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.
I like my old M-1 at 1000 meters... now if that empty clip just didn't make that distinctive sound.....
Zeroing the M16 wasn't hard for me either, easy as 1 2 3.
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.
Yes I tend to agree, until the military does get the "perfect rifle" thats seems the way to go.
They did. Its called .243 Winchester. A high performance cartridge--100grain bullet with muzzle velocity of 2900fps. It is a necked down .308/7.62 case with a 6mm bullet. Short maximum length of 2.7-in.--ideal for automatic weapons. Light recoil. Women and children have been knocking off white tail deer with this for years.
The one total and complete advantage the M-16 has over the Ak-47 is range.
We were able to drop Iraqis from ranges they couldnt concieve of. All their infantry troops could do was run for cover as they tried to elevate their AKs in a vain attempt to reach us.
Individual Marines were able to snipe Iraqis at standoff distances. I understand the Amry using the M-4....Army soldiers already cant engage from great distances, so giving them a rifle with a shorter range only seems appropriate....but taking an advantage away from Marines is not something I like at all.
Sounds like some jealous geek Marine decision to me. The M-4 looks cooler.
Time to break out the "old" 7.62 mm M-14's, and come up with a 7.62 BAR.
Re-organize the squad into 3 four man fire teams-one BAR un each team.
That doesn't sound like there were toe to toe. Range and accuracy may matter. OTOH, that was a SpecOps unit, and may have had snipers along.
Yeah I know, that's my post also. It did rate a 89% confidence level wil the troops who were asked to assess the weapon. But, as one soldier pointed out, If I did not have so many opportunities to clean [my M-4] Im not sure how reliable it would have been.
I'll second that. Over 2500fps & 150 + grns.
"now if that empty clip just didn't make that distinctive sound.....
Not to worry.....at a 1000
Two contradictory articles. As a buff and not a vet I leave it to the experienced to make a judgement.
I would like to see what American arms designers could do with such things as gas-pistons(AK, M14,), or delayed-recoil(Browning M2, Thompson) and a cartridge such as the .243.
BTW, I also don't think we need all the geegaws we seem to hang or attach to the rifle. What we need is something which follows the concept of RAM-D(Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, Dependability) first and only then play with the toys. Weapons following this concept well are much liked. Witness the affection of older vets for the M-1/M-14 rifles. It's near universal. The M16 has been "controversial" for 40 years, and is still viewed with suspicion by a great many who use it.
This alone should tell us something about what to replace it with.
The only substantive difference between the M4 and M16A4 is the barrel length (14.5" vs 20") and the buttstock (collapsible vs. fixed).
The M4 is proving wildly popular everywhere, especially with law enforcement, as it's easy to tote around and still offers much of the lethality of a rifle.
Problem is, it's not a rifle -it's a carbine. The short barrel cuts the velocity of the issue M855 considerably, and reduces not only it's effective range but also its terminal performance. Yup, they're bitching about the ammunition - ammunition which, by the way, works just fine from a standard 20" barrel. And while were on the subject, the 11 and 14.5in barreled M4s remain statistically somewhat less reliable than 20" rifles, due to reduced gas system length.
The right answer is to purchase quantities of both rifles, and issue the long guns to troops most likely to need them.
For a tanker, artillerymen or aviator, the M4 is a great rifle. For the infantryman, the 20" M16A4 is the superior choice.
It always amazes me when soldiers dont take care of their rifle especially in time of war. You would think they would treat their rifle better than a new born baby...If their rifle goes down its may mean their @$$ in combat.
Good points -- it's not rocket science:
shorter barrel = reduced velocity.
shorter barrel = reduced effective range.
They do seemed to be overlooking the obvious.
I heard a news report a couple days ago that a soldier from the 82nd in Afghanistan was given an article 15 for butt stroking a handcuffed Taliban POW. So, I guess you can still effectively use the M-4 for that purpose, but the M-16A2, with it's relatively large stock is probably a better weapon for smashing people upside the head. The M-16A2, with it's longer barrel, would also be the better rifle to attach a bayonet to. However, overall, the M-4 looks like a better, more versatile weapon than M-16A2 IMO.
How many stores do we have of the M-14 in the Army and Marine inventories?
That's what I think.
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