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Thread: Gun Trouble: M4 & M16

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Gun Trouble: M4 & M16

    Ret'd General Scales asks why:
    The rifle that today's infantry uses is little changed since the 1960s—and it is badly flawed. Military lives depend on these cheap composites of metal and plastic. So why can't the richest country in the world give its soldiers better ones?
    Link:http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/...rouble/383508/

    There over a thousand comments since December 2th 2014, so apologies if you've read the article and engaged there!

    There two old threads on US military rifles, so maybe the issues have been vented there:

    From 2007 Better than M4, but you can’t have it:
    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=2258

    From 2008 The Army’s M-4 Carbine: Background and Issues for Congress:
    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=5560


    Larger with 80k views is MAJ Ehrhart - Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afgh.:
    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=9942

    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-11-2015 at 06:44 PM.
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    Default some trouble can be avoided by delay

    The need to replace the 5.56x45mm and the M4/M16 was arguably proven and accepted years ago. However such replacement by better performed metal-cased ammunition and weapons has been delayed by the promise of combustible/caseless small arms ammunition. And even after changes at the top it seems the US defence hierarchy has again decided to whittle away more years by continued tinkering with the 5.56x45 and the M4/M16.

    That resolve could be overturned by executive fiat but otherwise it seems US forces will just have to wait. Probably for at least ten and possibly more than 20 years until the effectiveness and stockpiling of suitable caseless rounds are thoroughly proven. Compliant NATO and affiliated forces are almost certain to follow along.

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    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Last edited by AdamG; 01-14-2015 at 12:45 AM.
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
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    Its not an issue as this article would have people believe. Even the issues that do exist could be addressed without replacing the system as a whole.

    Ive got to say that some retired officer whose last time in combat was 40+ years ago pontificating about our troops current needs off of what he learned in the Mekong is a joke. The only thing the same about that weapon system and the one we carry on a daily basis is the operating system.

    We have weapons that see 10k+ rounds a year and the only thing we really burn is bolts and barrels and sometimes cam pins. These guns are ran hot, suppressed, with high round counts between cleaning.

    Most of the issues are maintenance issues that we can address with proper lubrication. These carbines kept wet with a real lube (not clp) run like a top and stay accurate. The rest are mag induced failures.

    You want your m4 or variant burn it down on the range and real world? easy..

    -Replace mags if they induce more than one failure (that means track your mags regular army. An Okay industries mag from gulf war one is unacceptable)

    -Change bolts every 5k rounds or before a deployment if your unit is short on funds

    -Use a quality lubricant like slip2000, fireclean or froglube. The army won't buy it? Too bad, be a real NCO and take care of your soldiers. Don't accept mediocre CLP, it might kill you. Keep your gun wet with lube, and a small bottle to add lube if your bolt dries up during extended fire.


    As a side note, discussions of lethality are meaningless when rounds don't land on target. Lets face it, most soldiers can't shoot. Actually training past BRM and a few repetitions of ready up drills will go a long way towards showing how lethal 5.56 can truly be.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_3_118/6...our_range.html

    The real issue is that most of the M4 failures are based on mythology.

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyatt
    Ive got to say that some retired officer whose last time in combat was 40+ years ago pontificating about our troops current needs off of what he learned in the Mekong is a joke. The only thing the same about that weapon system and the one we carry on a daily basis is the operating system.
    ...


    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_3_118/6...our_range.html

    The real issue is that most of the M4 failures are based on mythology.
    ...

    Here are some "facts" about OUR experience with M4's on the range.

    - Some of our M4's have well over 200,000 rounds down range. Barrels have been replaced, gas tubes have been replaced, BCG's have been replaced but what sets it apart from the AK47's is that upper and lower receivers continue to function. AK's get to about the 100,000+ round count and rails on the receiver will start to crack. It's an easy fix with tig welding but they crack. We have yet to lose an upper or lower receiver from cracking.
    The above post, with a quote from the linked thread, raises for me a very general question:

    What exactly is reliabilty when it comes to firarms, specifically issued one? Is a gun reliably because you can fire it after a quick cleaning after having been buried in African sand for decades? When it fires in a bitter Russian winter with little care or after it was dropped from a house hitting the pavement?

    What is it's relationship with durability, as witnessed in the M4's upper and lower receiver after so many rounds fired reliably?

    Overall it seems fairly easy to stack the deck against or for a specific firearm, by using a tailored mix of conditions.

    P.S: I wonder how often just the usual wear and tear without proper maintance or replacement parts grinds down the reliability of a weapons system which afterward gets a name for unreliability.
    Last edited by Firn; 11-18-2015 at 08:00 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    The above post, with a quote from the linked thread, raises for me a very general question:

    What exactly is reliabilty when it comes to firarms, specifically issued one? Is a gun reliably because you can fire it after a quick cleaning after having been buried in African sand for decades? When it fires in a bitter Russian winter with little care or after it was dropped from a house hitting the pavement?

    What is it's relationship with durability, as witnessed in the M4's upper and lower receiver after so many rounds fired reliably?

    Overall it seems fairly easy to stack the deck against or for a specific firearm, by using a tailored mix of conditions.

    P.S: I wonder how often just the usual wear and tear without proper maintance or replacement parts grinds down the reliability of a weapons system which afterward gets a name for unreliability.
    To paraphrase I, Robot, "Those are the right questions."

    Culturally, there are many ways to frame "reliability".

    In engineering terms, reliability = predictability

    If a machine fails, but does so predictably with relatively simple repairs, it is still reliable.

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    To paraphrase I, Robot, "Those are the right questions."

    Culturally, there are many ways to frame "reliability".

    In engineering terms, reliability = predictability

    If a machine fails, but does so predictably with relatively simple repairs, it is still reliable.
    That seems a sensible approach for firearms in the modern context. Actually in the case of the M4 systems it may have become more so in the last decades.

    A simplified view it's classic counterpart, just taken from Wikipedia:

    Design

    The AK-47 was designed to be a simple, reliable automatic rifle that could be manufactured quickly and cheaply, using mass production methods that were state of the art in the Soviet Union during the late 1940s.[40] The AK-47 uses a long stroke gas system that is generally associated with great reliability in adverse conditions.[30][41][42] The large gas piston, generous clearances between moving parts, and tapered cartridge case design allow the gun to endure large amounts of foreign matter and fouling without failing to cycle. This reliability comes at the expense of accuracy, as the looser tolerances do not allow for precision and consistency.
    According to already sibling thread from the already mentioned author:


    - This may sound crazy but it's fair to say that they finally suffer a catastrophic failure (cracked trunion) at 80,000-100,000 rounds. Also, we have WASR's that have suffered a catastrophic failure and we just pull out the old trunion and barrel, grab one from a parts kit, re-rivet, re-barrel and get them up and running.

    - The AK is the most reliable but after seeing how many have broke over the last two and half years on the range, it's not the indestructible weapon everybody talks about (and I always thought it was).
    Considering the harsher impuls inflicted on the system this is still very durable. Perhaps one of the most revealing aspects is the following:

    What makes is reliable is it's simplicity. My guys clean/service 4-5 AK's for every M4 or MP5.
    ------------------------------

    Now why did I write that the 'M4' approach to might have become more sensible compared to the past in recent times?


    a) The vastly increased use of various combat optics which have become overall cheaper, lighter and better makes it easier to use more of the high precision potential of the system. Magnified ones also provide the increased ability to spot and identify at longer ranges which in terms dovetails with the precison potential.


    b) The highly modular nature achieved with precise specs due to modern manufacturing (CNC) combined with the huge US civilian AR15 market enable a huge amount of working products at surprisingly low prices.

    i) Cheap parts of high quality which are interchangeable across all 'M4' should make it far easier to get high reliability because worn or dubious elements of the system could be quickly and cheaply replaced.

    ii) It would make it easy for the military to react to feedback from the troops and proper test and make (acquire) modifications in general or specific for the theater.


    c) More broadly the long experience with the system in the military and the huge civilian market in combination with modular design should have facilitated the elimination or at least great reduction of practically every initial flaw. Maybe the only downside is the information overload through all that widespread use.



    All in all this weapon system might be for those reasons and a very important additional one the smartest choice for a small allied country with a relative low-funded military. The additional one is of course the vast production capability and huge supply with no development costs attached.



    P.S: How they keep the guns economically going:

    Weapons are inspected every morning and afternoon and that's also when they are lubed. We use Slip 2000 on all of our weapons. It's safe, non-toxic and keeps the weapons running properly.

    ....

    Each weapon has it's own maintenance log that records the last cleaning, who cleaned it, headspace and any parts that required replacing. The weapons, depending on model and volume on the range, are cleaned every 2-7 days. The MP5 SD's are the dirtiest of the weapons and the M-134 "miniguns" are probably the cleanest.
    I really like his disciplined common economic sense approach to business.
    Last edited by Firn; 11-19-2015 at 08:25 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    I really like his disciplined common economic sense approach to business.
    I am currently developing a theory as to how to (re)apply this to the military as well.

    I'm not sure if I will ever put pen to paper on this topic, but I think another military revolution is at hand, and we in the US are largely missing it, entirely.

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    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
    I am currently developing a theory as to how to (re)apply this to the military as well.

    I'm not sure if I will ever put pen to paper on this topic, but I think another military revolution is at hand, and we in the US are largely missing it, entirely.
    In the sense more theory then 'just' about small arms maintenance?
    Last edited by Firn; 11-22-2015 at 06:32 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firn View Post
    In the sense more theory then 'just' about small arms maintenance?
    A thought piece on how cheaply you could run a military that still had the capability to win wars by using professionalism and decentralized design and decision-making.

    I think our adversaries have captured how to do this, and we could learn a lot from them if we only looked at it dispassionately.

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