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Colts (courtesy wbur.org)

Troops left to fend for themselves after Army was warned of flaws in rifle the headline proclaims at the washingtontimes.com. Anyone who knows anything about the history of the M16 > M4 rifle knows that it’s been . . . problematic. Rowan Scarborough’s overview rounds up all the usual suspects: inability to run reliability without constant cleaning, overheating issues, barrel failure and a lack of “stopping power” at distance (to name a few). The report cites battle failures and names names: the politicians and pencil pushers who protected Colt’s contract to supply our armed forces with an [arguably] inadequate firearm. Oh wait. It doesn’t. The Wanat debacle? Unearthed in 2010. In fact, Scarborough eases off the gas almost as soon as he begins: “The Times interviewed two active-duty special operations troops who noted flaws but expressed love for the Colt-developed gun.” Colt didn’t respond to the Times’ requests for an interview. So what did we learn? Google is your friend, as is a soldier-customized, well-maintained rifle. That is all. 

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325 COMMENTS

      • God I hope that’s a joke. My M92 torques in my firing hand when I shoot it. Not good for follow up shots, and it’s loud as hell and produced a gigantic fireball. It’s useless for HD until it’s SBR’d, and even then is still not as practical as an AR due to the gigantic flash and deafening muzzle report. Until it’s SBR’d, it’s a novelty gun.

    • The AR, like so many great platforms, is really good for certain things. Because of it’s limitations, and yes it has them, I am not a fan and do not own one. Yet I highly recommend it to new shooters interested in a good easy to learn under $1k platform that can grow with you as your skills improve.

      As a military weapon the M16 platform is ancient. It still puts holes in bad guys but there have been many improvements. People still defend it ardently but there are clearly superior weapons out there and some of them being used by countries without the funding or resources of our own military. At this point, the only reason I can think of why we still use it is because of cronyism and lobbyists.

      • So what would you say is a superior platform for a combat rifle that is accurate out to 500yrds, light weight, extremely modular, easy to manipulate (coming from a southpaw), and has a proven track record around the world? Having served alongside Brits and had at length discussions with other foreign forces, they all said they disliked and even some cases hated their organic rifles but all fawned over our M16/M4’s. Yes there are some short-comings to the M16 family but overall it’s not THAT bad of a rifle, and during my time in the USMC the ONLY time I saw a rifle become an extreme hindrance is when a particular rifle (belonged to an officer of all people) refused to cycle and had to be manually cycled after every shot. Sure it would’ve been a bad day if the paper were shooting back at that time but at least the rifle still fired, perhaps it was his lack of PM but he most certainly blamed the armorers.

        • The IAR was just being fielded when I left the Marine Corps. It was being used as both an automatic weapon and a Designated Marksman’s rifle. Its a lightweight and very accurate, more reliable and a lot easier to clean
          Every Marine I served with preferred the IAR to M4/M16 series.

        • The amount of clogging/ bent/ broken/ missing parts required to prevent an M-4 from cycling is signifigant and would have required the piece to be sent up to the 3rd/4th level of Maint. there was no reason for that unit to have remained in the unit in that condition

        • IAR vs M4/M16.
          IAR has free floating forearm, heavy barrel, gas piston and full auto trigger vs M4’s 3rd burst. Ultimately it’s just a modded M4 variant so it’s not really a superior weapon system, just an enhancement of what already exists.

          To ensitue, miraculously after LT got done with his little course of fire he ran a bore brush down a time or two and it managed to function after that, so yea…PM issue, not a mechanical one.

        • Pretty much a heavy barrelled 416. Its the Marines skirting the supply system to finally get the full auto service rifle they’ve wanted since WWII. Which they shouldn’t have to do.

        • >> So what would you say is a superior platform for a combat rifle that is accurate out to 500yrds, light weight, extremely modular, easy to manipulate (coming from a southpaw), and has a proven track record around the world?

          The one that is less prone to dirt and mud, doesn’t have the charging handle in a strange place that makes it impossible to operate without dropping the sights, has mag well & mag design that ensures secure lock and consistent feeding, and doesn’t have so many small parts when field stripping?

          SIG 551 is a good candidate. AUG and Tavor are, as well.

          >> Having served alongside Brits and had at length discussions with other foreign forces, they all said they disliked and even some cases hated their organic rifles but all fawned over our M16/M4′s.

          Well, the crappiness of Brits’ current service rifle is legendary, so I’m not surprised. What other foreign forces? If you mean Germans, then I can also understand, seeing how G36 got some bad rap with melting plastic after sustained fire etc.

          • In august 2001 the brits were war gaming with us in Kuwait and the infantry could not fire a single round from their rifles as they continually jammed. The brits had to return their rifles for the sixth time to get them to function. Add to that the Brit issue ammo is underpowered and so dirty that American soldiers who use brit made ammo for training are supposed to clean their weapons before leaving the range. So I can see how they would like the M-4.

      • “The AR, like so many great platforms, is really good for certain things.”

        Yes…. inspiring you to come up with new and creative curses for Eugene Stoner and anyone who reveres a gun with a direct impingement system utilizing a gas tube with a .180″ diameter AND right angles…..

        • I revere no gun.

          Every design, well every GOOD design, still has it’s shortcomings.

          For everyone who bows down and worships at the altar of Glock, the 1911, the AR, the AK, etc. they tend to overlook that no design is good at all things.

          DI systems are not without issues. Are those issues often exaggerated by its critics? You damn betcha. Doesn’t mean that overstating those problems means they don’t exist even if not as severely as some claim.

          I’ve actually had trigger time on the M16 platform in field conditions. One of the problems I saw with extended use, and these were old rifles, was that after awhile it’s damn near impossible to get them clean enough to not have some kind of malfunction. We typically clean those things for 2 hours after a FTX and I could still find significant fouling inside the receiver.

          For a civilian owner, that kind of extended use and abuse isn’t an issue. Even most avid shooters will be at the range maybe twice a month, but a few thousands rounds through it, and probably clean it as soon as they get home. They don’t have to worry about extended exposure to rain and mud and a vast majority will never fire a full auto version and the obscene amount of ammo you can burn while doing it.

          I don’t know if I can count the IAR as a superior platform as I thought the USMC purchased that as a “Squad Automatic Weapon”, or was that just a backdoor procurement for them to get some beefed up 416’s? However, take a look at the HK G36, which has a reputation for the same level of accuracy and being much more durable. Granted, I’d prefer one without the overly complicated optic the Germans use but I believe those are available now. The Israeli’s have the Tavor and if you don’t like bullpups the FN SCAR has shown a lot of promise. There are also some promising offerings in .300 Blackout and 6.8mm to address some of the issues of the 5.56mm without adopting the other shortcomings of the 7.62mm WP.

          In short, I have known plenty of servicemen who have complained long and loudly about their M16’s and M4’s, many of them had fired their weapons in anger. Very rarely have I heard praise and usually it was just about its accuracy. I’ve yet to meet anyone from any branch who used the the words “M4” and “reliable” in the same sentence.

        • Gregolas, this may be further addressed below, but Stoner’s original design was the AR-10 in 7.62 NATO caliber. Many companies manufacture this version today and except for being slightly heavier and in the larger caliber is essentially identical to the AR-15 platform.

      • You are kidding right? Limited ? To what??? All modern firearms have limits! The Russian ak-74 was a response to what they perceived as superior aspects of the m-16!( light weight, accuracy, range). The British will tell folks their L85a2 is superior to the M-16/M-4 ( and totally ignore that for more than 20 yrs it’s was a piece of shit rifle until HK rebuilt their stocks of rifles costing DOUBLE what the original rifle cost!) they will also crow about how much more accurate their rifles are and then parade out Vietnam era M-16a1s well used up to shoot against their L85s with 4x su sat/ elcans/ aimpoint mounted sights in a so called “accuracy competition”

        The more modern designs all have a slew of problems- tavor blows gas into the shooters face, crappy ass trigger that does effect accuracy and shot placement, like ALL bull pups, the HK g 36 has had really LOW performance issues and overheats /jams ( Germans found this out the hard way while deployed with ISAF ), and the so called superior replacement to the standard DI M-4 and M-16a4 , the HK 416, has a propietary piston ( meaning non interchangeable with off the shelf products) on what is basically a standard M-4! The FN SCAR is damn near 60% polymer with a pencil profile, and like the HK 416 , doesn’t do ANYTHING so superior that rates it’s 3-4x the cost of a FN or Colt or Colt Canada or Remington off the line M-4 !!

        I am a former marine (78-82) and retired police Sgt- I have seen the M-16a1/2 and later the AR-15 drop bad actors with little effort, and take all kind of daily harsh abuse. THAT SAID, I also worked for Dyncorp as a contractor and saw what Iraqis were using – beat to shit AKMs and AK-74s that were falling apart, jamming frequently( sand and debris) and suffering from all manner of pisspoor maintenance issues- any gun so mistreated will fail on you

        I also read up on the battle of Wanat- shooting a M-4 until the barrel is visibly white hot is near IMPOSSIBLE; barrel would droop or burst and way before that the 304 grade steel gas tube ( part of what makes the DI action work) would BURST, making the gun , the M-4, a basic single shot one pull firing rifle; NONE OF THE M-4s used in the battle were reported to have had their gas tubes burst !

        What everyone except the MARINE general who realistically evaluated the battle of wanat OVERLOOKED, was pisspoor Intel and command and control- the unit was a PLATOON going up against an aggressor force of taliban fighters measuring at least company strength; throw in the fact that the taliban had high ground over the village, used RPGs and 7.62 x 54 cal hard hitting PKM machine guns, the army platoon in the village was OVER MATCHED by a superior force! Each army soldier could have been armed with SCARS, HK416s, hell even phasers and the outcome would have been the same- I seriously doubt anyone just got a jammed M-4 and dumped it on the ground and then went foraging for a shitty old, shorter ranged AKM to fight on!

        I doubt you really have any long term experience with the AR-15/ M-16/M-4 platform or any other combat grade long gun or else you wouldn’t have made the myopic statement you did. The 5.56 X 45 chambered M-4 fits the bill for what the Army and Marines will need up into the middle of the 21 St century ; conflicts wil be in built up urban environments and will be low to medium intensity- this is where MOST of the worlds population will be and conflicts will occur. Long range hill and valleys set piece combat is a thing of the last, if soldiers or marines need to hit a target past 600m, they have gp machine guns( m240s), designated marksmen and sharpshooters with 7.62/.300 win mag/ .338 lapua mag/ .50 bmg rifles, mortar squads and artillery or combat aviation resources.

        No one is fighting bolt action , trench warfare anymore- the fact that UK and US forces stomped on the Taliban forces in Helmand proved this.

        If it ever comes to a point where a off the shelf AR-15 will fail a civilian or an M4 a soldier in a dire situation ( that paranoid shtf apocalypse scenario) it won’t matter Anyway as society will have gone BACK to fighting with spears, swords, bows and arrows.

        For right now there isn’t much that can replace the M-4( now available in the M4a1 configuration and using the SOST/m855a1/mk 318/262 rounds) or is more cost and performance effective.

        • Yes, and not to be a pain in the ass but kind of confirms my point about every design having it’s issues.

          I would love a FN FAL but the price, cost of ammo, and overall weight has put me off them so far.

        • To increase range, penetration and lethality you have to go to higher weight class. That is the tradeoff. We have become weight obsessed to absurd degree. If soldiers of yesteryear, who pretty much walked into battle, could carry the weight so can today’s bigger and better conditioned soldiers.

      • It’s all fun and games until you’re carrying it in the mountains. Follow up shots also aren’t as fast as a 5.56mm, and you’re carrying less ammo.

        The soldiers of yesteryear weren’t carrying the load of miscellaneous cr@p we make our guys carry. And they didn’t wear body armor.

        Not bashing the platform – just pointing out that as with everything else there are tradeoffs.

        • SIGNIFICANTLY less ammo. And let’s face this – the modern battlefield is all about putting a lot of ammo downrange.

              • I read quite well. No you didn’t say you were a bad shot but you inferred it. Full auto fire is needed by the troops as much as a bayonet is. Which is never. That’s why the marines went to K-Bars 30 some years ago. However think they need bayonets so if they run out of ammo they can still have some protection. Full auto by every soldier is just an excuse to stick out their weapon and squeeze the trigger and hope they hit something or scare the boogieman Taliban away. By the 3rd round most people are shooting at birds. If they are serious about it they’d go to Adcore upper so the average soldier could at least hallucinate he hit the target. The army should go back to the automatic rifleman concept where two of the squad members used full auto when needed.

              • You INFERRED I said I was a bad shot. I didn’t say anything remotely like that. Again, reading is fundamental.

                I am actually a pretty good shot, Pedro.

        • I don’t think anyone is saying that at all.

          “I wish we hadn’t carried so much ammo into that fight!” – said no one, ever.

      • In my experience(6 yrs in 1-75) the m4 is a perfectly capable weapon system, in the right hands. After we went to the daniel defense uppers they were even more capable. Maintenance was obviously key to success. If you dont have the discipline and the pride of ownership in your weapon system, then maybe you should find a more suitable career. We did field test the scars and found the biggest flaw was the reciprocating charging handle. All they need to improve the ar is heavier ammo, and more range time.

        • Is there any reason to believe 77 grain rounds will cause significantly more barrel wear? I can’t see them causing cycling issues. Are there any other negative issues?

        • I know what you mean about the SCARs. I have a 17S and I got my thumb wacked once. Bought an add on to make it non reciprocating. The next gen SCARs will have a non-reciprocating charging handle. The only other issues I had was I didnt like the trigger or safety location or the magazines FN designed.
          Thought the trigger was a little stiff for such an expensive weapon but its the most accurate off the shelf rifle I’ve ever put my hands on. A polished Timney Trigger fixed that. I also did not like the position of the safety. I have average sized hands for a man (size large) with average length fingers and I found the safety to be slightly (but irritatingly) to far forward to reach comfortably and the magazines are to hard to find and are about $50 a pop. Handle Defense makes a great milled aluminum lower that fixes the mag and safety location problem. It now uses standard PMags.

      • Rob Aught is right.

        There are tradeoffs. The AR10/M16/M4 have several inherent vices as a main battle rifle.
        1) Finicky locking mechanism.
        2) Gas-Operated Design.
        3) Small Parts.

        The virtues of the design are:
        1) Modularity.
        2) ‘Futuristic’ look.
        3) Nice magazine feed system: Slap in, drop out.
        4) SLIGHTLY lighter weight than its contemporary competitors – and about average now.
        5) More easily ambidextrous – charging handle, reach to safety, magazine release, etc.

        Vices 1 & 2 combine to cause you to confront #3 a lot as a soldier, because you will need to clean it much, much more than other designs – if you CAN. And in some environments it is nearly impossible to get it clean enough.

        Specific to the M16/M4/AR15 is lack of range and stopping power. When someone trying to kill you is not stopped after you put a couple of 5.56 in them it’ll give you a real gut check. Not fun.

        Infantry have been doing more occupation in recent years and less combined arms. So the ranges in common use right now are terrain and situation dependent – and not a good judging criteria in my opinion.

        I like it better when I can hit the guy trying to shoot me while I am still out of his range. Call it a personal preference. So I will always prefer 7.62 over 5.56.

        I’ve had M16’s downrange. I’ve had M4’s. I’ve had M14s. And I’ve had FNFALs. Some of the units I’ve been in had a bit of discretion in what we could take.
        M4 is a shorter M16A4 with rails and a few refinements. Virtues and vices above still apply. In the field long term you have to worry about losing some of the smaller parts in the bolt and bolt carrier. It is nice to say, “You shouldn’t clean that! It’s armorer or depot level maintenance!” When you are downrange and it isn’t working you have to do what you have to do. Sometimes you can’t call timeout, or send it back to the armorer.

        I absolutely prefer 7.62. I am a paratrooper of many years. 7.62 is no fun to carry. It is not fun to hump. It is a lot heavier than 5.56. When you are the guy who is carrying it and keep saving people’s bacon, you can forget about all those ‘No fun’ things. None of them is as no-fun as getting shot.

        FNFAL seemed to work. You worry about parts in cleaning. 13 small parts there. I used to put them in my soft cap so as not to lose them. But I always felt like I was one distraction away from losing something and becoming worthless to my buddies. There were occasional feed issues, but not unmanageable.

        M14. Tilting in mags takes getting used to. It feels old-fashioned. It is not as much heavier than an M16A4 as you have heard. I weighed the difference at about 2 ounces. Never fire it on auto. It is just a noisemaker and you’ll hit nothing. Much longer than an M4, and it can be awkward to use in a vehicle due to its length. It never let me down during use, always fired, was as finicky as a steel pipe and made a decent club. Didn’t seem to need a lot of cleaning, but I felt like I should clean it anyway. Maybe that’s why I personally didn’t have any feed or fire issues. The M14 would, I think, be a problem for lefty’s.

        I ended up asking for (and getting) an M14 for deployments. Right as I was getting too old, the shortened varieties of the M1A , the SOCOM, etc started coming out. Seemed like you couldn’t want a more effective battle rifle. But I never got one for a deployment. So I’ll leave that commentary to someone who has .

        • Your review comments on the weight of your 7.62 rifles made me remember something one of my uncles said of the Thompson Sub Machinegun he carried in the Korean War. He said it was a bitch to carry and the ammo was worse but when you cut down on a group of attacking Chinese the few that made it to the ground never stuck their heads up to see where the shots were coming from!

    • AR is a very poor weapon, altho nice and sexy weapon to carry it cannot reliably sustain high rates of fire for long periods, it is hopelessly compromised. The standard cartridge is on the minimum lethality limit from an M4 at 150 yards, if your target is standing behind ANY cover your wasting your time. Firefights in Afghanistan are usually at much longer ranges than 200 yards, so you need sustainable fire power and be able to hit and kill targets at 500 yards and penetrate medium/light cover to be effective. Russian weapons cover this requirement easily and are extremely reliable. Speaking personally I would prefer to use an old fashioned Vickers or Browning heavy machine gun for base of fire or point defence, continuous fire for an hour and 40,000 rounds between failures beat 200 rounds change barrel, another 200 rounds change barr …. oh bugger.

      • Murry,
        You have to remember the M-4 was designed to be used by highly mobile soldiers in close combat as per US Army Combat Doctrine. There is no requirement for long range engagments or long range lethality so the weapon is performing as required. Problem is the Taliban didnt read our combat doctrine.

      • I’m open to critique on this, but are battles with the Taliban rifle battles? As soon as engagement is clearly on out in the mountains the fighting is done by machine guns, mortars, and heavier squad riflemen, no? The doctrine of providing all forward-operations soldiers with a carbine, but emphasizing their role as machine gunners, MG crew support, mortar teams, etc. makes sense. The Germans got that down in WWII. Of course if logistics fall apart then things change. Critique welcome.

        • To the best of my knowledge, the Taliban is almost exclusively using AKs, not emplaced machine guns.

          The AK IS their machine gun.

          • Wrong. The Taliban like to engage at long range with machine guns as much as possible. Why do you think the army has been sending in so many 7.62 rifles. Why engage close up with AKMs when you can stay out of effective firing range of M-4’s. They aren’t stupid,

        • int19 is right.

          Taliban uses a lot of RPK’s and PKMs.

          They like to put DSHKs on their trucks when they can.

          The Al Queda that were there in 2001-2002 had a hodge-podge of equipment. Top-of the line GENIII NVG’s. 120 mm Mortars. And a great variety of rifles. There are spider holes all over the mountains. They hide in them. In a firefight they’ll duck down, then you see them pop up in a totally different place with no obvious concealed way to get there.

          The Taliban have guts. But most don’t shoot well, even if their weapon does.

          Another reason to prefer .308.

          • Gordo,
            Hundreds of years ago the afghans dug underground tunnels to bring water from the mountains to the lowlands for irrigation and drinking water. They are absolutely ingenious in their construction, Every so many yards there is a chamber dug out of the ceiling big enough for a man. I remember reading about them during the time of the soviet invasion. I’m surprised NOT that you guys aren’t educated of these things. Knowing how the tunnels are dug could help you anticipate where they are and where the enemy could materialize.
            See the link below

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qanat#Afghanistan

      • Sure, if you’re at a static position a HEAVY machine gun is great. Hell, get two so they can have overlapping fields of fire. That’s like complaining that your machinegun is bad at taking out tanks… yeah, but it’s not meant for that.

        • Machineguns are universally awesome. I love the M240 and the M2. As long as I’m not the guy carrying them. Or their tripod. Or the ammo. Or spare barrels. Or the stuff that gets cross-leveled with the rest of the squad because the crew-served guys are humping the weapon, the tripod and the ammo.

          On a not-so-tongue in cheek note – the worst d@mn thing I have ever had to carry around was a 5 gallon water can. At least weapons and ammo are dead weight that doesn’t shift. Never again!

  1. I’m confused? I thought it was a magic metal machine of mass malice. How could it possibly be unreliable, lack stopping power, and overheat? That sounds like the type of wimpy weapon lowly civilians should be allowed to have.

    • Yep… sounds to me like ‘high capacity magazines’ are the solution to all this ‘gun violence’ since they render the weapons unusable. All the reloading with reduced capacity magazines lets the gun cool off and keep working. Mandate high capacity magazines! It’s for the children.

      • I agree, and while we’re at it, we should probably add shorter barrels as a standard to reduce accuracy, maybe even give tax breaks if you buy an SBR. It’s for the children.

  2. Yup, I read this article yesterday and scratched my bald pate. When I was a youngin and read of the Stoner invention it seemed to be some sort of Flash Gordon tool. Then came the media stories during Viet Nam. Family serving in VN called back for cleaning kit etc. Down went my opinion. Why oh why didn’t they move to Stoner’s AR-18? But dang that was 50 years ago ! There have been changes to the gun and the ammo. And Gazillions of rounds put down range both in peace and war. So at this point I rack up this as one of those gun myths that won’t die. M1 Carbine round bounces off clothing. M1 Garand ping resulted in GI’s getting killed. 9mm won’t do the job (woops sorry Beretta). etc…maybe a “smidgen” of truth in some dim recess of history, but no longer reality.

  3. This is where I would like to hear from the people who served and ask their knowledge on the M4 in battle. Who better to ask but them.

    • the weapon does need an inordinate amount of cleaning for a battlefield implement. Having used the M16 for me the 5.56mm round although it can do the job at distance a larger more effective round such as the 6.8SPC developed by Army marksmanship unit , Army SPEC OPS & Remington might be more efficient. problem is that it was developed outside the normal Army R & D & Procurement channels thus it will never be allowed a true test of its capabilities. In the final analysis it’s always about money.

      • The 6.8 was developed to hit harder than the 5.56 at 5.56 ranges, while the 6.5 was developed to hit harder than typical 5.56 ranges. This is just a simplified explanation. Replacing either for the 5.56 on a widepread scale isn’t beneficial, from an effectivness, cost, and logistical view.

        • And let’s face it, logistics and cost effectiveness is where it’s at today, and it’s likely to be so for a good while.

        • I wonder what made them replace .30-06 with .308 back in the day. By all accounts, it made even less sense, yet they were willing to dump money into it.

          • Why replace the 06 with a .308?
            Because the round is significantly short but still has the same ballistics. The shorter round means the bolt travels a shorter distance rearward which increases cyclic rates AND shorted rounds have a greatly reduced probability of misfeeds.

        • In retrospect, increasing cyclic rates on M14 definitely wasn’t a bright idea, but I can see the line of reasoning back then, thank you.

    • Good magazines are the most important factor for the M4 or any other magazine fed weapon. Second to that, lube it. I never had a failure during combat.

    • People who have served have divergent opinions on the M16/M4 family just like they do on any other topic. Subjective contribution: Mine never let me down.

    • In Iraq we decided to test what would happen if we dry fired one until function was impacted (we had a graphite based dry lubricant we wanted to try out). We didn’t see any malfunctions. We stopped after putting 400 rounds downrange because we were concerned about the heat reaching a level where continued firing was unsafe.

      That was a brand new M4 that had just been issued. YMMV.

      We were outside the wire, but we were never in a situation that involved a firefight, so I can’t speak to that, but we were confident that if we needed the M4 to function it would.

    • Because when people who have carried an the M16/M4 into combat, like myself, speak our opinions, mine of which was that I was perfectly fine with that weapon, we are usually called a liar, or told by someone who has no goddamn clue what they’re talking about how the AK or FAL is the ultimate weapon (spoiler alert-they arent)

  4. No firearm is perfect. NONE! Every one of them has some flaw that will cause them to not work right. YES even the beloved AK-47. Double feed anyone? Failure to extract? Sure, everyone will come up with excuses for WHY that happens, but the modern AR platform and the variants, have also had issues corrected. And simple fixes that prevent failure.

    • Let us not forget the 223/556 is a small game round , not fit for military combat … the M16 in the end falls to stop, seen this in real life , and how do you keep a rifle clean/like in new in combat conditions , also the buffer spring goes out if used a lot, dust and being dry causes jams/or stuck case, and too much oil get to collect more dust/sand. and you get more jams… remember murphy laws …… yes you can shoot and kill someone with a 22 long rifle…the 556 NATO rounds most times will not stop a big/or on drugs/etc.. attacker and overheating if you shoot hundreds of rounds fast, this will cause all non-metal magazines to melt or stick ……….

      • The 5.56 is nothing like .22LR except, nearly, in nominal bullet diameter. Plastic mags melt? Aren’t you an RVN-era vet. (I am…) If there is a physique that the 5.56 doesn’t stop as reliably, it is not the ‘big’ enemy, but the bone-thin starving guy who doesn’t have enough meat to absorb energy or get a bullet tumbling. As for recoil springs going, they are cheap, simple to repair, and last for many thousands of rounds. The gun in its current incarnations is light, durable, simple to repair, modular, and accurate. Add a plated BCG and cleaning becomes a bit quicker. Over-extending parts-replacement schedules is always a problem, but if you think we had it bad, talk to some Russian Afghan-war vet!

        • Modern 5.56 isn’t really designed for the tumbling. And shooting thin people isn’t a problem anymore. 5.56 hollowpoint ammo is authorized for use and it is far more effective than anything the M4 family has used except maybe those original M16’s with a 1:12 twist. Used them in Afghanistan. The rounds are great man stoppers. Had no problems at all with my rifle, the only people who seem to do are people who have no understanding of the gun.

        • JHP is authorized for who’s use? Sure, 75-77-grain HPBT is used by SOCOM, but not by others. Am I wrong? That single change, the bullets allowed and supplied, is the huge issue.

        • The Marines authorized it for their guys. And hollowtip LR has always been allowed and that is just the poor man’s hollowpoint. Somehow the lawyers were able to work for us for a change and state that a hollow point bullet isn’t a hollowpoint if it is result of a design manufacturing process, and wasn’t the intent.

        • Yes, the 5.56 is a varmit round and the 7.62 will kill the bad guy, his immediate family, and his soul.

          Jeez, you guys and you’re cartridges…

        • OTM rounds also seem to be working as a poor man’s HP (and the heavy ones fragment very impressively, too).

        • The 5.56 has half the energy of a 7.62 NATO or 30-06. 3000fps means squat when you are shooting a varmint round. And those who say the use of JHPs makes 5.56 a good round should consider what a 7.62 hunting round would do to a man.

        • I don’t think there is any dispute that 7.62×51 has better terminal ballistics at any range – but particularly at long range – than 5.56.

        • No-one disputes that 5.56 is less efficient than 7.62×51. The question is, how efficient is efficient enough, and does it justify the disadvantages? Larger caliber also means higher recoil, heavier weapon, smaller mags, and lower carried ammo count (or heavier ammo).

  5. Too bad those weapons are flawed – pack them all up and send them to me, I will keep anyone else form the trouble of having to use them.

  6. Junk take it from a combat vet…It’s fails in every area . The FN/FAL would be a much better all around gun and the short model would take care of the small people too…

      • standard 55gr. FMJ , we had lots guys killed because the lack of knock down… we had the 20 round mags that came out first… I would go to the wounded guy stack of gear and collect all the mags I could find and so I always had ten more mags that the issue 4.I was a walking ammo dump… and also had a non-issue 38 special (my own) and was able to get 38 ammo from the Air force …and the 38 S & W never failed under bad combat conditions………

          • Nam and I had my dad buy it and send it to me….there are lots of makes on todays market ………..But keep in mind they are not being used under REAL BAD COMBAT conditions …….They is why I praise the FN/FAL as it has done the job well under many nations and wars with FLYING COLORS……….

      • Colt lost the contract to Remington and sued and while the litigation was going through, FN slipped in and won the contract last February. Colt was charging over $900 a rifle while Remington undercut them to the mid $600’s and FN came in even lower to around $630 per rifle.

      • Of course, since pistols are always more accurate than rifles. What would you rather shoot someone with, an M1 Garand at 600 yards or a Glock 17 at 600 inches?

    • I too have fallen in love with the SKS. I have one, like yours, a Norinco with the TAPCO-ATI style stock, but after tricking out my standard M59 Yugo, it has become my favorite. I have a Stag 2T AR15 and it’s also nice (don’t get me wrong) along with a Remington 700BDL 5R. It’s nice too, but if I had to take one gun with me along with my BOB, it would be the SKS.

      The 20 round mag works out the best, as you’ve apparently discovered, since the 30 is more difficult to load through the stripper clip slot. I also did the D-M bolt mod so I could add and remove the magazines with the bolt closed. Replaced the firing pin with a spring loaded Murray’s, as well as the trigger, hammer and sear; the last three of which all count as 922r Compliance parts.

      I pitched the sear angle (above) ever so slightly forward into a more “positive” engagement so that the hammer can’t slip, and then polished all the surfaces. Took one coil off the hammer spring and replaced the mag catch spring, which also adds to the trigger compression, with a slightly lighter spring. Now it feels like my 308 trigger.

      I removed the bayonet and bayonet mount and then filled in the bayonet slot with a custom made “biscuit”; one for the bayo, another for the cleaning rod. While cutting the biscuit, I allowed a roughly 2″ length of it to accommodate the tenon an ATI forward rail. With just a tiny bit of sanding, the forward rail mounted in near perfect alignment right under the front few inches of the cut back foregrip.

      The last big change was to mount a Hogue AK47 pistol grip behind the trigger housing. I had seen someone’s attempt to do this by drilling a hole and bolting it to the rear tang of the trigger housing just aft of the latch, but it was flimsy. Instead, I fitted a T-nut under the back end of the receiver and used a 1/4-20 PHMS to pull the Hogue grip hard up to the stock and angled so that it pulls it snug against the trigger housing. It is SOLID, but it took a few things to get there.

      First, I had to sand down the underside nub off the stock in order to make room for my thumb. This is a tricky part because if you get carried away, you will expose the deepest recess of the hole used for the spring to push the tool kit out. Then, I used acetone to dissolve the cosmoline inside the tool crib hole, let it dry, then filled the majority of the hole with glass mat and “Git Rot”, which is a highly wood penetrating less viscous form of epoxy. Now, the stock is reinforced. I probably didn’t have to do that, but like I said, you have to be careful in how much wood you remove from the underside of the stock.

      Now, with the addition of a Streamlight TLR-2 laser/flashlight under the rail and a 1″ butt stock pad, this has become one of the most enjoyable, reliable and comfortable rifles to fire.

      • if you wanted an AK you should’ve just bought an AK.

        take this from someone who owns numerous AKs and SKSes, and once did all of those same types of mods to one of those SKS. it’s now back in its original wood-stocked form.

        • To me, the main attraction of an SKS is that it is as close you can get to a combat rifle while also dodging all the various AWB provisions (and, let’s face it, it’s always a threat hanging above our heads). I specifically bought an SKS with no bayo and no bayo lug because of this, though of course any can be so converted. It doesn’t “look” like a military rifle, it doesn’t have any “scary” features, not even a detachable mag… yet 10 rounds of 7.62×39 as fast as you can pull the trigger is some firepower to contend with, and stripper clips are plenty fast to reload from with some practice.

          In the meantime, it’s just a fun gun to shoot.

      • I bought a Russian SKS 51R that was all stock aside from a Tapco 20rd plastic mag that wasn’t fitted properly. Rather than mangling the magwell I decided to return it to stock with a 10rd fixed mag that was refurbished with a new finish. It’s much nicer that way!

        (I am tempted to swap out the bayonet with a flip-down bipod though..)

  7. When an AK fails, it’s thrown in the mass grave with the peasant conscript that carried it.

    When an M16 fails there are headlines in the Times, and a Congressional inquiry.

    • The only advantage–the ONLY advantage–the M16 had over the M14 was that it and its ammo was cheap. LBJ and McNamara didn’t value American conscripts any more than did the Viet Cong (who were mostly volunteers anyway). Nor do politicians of any stripe. Although I do give some of the Republicans that benefit of the doubt.

      • Well if you only see one advantage from it you might want to try and use both in combat. I have. Lets see, smaller and lighter, more ammo. Def would call those advantages. I absolutely love the M14. And it still has its place on the modern battlefield, but its for specialty use.

        • Maybe to clarify. Lightness is a virtue when your carry something; thrift is of value when you buy it. Both might be better than nothing, but neither thrift or lightness makes up for needing something more when you need it.

        • True. Which would be rather carry (with all the other gear), an M-4 and 300 rounds of 5.56 NATO, or an M-14 and 300 rounds of .308?

      • Please correct me if I’m wrong:

        Did not implementation of the new “platform” also come about the same time as implementation of new training doctrine in the form of “Trainfire” (if memory serves).

        Prior to the adoption of the new doctrine, all servicemen were taught the fundamentals of marksmanship. With the new doctrine came relaxation of these principles premised on “soldier now carrying full auto weapon and lots more number of smaller and lighter rounds.”

        I’m not sure if I have all that exactly right, but I do recall reading some very telling statistics regarding the number of small arms rounds expended per enemy killed in WW1, WW2, Korea and Vietnam.

        Short version: There was a telling and alarming trend in the ‘effectiveness’ of small arms across that period.

        It was one of the key “bureaucratic” tools used to re-implement dedicated sniper units post Vietnam.

        • A true story : I was in our supply area due to wounds received and we got in 12 new kids (green) they had boot camp and combat training time cut in half… long story short they had been issued new M16’s and no training so we had to real fast show the kids all the in’s and out’s of the M16 no firing time. They went out with the supply guy and 3 days later he returned and I asked how the kids were doing … He looked at the ground and said all 12 are dead …………3 days….breaks your heart………

        • In basic I trained with an M14. Two months later in Vietnam I was issued an M16, without any training.

        • But they don’t carry full-auto weapons now, by and large, do they? I thought they had migrated to burst fire only?

      • The M14 had it’s problems. The gun was heavy and long, both of which made it unwieldy in tight jungle situations. The gun’s stock was made of wood, which (big surprise!) warped in extreme humidity and heat, which also happened a lot in the jungle. The full-auto setting was pretty much useless and uncontrollable, which resulted in a lot of that heavy ammunition being wasted. With a lighter round, at least you can waste more ammo.

        • They later had a non-wood stock that worked very well. and the 7.62 NATO had knock down that save our lives….and you could hit out past 500 yards very easy too..and the M14 had no jam issues like the M16

        • I keep hearing things like “The gun was heavy and long, both of which made it unwieldy in tight jungle situations. The gun’s stock was made of wood, which (big surprise!) warped in extreme humidity and heat, which also happened a lot in the jungle.” all the time. If this were true how come the M-1 performed outstandingly in similar conditions in WWII?

          You hear that a soldier can’t do things with a heavy weapon like an M-14 except those very things were done by soldiers toting heavy gear in the Second World War. I mean how could a guy get up Pointe du Hoc on D-Day lugging a BAR up the cliff? The Rangers who took the position carried standard US infantry weapons.

          The fact that the smaller, lighter round could not penetrate heavy jungle should be a clue that the M-16 was a poor weapon for jungle fighting.

        • >> You hear that a soldier can’t do things with a heavy weapon like an M-14 except those very things were done by soldiers toting heavy gear in the Second World War.

          In WW2, American soldiers armed with Garands were facing Japanese soldiers armed with bolt-action rifles which were just as long as heavy, and slower firing. In Vietnam, they were facing opponents armed with AKs. It wasn’t that M14 was inherently bad, it was just worse suited for the environment than enemy gear, and this was noticed pretty fast.

        • Except that it took three times as many rounds to inflict a casualty in Viet Nam than it did in WWII. So what ever weight advantage that you gained from a smaller, less effective round was neutralized by the higher volume of mostly wasted fire. It has been well demonstrated that using fully automatic fire does not increase combat effectiveness since it is unaimed fire. Most of the rounds are wasted. In the early days of large scale deployments many troops, particularly the Marines carried the M-14, and did not find themselves at a tactical disadvantage. The enemy’s weapon, the AK-47, was designed for poorly educated and trained troops. It was an ideal weapon for peasant armies. Soviet style infantry tactics followed from that fact. There was no need to sacrifice marksmanship in the US armed forces in Viet Nam. The choice of the M-16 was influenced by Marshall’s faulty research on US infantry effectiveness in WWII. The original purpose of the AR-15/M-16 was to replace the M-2 carbine and the Grease Gun” in rear areas and in the Security/military police. It is well suited for that role.

        • >> The enemy’s weapon, the AK-47, was designed for poorly educated and trained troops. It was an ideal weapon for peasant armies. Soviet style infantry tactics followed from that fact.

          It’s funny. You do recognize that a lot of BS mythology surrounding M14 is just that, mythology; but then you rehash the one around AK verbatim.

          No, it was not designed for poorly educated and trained troops. Practically every single AK feature that is touted as being for “stoopid” (like e.g. the safety) is there for some other reason, like the requirement to be operable in heavy winter mittens. The infamous short LOP that is often explained by “well they were conscripting malnourished short and skinny peasants” is also because of heavy winter clothing. And so on.

          FWIW, Soviet infantry tactics, again contrary to the popular American myth, was never centered around “spray and pray”. It should actually be sort of obvious from the design of the AK safety, which is explicitly made in such a way that switching to semi is easier than switching to full auto, especially under stress where you just push it until it stops.

          • Afraid some one fed you a line on the safety of an AK. Try reading Soviet Combat Doctrine. The full auto position was deliberately placed in the 2nd position because doctrine said all combat firing would be on full auto.

        • FWIW, I have actually read analyses of Soviet Doctrine, training and exercises published by the National Ground Intelligence Center. The Soviets used the old fashion Russian concept of mass. As per other discussions, Soviet doctrine was their mass powered implementation of mobile warfare, essentially a NASCAR-like version of the old fashion Russian steamroller.