethality than the M855 5.56mm round fired from the M-16A2 rifle and the M433 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose Round of the M203 Grenade Launcher. France is also pursuing development of a similar style of personal weapon system to the OICW as an option for replacing its current issue FAMAS 5.56mm rifles.