A Dissection Of (Yet) An(other) M4 Hit Piece

The AR-15 family of rifles was accepted into US service under strange circumstances. In 1962, Ordnance – previously in charge of rifle and ammunition procurement – was abolished by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and the offices themselves restructured under the new Army Materiel Command, followed closely by the adoption of the AR-15 by the Air Force to replace M2 Carbines. In 1963, the order was handed down to stop the production of the troubled M14 rifle, and in February of 1963, McNamara approved procurement of the AR-15, warts and all, for the US armed services.

This sequence of events left a lot of people out in the cold, and it’s partly from this that a lot of the discontent with the AR-15 family of weapons stems. As a result of controversy both online and off, sensationalist journalism regarding the weapons, such as this article from The Atlantic, is not uncommon. From time to time, it is necessary to respond to such pieces, so that a more sober discussion of the subject can occur.

The rifle that today’s infantry uses is little changed since the 1960s—and it is badly flawed. Military lives depend on these cheap composites of metal and plastic. So why can’t the richest country in the world give its soldiers better ones?

I suppose you have to have a catchy subtitle.

A custom M4, similar to the one used by infantry today. The M4 is a lighter version of the M16, which killed so many of the soldiers who carried it in Vietnam. (Adam Voorhes)”

I am not sure why he chose a picture of a civilian AR-15 with a Slidefire stock. Presumably because he isn’t very familiar with the subject he is writing about.

One afternoon just a month and a half after the Battle of Gettysburg, Christopher Spencer, the creator of a seven-shot repeating rifle, walked Abraham Lincoln out to a grassy field near where the Washington Monument now stands in order to demonstrate the amazing potential of his new gun. Lincoln had heard about the mystical powers of repeating rifles at Gettysburg and other battles where some Union troops already had them. He wanted to test them for the rest of his soldiers. The president quickly put seven rounds inside a small target 40 yards away. He was sold.

But to Army bureaucrats, repeaters were an expensive, ammunition-wasting nuisance. Ignorant, unimaginative, vain, and disloyal to the point of criminality, the Army’s chief of ordnance, General James Wolfe Ripley, worked to sabotage every effort to equip the Union Army with repeating rifles, mostly because he couldn’t be bothered. He largely succeeded. The Civil War historian Robert V. Bruce speculated that had such rifles been widely distributed to the Union Army by 1862, the Civil War would have been shortened by years, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

It’s difficult to be patient with nonsense like this. In particular, the bit about General Ripley not wanting to be bothered, and so working tirelessly to sabotage the repeating rifle is a stand-out piece of doublethink.

Ripley’s bureaucratic victory over Lincoln was the beginning of the longest-running defense scandal in American history. I should know. I was almost one of Ripley’s victims. In June of 1969, in the mountains of South Vietnam, the battery I commanded at Firebase Berchtesgaden had spent the day firing artillery in support of infantry forces dug into “Hamburger Hill.” Every person and object in the unit was coated with reddish-brown clay blown upward by rotor wash from Chinook helicopters delivering ammunition. By evening, we were sleeping beside our M16 rifles. I was too inexperienced—or perhaps too lazy—to demand that my soldiers take a moment to clean their guns, even though we had heard disturbing rumors about the consequences of shooting a dirty M16.

At 3 o’clock in the morning, the enemy struck. They were armed with the amazingly reliable and rugged Soviet AK‑47, and after climbing up our hill for hours dragging their guns through the mud, they had no problems unleashing devastating automatic fire. Not so my men. To this day, I am haunted by the sight of three of my dead soldiers lying atop rifles broken open in a frantic attempt to clear jams.

With a few modifications, the weapon that killed my soldiers almost 50 years ago is killing our soldiers today in Afghanistan. General Ripley’s ghost is with us still. During my 35 years in the Army, it became clear to me that from Gettysburg to Hamburger Hill to the streets of Baghdad, the American penchant for arming troops with lousy rifles has been responsible for a staggering number of unnecessary deaths. Over the next few decades, the Department of Defense will spend more than $1 trillion on F-35 stealth fighter jets that after nearly 10 years of testing have yet to be deployed to a single combat zone. But bad rifles are in soldiers’ hands in every combat zone.

Yes, US arms procurement was in shambles during Vietnam. The M14 had just bitten the dust, and soldiers were sent to war with a weapon and a brand new kind of ammunition that were both in a developmental stage at best. All new equipment will have problems, and the AR-15 was very, very new for the way in which it was being used. He further says the “weapon that killed his soldiers” (I believe that was the enemy, actually – the weapons failed his soldiers) is still at it today “with a few modifications”. That would be less misleading if the rifles in service today were literally modified original production M16s; they are not.

In the wars fought since World War II, the vast majority of men and women in uniform have not engaged in the intimate act of killing. Their work is much the same as their civilian counterparts’. It is the infantryman’s job to intentionally seek out and kill the enemy, at the risk of violent death. The Army and Marine Corps infantry, joined by a very small band of Special Operations forces, comprises roughly 100,000 soldiers, some 5 percent of uniformed Defense Department employees. During World War II, 70 percent of all soldiers killed at the hands of the enemy were infantry. In the wars since, that proportion has grown to about 80 percent. These are the (mostly) men whose survival depends on their rifles and ammunition.

In combat, an infantryman lives an animal’s life. The primal laws of tooth and fang determine whether he will live or die. Killing is quick. Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq reinforces the lesson that there is no such thing in small-arms combat as a fair fight. Infantrymen advance into the killing zone grimy, tired, confused, hungry, and scared. Their equipment is dirty, dented, or worn. They die on patrol from ambushes, from sniper attacks, from booby traps and improvised explosive devices. They may have only a split second to lift, aim, and pull the trigger before the enemy fires. Survival depends on the ability to deliver more killing power at longer ranges and with greater precision than the enemy.

What silliness! I am not sure who he expects to win over by all but calling infantrymen “animals”. I am further not sure how he believes a Pashtun with an antique bolt-action rifle and iron sights is more capable of delivering long-range fire than a US infantryman with a modern rifle and optics, much less, say, an 84mm recoilless rifle.

Any lost edge, however small, means death. A jammed weapon, an enemy too swift and elusive to be engaged with aimed fire, an enemy out of range yet capable of delivering a larger volume of return fire—any of these cancel out all the wonderfully superior and expensive American air- and sea-based weapons that may be fired in support of ground troops. A soldier in basic training is told that his rifle is his best friend and his ticket home. If the lives of so many depend on just the development of a $1,000, six-pound composite of steel and plastic, why can’t the richest country in the world give it to them?

Because glossy multi-fold brochures and slick marketing do not a superior infantry weapon make.

The answer is both complex and simple. The M4, the standard carbine in use by the infantry today, is a lighter version of the M16 rifle that killed so many of the soldiers who carried it in Vietnam. (The M16 is still also in wide use today.) In the early morning of July 13, 2008, nine infantrymen died fighting off a Taliban attack at a combat outpost near the village of Wanat in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province. Some of the soldiers present later reported that in the midst of battle their rifles overheated and jammed. The Wanat story is reminiscent of experiences in Vietnam: in fact, other than a few cosmetic changes, the rifles from both wars are virtually the same. And the M4’s shorter barrel makes it lesseffective at long ranges than the older M16—an especially serious disadvantage in modern combat, which is increasingly taking place over long ranges.

What does he propose as an alternative? Perhaps we should issue a seventeen-pound light machine gun with many spare heavy profile barrels to every infantryman. Wasn’t it he above who says every small advantage makes a difference in combat? I suspect weight matters, so where is the magical lightweight solution to soldiers firing their weapons like machine guns, and why does it require the scrapping of tens of thousands of recently-purchased rifles and carbines?

The M16 started out as a stroke of genius by one of the world’s most famous firearms designers. In the 1950s, an engineer named Eugene Stoner used space-age materials to improve the Army’s then-standard infantry rifle, the M14. The 5.56-mm cartridge Stoner chose for his rifle was a modification not of the M14’s cartridge but of a commercial Remington rifle cartridge that had been designed to kill small varmints. His invention, the AR‑15, was light, handy, and capable of controlled automatic fire. It outclassed the heavier, harder-recoiling M14. Yet the Army was again reluctant to change. As James Fallows observed in this magazine in 1981, it took the “strong support” of President Kennedy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to make the Army consider breaking its love affair with the large-caliber M14. In 1963, it slowly began adopting Stoner’s invention.

With a paragraph so riddled with errors, it’s difficult to choose where to begin. First, the M16 is not a variant of the M14. Perhaps this is a grammatical mistake, but if so it’s a fairly serious one, as while the author may not be a small arms expert, he is at least paid for his writing. Second, Stoner did not choose the 5.56mm cartridge, though he did have a hand in the design. CONARC was the body responsible for the smaller caliber, working off of research done by Aberdeen Proving Grounds. Third, the direct impingement mechanism used in the AR-15 was Stoner’s invention, the AR-15 itself was the result of the hard work of L. James Sullivan and Bob Fremont. Fourth, the Army did not “break it’s love affair with the M14”, McNamara outright forced them to adopt the AR-15, as no M14s were being made (because they had severe issues in both their production and design). The Army insisted on waiting for the SPIW, which they were sure would be ready by 1965(!), but McNamara wisely accepted the AR-15 as standard until the SPIW was ready for service (which never occurred).

The “militarized” adaptation of the AR-15 was the M16. Militarization—more than 100 proposed alterations to supposedly make the rifle combat-ready—ruined the first batch to arrive at the front lines, and the cost in dead soldiers was horrific. A propellant ordered by the Army left a powder residue that clogged the rifle. Finely machined parts made the M16 a “maintenance queen” that required constant cleaning in the moisture, dust, and mud of Vietnam. In time, the Army improved the weapon—but not before many U.S. troops died.

What powder? What residue? Why did this happen? Was the powder something new that had never been tried? If not, why did it work in other weapons and not the M16? The author has no answers for these questions; the mystery suits him as it supports his argument. I do have answers; The 5.56mm ended up using ball propellant because it could be most easily mass produced; ball propellants were in fact not specified by the Army, they were the only viable propellant, as DuPont had withdrawn IMR 4475 as a qualified propellant, because they could not make enough of it to specification. The powder used in the original 5.56mm ammunition, WC 846, contained calcium as an antacid agent. Some lots of WC 846 contained far too much calcium, which could have caused stuck cases in the AR-15*. The powder formulation was changed to better fit the AR-15, becoming WC 844 (which is still in use in M855 specification ammunition, though M855A1 uses the newer SMP-842 powder), and the AR-15 was given a chrome-lined bore and chamber to better handle problematic ammunition.

*Daniel Watters’ note:

An excess of calcium carbonate could cause fouling of the gas tube, but I suspect that the lack of brass hardness standards and corrosion in non-chromed chambers caused more issues with extraction.  Some saw the bore fouling of calcium carbonate as a net benefit as it served as an ablative coating against bore erosion.  In any case, Olin soon introduced tighter controls over calcium carbonate content and ultimately eliminated it from its Ball Propellants.

As for “finely machined parts”, where does the (mostly forged!) AR-15 use any finer machining techniques than any other US service rifle?

Not all the problems with the M16 can be blamed on the Army.

Indeed, the great majority of problems that beset the M16 are the result of over-zealous or unscrupulous journalists.

Buried in the M16’s, and now the M4’s, operating system is a flaw that no amount of militarizing and tinkering has ever erased. Stoner’s gun cycles cartridges from the magazine into the chamber using gas pressure vented off as the bullet passes through the barrel. Gases traveling down a very narrow aluminum tube produce an intense “puff” that throws the bolt assembly to the rear, making the bolt assembly a freely moving object in the body of the rifle. Any dust or dirt or residue from the cartridge might cause the bolt assembly, and thus the rifle, to jam.

The author is obviously in favor of adopting recoil-operated infantry rifles.

In contrast, the Soviet AK‑47 cycles rounds using a solid operating rod attached to the bolt assembly. The gas action of the AK‑47 throws the rod and the bolt assembly back as one unit, and the solid attachment means that mud or dust will not prevent the gun from functioning. Fearing the deadly consequences of a “failure to feed” in a fight, some top-tier Special Operations units like Delta Force and SEAL Team Six use a more modern and effective rifle with a more reliable operating-rod mechanism. But front-line Army and Marine riflemen still fire weapons much more likely to jam than the AK‑47. Failure to feed affects every aspect of a fight. A Russian infantryman can fire about 140 rounds a minute without stopping. The M4 fires at roughly half that rate.

I don’t think our readers will have a difficult time picking apart this paragraph; I leave it to them.

During the Civil War, General Ripley argued, among other things, that infantry soldiers would have trouble handling the complexity of new repeating weapons. We hear similarly unconvincing arguments now. Today’s grunt has shown in 13 years of war that he can handle complexity. He’s an experienced, long-service professional who deserves the same excellent firearm as the more “elite” Special Operations forces, who have the privilege of buying the best civilian gear off the shelf if they want to.

That is certainly the first time I have heard anyone arguing explicitly for more complex infantry weapons.

What should a next-generation, all-purpose infantry rifle look like? It should be modular. Multiple weapons can now be assembled from a single chassis. A squad member can customize his weapon by attaching different barrels, buttstocks, forearms, feed systems, and accessories to make, say, a light machine gun, a carbine, a rifle, or an infantry automatic rifle.

Presumably much more modularity than is already offered by the AR-15 family of weapons is needed because soldiers are easily bored, and can entertain themselves by endlessly changing their weapons from one configuration to another.

The military must change the caliber and cartridge of the guns it gives infantry soldiers. Stoner’s little 5.56-mm cartridge was ideal for softening the recoil of World War II infantry calibers in order to allow fully automatic fire. But today’s cartridge is simply too small for modern combat. Its lack of mass limits its range to less than 400 meters. The optimum caliber for tomorrow’s rifle is between 6.5 and 7 millimeters. The cartridge could be made almost as light as the older brass-cased 5.56-mm by using a plastic shell casing, which is now in final development by the Marine Corps.

A hit piece on the AR-15 wouldn’t be complete without a paragraph deriding the 5.56mm cartridge as a near-useless “poodleshooter” round. Hey man, poodles get pretty big!

The Army can achieve an infantry version of stealth by attaching newly developed sound suppressors to every rifle. Instead of merely muffling the sound of firing by trapping gases, this new technology redirects the firing gases forward, capturing most of the blast and flash well inside the muzzle. Of course, an enemy under fire would hear the muted sounds of an engagement. But much as with other stealth technology, the enemy soldier would be at a decisive disadvantage in trying to determine the exact location of the weapons firing at him.

Hiram Maxim would like a word. I do wonder how much larger (and longer) these 6.5mm wunder-caliber assault rifles would be once you attached a sufficiently large can to them to moderate the noise. I guess “every advantage matters” doesn’t include things like size, weight, and recoil.

Computer miniaturization now allows precision to be squeezed into a rifle sight. All an infantryman using a rifle equipped with a new-model sight need do is place a red dot on his target and push a button at the front of his trigger guard; a computer on his rifle will take into account data like range and “lead angle” to compensate for the movement of his target, and then automatically fire when the hit is guaranteed. This rifle sight can “see” the enemy soldier day or night at ranges well beyond 600 meters. An enemy caught in that sight will die long before he could know he was seen, much less before he could effectively return fire.

Perhaps he means the heavy and specialized TrackingPoint scopes. Perhaps he doesn’t know what he means.

But infantrymen today do not use rifles equipped with these new sights. Hunters do.

Hunters use whatever they have or can afford. I am sure some game animals have been taken by rifles with TrackingPoint scopes, but it’s hardly a common accessory for the activity. That fact, though, doesn’t really help with the sensationalist narrative, of course.

In fact, new rifles and ammunition are readily available. They are made by many manufacturers—civilian gun makers and foreign military suppliers that equip the most-elite Special Operations units. Unlike conventional infantry units, top-tier Special Operations units are virtually unrestricted by cumbersome acquisition protocols, and have had ample funding and a free hand to solicit new gun designs from private industry. These units test new guns in combat, often with dramatic results: greater precision, greater reliability, greater killing power.

Writing like this betrays not only an unfamiliarity with the subject matter, but also reflects a style often used to conceal dishonesty, or shield one from criticism. You see?

The Army has argued that, in an era of declining resources, a new rifle will cost more than $2 billion. But let’s say the Army and Marine Corps buy new rifles only for those who will use them most, namely the infantry. The cost, for about 100,000 infantrymen at $1,000 each, is then reduced to roughly $100 million, less than that of a single F-35 fighter jet. The Army and the Marine Corps can keep the current stocks of M4s and M16s in reserve for use by non-infantry personnel in the unlikely event that they find themselves in combat.

The author appears to be under the impression that rifles do not need spares, accessories, or ammunition.

From the time of General James Ripley to today, the Army has found reasons to deny its soldiers in the line of fire the safest and most efficient firearms. It doesn’t have to be this way. A few dollars invested now will save the lives of legions of brave infantrymen and -women for generations to come.

If this is true, what makes him believe an article in The Atlantic will be enough to change the Army’s mind?

What use is responding to articles like this? That is a good question; there’s an argument to be made that they should be ignored instead of re-posted. However, I could also argue that nothing can stop sensationalist writing of this kind – which by its very nature is designed to attract attention and incite outrage – and so a response from more sober camps is necessary for meaningful discussion to take place.


Special thanks to Daniel Watters, who assisted me in making this article as factually accurate as possible.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • Forest C. Adcock


    • There is plenty of short-form content on this website, if you prefer.

    • schizuki


      • Zebra Dun

        You would have loved the M-16 training manual called, “the Sweet sixteen” it was filled with purty pictures!

  • Ko I

    In short, if the AR-15 family of rifles was really so terrible, the military would not have used them for 50+ years, no matter how block-headed whatever official in charge is.

    • TB

      Really? So why did they keep using them? Why did they spend so many hundreds of millions of dollars improving the flawed design, in order to at least make it into an acceptable rifle? And even with all these improvements, its’ performance is still far, far below the competition. Rifles like the Steyr AUG, FN Scar, H&K G36, and many others are outclassing the AR-15 series easily.

      • Cal S.

        In honest curiosity, could you perhaps back up that claim? Is there an actual side-by-side weapons comparison of them being put through the same exact adverse conditions with a following functionality test? You know, from a third party that has been peer-reviewed?

        Because I’ve seen some rather eye-opening AR torture tests that would send your average AK-hugger flying into fits of rage and seeking professional counseling. And the AR ‘failure’ tests I’ve seen were entirely one-sided, with no comparisons to competitor designs. Like that ridiculous “Let’s put an M4 through the worst artificial sandstorm imaginable getting sand in places it could only get if a soldier had completely disassembled his rifle and coated it with honey first, just so people can point and laugh while obstinately claiming that an AK would have come through with flying colors.”

        Like I said, I am honestly curious.

      • Squirreltakular

        I have personally put close to 2000 rounds through an M16A4 over a 3-day course of fire with nothing but occasional lubing to keep it running. Our guns are fine.

        • David

          The thing about individual reports of civilians campaigning an AR 15 through a multi-day class or ‘torture test’ is that the infantryman doesn’t get a 1 off, hand assembled $1400 M4, he gets the $740 “lowest cost” procurement special as dictated by the contract and this helps contribute to the m16/m4 mystique of unreliability – deserved or not. The ‘torture test guns’, and rifles campaigned in classes get taken care of better and don’t require the level of care that the not quite as high quality service rifle.

          I’ve been to class a few times myself and had an A2 issued to me for several years. I find it very, very difficult to believe in the AR platform after my service experience and my civilian class experiences have done nothing to dispel it. I realize it’s just my experience and opinion but I stand by it.

          There are some examples of carbines out there – ak clones, the sig/fn ak ‘bastard’ operating systems, etc that you can take to class and dump round after round without even oiling the gun so from that perspective, the grass is in fact greener over the direct impingement fence.

          These stories keep coming up because there are disgruntled M16/M4 users out there and they aren’t just soldiers who don’t care for their weapons, they’re all over the spectrum. To be fair, the US market has done a huge bit to bring the AR platform into the realm of reasonably reliable.

          • CommonSense23

            Cause the military doesn’t maintain weapons. The average soldier has no clue how to maintain his gun. Clean his gun to turn into the Armory, but not actually maintain his weapon. It’s the same major problem the military has had with the M60 and M9. They run the guns in the dirt, and don’t deal with them until they break. I have had Army 11bs show up to Afghanistan with bolts that had multiple cracks in the locking lugs. This was less than a week into their deployment. But hey they guns were spotless. But what do I know, I just run my issued MK18 MOD1 suppressed without cleaning until I get salt water on it, and normally go thousands of rounds between the cleaning. But I do things like keep a accurate round count, so I know when to do preventative maintenance, and keep a dope book to know how I maintain my rifles in different AOs.

          • If you are alleging that Colt or FN or Remington are not following the TDP, that is a serious matter. One would be very quick to demand proof for such a thing, as it could literally land people in jail.

        • Ian Thorne

          And? A person can put 2K problem free rounds through a Hi-Point, that doesn’t make it a good gun. Sure, the AR15 is perfectly fine. If you think the biggest and best army should have something that is “fine” then so-be-it. I just expect more.

          In every competition it is in the M4 is outperformed by a factor of 2 by just about everything else. Sure, all are very reliable and the 2x number ends up being a small overall number of stoppages, but it is still twice as many stoppages as everyone else.

          • It came in second in the IC competition, against the best the industry could offer.

            If someone says something over and over again, it does not make it true.

          • Ian Thorne

            If you are going to state that as a fact, post some proof.

            I at least say my info is based on unapproved leaks that have been reported on multiple times. If you have some evidence otherwise I would love to see it. But you are the only person I have ever heard say it came in second.

          • I’ll let you go first for posting proof.

          • Joshua

            Came in second only in Class I and II stoppages.

          • It came in first in Class III stoppages.

          • Joshua

            Which is a far more important stoppage to minimize.

          • Kivaari

            People fail to understand that getting the gun through the tests is where it all stops. Most people don’t understand the follow on expenses like parts, training, ease of field repairs. Like the M9 v. SIG P226 testing, the SIG was a better pistol, but the costs of parts and those other items made it cost more in the long run. When the ARMY announced the XM8 was the new service rifle, all the charts said yes. But in the end, the M4 won. I love the M4, except for the use of a carbine gas system. An M4 with a mid-length gas tube and 16 inch barrel is about perfect.

          • dan citizen

            The Hi Point is a fantastic gun.

            It is designed to provide a cheap, accurate, durable firearm and it indeed is very cheap, very accurate, and very durable.

            Complaining it is a poor weapon because it does not do things outside it’s design parameters is like complaining that a Serbu SBS is a crappy sniper weapon.

          • Kivaari

            Junk by any name is still junk.

      • n0truscotsman

        Everybody thinks they “outclass” the AR15, but there are no facts to substantiate this.

        In fact, going by the trends of Special Operations forces around the world, the opposite is in fact true. Despite their regular militaries having a rifle that many claim is superior to the M4, their special forces units are using M4/AR/C8 type weapons.

        This is most damning to the “other rifles are superior” argument.

    • Ian Thorne

      Yes they would if it is the cheapest option. For the last 20 years it has come in dead last or very close to it in every competition it is in, even when they try to rig it for the M4 to win. The only reason it is still in use is the cost of replacing it. It was a bad design 60 years ago and it shows it’s age horribly today.

      I really wish the US military and consumer market would get over that outdated and bad design so we can just move on already. The AR has been holding us back for decades because people are afraid of moving on.

      • gunsandrockets

        I wouldn’t call it a bad design. It certainly has some virtues. Better to call it a sub-optimal design.

        • In what way?

          • gunsandrockets

            You think the M4 is optimal?

          • There is a lot of work to be done before “optimal” is so well-defined for infantry rifles that the M4 is clearly not optimal.

        • nadnerbus

          No rifle design is optimal. They are all a series of design choices, trade offs, and compromises. Up the caliber, have to hump heavier ammo and a larger, heavier rifle. Want robust absolute reliability? The weapon will be heavier and likely less accurate. Bullpups versus standard layout, that is a thousand post debate.

          I think when viewed with a fair mind, the modern, present iterations of the AR15 family are mostly very reliable, and as optimal as they can be given the trade offs and compromises made in the design.

      • I hope you’re not talking about those 2007 M4 dust tests.

        It came in second in the IC competition, despite being pitted against the best the industry had to offer.

        • Ian Thorne

          The dust tests are just one. Your article about it is just one perspective and it even says it amounted to 1-2 extra stoppages per engagement. To me that is a massive number, not a small number you try to pass off as insignificant. Bottom line is, would you rather have a gun that jams more, or one that jams less? If you choose more the AR15 is the gun for you otherwise it’s time to look elsewhere.

          And the final results of the IC comp were never released, but the majority of the leaked results have it in last, not second. I have not seen anything that said it was in second after the ammo change, let alone before it. It went up against the nest in the world, and it lost miserably…again. Hell, you even have an article here on TFB by Steve Johnson about how the ICC was rigged and the M4 still freaking lost.

          And even if it were in second it also failed the test to be accepted as the next rifle with every other rifle. So the rifle we use can’t even pass the test to be used. Color me impressed.

          • Ben

            You have to consider the type of stoppages though. When the M4 jams, it is much more likely to be able to be cleared by an infantryman in the field. The other weapons tested against it did not have as many failures, but more of their stoppages would require the gun to be fixed by an armorer.

          • Ian Thorne

            I have never heard a single report of this. In fact that sounds like 100% pure grade-A make believe BS to me. What about the AR makes it magically easier to clear a failure over a SCAR or ARX? Show me some reports of this being the case.

          • Ben

            I’ll go look it up right now, I do have a source.

          • CommonSense23

            See there is a two types of failures they record in testing. Ones that require a armorer to fix, and one the operator can fix quickly. The M4 has always crushed the competition when it came to the second. And the SCAR has had tons of problems, there is a reason why they were dumped almost immediately after fielding the MK16.

          • Joshua

            I would easily argue that we could also fix most of the Class I and II stoppages if we would just make Pmags the standard issue mags.

            I would also say having a much lower Class III stoppage rate is far more important than Class I and II. Which like you said the M4 and M16 has generally always won when it comes to Class III stoppages.

          • n0truscotsman

            Damn you with those pesky facts, you French bastard
            I wanted controversy about the M4 because the internet says so!

          • Joshua

            No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

          • Ben

            Well I’ve posted the proof of this, but my comment is still awaiting approval. Disqus is an infernal thing.

          • gunsandrockets

            Because of corrosion, poor maintenance, and excessive wear, one type of common jam that the M16a1 suffered in Vietnam was the extractor ripping through the case rim during extraction, then the bolt trying to ram a fresh cartridge into the occupied chamber. Imagine how much fun that kind of jam was to clear.

          • Kivaari

            Cleaning and lubing the bore and chamber stops most of those failures. I found even AKs fired hours earlier, were covered with rust on the internals while doing a RON where light discipline was observed. An oiled patch put through the bore and chamber fixed those issues.

          • Joshua

            80% of the time it is magazine related. In all these tests they use the standard magazine which have been shown time and time again to be far less reliably than COTS magazines.

          • Joshua

            Here is some facts.

            The dust test finished in 2007, the M4’s used were 6 months old at the time of the competition. The M4 used GI aluminum mags, everyone else used something else. The M4’s were 6 months old and the others were hand built rifles designed to do well in that competition and the Mk16 also received extra lubrication than the rest.

            After the dust test the Army finished testing on a reliability enhancement package that had a heavier buffer and a better extractor assembly. All M16’s and M4’s got the extractor assembly, and the M4A1 got the heavier buffer and extractor assembly.

            The two combined actually improved the M4A1 enough in conjunction with the RIS II to make the need of the Mk16 void.

            As for the ICC, again the M4A1 had to use GI mags and everyone else chose COTS polymer mags or proprietary mags in the case of HK who used their clear polymer mags.

            The M4A1 came in second on Class I and II stoppages at 500MRBS. First place had 2,500MRBS.

            The M4A1 came in first on Class III stoppages at 6,000MRBEFF. Second place had 4,600MRBEFF.

            80% of all stoppages the M4A1 experienced in the ICC was found to be magazine related.

            After the ICC the Army has been able to find a flaw in the standard Aluminum magazine that was causing the M855A1 to get hung up on them, by fixing this flaw they have increased feeding reliability by 300%.

            I will not argue this with you, these are the facts. Take them for what they are worth and please stop repeating every little thing you read on the internet.

          • Ian Thorne

            Wait, so if we aren’t supposed to report things that are read on the internet, where did you get all your info? Heavily involved in that process there? I am sure the Generals were asking your input.

            How come people always just say “it’s a magazine issue” and write it off? I wonder how the damn thing is still having so many dang “magazine issues” 60 years later that no one else seems to have? Just more justifications for keeping it around.

          • There is a lot of justification for keeping the M4 around. It’s the most mature 5.56mm rifle there is.

          • Joshua

            Because we still get issued crap aluminum magazines 60 years later.

            The Aluminum magazine was designed to be a use once and throw away, that is why they are so fragile. We were never meant to use them more than once.

            COTS magazines like Pmags are designed to be used over and over.

            Also I’m a French model. Bonjour.

          • RickH

            Dude, you don’t know what you are talking about. Aluminum mags are far from crap, and they ain’t fragile unless you run over them with a vehicle. And where do you get the idea you throw them away after one use? You know what you’ve got when you’ve thrown away all your mags? A single shot rifle.

          • Joshua

            Aluminum mags do suck. They get damaged easier than polymer magazines, generally feed less reliably than polymer mags, and they are heavier. Test after test has shown polymer magazines to perform better than standard issue aluminum magazines.

            Also if you did some research on the AR-10/15 you would realize when Eugene Stoner selected aluminum to be the magazine material he did so not because it was superior, no he did so because it was cheaper and in his vision of his rifle you were supposed to use the magazine one time and then dispose of the empty magazine.

            He never designed the aluminum magazines to be reloaded and used day after day, they were a one and done design. This coming from his own mouth.

          • RickH

            What was first designed is not what was put into use. Aluminum was selected to save weight, at the time it was not cheaper than steel. It also went through redesigns in early development. Just because Stoner might have had this in mind in the early days of development, doesn’t mean that it works that way in real life. Stripper clips, chargers were made for these. Modern USGI mags are incredibly reliable and capable of being used until literally worn out. If we use Stoner’s initial choice of a throw-away magazine (and this is because of combat use) a polymer mag would be thrown away after one use instead of reloaded, so why should it be superior to a USGI mag? And I have done research on Stoner’s designs, as much as I dislike direct impingent on the AR15, I’m very intrigued by his original DI system used on the AR10.

          • Uniform223

            From my own personal experience… yes 9 times out of 10 it is the magazine. Often soldier’s and marines in training or other wise are often issued magazines that have been in circulation for damn near 20+ years or more. These magazines often have weak worn out springs. This is often the reason why so many soldiers and marines will often load up their magazines with only 28 rounds. When my last unit got brand new magazines any type of “jams” or “malfunctions” were pretty much gone. Other soldiers who brought their own magazines never had any issues.
            Anyone who believes the issues and faults of the M16/M4 family 60 or even 50 years ago still exist are in my opinion being wilfully ignorant. Often I hear these common complaints by others who absolutely loathe it yet have no real experience or proper training with it.

      • n0truscotsman

        And what, do pray tell, is this next paragon of evolutionary progress if the M4 would stop holding us back?

        • nadnerbus

          Some guy down below actually suggested we slap Ares Shrike uppers on among other brands, since they are all better. People fall for marketing too much.

          • n0truscotsman

            I didn’t want to dogpile but yes, I saw that.
            I admit I dont have firsthand experience with the Shrike, but, of those who DO have uppers, I haven’t heard good things.
            Probably because you need a dedicated LMG to fill the LMG role, not a retrofitted AR modification. 😀

          • WillLeach

            I think the potential of the Shrike isnt in its acting as a light machine gun, so much as it enabling more people to carry belt fed ammunition that they could either use or pass onto the person running through ammo with a light machine gun. Granted, the caliber itself might not be appropriate for that role, but that’s the kind of possibility a serious rifle program could develop. So far, I wouldn’t blame the industy for thinking that the Army isn’t serious about the kinds of competitions its done recently. It certainly hasn’t put that much money into R and D, or held a long competition where the winner was assured a major contract. If you look with what the industry has come up with when there hasn’t been a big payday, imagine what it could do if there was one?

            To be fair, in the absence of that payday, sticking with the platform has allowed it to evolve, and for people to adapt to it. Those class I and II failures are only acceptable because after years with

  • NDS

    “A custom M4”
    You mean your personal mall-ninja carbine, complete with AFG AND grip pod, for maximum operations?
    Good thing you’ve got a SlideFire on there.

    • nadnerbus

      It’s the new SOPMOD slidefire stock. The US Ranger SEALs just adopted it for all of their rifles.

      • LCON

        You mean The US Delta Ranger Seal Space Commando Corps don’t you?

        • USMC03Vet

          Forgot deep space Moon black ops.

          It’s the new tier, bro. Tier 0 G.

          • Joshua

            We regularly practiced taking space stations. In those cases the slide fire stock was what kept us alive.

          • LCON

            That and the Power Leotards

          • Joshua

            Almost forgot the most important thing that kept us alive in a vacuum.

          • nadnerbus

            Everybody knows full auto doesn’t work in zero G. Slidefire uses Newton’s laws to get around that. Ingenious of them.

          • wzrd1

            Funny, didn’t need those toys. My heat seeking moisture missile made them all surrender.

          • wzrd1

            You’re behind the times.
            They’re Jovian black ops now.

  • I certainly hope not—

  • gunsandrockets

    There certainly is a lot of bad mythology concerning the M16 rifle. One reason that mythology continues today is because of the conflict between the military and civilian leadership of the armed forces over the M16 when it was first tested and adapted.

    Journalist James Fallows did his part by uncritically siding with the civilian leadership side of the M16 controversy with his 1981 story about the M16. Because civilian good, ugg. Military bad, ugg.

    Supposedly one reason the M16 was rushed into mass production and shoved into the hands of front line infantry in Vietnam, was because the civilian leadership of the military thought the M16 was perfect as is, and refused to believe military authorities that the rifle needed more development and testing. It was understood from that point by the officers that criticism of the M16 was off limits. It wasn’t until Congress got involved that the DOD admitted the rifle needed fixing.

    • CommonSense23

      Both Army SF and the Navy Seals were using the the AR far earlier than the M16 was officially adopted. And they gave absolutely rave reviews of the M16 over its predecessor. The major problem was the way it was fielded and powder change.

      • gunsandrockets

        The claims made by by biggest boosters of the AR-15 compared to the reality the grunts of Vietnam faced should make any fair observer today very careful when making claims about the M16.

        • gunsandrockets


      • gunsandrockets

        It was the height of folly and hubris to replace M14 rifles in Vietnam with M16 rifles.

        M14 rifles had the virtue of a design continuously tinkered with and improved and battle tested since the Garand rifle was first adapted in 1936. Which is why the M14 had such features as a chrome lined barrel and roller on the cam lug. That represented changes made due to combat experience with the Garand during WWII.

        • CommonSense23

          I love the 14. I preferred carrying one over my issued SCAR in Afghanistan. But saying the M14 was a superior weapon now or then is asinine. The gun has major problems compared to the AR and can’t even come close to its abilities.

          • gunsandrockets

            Are you aware that the M16a1 issued in Vietnam was advertised as ‘self-cleaning’, and cleaning supplies were in short supply? Did you know the M16a1 issued for duty in the wet humid environment of Vietnam had a plain unlined steel bore and chamber? Did you know many of the M16a1 issued in Vietnam greatly exceeded the specified cyclic rate with issue ammo? That the manufacturers were allowed to test sample rifles with different ammo so production rifles could pass inspection?

            The horror stories of the M16 in Vietnam are legion. The M16 was not ready for Vietnam combat. Too many grunts died in Vietnam because the M16 failed them in combat.

          • n0truscotsman

            That wasn’t the M16A1. That was the M16, which was a modification (cheaper) of the original AR15. That was the problem child.

            The M16A1, with its chrome lined bore and chamber, forward assist, and different flash hider, was an improvement and naturally, with the introduction if it and training, the problems were minimized.

            So proponents against the stoner family of rifles are using one example to apply a generalization across an entire legacy of firearms. An example that is a anachronism from the early 60s.

          • gunsandrockets

            Sorry but you are not correct.

            The M16 was first adapted by the USAF. The US Army first adapted the M16a1.

          • Joshua

            Yes the USAF did first adopt the M16, but the Navy SEALs and the ARVN had the AR-15 a year or two before the USAF got the M16.

          • nadnerbus

            IIRC, part of the reason for the adoption of the M16 was the glowing reviews of the AR15 when tested by US advisers in the field earlier in the war. It worked pretty well for them.

          • Uniform223

            That was during Project AGILE. It wasn’t just SEALS and ARVN. US Special Forces ( Green Berets ) and Army Rangers acting as consultants also had the AR-15s.

          • gunsandrockets

            Only a small testing sample (less than 1,000) of AR-15 was employed in Vietnam before the USAF adapted the M16 rifle in 1962. Significant supplies of M-16a1 rifles weren’t supplied to ARVN until years later.

          • n0truscotsman

            In what way am I “not correct”?

            The M16A1 was not adopted *first* by anybody. The A1 wouldn’t be adopted and mass produced until 1967. Your link says so.

            Your link also supports my assertion that the multiple issues with the M16 were largely addressed with the mass production of the “A1”. Big suprise there.

          • gunsandrockets

            Actually if you had carefully read the link, you wouldn’t be saying that. So then, how you are wrong, by the numbers.

            1)”That wasn’t the M16A1. That was the M16, which was a modification (cheaper) of the original AR15. That was the problem child.”


            Only the USAF adapted the M16, not the Army. Only the Army adapted the M16a1, not the USAF.

            The only difference between the M16 and M16a1 as they were first produced was the addition of the forward assist on the M16a1. That’s it.

            2)”The M16A1, with its chrome lined bore and chamber, forward assist, and different flash hider, was an improvement and naturally, with the introduction if it and training, the problems were minimized.”


            Hundreds of thousands of M16a1 were produced and issued to troops in Vietnam BEFORE production changed to add features like chrome lined chambers, chrome lined bores and a heavier buffer to solve the too-high cyclic rate of fire,

          • n0truscotsman

            You are not tracking. And the pedantry is mind numbing.

            “Only the USAF adapted the M16, not the Army. Only the Army adapted the XM16E1, not the USAF.”

            Well yes, from a strictly bureaucratic standpoint. And the evolution of the platform is not strictly limited per service.

            The Army (as in MAAG, Air assault, etc) previously used “AR15s” and, later, “M16s”. This was september of 1961 in the case of the “AR15” among MAAG (in C15) and “FY 64″among air assault and airborne (C19)

            Mind you, this was for some 50k-100k rifles.

            “In 1962 the USAF adapted the AR-15 as its standard rifle, which was designated the M16 rifle in 1963. See page C-15.”

            And it was already adopted by MAAG, Air Assault, and Airborne units in the “AR15” form.

            “The only differences between the M16 and XM16E1 as they were first produced was the addition of the forward assist on the XM16E1 and changing the rifling twist from 1 in 14 inches to 1 in 12 inches. That’s it. See page D-8.”

            Thats not it. See D-40.

            Thats not even getting into the cosmetic differences, to be nitpicky.

            But my point still stands correct. the M16 and the initial XM16E1 were known to be the problem children out of the batch. The modifications, especially the forward assist, chrome chamber, and new buffer, helped reliability greatly. (see D48)

            “Hundreds of thousands of XM16E1 were produced and issued to troops in Vietnam BEFORE production changed to add features like chrome lined chambers, chrome lined bores and a heavier buffer to counter the too-high cyclic rate of fire,”


            That doesn’t make what I say incorrect. That also doesn’t make these rifles the “same” as standardized, product-improved M16A1s that I was alluding to.

            “By the end of FY 68 over 1,100,000 M16 types had been produced, 660,000 of which went to the US Army. See table 11-2 on page D-4. Yet by that time M16a1 rifles had yet to be produced with chrome lined barrels, which was still under consideration. See page D-13 and D-14.”



            These improvements were implemented, were they not?

            “Adding the heavier buffer and chrome lining the chamber didn’t begin until May of 1967. See page D-11. Yet before that time over half a million M16 and XM16E1 rifles had already been manufactured! See page D-4.”


            So what?

            Once again, the M16A1 would undergo product improvements which significantly improved its reliability compared to its previously used ‘predecessors” (with the possible exception to the original AR15, which was changed idiotically).

            “The XM16E1 and the M16a1 are the same rifle.”

            They are not.

            Just because receivers were remarked in many instances, that does not make them “the same”. Not even with the loosest definition of the word “same”.

            “The Army only changed the designation of the XM16E1 to M16a1 in 1967. See page D-36.”

            Yes, but you are comparing nomenclatures. Im comparing evolutionary changes, even within the same nomenclature.

            Nothing I said was “wrong”. This is pedantic mumbling that amounts to nothing.

          • gunsandrockets

            Sloppy sloppy sloppy. I regret wasting my time with you.

          • n0truscotsman

            Yeah likewise.

            and this? “It was the height of folly and hubris to replace M14 rifles in Vietnam with M16 rifles.”‘

            Yeah because its “folly and hubris” to replace a rifle in service that is more expensive, more difficult and resource intensive to manufacture, heavier, fires a caliber that weighs heavier, has more recoil, has a large open top action (bad for jungles), and wooden stock. /rolls eyes/

            “folly and hubris” to replace something that allows you to carry 300 rounds of 5.56 for every 100 rounds of 7.62 in the damn jungle.

            That is not even getting into the cluster that was M14 production during the war, nevermind if the US actually became involved in a hypothetical war with the Red Army in Germany. The M14 became a liability and was rightfully replaced. It never should have been adopted IMHO.

            Just because the excellent original Stoner AR15 design was idiotically changed into an inferior configuration, and then changed back again, doesn’t make the design itself “flawed” or “inferior”. Mind you, this was in the *1960s*. It is 2015.

          • gunsandrockets

            Wow. So much so wrong. But then it seems AR-15 fanboyism has clouded your judgement. Sorry to have maligned your deity.

          • n0truscotsman

            What is “wrong” exactly?
            That the M14 is heavier, produces more recoil, etc?
            And me!? a AR fan!? please. I worship the holy altar of Kalashnikov (blessed be his name…)

          • The M16A1 was type classified as such in ’67. The XM16E1 was around earlier, and is similar.

          • Again, please note that Colt never changed their internal model designation for the 603 when the Army’s designation switched from XM16E1 to M16A1. Improvements were constantly being rolled out as the Army approved the production changes and the new parts became available. The designation change alone did not signify these product improvements. For instance, the chromed chamber was introduced months after the designation change.

          • gunsandrockets

            Wait for it. The link for the PDF of the DOD report is coming.

    • It was a little more complex than that, though there was a lot of jumping the gun (hueh) going on. The Army at the time literally had no other option; the M14 program was collapsing in heap.

      • gunsandrockets

        There certainly were options for Vietnam service. Almost any of the individual small arms the US Army had great mountains of would have been preferable to the faulty M16. And there were more than enough M14 rifles produced to equip all the infantry of the entire US armed forces of the time.

        • What options? Could you name another weapon that was in production at the time in the US that had passed US military trials?

          • gunsandrockets

            Funny. The M-2 Browning HMG hadn’t been in production since WWII, yet for some reason the military found it perfectly suitable for combat.

            So why would an individual small arm have to have been in production for it to serve in Vietnam instead of the underdeveloped M-16a1?

          • I’ll be better equipped to deal with these questions in February, but from what I know the M14 program was a mess. The rifles couldn’t be produced fast enough and the program was cancelled.

          • Joshua


          • After I have read all of the relevant material I need to. We’re talking thousands of pages worth of books and primary sources.

          • You and Nathaniel are coming from two different directions. You seem to be arguing for the use of legacy weapons in US inventory, while Nathaniel appears to think you are arguing for an alternative 5.56mm design, all of which were underdeveloped at that point.

        • There were definitely not enough M14 to go around. Inventory was bad enough in the late summer of 1966 that the Army faced the possibility of having to reissue Garands.

          • gunsandrockets

            Seriously? TRW alone produced over 300,000 M14 rifles before the first junky XM16E1 was ever produced for the US Army.

            In the Vietnam combat theatre perfectly serviceable M14 were pulled from experienced combat units, and replaced with the newly produced and defective XM16E1 rifle.

          • The in-theatre replacement of M14 with XM16E1 really didn’t start in earnest until late 1966/early 1967.

  • I don’t recall ever saying the AR-15 was perfect. Though I do think it’s pretty weird that nothing comparable can even come close to it in terms of weight.

    • gunsandrockets


      • Its still heavier, though it’s lighter than other designs.

        • gunsandrockets

          By what, 0.3 pounds compared to an M-16a1? Yet cheaper, more reliable and more adaptable.

          • An AR-180 is something like 6.7lbs unloaded. AN M16A1 is something like six pounds.

            How is an AR-180 more adaptable than an AR-15? The AR-180B I owned was certainly not more reliable than my 6920.

          • gunsandrockets

            Something like? All the data I find says the M16a1 is 6.3 pounds without magazine. The data I find for AR-18 says 6.6 pounds.

            And comparing an AR-180b to your 6920 is hardly fair. Recall the Army was at one time going to replace the M-4 with the M-8 because of superior reliability.

          • Joshua

            What is this M8 you speak of? Do you mean the XM8 that melted it’s handguards?

          • gunsandrockets


          • nadnerbus

            http://www.wikipedia works, if you can accept it as a source. It was an early issue and was corrected, looks like, but the higher weight was not.

          • iksnilol

            The AR-180, millitary designation would probably be M8.

          • …What are you talking about?

          • iksnilol

            I have no idea… somebody was talking about a M8 and I tried to make sense of it. I think I will just sit on the sidelines.

          • Cheese_McQueen



          • iksnilol

            I thought the XM8 was a failure? Like melting during prolonged firing – failure.

            Couldn’t see why someone would mention it. Though thanks for the clarification.

          • Kivaari

            The “reason” the XM8 was going to become the next USA rifle was the cost of parts, optics etc. When I read the army’s in the Army Times it had a good spread sheet and said it was adopted. It wasn’t.

          • Heavily depends on which M16 configuration you’re talking about. That rifle varied greatly in terms of weight. Keep in mind the “M16” and “M16A1” represent a continuum, not two distinct models.

          • gunsandrockets

            Come on now. No M16a1 weighed as little as six pounds. The difference in weight between the AR-18 and M16a1 was trivial, barely measurable.

          • The AR-15 prototypes weighed less than six pounds. From that point on, you have just about every mix-and-match combination of parts you can think of. So yeah, some “M16A1s” probably weighed close to 6lbs unloaded.

          • gunsandrockets

            According to the documentation I dug up, the XM16E1/M16a1 weighed 6.5 pounds without magazine or sling, and 7.6 pounds with sling and loaded 20 round magazine. So I still disagree.

          • Like I said, it depends on the exact rifle, since there’s a huge number of variations.

            Regardless, though, I agree with you that the AR-18 is in the right direction, though I wouldn’t really consider it a good AR-15 alternative.

          • Uniform223

            The XM8 is based on the G36. Recently their have been major issues concerning the G36s barrel trunnion and alot of AARs stating that the G36 is unable to properly dissipate heat. If the XM8 was anything like the G36, to say that the XM8 was/is superior to the M4 in terms of reliability would be supposition.

          • LCON

            that same gas system is the heart and soul of the HK416.

          • Yes, “something like”. There are a plethora of M16 iterations, and many weapons were assembled from parts taken from various stages in the design’s evolution. Further, buffer weights changed rapidly from 1959-1970, and so there isn’t “one” weight for an unloaded M16A1.

        • Titanium AR18?

          • How would you make them? Titanium is difficult to work with.

          • Toss Y-Man and I a sixer of Miller and we could figure it all out!

            But I did read once that 90% of parts made for the SR 71 were rejected because, especially back then, titanium was notoriously stubborn to use in the construction of anything.

    • iksnilol

      A bit false in regards to weight. The AK and AR have the same combat weight. Sure, a naked AR is going to be lighter than a naked AK but how often have you seen an AR without a quadrail and a bunch of accessories (in millitary setting)?

      BTW, I used that spreadsheet that I believe you or Alex C. made in regards to weight.

      • Grindstone50k

        So compare apples to apples, whats the weight of the AK with the same/comparable accessories?

        • iksnilol

          Don’t know, don’t care. Combat weight is combat weight AKA practical weight.

          • You’ll find the barrel contour will give you a pretty false impression in this regard.

        • dan citizen

          The AK doesn’t need a bunch of accouterments to be considered functional.

          • Grindstone50k

            Neither does the M4.

          • Kivaari

            The AK needs many improvements. Initially it needs better sights (Valmet and Galil), it needs a better selector (Galil), it needs better hand guards to stop the hand from being burned. It needs to be in a caliber other than 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm, as both are proven to be less effective than the 5.56mm NATO. If I were going to change the M4, I would use a mid-length gas system and use 16″ barrels. A modest improvement without great expense compared to adopting a whole new rifle. That should make them 200 meter capable rifles.
            Issue an HBAR for a sniper/dedicated rifleman. Eliminate the burst feature and install a better semi-auto trigger. I would not miss the full auto feature.

          • CommonSense23

            You rer the current M4 is more than capable past 200 meters right. And the burst feature is no longer standard.

          • Kivaari

            The biggest complaint I hear is the M4 drops velocity to a level that is below the speed needed make the bullet tumble upon entering “material denser than air” (tissue). The M4A1 w/o the burst feature is a better choice. I know the M4 can kill at greater ranges, but many people are hooked on the bullet fragmentation. I think hitting an OPFOR at any distance still gets their attention.

          • CommonSense23

            Guessing you really only have experience or knowledge of the 855 round. The MK262 is more than capable past 500 yards of dropping someone. Modern rounds like the 262 and 318 have upped the 5.56 effective range substantially.

          • Kivaari

            Actually I agree with you. Notice that the “biggest complaint I HEAR”. I have no issues with the M4 or M16A3. I have both.

          • wzrd1

            The biggest complaint I hear is the M4 drops velocity to a level that is
            below the speed needed make the bullet tumble upon entering “material
            denser than air” (tissue).

            Not highly relevant, as we were using open tip rounds, which didn’t need to tumble.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            And of course, making that change on an M4 takes 30 seconds with a new upper. Making improvements to an AK’s architecture requires scrapping it.

          • Nelson Kerr

            Neither does an AR, they just add functionality that would be just as useful on a AK

      • Combat weight is one thing. The AR-15 has an extremely lightweight architecture; no other comparable production weapon comes close if compared with the same barrel profiles. The only rifle I can think of offhand that is lighter is the Winchester LMR.

        • dan citizen

          “The AR-15 has an extremely lightweight architecture”

          Sadly, in a parallel to our populace, every person has a skinny skeleton. But the current ARs are bloated, and the advantages of the light base weapon system is destroyed by the layer of tacticool blubber.

        • Kivaari

          A barrel as found on millions of M16A1 rifles is pretty good.

      • LCON

        Naked… are we going to have to place a Age Restriction on this?

      • Cheese_McQueen

        I thinyouRe referring to the spreadsheet that Alex C and I made in regards to trigger pull weight. I don’t recall seeing one made for rifle weights, I may be wrong though.

        I will tell you this from experience, my MK 18 clone with a KAC RAS, EoTech XPS3-0, and silencerco Saker weighs 8 pounds even with a loaded mil spec 30 round mag. Alex C’s select fire AK 47 with wood furniture and a loaded 30 round steel mag weighs 12 pounds. I will take an AR based rifle over a AK any day of the week.

        4 pounds is a lot, and the AK sucks to shoot vs. any 5.56 chambered AR IMO. Also, Alex C can chime in here as to the reliability of my rifle. I have had a lot of ammo through it and it keeps chugging along. I hardly clean it and use the gun pretty hard.

        • iksnilol

          12 lbs that is about 5.4 kilograms. A regular AK with a 30 round steel magazine can’t possibly weigh that much. Unless you added on a scope and a suppressor. The ones I have used were around 4.3 to 4.5 kg with a loaded magazine (30 rounds).

          • Cheese_McQueen

            It does. My short barreled rifled M92 PAP weighs over 10 pounds with a loaded mag.

            I am going to have to hunt that article down now.

          • iksnilol

            No, what kind of AK are you using? The 2mm lead receiver one? 5.5 kg is as much as a Sauer 200 STR or SSG 3000, having shot both with an AK and the Sauer I can clearly feel that the AK is much lighter.

            Yugos on the other hand do weigh more due to RPK receiver (1.6mm or 1.5mm thick compared to regular 1mm receiver).

          • Cheese_McQueen

            As I said, it is a M92 PAP pistol with a Beryl stock built on a 1mm NoDak Spud receiver.

          • iksnilol

            Have you checked that your scale is correct? Because it makes no sense to me? Maybe the stock is to blame? I am way out of my league with weird American FrankenAKs and whatnot.

          • Cheese_McQueen

            The scale is correct, the stock is not overly heavy, the AK is just a heavy gun when compared to the AR platform regardless of battle dress or not.

          • The Yugoslavian PAP rifle use a thicker sheet receiver with a heavier barrel and trunnion. Most of the extra weight is coming from the heavier magazine and ammunition, however.

          • Cheese_McQueen

            The rifle that I weighed (the SBR above) was built on a Nodak NDS-1. I am pretty sure it is a 1mm receiver, not certain though. I don’t really have anything to compare the barrel to as I am not aware of another military AK variant that was built with around a 10″ barrel in 7.62×39. You are right about the mag and ammo however, if memory serves they weighed in at about 1.1 pounds per loaded mag … gross.

            I still stand by my assessment that most AK variants that are on the US civilian market are significantly heavier than the AR-15 variants available. I also stand by my assessment that a properly built DI AR-15 is every bit as reliable as a AK variant. With the experiences that I have had I will take the AR-15 over the AK any day of the week if I am doing anything other than target shooting (hunting, carbine course, zombie invasion, ect.).

          • Yes, steel AK mags are very heavy, unfortunately. Especially when full of ammo.

            This is why I do not really understand people who advocate the issue of heavier ammunition for nebulous benefit. Look at Wanat, they ran short of ammo quickly in that incident.

          • Cheese_McQueen

            Reasons can be any one or combination of the points I list below.

            1.) They aren’t thinking about carrying that ammo.
            2.) “Bigger is better … ‘Merica!”
            3.) “I carry a .45 because they don’t make a .46”
            4.) They have small wee wees and are compensating.
            5.) Crusty old men like the dude that wrote the article you reference that still feel it is a “poodle shooter”.
            6.) They aren’t very smart when it comes to maths.

          • I think a lot of it is that most gun people can tell you off the top of their head how big a bullet .30-06 has, how many grains the bullet weighs, and how fast it goes, roughly, but couldn’t even guess at how much an entire .30-06 cartridge weighs.

            Fortunately I made a handy chart for that. (Special credit to Z, who helped me create the original iteration of that chart.)

          • Cheese_McQueen

            I liked my reasons better. Also, the first point I touched kinda is the same thing. The guys that are for a heavier bullet don’t understand what kind of logistical challenges it presents. The military doesn’t field the all around “best” gun and cartridge. They field the one that fits the needs of the soldier as best it can.

          • iksnilol

            True that one. 5.56 is a good millitary cartridge (easy to use, short learning time for distance + weight). But as a civilian cartridge? Especially here in Scandinavia? Not so good.

            Besides, I have no problem with extra AK mags but then again I also don’t carry armor or a bunch of other equipment.

          • Depends. 5.56 is a great medium game round… But for it being unlawful to use for that purpose in many locales.

          • iksnilol

            Moose ain’t medium game. 5.56 on moose, especially a bull, is a complicated and really painfull form of suicide (or poaching). I can’t recommend it in good conscience. You need good expansion and deep penetration for moose. To be honest, premium/high quality hunting loads for 7.62×39 is what I would consider the absolute minimum (demands getting close to the target) for moose.

          • You’re right, I would not recommend 5.56mm for moose.

            I would also not recommend 7.62×39 for moose.

          • With all respect, Nathaniel, doesn’t the currently issued military AK-74M use a) polymer mags, b) polymer furniture, and c) high-velocity small-caliber (lightweight) ammo?

            Because this thread compares AK to M4 as a military firearm, and 7.62 wooden stock steel-mag versions are long obsolete in GI military use.

          • Uniform223

            Well to be honest plenty of former soviet block countries still use the AKM. Those weapons still have the wooden “furniture”, steel magazines and 7.62×39. Many of the weapons often used against NATO or other coalition forces are variants of the AK47.

            Though the AK74 is lighter than the AK47/AKM it is a tad bit heavier than an M4 mainly because its upper and lower receivers are primarily still made of steel.

          • 1. The comment I replied to was concerning steel mags and (earlier in the thread) furniture. 2. The whole debate is on an army issued weapon, in the hypothetic instance a large advanced armed force would use it. Hence, if it’s an AK, it simply has to be AK-74M – in the end, if only because it’s in the same class as the M16/M4.

            Overall, considering this context, the discussion seems a little derailed and wandering.

          • If you strip everything down, the AK still has heavier receiver architecture. Further, in my rifle weight file I do account for polymer magazines with the AK-74.

          • iksnilol

            I jsut find it weird that your weight contradicts the weight that both I and the rest of the world cite. Now the awkward part is that my AK is sorta in another country so I can’t check the weight until I visit which is in summer.

          • Cheese_McQueen

            I am quoting fully dressed, loaded weights, not unloaded weights without a mag. That may be the delta between what you think an AK should weigh and what it does.

          • iksnilol

            That was what I was doing too, that’s what makes this weird. I always count the mag + with.

          • The Brigadier

            Every rifle is heavy in comparison to the mouse rifle. The AK is crude, but reliable and on full auto can wreck death on anyone who doesn’t dive for the ground. Over 50 million of them were made and over half of them are still in the hands of people all over the world. No other rifle comes close to the same volume of manufacture. Its cheap to make, reliable and it has great killing power. I’ve owned a few and now I am enjoying my new SCAR-17. The military is apparently not as impressed as I am with this new weapon.

        • The rifle weight chart is mine.

    • RickH

      What do you mean by “weird”? The half pound to 1 pound of weight difference comes from using a gas tube/direct impingement vs a gas piston with the accompanying operating rod. And since most modern designs use a gas piston the weight factor is the only thing that the AR15 can boast. And even if it were over a pound difference, that amount is negligible.

      • WillLeach

        The other issue is that it seems any weight savings are more than canceled out with added equipment. That can be an advantage of the AR, when the added gear is truly useful, but its a trade off more than a certain benefit. The ease of carrying a lighter weapon is a plus, or extra toys is a plus, but you can only have on of the other, and these advantages must be weighed against the benefits that come with a heavier rifle. Having said that, I do think the lightness of the AR is a major benefit of the platform. Its just not a discussion ender as some would have it be. For all the controversy we’ve had over this family of rifles, I do think the design priorities are worth emulating.

        • I can’t think of any benefits that come from having a rifle with a heavier receiver.

          • WillLeach

            Taken in isolation, a heavier reciever isn’t a benefit, but if a rifle with a heavier reciever offers, as a complete weapon system, offers a benefit (superior reliability for example), then that rifle may be worth considering, even if it does have a higher combat weight (which isn’t always a forgone conclusion, heavier reciever or no). It just comes down to cost versus benefit. A light reciever isn’t even a benefit, its a feature. It can contribute to a real benefit, namely a lighter rifle, but a weapon can be marginally heavier than a basic AR and still be light enough to confer the benefits of having a light weapon.

          • They have not demonstrated significantly superior reliability, that’s the issue.

          • WillLeach

            Forgive me, but you seem to be engaging pettifoggerery. Better reliablility was just an examppe of a benefit that could justify a heavier rifle, or in the case of a reciever, but one heavier component. I was merely trying to point out that having a lighter reciever in and of itself isn’t shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

            Personally, I don’t like the way the debate has been framed. Thinking we should have, or can have, a better rifle, doesn’t equate to thinking that rifle should be one currently on the market. Personally, I want to see more small arms RND, in particular more experimentation in the basics. Aiming to high is just as bad as aiming to low (we don’t need any more twenty year high tech programs that don’t get off the pages of popular science).

            I also want to see a long competition for a replacement for the M-4, although the M-4 and other current options could of course compete. This would have to have an actual contract award at the end of the day, so that industry really bothers, and it should be long enough to allow kinks to get worked out.

            The AR-15 “family” sure has had its kinks. Depending on where you look and who you listen to, the AR might indeed have the best demonstrable reliability. Lets give other options a chance to demonstrate what they can do.

          • Why shouldn’t having lighter architecture be a deciding factor in the selection of a rifle?

            I am heavily in favor of more competitions, tests, and development of new weapons. However, I won’t let that enthusiasm get in the way of a sober assessment of current technology, which as best as I can formulate it says essentially that the M4 is state-of-the-art in every way.

          • WillLeach

            I’d say the work Jim Sullivan is doing at ArmWest is much more state of the art than the M4, even within the AR family.

          • I’m a pretty big fan of what Jim’s been up to. I do wish he’d tone down the rhetoric, though.

          • wzrd1

            I was merely trying to point out that having a lighter reciever in and of itself isn’t shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

            Quite true. Reliability, longevity, durability and the ability to operate under the wide range of environments a military weapon must operate under are quite important.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            A lighter weapon means the basic combat load of ammo can be increased for the same system weight.

          • WillLeach

            A lighter weapon does allow that, but a receiver is just one part of that weapon system, albeit a significant one. Despite various weight saving measures over the last few decades, I’m personally not aware of them actually leading to any significant increase in mobility or ammo carried recently (although that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened).

            In any case, being lighter only really becomes a benefit when its by enough of a margin to allow for something like a greater amount of ammo carried. Granted, you could make something light enough to allow for one extra round to be carried, but would you decide to field that weapon on the basis of that extra round? Some people sound like they are saying that having a lighter receiver, even by the smallest margin, is a major or even deciding factor in a weapons worthiness. I’m positing that its just one of many tradeoffs.

            So the M4 has a lighter receiver, OK. Lighter by how much? What benefit does that actually lead to? What downsides are they’re to the platform? What upsides do other weapons offer? What are the tradeoffs? And on and on and on.

            You can’t just say lighter receiver = better gun.

        • Anthony “stalker6recon”

          Agree that the added rails and attachments, negate the weight reduction of the M4. But my M4, front rails, gangster grip, PAQ-4 and M68 aimpoint, still weighed in much less than a comparable M16A4 with similar attachments.

          Having said that, innovative uses of the sling, gave considerable relief. I personally found that a locking carabiner, in conjunction with a very short leash, connected to the right shoulder strap of my “assault pack”, allowed me to have the weapon at the ready, with very little effort by my arms. I also found this to mitigate my weapon from being turned on me, since it was controlled closely to my chest, at the buttstock. Someone would have to remove it from the locked carabiner, to turn the weapon against me. It also allowed me to release the weapon, and draw a back-up, while maintaining control over my primary.

      • Gas pistons typically do not weigh 0.5-1.0 lbs (in fixed piston designs, actually, the amount of weight added should be almost zero; ditto tappet designs like the SCAR). This additional weight is coming from poorly optimized receiver architecture.

        • wzrd1

          The only real argument I’ve heard against gas piston systems was added complexity and increased complexity in cleaning in the field.
          Strangely enough, similar crew served weapons did not have such objections made to their gas systems.

          • They’re heavier, for no demonstrated advantage in reliability.

            Certainly it’s a fine gas system to use, but you’d be insane to adopt a new weapon to replace an old one solely on the basis that the new gun uses piston-oprod architecture while the old one was DI.

  • Grindstone50k

    There’s a difference between talking about the faults of the AR and creating/repeating outright lies and falsehoods.

    • Uniform223

      “Journalism” today is almost never about facts but assumptions and regurgitation.

      • Ethan

        And agendas, you forgot agendas.
        (Present company excluded, of course)

  • Grindstone50k

    The past is the past, what happened in Vietnam happened in Vietnam. But the question is: is the M4/M16 horrendously failing our troops *now*? Now, malfunctions WILL happen with any mechanical device. Even any given AK will fail, despite it’s mythical status. But what is the *actual* rate of failure our troops are experiencing in the field *today*?

    • nadnerbus

      It would have been fascinating to see an AK47 or Ak74 group tested in that whole carbine dust test thing. As robust as they are, even they have to fail occasionally, hard data on that would be interesting.

  • Seburo

    It is beyond time we had a new service rifle. ISIS, Iran, Russia, China and international terrorists organizations are already aware of the weaknesses of the AR-15 family. Anybody whose doesn’t think those M4’s we gave to Afghanistan and Iraq are not already in terrorist hands are either a shill or a fool.
    Google An Army outgunned by Joesph P. Avery. However he also advocates a new round to fix this.

    • Joshua

      Lol ISIS is aware of the flaws? More like when they can they steal them to use them as their rifle.

      • Seburo

        Many of their commanders are former members of Iraq forces under Saddam. They didn’t need to steal them. Iraq soldiers pretty much ran and abandoned their posts along with their equipment.
        Now if you have more then AR mall ninja butthurt.

        • Joshua

          Butthurt…..really? I pointed out that when they capture M4’s they generally use them.

          You are the one who said that ISIS knows the weakness on our M4’s but did not point out what that weakness is.

          • Seburo

            Seriously? You just look at any criticism of the AR and just stick your head in the sand don’t you? If your not going to Google “An Army outgunned” yourself. Here’s the damning evidence.

            “In Afghanistan, a Jane’s Defense Weekly posting in the Pakistan Defense Forum claims that more than half of Taliban small-arms attacks on British patrols took place between 300 and 900
            meters, well outside the 5.56 mm NATO round’s effective range. The enemy is well aware of this and positions his forces accordingly. It is not certain what additional range the 5.56 mm Enhanced Performance Round will realize in a mountainous environment, nor what its terminal effectiveness is at any range.

            Although every serious comparative assessment by a broad range of national and international weapon experts has concluded that our current BCW is operationally timeworn and has been for decades, our half-century old 5.56 mm family of weapons remains in use. The M16 appears to have taken on the mantle of the “Holy Grail” of the American military, never to be criticized or challenged. After decades of dissatisfaction with the BCW platform, the Army finally
            managed to squeak out the aforementioned enhanced 5.56 mm cartridge (the M855A1). Weapons development and procurement normally follow the dictates of technology and the battlefield, so it is surprising that it took over 50 years to make any significant improvement to our BCW.”

            The Battle of Walnut pretty much proved how ill conceived sticking with an aluminum weapon system is.
            This means the M855A1 may as well be a new unproven round as any just released on the market. The M4/M4a1 are just an A2/A3 with the barrel to cut to 14 inches. Both made during the 80’s. A time when quality control was never a concern.

          • Joshua

            What does a battle from the 1800’s have to do with today?

            As to the whole 300-900M thing, do you really think that the AK-47 is the issue at those ranges? They are not the issue, the AK-47 is a joke at those ranges and far outclassed by the M4 at those ranges. It is their 7.62x54r caliber rifles that are the issue and the answer to that problem is not issuing everyone a 7.62 DMR.

            I mean seriously to think we are being outgunned by the AK-47 at 300-900M is just laughable.

            Also the M4A1 is far from a A2/A3, there have been dozens of TDP changed since 2003 and if you would compare a M16A2 to a M4A1 the M4 would run laps around it in harsh environments.

            But please continue telling us that the AK-47 is outclassing our M4A1’s at 300-900M…..I’ll keep laughing away.

          • Seburo

            Battle of Wanat

            Your fanboyism is showing again. As you just said. They have more then AK-47’s at their disposal. In fact nobody has AK-47s but they have AKMs and their own battle rifles.

            But don’t let facts get in the way of your mall ninja gun being the holy grail of rifles.

            When Jim Sullivan, one of the engineers behind the AR said he wishes his son would have an AK over an AR when he was in Iraq how can you fully trust the system beyond the sterile environment of the U.S. when your own engineer doesn’t have confidence in its own capability? If the AR was perfection incarnate then why would Mr. Stoner keep going with his Stoner 63 and the AR-18 to the point of even competing against his own design in field trials overseas?

            The AR failed on the premise that every soldier is a gun-lover seeing their gun just beyond as just a tool. Like police, not every soldier is a gun person and to effectively use the AR you have to be a gun person otherwise it is failure waiting to happen.

          • CommonSense23

            Cause stoner could not make money off the M16 but could with the AR18

          • Joshua

            Fact that is proven by dates. The AR18 came after the patents were sold to Colt for the AR10 and AR15. He legally couldn’t work on the operating system he designed.

          • Seburo

            Which just means they at the time screwed him over heavily. The US military a supposedly conservative organization that “doesn’t do that kind of thing” has been doing it to talented designers for decades.

          • CommonSense23

            Really? You realized cause it was cause Armalite sold the AR15 rights to Colt.

          • Seburo

            With out his approval. Of course a contractor is going screw over a designer in getting a cut of the profits in the weapon he made.

          • CommonSense23

            Jesus Christ. Stoner went to Colt after his design was sold. He continued working on multiple platforms including the AR18, but still believed the DI design was superior for the AR

          • Seburo

            Colt and the Army also just gave ARs away to third world dictatorships and terrorists to topple legitimately elected governments. So much for capitalism.

            Proof of that? He also hated the fact that they used aluminum instead of stamped steel. Which also doesn’t fix much really.

          • Joshua

            Who is he? Stoner? The very first AR-10 was made from aluminum receivers.

          • gunsandrockets

            Wasn’t the AR-18 just a smaller 5.56mm version of the earlier 7.62mm AR-16? And wasn’t the AR-16 designed before the rights to the AR-15 were sold to Colt Firearms?

          • What 7mm machine gun?

          • Seburo

            I am assuming they mean the Taliban has already the PKM. “As 7.62×54 machine guns” make one think that is what their using rather then a Dragunov. Rather then a M240.

          • nadnerbus

            The battle of Wanat proved how bad an idea it was to put a remote outpost, lightly manned, without a QRF available by ground, into the bottom of a canyon deep in indian territory. There was far, far more wrong there than just weapon systems. See: The Outpost: The Untold Story Of American Valor for a light touch on that battle and a much larger touch on a very similar one.

            When you have numerical superiority and can basically look down into an outpost from near vertical mountains surrounding, you can lob down pretty much any caliber you want with impunity.

            Anyway, the enemy always gets a vote. They turned out not to be stupid enough to play into NATO and US tactics. The solution is not some other new miracle caliber or weapon system, but to be adaptable and agile as an organization and to evolve weapons and tactics to counter the enemy’s. Which is pretty much what the military has done in it’s usual imperfect way.

          • Joshua

            Battle of Kamdesh showed similar results, except in the weapons.

            Only one weapon failed in COP Keating and it was a M2 that took an RPG. Also numerous soldiers expended 40+ magazines during their half day long battle.

          • nadnerbus

            Yeah, the different outcomes with regards to weapon failures between those two fights always made me suspicious about the failures at Wanat. Either that fight was substantially more intense than Keating, or the weapons were not in good condition prior.

          • Joshua

            The battle of Kamdesh was actually a more intense fight. It lasted longer, and they expended more amunition, going black on multiple calibers.

            They also killed more(something around 150 insurgents). A friend of mine who actually visited both places before those battles happened said the weapons maintenance at Wanat was far more lax and a lot of soldiers just did not care about their weapons often going days between cleaning them. The opposite was said about the soldiers of 3-61 Cav.

          • Seburo

            Have the The Outpost: on my hard drive. Haven’t read it yet because I have other things I wanted to read first.

            In a war you can’t always choose where your fight is going to be. If your rifle doesn’t have the durability of a Light Machine Gun you may well well go a caliber up or two for longer range.

            Except the enemy already knows the tactics of US SOCOM. In the future we’ll be facing forces who are already familiar with not only our basic combat weapon but how we operate.

            Guess that’s why SOCOM wants Powered Armor sooner rather then later.

            Imperfect? I would say highly flawed. A thirty year old system, plus overpriced planes, land vehicles and boats. Plus over ten years of war. Has let Russia and China catch up to us.

          • Joshua

            You talk like someone who has no idea what they are talking about.

          • Seburo

            Actually I do. Your just a butt hurt mall ninja that can’t with stand the criticism of his favorite gun. You sure your not Lance?

          • CommonSense23

            Curious what is your background to be able to comment with such authority on small arms.

          • Seburo

            Mechanical Engineer. Even if it is just an associates degree level its better then most.

          • CommonSense23

            OK great, what level of military small arms training do you have. Military background in general

          • Seburo

            Never been in the military. Just range time with my own guns. Since a degree of any level means you get kicked to an Officers level. I have no want to be overpaid lackey to some old man working on his golf swing who has no engineering or battle field experience.

          • Joshua

            Well that explains it all, no personal experiences all internet hearsay.

          • Seburo

            Internet facts are better then mall ninja fanboyism.

          • CommonSense23

            And actual facts are better them all.

          • Joshua

            I am far from a mall ninja, but I also am not going to go and list my DD214 to prove it.

          • Seburo

            That just proves you could be nothing more then a rear echelon fobbit so don’t bother. As their pretty easy to forge and get on the internet.

          • Joshua

            Wait am I reading that right? I should forge a DD214 to prove a point? Clearly I must be reading that wrong, and the fact that someone who never served would have the balls to call anyone a fobbit is laughable. Also it is fobbIt, not fobbEt.

          • Seburo

            Your seem pretty slow on the reading. As I just corrected it.
            Mister fobbit. We know you think the M4 you claim to have SMU experienced with is the greatest in the world. But it’s just not reality.

          • Joshua

            I am slow on reading? Or fast on reading and replying before your edits?

          • Seburo

            It says a few minute gap on my end so and the time stamps agree with me.

          • CommonSense23

            I actually think he has mental health problems.

          • Seburo

            Yeah. The one with mental problems is the one with facts, and the other side are just like console fanbois defending their favorite gun like it was their Xbox that just got crapped on.

          • CommonSense23

            What facts. You said earlier that a college degree would force you to be a officer. That’s wrong. You try to bring up Wanat to prove your point, which really doesn’t help your case. But have exactly no tactical experience. But make comments about how ISIS knows Socom tactics and will be able to counter them.

          • Seburo

            “Tactical experience” is just a buzz word AR fanboys use to make people think their grunts when they really were just REMFs.

            The US Counter Insurgency Manual is fundamentally flawed, military leadership has failed and we’re looking at continued fighting in a nation where the people’s leaders chose to throw away
            America’s hard work.
            They have been fighting our special forces guys for over ten years. Logic dictates that they already know how to counter our strategies. They’re concentrating on raids. A Boy Scout Troop can do a raid if its planned well enough with fabulous ISR assets. Conventional Forces have been doing the hard thing. Conducting counter
            insurgency ops…rebuilding schools…establishing relationships with
            the locals…patrolling areas to ensure stability.

            Rangers, Special Forces, SEALs and MARSOC have all been doing raids, raids and nothing but raids.

          • Let’s not refrain from posting sources, here.

          • CommonSense23

            Dude you really have absolutely no clue do you. And saying someone is POG or REMF isn’t a insult when you have never served.

          • Seburo

            Still I have to be skeptical when people who I don’t know says they served. When the older engineers who know machines better then I do tell me a weapons sucks and what I’ve seen/used backs that up.

            Every Bunker Bunny, Grunt and unit leader is issued an M4 and can claim to say they served in battle without picture and video evidence to back it up. The internet has an abundance of them and paid Colt trolls to defend their “XBOX” or “AR15” too the death.

          • Do the older engineers you know happen to read a lot of gun rags?

            There’s knowing thermodynamics and fluid dynamics and other general engineering-related topics, and then there’s knowing small arms design.

          • Seburo

            Didn’t bother to ask what they read. Some I know are vets some are not.
            Nor do I fallow up on their claims as I don’t bother buying magazine fluff pieces on guns I already own.

          • Colt is paying me? Weird, I haven’t gotten any checks.

          • Joshua

            The fact that you say SF only does raids again shows you have no idea what you are talking about.

          • CommonSense23

            Really a degree of any level means you get kicked to the officers level? You really have no clue what you are talking about

          • CapeMorgan

            No one ever “kicks” one into an officer’s rank just because of a degree.

          • I have better than the equivalent of an associate’s in MechEng. It has helped me not at all to understand small arms engineering.

          • CapeMorgan

            You don’t get it. Those attacks are from LMGs (PKMs), not AKMs. PKM’s use full 7.62 Russian. Allied units routinely patrol with M240’s/FN MAGs. Essentially they are long range LMG fights at first. You really don’t understand the lessons of Wanat either. Read the after action report to explain that to you.

    • n0truscotsman

      What service rifle to replace it with, then?

      • Seburo

        It’s way too long to build a new rifle at this time. May as well go with what the system the Army wants to replace its weapons with.
        LSAT Carbine and the rounds are in development .Since the is desperate for a new LMG and ammo to replace the M249. The program is unlikely to be canned. But that will be another five to ten years before its ready.

        If we get into another war.(More likely now with the new Congress coming in) An interim rifle would be needed. I would personally go with the CZ 805, but it would be easier and cheaper to buy piston uppers. So HK 416, LWRC M6 or the Ares Shrike uppers are viable options. The latter would also offer an interim solution to the M249.

        • You would go with the S805, a rifle that draws blood whenever you try to field strip it?

          • Seburo

            I never saw or heard of it being that hard to field strip. Usually CZ is good with that kind of thing. Its not a rifle made for “us” but a European military with different requirements.

          • It’s not hard to field strip, but the ones at SHOT 2012 would draw blood during stripping procedures unless you were very careful, due to an exposed wire retaining clip end.

          • LCON

            Well The Carpathian Mountains do run through the Czech Republic So I am sure it’s one of those Eastern European Traditions… You know like inviting someone over to your Castle for a Bite….

        • n0truscotsman

          And where is the scientific proof that the gas piston upper is “more reliable” than the legacy system? Specifically, in the case of the 416 and LWRC?

          The ICC competition seems to indicate something otherwise.
          Or the new CZ 805?

          LSAT is currently the only viable change in small arms technology, although scant evidence suggests that it performs pretty much the same as our current systems, the weight savings is huge. Huge enough to warrant a change IMO.

          But for other brass cartridge rifles? fat chance.

        • Yellow Devil

          More wars now that we have a new Congress in? Do you even read what you type? We still haven’t left the ones we have been fighting for over a decade. And last time I checked, the Commander in Chief had the final authority on where and how troops are used. Congress is just there to declare War (but not since WWII) and provide funding, at the request of POTUS.

  • Joshua

    The M4A1 had the best MRBEFF out of all the rifles in the competition. It had the second best MRBS in the competition with 500 rounds between stoppages.

    It was also the only rifle in the competition to use GI aluminum magazines.

    Magazine usage is important because after the IC the Army found a flaw in the design of the standard magazines and is working on a mod to them that increase reliability by 300%.

    I can also say 80% of all stoppages the M4A1 had in the IC were magazine related stoppages.

  • n0truscotsman

    Addressed the article, being a reader of the atlantic too.

    I was rather disappointed to say the least. This is a pretty impressive rebuttal. Im glad somebody has the patience to dissect that morass of hasty conclusions.

  • LCON

    The Journalist guide to Firearms… He is regurgitating myth and ignoring improvements and combat experience. There are issues with M4, M4A1 and M16A4 but nothing like the early versions.

  • Ian Thorne

    Okay, but all that says is it did the best, not by what margin or what the numbers are. For all we know it can be 1 versus 2. Fair point none-the-less.

    That is damn interesting though. I would like to see those failures. Other than perhaps case head issues I am having a hard time imagining that.

    I really wish they would just release the damn report. It’s done and gone, what good does hiding the results do?

    • Ben

      I believe that the 6,000 and 4,500 rounds between failure are only for the Class 3. While those numbers are in a separate paragraph, they are far too high to include all failures.

      We are on the same page there, I would definitely like to see the report and all it’s details. I thought the same thing, maybe the piston driven guns have a sharper impulse on the case rims/heads that work fine with a DGI gun. Inquiring minds want to know!

    • Joshua

      A Class I and II stoppage would be FTF, FTEject, FTExtract, Double feed, Bolt over Base, etc.

      Class III stoppages are generally a bolt lug breaking off, trigger springs snapping, disconnector snapping in half, anything that makes the rifle require an armorer to fix.

      As for the test, every rifle was given a Letter. The only known letter was A which was the M4A1 to give a baseline result. The people making the down select did not know what rifle belong to what letter as to avoid bias.

  • I’m not.

  • Sam Schifo

    Holy crap you people complain about everything. It’s was too short, now it’s too long. If it’s too much then just skip it and forget about it.

    • Joshua

      I blame the educational system of today. Guess they don’t have to read books anymore.

      Magazines with pictures are far easier.

  • You’re welcome!

  • ghost

    We could not clean the bolt assembly of those 1st M-16s in the field. Very tight tolerances and no way to strip them down (had to go to the armorer, and there is never one around when you need him/her). We used sharp twigs, tooth picks, dental picks, etc to scrape residue out from the seams. If the bolt assembly became clogged with residue, the firing pin could not work. I don’t know which Army soldiers did not clean the very thing that their lives depended on, but we cleaned ours. The military made excuses, while soldiers paid the price. I am sure the present day rifles are better. I hope so.

  • Joshua

    Dude, just stop. You have no clue what you are talking about.

    • Uniform223

      no no no… let him keep going. the hole he is digging keeps getting deeper, his material keeps getting dumber, and his sense ( or lack there of ) keeps getting funnier. If we keep him going he just might get mad enough that he’ll forget to turn off the caps-lock.

  • USMC03Vet

    The Internet isn’t entertaining unless someones jimmies are being rustled.

    • Tinklebell

      The internet is a great place to be a fence sitter, isn’t it?

  • It’s the lightest rifle (in terms of architecture weight), it’s the most well-understood (meaning any problems it has will be more readily fixable and less likely to surprise), it is in production, and its ammunition is in production (which means it is the closest to serviceability – it is TRL 9), it works very well (2nd, 2nd, and 1st in the ICC is not bad at all for a service rifle. Do you think “Rifle C” would come through the development process to become a multi-hundred thousand rifles family unscathed in terms of reliability?), and it is very accurate and adaptable.

    Surely all these things (and more) are worth something. Are they not?

  • gunsandrockets

    (Yes, I cut and pasted this excerpt)

    Here is another veterans experience with the M16 rifle in Vietnam…


    It was in the arena outlined above that I got my first introduction to the XM16E1. When 2/3 arrived on Okinawa to refit and train for their duties as SLF Bravo, they were already licking their wounds. The Battalion had been ambushed on a march between two hill masses, losing their Commanding Officer and Sergeant Major, along with numerous other individuals. While they were hardly demoralized, they possessed a particular affection for their CO and Sgt.Maj. and were chomping at the bit to return to the RVN to avenge the Battalion’s losses. Shortly after 2/3’s arrival on Okinawa, the Battalion learned that it was scheduled to draw a new “experimental rifle”… the XM16E1. 2/3 dutifully turned in their M14s to draw a curious little plastic thing that drew lots of snickers and comments from the old timers (we still had a few WWII vets in those days). The Battalion was given an orientation lecture in the Camp Schwab Base Theater by some ordnance folks, sent to the range to fire some sighting in rounds, and pronounced properly prepared for combat… little did they know!

    The Battalion was told that they would now be able to carry 400 rounds ashore on each operation, and were now armed with an accurate, hard hitting rifle that would tear a man’s arm off if you hit him. The lecture was impressive. The interesting thing is that the Marines WANTED to like the little rifle – it was light, cute, and supposedly extremely effective! Marines are always in favor of a weapon that will dismember their enemy more efficiently and more effectively. The Marines of 2/3 left Okinawa READY to go try this “jack the giant killer” on the NVA or Cong (they didn’t care which, as long as it made a good fight!). However, there were several flies in the ointment. First, they only had one cleaning rod per rifle and no replacements – sounds reasonable, but events were to prove this assumption wrong. The second problem was that ordnance had only enough magazines to issue three (3) per rifle, and they were “twenty rounders”. The thirty rounders in those days were only being used by the Special Forces – Robert “Strange” McNamara, (The Secretary of Defense), had decreed that the 20 round magazines were more cost effective than the 30 round magazines (this from the guy who was responsible for marketing the Edsel!)! We were now armed with the latest in weaponry, and able to carry 400 rounds ashore. Our confidence level would probably have been considerably higher if we had been issued more than three 20 round Magazines per gun. We were promised more of course, and as it turned out, it became true, but only because we were able to pick up those left behind by the casualties. The long and the short of this lesson, however, was that they were trying to get the M16 into action well before adequate supplies were available to support the weapon, even if it had been functioning properly. Politics is indeed a strange game!

    Ammunition was issued in “white” or “brown” twenty (20) round boxes. Bandoleers with “clipped ammunition” in ten round “strippers” had not yet made their way to South East Asia. While this would have been a handicap under normal circumstances, it turned out to be a “non-problem”… A full 50% of the rifles wouldn’t shoot semi-automatically! The unfortunate individuals armed with the malfunctioning rifles couldn’t shoot enough rounds to need more than the initial three magazines at any rate! Three hundred and forty rounds in 20 round cardboard boxes were stowed in our packs, with the idea that during a firefight, a man who had run dry, could roll over to his buddy and take ammunition out of his pack and his buddy
    could do the same. As it turned out, this rarely figured into the equation.

    The first clue (for 2/3) that something was wrong came during the battle of Hill 881 North… but all the Hill Fights at Khe Sanh in April ’67 came up the same – dead Marines with cleaning rods stuck down the barrel of their M16s to punch out cartridge cases that refused to extract. At first, we considered that the experiences encountered during the Hill Fights might have constituted an isolated incident, but as experience was to prove, alas, ‘twas not so! The regulations of the time required that all such malfunctions were to be documented, and reported to Ordnance Maintenance/Division Ordnance. The 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment of Marines must have filled a 6X6 truck with malfunction reports attempting to stay within the administrative guidelines. We submitted the required reports and waited – we wanted the problem FIXED – NOW, and we were willing to play the ordnance paperwork game if that was what it took to correct the situation!

    Spring stretched into summer, and summer gave way to fall, with reams of paperwork having being sent out to the Ordnance Maintenance Folks on the “Rock” (Okinawa) and to the ordnance folks in Vietnam. We outlined, in great detail, the failure of the much vaunted M16 to perform as advertised… It simply wasn’t working! It seemed that if your rifle would shoot, it would shoot under almost all conditions (if clean), but if it wouldn’t, no amount of coaxing would help. All of the M16s seemed to be extraordinarily sensitive to carbon build-up, even if the rifle was one that would shoot when freshly cleaned. This meant that in a long and heated firefight, it was possible to have a much larger percentage of rifles “out of action” than the 50% that didn’t want to shoot at all. Something was seriously amiss! A rifle that refuses to shoot during a firefight, is unsuitable as a combat implement. The NVA was obviously not gonna’ allow us a “time out” while we held a cleaning session! My first clue to the solution to the problem came from talking to the Battalion Armorer. He had an M16 that worked under almost all conditions. I asked him what he had done to it, and he replied that he had taken a ¼” drill, attached a couple of sections of cleaning rod to it, and put some “crocus cloth” through the slotted tip (like a patch) and run it into the chamber and turned the drill motor on. He “horsed” the drill a bit and apparently relieved the chamber dimensions just enough to ensure positive functioning. This was a sort of precursor to the “chrome plated chamber fix” that would be applied in days to come.

    FSR (Force Service Regiment – which also acts as a home for the small arms repair folks), sent a trouble shooting team to visit us aboard the LPH shortly after the “Hill Fights” to try and pin down the problem. As soon as the ordnance team arrived, they made it clear that THEY were already well informed (meaning they’d already made up their minds) concerning
    our problem and had decided (without so much as a question to us) that WE as a Battalion were responsible for a bad rap being given to a marvelous little rifle! The lads in the rear had decided that WE were simply not keeping our rifles clean, and if we weren’t such inattentive and unmotivated “oafs” being led by incompetents, we wouldn’t have such a problem. Needless to say, the hackles stood up on the back of our necks. “Them wuz fightin’ words!” …And we wuz peaceable folks (well sorta’ anyway)! To say that they had misread the problem is an understatement!

    Certainly from a personal standpoint, they were full of “un-reprocessed prunes”. My background in small arms went back as far as my conscious memory, and when I “screwed up” with a firearm of any kind as a kid, my Daddy left knots on my head and welts on my “stern-sheets”! During this time frame, I had just finished firing on the USMC Rifle Team (in 1965 – this was now 1967) and to say that I had high standards of weapons cleanliness for my rifle company is an extreme understatement. If the rifles had been clean enough to eat off of before the visit from the FSR clowns, rifle cleanliness moved up a notch to “autoclaved” as a result of the insults they were bandying about! We literally fired thousands of test rounds
    over the fantail (the stern) of the LPH. Each of the issued rifles was fired, cleaned and then fired again! …Same story, about 50% of the rifles were reliable and 50% were “non-shooters”. We cleaned the rifles between strings of fire (and this test was conducted in the more or less “sterile” conditions encountered in a shipboard environment), with the same results! NOW we
    were getting worried.

    The malfunction reports continued to pour into the rear echelon papermills without any tangible results. On one notable occasion, a stalwart Marine crept around in a flanking movement on an enemy machine gun position. He assumed a quick kneeling position to get a clear shot over the sawgrass, and “did for” the hapless NVA gunner! His second shot aimed for the assistant gunner never came, as his rifle jammed and the assistant gunner avenged his dead comrade by splattering the Marine’s gray matter all over the stock of the Matty Mattel Special. After the fight, we sent his little black rifle to Division Intelligence with a complete report on the events (without removing the brain matter from the stock). We waited with baited breath for the response to this one, but alas to no avail! Still no action! Normally aggressive Marines were understandably getting a bit edgy about being assigned to listening posts or outposts. Ambushes were, more likely than not, to result in Marine casualties. We started stealing and or trading the cute little black rifle for M14s. Many rear echelon troops (usually known as REMFs) were more than willing to trade their old fashioned M14s for a little lightweight rifle that was easy to carry, (the M16s in those days were reserved for the frontline troops). Supply and demand prevailed, and what we couldn’t trade, we appropriated (a polite military term for outright theft!). The Engineer troops assigned to us for support (mine clearing, demolition, and setting up helicopter landing zones) were still armed with the M14 (not being infantry). The Engineers became some of the most popular troops in the Battalion
    and made up a substantial part of our base of fire. I was always partial to Engineers anyway, and these guys cemented our relations in a big time way – good people those Engineers – and THEY were armed with a REAL rifle!

    It finally became apparent that no one was gonna’ come to our rescue! Our reports were falling on deaf ears, and our Battalion Commander was more than a little annoyed. The bayonet had become more popular than before and indeed enjoyed a resurgence of usefulness, until in the throes of hand to hand combat one of the lads gave the enemy a vertical butt stroke that resulted in his holding a “two part” Matty Mattel… Captured AK 47s began to show up in increasing numbers, but they were a double edged sword. The AK 47 had a rather distinctive sound when fired, and would occasionally result in the Marine
    “wielding” the foreign piece, receiving a bit of “friendly incoming”! This was in addition to the fact that ammo re-supply for the AK was a problem. After a fire fight, the battalion S-4 (supply & logistics) frowned on requests for a couple of thousand rounds of 7.62 X 39…

    Things were getting desperate… Our Commandant at the time, General Wallace M. Green, when queried about the rumors filtering back from the front-line troops, contacted the Marine Corps ordnance people and asked them what the problem was. The Ordnance Brass “bleated” the school solution and told the “Commandanche” that the problem stemmed from poor weapons maintenance and a lack of leadership! The Commandant then appeared on TV and announced to all the world that the only thing wrong with the M16 was there weren’t enough of them! How RIGHT he was! It took 20 rifles to get off 20 rounds! We were enraged! – and we began to plot! Never let it be said that the average Marine isn’t cunning, if not terribly intelligent.

    This is probably a good place to describe the actual malfunction that was prevalent with the “mouse gun” – although there were variations the problem was essentially as follows:

    1.) The rifle would be loaded normally, i.e., a loaded magazine would be inserted and the bolt would be allowed to go forward, causing a round to be chambered.
    2.) The trigger would allow the hammer to fall, with the rifle firing the first round in the expected fashion. Then the problem began…
    3.) The bolt would start to the rear, but the cartridge case would remain in the chamber. There were two variations to this one, one in which the extractor would “jump” the rim, and one where the extractor would “tear through” the rim. Either version left the case in the chamber.
    4.) The bolt would start forward stripping the next round from the top of the magazine.
    5.) Since the chamber was already occupied by the cartridge that had just been fired, the newly fed round would shove the bullet tip firmly into the stuck case effectively jamming the rifle. This “jam” could be cleared by:

    a.) Removing the magazine from the rifle, pulling the bolt to the rear, and locking it in this position by depressing the bolt catch.
    b.) If the newly fed live round did not automatically fall free (it often did), you had to shake the rifle to allow the round to fall free of the magazine well.
    c.) A cleaning rod was then inserted in the muzzle and the “stuck case” was driven out of the chamber.
    d.) The magazine was then reinserted and locked into the magazine well, and the bolt allowed to go forward by depressing the bolt catch. The bolt would again strip a round from the magazine and reload the chamber.
    e.) This round could then be fired and the entire cycle started all over again.

    Essentially we had been reduced to a “magazine fed, air cooled, single shot, muzzle ejecting shoulder weapon” shooting an inferior cartridge. How lucky can you get?

    Mike Chervenak, my XO (executive officer) was a man of rare moral fiber. Not only was Mike one hell of a good Marine, but he cared for and about our Marines… and the M16 was continuing to get them killed. On one of the very few days we spent aboard the LPH preparing for our next thrilling adventure, Mike came to see me in my quarters.

    “Skipper” said Mike, “what the heck are we gonna’ do about this miserable little rifle?”

    “Well Mike,” I replied, “I guess we’re doing about all that can be done – I’m about out of options! All we can hope for is that ordnance’ll find a fix!”

    Mike being smarter than the average bear, drug his toe in the dirt and asked, “Skipper, do I have your permission to write a letter to my congressman?”

    “Well Mike,” I said, “I can’t tell you NOT to write such a letter, it’s a free country!”

    “Well Skipper,” said Mike, “what would YOU do?”

    Uh oh – now I’m trapped! “Well,” I told him, “I’d probably write a letter to the Commandant!”

    “But Skipper,” Mike says, “you KNOW he won’t ever get to see it!”

    “Wrong,” sez I, “all you have to do is put ‘copy to: Senator Zhlotz’ (or whoever) at the bottom of the letter, and military paranoia will kick in! The staff will be afraid NOT to show it to him, lest he get a call from an outraged Congressman!”

    “Yeah,” said Mike, “but I’ll bet that nothing will be done about it even if he DOES see it!”

    “Well, you’re probably right,” I tell him, “but it might be worth a try!?”

    Mike, somewhat discouraged at this point, allows as how it’ll probably be more effective to send one to his Representative. I agree without overtly suggesting that he do so. He turns to go, but just as he reaches the Water Tight Door (WTD), he turns around with a slight grin and says “Skipper, would YOU help me write it?”

    Hummm… the rest is history. Mercifully we did a workmanlike job on the letter, and simply explained the problem (much as above) and made note that it took precious seconds to clear a jammed rifle that an Infantryman doesn’t have in a firefight. We were also careful not to call names or point fingers, and that’s all that saved us in the light of things to come! I’m not too
    sure who Mike sent the letter to, but a copy of it WAS published in that “Communist Rag”, The Washington Post!

    Mike was on R&R when the thunder came rolling in. He received a “person to person” phone call from “Wally” (Wallace M. Green, the Commandant, who hangs his hat in Washington, D.C.) in Vietnam! Alas, Mike was not there to take the call! The brass came to me of course, asking where Mike had gone when he left on R&R. Since Mike had earned his R&R in spades, and I didn’t want to screw it up for him (knowing the problem would still be there when he returned). I did the only honorable thing I could and lied! Hee, hee, hee… Mike finished his R&R in good order and without harassment.

    When they discovered that I had aided and abetted Mike in his endeavors, the feces struck the ventilation! That letter kicked off FIVE simultaneous investigations; one from the Third Marine Division, one from the 9th Amphibious Brigade, one from the 3rd Marine Regiment, one from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment (us) and last but not least a Congressional Investigation led by a Congressman from Louisiana named “Speedy O. Long” (yes, that was really his name!). During the investigations, the Battalion hid me so far back in the “ding toolies” that it was necessary to pipe in air and sunlight. Mike and I had become the “pariahs” in the Marine Corps in general, and the 3rd Marine Division in particular. However…

    At long last people started doing something overt for a change. We were pulling an operation down in the 1st Marine Division AO, south of Da Nang (AO stands for “area of operations”) – the SLF was essentially a “hired gun” and went wherever there was hate and discontent). The Corps “flew-in” a C-130 with 400 brand new XM16E1 rifles along with a Marine Warrant Officer considered to be an expert in the small arms ordnance field. The ordnance Warrant was an old friend of mine who had been the Marine Representative to Cadillac Gauge when they were building the “Stoner 63” System. He had been a Staff Sergeant at the time and we used to sit on my living room floor and disassemble the Stoner System over an occasional beer (well, maybe several beers) when the Marine Corps was running its Stoner tests in at Camp Lejeune. Now, I tell myself, we’ll get some results, Bob is a pretty savvy guy! …Wrong again “gopher breath”! – Bob Baker (the Marine Warrant Officer), had suddenly and inexplicably switched to (what we thought of as) the enemy camp!

    In a private and rather heated conversation with Bob, he allowed as how the problem was
    that we weren’t keeping them clean enough!

    “BS.” I said, “Bob, you know me better than that!”

    “Nope,” he said, “the M16s will work if they’re clean!”

    Seeing that I had reached a dead end, it was time to try a different approach. Another Captain/Company Commander and I (he having just as much a case of the “$%#^” over the “16” as the rest of us) watched as WO Baker utilized his $800 ultra powerful chamber scope to examine the M16 rifle chambers of a line of troops brought in out of the lines for evaluation
    of the condition of their rifles.

    This marvelous chamber scope was supposedly powerful enough to make any imperfections in the chamber look like the surface of the moon. The first man stepped up to the front of the line and handed over his rifle. Bob sticks the chamber scope in the chamber, shakes his head and throws the old rifle in a pile that was to grow materially in the next couple of hours. The Marine was then issued one of the new rifles brought in on the C-130. Watching the lad with his “brandie, brand new” rifle stride off. Bob Bogard (the other Company Commander) and I chased him down (out of sight of course). We talked him out of his rifle, threw it into the dirt, kicked a little over it, picked it up and dusted it carefully off (to make it look like a “used” rifle). We then waited awhile until a number of folks had gone through the line and “number 1’s” face had faded from WO Baker’s recent memory. We put the trooper back in line and hid and waited. When (Warrant Officer) Bob stuck his chamber
    scope into the new rifle, he again shook his head and threw the new rifle on the pile of discards! Gotcha! When we pointed out to Bob what we’d done, he went orbital (not a word to come into general use until ’69 of course)! He accused us of not taking his efforts seriously, and trying to make him look bad – not hard to do at this point! While we had outraged the brass, a seed of doubt had been planted, and it grew!

    Back at the Command Post, a rather short civilian gentleman of Asian extraction wearing a Colt Detective Special on his belt, strode over to see me. I recognized him as a Mr. Ito, the Colt Representative that had flown in with the 400 rifles.

    “Howdy,” he sez, “my name is Ito!”

    “I know,” I said, “and my name is Culver.”

    “Yes, I know,” sez Ito, and at that point, I figured that my fanny was truly gonna’ be grass.

    My instincts in this case were wrong.

    Mr. Ito turned out to be a heck of a nice gentleman and told me all sorts of revealing stories. Among other things, he told me that Colt had offered to chrome plate the bores and chambers of the M16s for the sum of $1.25 each, but that Robert “S” McNamara had vetoed it as being non cost effective. Mr. Ito sent me a “care package” when I got home, guess what it contained? A double handful of Colt M16 tie tacks2. Grrrrr…

    Ultimately, Colt wound up chrome plating the chambers (and later the bores) of the M16s, thus reducing the coefficient of friction between the cartridge case (not necessarily a good thing, incidentally) and the chamber. The bolt then began battering the frame from the excessive velocity in its rearward movement, and they again gave the “patient” with a brain tumor an aspirin tablet as a “fix” – they simply made the buffer group heavier! But the real story had yet to be told. The story eventually leaked in bits and pieces but was never made public in the headlines it deserved. The rifle was eventually fixed, but at what a price… Much like the guy unjustly accused in print – when the real culprit is found, the headlines don’t shout
    out his innocence, a retraction is usually printed in extra small type on the last page. The guys who died for this folly can never be brought back, and the people responsible who fought the problem by placing the blame where it wouldn’t get their fingers dirty came away clean.

    Somewhat later, a new Battalion Commander, who hadn’t fought with us in the old days when the rifle was at its worst, inherited 2/3 in time to preside over the ensuing hate and discontent. He called me in during the ongoing investigations, and chided me about my stance on the rifle.

    When I stood firm, he asked me, “Culver, just what would be YOUR solution?”

    “Easy.” I said, “it’s only been 9 months since we turned in our M14s, all that’s necessary is for us to draw the 14s again until ordnance can work the bugs out of this little piece of #$@&!”

    “Unfortunately,” said the Colonel, “it’s not as simple as that!”

    “Unfortunately,” sez I, “it’s EXACTLY that simple! What you mean is that it’s not ‘politically’ that simple!”

    I was dismissed without another word.

    • mosinman

      sounds like a crock to me

      • gunsandrockets


    • gunsandrockets

      Still waiting for two posts with three links to appear.

  • Uniform223

    okay then…
    A “slick bare bone” M4 with 30round mag is still lighter than a “slick” AK47

    An empty M16A2 and AK47 are very comparable on the weight scale. Give them both 30round magazines and the M16A2 is lighter than your AK47.

    Also modern “tactical combat” sights and the PEQ-2 are lighter than people think.

    • Kivaari

      AND the M4 is a superior weapon from pretty much any aspect.

      • Uniform223

        I would say is a very well balanced weapon.

  • ozzallos .

    For as badly framed as that story was, Mister Scales must write for TTAG in his off time. Both seem to reach for the same level of competence in their writing.

  • Avid Fan

    Door opens
    M1: I’m looking for something to defend my family. Can I use something other than an AR?
    M2: Well, no. Using something other than an AR means you hate your family and secretly want them dead.
    M1: Wow, I didn’t know that.
    M2: And you hate your country.
    M2: And God.
    M1: Ok.
    M2: And kittens.
    M1: OK! I get it already.
    M1: Soooo, what do you suggest.
    M2: I have this really cool AR here.
    M1: It is cool…and kinda heavy too.
    M2: Yeah, that’s the 23 backup sighting systems and the 47 position collapsible stock and…..the tier one op..sling.
    M1: Do I really need all that.
    M2: Anything else is un-American and means you really hate…
    M1: I GOT IT!!!
    M1: What caliber is it?
    M2: Either .223 or what we call 5.56.
    M1: How much is it.
    M2: $799 bare rifle or $2799 as you see it
    M1: Ill take the bare rifle, basic sights etc etc.
    M2: You can’t do that.
    M2: You have to have 37 backup sights 23 different stocks 26 different magazine types and then there’s ammo.
    M1: OH F— me!
    M2: There’s 55 grain, 56 grain, 57 grain but it’s no good.
    Door Slams
    M2: 61 grain, 62 grain….

    • Are you implying that I have written this article to sell AR-15s? If you believe this to be the case, feel free to reply posting the industry connections you believe I have that point to a conflict of interest.

      I’ll wait, though I suspect it will be for some time.

      • Avid Fan

        Oh, chill Nathan. I’m not suggesting any such thing. I was just attempting to flesh out the silliness that thrives on the AR.
        Of all the amazing things that we have built and that is the best that we can come up with to defend our very lives; hearth and home, kith and kin?
        Why after all these years have we stuck with this thing. It should have been the equivalent of the M1 Carbine for its generation. Never a primary front-line battle rifle.
        If I could time-warp a brand new next generation M4 back to 1967 would it be that much of a shock to a front line soldier. I think not. Would all its “improvements” be noticed. Would it turn the tide of a particular conflict. Would it save lives. Would it succeed where its 4th great grandfather failed. Eh, who knows.
        Why are we so bound to this rifle. Why is it so polarizing. Why have we let “good enough” become the enemy of “better.”
        I can’t believe that after all these years that this is still the best that we, as the most powerful country in the world, can do.

        • I don’t agree with you regarding the AR-15. I think it is an excellent weapon.

        • Joshua

          Did you not see the results of the ICC? 8 different companies put up the best they could make.

          Troy defense

          All put in their best rifle, 7 out of 8 failed to even match the M4A1.

          On entrant beat the M4A1 in Class I and II stoppages.

          No entrant could even come close to matching the M4A1s Class III rate.

          Guess those 20 years of work put into the M4 have paid off.

          The reason it is so polarizing is because 1. Our media latches on to every story of where one rifle out of over 1,000,000 fails and then reports it yearly on the aniversary, and 2. Getting the contract that replaces it is the most lucrative small arms contract in the world to whoever wins. No other country would be giving away a contract for over 500,000 rifles with more contracts to come after. And that my friend brings the lobyists out who see a big payday and a way to make a name for themselves.

          As to a M16(circa 1960) vs a current SOCOM M4A1? Yeah the M4A1 would run laps around the original M16 and then push it down and kick it a few times before finishing the race.

          • Avid Fan

            Josh, this might make it back to you. The “reply” isn’t working.
            Thank you for a well thought out, well written rebuttal.

            Best regards

          • Joshua


    • Uniform223

      bwah-hahaha!!! 😀

  • Avid Fan

    AR: When you care enough to say “Meh, here.”
    AR (translation) Here let me shoot you with this until I can find something to kill you with.

  • Wanlace Yates

    Look, you can disagree with General Scales on the merits of adopting a new rifle, but I think the whole tone of this response piece is way out of line. OK, the M14 connection was wrong, but lots of Scales’ points have been made by other soldiers, Marines, and shooters for years. This post reads like an AR fanboy rant, not a serious consideration of the issue.

    I served with the M16A2 rifle, and I have also used ARs as a civilian for years, and I can attest to them being maintenance queens, especially in a military setting. They work for US soldiers because the military learned from the Vietnam experience and enforced constant cleaning as the norm, but if they get into really nasty conditions it can be hard to keep them clean enough and they start to have issues. And yes, there are any number of rifle designs out there that can do better. Most civilians and law enforcement users never see this side, because they do not have the same constant exposure to dirty field conditions.

    The Army sticks with the M4 because it feels that it is ‘good enough’, they are tight on money, and they want a ‘breakthrough’ design to justify a new procurement. The large supply chain and the modularity of the M4 for new mods and accessories helps to reinforce that attitude. But combat rifles have to work! Don’t get snippy when someone makes this very valid point based on years of their own combat service just because you want everyone to keep buying your favorite toy.

    • CommonSense23

      So why is it that my MK18 MOD1 will go thousands of rounds without cleaning in any of the conditions I have used it in without malfunctions if the M4 is a maintenance queen. The General doesn’t know what he is talking about. The vast majority of the military doesn’t know what they are talking about.

      • Wanlace Yates

        So, let’s see…

        ‘MK18 MOD1’ – been hanging out at Crane NSWC? Or is it some other vendor’s recreation of that variant?

        ‘will go thousands of rounds without cleaning in any of the conditions I have used it in without malfunctions’ – exactly what ‘conditions’ would those be? If that’s all civilian range time it’s not much of a trial. How many of those fired in bursts or rapid sustained semi-auto?

        ‘he General doesn’t know what he is talking about. The vast majority of the military doesn’t know what they are talking about’ – WOW. Just wow. Look up the word ‘hubris’ sometime. General Scales commanded infantry in Vietnam – what are your bona fides that you can say he doesn’t know what he’s talking about? I had an uncle in the 101st in Vietnam attest to some of the same problems, and there’s been plenty of others with similar experiences. (See comment by Truth is… below for yet another). I’m so glad that we have comment commandos like you to set us all straight [/sarcasm].

        My main point is that TFB and Nathaniel F. need to do a better job at the response, and be less amateur in the way they respond to Scales’ article.

        • n0truscotsman

          “Less amateur way” my ass.

          When such a mountain of bullshit needs to be properly addressed, I dont want to see niceties and beating around the bush. Nathan F hit the ball out of the park on this one, and I’ve strongly disagreed with him before.

          The way they responded was entirely appropriate because the article from the atlantic was basically a regurgitation of points that have already been effectively refuted.

          • Wanlace Yates

            The points have been made, sure, but rarely in a publication like the Atlantic that usually doesn’t touch small arms technology topics, and not decisively refuted because soldiers keep reporting issues. There are a few factual responses in the article, but lots of dismissive, snarky retorts as well. Those don’t reach anyone except for those who are already in total agreement – it’s not an effective counter, even if you think Scales was out to lunch.

        • CommonSense23

          I have spent a lot of time around NSWC Crane. It’s where I did my armorers course at amoung other things.
          As for my MK18. It was a military issued. The conditions I used it were far from static ranges. Riding around in LTATVs with my rifle slung on my chest in the desert for weeks straight. Would have to clean the air filter 4 times a day. Never had to clean my rifle. It ran like a champ. Muddy forest, Alaska in the winter, no problems. Didn’t clean my gun. Just pulled it from my case added lube and went. Range weeks in which I could shoot close to 5000 rounds a week. No cleaning, no malfunctions, just lube. The only reasons would ever clean my rifle is if I had a malfunction is or got it wet with salt water. And the last few years have only cleaned it due to salt water immersion.
          As for the statement of hubris. Guess you really don’t have much experience with the modern military. I guarantee I have shot more issued 5.56 in a week than the General shot in his last 30 years of his career. The military barely trains the majority of its combat arms. The vast majority of the combat arms don’t understand how their weapon actually works. Or how to maintain in. Clean it, which is honestly the least important part of the maintenance cycle of a M4, they can do. But keep a detailed round count so they know when to change the gas rings, nope, label their mags so they can tell them apart and seperate the good from the bad, insane. How to tell if their buffer spring needs replacing, pure magic.
          The problems with the M4 stem from personnel and training issues. If you want to argue that we need a new rifle that is simpler to maintain cause the vast majority of our troops can’t take care of a M4, well that could be a valid point. But saying we need to change our rifle cause some lobbyist General has brought up points that have either are not true or were solved decades ago needs to end.

    • Would it surprise you to learn that General Scales is a lobbyist?

      • Wanlace Yates

        No, not surprised at all, and I am aware that he is also a regular guest on news opinion programs. So the guy is out to make some money. But he is not alone in expressing concerns about the M16/M4 series rifles, and it’s guys like Scales who are going to get published or interviewed by these larger circulation outlets like the Atlantic. Rather than giving the snarky responses that appeared in many parts of your post, you might have taken the article, the author, and the issue a bit more seriously. It’s clear from the chain of comments that plenty of your own readers don’t agree with your position on this, though plenty clearly do.

        • What’s wrong with my readers disagreeing with me? I should hope they do! I am not right about everything, and I wouldn’t learn anything new if no one ever dared disagree!

      • Nicks87

        Wow! Now his credibility is really shot to hell.

      • Wayne

        So now you’ve done research on him.

        • After writing the article, yes. I was curious.

          • Wayne

            Who does he lobby for? With lobbyists being second only to congressmen as far as perceived integrity is concerned, why would you state this without any sort of context, if not to attack his character?

          • Lots of people are lobbyists; that by itself doesn’t impugn the man’s character. Especially if he’s lobbying for a good thing.

            But it does put the article in a new light, doesn’t it?

            It’s sort of up to you whether what he is doing in this testimony before Congress is lobbying; but he’s certainly directly asking Congress to spend more money. I am not against doing that if it’s for the right reasons, but his Atlantic article doesn’t not make a compelling case on that front. It is essentially a rant.

  • Wayne

    This is a decorated Army general you’re denigrating here. Show some respect.

    Your rebuttals are hardly free of spurious logic, and it all comes off as being defensive. Yes, modularity is important. No, not because soldiers get bored — since when does the ground pounder make his own decisions about their rifles? It’s important because it allows the commander to modify a weapon based upon battlefield needs. In Iraq, we often needed shorter barrels due to the urban fighting that occurred. In Afghanistan, we often need the opposite, and we need a heavier round. Being able to switch out barrels and even chambers would be a fantastic tool for the battlefield commander.

    • CommonSense23

      You realize that just cause someone served doesn’t mean they have a clue what they are talking about.

      • Wayne

        Yes, I do realize that. He didn’t just “serve” — he did 34 years as a combat arms officer. He has spent more time in the field and at the range using the weapons he talked about, and more important, leading scores of those that do, than most civilian enthusiasts will ever be able to.

        • Joshua

          If I need informstion of 1970’s Artillery he’s the man, if one need info on small arms ‘s not.

          • Wayne

            Oh come on, you won’t even give him some credit for 1980’s arty? What about 1990’s?

    • mosinman

      who cares who he is if he is spouting rubbish?

      • Wayne

        I personally care deeply. 34 years in the Army as an active duty officer. He was in a combat arms branch. He isn’t spouting rubbish, either. Some of his arguments may not be totally sound, but the same could be said for who posted this article to begin with, especially in how he selectively chose what to respond to.

        • kyphe

          I used the link to read the entire article of your 34 year vet, most of it is posted above in this rebuttal so your claim of cherry picking is false.

          Robert H. Scales service record is irrelevant though I would never call an artillery officer an expert on service rifles. The battle he got the silver star in had a kill ratio of 6 to 1 in the US favor so should we now blame the AK for the death toll of the 29th NVA Regiment? Do I agree the the US should swap to something like the HK 416? Yes, does that make me any less critical of the article he wrote? NO!

          • Wayne

            This is the problem. His service record will NEVER be irrelevant. Yes, he was an artillery officer. What do you think his men carried when they did their ruck marches? It wasn’t a howitzer

            Just because you read the entire article (well done) doesn’t mean you aren’t cherry picking by selectively quoting the man. That’s exactly what you’re doing.

            How does a 6 to 1 kill ratio compare to other engagements? Factor out air power and artillery fire. How did the black gun do then?

          • kyphe

            His record is totally irrelevant to the quality of what he writes, you need to wake up from your bromance. My reading the who article was to check your statement which is why I know you lied! the rebuttal quoted over 90% of what is written in it so no cherry picking was done, anyone reading this rebuttal is also reading the article almost in full with no meaningful text missing. so everyone can see just how bad it truly is. if you don’t understand that they you don’t know the meaning of the phrase “cherry pick” as to the 6 to 1 ratio, lol you are totally missing the point. I am using the same logic as your hero to expose how illogical it is. And no you never factor out anything as war does not work like that. But I think the black gun has killed more than enough in all the US wars to make you shut up.

          • Wayne

            He isn’t my hero. I do not, and have never had a bromance with him. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bromance. I certainly haven’t fallen in love with a tool, like the the M16 or the M4.

            If we are strictly talking about results, then of course we do not factor out elements such as air power. But that’s not what we are doing, is it? We are talking about the black gun. Specifically, how it did, and supposing how another rifle might have done. If we as Americans were solely relying on a rifle to win wars, our record of success would be quite different.

          • AlDeLarge

            Just because he quoted most of the article doesn’t mean he didn’t cherry-pick. His “rebuttal” of two paragraphs he quoted completely ignored the points being made for two strawman arguments. The general did not call infantrymen animals or claim an antique rifle was better than a modern rifle, but those are the two imaginary issues that were chosen to rebut. That’s beyond cherry-picking. Nothing was addressed from the first paragraph, and nothing that was actually said in the second, either.

          • kyphe

            No such thing as cherry picking a rebuttal, there is no requirement to address all points as long as you do not attempt to hide points that are not in line with your opinion or what you are trying to convey.m everyone can see what he did so it is transparent.

          • AlDeLarge

            He’s cherry-picking minor mistakes and nonexistent points to refute, and claiming to have “dissected” the article. If you’re going to claim dissection, all of the points must be addressed, even if they’re agreed with.

            Snarky comments like “I suppose you have to have a catchy subtitle.” and the mentioned strawman arguments are not a rebuttal. Saying the picture (likely chosen by an editor, because it’s a real magazine, not a blog) isn’t exact isn’t a rebuttal. Bragging about not understanding that arguing against major change is much less work than implementing that major change, to avoid the point that was actually being made is not a rebuttal.

          • kyphe

            his burden of care was addressed by proving the full text for us to read and assess his comments against, there is no requirement to address all points that is total fiction on your part. It is quite easy to see where he loses the plot and falls victim to the same kind of nonsense he criticizes the general for. and NO it is not cherry picking as cherry picking is the fallacy of incomplete evidence, it is a specific term not something you ascribe your own definitions to.

          • AlDeLarge

            My posts must still be “pending.”

          • kyphe

            what you expect from something no one even mentions but you is of no concern, and when using cherry pick in this context the definition is no where near as informal as you are trying to present to cover your errors. You try and be technical in one breath then throw technicality out the window when it does not suit you.

          • AlDeLarge

            Nice try, but it was you who tried to get technical to cover your ridiculous claims that he didn’t “selectively [choose] what to respond to.” Quoting most of the article doesn’t change what he responded to, and neither does claiming the original poster, or me, said something else. You substituted the word “cherry-picking” for “selectively chose what to respond to.” Nobody was being technical about anything, but you. Nobody said anything about formal, logical fallacy but you, and not until the last post I was replying to.

          • kyphe

            Now you are out right lying, I never once said he did not selectively choose what to respond to, how pathetic can you get. I said It did not matter as the full text is there so nothing is covered up and we can all see for yourself. you are a worm not worth my time.

          • AlDeLarge

            “Substitute” is another word you have trouble with, I see.

            “Some of his arguments may not be totally sound, but the same could be said for who posted this article to begin with, especially in how HE SELECTIVELY CHOSE WHAT TO RESPOND TO.”

            Your reply:
            “I used the link to read the entire article of your 34 year vet, most of it is posted above in this rebuttal so YOUR CLAIM OF CHERRY PICKING IS FALSE.”

            It’s all right there for everyone to see.

          • kyphe

            Are you soft in the head? as I have explained to you what cherry picking means in this context and why it does apply. Yet you accuse me of your definition despite my clear comments to the contrary. Your teachers must be very ashamed. Yet more examples of your dishonest nature. Just keep digging yourself a hole.

          • AlDeLarge

            You were the first to use “cherry pick” as a substitute for “selectively chose what to respond to.” Either that’s what you meant, or you were lying about what was first said.

            Which is it?

          • kyphe

            Yes I use the word cherry pick as that is what I believed he was referring to at the time. I then clearly express what I mean by that term as I used it. The original poster could have said I did not mean what you suggest, but no he responded with this. “Just because you read the entire article (well done) doesn’t mean you
            aren’t cherry picking by selectively quoting the man. That’s exactly
            what you’re doing.” which lead to a dialog on the term itself which is independent of the original contention. then you jump in feat first.

          • AlDeLarge

            You’ve got that all out of order; Try again. The original poster and I were quite clear about what we meant. You didn’t say you changed the subject until later.

          • kyphe

            Once again you attempt out right falsehood.


            “He’s cherry-picking minor mistakes and nonexistent points to refute, and
            claiming to have “dissected” the article. If you’re going to claim
            dissection, all of the points must be addressed, even if they’re agreed


            “No such thing as cherry picking a rebuttal, there is no requirement to
            address all points as long as you do not attempt to hide points that are
            not in line with your opinion or what you are trying to convey”

            I am specifically arguing your use of the term cherry pick in a debate context as a follow on to my prior posts which did not need to be repeated in yours. I also argue your made up rules.

            First post by me

            “I used the link to read the entire article of your 34 year vet, most of
            it is posted above in this rebuttal so your claim of cherry picking is

            Self explanatory cherry picking is false as no evidence was hidden as per the debate definition of cherry picking.

            Second post by me

            ” My reading the whole article was to check your statement which is why I
            know you lied! The rebuttal quoted over 90% of what is written in it so
            no cherry picking was done. Anyone reading this rebuttal is also
            reading the article almost in full with no meaningful text missing, so
            everyone can see just how bad it truly is. If you don’t understand that
            they you don’t know the meaning of the phrase “cherry pick”.”

            Again self explanatory.

            Both yourself and the original poster chose to argue the term “cherry pick” and ascribe it to your definition which I object to. I never once argued against selective responses, I said they did not matter. I never once argued against straw-man, I said all can see this who reads it.

            Honesty and comprehension are two things you need to work on.

          • AlDeLarge

            You need help. There was nothing self-explanatory about your subject change. Now that I know you were arguing about something else, I can see your straw man, but before you admitted that you weren’t talking about the original subject the regular, everyday dictionary definition fit the actual subject just fine. As soon as you made it clear that you were talking about something nobody else was, I told you what was being talked about. It’s not my fault you think “cherry-pick” only has one narrow meaning; Maybe you should get out more.

          • kyphe

            Try and spin it how ever you like, you are only fooling yourself.

          • AlDeLarge

            It’s all there in black and white; You only have to be able to read to see it.

          • kyphe

            Obviously, someone with your lack of comprehension would make a comment that ignores the requirement for comprehension. You are living proof that reading alone is not enough.

          • AlDeLarge

            I’m sure you believe that, just as much as you believe I could read your mind when you secretly changed the subject.

          • kyphe

            Still dinging your hole I see

    • I don’t believe I said anything about the man’s character.

      The article he has written is substandard.

      • Wayne

        You danced all around his character. No, you didn’t come out and say he’s full of it, but you got mighty close.

        • I deliberately did no research on the man before I wrote the article (I did not even know at the time that he was a general). The only things I addressed were the words he wrote.

          • Wayne

            Ignorance is your defense. You cannot address what a man writes without also addressing the man.

          • I never attacked him personally. If his writing reflects poorly on him and his rank, that is not my problem.

          • nadnerbus

            This is plainly wrong. A person is not their opinions. If what you say is true, it is impossible to have a debate without insulting your opponent, and that is just not the case.

            I am sure the General is a grownup and understands that opinions can be questioned and refuted, without necessarily denigrating his character or integrity.

    • Ron

      Gen Scales is an expert on fire support and artillery. I required all my officers to read his book “Fire Power and Limited War” because he is an expert on that subject. On the subject of infantry small arms he has shown he lacks that same expertise.

      • Wayne

        Indeed. I (don’t think, anyway) didn’t defend his words or his argument. My issue was with the way he was being treated in the comments here, like he was just some ordinary jerk with a grudge.

  • Cal S.

    That figures. My AR works like a charm, and while I’d like to get an AK for the ammo price aspect, it’s not because I fret over reliability.

  • Guest

    I once read that early 5.56 ammunition was charged with single base powder (ie 30-06) because the newer double base powder was in short supply. In general that would create more fouling problems. I’d have to dig to find the reference and it was just another magazine article. It could have been wrong.

  • me ohmy

    should be titled “I don’t know a thing about these.. but I don’t like guns, aw yeah..here’s an m-16, I will misquote everything I read in the last two days before writing this article”

  • mosinman

    newfangled plastic aluminum guns… should of stuck with the 1903 Springfield… it has proven technology and a hard hitting .30 cal round, not some wimpy varmint round.
    with a strong bolt action and no magazine to lose it’s the epitome of reliability!

    • Don Ward

      30-40 Krag is the better designed weapon! Far easier to top off your weapon with the elegant side opening!

      • Joshua

        But a musket will take a mans head clean off.

        • Tassiebush

          Nah you want a halberd. no fancy moving parts to let you down. far better than a bayonet for hand to hand fighting.

          • mosinman

            Ug say bone club best. No need make, just take from animal. Not rust like stupid iron. Many stopping power n ergonomic vs rock

          • Tassiebush

            well Og say bone is overly complex and extra reach of bone is unneccesarily confusing for Og to comprehend. Og prefer rock! rock much better than teeth!

          • mosinman

            rock?! rock?! rock is old… outdated! serve well in past, but this no stoneage! bone use better constrution! lighter! more capacity for strike before tired! bone is way of future!

          • Tassiebush

            Og suspicious of bone procurement process! Og think bone smell fishy!

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    lol I didn’t know our military used SlideFire stocks!

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    My argument is that we’re always hearing about Special Forces getting “better” weapons and that they get the best of everything. But when we’re the “richest country in the world” (I don’t even know if that’s true anymore) why can’t we give ALL our troops the best of everything?

    • Uniform223

      There is only so much of that $ pie to go around. The constant statement of “Special Forces get better stuff” is a literal half truth. Though they may get the chance to employ some of the latest and greatest FIRST, they are still given some of your standard stuff you get from regular military supply chains. Though they may get some of the best stuff, its not their kit that matters to them; its their training.
      When all of us were running around with those big clunky K-pots, SF had the low cut ACH… now everyone has an ACH. While they use those super high speed tactical ( tacticool ) FAST helmets now, ( I bet ) a few years from now those FAST helmets will be standard issue.
      When the rest of use were still running around with those ALICE gear, SF were using MOLLE gear, now we all have it.
      When we were forced to use BCGs ( birth control glasses ) as a form of eye pro, SF were using Oakleys, Revisions, and Wiley Ex…. now we all have them.

    • Joshua

      SF and SoF get SOPMOD II M4A1s, so be happy the Army is giving everyone the rifle of SoF.

  • Mystick

    Source: The Atlantic. I could have stopped you right there 😉 No further explanation required.

  • dan citizen

    multi gun matches are not combat.

  • Yes, but it’s not in anywhere near a comparable caliber.

  • I recommend you buy a Colt 6920 and run it hard.

  • That’s a pretty complicated subject. I think there are a lot of benefits of suppressors, but two things that stand out to me are that rifles with suppressors must have them removed before they can mount bayonets or fire rifle grenades. Whether this matters is up to the procurement office in question.

    • iksnilol

      Cant you mount a bayonet on the rail or handguards? If it is long enough it would extend past the silencer. In regards to rifle grenades, couldn’t you have the end of the suppressor shaped to accept the grenade? Or just have detachable internals on the suppressor and use the suppressor tube as the launch cup.

      • You could probably mount a new pattern bayo on a rail, as long as it extended far enough forward. But that would require adopting new bayonets.

        You would most likely need to remove a suppressor before firing rifle-grenades.

  • I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’d rather have the M4.

  • nadnerbus

    Interesting, the last bit. I wonder if any of those defense firms include companies peddling a competing product to the M16 family of rifles.

    • Ethan

      DING DING DING! We have a winner!!

  • gunsandrockets

    Yeah, except the AR-18 didn’t exist until 1963! By the time the AR-18 caught up to the development level of the AR-15 it was too late. There were hundreds of thousands of M16 types already produced, and even the USMC had around 90,000. There was no way the AR-18 would dethrone the M16 by that point.

    I think it’s interesting though that in later years, weapons designers choose to copy the mechanism of the AR-18 rather than the AR-15 when creating new assault rifles for their nations. And from what I hear about the AR-18, supposedly it is easier to construct than an AKM. Makes me wish for AR-180 build parties!

    • Joshua

      It was never meant to replace the AR-15. It was designed for countries that did not have the ability or money to make a gun like the AR-15. That is why they chose stamped steel receivers and what not.

      • gunsandrockets

        The story of the AR-18 is quite interesting and considerably more complex than that.

      • Kivaari

        That’s true. Its market was in under-developed nations. My personal rifle was excellent with iron sights, I used the Colt-style scope, designed for the AR18 and due to a poor quality scope, it went from a tack driver to producing shotgun patterns. 40 years ago the AR180 was an interesting rifle. Mine never failed, except for losing stock locking pins, springs and roll pins.

    • Kivaari

      An issue with the AR18 was the magazine latch. It was on the left hand side, even when a guard was in place the weapon dumped the magazine. It is easy to do while walking about.

      • iksnilol

        That’s why I prefer the rock and lock system. Ambidextrous and it is harder to lose the magazine on accident. That and you get rid of the annoying magwell that Stoner seems to have loved or something.

    • Well, it might be easier to make than an AK, but the AR-18 business model was really licensed-built kit production. All the hard work was done by Armalite; “license producers” just had to do the equivalent of an AK kit build.

  • Wayne

    Oh, really? Tell me, how does one get a silver star?

    Only politicians get promoted to General. I see. What about HR McMaster?

    • Nicks87

      “how does one get a silver star?”
      Being in the right place at the right time helps and having a CO that knows how to write an awards package helps too.

      • Wayne

        Is that what happened with General Scales?

  • n0truscotsman

    I fear you open a can of worms with that statement, but I agree. 😉
    Im done being nice to people/publications about issues such as this. Call it my fatigue from addressing the same points over and over again and refuting the same nonsense countless times, or general cynicism that the population loves denialism over truth.
    I really wish people would stop using examples from the fricken 1960s to apply a generalization to modern day weapons used in the year 2014, while ignoring the countless improvements and evolutionary steps taken along the way.
    But Im ranting now. Its the outrage/moral panic machine that loves creating shitstorms, so that “heroes” can be created and publications credited for ratings. In the meantime, damn those pesky facts, being the stubborn things they are.

  • gunsandrockets

    3 private contractors also produced the M14 rifle for the US Army, besides Springfield Armory, with varied success. Supposedly the Winchester machinery was pretty worn out. TRW bought brand new machinery and employed the latest manufacturing technology, and accepted a contract to produce over 200,000 M-14 rifles for less than $80 each.

  • Uniform223

    NO NOT MY 1911!!! Leave my baby out of this… hahaha joking. please don’t open up that can of worms.

  • Alex Nicolin

    When I first saw the title of the Atlantic article I knew that it’s gonna be one of those “some bullshit that never gets old” type 🙂

  • Joshua

    He was a damn good Artillery Officer, expert in small arms…..not so much.

    • mosinman

      that’s why i’d respect his opinion if was talking artillery.

  • Joshua

    I always point out Kamdesh when Wanat gets brought up.

    • Nicks87

      I believe there were no weapons malfunctions reported at Kamdesh and that battle was very similar to Wanat and located in Nuristan as well.

      • Joshua

        There was one, a M2 that got hit by an RPG and had a destroyed feed tray.

  • Joshua

    Only 2 units(imn the general issue big picture) use the HK416, SFOD-D and DEVGRU. Everyone else is using the M4A1 and CQBR(Mk18) with the current SOPMOD II ancillery items.

    The two units that do use the HK416 adopted it in 2004 and in the 10″ format, back when the MK18 was a fledgeling design going through teething issues.

  • Joshua

    Yeah the M4, at least I know it will work when needed.

  • The XM16E1 wasn’t manufactured until 1964, by which point tens of thousands of M16s had already been fielded (mostly by the Air Force). It became the M16A1 in 1967.

    • It is best to think in terms of Colt’s internal model numbers. All of the rifles purchased before the November 1963 contract award were either the Model 601 or 602. Afterwards, the 603 (Army) and 604 (USAF) configurations were essentially twins with the exception of the 603’s forward assist. Any changes or improvements were introduced across the board.

  • roguetechie

    I so want to write an in depth response to this right now but a 15 minute break isn’t enough time!

    The guy accidentally got quite a bit right, but even a blind squirrel gets a nut sometimes!

    I’ve been frustrated for years since I realized that we threw away our chance to have a truly modular weapons system that could’ve gave us a single basic receiver and interchangeable subassemblies that took the place of the Thompson, m1 carbine, m1 garand, BAR, and eventually even supplanted the 1919 for infantry and paratroopers!

    That system was the Johnson rifle and lmg system. I’ll explain more later.

    • roguetechie

      To explain the last post and give some details the Johnson rifle and lmg were based on a common universal receiver that became one or the other by what lower receiver (think fal or mgi military hydra) and feed mechanism pack you chose to install. (also swapping these was every bit as easy as today’s AR’S) Also if you’ve seen an AR bolt and barrel you’re familiar with the Johnson bolt and barrel with the signature AR extension! Now the johnson system had a simple qcb setup also. And finally the lmg version had an open bolt full closed semi fcg as an added bonus!

      So if Mel Johnson had got support rather than obstruction we could’ve seen a squad/platoon with a unified basic system, but in a variety of calibers to suit their needs.

      I smile occasionally thinking of American paratroopers jumping with a Spitzer bulleted .30 carbine version using upsized suomi coffin mags and drums, and sporting a collapsible stock inspired by the one on the DT machine gun. (or a German subgun inspired underfolder)

      Commandos with an integrally suppressed 9×19 or 45 acp versions.

      One platoon, one manual of arms, one hell of an economy of scale!

      • In some ways that did happen. Johnson went on to help design the AR-10, which evolved into the highly modular AR-15.

        I suspect Johnson would feel the AR-10 was a superior weapon to his earlier work. Though maybe not.

        • roguetechie


          I tend to completely disagree with that statement. In the transition between the two literally every really revolutionary feature was removed. For example:

          1. Quick Change Barrel
          2. User level interchangeable feed systems
          3. Open bolt full automatic closed bolt semiautomatic FCG

          Honestly you still can’t get this in a standard AR variant. I still very much like the AR10/15 system, don’t get me wrong. I still believe that the Johnson rifle/lmg system had potential to kick off the modularity revolution nearly 6 decades early.

          • The Johnson LMG and rifle did share some parts, but they were not interchangeable at the user level to my knowledge.

            In what way can’t you have a quick change barrel or interchangeable feed mechanisms or an open/closed FCG in an AR? All of those technologies are available for the platform, but there has been no need for them.

          • roguetechie


            My post was intended as sardonic commentary on the fact that more than half a century later we’re now looking at adding back in NEARLY EVERY FEATURE Melvin Johnson went to great pains to include in his weapons system design. A rifle/lmg platform that is unquestionably the source of a majority of the AR platform’s form factor and features.

            To me what’s really amazing is how much Melvin Johnson got right in his design… That and if you look at the mag pouches and other accessories he had made for soldiers that were issued his system, he was frighteningly prescient and so far ahead that people just wouldn’t accept it.

            As to your comment that people did not do field configuration changes… The ability was built into the system from the jump, but the end users CHOSE not to take advantage of this.

            To support my assertion I’ll point you to the limited run of Johnson autocarbine versions at least one of which was used actively in world war 2, and acquitted itself spectacularly at that! This version had the ten round rotary magazine attached to the lmg lower.

            Also it should be noted that the lower and upper connected in a way AR and FAL owners would be very familiar with it… Really the only thing you had to change besides furniture (which holds the fcg in both configurations) was the I guess it corresponds to bolt carrier in the AR series. The reason this not interchangeable is the buffer in the rifle version runs diagonally down through the rifle stock, whereas the lmg configuration is straight AR10/15 in most ways!

            And mix and match WAS possible and very easy..

            One other very neat thing about the system is like the g3 it depends on a precise angle of two angled cam pieces to control when the bolt unlocked… Unlike the HK and other designs though rather than having interchangeable blocks each at fixed angles instead you can adjust both bearing surfaces as desired to get the performance you need or keep your gun running at high round counts to adjust for wear!!

            Obviously I’m very much a fan of the system, but it hardly comes from an illogical or ill conceived place!

            Frankly I think Mel Johnson was a genius. He managed to build a system that was half a century ahead of the curve that simultaneously maximized the ability to manufacture them in the MILLIONS in a wartime economy, minimized cost and special training or machinery needed to do this, not only built the weapon system but also a set of accessories and supplemental equipment to maximize the effectiveness of people taking this system into combat, and did it all in the face of active opposition from the ordnance department that made even getting a building and tooling to work with an epic undertaking all on it’s own!!

            So he designed a system that’s frnkly better than the schlock we get pawned off on us today! Including actively working to make the men issued his weapons devastatingly effective!

            To me that’s damn impressive

  • IIRC, the TRW guns were actually considered by the DoD to be the best of the M14s

    Production of the M14 was always an issue. There were never enough to go around.

  • Nicks87

    Exactly, finally somebody that actually knows how things work in a combat zone.

  • Bud Harton

    I think the best way to confirm or deny the suitability of the M16/M4 in combat could be resolved by the answers to several specific questions. Please limit your answers only to those questions which you have experienced directly and not from something that your read or something that you heard. Ready? here we go:
    1. When you shot someone with an M16/M4, did he go down after one hit? Or did it take multiple hits?
    2. After the target was hit, was he able to return fire after he had been hit? or after taking multiple hits?
    3. was the target, after being striuck by your fire from an M16/M4 able to take any offensive or defensive action? For instance, was he able to fire his weapon? throw a grenade?
    4. After hitting your target, was he able to drag himself to cover? Was he DRT or was he still able to move even a little bit?

    As you can see, it is pretty easy to identify the subject matter experts and the only ones actually qualified to discuss the issue.

    • Don Ward

      Anecdotes are tricksy things. I am looking at a list of Medal of Honor recipients and there are examples of individuals receiving wounds from arrows, artillery, grenades, machine guns, rifles, pistols and every weapon of war who 1) did not go down after one (or multiple) hits 2) returned fire 3) fired his weapon and threw grenades 4) dragging himself and comrades to cover. Were the weapons those soldiers were facing all rubbish? Were they good? Am I not “qualified” to talk about the issue despite not having served?

    • Why do you think this method is superior to a scientific evaluation? For example, what if the M16 scores poorly in all these regards in one anecdote, but an M14 scores poorly in another?

      The only way to make an evaluation of these sorts of things is to do so scientifically, and while anecdotes can be helpful, they are very far removed from being scientific.

      • Bud Harton

        Because using your method and
        scientific approach would mean
        the Ruger 10/22
        would be America’s next battle rifle

        • How so?

        • Don Ward

          Using your method, the 1873 Springfield chambered in 45/70 would be America’s next battle rifle because it has the most “stopping power”.

    • Zebra Dun

      1. Maybe you missed the target.
      2. Having missed the target the target was pissed and shot back.
      3. Target having been missed, got pissed, shot back, got skeert and left the AO so no way to tell if you hit him or not.
      4. Blood would be found if the target was hit, dragging himself off will make a blood trail, Following a blood trail leads to dead or severely wounded target, mission accomplished, if no body found the blood trail leads right back to the targets buddies POS, bunker, lager, at least their field medics which are located at his leadership, Find, Fix and call in Arty/Tac Air.
      Mission accomplished.

  • Kivaari


    • “The Great Rifle Controversy” is on my wishlist.

  • Good trolling has a little subtlety to it.

  • Cheese_McQueen

    It is also a clunky, outdated weapon. The M1 carbine has no place in a modern military.

    • Kivaari

      I love ’em.

  • Wayne

    Funny how they come out when their favorite toy gets called to question.

  • John Donnelly

    Here is the crux: why must a GI spend so much time several times a day cleaning his M16/M4 compared to seldom or never for an AK? Who cares what system runs the gun?
    I have had ammo and mag related failures with both weapons. I have had dirt/mud/sand based failures to chamber, cartridge rims ripped off and brass stuck in chamber failures with ARs–but not in AKs. In one course I was in we used NoKorean AKs captured in VietNam. These were at least 30 years old at the time and appeared to never have been cleaned. They ran fine as is. Our M16s of course required daily cleaning. Were you thinking US GIs have an extra 30-60 minutes daily to clean rifles? You try running on 0 to 4 hours sleep per 24-hour period!
    Regarding weight, GIs seem very happy with the M240 which weighs in heavier than an M60 (and which beat the pants off the M60 in the trails that led to the selection of the heinous M60).

    • CommonSense23

      The idea that the modern M4 needs to be cleaned daily is asinine. I go thousands of rounds between cleening my without malfunctions. And this is not just from static range use, but in multiple different environments, and almost always suppressed. And AKs are not weapons that can just run with absolutely no maintenance. I have pulled enough AKs off the battlefield that would choke before you could get two mags thru them.

      • John Donnelly

        Are you honestly trying to say that AKs require the same level of maintenance as an M4/M16 to be as reliable? My point is that the US can do better. Better than AK and better than M4/M16.
        My experiences are not the same as yours regarding both weapon types.

    • What GIs are issued AKs? Besides the automatic riflemen issued SAWs (which are far from problem-free), I mean.

      You have an anecdote that informs your opinion; I respect that, but it doesn’t nothing for me. I cannot say to myself “a commenter on my article said the M16 doesn’t work, therefore I must conclude the M4 is crap.” I can only go off of my own experiences, the well-documented experiences of others, and military tests. Taken in sum, both of these run counter to your anecdote.

      Further, GIs are happy with the M240, except for its piggish weight. If you have spoken with 240 gunners and never heard them complain about its weight, you have had exceptional experiences. Indeed, what this has to do with infantry rifles is unclear. Obviously, if we take it for granted that the M4 is garbage and Rifle X is not, and Rifle X is heavier by some amount, no one will argue that we should not go with Rifle X. However, we cannot take that for granted. Not on the back of one anecdote, not on the back of a thousand.

      • Wayne

        The 240 is heavy as hell. I’ve never seen it carried as a SAW (m249). Which is hardly feather light. The complaints I heard about the 249 were the weight of the magazines, and its bulk. But we always had a volunteer to carry it.

  • Kivaari

    The AR-type rifles are “mature”. They have been refined over the last 50 years. I find them to be great rifles. No I did not use them in combat, just Army National Guard in peace time. In the Navy we had WW2 weapons. All of them worked well. In civilian police we had AR15/M4s, that worked well.
    As a private citizen and gun store owner, I sold many AR15s, and when ever there were issues, it was always ammo and magazine issues. Commercial reloads accounted for nearly every stoppage. I found only a few rifles with broken bolts, worn gas rings, weak extractor springs. If it wasn’t ammo, replacing worn parts, made the gun go. Those worn rifles showed extreme use w/o good care. One M16 had just about every issue found across the board. People take care of your rifle, your life is worth a few extra minutes cleaning and inspecting parts. I contend over 95% of gun-smith work is simply cleaning the weapon.

  • Zebra Dun

    Parris Island 1970 we were issued M-14’s and they worked fine aside from running sights.
    The M-16 rifles we were issued at Camp Geiger CLNC circa 1970 were crap. They jammed constantly during any live fire.
    Many jammed using blanks with no firing adapter just hand ejecting.
    We were issued one cleaning kit per three men and though taught maintenance and given the cartoon book “Sweet sixteen” rarely had the time to do more than dust them off and for inspections took them into the showers then sprayed them with WD 40 as a lube and oil.
    My first duty station issued us M-14’s we had no problems period.
    By the time I was issued another M-16 the rifles were operational as was the issue of cleaning kits and PM, I never had any problems with the later M-16 rifles.
    I’ve owned an AR-15 and never had a problem that caused a jam. Once using it and not cleaning it for a year just everyday civilian type usage.
    The weapons system matures and gets better, fans push it, detractors pan it but it keeps on going.
    I personally prefer an M-14/1A1, I have shot Kalashnikov and AR-15/M-16’s I would take anyone of these three in a fight and not feel less well armed, I would not wish to be shot by any one of the three.
    There will always be something better, until then this is what we have.

    • mosinman

      maybe i’m reading this wrong but don’t most gas operated rifles need to be hand cycled when they don’t have a blank firing adapter?

      • Joshua

        Yes, Blanks do not have enough powder to cycle semi auto rifles alone. This is why the BFA is needed, it redirects enough gas to cycle the rifle without actually needing a full load of powder to do it.

        This is also why guns get far filthier with blanks as well.

  • Joshua

    Oh no, there have been tests done and they have shown COTS magazines to generally be superior.

    Why do you think the Army made the tan follower mags with different springs, and why do you think they are now once again finding a flaw in the current magazines and changing them?

    As for the same dimensions you are wrong. Polymer mags may have the same outer dimensions but internal they are different.

    Being made of a polymer that is poured into a mold they are able to make a constant true internal curve that is designed to the taper of the 5.56 round that leads to far better feeding than a curve to straight change you see in aluminum mags.

    The IC showed just how well COTS magazines perform as 80% of all stoppages the M4A1 experienced were magazine related while every other competitor saw far less magazine related stoppage(but far more rifle related stoppages).

  • Yea I could go with that.

  • Pete

    Here’s what I posted, fat lot of impact that it’ll have with the Atlantic crowd:
    The M4 is a great weapon and so is the DI system. I say that both as a US Army Infantry NCO as well as an avid civilian shooter. Also, for the record, the Piston operated SCAR system which the author seems to claim JSOC elements use in preference to the M4 is not well liked or preferred by those elements – it was made available to them and is generally disliked by them – they prefer M4’s. I am not old enough to know what the author experienced in Vietnam, but to say the M4, M16A4 in service with the USMC or even the M16A2 in service since the eighties is his old problematic M16 and M16A1 is disingenuous at best.

    Is the M4 without problems? Heck no! But the problem, in my experience, is in the Army maintenance system. And when I say that I don’t mean a problem with Joe scrubbing his star chamber – I mean with replacement of parts. Don’t getme wrong, I’ve seen Joe do some pretty dumb things (to include my perennial favorite of shaving cream and hot shower degreasing the weapon IOT pass the dirty finger test), and Army training of weapons maintenance leaves a lot to be desired. The bigger problem I’ve seen
    though is simply worn out parts – recoil springs, extractors, extractor springs, gas rings, shot out barrels, and eroded gas ports being the big ones (excluding magazines anyways – which should be an article unto itself). In my experience, arms room level maintenance is a joke, depot level maintenance fails at its job, and individual level maintenance is
    discouraged or outright prohibited rather than taught.

    If you want to increase the reliability and lethality of US infantry rifles, I would advocate a
    different focus. The DI system’s advantage in weight and accuracy justifies a little extra cleaning. Personal experience and repeated tests – check out Andrew Tuohy’s tests at Vuurwapenblog – have shown M4/AR systems with serviceable parts will shoot far more rounds than carried by any soldier – on the order of 2000 rounds before significantly compromised reliability (the average soldier carries between 210-420 rds for their individual rifle/carbine). Focus instead on maintenance and operator interface. The star chamber (7 lug design) is hard to keep clean – why can’t we have a 3 lug bolt design? Gas port erosion is a significant issue on rifles/carrbines as well on machine guns like the M240 & M249 which use the piston-operation the author seeks to advocate. Passive or active miniature gyroscope-based electronic round counters (essentially mini-pedometers) for round count can be incorporated inside of pistol grips or elsewhere and allow maintainers to quickly assess round count since last bbl change, etc. These have been designed and offered but never adopted. Do you change your oil every X-thousand miles? Your timing belt? Of course you do, but the army doesn’t change barrels or any other wear part this way and unreliable weapons are the result. No matter how clean Joe gets his
    star chamber, an old shot out rifle will bot be reliable. Also, the manual of arms has changed since the 60’s – updated controls for magazine release, bolt hold-open & release,
    charging handle location, and ambidextrous safeties would go a long way.

    Yes, we still struggle with the age-old questions of what lubricant is best for fine particulate
    (read desert sand) environments, what lubricant is best for extreme cold, and whether to design seals or easy draining in muddy/swampy environments. Yes, we still argue about which round is the best answer to the old conundrum of lethality, range, & penetration VS recoil VS weight & bulk (and thus how many rounds can be carried). These issues will continue until we all get those “phased plasma rifles in the 40w range” that Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted. For the here and now, lets focus on ergonomics and maintenance… Please?

    • Uniform223

      I am not being facetious or sarcastic but this has got to be one of the best and smartest comments I have seen in a long long time. This gets my vote.

      Also I would advocate against the idea that round counter inside the pistol grip thingy. How about just armorers and the “system” doing actual PMC after every deployment or every 2 years? Just period Preventive maintenance checks ( PMC ) can go along way.

    • The star-shaped bolt has advantages of its own (very gentle incremental failure mode, strong and symmetrical support of the case head, low angle of bolt rotation, and low lug profile), and there’s a lot of space in the extension for extra crap to go.

      Having said that, I personally favor fewer larger lugs, such as perhaps a four-lug bolt.

      • roguetechie

        . Unless you have lapped the extension and lugs generally speaking you can’t be sure you have symmetrical contact. So much so in fact that several high end companies bob several lugs.

  • supergun

    I will take the M-4 over the AK all day long. Daniel Watters sounds much like the politicians; remember the female politician in Colorado who thought the magazines were no good after one use, and the nyc gov. cousmo who said you did not need 7 bullets to kill a daer, and the idiot judge who says the 2nd Amendment doesn’t allow AR-15s.

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    When, not if, the gas system fouls on your AR, you have a bolt action rifle.
    When, not if, the piston fouls on your AK, you have an expensive, unergonomic club.

    Had he mentioned a short stroke piston he might have had an argument. Of course, that adds more moving parts and still increases recoil mass, which affects function in other ways.

    There is no magic fix.

    • Max Glazer

      Just how fouled do you have to get AK gas system for it to seize up? Especially older 7.62×39 ones. They run more gas pressure then most infantry rifles which is a known cause of its high recoil. Also why can’t one use it as a bolt action rifle if its too fouled? AR is somehow able to while AK cant? Or you want to fill AK gas system with Loctite? Come on. AK expensive? Tell that to Brits with their SA80 that costs 1300 each. Or Germans with their G-36 with loads of optics built-in. Or Austrians with AUG. Much pricier then Russian AKs. Unergonomic? While not the most comfortable weapon in the world it still is good enough for modern combat as proven over and over. There are plenty of pistol grips, aftermarket stocks, fore-end grips. Make your own if you like.

      Would be interesting to see how the latest M-4A1 or M-16A4 fares with the Russian testing of rain room, instant fire after pulling it from water pool, dust chamber (ultra-fine silicon dust for 15 min), freeze to -58F, repeated drops from 5-6 feet onto stock barrel and mag. After all this the weapon must fire flawlessly. Each AK batch goes through that at the factory and if 2 rifles fail from a control bunch (selected at random) the whole batch is failed.

      Until this sort of testing is used in US military, there will still be people stating that ARs are unreliable junk. A lot of US servicemen state that they never had a problem with them in combat and there are those that hate it because theirs did jam in combat. I spoke to some of my former classmates that were taken to Army in Russia and went on to fight in Chechnya and not one ever had a single problem with their AKs. Not even a misfire (thanks to laquered bullet/case and case/primer joins) by 25+ year old ammo they were given. Maybe something can be learnt from Russians? Or is the pride too strong?

      • Guido FL

        I own several AK’s and one AR the difference in cleaning after firing 100 rds. is startling. One AK owner firearms instructor recently bragged he had fired over 10,000 rds. thru his AK without a major cleaning. There are piston operated AR’s that avoid the heat and carbon build up’s in the chamber but are a little heavier.

        • Max Glazer

          They would be too. Interestingly I read that the piston ARs apparently wear faster due to force vector during initial pulse that piston gives. Does that have any substance to that?

          • Uniform223

            What you’re talking about is carrier tilt. From my understanding because the AR-15 was never designed to be a piston driven system the BCG isn’t being pushed into the buffer tube in a straight inline backwards push. Instead the BCG travels in a slight downward angle during cycling and hits the bottom front part of the buffer tube. Has this made any BCGs wear faster and induce malfunction… not that I know of. Its more of an annoyance as I hear it. There are piston driven ARs that do get around that problem by redesigning the BCG and extending the buffer tube.

      • gfr

        I have a Mosin and a Tokarev so I don’t think I am prejudiced against Russian weapons.
        I should point out however that the Israelis used the AK as the basis for their “Galil” rifle, and the South Africans used the “Galil” as the basis for the R4. The Galil never completely replaced the M-16 in Israeli service (and still hasn’t), and the IDF is now converting to the “Tavor”, while the R4 was about to be replaced by the CR-21 (also based on the Tavor), before the SANDF ran out of money. Presumably there was some reason why those two nations turned down the much cheaper AK-74.
        It’s nice that the AK is cheap and reliable, but a good rifle also needs to be accurate.

        • Max Glazer

          AK-74M (produced since 90s) was pitted against M4s captured in Georgia in 2008. AK had an inch larger grouping in single fire and an inch smaller grouping in burst fire compared to trophy M4s. Those M-4s were still in their crates. Brand new. What does that say about AK-74 accuracy?

          • Uniform223

            First off let me say that from 07-08 I got to work with and train Georgian troops on deployment.

            Second I for the most part had a very strong and respectable work relation with some of those troops and even got a hand on their smuggled home made vodka ( holy hell I thought I could out drink people at my younger prime ). We even had some shoot out competitions.

            Third I will agree that AKs are definitely more accurate than most some people would give them credit. The Georgian soldiers I worked with had AKMs and I got the chance to become familiarize with those rifles. They also had a few SVDs but they were very picky about those.

            Your last comment gets a little fuzzy and skewed.

            The two main differences between the M4 and AK74 are the sights and the muzzle devices at the end of the barrel. The M4 has a more precise peep sight compared to the AKs notch sight. The peep sights allows for more accurate shooting in semi and at distance over the notch sights ( in my experience ).
            The muzzle devices between the two are what made the difference in the last part of the comment. The M4 has that traditional “bird cage” A2 style flash hider. A few would say that the A2 flash hider is a bit of a compensator because it vents the excess gas at the top and not at the bottom slightly reducing muzzle climb. The Ak74 on the other hand does not have a flash hider but a dedicated muzzle brake. The AK74s muzzle brake greatly reduces recoil and this would be more of a benefit during burst or full automatic fire. The AK74s muzzle brake coupled with the lighter recoiling 5.45×39 ( over the 7.62×39 ) would give it an impressive shot group on burst fire. You put a dedicated muzzle brake or compensator on an M16/M4 and those things become nail drivers.

          • Max Glazer

            Agreed. But my final comment is more about that AK-74 being basically a match to M4s. Both, in right hands, will hit their targets at battle ranges. Right out to 400 yards. And their groupings will be comparable. Quiet possibly the result will even be more down to the firer. And that is all I meant to say.

          • AlDeLarge

            When we switched to M16A2 from A1, they made a big deal of calling it a compensator and to stop calling it a flash suppressor. It wasn’t very noticeable firing carefully aimed single shots, but the one time I got to shoot it on burst I was surprised by the muzzle dropping instead of rising.

          • gfr

            At what range?
            I’m not sure that I would believe everything that the Red Army says without checking. They have a history of saying things that later turn out to be untrue.
            For example they are currently maintaining that they don’t have any troops in the Ukraine..

          • Max Glazer

            The comparison has been carried out by TsNIITochMash which is a Russian institute that tests all small and long hand-held firearms which Russia has access to. There were plenty of Russian reports and videos of the tests.

            This is a firearms site. Probably should keep it on topic but just to clear up a few things.

            Crimea was NOT Ukraine. It was an Autonomous Republic with its own constitution and had a similar connection to Ukraine like Texas has with USA. It can seccede and it has done so on its own decision. Russian troops on streets of Autonomous Republic of Crimea were doing nothing more then keeping order. Referendum was overseen by international observers, judged to have complied with international law in terms of transparency and decision was reached by votes of clear majority. If this isn’t democracy then I don’t know what is. It is not up to your warmongering government and media to tell them or unilaterally decide what they can or can’t do. You haven’t learnt from the bull story in Georgia it seems. So much proof about the insane corruption, murder and war crimes that Saakashvili isn’t even given a US citizenship and he was US puppet. Too dirty even for US. Although sheltering Germans that were involved in concentration camps was ok I guess.

            How many Russian troops are there on Ukrainian territory? If you are referring to 12-18 paratroopers that were captured in Ukraine (in an area where there is no marked border and the guys didn’t have GPS/GLONASS devices) then I can only shake my head in pity since they couldn’t possibly make Ukraine lose so badly as they do now. I know for a fact that Blackwater are there now. So are CIA. Their HQ in Ukraine are at the top floor of USS building. Talk of arrogance. And the fact is USA are directly responsible for that civil war there. So don’t start. USA are responsible for creation of ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Not enough for you?
            As far as supplying arms to them – and USA supplies arms to Syrian opposition that is nothing more then mercenary terrorists. At least the “rebels” in Ukraine are not attempting overthrows in Kyiv.

  • Max Glazer

    Major reason for malfunction of M-16 in Vietnam was poor quality magazines with weak springs and easily bent lips which caused rounds to not feed correctly and jam the weapon.

    • BugaBuga

      I have a bunch of commercial mags from that era and they work just fine.

      • Max Glazer

        Do you bang them up and stop on them? Happens a lot when out in the field on operations.

    • gfr

      The original M-16 magazines were supposed to be used once and discarded. That policy went out the window when the Army decided that nothing was to be left behind that the VC could use in a booby trap.

      • Max Glazer

        Yeah I remember that one. Also at the time there weren’t enough of mags themselves for that sort of thing.

      • gunsandrockets

        I keep hearing this repeated, but is it true or urban myth? I haven’t seen anything yet from original sources or reputable reporting which supports this disposable magazine idea.

        • gfr

          Why would it NOT be true? Magazines are only slightly more complicated than coke cans.

  • aren’t they trying to convince americans the the ar15 is a pure death machine? how can they on the same coin say we need a “better” rifle for our troops? even if they don’t know what a better rifle is.

  • usmcmailman

    I’m a Marine. I would have given my left nut to have had an M-14 in Vietnam !
    Unfortunately, I had a POS M-16 and I now have a Purple Heart because of that !
    Angry ? You better believe I am !

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      The M16 shot you?

    • Max Glazer

      MAybe it is a big stretch but didn’t you guys have some contact with Australian forces? One way or the other could you have gotten your hands on an Australian SLR (FN-FAL)?

    • BugaBuga

      Thank you for your service!!!

    • gfr

      Please elaborate on the circumstances wherein the M-16 failed you, and the M-14 would not have..

  • Guido FL

    Perhaps the answer lies in the AK 74 ? Buy them cheap from China like everything else, LOL?

  • BugaBuga

    The original AR rifle was designed around the 7.62 round. McNamara and friends decided to use the smaller rounds, changed the powder to Ball powder, and originally issued the rifle without cleaning kits. McNamara was a bean counter and a FUBAR. Dems always try to save a buck at the militaries expense to have more money to buy votes for the next election.

    • It was CONARC who requested the development of the AR-15, and there was good reason to do so (see the Gustafson tests). Both ball powder and stick powder were accepted to service until at least 1968, but stick powder was more difficult to make within the specifications of 5.56mm. The chrome lining was only on on the chamber of the Portugese AR-10s; no other original AR-10s had chrome lined barrels or chambers

  • motoguzzi

    In defense of the M4/M16 detractors, many of them may have served in Vietnam and when comparing the reliability of the Stoner design against the AK47 armed enemy, scant reason to love the M16.

  • Western Gunowner

    But in Afghan/Iraq we scrambled to give each squad an M14 because the enemy was sniping at us using bolt action Brit .303’s and the M16/M4 didn’t have the punch to effectively counter them.
    And to add to the insult we called the man with the M14 the “designated marksman”.

    • BugaBuga

      Exactly! When I went through basic, we trained with the M14. We had to qualify out to 500 or 600 yards, I do not remember which. We all had to be at least a marksman to graduate. With the advent of the M16, they used the spray and pray method, putting a lot of lead down range. They would waste thousands of rounds. I would rather put a few well place hits on a target than just throwing lead in every direction.

      • Anthony “stalker6recon”

        Not sure when you served, but times have changed, dramatically. You still need to qualify as a “marksmans” to graduate. But, there is zero spray and pray going on. You get forty rounds, and forty targets, all green, popping up at 50,100,150,200,250 and 300 meters, at random.

        Most engagements are close quarters, home of the M4,or at ranges beyond the effectiveness of the 5.56mm,no matter which platform. That is why we have M240bravo FN light machine guns, AT-4’s,Mk-19’s and the M2.

  • Smiddywesson

    “In combat, an infantryman lives an animal’s life…They may have only a split second to lift, aim, and pull the trigger before the enemy fires.”

    He’s right, with today’s modern rail systems, there’s no reason our boys don’t have a coffee grinder AND a cappuccino machine on their weapons system. Every split second counts.

  • Smiddywesson

    Not to be critical of anyone, but it’s naive (and fun) to argue about what’s “best.” OF COURSE you want long range accuracy at long ranges, but that doesn’t mean a carbine isn’t the best tool for closer work. If I’m crawling through mud and swamps, a fairly inaccurate but highly dependable AK looks pretty good to me. However, if I have to hump around a heavy pack, weapon, and all my ammo, I’d take an M4 any day of the week.
    Weapons are tools. The Atlantic article discusses reliability, which is ok, but spends a lot of time whining about a wrench not being as good as a screwdriver, which is not ok.

  • wzrd1

    First, the wonderful author, who obviously has no clue of what he’s going on about, as our intrepid host has well shown, shows no clue why we’d use an M4 over an M16. It wasn’t weight, it was size. As in, what swings around better when clearing a building.
    Damned if I’d want to clear a building with an M16, rather than an M4 and most certainly not with a battle rifle (the M14’s got pulled out of mothballs as squad designated marskman rifles).

    As for the issues with the M16 in Vietnam, there were several issues. One, soldiers were told that it was self-cleaning or rarely needed cleaning. Indeed, that was thought because cleaning kits weren’t sent out with the rifles! Add in some political shenanigans of substituting a cheaper powder for the rounds, resulting in carbon build-up causing failure of the bolt to move into battery and no forward assist, of course the brand, spanking new rifle jammed!
    Just as Custer’s men had jamming problems when politics put copper cartriges in the soldiers hands, rather than brass as was specified.

    Now, note that my comparison from history was germane to the subject, that of inappropriate substitution performed for political reasons: cost.
    Whereas the misguided and ignorant author proclaimed some chicanary that is unsupported in history. That is especially true when Congress gets to authorize all of those brand, shiny new rifles, not the POTUS. That has been true for as long as our Constitution has been in force.

    The genious, or lack thereof, then compares the highly durable and reliable AK47 and attempts to compare it to an M4. Two entirely difference classes of rifle, he then bases all comparison to the M16 (no A1 or higher) only and ignores the greater range of the M16 and the superior accuracy of the rifle.

    But then, what would I know? I only lugged around that M4 while getting shot at by AK’s of various flavors, as well as RPG’s in quantities that convinced me that there are vast fields where the damned things are grown. I and my buddies and men all made it back home, save for those claimed by IED’s.
    And we had nice, effective Aimpoint sights. Not something that holds fire until I wander to whatever magical point the sight decides I should aim at, within average combat distances!

    • Anthony “stalker6recon”

      Thanks for your service. As a former Cavalry Scout, I can attest to the M68, aimpoint, to me, that was a magical sight. Put the red on the head, and their dead. No need to have a computer figure out range, windspeed ect.

      The aimpoint brought “shooting for dummies”, to the military.

  • ray worsham

    The 5.56 M4 is what it is. I would be pretty charitable to a commander who saw even one of his troops lost or disabled due to a weapons failure.

  • Zebra Dun

    The nephew served with the Marines in Iraq as a rifleman, he reports they never saw an M-4 no one had one in his outfit though they had everything else. Shotguns, multi barrel GL’s and M-9’s.
    They were armed with the M-16A2 for the average Rifleman, for snipers they had designated trained Scout snipers using M-40’s and their SAW was the M-249.
    His was a Second Mar Div FMF Rifle Bn.
    My son served with the Marines in Afghanistan an Aviation outfit he reports all they were issued and saw were M-16A2’s and M-9 pistols, no one had an M-4 who was a Marine in his immediate area there.
    I would imagine if asked the majority of Marines during this period were issued exactly the same weapons per SoP.

    Your experience may have been different but from what the nephew stated the entire Regt was armed per SoP.
    No personal/private weapons, no M-4’s.

    • Anthony “stalker6recon”

      First, thanks for your sons service, and Happy New Year.

      Second, I can’t say with certainty, having not been in his unit, or the corp, but I believe that they carried the M16A4, which has the flat top receiver, minus the “never carry with” carry handle. The A2, still had the carry handle, as a fixed part of the upper. The A3, had a full-auto selector, with a flat top (although the full-auto is part of the lower/trigger group) and the A4 was pretty much the final selection by most of the Army and Marines, until recent years, seeing a move by all branches to the M4.

      I am certain I have made mistakes, been a while since I was on active duty, and I will appreciate any corrections from the readers. Thanks, Scouts Out!

  • My God, that was too funny.

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    There are many drawbacks to the AR design. Yes, the HK416 upper, is popular with those able to buy them, they perform better in almost every regard, over the gas only Colt I was issued. But this does not mean, my Colt M4 was a bad weapon, I loved it.

    And thank god they used more lightweight materials, because once you add the rails, PAQ-4, M68 aimpoint or ACOG and the “gangsta grip”, the weight climbs rapidly. This was the standard rifle for a 19Delta, who was not a driver, or 240Bravo gunner. We were the lucky ones. Being a driver meant that you had the M203,which is a beast to carry around on long humps.

    The fact that the writer FAILED as a commanding officer, and didn’t have his troops service their rifle during downtime, is HIS OWN FAILURE, not that of the rifle. The M4 I carried, never had a single malfunction, even after thousands of rounds, through the fluted 14.5 inch H-BAR.

    What I experienced, while in the military, is the most common malfunction, was a double feed, and this had nothing to do with the rifle, but seemed to be linked to specific magazines. These magazines would cause doubke feeds, no matter which rifle they were used in. We would find these magazines, confirm they caused double feeds, and remove them from service, problem solved.

    Finally, anyone that has any experience, knows that going full auto with a rifle, is worthless. We never moved our selector beyond semi, for that reason. Modern M4’s don’t even have auto as an option, the best it will do, is 3 round burst, again, never used.

    The original article reads like a bad military leader, scapegoating the AR, to excuse HIS OWN SHORT COMINGS AS A LEADER. The “it’s not me, blame the technology, those rifles killed my troops, I was PERFECT!” Sorry, you failed your men, stop trying to shift the blame to an inanimate object. One final note, rifles are just machines, operating dirty, is what good machine do. My Colt M4, was a fine machine.

    • roguetechie

      Full auto is far from worthless… For the last several decades the US military has gotten away with aimed semi fire, and used it hellaciously effectively!!


      When one tries to extrapolate the conditions and needs of future combat based too much on past experiences it will inevitably be tragic.

      Unfortunately the era where we can get away with this is coming to a close. While we weren’t looking in their direction the Russians have been fighting their own militants, and they have now developed weapons, optics, gear, and TTP’S based on their experience fighting a group of militants that make the ones we’ve been fighting look like weak sauce. This new set of tactics HEAVILY leverages their new crop of weapons’ abilities to put down extremely accurate full automatic gun fire!

      The Russians developed it so we cannot just bury our head in the sand and hope it doesn’t proliferate… It’s going to proliferate! And if we don’t get on the hop to develop counters we’re in trouble.

      • Anthony “stalker6recon”

        When were you in the military?

        This is the typical arms carried by a Cavalry Scout platoon, light.

        Squad members are given M4,with optics and NVG devices. Drivers carry M16/M203. One member carries the M240bravo, light machine gun. There is a compliment of anti-armor weapons, including the AT4 and the Javelin shoulder launched, anti-tank missile system. Probably the single greatest weapons, next to the RADIO, in putting the hurt on our enemies. This is what we CARRY on patrol or OP’s.

        When we are mobile, each truck (HMMWV) has one of three fully automatic weapons systems. The M240bravo, M2.50cal or my favorite Mk19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Have you ever tried to carry one of these weapons? The unfortunates, carry the M240bravo, 7.62mm automatic, known as the “pig”.

        We have plenty of firepower on hand. Having an M16/M4 fully , is ABSOLUTELY a waste of ammo. Even the 3 round burst, is only used in extreme cases while breaking contact. A 30 round magazine can be emptied in under 10 seconds, on semi. The typical combat load is 210 rounds for those with the AR. We of course carry more, depending on the mission.

        To pretend like we don’t have automatic weapons in the military, is naive.

  • S O

    “As for “finely machined parts”, where does the (mostly forged!) AR-15
    use any finer machining techniques than any other US service rifle?”

    Forging can achieve very tight tolerance actually, and thus forged parts can be “finely machined”.

    • AlDeLarge

      Many parts are forged, then machined.

  • gfr

    So logically, a cosmetically upgraded M-3 would be the best of all possible worlds? The military industrial complex could charge thousands of dollars a copy for a world war 2 design (with a really sharp looking flash suppressor), and the troops would get to use the ultimate death machine…
    What was the maximum effective range on the M-3?

  • Daniel F. Melton

    I was prepared to pass up commenting on the article by this sneer artist until I saw this line:

    ***What powder? What residue? Why did this happen? Was the powder something
    new that had never been tried? If not, why did it work in other weapons
    and not the M16? The author has no answers for these questions; ***

    IMO the M16 is delicate, over engineered, overheats, does not tolerate dirt, and is is a medium range oversexed .22. Of course I’m prejudiced. I carried the M14 in basic and most of my first tour.
    The original M16 as tested had a chrome lined bore and fired a cartridge with stick (extruded) powder. The whiz-kid bean counters in mcnamara’s defense department decided that chrome was expensive and unnecessary, and ball powder was just fine (cheaper), even though it burned dirtier than the stick powder the rifle was tested with.
    I’ve heard rumors that the rifles were also issued without cleaning kits. I avoided carrying the M16 during my two tours in VN by opting for the M79, 1911, and 12 gauge shotgun.

  • Max Glazer

    Aussies SASR and Commando regiment also use M4s though I’m not sure what spec ours are built to.

    My AuSteyr after exercise had the same problem. It was jammed to the extent where to clear it before going into my block I had to “kickstart” it.
    AKs aren’t made in Tula. They are all made in Izhevsk. Which Tula plant?
    I’ve seen AKs spend years in swamps and still remain operable. Shouldn’t rust THIS much either. After all IzhMash made ones used hardened stainless steel for piston and non-tempered stainless steel for tube. Also how long was it left unlubed?

  • gunsandrockets

    We also have a notable FAILURE in hindsight too.

    I’m astonished at how many people in the comments refuse to admit the mistake of putting the flawed and untested XM16E1 into the hands of front line combat infantry in Vietnam. They refuse to admit the first production runs of the XM16E1 were not yet ready for combat. They refuse to admit the XM16E1 should have been tested first, and fixed first, before putting at risk the lives of American troops.

    I’m amazed how even today we can’t escape the original controversy of the AR-15, between those who think the Colt AR is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and those who think today’s M4 is no better than the half a million junky M16 types the grunts were forced to use in Vietnam.

  • gunsandrockets

    So Russia doesn’t count? Clearly the 5.45mm is not being replaced in Russia and any new rifle Russia adapts will be in 5.45mm.

    You also missed the new Chinese 5.8mm cartridge.

    • gfr

      Actually I didn’t miss EITHER of those cartridges. I SPECIFICALLY mentioned the 5.45×39.
      While it is true that Russia and China may well continue to field those cartridges into the future, any NEW rifle design that is sold INTERNATIONALLY will be designed to take one of the three cartridges that I specified.
      The point being that the original article complained that the M4 didn’t use a 6.5 or 7mm cartridge. No major armed force EVER WILL – the advantages of adopting a new cartridge are simply too small to outweigh the abilities of the existing cartridges.

      • roguetechie

        Hmmm no…

        The US military is AS WE SPEAK rapidly funding several separate efforts to replace the 556 & hopefully 7.62 NATO too! The reality is 5.56 is now pushed as far as it can be. The initial compromises inherent in the design of the cartridge and the envelope it must fit in to maintain legacy compatibility have finally brought it to the end of it’s ability for upgrade. Much of this has to do with green projectiles and the fact that the original projectile was badly designed and too short from day one. Incidentally 7.62 NATO suffers for the same reason…oh and if its a full power cartridge by the way then the Toyota corolla’s a sports car! (lotus uses 4 cylinder Toyota engines in their cars)

        So anyway yeah you’re categorically wrong. And btw 5.45 is an extremely good cartridge…. I’d rather not be shot at all but if I had to be and got the choice between either x39 cartridge, I’d take 7.62 every time!

        5.45 produces horrific damage!

  • Max Glazer

    A lot of talk about weight of AR vs AK. AR was made to be light and comfortable to fire. Hence M-4 weight of 3kg when loaded with 30 rounds. When AK was made, one of the army requirements was its suitability for brutal hand-to-hand combat and high durability relative to abuse of the battle. I’ve seen soldiers place AK-74 on their laps and use it as a step to boost their buddies over obstacles. Can’t see that being done with either M-16 or the M4. Being made of machined aluminium I can’t see AR receiver being able to have same ultimate limits of strength like AK does. Different philosophy and requirements produced rifles with different weight and should be looked at with that in mind. Just saying that AK being more heavy being bad is missing the point of it.

    There is talk about ability to mount sights on AR and not AK. AK-74M has a standard side rail to which one can attach any sight one desires as there are plenty of them available. AKMN existed since 50s with that same side rail. People need to learn a bit more about AKs it seems.

    In case someone wants a western sight for their AK then there are adaptors that go onto side rail that place a picattini rail centered over the receiver, onto which one can mount such sights. RIS rail on M-4A1? There are plenty of similar things on the market for AK as well. Zenitco being known in Russia and liked by SpetsNaz. Plenty of them made by US aftermarket industry. So people talking about apparent difficulty of fitting optics on AK are simply too lazy to either go see a good gunsmith to have that rail fitted or can’t be bothered looking.

    Talk about more precise sights on AR then AK. AK sight was made to rapidly acquire target at short-to-medium ranges while moving. The peep sight on ARs while more precise when you are stationary aiming may be much harder to use when you are running. Both sets of sights are now pretty much little more then backup these days and soldiers install own red dots, collimators, sniper optics etc.

    • Uniform223

      Hold up. Hold up and think for a moment.

      First your assertion and wild ass assertion of the difference between the AK and AR are just that. A wild ass assertion and claim. Though the design philosophies of the two are damn near night and day, to say or to imply that one is more useful in combat than the other is incredibly short sighted.
      To say in a round about way that the M16 or M4 isn’t good enough for close quarters combat is pure bullshit in my opinion. When I was a younger and went through boot ( I don’t know if the US Army still has it though ) I went through the bayonet course with my M16A2 and it didn’t break. A butt stroke to the head or groin with any well made rifle will give ANYONE a bad day. Use the end of the barrel as a localized point of impact and that’s a bruiser right there. The Israeli’s developed their own a fighting style of Krav Maga using the M4.
      Why would I want to boost by battle buddy up over an obstacle or have him use my rifle as a field expedient “chair” to have the wounded sit on it? I NEED THAT RIFLE to shoot with. I can just boost him up the old fashion way… you know, put your foot on my interlocked hands or maybe climb up on my shoulder. Good old fashion fire man carry I can still wield my rifle if need be. I guess there is more than one way to skin a cat.

      Your last comment on the difference between the iron sights of the AR and AK is skewed. Because I’ve had more time and training with the AR-15 platform over the AK, I will naturally gravitate towards more precise sights. I haven’t had much time on notch sights outside of pistols. When I was getting familiarized with the Georgian AKMs I had trouble getting a good sight picture past 200 meters. Consequently my shot groups from their AKMs were much wider ( shots moving out towards the edges of the silhouette ). Though I will agree that at closer ranges they work just fine.
      I take issue with your comment about unable to use the AR’s sights while moving or dynamic situations. I’d say that is more of a training issue. The AR rear sights have two apertures. One small for more precise shooting and longer distance. The other one large for closer distances or on the move. If you’re shooting real close anywhere inside of 50 meters shooting with both eyes open can still be considered accurate enough. When I went through the reflexive fire course I was shooting with both eyes open.

      • Max Glazer

        Where did I say or imply that one is more useful in battle then the other?

        Ask the Soviet/Russian military why they made those requirements. I guarantee you those aren’t made out of thin air just because some General had a burning in his rear.

        You’d have to agree that to teach a freshie on precise single fire and fire on the move, the open notch is a little more lending. I didn’t say peep sights are worse. They do take time to get used to though. In my service time we used Steyr and its optic took time to get used to. I also got to play around with an AK and its sight was very easy to keep on target

  • Max Glazer

    How come many countries adopt AR? Ever realized that arms market is political to the core and thus rotten?
    AK-74 recoil isn’t manageable enough? SpetsNaz haven’t realized yet.
    MOdular? Please show me a kit that consists of a single lower and 2-3 or more uppers with different calibers that is officially adopted in any military? It is ALWAYS easier to simply take a complete weapon. So all this cool modularity you speak of is nothing but a marketing garbage. It takes time to swap calibers. Even Steyr with its swappable barrels in 4 different lengths don’t change caliber. Unless SMG conversion kit is used.
    AR was not designed to be modular from the start. It became “modular” because its receiver is made of 2 halves. Stoner never made it with a thought of “Hmmm maybe I’ll make it so that we can make other uppers to swap over”. That all came way later.

    • roguetechie

      LOL, You would be completely wrong on the whole not designed to be modular comment. Matter of fact the rifle the 10/15 series is a direct descendant of was quite possibly the single most modular rifle of all time even now… (one could argue that the hk21/21e is more modular, however I believe that the 21 is just a roller delayed blowback stamped version of the gun I’m referring to)

      That weapon was the Johnson rifle/lmg system which could adapt between stripper clip fed rotary magazine, to horizontal detachable box magazine, to a belt fed all up lmg/gpmg! In addition from day one the gun was offered with the parts needed to convert to firing 7.92 mauser in under 2 minutes in a foxhole!! Did people buy it? No, but the ability existed from the jump.

      Further, many people in the ridiculously conservative firearm community/industry still think the ability is nothing but a gimmick… They’re dead wrong, and I hope saner views prevail before it gets our brave servicemen killed needlessly!

      1. As hognose recently covered over at weaponsman. in the infamous goat rope that was the 507th’s running gun battle in the charge towards Baghdad the AAR’s indicated several separate incidents where small groups of the 507th were forced to surrender after running their guns dry! However with some forethought, and different training they could have conceivably leap frogged through the city ambush breaking and using the already deadlines vehicles to quite literally hammer their way directly into enemy strong points having everyone but the guys running the heavies and drivers unass and mag dump in even odd leap frogs and grabbing every bit of ammo they could salvage in 120 seconds. When their time’s up they each pick up an AK pop smoke preferably putting it a distance away from them giving concealment for the retreat back to the vehicles… While they’re coming back you’ve got a couple guys evaluating whether the truck they just pushed through the enemy ambush is able to be pulled out etc… As you board the vehicles and start moving again another HEMTT pushing another deadline takes over point with the last pusher rotating to near the back of the pack with a hummvee preferably with an m231 and an m2 mounted running absolutely tail end. (you also run your tail hummer with 3 guys and NO MORE so they can pick up survivors or etc then at the next strongpoint fight your stragglers riding the tail hummer rotate forward to vehicles closer to head of convoy). I have always maintained that if we give our guys the gear training and PERMISSION they’ll give us miracles!

      I’m sure I’ll be derided for the above scenario, but we CANNOT count on our enemies treatment of captured forces anymore, and I honestly believe that is something that’s not changing any time soon. In addition, women in combat are only going to increase, as is the level of abuse degradation torture and public release of ALL OF THE ABOVE! Because of this we OWE it to every formation we send out to give them every bit of offensive punch we can! Further we need to give them what they need to die fighting… I know that’s unpalatable to many, but it’s the choice we face.

      2. Anti Access weaponry proliferation: Simply put, there’s a very real likelihood that a smart enemy and a very stupid national command authority combination WILL result in a too light and too small unit could end up cut off deep in someone else’s territories. Once this happens there’s a real chance they could have to hold out for MONTHS while a simultaneous beach and airhead can be established and an exfiltration corridor held open by true combined arms forces can extract the survivors, or god forbid, slam PGM through the roof of the location they’re being held and ensure a mercy kill.

      This is reality. Deny it at your own peril.

      P.S In the rapidly evolving post industrial world even non state actors WILL have these abilities…

  • Max Glazer

    Where have I said that SAS don’t use ARs? Also cost of AR for SAS would be different then original cost of bare M-4 for USMC since SAS would, quiet possibly, have it built to a different spec.

  • brainy37

    It’s hard not to want to bang you head when he brings up Wanat. The soldiers there laid down so much return fire that their rifles got really hot to the point that they couldn’t be held. At least one seized due to this. They later tested the same rifles doing full auto dumps non-stop. The weapons kept working until they turned red hot. Red hot metal is bad and even an AK is going to fail under those conditions (although cook offs are the real issue). After extensive testing at Aberdeen doing full auto dumps (they published it on youtube) they found a single millimeter of metal more to the barrel profile fixed the issue caused by improper use. The findings were observed by everyone during the USMC IMR competition.

    But really, Wanat of all things. 58 US soldiers vs 400 insurgents some of which breached the defenses. And he complains that overheating is representative of all engagements? That’s a load of bullshit. SPC Bogar did a 600rd dump from his m249 with no barrel change before it jammed. He jammed 3 M4 doing the same thing. Going full cyclic to lay down suppression with a weapon not meant to be fired for that long at that rate.

  • Max Glazer

    If your hands don’t grow out of your ass then you can fit the rail yourself. Its just that gunsmith will have specific tools to fit the rail to older AKs that didn’t have it from factory. MIlitary AR didn’t have rails on its receivers from factory until 00s. Civilian ones maybe earlier. IzhMash Saiga comes with one from factory. So is AK-74M and all “100” series AKs. There was even AKMN since 60s that came with the side rail and there were appropriate optics for it though it was a spetsnaz-only weapon. Just buy the right AK. And there are Russian-made front rails available too if interested.

    In any case the manufacturer either makes the rails themselves or contracts the work out to someone else. More often then not the latter is true. Doesn’t really matter who is the target of the parts development if they can pass military test on toughness, are straight and true and can be made on a large scale at appropriate rate. Military can use it.

    US aftermarket has been making stuff for weapons longer then most thanks to population having access to the weapons. You lot are lucky that you have the weapon rules like you do. Don;t let your low-life politicians take them from you.

  • The Brigadier

    This writer trashes the M14 the same way the Atlantic writer trashes the M-4. First of all over 10,000 GIs lost their lives in battle in Vietnam when their M-16 A1s jammed during firefights. Nate F can’t refute this. This was due in part because McNamara didn’t have Colt include a cleaning kit with each rifle. When the complaints began coming in, McNamara stated, “If Dr. Stoner thought this rifle needed a cleaning kit he would have included one when this rifle was being tested.” God help his tormented soul he actually said this publicly. He was heartsick over his ignorance later in life for those deaths.

    The M-16 was adopted when an Air Force brigadier who was responsible for the futuristic F-111 with its three stage sweep wings saw the M-16 said, “I want that futuristic rifle protecting my futuristic jets.” Perhaps the Jetson’s futuristic maid Rosie would have been a better choice given the continual jamming problems for fifty years now.

    Nate keeps saying “the M-14 with its problems — Its inherent design problems etc.” The M-14 was the Garand perfected. The Garand for all the praise that was heaped on this great rifle did have several serious systemic problems and I won’t recount those. The M-14 eliminated them and the only problem with the M-14 was that is made a select fire rifle. Battlefield commander’s were tired of trying to find a couple of bruisers to carry the BAR that weighed 23 lbs loaded. So the idiots at Ft. Belvoir, VA, (a few miles from Andrew AFB outside of DC) made the M-14 at 11 pounds loaded a select fire weapon It was too light to keep the muzzle down and always arced up to the right due to the barrel’s twist. Other than that it was an incredibly accurate and reliable weapon that rarely failed. Springfield’s M1A and Fulton’s L1A1 are what the M1A should have been and the Army is still considering which caliber and design will replace the M-4.

    • Could you provide any sources for the “10,000 soldiers killed by/through failure of their weapons” claim?

      It’s difficult to believe those who stand by the M14’s reliability when not only have I seen multiple M14-pattern weapons go down at the range (despite having never seen an AR-15 go down completely, in person), but the AR-15 trounced it a number of times in tests in the 1950s and ’60s.

      • Please note the March 1962 vintage “Report on Tests for Ad Hoc Committee on Accuracy and Testing of 7.62mm Ammunition and M14 Rifles.” Seven rifles each from batches accepted from H&R, Winchester, and Springfield Armory had been shipped to Aberdeen for testing to find and cure the causes of the M14’s inability to meet its accuracy requirements. Examination and testing of the 21 rifles uncovered the following:

        All of the rifles from Winchester and H&R exhibited excessive headspace.

        All of the rifles had loose handguards.

        95% of the rifles had loose stock bands.

        90% of the rifles had loose gas cylinders.

        75% of the rifles had misaligned op rods and gas pistons.

        50% of the rifles had loose op rod guides.

        50% of the rifles had op rods that rubbed the stock.

        Three rifles had barrels that exceed the maximum bore dimensions.

        Only three rifles had an average bore diameter that fell below the accepted mean diameter.

        One rifle was found to have a broken safety while another had a misassembled safety spring.

        One rifle had a misassembled flash suppressor, which was actually contacting bullets during live fire tests.

        A barrel from each manufacturer was sectioned for examination of the bore and chrome lining. The chrome lining was out of tolerance (uneven and on average too thin) in all three barrels. The H&R barrel also failed the surface-finish requirements. During accuracy testing, the M14 rifles produced greater group dispersion and variation in the center of impact than the control rifles (two T35 and two AR10). NATO testing was quoted indicating that the Canadian C1 (FN FAL) and German G3 were less sensitive to variations within and among ammo lots. Shutting off the gas port in the M14 rifles resulted in an average 20% reduction in extreme spread compared to those groups fired with the gas port open. This also reduced the variation in the center of impact. The design of the flash suppressor was singled out as a cause of inaccuracy.

  • Six pounds? Where did you get hat figure from? According to Maxim Popenker, it weighs 3.07kg/6.75lbs, and the AK-74M weighs 3.40kg/7.48lbs unloaded. Keep in mind that both of these guns use pretty lightweight barrels by American standards, so they’re not really as light as the M4 (which, with a significantly heavier profile barrel is less than six pounds unloaded).

    As for the AK being cheaper, I seriously doubt it if your labor costs are the same. They still require hand-fitting, for instance, where the AR-15 does not.

  • I’m open to this opinion, but the evidence to support it is thin indeed.

  • How do you explain the AK-74 and QBZ-95, then?

  • Uniform223

    I got the chance to handle some Aussie AUGs. Not bad. The quick detach barrel is a nice feature though personally I don’t see a big deal for it for a standard issue rifle. Good balance and can keep it shouldered almost all day. Fine if you’re a right handed shooter. A little odd if you’re a lefty as the brass ejects to the left. Its simple integrated scope was a nice feature. 20in barrel in a package considerable to an M4.
    I keep hearing and reading great reviews for the IWI Tavor though I haven’t had any hands on with the thing yet.

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    Looking at the examples you refer too at the end of your reply, it appears they have a multi-role AR, with several options in magazine size, and caliber available. But the attachment rails, seem the same. This looks much like the canceled XM-8, which I was fortunate enough to play with, while still active duty. The plan was a platform which could fill a variety of roles, and had a modular configuration. The XM-8, had a similar break down to the M4/M16, with one major difference. The bolt group was much less complex in design, with flat surfaces, and few crevasses for fouling, making it so much easier to clean. It had built in optics, and could be changed from carbine, to rifle (sharpshooter) and finally, squad automatic weapon.

    Where the system failed, from what I remember, was the inability to convert from 5.56mm to 7.62mm, in one platform.

    Whether this is still a planned procurement, I don’t know. But I believe the Army missed a real opportunity, and 10 years later, we are in the same place we were in 2004.

    I will add, most of our mounted weapons, have optics that make accurate fire possible, on the M2, when zeroed properly, it can and is used, like a sniper rifle. But in most cases, where automatic fire is needed, you use the T&E, to walk your rounds on target.

    As for the “one shot, one kill”, I can only guess that this description is placed on snipers, or by people who have never served, and play way too many video games.

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    I just realized your comment continued. I understand your concern, and agree the M4 sucks beyond 300 meters. Which is why we have the 240bravo. We do need the options to increase the range and accuracy, but I disagree that we need heavier machine guns for man carry. Most engagements occur in close quarters, or ranges beyond the 7.62 for point targets, where the M2 proves it’s value (actually it is effective at any range beyond the end of the barrel)

    Yes, we need to modernize our heavies, I like the airburst rifles, but have not kept up on their development. I hope they get them ready for the field. I like the 240 with optics, you can put down suppression fire, or snipe someone beyond 500 meters, maybe more, if you are zeroed and proficient.

    This is a good conversation!

  • Joe Pepersack

    A man’s choice of weapons is as personal as his choice of cars… or women. What’s right for you isn’t right for someone else, and vice-versa.

    Personally, speaking as a shooter and an engineer, I’m not a fan of direct impingement (to put it mildly). It’s an inherently bad idea to redirect hot dirty exhaust gas into the weapon’s action. That fact alone has kept me away from ARs for years, although I might consider trying one of the newer piston-operated AR uppers. I prefer a weapon that doesn’t get so gunked up on it’s own exhaust that it needs a forward assist plunger to keep it running (a feature virtually no other weapon has or requires).

    Other than that, as a lefty, I dislike the AR’s limited ambidexterity compared to something like the Tavor or Beretta AXR100 which can be switched from LH to RH operation simply by field-stripping them (and in the case of the Tavor switching out the bolt). It’s not something most of y’all think about but us lefties it’s a major issue. There are left-hand AR uppers but that’s $700+, versus a free-if-you-ask-for-it with the Tavor. I also picked up a Beretta CX4 carbine for the same reason – I can switch it from LH to RH in under a minute with no tools or additional parts. Switching the Tavor over is a 5 minute job but you could do in the field if you had to.

    Speaking of which, I’m not a fan of 5.56 either. It’s a great cartridge for an infantryman, who can call for air support and is backed up by squadmates with crew-served weapons. But for me, it serves no purpose beyond a range toy. It’s too small to hunt with in my state, I prefer a pistol-caliber carbine for a CQB/home defense gun, and if I’m going to shoot a full size rifle I want something with some serious reach like .300WM.

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    Just out of curiosity, have you not followed the progress of the FN SCAR program? It is basically the rebirth of the XM8 platform, which failed mainly because the ability to change from 5.56mm to 7.62mm, in a single paltform, was not really feasible at the time.

    Even the SCAR has failed to do this magically, since the recievers are too different, in what is such a orecise dimension, and loose equals jams. They have been able to tame the SCAR heavy, and down convert to light, but not the other way around.

    The SCAR can be field modified, because of the modular design, to fill all the rolls, currenty held by 3 very different, incompatible plateforms. The SCAR program would replace the M4,M16,M249,M240 and the M16 sniper rifle used by designated “marksmen” at the squad level.

    Since the SCAR uses a gas/piston bolt system, is are far more reliable that the current rifles used by frontline forces. If the specops gives this a green greenlight, then the SCAR platform will be given the contract to replace the infantry weapons we see in combat today.

    As I said before, we do have the optics already in place, to use our light and heavy machine guns, as point target engagement weapons, using only one round. In critical situations, they are used in bursts (as you accurately described) to offer time to find cover or break contact. We are already operating in this manner, and have the weapons support needed to remain effective against most enemies. Can we do better, of course, and we should continue to strive towards something better.

    • roguetechie

      I have some comments here but too many to type on my lunch break.

      For now though yes I have followed the SCAR program and no I don’t like it even a little. Interestingly neither does SOCOM. The guns beat themselves to pieces, cost at LEAST triple what they should, and really just continue FN’S trend of selling ridiculously short service life, extremely overpriced and overhyped crap. (now I’m not bashing historical FN weapons, just seems like it’s been downhill since the fal and fn-d)

      As to the 240…. It’s not a bad gun it’s just too heavy, unbalanced, and chambered for an inferior cartridge.

      • Anthony “stalker6recon”

        Well you probably know more about the SCAR platform than I do. I am surprised to hear that it costs a lot more than the current platforms used by the bulk of our forces. I don’t understand why that is, and I can’t believe that Colt is unable to produce and upgraded upper, with a gas/piston bolt return, reducing or eliminating jams caused by fouling. I read somewhere how the Marine Corp dropped the SCAR, in favor of the H&K 416,which I absolutely love. When I was active, there were many guys that bought these uppers, but the Army, in their infinite wisdom, did not allow them to use privately owned uppers on their service weapons, just dumb.

        That being said, there was a program being implemented, giving the best shooters, a match rifle for long range engagements. Basically a 20″ barrel, M16. Whether that continues today, I don’t know.

        As for the M240bravo, it has 3 gas rings, which change the compression in the gas return, altering the rate of fire. This also allows for longer engagements, without changing the barrel. If fouling is causing a malfunction, changing the gas ring by rotation, will usually clear the problem. Changing a barrel, while easy, is not something you want to do during a firefight. With better optics, you can reach out and touch someone, beyond 700 meters. Our M240Charlies (coaxial on the M2),if zeroed properly, could be used as a sniper rifle, to extreme ranges. I loved the 240 overall. One of my childhood friends, is still in the Seal teams, I will try to contact him, and ask him what experience he has had, if any, with the SCAR. Maybe he could shed light on this for me. Usually he is hard to contact, for obvious reasons. If something even comes close to infringement of OPSEC, he won’t even reply. But it can’t hurt to ask. Good conversation though, it has been interesting and educational.

        • roguetechie

          That’s actually one of my issues with SCAR is in reality it shouldn’t cost more than ar15 in volume production… In smaller volumes SCAR almost definitely costs less to manufacture due to its extremely heavy use of extrusions. Not to mention at it’s core it’s just a fancy AR18, which were very cheap to manufacture. But Fn managed to screw it up but good.

          Hk-416: Honestly I’d like to pick up one of the nifty self adjustable gas blocks… I’m less than impressed with HK’s current lineup, and saddened at how far they’ve descended from their high water mark the hk21,22,23e series!

          Ok now back to 240 vs pkm… Pkm is several kg lighter than most 240 variations while having a longer barrel and a MUCH LONGER point target and area target effective range (the numbers I see commonly accepted for pkm are 1200 meter point and 1500 meter area target range) which is substantially more than the 800/1200 I hear quoted for FULL LENGTH 240!

          Now another issue is the 240 even in vanilla configuration is substantially more expensive than a pkm. Where it gets downright disgusting is things like 240L which cost as much as a well equipped v8 Honda accord with leather from the dealership. Oh all while having basically a 250 belt projected receiver life! (right around $25,000 for single m240 not very L… because even with stupid short barrel and titanium receiver its still doesn’t weigh LESS than PKM!!)

          PERSONALLY I don’t waste 5.56 out of anything shorter than an 18 inch barrel if I’m firing m193 or m855. I have myself an mgi hydra I can setup to run 5.45 or 7.62×39 if I wanna run short barrels. (mk 262 and etc are too expensive for me to practice with regularly)

          Now while I might seem all doom and gloom, please keep in mind that I KNOW there are solutions. I even know several of the solutions, but people will have to wait awhile to see my take on the fixes since I do intend to make a living from them. I know it sucks… Believe me I hate not being able to talk about it, but a guy’s gotta keep himself in ammo and hoppes #9 lol