Skip to comments.M4 does poorly in Army's own test
Posted on 04/20/2008 11:54:38 AM PDT by Dawnsblood
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6.5 caliber or .264 also called a 260 remington, has been around since the crack of dawn. neck up a 243 or neck down 308, you have a 260. First used by the US military before the Japanese adapted it in WWII nothing new about he 6.5.
Yep time for a change...........get it done !
I agree, start with the best 6.5mm and go from there....but that’ll never happen. Not with the way our screwed up system works. Just as the 1930’s supply of on-hand 30-06 caused the army to dump the best round for the Garand, today our “legacy” 5.56 and 308 causes the army to stick with those rounds no matter what.
And it will forever, I suspect.
Historical footnote to legacy calibers: Roman coins were copied in size and weight, empire after empire, down through the centuries to the Spanis “piece of eight” coins, to the original American silver dollars.
It was always just easier to say, “Let’s make our new coin the same as the most common old coin still in circulation.”
Thus it is with rifle calibers.
If it was up to the Army, we’d still be using muskets. Sometimes those aholes need a swift kick.
Weapon acquisition not always logical, eh?
They did it once, starting with the gun and building a plane around it. Turned out rather successfully.
Exactly — and look at how hard the USAF has wanted to get rid of the A-10. It isn’t supersonic, it isn’t sexy, it doesn’t have a glass cockpit.
But boy oh boy, does it get the job done.
Yea, a 308 case pushing a 6.5 instead of a 7.62 would probably be "quick." I just might check that out.
I’ve seen too many weapons that perform well and poor due different conditions. We lock ourselves in to ONE standard issue primary rifle every time. I would suggest that due a modern level of logistical support that no ONE caliber or type should be considered. Possible to have one caliber such as the 6.5 Grendel for airborne. spec ops or expeditionary forces where resupply may be in doubt etc but multiple platforms such as a M134DT , GPMG, DM / sniper rifle, primary infantry weapon and smaller PDW’s that share common caliber shouldn’t be set in stone.
There's a certain "Pucker Factor" when one is on a Night Assault, tens of klicks from any backup, with tracers going both ways, and the weapon you meticulously cleaned a few hours before decides to jam with the shell casing stuck in the breach!
Been there, done that!
One of these days, the Powers that be should, hmmm, "enjoy that feeling" before they vote to choose the next generation of "huntin" implements!
+1. You'll also note the USMC does very little complaining about their new 20" M16A4's.
The M4's "problem" is barrel length, nothing more.
That looks like a Galil.
Naah....you don't want any of the standard run of politician anywhere near you in a fire fight...
The sonsof$%%$% would be worthless and worse -- a hazard.
Were I to find myself in a jockey knotting situation, with a John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Barry Obama, Wexler, Schumer, etc, etc,.....too near me when the SHTF -- I'd be sorely tempted to whack them first as a measure of self defense.
See Post 43
So, why the 6.5 MPC instead of the 6.8 SPC? Ease and cost of conversion (weapons conversion), ammo capacity, and ammo weight (ammo carry capacity at a given load weight). The 6.5 MPC utilizes standard AR-15/M16/M4/M4A1 magazines and bolts, and will function in both the SOPMOD M4/M4A1 Carbine and belt-fed FN M249 SAW/LMG, provided you switch out the barrel(s). No further modification is reportedly necessary. Mag capacity for the 6.5mm MPC is 30 rounds (although you might still want to down-load it to 28, as many do with 5.56mm ammo for reliability purposes). The 6.8mm SPC doesn't stack properly in standard 5.56mm M4/M4A1 mags, and the magazines that have been developed for it limit ammo capacity to 25 rounds, as opposed to 30 rounds, so the 6.8 SPC mags will fit inside current military mag carry pouches. You can also use 5.56 NATO stripper clips to load 6.5 MPC rounds into the mag. At present, there are no 6.8 SPC stripper clips.
Yea, blame someone else. It was a crappy design from the beginning and should have never been adopted. With the dirty gases blowing directly into the bolt and firing mechanism, it is a recipe for a jam.
$1500 is a HUGE ripoff! You can buy a brand new civilian version for about $700!
With the addition of the 6.5 Grendel® to the product lineup at Alexander Arms, the history of no compromise design, engineering and innovation continues. The 6.5 Grendel® provides an extreme range capability for hunting, competition and tactical applications at ranges way beyond those previously achievable with this class of weapon. The 6.5 Grendel® has the flexibility to move from lightweight varmint bullets in the 90 grain class, which offer superb accuracy for competition and small game shooting, to mid weight 108/120 grain competition bullets and then on to 130 and 140 grain bullets, ideal for longer range, tactical shooting.
The 6.5 Grendel® is challenging the status quo in Military and Law Enforcement units around the world. First unveiled in May 2003 at the Blackwater Training facility in NC, the 6.5 Grendel® out-shot the 7.62 NATO at range with half the recoil. Still supersonic at 1200 yards, the 6.5 Grendel® delivered superior external ballistics to the 7.62 NATO. Utter reliability, superior external and terminal ballistics than the current state of the art, outstanding accuracy in a lightweight M16/AR-15 platform it is what appears to be the pinnacle for what may be achieved in the M16/AR-15 chassis. The 6.5 Grendel® is not a series of compromises, but rather the perfect marriage of mechanical function, internal, external and terminal ballistics all working in harmony.
Shooting a 123-grain Lapua Scenar with a ballistic coefficient of .547 and a muzzle velocity of 2600 fps delivers outstanding accuracy out to 1200 yards. At 600 yards, tennis ball size targets are no match for this flat shooting round. For extreme accuracy, formidable terminal ballistics and long range applications, the 6.5 Grendel® from Alexander Arms is unbeatable.
Compared to the 5.56 the 6.5 Grendel® with roughly twice the lead mass gives you the potential for twice the mass of fragments, and if maximum fragmentation is coincident with maximum temporary cavity, the terminal ballistics are quite convincing indeed all in a package that shoots flatter, with 50% less felt recoil than 7.62 NATO M80 ball.
Again, Alexander Arms is ahead of the curve. Currently in testing with the US Military for widespread adoption, the 6.5 Grendel® seems assured a place in history.
Please see # 68, each other’s posts, and http://www.alexanderarms.com
Bill Alexander is a great and wise man.
The barrel length is a big problem, and I cannot (for the life of me) fathom what the advantage to a short barrel on a rifle is.
The powder in a rifle round burns too slowly; as the barrel length is reduced, more powder is left unburnt by the time the bullet exits the muzzle, which means two things: reduced velocity and huge muzzle flashes.
This can be ameliorated by using a faster-burning powder (like a pistol powder), but if any of the short-barrel ammo finds its way into a rifle or SAW, those weapons will be blown apart by the absurd pressures developed from too-rapidly burning powder.
What the M4 suffers from, IMO, is the desire by the DOD pencil pushers for one weapon that will do everything. I’m not an expert in combat arms, but I’ve never heard of “one weapon that does everything.” Our guys need a sub-gun for urban close-quarters stuff now, and they’re trying to cut a rifle down to do the job. Why not just re-issue the Thompson 1927’s we have in stock? They spit out .45 ACP’s at a nice clip, which put enemies on the ground in a hurry. If they don’t want to do that then why not find some other sub-gun in 9mm or .45ACP to do the job? Why try to cut a rifle down to a pistol size and still pretend it is a rifle?
Makes no sense to me.
If it was up to me, I would’ve licensed H&K’s I think it’s the gas piston system? Give them a huge contract to manufacture the uppers in very large quantities.
Larger than 9mm.
He should find out how much it would cost for you or I to purchase one.
An excellent debunking of a seriously flawed and political test.
Excessive amounts of dust were used more than would have ever been accumulated in combat conditions.
The M-4’s were off the shelf while it’s competitors were hand crafted and some received extra lubrication the M-4’s did not.
When properly lubricated the M-4 performed as well as the rest of the rifles used in the test.
All of the rifles used were worn out to the point where the head space on the bolts of each weapon exceeded safe conditions and resulted ruptured cartridge cases in all the rifles with the M-4 suffering the least amount of ruptures.
Rather debate the merits of one gun over the other perhaps the old axiom should be applied to all these tests.
Keep your powder dry.
or rather take care of your weapon properly and it will take care of you.
Hell RR! Even an old grunt like me would question your sanity if you didn't take them out first!
You know, probably better than I that a Man has to have his priorities straight! LOL!!!
Wasn't there a handgun called the Grendel a few years back? Looked sorta odd and fired the 22WMR? Anybody got a pic of that? Any relation between the two? I think I heard mixed reviews on the grendel pistol except that everybody agreed it was ugly.
Up to a point. When we get our hat handed to us by adversaries who use a technological advancement, it brings change along in a hurry. Examples abound, from the reservist volunteers of 1898 going up against the Spanish in Cuba with their Civil War Springfield muskets reworked into single shot breechloaders, versus Spanish 5-shot Mauser bolt-action repeaters firing smokeless cartridges. The good news was it gave us the Krag and Lee repeaters, whose shortcomings were resolved with their replacement by the Springfield bolt action rifle of 1903.
Likewise, the M14 and early AR15 rifles were thought to be just dandy when fitted with a 20-round magazine, since that was what the WWII [and late WWI] BAR had used. And then US troops started going up against AK47s with 30-round magazines.
Our present enemies have mostly fielded that same weapon, so our shortcomings in the small arms department aren't as critical as those in personnel body and vehicular armor were. And it's always the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.
But either a breakthrough in propellant technology, probably caseless, or a situation in which American troops find their most basic tool to be horrible inadequate will get great bright spotlights of attention on the problem. I would be happier if it's the former.
Ever had to get out of a burning vehicle in a hurry?
The Australians seem to be VERY interested in the 6,8 SPC and a demonstration and test fire was arranged for them at Camp Robinson, Arkansas back in 2004. Since their F88 AusSteyr variant of the Steyr AUG has a quick-change barrel, all they need is a quick field strip of their weapon to replace the bolt and barrel, change to the new 6.8 magazine, and they're good to go. Of more concern to them was [at that time] the lack of a usable 6.8 caliber link for the 5.56mm M249 SAW, known in Australian service as the F89.
If there's anywhere that the better ballistics of a 6.5/6.8/.280 upgrade version of the 5.56 cartridge would prove itself, it's in the longer ranges in the squad support weapon role. And with the first issue of the new weapon/ammo to be linked, the older linked ball ammo could be relegated to rifle training.
It does now. A-10C *BorgHawg*
Consider the really awful situation we'd be in if the AKM had been fielded with a quick-change barrel, as MikTim Kalishnikov had originally intended, but which feature was deleted as an economy measure. Instead of the present situation with a couple of 5.45mm Molot RPK-74s [or 7.62x39mm RPK's in the third-line reserve units] in the Russian Army squad, dandy weapons until they overheat or chip an extractor, Ivan would just issue a few heavy barrels to each squad. Lose an extractor? No problem, pull the barrel and hand it off to the next guy. Need a shorty version for tank or helicopter crews or doorkickers? Easy fix: hit the release catch, remove long barrel- not a big deal with a 16-inch barrel AK anyway- and stick in the 8 or 10-inch suchka version. And in a perimiter-defense or base camp role, EVERY gun on the line could have a long/heavy barrel and bipod, making every gunner a BAR/SAW gunner....
Yeah, they'd burn up more ammo. So add a 2 or 3-shot burst feature, and when the barrels get hot, switch back to the standard *basic* AK-length barrel, all ready for when things get close up and personal.
And they could have had it since 1959....
why do we not field at least one rifle in the enemies common calibre ??? from a logistical standpoint it would seem beneficial to use their supply when available...
1. The SCAR was given a lubrication change after the testing started that was not provided for the M4, or any of the other weapons. It should have been eliminated from the testing.
2. The dust was extreme and in almost any case would not be encountered in the 'real world'.
3. As soon as defects in any of the weapons tested occurred, they were repaired or corrected, except for the M4's. This in itself negates the entire test regimen and should have been repeated/restarted.
4. There is no specificity for any of the failures and as to type.
5. No consistency in the human factor or is it addressed.
6. Inclusion of two different testings for the M4 or if the same weapons were tested in BOTH regimens. This would lead to far more M4 failures due to end-of-life issues.
7. Lastly, this testing is a limitation type of test, and does not provide any 'real-world' comparison.
The 14-inch barrel is the most efficient for the 5.56 and the twist needed for the M855 or the new M262(77gr). The basic load-out for each soldier is close to 65 lbs+, with body armor, helmet, radio, ammo, pack, water, etc, weight is a significant factor. CQB also depends on a fast handling shorter rifle as circumstances change in an urban environment from long-range(300meter average) to CQB(house-clearing).
Why not just re-issue the Thompson 1927s we have in stock?
This has been stricken from issue since the 50's, even though some were used in Nam, they are complex and difficult to maintain, do not offer improved performance and has limit usability at ranges now being engaged.
The 1903 Springfield, which you mentioned in another post, was issued in some form all the way into VN, and some even as far as Grenada in 1903A4 form. It too went through a number of developments from ammunition to manufacturability in it's lifetime was the primary issue in the Burma campaign, carried in Europe and in the intial landings at Guadalcanal by the Marines. It lasted in inventory well over 40 years in some form. The M14 is still carried by SpecOps groups such as the SEALS, and even in some forms in Iraq(modular AR type stocks, sniper variants). It has not 'gone away' and is still one of the issue weapons on the react teams for US Navy vessels.
The M16/M4 is the first commercially made rifle that the military has bought into. The M14 being the last internally developed system. The politics of the 'big-bore' club tried to doom the rifle from the begining. Over it's lifetime, and with understanding of it's limitations, the system has developed into a complete battle-rifle. It lacked the longer range ballistics because from it's inception it was designed to fight in the 100-200 meter range, lessons learned from Korea and Nam. However, Desert Storm and a few brushfires showed that ranges in 'real life' were from 200-400 meters and improvements in ammo led to the M855(issue), differing barrel twists, and improvements in optics. It's simplicity in design and function, with fewer parts to break, easier maintenance, and parts interchangability make it a superior issue rifle.
Would I like to see it in the HK416 form or a gas/piston system? Of course. However the gas systems also have problems related to exhaust of the excess gas. They kick up dust in front of the shooter and limit visibility. The system has to be 'tuned' to the ammunition it fires for reliability. Any change in bullet weight and powder make it finicky at best, totally unreliable at worst.
Good question. Simple answer. Logistics.
It would be easier to pick up a dropped AK to use if needed, however, most engagements currently don't even use the primary loadout of 210 rounds.
The advantage the Coalition forces have over the AQI/Tallies is the air-power that can be brought into the battle.
Very interesting post. Pardon my ignorance ... but what is your definition for “exterior ballistics,” and what constitutes a “sweet spot?”
Why not go with the Israeli’s Tavor rifle....battle tested and beautiful.
Tavor in action with Mac from “Future Weapons.”
“exterior” ballistics refers to the flight of the bullet from when it leaves the barrel (ie, “interior”) to when it hits the target (”terminal” ballistics).
By “sweet spots” I mean that there are calibers in the vast selection of bullet diameters and weights where, for a reasonable bullet length/weight, you see a very high ballistic coefficient and sectional density.
For example, the first “sweet spot” (as I call it) as you move upwards from a .22 caliber occurs in the 6.5 to 7mm range (.264 to .284 inch), and you see this in the BC/SD numbers of commonly used 6.5 bullets - the BC’s of 123 to 145gr bullets are very high; 0.5 to over 0.6. The Lapua Scenar 139gr bullets are something like a BC of 0.615 and Berger’s 140gr VLD Match bullet has a BC of .640.
You can’t achieve these high BC’s in a .308 bullet unless you’re willing to use a bullet that is over 200 grains, eg, the 210gr Berger VLD bullet has a BC of 0.631. The recoil from a 210gr bullet is going to start to fatigue some shooters.
Then as we move up the bullet diameters, we see another “sweet spot” in the .338 range. Lapua’s Scenar 250gr bullet has a BC of 0.675 and there are several other VLD bullets in .338 with a very high BC, Lost River and Lutz Moeller are making CNC monometal bullets with BC’s over 0.8. Yes, a .338WM or .338LM is going to fatigue some shooters, but for that fatigue, we’re getting more bang for our buck, so to speak.
.408 is the next “sweet spot” and Lost River is producing a bullet of 419 grains that exhibits a BC of over 0.9 (0.045 is the current claim). The .408 CheyTac has absurdly excellent long range (> 2000meter) energy retention.
The “sweet spot” means that the bullet diameter, in reasonable weights for the common shooter, yields BC’s that are higher than the surrounding calibers. You can achieve high BC’s in most any caliber, but it might require creating an bullet so long as to not chamber in common firearms (ie, requires that the chamber be ‘throated’ as with M-16’s or AR-15’s shooting the 80+ grain VLD bullets for matches) or the recoil starts to become rather high (eg, the .50 BMG can achieve BC’s over 0.75 in bullets of 750grains).
This all doesn’t matter unless you’re seeking to maintain the maximum amount of kinetic energy downrange; eg, you can make 800 yard shots with a .22-250 and bullets with light weights, but it won’t have much kinetic energy downrange to actually *do* anything, because it has all bled away in flight, and as a result the bullet is coming in like a mortar trajectory. If all you’re seeking to do is punch paper, well then, you obviously don’t need much energy. But if you’re seeking to create a lethal wound channel in your terminal ballistics, you’re going to need to have some energy left at the other end.
This is why we see so many military calibers around the world that focus on the 6.5 mm/.264 bullets. In the 140 to 160grain bullet weights, the 6.5mm rounds retain a very high percentage of their muzzle energy downrange. If you want the maximum killing energy downrange for the given recoil, powder, etc at the starting line, you use the 6.5mm bullet. Reasonable recoil, cheap to manufacture, flattest possible trajectories under .338, etc.
Yea, but answer me this: Why compromise your weapon to address what is a vehicle issue?
Why not come back and say “We need vehicles that will withstand attack better” rather than create a morphodite rifle to “fix” this problem?
To this engineer, this problem isn’t “fixed” by changing the rifle.
“why do we not field at least one rifle in the enemies common calibre ??? from a logistical standpoint it would seem beneficial to use their supply when available...”
The enemy leaves a cache of ammunition to be found. The hapless individuals grab it and load their compatible mags. The first engagement with the “captured” and compatible ammo, rifles begin to explode because the enemy has re manufactured the ammo substituting high explosives for powder.
Don’t remember the novel, but the scenario seems plausible.
is current doctrine to not use any enemy munitions cept for 'last resort'???
My cousin is on the ground in Iraq. I've had a number of conversations with him and his words are he has fired less than 4 mags in any engagement. Air-support or armor is always fairly close at hand and on-call. The AK's he has examined are basically junk and shot out.
See the latest edition of "American Rifleman".
I agree that the test was internally inconsistent. But focusing on the M4 alone (leave all others out of it), the data show a significant number of failures. The SCAR and XM-8 results I pretty much ignored, since we’re not going to bother with those. The DOD simply doesn’t have the money to field a new infantry weapon. They’re too strapped for cash in the current situations.
The argument that “the dust was extreme” and would not be encountered — well, perhaps. Maybe. Most people haven’t seen a lot of dust in their operations of firearms. Living in central Nevada, in a farming area, where we have lots of blowing dust that is as fine as (or finer than) talcum powder... I’d have to say that many people haven’t seen the wide variety of dust that there is. And our alkaline dust fouls AR-15s quite nicely. M-1A’s work wonderfully well, as do simple blowback actions like a 10/22. Bolt guns always work.
AR-15’s spend a lot of time in gun cabinets, which is a shame, because the coyote situation around here calls for an accurate (check) .223 (check) that is semi-auto (check). It just has to fire when you want it (fails).
Much as the Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow, folks who live in deserts have umpteen types of dust. My question is “does the military involved in spec’ing weapons know how many types of dust there are?” and I’d bet the answer is “probably not.” So they substitute quantity for quantification, and you get what we have here.
A bit more on the M262: It is loaded rather hot, above SAAMI specs. The M4’s big contribution to this was tightening the twist to 1 in 7. This, I suspect, was a contributing factor to case failures in the testing.
Dont remember the novel, but the scenario seems plausible.
Not a *novel* scenario at all; we left doctored AK ammo for the NVA to find and use in some of their supply dumps along the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos and Cambodia. The effort it took to find a load that would reliably blow apart a milled-receiver was considerable, but eventually successful. Doctored 60 and 82mm mortar rounds were also part of a similar substitution effort, made practical by the point that Soviet 82mm mortar rounds wouldn't work in a U.S. 81mm mortar, and that the 60mm mortars were out of the Army's inventory for the most part, though the Marines and some specialized units still had the handy little M19 60mm.
The project was known by several different code names, depending on the ammo involved and the time of the insert operation: Project Eldest Son was one, Italian Green and Italian Red another and Pole Bean [sometimes pronounced *bolo bean*] yet another.
And that was one of the reasons AFVN radio kept broadcasting commercials for US troops not to use captured AK47s- there was nothing wrong with the weapons, but some of the ammo found with them could have been from the *beans* left in NVA caches by the sneaky SOG teams.
GIMMIE! where to find one?
What is not answered is the question of whether the M4's tested in the fall of 07 are the same ones tested earlier in the summer of 07. If that is the case, which is most likely given the Army's way of testing, it put that particular group of M4's even further down it's end-of-life testing resulting in the disparity of the two M4 data groups.
My personal experience with the AR system is in a number of different environments, from sub-zero,wet,icy conditions of Montana to hot, blowing dust conditions in the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada have given me a good insight into the limitations of the system. When maintained, it works.