Skip to comments.Troops left to fend for themselves after Army was warned of flaws in rifle
Posted on 02/21/2014 3:26:13 AM PST by Timber Rattler
Army Senior Warrant Officer Russton B. Kramer, a 20-year Green Beret, has learned that if you want to improve your chances to survive, its best to personally make modifications to the Armys primary rifle the M4 carbine.
Warrant Officer Kramer has been dropped into some of the most ferocious battles in the war on terrorism, from hunting Islamists in the mountains of northern Iraq to disrupting Taliban opium dealers in dusty southern Afghanistan. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery in Operation Viking Hammer to crush the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam in Iraq.
The warrant officer said he and fellow Special Forces soldiers have a trick to maintain the M4A1 the commando version: They break the rules and buy off-the-shelf triggers and other components and overhaul the weapon themselves.
The reliability is not there, Warrant Officer Kramer said of the standard-issue model. I would prefer to use something else. If I could grab something else, I would.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtontimes.com ...
I understand even the rigidity of Basic is flaccid.
Who set this up?
The same al Qaeda that brought the Boston bombers in
There has been no end to the treason, all encouraged
by the HATED, EXEMPT Congress.
Will an M-15/M-4 work at the range? Sure, most of the time. In the severe rigors of sustained combat in a filthy environment? No.
Once a POS, always a POS.
Certainly wouldn’t be the first time troops were sent to fight with a faulty or the wrong weapon.
I’m sure many at the Little Bighorn wished the army had given them repeating rifles in their final moments.
I think it was James Rowe who wrote about the problems of the M16 in his book about being a POW in Vietnam.
It appears to be the case. I work with new troops (training for Cyber troops) and I notice that far too many have no idea of proper military protocol and don't know how to report or do many of the things I still remember being taught in 1974.
Far too much PC touchy-feely crap being promoted to the demise of military bearing and professionalism.
” M-16 and its idiot caliber “
What caliber should it be?
Colt was killed in the 1980’s and buried in the 1990’s. Wiki:
In 1985, Colt’s workers, members of the United Auto Workers went on strike for higher wages. This strike would ultimately last for five years, and was one of the longest running labor strikes in American history. With replacement workers running production, the quality of Colt’s firearms began to decline. Dissatisfied with Colt’s production, in 1988 the U.S. military awarded the contract for future M16 production to Fabrique Nationale.
Some criticized Colt’s range of handgun products in the late 1980s as out of touch with the demands of the market, and their once-vaunted reputation for quality had suffered during the UAW strike. Colt’s stable of double-action revolvers and single-action pistols was seen as old-fashioned by a marketplace that was captivated by the new generation of “wondernines” - high-capacity, 9x19mm Parabellum caliber handguns, as typified by the Glock 17. Realizing that the future of the company was at stake, labor and management agreed to end the strike in an arrangement that resulted in Colt being sold to a group of private investors, the State of Connecticut, and the UAW itself.
The new Colt first attempted to address some of the demands of the market with the production in 1989 of the Double Eagle, a double-action pistol heavily based on the M1911 design, which was seen as an attempt to “modernize” the classic Browning design. Colt followed this up in 1992 with the Colt All American 2000, which was unlike any other handgun Colt had produced beforebeing a polymer-framed, rotary-bolt, 9x19mm handgun with a magazine capacity of 15 rounds. It was designed by Reed Knight, with parts manufactured by outside vendors and assembled by Colt; its execution was disastrous. Early models were plagued with inaccuracy and unreliability, and suffered from the poor publicity of a product recall. The product launch failed and production of the All American 2000 ended in 1994. This series of events led to the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1992.
The 1990s brought the end of Cold War, which resulted in a large down turn for the entire defense industry. Colt was hit by this downturn, though it would be made worse later in the 1990s by a boycott by the shooting public in America. In 1994, the assets of Colt were purchased by Zilkha & Co, a financial group owned by Donald Zilkha. It was speculated that Zilkha’s financial backing of the company enabled Colt to begin winning back military contracts. In fact during the time period it won only one contract, the M4 carbine. However, the U.S. Military had been purchasing Colt Carbines for the past 30 years (See Colt Commando). During a 1998 Washington Post interview, CEO Ron Stewart stated that he would favor a federal permit system with training and testing for gun ownership. This led to a massive grass-roots boycott of Colt’s products by gun stores and US gun owners.
Zilkha replaced Stewart with Steven Sliwa and focused the remainder of Colt’s handgun design efforts into “smart guns,” a concept favored politically, but that had little interest or support among handgun owners or Police Departments. This research never produced any meaningful results due to the limited technology at the time. Colt announced the termination of its production of double action revolvers in October 1999.
It seems the only flaw to the armies that are armed with AK47’s is their inability to shoot and be tactical ... not the weapon itself
The M16 was a bad idea from day one.
I have heard the same from returning vets. While the general drift is that the M-4 was better shooting at a distance, they'd grab an AK because of reliability issues, related to difficulties keeping the weapons clean. It can be a real SOB to keep a rifle clean when you get hit with a sandstorm.
“The M16 was a bad idea from day one”
It amazes me that the same weapon that the ‘best and the brightest’ were fixing and fine tuning all those years ago is STILL out there bedeviling the troops and being modified. Geez...
Money and politics!
> The M16 was a bad idea from day one.
An M16 nearly got me killed when it jammed and had to be repaired during a fire fight in the Mekong Delta.
Almost anything bigger, it is barely enough for a varmint round. I wouldn’t use a .22 for deer hunting let alone for combat.
The original M16 design was so robust they didn't even think it needed to be cleaned and in fact shipped it without cleaning kits. It wasn't until some procurement half-wit decided to change the powder the ammo was using that it started to experience problems.
In terms of caliber, it was also originally designed to fire the .308 so blame a pencil pusher for that change. Regardless, the AR platform can be modified to use a large variety of calibers. It is also significantly more accurate than any piston rifle is capable of.
Standard rifle for China QBZ-95 uses 5.8x42mm cartridge. The AK-74M replaced the AK-47 and uses a 5.45x39mm round.
The applications are different in combat and hunting. If you had multiple hostile deer wearing body armor trying to shoot back at you, 30 round magazines of high-velocity, low profile rounds might just be exactly what you need.
This sort of military incompetence has been going on since the Civil War.
BUT LOOK AT ALL THE AMMUNITION THEY WOULD HAVE WASTED! /s
Sorry, I couldn't resist making a 19th century point. Something about things being the way they are sometimes just because of people and institutions being set in their ways and not much else.
Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan... I my own self never served, so I don't speak from experience. All I can say is it seems like the first time I read something like this was in 1974 in American Rifleman magazine in the library at the place where I was going to school.
Sometimes history only rhymes, and sometimes it seems like it downright repeats itself.
Again, just observation on my part and not experience except a little time at the shooting range.
I am a VN vet and remember all the problems with the M16. If I recall, the principle stockholder in the company that won the contract to supply the M16 to the Army in those days ILO the M14 was owned by Lady Bird Johnson.
Well, no kidding. How much have you spent in combat? As far as the Chinese and Russians adopting itty bitty calibers - swell - I don't mind it all if our adversaries adopt bad ideas. But close range "pray and spray" isn't effective in most fights. It's those rare folks who aim their fire carefully that win battles.
The M-16 family is NOT robust: it's aluminum and plastic and the breech is deeply enclosed and inaccessible. It gas system fountains carbon into the bolt and breech and the whole thing bends with very little effort. It is and was an inexpensive weapon to produce and field and the army is loathe to look at anything else, no matter what the field experience shows. During the height of the Iraq War we had requests from commanders in direct combat for M-14s because of the ineffectiveness/imprecision of the 5.56 round at longer ranges/penetrating brick and earth walls/lethality but those requests were turned down because stateside clowns with zero combat experience were determined to keep going with M-16s only.
There are many excellent designs out there and much better calibers yet the army establishment is perfectly happy to keep the status quo - or offer idiotic alternatives like that XM-25 - a beast in no way suited for the realities of infantry combat.
It's time to put veterans with combat experience into weapon development programs over the civilian developers at Picatinny.
ping for a little bit of perspective
And yeah, he (okay, Lady Byrd Johnson, no conflict of interest that way /s) profited big time from the war, just as he profited from JFK being assassinated in Dallas by whomever...
(Okay, way off topic, I better drop it before someone rightly accuses me of hijacking the thread.)
Which is why the 5.56 vs 7.62 argument is invalid. When our forces have gone toe-to-toe with the AK, they've won with the "inferior" caliber. They bad guys wouldn't be more dead with a larger bullet.
During the height of the Iraq War we had requests from commanders in direct combat for M-14s because of the ineffectiveness/imprecision of the 5.56 round at longer ranges/penetrating brick and earth walls/lethality
Great for an engagement at range, but not the weapons platform you necessarily want for house clearing, like Fallujah.
Don’t let this ‘redirect’ keep you from laying the blame where it’s primarily due - there should have been no firefight in the first place - they were staked out like Judas Goats by US.
I challenge all of you to find ONE incidence in the history of warfare where commanders deliberately stationed their troops in a ‘fishbowl’, surrounded by high ground.
That little firebase was set up on low land with hills around it 380 - for the Tallban, it was like a kids game of shooting fish in a barrel.
In addition, there was no reason not to have spotted the hundred+ tallies coming over the mountain AND the soldiers were DENIED air cover the entire day!
Those in command were just as responsible for those deaths as the Taliban.
Orders from the top turned those little valleys, one by one, deliberately - back to the TAllies, many with caches of ammo/weapons and gas and without a fight, our guys just ordered to pull out - you really do not want to know...
Don’t get me started -
the 5.56 was adopted on the premise that small bullet high velocity max kinetic would be a massive game-changer - and that "every man has a machinegun" would overcome enemies through "dominance". Didn't work that way. Hosing rounds rarely connects and hot barrels fail. The 5.56 in action didn't cause the catastrophic wounds in most cases and more often was easily deflected by obstacles, wind, and at longer ranges lost all meaningful energy to become a hardball .22LR.
Combat takes place up close and at 300m and all places in between. An optimized weapon for infantry combat has to be effective (a fancy word meaning to kill or disable with each shot) at a wide span of ranges, not just house calls. If all you're doing is clearing houses, bring a shotgun.
You will have trouble arguing with my experience - I used an M-14 for a wide variety of situations and found that although it was weighty and long, it always fired when you pulled the trigger, almost always hit what you aimed at, at all ranges, and what you hit died. I carried an M-16 for two days, hated the flimsy little thing, got my M-14 back. (A buddy of mine who served in Vietnam in the army told me that "the M-14 is too heavy". I told him that he should have told me: I'd have detailed a big strong Marine to hold the rifle up for him..)
I spent the next 24 years after that making do with the later variations of the M-16 but it has always amazed me that a country with a history like ours of leading the world in firearms innovation couldn't or wouldn't do better.
By the way, the reasons the AK doesn't give more of an advantage to the people who carry it are that it has a short sight radius, crude sights, a short stock, a goofy safety, and the first selector position is full auto which is next to useless in that weapon. I am not sure how effective 7.62X39 is, since I'm alive after taking one through me. Probably wouldn't be here if that VC had had an M-14, right?
Most firefights in our current theatre of combat are not sustained fights that require resupply, so it seems kinda stupid to redesign our weapons platform to do something that it isn't being used to do. Considering that the average load out of ammo is 210 rounds and pretty much any AR that is even in poorly maintained condition is going to be go through the load out without problems (or even 10 times the load out), it makes me wonder where the complaints are coming from. Assuming the complaints are real (and a lot are a media/industry fabrication) then it's reasonable to assume that the carbine in question was probably so worn that something was out of spec. I've read about and seen pictures of weapons deployed to soldiers that were literally falling apart. It's well known that our supply of AR are aging but that isn't a platform issue.
There are many excellent designs out there...
In context it appears that you mean excellent designs that are better than the AR. What do you think those are?
The caliber discussion has nothing to do with the AR platform and should be a separate discussion as the AR platform can handle pretty much any caliber that any other battle rifle can.
It's time to put veterans with combat experience into weapon development programs over the civilian developers at Picatinny.
The best weapons designer the world has ever seen didn't have any combat experience. Combat experience doesn't increase knowledge of Materials science, metallurgy, engineering or machining. Troops should be used in testing programs sure but weapons design and development? To paraphrase a Japanese saying "you can either be master of making a sword or using a sword but not both".
The PS-90 is pretty good for CQB.
For something more ranged, you'd want a larger caliber and a longer gun.
As for the M-14, it was miles more effective round for round than M-16s or AKs - and supremely accurate. I always hit who I was aiming at and when I was a competitive shooter used a match M-14 to score 34 consecutive V-ring bullseyes at 600m in 1978. M-14s held the 1,000m iron sight record and may still have it, as far as I know. So much for the "simple physics".
I still haven't heard anything from you about your combat experience. What the heck do you know about ammunition loadouts, resupply options, or what works best? All I know for sure is that you never, ever run out of ammunition. If you're really lucky you only do that once and then never again.
I didn't say that a combat veteran would design a better weapon. What I did say was the combat veteran - or veterans - should be the Program Manager over the talented designers to guide their efforts towards a system that is precise, reliable, element-proof and the best possible caliber to ensure long-distance lethality/obstacle penetration. A combat veteran would better than anyone else the characteristics and therefore the specifications the design team would strive for.
Better weapons. Almost anything is better than the gas tube M-16. How about the HK G36 or the SIG 550 or the Galil/Valmet for starters?
Bottom line - our weapons must be the finest possible in all respects, price be hanged. Our kid's lives depend on them so we need the best. Not just what some comfortable DoD civilian thinks we should have.
Not really. There was a time when people with combat experience would have told you standing in tight formation with other soldiers and using discipline/volley fire was the only correct way to fight.
You're basing your argument on experience in a conflict that has nothing to do with current ones. Korea was not like WWII, Vietnam was not like Korea, Desert Storm was not like Vietnam, etc......
The absurd ROEs you had to endure cost more lives than your issued weapons ever did. Not much has changed on that front. No doubt you served with people in the 60s who pined for their Garand and thought your M14 was crap. There are always weapons platforms that are better suited for certain applications. That, in itself, does not nullify the 5.56mm. There is not one that can do everthing.
There are and have been enough combat veterans with ideas and people with investment capital out there to come up with the solution. Strangely, that's yet to occur and it's not due to the lack of people listening.
The point of the 7.62x39 vs the 7.62x51 is fallacious, at best. Wound placement, medical attention, and time are bigger factors than the caliber. A .22 killed RFK. Reagan was hit by a .22 after it richocheted off his vehicle and nearly bled out.
Good post...and as I recall, the 5.56 round was preferred in Nam because it was lighter and the troops could pack more ammo on patrol.
We had M16s on our Swift Boats and they worked fine in our environment.
Just like a Democrat - you never answer any direct questions but you are full of pompous pronouncements. You have no idea at all what I “pined for” back then or now. You also don’t know squat about warfare or the acquisition system or much else, do you?
I spent almost 40 years developing and refining our combat capabilities. What have you done?
You didn’t happen to serve alongside ‘old John Kerry, didja?
Don’t get me wrong, any cartridge has its limitations. For too many, however, the 5.56/AR15/M4/M16 is not a good round/weapon because they said so....and for no other reason.
The PS-90 is pretty nice but has limited utility like you mentioned.
Or we have spent three decades or more dealing with its insufficiencies and trying to overcome its flaws.
So - do you sell those things? Is that why you keep pushing them?
What have I done? So far listen to you do the exact same thing that you accuse me of: Make pompous pronouncements.
Your experience doesn't trump other arguments. If that were the case only the dead could write obituaries.
For over 40 years the M4 and M16 platform of been part of our capabilities. You seem to think it's a severe detriment. So you're either really lousy at convincing people other than me who may actually have input or it's not part of your area making the mention of what you did for 4 decades a complete non-sequitur.
As for my part "all" I did was fix radios. So while it's true I never took a bullet or fired one in anger, someone like me assured your medevac call got through.
Yay! It’s time once again to beat that dark stain where a dead horse used to be!
First, thank for your service. Fixing radios is essential and yes, mine worked fine for my medevac.
As for what I did about the M-16 while I was in, I wrote letters to my Congressman about our losses thanks to the M-16 in Vietnam, with of course, no useful response. I was commissioned a couple years afterward and led a platoon, a Headquarters Battery, and much later a battalion. We trained with those rifles, qualified with them, inspected them, and repaired or surveyed them when they broke. The M16A2 is decent enough at least in garrison and the heavier bullet works well but it didn’t do long distance as well in Iraq and Afghanistan. After retiring, I was picked to work for a Battle Lab to develop new technologies in infantry and artillery systems - I am a mechanical engineer. Every attempt we made to experiment with new systems was stonewalled by Benning, Picatinny and Aberdeen. Almost always government civilians with no time in uniform and very few weapons enthusiasts. All they want to do was add rail systems to hang more battery-powered weight to the front of those things. (One funny was a TV camera so troops could transmit video of the scenes to higher headquarters. As I am sure you can guess, most often, they sent videos of each other’s butts).
We tried to get them interested in 6.8 and 6.5 but they always found great reasons for not changing anything. The troops in the field asked for help, but still nothing. We tested the SCAR, we tested suppressors, we tested optics, we tested calibers but nothing changed. All the imbecilic Joint Service Small Arms Program could come up with was that ridiculous 25mm pig with its $25,000 sight, 17 pound weight, and grains of sand frags from its explosive round.
Hence my negative attitude when I discuss the M16 derivatives and the army development hierarchy.
I don't have any dog in the fight when it comes to the weapon itself. I own more than a few weapons of various types and calibers. I have my favorites for different reasons.
During my time, everyone seemed to think we'd be using caseless platforms by 2000. So much for that. Is the M4 suited to the more open environment in Afghanistan? The answer appears to be a resounding no.
However, the many changes over the years have made the AR platform extremely versatile, adaptable, and effective in the proper environment. Chris Kyle even preferred it in certain situations. I have no doubts the M14 would have undergone more than a couple changes had it remained in service as the standard. In fact, one of its decendants, the SOCOM16, is on my wishlist when the budget allows.
Anyhow, while it may not necessarily reflect in my posts, I always enjoy discussion and usually have something related to it spark an interest. For instance, based upon some of the discourse, I researched the M14. I was not previously aware it was competing for the government contract in the 1950s with what would eventually become the FN FAL. So at least I learned something new.
When I was a squad leader in Nam, I was regularly screaming at my guys to lighten up on the “auto” spot on the selector lever.
The M-16 rifle was NOT designed to be a Light Machine Gun. It doesn’t have a quick change barrel and it fires from a closed bolt. There is a time and place for full auto. (Gaining initial fire superiority, suppresive fire, final few yards of an assault, and when final protective fires are ordered.) Sometimes you may be forced into continual rock and roll but most often you are not.
But much of the time full auto is used unnecessarily, and leads to an unnecessary need for resupply and undue wear on overheated barrels. The direct impingement gas system does allow more carbon fouling into the reciever, but it also helps with controllability in full auto fire. The straight line recoil and the lack of a piston slapping back and forth makes it much smoother in that mode.
In Vietnam I carried an M-16A1 with a basic load of 600 rounds plus, often went through much or most of that in a day, and had very few stoppages with my routinely maintained rifle, none of which were not easily cleared with an immediate action drill.
The AK series and the AR platform rifles are both great infantry weapons with their own strengths and weaknesses. I am extremely familiar with it and would not hesitate to select it as an infantry arm. But as I consider their aggregate virtues, I would go with the M16/M4 every time, and I served as infantry in two wars.
I didn't keep it because I liked antiques - I kept it because it always worked!
I qualified expert with the M-14 in basic at Ft Leonard Wood. It was great as to the ease that you could knock down a man size pop up target at 400 yards. The semi auto recoil was not bad at all. An absolutely great battle rifle, but it was an antiaircraft gun after a 3 round burst. Too much power for the rifle’s weight.
Notwithstanding that I still preferred the M16A1 for Nam. I too kept 2 mags of 5.56 tracer to mark targets for my squad (I too deedeed the hell out of the position whenever I used them to avoid the inevitable return fire) but thats why they were paying me $125.00 plus $55.00 jump pay + combat pay extra a month as a Sgt E-5 I guess.
I gotta respect your opinions, but the M-16 worked pretty well in my company. Most of the NVA it hit were either wounded badly or dead right there.
“Unfortunately it just happened to be the day that the indians weren’t set in their ways. “
Amen to that! :)