Examining the Complaints About The M4


C.J. Chivers at The NY Times has posted a well written article about the M4 reliability controversy

Given these conditions, while we can’t draw definitive conclusions about the current performance of the M-4 and M-16 lines, it is nonetheless a jolt to find no accounts of significant weapons failures and then to read blog posts that declare that the weapons are either a disaster or at least widely loathed.

This is more so given the account of Chief Warrant Officer Joshua S. Smith, the Marine responsible for weapons training and performance in the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, which is engaged in daily fighting in Marja. “We’ve had nil in the way of problems; we’ve had no issues,” he said of the M-4s and M-16s. The battalion has about 350 M-16s and 700 M-4s, he said.

Christian’s response at Military.com’s Kit Up blog is also worth reading.

In October last year I analyzed the leaked draft of the Army report on the Battle of Wanat. My conclusion was that no weapon of the M4 Carbine class could have been expected to be problem free under those conditions.

[ Many thanks to Lance 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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  • SpudGun

    The Pro-M4 vs Anti-M4 debate will no doubt rage on regardless. My personal view (bearing in mind that I’ve never been to war) is that the M4 runs great as long as you keep it meticulously clean.

    However, if I were in a combat environment, I’d hate to spend all my down time cleaning my rifle yet again instead of grabbing some sleep or something to eat.

    Don’t get me wrong, whichever weapon system you were toting would need to be regularly cleaned, but not to the extent of the M4.

  • subase

    For general grunts it’s a good rifle, but for special forces and other elite units who may not have time to clean their rifles and are in extra super dusty conditions it’s not so good.

    For conscription armies that have cut down training regimens it isn’t good either since instilling habitual cleaning of ones rifle is a waste of precious training time. And a liability for lesser trained troops to sustain in case of attack.

    Personally I think it was just a major media blowout, with politicians and military people looking for an attack and publicity angle to increase their profiles. The internets has aided in this.

    The only real problem is the underpowered nature of the 5.56mm round, this has been rectified to a degree, by the new ammo with very little acclaim or hoopla. Meaning someone is actually responding to the real shortcomings of the weapon.

    But the civilian world has responded to the weapon reports in the two wars currently being fought.(three wars if you include Pakistan)
    A resurgence and popularity of the AK, which is both more reliable, requires less maintenance, is more rugged and is in a more powerful calibre, is a reflection of the AR’s weaknesses. As has been the movement to piston ar’s, superior reliability coatings and more powerful calibers.

  • Sian

    @SpudGun I’m pretty sure a Mosin Nagant would only need a shake to get the dirt out every couple of days, but it’s not really a viable system anymore, at least until someone comes out with a quadrail stock for one. 😀

  • Redchrome

    The article says it works well within its design limits.

    Modern warfare is not within the design limits of the human body in a lot of ways, yet governments engage in it anyway.

    I am becoming increasingly convinced that the most broken-by-design feature of the AR15 is not the gas system, or the charging handle, or the bolt carrier, or the bolt lugs, (however less than the best designs they may be) but rather the magazine well. The M4 dust tests of a couple years ago indicated pretty clearly to me that the AR15 magazine with its kinked body (which prevents a truly anti-tilt follower like the AK has), thin walls, thin feedlips, short cartridge presentation, and tolerance-sensitive lockup; was the biggest hindrance to reliable operation.

    Unfortunately it’s the hardest part to change because it would kill backwards compatibility with the umpteen bajillion magazines currently out there, unless you had swappable magwells like the G36, ACR, or MGI AR15 lower.

    Someone needs to design a clean-sheet better magazine and figure out how to get people using it.

  • Vaarok
  • Zach

    Any official spokesman is almost certain to say that everything is fine and dandy.

    HOWEVER, I do trust reports from people who’ve actually served in the sandbox who are not speaking in an official capacity and have no reason to hide problems. The overwhelming majority of such reports indicate that the M4/M16 as it exists today works quite well and has few problems if decently maintained.

    Not to say that it isn’t time for an improvement anyway, but it does not appear to me that the M4 is a lemon in its current form.

  • Variable

    American army has too many complex.

    In my country (Spain) we´ve got a long time tradition in made assault rifles (from the Cetme model C., the H&K G3 is a licensed copy). In the 80´s Cetme designs the Cetme Model L (Light) 5,56 NATO. The design is not bad, but the manufacturer (Santa Bárbara Sistemas, now property of General Dynamics) was doing a shit of rifles, with a poor quality iron (with lots of problems with the magazines). ¿The result? a rifle not reliable.

    Then the spanish army buy the H&K G36, more cheap than the CETME/G3 system rifles (not so reliable than CETME/G3, but more than the AR15, and very cheap).

    The US Army should change their rifles for the H&K416/417 System, in my opinion.

  • JD

    SpudGun, I disagree with you about keeping an AR “meticulously clean” to keep em’ running. My friends and I shoot prairie dogs on a regular basis in North Dakota when it’s 80-100 degrees with the wind blowing dirt around and shooting off 3-500 rounds each in 5-6 hours. Not once in the last 4 years have any of our AR’s had one malfunction, not once!. In fact my friends DPMS bull 20 had 650 rounds through it and he was still drilling the little varmints at 400 yds. I can assure you that none of these rifle’s were kept “meticulously clean” on any of these Pdog shoots. We’ve also killed many deer and coyotes with .223 and .308 AR’s when it’s been well below zero, again zero malfs.
    Perhaps I’d worry about keeping my rifle clean at all times if I were in combat or a LEO but for us civilians the “keep it clean” myth is just that, a myth. I would recommend lubricating it about every 500 rnds and pulling a bore snake through it at that time as well. I give mine a good cleanig every 1000 rnds, sooner if I have spare time.
    I’m not trying to start an argument with you, just saying what I’ve experienced with AR’s…reliability.

  • Kurgen99

    Round is too small.

  • xngn88r

    Israeli Army used the same rifles for many years under pretty much similar conditions. How come that all the complaints we are hearing are from US soldiers?

  • Lance

    The only reason theirs been any debate over US rifles is that senators who get money from other firearms makers like the dirty Senator Tom Colbern are trying to get there backer gun on the market. Now since the they have there hopes have been dashed by SOCOM rejection of the rivals gun (MK-16) which the anti-M-4 crowd had totted as the magical gun I wounder if they will support the Army’s M-4 upgrade program and fix the problems instead of making controversy.

    The reason for the guns poor performance in Vietnam was due to bad decisions from the army not due to the weapon itself.

    I think the new M-855A1 ammo will be better for afghan ops any way since it burns a cleaner and less maintenance for it. Since M-855 was made for 20inch guns that have a longer gas system the build up in a carbine is much higher now with better ammo the problems fixed.

    Steve?

  • jdun1911

    SpudGun

    “The Pro-M4 vs Anti-M4 debate will no doubt rage on regardless. My personal view (bearing in mind that I’ve never been to war) is that the M4 runs great as long as you keep it meticulously clean.”

    That is completely untrue. Lots of people including those that went to combat runs their AR dirty for thousands of rounds without a problem. It is the meticulously clean that get the AR15 into troubles. It is the lack of lubrication that get all firearms into troubles.

    Here the truth and that goes for any firearms. Unless it is a bad design or manufacturing is piss poor, most guns related problems will trace back to:
    1. Bad magazine
    2. Bad ammo
    3. Lack of lubrication
    4. Parts worn out.

    Running dirty isn’t a problem for AR15 because all the carbon are push to the side where it won’t interfere with the operation.

    http://www.defensereview.com/the-big-m4-myth-fouling-caused-by-the-direct-impingement-gas-system-makes-the-m4-unreliable/

  • jdun1911

    The reason why Taliban and Iraqi Insurgents used the AK because it was the only thing that were available to them. But if you look at the entire middle east, the AR dominate the area. All the major terrorist groups use AR to fight against the Israeli. A large number of middle east countries have AR in their service.

  • Alan

    @Sian: Sorry, just a tri-rail, no quads. http://www.opticsplanet.net/leapers-utg-tactical-mosin-nagant-tri-rail-mount-mnt-mntr01.html 🙂

    At this point, i am more concerned about the state of the SAWS, with there being many more verified reports of failures, breakdowns, and photos of them juryrigged with zipties and duct tape. And the zipties specifically dont help things not break.

    Also doesn’t help that I just read a gunporn article about the HK MG4.

  • DaveR

    I’ve never been in combat, but I wonder if the time spent cleaning the M16 could actually be good for the soldier? Good in the sense that it provides a regular point of focus during days which might otherwise seem chaotic. And good in the sense that it requires that the soldier understand exactly how his weapon functions.

  • MrMaigo

    Blast with CLP, clean the barrel a little. You’re done.

    The problem with the M16 is that we’ve been using it for 40 years and no one has made anything worth the effort of replacing it with.

  • SpudGun

    I’m glad some people have had good running with their ARs, I’m afraid my personal experience of using the platform wasn’t as problem free. Perhaps I was using a poor example of the breed, but it kind of put me off them for life.

    Maybe now is a bad time to admit that I am more of FAL / AK fan boy – don’t get me wrong, they aren’t perfect rifles either, especially in the accuracy stakes, but they’ve rarely let me down.

    As a result, I’m always going to side with the piston variety of gas system. Now that there are so many piston ARs on the market, I might re-visit the platform. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the Ruger, so I will endeavour to give that a try.

  • jdun1911

    Alan,

    The break down in M249 is the direct result of wear and tear over time. There is so much abuse that the sheet metal receiver can take before it starts to malfunction regularly.

  • jdun1911

    xngn88r,

    Here the thing, US soldiers and Marines aren’t complaining about the reliability of the AR family line. In fact 90% of them love their M4.

    The problem is the journalists. They never do the research and makes stuff up which than repeated by dumbass. Some of these dumbass are also reporters. See where I’m going?

    The AR is not perfect but it is the best rifle in the world right now.

  • Martin

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with the AR platform, just with the way it’s used. This falls into two categories; Overheating from overuse, and lack of long range punch.

    The instances when they’ve been blamed for running too hot are situations were there was a clear lack of support weapons. When there aren’t enough SAWs, M-60s, and M240s around, the rifles get overused and the excessive heat from a high rate of fire begins to cause problems.

    In more open country (and in some urban instances) the M4s aren’t effective at long ranges. At least, not in the same way larger calibre weapons are. The enemy knows it, and sets up ambushes to exploit it.

    In and of itself, there’s noting wrong with M4s and ARs.

  • Lance

    Same here Jdun for 5.56 the AR is one of the best for it. The few problems are being solved for the carbines a piston to replace a short gas tube. Claner powder for new 5.56mm ammo. As for the 20inch rifles they dont seem to have any prblems just fine.

  • subase

    The Ar is a finicky weapon and requires much more maintenance than other weapons like the AR and Fal, that’s the price one pays.

    “Here the truth and that goes for any firearms. Unless it is a bad design or manufacturing is piss poor, most guns related problems will trace back to:
    1. Bad magazine
    2. Bad ammo
    3. Lack of lubrication
    4. Parts worn out.”

    1. Ar magazines are more delicate than magazines from other rifles.
    3. Ar rifle heats up faster and thus requires more frequent lubrication, than other rifles.
    4. It has a higher rate parts wearing rate than other rifles.

    Basically it requires proper training to use, without any issues. Especially for the military soldier, who doesn’t actually carry the same rifle throughout his army career. It also needs a good diligent rate of replacement and refurbishment, which is expensive. Luckily alot of these issues are being rectified with the new M4/M16 upgrade program.

  • Andrew

    “The problem is the journalists. They never do the research and makes stuff up which than repeated by dumbass. Some of these dumbass are also reporters. See where I’m going?”

    So really, the problem is just dumbasses.

    It’s ok though, they’re pretty easily identified: they begin their posts with phrases such as “I’m not a soldier, but…”, or even “I’ve never seen an M4/M16/AR, but…”

  • Kcoz

    My experiences with the M-16 in the Army never make me question the design at all. I personally never had one malfunction over the course of 4 years and 4 different rifles. 99% of the malfunctions I observed were caused by lubrication problems (usually too much) or a bad magazine ( I saw alot of those).

  • jdun1911

    Unlike other countries we actually used our weapons. How many wars the US have been in the last 100 years? More then any other countries in the world.

    Bad magazine happen for two reasons. Bad manufacture or overused. In the military it is overused. They get step on, drop to the floor, and God knows what else. This is not an AR15 magazine related issues. It is across the board.

    The AR heat up the same rate as another other rifle that have the same firerate. Heat doesn’t magically disappear. That’s basic thermodynamic. In piston rifles, part of the heat is soak up by the piston. Unlike DI rifle, the piston and the spring attached to in will also generate heat due to motion. Piston rifle will run hotter but the difference it spread out in two parts of the firearm.

    TaylorWSO was an AR15 piston fanboy but after tens of thousand of rounds through his LWRC AR he do not recommend piston AR because it runs much hotter then DI.

    http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=126&t=502195

    The only part that wore out faster is the bolt. Lets look at your FAL. What is the round count before a reasonable RECEIVER FAILURE? 80,000 rounds before the receiver crack. Once the receiver cracked the rifle will be junk. AR receiver last forever.

    While we are on the subject of FAL. As much as I like them do you know the reason why the Israeli got rid of it? It was unreliable in the desert. Find sands got into it and cause numerous malfunctions. Other the other hand the IDF and the terrorists have no problems with their AR.

    • No rifle is perfect. Lets just agree on that.

  • jdun1911

    Andrew,

    The problem is dumbass multiply exponentially.

    Newspapers and dumbass influence people that are in power. The vast majority of time they will get their facts wrong or just makes things up along the way.
    Giving bad information to people in power is a train wreck waiting to happen. These people that are in power with good intention will try to fix a non issue. At worst it will hurt those individual that they are tying to help all because of bad reporting. We all know this happen more often then not.

  • SpudGun

    I’m guessing all the dumbass comments are being directed towards me.

    Of course, when you go on the Google Nets and see article after article about the M4 in Afghanistan and how the fine dust and sand are sticking to the all the lube and clogging up the rifle and how the Military’s advice is to keep the weapon clean at all times, well it just makes me look like a dumbass I suppose.

    Doh. What a dumbass I do am be.

  • subase

    Come on jdun1911 you don’t have to twist my words. You are well aware when I talk about heat it’s in regards to the lubricated parts of an AR design, hence they need more lubrication. This in itself isn’t such a big deal, but with the wrong environment conditions it is a problem. In both Iraq and Afghanistan we have constant fine sand blowing everywhere, so if you overlube your rifle you will pay the costs. Constant blistering heat which keeps your weapon hot all day is another thing. Noone of course notices this when they go to the local range every week and shoot thousands of rounds while sipping a pepsi in the shade. They are completely different environments, not only physically but mentally too. Mistakes get made lubricating weapons, in wartime more so than leisurely trips to the range.

    Ar magazines are more delicate and need more frequent replacing than other magazines. The AK (no ‘overuse’ problem with that) and the myriad of military polymer and steel magazines are more durable. Granted we have seen improvements to the standard military magazine but it’s still a weakness compared to other magazines.

    And you don’t need to bring up your boogeyman stories about FAL receivers failing, or it being unreliable in desert conditions. IDF reports are about weapons aren’t to be trusted.

  • Rijoenpial

    In my humble opinion,

    whenever you have yuor enemy being able to exploit the frailties of the weapon yuo use, you know you’re in deep trouble… The poor distances plus the lack of stopping power and penetration (walls where most foes like to duck and cover), yuo KNOW yuo are using the wrong tool for the job…

    Hence why the piston versus DI argument has surfaced again in a lot of punch…In long distances, the AR 5.56 is useless… And your foes know this… Paul Howe, an ex D-boy, stated that in Somalia, they had to shot the target several times until it was neutralised…Shooting him once or twice, and he still fired back at you…

    So, the 5.56 needs to be replaced…The DI system ‘constant maintenance’ requirement shows how frail the system is…In a battle scenario, the operator is gonna fire more than 500 rounds and he won’t have time to do maintenance…So, the gun will be more prone to jams, misfeeds, etc…in the heat of the battle, yuo won’t use your mag gently, you’re gonna ram it in and you’re gonna probably cause misfeeds and ejection failures… So, yuo need a robust gun in battle…Hence why the AK is called ‘battle rifle’… The stopping power, the penetration, keeping them effective in longer ranges…

    I favor the 5.7 FN P90 or even a .45 for CQB, for door-to-door work… Using an M4 for room clearing is dumb and so is using it for CQB… I think together with the M4, the soldiers (SOF at least) should use a CQB weapon, like the P90, MP7, Kriss Super V… For block fighting and longer distances, the 7.62 is king… I would go for an intermediate round, but realistically speaking, with only the 7.62 and 5.56 for assault rifles, the 7.62 packs a lot more punch, is an excellent sniper round ( although the Cheytach’s .408 is very good also) and the PD weapons they fire are more reliable and durable… Ask AK…

    Like I said before, if I can stop a foe with just one round and quickly acquire another target, I would choose this over having to dump and entire magazine on one guy…

    So, the M4 is compact, but stock-folding PD weapons such as G36C, FN SCAR are more compact… So, the M4 is running out of excuses… There are already piston ARs, so even the manufacturers know that the DI is dying… The ACR, the new weapons at Shotshow clearly demonstrate that trend… I think coverting DI designs into PD is a bad idea and creates a whole set of troubles…

    So, it is only the Military that are fighting it! Afghanistan showed them the overwhelming limitations of the 5.56, but fortunately the SOF is not blind to the requirements in the field… I actually now think that their choice of the Mk17 over the Mk16 was wise, although things could have run smoothly on that end…

    I don’t want a gun that requires me to do constant maintenance, that doesn’t secure a kill or neutralises the threat immediately without aiming at the foe’s head or heart… I want to worry about just pointing and shooting the weapon… I think the misfeeds and double feeds are not the problem (I believe they don’t occur that frequently as well)… The problem is the weapon fulfilling the purpose it was built for, which is to neutralise the target…

    The 5.56 may be acceptable for short range precision, but most conflicts today (CQB and shots from long distances) show the limitations of teh 5.56… The AR platform is not a bad platform in itself, actually being a remarkable piece of engineering, but it shoots the 5.56… So, no matter how great a design is, it is somehow lacking the purpose it was built for…

    I think sooner or later, a new round has to be introduced…The SCAR was already tested for 6.8, more and more people are advocating the introduction of the 6.8 or 6.5 or any other caliber that gets the job done more effectively…

    So, the 5.56 is dying… And without caliber conversion kits and improved PD or DI systems, the M4 may risk going down with it…

    I mean, just look around you: more and more piston ARs, the ACR, the SCAR, the XCR, the FAL is still alive (DSA)…

    The Field Zero coating and the HK 416 are just temporary patches for as problem that sooner or later the USArmy will have to address: the M4 limitations are definitely starting to show…

    Cheers!

    PS – I think that the advocates of DI and PD systems, ALL want the same thing: a weapon that saves the soldiers lives, nothing more… Tastes are many and varied and each have their strengths and weaknesses… I just showed why I think the PD has more strengths than weaknesses, or at least, why I think that the strengths favour more the soldier than not…

    I actually hope the M4 is saving lives out there… So, I don’t want it to fail, but the fact remains that the people that correlate data, namely evaluates the operational performance of the weapons used, the SOCOM heads, were inclined to choose a PD 5.56 weapon over the DI M4, and that fact alone should be of concern… They eventually dropped it, but thier concerns were strong enough to procure a PD weapon, even build one from the ground up…

    But I reiterate that nobody in their right mind wants the M4 or any weapon to fail the US soldiers… ALL we want, I think, is to provide the soldiers risking their lives out there with the best available weapon…

    We might be more inclined to one brand than another, but bottom line, we all want the same thing… And that’s all that really matters…

    Cheers!

  • Kcoz

    Spudgun,

    The reason the sand and dust is sticking to “all the lube” is because so many soldiers have little experience with firearms and use their CLP like they would KY. Too much is as bad if not worse than none at all.

    I don’t think any of the “dumbass” comments were directed at you. Personally I tend to agree with most of your comments.

  • Lance

    Rijoenpal the M-4 is not bad for room clearing local SWAT teams replaced the MP-5 and P-90 for this role its a issue of ammo FMJ is bad for this hollow pont like TAP or TRU works very very well.

    As per dusty afghanistain the M-4s are fine most solders dont complain about it. Soviet troops in the 1980s had many malfuntions with there AKs in the dust. Read about the soviet-afghan war. The AK mag can too malfuntion I had some who do. The FAL has its own issues since not only did the Isrealis complain about it. The Brits had problems with them in the Faulklands thats why the L-85 camse so fast afterwards.

    Like STeve said no gun is perfect. But the AR in its caliber is the best rilfe outthere. The AK is ok but is inferiour to the AR in several kay areas little loan accuracy.

    The AR is here to stay in DI and soon PI systems. Only a caliber change will change that. and its not going to happen soon.

  • W

    yes, those faulty piston designs! everybody just take the time to ignore the AK47 while they are at it…

    and the “facts” regarding the FAL fouling in the desert were actually caused by weapon unfamiliarity and poor maintenance, the reason why the IDF replaced it is because of the weight and length (especially when compared to the Galil and M16).

    I am a firm believer in the gas piston AR15 design, though i have had very few issues with DI systems. I believe the problem is inconsistencies in manufacturing qualities in regards to extractor springs, gas tubes, etc amongst the many manufacturer’s for the military. Despite M16’s/M4’s being produced by Colt and FN, churning out thousands for the war effort results in a few faulty weapons. When you give weapons to largely inexperienced soldiers, and CLP (which is easily the worst thing ever invented), there will be issues with M4’s, though proper maintenance (though not necessarily frequent) can easily remedy problems. My opinion is that most of the M16/M4’s problems lie in the magazines.

  • Thomas

    After 40+ years of evolution the M16/M4 platform is a very reliable system. It is very good at what it was designed to be; a light, short range rifle platform that is easy to shoot. As with any other mechanical system, there are inherent limitations that the operator has to be cognizant of and must plan for. Can the M16 platform be fired to the point where overheating can cause a temporary failure of the system? Yes. Is it a situation that is likely to occur with proper operator training? No.

    The power and range limitations of the 5.56mm round are more troubling. Not much can be done to increase the effective range of weapons chambered for these cartridges. They are what they are.

  • W

    “Rijoenpal the M-4 is not bad for room clearing local SWAT teams replaced the MP-5 and P-90 for this role its a issue of ammo FMJ is bad for this hollow pont like TAP or TRU works very very well.”

    yes, with the invention of 10″ barrel AR15’s (where the technology was limited decades ago to do this), SMGs are obsolete. Consider that the polymer tipped ammunition has less of a tendency to overpenetrate than even the 9mm or 40 S&W, though has much more round energy, accuracy, and effective range.

    “As per dusty afghanistain the M-4s are fine most solders dont complain about it. Soviet troops in the 1980s had many malfuntions with there AKs in the dust. Read about the soviet-afghan war. The AK mag can too malfuntion I had some who do. The FAL has its own issues since not only did the Isrealis complain about it. The Brits had problems with them in the Faulklands thats why the L-85 camse so fast afterwards.”

    very few soldiers actually use their M4’s in combat and even fewer use them under prolonged firing conditions. I have never heard of the AK74 malfunctioning in Afghanistan, though its limitations were the 5.45mm round, which was only effective up to 300m and it had the same stopping problems as the 5.56 did (which is why OMON, Alpha, and other elite Russian military units are reverting to the 7.62x39mm AK).

    “Like STeve said no gun is perfect. But the AR in its caliber is the best rilfe outthere. The AK is ok but is inferiour to the AR in several kay areas little loan accuracy.”

    I disagree that the AR “is the best rifle out there”, though I prefer it to other weapons because of my familiarity with the weapon system and abundant spare parts. The AR is generally not as rugged as a AK, though is rather accurate and flexible to employ in operations. With careless maintenance, such as over-lubrication and poor magazines, M4’s can be finicky, though they are generally reliable and effective weapons. I consider the M16A4 to be a superior weapon.

    “The AR is here to stay in DI and soon PI systems. Only a caliber change will change that. and its not going to happen soon.”

    I believe that better technology exists than the AR15 design, though caliber change is the biggest weakness in my opinion. True intermediate cartridges such as the 6.5 or 6.8 are superior to the 5.56 (and 7.62 NATO), though it would take a act of devine intervention for the US to adopt any new cartridge. Looking at the bright side, I hear good things about the new “green ammunition” when it comes to combat application.

  • Lance

    W i was saying in 5.56mm the AR is best in that caliber. If they went to a 6.8 or 6.5mm a ACR would be interesting. But its not going to happen. The M-16A4 is better than a M-4 in my opinion too. The 20inch guns are better than carbines and it was a army mistake to make it a general issue weapon than a carbine for carbine jobs.

    The AK is a ok weapon and is easier to operate and clean but lack accuracy and terminal performance since so much of the ammo gases escape from the loose action of the AK.

    There is no bettedr 5.56mm rile out there right now in my opion since all either take a AK actionor a AR-18 action.

  • W

    actually the AR15 is not the best in its caliber. There are plenty of contenders out there that perform significantly better than the AR15 design, though there is no point in a mass replacement of the US military’s entire M16/M4 inventory with another 5.56mm rifle. The limitation is the caliber, not necessarily the design, though there are more reliable designs out there (such as the SIG, G36, ACR, 416, and the cancelled XM8).

    the advantage that the AR15’s have is mass production, which is done by the courtesy of the USA (who is the world’s largest arms exporter). you cannot beat the design’s plethora of accessories, spare parts, and availability. With such things as gas piston systems (like osprey’s outstanding design), anti-tilt magazines, improved barrels, and the new M855A1 ammunition, the M16/M4 is turning out to be a splendid weapon for combat use.

  • Grunt_11b

    I’ve been deployed to Iraq for a total of 31 months. I’ve been involved in some heavy firefights, and I’ve never had a malfunction. As long as you clean your weapon after your patrol or mission, your weapon will work fine. And you don’t have to spend hours cleaning it. The only people I’ve seen complaining are the ones that come off mission and hang up their weapon to play video games, and the bloggers who own civil AR’s(not the same as an M-16). The issues with the weapon jamming due to tight tolerances were taken care of a few mods ago.

    Yes there are better weapons out there, Yes it would be nice to have them. But we have what we have, and as long as you practice your basic soldiering skills, they will not fail you.

    There is only one weakness that I have found, and that is the extractor pin dulling or the extractor pin weakening after a couple hundred times clearing the weapon at the clearing barrel. You would notice that if you pmcs’d your system whenever you tear it down to clean it. If it happens, take it to your armorer and he’ll fix it in ten minutes. Most cool guy AR Hybrids that I have seen, use the traditional AR style bolt and will therefore suffer the same wear and tear.

    Input from bloggers complain about a weapon they’ve never fired or soldiers who are too lazy to do the right thing is about as nauseating as listening to someone claim that they have gone to assassin school.

    Clean your weapon and LIGHTLY oil it and you will be just fine. When finished, then you may play your video games.

  • charles222

    “Hours and hours” to get an M4 or M16 clean is a blatant falsehood. I’ve been in the Army for nearly eight years now, and I’ve gotten my time required to get to what I consider clean down to about fifteen or twenty minutes. It’s a very simple weapon to clean; you can clean the vast majority of parts with nothing more than a rag and a barrel snake.

    I’ve only had serious problems with one of the M4s I’ve been issued, and everyone else who’d carried that particular weapon had problems with it as well. Otherwise the M4s I’ve carried have been nothing but reliable.

  • Jeremy

    I served a year in Afghanistan in the worst possible conditions through rain, snow, extreme cold and hot dusty weather. My M4 with an ACOG sight… was tried and true in my opinion. I only cleaned the weapons 4-5x in a year. The only time it ever failed me was when it was extremely dusty to a point where most weapons would not function in that condition. When it was this dirty, the only problem that occurred would be a failure to eject. This was an issue in the middle of a firefight having to slam a rod down the barrel to kick out the round but it wasn’t that often and usually my fault for not maintaining my weapon.

    My overall opinion is the the M4 is a great weapon, a good adaptable platform for accessories and rugged as hell. The issue I had was range. Majority of the time, our targets where at 800meters or more. If the weapon had a little bit more range and didnt allow dust and debris to get into the chamber through the magazine well it would be perfect for the current conditions in Afghanistan…

    Too many people try to criticize this weapon. It has served well and will continue to perform. Yes the AK is rugged and durable but when out in those trenches, I would take my M4 any day.

    1LT, United States Army
    82nd Airborne Division

  • charles222

    Not to show any disrespect sir, but if your riflemen were pinging rounds at targets 800M away then your team leaders need to tell them to cease fire and let the M240s and M14s do the talking, and concentrate on their actual job: 0-300 meters.

  • Jeremy

    We proved the M4’s ability to engage targets effectively up to 600meters. We still used them at targets passed it for just basic suppressive fire. Of course the 240, 50cal, and mk19 were the primary lethal weapon systems. I was actually dissapointed with the M14, or at least our version the Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR). It was a piece of junk that would barely cycle after 4-5 months and had to be manually cocked after each round even though it was cared for extremely well. It really seemed to be the environment that was extremely rough on the weapon.

  • charles222

    Interesting, sir; never heard that about the EBR before. The only issue we had with our M14 (this was 2003 :p) was that the ACOG supplied for it mounted waay too high to be easily used for shooting.

  • Buck Adams

    Half the rifles that failed at Wanat were 249s.