635732569453985373-MAR-M-4-Carbine

From marinecorpstimes.com: “Marine leaders have made the momentous recommendation to ditch the iconic M16 in favor of the M4 carbine as the new universal weapon for infantrymen. The recommendation to swap the venerated rifle that has served as the grunt’s primary implement of war since Vietnam now sits on the commandant’s desk, pending his final review and a decision. But, the swap appears imminent and if approved will relegate the M16 to a support role. It follows a similar shift already underway in the Army.” The move favors the shorter M4 for its CQB advantages in tight situations . . .

In the words of retired master sergeant Larry Vickers,

“Some argue beyond that the M4 carbine lacks effectiveness versus the M16, but the M16 is like driving a sports car with a six-cylinder engine,” he said, because it is limited by the same small 5.56mm cartridge as the M4. “You can shoot 400 to 500 yards away, but you are still shooting a 5.56.”

A longer barrel would make sense with a heavier hitting round like the .308, but unless Marines are given a larger caliber Vickers said the M4 is “bringing so much more to the table.”

“It is the world’s gold standard,” he said.

Good move?

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162 Responses to Marines Move to Scrap the M16 for the M4

    • Qual’d some times with the M16A2 other times with the M4. Always scored better with the M4. No question. 14.5 > 20.

    • This is crap! Budget cuts, or where giving the m16’s to terrorists. No way does the m4 out pace a 20in rifle.. 800 yds vs 500, come on thought marine were riflemen. I personally swapped my m4 for and m16 for distance and firepower, I wanted a few fps for longer shots.. Things must be tight to take away the rifle. I guess we’re moving to modern infantry-less wars, hope this won’t come back to bit us!

  1. I think it’s a good move and my M16/AR15 experience goes back to 1965 when I first went to basic training (Army) Years later as an Infantry squad leader, platoon sgt and finally as a light infantry company 1st Sgt i learned the lesson of “weight vs mission:” over and over again.

    But I also think the Army/Marines need to develop a backup weapon in a heavier caliber. Using the AR15 pattern and shooting something of at least .270 (6.8?) would mean that a secondary weapon more suitable to longer range was already available and ready to be deployed. Stocking a heavier caliber upper ready to go just makes sense.

  2. .300 Blackout? Same bolt, same mags, minimal retooling involved, swap the barrel.

    See? Simple. It’s not an exotic 6.5 or 6.8, where ammo is exotic and expensive, and the rifle/carbine has to be almost totally redone.

    I must be missing something, or we are beholden to NATO with the 5.56.

    • Doesn’t have the range the Corps wants. We don’t need a better cartridge, we just need a better bullet like the M855A1, Mk262, or the M318(SOST).

      • What range do they want? I can easily hit a 6″x10″ piece of steel at 200y with my 300BLK SBR sporting an 8″ Noveske barrel, AAC 762SDN-6, and 2 MOA Aimpoint. I’d be pretty confident at hitting a torso at 300-400y, at which point I’ve still got a 149gr bullet @ 1600fps. That’s a pretty big ouch.

        • 500 Meters. Period. Though marines have designated marksmen with M14s we don’t want to have to rely on them.

          The 5.56 mk262 does that just fine. M855A1 probably does too.

          But if it were me I would not go to the M4Awhatever, I’d hold a competition and see if the Remington ACR stacks up against the SCAR16, etc.

        • I wouldn’t touch anything Remington rushed to enter into a military weapons trial.

        • I wouldn’t go with the ACR or SCAR16 over an AR pattern rifle. What do either of them offer that an AR doesn’t? If you are staying with 5.56, then they are all the same, except that one is already bought & paid for.

    • As I understand it 300 blackout has no advantage over 5.56 at long range with a horrendous drop at long range. I think a larger caliber refers to a 308 velocity trajectory round. Probably the mg round makes sense logistically

      • Someone with real world experience; at what range does an “ideal bulleted’ 5.56 become useless out of a 20” barrel, but a .308 from a regular issue, averagely maintained rifle not? It’s way out there beyond my marksmanship skills regardless of rifle, but doesn’t 5.56, the caliber, remain accurate and deadly in Marine-grade hands, out to about as far as any non-accurized rifle, in any caliber, can reasonably be expected to?

        And, where the heck are the Marines planning on going now, where they need better CQB badly enough to ditch their M16s, in favor of some sawed off cop guns?

        • I have a little experience in the army with M-4’s and own a 20 inch AR now. I think the reality is that hits matter most, and a soldier with a flatter shooting round within engagement distance is the better off. 20 inch barrels give more velocity than 14.5 inch, and there is usually a bit less recoil with the longer barrels and gas system but with only a tad more weight. I think they should have kept a longer barrel and just taken off a bit more of the heavy rail stuff. It would be a pity if the next scrap we are in requires longer range and the average grunt has a sawed off SAW or m-4. The 5.56mm is a great flat shooting round, but it’s nice to have a longer barrel to really keep it at its potential.

        • It’s not so much about weight as it is about carrying it in enclosed spaces, and especially in vehicles. Hence why bullpups are also popular, even though they are not really any lighter.

    • .300 BLK isn’t a magic wonder-bullet replacement for the 5.56. It’s designed to keep it’s ballistic profile when used with suppressors. As stated, it does not have the range or trajectory for longer-range shots.

    • The only thing you have to change to use 6.5 Grendel is the bolt face and the barrel.. People have confirmed you can feed it from a 5.56 magazine but it will have problems near the end, however. The 6.5 Grendel, as far as trajectory is concerned, utterly DESTROYS 7.62×51 NATO, 300 BLK, and 6.8 SPC as well as 5.56. It shoots flatter than all of them.

      • The one major, major drawback for military use is that 300BLK ammo weighs 2-3x as much as 5.56mm ammo. Soldiers are better off firing 5.56mm and carrying double the ammo. With the best 5.56mm ammo, not much of a difference in performance.

      • LOL let’s go to 7.62×39 ballistics and shave another 100-200 yards off the effective range.

  3. Gee, I thought they already did. Silly me.
    In reality, I think Stoner had it more or less right before everybody decided to fix things that really were not broken.

    • Tom to Tom. Ding! Bullseye! We make sense, but than again were talking about .mil Commandants aka, bureaucrat .gov stooges. They can miss that common sense thingy.

      • Doesn’t have the range needed. It’s not the cartridge, it’s the horrible M855 construction. Literally almost any other projectile design would be better.

        • What, pray tell, range are you thinking. Stop me when I hit it…200…300…400…500…600…700. 300blk will do these, after this you’re in sniper range not short barreled to be practical, all though the 300blk will reach out over 1,000 and ring the steel. Use a caliber that has the punch without a bunch of expensive mods to existing equipment.

        • Could do something crazy and go back in time to something that worked for , say 65 years . I can do some amazing groups at 1500 yards with a $ 300.00 Savage Arms Axis in 30.06 . My BAR will still shoot a mouse off a trap at 1000 and my new Noreen BN 36 will get out to 2000 yards with no problem . I’m not a professional marksman by any stretch and I’ve always been proficient with a 06 . I don’t think any cartridge has been tinkered with as much as this one and from 120 to 220 grain , same barrel twist .

  4. So this means we’ll have surplus m16’s released for free to the civil militia, right? He said with a child like gleam in his eyes.

    • Oh no, Obama already had plans to give those M16’s to the drug cartels so he can push for more gun control.

    • Membership in a private militia or other ultra right goup (Klan, Tea Party, etc.) should be a lifetime disqualifier from gun ownership or service in the police or elected government.

      • So, if you don’t like someone’s politics, he shouldn’t be allowed to possess a gun. Spoken like a true dictator. You’d be right at home as part of the ruling class in North Korea.

        The Tea Party limits itself to political methods to achieve political goals. The Klan is, and always has been, a terrorist organization that uses violent methods to repress those it considers to be inferior. The original purpose of gun control laws was to disarm the Klan’s targets so that they had no choice but to cower in fear when the Klan came calling,

        • KLAN = DEMOCRAT

          Robert Clyde Bird (D) [oldest sitting US Senator] was a Grand Wizard/Dragon.

          Like I always say, the (D) bag a-holes in office ain’t the entire problem. It’s the millions of POS voters (some dead, some illegal alien, some multi-polling place voters, some qualifying in seversl of those categories) that voted for them.

          If you ‘live’ in a blue state, you may be part of the problem. If you have a (D) after your name, are a liberal, or a rino [i.e., Not Conservative] the problem is part-of-you, you are permanently damaged, and your mother (one of your five fathers that wears the dress more often) owes us an abortion.

        • Well weeza kent have dem darkies shootin at us, jus youen goes n ask Mr Wallace or Mr Byrd! Nex ting youz no dey be a wanten dem n da white school an sittin wif da white people on da bus.

        • Well done , I will as well , let’s start something here with TTAG . Every time we get a scum bag comment like the jerk who calls himself G_d , we send in $ 25.00 .

      • Your buddies over at CSGV are arguing for disarmament due to lack of “militia.” Now you propose to disarm militia. The doublethink required for such a position must be incredible. Then you love Big Brother.

  5. Can we move to 14.5″ middys at least (or even intermediate)? It’s more than enough pressure and dwell time. Heck 12.5″ barrels can run mid length gas systems. 10.3″ barrels can do carbine gas systems.

    • USMC would probably the last to do this, because they want their bayonets, and you need carbine length handguards for that, or else longer barrel.

  6. The 5.56 truly needs the longer barrel….it is marginal as a real fight stopper already. This is another indication that the Army is going to dump the M4 as the Marines always get the hand me down crap that the Army and Navy don’t want any longer.

    • No, it’s sticking around. We just upgraded to the M4A1. It brings back full auto rather than burst and the new M855A1 EPR round to go with the new barrel.

      • Are they rebarreling the M4A1s now? The one I carried way back in ’04 had the standard M4 contour barrel. Only difference I could see was the fire control group.

  7. Why was the M4 dumped for the M16? Longer barrel longer distance shots. Desert fighting means some long distance shots. I would say put the M4 in small non spec ops roles for CQB. Also what is the short and long term cost to the tax payers to switch?

  8. *sigh* I thought the marines would’ve stuck with what worked.

    In short. I think it’s a stupid decision.

  9. You mean capital M for Marksmanship USMC Marines are basically changing their doctrine to be more like the R-mee? That is a shame, I had hoped the USMC would go to something like the H&K 417, or at least issue them to one man per fire team.

    • That was my initial reaction, too. I generally don’t have much good to say about people in government employ, but Marines can shoot! (Rifles at least. They’re not all equally impressive with handguns…. ) Take the money this silliness costs, and split it between a 5.56 projectile the grunts feel comfortable going into battle with, and marksmanship programs for high schoolers, disadvantaged if you have to be a liberal about it even, aimed at discovering any who have a special talent for marksmanship, and we’d all be better off.

    • They’re already going to the M27 IAR for that role. So M4’s and one IAR per fire team. With the Mk318 round, it should work just fine.

  10. Give the Marines an M4 in .25-45 Sharps using expanding bullets. That would be something to brag about.

    • Why not look at the 6x45mm?

      Just the 5.56mm necked up to a .24cal., so the shorter barrel is offset by more bullet weight, without succumbing to the rainbow trajectory of the .300 Blackout.

      Should be a cheap and easy conversion for the govt too, and can still use all the 5.56 brass as well!

  11. Either or nobody loses……. Both are awesome weapon systems and as long as you keep in mind what weapon system you have and the trajectory of them both, VERY GOOD BOYS DOES FINE!!!!!!!!

  12. I would have liked to see them go to an M16 with an adjustable stock, I talked to a lot of Marines that don’t have a giant problem with the length of the rifle per say just the fact that the stock is at a fixed length that is not so great for people with shorter arms. I have relatively long arms but I like my short stocks sometimes. Maybe they could compromise and go for an M4 with an 18inch barrel?

  13. Yawn. It’s not like the M-16 is any different except for length of the barrel. Move along, nothing to see.

  14. I’m not sure they actually get a vote on it. Last I heard, the executive agent for small arms at DOD was the Army.

  15. Along with this, I think the Army/Marines will be moving away from thre M855/M855a1 bullet into the 77gr Black Hills Mk 262.

    If changing to HP ammo for pistols is approved, changing to HP rifle rounds can’t be far away and the Mk 262 is already being used by select units

    • The Black Hills round has an open tip match (OTM) bullet. The open tip is for ballistic stability at longer distances, not to mushroom like a hunting type hollowpoint.

      • It doesn’t really matter what it is “supposedly” for. The end result is that it fragments violently and reliably, which is just the ticket.

    • I have had the same thought myself. You get most of the .308 ballistics with only 67% of the recoil. The end result: very few people are going to keep fighting after taking a .243 round to the torso.

      Whatever the exact mechanism, that extra 0.020 inches of diameter and .45 grains of mass on the bullet seem to really make a difference in terms of terminal ballistics.

      • There are three problems with .243. First, mag capacity and weight – you’re talking about 20 rounds in the same-sized package that previously housed 30, and weighting just as much, so overall loadout is reduced. Second, while it doesn’t kick as much as .308, it’ll still most likely kick enough to not really be very controllable in automatic fire. And finally, because of its higher velocities, it burns through barrels fast.

        Frankly, staying on 5.56 but switching to 75-77gr OTM bullets would fix most of the issues with range and terminal efficiency, as Mk262 has demonstrated. A brand new caliber could produce even better results, and in particular, could be designed to work efficiently in short barrels (like e.g. .300 BLK does), but even then something more like 6.5 Grendel would probably be better than .243.

        .243 could be pretty awesome for DMRs, though.

        • That’s why we need to return to the .30-06.

          If you really think saving weight is important then start by losing body armor so Marines and soldiers can run again. We have entirely too much garbage to carry and if weight were so critical then start there. Give me more offensive power and the ability to move quickly and ditch the defensive armor and mountain of gadgets that keeps me from maneuvering.

        • In a sense, weight is basically a constant – there’s so much any given person can carry for any given level of mobility, and once we decide on said level the carry weight is fixed at some value X. Now the only thing we can do is decide what exactly they should carry. And when it comes to ammo, the heavier it is, the less rounds of it they can carry for the same portion of X.

          As for ditching armor, given that vast majority of injuries are sustained not from bullet fire but from shrapnel from IEDs (in counterinsurgency operations), artillery, and air strikes (in conventional warfare)… I don’t see how your improved mobility would help you there. At the very least, some sort of flak jacket would seem to be a necessity.

  16. “but unless Marines are given a larger caliber Vickers”

    Woo! Vickers MG for all!

    Oh, never mind. I think there was supposed to be a comma in there.

  17. This sounds like a great idea. Let’s take a round that absolutely depends on velocity to do damage and chop the barrel in half to drop muzzle velocity to the point that 5.56 NATO drops to muzzle energy to .357 Magnum levels from a revolver.

    Which means instead of an assault rifle, the Marines will effectively be equipped with submachine guns.

    Sub guns are great for cops doing entry work. Saddling battlefield Marines with such a handicap is criminal.

    • Are you speaking from experience/testing you’ve done or repeating stuff you’ve read on the Internets?

    • It’s not just the round, or the weapon. It’s the end user. And you can’t make half of them female and still have uniform issue of (relatively) big weapons. The average human can effectively hump 1/3 their total body weight. Love ALL military women, especially Marine ones that run a lot. Oooh yeah HOORAH. But face it, most just “don’t have enough ass for that” [yeah, I went there]. mist guys couldnt hump a 60 with enough ammo for a shitty patrol, much less a 240G. It took twice as many women personnel to turret mount an M2, and they practiced emergency evac procedures amongst themselves. Sounds like more liberal blue state tuck your nuts and make room for caitlyn evil (D) make America lose bullshit.

    • Are you really trying to equate m4s to 357 revolvers in terms of fightin tools?

      Get yourself a clue buddy!

      • No. If you read my comment, I was equating carbine length 5.56 rifles to pistol caliber submachine guns.

        Put another way, 5.56 out of a carbine length barrel has less energy than the original .30 Carbine with about the same range.

        And I don’t remember anyone arguing that the M1 Carbine should be adopted as a primary infantry rifle.

        Carbines and submachine guns have traditionally been support personnel weapons for a reason. An infantryman needs versatility out of his primary battle rifle. And as usual, the military is gearing up for the fight it was just in. That, and the DOD likely has a ton of M4s sitting around and the Marine M16s are getting worn out.

        So now the Marines are going to get M4s.

        It’s totally a change in doctrine you guys. It has nothing to do with all these new unused M4s we have laying around.

        • M1 Carbine would have been a pretty good main infantry rifle if only it were slightly more powerful, and most importantly, the bullets were shaped more aerodynamically such that its BC would be more like a rifle round and less like a pistol round. It’s the severe loss of velocity at distance that makes it meh, not muzzle energy.

  18. A change from a 20″ barrel 1:7 twist 5.56 to a 16″ barrel 1:7 twist 5.56 isn’t exactly revolutionary. At least some of the loads have improved. The Mk 318 Mod 0 / T556TNB1 5.56 load pushes a 62 grain bullet to about 2975 FPS from a 16″ barrel on a warm day, and can penetrate about 32″ of calibrated gel. It’s much more expensive than M855, however. Not sure how much the bean counters value the lives of our 0311 grunts.

    Mk 262 is also some decent stuff. For 5.56, anyways.

    If it was me back out in the desert again as an 0311 I’d want – would pay for from my own pocket – 300 BLK for close / intermediate / suppressed work. And I’d arm our designated marksman with 6.5 Creedmoor and .338 Lapua. But I’d actually want to do weird stuff like actually win wars and have weapons and fighting ability much greater than our enemies.

      • Ah. 14.5 inches. Great way to further neuter the 5.56. I was in 94-99, and used M16A2s with 20 barrels. When I wasn’t carrying the M249, anyways. I wouldn’t want a 14.5″ 5.56 loaded with M855 with my a$$ in harm’s way.

    • The M-4 is almost identically effective as the M-16 for practical purposes, but that says less about the effectiveness of the M-4 than it does about the weakness of the M-16.

  19. Meh, I’d recommend going Tavor. Full length barrel in an SBR sized platform. Train the noobs from the start on it and that BS “The magwell is in an unnatural location” argument is moot. It is no more unnatural than in front of the trigger, just that is what YOU are used to. Yeah, I’m talking to you.. the guy who is going to come in and flame me for championing the bullpup configuration.

    • It’s not so much about the location being “unnatural” as it being not quite convenient for all scenarios. It’s not hard to learn to reload a bullpup fast while you’re standing or kneeling, but try a little experiment – go prone, and try changing the mag without lifting your head up (assume that the enemy is firing at you at this very moment, and every extra inch of your head sticking out increases the chance of your brains being scattered around the landscape).

      • As I’m not an operational operator operating operationally, in other words I AM a big fat-ass who doesn’t do prone if I can help it, I must admit that I have no argument against what int19h suggests.

        In other words… Ok, I can see your point.

        • I’m not an operator either. This particular point is something that I’ve been told by guy who did have some personal experience using both AK and AR platforms (he had his own small security company in US for a while, and before that he was in the Soviet army when it was in Afghanistan back in the 80s) about ergos of either. He had a bunch of stuff to say about it, and one of it was that the rock-in AK magwell and right-side charging handle are actually better when you’re prone, and suggested to try this particular exercise to figure out why; which I did, and saw his point right away. He also noted how STANAG-mag bullpups are even worse in that regard.

  20. What about a 16″ barrel? It’s 4″ shorter than the m16, and let’s you run a longer gas system to go with the little extra barrel length. I have run 14.5, 16, and 10.5 in combat, including Iraq and af. My favorite was the 16″ in af with the 77 gr (better Than the 70gr brown tip stuff, and waaaaay better than green tip). The 16″, acog or aim point, 77 gr and 1:7″ twist barrel was PERFECT. It was the best combination of reliability, accuracy, size/handiness, and takedown power I ever carried. It was perfect for af distances that didn’t require sniper/dm work, and cq.

    The USMC did a baby step move to go to the a4 over a decade ago, and the rails etc were good, but they missed the opportunity to go to an adjustable stock standard weapon for shorter people and thick body armor. I remember feeling sorry for some Marines I saw with muskets that they couldn’t even shoulder properly because of the thick body armor and long stock. I heard that at the time a big part of the decision was to keep a full length rifle stock to allow them to practice drill properly. It’s hard to do stack arms and inspection arms when your buttstock is thin plastic And the barrel is short. I wouldn’t put it past them to make a decision like that.

  21. Why not 6.8 SPC out of an 18″ barrel? Probably the best compromise of close quarters vs. medium range terminal ballistics.

    .223 derived cartridges kind of intrigue me, but the only things I can find are .300 AAC and the wildcat 6/45mm. In contrast, the .308 case has been opened up and closed down to everything from .243 to .358. How about a .223 case necked up to a .257 bullet?

    And why in the 21st century does every Marine have to have just one gun? Why not an open field rifle AND a close quarters carbine?

    • Because we have enough crap to carry and no one will carry two rifles. Where would a battalion store a thousand rifles when it has to march? Everything the infantry owns has to be carried or trucked and an infantry battalion doesn’t rate enough trucks to carry 1,000 spare rifles.

      • Every soldier would be issued either a rifle or a carbine depending on where he’ll be deployed. In urban settings they’d get carbines. Out in the open they’d get rifles. From what I’ve heard the Taliban had a practice of opening up on our soldiers with their 7.62 machine guns at 600 or 700 yards because they knew the M4 was useless at that range. That situation isn’t any better than trying to bust down doors with an M14.

        • A favorite Taliban tactic around 06 to 08 was to rip off ten rounds rapid from great granddads old Short Magazine Lee Enfield from 600 yards and then big out before air support showed up.

  22. I’m deferring to Vickers, as he has been there done that.
    Navy Seal I took a couple classes pretty much says same- with training its good to 600 yds on a man size target.

    • It’s not (always) about ballistics, it’s important to aim for the target, and hit what your aiming at, but wars are won by what a human can carry into battle, and the 5.56 is a smallish light round that stacks moderately well in not only magazines but in supply cans, on pallets, on delivery platforms, in warehouses. And NATO uses it, and we need NATO for when we go against the UN in NY, so they can keep us from using excessive force.

  23. As a former 0311 that carried the M16A2 everywhere, I think it all depends on the details.
    I was looking forward to the M16A5-20″ barrel and adjustable stock with MK318 SOST is a killer!
    The SOST round in a 14.5″ barrel not so much. My choice would be 16″ barrel with Mid gas system and free float handguards and the SOST round. That would get it done, maybe.

    • You realize the MK318 round was developed for the M4 and Mk18 /416 right. I have seen its effect out of a 10inch on people and its amazing.

  24. If it were me, I wouldn’t do this. Anyone with a MOS designator 03XX would get a SCAR17. The DMR would be a SCAR20. Keep the SAW, and give the A-gunner an AA-12 and the corporal an m32 40mm. And issue everyone pistols. Handle anything with that loadout.

    • The MK17 isn’t that great of a rifle. And the MK20 is even worse. There is a reason the SMUs don’t use them. And SOCOM as a whole doesn’t really like them. SF is betting on the new M110s, Marsoc has been quietly transferring theirs to the NSW, NSW has done nothing but bitch about theirs.

  25. .300 BLK would be a good CQB cartridge but over a distance it would arc like a rainbow.

    6.8 SPC would be a good compromise as it is fairly flat shooting and has good knock down power, similar to 7.62×39.

    For open country you can’t beat a 6.5mm such as .260 Remington for general use, and something bigger for specialist use.

    • The 6.8 SPC, at least in the Spec II format, has more power than the 7.62 x 39. The 300 BLK has a bit less.

      • .300 BLK has less energy at the muzzle, but it retains it further away due to better BC.

        6.8 SPC, OTOH, has pretty horrible BC.

  26. Think it be a back word idea if we where fighting in Iraq you can make that argument. But fighting in Afghanistan shows the M-4s limitations and so the M-16A4 is a better weapon in open combat. Overall for bayonet and order of arms the shorter M-4 will show problems. In other word tacti cooler screw up the military once again.

    Hope the Marine commandant will scrap this bad idea.

  27. The official move to the M4 platform is the first step. The second step should be a quick caliber change to 300 BLK.

    For all the “range” mongers… commercial ammo loads (supers) can already do 400yds with little effort. And deliver more energy to target than 55 at the same distance.

  28. I’ve shot both, but predominately the M16a4. The M4 is definitely much more nimble in terms of handling. In confined spaces, it would be the obvious choice. The collapsible stock is a major advantage when wearing flaks, which everyone does now. I’m taller than average, and the length of pull of the M16 is awkward even to me when I’ve got anything more than cammies on.

    I’m curious why I keep hearing range and accuracy brought up so much. Sure the M4 will drop its bullets a couple more inches at 500 yards, but it’s not a significant difference. The accuracy using standard issue ammo is identical as far as I can tell. I’ve been at shooting competitions with exclusively M4’s and M16’s, both with ACOGs, firing standard issue ammo. Some of the highest scoring shooters had M4’s. That’s not because the M4 is more accurate, it is because the shooters issued them were typically older (SNCOs/Officers) and more experienced, and with the standard issue ammo, there was virtually no accuracy difference. If the longer barrels of the M16s don’t give competition shooters an advantage, they certainly won’t give the average Marine an advantage. Between the two, the M4 is the obvious choice to issue to infantrymen.

  29. Anyone saying they should go to a different caliber or different size is just dreaming.

    It is a simple choice of logistics and money. There are two options, the 20inch and the 14.5 inch 5.56 rifles for them to choose from. The rest of the US military has moved to the 14.5inch and so has part of the USMC and now the rest of the USMC is. One rifle to order, buy, maintain, train etc.

    If they could go to a new size it would probably be a 16inch middy as a best of both for the 5.56. It would be softer shooting and faster over the 14.5 but shorter than the 20 inch. Most other armies use a longer barrel length than 14.5 inches, AK’s, L-85, Tavor, FAMAS, AUG.

    Of the two I would say the 14.5inch is better overall for your average solider and his or her skills and types of engagements.

  30. Soooo are we supposed to change it to
    “There’s nothing more deadly than a marine and his carbine” now?

    • I have to agree. I think this is the sweet spot for 5.56. Still maintain some increased ‘maneuverability’ with 16 vs 20”, and get a little better heat/recoil management with a middie vs carbine, and still retain the terminal ballistics out a little further with 16 vs 14.5”.

      I’m a 300 BLK junkie, but it does become a little challenging to manage the drop at distance, so I don’t think this is an option. The only real benefit of 300 Blk is for a 9″ SBR (and suppression of course).

  31. Why scrap when you can sell?
    Make an exemption to the hughes amendment for military sales.
    Auction the guns to highest bidders (which must get tax stamp).
    Use the money towards improving veterans care.

    • First part doesn’t go far enough. Just get rid of Hughes all together.

      Second part is a stroke of brilliance.

  32. Int19h ,
    I know , I know . This has been the same argument I’ve heard as long as I can remember , I’m not in a position actually to say one way or another , I know they are about two times heavier than a 5.56 so I would say 1/2 as much . I personally would make it an option if I was the decision maker . I know if I’m hunting something that’s over the 175 pound range I prefer a larger caliber bullet . I haven’t hunted to often with my ARs so again I can’t be very helpful but maybe a few accurate 180 grainers would be better than a barrage of 65 grainers . If I’m a 145 pound girl carrying a 12 pound gun accessorized , 20 pounds of body armor and 20 pounds of additional ammo I would probably argue for the smaller but personally , 6 foot 4 , 235 pounds , I think I would prefer a 30.06 on a 6 mile trek through the woods here in WV . I would have to defer to a more experienced person as to what it would be like to walk 20 miles in the Arabian desert with my BN 36 . I am going out ona limb and guessing HELL .

  33. So the 5.56, which is marginal at distance to begin with, depends on velocity to tumble and more importantly fragment, and the argument is to shorten the barrel by 5.5 inches??

    WTF?

  34. M16… M4… samey-same. The same flawed “$hits where it eats” design. The Stoner rifle will always be a POS unless and until it’s changed into a gas piston type action.

  35. How about ditching the M16/M4 altogether and switch to the Kalashnikov? Small, light, tough, utterly reliable and when you pop a bad guy, you can take his mags!

    • I’m by no means an expert, but it seems the AK is more reliable and harder hitting at close ranges, but is very hard to mount optics on versus an AR. That last reason would seem to make the AR the better choice, at least for old fart eyes like mine. Perhaps an AR with piston system would make a decent compromise.

    • Anybody who thinks AKs are utterly reliable has never had the fun of actually training a partner force that shoots a decent amount equipped with them. They fail just like any other rifle. The M4A1 is a excellent rifle. Its better than the HK416 if you run the free floated rails on them. Anybody who advocates running a op rod driven gun(gas piston) doesn’t really know what they are talking about for ARs and are just repeating info they heard.

      • I assume you’re speaking from experience. In which case I have to ask: how old were those AKs that the people you were training using? How much they were actually used before then? Especially in the Middle East, there are loads of very old (like, several decades old) guns that have been shot so much that they’re practically smoothbore at this point; and also often cleaned and maintained very poorly if at all. It would be strange to expect them to be reliable, and they do not offer a meaningful baseline for comparison.

        I don’t think there’s anyone seriously claiming that AKs never fail. All guns fail, as do any mechanical devices. However, it is evident from comparing the design of AK and AR side by side that the former has higher tolerance for abuse and lower maintenance requirement. It’s not even so much the carbon from DI as it is the much tighter tolerances and the overall design of the BCG/receiver interface in the AR. The contact surface between the two is significantly bigger than with AK BCG, which rides on rails, and the latter also has plenty of space in the receiver to push any dirt out (and the violent recoil impulse from the overgassed long stroke piston in AK also helps with that).

        Same story for the magwell – there’s plenty of contact surface between the walls of the well and the magazine body in the AR because of the straight, push-in design, and consequently collecting dirt in that area is more likely to produce a malfunction preventing the magazine from seating properly, vs AK’s rock-in design that doesn’t really have any walls to speak of.

        Similarly, the “star chamber” that AR uses for locking is quite obviously much more easier to fill up with dirt to the point where the bolt won’t lock vs AK’s two huge locking lugs. The latter are also that much tougher, too (try finding a pic of an AK bolt with a sheared lug; then do the same for AR).

        And while we’re on the subject of bolts, the ejector design in AR, housed on the bolt, and consequently having to be a moving part, is also more prone to being stuck when dirty (and that is actually one place where carbon deposit does contribute to it); and then there’s the spring that is subject to wear and loss of strength, after which the ejector won’t function properly. Compare to the beefy and super-simple AK ejector.

        If I had to pick one thing that AR design particularly suffers from, it would be the BCG/receiver interface first and foremost. Most other issues are the consequence of that, or are negligible in comparison. For example, the “craps where it eats” complaint wouldn’t be anywhere near as big of a deal if there were more space for that carbon to deposit without getting in the way, as is the case in designs where the bolt carrier rides on rails inside the receiver (which is what pretty much every other proven rifle design uses). This design is also why AR likes to be “wet” so much more than most other rifles, but at the same time DI inhibits it by depositing carbon into that lube as it runs, diminishing its efficiency. Also with bolt carrier on rails, it’s much easier to find a better place for the ejector than the bolt itself, and greatly simplify it as a result.

        So yes, AR designs that merely add a piston are kinda missing the point. They solve the marginal problems associated with DI itself, but not the much bigger ones due to BCG/receiver interface and its tight clearances; and, on the other hand, they add carrier tilt (which cannot really be solved with AR bolts, only mitigated somewhat). What truly is more reliable is a setup that is designed for a piston from grounds up, and ditches the AR bolt carrier design altogether: a good example of that is ARAK-21, which retains the overall design of the AR bolt (though compensating for the overcomplicated ejector by providing redundant dual ejectors), but has a much more AK-like bolt carrier and rails. It’s also long-stroke piston, but I bet it would be just as reliable if it were DI, everything else being equal.

        • Yeah I speak from experience from this. The guns were issued new. The guys we were training were better equipped in terms of gear, comms, armor than any non SOCOM US force I have seen. We were supplying everything to these guys. As for the reliability of the M4 vs AK. I have used the AR platform (specifically the MK18 MOD1) in about every environment possible. I would go thousands of rounds without cleaning, shooting suppressed without malfunction. Carbon buildup even when suppressed is a non issue. Running it dry, without a suppressor I have got over 2000 rounds with failure. Bolt shearing a lug. I have ran my gun with two lugs broke and it still worked. One of the nice things about the design, it can break a lug and still function. I wish I would have taken a photo of our broken AK bolts for you, it definitely happens when you start shooting.

        • I have to wonder who made those AKs and where. It’s not that I don’t believe you about sheared lugs on the bolt, it’s that it’s something that would require a fantastically crappy bolt to happen. Like, low-quality steel and/or very bad heat treatment. Or, I suppose, very out-of-spec ammo.

          As far as AR reliability, I’m not saying that it cannot reliably function over the course of several thousand rounds. There have been plenty of tests by now, with online video recordings of such, proving otherwise. But when it comes to comparative reliability, it’s more about how many more thousand rounds you can pump through the more reliable gun when it fails. Basically, it’s about mean rounds-to-failure (or number of failures per N rounds).

          And then of course there is the part where you put it in an extreme environment (water, mud, fine sand, extremely low temp etc) to see what kind of failures it develops under stress. For example, both AK and AR can be clogged with mud or sand to the point where they’ll stop functioning, but I’m fairly sure that on average, it’ll require way more with an AK (again, any particular specimen may take less, it’s the overall averaged number over at least several dozen than matters here).

        • My unit was issued brand new M4A1s for OIF-04. We had an effectively unlimited ammo budget and a group of guys who loved to shoot, so we shot a lot (if it wasn’t a mission day, it was a range day). I know I personally put several thousand rounds through mine. Those M4s all ran like clocks. I can’t remember any malfunctions.

  36. The stock AK is harder to mount optics on because all you have is that slide-on side rail (which is actually fine for optics, it’s when you start combining things, like red dot + magnifier, that it becomes deficient). But there are many AK derivatives that have solved this problem. Of note, Galil ACE is an excellent modern AK platform with a rail in a proper place for mounting anything your heart desires, while still very recognizably AK.

    And then there’s SIG 55x, which is basically pure AK inside (long-stroke piston, rotating bolt, two locking lugs, ejector separate from the bolt, plenty of clearance all around), but in a more modern frame that disassembles more like an AR (upper + lower) and has a monolithic upper rail, and otherwise modern ergos.

  37. Sick photo, BTW. Love how the photographer caught the brass as it flew in a way as to appear it is being fired from the muzzle. Just plain, neat 😀

  38. I’ve compiled all the data provided here and will now attempt to correlate into something reasonable . We have a very diverse opinion base , from no experience to very recent , in the field ( expert ) experience . It seems to be a consensus that changes could improve accuracy , reliability and hitting power , so lets see if I got this covered .
    We will be sticking with the 5.56 because of it’s weight , efficiency and the cost disadvantages to change .
    We should scrap the notion that hollow points not be used in combat .
    We could increase hit power by increasing grain from 65 to 75 , lengthening barrel to 16 while still maintaining mobility , and perhaps increasing twist rate to 1 in 7 or 8 .
    Finally , as for scraping one design for another , AR for AK , The current issue firearm AR format is already more accurate than the AK and doing any or all the above should improve accuracy . Last but not least ,
    the AK has been shown to be less prone to malfunction under stressed conditions ( dirty and muddy ) unmaintained , but if maintained properly , the AR is capable of functioning superbly for thousands of rounds and in my personal opinion , the habit of cleaning , checking for loose and damaged parts , very often , while perhaps tedious and boring , is crucial for both soldiers and hunters and target shooters . I was taught at a very young age to always take a couple minutes to file the ax blade , saw tooth ( chain ) and pocket knife , just a few swipes saves time in the long run .

    • >> and perhaps increasing twist rate to 1 in 7 or 8

      So far as I know, all rifles in US inventory are already 1:7. That switch happened back in M16A2 days.

      • Is this because of the shorter barrel length ?
        What about the heavier grains of 75 or maybe even an 80 , could they get a better performance with a faster twist and could they push these weights effectively with the 5.56 ?
        Is this feasible ?
        Still unanswered or just not practical ?

        • M16A2 had the same 20″ barrel length as before. They moved from the original 1:12 to 1:7 in A2 for two reasons: M855, and M856 (tracer). 1:12 won’t stabilize either, so they needed to upgrade. The “ideal” twist for 62-grain M855 is technically 1:8 (though 1:9 and 1:10 will also stabilize – Swiss use the latter with their 63-grain GP90 ammo). However, the ideal twist for the longer tracers is 1:6. So they split the difference and called it 1:7, basically.

          And yes, 1:7 (and even 1:8) will stabilize 75-grain and 77-grain bullets just fine; might not be “ideal”, but it certainly works in practice. And both flight and terminal ballistics of such rounds is very good – ofc you get lower muzzle velocity, but because of much better BC with a longer bullet, it retains it much better further away. And longer bullets are inherently more unstable, and so tumble and fragment like crazy when they hit, especially when they also have a cannelure (and because they’re bigger, that also means more and/or larger fragments).

          Mk262 is a good example of what’s possible with a well-designed 77gr 5.56 package – take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF6v34gC2Ag. Don’t forget that it’s match grade, sub-MOA ammo at that! I can’t help but wonder if the money that’s spent on the new-fangled “green” M855A1 rounds couldn’t be better used by issuing Mk262 to all grunts instead. Looking at the bullet construction, I seriously doubt that M855A1 is actually cheaper.

          If you want to get some for yourself (personally, I was sufficiently impressed by it that I stashed away a couple thousand rounds of this, in addition to the cheaper M193), you can get it directly from Black Hills that make the real deal, but that’s expensive (on the order of $1/round). A better deal is Israeli “Razor Core” ammo, which is basically a near-perfect clone of Mk262 – 75c/round, still expensive, but probably one of the best deals in match ammo category, and remember that we’re talking about a real combat-proven round here. Razor Core has all the right pieces – the same exact Sierra 77gr pill as Mk262, the cannelure, same velocities, and it’s completely sealed including the primer, so it’s perfect for long term storage. So far as I know, it’s exclusive to Widener’s in US: https://www.wideners.com/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=100001636

  39. int19h
    thanks , your comment as well as your courtesy is appreciated . I learned something and that I always will be appreciative . I will look to purchase some of the Mk262 stuff and see how my rifles like it . Most of my ARs are 1 in 9 twist barrels but I do have a couple 1:8s I’ll send some of these rounds down . I’m excited . Thanks .

    • You might want to try it in your 1:9 rifles, as well. Anecdotal evidence indicates that 1:9 is basically “on the edge” with 77gr ammo… some stabilize it, some don’t, and you won’t know until you try. I wouldn’t want to rely on it even so, because even if it does stabilize it reliably in some atmospheric conditions, it might not be able to do so when humidity or temperature change enough. But it’s still good to know just in case…

      I do have some 5.56 rifles with 1:9 barrels also, and for those I’ve got a few boxes of Black Hills 69gr OTM. It should basically be as close as you can get to the 77gr stuff, just with a lighter bullet that’s guaranteed to stabilize reliably in any 1:9. The only problem is that it’s more rare, and hence more expensive. E.g.:

      https://www.triadtactical.com/Black-Hills-New-5.56mm-69gr-Sierra-OTM-Open-Tip-Match.html

      Also, all of these (or similar) can often be easier to find and/or had for cheaper if you’re okay with the lower .223 pressures (and hence velocity, and hence point blank range and distance at which it’ll fragment – but for under 300 yards, it likely won’t matter unless you’re running an SBR).

      • Thank you , will take all under consideration . I am particularly interested in trying out the Mk262 in my Mossberg MVP Predator . This rifle seems to prefer the 5.56 / 65 grainers over the 55 stuff and I’ll be interested to see how it pushes the heavier 75 and 77 . I just have yet to try because of the 1:9 twist . Appreciate the info .

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