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SCAR 16S, c Nick Leghorn

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, and they canned the competition back in June of last year claiming that everyone failed to meet the specifications. According to new information acquired by the Washington Times, 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.

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        • Funny, guys.

          To justify ALL of the replacement costs, a new rifle will have to be SIGNIFICANTLY better in EVERY area, no exceptions, before it will be considered for adoption. It’s not just the cost of the weapon; that’s only a tiny portion of it, when you look at the TOTAL cost of things like new parts, new part numbers and storage locations for EVERY part at EVERY post/base, new training for individual soldiers, training the trainers, armorer training, arms room storage racks, field and/or vehicle storage racks, publication changes, changes to other weapons that have to directly interface with it (such as grenade launchers), the cost of needing to support BOTH systems during a changeover period that will take years, and other related expenses.

          The article I read stated that the “winner” beat the M4 in reliability in the area of most-common-and-easily-cleared-by-the-user stoppages, but FAILED to match the M4 in the area of the more serious assistance-required-to-clear stoppages. So, you’re in combat, and the good news is your gun jams less often; but the bad news is, when it DOES jam, you might not be able to get it back in operation by yourself. What kind of a trade-off is that? A damn poor one.

          Until a rifle/carbine comes along that beats the M4A1 in every tested area, every time, there will be no replacing the M4-series weapons.

        • Excerpt from the CNA report:

          “A third graphic shows the M4A1 performed best for Class 3 stoppages, which are more significant failures that require a specialist, or armorer, to clear.

          It achieved 6,000 mean rounds between failure. Gun ‘C’ achieved about 4,500 rounds.”

        • Always $ for BS, crap, and trash though. Diversity, sensitivity etc.

          Take care of grunts and everyone else can keep the standard stuff. Optimal performing rifle, radio, and boots. Doesn’t much matter what the REMFs and ass/trash/support have. For the price of annual DOD Breast Cancer research funding (I kid you not) we can afford the equip the very few infantrymen we possess.

        • For the amount of money that US spends on its military, it could probably issue service rifles made out of solid gold. If you cut back useless pork like F-35, there’s plenty of money to make the perfect rifle, and it’s no less than a soldiers of one of the few militaries in the world that are actually likely to use it in combat deserve.

        • neiowa,

          Done a lot of COIN deployments? So, by your yardstick the cav, armor, artillery, MPs, THTs, and even the truck drivers get second rate equipment? Brilliant in a COIN environment…NOT. The cav, armor, and Arty guys all ended up, at some point, working as infantry units. The others ran convoys, prowled for sources, or did RACO missions. All of those, at some point, end up needing lethal long-arms.

          Know anything about friggin’ logistics? What you propose are TWO supply systems, in theory. Added expense, added complications. KISS.

          How about training? Why create two carbines for the armorers and small arms repairs guys to deal with. Yes, they can do it, but it takes more time and more $$ to do so. Same-same for basic/IET and unit level training.

          Sorry, but that idea is a dog with fleas.

        • DJ9 –

          . . .Plus, uniformity in arms ain’t “uniformity”. I was issued an M-16/M203 in Iraq, and was supposed to have instead received an M-4/M203 (they were issued approximately 3 months into deployment). Upon leaving Iraq I ran into some AF tower dudes that had wheeled Pelican Cased 727’s that hadn’t been opened/used.

        • Sounds legit to me. My buddy’s Mini-14 was about minute-of-pie-plate precise at 25 yards. About first time pistol-shooter precise. I think it was more consistent with the brass thrown 50 ft than with the bullets travelling at 3100 fps.

          Mini-14s are cool but accurate/precise they are not.

      • Ever fire a Garand type in the rain? I was lucky, I wore glasses. I could just wipe, or smear, the oil and water off my lens. The 20/20 types? I imagine they caught it right in the eyeball! Other than than, loved my sweet 14.

        • Thanks for the memory. Thankfully I wore glasses and in basic had the right advice to take a washcloth with me to wipe my glasses when I qualified in snow. More than a half century ago now. Missed a few shots while wiping, but did better overall. Still love the Garand and M-14 (and I’ve learned to love the ARs, though less than the former).

    • I wouldn’t want to be stuck with only 8 rounds if 10 angry dudes charged me all at once. I would not be surprised if more than just a couple of soldiers died, in WW2 because of that. That being said, the Garand is a great rifle.

      • From what I’ve read, there was a an original design option to have the Garand with a removable 20 round magazine similar to the BAR; but that the Powers That Be turned it down because they thought the soldiers would lose the magazines, among a couple of other silly reasons.

        So the Italians redesigned the M1 Garand with a removable 20 round mag shooting the 7.62×51. The BM-59.

        • That design was approved in late 44 if memory serves me correctly but was killed because the war was all but over and their were plenty of M-1’s in storage. The design was dusted off in the mid-50s and rechambered from 30-06 to 7.62×51. The result was the M-14.

      • On Iwo Jima 8 marines killed 52 japanese that were attacking them. Quickly. That was when Americans armed with a semi auto rifle routinely faced opponents armed with bolt actions.

        Now the American armed with an m4 with a 30 round mag faces enemies armed with ak’s also with 30 round mags. In the day of the m1 the individual American could could on superior firepower to his enemies. No more.

        • M4 is okish, far from the best battle assault rifle but you guys seem to like it, the problem IMHO is the 5.56 cartridge after 200 yards and in a machine gun, we need more range and a heavier bullet but not as much as the 7.62, so a new gas piston upper for say Grendel or similar on the M4 lower would fix the rifle issue at least and improve the ability to use a machine gun to suppress OPFOR out to 500+ yards.

    • Nah, not the Garand an m1a or an m14 would be awesome… cause they fixed the only two major problems of the m1 (capacity, and mounting an optic)….

      and select fire is also kinda groovy if a bit pointless.

    • Any weapon that our Uncle asked you to carry around for a year (even if not your favorite), I bet would be hard to part with anyway. Very hard to turn one in before coming back. Bring back the M-4, the M-9, the M-16 A2, the M203. . . 🙂

    • wow…. price is NOT the issue

      special ops csn use what they want. troops can buy what they want. near all use military versions of AR15, AR10 for a reason. they are the same and seconds to replace uppers. you can change calibers or if one fails get a replacement from a buddy in seconds. The SCAR cant do that. None of the “new” rifles can. only variants on the M4 platform can.

      ammo and caliber range are unrivaled in sny other system. Ruger, HK, Colt, FN, nearly every manufacturer has an M4 variant. their lower may change, their upper may change, but all sre compatible with maybe a couple that are not.

      why change when you have a system thus flexible, upgradible, and interchangeable?

      show how any “new” system can do better. 30 year old rifles are made like new, upgraded, or used for parts all usable in new systems.

      unless they make sonething radically superior it will not happen.

  1. Nothing wrong with the M4A1. Unless of course you want to lump in the mediocre individual training the Army provides to non-spec ops types.

  2. The cost of the guns is not the driving factor here. Money is at the root of it, but it has more to do with entrenched special interests than with the cost of a simple rifle. For the price of one cruise missile, you could replace all of the rifles for two entire battalions. The reason this program was killed isn’t simply because the guns are ‘too expensive.’ It is far more insidious.

        • which is ironic as I think Foghorn was referring to FN’s SCAR as the rifle that likely “came close”

          Only problem I can see is that even at “government pricing” the SCAR has got to be twice the cost of the M4. The 16S is easily twice as expensive as the average DI AR-15 so it stands to reason the same would hold true of the select fire versions

          • @JB, not only that, the SCAR “ain’t all that and a bag o’chips”… It’s a good rifle, but it has it’s share of issues LIKE ANY OTHER RIFLE EVER MADE.

    • I’ve sold to the military, complete with filling out contracts. Several businesses in my past I was intimate with all the goings on. IT is about WHERE THE MONEY IS SPENT!

      Special Interests….aka the Military Industrial Machine….complete with their ‘bought’ politicians are more powerful than ever!

      • I’ve had friends in every branch of the service, and naturally we wind up talking about equipment a lot. The overwhelming gist of these conversations is that the equipment we use is never sourced for a reason resembling common sense.

        The following seems true for just about everything:

        It’s not the cheapest.
        It’s not even “average” priced in its class.
        It doesn’t perform the best.
        The soldiers in the field don’t like it.

        We’re getting Kraft Singles at Parmesiano Reggiano prices.

        The only explanation is special interests that heavily influence the decisions.

        • No, the simple explanation is that the “general user” doesn’t understand the lifecycle sustainment costs for procurement of a capability. Without doing a whole Acquisition 101 or Acquisition Logistics 101 class, the actual purchase price of a capability (rifle) that meets the requirements (things that go pew), is a small factor. The lifecycle sustainment costs that are associated with that initial purchase, are a large factor. If the capability procured is cheap on initial purchase, but requires a lifecycle sustainment (and eventual disposal) costs that far exceed competitors of a higher initial purchase cost, the least overall lifecycle cost capability is selected (provided all meet the requirement).

        • What Charlie Kilo said.

          Gunshop commandos think that it’s just a matter of buying the newest n’ bestest rifle that they saw in a video game or on the cover of some moronic gun magazine. How many times has some window-licker announced that what the US military “really needs and deserves” is something like the Robinson Arms abortion or some pimped-over AK from Red Jacket? And let’s not even get started on the stupidity that is the bullpup.

          They ignore the troublesome little things like current production capacity, durability, training of soldiers, training of armorers and depot-level repairmen, provision of spare parts, availability of tooling for war-time expansion of production….

          There’s nothing wrong with the M4. Is it the greatest carbine ever made? No. But it’s more than adequate for what American troops need and it’s a system that we can support now and in the future.

          None of the options to the M4 system offer anything near the improvement in performance that would justify the huge expense in both money and training resources.

    • The only thing the M-4 needs is true dedicated gas piston. Colt designed a gas piston M-4 but won’t proliferate it because it would mean giving up trade secrets since multiple manufacturers are chosen for producing said weapon. When the first carbine contest was cancelled HK had offered it’s 416, but kept it’s lobbying so the M320 could go into production for the army. At 3,200 dollars a pop, this thing is 3-4 times more expensive than the M203 and heavier and the troops despise it over the 203.

      • The M4 needs no such thing.

        It’s another gunshop commando “improvement” that adds weight and expense, at the cost of accuracy and reliability. (Spare us the fanboi nonsense about the HK416 being “more reliable” — it’s “demonstration” of such was by a handful of brand-new hand-fitted HK416s competing against used rack-grade M4s.)

        • I have heard many reasonable arguments as to why piston doesn’t add reliability, but this is the first time I’ve seen a claim that it makes things less reliable. Care to explain?

        • More parts. More things to get damaged or lost. Making a weapon more complex has never made it more reliable. The glowing reports about piston systems are coming from manufacturers and their carefully hand-built test samples. Not from weapons that have been used by a dozen soldiers over as many years worth of training and deployment.

          The alleged “25% improvement in reliability” that the piston fanbois like to quote was in the context of 98% baseline reliability of direct impingement M4s. Taking piston-equipped rifles all the way up to 98.5% reliability.

          Really worth the costs in money and training resources?

          • A long-stroke piston design doesn’t really have any more parts (or, at least, any more separately moving parts). I mean, AK has a piston, but it’s clearly a far simpler design compared to AR, so it’s not a given that piston automatically means more complicated.

            I would also dispute the assessment that piston designs are more complicated in principle. If they were, then DI would have come first, and pistons later, but it was the other way around. In truth, while piston is “one extra part”, the basic principle of operation there is simpler, and allows for more crude manufacturing methods, then the kind of DI that the AR platform uses (which requires fairly tight tolerances in the receiver so that the bolt carrier itself acts as a piston).

            The reason why AR piston systems in particular don’t do much is because pretty much none of them actually use the opportunities presented by adding said piston to improve the reliability of other components, most notably the BCG. So yes, pretty much all you get there is dead weight. The only exception I know of is Faxon Arms ARAK-21, but then it diverged so far that it’s not really an AR at all, it just happens to use the same lower. OTOH, if you take a design that’s built around the piston – like, say SIG SG550, or FN FNC, or really any other modern Garand/AK descendant – the benefits there are much more evident, IMO.

        • When you add that long piston, you add a considerable amount of weight to the whole system.

          Again, to what real world gain? You go from 98% to 98.5% reliability. And that’s with the apples to oranges comparison of carefully groomed manufacturers’ samples to rack-grade M4s.

          Piston ARs are a solution searching for a problem.

      • I wouldn’t say that about the 320, its the best system that has been fielded in over 100 years. Its 4 times more accurate in stable platform, untrained and trained fire. Its really a huge success in a pool of huge failures. I carried one for 8 months and carried a 203 for 13 months all in Combat, the 320 is the better system by far.

  3. I’m all for replacing the M4A1, we just need to repeal the NFA first, then CMP’ed M4’s for all!

    • gotta admit – the image of Gabby Giffords’, Shannon Watts’s, & Mike Bloomberg’s heads exploding at the thought of the CMP handing out “fully automatic assault rifles” to every Tom, Dick, and Harry makes me smile

    • Seeing as they could sell even semi-auto neutered ‘veteran’ guns for like 600$ to operator-wannabes and the nostalgic, they could darn near pay off the new-issue arms (and pocket some on the side).

      And I’m pretty sure the Army has the clout to tell the ATF to go screw if they really wanted to. They just don’t want to.

      • Swiss Militia veterans have the option of keeping their issue SIG SG 550; aka: Stgw 90 (Sturmgewehr 90) & Fass 90 (Fusil d’assaut 90/Fucile d’assalto 90); assault rifles when their military obligation is fulfilled. 🙂

        These select-fire assault rifles are, however, converted to semi-auto only before they are released to the veteran; despite the fact that this very same rifle, in select-fire, spent its whole “military career” in that same militia members home while he/she was on active and reserve status. 😐

        So, unlike the ATF’s insistence here, the Swiss government does not consider “once a machine gun, _always_ a machine gun!” to be the case with “retired” SG 550s.

    • The CMP does not have access to non-.30 caliber military weapons. That is black-letter law in the legislation that created the CMP and gave it access to surplus military arms. There is not much likelihood that any legislation expanding the CMP’s reach to include 5.56mm rifles would pass Congress and be signed into law under this administration. Even with the changes wrought by the 2014 election there would not be the votes to get it through the Senate, let alone to over-ride a certain veto.

      On the other hand, there is nothing preventing the CMP from building semi-auto ARs chambered for .300 Blackout and selling them. They are already engaged in “manufacturing” work as defined by the BATF (fitting parts, stocks, etc, to guns prior to sale), so that should not be an obstacle,

      • “…this administration…” would do away with the CMP in a heartbeat given half a chance. Unless, of course, the CMP could show that they are preparing women for 11Bravo deployment.

  4. The Army fixing the trials to arrive at a pre-determined outcome gets filed under the ‘water is wet’ category. The funny thing is this is pretty much how we arrived at both the M-14 and M-16 in the first place.

  5. There is no point at all in replacing the M4 until they replace the 5.56mm round. Spending the probably billions to replace all those rifles and still have ammo that zips straight through terrorists in close quarters and doesn’t drop them at long range. 6.5, 300BLK, 6.8SPII, I don’t really care which. Though we likely wouldn’t even need those at all if they’d just let us use some quality copper hollow point 5.56 ammo.

      • You mean the Hague Convention of 1899.

        Which only applies to signatories.

        And only if they’re fighting other signatories.

        We’re not signatories.

        This is why SF gets to use hollow-points and bonded bullets. Some MPs do as well.

        • I believe the U.S. ratified some of the proposals in the Hague Convention, but not all (expanding bullets being one of them). But like most other international agreements we don’t ratify, we usually adhere to them in principle.

      • Except that the Geneva convention doesn’t cover expanding ammunition, it’s the hogue convention.

        And the funny thing is, the United States never signed on to it.
        We can use whatever type of ammunition we like.

        • I thought the Hogue convention was that all handguns were required to have rubber grip sleeves.

      • It was the Hague Convention, not the Geneva Convention, that banned expanding bullets in warfare.

      • Mk 318 Mod 0 and Mk 262. That’s about as good as it gets for 5.56. I wouldn’t want to stake my like on M855 or M855a1.


      This practice began to change subsequent to a 23 September 1985 opinion issued by the Judge Advocate General2, authored3 by W. Hays Parks4, Chief of the JAG’s International Law Branch, for the signature of Major General Hugh R. Overholt, which stated:
      “…expanding point ammunition is legally permissible in counterterrorist operations not involving the engagement of the armed forces of another State.”

    • This. The M4 is a great weapon, and the M4A1 is even better. Replacing the burst trigger with full auto is great, and the heavier barrel is a bonus.

      Mostly my experience is with the M4, and mine went through a ton of sh!t and never let me down…water, mud, dust, it just worked.

      Now, if you are considering a different round, then by all means have a real contest to see what works best. And I still wouldn’t count out an M4A1 if the new round worked in it.

  6. The money the army has wasted on this farce could have bought new rifles for everyone. Part of the problem is the army is still fighting a European war. High mobility with short engagement ranges. The problem is we will be fighting in the ME for the foreseeable future which means we need to switch to a better rifle with a larger caliber bullet. The only good thing about the M-4A1 is the heavier barrel. THE SAME BARREL THEY REMOVED AND REJECTED ON THE M-16A2 30 YEARS AGO BECAUSE THEY DIDNT WANT TO HAVE TO CHANGE THE M-203 MOUNTING HARDWARE!

    • Most of fighting in the ME is in built-up areas. We need 800m-capable non-carbines there like we need lead weights in our body armor.

        • To deal with those situations we have 7.62mm machineguns, .50 caliber machineguns, snipers with 7.62mm rifles, mortars, artillery and tactical air.

          The average rifleman does not need the capabilities of an 800m rifle for the vast majority of the targets he faces. And he does not need to be burdened with the weight of such a rifle or its ammunition on top of all the other gear he is already hauling.

    • Uh… Mike. As much as I’d like to replace the oversized, underpowered M9 at my side I’d much rather have a more effective battle rifle. Soldiers who value their ass can carry more effective drop pistols if they don’t want to stake their life on an M9, but a SCAR 17S or an AR-10 in violation of General Order #1 is much harder to conceal when you get back to the FOB and are eating in the chow hall.

    • Same for pistols no point in replacing the M-9 with another 9mm pistol thats why this competition died.

  7. Want truth how USA test weapons issue troops than all you have do rent movie
    The Pentagon Wars. Yes movie was made in 1998 has Kelsey Grammer in it. Story line is about Air Force Lt. Col. John Burton was assigned to evaluate the usefulness of the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, an Army troop carrier/scout vehicle that, in its final redesign, was effectively a deathtrap for its occupants. Burton keeps trying to execute a proper live-fire armor test on it but is constantly subverted by his temporary commanding officer, Army Maj. Gen. Partridge, in order to get it under construction and in the field.

  8. The whole “competition” was a complete sham from the get-go. It was just something to keep the higher echelons off their asses for a few more years. It was in all likelihood rigged in favor of one or two of the Pentagon’s running favorites anyway, and I’m willing to bet that every competitor’s rifle soundly beat the M4A1 in every category except for one: and that is that they weren’t made by any current contract holders (Colt I’m looking at you), who probably buttered someone’s bread rather generously with some under-the-table kick-backs and convinced them that a clearly inferior product was still GTG.

        • Excedrine, if you made that bet you referenced in the message three posts above this one, you’d lose. Check the second page of the Washington Times article, and you’ll see this:

          “A third graphic shows the M4A1 performed best for Class 3 stoppages, which are more significant failures that require a specialist, or armorer, to clear.

          It achieved 6,000 mean rounds between failure. Gun ‘C’ achieved about 4,500 rounds.”

          So, gun ‘C’ did better in the easy-to-clear Class 1/Class 2 stoppages categories, but far worse in the more serious Class 3 stoppages category. These are the stoppages that take your weapon, and therefore YOU, completely out of the fight. This is NOT an improvement, and I think that most folks who would have to use this weapon to complete a mission and/or protect their own lives would agree with me (retired military armorer, here).

  9. I wonder if the USAF can spare someone with the persona of the late General Curtis Lemay. He had a way of circumventing the entrenched old timers in the Army.

      • We can debate M-14 versus M-16 all night, but the point was that General Lemay always marched forward with what he thought was best for his command regardless if the entrenched military old timers didn’t like it.

        • @Bob72, I have no problem with LeMay. I just wanted to point out that he was the one that wanted the AR15 for his security forces that ultimately led to McNamara forcing the M16 on the Army.

          LeMay was a bad ass. Like a General Patton, he saw what needed to be done and he did it. Sadly, we don’t have those type of commanders anymore.

    • Gen. LeMay left two powerful legacies: the strategic bomber, embodied by the B-52; and the strategic missile, embodied by the Minuteman missile. Both are still around, keeping our enemies awake at night.

  10. The M16/M4 series of rifles have been the standard issue rifle for 50 years, and I can guarantee it will the standard issue rifle 50 years from now. The military, like the rest of the government, is ran by business and politics, not effectiveness. In fact, I would argue that the m16/m4 series will be used up until the point that firearms become outdated, and the military is forced (still kicking and screaming) to adapt energy weapons at some point in the distant future. Militaries don’t change when they should, they change when they absolutely have to.

      • I’m sure there were people saying the same thing about flying B-52’s in the 70’s. The B-1 and B-2 were going to replace all those aged-out BUFFs.

        Well, guess what is still flying today? And will still be flying 20 years from now?

        The brutal truth is, the M4/M16 is what our guys are going to be using for decades to come. Same as the M9, and for the same reason: the defense procurement process is well and truly broken, completely rigged by the last successful bidders.

        • Or, more to the point, both the M16/M4 and the M9 work well enough that none of the potential replacements justify the huge costs in money and training resources that would be needed if a replacement was selected.

    • It’s heavy! The weapon that fires it is HEAVY….IN WWII it took 3 men behind the lines to supply ONE in combat! Many died because of not being supplied with ammo.

      In ‘Nam it took 2.

      Most combat encounters are within 100 yards.

      You come to the conclusion and research this to your satisfaction.

      • What do you think of keeping the basic cartridge, but upping the caliber a bit to maybe 6.5. obviously the weight of the bullet would need to be a little heavier, but it could be seated a hair deeper in the case to keep the OAL the same. Just an idea.

        • The problem would be in the magazines, i.e. making a reliable one. Fat cartridges like the 6.5 Grendel and the 6.8MM SPC require a pretty generously sized box to stack properly and hold 30 rounds, compared to a 5.56MM STANAG. An example of this is LWRC’s new SIX8 line, wherein they had to blow out the magwell and redimension the inside of the upper to match the lower. Sure, they got a new 6.8 P-Mag to work with it (and allows a COAL of up to 2.32″), but it’s not backwards compatible with any legacy lower and no legacy magazine (or upper receiver) will work with a SIX8 lower. Since the 6.5 Grendel is also fatter than the 6.8 SPC, the change would have to be even more pronounced, and you’d have the same exact problems.

          SSK industries has their 6.5 MPC, though, which is basically a 5.56 NATO case shortened and necked up to .264. It’s bullet weights are more limited than the Grendel (85-120 grains according to SSK), but literally all you would have to do is change out the barrel and you’re all set. Can even use all current 5.56 magazines.

        • With modern ammo, 5.56 is perfectly adequate, even out to long ranges. Long, heavy 70+ gr bullets, like Mk 262 or Barnes 70gr TSX, give you flat trajectory for a nice long “straight shot” distance, still expand and/or fragment within that distance, and retain enough velocity that they still hurt even out to 700m. And they are still light to carry, and controllable in full auto. What more can you ask of an infantry rifle?

      • It’s also damned hard to control in automatic fire. That was the problem with the M-14/FAL/G3 battle rifles.

        The ideal round seems to require:

        1. Similar terminal ballistics to the 7.62 x 39
        2. The range and barrier penetration of the 7.62 x 51
        3. The weight and flat trajectory of the 5.56

        I’m no expert, but I would guess that the physics of it means you can get two out of the three, max. Heck, all assault rifle rounds were meant to be a compromise between range, recoil, weight, and power.

        Time to take another look at the EM2?

        • Jus,
          The numbers you sited are BS. Not your fault because they were compiled by people who didnt know what they were talking about. The 5 people behind one war fighter is called the logistics tail. That tail includes chaplains, Drill SGTs, trainees, well diggers etc. In other words everyone not pulling a trigger. The number is down to 3 to 1 now but that not accurate either because all of those support jobs are now filled by contractors. Someone has to do the job. Blame clinton for the contractors.
          As far as the soldiers in WW2 running out of ammo that was caused by the breakneck speed of the gains of land, high combat tempo, poor commo and the rear just not knowing where the hell the people were. In the Pacific it was the opposite problem. Due to the intense combat and speed, they had to make a decision of what had priority ammo or food. My grandfather went in a 6’ 3”, 235 lbs of very fit young man and came home 135 lbs.

  11. I wonder if any of the above commenters have actually carried a rifle in combat.

    Most of the tales I’ve heard of the M16/M4’s inadequacy come second or third hand, while those that have carried it hold it in high regard.

    Consider that Navy SEALs have the latitude to carry almost any rifle they can lay hands on into combat, yet still, overwhelmingly choose an M16 variant.

    Operation Neptune Spear used ( according to Norfolk VA located members of DEVGRU) a wide selection of M16/M4 type rifles, and in fact, the rifle that killed Bin Laden was not an HK 416, but a M4.

    • I’ve carried the M4A1 in combat as well as the MK17. The issue with the M4 is the 556 round. Devgru can get away with it because if you can shoot a guy once in a room it’s just as easy to shoot him 10 times. This shocks the body and destroys the tissues in between each wound as the shock waves collide. If a guy is more than a few meters away follow up shots get tougher and 556 doesn’t kill dudes outright. You have to put one through the brain stem to get guys to stop trying to get away or engage.
      My last rotation I carried the MK17 and was the only one on my team doing so. This rotation we are 12 out of 12 MK 17. Generally one round of 762 through the pelvis area drops a guy and one more through the chest kills him.
      As for reliability I’d say the M4 has the same amount of issues as the SCAR-H.
      Yes 762 is heavier but I’d rather more weight and less ammo as long as it puts guys out in one or two shots. Also suppressing fire is very effective with the larger round.
      Just my 2 cents.

      • Did you carry the standard issue M855 ammo, or one of the fancier kinds?

        By all accounts, it’s not 5.56 that’s the problem, it’s the specific bullet designs standardized on by NATO that are.

        • Incorrect. We designed/developed the cartridge, but the SS109 steel-core projectile was developed later by Belgium.

        • Well, and US is a founding NATO member.

          In any case, the point rather was that SS109 is adopted as a standard round by NATO. So far as I know, most countries do actually use it, or something equivalent to it, with a few exceptions.

          • The NATO countries know that in the event of hostile actions all ammo resupply will be from the US. They have to use what we use.

            • Sure. The problem is that once that was adopted as a standard, there was that much less incentive to upgrade to anything else.

              Also, while NATO did standardize on the round, they did not standardize on the twist rate For example, Polish use 1:9 in their Beryls, and so do the French in FAMAS G2, and Swedes with their Ak 5 (FN FNC), and Austrians with AUG. And Swiss (who are not in NATO, but aligned with it in practice) use 1:10 in SG550 – though they are probably not going to need any foreign ammo with their reserves.

              So all these countries can use the 62gr M855, but if US will upgrade to something heavier in the future, they’ll need to upgrade their rifles as well to fire it.

              • No the M-16A2 and M-16A4 both have 1 in 7 twists which is faster than the 1 in 10 the European guns use so the M-16s can handle more rounds than the SIG, AUG, or AK-5 uses.

              • Have you read the comment that you’re replying to, Lance? I have not said anything about M16 twist rate.

                What I said is that if US upgrades to heavier bullets (like the 77gr Mk262) – which it can, precisely because M16A2 and above all have 1:7 twist rate – then half of all other NATO members won’t be able to use that ammunition, because it won’t stabilize in their rifles.

                This actually happened before, when US “upgraded” from M193 to M855. The original version of FAMAS, for example, had 1:12 twist, and was designed to be used with 55gr. They had to change that for G2. There were some other rifles that were originally 1:12 or 1:10 also, for the same reasons – I think FNC?

              • No 1 in 12 cannot be used with any 62gr ammo it can only hold 55gr and lighter bullets. SO most rifle in Europe must be 1 in 9 or 1 in 10 then.

              • *sigh* Once again you are not reading the comment that you’re responding to.

                Some European rifles used to be 1:12 or 1:10 twist (Swiss ones still are, but they don’t care because they use their own ammo, GP90). When NATO adopted SS109/M855 as a standard, several countries had to upgrade their rifles to handle it, most notably France (it usually coincided with the adoption of STANAG magazines, so it wasn’t so bad). So for the time being, all NATO countries can use each others’ standard issue ammunition, because it’s all 62gr.

                Now, there are still some countries that use 1:9 twist. These are the ones that I have listed in my earlier comment. If US decides to upgrade to heavier 77gr bullets, then those countries will have to upgrade their weapons once again.

              • NO I do not see 77gr ammo being ever adopted the military just adopted a new 62gr round don’t see that they will ditch that soon.

              • Mk262 is already adopted by the armed forces, just not for general use.

                As for the new stuff, you never know. Suppose that whole ISIS thing blows up and US needs to put boots on the ground again. They do, and find out that the new thing is as shitty as the old thing (because, let’s admit it, it is). This just might start another round of talk about the rifles and the ammo, and if Congress writes a check…

              • After the 75th received the new green bullets the report was they were the best thing since sliced bread. However rumors from the field said bullets were coming apart. Being partially made of cold pressed powder I can see how that could happen. Maybe its because I have seen so much shitty equipment pushed onto soldiers I am inclined to believe there is some truth to the rumors.

              • Yes but for SOCOM only and is use the Special Purpose sniper AR rifle not the M-4 or M-16. I doubt they will go service wide with it. Face it Corps went with Federal Mk 316 round Army is going M-855A1 both 62gr ammo both apart from crappy powder have good reviews. I do not see the US changing to slower twist to please the Euros either since most still use SS109 which is the same as plain M-855 ammo was. .

                PS I wouldn’t under estimate Russia either they have modern T-80 tanks air defenses and properly trained infantry it not a Ghost recon push over lie you predict.

              • Lance,
                You over estimate Russia’s capabilities. The T-80 tanks are over rated. The Russians were never able to build a reliable turbine engine the chassis and turret have too many weak points. The Russians had to pull them out of Chechnya and replace them with T-72’s because they were to easy to destroy and the engines aren’t reliable. Soviets took them into Afghanistan and had to take them all back out because thier suspensions are to delicate to be used in rough terrain. They have AD missile systems that are pretty good as long as they are maintained which my guess is the majority are not. After the fall of the USSR and the departure of Russian forces from east Germany we found (they took all of the equipment but left records) that since the late 50’s no more than 50% of the Soviets equipment we faced was operational. They were moving takes around with tractors at night to make it look as though the tanks were operational. All of that was done when the soviets were at their peak.

              • No it was the T-72 that was brefly used in Afghanistan and was pulled due to bad tracks. Overall in CHechniya it was crappy tactics which lead tanks w/o infantry to Grozny which lead to the heavy losses. T-72 can duel easily with a M-1A2 tank. Face it your beloved Germany has too few Leopard 2s to tank Russia there Liberal governments have slashed there armys to nothing. There Luftwaffe is so small Ukraine air force out number s them. The MiG-29 and Su-27 can still take on the Tornado’s and Typhoons they use. Im not overestimating them im being real your going to war against a real enemy not some Arab idiots like Iraq was. Face it Russia and Chinese have made radars that detect Stealth tech and for the F-22 becomes a slow lesser armed version of the F-15 w/o its steal use. Russian crews and pilot have exceptional skills in some exercises done with the US pre-2008 many western military men still regarded them as top notch solder airmen and sailors..

                Dot be caught up that the USA and Britain cannot be stopped by anyone. I’d put Russia’s weapons and men over China’s any day. And I say any one who wants to goto war with Russia over Ukraine is a idiot and crazy.

                And really you want to argue over this??? Off topic my friend this is gun blog not defense blog. Stay on target and don’t get into arguments. We agree to disagree.

              • Lance,
                I don’t know where you get your info from but the Russian AF is worthless. They had to use instructor pilots to perform combat missions in Georgia and they failed miserably failing to hit most of their targets. Until recently the Russian AF has barely gotten enough fuel for the pilots to practice take offs and landings.
                Please read the following but remember as bad as the details are were actually much worse. 20% of their tanks had to be towed in, no operational radios to speak of, poor intelligence etc etc etc.


                Yes the Russians used really bad tactics I the invasion of Chechnya and they lost a lot of armor of all types because of it.

                The Russians learned nothing between Chechnya and Georgia so its hard for me to believe that in the last 5-6 years they could improve that much.

              • I can totally believe that some lessons were learned (esp. after Georgia, which after all was entirely on Putin’s watch, so he had to follow up). What lessons is another question. Judging by the handling of Crimea, it seems that what they did is created a smaller, entirely contract force within the army that is actually paid well, trained well and equipped well. That one is formidable, but not large – basically, large enough to handle Georgia or Crimea or even a full-on Ukrainian invasion (as a spearhead), but not an all-out European war. For that, they will have to resort to conscripts, and I already described how conscripts are trained. Morale is better now that they try to at least clamp down on the more severe hazing in conscript units (it used to be that male rape was not uncommon, for example, and suicides were depressingly common), and they also fixed the food issues and such, but the lack of training still means that those conscripts are cannon fodder. In a traditional Russian-style defensive war – i.e. fighting retreat to slow down the invader until fall renders roads unusable (and with them, mobile warfare), and then winter to take its toll on the enemy’s manpower – cannon fodder is exactly what you need. But in an invasion, it doesn’t work so well.

                Regarding military tech… USSR had a lot of interesting things in development, and Russia still retains some that are on par with modern Western equivalents, but these are the remains of former glory. There haven’t been any significant developments pretty much since the dissolution of the USSR – oh, some are touted, but if you look at them, they are all old Soviet project that were mothballed in the 90s in various degrees of completeness, and reinvigorated under Putin. Given the severe brain drain that the country has suffered since late 80s – Jews leaving for Israel, everyone else leaving for US, Canada, Germany, and recently Australia etc – and very meager perspectives for engineers and scientists in government employ (the pay is still beyond shitty), I don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

              • All true but one thing good has happened. All of the americans that have lusted for an AK can get one!

              • No Russia learned alot form its Chechnya experience. Its AF has improved since the bad days of Boris Yeltsin of the early and mid 1990. Most Pilots now go threw training and they do practice air combat alot more than our own dilapidated USAF and Navy who closed Top Gun and gutted Red Flag for more money for stealth tech that is becoming obsolete and more funding for GPS guided bombs. Apart from F-15C crews most Navy and USAF crew get no real air to air training any more. Hence poor combat reviews seven years ago in a US/Indian air exercise.

                I say don’t have the dumb Nazi mindset that the Russians will be pushover bet you be surprise if you got your way and attacked Russia. Yes its no longer the USSR. BUT its not the wreak of 1990s either. Dont forget we lost planes in the mid east as well and our forces are not invincible. The Navy in particular is very vulnerable heck it lacks any real fleet defense fighters any more. The Hornet is a A-7 replacement not a fleet defender.

              • Put your vodka down Lance. I never advocated attacking Russia. Eventually they will implode on their own again. There is literally no profit in attacking Russia directly. There falling demographics and the poor overall health of the ethnic Russian people are changing dynamics of the military as no over half of the military are non-ethnic Russians. The Russians have been selling all of their equipment to enemies of ours that are also no friend of Russia’s. Iran, one of their largest customers stated about 25 years ago that the stan regions of the old soviet union was part of ancient Persia and they would be taking them back. Look for the large scale insurgencies in the next 10 years if no one grows some manhood.
                Russian equipment is too maintenance intensive to have sustained training operations. Their jet engine wear out 20 times faster than western engines, helicopter engines 6-9 times faster, Their planes have to have intermediate level work every year to replace all of the rubber on the plane.

              • If you didnt get my message because of this dumb websit here it is Russia is fixing there population probklem last few years, still a problem but nat as sever as it was a few years ago. Also Japan Germany and UK and Farnce have a larger problem there population is not making enought babies and so there dying off at a higher rate than Russia and Muslims are out breeding htem. Face it ISIS in a generation can rule Fance UK and Germany. This isnt a Russia problem its a Europe problem.

              • Russian demographics are not particularly impressive in absolute terms. Better than most European countries, sure, but still well below the replenishment rate.

                Oh, and you know which regions have the highest birth rates (to the extent that they have positive local population growth)? Chechnya, Dagestan etc.

                How does president Kadyrov sound to you? Cuz it may well be reality in 20 years or so.

              • Lance, Put down the vodka bottle. Russia has lost population every year since the collapse of the soviet union except for the first 2 years when ethnic russians moved back in mass from other soviet dominated countries. Ethnic Russian public health is in the tanks. They have the highest rate of Heroine abuse in the western world, TB, Heterosexual AIDs transmission, ½ of all ethnic Russian young men are in to poor of health to serve in the military (we are there now), 1.54 birth rate (average of 10 abortions per live birth) and is being driven up by a high muslims etc. Lets not forget the rampant corruption that prevents anything meaningfull getting done. My wife is ethnic russian and she has no desire to go back to that area of the world even to vist family.

              • Sorry your ignoring the fact others and myself made. Your love affair of Germany France and UK all have worse population problems and ALOT larger Muslim population out breeding them face it. NATO will die and ISIS will take over in a generation. Russia is a bit better than what France faces in a short time. Besides there militaries have shrunk to such a small level Ukraine could kick there but.

              • Just FYI Lance, Russia is the European country with the largest Muslim population – it’s at least 14% according to the official data, but that is widely believed to underreport the number; some other estimates put it at 20%.

                In Moscow – the capital! – out of 14 million people (this includes temporary workers and estimated number of illegal immigrants), anywhere from 2 to 4 million are Muslim.

              • Yes but most are not in areas of interest of Russia most reside in Chechnya which lacks important strategic value. Yes I know Russia fought two wars over it, mostly to keep Russia together after the break up of 1991.

              • No, most don’t reside in Chechnya. Did you miss the numbers that I’ve quoted for Moscow? Does Moscow sound like it’s in Chechnya?

                Also, about half of that total figure comes from Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. Which, again, have nothing to do with Chechnya or Caucasus in general, and are heavily industrialized and populated areas with advanced development and a significant contribution to country as a whole.

                Most important part is that, like everywhere else, the birth rate for Russian Muslims is much higher than everyone else (and this is especially true for Caucasian republics). And because they are citizens, they can move around the country freely, and many move to Moscow etc.

                Muslim immigration into Russia is also significantly larger than any other European country, with the possible exception of Germany. Whereas most European countries take in “refugees”, Russia imports labor. Immigrants from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan etc – almost all of them Muslims – play a role similar to what Mexican immigrants play in US economy. There’s also a very large illegal immigration stream (though legal is also huge).

                Here’s a celebration of Kurban-Bayram in Moscow:




                Tell me which other European country has anything even remotely approaching this in scale.

              • All three of you want to argue about oranges when I talked about apples. Main point is while Russia has problems your NATO nations are having the SAME crisis and so going to war wouldn’t help either side. Russia is no push over niter would Germany ect. Main problem is Europeans are too liberal brainwashed idiots and want to be 20 for there lives and not make a family and continue making a new generations of Russians Germans Brits ect. Don’t matter your NATO nations will end up like Russia. And so you can say Russia is a push over DBM but your love with Europe makes you blind that all those nations are heading to the same fate.

              • Last post on this subject Lance. The Russians are a paper tiger and are really good at bullying smaller countries. Ukraine is doing a good job kicking the Russians butts and the whole Ukrainian mess will blow up in putins face. It won’t be long before Isal starts in causing problems in Russia and also Iran will join in when they begin to gain nothing from continuing a relationship with russia , Putin will turn into a modern day napoleon destroying Russia the way napoleon destroyed france.

              • Unless NATO intervenes, Russia will steamroll over Ukraine (in fact, it has just begun, if you are reading the hottest news on the stories – the rebels have got sudden “reinforcements” and are counter-attacking and capturing ground; they have already taken Novoazovsk, and locals are reporting UAVs over Mariupol…). Ukraine’s military is in a far worse shape – it’s kinda like where Russia was in mid-90s, except Russia got several wake-up calls in Chechnya, Georgia etc, while Ukraine hasn’t got any.

              • NATO is a paper Tiger too. They have no militaries and no ammunition. The US could help at least with equipment that would stop the Russians in their tracks (example MLRS Launchers with Brilliant munitions) would take out all of their armor. Unfortunately all that would do is escalate the war. The question then is how far do we take it and is it worth it to us. If we didn’t have such a wimpy weasel in the White House this situation in the first place.

              • Or the Russian can just take out what older crap we send them. If its used by US Army at one time doesn’t mean its unstoppable.

              • Drop it lance. Russia will ultimately prevail in Ukraine not because they are the jaggernaught you believe them to be but because they have more men and equipment. Russia still likes to fight using WW2 tactics that if they fought a country with a real army would result in their being completely destroyed in the first battle. If you had ever been in the army you would know massed armor is a disaster in todays world. And since they aren’t using Israeli made tanks they aren’t capable of conducting independent combat operations.

              • Sorry Buckoo your the one who wont shut up you drop it first. Russia has already damaged US cyber networks when we began this sanction crap. Our military is being purged by Obama and we have more wimps, and women in than real worriers Id say almost Syria can kick our butts. Quit thinking your god and you know every thing about the world your a gun nut. im one too keep it guns on this site pal. Besides unless your a drone moron we haven’t changed from WW2 look at Desert Storm 1st year of Iraqi Freedom pretty WW2 like.

              • They are no paper tiger they been kicking Ukraine’s butt the last few days. Never underestimate your opponent.

              • For some more numbers. Russia has an estimated 4 million of illegal immigrants currently, vast majority of them from Central Asia and Muslim. On the legal immigration front, it takes in about 300,000 people every year, and more than half of those are from the same region.