Las Vegas, Nevada — On Sunday the United States endured one of its bloodiest days in its history as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock unleashed upwards of 1,000 bullets into unsuspecting concert-goers, turning a country music festival into a hellscape of death and agonizing pain.
The Las Vegas Police Department, in a press release late last evening, raised the death toll to 59 killed with 527 injured marking this the single deadliest mass shooting in American history. More Americans died that Sunday than any number of service members had in a single day of combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
We will never truly know what Paddock’s motivations were on this fateful day, he put a bullet in his head before Las Vegas SWAT could end his rampage. Questions still remain as to how or what Paddock used to exact such a large number of people killed or maimed. Many around the U.S. and the media are speculating that Paddock possessed some sort of fully automatic military-grade machine gun. Others were convinced he modified some sort of semi-automatic rifle to be able to shoot at near cyclic rates.
SOFREP has obtained leaked images from Paddock’s Las Vegas hotel room turned parapet that depict two of the 23 weapons that Paddock had in his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino and resort. And as you can see, Paddock had indeed modified his rifles for maximum deadly effect.
Lets take a look at the above picture for a moment. Initially what you see here is a AR-15 style weapon with a standard holographic site and a high-capacity magazine, or what the average American would call a “clip.” This specific model appears to be able to hold 60 rounds of ammunition. Something that author and former U.S. Army Ranger sniper, Nick Irving and myself assessed as being highly probable in Paddock’s arsenal, “The time it takes to dump a 30 round magazine is around 3-5 seconds.” The average time between Paddock shooting was about seven to ten seconds. “The time to change the mag for an average Joe, 3 seconds for a mag[azine] on a machine gun. A belt fed [weapon] would take longer, around 5-8 seconds.” Irving continued, “A 60 round drum or belt would make more sense,” Irving surmised.
Within the same picture if you look at the buttstock, or the non-barreled end of the rifle you can see a device affixed to it. This is what is known as a “bump-fire” or “slide-fire” stock. With this modification, the buttstock attachment slides back and forth freely during the recoil of the rifle expending a bullet from its chamber. In essence, the gas pressure released from the tiny explosion set off by the firing pin igniting the gunpowder inside a bullet casing pushes the bolt or firing mechanism back into the rifle recoil tube and thus chambering another round for firing.
What the bump-slide attachment allows is for that recoil to be harnessed to increase the rate of fire to almost automatic levels. So all you would have to do would to pull the upper portion of the rifle forward and the inertial force depresses the trigger in rapid fire. This attachment cobbled with what appears to be a 60 round high-capacity magazine is how Paddock was able to achieve an almost constant rate of fire.
The picture below shows another of Paddocks weapons which appears to be an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle as well.
The weapon appears to have what looks like a 30 round magazine along with a 4-6 power scope which would indicate that it was intended for accuracy. This raises questions as most of the footage from the shooting shows only rapid fire, which is not consistent with using a scope to take well-aimed shots. Short of the bipod, there is no clear outward evidence that this model was also modified with a slide-fire mechanism or any other rapid-fire whizbang attachment. However, the weapon could have been modified internally at the trigger mechanism to allow fully automatic fire as well.
Just to the top left you can see what looks like a small sledge-hammer that was more than likely used to smash out the hotel windows from his ad-hoc firing position.
As the gun debate is assuredly going to heat up as they often do after such a tragic event, more questions and fears will emerge. What is certain though is that Paddocks actions are those of a deranged madman, and no amount of debating will change that.
Feature image courtesy of: Associated Press