M4 beaten by piston carbines

The Army dust test results are out. As you can see above the M4 has fared very badly.

Weapons officials at the Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., exposed Colt Defense LLC’s M4, along with the Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the H&K 416 to sandstorm conditions from late September to late November, firing 6,000 rounds through each test weapon.

When the test was completed, ATEC officials found that the M4 performed “significantly worse” than the other three weapons, sources told Army Times.

Officials tested 10 each of the four carbine models, firing a total of 60,000 rounds per model. Here’s how they ranked, according to the total number of times each model stopped firing:

* XM8: 127 stoppages.
* MK16 SCAR Light: 226 stoppages.
* 416: 233 stoppages.
* M4: 882 stoppages.

The results of the test were “a wake-up call,” but Army officials continue to stand by the current carbine, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, the command that is responsible for equipping soldiers.

You can bet H&K, FN and Magpul are happy about these results!

Hat Tip: Murdoc Online

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Pingback: M4 may get tougher barrel, better mags | The Firearm Blog()

  • And yet we’re still stuck with this pos.

  • Just an HK416 upper would do immeasurably better.

    • Brad Ferguson

      Ding…Ding…Ding… You absolutely nailed it. The upper is all you need, the last time this weapon was used in full auto. Among the regular troops, was in Nam, if the bolt was steel. Then both barrel and bolt was treated thru the melonite process. You could get away with the direct impingement on full auto. But it’s going to cause problems because of the heat.

  • SSG Cav Guy

    This, ladies and gents, is politics and money at work.

    Don’t get me wrong, the M4/16 is seriously flawed, mine jammed after 4 whopping rounds in an engagement in Baghdad because I believed the BS about keeping it highly lubed, which, in turn makes it a Sand magnet. That was example 1 of money politics, with some Lieutenant General getting his fingers in the pie for M4 sales.

    Call me jaded, but the results from the XM8 are telling me that Gen. Brown has his fingers in the H&K pie and a published article in the Army Times is a good way to push his platform.

    To be real about it: FN makes almost every small-arms platform we have under contract, from M4’s, 240B’s, Ma Deuce and M9’s, and the whole spectrum. You can see who’s gonna get the contract from a mile away, assuming we get a new carbine. I won’t complain about a short stroking SCAR either way, especially if the damn detent spring is beefed up and less prone to failure.

  • ken anthony

    I spent 1 year in iraq and was also having a major problem with stopages at the most in opportune times, and i belive that it is the cleaner lube protectant that the military issues that is the heart of the problem. I stoped useing it and instead usesd a graphite lube that i had shipped. after useing the graphite i honestly didnt have a problem with stopages the rest of the time. the m16 is a fine weapon, its down fall is that its parts fit to well, but that is also why it is such an acurate weapon. if you keep the guts dry and complitely oil free, and use graphite lubricant you dont have the stopages.

  • brandon

    The M4 is an excellent weapon. so was the M16. that is why we have used it for over 40 years. but all good things come to an end. I am sure that the SCAR is also an excellent weapons platform but there is a problem with both the SCAR and the XM8, Our soldiers will need to be retrained on the new weapons. This is eventually an unavoidable problem but it should not come up in the middle of a war with two countries. I believe that the 416 would be the best short-term replacement for the M4 until we get out of the Middle East. Once we are out and get recruitment back up, then put in a new weapon. Easier to train newer men than the old salts who are so used to the M4. Just a thought

  • Casey Patterson

    Gen. Mark Brown didn’t have any effects on the results of the test, so I don’t believe that he has his “fingers in the H&K pie”, or else our soldiers would be equipped with the XM8. However, I do believe that the General has his fingers in the Colt pie, and that is why we are still purchasing M4’s at nearly double the price of a 416. I certainly don’t have all of the facts, but Gen. Mark Brown is the same General involved in the Interceptor/Dragon Skin fiasco, on the Interceptor side. All of the evidence that I have seen supports all of the equipment that he discredits. This leads me to believe that Brown is a shady character who puts personal profit above the lives of our warrior class.

  • Junkball

    Why was the G36 never considered as an off-the shelf solution? The XM8 is very similar but yet looks like a toy and apparently hasn’t performed to spec.

  • Knodd

    Junkball: Probably because it doesn’t use the STANAG magazines.
    G36 mags are bigger, which means that the soldiers have to load even more stuffs on their platecarriers.
    Also, magazines are not über cheap, especially not when you need to re-arm a whole army.
    I’m just guessing btw.

  • Casey Patterson

    Many of the ideas and technologies in the xm8 came from the G36, and I don’t understand how it couldn’t have performed to specifications if it performed so much better than the M4 as well as the other contenders. About the magazine thing, G36 and xm8 magazines aren’t any bigger than STANAG magazines, or very expensive. G36 and xm8 magazines are actually lighter and cheaper to produce than STANAGs, because they are made of ABS plastic, as apposed to aluminum alloys.

  • obada

    Well its true about the relabilty but they dont mention the accuracy on this thing ,ya sure XM8 is queit strong but how about the recoil.Ak 47 will probably ace this test but really not bad on accuracy and with high fire power.I say AK 47 should do the trick and queit cheap just for 250$.

  • Spiff

    I wonder how the Steyr AUG would have done…

  • AK™

    Don’t we still have Garands and M14s in cosmoline?
    Why not use those? They(at their time) were potent man killers..and still are to this day.

    I don’t think Garands have as many problems as the M4 does..and if you run dry of ammo..you have a pretty hefty club. 😉

  • Patrick Prochnow

    great site…

  • millz

    the M4/16 family is one of the most, if not the most, succesful wepon the U.S has ever used. it has its flaws but it is an amazing wepon. but i agree it is alittle out-dated. it does need replaced….the SCAR would probably be the best bet. because the XM8 is just to large of a platforn. its just to bulky. but the 416 is basicly a m16 without the fear of it jamming as much. and from what i have see it it allmost impossible to over heat the gun. you can remove the bolt after fireing 4, 30 round mags and its cool to the touch.. the military should look into either the FNH SCAR or the H&K416

  • Roei Hazan

    The M4/M16 doesn’t need any replacement, this is the best weapon in the world buttttt his reliability.
    when it will be fixed, it would be the winner…no replacement needed!

  • David Coland

    the m16 help us in a lot of wars and that is why we still are using it, but honestly it is getting old and we need a replacement, i would go with the scar or the xm8, i believe that the scar is being used but not as much as the m4/16, my best bet would be the xm8 because not only did it had the least amount of stoppages, but it is also pretty cheap since every part of the gun that could be made with plastic is, and also it wouldn’t be as difficult to train the soldiers with since thegun already comes with a red dot site only problem is the recoilf the gun. this is not about what the us army wants but what they need!

  • JJ

    @Millz, The xm8 is not a bulky platform. It is, in fact, a very lightwieght weapon, weighing just over 6 lbs, and through a simple barrel and stock swap, can turn into a sub-compact, a sniper rifle, and an SAW. The SCAR is actualy BIGGER! I think we should use the XM8. Lightweight, reliable, cheaper because it is 4 guns in one, and uses the same ammunition as the M4. It is cheaper because instead of buing 5 different guns for 5 different jobs, why not use 1 gun for 5 different jobs? A squad would all have an XM8, yet we’ll still have a sniper, a guy with cover-fire capabilties, a guy with a small gun for infiltration, and the rest with standard size weapons.

    • JJ, in practice is makes no difference if a sniper and machine gunner use different guns.

  • anonymouse

    i think the xm8 looks pretty silly with the curve-thing, and where could you put rails on it? the oicw looked cool as hell, but it looked like it wasn’t very versatile imo
    im not really surprised about the results of the test. aren’t the m4 and the saw upgrades of vietnam era tech?
    still, it’s not as bad as what the taliban have, because the military can just get spare parts, while talibans dont have quite a reliable source of guns.

    • anonymouse, XM8 is an old design. Back then it looked pretty cool.

  • Kristopher

    The M-16/M4 is an excellent weapon system, very accurate weapon. but its performance outside of temperate environments and urban zones is deplorable. once you introduce mud and sand into the mix the weapon jams like there’s no tomorrow. the ACR program in the late 70’s/80’s was another good example of the military saying they wanted something “better” to replace the M16A2/A1. millions of dollars later they turn around and say the M16 was far more accurate.
    Honestly they shouldn’t be playing politics with soldiers lives and our tax money. stop pussy-footing, playing politics and give our soldiers a modern assault rifle system. Someone said the XM8 had bolt breaking problems and the hand-guards (which i seriously doubt) melted is this true or more propaganda by companies like colt? If Colt wasn’t so dense headed maybe they should have taken the Stoner design and given it a short stroke piston, oh wait HK did that too. its called the 416. or look at some american designs like the the Magpul Masada/ACR.

  • Me

    I don’t buy a stoppage every 68 rounds on a m4. Anyone been in the sand knows a soldier has 15 minutes to clean his rifle somewhere in that 60k rounds. Thus the reason the test seams off somewhere. Then again maybe not. Id like more information on test before forming a opinion!