Approved, M4s for Marines

by Miles

A Marine Corps Times Article that came out on the 26th of October has sealed the deal on the Marine Corps adoption of the M4 service rifle over the M16A4 rifle. It was pretty well known that the Marine Corps was going to come to this, but the official approval and actual logistics of the process took a little longer to actually get down. Marines have been getting used to this change of rifle progression over time, with more and more M4s being introduced at the platoon level. This move also just follows a general effort across the small arms board to make them smaller for the expeditionary role. The M27, the collapsing buttpad on the M240B, the short barreled and collapsing buttpad on the SAW, the lightweight 60mm mortar system, among other changes being introduced.

My next question is where are all the M16A4s going to go? I don’t think they would be pushed to the Reserves, as this kind of change is instituted Corps wide. They most likely will be sold or given off to various Allied countries in the form of military aid, we can already see some of them in use by Afghan National Army troops in the recent fighting for Kunduz. Of course, the best case scenario would be to have the upper receivers sold off to the general public, but that’ll probably never happen.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has signed off on the switch making the M4 the primary weapon for all infantry battalions, security forces and supporting schools no later than the end of September 2016

“We made the proposal, and we just got the head nod from the commandant,” said Chris Woodburn, a retired lieutenant colonel who now serves as the deputy Maneuver Branch head for the Fires and Maneuver Integration Division of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “We get improved capability at no cost, a smaller and more compact rifle that shoots better for infantry.

“We found out that the M4 actually outshoots the A4 at all ranges out to 600 meters with the new ammunition,” Woodburn said, referring to the 5.56mm AB49 Special Operations Science and Technology cartridge the Corps is looking to make the standard.

Any unit which is short M4s per its table of organization and equipment will then apply to LOGCOM to make up the difference.

“It’s important to emphasize that no one who rates an M4 by TO is going to lose an M4,” Woodburn said. “These are excess M4s that are already in units, and we have an amount at LOGCOM already.”

The goal, Woodburn said, is to have the first phase complete by the end of third quarter of fiscal 2016, and the total redistribution accomplished by the end of the fiscal year.

Exceptions, he noted, will be for those units either getting ready to deploy or returning from deployment.


Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I've made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at

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  • Carlos D Jackal Carlos D Jackal on Nov 03, 2015

    What's ironic is the MARSOC guys tried to convince their command to make this shift more than a decade ago. But since the USMC's weapons decisions was heavily influenced by the sling up and go prone unit in Quantico, they fought against it, and "won". Fortunately, that decision did not apply to MARSOC (aka: Marine Raiders).

  • Core Core on Nov 03, 2015

    I'm not happy about these guns being given to folks in Central Asia, where they will be used against us at a later date. I'm also saying this from an analytical perspective knowing historical, cultural, and the advantageous muzzle velocity leading to increased engagement range, accuracy, armor penetration versus the M4A1. God forbid that they end up in the hands of American citizens and veterans.. I would hope they give them to our allies, if the administration hasn't burned all the bridges yet.