In tank-to-tank duels, M1s often beat T-72 tank crews to the first shot and that shot often scored a fatal hit. Moreover, the 120-mm gun's much greater effective range kept the M1 well out of the 125-mm gun's killing range. First-shot kills were registered at ranges from 2,000 to 3,650 meters. The T-72s, lacking thermal sights and firing less effective ammunition, were at a fatal disadvantage. The Army report also noted the T-72s high vulnerability to the M829A1 depleted uranium APFSDS rounds fired by the Abrams, the Iraqi tanks succumbing even when sheltered by 5-foot (1.5-m) thick berms.
According to the Army report, eight Abrams crews reported being hit by fire from the Iraqi T-72 , but there was no damage. Later reports claimed that 100-mm rounds fired by T-55 tanks simply glanced off. The 125-mm rounds from the T-72 dented the M1A1's armor, but did not penetrate. Of more than 1,950 M1s and M1A1 tanks in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations (KTO), only four suffered catastrophic damage and four were damaged but repairable, the Army report stated. Later analysis revealed that of the four that caught fire, three were hit erroneously by U.S. AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. No crewmen were injured because the bustle doors and blow-off panels worked as designed to vent the explosions upward.
Much of the credit should go to the well-trained M1 crews as well as a highly competent maintenance cadre that had the tanks in prime condition at the start of the offensive. Readiness remained at above 90 percent during the offensive. By comparison, the poorly trained T-72 tank crews were often slow to react and missed first-shot opportunities. Many T-72s were simply abandoned by their crews and later destroyed.