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Weapons: M4 Comes In Last
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December 19, 2007: The U.S. Army recently ran more tests on its M-4 rifle,  involving dust and reliability. These tests were supposed to take place in August. They didn't, and after several delays they were finally performed. Four weapons were tested. The M4, the XM8, SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) and the H&K 416 (an M4 with the more dust proof components of the XM8 installed).

 

The testing consisted of  exposing the weapons to 25 hours of heavy dust conditions over  two months. During that testing period, 6,000 rounds were fired from each of ten weapons of each type. The weapons with the fewest failures (usually jams) were rated highest. Thus the XM8 finished first, SCAR second, 416 third and M4 last. In response, the army said it was satisfied with the M4s performance, but was  considering equipping it with a heavier barrel (to lessen jams from overheating) and more effective magazines (27 percent of the M4s 882 jams were magazine related.) The army noted that the M4 fired over 98 percent of its rounds without problems. The army had been forced by Congress to conduct the tests. Congress was responding to complaints by the troops. The XM8 had 127 jams, the SCAR 226 and the 416 had 233. Any stoppage is potentially fatal for the soldier holding the rifle. Thus the disagreement between the army brass, and the troops who use the weapons in combat.

 

In dusty places like Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to clean your M16 and M4 rifles constantly, otherwise the combination of carbon and dust in the chamber will cause jams. The army and marines both decided to stick with their current weapons, rather than adopt an easier to maintain weapon, like the XM8 or H&K 416, because of the billion or so dollars it would cost to switch rifles. 

 

If the issue were put to a vote, the troops would vote for a rifle using a short-stroke system (like the XM8, SCAR or H&K 416). But the military is not a democracy, so the troops spend a lot of time cleaning their weapons, and hoping for the best. The debate involves two intertwined attitudes among senior army commanders. First, they don't want the hassle, and possible embarrassment, of switching to a new rifle. Second, they are anticipating a breakthrough in weapons technology that will make a possible a much improved infantry weapon. This is likely to happen later, rather than sooner, but the generals keep thinking about it.

 

Earlier efforts to just get the troops a more reliable rifle have failed. Back in 2005, the U.S. Army's design for a new assault rifle, the XM8, was cancelled. But now the manufacturer has incorporated one of the key components of the XM8, into M4 rifles, and calls the hybrid the H&K 416. Heckler & Koch (H&K) designed the XM8, which was based on an earlier H&K rifle, the G36. SOCOM is using the 416, but no one else is (except for a few police departments).

 

The XM8 had one major advantage over the M16. The XM8 (like the G36 and 416) uses a short-stroke piston system. The M16s uses gas-tube system, which results in carbon being blown back into the chamber. That leads to carbon build up, which results in jams (rounds getting stuck in the chamber, and the weapon unable to fire.). The short-stroke system also does not expose parts of the rifle to extremely hot gases (which wears out components more quickly). As a result, rifles using the short-stroke system, rather than the gas-tube, are more reliable, easier to maintain and last longer.

 

H&K developed the 416, for SOCOM, at the same time the XM8 was being evaluated by the army. SOCOM got the first 416s in 2004, a year before the army cancelled the XM8. The 416 looks like the M4, for the only thing that has changed is the gas system that automatically extracts the cartridge after the bullet has been fired, and loads the next round. SOCOM can buy pretty much whatever they want, the U.S. Army cannot. SOCOM listens to what its troops want, the army often doesn't. In trying to avoid embarrassment and scandal, the army leadership is blundering into it anyway. Now the issue is getting revived, and is getting more  attention from Congress. The army doesn't like that either.

 

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Herald12345    Okay, I WANT ton see the primary results on this-not second hand reporting.    12/19/2007 6:40:38 AM
I'm getting a little tired of the XM-8 propaganda. That PoS  is DEAD: or should be.

WHERE are these test results so I can see the test data and the field conditions?

And why keep banging the drum for H&K?

Herald

 
Quote    Reply

hybrid       12/19/2007 7:15:30 AM

I'm getting a little tired of the XM-8 propaganda. That PoS  is DEAD: or should be.

WHERE are these test results so I can see the test data and the field conditions?

And why keep banging the drum for H&K?

Herald


http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/12/army_carbine_dusttest_071217/

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,143790,00.html?ESRC=army-a.nl

Limited resurrection (necromancy?) for this particular testing it seems.
 
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Herald12345       12/19/2007 7:59:11 AM



I'm getting a little tired of the XM-8 propaganda. That PoS  is DEAD: or should be.

WHERE are these test results so I can see the test data and the field conditions?

And why keep banging the drum for H&K?

Herald



http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/12/army_carbine_dusttest_071217/<br>;" target="_blank">link

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,143790,00.html?ESRC=army-a.nl<br>;" target="_blank">link


Limited resurrection (necromancy?) for this particular testing it seems.
Thanks for the links but I said the studies not more news outlets repeating propaganda. I want the RAW DATA and METHODOLOGY.

Herald
 
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DarthAmerica       12/19/2007 8:53:15 AM
sigh...let me make this as clear as possible. The M4 and M-16A2s are fine weapons. Sure there are things that could be improved. The most obvious thing being the evolution to a gas piston. Don't misinterpret that as an endorsement of the 416. However, it is not something I would consider a matter of urget attention. No currently available weapons significantly exceed the performance of the M-16 enough to make it worth the logistical and doctrinal changes that would entail. The secret to the M4 is good NCOs, PCC/PCIs and training. It's not hard...
 
http://media4.dropshots.com/photos/424937/20071219/053017.jpg" width=237 border=0>
 
http://media3.dropshots.com/photos/424937/20071219/052959.jpg" width=344 border=0>
 
 
...it works.
 
 
Sincerely, M4 user
-DA
 
 
 
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gf0012-aust    Defence News blurb....   12/19/2007 10:26:09 AM
U.S. Army May Get Tougher Barrel, Better Mags for M4

By MATTHEW COX Defense News

U.S. Army weapons officials said Dec. 17 they are considering equipping the M4 carbine with a more durable barrel and improved magazines during a Pentagon briefing that discussed why three newer carbines outperformed the M4 in a recent reliability test.

Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., completed an ?extreme dust test? in late November that looked at the M4?s reliability compared to the Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA?s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the H&K 416.

The weapons were exposed to 25 hours of heavy dust conditions over the course of the two-month long test that fired 6,000 rounds through each test weapon.

In the end,XM8 finished first, SCAR finished second, 416 finished third and M4 finished fourth.

Despite the findings, Army weapons officials are still pleased with M4?s performance, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, the command that is responsible for equipping soldiers.

Brown described the Colt Defense LLC M4 as a?world-class weapon,? at a briefing with reporters.

?There is a very high satisfaction rate with this rifle,? Brown said, adding that soldier surveys give the M4 an 89 percent approval rating.

Army weapons officials say there is no movement toward replacing the M4 but say they will continue to improve upon the design.

?We want to increase reliability,? said Col. Robert Radcliffe, the head of the Directorate of Combat Developments for the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga.

One of the upgrades that may be coming in the future is a more reliable magazine. The test revealed that 239 of the 882 stoppages M4 suffered were magazine-related.

The hope is that upgrades, such as stronger springs, will increase the magazine?s ability to feed rounds more effectively, Radcliffe said. If all goes well in testing, the improved magazines could be ready by next spring.

Another upgrade under consideration is a ?hammer-forged? barrel, Brown said.

While there is no timeline in place, Brown said switching to this specific manufacturing process could yield M4 barrels that ?have a longer life.?

Army weapons officials agreed to perform the test at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in July. Coburn took up the issue following a Feb. 26 Army Times report on moves by elite Army combat forces to ditch the M4 in favor of carbines they consider more reliable. Coburn is questioning the Army?s plans to spend $375 million to purchase M4s through fiscal 2009.
 
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Mechanic       12/19/2007 10:31:40 AM
"The weapons with the fewest failures (usually jams) were rated highest. --- the XM8 finished first, SCAR second, 416 third --- the XM8 had 127 jams, the SCAR 226 and the 416 had 223"

Which one was second and which one was third?
 
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WarNerd       12/19/2007 11:09:04 AM
... and how many jams did the M4's have?
 
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Ehran       12/19/2007 11:36:24 AM

... and how many jams did the M4's have?



the article says 882 jams.  a more complete report over on military.com puts about 10% of the jams as "call an armourer" level of seriousness.
 
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YelliChink       12/19/2007 12:14:01 PM
If they are using Taiwanese ammo for this torture test, then I believe it's unfair to M4. Since all Taiwanese ammo were produced by the very same facility that produced short stroke piston AR variant for more than 30 years. AR type rifles do not perform well with low quality ammo. US Army standard WC844 ball propellant has very high peak pressure but chamber pressure drops quickly. Not everybody knows how to make it. Over pressure at gas port and high cabon residue level can cause serious problems to M4, even worse than M16A2, under continual use without propoer maintainance.
 
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Yimmy       12/19/2007 12:50:28 PM
If they are testing the weapons on the number of times they jammed only, they may as well go and declare the 1903 Springfield as the winner.


 
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