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View Poll Results: What say you?
M16/20" 34 39.08%
M4/14.5" 53 60.92%
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Old October 31, 2007, 09:06 PM   #1
Army GI
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The M4 slowly replacing the M16?

Over the years, there has been a slow yet apparent transition from the M16A2 and A4 rifle to the M4 Carbine. Is this simply a tactic that increases soldier versatility in the modern conflict, ie riding around in convoys and breaking down doors? Or is it a sign of the times that the conventional thinking of "long rifles and one shot kills" is obsolete?

I've only ever handles M16A2s in my short career. I always hear things like the "best" guns (read: M4) go to the front lines. And the A4s are only used by a small number of units.

When the AR10 originally came out, it had a 20" barrel and fired 7.62 NATO. So why was the barrel length kept when it was scaled down to 5.56 NATO? The long barrel length is optimal for a battle rifle cartridge. The AR's direct competitor for decades was the AK47. It's barrel length is only 16" and it seems to do just fine.

It seems that while the M4 is surging in popularity, the A4 is now being criticised and being labeled with names like "musket". Is the M4 here to stay or are we looking at a temporary solution for a temporary problem?

ETA: I need to know whether I should buy a M4 stock or a regular stock for my AR
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Old October 31, 2007, 09:14 PM   #2
taylorce1
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Quote:
Is the M4 here to stay or are we looking at a temporary solution for a temporary problem?
What problem are you talking about?

The M4 just flat out works better for what the Armed Forces are doing these days compared to a longer rifle. I would want the shorter barreled M4 any day for clearing buildings than a longer barreled version or larger rifle. Most of the fighting takes place in urban areas these days and that means the enemy will be much closer to us. I'd want a quicker handling rifle/carbine for these kinds of engagments.

I'm in a Transportation Company, and I hate having to get in and out of my truck with a long M16A2. The M4 just makes things a little easier when working in tight quarters. I haven't been over to play in the sand yet, but when I go I hope my unit gets the M4.
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Old October 31, 2007, 09:29 PM   #3
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The war, that's what I'm talking about.

What if you go to Afganistan? What if you become a career soldier and you find on later on down the line you go to Korea?

I sure as hell would rather have the long rifle.

ETA: And another thing, you're the kind of people they made the M4 for anyways! Tankers, pilots, truckers, 11C, all those dudes would obviously prefer an M4.

My focus is for the the front line infantry man. I'm seeing a lot of 11bang bangs who are just coming back and they've never even touched an M16!
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Old October 31, 2007, 09:46 PM   #4
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Pretty much all the 11 series types are getting the M4 these days. They even have a carbine version of the SAW. Not very many M4s or shortened versions of the 249 have made it into the STB's yet, but were the lowest priority as far as weapons go since most of the time we're never outside the wire. I'm signal so I was pretty much marooned on the FOB both time I went over there except for a month and half of convoy escort my 1st tour. But I think eventually the M4 will be standard issue acrossed the board.
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Old October 31, 2007, 09:52 PM   #5
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Yeah, it looks like the 20" barrel will be reserved to a DMR role.
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Old October 31, 2007, 09:57 PM   #6
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Bring back the M14!!!


(somebody had to say it)
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Old October 31, 2007, 10:53 PM   #7
taylorce1
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Army GI

Let me explain myself a little better before you get that foot any further into your mouth. I am a career soldier, in fact I enlisted in 1992. I took a 4 year break in service 1996-2000, I came back Army Reserves. I hold a civil service job that requires me to be in the Reserves if I want to keep my job. I cannot retire before age 57 and will not be able to collect my retirement from the Reserves until age 60. By the time I retire I will have 37 years for pay in the Army, with 33 years service between the Active Army and Reserves. If I decide to stay until I'm 60 then add 3 more years to my service record.

I'll let you in on a little secret as well the Army Reserves doesn't have what is considered combat MOS's. Those jobs belong to the National Guard. I started out Infantry as well and would love to be back there but it isn't a job I can choose in the Reserves.

I started out my Infantry training in Fort Benning Georgia on Sand Hill, and finished it off at the Army's Airborne school as well. So my first MOS was 11B1P first duty station was with the 3/325 Airborne Battalion Combat Teams in Vincenza Italy, which has become the 173 Airborne Brigade and and the airborne battalion is now the 508th. After that 2 years was up I then got to be stationed with the 3/505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg NC.

The M4 carbine was first given to the Infantry because it is a more versitle platform as far as mounting optics, IR, night vision, and other little goodies that help protect the Infantry soldier. The M4 is slightly lighter as well which helps the 11B as well as they are already weighed down with their basic load, protective gear, and whatever else they have to carry on a mission. I remember jumping in with over 100 lbs of extra weight between my Weapon(M16A2, SAW, or M60), LBE, Kevlar, Ruck and PRC77 when I was RTO and then having to do movement to contact all night long. I'll bet you never had to carry a 100 lbs of extra gear on a 15-20K movement through the woods.

If anything the 11B is now required to carry more gear than ever before and wear an IBA. The have to to this regardless of temperatures so anything that can lighten the load will be appreciated. I'll cut you a little slack because from your manner of speech you are obviously still new to the Army.

You will find out what you want and what you actually need will be two different things while serving in the Army. The M4 was tested and does everything that the every day Army soldier needs it to do, we can't all be SDM or SF. I say reserve your judgment on the M4 until you can actually get to shoot one, you might just find out that it does the job just as well as your M16A2.
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Old October 31, 2007, 10:56 PM   #8
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IMHO because of the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of the fighting takes place in urban settings, so the M4 fits the bill well

If we were involved in a war that takes place mostly in the Jungle environment like vietnam, I'm guessing soldiers would prefer the standard length M16A2-A4.

But then again what do I know, I never even served in the military....
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
I'll cut you a little slack because from your manner of speech you are obviously still new to the Army.
Foot in my mouth? I'm sorry if I offended you in any way, it wasn't intentional. But how can you begin your argument with

Quote:
I'm in a Transportation Company, and I hate having to get in and out of my truck with a long M16A2. The M4 just makes things a little easier when working in tight quarters. I haven't been over to play in the sand yet, but when I go I hope my unit gets the M4.
and then wonder why nobody bothered to inquire about any further experience?

Leading with a statement like that and then busting out everything else you've done to prove some sort of point after I've already made a reply based on the information you provided in your first post is kind of underhanded.

Furthermore, even though you list all of your active duty time in Italy, NC, elsewhere, and your BAC credentials, I don't see any combat experience. So as far as that aspect concerned, you're in the same boat as me.

By the way, the M4 is also ideal for airborne troops. Based exactly for the reasons you stated.

Never the less, its fine to talk to me in a condescending manner, because I know TIS gives you that privilege.

...that and when you were graduating high school, I was 5

Last edited by Army GI; October 31, 2007 at 11:56 PM.
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:21 PM   #10
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isnt the M4 supposed to be more reliable as well?

couldnt tell you why,but ive heard that alot.
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:25 PM   #11
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I think you have it the other way around. In extreme circumstances, it seems that the M4 jams more often because of the shorter gas system. The impulse is more violent than in the longer 20" rifle.
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:32 PM   #12
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you're probably right...im new to the whole "scene" and my head's swimming from months of reading up.
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:32 PM   #13
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I'd hate to have my gun jam on me in the middle of a hairy gun fight....

Might as well pick up an AK47 or something from the locals lol...
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:33 PM   #14
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Every gun jams

The M16 family of weapons are quite reliable if you maintain them properly. As a matter of fact, the only time I've had a problem with mine was when I was issued crappy magazines.
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:33 PM   #15
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Well I started out my short career thus far as an 11Bang Bang. My first weapon was an M16A4. I remember thinking how sweet that weapon was. I thought it was the best, till they gave me my M4. The adjustable stock makes shooting in an IBA loads easier and it feels more comfortable, especially with the neck piece on. It is next to impossible to shoot prone with the neck guard on with an M16. Also for the females in the Army the M4 seems to be better for them because of the stock as well. The slight reduced weight is also better on long movements. Also the overall shortness and ability to make the weapon compact makes MOUT (military operations in urban terrain) a hell of a lot easier. The M16 in MOUT just feels way too big and unwieldy. As to taking long shots, I can hit the 300meter target just fine with an M4. I am no longer in the infantry. Since my commissioning I got branched military intelligence. Every time my unit gets out our M16A2s for qualification I always make a joke about us “getting out the Kentucky Long rifles.” Again to the range of the M4, a lot of people can’t hit past 300 meters even with the M16. I think if you ask any infantry guy or military personnel for that matter who has had to extensively use their weapon in many different situations, most would give the thumbs up to the M4.

Another thing going back to the switch from 7.62 to 5.56. One of the main factors for this is the amount of ammo able to be carried. You can carrier almost double the amount of 5.56 than 7.62. This comes into big play when you understand the infantry battle drills and strategies. The main thing is volume of fire. Laying down as much ammo on your enemy as you can to suppress him and make him keep his head down.

Also it always seemed like I had more jamming issues with my M16 than my M4. Don't know why thats just what i can say, but you must always maintain your weapon. Last the recoil of the M4 to me is comparable to that of the M16, no more violent
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:43 PM   #16
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I can agree to the unwieldyness of the M16 in anything but long range shooting. Trying to carry a stretcher loaded with a 200lb casualty and all his gear in an urban setting with that M16 dangling around getting caught in my legs, in between my arms, and in door ways was absolute hell.

I like the "Kentucky Long Rifles" reference, that's clever

As far as the 5.56 NATO, I agree completely. I reiterate a post I made earlier this week about that subject:
Quote:
A few points here before this thread flies off into la-la land:

1) The 7.62x39, in any configuration, will NEVER be considered. The fundemental shape of the cartridge will not allow it to be utilized correctly in an AR type magazine. The magazine well of a standard AR is too straight to accept the curved 7.62 mags.

2) This whole thread is based on the premise that failure to stop with 5.56 is a problem so big that is has become a threat to infantry tactics and Army strategy. While there has been a few documented instances, for the most part I remain unconvinced that failures to stop happen enough that it is imperative to switch to a bigger cartridge.

3) The US Army will continue to use 5.56 for the very same reason the M1 Garand was chambered for 30-06; we have assloads of it. The M1 was originally designed for a cartridges called the .276 Pedersen. It had ballistics similar to the 6.8mm SPC and would have been closer to a true intermediate/assault rifle cartridge. But a decision was made by the Brass with the Ass to take advantage of the huge piles of 30-06 laying around in warehouses and the M1 was subsequently chambered for that round. The 276 might have been a better cartridges for the purpose, but logistics over machismo.

4) For decades, the doctorine of infantry tactics has been to overwhelm the enemy with superior firepower. That means those that can get the most bullets in the air usually wins. The 5.56 mm was designed to meet logistical, strategic, and practical needs. It doubled the infantryman's payload of ammo; so while there are failures to stop, 99% of the time it kills folks just fine; it is easier to train soldiers to shoot it effectively; you can make that much more because it requires less lead than a 115gr bullet or a 150gr bullet. The size of the bullet is much less important than how much fire you can lay on the enemy. While a bigger bullet may very well have more barrier penetration or knockdown power per shot, you get more shots with 5.56 and most kill with one center mass shot.

All of this doesn't mean there isn't a place for 6.8 SPC or 45 ACP. For the average joe, the 5.56 and 9mm are good enough and it gives him the highest probability of hitting something per combat load. But it seems that professionals who have for the most part better firearms training seem to lean towards bigger more powerful cartridges. So while smaller bullets have a better strategic advantage, the bigger ones have a more immediate tactical advantage. Though that advantage is not so great to warrant the need for Big Army to switch as supply and logistics is any army's greatest asset.

The M16 is the quintessential "McNamara" rifle and the 5.56 the consummate "bean counter" cartridge.
Lastly, what I was talking about the violence was the pressure the direct impingement gas system works at in an M4 compared to an M16. While the recoil may feel the same, the pressure coming back to cycle the bolt in an m4 will be higher because it had less distance to cover.
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Old October 31, 2007, 11:54 PM   #17
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I'm an MP. I used an A2 in basic and then got an M4 with my unit. I much prefer the M4. Clearing rooms, getting in and out of vehicles, and lightness. The M4 is better for all of this. I just don't see 300 yard shots as serving a point any more. Even back in WWII with the legendary Garand, there are an overwhelming number of reports that GIs would not engage targets that they deemed too far, even if they were well within the spec ranges of the Garand. Point being, soldiers don't like to waste ammo and give away their position shooting at targets hundreds of yards out. I know I don't. The M4 is a great weapon for modern combat.

As far as "what if we go..." I think the US military should switch to the XRC. Cleaner more reliable weapon, same ergos, controls and high-tech gadgetry as the M4, and can be swapped out for longer barrels, stocks and different calibers easily. Going to Korea? Swap some the 14.5 barrels for 18 or 20, maybe in .308 too.
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Old November 1, 2007, 12:00 AM   #18
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Hey, G-Cym, have you also heard of the XM8?

I was actually interested to see if this weapon was going to be adopted to replace the M4. I know the XCR was also on the table as a potential canditate; unfortunately all those rifles (including the HK416) got scrapped. But the general idea behind these rifles which is modularity and being able to reconfigure the base rifle for a wide variety of task is pretty neat.
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Old November 1, 2007, 12:14 AM   #19
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The Hitman

Urban War,More Compact Gun.
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Old November 1, 2007, 12:21 AM   #20
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I have heard of the XM8, and I thought it looked awesome. The XCR however does indeed exist. It's from Robinson Arms.
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Old November 1, 2007, 12:22 AM   #21
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I wonder if in this day and age if the US will ever see a future Jungle war? or will wars now just take place in desert/urban environments?
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Old November 1, 2007, 01:02 AM   #22
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Sure are a lot of Soldiers on this board(thought I was one of the few!). I too prefer the M16A2 as a general purpose rifle. But... shorter rifles are a must in urban environments. We also make use of mounted patrol more than we used to. The M4 is mighty handy especially with all that gear hindering mobility. The loss in velocity from the shorter barrels probably isn't such an issue since we're engaging targets at closer ranges in these environments anyhow. I can't vote for either myself since I like 'em both equally. They're both best suited for different roles/environments.

Try picking up an M4-type AR15 sometime and you'll see what I mean. As for which stock to get for your personal AR, get what you like. Even better is to own one of each type(AR15s are addictive).

MGJ, the time will come again as it always does. Won't be for some time though.

The XM8 was killed because of reliability problems and the fact that it didn't do anything the M16/M4 series couldn't do at least as well(the latter could be said about the HK416 as well). If we keep the 5.56 round, maybe a bullpup would negate the barrel length vs. OAL issue. Either way we're not gonna see a new rifle or even a new pistol for some time.
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Old November 1, 2007, 01:09 AM   #23
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doesnt the m4 basically exemplify why the military chose the 5.56 nato anyway?

faster up, sooner the bullets get downrange?

i guess the only thing that would be against their light caliber protocol would be that the m4 has slightly more recoil than a m16, but not too much more Im guessing.
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Old November 1, 2007, 04:39 AM   #24
Nakanokalronin
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W.E.G: "Bring back the M14!!!


(somebody had to say it)"

They still use the M14.
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Old November 1, 2007, 07:42 AM   #25
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Quote:
It seems that while the M4 is surging in popularity, the A4 is now being criticised and being labeled with names like "musket". Is the M4 here to stay or are we looking at a temporary solution for a temporary problem?
If I'm not mistaken, the big picture level decision was that the M4 will replace the M16 army-wide for a general service weapon (eventually).

Quote:
I sure as hell would rather have the long rifle.
Personally, I'd take an M4 over an M16 without any hesitation. The M4 is quicker handling in general, and its strengths for vehicle ops and CQB/room clearing are very significant. As far as accuracy -- on the range, an M4 with ACOG and a bit of practice can thump steel chest plates at 4-600 meters with boring regularity (mileage may vary in combat, not due to the weapon but due to all the real world issues like moving targets, targets that shoot back, etc.).

The only thing the longer barrel brings to the table is bullet fragmentation at longer ranges, but I'd argue that the fragmentation issue is overstated by a couple orders of magnitude online. A round through the thoracic cavity will tend to put a guy on the ground pretty effectively, regardless of caliber or fragmentation (though if fragmentation puts them down quicker or harder at CQB ranges, that's obviously not a problem).

The only other plus with the 16 I can think of is you can butt-stroke with it, though this manuever is not a great idea with any flavor of AR-15, and if you've got a forward pistol grip and practice muzzle striking instead I don't think there's much lost.
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