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Edited by Christian Lowe | Contact

M4 Debate Fires Up


I wanted to draw our readers’ attention to an article we posted this morning over at the main news site about a drive in the Senate to force the Army into a competition for a new standard-issue carbine.

I had a long conversation with a top aide to Sen. Tom Coburn who’s concerned over our – and Army Times’ – coverage of failings in the M4. It’s not so much that the M4 is a bad weapon … it’s just that there are better weapons out there that could be fielded just as easily.

Coburn - a medical doctor and relative newbie to the Senate - wrote a letter to the Army April 12 – faxing a copy to the office of Acting Secretary Pete Geren on April 17 – requesting that the service hold a competition for a new rifle. If the M4 wins out, the aide said, so be it. But it makes no sense to the first-term senator that HK416, SCAR and other qualified carbines (event he XM8) are just rejected out of hand.

Coburn has no weapons manufacturers in his state, so it’s not for parochial interests he’s insisting on the competition. It seems to be one of those rare occasions when a lawmaker is taking on an issue that just makes sense and helps the warfighter and isn't geared toward creating jobs in his state.

Here’s the full text of the letter to Sec. Geren:

The Honorable Mr. Peter Geren
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101

Dear Mr. Secretary,

I am concerned with the Army’s plans to procure nearly half a million new rifles outside of any competitive procurement process.

I understand that the Army decided to procure M4 Carbines in the early 1990’s to fill the gap between the M16 and 9mm pistol. At that time the Army specifically framed the requirement as the “Required Operational Capability (ROC) for the M4 Carbine.” M4 is a trademark name owned by Colt. Is it standard practice in Army acquisition to tie a requirement to a trademarked product?

I am certain that we can all agree that America’s soldiers should have the best technology in their hands. There is nothing more important to a soldier than their rifle, and there is simply no excuse for not providing our soldiers the best weapon – not just a weapon that is “good enough.” Unfortunately, considering the long standing reliability and lethality problems with the M-16 design, of which the M4 is based, I am afraid that our troops in combat might not have the best weapon.

In the years following the Army’s last Requirements Document, a number of manufacturers have researched, tested, and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability. To fail to allow a free and open competition of these operational weapons is unacceptable.

I would like to see the results of the surveys you have conducted in the field in Iraq and Afghanistan. Please include our soldiers’ accounts of malfunctions, assessments of M4 reliability and how the Army is addressing those reliability concerns.

I believe the Army needs to rapidly revise its rifle and carbine requirements. Free and open competition will give our troops the best rifle in the world. Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter, and I hope to hear from you soon.


Tom Coburn
United States Senator

The Army has yet to respond to Coburn’s letter and has in the past been pretty dismissive of criticism about the M4. It’s understandable that the Army would shrug off negative stories from journalists and even some of its special operators who say the M4 isn’t the best weapon out there … they have big fish to fry with a war going on, including fleets of new armored vehicles, paying for the “surge” and Walter Reed-esque patient care issues. But when a senator gets involved – someone who has his hands on the purse strings – the Army might just take it a little more seriously.

We’ll be sure to update our readers on this issue as it develops.

-- Christian


I think the M6A2 and the Glock 22 need to be introduced to the U.S. military.

It's about damn time we get an upgrade.

The M4A1 is a great weapon. But there are better.

The M92? I think it's garbage IMO.

Glock 17 or Glock 22 are in need.

Posted by: Bobby at July 11, 2009 02:50 AM

I heard from a friend of mine that the M4 jams way to much in a desert enviorment and it doesnt have a long enough barrel to have the muzzle velocity of the M-16

Posted by: taurus1911jd411 at July 9, 2009 11:48 PM

one of the reasons why the M-16 and its derivatives do not use a gas piston is because without the expanding gasses acting on a piston there is less reciprocating mass when the rifle is being fired. With that being said without a piston the M-16 can achieve amazing accuracy since there are no moving parts until after the bullet left the muzzle of the barrel. M-16a2 with 1:7 twist rifling can shoot 2MOA or better with standard ammunition. I do feel that a gas piston would alleviate the M-16s of some of its reliability issues but the M-16 also has low tolerances in the chamber and if sand or dust were to get inside the gun will malfunction.

Posted by: Carmine at April 21, 2009 07:41 PM

The M4/M16 series and the AK series each has their strength's and weaknesses.

The M4 is lighter, very ergonomical and accurate. It can also host a wide range of accessories to tailor fit the user. However, due to its shorter barrel and its direct gas inpingment action a large amount of fouling and hot gases gets blown into the bolt and receiver (the beating heart of the weapon). The fouling increases friction on the working parts, lowering their effectiveness, and the heat increases the effects of wear and evaporates the lubricating oil on the parts. It's like having your car engines pistons without the seals to keep the grime and other muck out of the gears and other parts. Now, I've never been in combat, looking to deploy though, but I do know from friends who have been and also historical accounts, that the battlefield is a VERY dirty environment. Yes, the M4 works beautifully, my family has a semi-auto one for varmint hunting, but only if it is kept religiously clean and lubricated 24/7. But, in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan it's not neccesarily easy to clean with all that fine dust and dirt everywhere even in their quarters. Heck, after just shooting 30 rounds through our M4 the bolt is filthy. I can't imagine having to clean several magazines worth plus any dust and other grime in Afghanistan or Iraq. As for gas pistons, the Army's own testing of the M4 and other rifles in an extreme dust environment shows how much it can improve reliability. The HK416, basically an M4 with a piston installed, had over 3 times more rounds between stoppages than the base M4. The 5.56mm round was originally based on the .222 round (a varmint round) good for creautures up to a large coyote. Nothing close to that of a human. It is accurate but can't penetrate light cover (plants) with much success. It has good wounding potential. But when your facing a fanatical enemy hell bent on KILLING you, someone who might not be phased or 'taken out of the fight' by merely being wounded, your best bet is to kill him first. Yes, when properly cleaned and serviced the M4 is a good weapon. But is it really "good enough"?

The AK fires a larger, slower round that has more kinetic energy (7.62x39mm). It's ability to take use and abuse without falter is legendary due to its robust short-stroke gas piston operating system. It's round penetrates light cover easily but lacks the range of the 5.56 NATO. The AK is not the most ergonomic weapon. The safety/selector lever is in an odd place. Rapid magazine changes/failure drills are not as fluid as with the M4. The length of pull between the stock and grip is shorter than most westerners are comfortable with. And it doesn't have the range, accuracy or controlability on automatic as the M4. Also, unlike the M4, it cannot readily mount many accesories without major modifications to the furniture. But it is a rugged weapon that has seen use in virtually every war since 1947 (a sixty year lifespan) and it will be beating strong for years to come.

To me, conventional wisdom points to the conclusion of taking the best from these weapons and merging them into one weapon that doesn't have the weaknesses of either. A weapon such as LWRC's M6A2 in 6.8mm, or Barrett's M468. And their not alone, many other manufacturers are building M4 type rifles with a gas piston, or firing a more effective round closer to that of the 7.62x39mm or both.

Not to bash the military brass who adore fancy digital weapons systems and other futuristic weapons. But it seems that they've forgotten that its the grunt on the ground who kicks in the doors and clears the rooms. Next generation technology does make the job easier. But, they have to be able to rely on their old standby (the rifle) to keep them alive in the worst case scenario. Their weapon may work perfectly in a clean, controlled environment but it also should function with super reliability in a doomsday situation like a dust storm or other battlefield condition involving very dirty and potentially problematic crap flying around.

Science-fiction-like gear is a welcome lifesaver and very cool, but when we're putting millions and even billions of taxpayer money into super fighters (F22 & F35), super vehicles (Osprey & Stryker) and other systems shouldn't we devote similar resources to the one thing the guys on the ground depend on most? Their rifle? And create the next shoulder arm to be as legendary as the M1 Garand which General Patton called "the greatest battle implement ever devised"? A rifleman without a rifle is just a man. And a rifleman without the best rifle is just an ordianry rifleman. Our guys are the best thanks to training and support. Why not make them even better?

Our men and women on the ground don't deserve ANY equipment that's rated by the brass as 'good enough'. They deserve the BEST in everything. Armored vehicles, air support, medical support, veteran benefits, communications, body armor and small arms. Because their lives depend on it.


US Navy

Posted by: Rob at October 13, 2008 05:16 AM

The right tool for the job: The right weapon for the situation... I've accepted the 5.56 is not going away; But we do have .308 ammo in spades... The best solution for this is:

1. Update all M4 platforms to gas-piston (HK416, Colt, POF, Bushmaster - Whatever) That alone would be a major blessing.

2. Stop trying to find a perfect round and rifle - The QCB guys would be happy with updated M1911's and gas-piston M4's. The support personnel can have the M9's and M16's. The basic riflemen should have access to updated M14's and AR-10's if their individual task warrants it.

3. Accept the fact that nobody seems to have an issue with the M16-series lower receivers. For a common-use, standard rifle platform; This lower receiver brings a lot of versatility to the services.

4. Not every soldier and marine is clearing buildings, in fact - most don't. Issue the RIGHT weapon for the application, period. As a requirement, I was issued a 1911A1 and M3 grease-gun; Then later, an M16A1, then an M16A2 and M9. I can say from experience that the M16 sucked, even the A2. The M9 was no better. I'm willing accept the fact that the M4 Carbine has some design improvements - But I pissed myself when my M16 failed. If a gas-piston would have prevented that, but most important- prevented dead soldiers who didn't have the same luck i did - Why the hell hasn't this been done?!

I think the government should maximize the investment in M16/M4 uppers and issue them to non-combat guard and training units - But update and issue piston-driven M4/M16's to combat units, based on their mission requirements. Everyone seems to forget (or maybe my experience was unique) - that combined arms wins fights. You need riflemen, you need machinegunners, you need some 4.2 mortar guys - and the list goes on... The proper equipment for the individual task. Issuing M-14's to everyone would be a disaster; Issuing some M-14's to compliment the tactical units would make a whole lot more sense. And so would issuing 1911's to the QCB personnel, in addition to an updated M4 Carbine.

Posted by: trooper at July 2, 2008 04:21 PM

This for "youdontmrrdtoknow"
Well how polite. We are "fucking motons"? Well a dear friend of mine who did 2 tours in Vietnam as a Marine squad leader and was a Sheriff Coroner for 32 years would consideer you the "motron" on 2 counts. 1-your choice of language, GROW UP! 2-as a squad leader in vietnasm for 26 months he saw plenty of shootings. And as a Sheriff Coroner in Los Angeles he has seen more shootings than you could count. He has assured me that the 223 round is garbage and always has been. That the AK-47 is the superior cartridge. Another friend who is a trauma surgeon at Martin Luiher King Hospital, where Army medics used to go to train, and maybe still do so, due to the high degree of AK-47 gun shot wounds, assures me that 223s are not very effective. His personal ratings are as follows:
00 buck or rifled slug #1, no doubt about it.
#2 308 NATO cartridge, though very rare shootings with it
#3 Ak-47 rounds, quite common and effective
223 is about #10 to him.
For pistols:
#1 Federal 125 grain 357 magnum
#2 45 caliber 230 Hydarshok, says all good hollow-point and powerball loads are effective
#3 40 caliber high speed and lighter hollow-points and cor-bon power balls
#4 lighter weight and FAST 10mm and 41 magnums, but VERY rare.
He rates some pistol loads over the 223. He also doesn't like 9mms for stopping power or wound effectiveness.So here are 2 professionals that have seek HUNDREDS of shooting victins and deaths and totally agree. They would consider you the MORON. This is also the opinion of ER nurses and paramedics I have talked to that are my friends. LA has a lot of shootings. These people have a lot of experience and years of service. You don't. So SHUT UP and maybe APOLOGIZE to all those you insulted you classless little weasel!!!

Posted by: master blaster at May 5, 2008 05:45 AM

Wow iv got to say for a civilian iv had alot of expierance with the m4/m-16 weapons system and had afew ak's. Ak47s are shit. Even with hollow point ammo they dont dont do shit. Iv shot elk and a human with them and they just dont got enough speed to do what a good hornady or nosler .223 will do. I was involved in a leathel shooting against a cracked out tweaker and it took 21 rnds center mass of 7.62x39 hollow points to persuade him to hit the ground and stop shooting at me and my family. If i had my M4 with TAP or vmax rnds that would have cut him in damn half. If it wasnt for stress of my first unexpected leathel confrontation maybe i would have just shot him in the fuckin head, but live and learn but most of all Live. Anyway iv never had a malfunction with a ar type rifle and my Ak used to jam all the damn time

Posted by: Jesse J Butler at May 1, 2008 02:26 PM

some of you guys are fucking morons.
5.56 is fine for close up. "00 buckshot or slug, no matter where you hit someone it is a stop". hahaha, whoever the fuck said this is a fucking idiot. if i shoot you in the fucking face with my m4 from 400 meters away are you gonna tell the difference? no of course not you fucking clown, go fuck yourself with an AK.
gee my civilian owned LMT M4 clone doesn't jam up every 68 rounds. in fact it has only had 1 stoppage in about 2500 rounds, due to the magazine also, and I confirmed it was the mags fault.
yes i use heavy lube, but not that heavy. all i have to do is drop some lube onto the carrier, pull CH back, drop some more in on other side of carrier, work CH back and forth a few times and it will be good for days, despite what all you morons seem to think.
if you think the 5.56 is "too small" a round for a battle weapon I think you have fucking issues with the size of your cock or something. oh yeah not to mention the weight of 5.56 weapons is great, my fucking LMT civilian M4 with KAC handguard, Aimpoint, vertical grip, Surefire light weighs less than a god damn full size .308 with nothing on it. morons.

Posted by: youdontneedtoknow at March 29, 2008 07:44 AM

some of you guys are fucking morons.
5.56 is fine for close up. "00 buckshot or slug, no matter where you hit someone it is a stop". hahaha, whoever the fuck said this is a fucking idiot. if i shoot you in the fucking face with my m4 from 400 meters away are you gonna tell the difference? no of course not you fucking clown, go fuck yourself with an AK.
gee my civilian owned LMT M4 clone doesn't jam up every 68 rounds. in fact it has only had 1 stoppage in about 2500 rounds, due to the magazine also, and I confirmed it was the mags fault.
yes i use heavy lube, but not that heavy. all i have to do is drop some lube onto the carrier, pull CH back, drop some more in on other side of carrier, work CH back and forth a few times and it will be good for days, despite what all you morons seem to think.
if you think the 5.56 is "too small" a round for a battle weapon I think you have fucking issues with the size of your cock or something. oh yeah not to mention the weight of 5.56 weapons is great, my fucking LMT civilian M4 with KAC handguard, Aimpoint, vertical grip, Surefire light weighs less than a god damn full size .308 with nothing on it. morons.

Posted by: youdontneedtoknow at March 29, 2008 07:44 AM

I agree w/ everything SSG MILLER had to say. However I think a few minor changes are in order, mainly a switch from a gas tube to a gas piston. I think that ergonomically the M16/M4 platform is fine, but colt is an inferior designer, the HK416 D10RS, or the Barrett M468, would be a welcome change.

Posted by: Sullivan at February 15, 2008 01:49 AM

I spent 5 years in the 5th SFG, an 18B, often tasked w/ target interdiction in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a few other places we won't talk about. I currently am a PMC in Iraq. I have a pretty familiar relationship w/ the M4 as well as many other weapons based off the Stoner design, such as the Mk 12 model 0 (20 in bbl for long range)and the M6 CQB (10.5 in bbl for up close) and am quite found of them all. The problems I find that most troops encounter w/ the weapons are poor shot placement, and the negligence to properly service their weapon. Regardless of the weapon system, these problems can't be fixed, unless the troop carrying the weapon improves.
In the 8 years that I have been putting rounds down range at enemy personnel I never had a jam, nor did I have any problems in taking out the enemy in 2 shots or less when using an M4 or a variant of it. I did however once shoot an individual center mass w/ a .338 lapua (hell of a lot larger than a 5.56)and he didn't go down 1st shot. That's b/c he was on drugs, as a lot of the individuals we are fighting are.
If this doesn't make sense to you. Go out w/ a large caliber weapon and shoot a crack head a few times... See how many rounds it takes you to put him down when shooting him in the torso (Seriously ppl, I'm not suggesting you Actually do this, that would be illegal.)
I'd also like to point out that in terms of conventional warfare (unfortunately)the object of battle is not to kill your enemy it's simply to wound him enough to take him out of the fight. That's why w/ every war we've fought since "the great war" they find some other weapon, strategy, etc that we can no longer employ b/c it's too "inhumane". Give our conventional troops some 55 grain hollow points instead of 67 grain FMJ and I bet the odds will improve.
I will admit that caliber is a bit of a problem, but that's IS being supplemented by replacing 5.56 upper receivers w/ 6.8 SPC receivers and magazines, at least that was the case when I was discharged from the 5th SFG in 2006.
I'd also like to point out that, yes the AK-47 is very durable, but that it's a POS when it comes to accuracy. and even w/ it's larger caliber it's not the killing machine it's made out to be. During Vietnam a well known Marine, whom later found himself the fall guy in the Iran Contra Affair, was shot 7 times by enemy AK fire, yet still managed to carry a fallen comrade 14 klics out of the jungle, and both survived.
WE DO TRAIN are combat arms troops to shoot w/ accuracy. When I was in OSUT for the Infantry back in early 00' if you didn't qualify you didn't graduate, and in the years after I had to re qualify frequently. Where the failing in accuracy comes from is they train you to shoot center mass instead of for the head, because the torso is a much larger and predictable target.

In closing, Id like to point out that 3 months ago, I dropped an insurgent at just under 300 meters w/ an M6CQB chambered in 5.56 (for those of you unfamiliar w/ this weapon it's basically an M4A1 w/ a 10.5 inch barrel and modified stock.)sporting an Aimpoint and Comp M3 in 1 shot that hit him just under the right eye. Granted I was aiming for the bridge of the nose where cartilage meets bone... But at that distance w/ such a short barrel and a small caliber, I'd say it's a proficient weapon.

Posted by: SSG MILLER at February 11, 2008 05:07 AM

This is in response to Semper fi's comments.
I agree that the barrels should be longer, at 20 inches. But even at short range the 223 is still garbage. They just had a guy take 4 or 5 rounds in the chest and still keep coming.
As to shot placement, I couldn't agreemore. But that can be tough while in "the fog of war". A poorly placed shot with a 223 is almost useless whereas a poorly placed shot with a 308 will be far more incapacating. And ANY hit with 00 buckshot or a rifled slug will end it right now.
A friend of mine in Vietnam shot a VC 6 times in the chest at 30 yards and the VC shot him in the lung with his AK-47. The VC went into the bush and my friend was down immediately and then helicoptered out and almost died from one AK hit. If 6 chest shots at short range on a 130 pound human isn't proof enough of what crap the 223 is, I do not know what else to say.
He went to a 12 guge pump and a 45 sidearm. Said the pump worked great. Used 00 generally, but used rifled slugs for distance or penetrating wooden structures.

Posted by: master blaster at February 3, 2008 01:10 AM

A 223 is a varmint cartridge. Squirrel to prairie dog size animals. People are far larger. MAny of my friends that served in Vietnam called the M-16 the "jamomatic". They also told me that people shot with them didn't go down. That the cartridge was crap. Some of them went to Ithaca mopdel 37 pump guns with 00 buckshot and rifled slugs (ever notice how many Blackwater Security people are carrying shotguns in Iraq, not M4s?).
Now we are 40 years in the future and we are still using the same crappy round. People argue that the M4 is lighter and you can carry far more ammo. What difference does that make when you have to shoot the enemy 5 times as many times?
We have a great battle rifle. It's called an M-14. At short range or long range it puts them down. I took mine one day and shot ten one gallon paint cans at 400 yards with ten shots. The shock wave blew the lids off (the cans were filled with water) It's a great rifle and our troops deserve them.

Posted by: master blaster at February 1, 2008 04:18 AM

I need some help
My son called from Iraq and wants H&K; 30 round clip magazines for his M-4
I called H&K; and they say they r out of stock
Can anyone here verify these magazines fit an M-4 and do you have a part #,,,i want to send them to Iraq

Posted by: Brian at December 6, 2007 04:47 PM

ps I forgot to mention the fact .308 is twice as heavy. You will be carrying half the ammo. Again it just depends on your specific role in what you want more out of a rifle.

Posted by: Kevin at November 25, 2007 06:14 AM

Well first off the people that state-"Better then any of the ar style crap" must realize there are many junk versions of AR type weapons out there no military would ever consider.
I've owned many rifles from sks-fn fal-ak varients, AR, and I now own a Bushmaster. The only problems I had using my bushy are the old mags without the updated followers. That 28th shot bolt over. Easily cured.
I have abused the hell out of my Bushys before I sold of My Bulgarian ak and I love them. As for the round. That 62 grain ss-109 is a tricky slug. If the penetrator is off balance it will not yaw correctly. It also don't break up as much as the old 55 grain shredders (M193). 62 grain also does not yaw as early as m193 55 grain.
If you remember correctly they got rid of the m193 because it was inhumain in how it fragments. It's a nasty little round in flesh and I have seen this first hand. The effects are also a accident. They didn't even realize what it was doing until the 1980's
As for 308 vs 5.56, well it depends on what you personally want. 308 has more range, more long range stopping power. More penitration.
5.56 m193 is very nasty in flesh. I have seen someone die from getting shot in the leg because the fragments shot up through his lungs. Your not picking the slug out of a wound. I have seen some better then rumored penitration. It's also very accurate and VERY quick target aquisition rapid firing.
M-16 of today is not to be catagorized with it's introduction in Vietnam. When they first were fielded it was WITHOUT chromelined barrels in a climate that would rust them before 1 shot was fired. THE WRONG POWDER WAS USED in the ammo. It caused the rifle to cycle WAY TOO FAST, and burn dirty.
When you use a QUALITY m-16 type, not some cast copy garbage, use the correct ammo, correct mags, this rifle has never let me down.
Bushmaster is the only civilian AR I would buy as colt ruins it with the screw replacing the front pushpin. Armalites just don't have the beefy barrel chamber profile real NATO HBAR's do. The others are sub-par for the most part.
As for blackhawk down pencil wounds. Realize this is from the fact a 14.5 inch barrel keeps 62 grain ammo to it's fragmenting speed for only about 20 meters yes only twenty. The shortest barrel I would suggest is 16 inch which is the same overall length if you drop the flash hider.

Posted by: Kevin at November 25, 2007 06:10 AM

Wow! What a load of horse$h!t! Most of you people seem to me to be either weekend range shooters (which you will read as EXPERTS!), military guys who are basing experiences from 30 or 40 years ago to be modern day experts (no offense meant to you though brothers), or just have your heads up your asses.

Yes, the 5.56 round is very ineffective at long ranges. But guess what, it was NEVER meant to be a LONG RANGE round! Thats what snipers and DM's are for(and guess what, they DO have 7.62 guns) It was meant to be fired at close jungle ranges with enough power to bust through brush and bamboo. It was also meant to be fired out of a 20in. barrel. At high speeds, with a slower twist, and a light bullet, the damn thing EXPLODES in the soft bodies of humans.

When you cut the barrel down 5.5in. you take all that away. The bullet flips in the target without blowing up it creates an ice-pick wound. The main thing is shot PLACEMENT. A .22LR between the eyes will kill you very easily even at 100 yards.

And as far as reliability problems, one of the main things to remedy that is put it back in its original 20in. configuration. Marines still use it, and don't complain that much. I never had a very hard time doing CQB with one. EVER! Buttstrokes won't break the stock easily either.
What we need are more pistols. I'd rather have a pistol in a vehicle than a F-ing long rifle anyway. Even a 10in. barreled rifle is unwieldy in such a confined space

As far as carbon, i fired hundreds of rounds through my A4 and the only problems i had was when too much sand had built up on the bolt. The rifle design is good, the shooter just has to do his part in making sure the rifle is in operating condition.

Most of you are saying either to switch to a new better built rifle, or to switch to a new caliber completely. News. Some of the rifles you have suggested did go to trial, and they failed at crunch time (that's WHY they dropped the SCAR program).

As for the caliber change, i'm all for it. But when you've already spent over $3 BILLION dollars on a war you start to look at what can be changed at a later date. Tactics and precision are easier band-aids to the situation.

And to the guys that said no military branch trains rifleman, what can i say? i guess i was never trained in CQB. I guess i was never trained to shoot accurately at 500 yards. I guess i never taught other Marines to do that same, very easy, very common SOP either. But hey, you're the experts right?

Semper Fi

Posted by: mike at November 6, 2007 12:35 AM

The M16/M4 rifles are still the most popular weapons in the world. I like to see the US Army adopt the ALL AMERICAN LWRC RIFLE.Best fix to the M16 by far. Excellent ergonomics, well thought out by Eugene Stoner

Posted by: Roland Ma at September 5, 2007 02:36 PM

The M16/M4 rifles are still the most popular weapons in the world. I like to see the US Army adopt the ALL AMERICAN LWRC RIFLE.Best fix to the M16 by far.

Posted by: Roland Ma at September 5, 2007 02:34 PM

The M16's push-pin modularity enables you to rapidly reconfigure it to 5.56mm, 6.5mm, 6.8mm, 7.62mm x 39mm Russian, 7.62mm x 51mm NATO to your heart's content. Offer an "M16A5" as a modular system to everybody and let commanders chose what ammo they will shoot, starting with 5.56mm/7.62mm short Russian/long 7.62mm NATO as the options.
This will satisfy all the big bullet vs. little bullet proponents but be advised high explosive shells are what's needed to blast through urban structures. MWG makes the reconfigurable lower receiver to fit the larger 7.62mm AK and M14 type magazines if those cartridges are used.

The reliability of the M16 harmed by carbon fouling can be improved by the HK 416 gas system, then let's do it. This will narrow the M16's reliability problem to just the tight space in the tube of the upper receiver which engenders accuracy but doesn't tolerate mud/dirt like the AKM's bolt carrier group sliding on rails on the lower receiver, pistol-style. Maybe we just live with it as a trade-off for better accuracy.


We do not need better rifleman gunslingers/narcissists, we need COMBAT ENGINEERING to deny the GROUND to the enemy so he cannot lay land mines or drive in car bombs. Better shooting in the support of terrain control (Combat Engineering) is important but not the prime directive and we are seeing the failure of trying to control ground with soft fleshy human bodies with guns all over Iraq failing because we cannot be everywhere all the time. We are not a Red China that can flood an area with a MILLION people with guns in their hands to be a "human great wall", with our limited numbers of troops we have to fight SMARTER using economy of force through combat engineering.

Posted by: Mike Sparks at May 11, 2007 05:39 PM

"Finally, nobody is going to convince me that the kids of today's generation cannot be taught and/or are unable to shoot a .30 caliber weapon due to recoil! That's BS! We fought WWII with 30-06's along with Korea, and according to the scientifics, kids today are bigger & stronger than the members of "The Greatest Generation". Semper Fi! Old Marine"

True and untrue, it is not a matter of size but of training. Todays military has way too many gadgets and gizmos that the brass feel is more important to the soldier than a simple rifle. True marksmanship training would require longer (and more expensive) training cycles or displacing a lot of the hi-tech geegaws in training. Military orginizations DO NOT TRAIN RIFLEMEN! The military trains battalions and regiments and divisions, neither do they train to fight with rifles, but with mortars, missles, artillery and aircraft, rifles are for selfdefense against the ragtag and bobtail left after the big-guns are finished, which is the same guff the boffins have been spewing since WWII.

Until and unless the military pulls it's collective head out of it's fourth point of contact and recognizes the true worth and role of well trained infantry and realizes that explosives and computer chips will never replace a brain and a trigger finger we will continue to put men in the field with inferior small arms and ship too many home in boxes because of it.

Posted by: Warhawke at May 11, 2007 04:00 AM

I'll say this and shut up about it. I've read all the stuff, and there are many good points in the posts I see. I'm OLD, I served from 1965-1972. I have experience with the M14, the M16, and more recently with my M14, SA Socom-16, and an AR-style clone (made by DPMS, a reputable company). I owned that DPMS rifle about a month, it suffered the same problems that are reported (and have been since the introduction of the original M16)...magazines had to be just so-so or it would jam, fouling in the action would cause incomplete bolt closure and subsequent failure to fire. And I live in Central Texas and am NOT in a combat environment like our kids in Iraq & Afghan! I got rid of that DPMS and bought an ASI Mini-14 chambered in .204 Ruger. It WILL SHOOT (.380" groups @ 100 yards) when you pull the trigger, unlike the DPMS! And I've NEVER had a failure with ANY M14 including the one I currently own nor have I ever had a problem with my SA Socom-16. I would stake my life on these guns in any environment or situation! But I wouldn't carry any AR (or any other Stoner design) rifle out my front door! In fact, I will NEVER have another one in my possession. Blue Demon is right: the 7.62mm is what we need for combat ops, the 5.56mm is inadequate. If you ain't read the book "Blackhawk Down" and SFC Paul Howe's comments about the 5.56mm Green-Tip, you should! Finally, nobody is going to convince me that the kids of today's generation cannot be taught and/or are unable to shoot a .30 caliber weapon due to recoil! That's BS! We fought WWII with 30-06's along with Korea, and according to the scientifics, kids today are bigger & stronger than the members of "The Greatest Generation". Semper Fi! Old Marine

Posted by: Jerry Belew at May 8, 2007 12:53 PM

All of the comments are interesting, and have good points. My time in the service Infantry Airborne, I carried the M16A1 and A2. 1988-1991. My experience in the Invasion of Panama in 1989 w/my M16A2/M203 was positive and negitive.
1. During the small fire fights w/PDF(Panamanian Defense Forces) enemy soldiers had to be shot more than 3 to 4 times. The 62 grain M855/SS109 ammo sometimes simply passed thru the enemy. Many PDF soldiers actually were able to crawl away into the jungle. (not good, ok, he is wounded, but he can still fight to the death) I prefer one heavy bullet to finish the task. Not 3 or 4. Of coarse shot placement is paramount. However, since when does enemy soldiers stand square like paper targets. After observing wounds from the 5.56mm and the 7.62mm X 51mm(M60), no comparison. The 7.62mm was hands down the winner. Those soldiers(PDF) that were killed or wounded, suffered from catostrophic wounds.
2. The 5.56mm against vehicles was absolutely horrorable( i.e. windshields, doors ect.). Again, the 7.62mm M60 had to pick up the slack. At vehicle check points, some enemy soldiers tried to run thru in vehicles but were stopped by 7.62mm M60. The M16 required multiple, multiple rounds fired to stop vehicle threats. Not acceptable.
4. Some parts are small, and can be lost, not good when your in the front. However, w/experience, and careful disassembly you can pass thru w/o problems. The weapon does require constant cleaning. If you did get any down time you were cleaning it. Having carried it in the desert also, we were constantly cleaning it. Otherwise you die if you needed it by ignoring it.The sand would lock up the bolt in the barrel extension locking lugs. Bad. No weapons oil was used. We were issued graphite powder for lube. Sand and oil means jammed weapon.
5. The magazines, which are aluminum can at some times be crappy. But, it was up too you to make sure you had good mags. The sand had also played hell on mags.
6. The gas system is simply weak,and fragile. Aluminum gas tube, and gas rings on bolt. Again more small parts.
Negitive Summary: The 5.56mm is, lets face it weak. The round, like others in this column have mentioned was designed for varmits. HHHHUUUUMMMMM! Do the math. Much like other military policies, the people who make the decisions are not using the equipment. A utter shame, and discrace. I bet if a general had a M16 jam, during a large frontal assault, and survived....we would be using something that was more reliable.
1. Like mentioned by other emailers, the ergonomics of the rifle are great. Magazine changes, charging ect.
2. Accurate, and easy adjustible rear site.
3. Light weight.
Positive Summary: Good light weight weapon, easy to use. Accurate.

Overall summary: If your a US service member, well you really have no choice but to use that system. And you have to know its limitations and its strong points and master them. Otherwise you or the guy next to you die. The fix all to this is to design something that has the reliability of the AK series and accuracy of the M16. As well as a cartridge that acomplishes this. For now I guess the M14/SOCOM would be my guess and choice. Or even a well made AK. Because of stupid politics the M16 has lived this long. My comments are strictly from my own experiences. The caliber of the M16 for sure needs to be changed but is unlikely.The M16 has come a long way and has improved but it does need to be replaced.LONG LIVE 7.62mm NATO!
blue demon

Posted by: blue demon at May 7, 2007 08:40 PM

What's the problem with dropping the M4 and replacing it with something like the HK416 anyways? Is it buraucracy and inefficiency at it's worst with the Pentagon? Are we just unable to because of plausible deniability? Is our government too conservative, boorish, and set in their ways to change the weapons used by their infantry for the better like they where during back in Vietnam? If these pricks would just listen to our soldiers in te field, they would understand that our troops need a change for the better.

Posted by: Duke_13 at May 7, 2007 05:35 PM

Ok, time to play devil's advocate:

Most M16 family malfunctions today are not caused by water, carbon, dirt or weak ammo. They are caused by cheap, bent mags and operator malfunctions.

The M16 series rifle is more accurate than most of today's shooters. The days of goin' huntin' with dad have given way to the x-box and nintendo. (I can hit 500 meter targets with my M-4.) More and more M-4's are being fitted with red dot sights and ACOG's which does improve most shooter's max range (not the weapon's). But most engagements today are well within 200 meters. The enemy knows that if he gets to far out we will just back off and call in the big guns.

This new enemy knows that if he gets caught in the open he's done. He will catch HE from so many directions he will never knows what hits him. So to limit our ability to use the big guns he hides with the civilians. You usually can't just walk into a room throwing grenades and heavy bullets because there are women and children, and CNN, in the next room. 7.62 will penetrate walls and civilians where 5.56 can't.

5.56 is designed to cause casualties not dead bodies. The theory is if you kill a man the enemy loses one man. If you wound him the enemy either has to take their comrade with them, taking more people out of the fight, or leave him and hope he doesn't give up any intel.

The M16/M4 is not the same weapon as the "Jammin' Jenny" or the "Matty Mattel". Since 1979 I have been issued everything from the M-16A1 to the current variations. The new M-4/M-16 is better and the ammo is better (the magazines still suck). The add-on's like the aim point, ACOG, IR lasers, thermal sights, etc. improve the weapon even more.

Now, do I think the M-4 is the "best" rifle out there? No, but I would rather use the money to teach our current soldiers how to shoot. I have heard "I hit him and he ran away" alot, but more often than not it was a miss or a non-vital area hit and not the bullet.

Test the weapon against all newcomers and take the best. But remember the winner will still be built by the lowest bidder and we will have to work out the unforeseen bugs in the middle of a war. It was a mistake in Vietnam and it may be a mistake now.

Posted by: saggin jewels at May 7, 2007 01:48 PM

Macgyver makes a whole lot of sense and has some very valid points! Thanks Mac! Regarding para 5 in his post, I'll say this. I own (and shoot regularly) a Springfield Armory Socom-16 with a 16" barrel. I retrofitted a Fulton Armory full rail w/collapsible & adjustable buttstock on this fine weapon. It shoots like a champ, and has never failed (unlike some of the AR style crap I've owned)! And, the length of this weapon makes it ideal for use in a vehicle or MOUT. The benefit is that it is a "one shot, one kill" weapon (provided the shooter is properly trained) and is totally reliable. I have it on good authority that the services (particularly the USMC) are buying up all of Springfield Armory's production, fitting them with either the Fulton Armory or comparable rail system and shipping to the combat zones. They are also renovating all the M14's they can find, fitting them up with modern rail systems and shipping them as well. The grunts on the ground know what works. The folks in "The Puzzle Palace", including PEO-S, don't have a clue. They just want to continue to give Colt Industries millions of dollars for substandard weapons and our kids die using same! It's a damned shame to say the least and in fact some people ought to be in jail for this!
Semper Fi! Old Marine.

Posted by: Jerry Belew at May 6, 2007 01:06 PM

If the Clinton Administration had not destroyed almost a half a million of the M14s and sold most of the others we would have been able to provide our troops in Iraq with a rifle capable of penetrating the cinder black walls that defy the M16.

Posted by: Fredrick Peterkin at May 5, 2007 10:22 PM

I have had many problems with M4's,my spotter nearly lost his life do the weapon jamming. I wish we could have something along the lines of the M14, but we can only hope...

Posted by: will at May 5, 2007 10:12 PM

I used the M16A2, M16A4, and M4 for several years, including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only times I experienced reliabilty problems were with blank training rounds and that I broke the rather flimsy retractable stock butt stroking someone. I find it hard to believe that the now most proliferated weapon (yes, it passed up the AK several years ago) could be so flawed, especially since it is the weapon of choice for British and Australian SAS/SBS teams. Like our own SOCOM units, who trade their "state of the art" M9s for 1911-style .45s immediately but retain their M4 rifles, you can be sure the SAS can procure just about anything they want.

Posted by: James at May 5, 2007 08:19 PM

OK, I have read the comments that have addressed everything from caliber to ballistics to carry weight. Here is a little more 'fat for the fire.'

1) The original 5.56 ammunition used commercial smokeless powder. The military, when it adapted the M16 series (not the A1 version, but the original) from the Air Force to be used by the Army and Marine Corps required military grade powder because of its longer shelf life. Commercial grade powder burns cleaner than military grade powder; therefore, military ammunition carbons up the critical bolt and lock-up mechanisms of the M16 series much faster.

2) The bolt lock-up of the M16 class rifles is a modified interrupted screw. When carbon builds up in the lock-up and breech area, the bolt will not close properly causing a 'dirty rifle' jam, the most common failure.

3) A band-aid to this problem was to add a forward assist to the original M16 series. That allows the rifleman a way to force the bolt closed when carbon and dirt causes a ‘dirty rifle’ jam. That works sometimes.

4) The barrel of the M16 series up to the M16A2, when used with a bayonet for more than ‘shadow boxing’, bends. The M16A2 barrel is heavier, has more twists per inch of rifling and works best with the 66-grain bullet instead of the M16/M16A1 55-grain bullet. It still suffers from all the other problems and there is still a weak area of the barrel close to the receiver under the handgrip.

5) The weight of the M16 class rifles using 5.56mm ammo plus the weight of the ammo load (not the basic load, but what should be carried as a practical combat load for causing spray-and-pray casualties) compared to the weight of an M14 class rifle using 7.62mm ammo plus the weight of the ammo load needed to cause the same number of casualties would probably be the same or very close. I am sure the stock and handgrips of M14 class rifles could be changed to make the overall length of the rifle effective for use in a vehicle or for MOUT operations. Even a carbine based on the M14 could probably be made using a shorter 7.62mm round with a proper sized casing and powder load (explained below). I would prefer a full sized M14 with handgrip and stock modifications that can fire the same ammo as the M60 and M240B medium machine guns by simply delinking the ammo.

6) The BIG problem with the M4, in addition to the existing problems inherited from the M16 series (including too many small parts that can be easily lost when cleaning or trying to get the rifle to function) is the powder load. First of all, remember that black powder is an explosive whereas smokeless powder is not (it burns). With muzzleloaders, too much black powder will cause a barrel to fail explosively or the barrel cokes up making reloading difficult but not impossible. There is quite a range between the minimum and maximum amount of black powder that can be loaded into a particular muzzleloader that will affect the effectiveness and range of the projectile being used (though the law of diminishing returns will take place prior to barrel failure). Muzzleloaders don’t have very many moving parts to worry about getting too dirty to function. With smokeless powder, it is different. If there is too much powder in the casing for the length of the rifle barrel, the powder will not burn completely by the time the bullet exits at the muzzle. That, in turn, creates unburned powder, smoke, carbon and burning embers of powder to exit at the muzzle--or go down the gas tube into the breach and bolt area of the M16 class weapons. Unlike muzzleloaders, there are a lot of parts that are easily affected by small amounts of dirt and carbon, all in the bolt and breach area. With the M4 firing the same ammo as the M16 but with a shorter barrel, carbon build-up gets much worse and faster; even the forward assist might fail to overcome a ‘dirty rifle’ jam at critical times.

7) The 7.62mm X 51mm ammo carries the proper amount of powder for the length of the M14 barrel. The 7.62 X 39mm (commonly called a 7.62 X 39 Russian short) ammo carries the proper amount of powder for the length of the AK47 barrel. In both cases, there are less parts, especially small parts, involved and neither rifle is affected as much by dirt, grime and/or sand as are the M16 series rifles. Note that the barrel of the M14 is longer than the AK47. The proper amount of powder for each weapon has determined the length and diameter of the casing. Guess which one has better accuracy at a longer range with both beating out the M16 series, especially the M4. Guess which one is better at shooting through cover, such as sand bricks!!

Conclusion: replace the M16 series weapons with weapons that don’t have so many parts, are easily cleaned and can operate dirty until cleaned (gas chamber/gas piston/charging rod mechanism external to the bolt and breech area). They should be made with the proper caliber/bullet weight and powder load to cause casualties from shock wounds at both close and long range as opposed to multiple hit requirements for casualties. They should not require as much ammo to be carried for the same combat results. Hmmm, sounds like an M14 variant.

The feel of the recoil is in direct proportion to the resulting wound to the enemy and an M14 7.62mm caliber variant would be more than sufficient with acceptable recoil.

Posted by: macgyver at May 5, 2007 07:32 PM

It's all about money & politics, folks! Has been ever since they took away our RELIABLE M14's in April of '68 and gave us those "Matty Mattel M16's". Colt has made literally billions and continues to do so and our kids continue to die in combat with a substandard weapon! What I don't understand is the argument in some circles that the troops today (who're bigger than the folks in "The Greatest Generation" who fought WWII and Korea with .30 caliber rifles & BAR's)CANNOT shoot the M14 or SA Socom (I own both..I'm 60 and I CAN shoot 'em)due to recoil? Give me a break! That's a cop out. Our troops need RELIABLE and DEADLY weapons rather than stuff which is prone to fail at the worst time and when it does shoot, fires a "varmint" round which has proven less than effective. I agree, send the generals & "desk pogues" who love the 5.56mm & M4/M16 combination to the war zone for 6 months and put 'em in the field with their beloved weapons. They'd change their tune very quickly, I'm thinkin'!!
Semper Fi! Old Marine

Posted by: Jerry Belew at May 5, 2007 07:17 PM

I remember the m-14 you could crowl theru mud then satnd up and start shooting. the Mattel 16 after cleaning you had to make sure absolutely no oil was left anywhere. every part had to be wiped dry or it would pickup a few grains of dust and jam.. I was lucky I carried a M-79 grenade launcher and a .45..

Posted by: Ron-EOC at May 5, 2007 11:35 AM

I had planned to make a career of the Marines, but got out after my first 4-year enlistment, including an extended tour (16 months) in the RVN, because of the M-16. When I got to Vietnam 11/1966, I was issued an M-14--a reliable weapon. My unit was forced to turn in our M-14s for M-16s in April 1967. Battle experience going back at least to 1965 had PROVED the M-16 to be a piece of shit--we called them "Matty Mattels", does anyone else recall?--but we were issued them any way. How many names are on the Wall because of faulty M-16s? It is indeed too bad that all of the gutless civilian wonders such McNamara and other non-veteran cowards of his ilk were not forced to serve in the field with this "weapon" that was forced on the military. And, to add insult to injury, some asshole writer--I believe it was Halberstam, although my spelling might be off--called this entire herd of scumbags "The best and the brightest." What a sad, sick joke!!

Posted by: Richard Babcock at May 5, 2007 10:00 AM

The SAS/SBS uses the Armilite because they took away their L1Al's and replaced them with a bullpup that did not function. It's lighter, holds more ammo and the ammo load is larger countwise for the weight. Most of thier missions don't require they fire the M-16 and for shooting house work they much prefer the Browning Hi-Power. CQB is pistol/shotgun work, not the realm of a compromise carbine. As to full auto, hit waht you aim at first! I've used the 5.56 on humans and deer and without heart/forehead shots they run off.

Posted by: Coleman at May 5, 2007 09:18 AM

Here's an idea.
Take those high ranking members of the military who are defending the M-4 and send them to Bagdad in the role of an enlisted infantryman.
Let them fight for their lives with this rifle and perhaps they will have a change of heart.
Now, there is a competition.

Posted by: Tom Ziegler at May 5, 2007 06:02 AM

If we replace the rifle we should move up to the 77grain bullet. Then the 5.56mm round will be plenty, even w/ the full-metal jacket, because of bullet flip inside the target. The reliability problem with the M16/4 is a REAL ISSUE that won't go away until we replace the weapon. HK has a better platform, and the plan is to use their's in the new, Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) system. Why not start buying the HKs now, since Spec-Ops has already, and the Ordinance Dept. hasn't imploded yet: so why not? We could always try a blowback design to compete with the AKs. They're supposed to be the most reliable, but heavier (by the way, they changed to a 22cal also.) Once the weapons actually fire, we'll then be able to tell if the bullets work or not. Nothing like having a bead, then a misfire!

Posted by: PhilLeech at May 5, 2007 02:13 AM

As much as I prefer the 7.62x51 NATO it is not going to be brought back for wide issue, current (urbanized) recruits are not going to be able to use it effectively, current military small-arms training is inadequate to correct the problem and there is little interest in expanding marksmanship training to the level required to do so. US military training is designed to provide the minimum required skills to the maximum number of personnel in the minimum possible time. According to doctrine large units and heavy weapons win wars, not riflemen. While I consider this thinking to be outdated and stupid (as it has been since the end of the Napoleonic wars) I, unfortunately, do not control US military doctrine.

As for the other rounds like the 7.62x39, 6.8 and 6.5 Grendel (my favorite AW round), these are unlikely to go anywhere. The sad fact is that replaceing the 5.56 would be hugely expensive, just as replacing the 7.62 NATO was. The military buys millions of weapons, along with supplies such as magazines, spare parts cleaning kits and everything else assoicated with them, including retraining hundreds of thousands of troops. {History buffs might recall that the M-1 Garand was designed to accept the .276 Pedersen (a 51mm tapered case firing a 150gr 7mm bullet at 2400fps) until the Army Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur ordered that the weapon be upgraded to 30-06 because of the huge stocks of that caliber being available.} So, understandably, the military is reluctant to switch until something "Better" comes along, something like the OICW which they expect will further reduce the role of marksmanship and replace it with "Programme and Blast" instead of the current "Spray and Pray" M-16/M-4, if not some kind of Phaser weapon.

Which brings us to the last point, that any change from the M-16/M-4 family would entail;

1) Large amounts of money, money which would be better spent (in the Pentagon and defense contractor eyes) on new high-tech gagets that nets big profits for contractors.

2) Huge headaches stemming from any competition {anyone remember the M-9 trials? All FOUR of them? Then the M-10 trials, both of them, and let's not forget the M-11 trials after that), the brass HATE headaches.

3) Questions about why the M-16 family has been retained when it has been plagued with issues for going on 50 years! There have ALWAYS been problems with the M-16 family of weapons ever since Sec. Def. McNamara rammed it down the Army and USMC's collective throat (the Air Force wanted it, heck it was designed for their requirements in the first place). It would be hard to admit that it's been an albatross since day one and has put more than a few GI's under headstones because of it's myriad failures as a combat weapon. (and you target shooters with your dental picks and 3 foot pipe-cleaners go whine to somebody else, I was hearing your crap when most of you were in grade school!)

As I see it, the military has painted itself into a corner with the M-16. They refused to fight McNamara in the 60's because they had spent too much political capital with petty infighting over appropriations and other matters. Once the M-16 was in the hands of troops they HAD to fight for it, what were they to say "Sure, it's junk, but He MADE us do it!"? that would have boosted morale. In the late 70's and early 80's there was the same political issues as well as deciding where funding was going to go, new tanks, planes, missles, etc. or rifles. In the 90's and right through to today the military is looking for new high-tech geegaws to render the rifle obsolete, so why spend money on them.

The Senator is most likely to get what Congressmen have gotten on this issue since the 1960's, hotair and excuses. If (and it's a big if) the military does anything it will have a limited compitition that will A) keep the M-4 as is or B) give us the lowest-bidder gas pistol upper for the M-4 for certain "selected" units.

My money is on the hotair.

Posted by: Warhawke at May 5, 2007 02:06 AM

Bigger always better? What a crock. If that were true we would all walk around with a 155 on our backs

Posted by: Seth Meyerson at May 5, 2007 01:20 AM

How about we base it on the unit!

I don't need another monster of a weapon, I need a tape dispenser and a place for extra robot batteries and blasting caps. But I like knowing my security guys have BFGs so they can reach out and touch someone.

I also never understood why some admin kid has to carry a SAW into the chow hall? I guess what I saying is your weapon should be relative to your position inside or outside the wire.

Posted by: Josh at May 5, 2007 01:13 AM

Just as the old flack vest was not up to par
for combat, the M-16/M-4 are past thier prime.

Many proven weapons are available for use by the US military. It is understood that NATO plays a roll in the choice of round, however not all use the M-16/M4. The truth is our frontliners need the best available. Real world action has shown the M-16/M4 to be less tha ideal for combat.

My personal experiance in OIF left me having to clear malfuntions on my M-16 far too often. AK 47s were used when possible. Its a shame we have to use enemy weapons to do the job that we should be able to do with our own weapons.

Posted by: LCE at May 4, 2007 12:37 PM

We need to return to the 7.62 mm. The M-14 platform is more reliable than the M-16 family. But it doesn't matter which weapon H&K;, FN FAL, or Stoner as long as it's more fire power. The 5.56mm is a varmint round that works great in civilian LE CQB. The H&K; 416 piston system is a major improvement but it's still using a varmint round.

Posted by: JO at May 4, 2007 09:28 AM

ElRadero makes an excellent point. The weapon is not responsible for the dismal terminal ballistics. It is the bullet that is the problem. The 5.56 TAP creates a temporary cavity roughly the size of a volleball when it hits a torso.

Most LE agencies that issue M variants do so with LE type ammo (TAP, HP or some such) because the army has proven time and again that the FMJ will overpenetrate and do less damage to the target than your typical bow and arrow.

Geneva convention or no, it is time to update ammunition along with the weapons. Using 19th century ideology to fight a 21st century was is insane.

Posted by: Darkdisposition at May 4, 2007 09:12 AM

Having experience with most of the weapons mentioned above and living through all the different arguments for and against the 5.56 rounds, I do realize that being able to carry more ammunition to the firefight is important. In the case of true everyday combat, however, carrying more doesn't mean squat if you have to use more to put down the target. Sometimes you can only get one round into them and I would rather it do as much damage as possible so nobody on my side has to suffer from an enemy with plenty of energy and resolve left after that hit. I don't care what arguments are carried on by ballistics experts expounding on whether one round or the other is more lethal, in combat bigger is always better.

Posted by: J. T. at May 4, 2007 07:57 AM

There's another military round out there that bears consideration- 6x45mm. It's the 5.56 necked up to take a 6mm projectile. The SAW was originally designed for this round, but the Army insisted on the 5.56. I understand that the South African military uses this round as well.

Is it a .30? No, it's not. But it will function in any .223 weapon, and it shoots a heavier bullet which makes bigger holes.

I'm a LEO. In addition to my .40, I have my choice of a 12-guage, and an M4 with 55gr. FMJ ammo. I take the 12-guage. In the police shootings I'm aware of, suspects shot with FMJ ammo require multiple torso hits to stop their assaultive behavior, and many of the rounds overpenetrate. The only police shooting I'm directly familiar with in which the suspect stopped his assault immediately involved the suspect taking 16 rounds of .223 55gr FMJ to the chest/shoulder.

Shootings involving 12ga. slugs and buckshot usually require one torso hit, and do not overpenetrate to the same extent as the heavier .223 FMJs.

On the other hand, LE shootings involving .223s shooting 40gr. 'ballistic tip', such as the Hornady TAP round, usually stop the assailant with one or two torso hits, and the rounds do NOT overpenetrate. Of the LAPD shooting involving 40gr. .223 ballistic tip ammo, none of the rounds exited the torso. Unfortunately, lightweight ballistic tip ammo is not available to DOD personnel, and isn't currently issued my my agency.

Also, I'm partial to the Patriot Ordnance Factory gas-piston carbine, vice the H&K; 416. Haven't bought one yet but from looking one over close-up, it's a well-made, tough little gun. And it's an American company, not German.

Posted by: ElRadaro at May 3, 2007 11:53 PM

Quotin "Wes":
"P.S. full auto with the 6.8 SUCKS; it's uncontrollable. Those dinos promting it have just re-invented the 7.63X39 anyway."
While i haven't fired the 6.8mm I have fired the M-14 full auto, standing offhand, and had no problen controlling 3 round bursts, and yes Byron, as one who carried the M-1 .30-06 I'm amused at current ideas about "recoil" particularly after seeing a 12 year old girl shooting an AR-15 rapid fire and enjoying it.

Posted by: J. Wellington Wells at May 3, 2007 11:12 PM

The M16 / M4 platform suffers from more than direct gas being injected into the chamber problems. How about the inability to provide a 0 - 1 - 2(or 3)- Full auto fire selection without having two guns to do it. or the need for things like "accu wedges" to keep them tight. The need to drain the rifle of water before firing. The H&K; 416 and others only cure PART of the problems with this 50+ year old design Look around guys, there are better rifles and carbines out there.

Posted by: Alan Thomas at May 3, 2007 10:55 PM


let me see the history of the M carbines is and has been pretty good if it serves me right but as todays ways have changed so do weapons .

I have a M1 carbine I like the feel but its not long range enough for what we need to have for our troops today PERIOD .. let the troops decide not a pocket book or whom ever that isnt in the field make the choice


Posted by: bobby at May 3, 2007 10:34 PM

Time to just drop the 5.56 POS!

I have the new SOCOM by SPRINGFIELD ARMORY. It fires the WIN .308 IE: 7.62X51 NATO That is a far better round than any you are talking about. The only complaint is the weight! CRAP, I carried a PRC 47 and an M-14, I think these kids today are just as tough as we were then! GIVE THEM SOMETHING THAT KILLS ON IMPACT!


Posted by: Dan "O" at May 3, 2007 10:13 PM

The basic problems with the 5.56 have been known for years. To recap, the lightweight 5.56 round is only lethal at ranges under 200 yards (torso hit) with the shorter (14.5 inch) m-4 rifle. The m-4 is preferred in the field because its light weight and very maneuverable. The ergonomics are also excellent and it is the Cadillac of combat rifles. There are 2 basic problems. The gas system fouls the bolt with gas and the round is very wimpy at longer ranges. Add to that the inability of the round to penetrate most light cover in a MOUT situation and you have a problem. Are there better rounds? Sure. The 7.62 x 39 is an excellent round and accurate in a good quality rifle. The 6.8, a compromise between the 7.62 and 5.56 is a marked improvement over the 5.56. The 7.62mm is ideal for MOUT and penetration in combat and a well known, highly available and lethal round. The ARMY is married to the 5.56 and will not allow any other round. Period. Even the old excuse of millions of 5.56 rounds in the inventory is now crap. The 5.56 has gone into shortage, with Israeli rounds now being purchased for stateside training. I admire the senators request for an open competition, but the ARMY will not listen.

Posted by: Rey at May 2, 2007 09:10 PM

6.8 full auto is NOT "uncontrollable". In fact, I was surprised at how close it felt to 5.56.

I was firing a LWRC SRT (which is a piston-driven M4-style AR) and I fired a mag of 30 5.56 immediately following a mag of 30 6.8.

If a backyard shooter like me thinks there's not a lot of difference, I've got to think that trained soldiers will be able to control it.

Posted by: Murdoc at May 2, 2007 11:24 AM

(sorry for the length of my post)

So... which is the biggest problem with the M4:

1) The gas system? I see aftermarket piston assemblies on the market now. Would retrofitting the M4 with an operating rod make it worthy? OR

2) The poor terminal ballistics that result from firing a 5.56mm from a short barrel? Are we pimping the 6.8mm in order to compensate for the fact that we've abandoned the original rationale for the 5.56 - that a bullet would tumble or break on impact?

3) Are we committed to giving everybody carbines, even when they would be better served in open country with longer barrels? Is this an inevitable consequence of demanding vehicle (Humvee) mobile infantry? Is it MOUT driving this?

Just curious. It seems to me that shortening the barrel, and then requiring a larger caliber; and shortening the sight radius and then requiring optical sights may be a costly solution in search of a problem.

Posted by: Dave at May 2, 2007 09:00 AM

SAS? I thought they liked the L-85

No one in the world uses the L85 (aka the SA80) except UK forces (excluding SF), who have no choice, and the Mozambican army, who got them as part of an assistance deal.

Posted by: ajay at May 1, 2007 10:02 AM

It just confuses me as to why we bought 1.5 million more if we already knew they were wimpy.

Posted by: Billy Big Spuds at April 30, 2007 10:24 PM

It just confuses me as to why we bought 1.5 million more if we already knew they were wimpy.

Posted by: Billy Big Spuds at April 30, 2007 10:23 PM

-Murphy's Law-
Your weapon is made by the lowest bidder!

Take this as you will, but the US Gov. has just bought the million and a half M4s (to my knowledge and yea, it probably isn't that great) and will probably not want to buy a whole new weapon. Hell, with the F-35, F-22, LCS, and Coast Guard boats problems, having to repair ground equipment (tanks, bradleys, NVG), buying new Humvee's and equipment, figuring out how to pay for the wars past June, the new surge, and upcoming wars, coming up with a new Joint Tactical Vehicle, Social Security, Medicare, the failing dollar, illegal immigrants, Iran, North Korea, giving aid to countries with natural disasters who hate the US, but love our money, our failing foreign image, a possible 2nd Cold War (why? really, this is stupid, but anyway), global warming or as it's called now "climate change," obesity in the US, bad public education system, poverty, loss of jobs to China who is just stealing our technology and replicating and finally gay marriage, I think the US just might have time to figure out whether or not to buy a new rifle.


Posted by: American Garrity at April 30, 2007 09:27 PM

bring on the 416, then it put pressure on H&K; to introduce it into the civilian market.

yeah probably won't happen but I can dream.

Posted by: daskro at April 30, 2007 06:33 PM

Soory, i sounded kinda like a cock there. What i meant was Natick should try coming up with stuff we *need*, not what looks cool and futuristic. I mean, we dont really *need* a gun that doesnt shoot bullets. We need a gun that is as tough as we are.

Posted by: Billy Big Spuds at April 30, 2007 05:41 PM

SAS? I thought they liked the L-85. w/e

So i got an idea. Why doesnt Natick try finding out a way to make a good rifle that is also cost efficient instead of inventing Star-Wars crap that we wont ever use? I still say they should come up with an implant for your eye so you can shoot laser beams out of your head. Or a Skittles dispenser.

Posted by: Billy Big Spuds at April 30, 2007 12:58 PM

Good Morning Folks,

Gee it's good to see that the public has a voice in this, but I have no doubt that when the Army looks into other weapons like the H&K; 416 the XM-8 and other variations of the gas piston OS (Like the AK has) the M-4 will be considered the best of the lot.

As for the 6.8 SPC or the 6.5 Grendal bullets, although superior to the 5.56 NATO do get your hopes up. The 3.5lbs. of recold in the 5.56 round is the deal maker. The apox 9 lbs. of the other two bullets are way to much for todays light weight troops. Ou WWII fathers and Grandfathers who saved the world with the M-1 and it 30-06 ctg. at 19.6 lbs of recoil are finding all this amusing I'm sure.

Now is the time time for all those Army/Marine Generals who have been sucking post service income off Colt for over 40 years to come to the aid of their company.

Byron Skinner

Posted by: Byron Skinner at April 30, 2007 12:56 PM

Here we go again.

If the M-4 is so crappy, why did the SAS chose it, when they could buy anything they wanted? Why do almost all top-tier Western spec ops and counter terror units also pick the M-4? HK was vey successfull, apparently, in stirring the pot with their latest HK416 propoganda; they got the little know-nothings hopping about in agitation and indignation over the Army's error in not purchasing the 416. There is no need for a trial for a new carbine; the M-4 has been in service over 10 years now, and will soon be the standard weapon for the US Army, totally supplanting the M-16A4, no matter what petulant fits the ankle biters throw.

Oh, and the 6.8x43 round will NEVER be adopted. Whatever its supposed virtues, it will never supplant the 5.56, which works just fine.

P.S. full auto with the 6.8 SUCKS; its uncontrollable. Those dinos promting it have just re-invented the 7.63X39 anyway.

Posted by: Wes at April 30, 2007 12:32 PM

I really do hope the Military has a 'shoot off' competition to find the best weapon. If the M4 turns out to be the most capable, then so be it. The design is getting long in the tooth and should have to, at the least, prove itself amongst the latest materials and/or technologies of today.

Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing a re-visit of past ideas as well, like case-less ammo & changing the current weapon caliber.

Posted by: Camp at April 30, 2007 12:22 PM

As you folks at Defense Tech know, the M4 carbine that the US Army intends to buy is nothing more than a cut-down M16 rifle. The gas system of the M16/M4 series has always been a problem and this still holds true today.

The US Army needs to get its head out of the sand and seriously look at alternatives to the M4 such as the HK M416 and SCAR.

The US Army has the same blinkered attitude that it had when the first AR-15s went head to head with the Army's wonder weapon of the time -- the M14 rifle! The US Army did everything that it could in the trials to disqualify other designs in favor of Springfield's T44 (adopted as the M14). The US Army went to far as to stack the trials in favor of the T44/M14 at the expense of all else.

So now we are in 2007 where were were in 1957; full circle. The Army is in love with the M4 rifle (as it was with the T44/M14). It will not consider an alternative because of a "not invented here" attitude that permeates Army procurement. The best improvement for the M4 would be to purchase the HK 416 upper receiver assemblies to convert the present M4 rifles on hand, and depending on requirements, buy new and complete HK 416 rifles instead of that awful M4 carbine.

Now, if the US Army really was smart, they would issue the new and improved carbine in the 6.8x43 SPC (6.8 Remington) cartridge that was DESIGNED to remedy the ballistic short-comings of the 5.56x45 NATO (.223 Remington) round. The 6.8 SPC was designed with the help of Special Operations operators who had seen the combat short comings of the 5.56 NATO cartridge. The Barrett M468 has demonstrated that the cartridge switch-over is easily done by the changing the upper receiver assembly and magazine. The new 25-round steel magazine is identical in size with the aluminum 30-round 5.56mm magazine. That means existing rifles in-service can be converted. The 115 grain, .270 caliber bullet delivers over TWICE the energy to the target as the current 62 grain, .224 caliber bullet.

So, will the Army hold competitive trials to demonstrate the reliability and lethality of the M4 carbine? I won't hold my breath. I certainly won't hold my breath for the Army to adopt a more efficient and lethal round of ammunition.

Robert H. Stoner, GMCM (SW) (USNR, Ret)

Posted by: Robert Stoner at April 30, 2007 12:13 PM

I'm surprised to read so much about the flaws of the M4. Hereford has been using M16, and more recently Diemaco C7 and C8 (basically copies of M16 and M4) for ages now, and they have a free choice on firearms; if the G36 was actually better they'd make the switch.

Posted by: ajay at April 30, 2007 08:12 AM

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