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LittleLebowski
12-17-2007, 09:49 AM
Army Times link (http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/12/army_carbine_dusttest_071217/)

Text:



http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/12/army_carbine_dusttest_071217/
news/2007/12/army_carbine_dusttest_071217
Newer carbines outperform M4 in dust test

By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 17, 2007 9:25:16 EST

The M4 carbine, the weapon soldiers depend on in combat, finished last in a recent “extreme dust test” to demonstrate the M4’s reliability compared to three newer carbines.

Weapons officials at the Army Test and Evaluation Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., exposed Colt Defense LLC’s M4, along with the Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the H&K 416 to sandstorm conditions from late September to late November, firing 6,000 rounds through each test weapon.

When the test was completed, ATEC officials found that the M4 performed “significantly worse” than the other three weapons, sources told Army Times.

Officials tested 10 each of the four carbine models, firing a total of 60,000 rounds per model. Here’s how they ranked, according to the total number of times each model stopped firing:

• XM8: 127 stoppages.

• MK16 SCAR Light: 226 stoppages.

• 416: 233 stoppages.

• M4: 882 stoppages.

the results of the test were “a wake-up call,” but Army officials continue to stand by the current carbine, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, the command that is responsible for equipping soldiers.

“We take the results of this test with a great deal of interest and seriousness,” Brown said, expressing his determination to outfit soldiers with the best equipment possible.

The test results did not sway the Army’s faith in the M4, he said.

“Everybody in the Army has high confidence in this weapon,” Brown said.

Lighter and more compact than the M16 rifle, the M4 is more effective for the close confines of urban combat. The Army began fielding the M4 in the mid-1990s.

Army weapons officials agreed to perform the test at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in July. Coburn took up the issue following a Feb. 26 Army Times report on moves by elite Army combat forces to ditch the M4 in favor of carbines they consider more reliable. Coburn is questioning the Army’s plans to spend $375 million to purchase M4s through fiscal 2009.

Coburn raised concerns over the M4’s “long-standing reliability” problems in an April 12 letter and asked if the Army had considered newer, possibly better weapons available on the commercial market.

John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn, who was traveling, said the senator was reviewing the test results and had yet to discuss it with the Army.

The M4, like its predecessor, the M16, uses a gas tube system, which relies on the gas created when a bullet is fired to cycle the weapon. Some weapons experts maintain the M4’s system of blowing gas directly into the firing mechanism of the weapon spews carbon residue that can lead to fouling and heat that dries up lubrication, causing excessive wear on parts.

The other contenders in the dust test — the XM8, SCAR and 416 — use a piston-style operating system, which relies on a gas-driven piston rod to cycle the weapon during firing. The gas is vented without funneling through the firing mechanism.

The Army’s Delta Force replaced its M4s with the H&K 416 in 2004 after tests revealed that the piston operating system significantly reduces malfunctions while increasing the life of parts. The elite unit collaborated with the German arms maker to develop the new carbine.

U.S. Special Operations Command has also revised its small-arms requirements. In November 2004, SOCom awarded a developmental contract to FN Herstal to develop its new SCAR to replace its weapons from the M16 family.

And from 2002 to 2005, the Army developed the XM8 as a replacement for the Army’s M16 family. The program led to infighting within the service’s weapons community and eventually died after failing to win approval at the Defense Department level.

How they were tested

The recent Aberdeen dust test used 10 sample models of each weapon. Before going into the dust chamber, testers applied a heavy coat of lubrication to each weapon. Each weapon’s muzzle was capped and ejection port cover closed.

Testers exposed the weapons to a heavy dust environment for 30 minutes before firing 120 rounds from each.

The weapons were then put back in the dust chamber for another 30 minutes and fired another 120 rounds. This sequence was repeated until each weapon had fired 600 rounds.

Testers then wiped down each weapon and applied another heavy application of lubrication.

The weapons were put back through the same sequence of 30 minutes in the dust chamber followed by firing 120 rounds from each weapon until another 600 rounds were fired.

Testers then thoroughly cleaned each weapon, re-lubricated each, and began the dusting and fire sequencing again.

This process was repeated until testers fired 6,000 rounds through each weapon.

The dust test exposed the weapons to the same extreme dust and sand conditions that Army weapons officials subjected the M4 and M16 to during a “systems assessment” at Aberdeen last year and again this summer. The results of the second round of ATEC tests showed that the performance of the M4s dramatically improved when testers increased the amount of lubrication used.

Out of the 60,000 rounds fired in the tests earlier in the summer, the 10 M4s tested had 307 stoppages, test results show, far fewer than the 882 in the most recent test.

in the recent tests, the M4 suffered 643 weapon-related stoppages, such as failure to eject or failure to extract fired casings, and 239 magazine-related stoppages.

Colt officials had not seen the test report and would not comment for this story, said James Battaglini, executive vice president for Colt Defense LLC, on Dec. 14.

Army officials are concerned about the gap between the two tests becaus the “test conditions for test two and three were ostensibly the same,” Brown said.

There were, however, minor differences in the two tests because they were conducted at different times of the year with different test officials, Brown said. Test community officials are analyzing the data to try to explain why the M4 performed worse during this test.

Weapons officials pointed out that these tests were conducted in extreme conditions that did not address “reliability in typical operational conditions,” the test report states.

Despite the last-place showing, Army officials say there is no movement toward replacing the M4.

The Army wants its next soldier weapon to be a true leap ahead, rather than a series of small improvements, Brown said.

“That is what the intent is,” he said, “to give our soldiers the very best and we are not going to rest until we do that.”

Col. Robert Radcliffe, head of the Directorate of Combat Developments for the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., said the test results will be considered as the Army continues to search for ways to improve soldier weapons.

For now, he said the Army will stick with the M4, because soldier surveys from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to highlight the weapon’s popularity among troops in the combat zone.

“The M4 is performing for them in combat, and it does what they needed to do in combat,” Radcliffe said.

bookman
12-17-2007, 09:58 AM
No test of AK platform for comparison?

Gabriel Suarez
12-17-2007, 10:00 AM
No test of AK platform for comparison?

What were you expecting??? If I owned Arsenal, I'd duplicate their tests and publish in large letters the results. ;)

Karl Kasarda
12-17-2007, 10:00 AM
No test of AK platform for comparison?

You must be kidding.

Joe56
12-17-2007, 10:01 AM
No test of AK platform for comparison?

Nope, wouldn't want to show Colt up with a mere peasant gun:rolleyes:

Gabriel Suarez
12-17-2007, 10:11 AM
Nope, wouldn't want to show Colt up with a mere peasant gun:rolleyes:

A third world bucket-head peasant gun. Ok....this is the AR forum so I will stop now. Sorry.:o

austin
12-17-2007, 10:22 AM
For now, he said the Army will stick with the M4, because soldier surveys from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to highlight the weapon’s popularity among troops in the combat zone.

“The M4 is performing for them in combat, and it does what they needed to do in combat,” Radcliffe said.

The M4 is liked because its better than the M16, not because its the best system.

There are a number of AARs that show F2F of the M4 after a prolonged firefight with some of the soldiers going to captured AKs to stay in the fight.

If you were to offer a soldier an LWRC M6A2 or HK416 vs M4, those M4s would just rust.

warhawke
12-17-2007, 10:28 AM
I noticed that they failed to break down the failures of the other weapons into weapons related and mag related. Of course the M4 STILL had almost 3 malfunctions for every one the 416 had. As for this test being worse on the M4 than the last one, the difference is obvious, people were watching this one, so the results could not be tweaked to improve the M4 performance.

None of this will make a difference of course. The Cult of the AR Kool-aid drinkers will continue to make excuses, the Army will continue to refuse to divert funds from Uberweapons projects to save the lives of soldiers in the field, and the rest of us will continue to buy weapons that actually work outside of a laboratory. The AR family has been Americas longest serving service rifle because no one wants to spend the cash and political capital needed to get rid of the P.O.S. A few billion dollars and a bunch of Generals pensions are far more important than the lives of the few hundred soldiers who have died because their weapons failed.

Doug in CO
12-17-2007, 10:43 AM
That's what pisses me off the most. Regardless of which solution you'd rather go to, it'd cost something like a month of Iraq logistical money to pay for a completely new system (probably including ammo, though another month worth would easily pay for that). A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money until you figure out that we spend a few hundred billion a year just on supplies for the Iraq fight.

Dan-O
12-17-2007, 12:50 PM
This is getting rediculous.
1. Any gun with tight tolerences that has dust/sand in it will malfunction,even an AK.

2.A properlty trained soldier will perform field maintenence on his individual weapon whenever it requires it. If the gun is filled with sand/dust then Joe will take steps to correct it.

3.The issues the M4 has RE carbon and lube are well documented and easily dealt with. If the gun is dirty then clean it.
If the gun is dry then lube it. If you are in a sand enviornment cover the areas that can allow dirt into the weapon.


No, you cannot abuse and neglect a precision weapon in a field enviornment and expect it to function well. Any of them.

This is much ado about nothing and is a great way to lower Joe's morale.

Even if replaced with the 416,SCAR,XM XYZ whatever, as long as it is 556mm and feeds from a box magazine it will still require maintenence in the field and training in proper use.
Joe still wont have a weapon that you can pour rocks into and never clean and it will still work.

No magic pill here.

austin
12-17-2007, 01:08 PM
This is getting rediculous.
3.The issues the M4 has RE carbon and lube are well documented and easily dealt with. If the gun is dirty then clean it.
If the gun is dry then lube it. If you are in a sand enviornment cover the areas that can allow dirt into the weapon.

No magic pill here.

Stop and clean a weapon while in close-quarters contact?

karl johnson
12-17-2007, 01:36 PM
Every one I know who has spent time in Iraq has said exactly what Dan-O said. The M4 ain't necessarily the best option, but it is truly workable if you do your part. They don't work nearly as well on the internet as they do in real life and trained hands.

I generally used an AK because the caliber was better suited to my job, and I seem to recall Dan-O generally had an M16A3, but there is no doubt in my mind that if either of us were given an M4 in good shape we could have kept it running as well as almost anything else there.

bookman
12-17-2007, 02:16 PM
I didn't mean to start anything with my post...
I just wonder why the US Military can't think outside the box and go to an easily available, inexpensive, proven, off the shelf platform rather than the latest Uber-Rifle. The failure rates of each system was not terrible but why not compare to all available systems?
Simply have a FAIR competition and award the contract to the system that WORKS the best.

The M4 is not a bad rifle....but maybe, just maybe there are better options out there for the infantry.

austin
12-17-2007, 02:23 PM
Stop breaking Dan-O's chops!!!!!:)

LOL.

Will do!

karl johnson
12-17-2007, 02:46 PM
The M4 is not a bad rifle....but maybe, just maybe there are better options out there for the infantry.

I'm sure there are, but when you are buying them, maintaining them, supplying parts for them, and training on them by the million it isn't always possible to choose the best performer.

I do hope that the various contests that have gone on result in an better rifle being widely issued, but it won't be soon and I don't think it will be that much better. The M16/M4 is not perfect, but it isn't nearly the abortion so many make it sound like either.

Dan-O
12-17-2007, 03:42 PM
Thanks Karl.
When we hooked up at Victory it was after I had injured my hand and I had given my M4/203 combo up and was carrying a M16 for admin BS.

Thats Right ! I had an M4!
I looked after it.
It worked fine and so did just about every other one unless they were old and clapped out or improperly maintained.

Dan-O
12-17-2007, 03:45 PM
Stop and clean a weapon while in close-quarters contact?

No,
You would do PMCS on a weapon before any anticipated contact,
Also, part of being a smart Grunt is keeping the areas of dirt ingresss on the m4 covered up while in movement ect.


It sounds like a pain in the ass but it really isnt that bad in practice and you get used to it and just dont worry about it.

S-Lee
12-17-2007, 04:20 PM
if you look at this realistically, that is 60k rds with 643 weapon related failures.. that equals 1.07%. ;)

it is all numbers, numbers.

you keep your rifle clean, no matter what platform you shoot. that is that!

Section1_Operations
12-17-2007, 04:25 PM
Nothing new in the news here but for the sake of thorough testing the AK/AKM series should have been present in any such testing of small arms.

Anyhow SOCOM moves forward with the SCAR-L/H and the LWRC/HK416's will still find their way into the unit(s) hands that want something more then the basic M4 in the interim.

Gabriel Suarez
12-17-2007, 05:19 PM
As a note of letting cats peek out of bags....Dan-O will be producing an AR package of instruction for S.I. very soon. Nuff said.;)

Shdwdncr
12-17-2007, 05:33 PM
This is getting rediculous.
1. Any gun with tight tolerences that has dust/sand in it will malfunction,even an AK.

2.A properlty trained soldier will perform field maintenence on his individual weapon whenever it requires it. If the gun is filled with sand/dust then Joe will take steps to correct it.

3.The issues the M4 has RE carbon and lube are well documented and easily dealt with. If the gun is dirty then clean it.
If the gun is dry then lube it. If you are in a sand enviornment cover the areas that can allow dirt into the weapon.


No, you cannot abuse and neglect a precision weapon in a field enviornment and expect it to function well. Any of them.

This is much ado about nothing and is a great way to lower Joe's morale.

Even if replaced with the 416,SCAR,XM XYZ whatever, as long as it is 556mm and feeds from a box magazine it will still require maintenence in the field and training in proper use.
Joe still wont have a weapon that you can pour rocks into and never clean and it will still work.

No magic pill here.
Dan-O said it best. http://warriortalk.com/images/icons/icon14.gif

I also carried an M4 the last time I played in the sandbox, and furthermore ensured that each of the 18 Soldiers in my convoy team had one.

I cleaned mine daily, as did they. We did not have any problems the entire time we were there.

S.

John Silver
12-17-2007, 06:30 PM
I thought the XM8 was a dead issue some time ago, so I was surprised to see it on the list for tests. Now, it comes out on top. Was this a way for someone in the Army to ressurect the project?

fyresq
12-17-2007, 07:01 PM
I spent a year in the sandbox as the armorer/small arms master gunner with the 1st Cav. We were equipped with M4s and had very few problems, as long as you keep them clean, they run fine.


Stop and clean a weapon while in close-quarters contact?

We're not fighting a WWII type war over there and they're not in constant contact with the enemy for days at a time. Patrols are conducted out of basecamps or forward partol bases. Just clean it good when you get back to base and keep it dusted out until the next mission.

The biggest problem is over lubrication. Break-Free and sand turn to a sticky goo in about 10 seconds. The owner of a gun store in Killeen,TX was in my unit in Vietnam and he kept us well stocked with dry lube, Hornady One-Shot, and other goodies.

Also, there are a lot of the old style mags with the black followers still in service. I didn't have enough magazines on hand to pull them out of service, so I painted the floorplates red and issued them one per man with instructions to use it last.

BTW, we recovered quite a few AKs off of dead hadjis that were so rusted and poorly maintained there is no way I would have believed they would even function, if I hadn't seem then rockin and rollin just a few minutes prior.

Low Drag
12-17-2007, 07:37 PM
Thanks Karl.
When we hooked up at Victory it was after I had injured my hand and I had given my M4/203 combo up and was carrying a M16 for admin BS.

Thats Right ! I had an M4!
I looked after it.
It worked fine and so did just about every other one unless they were old and clapped out or improperly maintained.

Not to piss anyone off here but of course I agree with you about weapons maintenance. When you carry a weapon in a place like Iraq, Somalia, Beirut, or 'Nam, you care for it as if you life depends upon it. I don't care what the manufacturer or manual tells you.

I have to wonder if those who carp on about the AR have used and maintained it in the field let alone used it in close contact or contact of any kind. You will also notice a difference between what the grunts and REMFs say. Not a dick swing just voicing my 0.02.

Low Drag
12-17-2007, 08:18 PM
I was remiss in my last post!

For those of you SHOCKED at this test may I humbly recommend that you dump your AR for some other bullet launcher! Sell them now before the market bottoms out.

PM me, I'll take that junk off your hands! ;)

austin
12-17-2007, 10:37 PM
if you look at this realistically, that is 60k rds with 643 weapon related failures.. that equals 1.07%. ;)

it is all numbers, numbers.

you keep your rifle clean, no matter what platform you shoot. that is that!

How do you get that?

Ten of each weapon; 6,000 rounds per weapon. 60,000 rounds per weapon model.

XM8: 127 Class I, II and III stoppages.
Mk16 (5.56 SCAR): 226 Class I, II and III stoppages.
HK 416: 233 Class I, II, and III stoppages.
M4: 882 Class I, II and III stoppages.

That means the M4 failed 1.47% of the time or about every 68th bullet or about every 2 magazines.

The HK/MK16 failed every 260th bullet or about every 8th mag.

That's a pretty huge difference.

If you are a mounted patrol and fire 1 or two mags per contact, then the M4 should be ok.

But if I had to low crawl through dust and shoot from prone in the dust, then I would expect the M4 to begin to show stoppages long before the gas-piston varieties would, all things being equal. Same for a heavy engagement on a rooftop. Not to mention taking heavy indirect fire, grenades, or working with Armor.

I agree that there are things to do as part of the manual of arms, such as closing the ejection port cover after each firing sequence, putting a cap over the flash hider after cleaning, keeping mags stored dust free, that will help. But they can only go so far and at some point they cannot be relied upon due to the nature of the engagement.

The gas-piston varieties are clearly superior to the impingement models. Why not order gas-piston uppers instead of going with impingement systems?

austin
12-17-2007, 10:40 PM
As a note of letting cats peek out of bags....Dan-O will be producing an AR package of instruction for S.I. very soon. Nuff said.;)

I look forward to it!!

Dan-O
12-17-2007, 10:56 PM
How do you get that?

Ten of each weapon; 6,000 rounds per weapon. 60,000 rounds per weapon model.

XM8: 127 Class I, II and III stoppages.
Mk16 (5.56 SCAR): 226 Class I, II and III stoppages.
HK 416: 233 Class I, II, and III stoppages.
M4: 882 Class I, II and III stoppages.

That means the M4 failed 1.47% of the time or about every 68th bullet or about every 2 magazines.

The HK/MK16 failed every 260th bullet or about every 8th mag.

That's a pretty huge difference.

If you are a mounted patrol and fire 1 or two mags per contact, then the M4 should be ok.

But if I had to low crawl through dust and shoot from prone in the dust, then I would expect the M4 to begin to show stoppages long before the gas-piston varieties would, all things being equal. Same for a heavy engagement on a rooftop. Not to mention taking heavy indirect fire, grenades, or working with Armor.

I agree that there are things to do as part of the manual of arms, such as closing the ejection port cover after each firing sequence, putting a cap over the flash hider after cleaning, keeping mags stored dust free, that will help. But they can only go so far and at some point they cannot be relied upon due to the nature of the engagement.

The gas-piston varieties are clearly superior to the impingement models. Why not order gas-piston uppers instead of going with impingement systems?


OK,
Good we agree RE the manual of arms.
Keep dirt out of your weapon.
Any weapon.

Gas pistons are superior but not where dust is concerned.
They reduce heat transfer to the bolt carrier group and also do not need lubrication as frequently.
The lack of heat transfer results in less frequent parts breakage.
A piston is not magic juju against dirt and sand.
If the army were going to buy piston upper replacements fot the M4 it would be a slight improvement. Very slight.
I would rather they took the money and spent it on training ammo for Joe.


Throw dirt in a precision weapon,any weapon and it will begin to run in a less than stellar fashion.

If you want to argue the mechanical superiority of a piston system over a DI system then I would say that yes, they do have a mechanical edge but not so large of an edge that it makes a huge difference in actual use.

It matters,
Just not that much.
If you doubt it,
Take an M4 and throw dirt in the chamber and try to run it.
Then do the same with an AK
Then do the same with a FAL
Then do the same with a G3

NO WEAPON FUNCIONS WELL IF IT HAS DIRT AND SAND IN IT.
NO WEAPON FUNCTIONS AT ITS BEST IF NOT PERIODICIALLY MAINTAINED.

AmericanWarrior
12-18-2007, 04:55 AM
OK,
Good we agree RE the manual of arms.
Keep dirt out of your weapon.
Any weapon.

Gas pistons are superior but not where dust is concerned.
They reduce heat transfer to the bolt carrier group and also do not need lubrication as frequently.
The lack of heat transfer results in less frequent parts breakage.
A piston is not magic juju against dirt and sand.
If the army were going to buy piston upper replacements fot the M4 it would be a slight improvement. Very slight.
I would rather they took the money and spent it on training ammo for Joe.


Throw dirt in a precision weapon,any weapon and it will begin to run in a less than stellar fashion.

If you want to argue the mechanical superiority of a piston system over a DI system then I would say that yes, they do have a mechanical edge but not so large of an edge that it makes a huge difference in actual use.

It matters,
Just not that much.
If you doubt it,
Take an M4 and throw dirt in the chamber and try to run it.
Then do the same with an AK
Then do the same with a FAL
Then do the same with a G3

NO WEAPON FUNCIONS WELL IF IT HAS DIRT AND SAND IN IT.
NO WEAPON FUNCTIONS AT ITS BEST IF NOT PERIODICIALLY MAINTAINED.


All well said Dan-O

I’d also much rather spend money on more range time for the soldiers and AP brushes and CLP…
Issuing 416 to the whole army would just be a waste of money…why issue the wpn to every fobbit making coffee on the FOB or every soldiers guarding a PX somewhere?? Maybe send some to the line companies Infantry types or other combat applicable MOS’s

My plt has gotten its fair share out of using the M4 over here…clean your wpn everyday!! Light lube on obvious parts with metal to metal contact. The only failures I’ve seen come from cherry pvts. With shitbird sqd ldrs.

This debate is getting sooo old...I thought WT was better then all the other forums!?!?

karl johnson
12-18-2007, 06:07 AM
This debate is getting sooo old...I thought WT was better then all the other forums!?!?

It is! Austin is truly wanting a better solution for our troops, and being polite about his opinions. Dan-O and all the others who have first hand experience are politely telling him he's wrong in this matter, and why. At some point Austin will realize that the BTDT people uniformly agree, so maybe the numbers from this test are not telling the whole story.

While I agree this question should be relegated to the 9mm v 45 dustbin, as long as everyone stays grown up about it we're still ahead of the other forums I used to read.

MTS
12-19-2007, 12:50 PM
Here's the Army's response, FWIW,

Army M4 Response...


Recently Army testing laboratories at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., subjected the M4 carbine and three other weapons to a severe environmental test called the "Carbine Extreme Dust Test." The lab environment allowed engineers to push the weapons beyond their technical limits to help us understand what is required of weapons on today's battlefield.

The weapons were exposed to "heavy dusting," harsh conditions similar to an intense and sustained dust storm, several times for 25 hours. There were ten weapons of each of the four different types of carbines. Each fired 6,000 rounds (60,000 rounds per type). The Army noted all the weapons in the test performed well: the number of stoppages all the carbines exhibited was roughly one percent or less of the total rounds fired by each, meaning the weapons had over a 98 percent reliability rate under these unique conditions. Though the M4 performed exceptionally well, it came in fourth compared to the other three carbines in this particular extreme single-environment (dust as the only condition) testing.

The Army is taking these test results seriously; our Soldiers require and deserve capable, quality weapons. These preliminary results revealed or confirmed several areas for potential materiel improvements to the M4 and the other weapon types in the test.

The M4 is a thoroughly tested and battle proven carbine that meets or exceeds the existing operational requirement. The M4 is one of the most improved pieces of Army equipment: there have been over 390 upgrades since it was introduced into the force. The M4/M4A1 is the only design that is qualified against the current requirements. In a survey by the independent Center for Naval Analysis in December 2006, 89 percent of Soldiers surveyed reported overall satisfaction with the M4. All soldiers surveyed had engaged in a firefight in Iraq (http://www.defensetech.org/archives/003911.html#) in the previous 12 months. In the same survey, only 3 percent experienced a weapon stoppage that caused an inability to engage the enemy for a significant portion or all of a firefight.

Only 1 percent indicated that the M4 should be replaced.

Lastly, 94 percent of M4 users were satisfied with accuracy; 92 percent with range; and 93 percent with rate of fire.

The Army will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of the equipment it provides its most valuable asset: our Soldiers. Soldiers in turn have shown confidence in the battle-proven M4.

jack76590
12-19-2007, 01:28 PM
It would have been interesting if they did some evaluation of how hard the jams suffered by the various weapons were to clear.

vernonator
12-20-2007, 06:07 AM
It would have been interesting if they did some evaluation of how hard the jams suffered by the various weapons were to clear.

That WOULD be interesting to see....

Section1_Operations
12-20-2007, 08:40 AM
That WOULD be interesting to see....

These are all important questions that in the scientific realm would have been answered in part by the methods of the testing that they employed. As it is from the outside it's difficult to judge and assess the quantitative or qualitative value of the study without a greater understanding of those testing methods.

austin
12-20-2007, 09:26 AM
It would have been interesting if they did some evaluation of how hard the jams suffered by the various weapons were to clear.

I heard that 10% of the "jams" were Class III malfunctions. About 200+ of the failures were magazine related.

Apparently there were other runs of the tests as well that have not been published. It would be nice to see ALL of the data.


More information:

http://www.defensereview.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1077


What’s curious about the M4 Carbine's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Carbine) performance in this test is the fact that the ten (10) M4 Carbines that were tested to 60,000 (again, 6,000 rounds a piece) during the summer only experienced 307 malfunctions/stoppages, 643 of which were weapon-related malfunctions, and 239 of which were magazine-related malfunctions. According to Brig. Gen. Mark Brown of U.S. Army Program Executive Office Soldier (http://peosoldier.army.mil/) (PEO Soldier (http://peosoldier.army.mil/)), “test conditions for test two [summer] and three [latest] were ostensibly the same.” So, what was different? Different test officials, and different time of year. That’s pretty much it.

So, you want some (unconfirmed/unverified) inside skinny i.e. rumor on the latest test, something you most likely won’t find anywhere else, even when everyone else starts reporting about this test? Here ya’ go, direct from one of our U.S. military contacts—and we're quoting:

"1. Because the HK416 and M4 were the only production weapons, the ten HK416 and M4 carbines were all borrowed 'sight unseen' and the manufacturers had no idea that they were for a test. The 10 SCARs and 10 XM-8s were all 'handmade' and delivered to Aberdeen with pretty much full knowledge of a test. (The SCAR even got some addition help with 'extra' lubrication)

2. With the HK416, 117 of the 233 malfunctions were from just one of the 10 weapons.

3. The 'survey' that BG Brown and COL Radcliffe are referring to in the article where they cite that the 'M4 is very popular amongst the soldiers deployed forward in combat,' was based on the soldiers just getting their M16s replaced by M4s. They were asked if they liked it [compared to the M16] and of course the answer is going to be yes. It is lighter and smaller with all these cool optics and lasers on them. Not to mention that average soldiers have no frame of reference when it comes to small arms, they're not really weapons experts."

Joseph Timbs
12-20-2007, 05:50 PM
The cheapest solution and easiest solution would be to buy H&K 416 M-4 type uppers . Buying anything to radically outside of the M-16 / M-4 will require a whole new inventory of parts , maintenance , and training from BCT on up.


In all likely hood , R A won't change their weapons platforms in the near future. If you want to play with the cool kids toys , join a SOF unit or better yet , come train with the WT Instructors. :D

Section1_Operations
12-20-2007, 10:31 PM
The cheapest solution and easiest solution would be to buy H&K 416 M-4 type uppers . Buying anything to radically outside of the M-16 / M-4 will require a whole new inventory of parts , maintenance , and training from BCT on up.


In all likely hood , R A won't change their weapons platforms in the near future. If you want to play with the cool kids toys , join a SOF unit or better yet , come train with the WT Instructors. :D


The CHEAPEST solution would be to have LWRC convert the current inventory, and buy MagPul GenIII followers for USGI magazines then PMags to replace those -- screw H&K's 416/417 as well as their 5.56 mag.

Kobra
12-20-2007, 11:33 PM
I would be extremely interested in taking a course from Dan-O with my AR!!!!

I'm waiting for the Savage Long Range Snubby course.

Low Drag
12-21-2007, 05:15 AM
OK,
Good we agree RE the manual of arms.
Keep dirt out of your weapon.
Any weapon.

Gas pistons are superior but not where dust is concerned.
They reduce heat transfer to the bolt carrier group and also do not need lubrication as frequently.
The lack of heat transfer results in less frequent parts breakage.
A piston is not magic juju against dirt and sand.
If the army were going to buy piston upper replacements fot the M4 it would be a slight improvement. Very slight.
I would rather they took the money and spent it on training ammo for Joe.


Throw dirt in a precision weapon,any weapon and it will begin to run in a less than stellar fashion.

If you want to argue the mechanical superiority of a piston system over a DI system then I would say that yes, they do have a mechanical edge but not so large of an edge that it makes a huge difference in actual use.

It matters,
Just not that much.
If you doubt it,
Take an M4 and throw dirt in the chamber and try to run it.
Then do the same with an AK
Then do the same with a FAL
Then do the same with a G3

NO WEAPON FUNCIONS WELL IF IT HAS DIRT AND SAND IN IT.
NO WEAPON FUNCTIONS AT ITS BEST IF NOT PERIODICIALLY MAINTAINED.

On the topic of investing money.....
Spend money on mags, a bad mag is the #1 reason any box mag feed weapon fails. The M16 family of weapons are no different.

glockin
12-21-2007, 05:42 AM
If you want to argue the mechanical superiority of a piston system over a DI system then I would say that yes, they do have a mechanical edge but not so large of an edge that it makes a huge difference in actual use.
Conversely, DI systems are regarded as having an accuracy edge over piston systems as there are less moving parts -- you don't have the dynamics (movement, acceleration, momentum etc) of moving parts to affect the flight of the bullet whilst it is still in the bore. How great an effect? 1 moa? 1/2 moa? 1/4 moa? I'm not the one to answer, but all the "hi power" military rifle shooters in the USA (i.e. Camp Perry) seem to have gone to the AR DI-system platform. I believe Tubbs has commented directly on the DI system as being superior from an accuracy standpoint.

Comparing accuracy to reliability / durability / cost is a whole different trade study.

Section1_Operations
12-21-2007, 06:24 AM
Conversely, DI systems are regarded as having an accuracy edge over piston systems as there are less moving parts -- you don't have the dynamics (movement, acceleration, momentum etc) of moving parts to affect the flight of the bullet whilst it is still in the bore. How great an effect? 1 moa? 1/2 moa? 1/4 moa? I'm not the one to answer, but all the "hi power" military rifle shooters in the USA (i.e. Camp Perry) seem to have gone to the AR DI-system platform. I believe Tubbs has commented directly on the DI system as being superior from an accuracy standpoint.

Comparing accuracy to reliability / durability / cost is a whole different trade study.


Accuracy degradation may be a plausible argument between results of the M16/AR15 over the M1A; however, as it concerns at least the LWRC piston design it's complete Bravo Sierra.

Joseph Timbs
12-21-2007, 08:14 AM
The CHEAPEST solution would be to have LWRC convert the current inventory, and buy MagPul GenIII followers for USGI magazines then PMags to replace those -- screw H&K's 416/417 as well as their 5.56 mag.


I stand corrected on this.

austin
12-21-2007, 10:36 AM
The CHEAPEST solution would be to have LWRC convert the current inventory, and buy MagPul GenIII followers for USGI magazines then PMags to replace those -- screw H&K's 416/417 as well as their 5.56 mag.

Toss in a 20,000 round hammer forged barrel and I'd be happy, too!!

7677
12-21-2007, 12:35 PM
I don't care which system you give the military it is only a matter of time before they replace the factory parts with lowest bidder parts then you are right where you started from.

I like the AR-15/M16/M4 platform and the one I have currently have has yet to malfunction even during heavy range sessions. I have served and used a M16 in the desert and the gun will run if it is kept resonable cleaned. No weapon including the AK is immune to the weather as we took several AKs from dead Iraqis with the bolts rusted shut. The other thing I have noticed about the M4's is either they run or are a problem child right out of the box.

Section1_Operations
12-21-2007, 06:59 PM
Toss in a 20,000 round hammer forged barrel and I'd be happy, too!!

LWRC moving in that direction and is testing their initial batch of CHFB.;)

austin
12-22-2007, 07:30 AM
A very long article that hit Pajamasmedia this morning which means its a big topic in the real world now.

Did not mention LWRC.

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-usas-m4-carbine-controversy-03289/


Readers may recall "2006 Carbine Competition: What Happened, Revealed (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/industry/contracts-awards/2006-carbine-competition-what-happened-revealed-03038/index.php)" back in February 2007. It discussed an Army solicitation for competitive procurement of 5.56mm carbines, which was withdrawn once the primary manufacturer Colt dropped its prices. The DoD's Inspector General got involved, and the Army dissented, defending its practices as a sound negotiating approach that saved the taxpayer a lot of money on the contract. As it turns out, there's a sequel. A major sequel, that's only getting bigger with time.
It seemed like a routine request. Order more M4 carbines for US forces in the pending FY 2007 supplemental, FY 2008 budget, and FY 2008 supplemental funding bills. It has turned into anything but a routine exercise, however – with serving soldiers, journalists, and Senators casting a very critical eye on the effort and the rifle, and demanding open competition.
With requests amounting to $375 million for weapons and $150 million in accessories, they say, the Army's proposal amounts to an effort to replace the M16 as the USA's primary battle rifle – using specifications that are around 15 years old, without a competition, and without considering whether better 5.56 mm alternatives might be available off the shelf. Meanwhile, the M4/M16 family is both praised and criticized for its current performance in the field. DID explains the effort, the issues, and the options.
The latest developments? The M4 and 3 competitors, including one M4 variant that can be converted from existing rifles, come out of a sandstorm reliability test – and the M4 finishes dead last, with more than 3.5x more jams than the 3rd place finisher. But the US Army publicly says that it doesn't care, and orders more….

austin
12-22-2007, 07:31 AM
The 5.56mm M-16 has been the USA's primary battle rifle since the Vietnam war, undergoing changes into progressive versions like the M16A2 widely fielded by the US Marine Corps, "Commando" carbine versions, et. al. The M4 Carbine is the latest member of the M16 family, offering a shorter weapon more suited to close-quarters battle, or use by units who would find a full-length rifle too bulky.
The M4 offers a collapsible buttstock, flat-top upper receiver assembly, a U-shaped handle-rear sight assembly that could be removed, and assortment of mounting rails for easy customization with a variety of sight, flashlight, grenade launchers, shotgun attachments, et. al. It achieves approximately 85% commonality with the M16, and has become a popular weapon. It has a reputation for lightness, customizability, and, compared to its most frequent rival the AK-47, a reputation for accuracy as well. The carbine's reputation for fast-point close-quarters fire remains its most prominent feature, however. After Action Reviews done by the Marines after the early phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom revealed that urban warfare scenarios made employment of the M16A2 difficult in some situations; Marines were picking up short AK-47s with collapsible butt-stocks, or scrounging pistols for use inside buildings.
Like its predecessor the M16, the M4 also has a reputation as an excellent weapon – if you can maintain it. Failure to maintain the weapon meticulously can lead to jams, especially in sandy or dusty environments. Kalashnikovs may not have a reputation for accuracy, or lightness – but they do have a well-earned reputation for being able to take amazing amounts of abuse, without maintenance, and still fire reliably. The Israeli "Galil" applied these lessons in 5.56mm caliber, and earned a similar reputation. Colt's M16 and M4 have never done so.
The original order for the M4 Carbine in the mid-1990s was a small-scale order, for a specifically requested derivative of the Army's primary battle rifle, to equip units who would otherwise have relied on less accurate 9mm submachine guns. As such, its direct development and sole-source contract status raised little fuss. Subsequent contracts also raised little scrutiny.
So, what changed?

Extended combat in dusty, sandy environments that highlighted the weapon's weak points as well as its comparative strengths, leading to escalating volumes of complaints;
The emergence of alternatives that preserve those strengths, while addressing those weak points;
The scale of the current request for funding.Nobody Loves Me but My Mother – and She Could Be Jivin' Too…
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_OICW_HK_Stripped.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_OICW_HK_Stripped_lg.jpg) XM29 OICW Prototype
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There have been sporadic attempts to field more modern weapons during its tenure, including the unwieldy 20-or-so pound, 2 barrel, "someone watched Predator too many times" XM-29 OICW, and more recently the aborted contract for the G36-derived XM-8 weapon family from Heckler & Koch. Still, the M4's designers could never sing B.B. King's famous tune.
The M16/M4 family has achieved a great deal of success, and garnered many positive reviews for its features and performance. Even its critics acknowledge that it has many positive attributes. The M4 has also attracted criticism – and at least 1 comprehensive fix.
According to briefing documents obtained by Gannett's Army Times magazine:
"USMC officials said the M4 malfunctioned three times more often than the M16A4 during an assessment conducted in late summer 2002 for Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, VA. Malfunctions were broken down into several categories, including "magazine," "failure to chamber," "failure to fire," "failure to extract" and "worn or broken part," according to the briefing documents. During the comparison, the M4 failed 186 times across those categories over the course of 69,000 rounds fired. The M16A4 failed 61 times during the testing.
The Army conducted a more recent reliability test between October 2005 and April 2006, which included 10 new M16s and 10 new M4s…. On average, the new M16s and M4s fired approximately 5,000 rounds between stoppages, according to an Army official who asked that his name not be released."
In a subsequent letter to the magazine, M4 manufacturer Colt argued that the US Army had disagreed with the USMC study, then added that the Army and Colt had worked to make modifications thereafter in order to address problems found.
Gannett's Army Times magazine also obtained a copy of Project Manager Soldier's Weapons Assessment Team's July 31, 2003, report:
"The executive summary said that M16s and M4s "functioned reliably" in the combat zone as long as "soldiers conducted daily operator maintenance and applied a light coat of lubricant." "
Soldiers had their own comments, however, which were also included in the report and relayed in the magazine article:
3rd ID soldier: "I know it fires very well and accurate [when] clean. But sometimes it needs to fire dirty well too."
25th Infantry Division soldier: "The M4 Weapon in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan was quick to malfunction when a little sand got in the weapon. Trying to keep it clean, sand free was impossible while on patrols or firefights."
82nd Airborne Division soldier: "The M4 is overall an excellent weapon, however the flaw of its sensitivity to dirt and powder residue needs to be corrected. True to fact, cleaning will help. Daily assigned tasks, and nonregular hours in tactical situations do not always warrant the necessary time required for effective cleaning."
75th Ranger Regiment member, SOCOM: "Even with the dust cover closed and magazine in the well, sand gets all inside; on and around the bolt. It still fires, but after a while the sand works its way all through the gun and jams start."

austin
12-22-2007, 07:36 AM
The 507th Maintenance Company, ambushed outside Nasariyah in 2003 during the opening days of the ground invasion of Iraq, might concur with all of the above. The post-incident report released by the US Army had this to say:
"Dusty, desert conditions do require vigilance in weapons maintenance… However, it is imperative to remember that at the time of the attack, the 507th had spent more than two days on the move, with little rest and time to conduct vehicle repair and recovery operations."
Even without those extenuating circumstances, however, there have been problems. A December 2006 survey (http://www.defensetech.org/archives/003515.html), conducted on behalf of the Army by CNA Corp., conducted over 2,600 interviews with Soldiers returning from combat duty. The M4 received a number of strong requests from M-16 users, who liked its smaller profile. Among M4 users, however, 19% of said they experienced stoppages in combat – and almost 20% of those said they were "unable to engage the target with that weapon during a significant portion of or the entire firefight after performing immediate or remedial action to clear the stoppage." The report adds that "Those who attached accessories to their weapon were more likely to experience stoppages, regardless of how the accessories were attached ." Since "accessories" can include items like night sights, flashlights, et. al., their use is not expected to go away any time soon.
US Army Ranger Capt. Nate Self, whose M4 jammed into uselessness during a 2002 firefight after their MH-47 Chinook was shot down in Afghanistan's Shah-i-kot Mountains, offers another case. He won a Silver Star that day – with another soldier's gun – and his comments in the Army Times article appear to agree that there is a problem with the current M4 design and specifications.
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_M4_Carbine_SOPMOD.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_M4_Carbine_SOPMOD_lg.jpg) M4 SOPMOD
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SOCOM appears to agree as well. While US special Operations is moving ahead on their own SCAR rifle program with FN Herstal, they're also significant users of the M4 Carbine's SOPMOD version. By the time Capt. Self was fighting of al-Qaeda/Taliban enemies in Afghanistan with a broken weapon, Dellta Force had already turned to Heckler & Koch for a fix that would preserve the M4 but remove its problems. One of which is heat build-up and gas from its operating mechanism that dries out some lubricants, and helps open the way for sand damage.
In response, H&K replaced Colt's "gas-tube" system with a short-stroke piston system that eliminates carbon blow-back into the chamber, and also reduces the heat problem created by the super-hot gases used to cycle the M4. Other changes were made to the magazine, barrel, et. al. The final product was an M4 with a new upper receiver and magazine, plus H&K's 4-rail system of standard "Picatinny Rails" on the top, bottom, and both sides for easy addition of anything a Special Operator might require.
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK416_Labeled.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK416_Labeled_lg.jpg) HK416, labeled
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In exhaustive tests with the help of Delta Force, the upgraded weapon was subjected to mud and dust without maintenance, and fired day after day. Despite this treatment, the rifle showed problems in only 1 of 15,000 rounds – fully 3 times the reliability shown by the M4 in US Army studies. The H&K 416 was declared ready in 2004.
A rifle with everything they loved about the M4, and the fire-no-matter-what toughness of the Kalashnikov, was exactly what the Deltas ordered. SOCOM bought the first 500 weapons right off the assembly line, and its units have been using the weapon in combat ever since. Other Western Special Forces units who liked the M4 Carbine have also purchased HK416s, though H&K declines to name specific countries. US Major Chaz Bowser, who has played a leading role in SOSOCM's SCAR rifle design program:
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK416_Desert_Testing.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK416_Desert_Testing_lg.jpg) HK416: Desert Testing
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[I]"One thing I valued about being the weapons developer for Special Operations is that I could go to Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere with whatever weapons I wanted to carry. As soon as the H&K 416 was available, it got stuffed into my kit bag and, through test after test, it became my primary carry weapon as a long gun. I had already gotten the data from folks carrying it before me and had determined that it would be foolish to risk my life with a lesser system."
Actually, they don't even have to buy the whole gun. Christian Lowe of Military.com reports that:
"In a routine acquisition notice March 23 [2007], a U.S. Special Forces battalion based in Okinawa announced that it is buying 84 upper receiver assemblies for the HK416 to modify their M4 carbines…. According to the solicitation for the new upper receiver assemblies, the 416 "allows Soldiers to replace the existing M4 upper receiver with an HK proprietary gas system that does not introduce propellant gases and the associated carbon fouling back into the weapon's interior. This reduces operator cleaning time, and increases the reliability of the M4 Carbine, particularly in an environment in which sand and dust are prevalent."
But the US Army won't consider even this partial replacement option. The Army position was reiterated in a release on April 2, 2007:
"The M4 Carbine is the Army's primary individual combat rifle for Infantry, Ranger, and Special Operations forces. Since its introduction in 1991, the M4 carbine has proven its worth on the battlefield because it is accurate, easy to shoot and maintain. The M4's collapsible stock and shortened barrel make it ideal for Soldiers operating in vehicles or within the confines associated with urban terrain. The M4 has been improved numerous times and employs the most current technology available on any rifle/carbine in general use today.
The M4 is the highest-rated weapon by Soldiers in combat, according to the Directorate of Combat Development, Ft. Benning, Ga. In December 2006, the Center for Naval Analysis conducted a "Soldiers' Perspective on Small Arms in Combat" survey. Their poll of over 2,600 Soldiers reported overwhelming satisfaction with the M4. The survey included serviceability and usefulness in completing assigned missions in Iraq and Afghanistan."

austin
12-22-2007, 07:36 AM
The Cry for Competition: How Much Is That HK In the Window?
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK416_2_GIs.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK416_2_GIs_lg.jpg) HK416s
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The HK416 isn't the only alternative out there by any means – but it has been a catalytic alternative. In an analogous situation, limited USMC deployment of mine-resistant vehicles like Force Protection's Cougar and Buffalo in Iraq, and the contrast between v-hulled casualties and Hummer casualties, led to a cascade that now looks set to remove the Hummer from a front-line combat role. The technology to deal with insurgencies that used land-mines has been proven for over 30 years – but awareness of that fact didn’t rise within the US military and among its political overseers until an obvious counter-example was fielded. One that demonstrated proven alternatives to the limited options people had previous been shown. Likewise, the use of the high-commonality HK416 has served to sharpen awareness that the M4 might not be the best option on offer for US forces.
Couple that with a major buy that looks set to re-equip large sections of the US military with a new battle rifle, and the question "what if we can do better?" starts to take on real resonance. The Army's $375 million sole-source carbine procurement, on the basis of specifications that have not been changed to reflect these realities, is starting to raise hackles – and attract a wide spectrum of opponents.
Gannett's Army Times quoted former Army vice chief of staff Gen. Jack Keane (ret.), who tried at the end of his tenure to update the USA's infantry rifle with the XM-8 project, as saying:
"We are not saying the [M4 and M16 are] bad," said "The issue for me is do our soldiers have the best rifle in their hands…. The fact of the matter is that technology changes every 10 or 15 years and we should be changing with it. And that has not been our case. We have been sitting on this thing for far too long."
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/GEO_Capitol_Building.jpg
An aide to Sen. Tom Coburn [R-OK] agreed, and added that the substantial price reduction created by the mere threat of an open competition in 2006 was evidence that Colt had been using its sole-source status to overcharge the government. The Senator has sent a formal letter to the Secretary of the Army requesting an open competition in order to ensure both the best deal, and the best off-the shelf rifle that incorporates modern improvements. The winner could well be Colt, said Coburn's aide – but they should have to prove it, and earn it. "This is supposed to be a battle rifle." He said. "We're supposed to have a rifle that just doesn't jam." Impossible, of course – but one that jams far less often, and requires far less maintenance to avoid jams, while offering all of the M4's compactness and add-on ease… that would represent a significant step forward.
Ironically, even Colt may have a better system ready to go. In a letter to Army Times magazine, Colt COO James R. Battaglini (US Marine Corps Maj. Gen., ret.) said:
"The gas piston system in the H&K 416 is not a new system. Rifles were being designed with these systems in the 1920's. Colt proposed a piston operated weapon to the Army in the early 1960's. Today Colt Defense has the ability and expertise to manufacture in great numbers piston system carbines of exceptional quality should the U.S. military services initiate a combat requirement for this type of weapon"
Unfortunately, fighting the Army for improvements is no easy task. Colt CEO William Keys, who is also a retired USMC General, explained out to Army Times that Colt has to build what the US Army asks for, to the Army's exact specifications:
"If we have a change that we think would help the gun, we go to the Army… which is not an easy process, by the way. We spent 20 years trying to get [an extractor] spring changed. They just said 'well, this works good enough.' "
Sen. Coburn's letter to Secretary of the Army Peter Green takes a dim view of this entire situation:
"I am concerned about the Army's plans to procure nearly a half a million new rifles outside the any competitive procurement process…. There is nothing more important to a soldier than their rifle, and there is simply no excuse for not providing our soldiers with the best weapon – not just a weapon that is "good enough".... In the years following the Army's requirements document [DID: for the M4 in the early 1990s], a number of manufacturers have researched, tested, and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability. To fail to allow a free and open competition of these operational weapons is unacceptable…. I believe the Army needs to rapidly revise its rifle and carbine requirements. Free and open competition will give our troops the best rifle in the world…."
His office awaits Green's reply. Meanwhile, calls about the M16/M4 are now coming in from Oklahoma, and other Senators and representatives are also hearing from constituents on this matter. A second letter from the Senate on this subject is likely if the Army digs in its heels – and that letter would have far more signatures at the bottom.
The issue currently hangs in limbo, along with the FY 2007 supplemental defense funding bill, as the FY 2008 defense budget slowly makes its way through Congressional committees. The Army says the M4 isn't broken, and adds that an Army-wide fix would cost $1 billion. Critics contend that when the army is already spending $525 million to re-equip the force with M4s, a competition to see if a better rifle exists is a moral and financial imperative.
Testing, Testing – Fairly?
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_Rifle_XM-8_Family.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_Rifle_XM-8_Family_lg.jpg) XM-8 Family
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In the end, Sen. Coburn exercised his ability as a Senator to block nomination of the proposed new Secretary of the Army, until the US Army relented and agreed to testing at the Army's Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. Secretary Geren was confirmed shortly thereafter.
The tests will include the M4 and 3 other rifles: the M4-based HK416, the FNH USA-designed Mk16 SOCOM Combat Assault Rifle (best known as FN SCAR-L), and the H&K XM8 carbine. Unlike the M4, the HK416, XM8, and FN-SCAR all use gas-piston operating systems to achieve automatic fire. The XM8 family (http://www.military.com/soldiertech/0,14632,Soldiertech_XM8,,00.html) is an very updated version of the popular G36 in use with many NATO militaries; it was slated to be the M4's replacement, but that RFP was suspended by the Army in July 2005 and then canceled in October 2005 (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/oicw1-canceled-door-closes-on-xm8-for-now-01430/). The FN-SCAR is a "live" program, and July 2007 marked the beginning of Special Operations Command's operational tests (http://www.fnhusa.com/press/releases_consumer/detail.asp?id=18) of the FN-SCAR 5.56mm Mk16 and the 7.62mm Mk17, which could become its future mainstays.

austin
12-22-2007, 07:38 AM
Miltary.com reports (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,143790,00.html?wh=wh) that the US Army sand tests will include 10 samples of each weapon through which engineers will fire 6,000 rounds. Each weapon and loaded magazine will be exposed to "extreme dust" for 30 minutes then test fired with 120 rounds. Each weapon will be wiped down and lubricated every 600 rounds, with a full cleaning every 1,200 rounds. The firing, collection of data and analysis of data is expected to take approximately 5 months.
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/wp/images/ORD_FN_SCAR_w_Grip_Pod_Detailed.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/wp/images/ORD_FN_SCAR_w_Grip_Pod_Detailed_lg.jpg) FN SCAR w. Grip Pod (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/front-line-troops-getting-a-grip-03513/)
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One's first reaction upon seeing the proposed testing regimen is to compare it very unfavorably with the regimen Delta Force put the HK416 through, firing it day after day without maintenance for thousands of rounds. Or even the testing HK itself uses for its HK416s. Indeed, it seems on its face to be a test designed to minimize the very weaknesses in the M4 incumbent that have triggered this controversy. Those who believe the cycle is reasonable cite 300 rounds as the soldier's 1-day load, and say that under sand storm conditions, a once a day wipedown is the bare minimum for any weapon. Every 600 rounds is thus a safety factor of 2 against the worst possible conditions. Of course, sandstroms have a way of lasting more than one day, and when they do – as in the initial portion of Operation Iraqi Freedom – even vehicle interiors may feature a fine particulate haze.
Within its chosen regimen, there are 3 key ways the Army may choose to bias the test. One is the size of the particulate in the dust chamber – which can be made large in relative terms to lower the number of problems with fouling and jams. The biggest problems in theater are with the very fine particulates. This is especially relevant given the October 2004 report prepared by the Desert Research Institute for the US military. "Geochemical and Physical Characteristics of Iraqi Dust and Soil Samples (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/files/Iraq_Dust_2004-10_DRI_Report.pdf)" [PDF format, 2.9 MB] stated that:
"....current chamber test methodology misrepresents real-world conditions. The character of the soils and dust collected from areas of military activity in Iraq is greatly different from the material used in current weapons testing procedures. Current procedures employ laboratory generated dust that is 99.7% silicon dioxide (i.e. quartz), contains no salt or reactive chemicals, and contains coarser particle sizes than most of the Iraq samples. Use of this material cannot simulate conditions in Iraq that have contributed to the weapons failures."
The next item to watch is whether the rifles used are randomly chosen, or cherry picked and then pre-maintained to perform at an unusual reliability level vs. a field weapon. A third way of gaming the testing system involves the level of lubrication used. One source noted that the first dust test new M4s had 9,836 jams in 60,000 rounds – almost one jam every 6 rounds. The Army kept working on the test until they figured out a "generous lubrication" approach that used far more than the manufacturer recommended, but lowered jams to 1 in 88 rounds. A fair test must match the manufacturer's manual for each weapon, or use the same lubrication for each weapon based on the minimum recommended among all test weapons.
UPDATES: The Tests, Reactions, and Subsequent Developments
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/wp/images/ORD_M4_Carbine_Extreme_Dust_Test_III.jpg (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/wp/images/ORD_M4_Carbine_Extreme_Dust_Test_III_lg.jpg) M4, EDT-III
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Late December 2007: DID obtains some exact results from the Army's testing. The Army has now done three dust tests. In the late 2006/Jan 2007 report "Baseline Reliability and Dust Assessment for the M4, M16, and M249," the M4 jammed 9,836 times – 1 jam every 6 rounds. In a May 2007 "Extreme Dust Test II", with no competitors, the M4 had 1 jam every 88 rounds, using heavy lubrication. In the November 2007 "Extreme Dust Test III", as DID has discussed, the competing rifles were subject to significantly more maintenance and lubrication than elite American forces like Delta used in their weapon selection process, or indeed in HK's own field testing of its HK416s prior to shipment.
We'll begin with the Army's overall results, from its own release:
"Even with extreme dust test III's 98.6 percent success rate there was a total of 863 class 1 and 2 weapon/magazine stoppages with 19 class 3 stoppages. During extreme dust test II conducted during the summer, there were 296 total class 1 and 2 stoppages and 11 class 3 stoppages.
A class 1 stoppage is one a Soldier can clear within 10 seconds; a class 2 stoppage is one a Soldier can clear, but requires more than 10 seconds; and, class 3 is a stoppage that requires an armorer to clear."
DID will simply point out that 10 seconds can be a rather fatally long time when people are shooting at you, and at your friends. So, what happens when the Extreme Dust Test III stoppages are broken out by weapon?

The M4 Carbine is the Army's existing weapon.

882 jams, 1 jam every 68 rounds, again using heavy lubrication. In addition all 10 of the M4 barrels needed to be replaced, and a number of their parts were replaced during the test. None of the cold hammer forged HK416 and XM-8 barrels needed replacement.
The HK416 is a modified M4 carbine, which can be and has been converted from existing rifles. Used by US Special Forces.

233 jams, 1 jam every 257 rounds, 3.77x more reliable than the M4.
FN SCAR is US special Forces' new weapon, designed by SOSOCM. It just went into production in late 2007.

226 jams, 1 jam every 265 rounds, 3.85x more reliable than the M4
XM-8 is a developmental rifle. It's an advanced version of HK's G36, a rifle in wide use by many NATO armies. The US Army cancelled the XM-8 weapons family 2 years ago.

127 jams, I jam every 472 rounds, 6.95x more reliable than the M4.The failure of M4 barrels at 6,000 rounds confirms SOCOM objections that date back to the Feb 23/01 report "M4A1 5.56mm Carbine and Related Systems Deficiencies and Solutions," which ended up concluding that "M4A1 Carbine… does not meet the requirements of SOF." The barrel replacement also increases the rifle's life cycle costs when compared with the 10,000 round advertised barrel life, as additional barrels are sold to the Army for $240 each. A longer, heavier M16 barrel, which is a competed production weapon, cost $100 by comparison. While the dust test is indeed an extreme test, the 10,000 round requirement is under "all conditions" – not just ideal conditions.
Dec 18/07: The US Army publishes "M-4 Carbine Has High Soldier Confidence Despite Test (http://www.army.mil/-news/2007/12/18/6649-m-4-carbine-has-high-soldier-confidence-despite-test/)." Not exactly a headline to inspire confidence, as the Army acknowledges that the M4 Carbine finished last among the 4 contenders – but amazingly, asserts that the rifle is just fine and shows no interest in buying even the HK416's parts swap-out into the existing M4:
"After being exposed to the heavy dusting, 10 of each weapon fired 6,000 rounds apiece. They were fired in 50 120-round cycles. Each was then wiped and re-lubricated at the 600 round mark. After 1,200 rounds were fired from each weapon, they were fully cleaned and re-lubricated… "While the M-4 finished fourth out of four, 98 percent of all the rounds fired from it went off down range as they were supposed to do," Brig. Gen. [Mark] Brown [commander of Program Executive Office Soldier and the Natick Soldier Systems Center] said. "However, the three other candidates did perform better at about a 99 percent rate or better, which is a mathematically statistically significant difference, but not an operationally statistical difference.".... The Army has put an option on an existing contract for 64,450 M4s, according to the general."

austin
12-22-2007, 07:39 AM
"A mathematically statistically significant difference, but not an operationally statistical difference." Perhaps the US Army could put that on their recruiting posters, next to a picture of a jammed rifle.
June 29/07: A document circulated on Capitol Hill asking for testing includes these excerpts:
"The Army has claimed "83% reported confidence that the M4 will not suffer major breakage or failure that necessitates repair before further use" – A soldier should be 100% confident that his weapon will not break the next time he fires it…. Since the M16 was introduced in Vietnam the answer has always been "It’s the soldiers' fault"... The Special Operations Command has the most proficient soldiers in the world, they shoot the most and they operate in the most difficult environments – In 2001 SOCOM was highly critical of the reliability of the M4, and they chose to adopt a new weapon – the SCAR. Our Tier 1 units – like Delta Force, and Seal Team 6 have all abandoned the M4 for other weapons that is [sic] significantly more reliable."
Any Last Words?
http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK_G36_Norwegians_Telemark_Torgeir_Haugaard.jp g (http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/ORD_HK_G36_Norwegians_Telemark_Torgeir_Haugaard_lg .jpg) G36s: Norwegian
Telemark battalion
by Torgeir Haugaard
(click to view full)

Sgt. Charles Perales of Fort Bragg, NC had this to say in a letter reprinted by Defense News:
"My unit — B Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment — was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2005 to March 2006. While there, we were attached to Special Forces at Camp Tillman on the Afghan border…. I saw first-hand what happens when your weapon jams up because of the harsh environments we have to call home there. An 18B weapons sergeant was shot in the face due directly to his weapon jamming. I just can't believe that after things like this happen, the Army is still buying more M4s.
Why not rotate them like we used to before the war? All rapid-deploying units used to get the new M4, the support units would get the excess M16s and so on. I'm not saying they need to outfit the whole Army with a new weapon, but why not start phasing it in? ....Soldiers' lives are on the line. Why is it a hassle to make an improvement that could save lives?
The M4 isn't a bad weapon; it just needs improvements. It's about time people stop fighting to keep things the same and start moving toward a better weapon system."
The last word will be left to SOCOM's Major Chaz Bowser:
"We buy new laptop computers every few years across the gamut, so couldn't we do the same with our single most important piece of military equipment? .... Waiting for a leap-ahead technology based on a kinetic energy weapon platform is a waste of time and money, so we need to look at what is out there now…. What the Army needs is a weapon that is now ready for prime-time and not a developmental system…. The requirement comes from the field, not from an office in some garrison activity, not from some consultant and definitely not from a vendor.
Let's do this quickly without all the bureaucracy typically associated with change. Find someone in our ranks who can make a decision – who hasn't floated a retirement resume with a gun company – and make the decision now. Just look how fast we were all issued the 'highly coveted' black beret or the digital uniform. Find that recipe card, change out the word 'Velcro' with 'battle rifle' and that may be a start to finding a solution [DID: which, he acknowledges, could be Colt's M4 if that's what the competition shows]. Our men and women deserve much better than we are giving them, and shame on us."

austin
12-22-2007, 07:43 AM
There are a lot of good links at the bottom of that DR article. This is pretty interesting.


http://images.military.com/pix/defensetech/cna_m4_study_d0015259_a2.pdf


There are also some AAR excerpts.

Here is the DR article .. scroll to the bottom. They have a huge bibliography.


http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-usas-m4-carbine-controversy-03289/

Section1_Operations
12-22-2007, 10:16 AM
A very long article that hit Pajamasmedia this morning which means its a big topic in the real world now.

Did not mention LWRC.

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/the-usas-m4-carbine-controversy-03289/


Why would they since they were far removed from the test as was MagPul's Masada or even the Colt SCAR prototype?

ffhounddog
12-25-2007, 07:16 PM
I never had a problem with my M4 on convoys in Iraq.

Alfred E Neuman
12-30-2007, 05:13 PM
.........as long as you keep them clean, they run fine.

.........We're not fighting a WWII type war over there and they're not in constant contact with the enemy for days at a time. .


I agree that the M4 is not a total POS.

But, after 40 years we could probably come up with something better for the next generation of troops that MIGHT have to fight a WW2 type of action.

Technology is such that we owe our troops the best and most reliable weapon out there...in the best caliber. But corporate interests will always prevail.

Picture the M4 at Stalingrad....surrounded, no supplies coming in, 24x7 combat, changing weather, dirt, grime, blood etc.

In 40 years we have new tanks, new trucks, new jeeps, new body armor, new helmets, new underwear for goodness sakes, new camo patterns, new boots, new web gear, new sunglasses, new medical equipment, new socks etc.

What is so sacred about this rifle that you have to have a message from God on high to find something better??

ffhounddog
12-30-2007, 06:18 PM
Well the problem I have with the rifle is all they are doing is putting a piston upper basically and we have companies that are already doing that for the AR and they are not in the running for the contract and these uppers are 100% reliable built in the USA.

We are getting more heavy items because right now is the best time because they are getting the funding for those big items. Small arms can be bought cheap compared to a new gen of Fighter or Fighting Vehicle and when you have an administration that is into funding the military you should get the high dollar toys. Clinton screw the miliary on next gen equipment and now we are playing catch up and the M4 and M16 do a good job for now. We have bigger ticket items we need to fund.

SHIHAN
12-30-2007, 06:41 PM
Well the problem I have with the rifle is all they are doing is putting a piston upper basically and we have companies that are already doing that for the AR and they are not in the running for the contract and these uppers are 100% reliable built in the USA.



I hate to say it but your in fantasy land.

Alfred E Neuman
12-30-2007, 08:23 PM
The secret to military procurement is votes.....

1. Whatever results in the most votes gets passed.
2. The way to get a Congressman on your side is to manufacture the object in his district and create jobs, which equal votes
3. Therefore you have zillion dollar projects with one piece being built in as many States as you can.
4. Generals agree with this strategy because that is their next job after retirement

Xiphius
01-23-2008, 11:12 PM
It's all about money and politics...
Who has vested interest with what company or concept...:(

Small Arms and Personal Armour are in the same boat. If it ain't a big oil toy it ain't worth it.:mad: