By Paul McCain
The great crew out at Asymmetric Solutions USA in Farmington, Missouri brought out some of their more, let’s say, “professional grade” weapon systems the other day and I was around to watch and try out one of their full-auto M4 Carbines. One of the instructors described it as a “bastardized” HK 416 with assorted goodies including a high tech IR light/laser thing-a-ma-jig (my words, not his), an Eotech optic and a cool prototype titanium suppressor from Gemtech. The rifle’s made up of an HK416 upper and an LMT select-fire lower. [Insert sound of brakes screeching here]. Wait? Did I say, select fire? Why yes, indeed, I did . . .
John, one of the lead intructors at Asymmetric, demonstrated it for us and handily sent three- and five-round bursts down range like a guy who has done it before, because, well, he has. A lot.
A couple of guys who were there attending Asummetric’s tactical pistol class that day got to give it a try for the first time, too. Of course, the response was fairly predictable. Big grins and a well deserved, “holy crap.” What more is there to say? Well, let me try.
First, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to pull the trigger on a select fire M4. Would it run away? Would I spray bullets off into the ever-after endangering every living thing in a two mile radius? How about recoil? Surely it couldn’t be that bad, right? After all, it’s basically a high powered .22LR. Well, sort of. You get my point.
The video shows how smoothly the rifle operated and how quietly it ran with that sweet suppressor. When I took my turn, I was mercifully not on video. First I put a few rounds down range in semi-auto mode just to get a feel for her. Nice. Very nice. That suppressor is awesome. I could do this all day.
OK, time to move the switch over to fun mode. Easily done. Ready to go. Square up to the berm. Lean forward. Aggressive stance. Nice forward grip. Arms in position. All systems go.
Slowly pull that trigger and…bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam! Eight shots rip off before I can get my finger off the trigger. Wow. The gun rocked me back more than I thought it would. Accurate? Hardly. Fun? You betcha. But I was surprised at how uncomfortable it was. Not a pleasant experience for my trigger finger and hand. Come to find out that the full auto trigger group is slamming pretty good in there and you sure feel it. That was the biggest surprise for me.
The next burst was more controllable: three rounds. Finger on, finger off. Easy peasy. Still not terribly comfortable. Shots seemed to group around the same general area. OK, got it. Squeeze off a few more, and…time to change the magazine. New mag in. Squeeze off a few more, do it a few more times. New mag time again. Wow, that was fast. Too fast.
No way full auto is a practical way to use the M4 Carbine. A 30-round magazine is just way too low-capacity to feed this hungry beast on full giggle. Give me one of those 60-rounders, if you please. Nah, on second thought, I’d just rip through that in a few seconds and at about $30 a pop for a mag full of good ammo, no thank you.
Still, I decided to have some more fun and squeeze of a long burst. All set, lean into it and pull the trigger and…the muzzle rise was ridiculous in spite of my best effort to keep it down. And so I stopped before spraying bullets into the adjacent county.
And that’s the biggest takeaway. Full auto is great for having fun, but not much else. One can imagine situations where suppressing fire using full auto may be necessary as long as you had a group of other people with you doing the same thing to cover you when you run dry. Which will be nearly instantly.
The better and most obvious use would be in very short, controlled bursts. Three rounds? Five rounds? Then again, with a practiced finger and a good trigger, you can squeeze off shots very quickly (and more controlled) in semi-auto. Not much point in even a “burst” mode setting, as far as I can tell.
In speaking with combat veterans at Asymmetric they — to a man — said that during their careers they never went full auto in a fire fight. Semi-auto was the way to go for them. More precise. More reliable. More accurate.
Would I do it again? You bet I would. Especially if I was using somebody else’s ammo.