Small Arms Failures Contributed to Wanat Debacle


We’re reporting a pretty hard-hitting story today on the conclusions of an Army official report on the Wanat battle showing that the small arms used in the battle showed significant levels of failure, malfunctioning and jamming “at high cyclic rates of fire.” The weapons include the M4 and SAW.

Defense Tech doesn’t have the final version of the report compiled by the Army Combat Studies Institute at Leavenworth. But we did find a draft version and went through it to find all references to M4s, small arms and the reported malfunctions.

Basically, the most damning conclusions are compiled in the recommendations section of the report. There are a few instanced specified in the report of an M4 fouling, and one where the M4 fouled and the Soldier picked up a SAW and that was jammed up as well.

In one instance, Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips had multiple M4 failures:

Staff Sergeant Phillips poured out fire, as recalled by another Engineer Specialist loading for him, [SSG Phillips] went through three rifles using them until they jammed.

SSG Phillips recalled: My M4 quit firing and would no longer charge when I tried to correct the malfunction. I grabbed the Engineers SAW and tried to fire. It would not fire, so I lifted the feed tray tried clearing it out and tried to fire again. It would not.

As you know, Defense Tech as been at the forefront of the debate over whether a better solution to the current M4 configuration is out there. It’s pretty clear that the gas impingement system is maintenance intensive. And I recall all too well when I confronted PEO Soldier officials with a hypothetical instance very similar to this during a brief I had at the Pentagon on the dust tests conducted on multiple carbine types at Aberdeen. I posited the battle of Fallujah, where Marines and Soldiers were fighting for days on end with barely enough time to eat or sleep. Keeping your weapon clean is arguable as important as eating, some crusty old gunnies and sergeants first class would argue, but if the carbine you’re carrying is so maintenance intensive and you’ve got better options out there that can stand up to more abuse, how can you tell that trooper if his gun jams in that situation it’s all his fault?

Well, it looks like the Wanat battle, at least in part, may have brought up that issue…but has it?

According to the report, the Soldiers had kept their weapons religiously maintained. It looks like the single point of failure might have been the high cyclic rates they were operating under and the M4 just wasn’t able to catch up.

Some GWOT and U.S. Army veterans queried by the author have suggested that this could have been caused by improper weapon cleaning. However, numerous Chosen Few NCOs interviewed for this study have been vehemently adamant in stating that weapons were meticulously and regularly cleaned, and rigorously and routinely inspected by the chain of command. Other GWOT veterans consulted have noted that the high rates of fire sustained during the two hour intense engagement phase at Wanat could possibly have contributed to these failures. However, numerous weapons failed relatively early in the engagement (particularly a number of M-4 rifles and at one SAW at the mortar pit), and in any event the maintenance of cyclic rates of fire was critical to restore fire superiority, and to prevent positions (particularly at OP Topside) from being overrun by determined, numerous, and hard pressed insurgent assaults.

The report goes on to suggest that the PEO Soldier work to find a solution to this problem.

We could go on for hours on this, and I thinks it’s appropriate to do that in a forum like this. I’m digging through my old notes, but I’m pretty sure that “high cyclic rates” were addressed in the dust test, and the M4 came out near the bottom of the pack on that amongst its competitors. The Army keep saying that surveys have shown that 94 percent of Soldiers say they’re satisfied with the M4. But as I replied when confronted with this straw man argument, isn’t it hard to say whether you’re truly satisfied with a weapon unless you have some experience with other options — umm, like the special operations forces do? And what do they prefer? The HK 416 and the SCAR, which are both less maintenance-intensive, gas piston operating systems.

What does this say about the Corps’ program for the Infantry Automatic Rifle? Why replace a good portion of your automatic weapons with one that only has a 30 round magazine? And, I could be wrong on this, but aren’t M4s assigned to straight leg infantry units configured to fire in three-round bursts and semi auto? Only special operators have ones with a full auto switch? If this instance shows anything that a counterinsurgency strategy demonstrates, it’s that small units will likely be confronted with superior numbers of bad guys and will need to pour out the lead when the you-know-what hits the fan. And what about weapons tactics training? There’s a scary line in the report that quotes one of the Soldiers saying he was unprepared for such an Alamo style fight. You’d have thought since Blackhawk Down we’d be teaching how to hold off wave attacks with superior fire.

There are so many more actionable lessons to the drawn from the report, and I encourage DT readers to scour through it again. But kudos to the AP reporter who brought this out and one has to wonder whether the Army will work toward a more rugged solution as it explores options to the M4 this year.

— Christian

  • jack

    Is it that tough to give our brave fighting men/women a gun that DOESN”T fail during the heat of battle when they’re live depend on it!!!?????? Crap! The soviets developed a gun a half century ago that is more reliable that what are guys are using today.
    We have all these high tech planes, ships, tanks, ect but the guns we give our grunts won’t even last through an intense firefight?
    America has done a great disservice to our troops….

    • dubbs

      Having had first hand experience with the M-16 family of weapons( military and law enforcement) it is a decent weapon.

      What people are NOT talking about is the leadership FAILURE in the Wanat gun battle. A Marine Corps General pointed out marked failurescin establishing site security, failure to identify tell tale activity by Army leadership of a potential attack( which led to the terrible fight) and failure to rapidly re- enforce the beleagured unit under fire.

      The attacking taliban forces OUTNUMBERED the US Army forces in the village by upwards of 3-4:1 . The insurgents were in a higher ground, and able to use a combination of rocket, mortar and heavier 7.62 caliber machine gun fire against the US Army units deployed.

      Simply put, a SMALLER force, STUCK in position with POOR defensive measures set up CANNOT ” out gun” a larger better positioned attacking force, but this is exactly what was TRIED.

      And it cost the lives of nearly a dozen US soldiers.

      The M-4 is a lightweight combat carbine, and well proven. But it cannot be a total world beater- even the vaunted AK-47 and AK-74 can and WILL fail if pushed to the limit in the same case. No one ever reviews after action reports where insurgents weapons are recovered and found to be worn out, inoperable or dangerous to use after a firefight.

      Sadly to many here, mainly civilians., also some in the military fail to comprehend that a ” carbine ” is a light weight weapon system NOT designed for: 1) long range targeting- 400 yd max
      Is pushing the limit for an M4, but its still about 50 yds more than an AK 47
      2) a ” machine gun”- too many try to use the M4 like a WW2 thompson SMG at close contact, or for longer range high volume fire, a job best suited for the heavier M240 mg which also fires the heavier 7.63 x 51 rd. The lighter suppressive fire weapons available,namely the SAW machine gun,is
      Well known to Marines and Soldiers as many field WORN out M249s that were jamming in training ,so to believe a used,older weapon will magically work in environments less pristine than training, if down right criminal in behavior for the DoD!

      Despite the damnable after action review by a USMC general of the failures that led to the high casualities at Wanat, the US Army brass circled their wagons, and reversed any suggestions of discipline of the command staff responsible for the unit deployed to that village and the following combat. No way in hell was the Army going to let the FACTS distort their view- namely that weapons failure, not tactics, was to blame..

      We sacrifice one tactic for another. Targeting , light weight and high mobility to cut off an enemy, or heavy weapons and slow movement to create hard targets.

      In the light weight mode of combat, the M-4 works quite well. Every soldier at Wanat could have been armed with a longer ranging M-14 battle rifle, and the results would have been the same

  • Big Daddy

    How many more lives is it going to take for the Army to adapt a piston weapon with the 6.8mm round. The 6.8mm round is designed for a 16? barrel or shorter, the 5.56 is NOT. Even the 7.62 NATO round is no more powerful than the 7.62

    • dubbs

      Big Daddy- although a larger round like the 6.8 has more range, the issue wasnt some flaw in the 5.56 mm or the M-4, it was tactics! The M-4 is not designed for high volume suppressive fire, and the soldiers attacked at Wanat, got hit by a larger taliban force.

      While a longer range, heavier round might have proven successful in use at this particular battle, the fact is the soldiers faced heavy machine gun fire from the Talibam from well protected positions as well as rpg and mortar fire

  • Charles

    I find it strange that the M249 jammed. The M240 seems to do better, even when both are from FN designs (the Minimi and the MAG). I don’t know if they’re related designwise, however.
    Wouldn’t it be easier to just design a new SAW starting from the M240? Or is that just a total waste of time?
    The issues with the M4 have been around for a while, have they not? And I suppose the issues with both M249 and the M4 will only get worse with age; and I thought the M249s are getting long in the tooth as well.
    And finally, a grammatical nitpick in your title. Shouldn’t it be “Wanat Debacle Attributed to Small Arms Failures”, implying the debacle is the fault of the small arms, rather than implying the “failure of small arms” is caused by the Wanat debacle? Or of course, the easiest way to fix it is replacing attributed to contributed. Or maybe you meant something else entirely…


      I sat alone and unafraid for nearly 5 minutes trying to get my SAW to fire while the rest of my squad was inside of a building clearing rooms. Mind you this was in a training environment, never the less I am leaving The Basic School with absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in that weapon. We all just joke about when the thing is going to JAM up. Sat in the defense with the 240 where it generally muddy and rainy and never had a failure. If only the thing wasn’t soooo heavy.

  • lurker

    Just curious, but wouldn’t this seem to vindicate the IAR? Having a rifle that can accept the plentiful 30-rnd mags (I read on the firearm blog that one solder indicates he went through 12 within 30 minutes) and let you quickly change out the barrel seems to be a handy weapon to have in a similar situation. Or am I reading this back asswards?

  • Christian

    Thanks Charles…fixed the headline…

  • Charles

    lurker, the problem is the weapon jamming in the middle of a firefight, not an issue about reloads.
    If I recall correctly, M249 can accept the standard 30-rd magazines, but this doesn’t address the issue of reliability in local conditions.

  • daskro

    I’m curious to know how many rounds they put through their M4s and the corresponding time frame. There’s a whole lot of difference between failure after 100 rounds of firing over the course of 2 hours and failure after 200-300 rounds over the course of 15-20 minutes.

  • Charles

    Agreed on the point of a weapon only doing worse when “hot” from hosing down too many enemy. Wonder how much worse heat makes things…

  • freefallingbomb

    WHAT ON EARTH is the (apparently fundamental) problem with U.S. American weapons and roller-locked short recoil mechanisms, or, alternatively, roller-delayed blowback operating systems?
    Are these untranslatable German and Russian words, or are all U.S. Americans born with gas pistons, or what?!

  • Juan

    I have commented sometimes here that I just cannot realize a mistake of fifty years. As I said, we committed a failure 30 years ago in Spain about small arms. After the good old Cetme C (the substitute of the 70 years used Mauser 96), we produce a tiny crap in 5.56, the CETME L. The roller-delayed system was the same, but the materials and processes were well under modern standards because of a corrupted contract program, in which the manufacturer save costs beyond the acceptable terms. BTW, it happened the same with the substitute of the good ole MG42: good design but crappy materials and processes. Indeed, SAS was going to buy it and the prototypes were just excellent, but the production series were so crappy that were directly rejected.
    I have to add that part of the problem was caused by the stanag magazines. Also, AFAIK the rate of failures of CETME L was quite lower compared with M4. Quite easy, roller-delayed blowback Vs. direct impingement. The problem with it was more related with the crappy materials of the stock, for instance. But, alas, there was no necessity of cleaning the weapon every day.
    After 15 years of use CETME L, since it was not so good as CETME C, a substitute was selected. good neue G36.
    It is just not acceptable for our military that our soldiers were not equipped with the best small arms possible. Our army has very limited resources, but the assault rifle is “cheap” compared with any other systems, and keeping in mind that can be part of the difference between live and death of our soldiers, there is no discussion. No national proud involved, too: we produced an outstanding rifle in the fifties, but if its sucessor was not excellent, it had to be substitued
    I have to agree with Byron Skinner: 50 years and docens of deaths involved, if no more, is a continued criminal act against the Army and, by extension, against your nation. What a shame

  • ELP

    Great reporting Christian.

  • Curtis

    Its my experience that the cleaning procedures for the AR based platforms is both dificult and persnickety. IE, even if you clean the gun meticulously, if you clean it using the wrong chemicals or procedures, you are asking for an eventual failure.
    You can’t use bore foam products, because they’ll back up into your gas tube and wind up in your bolt. The gas tube itself, and especially the breach end of it, is really easy to damage, crack, kink, or misalign. The gas key on the bolt is another easy to damage part. The wrong cleaning chemicals can damage the gas seal rings in the bolt. If you use a steel brush versus a plastic or brass brush, you risk scratching up the interior of the bolt housing, gradually increasing friction.
    I’m betting that the men in question did indeed clean their rifles religiously, but that there was something wrong with their procedures, cleaning gear, or chemicals.
    As far as the M-249 failures go, Its an air-cooled man portable LMG: A role full of compromises. In the event of a prolonged siege style fire fight, it’d be the weapon I’d expect to jam first.

  • Valcan

    “Their is a quick solution, and a cheap one Colt, as of last Fall announced that they are now making short stroke gas piston operating upper receivers for the M-4, the change over can be done by the user in a matter of seconds.”
    Ive always wondered why this wasent done.
    And everybody i have to say something.
    WHY are you screaming about round size? No one has mentioned round size. This article is not about the merets or drawbacks of the 5.56 or the 7.62
    This is about weapons.
    But what is the major reason to use 5.56?
    Accuracy and lighter weight. Plus we have tons of it already.
    Here is the problem our guns themselves cannot sustain continuos fire in heavy sustained engagments. They jam and fail.
    Im not saying we need to replace everything but like byron said get the pistons for the m4. this would drasticaly change the problem.
    As for the M249 i have no idea what the problem is. I am just not as up to date on the SAW issue as the m4 sence its well known for problems.
    I do have to wonder why we switched from the m60 the modern varients are very rugged from what ive seen and heard. Though i figure that is mostly about weight.
    In some ways i think this just shows a glaring over dependence on airpower to end all engagments swiftly.

  • Jones

    Dear Big Daddy;
    The M-60 had a quick change barrel capability.
    A M-3 grease gun is a joke, when compared to a M-16. Nevertheless some Marines loved them for purposes of profiling around and looking Macho.
    The M-72 LAW was even a bigger joke. The RPG was far and away superior to the LAW.
    The RPG was quick and easy to fire, and you could carry multiple rounds, rather than having a fiberglass tube that went pow one time.
    Just getting a LAW ready to shoot, while moving through the vines was an exercise that was enough to drive you mad.
    They were one small step better than being utterly worthless.
    If the Marines are in such trouble as to being forced to use these things I feel sorry for the Marines.
    Stone clubs would serve them better.

  • Russell koch

    The sustained rate of fire for an m16 with a 20″ barrel is 12 to 15 rounds per minute. Static defense still needs intel, patrols, and constant vigilance. Super weapons that can do everything, weigh almost nothing, and never malfunction, just don’t exist.

  • Earl Hollenbeck

    Go back to the M16 and 50 Cal and the 60’s

  • Earl Hollenbeck

    Go back to the M16 and 50 Cal and the 60’s

  • Ptsfp

    Christian, the Army reports that 94% of the soldiers are happy with the M-4. What soldiers where asked? Did they poll the quartermasters or the recon platoons? I mean, did 50% of those polled also say that it looked good hanging behind their desk?
    Why have the specops abandoned the weapon if 94% of our troops are happy with it? Obviously they have used it, and they had issues with it. I have seen pictures of our seals carrying around AK’s.
    Budget be damned, we need to get our guys weapons that work reliably. How many AK’s jammed at Wanat? I have seen videos of AK’s being fired until the stocks catch on fire.
    I fear the government will write this off as, “Well there was a failure in the way they maintained their weapons.” We have the most advanced military in the world. Our main battle rifle has to go bang each and every time the trigger is pulled.

  • Big Daddy

    Jones did you ever try to quickly change an M-60 barrel? Don’t forget you asbestos gloves..LMAO.
    The LAW is improved over the old ones, vastly by the manufacturer Talley defense systems and I wasn’t comparing them to an RPG. I said at least you have something to shoot back with.
    Jones I think you should use the stone club on your computer since you did not use it to check your facts. It is obvious you have never fired any of those weapons. You are also too lazy to have looked up any data and if those weapons have been improved over the past versions. Talley along with NAMMO has a whole range of improved LAWS with different warheads. This is from 2005:
    Talley also produces the SMAW.

  • Big Daddy

    Oh and I forgot, I have a very good friend that is in Afghan right now. He’s an NCO and also served in Iraq.
    So I get all the information first hand, the facts not the BS handed to us by the media.
    The situation is a mess and our weapons stink. He hates the M-4 and uses the M-16. The sand and heat there is oppressive. The sand just gets in everything and fouls it up, yeah except for AK-47’s and RPG’s.
    If the public really knew what was going on there we would have mass demonstrations against the war like we did during Vietnam. More troops…HA!!!! we do not even have the infrastructure to house them let alone supply them. Don’t get me started….

  • Connor

    Why is the Army switching from the M16 RIFLE to the M4 CARBINE? It makes NO sense! It has less range, accuracy, and the bullet has a slower muzzle velocity due to the shorter barrel and thus less power! And it jams more than the m16 due to the greater cyclic rate due to the shorter barrel. Just give us the HK416 upper reciever!

  • Total

    “Would you sooner have a Mauser 98, a Garand, or a M-16?”
    Well, gee, I’d rather have a broadsword, thanks.
    (those aren’t the choices, so you’re just handwaving now)

  • Ptsfp

    Is the AA-12 in the field yet? I see several sources that say it would be great in military applications and that they are putting them on remote platforms, but what about ground troops?
    A low recoil, automatic shotgun with specialty ammo including fragmentation grenades seems that it would be a great CQB, force multiplier.
    I wouldn’t mind having a few of these if I was on a base being threatened to be overrun…
    Also, what if they had a belt fed version on a bipod? That seems like it would be a great suppression weapon.

  • bobbymike

    Christian writes – And what about weapons tactics training? There’s a scary line in the report that quotes one of the Soldiers saying he was unprepared for such an Alamo style fight. You’d have thought since Blackhawk Down we’d be teaching how to hold off wave attacks with superior fire.
    Or they should be studying the Chosin Resevoir battle!

  • Craig

    The M-4 is just a shortened version of the M-16… We just got a shipment of new ones half way through my 1 year deployment to Korea… and I’m currently assigned one here at the 10th Mountain in New York. We went to qualify with the M-4’s in early September and I kid you not about 1/4 of the people there had M-4’s that would not stop trying to chamber two rounds at once… These are time intensive weapons to clean… it takes us a good 2 hours to properly clean these weapons. Plus, to however has been surveyed on wither they are satisfied with the current M-4 or its mechanics must have never seen, touched, or researched any similar rifle with a “GAS PISTON” setup! and don’t even get me started on the army issued 9mm handgun!! WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP!

  • Alton

    Hey, here’s an idea. Get a generator, some hydraulics if necessary and field a M-61 20 mm Gatling gun with the outfits going to the field. Even in the low mode (4000 rpm) Ain’t nobody can outshoot that. Even the richochets will get their attention and a 20 mm round is big, could probubly make it a frangible round too. Lots more range, could probubly build a traverse mechanism (how hard can that be?). Of course all them shells weigh a lot but yeah, you could put up with that for that sake of it just being there, ready to fire.

  • strider

    Hey buddy, if you figure out how to carry one of those beasts up all the mountains of afganistan let me know…..

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Evening Folks,
    As expected there is a lot of interest in this topic, unfortunely most of the best stories died on the battlefield. Many of if not most of the Marines and Soldiers who experienced weapon failure with the M-16/M-4 never survived the experience. I myself came to with in two minutes I’ve been told from being one of the soldiers on the last fire fight I was in, that afternoon I had two M-16’s jam up on me. I don’t know of any comparable experience one could have the being in an intense fire fight with a malfunctioning weapon. In a big way as a survivor I also am speaking for the dozens if not in the hundreds dead Soldiers and Marines who can’t speak up.
    The really criminal thing about this is that every single ground forces General Officers since Vietnam has been aware of this problem and did nothing, every single one, Names like Colon Powell, Charles Krulak, Eric Shenseki and the most aggregious of all is Peter Pace, the first Marine Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who unashamly brought up the two men he lost from his platoon in Vietnam when it suited his purposes. This problem was know and these generals and others fail to do anything about it.
    Why did such nobel men fail to act, were they more concerned about their own petty careers instead of the lives of the men and now women who have to relay on their rifle for their lives? Did Colt as the sole source, and for the most part still is buy off these officers, with offers of post retirement employment? Or as what many enlisted personal think is that they are considered expendable and the officers don’t really give a sh** about them, looking good and getting an attabot or attagirl from their superior is worth however many live it takes to look good. The enlisted are just more meat to feed to the grinder, if their weapon malfunctions it’s their Fault, they didn’t clean it properly, which is pure bullsh**. To every combat soldier maintaining his personal weapon is a religion and seeing that his buddies do the same is a sacred duty.
    The only reason that this problem still exist now going on 50 years is decades if institutional neglect, corrupt officers and politicians. Speaking for myself and those from the grave I say to the American people, stop this INSTITUTIONAL MURDER of American Soldiers and Marines. The best way is to not let your sons, daughters, husbands or wives joint the military until this problem is addressed and corrected. What I just said may be considered treason and possibly even illegal but is not the corruption for decades with in the Pentagons chain of command also criminal.
    The Soldiers and Marines who died with jammed weapons in their hands did not die for their country, they died for the vanity and corruption of their chain of command.
    Byron Skinner

  • Schmorde

    Many great points! The magazines are the common denominator to “double feeds” and “stove pipes”, I was taught in the Marines that M-16 mags were originally made to be nearly disposable during a firefight. Thus, always test fire your mags, scrap any with defect, and always horde fresh mags.
    When training in both times of peace and war, there has always been a command aversion to train in scenarios where the command structure has failed. This coupled with units in combat zones not allowing warriors to test fire or practice as necessary; they need to force more range time, and small unit leaders must ensure all troops test fire all magazines. Which is a great drill called “Combat reloads”.

  • HungrySeagull

    I would like to see the AA-12 and the SCAR Heavy in all Infantry alongside a Modernized M14 Rifle.
    We must not descend into wasteful and emotional back and forth over iffy weapons.
    This is one battle that portends early warning for us to scrap everything 5.56 and go with heavier rounds and better weapons.
    One day the enemy will show up in waves and also dominate the sky. They did before and they will again.
    Roll on Victory, but bring good guns.

  • Big Daddy

    Sorry Jones you have no credibility making a statement that the M-60 has a quick change barrel. It never did and was not meant to like other waepons such as the MAG and MG3. The barrel can be changed but not as quickly and anybody who used it would know that FACT.
    It takes a little time to change that barrel. If I remember I think the pamphlet I got shows you standing up with your foot on the bi-pod and twisting the receiver. This is a long time ago and my memory is either a pamphlet or an NCO teaching us.
    Plus the M-3’s were loved by the guys in Sicily during WWII. They said; climbing those mountains were tough, it was close combat and the .45 at close range was deadly. The low cyclic rate made a short burst controllable. They were preferred over other weapons in that environment.
    Why would anybody want to use an RPD with a cut off barrel(no sight???)? They were designed to actually be used not only as a squad auto but as an indirect fire weapon out to 600 meters. You could drop the rounds over an embankment due to it’s trajectory.
    Just because you did something does not make your feelings nor opinion on an issue the correct one.

  • Big Daddy

    Oh and if I had a choice of a Mauser, Garand or M-16, I would choose the Garand for sure. I know that if I can hit it then it will die. That’s a good feeling when there are people trying to kill you.

  • AF Veh-Mechanic

    What I can say that:
    1st – Change a ammo from 5.56 mm to 6.5/6.8 mm. It has almost the same punch as the 7.62 NATO and have almost the same velocity of the 5.56mm, which mean u can use less ammo to take down the enemy than the 5.56mm. The 5.56mm take almost half of the Magazine just to take down one enemy… Got it?
    2nd – About the M249, why can we just use the Mk48 Machine Gun which uses 7.62mm but 30% lighter than the M240, Though the barrel of Mk48 has a shorter life than the M240 (Mk48 has need to change barrel every 15K rounds than M240 100K rounds) or the other Option is the USMC IAR (Infantry Automatic Rifle) which use 5.56mm and look a like M4, but they need to upgrade to 6.5/6.8mm then they can used those 100 rounds Beta C-Mag — period!
    3rd – It’s about time to change our assault rifle to either FN SCAR 6.5/6.8 mm or HK 416 6.5/6.8 mm or Remington/Bushmaster/Magpul ACR – Adaptive Combat Rifle (Masada) 6.5/6.8 mm rifle.

  • Charles

    I suppose for Afghanistan, we can issue Mk48s in place of M249 “where appropriate”.

  • warner mobley

    we haven’t had a rifle to match the stopping power of a Garand since the Garand.

    • bbb

      If you knew anything about firearms you would know that’s bullshit.

      The old .30-06 rounds used back when the Garand was in service using it (before it was converted to .308) used slower burning powder. The .308 (7.62) using newer faster burning powder had the exact same power as the old .30-06.

      So the M14 has more than twice the firepower of an M1, along with faster reloads, and no incredibly loud ping every eight rounds.

  • Jeff M

    The piston is no more reliable than impingment designs, it takes hundreds of rounds to build up enough grime on the bolt to cause some sort of extraction failure, the grime doesn’t cause increased friction on the bolt carrier unless you use too much oil and it begins caking, I think a lot of soldiers just think that more lube is better which is where the problems begin. Sometimes one problem leads to another, imbalances will cause wear on one side of the carrier and lead to skewing bolt carrier. I have had the problem Byron skinner describes where the casing is locked in the chamber, sometimes after only a few rounds. I think it has less to do with heat and more to do with a chamber that doesn’t meet specs, often made worse by cheap out of spec ammo. I believe ALL of the reliability attributed to the ak47 is due to looser chamber machining. I have always found the heavier calibers jam less, the heavier the bolt the less likely a minor imperfection will cause a stoppage. I think every m4 should be replaced with a sg25, and the m249 is just not necessary, they should have a substantial machine gun like m240 or a mini gun, you should not even take the m249 up the mountains as the ammo needed is too heavy, only sg25 and grenades are needed on patrols.

  • Jeff M

    I meant sr-25 not sg-25.

  • financegeek

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009
    Jim Rogers Views Summarised – Oct 11th
    Just an update on Jim Rogers and his views. This being his latest on his lecture circuit:
    1. The 21st century belongs to China
    According to Rogers, the 19th century was the era of the British Empire and the 20th century was the U.S.

  • Thomas L. NIelsen

    Our (Danish) troops use the Colt Canada C7 and C8 (rifle and carbine respectively), and as far as I know, they’re happy with them. Sure there are improvements they would like to see, but they’re not considered death-trap jamma-matics only one small (downward) step removed from having to use harsh language.
    One very important thing I haven’t seen mentioned (but I could have missed it) is the age of the weapons involved. An M4 (or a C8) that has had 10 000 rounds through it is going to be quite a lot more susceptible to jamming, no matter how well and often you clean it. And as others have pointed out, in the kinds of firefights we see in Afghanistan, weapons tend to get a LOT of rounds through them in a hurry.
    Regards & all,
    Thomas L. Nielsen
    Denmark (currently Luxembourg)

  • So?
  • AF Vech-Mx

    Since when is China related to M4 failure?

  • freefallingbomb

    To the poster Mr. Byron Skinner:
    You wrote: “The only reason that this problem (clogging long-stroke pistons) still exist now going on 50 years is decades if institutional neglect, corrupt officers and politicians. Speaking for myself and those from the grave I say to the American people, stop this INSTITUTIONAL MURDER of American Soldiers and Marines.”
    You’re wrong: Adding a few centimeters to the piston rod (not to make it look “so Soviet, so Communist”, or for any other stupid explanation) isn’t “wilful mass-murder” or “INSTITUTIONAL MURDER of American Soldiers and Marines”, because at least your first few bullets come out well.
    If that design’s outweighing disadvantages are ignored for half a century (as is the case), that’s “fatal neglect” at best.
    Vaccinating ground troops with largely untried Anthrax antidotes, which later cause the Gulf War Syndrome, isn’t corrupt business either, it’s “medical malpractice”.
    Letting your own troops fire depleted uranium ammunition and then walking and driving through the target area without ABC suits isn’t dangerous, it’s “debatable”.
    Spraying Agent Orange over mutinying and deserting U.S. troops in the Vietnam jungle isn’t a typical C.I.A. mission, it “never happened”.
    Exposing at least 250.000 U.S. troops directly to atomic radiation, during 17 years of atom bomb tests, isn’t proof of premeditation, it’s a “scientific discovery” (yup, like with 250.000 guinea pigs).
    And so on.
    Everything is excusable!
    Downsizing the standard rifle and machine-gun calibre from 7,62 mm to 5,56 mm HOWEVER I-S IRREFUTABLE INSTITUTIONAL MURDER of U.S. American Soldiers and Marines, because even your first round IS AS INEFFECTIVE as all the other ones!
    The political and military leaders of the Ancient Romans, of the Nazis and of the Soviets certainly expected their infantrymen, horsemen and tankers etc. to fight like real men ( = to die by the tens of thousands per battle, if necessary, without balking of course), BUT … they never equipped them with such
    weapons like the U.S. American top warmongerers do, and so persistently, quite the opposite: The impressive firepower of their Infantry and Armour etc. almost sold itself as international Propaganda stuff (almost historical, legendary) ! In my opinion, the old Romans, the old Nazis and the old Soviets didn’t even contempt, abuse and mass-murder their own humble infantrymen in any (other) direct or indirect way like the U.S. American leaders do against their own infantrymen = the very builders of their Empire!
    But then again: The last generation of U.S. soldiers signed up voluntarily, didn’t they? You keep constantly forgetting that.
    Well, they asked for it, they got it…

  • subby

    I think its a little arrogance too.
    The U.S military and its soldiers can’t admit that its weapon isn’t the best in the world, that it is inadequate and has been for decades.
    Pretty sad the US has had to resort to the M4 peashooter in CQB. Every other nation is laughing in your faces. You guys should really unquestionably have the best weapons available considering your always getting into fights, instead every other nation has a superior main battle rifle. Even the not mature yet bullpups are superior to the M16. (Australa who uses the steyr aug and actually gets into firefights have not had a problem with it at all, since they started manufacturing themselves)
    Unless the form and rank soldiers don’t cry out for better weapons. Your corrupt too highly politicised institutions will continue to bandaid the problem and never fix it. All the while spending billions on superseded or unnecessary weapon projects.
    Its quite a disgrace.

  • Mat

    US forces never stop to amaze,this project of replacing the M16/M4 has been going on for decades and each time you had beter ption on the table but each time they didn’t meet 100% increase in combat effecivnes over M16/M4 ,so instead ob buying just 50+% more effective rifle,they continued buying crap,certanly hepled with some kickbacks from Colt,to some officers that later work for Colt and more likely than not couple of Senators get nice campaign donations..
    And don’t think that these guns are old ,they are being replaced constantly ,so age shouldn’t be a problem.The other thing is most of M4 are semi auto so much less wear than most other guns that Nato armies use are full auto but very few are as unreliable as M4 in adverse conditions.

  • ausjim

    I think I can pinpoint the problem in this case. It is called “high cyclic rates of fire”. The normal rate of fire for an M4 is 30 rounds per minute. That is one round every 2 seconds, or a mag a minute. Rapid fire is 90 rounds per minute, or 3 mags a minute. The rifle will not last long at rapid fire. Heat is not the machines friend and 90 rounds a minute creates a lot of heat. Cyclic rate of fire is 700-950 rounds a minute. That is when you squeeze the trigger and don’t let go. This is useful if someone pops out of nowhere at very close range (less than 25 meters) and scares the shit out of you. You might let off 3 rounds at cyclic rate.
    If you are facing an enemy determined to kill you, and you are a well trained soldier, you do not apply cyclic rates of fire. You aim and shoot to kill. Single shots at somewhere between normal and rapid rates of fire. If you are using “high cyclic rates of fire” you can be sure of one thing. You are missing. Having a rifle that can fire at cyclic all day long just gives you the power to miss all day long…
    As to the SAW, I am sure he was taught that if you have a stoppage, you don’t lift the feed cover and TRY to clear the chamber/body. You lift the feed cover and CLEAR the chamber/body. If the weapon failed to fire after the chamber/body is cleared it has one of two common causes. They are improperly loaded ammo (this is a very common occurrence with inexperienced or flustered operators) or a dud round. There are other causes but they are mechanical parts actually breaking, which is pretty unheard of.
    Have any weapon system you want. If you don’t employ it properly it won’t work properly.

  • AF VMX

    we got those training… u shot two in body and one in the head… but if 200 insurgents is attacking your post and you only got a company of soldiers, plus the cover and concealment… and to include to reach the fire superiority… so that you the unit can defend the base. a 90 round will last only 1-2 minutes because u shoot where the flare at. And trust me 1-2 minutes is almost like 5-10 minutes in a fire fight. People move a lot from one cover to another… SAW/machine gun is designed for Suppressive fire not to point and shoot weapon. That is why SAW/Machine Gun has higher rate of fire than assault rifle for that reason.

  • Ed

    Here is one Question I have for this. What happened to the XM-8? The weapon was being tested in Iraq for a while and from what I saw in the sand tests it performed at or near the top in every test.
    As for weapons cleaning in the military? It varies with units widely. Support units and Command units are horrible at this. They usually only clean them after they have fired them for normal ranges and its just a basic cleaning. The weapons in some command units, especially if it is one that has units deployed, do not even fire their own assigned weapon, they fire one back here that everyone uses over and over again so no telling what condition the weapon is over in theater.
    I would like to know how we can do training of a full on assault such as what happened in Wanat? MILES seems to be ineffective for this since you get hit and it goes off, end of battle whereas in some cases you might have only taken a grazing and could continue to fire. We need our soldiers training scenarios to be much more intense to raise their adrenaline levels and lower their response times.
    We also need to be able to put heavier firepower on the targets without us having to call for artillery or air power. I think we might have a problem where our soldiers feel that they just have to wait long enough and the heavy firepower will be coming in to end the fight.

  • Charles

    Unit organic firepower is a problem too, and reliability of weapons contribute to a lack of it. I don’t know if the dust in Afghanistan is as bad as it is in the Middle East, but this all points to a need for a more reliable weapon asap.
    For the most part, are we engaging enemies below the minimum range of the 60mm mortar? Even then, indirect fire weapons have a lag time as a function of flight time (artillery shell flying in from far away, or a mortar going at high arc).
    Maybe we need to push a faster grenade launcher to the troops. Issue more MGM-1?
    Shotguns sounds intriguing, but how often are we going to use them? If they are that close, haven’t you already lost? Replacing M-4s with shotguns means you have one less medium-range shooter, which is undesirable.
    I’d previously alluded to water-cooled MGs. If I recall correctly, they were highly reliable when employed in World War 1, and they were definitely used against human wave assaults (as that was the only tactic available) and fired over very long periods of time. They’re heavy, so they’re not going to see much use on patrols. But on the defense they may be invaluable.

  • dave

    Hmm… My takeaways on this seem to be a whole bunch more questions.
    1. Is training an issue? Did our guys perform their stoppage drills correctly? How was fire discipline?
    2. Could some of the stoppages have been prevented? I know that it may not be reasonable in the middle of a fight, but a couple drops of oil on the bolt carrier does wonders to restore reliability when an M4/M16/AR15 gets hot and dirty.
    3. A whopping big percentage of failures can be traced to magazines. The Pentagon, Magpul, and Brownells all know this. Is this issue getting the priority it deserves?
    4. Are we using the right weapon in Afghanistan? The M4 is all about vehicle transport. It is slightly, but statistically measureably, less reliable than the M16. It also has a shorter sight radius when engagement distance is is further than in Iraq.
    Doesn’t it also have a lighter barrel? My civilian 16″ version carries a heavy barrel with a Colt HBAR taper under the handguard. Should we put heavier barrels on M4s built on full-auto lowers?

  • Brandon

    Excuses Excuses god dam gov. needs to replace the M-16 and its variants hell anything at this point is better.

  • Zandor

    I doubt very much that the “failures” of the rifles were due to the faulty design of the M-16 system.
    I doubt that the weapons turned white hot during the gunfight.
    In order for steel to turn white hot, the temp must be in excess of 2,500 deg. F.
    I do think that the ugly little truth is that the weapons were not maintained properly, or fired regularly in order to see that they functioned dependably.
    This fiasco was not due to inferior weapons.
    The fiasco was due to poor commanders.
    1) Just who in the hell places a camp in a location that can be fired down upon from several directions?
    2) Just who in the hell has a camp, that is several years old, that does not have a serious defensive system?
    3) Has the US Army forgotten what shovels and sandbags are made for?
    4)Just who in the hell was in charge of inspecting, and managing the personnel on this sorry base?
    The answer to these questions all point to one thing, and one thing only.
    Piss poor leadership, from top to bottom, provided by a bunch of REMF dorks.
    It was NOT the fault of the weapons!
    However it is a nice escape route to blame the weapons, and it covers a lot of ass at the same time.
    The whole story is utter bullshit, and anyone who has ever been this sort of situation knows it!

  • nad

    I know that the magazines are an issue. I sent my son Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and three magazines from Magpul in a box when he was in Iraq. Why can’t the military give our kids the best? I had to send it in a care package for gods sake.

  • nad

    I know that the magazines are an issue. I sent my son Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and three magazines from Magpul in a box when he was in Iraq. Why can’t the military give our kids the best? I had to send it in a care package for gods sake.

  • Charles

    Bear in mind the military is bound by government regulations in that they can’t just buy things retail without a careful approval process (ironically to avoid corrupt nepotism which simply steps around the rules).

    • Schuyler

      I recall an astronaut saying that NASA rockets are built with components from the lowest bidders. We’ve seen how well that’s worked out.

  • Tiger

    Once again the black rifle fails when needed most. Stoner sucks. Long live Browning & Kalashinkov,Saive & Mauser.

  • freefallingbomb

    After the first lesson has been learned, and until some new (or old…) satisfactory gun is chosen that solves all the former guns’ problems together (G3 ! G3 ! G3 ! AK 47 ! AK 47 ! AK 47 ! MG 3 ! MG 3 ! MG 3 ! MG 3 !) : Would it really be so hard for Super-Power Nr. 1 to disregard some of it’s own former bureaucratic dispositions and quickly hand out 3 or 4 (if not MANY MORE !) heavy machine-guns to EACH SINGLE man in a pit in some far-out ( = highly threatened) outpost, plus STACKS of ammunition boxes strictly for defensive firefights, and multiple tripods, spikes or other mounts for EACH SINGLE machine-gun too, solidly fastened in heavy concrete, complete with ballistic shields? After all, you’re in the middle of a war, and you’re “not making progress”, to be mild, so strengthening the defense maybe makes sense!
    During World War Two, the Japanese were “a bit” more elaborate than you while preparing their defensive positions on the islands, it appears (ask grandpa… or grandma) …
    I also suggest storing the bounty of ammunition in clips, drums or belts, but NEVER in magazines, because the compressed springs at the bottom of the magazines fatigue during lenghty storages and then fail to push the bullet stack into the receiver

  • Carl

    1) The M4 is a carbine, for use by support troops. Infantrymen should have superior M-16 rifles, but the M4 became preferred in recent years because it looks cool, it is lighter, and shorter.
    2) Perhaps the ammo is to blame (too much residue) We buy this stuff from foreign nations too.
    3) What about an M134 7.62mm gatling gun? That is electric so rarely jam and have six barrels to prevent overheating, the spinning helps too.
    4) They got rid of the full auto on M-16s because it wastes ammo and heats up the barrel. Much testing showed that after three rounds, a hand held rifle is way off target after three quick recoils. It is more effective with a pause to aim again and pull the trigger.

  • AF Vech-Mx

    Who in this group of people commenting about this issue been in afghanistan? You can’t comment like this if you haven’t experience it in the first place…

  • So?

    Well, I’m an ignoramous. All this time I thought the M4 was an updated M16 rifle. Turns out it’s a carbine. Aren’t carbines meant for troops not expected to use them much? Tankers, drivers, etc.? Is this a worldwide trend?

  • Carl

    It is common for combat newbies to pretend their foreign visit gave them unquestionable knowledge that no one else can criticize.

  • Charles

    Those comments about the “carbine” being assigned to certain types of troops is a legacy of ’90s era thinking. We thought we were going to go into more close quarters, with urban fights being our future (Mogadishu and then Iraq pointed towards this). And then we got Afghanistan. A compact weapon is nice in that it does save weight, but other than that, what is offered by taking the M4 instead of the M16?
    I don’t know if it’s a worldwide trend. I’m sure some foreign military (or those more familiar with foreign militaries) on DefTech might shed more insight.
    Zandor is actually kind of right, now that I think about it.

  • Valcan
    Another thought on this story. Ive read alot of stuff like that and they all say pretty much the same thing.
    BTW dont the special forces teams use the m60?

  • Jed

    First off, I have never even held an M14, secondly I have suffered stoppages on a clean and well maintained SA80 (L85).
    I note that discussion of this issue on this and many other sites often turns to arguements about caliber; 5.56 does not have enough stopping power,7.62 is better, or lets have 6.8 etc…
    Recent papers on the UK Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) web site, cite the many studies from WWII, Korea, Vietnam etc that suggest caliber has little to do with anything, that infantry rarely engage over 100m / 100 yards, in the stress of combat they rarely hit anything. The section / platoon weapons, such as 40mm grenade launchers and 7.62mm MG’s plus light mortars get most of the kills, but even more so directed ‘fires’ – HE from heavier mortars, artillery or aircraft are the real deal. One of the papers suggests that instead of attempting to teach soldiers to aim for hits, they should be taught the techniques required for effective suppressive fires, allowing the MG / Grenade launcher teams to fire and manouvre effectively.
    Shock horror, but it even suggests that lightweight “Personal Defence Weapons’ (PDW) like HK HK7 and FN P90 should be issued – I am sure most people posting here would be horrified by this statement based on their discussion of rifle calibers. However the argument is you could still carry a FN P90, 350 rounds of ammo for less weight than an SA80 with 150 rounds – plus you could then carry extra 40mm for the grenadier, or a 100 round 7.62 belt for the machine gunner, and even a P90 can provide “suppressive” fire out to about 200m.
    So, do we need to think a little more “out of the box” rather than piston versus direct gas impingement?
    How about Aitchson AA12 with the FRAG-12 HE round (range out to 200m) or at least the Milkor 6 round grenade launchers and 7.62mm version of the FN Minimi (already used by the U.S.M.C. I believe?) The “inexpensive” L72 66mm LAW is mentioned above, but does it have a HE-fragmenting anti-personal warhead ?

  • Vitor

    Remember that the british SA80 has a quite long barrel (being a bullpup surely helps), and the 5.56mm is round that really benefits from that, and also loses a lot of its punch in a short barrel like the one in a M4

  • freefallingbomb

    To the poster “Zandor” :
    You wrote: “1) Just who in the hell places a camp in a location that can be fired down upon from several directions?”
    Where would YOU establish a camp (the Arabic word for “camp”, “base” is “Al-Qaeda”) if all the mountaintops around you were of the same height? See for yourself:
    Combat Outpost

  • Cannon Fodder

    Has anyone read the new book “Sniper One” by British Sgt. Dan Mills? Excellent read, by the way. He covers some of the “base” issues in it.
    Because they were winning “hearts and minds” they couldn’t make their base too “scary” looking. This involved proper defenses and visible armament. Also, until the poo hit the oscillating air moving device, they were ordered to walk around with goofy smiles on their faces to look less intimidating.
    A Fox News report today mentions the corruption level of the Afghan government. Dan mentions in his book that they would buy the Iraqi police new weapons and by the end of the day they went “missing” and they would see the terrorists walking around with new glocks. On the base that my brother-in-law was on in Afghanistan, the local leader who spent much time on his base and many of the afghan base workers were found out to be the Al-Qaeda.
    We are not just facing backwoods Afghan tribals as some main stream media would try to have you believe. In Chris Mackey’s book “The Interrogators”, he lists the countries of the foreign fighters that were captured in Afghanistan. We are not just fighting afghans in Afghanistan, but we are fighting a war against troops from EVERY millitant Islamic nation. Chris’s list of foreign fighters included Russian Chechens and Dan Mills stated in his book that the British had captured some home grown British muslims in Iraq. This is war and our guys need the best, most dependable weapons available.

  • Drew

    News alert!The U.S Army does not use M60s anymore. Anyone who knows anything about the military should know that!

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,
    Over on another post by Christian on this same topic the military is once again blaming the Soldiers and NCO’s for the problem. Over their I addressed the supervision issues and maintenance concerns, which is pure bullsh** .
    Over here I will address the fire discipline question. First off it is quite obvious that any of the people in support of our current Pentagon policy of supporting the AR system have even been in a fire fight, much less the type identified in Afghanistan where this problem occurred. I have been. I have been in a FPF (final protective fire, where the sh** is on top of you and the odds of survival are not real great, for those of you who don’t know and those in the Pentagon who have never been in combat) position and had an M-16 jam. It is not a good situation to be in, trust me on this.
    I guess on could compare it to being in a car that has just went over a clift and that few seconds you are airborne and still alive before impact.
    For these soldiers fore discipline is not an issue, it is noted that the M-4 and M-16 put into the hands of US troops are the only assault weapons the don’t have full auto (Rock and Roll) of any military in the world. Why because the weapon won’t function and the three round burst was said to solve that problem. Now some bullsh**er will say that the burst was put in to conserved ammo, that’s cr**. This has and still is costing lives, this is murder of Americans Soldiers and Marines by their chain of command.
    Where is the media on this story, where are all the tea baggers who support our troops, where is mom and dad. Does anybody give a sh** about the lives of American men and women serving in these war zones?

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Afternoon Drew,
    Actually Drew you are not 100% correct. The 82nd. ABN’s Aviation Brigade still uses some “D Model” M-60’s, and the SEALS and Marines Special Operations are buying a current variant the “E Model”, from Auto Ordinance out of Reno. it’s a stripped down 16lb. assault, shorter barrel, new stock etc. version of the original 23.5 lb. SACO M-60.
    Auto Ordinance, yes the old maker of the Thompson submachine gun, bough the M-60 manufacturing rights for SACO/BAE who made the original M-60.
    For trivia: The M-72 LAW has been put back into production by Raytheon in their Phoenix plant, and the Marines have placed their second order for 10K.
    Byron Skinner

  • freefallingbomb

    After World War Two, practically all Western countries adopted a defensive, and therefore peaceful, posture, which was reflected in their strategies, tactics and weapons choices

  • Pacoi

    Sorry my english. Anyone can explain why all outpost look same bottom point between hills, tactical reasons… please?

  • Concerned Parent

    SSgt (now SFC) Phillips is not happy that his words were taken out of context. One weapon had shrapnel damage and one had an enemy round in it when they stopped firing. There will always be weapons that malfunction, unfortunately. Let’s get good, honest reporting for a change. Every article I have ever read in the newspaper where I had direct knowledge of the incident has had errors in it. Let’s also get a good foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and we won’t have as many debacles such as happened in Wanat in July 08. BTW, his unit is going back to a war zone once again. How much can we ask of our brave young warriors? How many combat deployments is enough in anyone’s military career?