Skip to comments.M4 does poorly in Army's own test
Posted on 04/20/2008 11:54:38 AM PDT by Dawnsblood
When the dust finally settled, Army officials sought to put the best face on a sandstorm test that humbled Colt Defense's vaunted M4 carbine.
The tests were conducted at an Army laboratory in Maryland last fall. Ten M4s and 10 copies each of three other carbines - the SCAR from Belgium's FN Herstal, and the HK416 and the XM8 from Germany's Heckler & Koch - were coated in heavy layers of talcum-fine dust to simulate a sandstorm. Tens of thousands of rounds were fired through the rifles.
The M4s malfunctioned 882 times. Bullets that didn't feed through the rifles properly or became lodged in the firing chamber were the biggest problems.
The other carbines had far fewer hitches. The carbine with highest marks was the XM8, a gun with a Star Wars look that the Army considered buying just a few years ago but didn't. The program collapsed due to bureaucratic infighting and questionable acquisition methods.
(Excerpt) Read more at seattlepi.nwsource.com ...
The 6.5 Grendel, (on the 5.56 case form factor!) has better down range ballistics than the 7.62 NATO!
The XM8 would have been like handing an anvil to a soldier. Have never touched or seen the other two “competitors”.
I’d keep the M4 — it’s battle tested/proven, unlike some of the other participants in the exercise.
(PS, when referring to Incredible Hulk, I do NOT mean Dona Schalela on top of Janet Reno.)
The XM8 sure is ugly, but if it works.........
That's more than a "problem" -- that's a freaking death blow to the poor grunts relying upon the failed weapon.
Exactly. It would not be THAT ugly.
The M8, based on the AR18 is similar in operation to an M16 and provides nothing new other than a design that doesn't blow the carbon into bolt, giving a marginal advantage for the user. The rest is all show. Once someone can come up with something that brings a “significant” advantage to the table then we can start talking. Until then, the M4/16 is fine, and in fact it's still among the best standard issue weapons any Army carries.
Any weapon, new or old, can be made to fail under the right conditions. Most of these “tests” are intended to give predetermined outcomes. The DoD engages in this consistently when they try to justify new purchases.
Which just goes to show that the Goat Board, the Pig Board, the European ballistics tests... all have been proven right.
For the umpteenth time.
For some reason that I cannot fathom, the US military mind seems to gravitate to ideas that simply ignore vast amounts of ballistics research over the last 100 years.
The Garand was going to be chambered in .276 Pederson, but MacArthur vetoed the idea, mostly on supply logistics of the 30’s - we had a lot of .30-06 ammo on hand, and no .276 ammo. Simple decision.
When we got to the M-14, we had an opportunity to use superior ballistics, but the Army brass derided anything less than .30 cal bullets as being too small. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago for these guys that they were using .45-70’s in Trapdoor Springfields. So we got the 7.62x51 (.308).
The best exterior ballistics for a battle rifle are found in the .264 to .284 caliber range, depending on the length and configuration of the bullet, and in the 140 to 165 grain bullet weight.
The next “sweet spot” in exterior ballistics is about .338 to .340, in bullets of 300 grains or so. These recoil far too heavily at 2500 fps muzzle velocities, and they weigh too much for supply logistics.
An even more dramatic demonstration of how real thought and design in bullets can lead to outstanding exterior ballistics is the .408 Cheyenne Tactical, out of a private-sector Idaho company. The .408 CheyTac can outshoot a .50BMG for long-range sniper and light armor penetration - out to 2,000 meters and beyond. That’s the result of starting a weapon design with the bullet, and nothing but the bullet, and then once you’ve found the superior bullet, you work forward from there.
The 5.56 round was a ridiculous compromise all the way around, an example of what happens when someone starts a design with the action, then the weapon, then the chambering, then the bullet. It is only today, after 40 years of service, that the M262 round (a 77gr bullet) has appeared to provide some ballistic performance for the M-16.
If we want superior long range ballistics in an infantry weapon, we should start with a 6.5mm (.264) bullet, in 140 to 160grains, like the Lapua Scenar bullets. Then we should decide on how fast we want to push it, (like 2800 fps or so) and decide on a case. Then we should look at a rifle to push it.
Want to see long-range shooting in the private sector?
Look at the 6.5x284 rifles today. Superior ballistics at 1,000 yards and beyond.
"There's no way they left the factory like that," says Phillip Hinckley, Colt's executive director of quality and engineering. "It does leave a major question mark in your head."
The M4s malfunctioned 882 times. The article doesn't say how many malfunctions the other weapons suffered.
Hinckley is making excuses for the poor quality he is palming off on the military. Maybe if he blames someone else he can keep his job.
I hate to say this but American Made doesn't always say quality anymore.
Jesu Cristo! WTF? Why didn’t the fools include Klashnikov’s 7.62x39 Model of Nineteen-fricking-Forty-Seven in the test!?!? The 882 stops for the M4 pro’ly woulda been 88.2 stops for the 60-year-old-design AK!
882 times out of "tens of thousands" may not sound like much but it sure matters to the 882 men whose rifles malfunctioned. Not good.
Or did I mean: Kalashnikov ?
It’s called sectional density. Weight to length ratio. The 6.5 has it in spades. The 6.5 Swede isn’t popular for nothing.
Truly a great bullet diameter and “do all” caliber.
In most environments except hard desert conditions you could not get me to give up mine. Parts availability and continuity are outstanding. Accessories, general knowledge, its all there.
However, I will not go below the full 16" barrel. That is to say 16 not counting the flash suppressor. M-4 barrels are around 14" and that is the VERY bottom of the performance curve for the 556 / 223. Velocity is right about 2,400. The 16" barrel will rock in at around 3,100 fps.
Your mileage may vary
Thanks for the treatise on the 6.5.
My 6.5X50R wildcat Contender salutes you.
Look, just make the fit and finish on the M4 as lousy as you possibly can so that all the parts kind of flap and rattle about as you’re marching along. Then the gun will quickly and naturally slough off any gravel that gets wedged into its inner spaces and you can keep firing the damned thing all day long, through thick and thin... ‘Course, you couldn’t hit anything with it, sort of like the AK-47, but you’d have a legend on your hands.
The M4 is NOT a gas/piston operated system. The rest are.
As with all military testing, the results have been pre-determined. Example: The original AR-15 Aberdeen tests against the M14, where the AR's were literally destroyed before a shot was fired, and they failed miserably because of it>
When the military wants something new, or more cash, they can create that illusion.
Now, the M16/M4 system is reliable within it's parameters af keeping it clean. This report has none of the real details, number of rounds between cleanings, ammunition, temperature, etc.
And why use some convuluted 'simulated' dist, instead of the real thing?
This does not pass the smell test.
...in that snazzy 6.5 x 284 NVDave is refering to I would give it some serious thought.
By RICHARD LARDNER
Associated Press Writer
Compare the M4 and Other Rifles
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- No weapon is more important to tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than the carbine rifle. And for well over a decade, the military has relied on one company, Colt Defense of Hartford, Conn., to make the M4s they trust with their lives. Now, as Congress considers spending millions more on the guns, this exclusive arrangement is being criticized as a bad deal for American forces as well as taxpayers, according to interviews and research conducted by The Associated Press.
"What we have is a fat contractor in Colt who's gotten very rich off our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," says Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
The M4, which can shoot hundreds of bullets a minute, is a shorter and lighter version of the company's M16 rifle first used 40 years ago during the Vietnam War. At about $1,500 apiece, the M4 is overpriced, according to Coburn. It jams too often in sandy environments like Iraq, he adds, and requires far more maintenance than more durable carbines.
"And if you tend to have the problem at the wrong time, you're putting your life on the line," says Coburn, who began examining the M4's performance last year after receiving complaints from soldiers. "The fact is, the American GI today doesn't have the best weapon. And they ought to."
U.S. military officials don't agree. They call the M4 an excellent carbine. When the time comes to replace the M4, they want a combat rifle that is leaps and bounds beyond what's currently available.
"There's not a weapon out there that's significantly better than the M4," says Col. Robert Radcliffe, director of combat developments at the Army Infantry Center in Fort Benning, Ga. "To replace it with something that has essentially the same capabilities as we have today doesn't make good sense."
Colt's exclusive production agreement ends in June 2009. At that point, the Army, in
The rest of the article - http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/THE_GUN_WARS?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US
That looks like a plastic toy gun I would have played with when I was a kid back in the 1960’s.
Really? To me it looks like an Israeli Galil —and the Israelis got rid of their Galils and replaced them with M4’s and M16A2s if I recall correctly!
The Klashnikov's don't have any paid lobbyists. It's not about the men's lives it's about the lobbyists and political connections. If it was about effect, that would rebuild the Thompson in 44 cal for house to house and change down range weapon to the short and long vervion of the FNL or H&K 91 in 308. Don't fix it if it not broke.
Especially at the volume in which the military purchases.
I 2nd your observations. I think our brass have avoided the 6.5 because the Euro’s discovered it first.
I am a big fan of 6.5’s and am building a couple of converted Mausers in .260 Remington right now. One is for the wife and the other for me. I just turned/contoured/threaded/chambered her barrel. They are gonna be a matched pair, if I can find 2 stock blanks cut from next to each other.
I want one so that if a liberal sees me with one he will wet his pants.
Looks Israeli/South African to me! I want one!
The 6.5 Grendel, (on the 5.56 case form factor!)
what does that mean, exactly? I’m not green; I know what 5.56 means, but not familiar with the 6.5 Grendel terminology.
It is probably manufactured under license from Israel.
This guy took the powerpoint briefing of this exercise and did an analysis. Many of the slides are included.
Well, let’s be careful here: I’m pointing out the 6.5x284 only as evidence of the superior exterior ballistics of the 6.5mm bullets.
The Winchester .284 is a real oddball case, a “rebated rim” case, which means that they’ve using a .473” head, but the case diameter is large than the head rim.
For a full-auto weapon, there are feeding issues that have to come into consideration of the case design, which is why I say “start with the bullet” and then design a case that will feed properly, then start worrying about the action. The superior ballistics mean nothing if our guys are dying because their rifles jam, much as the superior accuracy of the M-16’s direct gas impingement means nothing if the action fouls and jams or fails to feed.
The whole method by which we now field weapons is infuriating to this taxpayer. Colt is taking some serious money off the US taxpayer at the same time they’re delivering an inferior product. They do this by gaming the contract bidding process.
There’s the 6.5 Grendel, which is a private-sector effort by Alexander Arms to fit a 6.5mm round into the M-16 platform.
That is sweeet! Thanks for sharing.
And with an engineer’s eye for the details that the bureaucrats don’t want to acknowledge or wish they could downplay.
The net:net result comes out that the M4 has problems. Duh. The practical experience of our Vietnam vets, our vets since then (Desert Storm and Iraq), private sector shootists, et al, is borne out: there are issues with direct gas impingement.
A lot of our vets swear by the M-16 - and I can sort of understand that. It is the weapon that brought them through some really tough spots - and there’s a loyalty there for our guys who have been in tough spots with a weapon.
That should not prevent us from acknowledging that there are issues, they can be fixed (eg, the HK-416 action) and that there are better weapons that we could have.
When in our history as a nation have we kept one infantry rifle 40+ years? Seriously, when? To my knowledge, not since the Civil War have we kept the same rifle for 40+ years. The 1903 Springfield was an excellent bolt rifle - still is today. But we didn’t keep it as our primary weapon for 40+ years.
The Garand was also an excellent rifle. Didn’t keep it 40+ years.
The M-14 had issues, but was a good rifle. Didn’t keep it very long.
The .30-40 Krag, the .45-70, etc — none of them were kept 40+ years.
So why has the nation with the most firearms experience in the world, both civilian and military, so stubbornly holding onto a compromised design?
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