Army requests changes to M4 carbine


The Army Times reports that Army weapons officials have presented to Congress six proposed upgrades to the M4. They are …

  • Heavy barrel. This will increase the rate of fire and decrease heat problems but at the expense of weight.
  • Add gas-piston system so that the carbine will run cleaner.
  • Improve trigger pull.
  • Adding monolithic full length rail system for added strength. Makes sense, but is expensive.
  • Add electronic round counter to pistol grip to track rounds fired. Is this really needed?
  • Ambidextrous controls.

A special “integrated product team” will evaluate the pros and cons of each of the proposed improvements and decide which options, if any, will give the service the “biggest bang for the buck,” Tamilio said.

The team will be made up of multiple agencies such as the Infantry Center, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and Program Executive Office Soldier. It will also include soldiers with combat experience and members of the small-arms community.

Representatives from the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force will also get a chance to weigh in on the decision for future improvements to the M4.

What do you think of the proposed changes? Sound off in the comments.

Many thanks to Morten for emailing me the link.



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.


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  • Here’s a version of the totally un-needed round counter.

    http://gizmodo.com/5409008/bitch+busting-ammo+counting-aliens-gun-is-real-scary?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+gizmodo%2Ffull+%28Gizmodo%29&utm_content=Twitter

    I guess there’s some lobbying going on from manufacturers. The laser guided grenade launcher is pretty cool though.

    Great to hear about the heavier barrel and gas piston switch.

    • Jay.Mac, I believe that is the same one I link to!

    • Jay.Mac, yep, I am with you about the barrel. Finally they are getting the right idea!

  • subby

    They all sound like good ideas to me but I think the heavier barrel is unnecessary. Army tests have already shown an M4 on full auto fire for over 500 rounds before the barrel blew, that should be enough. Also why would you want to increase the rate of fire? Isn’t it too high already?

    Whats overdue and really needed is the gas piston operation, it should make the M4 more reliable given the dusty conditions in Afghanistan.

    The pistol grip round counter is also a great idea and should increase reliability due to more preventive maintenance.

  • simon

    All sound like great ideas, except the electronic round counter. Presumably this is to let the infanteer know how much ammo is remaining in the mag’, but a far better solution is see through mags as used on the Steyr AUG and other weapons. @Jay Mac the main ways rifles are worn out is through incorrect maintenance, rust etc., weapon life is not well correlated with round count. I therefore assume the purpose of the round counter is to let the infanteer know how much ammo is remaining in his mag’.

  • bullzebub

    if you only are going to record how many shots has been fired… then the electronics should be dirt cheap. piezoelectric speaker and a counter+ support electronics. shouldn’t cost more than say $5. the problem with this is that you don’t get much useful info since it cant tell how many rounds you have in the mag.
    a electronic round counter could be easily and cheaply made with some resistive material in the mag though. it could even be made so its easy to insert into old mags…
    i don’t think digital readout is ideal though. six leds (2 green, 2 yellow and 2red) would be enough info and much easier and faster to read.

  • Colin

    Why aren’t they doing a competition for replacement uppers? With all these changes, Colt are basically getting a new rifle contract through the back. Don’t get me wrong though, the M4 does need the changes.

  • I believe the round counter is for knowing when to replace parts. Replacing buffer and extractor springs at 3000 rounds, replace extractor and bolt cam pin at 5000 rounds. . . that kind of thing.

    The gas piston conversions I don’t trust yet. The aluminum uppers weren’t designed for piston operation. Long term reliability and durability are unknown, really. It’s one thing on a civilian carbine that may shoot a few thousand rounds a year, if that, but the military guns can get a lot more use. Colt worked on piston-op ARs, but never released them for sale.

    Carbines are supposed to be lightweight handy rifles, at least I thought that was the idea. Making the M4 barrel heavier doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I actually think they’re a bit too heavy already. I don’t believe the M4 is supposed to be used as a real automatic weapon like an M249.

  • Clodboy

    I’ve been wondering why we’ve had laser rangefinders and holosights for years, but no digital shot counters. Heck, people have already developed shot counters for their paintball guns.

    simon: “a far better solution is see through mags as used on the Steyr AUG and other weapons.”

    I’m pretty sure a digital counter (possibly as part of or mounted next to the sight) would be much quicker to read than a translucent plastic mag, especially at night.

  • Jim

    Will the addition of a gas piston system render the m6a2 pointless? Does this mean gas piston ARs will become mote widely available and cheaper?

    As to the electronic round counter, is it a system to track when rounds were fired, or is it a LCD readout of rounds left? The former makes a lot of sense in deciding who shot when, which might help to free or convict soldiers accused of shooting civilians.

  • Morten L.

    [Firstly a disclaimer: I do not live in the US, but I have fired a few rounds with the M4.]

    Given that a MLU is necessary, these improvements do not seem too unreasonable. One thing I can’t understand though is the integrated round counter in the pistol grip. Why not go for a simple plain vanilla beefy grip, something like the models of Magpul/Ergo/CAA?

    Having said that, I especially like the idea of a new trigger—in my view that would the single most important upgrade. 🙂

  • Jason Smith

    Lets get one thing straight. The proposed concept of an electronic round counter has nothing to do with letting the solider know how many rounds remain in his carbine. It has to do with scheduling maintenance, planning spare parts availability, scheduling downtime and budgeting for replacement rifles.

    We have run-time meters on our generators, odometers on our vehicles, electronic log-books that keep up with flight hour on our helicopters and clocks in our electronics. We even have data loggers in the bunkers where we store our munitions. Can someone give me a good reason why an electronic round-counter is a bad idea? From my perspective as a Reliability and Maintainability engineer, this is the BEST idea in the list above.

    Not only will the round counter facilitate better scheduled and preventative maintenance, but it will also help the engineers back at Picatinny understand the failure rates and failure modes of the gun better, leading to TRULY USEFUL system improvements and not the garbage listed above. Not to mention a better idea of when to finally deadline a gun.

    If we took gun maintenance as seriously as we take helicopter maintenance, folks would lose their minds.

  • Tim

    Of course it needs a round counter. This is the video game generation we are talking about. All the games let you know a precise round count.

  • EzGoingKev

    Once the military adopts a piston system for everyone I can’t wait to see all the anti-piston people change their tune to how great it is now.

  • Jim

    Canada uses the heavy barrel on our version of the M4 (we call ours the C8) to much success. However as for the other “upgrades” they have requested, I really don’t see the point. Even the gas piston I question the necessity of, and I’ve had the standard gas tube blow up in my face before.

    The counting rounds one just made me laugh. I have absolutely no problem keeping track of my ammo usage even under stress. We have a joke over here that says the reasons the Americans have burst now-a-days instead of full auto is because they couldn’t be trusted with it 😛

  • Yeah!
    More electronics and batteries to fix and carry!
    Brilliant idea!

  • This is just a written requirement for the HK416. I don’t see it happening.

  • Bill Lester

    More Band-Aids for the ever troubled carbine.

    simon,

    There are maintenance issues related to round count with the AR system. Lots of high volume fire make it even worse. Several parts should be replaced every x number of rounds. As an example, there’s at least one document from NSWC Crane floating around the intraweb that states bolt lug cracks usually appear at 5-10K rounds. Extractor and ejector springs are also commonly replaced at estimated round counts of around 5k. Gas rings can be a problem as well.

    An electronic counter would be very helpful to the 45 Bravos.

  • Carl

    The round counter is to track total rounds fired through the rifle for wear and maintenance purposes. Wasn’t there a post about this the other day?

    As I always say: If you want a short rifle you should go with a bullpup design. The US should get past this bizarre idea that you can use the M16/AR15 platform for everything. It’s probably a great rifle as designed by Stoner, with a barrel of reasonable length and DI operation. When you start changing that though, you are likely to screw it up. For a PDW type/size weapon, get something else.

  • Vitor

    ACR FTW. That gun is looking incredibly fine tuned.

  • Kevin

    The shot counter stuff has been pushed by SOCOM for years, for lots more than just the M4. They consider it very important due the the way SOCOM uses rifles as LMGs. This puts crazy stress on them and they want to predicatively replace parts before the gun goes down in combat. There have been various presentations at the joint small arms conferences for years on it. Here’s one from this year.

    http://www.dtic.mil/ndia/2009infantrysmallarms/thursdaysessionxi8469.pdf

    • Kevin, thanks for the link.

  • Jim

    Is this going to make the M6A2 irrelevant? Will it make gas piston AR-15s cheaper and more widely available to civilians? These sound like the perfect upgrades to bring the AR-15 into the 21st Century.

    • UPDATE: I forgot to list ambi controls, which where also requested.

  • CMathews

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2009/11/19/fns-black-box-for-guns/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheFirearmBlog+%28The+Firearm+Blog%29

    Seems like FN is on the right track here. I assume the U.S. military went to them and asked for a prototype before any of us, or maybe even congress knew about the upgrade requests. I was really into paintball when the electronic markers first came onto the market, and of course I begged for one that christmas. Of all the markers I had with the electronic shot counter or ROF limiters, the only problems I encountered were with the solenoid that operated the sear on the markers, and sometimes the micro switches on the triggers. So the designs have shown themselves to be sturdy, but I do realize a paintball marker and a M4 are two very different platforms with two very different sets of stress for the components.

    Looking at FN’s design for their “Black Box”, it doesn’t seem that it would display a magazine round count, or for that matter display anything to the soldier while in the field. It looks to me like a totally sealed unit. Maybe they will have an RF interface with it, where when the weapons are checked back into the armory they can be passed over a receiver that will read the info from the transmitter in the weapon. Who knows…

    This is a good idea, however, I’m afraid it may lead to the McNamara style thinking from Nam. You know, soldiers use X amount of rounds to kill X amount of VC, so we give all our soldiers X amount and expect X kills. That was a big mistake.

  • jdun1911

    The Army Time is the worst place to get actual military news. They are known as a tabloid magazine. They are also in the pocket of H and K. Take them with a gain of salt.

    1. Heavy barrel. This will increase the rate of fire and decrease heat problems but at the expense of weight.

    Yes it will increase the barrel weight to at least 2 lbs. That is a lot. Not going to happen.

    2. Add gas-piston system so that the carbine will run cleaner.

    This will increase the weight. Increase the complexity of the AR. More parts for failures. No way to clear a piston bind in any way remotely fast. You either have to compress the stock and ram it on the ground as hard and fast as possible and hope for the best. Or a complete disassemble of the piston to clear it. There are too many problems associated with piston AR and it less accurate then a DI.

    3. Improve trigger pull.

    That’s probably not going to happen. Heavy trigger pull is kind of mandatory in the military unless you’re a sniper. You don’t want 17 years old kids that never shot a gun before blowing each other brains out because lack of trigger discipline. Military regulation is written in blood. Some kid had to die or seriously hurt to be on the book.

    You also have to take out the three round burst.

    4. Adding monolithic full length rail system for added strength. Makes sense, but is expensive.

    Very expensive and very heavy. At least another 2 lbs added. Not going to happen.

    5. Add electronic round counter to pistol grip to track rounds fired. Is this really needed?

    No it not needed. Because parts failures can happen any time. Not many military personnel are pro active in replacing parts, especially GI magazines. It also add more weight.

    6. Ambidextrous controls.

    It is the only think that is needed in the entire list.

    Here what the people at AR15 had to said about it.

    http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=958689

  • KP

    Carl: The M4 isn’t a PDW.

    Maybe the Army should stop shoehorning the M4 for roles it wasn’t designed for and field some 7.62 NATO rifles next to it like intended. Generalizing weapon system will never yield the best solution. I’m thinking about that movie about the train wreck of creating the Bradley right now. Let’s make it a close combat fire support sniper scout rifle!1!

  • Dan

    Heavy barrel. This will increase the rate of fire and decrease heat problems but at the expense of weight.

    -I am confused how the mass of the barrel increases the cyclic rate of a firearm. Extra weight is generally to be avoided, except in instances where your tush is in harm’s way. Being none too bright, I don’t see how this is a good idea. It will take longer to heat up, but will take longer to cool down as well.

    Add gas-piston system so that the carbine will run cleaner.

    -True, it will run cleaner in the chamber. The fouling will instead be at the piston face. I would hope that the intention is to make this easily serviced. Reference the earlier none too bright comment, I don’t see this as a good or bad idea. It just moves where the problem (if one exists) lives.

    Improve trigger pull.

    -As long as it means smoother and not less weight. Military arms (to my knowledge) generally have a heftier pull weight to avoid slam fires.

    Adding monolithic full length rail system for added strength. Makes sense, but is expensive.

    -Added strength = added weight in this instance… see earlier reference regarding added weight. Also, are the existing arms breaking in two (or more) pieces that this would address?

    Add electronic round counter to pistol grip to track rounds fired. Is this really needed?

    -Again, extra weight in any configuration that would be field sturdy. From a maintenance standpoint, this is a grand idea. From a command and control standpoint (soldier, you are shooting way too many rounds), this is, at best, a pain and at worst, micromanagement of the worst possible stripe.

    Ambidextrous controls.

    -Ambi controls, to me, are always a good idea.

    • Dan,

      effective/real rate of fire = rounds fire / time

      rate of fire (as advertised by gun companies) = how fast the gun can cycle

      Eventually the gun will heat up to a point where it cannot be operated if fired on full auto continuously.

  • Anon

    Why don’t they just save their money for a next generation rifle that takes a new cartridge?

  • Big Daddy

    When will it stop…….the stupidity……on and on and on.

    Just do it right the first time and move on to the next problem.

    Get a new rifle with some flexibility in terms of being able to be used in different circumstances, as a carbine, squad marksmen and full size battle rifle, even a short version for SOF and crewmen/drivers. Quick change barrel so they can easily change it into different configurations. The weapon that would fit that description is already in service, the SCAR. I guess it’s not getting rave reviews. So how about the Masada or whatever Remington calls it now? Or keep working on the Scar until any issues are fixed.

    But the key is to make it in 6.8mm which is designed for a 16″ barrel and has much more hitting/killing ability than the 5.56mm and especially with the shorter barrels. Then we can borrow the design of the Ultimax100 for a Squad auto in 6.8mm. This weapon can use the same parts except for the upper receiver and bolt which would be different due to the elongated travel of the bolt. But everything can be the same, Barrel, stock, lower receiver, magazines and so on. Add an 80-100 drum magazine, the original design used on the Ultimax not the new Beta C.

    Now you have a hard hitting weapon with flexibility that solves all the issues of the M-16 family. It also reduces the need for the 7.62mm weapon in many situations. But that’s just too easy so forget it.

  • Mad World

    “see through mags as used on the Steyr AUG”

    Not sure what AUG mags are see through but down here in New Zealand where the AUG is the standard issue they sure arent see through just a solid sort of tan colour.

    Ambi controls seem a very logical choice, another thing the AUG lacks…
    I also do not agree on the gas piston for an AR type rifle/carbine, simply wasnt meant to work that way and without a reciprocating charging handel (something I notice many Americans tend to dislike) it never will without massive issues.

    Just my 2 cents! Cheers.

  • Jim

    Dan you sound very much like someone who has a little knowledge on this issue. A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing. The idea that by adding a gas piston system you are just “moving the fouling” is simplistic to the point of being laughable. It does indeed move the fouling- it moves it to a place where it has much less room to collect and less chance to prevent the weapon from operating properly.

    Also, unless you’re using the term in a very strange manner, “slam fire” has nothing to do with a light trigger pull.

  • Zach

    The heavier barrel and ambi controls seem like an inexpensive no-brainer to me. There are plenty of reports of M4s overheating in terms of the user’s ability to hold and aim the weapon without burning themselves. Sure it may do 500 rds in a machine rest before melting, but that isn’t relevant to the real world. The barrel really needs to be heavier under the handguards where it’s think, and it cooks due to the double heat shield handguards. You could improve things a lot while adding only a few ounces.

    I’m not convinced that trigger pull is any issue for the way an M4 should be employed.

    A piston system – well getting a piston system tested to reliability while still resembling the M4 is basically creating a whole new rifle, not some minor upgrade. Maybe this is intended to buy HK416 carbines, maybe it’s just unrealistic.

    Add that and the monolithic rail and you have a whole new rifle, whether you call it an M4 or not. Sorta like the F/A18E version, which was almost a new plane vs. the original F/A18, just carrying over a name, a rough shape, and some parts.

    You could dramatically improve the M4 for hardly any cost by going to a midlength gas system and a slightly heavier barrel. This arrangement is starting to take over the civilian 16″ AR-15 world, offering no real drawbacks and a fair bit of reliability benefit. Or you could buy an entirely new design engineered with a reliable piston from the ground up, rather than some frankenpiston design.

  • EzGoingKev

    Am I the only one seeing a coincidence that they are asking for a monolithic rail right after Colt released a monolithic rail?

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the monolithic rail is a good thing, I just think it is amazing how the people in charge are so wrapped around Colt’s fingers to the point of letting them call the shots.

  • Jeff M

    They should put the scar-h’s heat activated open bolt system on every rifle and carbine in the military, that is probably the best idea I’ve seen come out of any new weapon program so far.

  • Jim

    To the people questioning the reliability of a gas piston system- haven’t guns like the M6A2 and others proven that such a system in the M16 platform is more reliable?

  • Jeff M

    The LMT CQB Piston fits the piston and monolithic rail bits, and is very well made.

  • zach

    I think all of these things would be a great addition to the M4 system, especially gas-piston system and ambi controls.The black box attachment would be convenient since they have to track round count in weapons so they know when to change barrels, especially so in DMR type weapons, but I’m pretty sure they already have a way to do that that doesn’t include a mega expensive electronic round counter.

  • Brad

    The original M-16 DI gas system was sized for a 20″ barrel. I believe all the shorter barreled versions of the M-16 family, including the M-4 with a 14.5″ barrel, operate at a higher cyclic rate than the original M-16. This isn’t an issue about burst fire full-auto control so much as it is an issue about wear rates, even with semi-auto fire, and subsequent reliability. So moving to a piston system for the M-4 carbine seems sound to me.

    As far as the weight issues with a heavier barreled M-4, clearly reliability is more important than weight as far as the Army is concerned. Keep in mind the Army issues the M-4 as a general purpose weapon to rifleman, not just as a sidearm to support personnel. If weight was so critical to the M-4 job it wouldn’t have rails for hanging all the optical gee-gaws and gadgets. A heavier barreled M-4 will hopefully have a higher sustained rate of fire than the surprisingly poor current level of 12-15 rounds per minute.

  • UraniumHead

    @Mad World:

    The FAL operates using short stroke gas piston system and is provided with a non-reciprocating charging handle. It was probably the most common service rifle among NATO and their affiliates until 5.56×45 weapons began replacing 7.62×51 rifles in the 80s, and is regarded as extremely reliable.

  • destroyer

    consider this:

    replace the M4 uppers with a gas piston one chambered in the 6.5x39mm round.

    End the stupid 5.56x45mm issue and make NATO adopt 6.5mm (instead of the other way around).

  • Zach, regarding your suggestion on the midlength gas system improvement for the M-4:

    It will not help M-4 reliability. The midlength’s gas tube length is specifically chosen to improve the reliability of the 16 inch barrel, aka the American non-NFA carbine length. The carbine’s gas tube length (M-4), on the other hand, was for the 14.5 inch barrel of the M-4.

    Therefore, on a 14.5 inch barrel, the midlength’s gas port will be too close to the muzzle. It may not give you enough time to cycle the actions properly.

    Now, it is a good question whether the US Army should go to a 16 inch barrel instead of the 14.5. The ballistics gain from that extra 1.5 inch is quite significant.

  • Matt Groom

    The only one of those recommendations that makes any sense at all is the round counter for preventive maintenance purposes. That alone will probably solve most of the issues the army is having with the M4.

    Every other suggestion on there is positively stupid, and the piston system is outrageously stupid. If they adopt a piston driven system, they will simply drop it later. Anyone who endorses piston conversions for ARs doesn’t know what they’re talkin’ about.

    Want to improve the trigger? Want to improve the reliability? Want to prevent over heating? Switch to Semi-Auto only.

    We weren’t allowed to train or do anything in burst mode on our A2s when I was in the Marines, not MCT, not MOS school, not in my unit, not before Iraq, not ever. There was never a class, or a training session, or anything where we talked about the proper implementation of the three round burst, because there isn’t one. And you know what? We never had rifles that had over heating issues when they actually were fired on burst, but almost nobody ever did that, because they were used to the rifle firing one shot when they pulled the trigger.

  • Lance

    Ok I sent my commentr to this page and it didnt load so Steve you need to keep the site in good shap.

    This is a good idea on most spots. As for a new rifle its DOA. The new rifle program was suppost to go into effect last month but it seems stalled and killed on Capital Hill. This is why a new M-4A2 as I call it carbine program has started today. Theres no reason to have both programs going unless the NEW Carbine program wont make it.

    Now the list of requirements have 3 top canidates right now as of day 1 of a program which will go on for over a year I garentee you this. The H&K 416 the Colt M-4 monolithic new Carbine and the Ruger SR-556 are the top three guns to be considered. My pic and hopefully the army’s (if the program dosnt also die in congress) is the Ruger SR-556. It has a heavy barrel already and has a gas system for its function. And its rail system is one of the best on the market which is stronger than the knights amrament rails on current M-4s. The only other thing needs to be done is a ambidexterous fire control and a round counter you got a new M-4A2 ready to go.

    As for the other services out side of the Army? Well id say nothings going to change the Marines dont overly use M-4s and use M-16A4s and the Marines already said they will be useing the M-16A4 well over the next decade (Steve gave me the article on that). The Navy is staying with the M-16A2 and seems tbe happy with that idea. The Air Force dosnt see as much direct combat so a regular M-4A1 would last for a while. While they will probably watch this program I dont see the M-4A2 going who scale military wide for quite a while after or if it gets adopted by the Army a few years after testing.

    Now this is new breaking news and like the “New Carbine” program might die before its birth.

  • The heavier barrel and gas piston are probably the most needed from that list. The army could evaluate all the piston systems on the market and choose the one that’s the best. A thing that should be on the list is a 16 inch barrel. 14.3 inch barrels don’t give enough velocity needed for the 5.56×45 to fragment which is causing these lethality problems.

  • Lance

    Ohh to comments on privious comments

    To BIGDADDY…

    The SCAR is a truely horrible weapon which has too much plastic a crapy butstock and a railsystem which will bun your hands in notime flat. The Spec Ops community dosnt even use them after 2 years since its adoption. the switch to 6.8mm isnt going to happen The military is commented to a NATO round and has and will stick with 5.56mm. No if this is a good idea thats a differnt article.

    To Surberban

    You just said the awnser to the 5 million dollar question. 99.99% of problums of the current M-4A1 in service is that solders are misuseing them in combat. A M-4 is not a M-60 but solders today are tought sprey and prey tactics. The Marines who properly train there men to be riflemen have NO and repeat NO mishapes with there carbines and rifles. There re more problums with the M-249 design than the M-4 faults but no corrupt senator Colburns is complaning about replaceing M-249s.

    To Zach

    You have a good ideal a midlength is better than the original M-4 lenght gas tube but it dose nothing to stop jams and melts from solders to use there carbines as LMG and the whole problum is poor Army BCT training.

    To Soloman

    Yes the H&K 416 is a top contender as it has been for years. But with the 6 new requirments the 416 will need multible upgrades. and The Ruger SR-556 already has them so Ruger and Colt have a edge on H&K.

    Finally to Colin

    This is NOT really a back door COlt grab on the military. The previous “NEW CARBINE PROGRAM” was heavly flawed and the Army simply reconised in the anti-military Obama era that a new rifle wont live due to cost and isnt needed since the M-4 simply needs some minor changes whic are already on the market and it could pass congressional budget constrants. Colt has a top rate model for sale but H&K and Ruger do too and I think Ruger has the highest chances now for success since there new carbine has 4 out of 6 requirments already on the gun.

    I dont think the current M-4A1 will go away for a while either the testing process is going to take 2-3 yeas to complete (And thats if its fast pace panic timing for the Army to jam threw a new gun which wont happen either). It will be 2012 or 2013 befor a major unit will get a M-4A2. So dont get too excitred yet.

  • Lance,
    “The SCAR is a truely horrible weapon which has too much plastic a crapy butstock and a railsystem which will bun your hands in notime flat. The Spec Ops community dosnt even use them after 2 years since its adoption. the switch to 6.8mm isnt going to happen The military is commented to a NATO round and has and will stick with 5.56mm. No if this is a good idea thats a differnt article”

    I’m not sure where you read that. If it’s such a horrible weapon then why are they ordering more of them? http://religiopoliticaltalk.blogspot.com/2009/11/socom-getting-fn-scars-by-2010.html

    “You just said the awnser to the 5 million dollar question. 99.99% of problums of the current M-4A1 in service is that solders are misuseing them in combat. A M-4 is not a M-60 but solders today are tought sprey and prey tactics. The Marines who properly train there men to be riflemen have NO and repeat NO mishapes with there carbines and rifles. There re more problums with the M-249 design than the M-4 faults but no corrupt senator Colburns is complaning about replaceing M-249s.”
    I thought “spray and pray” is only applicable to a fully automatic weapon. So you can’t use a M4 as a “spray and pray weapon” or a “M60” as you say.

    • Ermac, the M4 comes in both a fully automatic and burst automatic version.

  • Martin

    Zero.

    Not one reasonable suggestion in the bunch. I won’t parrot what everyone else is saying and thinking about the technical aspects of these items. None of these items will improve the M-4, or any other AR platform for the everyday infantrymen.

    Instead, I’d rather throw my dose of psychology into the problem. Much like Matt Groom said, 3rd burst is useless. Not only does it not yield better results than controlled semi-auto fire, but it abuses the weapon. What is the purpose of the burst anyway? It’s a rifle, not a machine-gun. Psychologically speaking, full-auto is more beneficial than a burst. In fact, it’s perfect for close-in combat. Not only do you get more rounds with a single trigger pull, but you’ve actually added a huge psychological attack. Dumping 30 rounds into a room/trench/hole is more effective and logical than having to finger-pump bursts.

    Realize that they did away will full-auto as a result of using it in Vietnam. Modern warfare is much different than Vietnam. Troops are no longer conscripts, and are better trained. Full-auto has been seen as a waste of ammunition, with little thought put into the purpose of full-auto fire. Outside of close-in combat, full-auto is suppressive fire. If fire-teams need more suppressive fire, then they need to be equipped with more machine guns, and fewer rifles.

    The M-4 is a rifle. Use it like a rifle, and it works just fine.

    • Martin, how does it abuse the weapon? I know nothing of how burst fire works. Anyone want to explain it to me?

  • Lance

    Ermac

    The M-4 auto option is to add quick follow up shots for urban combat enviroments. Or to kill an oppent that is close to you. Its not to make spraying surrpessive fire which too many solders seem to do.

    The head of Socom is bought on the SCAR and wants more. BUT!!!!!!!! Most of its none pentagon operatives have stated they dint want the SCAR and stayed with there M-4s and tests have shown horribe traits of the design. Its bust stock and forend need to be replaced.

  • Lance

    Martin is right Steve Burst fire is a stae of mint to use a burst to hit a oppent multible times. Most Army solders use it for surpresing fire and a rifle is not made for that.

    Got my email yet Steve???

    • Lance, I got it, am working through the pile of email I received today!

  • Matt Groom

    Ermac,
    “If it’s such a horrible weapon then why are they ordering more of them?”
    If wasting money is bad for the economy, why does the government do it so often?

    Steve,
    Burst fire, like full-auto, simply sprays more bullets more quickly, which means more heat and fewer hits. As the t-shirt says, only hits count. It offers no tactical advantage beyond the purely psychological. The belief was that when a MG speaks, everybody listens, so if every infantryman is carrying a full auto weapon, won’t the enemy be terrified into submission? In theory, yes. In 60+ years of actual practice, no.

    The Soviets were the first to implement this tactic in WWII with some entire infantry divisions being equipped with PPSH-41s. The result? Sure they won the war, but they lost something like tens of millions of soldiers in the process. The Nazis took advantage of the unaimed spray and pray tactics of the reds, and even though they were always grievously out numbered, they still held their own all the way back to Germany with slow, aimed fire at long range. If the goal of wars is purely to kill more of the enemy than they kill of you, then the Nazis won the Eastern front by a long shot, pun intended.

    But Soldiers feel invincible when they’re dumping a long burst out of their weapons, right? Well, sometimes. This can be good, or this can be bad, because it causes troops to take unnecessary risks. If they feel like they are laying down a shield of bullets, they might feel safer, but that doesn’t mean they are safer. In the insurance industry, this is called “Safety Homeostasis” because as one risk is perceived to be minimized, other potentially greater risks are taken. They’re also wasting precious ammo during a battle, and battles are often decided by who has the most bullets.

  • Mr. B.

    I would submit the the biggest PIP issue is not even listed:

    How ’bout a BIGGER CALIBER???

    I don’t care what it is anymore, 6.8, 6.5….whatever. I just talked to an Army staff Sgt who served 3 tours. He is in the police academy with me. He has reported BIG problems in stopping power (aka the ability to quickly kill another human being) with the 5.56. I’m talking a three-round burst to a terrorist’s chest at PB range. It was enough to spin him around…but he got right back up and ran away. This is unacceptable to me.

  • Lance

    Well there a caliber problum. The sloution is to swith to HP or SP ammo and ingnor that stupid Geneva accord that only allows FMJ under 12.7mm to use on people.

  • Martin, yes I know. The majority of M4’s issued to soldiers and marines are only semi auto and 3 round burst. Special forces are the only ones that get the M4A1 and I imagine they know how to use it correctly and not “spray and pray” as Lance puts it.

    “If wasting money is bad for the economy, why does the government do it so often?”
    Who said the SCAR is a waste of money? Unless people can provide news stories saying the SCAR is an awful rifle, otherwise it should only be taken as hearsay and nothing more. The M16 was a horrible rifle when it first came out and it took a lot of work to get it where it is now. I would like to see you people design a perfect rifle the first time.

  • Lance

    Ermac,

    Theres articles on this very Blopg that had interview with SOCOM members who sayed they will stay with M-4s. Ive seen FNs Rifle and the butstock is a cheasy plastic and the picitnny rails are connected to the barrel which in automatic fire will burn the shooters hand. The M-16A1 wanst a horrible weapon in Vietnam itwas again the Army command who failed to train and send cleaning kits with the first M-16s. The Stoner design in 1965 wasnt a bad design at all.

  • Lance

    And I dint say Spec Ops where useing Sprey and Prey tactics. I said it was the normal Army solders who are screwing up in training.

  • Matt Groom

    Ermac,
    “Who said the SCAR is a waste of money?”
    I said that, and apparently so did Lance. You know who else said that? My best friend for 13 years who test fired it and “…broke three in two days”. Plastic trigger components and plastic assembly pins tend to fail prematurely.

    “Unless people can provide news stories saying the SCAR is an awful rifle…”
    So, what you’re saying is, we should trust the “Professional Journalists at the Associated Propagandists/AP over actual professionals who we know, umm, personally? Yeah, because we can all trust the news media.

    “The M16 was a horrible rifle when it first came out…”
    Not according to the reports from the field. Those guys who were actually shooting at the NVA in Indochina in 1962 had many positive things to say about the M-16. Some would say the reports were positively glowing. “Send us more M-16s!” The Airforce liked it alot, too. It wasn’t until McNamara FORCED this wonder gun on to the Army that the Army decided to “Improve” it, and that’s where all the problems started. A switch from IMR to Ball powder, use of sub-standard Brass cases, and the total lack of cleaning kits OR training, and viola! Shitty gun.

  • Big Daddy

    Like I said fix the Scar if you can. If not check out the other piston weapons on the market. A piston M-16 is not the answer you need a different bolt carrier, it was NOT designed to be used with a piston. Look at the AR-18 another Stoner design that fixed the problems of the M-16.

    The bigger issue is the 5.56mm round.

    The more complex you make something the more maintenance it needs and the more chances of not working just when you need it.

    KISS…..keep it simple stupid, that was something I learned in the Army.

    A simple 6.8mm piston rifle that uses the M-16 type lower with a completely redesigned upper. Yes it’s that simple. For full auto the bolt carrier design is all wrong and needs to be changed. Nothing wrong with the M-16 lower in fact it’s a very robust design.

  • Lance

    The Bolt carrieer has been modifed in the SR-556 and the standerd AR bolt carrier isnt the cause of most jamming issues.

  • Big Daddy,

    The M-16 lower is a horrible design. The fact that they put the recoil spring and buffer *inside* the stock means that you cannot fold the stock. The telescoping stock we currently enjoy was a design compromise.

    Another problem with the buffer tube inside the stock is, that we cannot make a bullpup rifle out of the M-16 system. Ace stock system had a gas piston bullpup prototype that utilizes the M-16 lower receiver, but somehow that program hasn’t come to fruition. The advantage of a bullpup option is that you can have a 20-inch barrel, which gives you optimal ballistics for the 5.56mm round, and in a urban-combat-ready package.

  • Ken

    Ive been waiting to see what individual or company, OTHER THAN FN OR COLT, will bring out the next best thing. Full auto has its uses,I wont say more. Yawn…

  • Big Daddy

    Jimmy W, Sorry but you do not understand rifle design. The lower has nothing to do with the recoil system. If you look at many designs that use the M-16 lower they have changed the recoil mechanism to be included in the upper receiver.

    The actual design of the lower receiver connecting to the upper in that way was a good idea. The recoil spring buffer did not have to be incorporated into the butt. that was done for other reasons.

    Plus I will add that folding stocks are no big deal. They cause all types of issues by blocking the ability to make the weapon ambidextrous. So when designing a weapon having a folding stock will cause the designer to have to move around things like charging handles, bolt closing devices, magazine releases and so on. So in actuality the type of stock that collapses makes the weapon easier to design ergonomically.

    A bullpup design has advantages but many more disadvantages.

  • “I said that, and apparently so did Lance. You know who else said that? My best friend for 13 years who test fired it and “…broke three in two days”. Plastic trigger components and plastic assembly pins tend to fail prematurely.”
    Plastic? I think you mean polymer.

    “Not according to the reports from the field. Those guys who were actually shooting at the NVA in Indochina in 1962 had many positive things to say about the M-16. Some would say the reports were positively glowing. “Send us more M-16s!” The Airforce liked it alot, too. It wasn’t until McNamara FORCED this wonder gun on to the Army that the Army decided to “Improve” it, and that’s where all the problems started. A switch from IMR to Ball powder, use of sub-standard Brass cases, and the total lack of cleaning kits OR training, and viola! Shitty gun.”
    Maybe horrible is too strong of a word. It certainly wasen’t perfect though.

    “So, what you’re saying is, we should trust the “Professional Journalists at the Associated Propagandists/AP over actual professionals who we know, umm, personally? Yeah, because we can all trust the news media.”
    People can say what they want its the internet.

  • Lance

    I like the M-16 lower. Even know they dont make mass produced side folding lower stock and yes they had made some look at the SIGs new Ar-15. There not a need for a folding stock. Fo most infantry men a fixstock is better and for tankers a clasping stock is just fine. The USMilitary never made a folding stock rife and it never mad e a bullpup rifle. Most countries like England and Austria have some problums fromgoing to a bullpup design.

    A man I knw which was in the Austrialan Defence Army told me that most Aussies dont like the F88 or shall I say Styre AUG. Its one of the most flanted bullpup rifle out there. The Aussies train men to never look away andkeep there heads up even while changing mags in a firte fight. Normal rilfes like the M-1, AK-47, M-14, FAL, or M-16 can easily change mags while keeping there head up and have good situational awarness. The Bullpups like the L-85 and especially the AUG have a horible time changeing mags and even the most highly trained men have to have there eyes off the situation and look where there mags are going.

    In open area combat small rifles like the AK-74U or Styre AUG are sexy but are not practical. Thats why the Soviets in the 80s dumped the Krinkov for normal sized AK-74s and Marines adopted the M-16A4 today. In the world of modern warfair where every thing looks small sleek and deadly, many have forgot what a true rifleman is and what he really needs. Not a 007 bullet sprayer but a good rifle that can kill well 100-800 yards in distence.

  • Lance

    face it polymer is plastic. Just a fancy word for it.

  • Mad World

    “The FAL operates using short stroke gas piston system and is provided with a non-reciprocating charging handle. It was probably the most common service rifle among NATO and their affiliates until 5.56×45 weapons began replacing 7.62×51 rifles in the 80s, and is regarded as extremely reliable.”

    Yes I realise this, however not all models were supplied with the non-reciprocating charging handel. My main point was that AR platforms do not allow a great enough degree of control over the piston via the charging handel to be as reliable as those such as the FAL.

    And yes I know all about how it was “the most common service rifle among NATO and their affiliates” as New Zealand used them up until the 80’s when the AUG replaced it….sadly.

    Cheers mate! and good on ya for pointing out the flaws in my statement.

  • Mad World

    “Well there a caliber problum. The sloution is to swith to HP or SP ammo and ingnor that stupid Geneva accord that only allows FMJ under 12.7mm to use on people.”

    I agree, I’m also sure that the “terrorists” and “insurgents” over in Afghanistan wouldnt think twice about using HP and SP ammo against your US forces and my country’s…..ahhhh yeah “peace keepers” if given the chance.

  • Matt Groom

    “Plastic? I think you mean polymer.”
    Umm, no Ermac, I mean Plastic. Your body naturally contains polymers, but it doesn’t naturally contain plastic. You dig? Don’t buy into the marketing hype.

    P.S. The FN SCAR sucks.

  • Carl

    Plastic or polymer?
    I guess the key point is that it broke. Whatever it was made of.

    “Carl: The M4 isn’t a PDW.”
    Well, labels aside, it’s a weapon designed with small size in mind, like a PDW. It might have other roles that aren’t shared with bona fide PDW’s but that’s beside my point.

  • US Veteran

    Thankfully a company called Ruger has stepped up and made the AR15 the way it should have been from the beginning. Thank God for the Ruger SR556 to have finally arrived.

  • Matt Groom

    Yes, yes. Thank god for Ruger. Why, if it wasn’t for them copying the successful designs of other companies, we might never get anything new.

  • Hurrah for a heavy barrel. Any gun that you stake your like on should have one. Increased accuracy, longer life, increase safety, and only 1.5 lb heavier or so. While weight is an issue, an extra pound isn’t gonna kill you in the single most important piece of kit.

    I suppose ambi controls are nice, but it doesn’t make sense to make all the rifles that way for the about 10% that are left handed.

    round counter would be nice but only if it is VERY light. That being said, military firearms need parts replaced quite often, but usually only receive said parts when they completely fail and are sent away for repair.

    a better trigger is also a good thing, but it must be heavily tested to make sure it is better and isn’t going to fail under stress. SPORTS won’t fix broken springs and sears.

  • D

    midlength gas system improves the performance significantly without an increase in barrel length, but you cant mount an M203 grenade launcher. Middys are becoming a lot more popular now. I prefer only midlengths

  • Lance

    You dont need to worry about berrle width with a gernade launcher now in the army since they adopted the M-302 which attaches itself on the picitinny rail on a M-4.

  • Davey

    JIM WROTE:
    “Canada uses the heavy barrel on our version of the M4 (we call ours the C8) to much success. However as for the other “upgrades” they have requested, I really don’t see the point. Even the gas piston I question the necessity of, and I’ve had the standard gas tube blow up in my face before.

    The counting rounds one just made me laugh. I have absolutely no problem keeping track of my ammo usage even under stress. We have a joke over here that says the reasons the Americans have burst now-a-days instead of full auto is because they couldn’t be trusted with it ”

    im not questioning your knowledge on the firearm. im questioning if you or any other canadian solider ever used one in combat before?

    • Mike

      The C8 was one of the fist weapons I shot in my life amazingly with just 10 minutes of instructions i was scoring perfect hits on target at 200m. There is a reason the SAS use the C7 and C8 they work better in extream condtions. I do belive that Dimaco or Colt Canada installs Ambi controls.

  • mechamaster

    Well, I think Added the High Strenght Polymer Magazine, Short Stroke Gas Piston, MGI Quick Change Barrel, and similar receiver like King Arms Metal receiver that added Ambidextrous Bolt Catch release button and magazine release button is the most logical solution over M4, but the electronic ammo counter part is absolutely unreasonable, because sometimes electronic become fail in the field and unusable. absolutely increase the logistic burden for military.

  • Mark

    Makes the M-14 sound like a reasonable and powerful alternative.
    Dont tell me about the added weight of the rifle or the ammo pack out.
    Engagements have vehicle support minimizing the impact.

  • Destroyer

    I agree with all changes except the “electronic round counter” which is gucci bs.

    My M4 definitely would benefit from these changes, though i am for a complete replacement of the weapon for a better one. In my opinion, the Remington ACR or XM8 are the best contenders to replace the M4. Replace the 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm round with the 6.5x39mm and the military will be set.

    Imagine the possibilities: a rugged, reliable, effective weapon like the ACR chambered for the 6.5 grendel cartridge. Gnarly!

  • Lance

    Not going to happen destroyer.

    Going to a ACR or M-8 would make alot more complacations and problums then going to a new gun would fix. Unless we went to a new caliber. Theres no point to replace a 556 rifle with another 556 rifle.

    The army is waiting for newer technology and theres no point in going to a new gun which will die out in 10 or 15 years

  • Destroyer

    so with the “expensive” re-equipping the army, the air force would have to do with one less F22? big deal.

    The US must still be prepared for conventional war (as we knew when we trained for the Fulda Gap eventuality), but counter-insurgency and urban warfare is the future of warfare. Since more than 60% of the world’s population will be in urban areas, then military operations will be more prevailent in those environments. Guess what is the most effective tool for urban warfare? infantry. highly trained infantry units supported by precision munitions. They need a rugged, reliable, effective battle rifle; something better than what the M4 has to offer.

    As i was saying before, replace the 5.56 and 7.62mm rounds with the 6.5x39mm grendel. Reconfigure light machine guns and assault rifles. The M4, even with gas piston improvements, is still a obsolete technology. Block shaped bolt carriers like the G36 and ACR are superior in terms of reliability, cooling, and cost (if arms industry ever resorts to their manufacture like the AK47 or M4)..

  • this weapon fires from the closed bolt position and locks the bolt to the rear when the magazine is empty. there is a very distinct feel when the bolt does not return to the closed position , anyone who has used this weapon for anytime has noticed this ( empty ) feel to the weapon. So the round counter although cool would be a waste of money and something else to malfunction.

  • Jason Smith

    One more person who does not grasp my Army’s rationale for the “round counter” requirement. Go back and read my first post and try again. Think “odometer” not “gas gauge”.

  • Carl
  • Matt Groom

    The round counter is for inventory, not for the field. It’s for the Armorers, not the grunts.

  • Destroyer

    a armorer worth a s–t will know the round count just by looking at the weapon’s parts anyways…

  • Matt Groom

    “Well, judging by the shine of the parkerizing, and the oxidation on the exposed aluminum, I tell you this rifle has EXACTLY 7,247 rounds through her.”
    Flips safety, Pulls trigger:
    “1,512 of which were fired on burst.”
    Sniffs the ejection port:
    “About 328 blanks, too”.

    Yeah, well, I don’t like the whole idea of an expert guess as to how many rounds have been through the rifle I’m issued. There’s nothing more dangerous than an armorer who “KNOWS” that those gas rings or that spring isn’t worn out yet.

  • Destroyer

    yes matt, and im sure a electronic counter will survive field conditions (LOL)

  • Jason Smith

    Destroyer,

    There are plenty of electronic devices currently bolted on to the M4. M68 CCOs, PAQ/PEQ-whatever, flashlights, etc. Why would a small, solid-state device with no external controls and no moving parts, probably tucked into a pistol grip fare any worse? Luddite-ism is no excuse for not doing something smarter. Try again.

  • Matt Groom

    Red Dots, IR Lasers, Radios (pocket and military), NVGs, CD Players, MP3 Players, Cell Phones, Ballistic Computers (Like AFTDS), and my GameBoy Pocket which surrvived 3 years in the field, including a tour in Iraq, before I retired it for a Gameboy SP. These are all electronics that I used in the field extensively over four years in the USMC. But you’re right, I’m sure a simple, solid state, electronic counter stored in a solid plastic housing won’t survive. I mean, that watch battery inside is gonna burn out in, like, five years!

  • Carl

    Electronics is no big deal to harden.
    Of course, an incompetent person/company can screw up anything. But that’s sort of beside the point. Presumably they have tested this thing in field conditions.

  • Shogun

    Why didnt the army ask for red dot or eotech sight? OR ACOG and NV Thermal scope? Or Fucking heartbeat sensor for SF?That would be cool to have.

  • Jason

    Um…they already have a general issue RDS (the M68 CCO) and ACOGs. And Thermal/FLIR stuff. Why would they ask for those when they already have them? This is about updates to a rifle, not updates to accessories.

  • I think the heavier barrel would be a problem to mount an M203 because the current M4 barrel is thin enough under the hand guard to allow the mounting of a GL.

  • Jason

    The heavy “SOCOM” barrel has a notch cutout between the barrel nut and front sight base that still allows a M203 to mount.

  • Colin

    With the M203 being replaced by the M320 that shouldn’t be a problem anyway – it doesn’t attach to the barrel, only the the lower rail…

  • Destroyer

    “There are plenty of electronic devices currently bolted on to the M4. M68 CCOs, PAQ/PEQ-whatever, flashlights, etc. Why would a small, solid-state device with no external controls and no moving parts, probably tucked into a pistol grip fare any worse? Luddite-ism is no excuse for not doing something smarter. Try again.”

    yes and anybody who has had experiences with those devises knows that they fail. Especially when exposed to kinetic shock, rain, moisture, and heat. The seals for the batteries also fail, as do the batteries themselves. Indeed, much of the electronic technology is limited by batteries. Sorry to burst your bubble, ignorance will not breed success…

    “Red Dots, IR Lasers, Radios (pocket and military), NVGs, CD Players, MP3 Players, Cell Phones, Ballistic Computers (Like AFTDS), and my GameBoy Pocket which surrvived 3 years in the field, including a tour in Iraq, before I retired it for a Gameboy SP. These are all electronics that I used in the field extensively over four years in the USMC. But you’re right, I’m sure a simple, solid state, electronic counter stored in a solid plastic housing won’t survive. I mean, that watch battery inside is gonna burn out in, like, five years!”

    And if you noticed, all of these devises were stored in a protective manner, which a devise on a personal weapon cant be. If a block like round counter devise was attached to the rail, would it be 100% accurate? and please tell me where batteries can be obtained that last 5 years…i think you have solved the entire US military’s problem with batteries to begin with… (LMAO)

    again, ignorance breeds failure. Here’s something for a change: how about fielding a relatively inexpensive, rugged, reliable, and modular rifle for the front-line soldier to use and have confidence in???

    ps, please provide sources for the SCAR “failures”. im curious anybody. A good armorer will notice FN engineered the SCAR well. Get over it, the AR15 concept is obsolete. There is better technology out there.

    In addition: there is a substantial difference between “plastic” and “polymer”. polymers are some of the strongest man-made materials in existence. Comparing polymer to plastic is like comparing machine steel to tin and calling it “metal”. utterly absurd.

    • Miles

      This guy owns a glock in .40 smith and wesson… I can just FEEL it.

  • Rohan Wilson

    @ Destroyer.

    In 1977 the Austrians released the the AUG-77. It was modular (quick change barrel, no tools), it was polymer and alloy (body and magazine), it had a forward pistol grip and optical sight as standard, is gas piston driven and it was compact (20″ barrel in a 31” weapon).

    How come 30 years later soldiers are having to fight to get own national armies to have a similar concept?

  • Lance

    Thats if you want a plastic bullpup….

    Many are happy with what they got.

  • Rohan Wilson

    @Lance
    Many were happy with their Thompsons, M1s and BARs. M16 is a Mattel plastic girlie gun that the USAF wanted to replace the M1 carbine.

    Which plastic gun are you talking about?

  • Lance

    Only the stock on a M-16 is plastic the whole body of a Aug is plastic thats why.

  • Rohan

    @Lance.
    The body of the M16 is alloy, correct? The barrel is fixed to the alloy receiver. The bolt moves back through the alloy body and into the stock and hits the buffer. That’s inside a plastic stock. That’a OK because it’s a M16.

    The core body of the AUG is alloy. The barrel is fixed to the alloy receiver. The bolt and bolt rods moves back through the alloy body and into the stock. That’s inside a plastic stock. That’s not OK because it’s a bullpup.

    By the way I wasn’t talking bullpup, I was talking concept, modular weapons.

  • John

    Maybe if we trained our troops to that of a real standard anymore they wouldn’t have these problems. There ain’t nothing wrong with DI, ain’t nothing wrong with 5.56, ain’t nothing wrong with the M4 or M16.

  • An interesting dialogue is value comment. I feel that you must write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo topic however usually persons are not sufficient to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  • Mo

    I think the Army needs the HK416, not the M4…

  • Alex

    Isn’t the SCAR basically what they wish the M4 would be – minus this ridiculous bean counter thing on the pistol grip?