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Old 12-31-2012, 10:29 PM
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Arrow US rifles not suited to warfare in Afghan hills

US rifles not suited to warfare in Afghan hills

By SLOBODAN LEKIC (AP)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_584856.html


KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S. military's workhorse rifle — used in battle for the last 40 years — is proving less effective in Afghanistan against the Taliban's more primitive but longer range weapons. As a result, the U.S. is reevaluating the performance of its standard M-4 rifle and considering a switch to weapons that fire a larger round largely discarded in the 1960s.

The M-4 is an updated version of the M-16, which was designed for close quarters combat in Vietnam. It worked well in Iraq, where much of the fighting was in cities such as Baghdad, Ramadi and Fallujah. But a U.S. Army study found that the 5.56 mm bullets fired from M-4s don't retain enough velocity at distances greater than 1,000 feet (300 meters) to kill an adversary. In hilly regions of Afghanistan, NATO and insurgent forces are often 2,000 to 2,500 feet (600-800 meters) apart. Afghans have a tradition of long-range ambushes against foreign forces. During the 1832-1842 British-Afghan war, the British found that their Brown Bess muskets could not reach insurgent sharpshooters firing higher-caliber Jezzail flintlocks. Soviet soldiers in the 1980s found that their AK-47 rifles could not match the World War II-era bolt-action Lee-Enfield and Mauser rifles used by mujahedeen rebels. "These are important considerations in Afghanistan, where NATO forces are frequently attacked by insurgents using ... sharpshooter's rifles, which are all chambered for a full-powered cartridge which dates back to the 1890s," said Paul Cornish, curator of firearms at the Imperial War Museum in London. The heavier bullets enable Taliban militants to shoot at U.S. and NATO soldiers from positions well beyond the effective range of the coalition's rifles.

To counter these tactics, the U.S. military is designating nine soldiers in each infantry company to serve as sharpshooters, according to Maj. Thomas Ehrhart, who wrote the Army study. They are equipped with the new M-110 sniper rifle, which fires a larger 7.62 mm round and is accurate to at least 2,500 feet (800 meters). At the heart of the debate is whether a soldier is better off with the more-rapid firepower of the 5.56mm bullets or with the longer range of the 7.62 mm bullets. "The reason we employ the M-4 is because it's a close-in weapon, since we anticipate house-to-house fighting in many situations," said Lt. Col. Denis J. Riel, a NATO spokesman. He added that each squad also has light machine guns and automatic grenade launchers for the long-range engagements common in Afghanistan.

In the early years of the Vietnam War, the Army's standard rifle was the M-14, which fired a 7.62 mm bullet. The gun had too much recoil to be controllable during automatic firing and was considered too unwieldy for close-quarter jungle warfare. The M-16 replaced it in the mid-1960s. Lighter bullets also meant soldiers could carry more ammunition on lengthy jungle patrols. The M-16 started a general trend toward smaller cartridges. Other weapons such as the French FAMAS and the British L85A1 adopted them, and the round became standardized as the "5.56mm NATO."

The Soviet Union, whose AK-47 already used a shorter 7.62 mm bullet that was less powerful but more controllable, created a smaller 5.45mm round for its replacement AK-74s. "The 5.56 mm caliber is more lethal since it can put more rounds on target," said Col. Douglas Tamilio, program manager for U.S. Army firearms at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. "But at 500-600 meters (1,600-2,000 feet), the round doesn't have stopping power, since the weapon system was never designed for that." The arsenal, which is the Army's center for small-arms development, is trying to find a solution. A possible compromise would be an interim-caliber round combining the best characteristics of the 5.56mm and 7.62mm cartridges, Tamilio said. The challenge is compounded by the fact that in flat areas of Afghanistan, most fire fights take place at shorter ranges of up to 1,000 feet (300 meters), where the M-4 performs well. U.S. soldiers in militant-infested Zhari district in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province said they haven't experienced problems with the range of their M-4 rifles. Lt. Scott Doyle, a platoon commander in Zhari, said his troops are usually facing Taliban AK-47s. "When the Taliban get past 300 meters (1,000 feet) with an AK-47, they are just spraying and praying," he said.

Martin Fackler, a ballistics expert, also defended the 5.56 mm round, blaming the M-4s inadequate performance on its short barrel, which makes it easier for soldiers to scramble out of modern armored vehicles."Unfortunately weapon engineers shortened the M-16's barrel to irrational lengths," Fackler said. "It was meant for a 20-inch barrel. What they've done by cutting the barrel to 14.5 inches is that they've lost a lot of velocity."

Associated Press correspondent Sebastian Abbot in Lako Khel, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/0..._n_584856.html
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Last edited by Paparock; 12-31-2012 at 10:32 PM..
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:42 PM
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Exclamation 5.56mm vs 6.8mm: YOU DECIDE!

5.56mm vs 6.8mm: YOU DECIDE!

by Rob Maylor · September 13, 2012
http://loadoutroom.com/4053/5-56mm-vs-6-8mm-you-decide/


There has been long running debate over which is the most effective round and what our ground troops should be using, 5.56mm x 45, or 6.8mm x 43 SPC.

Well, for me, that’s a no brainer – 6.8mm of course.

Why? Because of its terminal effects! In layman’s terms terminal ballistics is how the projectile reacts and what damage it causes when it strikes the target.

But don’t let me influence you in any way with my opinion; I’d like you to put your reasons forward as to which round you think is more suited for our troops.
To Neutralise – “To render neutral or inactive.”

To Incapacitate – “To render unfit, an inability to perform.”
Here’s my thoughts

I have on several occasions witnessed bad guys being hit multiple times by 5.56mm (F1 ball, Belgian SS109 used by Australian troops and M855 used by U.S troops) at varying ranges and then continued to fight…not good!! A soldier needs to feel confident that the enemy he has just engaged is DOWN and no longer a threat. This means one less problem that you and your team have to worry about.

The LOAC, law of armed conflict, outside of Law Enforcement and Counter Terrorism situations, prevents us from using additional projectiles other than a fully jacketed round. Supposedly to reduce unnecessary suffering and destruction. Well, fully jacketed 5.56mm ammunition does create unnecessary suffering by wounding and not neutralizing.

I can hear some of you saying ‘well, be more accurate with your shot placement‘. Guys, I couldn’t agree more, especially in close quarter combat situations where you need to neutralize a threat immediately because reaction time is dramatically reduced. However, this can be quite difficult to achieve at times due to the pace of the contact, multiple targets, moving targets, obstacles, shooting on the move, etc. You may not get the luxury of pausing for that millisecond longer while your eye finds a sweet spot like the head.

Because we are issued with ammunition that has a very small projectile which delivers low energy, new training methods have had to be developed out of necessity to achieve neutralization or at the very least incapacitation.

One concept is to instinctively engage the chest with two shots, which in theory should buy you a fraction of time to then place a more deliberate shot to the head. Some CQB courses are now teaching engaging a target with up to six very rapid shots in to the center of mass.



I don’t know about you guys but I for one have issues with this:
  1. Wastage of ammunition
  2. Hard to control the path of the rounds once they have passed through the body (increases dangerous space behind the target)
  3. More chance of a change over (swapping from primary weapon to secondary after a stoppage)
  4. Narrows your awareness until target is neutralized
  5. Slower reaction time if faced with multiple targets
  6. Compromise your position
I guess I could be accused of over analyzing this but it is the ‘one percenters’ like these that have the potential to put you in a very serious position.

You may not get the luxury of pausing for that millisecond longer while your eye finds a sweet spot like the head.

The Belgian SS109 62gr (U.S M855 FMJ) contains a tungsten steel penetrator imbedded in the lead core that should (upon impact with tissue) help the projectile yaw and fragment. This isn’t happening all the time and as a result projectiles are passing through the body with minimal damage.

If 5.56mm is the only caliber that we can use, then maybe relaxing the international laws that govern what is humane and inhumane should be considered. The use of a heavier soft nose projectile or even ballistic tipped (plastic nosed) ammunition would be of benefit. It would deliver its energy to the target and will also have the power to punch through thin obstacles like chest webbing, heavy clothing, vehicle skin, etc.

It wasn’t all that long ago that soldier’s were happy with the 5.56mm ammunition that we were issued, but we were fighting a very different war than we are today. It was light, we could carry more, less recoil, etc. We also didn’t have a problem with conducting a battlefield clearance, ie; engaging wounded capable of continuing to fight or dead enemy as you fight through a position…it was a necessary evil to protect yourself…hence the term ‘Battlefield Clearance’!

So whatever happened to the good ole battlefield clearance?





Well, I’ll tell you, an increase of reporters in the battle space and social media happened! Posting footage of a standard infantry drill/tactic on to the internet via YouTube or on a news channel will change public and political support of the horrendous jobs that our brave men and women have to do. How many times over the last 10 years has this happened, sending the DOD, MOD or other coalition defence departments in to damage control?

This has severely kicked our ground troop’s job in the ass, all because outsiders complain about how we have to conduct our job!

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf” – George Orwell

Years ago 5.56 would’ve have been more than enough to do its job, now we fight in different circumstances with different rules….so we don’t upset the tree huggers and armchair hero’s…and as a result we need a change in calibre! We need something that will knock down a threat with a single round without casting doubts about whether or not the bad guy is still alive or capable of continuing to fight.

5.56mm and 6.8mm Rounds: The Facts

There are many ballistic charts that you can view on the web, most showing that velocity is reasonably similar between the 5.56mm and 6.8mm rounds. Compare a 77gr 5.56mm projectile against the 115gr 6.8 and it is very close indeed, however kinetic energy is anywhere from 40-50% greater at shorter ranges, and up to 35% out to 600 yards.

The 6.8 SPC round has the same energy at 250 yards as the M855 has at the muzzle. At 600 yards it has the same energy as a 7.62mm M43 at 275 yards, M193 at 250 yards and M855 at 375 yards. Since the 6.8mm is of a larger calibre and greater sectional density than the 5.56mm, it will use this energy more effectively when producing terminal damage. Performance can be increased slightly by using 110gr ammunition, giving you more velocity and less bullet drop over range.

The lower velocity of the 115gr ammunition combined with more kinetic energy makes this round less susceptible to deflection from soft cover such as foliage, shooting through glass (in the case of vehicle interdictions) and chest rigs.

6.8mm upper receivers will fit AR lowers, but you will need to change the bolt though and use specific 6.8 mags. I have fired 6.8 SPC ammunition from 5.56mm magazines but the heat that was generated expanded the mags – causing stoppages. The tolerances inside the mag are quite tight because the 6.8 cartridge is bigger in diameter. Although the calibre is larger, the difference in recoil is hardly evident and is quite controllable when engaged in rapid fire.

Ok, 6.8 will significantly increase your chances of neutralization or incapacitation with a first round strike. It goes without saying that different types of projectiles will produce different results, and that shot placement is still the key no matter what type of round is used. However, we can’t always achieve this, so the introduction of a large caliber that fills the gap between 5.56mm and 7.62mm is vital for the safety of our troops and is necessary in our fight against terrorism.

My guess is that money is the overriding problem. But perhaps it would work out cheaper to supply something that will do the job more efficiently without wasting ammunition…or lives!!

OVER TO YOU!

http://loadoutroom.com/4053/5-56mm-vs-6-8mm-you-decide/
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The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


Last edited by Paparock; 12-31-2012 at 10:46 PM..
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:52 PM
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Arrow Mattis pushed for 6.8mm ammo

Mattis pushed for 6.8mm ammo


By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer



http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news..._ammo_031010w/


Before Marines in Afghanistan received enhanced 5.56mm rounds last month, an influential four-star generaladvocated behind the scenes for an option that packs even more punch: 6.8mm ammunition.

Three sources with knowledge of the Marine Corps’ acquisitions process confirmed Gen. James Mattis’ interest in the 6.8mm round, saying the head of Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., lobbied for it as recently as December while pushing broadly for better service-rifle ammo.

“It’s something he was definitely interested in,” said one source, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. “He was concerned with the stopping power of the M855,” the standard 5.56mm round that the U.S. military has used for decades.

Instead, the Corps adopted enhanced 5.56mm Special Operations Science and Technology ammunition, commonly known as SOST rounds. Using an open-tip match round design common with sniper ammo, they are designed to be more accurate and more deadly than M855 rounds, staying on target better after penetrating windshields, car doors and other objects.

Mattis declined to comment, saying he is confident Lt. Gen. George Flynn, commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, is “dealing well with this complex issue.” Flynn could not be reached for comment.

Behind the scenes, Marine officials have discussed for years whether a larger-caliber round is necessary. Some have said the Corps should adopt an intermediate caliber, such as 6.8mm, or go back to 7.62mm, which was widely used until the M16 was fielded in the 1960s.

The Corps is still considering a swap to larger calibers, but if SOST continues to show promise, it may not be necessary, said Chief Warrant Officer-5 Jeffrey Eby, the Corps’ senior gunner. Marine officials “100 percent trust” the new round, he said, and are awaiting feedback from operating forces who are beginning to use it.

The caliber question

The Corps first considered fielding 6.8mm ammo in 2007, after rank-and-file members of Special Operations Command designed it with their command’s approval to address deficiencies with the standard 5.56mm round, Eby said. Neither SOCom nor the Corps fielded it, in part due to the cost and logistics it would have required to make the change.

Designed to be fired from existing M4 and M16A4 service rifles after some modification, the 6.8mm special-purpose cartridge travels at higher speeds and inflicts more damage than the M855, but is lighter than standard 7.62mm ammo. The 6.8mm round is only slightly longer than5.56mm ammo, meaning it would fit existing service-rifle magazines and lower receivers.

Adopting the intermediate caliber wouldn’t be easy, though. The ballistics are different than the 5.56mm rounds’, which would require the service to adjust training and adopt new optics for their service rifles, Eby said. It also would require ammunition manufacturers to reconfigure machinery, potentially costing the service tens of millions of dollars or more.

Fielding 6.8mm ammo also would result in new marksmanship challenges. Much like the 7.62mm M14, a 6.8mm rifle produces larger recoil than an M16A4 or M4, making it difficult for smaller Marines to keep the weapon on target, Eby said.

“We learned with the M14 that managing that recoil across the service, especially with small-stature women and men, is hard to do,” Eby said. “If we have problems today with bucking and flinching on the 5.56, you can quadruple that with 7.62. We have service-level concerns about [going] so big that you get the ultimate lethality at the expense of marksmanship.”

Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, told Marine Corps Times in mid-February that “there’s a long-going argument about the stopping power of 5.56 in general.” But he said even Marines don’t always fall after they’ve been shot by insurgents with multiple 7.62mm rounds, citing Navy Cross recipient Sgt. Maj. Brad Kasal, who was hit with seven 7.62mm rounds in Iraq in 2004 but survived and kept fighting.

“Does that mean that 7.62 rounds don’t have sufficient stopping power?” Brogan asked about Kasal’s actions. “I submit the answer is no. If there had been a central-nervous shot, it might have dropped him. The same is true with 5.56 ammunition. Location is more important than stopping power.”

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news..._ammo_031010w/
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:57 PM
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Arrow 5.56 vs. 6.8 SPC: Which is better and why?

5.56 vs. 6.8 SPC: Which is better and why?
By: Winston Dorian




The military has been using the 5.56 x 45mm cartridge ever since the introduction of the M-16 during the Vietnam War. Prior to that cartridge the standard issue was the Springfield .30-06 dating back to WWI, WWII and Korea. Except for the M-14 which utilizes the 7.62 x 51mm NATO or .308 Win cartridge.

Ever since it's introduction there has been much controversy over it's power and stopping ability. As compared to the other most widley utilized military weapon across the world the AK-47 which uses the 7.62 x 39mm essentially a .30 caliber bullet.

Based on the needs of the military most specifically the special operations groups there was an increased demand for a larger caliber bullet that could be deployed from the highly refined and successful AR paltform.
By late 2004 the 6.8x43mm SPC was said to be performing well in the field against enemy combatants. Special Operations[7] end users were reported to be very pleased with it.
Thus the birth of the 6.8 SPC essentially a .270 caliber bullet in a shorter shell.

Here is an ammunition test and comparison between the two cartridges. The visual comparison is markedly different. VIDEO

A great FAQ site for the 6.8 SPC can be found HERE. This is a one stop shop for anything related to the 6.8 SPC to include ammunition, manufacturers, etc.

68Forums.com is another great site to look at that has good info.

From an AR15 platform the 6.8 SPC is a great cartridge for hunting. For me there is no going back to the 5.56 in an AR platform... the 6.8 SPC Rocks!
In Afghanistan and Iraq, there were many situations where U.S. troops were able to spot enemy fighters at longer ranges (over 500 meters), but were not able to do much damage with their 5.56mm rifles. But Special Forces troops using M-16s modified to handle the new 6.8mm ammo, got much better results at these long ranges.

http://www.strategypage.com/military_photos/688cartridge.aspx
Before Marines in Afghanistan received enhanced 5.56mm rounds last month, an influential four-star general advocated behind the scenes for an option that packs even more punch: 6.8mm ammunition…

The Corps first considered fielding 6.8mm ammo in 2007, after rank-and-file members of Special Operations Command designed it with their command’s approval to address deficiencies with the standard 5.56mm round, Eby said. Neither SOCom nor the Corps fielded it, in part due to the cost and logistics it would have required to make the change.

http://www.examiner.com/article/5-56...better-and-why
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Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


Last edited by Paparock; 12-31-2012 at 11:04 PM..
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Old 12-31-2012, 11:25 PM
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Out of curiosity Paparock, how have co-alition forces had such an excellent record in combat then?

Not the strategy, but in actual combat, Talibs have been slaughtered.

As I recall there was another thread about this or something similar.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knaur View Post
Out of curiosity Paparock, how have co-alition forces had such an excellent record in combat then?

Not the strategy, but in actual combat, Talibs have been slaughtered.

As I recall there was another thread about this or something similar.

One answer was stated in the posted articles. The 5.56MM worked better in Iraq where much of the fighting was in built-up areas where distance were shorter as opposed to Afganistan where combat distances on average take place over longer distances.

One answer was stated in the posted articles. The 5.56MM worked better in Iraq where much of the fighting was in built-up areas where distance were shorter as opposed to Afghanistan where combat distances on average take place over longer distances.

Americans also use optics which aids in hitting over distance. I don’t know about you but I have seen the overgrown .22s effect on flesh and it can be gruesome sometimes and at other times it can ice pick leaving only .22 caliber holes in and out with minimal effect on stopping the person being engaged. There is a reason that special ops have requested and have been authorized larger caliber weapons. If you research the subject you will discover this. The 5.56 was not chosen by the military because of its combat effectiveness out of a competition against other combat rounds. Read the history of the round and discover why it was chosen. I was in the US Army carrying an M14 shooting a 7.62x51MM when it was taken from me and I was issued a M16 jam-a-matic. When it was first issued it did not have a forward assist on it and was very prone to jamming which cost many American soldiers their lives. Again read the history of the rifles introduction to American forces. The range master screamed at me for taking a ready sling on the range saying it would bend the barrel! In my opinion especially the early ones were a piece of crap. While I was in the only 5.56MM I ever cared for at all was the Stoner 63 LMG I got to carry for a while. Otherwise my favorite weapon was an M21 with a Lt. Leatherwood designed 3x9 power scope (based on a Readfield scope) on it (7.62x51MM).

Our military don't only use 5.56MM M-4 carbines as they are only effective to about 200 meters due to their short barrels.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:54 AM
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Thanks, that makes sense.

Quote:
I don’t know about you but I have seen the overgrown .22s effect on flesh and it can be gruesome sometimes and at other times it can ice pick leaving only .22 caliber holes in and out with minimal effect on stopping the person being engaged.
Is .22 considered a man stopping round? As for me, I did have a .22 but I couldn't hit a barn with an RPG, so anything is useless to me.

I know 7.62 rifles have been doubled in A-stan or at least that was the plan.

What is your opinion on the M21 Paparock? There was an M21 sniper who used to host his website and he loved his weapon, but he got out long time ago. He is a Repo man now in Philly

I have seen some crap rifles (in India, an illegal gun can be bought for $2, it has a one shot plastic barrel that may explode in hand also) but never heard of USA having problems to that extent.

Also, not related to topic, but is your opinion on bullpup designs (like FAMAS) and did you serve in Infantry?
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:06 AM
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This is the thread - http://www.israelmilitary.net/showthread.php?t=14116

and a differing step - http://www.israelmilitary.net/showthread.php?t=20270
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:48 PM
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Arrow The M21:

The M21:








Marksmen issued better rifles in Afghanistan


http://www.armytimes.com/news/2010/03/army_m14_032210w/
By Matthew Cox - Staff writer

The Army is doubling the number of 7.62mm weapons in the infantry squad, increasing soldiers’ long-range killing power in the wide-open expanses of Afghanistan.

Since the beginning of the war, a typical nine-man infantry squad has included a single squad-designated marksman, armed with a surplus M14 rifle for engaging the enemy beyond the 300-meter range of M4s and M16s.
Today, squads are deploying to Afghanistan with two SDMs, each armed with the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, a modernized version of the Vietnam War-era weapon that’s accurate out to 800 meters.

“It’s a very precise weapon system,” said Spc. Andrew McMeley, a squad designated marksman serving in Afghanistan with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment. “All the improvements on it are fantastic.”

The EBR features a standard M14 barrel, plus a receiver and trigger assembly that’s fitted with a Sage International adjustable aluminum stock, a Leopold 3.5x10 power scope and Harris bipod legs.

“Units have been requesting this capability for a while,” said Maj. Elliott Caggins, assistant product manager for Sniper Weapons. “It provides more shootability than the old weapon.”

The Army began building 5,000 of these modernized M14s early last year in response to the growing need of infantry squads operating in Afghanistan to engage enemy fighters at longer ranges.

“Comments from returning noncommissioned officers and officers reveal that about 50 percent of engagements occur past 300 meters,” Maj. Thomas Ehrhart wrote in his Nov. 30 position paper “Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer” at the School of Advanced Military Studies at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Many engagements extend out to 800 meters, weapons officials maintain. The shift to these longer-range engagements is forcing the Army to rethink 5.56mm focus in the squad.

“We are looking at 7.62mm in the squad,” said Col. Doug Tamilio, who runs Project Manager Soldier Weapons. “We have always had a policy in a nine-man squad that we would keep 5.56mm flat across that.

“The fight in Afghanistan is showing us that 7.62mm, in certain aspects, is needed and required.”

The idea of supplanting the 5.56mm round in the squad will surely add fuel to soldier criticisms that the 5.56mm is ineffective for today’s battlefield.
Special Operations Command has already adopted this concept with its fielding of a 5.56mm and a 7.62mm version of the Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle.

Despite concerns over the increased weight of the 7.62mm ammunition, Tamilio said, “I think we are starting to think of a mix” of 5.56mm and 7.62mm within the squad.

As a short-term solution, “we have given them EBR14s — two per squad” until the Army develops a standardized squad-designated marksman rifle.
The squad-marksman role was hatched during development of Stryker brigades. Placing specialized shooters in these highly mobile, rapid-deployment units bolsters an individual squad’s precision-shooting capability when snipers are otherwise unavailable.

Infantry units deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq, whose missions in many ways have been expeditionary, have embraced the idea of a precision shooter at the squad level since late 2002.

The EBR effort also illustrates how the M14 has continued to evolve after its brief eight years of service when the M16 replaced it in 1965 as the Army’s standard infantry rifle. Patterned after the popular M1 Garand of World War II and the Korean War, the M14’s robust design features a gas operating rod system, wood stock and 20-round magazine. A more accurate version of the M14 — dubbed the M21 — served as the Army’s official sniper rifle from 1975 until 1988. The M21 featured a more accurate, match-grade, barrel.
The M14 didn’t see widespread conventional use until current combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The M14s, equipped with various commercial optics, have proven highly effective at extending the killing range of the infantry squad. Despite the M14’s popularity, units have been calling for a more modernized design.
The EBR concept, which was first used in 2004 by Navy SEALs, features a rigid, aircraft-grade aluminum chassis that secures the barrel more effectively, helping to increase accuracy, Caggins said. It’s equipped with a Picatinny rail system for mounting lasers, lights and other accessories. There’s also a removable Kydex hand guard that protects the shooter’s nonfiring hand from heat buildup during rapid firing.

The folding stock can be adjusted to different lengths and also has a multiple-position cheek rest for different shooter preferences. This is one of McMeley’s favorite features on the EBR.

“The adjustable cheek piece makes it to where, in a quick reflex situation, when you have a target of opportunity, you can just slap your face up against it and get the same spot on your cheek every single time,” he said. “All this adjustability makes the EBR more comfortable to shoot.”

The EBR also has a M16/M4-style pistol grip.

Weapons officials include a three-day new equipment training program when the EBRs are delivered to a unit. The program includes two days of classroom instruction and one day on the range.

Despite its improved design, the EBR isn’t perfect, weapons officials said. It’s just under 15 pounds unloaded, compared with the standard M14’s unloaded weight of 9 pounds. An unloaded M4 weighs just 6.5 pounds.

“We are looking at making it a little lighter,” Caggins said.

The EBR’s more complex design also makes it difficult to maintain, said Sgt. Paul Bullock, another SDM in B Company.

“The only thing I dislike is that you have to go through so much just to take it apart,” Bullock said.

With the older M14, “You just pull a few things and you’ve got it apart. With this one, you’ve got to take apart seven or eight different screws … I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time pulling it apart and putting it back together. But, the weapon system doesn’t get as dirty as the original so you don’t have to worry about it as much.”

It’s not cheap to produce, either — EBRs cost about $3,000 each.

But weapons officials view the EBR as just another step toward the Army selecting a standardized SDM rifle.

Fort Benning, Ga., officials are working on a requirement for the SDM rifle that should be ready sometime next year, Tamilio said.

Beginning this spring, Benning officials will assess different optics and different weapon systems and try to figure out what is the optimal solution for a squad-designated marksman: what works and what doesn’t work, Tamilio said.

For now, units deploying to the combat zone can request M14 EBRs by submitting an operational needs statement to Army’s office of the G-3, Caggins said.

Currently, the Army has issued about 3,750 of the 5,000 EBRs being built, he said. Units return the EBRs to the Army when they come back from deployment. The weapons are then reissued to other units.

While there is no set deadline for units to submit an ONS before a deployment, Caggins said, “earlier is always better.”

“We haven’t had a problem getting them the weapons before they deploy,” he said. “It’s a relatively quick process.”

__________________
O Israel
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

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  #10  
Old 01-01-2013, 03:59 PM
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Thumbs up M110

M110







M110 SemiAutomatic Sniper System (SASS)Calibre:7.62x51mm NATO (.308 win)Operation:Direct Gas-OperatedFeed:10 or 20 Round Detachable MagazineWeight:13.7 lb (6.23 kg) empty with optics & bipod
Suppressor adds 1.96 lbs (0.89 kg)

Length:42" (1066mm) - no suppressor, stock collapsed
46.5" (1181mm) - With suppressor, stock collapsed
48.25" (1226mm) - With suppresor, stock extendedSights:Leupold Mk4 3.5-10x40mm M2 with Illuminated TMR, earth brown
plus detachable emergency iron sights.Barrel:20" length, 1:11" twist, 5 radial land groovesStock:Adjustable length.Max Effective Range:800+ meters (875 yards) depending on snipers abilityExpected Accuracy:.5-1.0 MOA with M118LR, M118SB, M852

The M24 SWS has been the US Army standard issue Sniper Rifle for over 20 years now and it has done a great job, especially for a quickly developed weapon system. I loved the ones I used during my time and it has had a very successful service life and continues to do so, especially with the recent news that the US Army will be rechambering them in 300 Win Mag. But the recent combat experience in Iraq has changed the operational deployment of snipers within the US Army. The US Army found that their snipers were engaging in much closer and faster paced engagements and many of the sniper teams were getting most of their kills using sound urban sniping tactics combined with their M4 and M16A4 rifles (especially with the 77gr ammo). It became apparent that a new rifle needed to be added to the inventory that would better suit the needs of the modern urban combat zone as well as the traditional sniper role.

The US Army put out a request for proposals and received prototype rifles to be tested for the SemiAutomatic Sniper rifle System (SASS). Knights Armament Company (KAC) has been building the SR25 in various forms, such as the Mk11 Mod 0, for various Special Operations units for a number of years and this experience and history played a role in their rifle being adopted as the XM110 SASS in 2005. The US Army had specific requirements for sound suppressors and other features and the KAC made the required changes to their SR25/Mk11 rifles to meet these requirements. The rifle moved from Experimental (XM110) to standard (M110) a few years after the 2005 adoption date and with it came a few changes including an adjustable buttstock for length of pull only, sling swivel sockets or flush cups, a double sided bolt catch, and a button on the folding front sight to allow it to be locked into position.

After many years of M1C's, M1D'sa>, M21's as the US Army's primary sniper rifle, the M24 SWS was a return to a bolt action sniper rifle for the army. The M110 now brings the Army back into the realm of semiautos. The operation of the M110 is very similar to the M16 which the Army likes to do to reduce required training but there are downsides to a semi-auto. Some of these downsides are that they are not as well suited to the traditional sniper role due to their shape and the fact that they fling brass all over the ground which can compromise your position and potentially leave target identifiers, not to mention getting your ghillie tangled in the action of a semi-auto is never fun. But one of the things the US Army was trying to address was getting more firepower on target with quicker follow up shots which the Semi certainly will do better than a bolt action.

Another new feature with the M110 compared to the M24 is the addition of a suppressor as part of the platform. The combat experience in built up areas (Urban, MOUT) showed the need for suppressors to aide in the protection of the snipers by deception and concealment. The suppressor has developed into an integral part of many sniper teams over the past decade and I feel this is a good move on the part of the Army and the M110 requirements. The M110 suppressor is a stainless steel unit that is 14.25" long and weights 1.96 lbs, is a quick detachable design and is rated at a 30 db reduction. While full power loads do still produce the sonic crack from the bullet, the report of the rifle is greatly reduced and determining the direction of the shooter from just that crack is very difficult. The M110 has a shorter 20" barrel which means that adding the suppressor to the rifle makes it just a few inches longer than the M24 and the weight is very similar. Having that added advantage of the suppressor is nice to have and yet it is also quickly and easily attached, or detached, to the rifle adding additional flexibility to only use it if you need it, though you best keep track of your point of aim change when the suppressor is on vs. when it is not.


The Day Optic Device (DOS) is the Leupold Mk4 3.5-10x40mm with M2 knobs, Illuminated TMR reticle and finished in earth brown. We reviewed this scope a number of years ago here: Mk4 3.5-10x40mm Brown. The M24 used the Leupold Mk4 10x40mm Ultra M3 and it is an excellent scope, very durable and high quality. This new scope on the M110 continues the partnership with Leupold and is a very good scope with good flexibility which includes a BDC elevation knob calibrated for the M118LR ammo. The elevation clicks are .5 MOA per click compared to 1 MOA per click on the M24. This requires that you overlap more than one rotation once you get beyond 800 meters on the BDC. The knobs on the M24 goes to beyond 1000 meters in less than one revolution, but you get the better granularity of adjustment with the M2 knobs on the M110. The scope is also a variable power which is more useful for the defined role the M110 was expected to operate in, closer but more rapid engagements. Being able to dial down to 3.5x gives you a lot bigger field of view but still makes you extremely effective to about 500 meters. The one thing I thought the scope could of benefited from was a FFP reticle so that you could not only mil your targets on any power, but also use your mil hold offs for moving targets, windage, etc. Not to mention, in the stresses of combat, it would be nice not to have to remember what power you are set at when holding off or estimating range.

The reticle on the M110 leupold scope is an illuminated reticle, and yes, it does introduce something else to break in the field, but the reticle will continue to work if the battery dies or the illumnation fails, it just will not be illuminated. The illumination does help with low light conditions, something that is nice for all combat conditions.


For when the light is no longer low, but rather non-existent, the M110 is setup to accept the AN/PVS-26 Universal Night Sight which is mounted in front of Leupold scope. The PVS-26 is a high power night vision scope that essentially adds night vision capability to the standard DOS and does not impact the point of aim of the DOS. When the M24 was designed, this type of technology did not exist, and it is excellent to include it on this rifle. This allows for easy conversion to night capability without altering any zero data. Of course, some weight is added but the increased flexibility and capability of the rifle is another added benefit for the rifle. The full rail along the top of the rifle does allow for the future use of additional new devices in the future to further expand its capability, which of course includes swapping scopes in an emergency or even mission specific DOS.

The US Army actually recommends a break-in period for the M110 which is an indicator that those responsible for the documentation and adoption of the M110 is aware of modern firearms practices. They also have a few other interesting recommendations for the M110 in which they state the barrel life should be better than the 5000 rounds of the M24 (the M24 routinely goes beyond that 5000 rounds). The US Army also advises that to preserve the effectiveness of the QD suppressor, that the sniper not fire more than 20 rounds of sustained fired through the suppressor which equates to 5 rounds a minute for 4 minutes. In a sniping environment that should not be an issue, but there are times in combat where this may become an issue during a firefight. Of course, there is no such limitation when the suppressor is detached.

There is a set of backup iron sights (BUIS) that consists of a rear match grade style peep aperture and front iron sight, both the front and rear sights fold and are fairly accurate. The sights also can stay mounted on the rifle when the scope is mounted and do not interfere with the scope. This is a nice feature to have that the M24 could not do. Not that you use the back up sights much, but it is still nice to be able to zero them, and then leave them mounted when you put the scope on for use when all else fails.

As mentioned earlier, the operation of the M110 is very much like the M16 and will be very familiar to the any soldier, with just a few differences the additional training is quick and the sniper should quickly be up to speed. Accuracy of the M110 has been good with typical accuracy between .5 � 1.0 MOA depending on ammo. The M118 (Special Ball), M118LR and M852 (168gr) ammo have all been approved for use in the M110 and in combat. The max effective range is listed by the US Army as 800 meters or longer depending on the skill level of the shooter. As many 308 shooters know, that max range is largely weather dependent as well, but with M118LR ammo and a good sniper, I would put that max effective range at 1000m or so. These rifles combined with M118LR have been good performers.

One question that was not initially answered with the original order of XM110 and M110 rifles was whether this was a replacement for the M24 or not and the Army was somewhat unclear on the matter. The initial order of M110's was far fewer than there were M24's in service so it was my personal opinion that it was going to be fielded as a complimentary rifle to the M24 and not a replacement. As time went on, the Army was indicating it as a replacement, but yet no M24's were removed from service and the numbers were still far too low to be a replacement. As it turns out, the M24 SWS was recently given new life with the announcement that the M24's would be converted to the 300 Win Mag cartridge and that the M110 and M24 would work side by side. I am not sure how many sniper units will get both systems and exactly what the time frame is on the M24 conversions, but I do know that this tandem of rifles should make an excellent battery of rifles to use for a given sniper team. These two rifles together should cover a very wide assortment of shooting and combat conditions that a sniper team would find itself in.

With the announcement of the M24 conversion to 300 Win Mag also came the adoption of the Mk 248 Mod 1 ammo which uses a 220gr Sierra Match King bullet launched at 2850 fps. This will greatly expand the range of the M24 up to potentially 1500 meters and provide a traditional bolt action sniper rifle. The M110 then will fill the role of a closer in, higher firepower rifle with suppressed capability that will work well in urban, closer range, and more intense combat scenarios. Together, you have a very formidable duo of rifles. I like this setup for our US Army snipers as it provides them with a lot of flexibility and capability, exactly what they need.

__________________
O Israel
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”

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  #11  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:29 PM
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Arrow 6.8mm

6.8MM




6.8 mm SPC History and Development





The light weight and compact size of the 6.8 SPC carbine, opposed to a .308 battle rifle, is appreciated when carrying the rifle afield and employing it quickly.

Since the M16's introduction, soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and civilians have criticized it for being underpowered, more suited for shooting prairie dogs than fighting wars. Although ammunition has improved, the 0.22-inch caliber ultimately limits the amount of lead that can be slung down-range. In spite of this, the M16 and M4 have become the standard by which assault rifles are judged, and the AR-15 has become the ubiquitous American Sport-Utility Rifle.

Just as the War On Terror was getting underway, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) created the Special Purpose Rifle - Variant (SPR-V) program to fill the need for a modular assault rifle capable of shooting 5.56 in addition to 7.62x39mm. With barrel and bolt switched, it was to fire 7.62x39mm from indigenous AK-47 magazines. It needed to retain the characteristics of the M4 and remain compatible with the Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) accessories. Robinson Armament produced the RAV02 and Knights Armament Corp produced the SR-47 in response to the USASOC SPR-V solicitation. Ultimately, the SPR-V program was rolled into the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Special Forces Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) project, and fell victim to politics.



The author's rifle is built on a standard lower with a Magpul M93B stock, 18" Douglas barrel, TA11 ACOG, Troy back-up sights, PRI GenIII float tube and Vortex flash hider.

Even though the project was canceled, Special Forces soldiers had come to realize 7.62x39mm provided increased lethality over 5.56, especially when penetrating barriers.

Troubling reports about 5.56's performance were coming back from the field. Several soldiers had been killed or wounded by Taliban fighters who had already been shot multiple times by the Americans' 5.56 M4 carbines. These failures to incapacitate spurred the 5th Special Forces Group (SFG) to design an "Enhanced Rifle Cartridge" (ERC) to outperform 5.45x39mm, 5.56, 5.8x42mm and 7.62x39mm. MSG Steve Holland (5th SFG (A)) and Cris Murray of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) led the ERC project to provide optimum terminal performance from an M4 with minimal changes to the weapon. Troy Lawton (Chief Ballistics Technician) and Cris Murray (Service Rifle and R&D Gunsmith) of the USAMU assisted in developing loads, and built the rifles for the ERC project.

Cartridge assessment began with the 6mm PPC case, necked up to 6.5mm. The 5th SFG soon discarded the fat PPC case due to poor magazine capacity and insufficient reliability in the M4. Their attention then turned to the .30 Remington case, which is essentially a rimless .30-30 Winchester. Its head and body diameters are larger than 5.56 (0.378 inch), but smaller than 7.62x39mm (0.445 inch). This thoroughly obsolete cartridge was chosen as the parent case because its smaller head diameter (0.422 inch) required less metal to be cut from the bolt head compared to the PPC or 7.62x39mm cases, which improves bolt service life. Several rebated-rim prototypes were created with an SPC body but 5.56's rim (0.378 inch) to utilize unmodified M4 bolts. After trials, it was clear the full-diameter rim helped extraction as compared to the rebated rim design.

Once the case dimensions were tweaked to fit and work in M4-compatible magazines, the project team quickly turned their attention to bore size. Derivative wildcats from 5.56mm to up 7.62mm diameter shooting bullets from 90 to 140 grains were subjected to a battery of tests, and a sweet spot emerged. The 6.5mm bullets showed the best accuracy and the 7mm bullets were the most destructive, but the 0.277-inch bullets showed almost the same accuracy and trajectory as the 6.5mm and almost the terminal performance of the 7mm. When necked down to 0.277-inch and shooting 115-grain bullets, it provided the best combination of combat accuracy, reliability and terminal performance for up to 500 meter engagements. This cartridge was deemed 6.8 Remington Special Purpose Cartridge (SPC), because 0.277 inch is 6.8mm in metric and .30 Remington provided the parent case.

Numerous articles and Internet rumors have suggested that the SPC designation means 6.8 is good only for Close Quarters Battle (CQB), but not distant targets. This is incorrect, and contrary to the intent of the project and capabilities of the cartridge.



In open country where targets often appear beyond 200 yards, 6.8 SPC extends the shooter's ballistic advantage and delivers more power on target than 5.56.

The SPC designation was assigned based on the intended integration into the Mk12 Special Purpose Rifle (SPR). The SPC was designed from the ground up to provide increased energy, barrier penetration, and incapacitation from the Mk12 SPR, from contact distance to 500 meters.

Based on their experience with 7.62x39mm, the project team set a velocity goal of 200fps faster than the AK-47 ammunition from the same barrel length, with a projectile that provided a better ballistic coefficient (BC) and terminal performance. This was achieved very soon into the project using Sierra 115-grain and Hornady 110-grain Open-Tip Match (OTM) bullets. Using Ramshot 1660 powder for initial development, the team easily exceeded the 200fps goal. Shooting from an 18-inch SPR barrel, these loads shot 2635 to 2650fps, 300fps faster than the AK-47.

Unlike military-industrial-complex programs such as the XM-8, the ERC project was driven directly by Special Forces shooters at the spear's tip-- men who had been on the giving and receiving ends of fire. The 6.8 SPC was developed with less than $5,000 initial investment of government funds; later development costs were paid for by industry. This is in stark contrast to top-down "next generation" programs costing the tax-payers millions and rarely producing usable weapons systems.

Following its commercial debut at the 2004 SHOT show, the 6.8 SPC had a slow start in the civilian market because Remington did not deliver ammunition quickly. Producing a load meeting velocity goals without unsafe pressure proved difficult for Remington. Inconsistent brass quality and powder clumping problems caused further delays. They sorted it out and shipped ammo in mid-2005, but the velocity was very slow at under 2500fps.

Although these supply problems caused a lot of "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" about the future of the cartridge, there was a silver lining. The strong interest in an intermediate cartridge with substantially more power than 5.56 spurred several ammunition manufacturers to produce their own brass and ammunition. By early 2006, three separate factories were making 6.8 SPC brass: Silver State Armory, Hornady and Remington; and five manufacturers were shipping loaded ammunition: HSM, Load-X, Remington, Hornady and Silver State Armory (SSA).


In a region where conventional rifle choices rule, the author bagged this healthy Wisconsin doe at 30 yards with his 6.8 SPC carbine shooting the 110-grain Sierra Pro-Hunter.

The future of 6.8 SPC in the military is clouded by high-level politics and big money. Many in the military-industrial complex have been trying to figure out how to profit from this grassroots epiphany. In just a few months, soldiers and technicians revolutionized the capabilities of the M4 and AR-15, drawing from their thorough understanding of ballistics, marksmanship, weapons platform, and real-life combat performance of 5.56 and 7.62x39mm. Various units throughout the U.S. Military are testing it now- officially or not. Even if the "Big Army" isn't sure if it wants 6.8 SPC, the shooters already know they do. On the civilian side, several large Federal, State, and local law-enforcement agencies are interested and are currently testing it.

6.8 SPC shoots minute-of-angle or better at both 100 and 600 yards, similar in accuracy to the 77-grain Mk262 5.56 from the SPR. Converting the M4 or M16 is easy, and can be done at the armorer level by switching out only the barrel and bolt, and replacing the user's magazines. Furthermore, any weapons system chambered in 5.56 can be converted in a similar fashion, including the current SOF 5.56 rifles: M4, M16, Mk12 SPR, Mk18 and HK416; and future systems like the Mk16 SCAR-L and the XM-8. 6.8 SPC is the clear upgrade path of these weapons to provide increased lethality. Sierra, Hornady, and X-Treme provide land-warfare legal projectiles which show nearly ideal terminal performance. Silver State Armory has developed two armor piercing (A.P.) projectiles specifically for 6.8 SPC: one has a tungsten core similar to M995 and meets the M995 military spec for armor penetration at 100 meters; the other has a steel core similar to the old .30-06 M2 A.P. "black tip".

With the current emphasis on urban warfare and in particular shooting from vehicles, short-barreled weapons are necessary. Because wrestling a 30-inch M4 is impractical inside a vehicle, short ten and 12-inch carbines have become popular. Unfortunately, these short barrels simply cannot deliver the velocity required for 5.56 fragmentation; they produce little more than 0.22-inch "ice pick" holes. If converted to 6.8 SPC, these same ten to 12-inch carbines would produce dramatically better terminal performance, especially at longer distances. 6.8 SPC is a natural match for CQB where immediate stopping power is needed in short and maneuverable weapons.

For police departments, 6.8 SPC provides substantially more "stopping power" per good hit than 5.56, reducing the number of rounds required to end the fight. This is an important consideration when each errant round is a legal liability. It also offers much better intermediate barrier penetration than 5.56, which allows an officer to shoot through glass, car doors, and other light cover. One potential downside in a law-enforcement "entry" scenario is that 6.8 SPC will penetrate more interior walls than 5.56, which might put building occupants in adjacent rooms at increased risk. With its sub-minute accuracy and superior terminal performance even from short barrels, an officer can use the same platform for entry, sniper, over-watch and patrol.



The shooter uses his Kifaru Express pack in an improvised prone position, to make hits on silhouette targets out to 600 yards sighting through the 3.5x Trijicon ACOG.

My experience shooting 6.8 SPC has been with a custom upper built by Mid-South Tactical Network (MSTN), configured with an 18-inch Douglas barrel, a mid-length gas system and a GenIII PRI float tube. The muzzle device is a Vortex flash hider, but any attachment with a .277-inch hole and the standard 5/8-24 threads may be used, such as a sound suppressor. The primary optic is a Trijicon TA11 ACOG on a LaRue Tactical mount, but Troy back-up iron sights are installed "just in case". With a trajectory similar to 75 or 77-grain .223, the same holds are used for distant targets as a 16 or 18-inch .223 shooting heavy ammunition. The 18-inch 6.8 SPC is reliable and accurate. The recoil impulse is similar to 5.56 with a healthier push into the shoulder. With the upper swapped onto a Colt M4 lower, 6.8 SPC is controllable in full-auto, though it requires a good stance and grip.

AR-15 uppers and complete rifles are available from many sources. Barrett was first to announce a complete 6.8 SPC rifle, while PRI was offering complete uppers. Model 1 Sales, DPMS, Ameetec, Olympic Arms and Stag Arms followed. Custom uppers are available from low-volume, high-quality (and high price) vendors like MSTN and Noveske Rifleworks. Remington has a version of its bolt-action Light Tactical Rifle (LTR) in 6.8 SPC, Browning offers its A-Bolt and Thompson/Center has 6.8 SPC barrels available for their G2 Contender and Encore.

The 6.8 SPC case is 43mm long, has a 0.020-inch taper over its length and a 23-degree shoulder. The bullet diameter, 0.277 inch, is identical to the popular .270 Winchester. Commercial cartridges are loaded to 2.260 inch, to assure feeding through a variety of weapons.

Factory loads shoot 110 or 115-grain bullets at 2550 to 2650fps from 16 to 18-inch barrels. Ballistic trajectory is very similar to 75 or 77-grain .223, or 150-grain .308 loads from 18 to 20-inch barrels. Silver State Armory developed a load with a new 115-grain copper-plated lead flat-point bullet engineered specifically for 6.8 SPC by X-Treme bullet. Instead of a costly copper jacket, the lead projectile is plated with copper, producing a bullet that appears like a TMJ, but has terminal performance similar to the best OTMs. The SSA 115-grain X-Treme load shoots 2625fps from a 16-inch barrel, and their 115-grain Sierra MatchKing (SMK) load shoots 2640fps from the same barrel length. The Hornady 110-grain V-MAX shoots 2550fps from a 16-inch barrel. Remington 115-grain OTM ammunition chronographed at 2500fps from my 18-inch barrel in late 2005.



6.8 SPC takes full advantage of the modularity of the AR-15 design; a 6.8 SPC upper can be used on any standard complete lower.

The cost of ammunition has been a point of contention, with people stating that they won't buy a 6.8 SPC upper until they can find ammunition as cheap as 5.56 surplus at their local gun shop. Until economies of scale drive down the cost of production, shooters will not see dirt-cheap blasting ammunition, however, 6.8 SPC can already be found at many local gun shops around the country-- even at some Wal-Marts. Silver State Armory's 115-grain TMJ loaded ammunition is about $12 per 20, or 25 percent cheaper than .308 match ammunition.

Reloaders have an easy time with 6.8 SPC. Excellent bullet choices include the Hornady 115-grain OTM and 110-grain V-MAX, the Sierra 115-grain SMK and 110-grain Pro-Hunter JSP and the 110-grain Barnes TSX, but any 0.277-inch bullet may be used. Brass is available from Silver State Armory and Remington, both of which use large primer pockets. The Hornady brass, currently only available in loaded ammunition, uses small primer pockets, which should provide more case head strength. The developers of 6.8 SPC originally chose small primer pockets, however Remington suggested using large primers for absolute reliability in extreme cold. Later testing showed that small primers were virtually as reliable.

Powder selection for maximum velocity is more difficult than .223 or .308 because the 6.8 SPC has less case volume compared to its bore area. Hodgdon H322 and Alliant Reloder 10X produced the best combination of accuracy and velocity in my barrel with the V-MAX bullet. Other notable powder choices include Vihtavuori N130 and N133, AA 2230 and Winchester 748. Any large rifle primers will work in the Remington and SSA brass. Sub-minute accuracy was easy to achieve with neither elaborate brass preparation nor a lot of load "tweaking". In short, it is a forgiving cartridge.

While 6.8 SPC can be chambered in almost any 7.62x39mm or 5.56 rifle, or Contender pistols, the most compelling platform is the AR-15 because of the SPC's heritage. An AR-15 chambered for 6.8 SPC requires only a new barrel, a new bolt cut to accept the larger case head diameter and new magazines. Standard complete AR-15 lowers require no modifications, and 6.8 SPC uppers are built on standard stripped upper receivers.

Just after 6.8 SPC's announcement, rumors flew that USGI M16 magazines would feed 6.8 SPC with little or no modification. This unfortunately turned out to be false. After five or six 6.8 SPC cartridges are loaded into a USGI magazine, they begin to bind up; after seven or eight, the magazine walls will bow out wider than the receiver's magazine well will allow.

Precision Reflex Inc (PRI) solved the problem by designing a magazine specifically for the new cartridge. Their magazines have narrower ribs than USGI magazines to accept the larger body diameter of 6.8 SPC cases, while keeping the same external dimensions for weapon compatibility. The PRI design uses steel thinner than the aluminum used for USGI magazines and flat-ground welds to join the two halves in manufacture, instead of the overlapping spot welds found in USGI magazines. As a result, the maximum possible cartridge over-all length (COAL) is increased to about 2.310 inches from about 2.245 inches in USGI magazines. A 6.8 SPC magazine of about the same dimensions as the 30-round USGI magazine holds 25 rounds, while a smaller version holds 15. PRI offers five and ten-round magazines to satisfy some local legal requirements. C Products LLC has just developed a 6.8 SPC magazine, which should ship April 2006.

Most civilian shooters won't be doing urban CQB or 600 yard engagements in the Afghan mountains, however the 6.8 SPC is perfectly suited to more mundane uses. Intermediate-power cartridges like .257 Roberts, .250/3000, .300 Savage and most notably .30-30 have been used for over a hundred years to harvest deer and other North-American game. The 6.8 SPC fits right in with these venerable choices. While an anti-personnel round should have dramatic fragmentation and 12-inch minimum penetration, most big-game hunters want a bullet which will penetrate the muscle and bone of a deer's shoulder and still produce an exit wound for tracking. This suggests that a good choice for deer would be a stoutly-constructed bullet, such as the new 110-grain Barnes TSX, made entirely of a copper alloy.

Bucking conventional choices, an AR-15 chambered in 6.8 SPC makes an excellent hunting rifle. Legal even in states with a 0.243-inch minimum caliber, it provides a compact and lightweight package. A 16-inch carbine with a collapsible stock and iron sights or a compact optic is a good recipe for the stalking or stand hunting typical of the East and Midwest where average shots are often 50 yards. 6.8 SPC carbines have successfully harvested deer for the last several years, at distances as far as 300 yards. Many American rifle hunters are sending the gun makers photos and stories of their accomplishments with 6.8 SPC on mule deer, pronghorn, antelope, caribou, hogs, coyotes, and wild dog packs.

For years, shooters chatting at the range or on the Internet have discussed what they "wished the AR-15 could do" and decried its diminutive 5.56 cartridge. With the advent of 6.8 SPC, fans of the "Black Rifle" are realizing it is now in a new category-- a real game-stopper and man-stopper. The soldiers of the Special Forces and the USAMU have opened the door to revolutionary capability in the AR-15; all shooters need to do is step through and start lighting primers.

Caliber Comparison Chart Muzzle 200 yards 400 yards velocity drop velocity drop velocity .223 55gr M193 3070 fps 2.2 inches 2353 fps 27.8 inches 1743 fps .223 77gr OTM 2670 fps 3.3 inches 2216 fps 32.7 inches 1810 fps 6.8 SPC 115gr SMK 2650 fps 3.5 inches 2143 fps 35.4 inches 1677 fps 6.8 SPC 110gr V-MAX 2650 fps 3.3 inches 2208 fps 33.1 inches 1811 fps 7.62x39mm 2300 fps 5.9 inches 1787 fps 53.8 inches 1368 fps .308 168gr SMK 2600 fps 3.4 inches 2235 fps 32.3 inches 1891 fps Typical trajectory information from carbines with drop and velocity calculated at sea level with a 100 yard zero.

HORNADY 6.8 SPC AMMUNITION



Hornady built their 6.8 SPC ammunition from the ground up, manufacturing their own brass and designing a new 110-grain bullet for better trajectory and barrier penetration.

Hornady Manufacturing Corporation has been involved with the 6.8 SPC project from the begining, when MSG Steve Holland (5th SFG (A)) approached them to develop a bullet specifically for the new cartridge. The bullet needed to provide a high ballistic coefficient (BC) for long-range trajectory and to carry more energy to the target, and it needed to be legal for land warfare.

Shooters are accustomed to hearing that "hollow-points are illegal" for military use. This dates back to the 1899 and 1907 Hague Conventions, which outlawed the use of bullets "calculated to cause unnecessary suffering". In 1990, U.S. Military lawyers published a Memorandum of Law which determined that "open-tip match" (OTM) bullets such as the 175-grain Sierra MatchKing are legal under the law of war because they are designed for long-range accuracy, not for bullet fragmentation. The open-tip jacket design is a consequence of manufacturing a bullet with a very uniform base, aiding accuracy. Legal arguments aside, the result is that before a bullet can be used in war by the U.S. Military, the JAG Corps must review and approve it. This is a critical step in getting new ammunition into the hands of U.S. Military forces.



The Hornady 110-grain OTM ammunition uses small primers, and has crimped primer pockets for reliability in auto-loading rifles. The head-stamp reads "HORNADY 6.8mm REM SPC."

At the request of MSG Holland, Hornady developed a 115-grain OTM bullet. It had a cannelure ring so the rounds could be crimped, to prevent bullet set-back in recoil or while feeding. Since its introduction, Hornady has been selling these bullets to Remington for use in their factory ammunition. The 115-grain Hornady OTM was the first bullet for 6.8 SPC approved by JAG for use in war.

Hornady continued providing the 115-grain OTM bullet to Remington for several years, with no other involvement in 6.8 SPC. Known for doing exemplary product development, Hornady received many requests for 6.8 SPC ammunition. In late 2004, they made a decision to go ahead, and Hornady's ballisticians started to look at all aspects of the cartridge. Their goal was to produce ammunition that would work reliably in all 6.8 SPC weapons, from 10-inch full-auto "entry" carbines up to 20-inch rifles.

Starting with the case and primer, they determined that a small rifle primer is a better choice for 6.8 SPC. Hornady Vice President of Sales and Marketing Wayne Holt states that a large primer in 6.8 SPC contributes to premature unlocking of the AR-15 action. Since nobody else made brass with small primer pockets, Hornady went ahead and tooled up to make it themselves.

Hornady then used their expertise in computer modeling to find the best bullet design. The result was a 110-grain OTM bullet with a very sharp ogive; it appears almost as a spire point instead of a rounded curve to the bullet tip. The bullet was designed for improved terminal performance after passing through intermediate barriers, such as interior walls or car doors. This bullet is not designed for pure target-shooting performance; it sacrifices a slight edge in accuracy to designs like the Sierra MatchKing in favor of increased lethality. The BC of the new 110-grain OTM is 0.360.

Moving to the powder mixture, 6.8 SPC presents the challenge of limited case capacity. To achieve maximum velocity in a given pressure envelope, a slower-burning powder must be used, but doing so can run up against the case capacity limit. Furthermore, the powder must present a pressure profile such that enough gas pressure and dwell time are produced to run the various different configurations offered by rifle manufacturers. Besides maximum pressure, the ammunition must not generate excess bolt thrust, which can cause weapon failure over time. Hornady is also using a powder formulated for low-muzzle flash, which is especially important for short-barreled rifles.

The end result is a load designed to work in any 6.8 SPC rifle, from 10-inch full-auto entry carbine to a 16-inch semi-auto for home-defense, ranch use, or law-enforcement patrol. To verify function in the wide variety of 6.8 SPC weapons available, Hornady ran their ammunition through samples of every 6.8 SPC AR-15 upper they could get their hands on. These uppers differ primarily in gas port location and diameter, as well as chamber dimensions.Besides the new 110-grain OTM load, Hornady also offers a load using their 110-grain V-MAX bullet. This bullet is much more frangible than the OTM, and would make a good choice for small to medium game, or for defense use when over-penetration is a concern.

Hornady sent me a couple cases of their 110-grain OTM loading to test. From the box, the cartridges were clean and consistent. The primers are crimped, and the case mouths are crimped into the the bullets' cannelure to ensure reliable function in semi and full-auto weapons. The other striking feature is that the bullets taper sharply with almost a spire point shape.

I tested the Hornady ammunition in three 6.8 SPC rifles: the Stag Model 5, the Barrett M468, and a custom MSTN upper. To determine the baseline performance, I shot it through an Oehler model 35P chronograph. Between the two 16-inch and the one 18-inch upper, the ammunition clocked at 2518 to 2564 feet per second (fps). The standard deviation was less than 10 fps in each case, an indicator of consistent ammunition.

To test the accuracy of the Hornady ammunition, I shot a series of five-shot groups through each upper, from bags on a cement bench at 100 meters. The wind was five to 15 miles-per-hour, and unfortunately the Barrett upper had to be tested in different conditions from the other two uppers. The accuracy across the different uppers was consistent, with the best group from each about 1.0 MOA. The average group size was about a minute and a half across.

A compact bolt-action chambered in 6.8 SPC can make a good hunting or short-range precision rifle for law enforcement. I had a friend of mine shoot the Hornady ammunition through his Remington LTR. Its 20-inch barrel gained approximately 50 fps over the 18-inch upper. Accuracy through the Nikon Tactical 4-16x50mm scope was slightly better than the AR-15 uppers at 0.88 MOA center to center.


At the end of the day, the three rifles ran flawlessly on the Hornady ammunition. Starting properly lubed, none of them required cleaning throughout the exercise.

To determine the reliability of the Hornady 110-grain OTM, several other shooters and I ran the remaining ammunition through the three 6.8 SPC uppers in some practical exercises. Getting the rifles hot and dirty with repeated aimed fire drills puts more stress on the weapons, magazines, and ammunition, than shooting from the bench or slow target shooting. The Hornady ammunition performed flawlessly in all three uppers. Examination of the fired brass revealed no over-pressure indicators.

Though it took Hornady just over a year to bring their 6.8 SPC ammunition to market, that development time was well-spent. The 110-grain OTM ammunition was designed around the end-users' requests for a consistent load that would function with 100 percent reliability in all rifles and provide improved terminal performance. When asked if any new loadings are in the works, Wayne Holt said that Hornady is willing to develop them if there is market demand.

My final thoughts? Hornady has built an excellent round for the 6.8 SPC cartridge. Although its suggested price of $22 a box is not ideal for plinking, anyone who is looking for a defensive or duty loading for a 6.8 SPC carbine should consider the Hornady ammunition.

TABLE Hornady 110gr OTM Average group Best group Velocity S.D. size (MOA) size (MOA) (fps) (fps)Barrett M468* 1.39 0.98 2518 8MSTN 18-inch 1.68 1.09 2564 10Stag Model 5 1.61 1.02 2535 8Remington LTR n/a 0.88 2612 11* Testing of the M468 upper and the Remington LTR were done in different environmental conditions than the other two rifles.

STAG ARMS MODEL 5 CARBINE in 6.8 SPC



The Stag Model 5 carbine loaded with the Hornady 110-grain OTM make an economical and powerful combination for patrol or home-defense.

Anticipating the 2004 sunset of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, shooters put off buying AR-15s. This caused a stall in business for one of the largest manufacturers of AR-15 parts, leaving personnel and machines idle. Stag Arms President Mark Malkowski took the opportunity to spin off a subsidiary from the precision manufacturing firm which had been making aerospace and small arms parts for over 30 years. A left-handed shooter himself, he saw an opportunity in the market for a true left-handed AR-15, with left-handed controls and ejection.

With a forging made and tools set up to build the left-handed parts, Malkowski had a couple prototypes assembled. The employees of Stag Arms "tested the hell out of" the left-handed rifles, and worked all the bugs out using the first two prototypes. A run of a thousand rifles was made, and sales were fantastic.



The Stag Arms Model 5 6.8 SPC carbine, shown here in factory configuration, provides a compact and lightweight platform for the hard-hitting 6.8 SPC cartridge.

After this dramatic entry into the commercial AR-15 market, Stag Arms then turned its attention to more conventional rifle configurations, as well as some new ideas. Based in New Britain, Connecticut, Stag Arms offers a full line of 16 and 20-inch AR-15 rifles in both left-handed and right-handed configurations, along with AR-15 parts. Eighty-percent of the parts in each Stag rifle are manufactured by Stag Arms in New Britain. They primarily serve the commercial market, however, they do have law-enforcement and international customers.

Stag Arms sent me a right-handed version of their Model 5 carbine. It is built around an A3 flat-top receiver, and has a 16-inch M4-profile chrome-lined barrel, chambered in 6.8 Remington SPC. The rifling twist is one turn in ten inches to stabilize 6.8 SPC's 90 to 130-grain bullets. The muzzle is covered by an A2 flash hider. Stag Arms uses a one-half inch by 36 thread pattern, which is a standard for 9mm, to prevent 5.56 muzzle devices from being used on the larger caliber.

The Model 5 has carbine-length M4-style hand-guards with heat shields, and a fixed A2 front sight tower. The rear sight is a detachable carry handle. Stag provided a simple and innovative side-sling swivel inside the front sight tower, for modern sling usage. The lower is a standard AR-15 lower receiver manufactured by Stag Arms, however, it is marked "MODEL STAG-6.8 CAL 6.8 MM". A six-position telescoping stock finishes out the carbine. One 25-round PRI 6.8 SPC magazine was included.

The Stag carbine exhibits good fit and finish. There is no play between upper and lower, yet the take-down pins are removable without tools. The black finish is consistent and durable over the entire weapon. The trigger is a standard military single-stage with a clean break, all other controls operate freely. In short, it's put together exactly right.



Even though the lower is identical to a 5.56 lower receiver, the roll-mark, "MODEL STAG-6.8 CAL 6.8 MM", is a nice touch.

I took a twofold approach to evaluating the carbine. First, I established its reliability and accuracy with various types of ammunition; second, I had several experienced shooters run the carbine through a variety of practical shooting problems. This is no bench or competition rifle, it is set up like a military M4. Accuracy testing was done at 100 meters, shooting from bags on a cement bench, using a 3.5 power Trijicon ACOG. The ACOG was switched out in favor of an EOTech Holosight for the "practical" portion of the testing, a natural match for the lightweight Stag carbine.

While some contend that an AR-15 should be afforded a "break in" period, I believe an AR-15 should run properly when taken from its box and lubed. Malfunctions in the first 20 rounds may indicate problems that will return in the future, when the weapon is subjected to abnormal operating conditions. This turned out to be moot as the Stag carbine ran like a champ from the start.

To test the accuracy of the Stag carbine, I shot a series of five to ten, five-shot groups with each of the Hornady 110-grain OTM, Silver State 115-grain SMK, and Silver State 110-grain Pro-Hunter factory ammunition, and my reloads. The Stag carbine had no problem shooting consistent 0.75 to 1.75 minute of angle (MOA) groups at 100 meters. The winds during the accuracy testing were pretty typical for my high-plains locale, variable five to 15 mph. I did notice that as the chrome-lined barrel had more rounds fired, it seemed to settle down and provide better groups on average than when new. Throughout the over 200 rounds fired in the accuracy tests, the reliability of the Stag carbine was consistent.

Static accuracy and reliability tests serve their purpose, but the M4-style Stag carbine is designed for light weight and maneuverability in practical applications like defense and sport. To get a feeling for how the Stag carbine performs in its natural setting, three other competitive shooters and I shot the Stag carbine side by side with other rifles in a practical shooting course requiring speed, accuracy, and movement. The comparison rifles were: a 20-inch AR-15A2 in .223 set up with iron sights and a JP Enterprises BC muzzle compensator; a 16-inch AK-47 in 7.62x39mm; a 16-inch Barrett M468 in 6.8 SPC; and a 18-inch MSTN in 6.8 SPC with a MSTN QC muzzle compensator.



The Model 5's hand-guards are easy to grasp, and their metal heat-shields are welcome during rapid-fire drills. The carbine proved reliable even when its barrel was too hot to touch.

The first course of fire comprised four steel silhouette targets arranged at 40 yards, which the shooter engaged once each from three positions: through a low port, touching a barricade, and over a tire. The positions were about five yards apart, so the shooters had to move. The Stag 6.8 SPC carbine was very handy for this course of fire. Its light weight, natural pointing, and short length were advantages which helped the shooters transition to the next target after each shot, and move quickly to the next position.

After shooting the first drill, we decided to use another test to focus more on the specific handling characteristics of the rifles. Starting with the muzzle touching the barricade, the shooter was to double-tap each steel target once, for a total of 8 shots on the four targets. This drill exposed the recoil characteristics of the different rifles, how much the sight picture was disturbed, and target transition handling. Here, the Stag carbine's light weight and A2 flash hider worked against it, bouncing us around noticeably more than the other rifles. We had to deliberately slow down and man-handle the gun to stay on target for the second shots, compared to the other rifles which generally stayed on target and didn't push the shooter around in recoil.

The Stag carbine provided no surprises for shooters familiar with the AR-15, and that's exactly what we wanted to see. Build quality is high, and everything is put together right. It runs reliably and makes hits easily. This is no bench-rest gun, it is a light-weight carbine designed to be handy in the field and provide substantially more performance than 5.56. We found the Stag carbine quick to maneuver during the practical exercises. Its reliability was excellent, with no malfunctions shooting the Hornady and Silver State Armory ammunition. It should be noted that the Stag carbine was only lubed at the begining and not cleaned throughout the day.

If pressed for a complaint, it would be that the muzzle threads are 1/2-36, which prevents the use of some muzzle devices such as the MSTN QC compensator and standard .30 caliber sound suppressors. With the increased recoil of 6.8 SPC, shooters may prefer a brake or compensator instead of a standard A2 style flash hider. Stag Arms reports they are looking into a standard thread pattern to address this issue. While the Stag carbine lagged behind the other rifles in the second course of fire due to recoil handling, it should be noted that the other three rifles all had muzzle compensators instead of flash-hiders and were also more than twice as expensive.

A shooter engages four targets through the low port. To speed target acquisition, the Stag carbine was equipped with an EOTech Holosight on a LaRue Tactical mount.

The Model 5 6.8 SPC carbine has a MSRP of $1220 with the detachable carry handle.

Although the Stag Arms brand is relatively new, they are backed by over 30 years of precision manufacturing experience in both aerospace and small arms components, and this attention to detail shows in their rifles. The Stag Model 5 carbine is well-built and reliable, and would make a good choice for home defense, a ranch rifle, hunting, or law-enforcement patrol.Stag Model 5 Specifications Weight 7.1 lbs Barrel 16 inches Twist 1/10 inch Caliber 6.8 Remington SPC Upper A3 Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum Buttstock Collapsible 6 position Rear Sight Removable carry handleStag Model 5 Test Results

Average Accuracy Best Accuracy Velocity Velocity (MOA) (MOA) Standard DeviationHornady 110-grain OTM 1.61 1.01 2535 8SSA 110-grain Pro-Hunter 1.72 1.45 2558 23SSA 115-grain SMK 1.49 0.74 2523 14Course of fire #1 - Movement Fastest ... ... Slowest Shooter #1 ... M468 Stag AK-47 12.25 12.64 16.42 (seconds) Shooter #2 ... Stag MSTN AR-15A2 M468 13.38 13.56 14.9 14.96 (seconds) Shooter #3 ... M468 Stag AK-47 12.03 12.68 13.85 (seconds) Shooter #4 ... AK-47 Stag M468 AR-15A2 11.97 12.49 12.57 12.63 (seconds)Times averaged over several runs.Course of fire #2 - Acquisition and Transition Fastest ... ... Slowest Shooter #2 ... AR-15A2 M468 Stag 3.26 3.49 4.52 (seconds) Shooter #4 ... M468 AR-15A2 MSTN Stag 3.08 3.1 3.37 3.51 (seconds)Times averaged over several runs.


An empty case becomes visible just as it is ejected. Here, the author uses the Troy Industries flip-up rear sight, as a shooter would do if the primary optic failed.



The 6.8 SPC carbine required a firm grip and solid shooting platform to stay on-target during recoil. Shooters reported 6.8's recoil felt more like 7.62x39mm than 5.56.


http://demigodllc.com/articles/6.8-m...-arms-carbine/
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Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


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Arrow M16/AR15 as a Sniper or Designated Marksman Rifle

M16/AR15 as a Sniper or Designated Marksman Rifle


https://762precision.wordpress.com/a...arksman-rifle/

I deployed to Iraq with an infantry company that was attached to different infantry brigade. They were to supply our company with weapons and equipment, but as our deployment date came nearer, we had not received our sniper rifles. A sniper instructor recommended that I purchase a varmint upper for my M4. (At this time infantry and cavalry units of the 3rd Infantry Division and others were purchasing similar uppers from their unit funds for issue to their squad designated marksmen.) I contacted M & A Parts and ordered a Lewis Machine and Tool 20″ varmint upper, bolt and carrier, and bipod. I specified 1 in 8 twist rifling to best stabilize the 77gr. Mk 262 LR 5.56 ammunition. I purchased an IOR 2.5-10×42 tactical scope with MP8 illuminated reticle. At the time, variations of that general type of weapon were loosely designated Mk12 rifles, although the concrete specs for the current Mk12 SPR were solidifying. I have made the following observations after using this weapon system in Iraq as a company level sniper.

Military
The M16/AR-15 based sniper weapon system is ideal for company level snipers and for squad designated marksmen. The sniper or DM is able to field a highly accurate sniper rifle that fires the same caliber ammunition as of the rest of his squad carries. A company level sniper or SDM must also be able to operate with his unit and fill a standard infantry role as a squad member. A traditional bolt-action sniper weapon is not ideal for clearing buildings and other close-in work that is common on today’s battlefields. I quickly found that the 20″ bull barreled M16, while heavier than an M4, is short and light enough that the shooter can dial the scope down to 2.5 power for CQB type work and yet quickly be ready to engage long distance targets. I found that the heavy barrel stabilized the rifle and I could fire slightly faster and more accurately than I could with the short M4 upper. Controls are familiar to anyone who has trained with the M16 family of weapons. Because the rifle looks similar to rifles carried by the other infantrymen, the sniper is not as likely to stand out as a target.

The M16 based sniper rifle is also ideal as a spotter’s weapon. The spotter then has the defensive firepower of light semi-auto, with long-range capabilities to match his training should the need arise. The rifle can also be used as a backup for the sniper’s rifle should it become disabled for any reason.

I was later issued a Barrett XM107 .50 cal. rifle and found that the match upper on the M4 lower was a perfect companion to the heavy rifle, giving the option of engaging hard or long-range targets with the .50 and soft short to medium range targets with the 5.56. This combination also allows a sniper to have a sniper rifle ready while moving into position with the Barrett in its case. Once again, the sniper has a backup option if his main weapon is disabled.

Law Enforcement
Law enforcement snipers often operate at closer ranges than military snipers. Their missions often involve more precise planning and shooting due to concerns about over-penetration and proximity of threats to civilians. While definitely falling short for tasks such as glass or barrier penetration, the better 5.56 ammunition is often ideal for close-in situations where over-penetration is an issue. The 5.56 also offers the advantage of faster followup shots, as the sight picture remains stationary and the shooter can observe hits through the scope.

It is possible to build a highly accurate rifle on the M16/AR15 platform at very little cost; a very important consideration for law enforcement agencies on a limited budget. Because of limitations of the caliber, a law enforcement team would want to field a .308 or similar caliber rifle as well.

Accuracy from the AR Platform
When I first joined the military I had very little respect for the M16. I grew up reading about soldiers and marines who battled German and Japanese soldiers with Garand rifles, routed the hun with bayonet-tipped Springfields, and charged up San Juan hill with Krag carbines. I owned each of the above rifles and an assortment of mausers and other classic rifles. Those were rifles. M16s were toys.

The performance of the worn-out old M16 I shot in basic training did nothing to impress me. The FN manufactured M16A2 I was issued several years later was far more accurate, but I still had no desire to own one. About this time I started hearing soldiers who were into long range shooting talk about AR rifles that they built for that purpose. The long range and varmint hunting crowd had discovered something that the military was slow to recognize; by an accident of design, the M16/AR15 rifle is an ideal platform upon which to build a highly accurate rifle.

In the AR rifle the barrel is threaded to the barrel extension, which functions as the receiver on a traditional rifle does. Headspace is set between the barrel and the barrel extension. The bolt locks into the barrel extension when it is in battery, and this group of parts lock together to contain the cartridge in the chamber and guide the bullet toward the target.

In any rifle, accuracy is largely the result of the perfect alignment of the bolt, barrel, and receiver, and the quality of the barrel. Interference with the barrel is generally detrimental to accuracy. Much time and expense is spent on truing and matching the mating surfaces of these parts when accurizing a bolt rifle.

In the AR rifle, the upper receiver is simply a housing for the bolt and carrier and an attachment point for the barrel. The barrel, barrel extension, and bolt are locked together. The upper receiver touches only the barrel extension where the barrel is held in place by the barrel nut. The bolt floats in the bolt carrier, which floats in the upper receiver. This allows the bolt to align itself perfectly with the face of the barrel. Attempts to tighten the fit of parts in the upper receiver have often decreased accuracy.

The beauty of this design is that free-floating a quality barrel in an AR rifle results in accuracy that rivals very expensive finely tuned bolt-action rifles.

Accurately Shooting Stock Military Rifles
Not everyone will have the luxury of a free-floating match barrel on their M16 rifle. The military is generally pretty uptight about soldiers modifying their weapons, with good reason. Law enforcement personnel are often stuck with what their agency purchased in the past or was handed down to them as surplus by the federal government. When I was deployed our designated marksmen fielded standard M16A4 rifles topped with ACOG optics.

The military has a long history of doing their best to hide the accuracy potential of the M16. The first rifles had pencil-thin barrels. The government recognized this deficiency and increased the diameter of the barrels – except for the part of the barrel under the handguard, which remained thin to save weight and so that the M203 grenade launcher could be installed. The handguards are attached by the delta ring on the barrel nut in the rear and to the barrel in the front with the thin part of the barrel between. The sling is attached to the barrel in the front. This design is the cause of the generally poor accuracy of service rifles. These rifles themselves are not necessarily inaccurate: shooters are taught to fire them an a way that hurts accuracy.

We know that the barrel is very thin under the handguards. Therefore we know that anything that puts pressure on the barrel forward of the handguards will probably affect the point of impact. Two things contact the barrel forward of the thin section at all times; the handguards and the sling. To avoid influencing the barrel, the shooter must simply avoid putting pressure on the handguards or sling.

If possible, avoid attaching a sling to the forward sling swivel at all. If the armorer can be persuaded, have the forward sling swivel removed. A single-point sling can be utilized, or a two or three-point sling that is attached to a band that is wrapped around near the delta ring. Obviously utilizing a sling for shooting is not an option. If a sling must be attached to the forward swivel, allow the sling to hang free so that it puts a minimal amount of tension on the barrel.

Do not touch the handguards. Do not allow anything else to touch the handguards. When firing without a rest, hold the rifle by the front of the magwell with the off hand. When firing from a rest, rest the rifle on the magazine, not the forearm. I was originally taught to avoid resting a rifle on a magazine, but I have since seen thousands of rounds fired from M16s and M4s rested on their magazines with few malfunctions, and none that I thought resulted from a magazine rest. (Since this article was written, FAB Defense and the Mako Group have introduced a new accessory, the MWG, to turn the magazine well into a forward vertical grip. See the article on it here)

Take a rifle with a military barrel contour, hold the receiver so that it cannot move, and pull down on the barrel with one finger. You will be shocked to see how much the barrel moves. If the barrel moves while shooting with iron sights, the front sight moves as well and will partially compensate for the variation. If optics are employed, the variation will be much more evident downrange. Some sniper instructors did a demonstration while training designated marksmen that really drove these points home. They took a good shooter and had him zero his rifle resting on the magazine. He then shot a tight group on a target at 100 meters from the magazine rest. They then placed sandbags and had the shooter rest the forearm on the sandbag. The group fired from the sandbag rest was several inches higher on the target at only 100 meters.

The obvious solution is to replace the handguards with a free-floating system. For those who have a sympathetic armorer but need to stay under the radar, several companies offer float tubes for service rifle competitors that are almost indistinguishable from issue configuration. You can see an example at the following sites: Compass Lake DCM Tube Fulton Armory DCM Tube

If replacement with a rail system is an option, there are several systems that can free-float the barrel without gunsmithing. For carbine length barrels, the VFR by the Mako Group is a great option. The rails are removable, so only necessary rails need to be installed in any of 8 locations around the handguard. There is also a model with the top rail designed for a carry-handle upper. The VFR attaches to the top rail or carry handle and also locks onto the barrel nut with no disassembly of the carbine required. The VLTOR CASV-EL also requires no disassembly of the rifle for installation. For rifles, the civilian version of the A.R.M.S. S.I.R. System can be user installed without modifying the rifle This system attaches only to the upper rail. If an armorer is willing to take a hacksaw to the delta ring and weld spring, a two-piece design such as Midwest Industries Two-Piece Free Float Rail System can be installed without removing the front sight tower and flash hider.

If a bipod is used, it should always be attached to the free-floating handguards and not to the barrel.

LMT Match Upper on M4 with 2.5-10x IOR optic, Versa-Pod, Vltor Modstock, Tango Down Battlegrip, and Mk 262mod0 ammunition.

LMT Match Upper on M4 with 2.5-10x IOR optic, Versa-Pod, Vltor Modstock, Tango Down Battlegrip, and Mk 262mod0 ammunition.

Adapting the M16/AR-15 for long-range shooting
There are several things that need to be taken into consideration when building a long-range AR. The first is that it is very difficult to mount a long optic far enough forward. For SDM work, some of the 1 – about 4x type optics solve this problem and fulfill that role perfectly. At 1x the optic works basically as a reflex sight. adjusting to a higher magnification allows more precision at for longer ranges or smaller targets. Companies such as Leupold, Schmit & Bender, Valdada IOR, Millett, and Burris make this type of optic. I have used the Leupold, which requires more precise eye relief and head placement than I like for this type of optic. I would not recommend it for a harder recoiling rifle, but for 5.56 it serves just fine. I have never used Schmitt & Bender’s Shot Dot, but from all I have heard it is a superior optic, with a corresponding price. Valdada’s IOR optics are very impressive. Clear, bright, and containing very well designed reticles, they are built like tanks. I used an IOR optic when deployed and preferred it to any of the others I used (mostly Leupolds). Both the 1-4x and the 1.5-8x optics are very nice and provide great flexibility to the SDM. Millett’s DMR-1, while not a Schmitt & Bender by any means, provides solid quality for the price. Optics are clear and it works well at all magnifications. There is slight distortion around the edges of the sight picture at the one power setting, but it does not interfere with function and disappears as soon as the magnification is increased. The Burris optic looks like it should work well, but I have not yet had the opportunity to test one. It seems that most of the optics with ballistic drop compensating reticles for the 5.56 are designed for the M855 or or cartridges with similar trajectories.

For dedicated long-range shooting, more traditional scopes usually work if mounted as far forward as possible in standard rings. The charging handle generally will end up under the scope in this case and an extended charging handle such as Badger Ordnance’s Tactical Latch makes operation easier. Backup iron sights will rarely fit under the scope and would require removal of the optic if they did. I would recommend a secondary sighting system such as a J-Point or Docter Optic reflex sight mounted to the scope instead.

Long optics can be moved forward if mounted in a purpose-built mount such as the LaRue Tactical SPR/M4 mount.

Mounting optics on a flat-top upper requires the use of high rings to get the necessary height, unless a riser rail of some type is used. I see no reason to use a riser for the sake of using a riser, but there are excellent risers that extend the length of the top rail. Many hanguard systems also have a top rail that attaches to the flattop rail. Some manufacturers also offer uppers with taller rails built in.

Secondly, a good stock makes a big difference. Important considerations are durability and simplicity. There are very expensive stocks out there that have buttons and wheels and really cool looks that would require three hands and an engineering degree to operate. Everyone also seems to want collapsible sniper stocks with adjustable cheekpieces. We have already established that it takes an effort to mount optics as high and as far forward as is necessary. Therefore, a shorter stock and higher cheekpiece make little sense. They also work against each other: the shorter the stock, the shorter a cheekpiece must be for the charging handle to clear. I know from experience that a collapsible buttstock on a scoped M16 never seems long enough even when wearing body armour. I like a little more length on a buttstock and a rubber pad to grip body armor when necessary. An adjustable cheekpiece is ok to adjust for different shooters.

DPMS LR-260 with SSR-25 Buttstock and Harris Bipod. Note secondary reflex optic for close range targets.

DPMS LR-260 with SSR-25 Buttstock and Harris Bipod. Note secondary reflex optic for close range targets.

The standard A2 buttstock, while longer than ideal for a tactical rifle, works well for a scoped rifle. My favorite stock is The Mako Group’s SSR-25 Sniper Stock. This is the buttstock used by Israeli snipers. It is simple and rugged and has an adjustable cheekpiece and a rubber buttpad. The best feature is the built-in monopod that deploys to the desired height with the touch of a button. The monopod has both fine and coarse elevation adjustment. Unlike other monopods which must be released, swung down, and then adjusted to the desired elevation, this spring-loaded monopod drops straight down to the height the rifle is held at when the release is pressed. Another stock worth mentioning is the Magpul PRS, which is well built and has an adjustable cheekpiece and length of pull. It is also fairly heavy for those who wish to add weight. Detents are captive so disassembly is easy.

There are an overwhelming variety of free-float handguards available. I prefer something with only the necessary rails for the equipment I am mounting. I used a cheap round tube in combat because I was short on cash. If I had the extra money, I would have gone with Badger Ordnance’s Stabilizer Handguard and added a rail for the PAQ-4 laser. Yankee Hill Machine and JP Enterprises both have nice, simple customizable hanguards.

As with handguards, bipod designs are becoming more numerous and expensive. Many of the newer designs are very awkward to use and have no real advantage over traditional designs. I have used and like both the Versa-Pod and the Harris bipods. My preference is the Versa-Pod. Shooters Ridge makes a copy of the Harris design as well. There are adaptors available to mount Harris or other sling swivel mount bipods to a Picatinny rail.

For the designated marksman who wants more flexibility in his weapon system, there are several forward vertical grip designs that incorporate a built in bipod of some kind. Most of these bipod grips lack any adjustment and are very unstable. Some of those that allow cant and pivot are even more unstable. The rifle will easily fall over if the shooter lets go for any reason. The exception is the Mako T-Pod and T-PodSL, and now the Gen 2 G2T-POD and G2 T-POD PR. These sturdy grips split in half to become a traditional style bipod with fully adjustable legs. The T-PodSL also features a built-in 120 lumen LED tactical light to combine three essential accessories in one compact package.

Ammunition
The 5.56 cartridge has had a reputation of poor to mediocre performance in combat. While I think that a 6.5mm or 7mm cartridge would be far more effective, I believe the 5.56 deserves a much better reputation than it has. Disappointment with the 5.56 is mainly due to the type of ammunition fielded.

If a 5.56 projectile passes straight through a person it makes a very small wound channel. Unlike larger calibers, for the 5.56 to kill effectively, it must fragment. If the 5.56 fragments well enough and early enough, it is quite effective. Fragmentation requires a properly designed projectile and sufficient velocity to cause fragmentation.

During the cold war, the military 62 grain M855 cartridge was developed. It was designed to be fired from a long barreled SAW at a husky potato-fed Soviet soldier wearing a flack jacket. Today our soldiers are firing that cartridge from 14.5″ barrels at 95 pound insurgents wearing man-dresses. The average target for US soldiers today is 7.3″ thick at the chest. The M855 averages 7″ of penetration before beginning to yaw or fragment. The result is small ineffective wound channels. Multiple hits are required to eliminate threats. From an M4 barrel, the velocity drops to the point that fragmentation often does not occur past 100 meters.

Fortunately, there are better options out there. I used Mk 262 mod 0, which hs now been superceded by Mk 262 mod 1. This ammunition is manufactured by Black Hills Ammunition and fires a 77 gr. open tip boat tail Sierra Match King bullet at 2783 fps from an 18″ barrel. This load is effective for hits out to 800 meters in combat conditions. A civilian version is offered by Black Hills that is safe to fire from .223 chambered rifles. It averages a little slower than the military version. Hornady manufactures a 75 gr. TAP cartridge that provides similar terminal performance. Both Mk 262 and Hornady TAP cartridges begin fragmenting at about 3″.

Black hills now has incredible 55 gr. and 62 gr. TSX cartridges that expand reliably to an average of .45 inches, and tend to maintain about 100% of their weight for deep penetration. It is an excellent intermediate barrier penetration cartridge, with excellent expansion and weight retention after penetrating vehicles or windshield glass.

These cartridges are in use by the US military and are used exclusively by many in the special operations community who have found them to be far more effective than standard M855 ammunition. They are excellent choices for both law enforcement and self defense roles.

With AR rifles now being chambered in a multitude of calibers, including highly effective 6.8 Remington SPC and 6.5 Grendel, and the SR-25/AR-10 style rifles in .308 length chamberings, the AR platform is very flexible and well suited to both military and law enforcement sniping.

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Exclamation The USA’s M4 Carbine Controversies

The USA’s M4 Carbine Controversies


Jan 13, 2016
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/...roversy-03289/


Remington has completed external link its $40.1 million delivery of M4 carbine rifles to the Philippine Army ahead of schedule. Over 56,000 of the rifles have been delivered in total, and will replace the antiquated 1960s era variant of the M-16 currently in use by the PA. Prior to distribution, a third of the new arms will undergo mandatory ballistic testing while the M-16s will be distributed to reservists.

The 5.56mm M-16 has been the USA’s primary battle rifle since the Vietnam war, undergoing changes into progressive versions like the M16A4 widely fielded by the US Marine Corps, “Commando” carbine versions, etc. The M4 Carbine is the latest member of the M16 family, offering a shorter weapon more suited to close-quarters battle, or to units who would find a full-length rifle too bulky.

In 2006 an Army solicitation for competitive procurement of 5.56mm carbine designs was withdrawn, once sole-source incumbent Colt dropped its prices. The DoD’s Inspector General weighed in with a critical report, but the Army dissented, defending its practices as a sound negotiating approach that saved the taxpayers money. As it turns out, there’s a sequel. A major sequel that has only grown bigger with time.

The M4/M16 family is both praised and criticized for its current performance in the field. In recent years, the M4 finished dead last in a sandstorm reliability test, against 3 competitors that include a convertible M4 variant. Worse, the 4th place M4 had over 3.5x more jams than the 3rd place finisher. Was that a blip in M4 buys, or a breaking point? The Army moved forward with an “Individual Carbine” competition, but as the results started to show the M4 again lagging even with ammunition changed to a round specially formulated to make the M4 shinethe Army abruptly stopped the process once again, stating that the performance superiority of the competing gun was not better to a degree making it worthwhile. The Army stated after the tests that only a result that was twice as good external link as the existing gun’s performance would signify an actionable performance difference.

More recently, the Marines have considered adding various after-market upgrades external link to the platform in order to increase accuracy, learning from the private sector and competitive shooting circuit what appears to be providing the best bang.

The M4 Carbine

It seemed like a routine request. Order more M4 carbines for US forces in the FY 2007 supplemental, FY 2008 budget, and FY 2008 supplemental funding bills. It has turned into anything but a routine exercise, however – with serving soldiers, journalists, and Senators casting a very critical eye on the effort and the rifle, and demanding open competition. With requests amounting to $375 million for weapons and $150 million in accessories, they say, the Army’s proposal amounts to an effort to replace the M16 as the USA’s primary battle rifle – using specifications that are around 15 years old, without a competition, and without considering whether better 5.56 mm alternatives might be available off the shelf.

The M4 offers a collapsible buttstock, flat-top upper receiver assembly, a U-shaped handle-rear sight assembly that could be removed, and assortment of mounting rails for easy customization with a variety of sight, flashlight, grenade launchers, shotgun attachments, etc. It achieves approximately 85% commonality with the M16, and has become a popular weapon. It has a reputation for lightness, customizability, and, compared to its most frequent rival the AK-47, a reputation for accuracy as well. The carbine’s reputation for fast-point close-quarters fire remains its most prominent feature, however. After Action Reviews done by the Marines after the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom revealed that urban warfare scenarios made employment of the M16A2 difficult in some situations; Marines were picking up short AK-47s with folding butt-stocks, or scrounging pistols for use inside buildings.

Like its predecessor the M16, the M4 also has a reputation as an excellent weapon – if you can maintain it. Failure to maintain the weapon meticulously can lead to jams, especially in sandy or dusty environments. Kalashnikovs may not have a reputation for accuracy, or lightness – but they do have a well-earned reputation for being able to take amazing amounts of abuse, without maintenance, and still fire reliably. The Israeli “Galil” applied these lessons in 5.56mm caliber, and earned a similar reputation. Colt’s M16 and M4 have never done so.

The original order for the M4 Carbine in the mid-1990s was a small-scale order, for a specifically requested derivative of the Army’s primary battle rifle, to equip units who would otherwise have relied on less accurate 9mm submachine guns. As such, its direct development and sole-source contract status raised little fuss. Subsequent contracts also raised little scrutiny.

So, what changed?

1. Extended combat in dusty, sandy environments that highlighted the weapon’s weak points as well as its comparative strengths, leading to escalating volumes of complaints;
2. The emergence of alternatives that preserve those strengths, while addressing those weak points;
3. The scale of the current request for funding.

Nobody Loves Me but My Mother – and She Could Be Jivin’ Too…

There have been sporadic attempts to field more modern weapons during its tenure, including the unwieldy 20-or-so pound, 2 barrel, “someone watched Predator too many times” XM-29 OICW, and more recently the aborted contract for the G36-derived XM-8 weapon family from Heckler & Koch. Still, the M4’s designers could never sing B.B. King’s famous tune.

The M16/M4 family has achieved a great deal of success, and garnered many positive reviews for its features and performance. Even its critics acknowledge that it has many positive attributes. The M4 has also attracted criticism – and at least 1 comprehensive fix.

According to briefing documents obtained by Gannett’s Army Times magazine:

“USMC officials said the M4 malfunctioned three times more often than the M16A4 during an assessment conducted in late summer 2002 for Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, VA. Malfunctions were broken down into several categories, including “magazine,” “failure to chamber,” “failure to fire,” “failure to extract” and “worn or broken part,” according to the briefing documents. During the comparison, the M4 failed 186 times across those categories over the course of 69,000 rounds fired. The M16A4 failed 61 times during the testing.

The Army conducted a more recent reliability test between October 2005 and April 2006, which included 10 new M16s and 10 new M4s… On average, the new M16s and M4s fired approximately 5,000 rounds between stoppages, according to an Army official who asked that his name not be released.”

In a subsequent letter to the magazine, M4 manufacturer Colt argued that the US Army had disagreed with the USMC study, then added that the Army and Colt had worked to make modifications thereafter in order to address problems found.

Gannett’s Army Times magazine also obtained a copy of Project Manager Soldier’s Weapons Assessment Team’s July 31, 2003, report:

“The executive summary said that M16s and M4s “functioned reliably” in the combat zone as long as “soldiers conducted daily operator maintenance and applied a light coat of lubricant.”

Soldiers had their own comments, however, which were also included in the report and relayed in the magazine article. 3rd ID soldier:

“I know it fires very well and accurate [when] clean. But sometimes it needs to fire dirty well too.”

25th Infantry Division soldier:

“The M4 Weapon in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan was quick to malfunction when a little sand got in the weapon. Trying to keep it clean, sand free was impossible while on patrols or firefights.”

82nd Airborne Division soldier:

“The M4 is overall an excellent weapon, however the flaw of its sensitivity to dirt and powder residue needs to be corrected. True to fact, cleaning will help. Daily assigned tasks, and nonregular hours in tactical situations do not always warrant the necessary time required for effective cleaning.”

75th Ranger Regiment member, SOCOM:

“Even with the dust cover closed and magazine in the well, sand gets all inside; on and around the bolt. It still fires, but after a while the sand works its way all through the gun and jams start.”

The 507th Maintenance Company, ambushed outside Nasariyah in 2003 during the opening days of the ground invasion of Iraq, might concur with all of the above. The post-incident report released by the US Army had this to say:

“Dusty, desert conditions do require vigilance in weapons maintenance… However, it is imperative to remember that at the time of the attack, the 507th had spent more than two days on the move, with little rest and time to conduct vehicle repair and recovery operations.”

Even without those extenuating circumstances, however, there have been problems. A December 2006 survey external link, conducted on behalf of the Army by CNA Corp., conducted over 2,600 interviews with Soldiers returning from combat duty. The M4 received a number of strong requests from M-16 users, who liked its smaller profile. Among M4 users, however, 19% of said they experienced stoppages in combat – and almost 20% of those said they were “unable to engage the target with that weapon during a significant portion of or the entire firefight after performing immediate or remedial action to clear the stoppage.” The report adds that “Those who attached accessories to their weapon were more likely to experience stoppages, regardless of how the accessories were attached [including via official means like rail mounts].” Since “accessories” can include items like night sights, flashlights, etc., their use is not expected to go away any time soon.

US Army Ranger Capt. Nate Self, whose M4 jammed into uselessness during a 2002 firefight after their MH-47 Chinook was shot down in Afghanistan’s Shah-i-kot Mountains, offers another case. He won a Silver Star that day – with another soldier’s gun – and his comments in the Army Times article appear to agree that there is a problem with the current M4 design and specifications.

SOCOM appears to agree as well. While US Special Operations Command is moving ahead on their own SCAR rifle program with FN Herstal, they’re also significant users of the M4 Carbine’s SOPMOD version. By the time Capt. Self was fighting of al-Qaeda/Taliban enemies in Afghanistan with a broken weapon, Dellta Force had already turned to Heckler & Koch for a fix that would preserve the M4 but remove its problems. One of which is heat build-up and gas from its operating mechanism that dries out some lubricants, and helps open the way for sand damage.

In response, H&K replaced Colt’s “gas-tube” system with a short-stroke piston system that eliminates carbon blow-back into the chamber, and also reduces the heat problem created by the super-hot gases used to cycle the M4. Other changes were made to the magazine, barrel, etc. The final product was an M4 with a new upper receiver and magazine, plus H&K’s 4-rail system of standard “Picatinny Rails” on the top, bottom, and both sides for easy addition of anything a Special Operator might require.

In exhaustive tests with the help of Delta Force, the upgraded weapon was subjected to mud and dust without maintenance, and fired day after day. Despite this treatment, the rifle showed problems in only 1 of 15,000 rounds – fully 3 times the reliability shown by the M4 in US Army studies. The H&K 416 was declared ready in 2004.

A rifle with everything they loved about the M4, and the fire-no-matter-what toughness of the Kalashnikov, was exactly what the Deltas ordered. SOCOM bought the first 500 weapons right off the assembly line, and its units have been using the weapon in combat ever since. Other Western Special Forces units who liked the M4 Carbine have also purchased HK416s, though H&K declines to name specific countries. US Major Chaz Bowser, who has played a leading role in SOSOCM’s SCAR rifle design program:

“One thing I valued about being the weapons developer for Special Operations is that I could go to Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere with whatever weapons I wanted to carry. As soon as the H&K 416 was available, it got stuffed into my kit bag and, through test after test, it became my primary carry weapon as a long gun. I had already gotten the data from folks carrying it before me and had determined that it would be foolish to risk my life with a lesser system.”

Actually, they don’t even have to buy the whole gun. Christian Lowe of Military.com reports that:

“In a routine acquisition notice March 23 [2007], a U.S. Special Forces battalion based in Okinawa announced that it is buying 84 upper receiver assemblies for the HK416 to modify their M4 carbines… According to the solicitation for the new upper receiver assemblies, the 416 “allows Soldiers to replace the existing M4 upper receiver with an HK proprietary gas system that does not introduce propellant gases and the associated carbon fouling back into the weapon’s interior. This reduces operator cleaning time, and increases the reliability of the M4 Carbine, particularly in an environment in which sand and dust are prevalent.”

But the US Army won’t consider even this partial replacement option. The Army position was reiterated in a release on April 2/07:

“The M4 Carbine is the Army’s primary individual combat rifle for Infantry, Ranger, and Special Operations forces. Since its introduction in 1991, the M4 carbine has proven its worth on the battlefield because it is accurate, easy to shoot and maintain. The M4’s collapsible stock and shortened barrel make it ideal for Soldiers operating in vehicles or within the confines associated with urban terrain. The M4 has been improved numerous times and employs the most current technology available on any rifle/carbine in general use today.

The M4 is the highest-rated weapon by Soldiers in combat, according to the Directorate of Combat Development, Ft. Benning, Ga. In December 2006, the Center for Naval Analysis conducted a “Soldiers’ Perspective on Small Arms in Combat” survey. Their poll of over 2,600 Soldiers reported overwhelming satisfaction with the M4. The survey included serviceability and usefulness in completing assigned missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Cry for Competition: How Much Is That HK In the Window?

The HK416 isn’t the only alternative out there by any means – but it has been a catalytic alternative. In an analogous situation, limited USMC deployment of mine-resistant vehicles like Force Protection’s Cougar and Buffalo in Iraq, and the contrast between v-hulled casualties and Hummer casualties, led to a cascade that now looks set to remove the Hummer from a front-line combat role. The technology to deal with insurgencies that used land-mines has been proven for over 30 years – but awareness of that fact didn’t rise within the US military and among its political overseers until an obvious counter-example was fielded. One that demonstrated proven alternatives to the limited options people had previous been shown. Likewise, the use of the high-commonality HK416 has served to sharpen awareness that the M4 might not be the best option on offer for US forces.

Couple that with a major buy that looks set to re-equip large sections of the US military with a new battle rifle, and the question “what if we can do better?” starts to take on real resonance. The Army’s $375 million sole-source carbine procurement, on the basis of specifications that have not been changed to reflect these realities, is starting to raise hackles – and attract a wide spectrum of opponents.

Gannett’s Army Times quoted former Army vice chief of staff Gen. Jack Keane (ret.), who tried at the end of his tenure to update the USA’s infantry rifle with the XM-8 project, as saying:

“We are not saying the [M4 and M16 are] bad,” said “The issue for me is do our soldiers have the best rifle in their hands… The fact of the matter is that technology changes every 10 or 15 years and we should be changing with it. And that has not been our case. We have been sitting on this thing for far too long.”

Capitol Building
An aide to Sen. Tom Coburn [R-OK] agreed, and added that the substantial price reduction created by the mere threat of an open competition in 2006 was evidence that Colt had been using its sole-source status to overcharge the government. The Senator has sent a formal letter to the Secretary of the Army requesting an open competition in order to ensure both the best deal, and the best off-the shelf rifle that incorporates modern improvements. The winner could well be Colt, said Coburn’s aide – but they should have to prove it, and earn it. “This is supposed to be a battle rifle.” He said. “We’re supposed to have a rifle that just doesn’t jam.” Impossible, of course – but one that jams far less often, and requires far less maintenance to avoid jams, while offering all of the M4’s compactness and add-on ease… that would represent a significant step forward.

Ironically, even Colt may have a better system ready to go. In a letter to Army Times magazine, Colt COO James R. Battaglini (US Marine Corps Maj. Gen., ret.) said:

“The gas piston system in the H&K 416 is not a new system. Rifles were being designed with these systems in the 1920’s. Colt proposed a piston operated weapon to the Army in the early 1960’s. Today Colt Defense has the ability and expertise to manufacture in great numbers piston system carbines of exceptional quality should the U.S. military services initiate a combat requirement for this type of weapon”

Unfortunately, fighting the Army for improvements is no easy task. Colt CEO William Keys, who is also a retired USMC General, explained out to Army Times that Colt has to build what the US Army asks for, to the Army’s exact specifications:

“If we have a change that we think would help the gun, we go to the Army… which is not an easy process, by the way. We spent 20 years trying to get [an extractor] spring changed. They just said ‘well, this works good enough.’ “

Sen. Coburn’s letter to Secretary of the Army Peter Green took a dim view of this entire situation:

“I am concerned about the Army’s plans to procure nearly a half a million new rifles outside the any competitive procurement process… There is nothing more important to a soldier than their rifle, and there is simply no excuse for not providing our soldiers with the best weapon – not just a weapon that is “good enough”… In the years following the Army’s requirements document [DID: for the M4 in the early 1990s], a number of manufacturers have researched, tested, and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability. To fail to allow a free and open competition of these operational weapons is unacceptable… I believe the Army needs to rapidly revise its rifle and carbine requirements. Free and open competition will give our troops the best rifle in the world…”

The positions were, and are, clear. The US Army says the M4 isn’t broken, and adds that an Army-wide fix would cost $1 billion. Critics contend that these costs may be exaggerated given some of the potential solutions, and add that an army already planning to spend $525 million to re-equip the force with M4s has a moral and financial imperative to see if a better rifle exists. Meanwhile, calls about the M16/M4 had been coming in from Oklahoma, and other Senators and representatives had also been hearing from constituents on this matter.

By 2007, a second letter from the Senate was likely if the Army dug in its heels – and that letter would have had far more signatures at the bottom. In the end, however, legislative tactics forced the Army’s hand. The issue finally came to a head when Sen. Coburn [R-OK] exercised his ability as a Senator to block nomination of the proposed new Secretary of the Army, until the US Army relented and agreed to testing at the Army’s Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. Secretary Geren was confirmed shortly thereafter, in July 2007.

The tests were conducted. The M4 finished last. The Army declared that performance to be acceptable. By 2010, however, there were noises about an “Individual Carbine Competition”, which became a full solicitation. A number of firms are lining up to provide new designs for the Army’s next-generation carbine, including Colt. Some of them even offer alternate caliber options that could make a real difference to lethality at range, a serious need in environments like Afghanistan. By August 2011, known competitors and designs included:
  • Colt: CM901 multicaliber rifle external link (5.56mm through 7.62mm)
  • ADCOR: B.E.A.R. Elite external link (5.56mm)
  • FN USA: SCAR-16 external link (5.56mm)
  • HK USA: HK416 external link (5.56mm).
  • Remington: Adaptive Combat Rifle external link multi-caliber (5.56mm, 6.5mm Grendel, or 6.8mm)

Smith & Wesson was also reported to be entering the competition, but eventually decided not to take part.

The bigger question is whether this competition, like the ones before it, will ultimately prove to be an expensive mirage. As of April 2013, in the words of the old magic 8-ball, “signs point to yes.” Though one could also use “outlook not so good.”

Any Last Words?

Sgt. Charles Perales of Fort Bragg, NC had this to say in a letter reprinted by Defense News:

“My unit – B Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment – was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2005 to March 2006. While there, we were attached to Special Forces at Camp Tillman on the Afghan border… I saw first-hand what happens when your weapon jams up because of the harsh environments we have to call home there. An 18B weapons sergeant was shot in the face due directly to his weapon jamming. I just can’t believe that after things like this happen, the Army is still buying more M4s.

Why not rotate them like we used to before the war? All rapid-deploying units used to get the new M4, the support units would get the excess M16s and so on. I’m not saying they need to outfit the whole Army with a new weapon, but why not start phasing it in? …Soldiers’ lives are on the line. Why is it a hassle to make an improvement that could save lives?

The M4 isn’t a bad weapon; it just needs improvements. It’s about time people stop fighting to keep things the same and start moving toward a better weapon system.”

The last word will be left to SOCOM’s Major Chaz Bowser:

“We buy new laptop computers every few years across the gamut, so couldn’t we do the same with our single most important piece of military equipment? … Waiting for a leap-ahead technology based on a kinetic energy weapon platform is a waste of time and money, so we need to look at what is out there now… What the Army needs is a weapon that is now ready for prime-time and not a developmental system… The requirement comes from the field, not from an office in some garrison activity, not from some consultant and definitely not from a vendor.

Let’s do this quickly without all the bureaucracy typically associated with change. Find someone in our ranks who can make a decision – who hasn’t floated a retirement resume with a gun company – and make the decision now. Just look how fast we were all issued the ‘highly coveted’ black beret or the digital uniform. Find that recipe card, change out the word ‘Velcro’ with ‘battle rifle’ and that may be a start to finding a solution [DID: which, he acknowledges, could be Colt’s M4 if that’s what the competition shows]. Our men and women deserve much better than we are giving them, and shame on us.”

Updates: The Tests, Reactions, and Subsequent Developments

FY 2012 – 2016
Army looks to cancel Individual Carbine; USMC won’t join IC; Smith & Wesson out – will sell their innovations to law enforcement and civilians.

January 13/16: Remington has completed external link its $40.1 million delivery of M4 carbine rifles to the Philippine Army ahead of schedule. Over 56,000 of the rifles have been delivered in total, and will replace the antiquated 1960s era variant of the M-16 currently in use by the PA. Prior to distribution, a third of the new arms will undergo mandatory ballistic testing while the M-16s will be distributed to reservists.

March 16/15: The Army released a Sources Sought notice (W15QKN-15-X-7820 external link), looking for one vendor that can bundle together a series of aftermarket improvements to the M4A1 carbine. The package, to be called the M4A1+, includes increased accuracy, rails, mounting surfaces, neutral, non-black, color, coatings, backup sites and a kitchen sink full of other, smaller improvements.

Feb 18/15: The Marines are considering adding various after-market upgrades external link to the platform in order to increase accuracy, learning from the private sector and competitive shooting circuit what appears to be providing the best bang.

June 14/13: The Army excuses their decision to cancel the Individual Carbie competition by saying that none of the candidates met their criteria of 3,592 mean rounds between stoppages, using the new M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round. As a point of comparison, the original requirement for the M4 was 600.

The Army’s PEO Soldier says that SOCOM’s M4A1 achieved 1,691 MRBS, but refuses to release the results of the trials and provide a basis for relative comparison. Military.com external link.

May 2/13: Military.com reports external link that the Individual Carbine’s Phase II firing tests are done, but the US Army is about to cancel the Individual Carbine competition, and direct its tiny $49.6 million in FY 2014 to other things. The original plan involved 3 Phase III contracts, and soldier user tests that would include a total of 800,000 rounds fired.

Overall, the budget for new carbines is $300 million through 2018, and the decision on how to proceed reportedly rests with Secretary of the Army John McHugh. This paragraph sums it up best:

“Gun makers involved in the competition said they have heard nothing from the Army about Phase III of the competition. Competitors didn’t want to be named in this story but said they would not be surprised if the effort was canceled because they never believed the Army was serious about replacing the M4 family.”

March 19/13: Inspector General. In testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Pentagon’s Inspector General says they’ll audit the Individual Carbine program, as “DoD may not have an established need for this weapon nor developed performance requirements… such as accuracy, reliability, and lethality”.

Aside from the presumptuousness in the wake of incidents like Wanat, they’re also absolutely wrong on a factual level – the IC competition has had those standards for 3 years now. Source external link.

Aug 1/12: Political. Sen. Tom Coburn [R-OK] delivers a floor speech external link about the M4 and the Army’s failure to replace it. He reminds the Senate about the dust testing in which the M4 came in last, and points out that the average rifle age is 26 years, compared to 12 years in Germany, or 8 years for US Special Forces. The Army has been able to rush MRAP competitions for much more expensive equipment, but:

…secretary of Army Guerin… assured me that we would have a new competition for a new rifle for our troops. That was 2007. Here we are, six years later, and the army is now telling us we’re going to have a new competition in 2014… Because the guys that are responsible for making the decision on purchasing the rifles are not the guys that are out there on the line. Because if they were, we would have already had this competition…

On July 13, 2008, in the battle of Winot [sic] in Afghanistan, 200 Taliban troops attacked the U.S. troops at a remote outpost in Eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban were able to break through our lines… Believe it or not, do you know what killed most of us? Our own rifles. Practically every one of our dead was found with his m-16 torn down next to him where he had been trying to fix it. That’s occurring now. Except it’s not getting any press.

…You know, a lot of people do a lot of things for our country, but nobody does for our country what the soldier on the frontline does – nobody. Mr. secretary of the Army. This is a moral question. Get the rifle competition going. Members of congress, members of the senate who are on the armed services committee don’t allow this to continue to happen.

Nov 17/11: USMC sticking with M16A4 & M27 IAR. Military.com reports external link that the USMC has considered the HK416-derived M27 IAR as a future individual weapon, but decided to stick with improvements to the M16A4 rifle for that role.

It also means that the Marines won’t be adopting the winner of the Army’s Individual Carbine competition, which lowers the odds of having IC turn into a contract for a new weapon. HK might still walk away a winner in the USMC, though. The M27 IARs are being evaluated as future substitutes for FN’s M249 5.56mm light machine gun, and have been fielded to Afghanistan in a combat trial.

Nov 10/11: Smith & Wesson out. Military Times’ Gear Scout reports external link that Smith & Wesson won’t be competing in the Individual Carbine:

“I talked to David Holt, S&W’s VP of Military Programs who confirmed [the M&P4] was S&W’s entry into the U.S. Army’s individual carbine competition. He explained the company’s decision not to compete in the Army’s search for a new carbine… cited the program’s long acquisition timeline as one of the factors that made it difficult for Smith and Wesson to assume the risk of joining the carbine fray… They’ve put a lot of hours into the project and are very proud of the reliability improvement’s [sic] they’ve made over the M4 design. So, the carbine will likely end up for sale on the commercial LE/Gov market…”

FY 2009 – 2011
M4s and M249s fail at the Battle of Wanat; Key “Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer” report leads to caliber questions; SOCOM cancels FN’s 5.56mm SCAR-L; US Army going through the competition motions, slowly, and giving mixed signals.

Aug 8/11: ADCOR. Military.com covers ADCOR’s announced interest in the IC competition, and its B.E.A.R. design. It’s a gas piston system with some clever features for keeping dust out, a free floating barrel, an adjustable cyclical rate, faster and simpler cleaning, and a “forward charging handle” that lets the soldier clear a jammed weapon with their off hand (also present in Remington’s ACR). Military.com external link | ADCOR page external link.

June 21/11: Data Rights Issue. Daniel E. Watters of The Gun Zone explains how the Army got here, the deal with Colt, and the difficulty they’ll have getting a new weapon in the Individual Carbine competition. Read “Colt M4 Data Rights & The Individual Carbine Competition.”

June 14/11: M4. FBO.gov releases Presolicitation W56HZV-10-R-0593 external link, covering 70,000 – 100,000 M4 and M4A1 carbines over 5 years. The Government expects to order 25-30% in each of years 1 and 2, and 13-17% in each of years 3 through 5. They’re certainly serious about the M4, if not about its replacement.

The contractor(s) winning the best value competition will also be required to provide ancillary equipment as specified by the contract, and will be paid only for produced items, not for setup and manufacturing costs. Bidding is restricted to firms in the U.S. & its territories, and the carbines will be produced in accordance with the M4/M4A1 Technical Data Package (TDP) and the license agreement between the U.S. Government and Colt Defense, LLC. That TDP is restricted/ export controlled, and requires submission of a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The TDPs will not be available until an NDA is submitted, and an FBO.gov solicitation is issued. Read “Colt M4 Data Rights & The Individual Carbine Competition” for an analysis of how the Army reached this point, and what it could mean in practice.

June 14/11: Competition. Defense Procurement news reports external link that the US Army still has a 2-track strategy (vid. March 10/10 entry). One is the IC competition. The other involves competing the M4 design, now that the Army and not Colt owns the data rights. Colt has reportedly reacted to the announced Army plans by ramping up their lobbying efforts, so Congress can pressure the Army to keep the program with them.

May 25/11: Lobbying. An Associated Press article external link lays out the hired lobbyists and political backers for some of the Individual Carbine contenders, while discussing possible offerings. See also Fox News external link‘ coverage. Contenders, and their lobbyists, include:

Colt:
CM901 multicaliber rifle external link (5.56mm – 7.62mm)
Roger Smith, a former deputy assistant Navy secretary @ $120,000 a year
Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D-CT, Appropriations]. Rep. John Larson [D-CT], Sen. Joe Liberman [I-CT, retiring].

FN Herstal:
SCAR-L 5.56mm.
American Business Development Group @ $120,000/ year.
Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC, SASC], Joe Wilson [R-SC, HASC].

HK USA:
HK416 5.56mm.
Parted ways with Greenberg Traurig in 2009, and with Mark Barnes and Associates in early 2010. No replacement mentioned.

Remington:
Adaptive Combat Rifle external link multi-caliber (5.56mm or 6.8mm).
$500,000 over last 2 years to Winborn Solutions, and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-NY]

Smith & Wesson:
(M&P4, will not be entering the competition)
Greenberg Traurig @ $360,000/ year

April 18/11: Competition. In published responses to questions from industry over Draft RFP W15QKN-11-R-F003, the US Army has laid out a schedule for its “Individual Carbine”. The RFP is expected in May 2011, with Phase 1 evaluations from July to October 2011, and Phase 2 evaluations extending to July 2012. The contracts, if any, would be awarded in October 2012, followed by even more evaluations of the remaining contenders, lasting until March 2013.

While there is no caliber or mechanical type requirement, the Army may not choose to do anything, in the end. It is openly espousing a “dual path” strategy to upgrade existing M4s, even as it launches this competition. Given a long past history of declaring that new designs don’t offer enough benefits over existing M4s to justify a purchase, outside observers can be forgiven any skepticism they may have over the Army’s determination to field anything else when all is said and done. PROCNET Q&A responses external link | PEO Soldier external link | Gannett’s Army Times external link | Aviation Week Ares external link.

Jan 31/11: Competition. The US Army issues Draft RFP W15QKN-11-R-F003 external link for an “Individual Carbine.” In practice, the solicitation announces an Industry Day on March 30/11, and offerors are directed to NOT submit proposals at this time. Interested parties are advised that only firms within the Small Arms Industry will be granted admittance at the Doubletree Hotel Washington DC – Crystal City, and that ITAR export control procedures are in effect.

Col. Doug Tamilio, the service’s project manager for soldier weapons, reportedly said in a statement that “We’re challenging industry to develop the next-generation carbine and we’re looking forward to the results.” On the other hand, there have been previous industry days (vid. 2008), and other next-generation carbines have been shelved in the past, on the nebulous ground of not being enough of an improvement over the M4. FedBizOpps external link | Wall St. Journal external link.

June 25/10: FN SCAR. Military.com reports external link that SOCOM has decided to cancel further 5.56mm SCAR-L Mk.16 rifle purchases on cost and efficiency grounds, and will probably recall the 850 fielded weapons, rather than continue to support them. SOCOM will be adding to their stock of 750 7.62mm SCAR-H Mk.17 riles, however, and will field an extended SCAR-H Mk.20 with sharpshooter enhancements.

SOCOM cancels 5.56mm SCAR-L

March 10/10: Competition. In testimony before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, senior Army officers state that external link [PDF]:

“We are currently taking a dual approach to improve the current weapon, the M4, as we move forward with a new carbine requirement. The Project Manager (PM) released a market survey in January 2010, seeking the best industry has to offer for improvements to the current M4. The PM expects to release an RFP soon to compete the upgrade program. Additionally, the Army will conduct a full and open competition to address a new requirement for an individual carbine. Once the Joint Requirements Oversight Council approves the new requirement, the PM will initiate the competition with the release of an RFP for comments from industry. This is the first step in conducting the competition. The Army is working with the other Services in these programs to ensure their requirements are included in our process and they are always invited to participate in the programs’ development and production.”

Jan 12/10: HK. Heckler & Kock announces external link that they will begin producing civilian variants of the HK416 and the 7.62mm HK417 in a new HK manufacturing facility in Newington, New Hampshire. It’s co-located within an existing 70,000 square foot facility, and would create an American manufacturing base from which to offer military HK416s as well. EVP Wayne Weber of Heckler & Koch USA:

“It is our intention for all U.S. made HK products to equal the quality and reliability of the products made in Germany… By establishing American-based manufacturing, we can compliment our German production and ensure that HK can be more competitive in the U.S. and comply with government contracts requiring U.S. manufacturing. HK products made in the USA will be fully compliant with federal solicitations giving preference to domestically produced products.”

Nov 30/09: Report. US Army TRADOC releases a paper by Major Thomas P. Ehrhart of the Command and General Staff College titled “Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer external link” [PDF] (http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a512331.pdf). It points out that American forces are routinely engaged in Afghan firefights beyond 300 meters, where their weapons are less effective than their opponents. Excerpts:

Comments from returning non-commissioned officers and officers reveal that about [50%] of engagements occur past 300 meters. The enemy tactics are to engage United States forces from high ground with medium and heavy weapons, often including mortars, knowing that we are restricted by our equipment limitations and the inability of our overburdened soldiers to maneuver at elevations exceeding 6000 feet. Current equipment, training, and doctrine are optimized for engagements under 300 meters and on level terrain.

There are several ways to extend the lethality of the infantry. A more effective 5.56-mm bullet can be designed which provides enhanced terminal performance out to 500 meters. A better option to increase incapacitation is to adopt a larger caliber cartridge, which will function using components of the M16/M4. The 2006 study by the Joint Service Wound Ballistics – Integrated Product Team discovered that the ideal caliber seems to be between 6.5 and 7-mm. This was also the general conclusion of all military ballistics studies since the end of World War I.

The reorganization of the infantry squad in 1960 eliminated the M1D sniper rifle and resulted in the loss of the precision mid-range capability of the infantry squadAll 5.56-mm weapons are most effective when employed within 200 meters due to velocity limitations. Once contact is made, the fight is limited to machine gunners, mortars and designated marksmen. In the table of organization for a light infantry company8 only the six -M240B 7.62-mm machine guns, two- 60-mm mortars and nine designated marksman armed with either 7.62-mm M14 rifles or accurized 5.56-mm M16A4’s rifles are able to effectively engage the enemy. These weapons systems represent 19 percent of the company’s firepower. This means that 81 percent of the company has little effect on the fight. This is unacceptable.”

Oct 12/09: Field. The Associated Press reports that M4 carbine and M249 SAW light machine gun failures contributed to the debacle at Wanat, Afghanistan, in which an American outpost was overrun by the Taliban, and to another situation at nearby Kamdesh. An excerpt:

[Douglas Cubbison of the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, KS] study is based on an earlier Army investigation and interviews with Soldiers who survived the attack at Wanat… The Soldiers said their weapons were meticulously cared for and routinely inspected by commanders. But still the weapons had breakdowns… Cubbison acknowledges the high rates of fire during the two-hour battle may have led to the failures. But he says numerous problems occurred relatively early in the engagement.”

Defense Tech adds external link that:

“Basically, the most damning conclusions are compiled in the recommendations section of the report. There are a few instanced specified in the report of an M4 fouling, and one where the M4 fouled and the Soldier picked up a SAW and that was jammed up as well… Staff Sergeant Phillips poured out fire, as recalled by another Engineer Specialist loading for him, [SSG Phillips] went through three rifles using them until they jammed.”

FY 2007 – 2008
Army holds test – M4 last by far.

Sept 17/08: Competition. Military.com’s Christian Lowe reportsthat the Army issued a solicitation to industry in August 2008, asking companies to submit proposals that would demonstrate “…improvements in individual weapon performance in the areas of accuracy and dispersion… reliability and durability in all environments, modularity and terminal performance.”

The intervening years have seen a number of new carbine designs hit the market, as well as a number of “personal defense weapons” that attempt to deliver carbine-class firepower in a weapon only slightly larger than a pistol. Most use calibers other than 5.56mm or 9mm, however, which has prevented their adoption for use by pilots, vehicle crew, and other specialists who need an extremely compact weapon. The Army solicitation also asks for ideas on a “subcompact” variant that would fit in this category.

The article quoted Richard Audette, project manager for Soldier weapons at the US Army’s Picatinny Arsenal. The Army is currently working on its carbine requirements document, and is trying to write it in a way that does not exclude other calibers:

“We’re at the point now where we’re going to go out and compete… We’re looking for anyone that has a world-class carbine… We’re interested in any new technologies out there… We want to know about everything that’s out there, regardless of caliber… If you’ve got a 6.8 [mm caliber weapon], we’re interested in that and seeing what that brings to the table.”

What the Army will insist upon, however, is production capacity. Colt can churn out 10,000 M4s per month, and in June 2009 the M4s blueprints will no longer be a Colt exclusive. Experience with ongoing M16 orders suggests that this will expand production capacity, and drive down prices. In contrast, manufacturers of weapons in promising new calibers like 6.8mm have not received large military orders to ramp up their production capacity to the same levels. Producibility is certainly a valid concern. It must be part of any fair and reasonable competition. It can also be abused to become a back door method of ratifying existing decisions, while adopting the veneer of competition. Which will it be in this case? Only time will tell.

July 11/08: Demonstration. Military.com reports that about 30 legislative aides signed up to attend a July 11 demonstration at Marine Corps Base Quantico. Congressional and industry sources report that the event feature the standard 5.56mm M4 carbine, plus the FN SCAR Mk17 7.62mm (SCAR MK16 is the 5.56mm version that was tested by the Army), – and a modified “M4-style MURG (Modified Upper Receiver Group)” rifle capable of firing a new 6.8mm special purpose cartridge round, among others. Attendees included FN-USA, HK, LWRC external link who offers receiver group switchouts like HK’s and adds a 6.8mm version, Barrett (REC-7 6.8mm external link), and Bushmaster. All reportedly avoided commercial sales pitches, and stuck to facts and demonstrations.

Complaints persist from troops on the front lines regarding the current 5.56mm round/riling combination’s lethality. The ballistic characteristics of calibers around 6.8mm have yet to feature a breakthrough military purchase in the face of 5.56mm standardization, but these calibers are gaining growing recognition for their balance of size (can be used with M16 magazines), light weight, and knock-down power.

Participants reportedly had the opportunity to observe the effects of different caliber rounds in translucent ballistic jelly, which simulates human tissue, and to fire the weapons involved. Sens. James Coburn [R-OK] and Ken Salazar [D-CO] remain very active in this area, but the number of participants suggests that their efforts may be gaining traction in spite the Army. Military.com external link | American Mohist external link.

Late December 2007: Test results.DID obtains some exact results from the Army’s testing. The Army has now done 3 dust tests. In the late 2006/Jan 2007 report “Baseline Reliability and Dust Assessment for the M4, M16, and M249,” the M4 jammed 9,836 times – 1 jam every 6 rounds. In a May 2007 “Extreme Dust Test II”, with no competitors, the M4 had 1 jam every 88 rounds, using heavy lubrication. In the November 2007 “Extreme Dust Test III”, as DID has discussed, the competing rifles were subject to significantly more maintenance and lubrication than elite American forces like Delta used in their weapon selection process, or indeed in HK’s own field testing of its HK416s prior to shipment.

We’ll begin with the Army’s overall results, from its own release:

“Even with extreme dust test III’s 98.6 percent success rate there was a total of 863 class 1 and 2 weapon/magazine stoppages with 19 class 3 stoppages. During extreme dust test II conducted during the summer, there were 296 total class 1 and 2 stoppages and 11 class 3 stoppages.

A class 1 stoppage is one a Soldier can clear within 10 seconds; a class 2 stoppage is one a Soldier can clear, but requires more than 10 seconds; and, class 3 is a stoppage that requires an armorer to clear.”

DID will simply point out that 10 seconds can be a rather fatally long time when people are shooting at you, and at your friends. So, what happens when the Extreme Dust Test III stoppages are broken out by weapon?

The M4 Carbine is the Army’s existing weapon.
  • 882 jams, 1 jam every 68 rounds, again using heavy lubrication. In addition all 10 of the M4 barrels needed to be replaced, and a number of their parts were replaced during the test. None of the cold hammer forged HK416 and XM-8 barrels needed replacement.
  • The HK416 is a modified M4 carbine, which can be and has been converted from existing rifles. Used by US Special Forces.
  • 233 jams, 1 jam every 257 rounds, 3.77x more reliable than the M4.
  • FN SCAR is US special Forces’ new weapon, designed by SOSOCM. It just went into production in late 2007.
  • 226 jams, 1 jam every 265 rounds, 3.85x more reliable than the M4
  • XM-8 is a developmental rifle. It’s an advanced version of HK’s G36, a rifle in wide use by many NATO armies. The US Army cancelled the XM-8 weapons family 2 years ago.
  • 127 jams, I jam every 472 rounds, 6.95x more reliable than the M4.

The failure of M4 barrels at 6,000 rounds confirms SOCOM objections that date back to the Feb 23/01 report “M4A1 5.56mm Carbine and Related Systems Deficiencies and Solutions,” which ended up concluding that “M4A1 Carbine… does not meet the requirements of SOF.” The barrel replacement also increases the rifle’s life cycle costs when compared with the 10,000 round advertised barrel life, as additional barrels are sold to the Army for $240 each. A longer, heavier M16 barrel, which is a competed production weapon, cost $100 by comparison. While the dust test is indeed an extreme test, the 10,000 round requirement is under “all conditions” – not just ideal conditions.

Dec 18/07: The US Army publishes “M-4 Carbine Has High Soldier Confidence Despite Test external link.” Not exactly a headline to inspire confidence, as the Army acknowledges that the M4 Carbine finished last among the 4 contenders – but amazingly, asserts that the rifle is just fine and shows no interest in buying even the HK416’s parts swap-out into the existing M4:

“After being exposed to the heavy dusting, 10 of each weapon fired 6,000 rounds apiece. They were fired in 50 120-round cycles. Each was then wiped and re-lubricated at the 600 round mark. After 1,200 rounds were fired from each weapon, they were fully cleaned and re-lubricated… “While the M-4 finished fourth out of four, 98 percent of all the rounds fired from it went off down range as they were supposed to do,” Brig. Gen. [Mark] Brown [commander of Program Executive Office Soldier and the Natick Soldier Systems Center] said. “However, the three other candidates did perform better at about a 99 percent rate or better, which is a mathematically statistically significant difference, but not an operationally statistical difference.”… The Army has put an option on an existing contract for 64,450 M4s, according to the general.”

“A mathematically statistically significant difference, but not an operationally statistical difference.” Statistically, 99% is a 100% improvement over 98%. Operationally, I jam every 68 rounds is almost one jam for every 2 30-round magazines. Whereas one jam in 257 rounds would only happen about once in 8 30-round magazines. Readers are left to contemplate the operational significance of those probabilities in a sustained, serious firefight.

June 29/07: Testing. A document circulated on Capitol Hill asking for testing includes these excerpts:

“The Army has claimed “83% reported confidence that the M4 will not suffer major breakage or failure that necessitates repair before further use” A soldier should be 100% confident that his weapon will not break the next time he fires itSince the M16 was introduced in Vietnam the answer has always been “It’s the soldiers’ fault”The Special Operations Command has the most proficient soldiers in the world, they shoot the most and they operate in the most difficult environments – In 2001 SOCOM was highly critical of the reliability of the M4, and they chose to adopt a new weapon – the SCAR. Our Tier 1 units – like Delta Force, and Seal Team 6 have all abandoned the M4 for other weapons that is [sic] significantly more reliable.”

Read the rest here> http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/...roversy-03289/
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Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


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Question Army Killed New Carbine Because It Wasn’t Twice As Reliable As Current M4

Army Killed New Carbine Because It Wasn’t Twice As Reliable As Current M4
By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR



http://breakingdefense.com/2013/06/army-killed-new-carbine-because-it-wasnt-twice-as-good-as-current-m4/




The Army has half a million M4 carbines, the lightweight version of the Vietnam-vintage M16. So if the service was going to invest in a replacement, it wanted a “leap ahead” that would, among other things, cut in half the number of times the weapon jammed – a criterion the Army has not made clear until today. None of the eight designs offered for the Individual Carbine competition met that standard, Army officials said, so the service is going to stick with the M4 indefinitely.

That, in a nutshell, is the word from a half-dozen Army experts and officials at a hastily convened press conference to explain the service’s decision to, for all practical purposes, kill off the $1.8 billion Individual Carbine program. The Senate Armed Services Committee has already cut the $49.5 million requested for the program in 2014 “based upon the Army’s decision not to continue with the competitive evaluation program,” to quote the SASC’s official summary of the bill, released just before 1:00 pm today. On the flip side, the Senate left in $21.3 million to buy 12,000 more of the current M4A1. But after years of technical controversy and political pressure, M4 critics are unlikely to just let the matter rest.

“There was no capability-based assessment justification, no requirement,” said one skeptical Congressional staffer. “A lot of money and time has been spent.” Stopping the Individual Carbine now, the staffer said, “makes sense if nothing gives us a leap ahead in capability – but no doubt the politics will continue to churn.”

Certainly the Army wants to close the door on the Individual Carbine. “I want to be very clear: none of the vendors met the minimum requirements,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the chief of Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, which oversees all the individual equipment carried by G.I.s. “If the army could have moved forward in any way, shape, or form, we would have. We are surprised by these findings.”

Ostrowski emphasized: “The Army is not cancelling the IC competition, the Army is the position where it must conclude the IC competition.”

That may sound like a distinction without a difference. Legally, however, there’s all the different in the world, especially since there is legislative language in the House Armed Services Committee version of the annual defense bill saying “The Secretary of the Army may not cancel the individual carbine” (emphasis mine). Even though the statute, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014, is months from final passing into law, the Army doesn’t want to flout the will of Congress too directly.

It is Congress that has forced the Individual Carbine program on an unwilling Army. The pressure has come from both chambers and both parties. House Armed Services Committee’s top Democrat, California’s Loretta Sanchez, put the “may not cancel” language into the NDAA during mark-up two weeks ago. But the fiercest proponent of a new carbine has been Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. (Click here for Coburn’s case against the M4 in brief). Coburn has been pressuring the Pentagon to test M4 alternatives since at least 2007 and has twice used his Senatorial prerogative to put administration nominations on “hold” as a means to pressure the Army. (The first hold was on Army Secretary Peter Geren in 2007, the second was just last fall on Army acquisition chief Heidi Shyu). We’re working to get comment from Sen. Coburn and Rep. Sanchez, but they can’t be happy.

The M16 rifle and its M4 carbine variant have come in for bitter criticism since the M16 was introduced during Vietnam, where the gun’s innovative but finicky mechanisms kept jamming because conscript soldiers failed to keep it properly clean in the muddy conditions of Southeast Asia. Even today, there is a bitter debate over whether the “direct impingement” gas-operated recoil system lets in sand and dust to jam the weapon in Afghanistan.

There’s a whole separate debate about the killing power of the M16/M4 family’s relatively lightweight 5.56 millimeter rounds, but the two controversies converged after the Army issued a new, more lethal bullet in 2010, the M855A1 “enhanced performance round,” which critics almost immediately accused of fouling the gun barrel.

“We do extensive post-combat surveys after every unit redeploys from theater,” said Brig. Gen. Ostrowski. “Over the past four years, the survey results have revealed that in compilation over 80 percent of the soldiers are completely satisfied with the M4… and that trend is moving upward [to] 86 percent.” As for the new round, he said, “we have experienced absolutely zero issues with the M855A1 in combat.”

“I had heard that anecdotal information that the M855A1 did create more fouling,” added the Army’s project manager for ammunition, Col. Paul Hill. But when he arranged an extensive series of tests, Hill said, “we found…. there was no significant difference in fouling between the M855 [the old round] and the M855A1.”

One source close to industry, however, told me that “several of the manufacturers had severe degradation to their barrels using the new ammo” when they tested their Individual Carbine contenders.

Originally the Army had told the companies their offerings would be test-fired using the old M855. When the M855A1 became the official standard in 2010, however, the Army told the competitors they should now use the new round instead. The problem was that industry had limited access to the new ammo. What they got, they had to get from the Army, with dire warnings not to take even one round back from the Army-sanctioned test range.

The Army gave each company 10,800 rounds of M855A1 to test-fire before the official competition began, so they could work out any kinks in their designs. That may sound like a lot, but the Army required that each competing weapon be able fire 3,592 rounds, on average, before jamming. 10,800 divided by 3,592 equals three. That means each company had enough bullets for, at most, three test runs to see if its weapon met the Army’s standard before submitting it for consideration. In the actual competition, when each gun fired 25,600 rounds, all of them failed.

That said, the current M4A1 carbine doesn’t meet the standard of 3,592 “mean rounds before stoppage” (MRBS), either. After about ten minutes of relentless badgering by Army Times reporter Lance Bacon and myself, the Army finally said how well the current standard-issue weapon did with the current standard-issue round. “I’ve got the data in front of me now,” said Col. Hill, after an unnamed assistant dug up the figures and slipped them in front of him: During testing in 2010, M4A1s loaded with the M855A1 round fired, on average, 1,691 times before jamming.

So the 3,591 mean rounds between stoppage the Army wanted for the Individual Carbine was 112 percent better than what the M4A1 can currently manage. That would definitely be a “leap ahead” in reliability. How far short of that standard each competitor fell is proprietary information the Army could not disclose. But the service argues that anything less than a 112 percent improvement wouldn’t justify the huge investment required to issue everyone new guns.

“The IC competition was based on [getting a much greater capability than the M4A1, otherwise we would not have gone out and done a competition,” said Brig. Gen. Ostrowski. “We wanted something that was challenging but achievable [for] industry and we thought we could get there. This is a surprise to all of us.”

Each competitor “had a different reason why their weapons failed,” Ostrowski added. Neither the Army nor the industry has yet done all the forensics, he said: “It would be premature for us to tell you exactly what the issue was.”

The problem is that, despite five years of back and forth between government and industry, the gunmakers apparently still did not have a clear idea of what the Army actually wanted.

“If the Army wants something really new and different, you’ve got to get real specific real soon in that process,” said Allen Youngman, the retired Army two-star who heads the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council, a trade group. Instead, industry sources say, the formal solicitation looked like the Army wanted a modestly improved M4A1.

Between the death of the Improved Carbine this week and the cancellation of the XM8 rifle in 2005, Youngman told me yesterday, “if there is a need somewhere in the Army for a new capability, we apparently missed the last two opportunities to communicate that fact to industry.”

So maybe gunmakers could have delivered something markedly superior to the current Army carbine. Maybe they couldn’t have. But the Individual Carbine competition does not seem to have settled the question decisively one way or the other.




http://breakingdefense.com/2013/06/army-killed-new-carbine-because-it-wasnt-twice-as-good-as-current-m4/
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The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


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Exclamation U.S. Army Kills Rifle Replacement Program After Competitor Bests Existing M4A1

U.S. Army Kills Rifle Replacement Program After Competitor Bests Existing M4A1
By Nick Leghorn



http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/201...existing-m4a1/

Over the last couple years, the U.S. Army has been holding the Individual Carbine competition — a program designed to evaluate if the M4A1 rifle is still the best firearm for our soldiers over 50 years after its introduction, or if there is anything better out there. The project has been under fire from the start (http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/201...e-competition/), and they canned the competition back in June of last year (http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/201...and-screaming/)claiming that everyone failed to meet the specifications. According to new information acquired by the Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...utm_medium=RSS), it sounds like that decision to cancel the project may have been for other reasons . . .

A competing rifle outperformed the Army’s favored M4A1 carbine in key firings during a competition last year before the service abruptly called off the tests and stuck with its gun, according to a new confidential report.

The report also says the Army changed the ammunition midstream to a round “tailored” for the M4A1 rifle. It quoted competing companies as saying the switch was unfair because they did not have enough time to fire the new ammo and redesign their rifles before the tests began.

Exactly how the eight challengers — and the M4 — performed in a shootout to replace the M4, a soldier’s most important personal defense, has been shrouded in secrecy.

But an “official use only report” by the Center for Naval Analyses shows that one of the eight unidentified weapons outperformed the M4 on reliability and on the number of rounds fired before the most common type of failures, or stoppages, occurred, according to data obtained by The Washington Times.


There’s little doubt that the Army is reluctant to switch to another platform. The sheer cost of transitioning the armed forces to a new firearm platform would be astronomical, not to mention the training requirements for both the individual soldiers and the armorers. But the more that comes out about how the competition is being run, the more it sounds like the Army set the bar so high that it was impossible for anyone to meet — and even then, one gun came close.

As for the manufacturer of the rifle that came closest to passing, there is no official word and no one is willing to talk about it. But I think I have a pretty good idea who it is.

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/201...existing-m4a1/

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ______________________________________________

Army Quits Tests After Competing Rifle Outperforms M4A1 Carbine


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Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


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Exclamation The USA’s M4 Carbine Controversies

The USA’s M4 Carbine Controversies


Jan 13, 2016
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/...roversy-03289/


January 13/16: Remington has completed external link its $40.1 million delivery of M4 carbine rifles to the Philippine Army ahead of schedule. Over 56,000 of the rifles have been delivered in total, and will replace the antiquated 1960s era variant of the M-16 currently in use by the PA. Prior to distribution, a third of the new arms will undergo mandatory ballistic testing while the M-16s will be distributed to reservists.

The 5.56mm M-16 has been the USA’s primary battle rifle since the Vietnam war, undergoing changes into progressive versions like the M16A4 widely fielded by the US Marine Corps, “Commando” carbine versions, etc. The M4 Carbine is the latest member of the M16 family, offering a shorter weapon more suited to close-quarters battle, or to units who would find a full-length rifle too bulky.

In 2006 an Army solicitation for competitive procurement of 5.56mm carbine designs was withdrawn, once sole-source incumbent Colt dropped its prices. The DoD’s Inspector General weighed in with a critical report, but the Army dissented, defending its practices as a sound negotiating approach that saved the taxpayers money. As it turns out, there’s a sequel. A major sequel that has only grown bigger with time.

The M4/M16 family is both praised and criticized for its current performance in the field. In recent years, the M4 finished dead last in a sandstorm reliability test, against 3 competitors that include a convertible M4 variant. Worse, the 4th place M4 had over 3.5x more jams than the 3rd place finisher. Was that a blip in M4 buys, or a breaking point? The Army moved forward with an “Individual Carbine” competition, but as the results started to show the M4 again lagging – even with ammunition changed to a round specially formulated to make the M4 shine – the Army abruptly stopped the process once again, stating that the performance superiority of the competing gun was not better to a degree making it worthwhile. The Army stated after the tests that only a result that was twice as good external link as the existing gun’s performance would signify an actionable performance difference.

More recently, the Marines have considered adding various after-market upgrades (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...er-marksmansh/) external link to the platform in order to increase accuracy, learning from the private sector and competitive shooting circuit what appears to be providing the best bang.

The M4 Carbine

It seemed like a routine request. Order more M4 carbines for US forces in the FY 2007 supplemental, FY 2008 budget, and FY 2008 supplemental funding bills. It has turned into anything but a routine exercise, however – with serving soldiers, journalists, and Senators casting a very critical eye on the effort and the rifle, and demanding open competition. With requests amounting to $375 million for weapons and $150 million in accessories, they say, the Army’s proposal amounts to an effort to replace the M16 as the USA’s primary battle rifle – using specifications that are around 15 years old, without a competition, and without considering whether better 5.56 mm alternatives might be available off the shelf.

The M4 offers a collapsible buttstock, flat-top upper receiver assembly, a U-shaped handle-rear sight assembly that could be removed, and assortment of mounting rails for easy customization with a variety of sight, flashlight, grenade launchers, shotgun attachments, etc. It achieves approximately 85% commonality with the M16, and has become a popular weapon. It has a reputation for lightness, customizability, and, compared to its most frequent rival the AK-47, a reputation for accuracy as well. The carbine’s reputation for fast-point close-quarters fire remains its most prominent feature, however. After Action Reviews done by the Marines after the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom revealed that urban warfare scenarios made employment of the M16A2 difficult in some situations; Marines were picking up short AK-47s with folding butt-stocks, or scrounging pistols for use inside buildings.

Like its predecessor the M16, the M4 also has a reputation as an excellent weapon – if you can maintain it. Failure to maintain the weapon meticulously can lead to jams, especially in sandy or dusty environments. Kalashnikovs may not have a reputation for accuracy, or lightness – but they do have a well-earned reputation for being able to take amazing amounts of abuse, without maintenance, and still fire reliably. The Israeli “Galil” applied these lessons in 5.56mm caliber, and earned a similar reputation. Colt’s M16 and M4 have never done so.

The original order for the M4 Carbine in the mid-1990s was a small-scale order, for a specifically requested derivative of the Army’s primary battle rifle, to equip units who would otherwise have relied on less accurate 9mm submachine guns. As such, its direct development and sole-source contract status raised little fuss. Subsequent contracts also raised little scrutiny.

So, what changed?

1. Extended combat in dusty, sandy environments that highlighted the weapon’s weak points as well as its comparative strengths, leading to escalating volumes of complaints;
2. The emergence of alternatives that preserve those strengths, while addressing those weak points;
3. The scale of the current request for funding.

Nobody Loves Me but My Mother – and She Could Be Jivin’ Too…

There have been sporadic attempts to field more modern weapons during its tenure, including the unwieldy 20-or-so pound, 2 barrel, “someone watched Predator too many times” XM-29 OICW, and more recently the aborted contract for the G36-derived XM-8 weapon family from Heckler & Koch. Still, the M4’s designers could never sing B.B. King’s famous tune.

The M16/M4 family has achieved a great deal of success, and garnered many positive reviews for its features and performance. Even its critics acknowledge that it has many positive attributes. The M4 has also attracted criticism – and at least 1 comprehensive fix.

According to briefing documents obtained by Gannett’s Army Times magazine:

“USMC officials said the M4 malfunctioned three times more often than the M16A4 during an assessment conducted in late summer 2002 for Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, VA. Malfunctions were broken down into several categories, including “magazine,” “failure to chamber,” “failure to fire,” “failure to extract” and “worn or broken part,” according to the briefing documents. During the comparison, the M4 failed 186 times across those categories over the course of 69,000 rounds fired. The M16A4 failed 61 times during the testing.

The Army conducted a more recent reliability test between October 2005 and April 2006, which included 10 new M16s and 10 new M4s… On average, the new M16s and M4s fired approximately 5,000 rounds between stoppages, according to an Army official who asked that his name not be released.”


In a subsequent letter to the magazine, M4 manufacturer Colt argued that the US Army had disagreed with the USMC study, then added that the Army and Colt had worked to make modifications thereafter in order to address problems found.

Gannett’s Army Times magazine also obtained a copy of Project Manager Soldier’s Weapons Assessment Team’s July 31, 2003, report:

“The executive summary said that M16s and M4s “functioned reliably” in the combat zone as long as “soldiers conducted daily operator maintenance and applied a light coat of lubricant.”

Soldiers had their own comments, however, which were also included in the report and relayed in the magazine article. 3rd ID soldier:

“I know it fires very well and accurate [when] clean. But sometimes it needs to fire dirty well too.”

25th Infantry Division soldier:

“The M4 Weapon in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan was quick to malfunction when a little sand got in the weapon. Trying to keep it clean, sand free was impossible while on patrols or firefights.”

82nd Airborne Division soldier:

“The M4 is overall an excellent weapon, however the flaw of its sensitivity to dirt and powder residue needs to be corrected. True to fact, cleaning will help. Daily assigned tasks, and nonregular hours in tactical situations do not always warrant the necessary time required for effective cleaning.”

75th Ranger Regiment member, SOCOM:

“Even with the dust cover closed and magazine in the well, sand gets all inside; on and around the bolt. It still fires, but after a while the sand works its way all through the gun and jams start.”

The 507th Maintenance Company, ambushed outside Nasariyah in 2003 during the opening days of the ground invasion of Iraq, might concur with all of the above. The post-incident report released by the US Army had this to say:

“Dusty, desert conditions do require vigilance in weapons maintenance… However, it is imperative to remember that at the time of the attack, the 507th had spent more than two days on the move, with little rest and time to conduct vehicle repair and recovery operations.”

Even without those extenuating circumstances, however, there have been problems. A December 2006 survey external link, conducted on behalf of the Army by CNA Corp., conducted over 2,600 interviews with Soldiers returning from combat duty. The M4 received a number of strong requests from M-16 users, who liked its smaller profile. Among M4 users, however, 19% of said they experienced stoppages in combat – and almost 20% of those said they were “unable to engage the target with that weapon during a significant portion of or the entire firefight after performing immediate or remedial action to clear the stoppage.” The report adds that “Those who attached accessories to their weapon were more likely to experience stoppages, regardless of how the accessories were attached [including via official means like rail mounts].” Since “accessories” can include items like night sights, flashlights, etc., their use is not expected to go away any time soon.

US Army Ranger Capt. Nate Self, whose M4 jammed into uselessness during a 2002 firefight after their MH-47 Chinook was shot down in Afghanistan’s Shah-i-kot Mountains, offers another case. He won a Silver Star that day – with another soldier’s gun – and his comments in the Army Times article appear to agree that there is a problem with the current M4 design and specifications.

M4 carbine SOPMOD M4 SOPMOD
(click to view full)
SOCOM appears to agree as well. While US Special Operations Command is moving ahead on their own SCAR rifle program with FN Herstal, they’re also significant users of the M4 Carbine’s SOPMOD version. By the time Capt. Self was fighting of al-Qaeda/Taliban enemies in Afghanistan with a broken weapon, Dellta Force had already turned to Heckler & Koch for a fix that would preserve the M4 but remove its problems. One of which is heat build-up and gas from its operating mechanism that dries out some lubricants, and helps open the way for sand damage.

In response, H&K replaced Colt’s “gas-tube” system with a short-stroke piston system that eliminates carbon blow-back into the chamber, and also reduces the heat problem created by the super-hot gases used to cycle the M4. Other changes were made to the magazine, barrel, etc. The final product was an M4 with a new upper receiver and magazine, plus H&K’s 4-rail system of standard “Picatinny Rails” on the top, bottom, and both sides for easy addition of anything a Special Operator might require.

HK416 labeled HK416, labeled
(click to view full)
In exhaustive tests with the help of Delta Force, the upgraded weapon was subjected to mud and dust without maintenance, and fired day after day. Despite this treatment, the rifle showed problems in only 1 of 15,000 rounds – fully 3 times the reliability shown by the M4 in US Army studies. The H&K 416 was declared ready in 2004.

A rifle with everything they loved about the M4, and the fire-no-matter-what toughness of the Kalashnikov, was exactly what the Deltas ordered. SOCOM bought the first 500 weapons right off the assembly line, and its units have been using the weapon in combat ever since. Other Western Special Forces units who liked the M4 Carbine have also purchased HK416s, though H&K declines to name specific countries. US Major Chaz Bowser, who has played a leading role in SOSOCM’s SCAR rifle design program:


HK416 desert testing HK416: Desert Testing
(click to view full)
“One thing I valued about being the weapons developer for Special Operations is that I could go to Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere with whatever weapons I wanted to carry. As soon as the H&K 416 was available, it got stuffed into my kit bag and, through test after test, it became my primary carry weapon as a long gun. I had already gotten the data from folks carrying it before me and had determined that it would be foolish to risk my life with a lesser system.”

Actually, they don’t even have to buy the whole gun. Christian Lowe of Military.com reports that:

“In a routine acquisition notice March 23 [2007], a U.S. Special Forces battalion based in Okinawa announced that it is buying 84 upper receiver assemblies for the HK416 to modify their M4 carbines… According to the solicitation for the new upper receiver assemblies, the 416 “allows Soldiers to replace the existing M4 upper receiver with an HK proprietary gas system that does not introduce propellant gases and the associated carbon fouling back into the weapon’s interior. This reduces operator cleaning time, and increases the reliability of the M4 Carbine, particularly in an environment in which sand and dust are prevalent.”

But the US Army won’t consider even this partial replacement option. The Army position was reiterated in a release on April 2/07:

“The M4 Carbine is the Army’s primary individual combat rifle for Infantry, Ranger, and Special Operations forces. Since its introduction in 1991, the M4 carbine has proven its worth on the battlefield because it is accurate, easy to shoot and maintain. The M4’s collapsible stock and shortened barrel make it ideal for Soldiers operating in vehicles or within the confines associated with urban terrain. The M4 has been improved numerous times and employs the most current technology available on any rifle/carbine in general use today.

The M4 is the highest-rated weapon by Soldiers in combat, according to the Directorate of Combat Development, Ft. Benning, Ga. In December 2006, the Center for Naval Analysis conducted a “Soldiers’ Perspective on Small Arms in Combat” survey. Their poll of over 2,600 Soldiers reported overwhelming satisfaction with the M4. The survey included serviceability and usefulness in completing assigned missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Cry for Competition: How Much Is That HK In the Window?

The HK416 isn’t the only alternative out there by any means – but it has been a catalytic alternative. In an analogous situation, limited USMC deployment of mine-resistant vehicles like Force Protection’s Cougar and Buffalo in Iraq, and the contrast between v-hulled casualties and Hummer casualties, led to a cascade that now looks set to remove the Hummer from a front-line combat role. The technology to deal with insurgencies that used land-mines has been proven for over 30 years – but awareness of that fact didn’t rise within the US military and among its political overseers until an obvious counter-example was fielded. One that demonstrated proven alternatives to the limited options people had previous been shown. Likewise, the use of the high-commonality HK416 has served to sharpen awareness that the M4 might not be the best option on offer for US forces.

Couple that with a major buy that looks set to re-equip large sections of the US military with a new battle rifle, and the question “what if we can do better?” starts to take on real resonance. The Army’s $375 million sole-source carbine procurement, on the basis of specifications that have not been changed to reflect these realities, is starting to raise hackles – and attract a wide spectrum of opponents.

Gannett’s Army Times quoted former Army vice chief of staff Gen. Jack Keane (ret.), who tried at the end of his tenure to update the USA’s infantry rifle with the XM-8 project, as saying:

“We are not saying the [M4 and M16 are] bad,” said “The issue for me is do our soldiers have the best rifle in their hands… The fact of the matter is that technology changes every 10 or 15 years and we should be changing with it. And that has not been our case. We have been sitting on this thing for far too long.”

Capitol Building
An aide to Sen. Tom Coburn [R-OK] agreed, and added that the substantial price reduction created by the mere threat of an open competition in 2006 was evidence that Colt had been using its sole-source status to overcharge the government. The Senator has sent a formal letter to the Secretary of the Army requesting an open competition in order to ensure both the best deal, and the best off-the shelf rifle that incorporates modern improvements. The winner could well be Colt, said Coburn’s aide – but they should have to prove it, and earn it. “This is supposed to be a battle rifle.” He said. “We’re supposed to have a rifle that just doesn’t jam.” Impossible, of course – but one that jams far less often, and requires far less maintenance to avoid jams, while offering all of the M4’s compactness and add-on ease… that would represent a significant step forward.

Ironically, even Colt may have a better system ready to go. In a letter to Army Times magazine, Colt COO James R. Battaglini (US Marine Corps Maj. Gen., ret.) said:

“The gas piston system in the H&K 416 is not a new system. Rifles were being designed with these systems in the 1920’s. Colt proposed a piston operated weapon to the Army in the early 1960’s. Today Colt Defense has the ability and expertise to manufacture in great numbers piston system carbines of exceptional quality should the U.S. military services initiate a combat requirement for this type of weapon”

Unfortunately, fighting the Army for improvements is no easy task. Colt CEO William Keys, who is also a retired USMC General, explained out to Army Times that Colt has to build what the US Army asks for, to the Army’s exact specifications:

If we have a change that we think would help the gun, we go to the Army… which is not an easy process, by the way. We spent 20 years trying to get [an extractor] spring changed. They just said ‘well, this works good enough.’ “

Sen. Coburn’s letter to Secretary of the Army Peter Green took a dim view of this entire situation:

“I am concerned about the Army’s plans to procure nearly a half a million new rifles outside the any competitive procurement process… There is nothing more important to a soldier than their rifle, and there is simply no excuse for not providing our soldiers with the best weapon – not just a weapon that is “good enough”… In the years following the Army’s requirements document [DID: for the M4 in the early 1990s], a number of manufacturers have researched, tested, and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability. To fail to allow a free and open competition of these operational weapons is unacceptable… I believe the Army needs to rapidly revise its rifle and carbine requirements. Free and open competition will give our troops the best rifle in the world…”

The positions were, and are, clear. The US Army says the M4 isn’t broken, and adds that an Army-wide fix would cost $1 billion. Critics contend that these costs may be exaggerated given some of the potential solutions, and add that an army already planning to spend $525 million to re-equip the force with M4s has a moral and financial imperative to see if a better rifle exists. Meanwhile, calls about the M16/M4 had been coming in from Oklahoma, and other Senators and representatives had also been hearing from constituents on this matter.

By 2007, a second letter from the Senate was likely if the Army dug in its heels – and that letter would have had far more signatures at the bottom. In the end, however, legislative tactics forced the Army’s hand. The issue finally came to a head when Sen. Coburn [R-OK] exercised his ability as a Senator to block nomination of the proposed new Secretary of the Army, until the US Army relented and agreed to testing at the Army’s Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. Secretary Geren was confirmed shortly thereafter, in July 2007.

The tests were conducted. The M4 finished last. The Army declared that performance to be acceptable. By 2010, however, there were noises about an “Individual Carbine Competition”, which became a full solicitation. A number of firms are lining up to provide new designs for the Army’s next-generation carbine, including Colt. Some of them even offer alternate caliber options that could make a real difference to lethality at range, a serious need in environments like Afghanistan. By August 2011, known competitors and designs included:
  • Colt: CM901 multicaliber rifle external link (5.56mm through 7.62mm)
  • ADCOR: B.E.A.R. Elite external link (5.56mm)
  • FN USA: SCAR-16 external link (5.56mm)
  • HK USA: HK416 external link (5.56mm).
  • Remington: Adaptive Combat Rifle external link multi-caliber (5.56mm, 6.5mm Grendel, or 6.8mm)

Smith & Wesson was also reported to be entering the competition, but eventually decided not to take part.

The bigger question is whether this competition, like the ones before it, will ultimately prove to be an expensive mirage. As of April 2013, in the words of the old magic 8-ball, “signs point to yes.” Though one could also use “outlook not so good.”

Any Last Words?

Sgt. Charles Perales of Fort Bragg, NC had this to say in a letter reprinted by Defense News:

“My unit – B Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment – was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2005 to March 2006. While there, we were attached to Special Forces at Camp Tillman on the Afghan border… I saw first-hand what happens when your weapon jams up because of the harsh environments we have to call home there. An 18B weapons sergeant was shot in the face due directly to his weapon jamming. I just can’t believe that after things like this happen, the Army is still buying more M4s.

Why not rotate them like we used to before the war? All rapid-deploying units used to get the new M4, the support units would get the excess M16s and so on. I’m not saying they need to outfit the whole Army with a new weapon, but why not start phasing it in? …Soldiers’ lives are on the line. Why is it a hassle to make an improvement that could save lives?

The M4 isn’t a bad weapon; it just needs improvements. It’s about time people stop fighting to keep things the same and start moving toward a better weapon system.”

The last word will be left to SOCOM’s Major Chaz Bowser:

“We buy new laptop computers every few years across the gamut, so couldn’t we do the same with our single most important piece of military equipment? … Waiting for a leap-ahead technology based on a kinetic energy weapon platform is a waste of time and money, so we need to look at what is out there now… What the Army needs is a weapon that is now ready for prime-time and not a developmental system… The requirement comes from the field, not from an office in some garrison activity, not from some consultant and definitely not from a vendor.

Let’s do this quickly without all the bureaucracy typically associated with change. Find someone in our ranks who can make a decision – who hasn’t floated a retirement resume with a gun company – and make the decision now. Just look how fast we were all issued the ‘highly coveted’ black beret or the digital uniform. Find that recipe card, change out the word ‘Velcro’ with ‘battle rifle’ and that may be a start to finding a solution [DID: which, he acknowledges, could be Colt’s M4 if that’s what the competition shows]. Our men and women deserve much better than we are giving them, and shame on us.”

Updates: The Tests, Reactions, and Subsequent Developments

FY 2012 – 2016
Army looks to cancel Individual Carbine; USMC won’t join IC; Smith & Wesson out – will sell their innovations to law enforcement and civilians.

January 13/16: Remington has completed external link its $40.1 million delivery of M4 carbine rifles to the Philippine Army ahead of schedule. Over 56,000 of the rifles have been delivered in total, and will replace the antiquated 1960s era variant of the M-16 currently in use by the PA. Prior to distribution, a third of the new arms will undergo mandatory ballistic testing while the M-16s will be distributed to reservists.

March 16/15: The Army released a Sources Sought notice (W15QKN-15-X-7820 external link), looking for one vendor that can bundle together a series of aftermarket improvements to the M4A1 carbine. The package, to be called the M4A1+, includes increased accuracy, rails, mounting surfaces, neutral, non-black, color, coatings, backup sites and a kitchen sink full of other, smaller improvements.

Feb 18/15: The Marines are considering adding
various after-market upgrades external link to the platform in order to increase accuracy, learning from the private sector and competitive shooting circuit what appears to be providing the best bang.

June 14/13: The Army excuses their decision to cancel the Individual Carbie competition by saying that none of the candidates met their criteria of 3,592 mean rounds between stoppages, using the new M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round. As a point of comparison, the original requirement for the M4 was 600.

The Army’s PEO Soldier says that SOCOM’s M4A1 achieved 1,691 MRBS, but refuses to release the results of the trials and provide a basis for relative comparison. Military.com external link.

May 2/13: Military.com reports external link that the Individual Carbine’s Phase II firing tests are done, but the US Army is about to cancel the Individual Carbine competition, and direct its tiny $49.6 million in FY 2014 to other things. The original plan involved 3 Phase III contracts, and soldier user tests that would include a total of 800,000 rounds fired.

Overall, the budget for new carbines is $300 million through 2018, and the decision on how to proceed reportedly rests with Secretary of the Army John McHugh. This paragraph sums it up best:

“Gun makers involved in the competition said they have heard nothing from the Army about Phase III of the competition. Competitors didn’t want to be named in this story but said they would not be surprised if the effort was canceled because they never believed the Army was serious about replacing the M4 family.”

March 19/13: Inspector General. In testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Pentagon’s Inspector General says they’ll audit the Individual Carbine program, as “DoD may not have an established need for this weapon nor developed performance requirements… such as accuracy, reliability, and lethality”.

Aside from the presumptuousness in the wake of incidents like Wanat, they’re also absolutely wrong on a factual level – the IC competition has had those standards for 3 years now. Source external link.

Aug 1/12: Political. Sen. Tom Coburn [R-OK] delivers a floor speech external link about the M4 and the Army’s failure to replace it. He reminds the Senate about the dust testing in which the M4 came in last, and points out that the average rifle age is 26 years, compared to 12 years in Germany, or 8 years for US Special Forces. The Army has been able to rush MRAP competitions for much more expensive equipment, but:

…secretary of Army Guerin… assured me that we would have a new competition for a new rifle for our troops. That was 2007. Here we are, six years later, and the army is now telling us we’re going to have a new competition in 2014… Because the guys that are responsible for making the decision on purchasing the rifles are not the guys that are out there on the line. Because if they were, we would have already had this competition…

On July 13, 2008, in the battle of Winot [sic] in Afghanistan, 200 Taliban troops attacked the U.S. troops at a remote outpost in Eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban were able to break through our lines… Believe it or not, do you know what killed most of us? Our own rifles. Practically every one of our dead was found with his m-16 torn down next to him where he had been trying to fix it. That’s occurring now. Except it’s not getting any press.

You know, a lot of people do a lot of things for our country, but nobody does for our country what the soldier on the frontline does – nobody. Mr. secretary of the Army. This is a moral question. Get the rifle competition going. Members of congress, members of the senate who are on the armed services committee don’t allow this to continue to happen.

Nov 17/11: USMC sticking with M16A4 & M27 IAR. Military.com reports external link that the USMC has considered the HK416-derived M27 IAR as a future individual weapon, but decided to stick with improvements to the M16A4 rifle for that role.

It also means that the Marines won’t be adopting the winner of the Army’s Individual Carbine competition, which lowers the odds of having IC turn into a contract for a new weapon. HK might still walk away a winner in the USMC, though. The M27 IARs are being evaluated as future substitutes for FN’s M249 5.56mm light machine gun, and have been fielded to Afghanistan in a combat trial.

Nov 10/11: Smith & Wesson out. Military Times’ Gear Scout reports external link that Smith & Wesson won’t be competing in the Individual Carbine:

“I talked to David Holt, S&W’s VP of Military Programs who confirmed [the M&P4] was S&W’s entry into the U.S. Army’s individual carbine competition. He explained the company’s decision not to compete in the Army’s search for a new carbine… cited the program’s long acquisition timeline as one of the factors that made it difficult for Smith and Wesson to assume the risk of joining the carbine fray… They’ve put a lot of hours into the project and are very proud of the reliability improvement’s [sic] they’ve made over the M4 design. So, the carbine will likely end up for sale on the commercial LE/Gov market…”

FY 2009 – 2011
M4s and M249s fail at the Battle of Wanat; Key “Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer” report leads to caliber questions; SOCOM cancels FN’s 5.56mm SCAR-L; US Army going through the competition motions, slowly, and giving mixed signals.

Aug 8/11: ADCOR. Military.com covers ADCOR’s announced interest in the IC competition, and its B.E.A.R. design. It’s a gas piston system with some clever features for keeping dust out, a free floating barrel, an adjustable cyclical rate, faster and simpler cleaning, and a “forward charging handle” that lets the soldier clear a jammed weapon with their off hand (also present in Remington’s ACR). Military.com external link | ADCOR page external link.

June 21/11: Data Rights Issue. Daniel E. Watters of The Gun Zone explains how the Army got here, the deal with Colt, and the difficulty they’ll have getting a new weapon in the Individual Carbine competition. Read “Colt M4 Data Rights & The Individual Carbine Competition.”

June 14/11: M4. FBO.gov releases Presolicitation W56HZV-10-R-0593 external link, covering 70,000 – 100,000 M4 and M4A1 carbines over 5 years. The Government expects to order 25-30% in each of years 1 and 2, and 13-17% in each of years 3 through 5. They’re certainly serious about the M4, if not about its replacement.

The contractor(s) winning the best value competition will also be required to provide ancillary equipment as specified by the contract, and will be paid only for produced items, not for setup and manufacturing costs. Bidding is restricted to firms in the U.S. & its territories, and the carbines will be produced in accordance with the M4/M4A1 Technical Data Package (TDP) and the license agreement between the U.S. Government and Colt Defense, LLC. That TDP is restricted/ export controlled, and requires submission of a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The TDPs will not be available until an NDA is submitted, and an FBO.gov solicitation is issued. Read “Colt M4 Data Rights & The Individual Carbine Competition” for an analysis of how the Army reached this point, and what it could mean in practice.

June 14/11: Competition. Defense Procurement news reports external link that the US Army still has a 2-track strategy (vid. March 10/10 entry). One is the IC competition. The other involves competing the M4 design, now that the Army and not Colt owns the data rights. Colt has reportedly reacted to the announced Army plans by ramping up their lobbying efforts, so Congress can pressure the Army to keep the program with them.

May 25/11: Lobbying. An Associated Press article external link lays out the hired lobbyists and political backers for some of the Individual Carbine contenders, while discussing possible offerings. See also Fox News external link‘ coverage. Contenders, and their lobbyists, include:

Colt:
CM901 multicaliber rifle external link (5.56mm – 7.62mm)
Roger Smith, a former deputy assistant Navy secretary @ $120,000 a year
Rep. Rosa DeLauro [D-CT, Appropriations]. Rep. John Larson [D-CT], Sen. Joe Liberman [I-CT, retiring].

FN Herstal:
SCAR-L 5.56mm.
American Business Development Group @ $120,000/ year.
Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC, SASC], Joe Wilson [R-SC, HASC].

HK USA:
HK416 5.56mm.
Parted ways with Greenberg Traurig in 2009, and with Mark Barnes and Associates in early 2010. No replacement mentioned.

Remington:
Adaptive Combat Rifle external link multi-caliber (5.56mm or 6.8mm).
$500,000 over last 2 years to Winborn Solutions, and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-NY]

Smith & Wesson:
(M&P4, will not be entering the competition)
Greenberg Traurig @ $360,000/ year

April 18/11: Competition. In published responses to questions from industry over Draft RFP W15QKN-11-R-F003, the US Army has laid out a schedule for its “Individual Carbine”. The RFP is expected in May 2011, with Phase 1 evaluations from July to October 2011, and Phase 2 evaluations extending to July 2012. The contracts, if any, would be awarded in October 2012, followed by even more evaluations of the remaining contenders, lasting until March 2013.

While there is no caliber or mechanical type requirement, the Army may not choose to do anything, in the end. It is openly espousing a “dual path” strategy to upgrade existing M4s, even as it launches this competition. Given a long past history of declaring that new designs don’t offer enough benefits over existing M4s to justify a purchase, outside observers can be forgiven any skepticism they may have over the Army’s determination to field anything else when all is said and done. PROCNET Q&A responses external link | PEO Soldier external link | Gannett’s Army Times external link | Aviation Week Ares external link.

Jan 31/11: Competition. The US Army issues Draft RFP W15QKN-11-R-F003 external link for an “Individual Carbine.” In practice, the solicitation announces an Industry Day on March 30/11, and offerors are directed to NOT submit proposals at this time. Interested parties are advised that only firms within the Small Arms Industry will be granted admittance at the Doubletree Hotel Washington DC – Crystal City, and that ITAR export control procedures are in effect.

Col. Doug Tamilio, the service’s project manager for soldier weapons, reportedly said in a statement that “We’re challenging industry to develop the next-generation carbine and we’re looking forward to the results.” On the other hand, there have been previous industry days (vid. 2008), and other next-generation carbines have been shelved in the past, on the nebulous ground of not being enough of an improvement over the M4. FedBizOpps external link | Wall St. Journal external link.

SCAR-L/H SCAR-L top, SCAR-H
(click to view full)
June 25/10: FN SCAR. Military.com reports external link that SOCOM has decided to cancel further 5.56mm SCAR-L Mk.16 rifle purchases on cost and efficiency grounds, and will probably recall the 850 fielded weapons, rather than continue to support them. SOCOM will be adding to their stock of 750 7.62mm SCAR-H Mk.17 riles, however, and will field an extended SCAR-H Mk.20 with sharpshooter enhancements.

SOCOM cancels 5.56mm SCAR-L

March 10/10: Competition. In testimony before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, senior Army officers state that external link [PDF]:

“We are currently taking a dual approach to improve the current weapon, the M4, as we move forward with a new carbine requirement. The Project Manager (PM) released a market survey in January 2010, seeking the best industry has to offer for improvements to the current M4. The PM expects to release an RFP soon to compete the upgrade program. Additionally, the Army will conduct a full and open competition to address a new requirement for an individual carbine. Once the Joint Requirements Oversight Council approves the new requirement, the PM will initiate the competition with the release of an RFP for comments from industry. This is the first step in conducting the competition. The Army is working with the other Services in these programs to ensure their requirements are included in our process and they are always invited to participate in the programs’ development and production.”

Jan 12/10: HK. Heckler & Kock announces external link that they will begin producing civilian variants of the HK416 and the 7.62mm HK417 in a new HK manufacturing facility in Newington, New Hampshire. It’s co-located within an existing 70,000 square foot facility, and would create an American manufacturing base from which to offer military HK416s as well. EVP Wayne Weber of Heckler & Koch USA:

“It is our intention for all U.S. made HK products to equal the quality and reliability of the products made in Germany… By establishing American-based manufacturing, we can compliment our German production and ensure that HK can be more competitive in the U.S. and comply with government contracts requiring U.S. manufacturing. HK products made in the USA will be fully compliant with federal solicitations giving preference to domestically produced products.”

M240B USMC M240B,
Afghanistan
(click to view full)
Nov 30/09: Report. US Army TRADOC releases a paper by Major Thomas P. Ehrhart of the Command and General Staff College titled “Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer external link” [PDF]. It points out that American forces are routinely engaged in Afghan firefights beyond 300 meters, where their weapons are less effective than their opponents. Excerpts:

“Comments from returning non-commissioned officers and officers reveal that about [50%] of engagements occur past 300 meters. The enemy tactics are to engage United States forces from high ground with medium and heavy weapons, often including mortars, knowing that we are restricted by our equipment limitations and the inability of our overburdened soldiers to maneuver at elevations exceeding 6000 feet. Current equipment, training, and doctrine are optimized for engagements under 300 meters and on level terrain.

There are several ways to extend the lethality of the infantry. A more effective 5.56-mm bullet can be designed which provides enhanced terminal performance out to 500 meters. A better option to increase incapacitation is to adopt a larger caliber cartridge, which will function using components of the M16/M4. The 2006 study by the Joint Service Wound Ballistics – Integrated Product Team discovered that the ideal caliber seems to be between 6.5 and 7-mm. This was also the general conclusion of all military ballistics studies since the end of World War I.

The reorganization of the infantry squad in 1960 eliminated the M1D sniper rifle and resulted in the loss of the precision mid-range capability of the infantry squad… All 5.56-mm weapons are most effective when employed within 200 meters due to velocity limitations. Once contact is made, the fight is limited to machine gunners, mortars and designated marksmen. In the table of organization for a light infantry company8 only the six -M240B 7.62-mm machine guns, two- 60-mm mortars and nine designated marksman armed with either 7.62-mm M14 rifles or accurized 5.56-mm M16A4’s rifles are able to effectively engage the enemy. These weapons systems represent 19 percent of the company’s firepower. This means that 81 percent of the company has little effect on the fight. This is unacceptable.”

Oct 12/09: Field. The Associated Press reports external link that M4 carbine and M249 SAW light machine gun failures contributed to the debacle at Wanat, Afghanistan, in which an American outpost was overrun by the Taliban, and to another situation at nearby Kamdesh. An excerpt:

“[Douglas Cubbison of the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, KS] study is based on an earlier Army investigation and interviews with Soldiers who survived the attack at Wanat… The Soldiers said their weapons were meticulously cared for and routinely inspected by commanders. But still the weapons had breakdowns… Cubbison acknowledges the high rates of fire during the two-hour battle may have led to the failures. But he says numerous problems occurred relatively early in the engagement.”

Defense Tech adds external link that:

“Basically, the most damning conclusions are compiled in the recommendations section of the report. There are a few instanced specified in the report of an M4 fouling, and one where the M4 fouled and the Soldier picked up a SAW and that was jammed up as well… Staff Sergeant Phillips poured out fire, as recalled by another Engineer Specialist loading for him, [SSG Phillips] went through three rifles using them until they jammed.”

Appendix A: Testing, Testing – Fairly?

The promised tests included the M4 and 3 other rifles: the M4-based HK416, the FNH USA-designed Mk16 SOCOM Combat Assault Rifle (best known as FN SCAR-L), and the H&K XM8 carbine. Unlike the M4, the HK416, XM8, and FN-SCAR all use gas-piston operating systems to achieve automatic fire. The XM8 family external link is an very updated version of the popular G36 in use with many NATO militaries; it was slated to be the M4’s replacement, but that RFP was suspended by the Army in July 2005 and then canceled in October 2005. The FN-SCAR is a “live” program, and July 2007 marked the beginning of Special Operations Command’s operational tests of the FN-SCAR 5.56mm Mk16 and the 7.62mm Mk17, which could become its future mainstays.

Miltary.com reported external link that the US Army sand tests will include 10 samples of each weapon through which engineers will fire 6,000 rounds. Each weapon and loaded magazine will be exposed to “extreme dust” for 30 minutes then test fired with 120 rounds. Each weapon will be wiped down and lubricated every 600 rounds, with a full cleaning every 1,200 rounds. The firing, collection of data and analysis of data is expected to take approximately 5 months.

FN SCAR w Grip Pod Detailed FN SCAR w. Grip Pod
(click to view full)
One’s first reaction upon seeing the proposed testing regimen was to compare it very unfavorably with the regimen Delta Force put the HK416 through, firing it day after day without maintenance for thousands of rounds. Or even the testing HK itself uses for its HK416s. Indeed, it seems on its face to be a test designed to minimize the very weaknesses in the M4 incumbent that have triggered this controversy. Those who believe the cycle is reasonable cite 300 rounds as the soldier’s 1-day load, and say that under sand storm conditions, a once a day wipedown is the bare minimum for any weapon. Every 600 rounds is thus a safety factor of 2 against the worst possible conditions. Of course, sandstorms have a way of lasting more than one day, and when they do – as in the initial portion of Operation Iraqi Freedom – even vehicle interiors may feature a fine particulate haze.

Within its chosen regimen, there were 3 key ways the Army could choose to bias the test. One was the size of the particulate in the dust chamber – which can be made large in relative terms to lower the number of problems with fouling and jams. The biggest problems in theater are with the very fine particulates. This is especially relevant given the October 2004 report prepared by the Desert Research Institute for the US military. “Geochemical and Physical Characteristics of Iraqi Dust and Soil Samples” [PDF, 2.9 MB] stated that:

“…current chamber test methodology misrepresents real-world conditions. The character of the soils and dust collected from areas of military activity in Iraq is greatly different from the material used in current weapons testing procedures. Current procedures employ laboratory generated dust that is 99.7% silicon dioxide (i.e. quartz), contains no salt or reactive chemicals, and contains coarser particle sizes than most of the Iraq samples. Use of this material cannot simulate conditions in Iraq that have contributed to the weapons failures.”

The next item to watch was whether the rifles used were randomly chosen, or cherry picked and then pre-maintained to perform at an unusual reliability level vs. a field weapon. A third way of gaming the testing system could involve the level of lubrication used. One source noted that the first dust test new M4s had 9,836 jams in 60,000 rounds – almost one jam every 6 rounds. The Army kept working on the test until they figured out a “generous lubrication” approach that used far more than the manufacturer recommended, but lowered jams to 1 in 88 rounds. A fair test must match the manufacturer’s manual for each weapon, or use the same lubrication for each weapon based on the minimum recommended among all test weapons.

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/...roversy-03289/
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Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


Last edited by Paparock; 10-27-2016 at 11:03 PM..
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Question Does Your Rifle Out-Perform The Military-Issue M4?

Does Your Rifle Out-Perform The Military-Issue M4?



http://www.offthegridnews.com/self-d...tary-issue-m4/


When you read a headline, “Army quits tests after competing rifle outperform M4A1 carbine,” you might think that the Army took a cloak and dagger approach to canceling the tests simply because a rifle outperformed the M4.

Let’s take a look.

As The Washington Times reported, a competing rifle actually did beat the M4A1 variant in a couple of different fields of reliability. This was not a test the Army actually wanted to do, but was pushed by Congress — and I doubt that many in Congress has ever pulled a trigger for a living.

The Army and the military in general are littered with what troops constantly call the “good idea fairy.” These fairies usually have a product that is supposed to be the next wonder gear but it is often heavy, expensive and useless. So it’s hard to make a lot of people support a change in gear, especially when an outside source like Congress is pestering it. The Army even cheated midway through the contest by changing the ammunition used for testing without warning the different rifle developers.

But what does all this have to do with prepping and survival? Well, I doubt the logistics of arming over a million soldiers is your concern. A single person learns much faster than an organization. The question, though, is what is the best rifle out there? For people looking to buy their first defensive rifle, it’s an important question.

How To Hide Your Guns, And Other Off-Grid Caches… (http://www.hideyourguns.com/?utm_sou...sue_HYG_Sept29)

The AR 15 platform is one of the most popular rifles in American for defensive and recreational purposes, but it’s 50 years old. Not many people are driving 50-year-old vehicles on a daily basis, yet the ever-adaptable AR 15 doesn’t show its age when topped off with the latest and greatest tactical gadgets, gizmos and wizzows. Still, it’s 50 years old.

The eight rifles the Army tested were not revealed, but it’s safe to assume the FN SCAR, HK 416, Adcor B.E.A.R. Rifle, ARX 160 and Remington’s Adaptive combat rifle were all part of the show. They represent the latest designs and technologies in weapon designs, and most have learned from the success of the M4 and built on it.

The HK 416 has seen service with the United States Navy Seals, and most assume it was the weapon that put Osama Bin Laden’s lights out. The 416 is identical in controls to the M4 and is near-identical in appearance. The pistol-driven 416 is incredibly reliable, and has been adopted in an enhanced model as the M27 IAR for the Marine Corps. It’s reported to be extremely accurate and doubles as a suppression-based weapon and a designated marksman’s rifle. In my opinion it was probably this rifle that beat the M4.

FN SCAR is most famous for the amount of special operation forces carrying it overseas, from Green Berets to Air Force Para Rescue. The FN SCAR has served in a lot of missions we’ll never hear about. The SCAR is a lightweight, modular weapon that features a folding stock and excellent controls. FN made the machine gun I carried in Afghanistan and it was the most reliable piece of kit my squad had.

The ARX 160 has been adopted by the Italian military, as well as the Albanian Special Forces and some police forces in Mexico. While it is a relative newcomer it has met favorable reviews and has been adopted by a few militaries.

The B.E.A.R. is an American-designed and built piston-driven AR that is another newcomer to the market, and has been popular with police and civilian shooters. The ACR was originally designed by Magpul but later sold to Remington. I have no mercy with Remington and highly doubt this rifle was the winner

Now, if you already own and have invested in an M4-based platform I’m not saying your choice was wrong. The platform is very viable and very capable of being an excellent defensive weapon. There are a lot of reasons to own an M4 — especially when it comes to logistics.

But if do not own a modern sporting rifle, perhaps you should consider a different weapon than an M4. Both the SCAR and HK rifle have 5.556 variants, and 7.62 x 51 variants for a bigger punch, and the ACR can be adapted with multiple calibers without much work or expertise, using just a kit.

The AR-15 platform is just a bit dated and has begun showing its age as more reliable weapons are stepping into the spotlight to fulfill the defensive rifle role. Some folks do find it hard to let go of a specific weapon they’ve trusted for so long, but often this keeps a military or an individual from truly seeing the potential for an improved system.

However, rushing into a new weapon system was what helped create the debacle in Vietnam with the M16, a scar on its reputation that still holds to this day. I suggest you choose a system that is being utilized by a current military force — like the HK 416 and FN SCAR. The biggest downside is the price on these systems. You pay for the cutting edge in design.

My local gun store said the release of the Tavor to the American market has driven down the prices of SCARs by a few hundred dollars. This is a trend we can expect to keep repeating itself over and over.


http://www.offthegridnews.com/self-d...tary-issue-m4/
__________________
O Israel
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


Last edited by Paparock; 10-27-2016 at 11:27 PM..
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