Go Back   Small Wars Council > Small Wars Participants & Stakeholders > Trigger Puller

Trigger Puller Boots on the ground, steel on target -- the pointy end of the spear.

Closed Thread
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-11-2015   #1
Council Member
davidbfpo's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 11,506
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?

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:

From 2008 The Army’s M-4 Carbine: Background and Issues for Congress:

Larger with 80k views is MAJ Ehrhart - Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afgh.:


Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-11-2015 at 06:44 PM.
davidbfpo is offline  
Old 01-12-2015   #2
Council Member
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 173
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.
Compost is offline  
Old 01-14-2015   #3
Council Member
AdamG's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Hiding from the Dreaded Burrito Gang
Posts: 2,445

Because priorities.
A scrimmage in a Border Station
A canter down some dark defile
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail

Last edited by AdamG; 01-14-2015 at 12:45 AM.
AdamG is offline  
Old 01-14-2015   #4
Council Member
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 50

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.
Wyatt is offline  
Old 11-17-2015   #5
Council Member
120mm's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Wonderland
Posts: 1,284

The real issue is that most of the M4 failures are based on mythology.
120mm is offline  
Old 11-18-2015   #6
Council Member
Firn's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,295

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.

Originally Posted by 120mm View Post

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.
... "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

Last edited by Firn; 11-18-2015 at 08:00 PM.
Firn is offline  
Closed Thread


ammunition, infantry, rifle, weapons

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
The Gun - by C.J. Chivers bourbon Miscellaneous Goings On 3 06-12-2017 03:14 PM
Diplomatic security after terrorists kill US Ambassador in Benghazi, Libya Peter Dow Government Agencies & Officials 48 01-19-2014 07:11 PM
Gun Control in Counterinsurgency jmm99 Law Enforcement 47 09-01-2010 03:32 AM

All times are GMT. The time now is 09:49 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation