BREAKING: US Army CANCELS M4A1+ Upgrade Program

The US Army’s plan to wrap new technologies and commercial off the shelf (COTS) improvements into the M4A1 rifle has apparently been canned. The program, called M4A1+, was originally intended to upgrade the M4A1 fleet with new COTS rails, back up sights, flash hiders, triggers, and other improvements, but it seems the service will push forward with the basic 22-year-old M4A1 design for now. ArmyTimes reports:

“The Army issues market surveys all the time to assess if there’s any new technologies that it might want to look at. In this instance, there weren’t,” Picatinny Arsenal spokesman Pete Rowland in an email. “Case-closed for now.”

The M4A1+ market survey requested solutions that included an extended Picatinny rail (to both allow a shooting technique with a straightened forward elbow and more accessory-attachment options), as well as a floating barrel to enhance accuracy. Other improvements sought were: a flash suppressor; a brownish color for new parts to help camouflage; removable iron sights; and an optional sniper-style single-stage trigger specifically for squad marksmen.

The upgrades were to “seamlessly integrate with the current M4A1 Carbine … without negatively impacting or affecting the performance or operation.”

At the time Lt. Col. Terry Russell, project manager for individual weapons at Picatinny Arsenal, said the Army was “very confident that these already do exist, or that (companies) can develop them for us in short order.” But the offerings apparently did not add enough value for the Army to pull the trigger.

The M4A1 offers substantial improvement over the basic M4, including fully automatic selector setting, ambidextrous selector levers, and a much heavier barrel contour originally created to support extended fully automatic fire from SOCOM reconnaissance teams. While the M4A1+ improvements could have augmented the rifle’s configuration slightly, taken altogether they represent only a very modest possible improvement over the existing M4A1. The biggest possible improvements would have been the change to a low profile gas block, and a longer, lighter rail (possibly even utilizing a negative footprint mounting system like Keymod) than the somewhat small, heavy, and antiquated KAC RAS 1913 rail. It seems likely to me that in the future the Army will pursue these developments regardless of the M4A1+ program’s cancellation, that is provided that the service moves quickly enough that such improvements can arrive before the replacement of the M4 with something new.

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


  • Joshua

    Not that big of a deal. The KAC RAS does what the Army needs of a rail, it’s actually still pretty common in SOCOM still to this day.

    The rest of the stuff was iffy at best. A2 is still one of the best flash hiders with military ammunition that has flash suppressant in the powder, and the CH works fine for a gun that should rarely need to use it.

    I’m sure some will be mad and blah blah blah, but getting the M4A1 was the largest upgrade to the M4 soldiers could have gotten.

    • The RAS is a great rail, my complaint is that it’s a bit heavy.

      The rest is nice, but OK. I agree the A2 flash hider has aged remarkably well.

      • Bub

        I used a RAS until recently on a 6920 when I switched to a DD Omega rail. RAS is a little heavy, but rock solid and frankly I’m thinking of switching it back on this particular gun which is my goto or get to self defense weapon. The DD rail of course would go on something else and is top quality in it’s own right.

      • Joshua

        The issue with replacing the RAS will be the fact that the Army required it retain tension through a stupid amount of ammo(50,000 rounds). So KAC over engineered it vs the RIS.

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    Nathaniel, what do you think is a component of the current M4/M855A1 that needs the most improvement? If you could fix one aspect of the rifle for military service, what would it be?

    • Well, I am not an expert, nor have I ever fought with an M4, but in my opinion – for whatever that is worth – here’s what I’d change:

      The M4 RAS rail is pretty heavy for what it does; there are much lighter options out there. Having said that, the KAC rail is very durable and well-proven; there are certainly worse choices.

      The M4 gas block could also be cut down or replaced (cutting them down is super cheap and should have been done ages ago). The M203 cut is probably unnecessary at this point, but there’s still enough 203s in service I think that the backwards compatibility is welcome. At some point though, new barrels without 203 cuts would help reduce cost and improve rigidity. Not that current barrels aren’t rigid enough.

      I think the bolt and extension could use a redesign, a la the KAC E3.

      M855A1 is really a great bullet from everything I can tell. Within the current 5.56mm chambering, I wouldn’t change anything about it except to implement OWL tracers as soon as possible, if possible.

      I’d like to see a specialist marksman variant made from surplus M16A4s. Replace the extensions and buttstocks with something like an Vtlor A5 and a collapsing butt, add an improved trigger like the Geissele SSF, a heavy 18″ barrel, and issue them with VCOGs or something like that. I think that would be a tremendous “value-added” support weapon for the squad. You could back that up with dilligent issuance of Mk. 262 Mod. 1 ammunition, too, but even with M855A1 such a weapon I think would really improve the squad’s effectiveness. A Second contractor for Mk. 262 Mod. 1 would help make this a reality. The E3 bolt design would help increase bolt life even shooting Mk. 262 all the time, as well.

      One idea that gets toyed around with from time to time is squad issuance of rifle grenades. The US Army doesn’t currently do this, but you could perhaps imagine a reinforced M4 variant designed to handle a steady diet of heavy HE grenades. Unfortunately, standard issue M855A1 may limit the effectiveness of this concept, as you possibly can’t use HEDP or HEAT grenades due to the good penetration of that bullet. Still, it’s an idea.

      • TheSmellofNapalm

        Thanks for such a great response. I too am a huge proponent of the KAC E3 bolt. In a perfect world I would love to see all M4s swapped out for KAC MOD 2s, and like you said an accurized version (LPR MOD 2), complete with A5, UBR Gen 2 and 77 TMK ammo (Hague?).

        • Well, the 77gr TMK ammo hasn’t been JAG-approved so far as I know, but the ballistic advantages it offers are pretty considerable, yes.

        • Joshua

          I wouldn’t want the E3 bolt over the standard bolt.

          It has one issue that makes it a no go from an adoption standpoint, and its not the requirement for a new barrel extension.

          • Uniform223


            What is the no-go for you? From everywhere I have read, seen, and heard KAC’s E3 bolt (albeit expensive) is an improvement over your mil-standard AR-15 bolt.

          • Joshua

            Honestly can’t say on an open forum. There is a reason it has seen little success outside of civilian sales.

            It was tested and I’ve seen the MRBS and MRBEFF figures on the SR-16.

      • LCON

        That’s a fairly extensive rebuild list there Nathanael. Personally I just wanted to comment why bother with a 5.56mm DMR? early in Iraq the Us went in with M16A4 DMR’s and then they moved to the M14. The DMR role is to engage past 300 meters the perceived max effective range of an M4. The M14’s pushed out about 800 meters. sure they are heavy but if you look at an AR10 based DMR like what the M110 was supposed to be you can get a modern AR with all the trimmings and a weight savings that will push rounds easily past 600 meters

        • Well, it’s no secret that I have a lot more faith in 5.56mm than most people do. 800 meters is a long way away for any round, including 7.62mm. I shoot 5.56mm rifles out beyond 300m on a regular basis, so that’s where my opinion comes from. You can make the hits if you’re trained and know what you’re doing. If you have Mk. 262, you can go even further.

          Here’s an example of what Mk. 262 can do in practice:

          Haley is a skilled shooter, he’s got a good rifle, and he’s using a good load that he knows well. Maybe it takes him some extra hits to put a fellow down at 800m, but he can do it, and that sort of range is rare. Up close, he has all the controllability of 5.56mm, compatibility with his buddy’s ammo, and isn’t burdened by a larger, heavier caliber.

          Not to mention that with an AUTO position on his selector, such a marksman can act as an automatic rifleman as well, in a pinch.

          So 5.56mm makes infinitely more sense to me for a squad DMR.

          • Ben Loong

            Nathaniel, you might be glad to know that you’re not alone in thinking that.

            Over here in the Philippines, the Government Arsenal has taken the positive experience of the Phil. Marine Corps with the various versions of the MSSR* over the past 20 years and have built a line of AR-based special purpose rifles/designated marksmen rifles for use by the Army and possibly the other armed services. The specs are similar to your own idea. Upon special request they also developed a 16″ carbine variant for the Scout Rangers and the Special Forces. Last I heard a number of both DMR variants were undergoing field trials with special operations units.

            *They actually just recently released the first of the new Gen 4 MSSRs this month.

          • Cynical_Asshole

            yep. and the Gen 4 MSSR has very significant upgrades over the earlier gens too.

            pic of the new Gen 4 MSSRs issued recently.

          • CommonSense23

            And if you have the 80gr even further than MK262.

          • AK

            One aspect where 7.62mm trumps 5.56 is long range penetration of cover. Also, the terminal ballistics of 5.56 past 300 meters are rather unimpressive. I look at all rifles as tools, and as such, the choice of rifle and ammo comes down to anticipated mission needs and available resources. Sometimes 5.56 makes more sense, other times 7.62, sometimes the DMR could even have a .22LR (special ops hush puppy, sentry elimination, etc.), when the pros of that weapon outweigh the cons.

        • Ron

          I am not sure if that is an 100 accurate assessment. The reason the 7.62 based weapons were adopted by the Army was the AMU said they could not build enough 5.56 guns fast enough so big Army fielded an existing system. This gave the added advantage of not having to start a program of record would take too long and would need to be POMd for instead of the ability to do a rapid fielding as an upgrade to an existing system.
          The SDM was meant to fill a capability gap from 300-600 meters, something that SOCOM and Marines have been able to cover with SAMs and MK12s.

      • BjornTheBrave

        I like your idea regarding the VCOG. It’s a cool optic but it weighs a ton -too much for a GP rifle-, is prohibitively expensive and its battery runtime is even worse than EOTech which makes it a hardly desirable military optic overall. I highly doubt it would even be up for consideration.
        And why would you want to use rifle grenades? They’ve gone the way of the dodo. I’d rather opt for the B&T GL-06. The rifle will always be the primary weapon of the two, the GL is only used when needed. A modular rifle/GL combo makes for neither a good rifle nor a good GL. No need to carry dead weight all the time. You need to keep those two separate.

        As for fixing the GP rifle problem I would do the following;

        1) Replace all AR pattern rifles across the board with one custom built rifle -buy once cry once and call it the day- under the ‘M4-N(ext)G(eneration)’ nomenclature.

        Build specs:

        Primary Weapons Systems MK116 Mod 2 .223 Wylde
        3x Primary Weapons Systems KeyMod Aluminum Picatinny Rail Section
        Magpul STR Stock & Enhanced Rubber Butt-pad 0.70″
        Lantac Dragon DGN556B 1/2-28 UNEF R/H Muzzle Brake
        Battle Arms Development Ambidextrous Safety Selector AR-15 – Standard
        Battle Arms Development Enhanced Pin Set AR-15
        Geissele Super Tricon (or SSF) Trigger
        BCM Gunfighter Charging Handle Mod 4
        BCM Gunfighter Mod 3 Pistol Grip
        BCM Gunfighter KeyMod Rail Panels
        Troy Industries Micro Set HK Front and Round Rear Tritium BLK Battle Sights w/ XS Sight Systems Troy CSAT Rear Aperture
        Aimpoint Comp M4S w/ GDI CM4-OSM QD Mount
        Samson 3.5x Magnifier
        Surefire M600 Ultra Scout Light w/ LaRue Tactical Surefire Scout Light LT272 QD Lever Mount @ 9
        LaRue Tactical LT-FUG Forward Universal ‘Pillar’ Grip
        Savvy Sniper Quad X Cobra Sling
        2x ALG Defense Forged Sling Swivel
        Lancer Systems L5AWM Translucent Smoke 30-Round Magazines w/ 5.56 Magpuls

        2) In the ammo realm: standardize on MK318 SOST and dump everything else (including MK262 and EPR because the 5.56 sucks for those purposes anyway. No need for 70/75gr barrier blind ammo either because SOST already is by design and is more cost effective than both MK262 and 70/75gr TSX/TAP).

        Things aside, just for the sake of clarity I don’t give a hoot about any Hague Conventions. Congress never signed nor ratified any treaties banning the use of expansion ammo and those treaties only apply to conflicts between regular belligerents in the first place. As per logic they don’t hold any value in todays warfare which is being fought between legitimate entities (standing armies and ISO certified PMCs) on the one side and criminal (irregular, terrorist and hybrid) entities on the other. Which implies that from a legal perspective all ‘wars’ nowadays would categorize as policing operations, hence allowing for the use of expanding bullets as the Conventions don’t apply to LE and neither to special forces for that matter because they didn’t even exist back then.

        Back on topic: As a final remark we need to accept that the AR is not the ‘do it all’ but a 300m rifle at best. Everything further out is machine guns, mortars, grenade launchers, DMRs and combined arms/joint effects.

        • TheSmellofNapalm

          Dude I think you’re nitpicking WAAAAY too much about gear. The M4 doesn’t need all that colorful armchair stuff, and the mk 318 has absolutely pathetic accuracy. What our guys need more than 5 pounds of accessories on their gun is better TRAINING.

          • Dracon1201

            What he is describing is actually a very trim rifle. There isn’t really any additional unnecessary accessories. Some of it is a little too detailed, pins and such, but it’s not way out there. Training is our main problem, though.

          • BjornTheBrave

            I second that. And yeah, I love details. Who doesn’t appreciate a great custom rifle?

          • My experience with Mk.318 is that it’s actually extremely accurate for a ball round…

          • CommonSense23

            Is MK318 even considered ball. And what is the defining characteristic of “ball” ammo in a military since. That would be a good article.

          • BjornTheBrave

            I remember that article, very well written. Good job.

          • BjornTheBrave

            No I’m not, and it’s not arm chair stuff. I’ve kept everything simple and basic. Agreed on the training argument, and absolutely disagree on your MK318 comment. The Marines would most definitely raise their voice if their new round sucked. SOST actually ‘fixed’ the 5.56 round. There’s never been a better GP round before it. MK262 is fine but simply cost prohibitive as a GP round. You might as well switch over to 6.8 SPC II for that matter. It’s a far more powerful round and dodges the wind better than 5.56/.223. But anyway, no military in the world will ever switch to boutique priced ammo (and there’s no need to, SOST is perfect for it was designed to do).

      • Do rifle grenades offer an improvement in performance/ accuracy over 40mm, or is that simply a way to reduce the need of a underbarrel M203?

        • They can have a much greater explosive payload, although they tend to be less accurate.

          The 40mm grenade launcher is a great weapon, and I wouldn’t abandon it. The rifle grenade idea would allow every member of the squad to have short-medium-range high explosive firepower, however.

          • AK

            But, do you really need three tiers of infantry grenade launching systems? It makes more sense to me to have two: small and accurate 40mm (mainly urban use) and bigger and accurate 84mm. Rifle grenades are an artifact of history for a reason – they add unnecessary bulk to a loadout, while being a very niche weapon. Handgrenades are sufficient for individual needs.

          • Maybe. It’s just an idea that gets tossed around from time to time.

      • CommonSense23

        Rifle grenades are a horrible idea this day and age. Just grab a standalone grenade launcher if you need lob a lot.

        • iksnilol

          You can lob much more powerful charges with rifle grenades. And you avoid the bulk/weight of a M203.

      • kzrkp

        removing M203 cut is a huge change they should defiantly do, it always shows in destructive testing that the barrel droops and fails there, and .mil use is where that worst case is going to happen.

        • Joshua

          Negative. Testing showed the barrel drooped under the handguard. However the RO921HB will out last the gas tube by a significant amount.

      • Kivaari

        Are you suggesting the bullet trap grenades as made in Belgium? I understand they have a shorter range than those used with conventional grenade blanks.
        IIRC they are/were made by Mecar.

  • LCON

    Really any mods the M4A1+ would have done now would have been PIPs not even worthy of a special designation. Unless the Army decided to add Smart scopes or power rails the M4A1+ was just a repackaging. better suited for add ons down the line. Changing the stock, Pistol grip, front sight these are details that can be slowly phased over a the next few years but are smaller scale. the Rail system would be the big change. A monolithic would demand a large engineering change. And moving to Mloc or Keymod would demand adoption of accessories for such in best case across the whole armory. better to phase in gradually

    • Anonymoose

      I figured it would basically be just a budget version of the SOPMOD Block 2, but keep the wafflestock and A2 grip, and the #1 thing the Army and Marines seem to want to do is go to a low-profile gas blocks and an RIS2-style long quad-rail over the KAC forend. Dunno what folding front sight the Army will use, but they’re probably going to keep issuing their Matech rear sights, CompM2s, and 4×32 ACOGs. I don’t see why the Marines aren’t buying M4A1s with the heavier barrel (or at least a 3-round burst model with the M4A1 “SOCOM” barrel) instead of buying new standard-profile M4s, though. It seems like something the USMC would go for given their love for accuracy.

      • LCON

        I have been thinking about this moose,
        One problem with low profile blocks and long RIS 2 is that you loose the bayonet lug. now sure the Bayonet has fallen out of fashion but Bayonet charges are still valid and can still come in handy. For a regular infantry rifle it should be kept. as such you would need to redesign the bayonet mounting system. It’s not impossible of course. Flip up front sight gas block with lug have been around from Yankee Hill, GG&G, MI and KAC I am sure it would be done with a low profile to but not under an extended rail.
        The Rail itself is I think the biggest change that will come As the Army keeps feuding over weight of gear Changing to a Keymod or Mloc is coming. It;s not an issue for sights as M1913 will remain for Optics and BUIS but other accessories will change either by a adaptor or direct mount.

        Changing the stock is not that big a deal any more I mean more and more we already see troops in the Army using a mish mash of Stocks from the Sopmod to Magpul and beyond.
        Pistol grips is a bit less selective as the Army and Marines are not really looking to change that just because it’s considered unnecessary. same for magazines.

        Today looking at the list I think I see It as a PIP small scale changes for the next decade. small changes for individual units and batches followed by incrementals of Rail and muzzle device.

        The biggest Change I would like to see happening right now is loose the Black The Army has been talking about ditching the black for a decade now almost all the other gear is flat tan now so why is the M4A1 still Black?

        • Volk

          While I understand the complaint about all black gear, I’d say that if it was a concern at all, it should have been a concern a decade or more ago.

          At this point I would like to imagine there will be few enough trips in the middle east’s future to justify desert colors and camouflage as a default. Hell, that may already be the case. I look at local nat guard depots and convoys now and the woodland to tan ratio of both vehicles and equipment seems about 50/50.

          • Anonymoose

            FDE doesn’t stand out really in forests, plains, or urban environments, and a mix of FDE, Foliage Green, Olive Drab, and maybe gray would not stick out nearly as much as all black. I think it’s more of a matter of uniformity, as all leather gear used to have to be black until the ACU and MARPAT came around.

          • Volk

            I guess you’re both right. Maybe FDE, maybe something else… just not black. Makes enough sense.

            Personally not sure it’s significant enough to bother replacing and updating, but the additional cost to new equipment would be comparatively minimal and why not colorize new equipment? Even if it was just grey, that’s better in all environments and climates than black.

          • LCON

            The Army already regularly cycles rifles for rebuild at Anniston Army Depot and is running conversion of M4’s to M4A1 from returning Units included in both is repainting and refinishing For some reason beyond me they just never bothered to clean out the paint machines and use FDE, all I can figure is penny counting,

          • ARCNA442

            It seems that most of the finishes used on firearms (anodizing, parkerizing, nitriding) are naturally black. So to get a color change they would probably need to perform expensive testing to approve a new type of finish.

          • LCON

            They never really changed the colors state side but consider the new ACU’s and that the latest Army vehicles are rolling sand more and more.

        • BjornTheBrave

          I wouldn’t worry about black that much. You can always use an air brush to spray paint your weapons according to pending AO.

  • dagrsdg

    Just make new m4 with folding stock and proper charging handle

    Korean army already make this happened

    • Anonymoose

      They did that already. I believe they called it the “SCAR.”

      • CommonSense23

        And it sucks.

        • BjornTheBrave

          Agreed. Any non-fully ambi lower rifle by default sucks for military use. FN can do better than that.

          • CommonSense23

            I have nothing against not being ambi and I’m lefty. Am talking performance and the charging handle.

          • BjornTheBrave

            Roger that. Side mounted charging handles have their pros and cons indeed. I understand where you’re going at.

          • MechanizedSwede

            Im a lefty and have no problem with the sidecharging ak5c, im acctually faster then most rightys in my platoon. But a ambi mag release would be nice

          • BjornTheBrave

            I’m just referring to the overall benefits for the military. Fully ambi rifles are just handy. You must be able to shoot and manipulate guns with both hands. I’m very training/skill focused.

    • HB

      Well, Korean K2 rifle isn’t the M4 with folding stock and different charging handle; it’s more of a mixture of AR-18/M16A1/Stoner M63, which virtually has no parts compatibility with M16 series of rifles other than magazine…. and as a Korean who handled K2 rifles before, I would prefer M4A1 Carbine with ambi selector. K2 is not that ‘ergo’ gun.

      • sdaf

        I was talking about k1 rifle

        • HB

          Same as K1; it also isn’t the M4 with folding stock and different charging handle. While K2 and K1 use different operating system(K2: Piston, K1: direct impingement), both guns have many things in common(actually K2 was derived from K1…) and virtually has no parts compatibility with M4/M16 series of weapons. And K1 doesn’t even have folding stock- it has sliding stock, quite similar to M3 Grease Gun.

          • safsdfg

            you just dont get the point do you?

      • dsg

        do you know why ar-15 cant have a folding stock?

  • Arie Heath

    Just let the troops customize their rifles to a reasonable degree. Just an idea, not sure if it would work, as I have never been in the military.

    • Volk

      It wouldn’t. ‘Ramirez, you’re on point!’ ‘Hold on, I can’t mount this light – it came with a keymod adaptor, but I bought an mlok rail!’

    • Joshua

      Horrible idea. Soldiers will always go for what’s cheapest and tacticoolish, this means crap rails that aren’t built to the standard and may not be compatible with ancillary items.

  • Petto

    Well i think they cancelled this because they want those 6.5 rifles instead

  • Major Tom

    So how about just ditching this nonsense about the M4A1 and getting a brand new rifle built from the ground up to be better? Sticking to what is basically a 60+ year old design with minimal improvements shows a heavy adherence to the sunk cost fallacy.

    • BjornTheBrave

      What do you suggest the military adopt considering the established training and logistics support system? There’s nothing that has been proven to be any significantly better than the AR platform. The SCAR, ACR and XM8 all failed. There’s a whole lot involved with procurement. Military reluctance and political corruption topping the list. The only thing that is going to -if ever- replace the AR is, well, another AR. That AR has to be significantly better than current stock. Piston operated, fully ambi controls, barrel technology that is a step up, much higher build and materials quality, better quality components etc. The US Military will never adopt a foreign rifle in the first place. It’s a matter of pride and an economy of scale thing.

      • Uniform223

        Perhaps you should look at the US Military Arsenal again… though we haven’t (or probably never will) adopt standard issue rifle/carbine from another nation… many weapons and systems are either contracted from other nations or have sub-components from other nations.

        • BjornTheBrave

          Of course, I know. I was just specifically referring to the GP rifle.

      • Major Tom

        Something new. Whether it’s a spiritual successor to the AR like the ACR sorta is, or a brand spanking new gun built from the ground up and all the new manuals of arms and training needs that implies, either way. The only thing stopping even consideration of a new weapon is hyperconservative brass who don’t know anything, still stuck in the 1980s mentality.

        The SCAR and ACR didn’t “fail” so much as the SCAR never really got considered beyond the Rangers and other SOCOM outfits and ACR was just not getting interest. Nothing about them failing or being “inferior”. The XM8 however did fail miserably because fishgun and the fact the barrel melted during testing. That and like all HK products, horribly overpriced for its level of performance.

        • BjornTheBrave

          In that case I’d say take the SCAR non-recprocating CH variant back to the drawing board for an A1 improvement implementing an M4 profile barrel and truly fully ambi controls. And let the end user customize it to their heart’s content as the after market for the SCAR is already there. Handl makes stuff, Vltor makes stuff, Hi Desert Dog makes stuff. All kinds of companies make stuff for the SCAR. You can find things like CH’s, improved mag release buttons and so forth if you shop around. I’ve always been kinda open to the SCAR but it doesn’t win me over because it doesn’t have a right hand bolt release and the CH reciprocates. On an AK that’s fine because of the LINCH, but on platforms such as the SCAR, ARX etc it’s unacceptably for me. YMMV.

        • Joshua

          Except the ACR was one of the worst performers in the ICC trials and Remington themselves quote MRBEFF of the rifle as 7,500 rounds…which is 2,500 rounds sooner than the maintenance schedules for the M4A1 call for, which is 10,000 rounds for the bolt and action spring.

        • CommonSense23

          The SCAR failed. I’ve don’t testing while in Socom. I’ve worked with a lot of people who were there in the early testing/adoption phase. It should have never been adopted.

    • CommonSense23

      We are topped out in terms of performance until we get a new breakthru in materials are careless or polymer rounds come online.

      • BjornTheBrave

        Have you looked in to PWS? They make a superb AR. Forged everything, fully ambi, long stroke piston, overall super high quality and unmatched CS. There’s nothing else like it out there. Maybe LWRC but you need to replace the recoil spring quite often. Not a fan of short stroke designs because it relies upon the vitality of the spring. Long stroke is better because it is based on the movement/mass of the entire bcg. PWS improved the AK operating principle. It’s more of a push rather than a punch.

        • CommonSense23

          There is no reason for op rod driven gun.

          • BjornTheBrave

            I beg to differ. Oprod has proven its merits. Runs far cleaner and cooler. DI is seriously obsolete.

          • CommonSense23

            In a AR op rod definitely hasn’t proven its merits. It was a fad driven by HK. The DI guns run better.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Di runs better than most short strokes but I don’t think there’s enough long stroke ARs out there to tell which is better yet.

          • BjornTheBrave

            PWS is the only long stroke AR out there. They run flawlessly. Plenty of review online.

          • Joshua

            None have been tested in field trials by combat units. Way different than find at the range popping off 100 rounds a year.

            Also op rods aren’t needed, they don’t run significantly cooler in any important area, and the AR is self scraping. Fouling doesn’t build up on contact points.

          • BjornTheBrave

            MSG Paul Howe gave PWS alot of input…. Just sayin’.

          • CommonSense23

            And that is supposed to mean what?

          • BjornTheBrave

            He is one of the most well known and respected names in the tactical community and an experienced top tier soldier. I trust his judgement and would go to war with him any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

          • Jesse Foust

            I’ll take a rifle designed by a good engineer over the best soldier any day.

          • Just as the best pilot in the world isn’t necessarily the guy you want *designing* the plane.

            “Operator” and “design engineer” are two wholly different skill sets.

            Yes, you need operator input to do a good job most of the time, and it’s extremely nice if your design engineer used to be a high end operator of that sort of gear before becoming an ME, but “knows how to use it to its utmost” and “knows how to develop it – including optimizing it for production without too terribly many compromises (there are *always* compromises in anything much more complicated than a nut and bolt, and most of the time, even then) – are *rarely* found in the same person. Because, in the tine they were mastering one profession, they *weren’t* mastering the other. It took the first *half* of MSG Howe’s military career to become *competent* in his field (they don’t even recruit those guys until they are already good Infantry NCOs), and the second and to master it. All as a very demanding full time job.

            That left very little time for him to *also* master a wholly unrelated profession that takes just as much time to become just as competent (and, let’s face it, natural aptitude also kicks in – at the level Howe operated, no matter how hard he worked, if he didn’t already have boatloads of natural.aptitude all out of proportion to most soldiers,, he wouldn’t have even made it much past the door, much less up the ladder to the top.)

            Expecting him to be a mechanical design genius on top of that is a little ridiculous, and smells very heavily of arumwnting by authority… where that authority is in another field.

          • AirborneSoldier

            Sure that he is, likely a great guy. Just understand that for everyone of those guys you hear of, there are a thousand more who you dont know of. What are their opinions?

          • BjornTheBrave

            We don’t hear much about ’em, do we? Paul Howe, Jeff Gonzales, Travis Haley, Kyle Lamb, Larry Vickers, Jason Falla, all of them are highly respected, experienced, and well known authorities. I’ll take their word for it any time.

          • Doug Larsen

            Apparently MSG Howe didn’t give enough input, because as I mentioned above there ARE examples of PWS rifles failing in tough-use situations. And again, the person who relayed this to me has no agenda and no axe to grind. He’s simply in a unique position to see how a lot of different rifles work under heavy use.

            As gun owners, we sometimes fall into the trap of either “drinking the marketing Kool Aid”, or thinking that because we personally researched and bought a gun, that gun is – by mere implication – nothing but “flawless”.

            However, there is objective evidence that PWS guns aren’t “flawless”. At that range in Las Vegas, the PWS guns failed under hard use.

            It is what it is.

          • BjornTheBrave

            Hmmm, ok…

          • No rifle runs flawlessly. Claims to that effect are strong indicators of either a marketing agenda, or Kool-Aid ingestion.

          • BjornTheBrave

            Damn you Nathaniel, you caught me off guard 😀

          • Zebra Dun

            There it is!

          • fnu lnu

            Reviews online, seriously? More parts, more cost, more complexity, more things to break down during the type of usage discussed here. KISS in the field.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            A long stroke ads more recoil mass to the mechanics of the weapon, and when, not if there’s a problem with it, the gun is a club. A gas gun with a gas tube problem still functions as a bolt action rifle.

          • Uniform223

            I like those two NON-SCIENTIFIC videos by IraqVet8888. They did a full auto torture test of both a DI and Short-stroke piston AR-15.

            For the DI rifle/carbine the point of failure was the barrel. For the Piston rifle/carbine the point of failure was the contact point between the BCG and the Op-rod. I think the difference between them was something like 8 rounds.

          • Major Tom

            Traditionally short strokes are very dependent on price and type of manufacture. For example the short stroke on the M1 Carbine from WW2 runs like a dream in nearly all conditions but some of the AR drop in short strokes depending on their price can be anywhere from just ok not really any different to utter crap. (Then again the AR gas system in most of those cases is simply a modified DI system using a piston rather than purposely designed as one.)

            The HK416’s G-36 inspired short stroke system and the one on the FN SCAR are both pretty good for “AR pistons”. The 416’s biggest problem which is why it didn’t take off that much in either SOCOM or even marketed for general use is because like all HK products, it’s horribly overpriced. (That’s one of the big reasons why the M27 is being shoehorned into other things, it’s too expensive.)

          • “the short stroke on the M1 Carbine from WW2 runs like a dream in nearly all conditions”

            This makes me wonder if you have ever actually seen an M1 Carbine function. Or doing its best imitation of functioning, anyway.

            I don’t think I can ever recall seeing an M1 Carbine in use that wasn’t having some kind of problem.

          • Heh. As I have discovered, one really nice thing about the M1 Carbine is how easy it is to cycle the action with your trigger finger when the gas system chokes.

          • AirborneSoldier

            Mainly due to lack of proper maintenance and weak, clapped out mainsprings

          • CommonSense23

            The 416s problem and why it didn’t take off in all of Socom is the Mk18 and M4 are better rifles.
            The M4 is the better rifle than the Scar. That’s why the Mk16 failed.

          • Joshua

            hahahahaha, no the M1 doesn’t run like a dream in all conditions.

            The M1 was however the pinnacle of small arms at that time and even though it had it’s issues it was still better than a bolt action that everyone else was using.

            When it worked you had a semi auto rifle, when it was having issue you had a bolt action. That alone makes it superior to every other country who only had a bolt action.

          • Don’t forget, the 416’s piston design (carried over from the G36) is simply the AR18 piston design.

            And, contrary to myth, Stoner didn’t develop the AR18 to “fix the mistakes he made in the AR15”. He designed it so they could get around all the patents that Armalite had sold to Colt. It’s not that he thought I was “superior” – he needed a product that wouldn’t get them sued for patent infringement.

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            A gas gun with a very rare gas tube problem is a straight pull bolt action rifle.

            A long stroke piston gun with a very common piston problem is a club.

          • BjornTheBrave

            Didn’t they rectify the carrier tilt in the A5 upgrade? (Now G38) Still, ask the Norwegian Army how it performs in their neck of the woods 😀 LWRC has most definitely proven itself. You only need to replace the recoil spring every 3k rounds. But otherwise it’s a beast. If PWS didn’t exist I’d run with LWRC hands down. I’m not really sure about Barrett and POF. The SIG MCX is interesting. MAC tested it. I wish the CH could be swapped though.

          • Yup. People have been putting piston systems in ARs for decades, and failing to show any real advantages. HK just brought the big marketing artillery to bear.

          • All the Raindrops


            Piston fanbois

          • BjornTheBrave

            Not me, the chicks dig ’em!

          • Uniform223

            Compared to piston driven systems you’re just moving the heat and carbon to the gas block and piston head… that is it. In terms of overall improvements in shootability and service life… damn near negligible IF ANY.

            I can’t remember but a somewhat recent US Army test showed something that so many people often overlook or do not know.
            The M4A1 had the more class 1 and 2 stoppages but the least amount of class 3 stoppages when compared to carbines that had a piston driven system. When piston driven systems break down… they break down hard. Ever have to “mortar” an AK?

          • CommonSense23

            I really enjoyed the fact that the competitors weren’t limited to Stanag mags, and only did the test once the M4s. Are the fact that the vast majority of issues came from one gun in the second test. Nobody ever brings that up.

          • My personal favorite thing is how the 2007 dust tests counted the 3 round burst memory as “malfunctions”.

          • CommonSense23

            It just blows my mind that they honestly didn’t have a SOPMOD M4A1 in the test.

          • Partially because they were trying to justify buying new rifles. Thats why the M4 trigger group, working exactly as designed, was counted as “malfunctioning”.

            As I said at the time, I know all the tricks to “proving” a rifle is an unreliable POS that needs complete replacement, because I’ve been tasked to do it. (The only difference is, I was doing it on an individual basis, to get a rifle replaced with a newer one of the same model instead of just running a clapped out old cow through the depot again.)

            Note, while the M16A2/M4 burst cam was a bad idea, poorly executed, from the beginning, it can be fixed by reverting to the superior original trigger group – which is battle tested and proven.

            Which is what they did with the M4A1.

          • BjornTheBrave

            Care to freshen up my memory? Which one was that?

          • BjornTheBrave

            Fact remains though that a DI rifle is inherently less reliable in extreme conditions and takes a dump where it eats, increasing maintenance intervals.

          • Zebra Dun

            See Mud test AK-47, M-14 and M-16 also Mosin-Nagant.
            The M-16 actually aced the mud test.

          • BjornTheBrave

            You mean the full30 vids (inrange)? Those are definitely food for thought….

          • Zebra Dun

            Yes, plus actual in the field use of both the M-14 and the M-16A1 while in the Marines.
            Gunny always said no matter which weapon if you simply must fight in a muddy environment wrap your receiver in a Wool blanket, poncho or poncho liner until you need to shoot it, Gunny was Korea war era M-1 Garands and he spoke long about how mud would jam the Garand action.
            The ubiquitous dog rag towel was often used for such.
            My Brother had a Valmet M-60 an AK platform weapon once long ago we shot heck out of it and while it was the best AK style I ever saw I would still prefer the AR-15/M-16-M-4 platform.

          • That is far from a “fact”.

            Also, requires higher maintenance intervals, huh? Like the M4 in ICC, which had the best parts failure rate of any of the guns tested?

          • Joshua

            No dude, you ever see a AR BCG? Those two holes on the side of the carrier are gas exhaust ports where it blows out the gases used to cycle the weapon.

          • Doug Larsen

            You really should spend 10 minutes on the phone with Ron at Battlefield Las Vegas. His range goes through something like a million rounds every couple months. Because of this, he is in a unique position to tell you which guns tend to fail most often, and why. And he will very quickly disavow you of any idea that DI AR rifles are less reliable in extreme conditions than DI piston guns. In actual “fact”, he has had many more problems with piston AR’s than DI AR’s. And that includes your beloved PWS rifle.

            What you claim as “fact” is actually an “uninformed opinion”.

          • BjornTheBrave

            Interesting remark. Tell me please, why is the trend towards piston driven guns then?

          • Zebra Dun

            Myth that they are better.

          • Doug Larsen

            Let’s remember, we’re specifically talking about piston driven AR’s, not piston guns in general. And I’d argue that outside of the U.S. consumer market, there is no trend whatsoever towards piston driven AR’s. I’m unaware of even a single military user of a piston driven AR. Militaries use other piston driven guns, but remember…we’re specifically and only talking about AR’s here.

            As for U.S. consumers, they are very prone to marketing, hype and manipulation. And we know that a lot of the hoopla surrounding piston guns is based on exactly those things. Again, I would refer you to a guy who shoots tens of thousands of rounds out of piston AR’s every month. He’ll tell you straight-up that they fail at higher rates than DI AR’s. There are plenty of other experts in the field who can tell you of witnessing the same thing.

          • BjornTheBrave

            I find it intriguing that the Tavor is both so reliable and sufficiently as well as consistently accurate (as opposed to its gen2 X95 cousin).
            HK416 is used by various Tier One around the world as well as the Norwegian Army (where it fails miserably as it cannot handle arctic conditions) and I see it replace the G36 series in the German Federal Military some time in the near future as well. The SCAR which is basically the same thing as an AR except for the different ch is also in use with various tier one and the Belgian Military is most likely to convert to the SCAR as their GP rifle to replace the FNC when they become worn out and parts kits storage has been depleted. HK417 is used by the ADF and various tier one around the world. The Taiwanese military uses a piston AR. So piston AR and AR descendants are not exactly under-proliferated.

          • Doug Larsen

            Yet, none of the rifles you mentioned is an “AR-15”. Some are highly-engineered derivatives…but alas, they are not AR-15’s.

          • BjornTheBrave

            M-16 lookalikes….

          • AirborneSoldier

            By whom? I see no such trend.

          • BjornTheBrave

            The industry? Practically each and every gun nowadays is piston driven.

          • Uniform223


          • Marketing gurus successfully pouring the Kool Aid for fanboys to guzzle down.

          • AirborneSoldier

            Based on what? Not my experience

          • BjornTheBrave

            A DI rifle done right will work, I give you that. I believe in quality and getting the best components out there. Noveske, BCM,KAC, Vltor, DD, LMT etc know what they’re doing. Then again, DI will work as long as you use a quality carbon cleaner and lube (Slip2000). What happens when you run out of all of that stuff or don’t have time to clean your rifle?…

          • Uniform223

            Used the CLP issued to me and that isn’t considered top quality… my stuff worked. Never kept it immaculate (until I had to turn it back into the armory) and it still worked. I have a USED Colt 6920… didn’t clean it (I think after 300+ rounds already… just wiped down the bolt carrier) and took out to the range for some plinking… it worked just fine (put another 120 round through it)

            Old article but worth a read…


          • It doesn’t even move the heat that is the biggest problem. Regardless of what gas system you have on it, the majority of the heat in an AR system (Hell, any rifle) is at the CHAMBER and the first few inches of the barrel.

            By the time the gas gets to the gas port and moves down the gas tube, expansion has cooled it a LOT.

            The Canadian military did a very nice report and presentation, with thermal images and everything – IIRC, the PowerPoint presentation should be in DTIC, if you’re interested (I don’t think the formal report is readily available to civilians, even though it’s also unclassified.)

          • TheSmellofNapalm

            Oh dear, not another one….

          • Jesse Foust

            It doesn’t run cleaner and cooler, or just deposits the heat and carbon somewhere else.

          • AirborneSoldier

            DI works fine, is lighter generally, and kills bad guys

        • “More of a push than a punch”.

          Heh. Nice try, but at best, it describes the difference between a long stroke piston and a short stroke piston. Not how a DI system works at all.

          Long stroke pistons and Stoner DI systems both have reduced violence of action compared to a short stroke system (short stroke, at heart, is based on, “Let’s whack the bolt group *really hard* with a small, but fast moving, hammer”.)

          • BjornTheBrave

            “Violence” from the 5.56/223 round is negligible to begin with…

        • Doug Larsen

          A well-known, high-volume shooting range in Las Vegas tried a couple PWS rifles. Unfortunately, over many thousands of rounds and with the normal hard use these guns get at this particular range, the PWS rifles didn’t fare any better than any of the other piston guns they’ve tried. And yes, I heard this directly from the owner of that range after I emailed him to specifically ask about the piston AR rifles he has used, and what he thought of them.

          Don’t get me wrong…the PWS, like most piston guns, is a perfectly fine gun for the way 98% of people will ever use them. But apparently it is not the “end-all-be-all” of piston guns, and it may not tolerate very hard use any better than most other piston guns.

          Again, I’m just relaying what I was told from someone who’s in a unique position to know what he’s talking about.

          • BjornTheBrave

            So you suggest I’d stick with a Noveske/DD/BCM/Vltor DI upper? What about wet conditions? Fine desert scrub? Man that stuff is nasty…

          • AirborneSoldier

            Study what lube to use where and when

          • BjornTheBrave


          • Doug Larsen

            I’d suggest you stick with whatever works for you. Unless you’re firing thousands of rounds per month out of a single gun, it probably won’t matter anyway. Pretty much all modern AR’s, whether DI or piston, work as advertised.

            As for wet or desert scrub conditions, a properly built DI AR will do perfectly fine in those conditions. As proven by the hundreds of thousands of people who have successfully used DI AR’s in precisely those conditions. As I’m sure you already know, there are plenty of articles and videos out there showing filthy DI AR’s chugging right along without a care in the world. Squirt some CLP on the bolt and they keep on rockin’. The old myth that DI AR’s easily malfunction in adverse conditions was pretty effectively dispelled about, oh, two decades ago?

            BTW, I own a piston AR myself. A Ruger SR-556c. It’s a great gun, and yes, the carrier stays cool and clean. But the gas piston and gas valve gets quite dirty and absolutely needs to be cleaned. Some people mistakenly think, “Piston AR’s don’t accumulate carbon as much as DI guns.” Oh yes they do! They just accumulate it in a different place. And if you don’t clean and maintain that different place, your piston AR will fail just like an unmaintained DI gun will eventually fail.

            As for the “flawless” PWS gun you love, wanna know why that range in Vegas stopped using it? It’s because the long stroke piston actually snapped into two pieces after only 8,000 rounds, rendering the gun useless. I won’t say that’s “normal”, because I don’t know that it is. But the fact it happened at all should tell you that perhaps that gun’s design isn’t as “flawless” as you’ve been led to believe. I suspect that failure had something to do with energy being disbursed unevenly against the piston. Maybe that’s why no one else makes a long-stroke piston AR. Because maybe it isn’t a great idea to begin with. Did you ever consider that?

          • BjornTheBrave


          • In fact, in actual use, piston ARs require *more* lubrication and routine maintenance than an equivalent DI gun.

            You can get by (I *dont* recommend it, but you can get by) wire adequately just squirting more lube on the DI bolt group (you don’t even need to separate the bolt and carrier).

            You skip maintaining the piston (and if you have an adjustable gas port, as so many piston guns do, the gas port group), and your piston rifle will.rapodly become a club, while the disgustingly filthy DI gun keeps chugging along.

            Last I checked, the late Pat Roger’s “Filthy Fourteen” had about 45,000 (that 45K) through it, and the only time anything got disassembled, much less cleaned, was when it was necessary to do in order to replace broken parts. (DI or piston, extractors, firing pins, barrels, etc., all wear out at the same rate, regardless of the operating system.)

      • Major Tom

        No we’re not. There’s plenty of improvements and possibilities. The reason we’re not doing anything about it is plain old sunk cost fallacy and extremely conservative brass still stuck on the idea of using the same rifle for the next generation of recruits as when they were in boot.

        • Uniform223

          If that is true name a Rifle/carbine that is in ALL AREAS (handling, accuracy, range, weight, parts, ect) superior to the current M16A4 and M4A1s with the SAME procurement price tag.

          Also if that is indeed true why isn’t such a rifle/carbine being widely adopted?

          IMHO the M4A1 is still the standard to beat.

          • CommonSense23

            The M4A1 out performs the MK16 and the Hk416. I’ve worked with Israeli SOF and they were using colt guns with 10inch barrels. Russian SOF has been spotted multiple times with ARs. It blows my mind when people suggest we can do better.

        • CommonSense23

          The civilian market has tried. Foreign countries have tried. What design do you see beating the AR?

          • BjornTheBrave

            I don’t see anything out there that could. An upgraded
            SCAR might.

          • CommonSense23

            The SCAR definitely can’t.

          • BjornTheBrave

            Not in the ergonomics realm. I prefer the AR platform.

        • AirborneSoldier

          Ive seen this in briefings also.

      • kyle893

        If they could create a BARS system for the fully automatic support weapons that would be an improvement, although it’s arguable if it would be cost effective. I know on an individual level it would really add accuracy to the full auto platform. The next “breakthrough” in actual firearms technology might require it anyway, which would be the electro thermal chemical propellant. It’s would mimic the design in small arms the best by holding the propellant and the small explosive charge to create the plasma ignition. Much, much shorter barrels would all that would be needed, along with a corrosion resistant barrel or some kind of polymer coating on the bullets themselves to reduce friction. The velocity would need a better counter balancing system than just muzzle breaks though. I’m looked at where the AR could fit this in, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be that hard especially if you look at piston ARs. I don’t know how it would work in the shorter barrels and with the short stroke action, although I’m sure enough maneuvering and it wouldn’t be that difficult. The space is there if they wanted to. The CZ Bren kind of cuts down on the top heavy AR design and makes it more uniform, so this might be able to fit something like that also. The ECT is what they want to put into larger weapons on tanks and boats, and they have it project the plasma to uniformly ignite the propellant down the barrel. But in small arms, this would be unnecessary, as the spike in burnt propellant would be very fast and the bullet would get to top speed pretty quick,the rifle would just need to be able the stress.

    • Joshua

      Because nothing else is better? Seriously SOCOM has been testing rifles for years and the M4A1 is still the choice.

      Let’s also not forget the M4 is still winning tenders and being procured by militaries.

      • Jake S.

        This has more to do with the procurement process than almost anything else. SOCOM is loathe to spend money they don’t have to. If SOCOM unilaterally decides to procure a weapon system, which they can do hence Glock 17 and 19s, they then pay for it out of their much smaller budget. If the Army decides to procure a weapon system, then the Army pays for it and USASOC units still get fielded the weapon system.

        • Joshua

          There’s a reason black side still use M4A1 uppers when they’re going with a 14″ barrel.

    • ARCNA442

      The AR-15 series has been in US service for about 50 years and in this time it has undergone numerous and significant improvements.

      This is a shorter service life than most of the last generation of service rifles such as the Mosin Nagant (54 years), Mauser 98 (58 years), or Lee-Enfield (59 years). It is also notably shorter than its primary competitor, the AK series, which has now been serving Russia for 68 years.

      All of these, of course, pale in comparison to the lifetimes of the Charleville and Brown Bess muskets, which both served for over 120 years.

      Further, the extraordinary proliferation of optics, lights, and lasers within the US military has done more to enhanced the effectiveness of the AR-15 than any of the upgrades that were given to the above service rifles in their lives.

      Finally, someone yet to design anything better. Sure, there have been plenty of rifles that do one or two things better than the AR-15, but they have all made sacrifices in other areas that make the total package much less appealing.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      Seeing as they proposed spending $4 billion on a pistol, what do you think that would cost?

      BTW, last time the Army did that, it was called the M16, and people despised it for 50 years even after it worked.

      The time before that it was called the M14, and despite propaganda to the contrary, it never worked as designed.

      At this point, all semis are 50-100 year old designs and variations on a theme. The vaunted G36 is an AR18 in a plastic shell.

      All cars are variations on a theme of a piston in a cylinder with “minimal improvements.”

    • Zebra Dun

      Edge of the tech.
      There has to be a leap forward design of platform and ammo.
      So far nothing has stuck.

  • H.C.

    So a few points, the M4 is a superb weapon for its size and weight and the new M855A1 is a great round and a much needed upgrade over M855 green tip. The M4A1 upgrades are fantastic and my unit just got done with the fielding. As much as I would love a lightweight rail, suppressors for every soldier, G2S triggers, and a gas regulation capability either in the BCG or the gas block, it simply isn’t feasible. Sure, we spend bazillions of dollars on the F35, but the truth is your average joe doesn’t need a slick, tricked out M4 to get the job done. Those that need advanced weaponry, optics, and better ammo (MK262, etc) already have access to it. Your ODA, CIF, Spooks, SMU, etc all have what they need.
    If you ask me, more money spent on ammo and training is better than equipping the force with a rifle that most Joes don’t know how to use effectively.
    Just my 2 cents…

    • Guy Slack

      I remember my first time qualifying in basic. The first thing they told us was “Are you uncomfortable” when laying on tarmac in the prone unsupported with our M16A4’s, and when we replied “Yes, Drill Sergeant.” they said “Good.”

      The truth is, I was an effective rifleman at 300m with m855 and that’s all that matters. Can it be done better? Sure, it always can. But the point is, we need to be more responsible fiscally and you aren’t going to increase the rate of effective tied to X the cost of replacement with these programs. I trust the Generals we have in charge are doing the right thing and knowing that what we have DOES work and that’s the bottom line.

    • Honestly, you don’t want an adjustable gas regulator in a standard infantry rifle, unless you absolutely need one.

      Skip regular, and fairly detailed cleaning of them, and they will generally carbon weld into a fixed a regulator in short order. And most of them, in order to accommodate the gas regulation, have a longer and/or more intricate gas path than a straight up “gas block mates with gas port and gas basically goes straight from the barrel into the gas tube” style like the AR 15 DI or a Kalashnikov… which means they clog up faster (believe it or not, the AK and original AR gas ports stay pretty clear, because of the straight oaths n high pressure. (The AK is worse than the AR, because the gas pressure drops precipitously as soon as it enters the gas tube, and Commie ammo is filthy, but at least you have easy access to the port with the port cleaning tool in the buttstock stored cleaning kit, while you’re chipping built up carbon out of the gas block anyway.)

  • 40mmCattleDog

    Sigh, well I can keep dreaming we will see BLOCK IIs in every soldiers hands someday.

    • Joshua

      There’s honestly no need for that. The Army RAS(it had different requirements than the original RIS) is actually more durable than the RIS II. I’ve seen a ton of broken lower rails on the RIS II due to loading bipods.

  • Scott Connors

    It’s sad that I now have a better rifle as a civilian than I did as a soldier (except for the fully automatic capability, and even though I have owned a registered M16 I now have little desire for a machine gun other than one with belt-fed capability).

    • Jwedel1231

      Have you seen the belt-fed 9mm uppers for ARs? Zero practicality, but it’s a belt fed and was meant to be on top of registered machingun lowers.

  • Lance

    I think common sense prevailed here. When this idea was raised USMC vet and writer here Miles Verning as well as I agreed the need to delete iron sights from the M-4 was never a need as well as poor tactics in a event of optic failure. Current RAS may be heavier but is simple to disassemble and staying with them would be easier clean and maintain compared to a fixed in place FF system. Overall the basic M-4 and M-4A1 serve its role well and in there current configs serve infantry well for over the next decade.

    • CommonSense23

      What cleaning is going to be easier with the current rail system than the FF one. And no one is suggesting delete the iron sights. Just make them folding.

  • Warren Ellis

    Anyone ever get sick of these fake procurements the Army does? They really need to stop doing these fake competitions where they pretend they’ll “replace” the rifle or these fake procurements that are always going to get cancelled before anything can happen.

    • Joshua

      This wasn’t a competition, it was a market survey. 90% of the time Market Surveys never become Procurement Programs.

      • PatsFan

        If not for the dozens of programs they have canceled you’d have a point. One could logically think that with the previous IC projects canceled, one might think (and probably begin to invest) in the hope they MUST be serious this time.

        • Joshua

          Technically the most recent individual carbine trials weren’t canceled either.

          None of the entrants managed to meet the required MRBS or MRBEFF to be downselected so it ended.

          The M4A1 still had the lowest Class III stoppages, thus being the most durable rifle.

          This was a market survey, this was not a RFP.

          • PatsFan

            Actually, the Army acquistion corps are boobs.

  • NewMan

    No amount of “improvement” to the DI M4 can change the fact that it is still a DI gun, and is breaking left and right when firing the super hot M855A1.

    • [citation needed]

      • Joshua

        He doesn’t have a citation outside of maybe a few articles from when M855A1 was still using a tin core.

  • DaveP.

    At this point, seeing the words “Army cancels (insert name of small arms program here) ” fills me with about as much surprise as finding out the Sun rises in the East. To the U.S. Army the entire purpose of small arms programs is to be canceled.

    • Joshua

      Technically it didn’t get cancelled, as it was never anything out side of market survey which often times don’t go anywhere.

      • PatsFan

        They still are incompetent b**bs. As DaveP notes, this isn’t the first failure to execute and it won’t be the last. Army Aquisition — home to the retards of DoD.

        • AirborneSoldier

          Huh? Ever hear of Rapid Fielding Initiative? That got more helpful stuff into the hands of soldiers than anything i saw in 25 years as a grunt. If you dont know what you are talking about, stfu, as it only hurts morale. I thought they did good by us

          • ElderAmbassador

            Must have been before our own little king got into office.

  • Sasquatch


  • Bill

    I wonder how many end users, mil and LE, can actually wring the full potential from the weapon as is. We keep trying to fix software problems with hardware.

    • CommonSense23

      The vast majority of users in SOF can’t wring all the potential out of a rifle. And with M855A1 and MK318 and MK262 in use. The legacy of poor performance from greentip will hopefully die soon.

  • fmike15

    As long as firearms technology goes nowhere as it has for 50+ years, we’ll be stuck with garbage like the M4/M16 platform. I think the death ray is waaaaay off in the future. Until then pick out a reliable 7.62 platform and go with it.

  • uisconfruzed

    Why is it “BREAKING” what’s broken???

  • Uniform223

    A little disappointed but far from heart broken. I think a better trigger, RIS, and free floated barrel would have been good. Of course maybe its just me and sticking to the “old way” of shooting but really?

    “to both allow a shooting technique with a straightened forward elbow”

    Are they talking about the C-clamp grip? The only place that I’ve ever seen people use them are pictures of Chris Costa and Carbine matches. I’ve seen soldiers and marines use a more relaxed modified version of the “C-clamp” grip…

  • GaryGary

    The dirty DI system just plain sucks . At least go NiB bolt carrier to shorten clean up times and extend intervals .

  • Zebra Dun

    There is just so much that can be upgraded before you are better off with a stock standard M-4A1.
    The Army found out the Nimrods and Professional soldiers will Mod their own weapons given the chance and the permission with their own money, while the Plain serve a tour Grunts and support can get by with just a Standard rifle.

  • Bill

    I don’t see why the 1913 rail would be considered antiquated. Keymod is like a cheese grater against skin and gloves and does not enjoy the wide variety of accessories that 1913 does. It also does not enhance your grip. Just because something is new doesn’t mean the previous thing is obsolete. Witness the 1911.

  • fleetwrench

    It’s about time the army need to put all resources in the modular pistol program. The beretta m9 is like so totally 80’s OMG.

  • Bob

    they should test the he11 out of the scar 17 !
    If the military is so dead set against the 7.62 x 51 round, a modification to the scar 17 would be easy. Perhaps the 6 mm remington round, or the 6.8 that everyone seems to love.
    6.5 Grendel ??

  • IshTheBuddha

    The M4A1 is my weapon of issue. It does not have ambidextrous controls.

    • It depends on the variant of M4A1. The current upgrade program fits them with ambi safeties.

  • Andrew Foss

    Know how to fix it? Pick a hundred E-4s across the different (Army) branches “You, SPC Snuffy, Here’s an upper and a lower receiver. You are now authorized to set up your weapon with whatever you wish, however you wish, at your own risk, so long as it’s 5.56 NATO and retains Safe, Single and Auto fire modes. Put them all in communication with one another. Wait through a year of training and use. Survey how those hundred have set up their weapon, Bless anything selected that doesn’t already have an NSN with one. And stock the top variants of components. “Hmm, nobody’s using parkerized bolts because they’ve replaced them with NiB, TiN or TiAlN coated bolts ? Better stock those and modify the next spiral of acquisitions. All of the M16 types have stuck an M4 buffer and adjustable stock on theirs? Right. Dump the fixed stocks and M16 buffers and start stocking adjustable ones.”

    All this hate to the M4/M16 I don’t get: (I mean, I do: Holdovers from Vietnam: Weapon must be sparkly clean, used to be unreliable POS otherwise…) I carried one for 13 months in Iraq. The weapon operated better than our M2HBs or M249s did, yet I haven’t seen any calls for replacement. IMO, if one hasn’t carried one in combat, they shouldn’t have an opinion on what’s best for those using them *in* combat. There was one lemon out of the deal: Someone had bolt bounce and/or a jacked up FCG that was bad enough to double rounds in semi fast enough that it took a couple days of range time to figure out it was slinging lead through the same hole in a target. On an M16 fed with M855. (This was before M855A1.) Accessories, however, were a different story.

  • Franco

    I suspect they found little benefit and maybe the decided to hold off for a more modern platform. While the DI is fine in a semi, full auto with a known ammo supplier might give some added endurance. Honestly war is changing and the idea of extended battle with small arms will be an exception and not the rule in the future. Maybe they will finally get some exotic materials in arms and ammo in the future.

  • Billy Beckom

    It’s not like the USA armed forces don’t have the latest and greatest arsenal in the world. How many tax payer improvements do we really need? Can you begin to imagine the money that’s already went into the design of this particular firearm? If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.

  • PatsFan

    These clowns are the joke of DoD. The Army acquisition strategy? Get everyone rev’d up, spending millions of dollars preparing proposals to compete and then cancel the effort. There is a reason they are known as “Jerry’s Kids” of DoD is terms of procurement. Entire war period in Iraq and Afghanistan with billions in the base, GWOT and now OCO budgets and what new has the Army bought? A COTS European helicopter painted green that can’t leave CONUS as it’s not MILSPEC. Yet they treat the program like they developed the Space Shuttle. An embarrassment.

    • Joshua

      No money was spent on this.

      • PatsFan

        Well, the preparation of responses and the efforts to prepare to compete cost those involved something. But let me stipulate that it wasn’t a lot of money if that makes you happy. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that the Army is a collection of a** clowns that have repeatedly FAILED to buy nearly anything. True buffoons.

  • BjornTheBrave

    Dust, desert scrub and nasty stuff like that. Every piston rifle is proprietary…

    • Uniform223

      Dust, desert scrub and nasty stuff…

      So the M16A2 I had when I did field training and exercises at Ft.Irwin NTC and the M4 that I was issued in the “Sand Box” and all other M4s and M16s are flukes according to your description of extreme environments.

  • Anthony “stalker6recon”

    I can kind of understand why this project went no where, my M4 was just fine. I don’t have all the detail knowledge that many guys on here seem to have, but my M4 I was issued was great. I had back up iron sights, behind my M68 if I needed them, and with my PAQ-4 and gangsta grip (didn’t much like that design, but in ’03-05,we had nothing else), there wasn’t anything else to add. Some guys put Surefire lights on theirs, I didn’t have the cash to spring for a flashlight. Maybe the better trigger group would help, but since I never had anything but the standard, I can’t say what difference it would make. Plus, with the M68,shooting became almost too easy. If the zero was good, it was shooting for dummies, not sure how much accuracy is added by a trigger when the weapon was already as accurate as the day is long. With the shorter barrel though, we gave up stopping power and range.

    I think that they are messing around where they don’t need to be. SOCOM gets what ever they want from my understanding, and they can tinker with their toys a whole lot more than the other units.

    The only suggestion I would make, is look into a better flash suppressor, maybe every with a muffler, anyone who has been at the range, with 20 other M4’s burning through ammo, knows how bad these weapons will damage your ears. It’s not as bad in the field, when you are in squad size fighting units, but still not great either. Intense fire will just about blow out your ear drums. The M4 is much louder than the M16A4, and wearing earplugs isn’t the best option either.

  • BjornTheBrave

    Long-stroke action is what I meant with ‘violence’.

    • So, *after* I had already pointed out that DI and long stroke actions work less violently that. Short stroke systems, you’re going to claim *now* that you really just agree with me?

      Sure, pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.

  • AirborneSoldier

    Sequestration is still the reality. I concur with writer, they will upgrade individual features.

  • Uniform223

    Any weapon will work as long as you do your part. Contrary to popular belief you DO NOT need to keep it spotless to function properly…

    • BjornTheBrave

      That is most definitely an eye opener and food for thought. Tnx man.

  • Leveller

    Mil-Spec. ISN’T Mil-Std.

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