Skip to comments.Marines might replace M-16A2 with M-4
Posted on 08/04/2002 11:34:22 AM PDT by demlosers
Its smaller, lighter and better suited for modern battles. And it might be headed into the hands of U.S. Marines.
Marine Corps officials wrapped up testing two new rifles as a possible replacement to the M-16A2 in stock now: the short M-4 carbine and the M-16A4, an upgraded model of the rifle Marines use now.
The jurys still out, but a decision is expected soon. So far, though, the M-4 is garnering praise from the Marines and looks to be a front-runner.
However, some soldiers who fought in Afghanistan have expressed concerns about the M-4, which also is standard issue for U.S. Army infantry troops. Their chief complaints, though, appear to center on the ammunition used, not the weapon itself and officials have said ammunition types are undergoing review.
The M-4 is hardly new to the Corps. Marine Force Reconnaissance units, Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Teams and Military Police Special Response Teams have been using the weapon since 1999 as a replacement for the MP-5 submachine gun.
Corps officials tested the two rifles for more than 18 months. The latest test, held at Camp Lejeune, N.C., wrapped up in July. The rifles were put through the wringer, including shooting at known-distance ranges, live-fire field trials and force-on-force scenarios, said Capt. John Douglas, project officer at Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va.
Douglas said the M-16A4 looks and feels much like the M-16A2 but, like the M-4, has component parts. The Corps can buy either weapon of the existing Army contract, Douglas said.
Both weapons have flat-top upper receivers with 1913 Military Standard rails for mounting optics as well as forward rail hand guards, Douglas said.
All accessories from lasers, lights, scopes, etc., mount to the 1913 rails as a standard mounting platform, allowing tailoring of the weapon to mission, billet, or individual ergonomic preferences, he said.
But even if a new rifle comes, Douglas said, not every Marine will get one. Theyll be fielded only for ground infantry units.
The maneuverability, adaptability and ease of operation cause some to favor the M-4 for tomorrows Marines.
Mike Reissig, a sales representative with Colt Manufacturing, declined to answer questions before test results are released but forwarded a point paper provided by the Marine Corps to Colt Manufacturing. It says the rifle simply is a better fit for the way Marines will be fighting in the future.
The weapon, the paper said, is based on a proven design familiar to all Marines, and is equally well-suited for operations in all types of terrain, including use in urban environments.
The M-4 has interchangeable sighting systems, add-on vertical forward grips and even a detachable short version of the M-203 grenade launcher. The rifle itself is one full pound lighter than the M-16A2 and 10 inches shorter. The collapsible buttstock is designed to make it more adaptable to individual shooters, a benefit especially in tight-packed urban areas.
This allows the Marine to rapidly shoulder the weapon from a proper fighting stance with combat gear, the review said. The reduced barrel length allows the weapon to be more easily maneuvered in restrictive terrain, urban areas, vehicles and aircraft.
There are some drawbacks to the M-4, though. A shorter barrel means reduced velocity and accuracy at long ranges. But its unlikely, the Marine review said, that battles would be waged at more than 200 meters. At that distance, the M-16A2s and M-4s performance are nearly identical.
The M-4, the review concluded, provides our infantry unit leaders with the ability to rapidly prepare for combat under varying situations, while allowing them to employ the latest in target acquisition technology. Its modular nature allows us to upgrade components as improvements become available.
Really? I was hoping that it was one piece.
For example, the issue of the M16's reliability problems, which seem to be inherent to its design, have never been addressed. Nor, for that matter, has its fragility. Furthermore, while the effectiveness of the 5.56mm NATO round is quite good, it too has been around for quite some time. Personally, I'd like to see someone come up with something between it and the 7.62x51mm NATO.
Or, we could just admit once and for all that a single weapon is unlikely to do all things well, and develop specialized ones. It worked during WWII, when the typical squad would have a mix of M-1 Garands, BAR's, and Thompsons and carbines. Seems to me it worked pretty well, considering the results.
Besides, not all the services have the same requirements. My own, the Navy, still keeps M-14 rifles in its inventory, for example. H&K MP-5s as well.
Just one Sailor's opinion.
If only we could have a picture of Ann Coulter holding one of these, that would be awesome.
U.S. Military using foreign made AKs as standard equipment-gasp! An old commie rifle at that. Most likely to be met with whole lotta political derision.
One thing I saw with the M16A2 was a lot of people had problems zeroing the weapon for some reason. I mean most guys could get theirs zeroed but still quite a few did have problems with it. Being a Mortar Platoon in the Headquarters Company, you often have to run the shooting ranges for the rest of the company- cooks, mechanics, medics, commo- with the exception of the Scouts and Support all these guys were non-combat arms. That might have had something to do with it but my own personal theory was a lot of individuals had a problem aquiring proper sight picture and alignment with the M16A2. I don't know if the M4 has a different sight system than the M16 (personally, I liked the M16's system).
I think overall, I agree with someone else that perhaps having one weapon that solves all problems is not really practical- perhaps a mixture of different weapons that accomplish different tasks being brought to bear on the enemy as part of a fire team as opposed to an individual. I think there's still place for a shotgun in an infantry platoon in the right environments and I know it's expensive but I think an infantry unit should have a variety of tools in their armory that they could choose from- choose the right tool for the task at hand as opposed to trying to make one tool do every task.
The one thing about the M16A2 was it had a nice sturdy plastic stock that you could butt stroke someone with. Can you do that with the M4 and how does the M4 hold up if you have to fix bayonets?
Politics be damned. Give them something reliable.
Wars are fought with rifles, not politcal correctness.
Yes, I have fired the M16 A1 at 500 meters. Yes you can hit things with it that far out.
And a pinch of sand will jam that P.O.S. so tight that you will need an armorer to clear it.
If range is a consideration the old M-14 is good to 1,000 meters.