Skip to comments.M4 does poorly in Army's own test
Posted on 04/20/2008 11:54:38 AM PDT by Dawnsblood
click here to read article
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.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.