Category Archive 'M4 Carbine'

27 Oct 2015

US Military Small Arms Need Replacing

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M4_MOD2

Jim Schatz, in National Defense, makes an irrefutable case for replacing US primary-issue small arms. US forces need a more reliable rifle and both new rifles and new pistols firing more potent rounds.

Since the end of World War II, only 10 U.S tank crew members have been killed in warfare. This is an amazing testament to fighting vehicle technology and the money spent to develop and sustain that tactical edge over our enemies.

In that same period, the United States has lost some 60,000 soldiers in small arms engagements, an approximate one for one exchange.

Few foes on the planet could hope to dominate America in a tank, air or naval battle. Yet every bad actor with an AK-47 takes on U.S. and NATO ground forces in a small arms fight. We are no longer suitably armed to prevent it.

This happens because the current U.S. Army small arms development and acquisition system is dysfunctional and virtually unworkable, even for those within the system. It has not brought troops substantial evolutionary small arms and ammunition capabilities in years, or even decades, and too often not at all, and almost never on or under budget. Lives are often lost as a result. …

Small arms are the most deployed weapon systems in our arsenal, yet the age of America’s eight most numerous conventional military small arms are on average more than 35 years old. While we have replaced uniforms, helmets, body armor, radios, rations and footwear countless times in three decades, the weapons and ammunition we use in 2015 are little more than variants of Vietnam-era technology possessing the antiquated capabilities of a bygone era.

The Army continues to procure weapons with old performance specifications that have been repeatedly eclipsed by superior commercial small arms used by our allies, our top-tier special operations forces and sometimes by our enemies. Elite units — with a few exceptions — do not use the standard-issue U.S. Army small arms or ammunition. Why? Because they are inferior to the more advanced weapons selected by these units. There is a fundamental difference between their acquisition process and that of the “Big Army,” where there are hundreds of decisions makers and countless agencies and offices involved.

Read the whole thing.

Schatz doesn’t get into it, but I think the root of the problem is cultural. America has become, in recent decades, much more a nation of metrosexuals than a nation of riflemen. The shooting sports are completely alien to the largest urbanized sector of American society.

We now have to look to Germany & Italy to buy military-quality small arms. Colt is in bankruptcy. The Winchester factory in New Haven closed years ago, and Winchester today is just a revived trade name building its products in Japan. The American chattering classes are not concerned in the slightest with feminization of American men or the decline of our domestic arms industry. They’d like to confiscate and destroy all our guns.

22 Dec 2007

M4 Carbine Fares Poorly in Dust Test

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Military.com

The primary weapon carried by most soldiers into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan performed the worst in a recent series of tests designed to see how it stacked up against three other top carbines in sandy environments.

After firing 6,000 rounds through ten M4s in a dust chamber at the Army’s Aberdeen test center in Maryland this fall, the weapons experienced a total of 863 minor stoppages and 19 that would have required the armorer to fix the problem. Stacked up against the M4 during the side-by-side tests were two other weapons popular with special operations forces, including the Heckler and Koch 416 and the FN USA Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle, or Mk16.

Another carbine involved in the tests that had been rejected by the Army two years ago, the H&K XM8, came out the winner, with a total of 116 minor stoppages and 11 major ones. The Mk16 experienced a total of 226 stoppages, the 416 had 233.

The Army was quick to point out that even with 863 minor stoppages — termed “class one” stoppages which require 10 seconds or less to clear and “class two” stoppages which require more than ten seconds to clear — the M4 functioned well, with over 98 percent of the 60,000 total rounds firing without a problem.

“The M4 carbine is a world-class weapon,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, the Army’s top equipment buyer, in a Dec. 17 briefing at the Pentagon. Soldiers “have high confidence in that weapon, and that high confidence level is justified, in our view, as a result of all test data and all investigations we have made.”

Though Army testers and engineers are still evaluating the data, officials with the Army’s Infantry Center based in Fort Benning, Ga., said they planned to issue new requirements for the standard-issue carbine in about 18 months that could include a wholesale replacement of the M4. But the Army has been resistant to replace the M4, which has been in the Army inventory for over 18 years, until there’s enough of a performance leap to justify buying a new carbine.

“We know there are some pretty exciting things on the horizon with technology … so maybe what we do is stick with the M4 for now and let technologies mature enough that we can spin them into a new carbine,” said Col. Robert Radcliffe, director of combat development at the Army’s Infantry Center. “It’s just not ready yet. But it can be ready relatively rapidly.”

That’s not good enough for some on Capitol Hill who’ve pushed hard for the so-called “extreme dust test” since last spring. Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn placed a hold on the nomination of Army Secretary Pete Geren earlier this year to force the Army to take another look at the M4 and its reliability.

In an April 12 letter to the still unconfirmed Geren, Coburn wrote that “considering the long standing reliability and lethality problems with the M16 design, of which the M4 is based, I am afraid that our troops in combat might not have the best weapon.” He insisted the Army conduct a side-by-side test to verify his contention that more reliable designs existed and could be fielded soon.

Despite the 98 percent reliability argument now being pushed by the Army, one congressional staffer familiar with the extreme dust tests is skeptical of the service’s conclusions.

“This isn’t brain surgery — a rifle needs to do three things: shoot when you pull the trigger, put bullets where you aim them and deliver enough energy to stop what’s attacking you,” the staffer told Military.com in an email. “If the M4 can’t be depended on to shoot then everything else is irrelevant.”

The staffer offered a different perspective of how to view the Army’s result. If you look at the numbers, he reasoned, the M4’s 882 total stoppages averages out to a jam every 68 rounds. There are about 30 rounds per magazine in the M4.

By comparison, the XM8 jammed once every 472 rounds, the Mk16 every 265 rounds and the 416 every 257 rounds. Army officials contend soldiers rarely fire more than 140 rounds in an engagement.

“These results are stunning, and frankly they are significantly more dramatic than most weapons experts expected,” the staffer said.

Army officials say the staffer’s comparison is “misleading” since the extreme dust test did not represent a typical combat environment and did not include the regular weapons cleaning soldiers typically perform in the field.

So the Army is sticking by the M4 and has recently signed another contract with manufacturer Colt Defense to outfit several more brigade combat teams with the compact weapon. Service officials say feedback from the field on the M4 has been universally positive — except for some grumbling about the stopping power of its 5.56mm round. And as long as soldiers take the time to clean their weapons properly, even the “extreme” dust testing showed the weapon performed as advertised.

“The force will tell you the weapon system is reliable, they’re confident in it, they understand that the key to making that weapon system effective on the battlefield and killing the enemy is a solid maintenance program and, just as important, is a marksmanship program,” said Sgt. Maj. Tom Coleman, sergeant major for PEO Soldier and the Natick Soldier Systems Center. “So, you can’t start talking about a weapon system without bringing in all the other pieces that come into play.”

That’s not enough for some who say the technology is out there to field a better, more reliable rifle to troops in contact now.

“It’s time to stop making excuses and just conduct a competition for a new weapon,” the congressional staffer said.

That staffer is right. And we should go back to the .308 cartridge, too.

14 Jul 2007

USMC Officers and Senior NCOs to Get M4

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Marine Corps Times:

The Marine Corps is revamping its weapons distribution among leathernecks, issuing the M4 carbine to career enlisted Marines and officers who previously carried the M9 pistol, according to a Corps-wide message released last Friday.

The new assignment policy, announced in MarAdmin 378/07 states that staff sergeants and up, along with second lieutenants through lieutenant colonels and chief warrant officers, will now be issued the M4, which is essentially a smaller version of the M16. Marines in those paygrades previously were issued the M9 pistol.

Colonels and up will continue to carry the M9. Privates through sergeants will still be issued the M16A4. Assignment of automatic rifles will not change.

Sailors E-5 and below who are with Marine units will be issued the M4. The remaining pay grades will still carry the pistol.

The policy change is the result of the Marine Corps Equipment Review Group, according to the message, which convened in 2005.

“The review … took into consideration lessons learned along with knowledge of new weapon technology being fielded,” the message states. “As a result, new individual weapons assignment policies were developed, validated and approved by the Marine Requirements Oversight Council for implementation.”

The message went on to say that the current fielding of the M16A4, which is replacing the M16A2, will not change, and directed units to maintain the older rifles until the newer ones arrive.

“Units will request disposition instructions for excess M16A2 rifles and M9 pistols upon being fully fielded all replacement weapons,” the message states.


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