What Really Happened At Wanat?

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In discussions about the suitability of the M4 rifle for combat, the Battle of Wanat comes up quite a lot. To some, Wanat represents the continuation of past mistakes; more dead soldiers with jammed rifles, of course of the faulty AR-15 pattern.

Does Wanat really support this argument? Did soldiers actually die that day with jammed M4 rifles in their hands, brought down by enemy gunfire aided and abetted by government corruption and negligence? The answers to these questions might surprise you, and WeaponsMan has posted an excellent two-parter explaining just what happened at Wanat, and to what degree the rifles themselves were partially to blame:

The lie is that, “9 American Infantrymen died on 13 July 08 at COP Kahler at Wanat, Afghanistan, in the Waygul Valley of Nuristan province, because their M4 Carbines jammed”. This lie clearly doesn’t hold up if you read the historical papers, professional analyses, and interviews with survivors. What does hold up is a story of incredible devotion, dedication and heroism on the part of the Americans there, and of intelligent, bold and fearless attacks on the part of their enemies. But there are some facts the foreign-firm lobbyists don’t tell you.

  • to start with, that they’re paid lobbyists.
  • Then, that most of the killed were not using M4s at the time they were killed.
  • Then, that those that were did not have jammed rifles.
  • Then, that the survivors who did have jammed rifles, used the rifles far beyond their duty cycle, because (1) they hadn’t been trained on the limits of the weapon and its duty cycle, but mostly, (2) they hadn’t any other option: their crew-served weapons went down due to failure, ammunition exhaustion, or destruction by accurate enemy MG and RPG fire, leaving them with ugly choices: go cyclic for long periods with rifles, or get defeated. Getting defeated was not a survivable option.

Instead we’re going to address this insidious and false claim:

  • [N]ine infantrymen died fighting off a Taliban attack at a combat outpost near the village of Wanat. So far, so good. (At least he notes that they did fight off the attack; a lot of careless reporters say they were overrun).
  • Some of the soldiers present later reported that in the midst of battle their rifles overheated and jammed. Yes. You see what the author is doing there? He’s making the inferences, without saying in so many words, that their guns killed them. This is one of those things that is “true, but….” Those grunts were not killed by their guns. They were killed by the enemy, and as we’ll see, the malfunction of weapons systems was real, but not decisive. You could argue that bad training, worse officer leadership in the planning phases (the officers provided magnificent leadership under fire), and incredibly-bad site selection were responsible, instead.  (The location selected for COP Kahler was the bottom of a bowl, with mountains about 7,000 feet higher surrounding the outpost 360º. It’s hard to imagine a less defensible position, yet these guys defended it). But in the end, they were infantrymen in a hard fight with a determined enemy, and guys get hurt doing that.

[T]he 2d Platoon soldiers were firing their weapons “cyclic,” on full automatic at the highest possible rates of fire. As a result, numerous soldiers experienced weapons malfunctions, just as SSG Phillips had faced at the mortar pit. One young SPC fighting at the COP Kahler later complained, “…I ran through my ammo till my SAW would not work anymore despite the ‘Febreze’ bottle of CLP I dumped into it.” (pp. 117-118)

By condemning the M4 (but for some reason not any other weapons, which also failed) for failing under these conditions, the lobbyist is serving whoever his corporate masters are this week by criticizing a weapon because it cannot do the impossible. The hardest thing to manage in the design of automatic weapons is waste heat. Cyclic rate is something that can be used for a short period, at a cost to the durability of the weapon. The men at the COPs around Wanat were left hanging for very long periods, with no meaningful air or indirect fire support, and had been given so little training in automatic fire that they didn’t know they were hazarding their weapons. There is no weapon on Earth that will hold up to firing thousands of rounds on cyclic rate without a barrel change or water cooling.

As in most cases, the truth is far more complex than the lie. M4s did fail that day, but no soldier that died then was using an M4 that failed. Further, the M4s that did fail did so because they were pushed beyond the limits of air-cooled weapons. As author Hognose explains, while it is theoretically possible for minor improvements to air-cooled weapons performing under these conditions to be made versus the M4, the fundamental problem is there for all air-cooled closed-bolt weapons, and any gains made in this regard will be decidedly trivial (indeed, in several tests, the barrel is what failed first on the M4).

Hognose does better than just explain the M4s, he also covers the battle itself: Why it occurred, what went wrong, and the aftermath.

As Hognose himself would say, this really is one where you have to read the whole thing. Please click through and read Part 1 and Part 2.



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 can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • gunslinger

    wait, someone is using mis-information to better suit their own personal goal?

    say it isn’t so. this can’t be true!

    • CommonSense23

      Why would a guy who is a paid lobbyists do such a thing.

      • UnrepentantLib

        To be fair, there are paid lobbyists and vested interests on all sides, not to mention diehard fans of the M16/M4 and all the potential replacements. A completely honest assessment isn’t going to happen short of finding a totally impartial third party to conduct it, and that might have to wait until we make contact with ET.

        • Esh325

          Maybe the Hognose guy who wrote this article in some way profits off of AR15’s? And all the sources in his article are US military sources. Duh of course the US military is going to say there’s nothing wrong with their equipment.

          • How do you explain US government sources that are very critical of US equipment, then?

          • Esh325

            Like which?

          • This NAVSEA presentation sounds pretty critical to me. And it led directly to SMP-842, the powder used in M855A1, Mk. 318, and late Mk. 262.

          • Hyok Kim

            …and how are we supposed to know that those critical of US equipment also do not have an agenda of their own?

          • n0truscotsman

            Thats the problem.

            The US DOD has a history of hiding inconvenient truths about defective weapons and equipment, then trying to change the narrative about how that gear is performing.

            They are right in the case of the M4 though. A stopped watch and everything…

          • CommonSense23

            Like how the US Military admitted that the M16s initial introduction was flawed and took corrective steps to measure it.

          • Esh325

            Only when soldiers started dying and they got caught.

          • Hyok Kim

            Like they say, “Success has a thousand fathers, but a failure is a bastard.”

    • Hyok Kim

      So what else is new?

  • USMC03Vet

    The absurd part is the US Army will soon be issuing M4A1 with fully automatic as standard issue…..

    • Joshua

      Yeah and trained soldiers will never use the feature.

      The main reason they are using the S-1-F trigger is because it offers a better trigger pull every time over the S-1-3 trigger of the M4.

      • USMC03Vet

        What is wrong with the current trigger?

        A supposedly better trigger is the least of the US Army’s problems with their infantry apparently being clueless.

        But hey, keep blaming the hardware.

        • CommonSense23

          You realize that trigger pull on the burst mode in semi had three different pulls, not one like the full auto. And if you fired two shots in semi, switched to burst and pulled the trigger you got a single shot.

        • Joshua

          Not blaming anything, but the fact is the trigger in the M4A1 has one single trigger pull.

          The trigger in the M16A4 and M4 has a different trigger pull weight that depends on the cog. You can never know which part of the cogs rotation you are on.

          Anyone will tell you having a repeatable trigger pull is a big factor is making accurate follow up shots.

          Also the burst cog was a knee jerk add on to poorly trained soldiers in Vietnam that the Army never wanted. The Marine Corps got it pushed through in the M16A2.

        • roguetechie

          Well other than statistically studies show if you are going to put a burst fire pack in an schv weapon it should fire 6 rounds not three… (3 is the point of furthest dispersion while if it were to go to 6 rounds the group tightens back up in round 4,5,6). Then of course there’s the fact that our burst group was always designed wrong. (example: Not only does it ruin trigger pull but also should you release the trigger at round 2 of a burst the next burst fire trigger pull will fire a single shot! Now the later polish ak74 trigger group uses a ratcheting burst mechanism that if a full burst isn’t fired still resets the mechanism for the next trigger pull. This helps greatly reduce its effect on the trigger pack, and gives the end user the ability to select 1,2, and 3 shot strings through trigger manipulation and good training. I’d love to see a 6 shot ratcheting burst mechanism installed on an AR just to see if full auto is even missed.)

          As to the Nate bashing… And the usually simultaneous AR bashing… There is actually an AR variant that can EASILY hold it’s own in round count before failure that proves 90% of the issues with m4 fails and etc has to do with the DOD specified configuration, not a weakness inherent to the design…

          Oh actually two of them! (hint one’s the k1a1 the other for some reason is being held in arms rooms but not officially allowed to be carried by our guys….

          • The Brigadier

            Its really not about the gas tube failure Rogue. Its that Stoner was an engineer and read an article about the Garand and M14 had its action 17 degrees off from its barrel center. This is what the causes the barrel to pull up slightly to the right. Stoner eliminated the piston and and came up with his “gas impingement” action, his words not mine, and as an engineer he made everything tight for accuracy. He admitted he had never even fired a gun when he designed the M16A1. Again he was an engineer and tightness is a key factor in their thinking. Most failures in the Barbie Rifle come from a couple of drops of mud, a grain or two of sand, or Heaven help us, raindrops.

            The AK for all of its crudity, can fire in all environments and even when dunked will fire after you pour out the water. I never liked shooting the AK except when I had to when my M16 got fouled by some small jungle muck. That is why the Barbie Rifle is a killer of our own troops who better still be taught that every time you rest you field strip your rifle and clean it as best you can.

          • roguetechie

            While I have immense respect for the AK (Own several in multiple calibers and configurations and am pretty decent with them on the range or building them from parts kits) I also understand the limitations and tradeoffs present in the design. Realize that there’s a reason the east German designation for it was MPI-69. it’s role and intended usage really was as a replacement for stuff like ppsh-41 which the Russians armed entire units with at times in ww2. (Note: Americans automatically assume smg’s are 50 yard guns because of our use of .45 acp in our submachine guns. The Russians however used 7.62×25 tokarev which in SMG specific loadings can be fired accurately and do damage well beyond 100 meters.. personally love the round so much I’m saving up now to do a tokarev chambered modern double stack carry gun BTW)

            So while the AR15 is a tiny RIFLE optimized for use with RIFLE tactics, the AKM is a super sized submachine gun. Also.. my range AR15 is now 2000 rounds deep in nothing but wolf and cheap brass case early on (NOTE: brass before steel, you’ll make the F***ERS KNEEL! Steel before brass, you’re gonna TAKE IT IN THE A*S!). She’s still chugging away. And she’s nothing special just a 20 inch a2 upper from model1 on an rguns complete lower with ti-7 6 position.

            All that said though if I was going to SEA to play in the jungles I’d probably wanna bring a 5.56 or 5.45 vz58 or AK! but it really is offensive seeing it called the Barbie Rifle. Also FWIW Gene mainly is responsible for gas system etc on AR10/15. HOWEVER you’re completely wrong on him never designing a gun before hand. He was “discovered” by someone at Armalite shooting a home built gun he made himself at a firing range! And Sullivan is who did a good chunk of the conversion from AR10 TO 15!

            I understand people who were let down having strong feelings. But please at least be. Honest about hating it because of your bad experience rather than maligning the men who built a great system only to have it repeatedly sabotaged by people in the procurement and issue process!

            Hate Mac Amara.
            Hate SPIW
            Hate logistics command (powder issues no cleaning kits)

            But don’t hate a guy that devoted his life to getting better tools to guys on the sharp end!

      • Esh325

        In that case, why not just issue a semi auto trigger group?

        • Joshua

          Who knows. More than likely auto triggers are already on the books.

          Plus semi only triggers use different safeties, and they would have to remove the auto sear, and they would need to buy and semi only trigger assembly.(my guess).

          Just easier to go with the trigger package that was around back in the M16 days.

          • Esh325

            Yes, that does make sense.

        • mig1nc

          Interestingly, Israel is issuing the X95 with semi auto triggers.

        • CommonSense23

          Cause having the option to switch to full auto when you semi breaks is really nice when it happens.

    • John Sjöström

      Wasn’t full auto a problem cuz US sent poorly trained soldiers to Vietnam?

      Today, almost every country in the world has Full-auto on their weapons. so why can’t US have it? Even the Brits have full auto after a time with only single fire with their FAL.

      • It wasn’t really soldier training that was the issue, though I agree that the burst fire mode is superfluous and bad.

    • LCON

      The Army and Marines have different Doctrine in the way they fight and what they want. 3 round burst was developed to try and reduce the chances of the riflemen emptying the magazine, but the trigger system that results is the cost. The Army in Iraq was finding it’s self fighting more from vehicles and on foot in Afghanistan. They deemed that the lighter more compact Carbine was better suited to such missions well the Marines deemed that they preferred what they had and only elected to drop pistols in favor of M4. the Marines did however adopt a Universal Rifle scope for there M16A4’s with the option in the future of going to telescopic stocks. They want range, that’s their doctrine.
      The Army wants Mobility and close quarters.
      The Army was first going to move to and did move to a M4 as it’s standard issue but the trigger pull and barrel issues as well as buffer issues popped up. this lead the Army to the M4A1 selection in 2010. A1 has a heavier barrel then M4, better trigger pull and the Army swapped buffers and has been working to install ambi controls
      they also launched product improvements. including evaluation of Piston retrofits and mounting upgrades. the retrofits seem to have been dropped due to not meeting desired improvements, but rail and accessory updates are on.

      • The Brigadier

        Now that Podesta is gone and the Emperor Obama is almost finished, plans are on the board to finally scrap Stoner’s misbegotten system. Hallelujah! That should be a day of victory to everyone who had to carry Stoner’s abomination into battle.

    • CapeMorgan

      The M41 has a thicker barrel.

      • LCON

        M41 has a Thicker barrel?… Sure…. Sorry couldn’t resist.

  • BKE Evers

    Training will always be an issue. One story reported to me by a relative had a guy heat up his M4 so hot in battle that when he put it down to rest it he leaned it up against a vehicle which it subsequently was so hot the whole thing visibly bent. Barrel especially. Not the weapon’s fault. Just poor execution.

  • Mike

    If you want the whole story of Wanat get a hold of a print or digital copy of the Combat Studies Institute Press (US Combined Arms Center Leavenworth, Kansas) publication “Wanat: Combat Action in Afghanistan, 2008)” ISBN: 978-0-9841901-8-8. It is publicly available and contains the most thoroughly researched accounting of the action relying on the post-action statement of all involved, transcripts of radio traffic and images/maps of the battle. It contains a great many details of what went right, what went wrong and holds no punches from peoples actions from ISAF down to the lowest rifleman.

    • Mike

      pg. 228 “The relatively high American casualty rate on 13 July 2008 has

      been attributed to a number of causes. These include weapon failures, command neglect, intelligence failures, logistics deficiencies, slow ir support, and a failure to conduct COIN operations. A detailed analysis of these assertions shows that weapons did not fail […]”

      • iksnilol

        So which is it? At one point you say weapon failures were one of the causes the next sentence you say that weapons didn’t fail.

        NOTE: While I am an AK guy I don’t really care what the US does and what arms it fields

  • Blake

    Excellent summary. This should be sent to the guy that wrote the misinformational piece on the AR-15 in The Atlantic last week…

  • Brian

    Wanat was a mess for a variety of factors, but primarily because the COP location utterly sucked. Essentially it was completely surrounded by dead zones that were worsened when they lost their FLIR. Yes they could have been more vigilant about using CPs to mitigate this risk, but when you’re literally surrounded 360 by high ground and have indigenous buildings right next to you’re screwed from the start. Criticizing them for that is like issuing someone a leaky dinghy and saying they should have been more diligent about bailing it out.
    Even if everyone there had been issued a mythical 6 pound LMG it would probably not have mattered much. Focusing on what small arm you’re carrying when you’re being overrun is silly.

  • nadnerbus

    Out of random curiosity, what is the rough round count at which an AK will fail on cyclic, or any other contemporary assault rifles? The issue of the gas tube heating up, drooping, and then kinking against that gas key on an AR does seem like it would put the rifle out of commission sooner than contemporary piston operated designs. I don’t really think that justifies a new rifle or anything, but it might be something to think about.

    You get any machine hot enough, and it will fail. It’s just a matter of finding the weakest point to see where. There might be other rifles out there that improve on the M4 in this regard by a small margin, but I doubt in any way meaningful enough to justify replacement or the likely greater weight of said weapon.

    • iksnilol

      From what I know and have seen is that the AK catches fire (the handguard) after 300 rounds on full auto. Though it can still continue to fire due to not being dependent on a plastic tube/hose for the gas.

      + There is that Kalashnikov “tribute” video where that guy fired 700 rounds in short succession, though I believe that was semi auto (though still fast).

  • No, I intend to post pro-M4 propaganda regardless of whether the media covers it or not.

  • Sorry!

  • Rifles are equipment. They will have flaws, and some flaws may be serious. Also (arguably more) important are the decisions people make, whether they are users, developers, or procurement officers.

    A lot of people feel like I’m apologising for the AR-15. I take these criticisms seriously, since that is counter to my goals. Instead, I want to create as accurate a picture of history as I can.

  • Don Ward

    There are photographs of weapons being taken off of dead soldiers since the Civil War and Crimean War. Your point?

  • Don Ward

    Welp. Time to dust off those Browning M1917s.

  • Don Ward

    There is a certain amount of conceit that it should be impossible for a bunch of backwards, donkey-humping Taliban to be able to conduct a successful attack against sturdy, square-jawed American soldiers with all of the training and spending lavished on the military. When the reality is that the enemy gets to shoot back, gets to plan, plot and show initiative. It doesn’t help that theplan at Wanat seemed to be to recreate a mini Dien Bien Phu.

    • Smiddywesson

      I have to agree. If the enemy survives long enough, hardship and attrition trains them, and then you have to worry about what you would do in their shoes, because you are now living in that reality.

  • Uniform223

    My whole hearted opinion…

    The fact that lobbyist, politicians, and individuals to be described with very colorful choice words and metaphors constantly use and point to this tragic event as “proof” for their cause: disgusts me.

  • n0truscotsman

    Good, now can anti-M4 people please stop using Wanat as an example of why we need (insert rifle here)?

  • Jim_Macklin

    The AR/M4 rifle is designed to do certain things. It bagan as a rifle picked by USAF General LeMay for AP guards on SAC bases, an improvement over the M1 Carbine.
    McNamara then selected it for Vietnam and it was fine for jungle varmint hunting and inner city battles.
    Perhaps a wider selection of calibers to extend the useful range out to 1,000 to 1,500 meters would be in order. Bringing the M14 back as the M21 doesn’t go past 1,000 meters.
    But as a weapons systems, the AR may be the most ergonomic rifle ever adopted by any nation.
    The US Army can afford to issue two or even three rifles and other weapons so magazine dumps can be done using multiple rifles when in a defensive position.

    • CommonSense23

      You know SOF forces in Vietnam were using the AR-15 before the adoption the Air Force ever had them and gave extremely favorable reviews of the weapons.

    • I recommend reading The Black Rifle for a better understanding of the history of the AR-15.

      At what point in Battle of Wanat do you feel riflemen would have been better served with calibers designed for 1-1.5 km?

  • Ben

    Jim Sullivan has actually created just such a beast (closed/open bolt M4). It was demoed in a video on Full30. Amazing rifle, I hope that the technology makes its way into military hands.

  • Tassiebush

    well I’m certainly impressed! even once the gas tube fails it’s able to fire as a straightpull!

    • iksnilol

      *cough* The AK would still be able to fire full auto, since the handguard would only catch fire after 300 rounds (no plastic gas tube to blow out). *cough*

      • Tassiebush

        Hi iksnilol how’s the Norwegian weather? I just watched video again and at something like around 23mags (lost count sorta) of constant fire the gas tube gives out. That’s something like 690 rounds. The forestock if I’m not mistaken caught fire a fair point beyond 300 rounds. It’s failure point is well past the point where a normal loudout would be exhausted. I looked for full auto test of AK to destruction for comparison but only saw one too hot to hold on fire at 300 rounds full auto. I’d suspect the AK may well function a bit longer before total mechanical failure but I take from those examples that the M4 may well be usable for a bit longer into such a terminal mag dumping session. It’d actually be interesting to see how much longer the M4 could last if the specs of the gas tube thickness was doubled. I’d imagine the fact though that the gun’s other parts like the barrel would be buggered by that stage is why it isn’t already improved in such a way. Both guns have impressive merits IMO

        • Tassiebush

          Re counted it stops at 28th mag so 27 full mags before failure. Flames visible from 13th mag.

        • iksnilol

          The Norwegian weather? It can’t decide between snow or rain so it goes both ways. Back on topic: The whole Wanat thing was from what I understand problematic because of bad location for the base. Either way, if you have to fire that many rounds in such a short time you are pretty much screwed.

          A thicker gas tube could work, though I don’t know whether that would add noticeable weight or something. I am really not an AR guy, I know how to use the thing but don’t like the manual of arms with it.

          • Tassiebush

            It can’t decide whether to be mid summer or winter here. Sunburn one moment putting on a jumper the next!
            Yeah agreed no individual weapon would counter those circumstances.

          • iksnilol

            Certainly wouldn’t have hurt to have something more full auto resistant. But yeah, they were basically screwed if you will excuse my French.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah it’d never hurt. My mind tends towards thoughts of Jim Sullivan’s constant recoil, open bolt version of the AR15 with those 100round mags. But as agreed it wouldn’t really change much.

          • iksnilol

            The best thing would be a reduced cyclic rate, if it could be reduced to 180 rpm it would be perfect. Much more controlable and the ammo would last much longer (much less wear and overheating).

          • Smiddywesson

            Of course, we have to agree that something more full auto friendly would be nice, but compromises were made in producing this weapon. What would you be willing to give up to get that added capability (which you are unlikely to need)? The M4 is very light, and the cost of that weight reduction is marginal durability in exchange for being able to carry more ammo. Given the choice of having a heavier weapon and insufficient ammo, or a light one that will burn out long after I exhaust what ammo I can carry, I’ll pick the lighter gun and hope research continues to make it more durable.
            One thing I love about the M4 is there are so many companies tinkering with it.

        • wzrd1

          I’d go with a heatsink on the tube over thickening it. Remove the heat, remove the failure mode.

          That said, I’ve fired my M4 until the parkerization turned green and the gas tube was bright yellow. The weapon continued firing (though, I did lower my cyclic rate to avoid a malfunction).
          Then an op goes sideways, you’re going to tend to overheat your weapon. For, it seems at times, you’ll never run out of the bastards.

          • Tassiebush

            Good point about a heatsink over just thickening it.

    • sometrend

      That is impressive performance for a lightweight,aircooled weapon. The current crop of M-16 based weapons systems are quite good. Proponents of the AK tout their reliability but I doubt 1 would live much longer in sustained automatic fire. And,our guys can consistantly make headshots out to 300meters with the M-4….think that is a repeatable endeavor with an AK underfolder?lol

    • Dragonheart

      The fact remains that continuous automatic fire from small arms is not effective. That is the reason the ARs of the Vietnam era were converted to burst fire, a short two or three round burst, which puts all the rounds on target. I personally think this video demonstrates this rifle is well suited for its intended purpose.

  • CommonSense23

    That Colt video was with the light barrel version. The heavy barrel version in use today with the M4A1 is more likely to burst the gas tube now.

    • Because the barrel is much, much heavier than almost all of the M4’s competitors, yes.

  • CommonSense23

    How many infantry men have you worked with. I have seen 11Bs show up to Afghanistan that can’t do a single pull up, bench their own body weight, don’t know how to properly reassemble their rifles, saw gunners who have never fired their rifles from the standing, can’t tell you which way north is with a setting Sun, the list goes on and on. The simple fact is the vast majority of people in the military are nowhere as well as the military likes to say they are or the vast majority of people think they are.

  • MANG

    Derp, I meant Colt lobbyists have no high ground over FN.

  • CommonSense23

    The M21 and M14 is a absolutely outdated and overall platform. It takes a lot to get them reliable and accurate. The only reason it was pressed back into service was due to the large need of a 7.62 rifle and the sheer amount that was available.

  • I never even mention him.

  • Where do I bring up the M21?

  • What does Gen. Casey have to do with this?

  • What you are suggesting is tantamount to saying we need to issue water-cooled machine guns to all riflemen. This is unconventional to say the least.

    The M4 didn’t fail because it was a poor design of a rifle, it failed because air-cooled, fixed-barrel weapons fail when shot at cyclic for long periods.

  • iksnilol

    Sorry, mistyped.

    Isn’t pouring water on a overheated weapon a really bad idea? Because it will be weakened from a metalurgic standpoint. Just like if you take a warm cup or glass out of the dishwasher and then soak it in cold water.

    From what I know you have to prevent overheating by cooling it before you start heating it up. If it is already hot then there isn’t much you can do.

    • brainy37

      Negative. The item would have to be much hotter for that to happen and of a specific carbon content. Chrome-moly is the standard rifle barrel metal and it’s pretty resistant to that kind of effect. If it’s just hot and/or steaming then there is no issue. Glass acts like that because it’s tempered where as barrels are merely work hardened.

      If the barrel is red hot then you have more to worry about from excessive wear as the metal becomes softer causing the lans on the rifling to flatten and wear down (aka shot out barrel).

      • iksnilol

        I don’t know, that’a at least what I heard. It can allegedly weaken the metal and cause it to become more brittle.

  • Tassiebush

    Neither of us thought rifles were the issue. We were just wandering off on a tangent based on that video.

  • usmcmailman

    I served in Vietnam in 1968 during the TET offensive. I was a member of a group that was
    first issued the “New” M-16. What a piece of plastic crap! Many good Marines died because of this highly inferior rifle. Maybe the M-14 was heavy, but if you had to butt
    stroke the enemy, at least it didn’t break !
    I now own a Tactical Ruger Mini-14, and would NOT trade it for the “Best” AR-15 made !

  • usmcmailman

    I was up by Khe-Sanh when our base was overrun by Charlie. Everyone I saw dropped
    their M-16’s and picked up AK-47’s in order to survive !

  • Sam Pensive

    My take is that the nimbus brains.who chose a lousy location for the base are first in line to blame.

  • iksnilol

    Uh, that is a feature… Since if you fire 300 rounds then that means the enemy has gotten close. Now tell me, Is it worse to be stabbed with a metal stick or a burning metal stick?

    Back to seriousness, wouldn’t the polymer melt?

  • brainy37

    There are a surprising number of people that have never heard of Wanat nor any issues with the rifle. But there are plenty of people trying to mis-inform others about the M16 based on false information. You still hear plenty of posers claiming Vietnam era experience despite being too young or knowing a friend of a friend that was there. We’re already seen posers do the same with this war and making claims about their weapon systems that don’t hold up to real history. Hell I still hear people saying that lots of lube will cause sand or dust to jam an M16 but then complain when it seizes from having barely any lube.

    Poorly informed people make poor decisions about their (or someone elses) weapon’s capabilities.

  • T Sheehan

    M4 owners rising up to hi-5 an article that matches their view? Check.
    European and Survivalist hold outs defending the AK? Check.
    Former marines blaming it on the Army not being as “awesome” as they WERE before discovering donuts? Check.
    Tacticool one shot-one one-kill wanna-be mercenaries quoting random things that auto fire is useless? Check.
    Nam guys freaking out about the zips in the wire? Check.
    Just another day on TFB forums.
    I give up. I’m going liberal.

  • The Brigadier

    Nate,

    I trained and qualified as a Marksman with an M16. Its an extremely accurate rifle for a varmint rifle. As a battlefield rifle it is less than. It failed in the jungles and mud of Southeast Asia where I personally experienced failures at the wrong time. I always carried a .45 everywhere I went and especially in the field when I had to take my M16 A1. When I flew into smaller bases and the Commanders found out I was a rated Marksman they always had their armorer give me a M14. I never experienced a failure with that magnificent rifle.

    Your contention that the M16 is superior to the M14 is laughable for all us who used both in combat. I have also talked to veterans in the Army and Air Force who fought multiple tours in Iraq and Iran and the Barbie Rifle did even worse in the sand. Many of our guys grabbed other rifles from our allies and some carried AKs in their packs as backups. Most had to use them. You are in a state of denial, and worse you are a promoter of a failed system.

    In 2010, 100 current duty and just retired armorers were asked by the Rifleman which battle rifle was the best in American history. Ninety seven (97) said the M14, two (2) said the M1 and only 1 said the M16. No one even mentioned the smaller M4. Your continued campaign to malign the M14 and build up the M4 Nate brings up the question about which company that makes the M4 do you work for?

  • Hyok Kim

    Thanks for the article. For what’s worth, wanat is not a turning point of the war, but a minor footnote. Even if M4 had been the cause for the ‘defeat’, it would not have been a wake up call, and it never was.

    I read both part 1 and part 2, and even though I agree with most, and disagree with a few, even if 416 and SCAR had been far better battle carbines than M4. I would still be for retaining M4. Simply not worth the hassle. Time for superior battle rifles deciding the fate of war has long been gone. The last time superior battle rifle could have decided the fate of the war was WW1, and it didn’t.

    The last time superior battle rifle decided the fate of the war was the German war of Unification. That’s more 140 years ago.