Why haven't we swapped out DIs with short-strokes in the military?


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Precision
February 4, 2011, 11:31 PM
It's just common sense to me. For over 40 years troops have complained that their rifle suffers from malfunctions and jams.

I had the pleasure of finding out last Wednesday that a friend of mine is a former Marine (I coach kids in kindergarten how to play basketball and he's my boss), and he was with an MP unit that did multiple tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa (!). "If you sneezed on that thing wrong, it would jam." Haha, I love that guy. One of the coolest guys I know. He was issued the M16A4 (among other variants) and M4, and said that he had constant reliability problems throughout his service.

I don't get it! The federally budgeted military expenditure of the United States Department of Defense for fiscal year 2010 was $685.1 billion, but we can't fork over any cash for providing gear that works to men and women that are risking our lives for us?! That's not fair!

How about replacing Interceptor Body Armor with Dragon Skin (or something else)?!

How about replacing the M4/M16 with something that combines the (approximate) accuracy of a DI gun with the (approximate) reliability of an AK?

Come on guys! LWRC, HK, Robinson Arms (well they're a long-stroke but you get the idea), the list goes on. Same platform, same muscle memory, better performance.

It's not fair. They are put in harm's way so that we can stay fat and happy here in the land of plenty. I hope that some day I can help provide better gear to the troops. I really support what you guys are sacrificing.

If anyone thinks that a DI platform is reliable enough for combat, I just hope that those assumptions are after you've shot it through sand/mud and not just plinking at the range. I haven't fired it, but I've heard some pretty scary stories.

Being 16, I can't judge something I've never done. No one can. All I'm saying is that it's common sense to supply something that works. It's one thing if the problem existed for a decade. But 40 years? Get real.

A lot of people on this forum support the DI platform and say that it's "plenty reliable." But ask yourself: is that because of economic, civilian reasons or actual combat experience?

Sorry if I offended any DI worshipers, and I know you exist. A short-stroke gas piston system just seems the way to go. With most combat engagements occurring within 300 yards (and even that's a stretch), do we really need all the accuracy that the DI has to offer?

I don't care if we're coming out of a recession. More of an effort needs to be made in supplying the front lines, not the 100,000-ton aircraft carriers. In an age where the biggest world threats are terrorist militias and the occasional pirates, why are we investing so much cash in over-the-top military projects? Shouldn't the Army grunt get an upgrade to his rifle before the U.S.S. Nimitz gets a new paint job?

Sorry, I'm just a kid. But I'm not alone on this.

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spartan00054
February 4, 2011, 11:46 PM
Plenty of reasons, none of them necessarily good ones. The DoD's budget is, in large part, controlled by Congress, and Congresspeople tend to love whiz-bang high tech, high dollar projects that bring jobs to their districts. F-22s are built in something like 46 states, and with each plane costing $150 million plus, that's a lot of jobs, which becomes a lot of donations/votes come reelection time.

Part of the problem is the how the DoD runs its weapon development/evaluation programs. Twenty years ago, we had the ACR program that resulted in some interesting weapons, but none that met the bar for improvement over current weapons that the program set. A bar, that IMHO, may have been a little too high considering the incremental nature of improvements to small arms these days. Ten years later, OICW turned into an overweight, overbudget boondoogle and died a slow death, but not before spawning the XM8, which died because DoD did not open the contract to other bids, and because of some practical problems with the polymer used in the body of the rifle and because it could not, in the form presented for evaluation, mount any accessories known to man. The other half of OICW became the XM25, which I understand is actually undergoing field tests in the 'Stan.

The Marines got around this mess for the M27 IAR by calling a piston driven rifle a replacement for the SAW, which does legitimately need to be updated/replaced.

However, the M27 is small scale project compared to the scale of putting pistons on the rifles of every serviceman.

TLDR; we haven't done it because getting something like that done requires the alignment of many stars in the industrial/military/political complex.

crossrhodes
February 4, 2011, 11:52 PM
The army is refitting, over time, a gas piston kit and a few other mods. You can log on to Solder Systems and keep current with the events and info on what's being looked at or being tested. Each system has it's pros and cons and can't say that one is better then the other. But don't tell a good Marine he doesn't need to know how shoot past 300 yards/meters. We pride our selves that every cook, baker, candle stick maker and grunt can hit a man sized target at 500 yards with open sights. Optics are nice, but need to know the basics when things break.

Semer Fi

twofifty
February 4, 2011, 11:54 PM
You need to find out exactly how military procurement happens.
Apparently it is not pretty.

GunsBeerFreedom
February 4, 2011, 11:58 PM
I never had any problems with my standard issue A2. I cleaned it...once I think....during my deployment. It trucked on like a champ.

RockyMtnTactical
February 4, 2011, 11:59 PM
Piston AR15's just don't run as good as milspec AR's. It's very simple.

J.Boyette
February 5, 2011, 12:11 AM
Piston uppers are not all its cracked up to be.

Alot of this is hope to sale more rifles. If you look at the M16 family, they are the longest running service rifle the US Military has ever had.

From the M16 to the M4 its been the best service rifle ever issued.

Many of the issues you read, or hear about are from people in non-combat arms MOS's that rag on the system with very little trigger time behind one.

For the past 14 years I have carried a M16A2, M4 and now a colt Ar-15 at work. I would not trade it for any rifle for personal use or professional use.

As a matter of fact, the Service rifles used in CMP matches see more rounds down range in a given month then most military rifles see in a year. If the design was such a "hog" why would so many people shoot them in matches and so many LEO's have them as trunk rifles?

Its all B.S. with poor maintenance of a weapon and improper cleaning techniques.

John

HorseSoldier
February 5, 2011, 12:13 AM
It's just common sense to me. For over 40 years troops have complained that their rifle suffers from malfunctions and jams.

I've got about 17 years running M16s and M4s and haven't had much trouble keeping my weapon working even in crappy environments. May have even sneezed on them a couple times, and they kept right on shooting. Now I did have the benefit along the way of people teaching me how to keep the gun running, rather than how to keep it ready to turn into an armorer (which is what I was initially taught to do), which may be part of the difference in opinion.

How about replacing Interceptor Body Armor with Dragon Skin (or something else)?!

Army and Marines have replaced IBA with improved stuff. The reason that improved stuff isn't Dragon Skin is because Dragon Skin sucks and doesn't work nearly as well as their advertising (and paid shills on the Disovery channel, etc) claim.

Gromky
February 5, 2011, 12:17 AM
Its all B.S. with poor maintenance of a weapon and improper cleaning techniques.

Part of it may also be people who were forced to shoot an M16 with a .22 LR conversion (got to experience that because the local university range isn't rated for anything more). Absolutely terrible.

essayons21
February 5, 2011, 12:26 AM
From the M16 to the M4 its been the best service rifle ever issued

While I agree with the rest of your post, I would take exception to this. The early days of the M16 were plagued with problems, even though not due to the basic design of the rifle, is a black mark the gun will never be able to shake.

I would vote the Garand as the best US service rifle ever issued, with the 1903 as a close second. The Garand was superbly reliable, required little maintenance, and was superior to every other nations issued weapon at the time it was in use. The M16 cannot make any of those claims.

As to the OP, gas pistons, while not anything new, are currently the darling child of gun writers, kinda like DI was the darling child in the 1960s. While they are superior to the DI system in the M16 family in some aspects, they bring up a whole host of new problems which are conveniently never mentioned by their proponents.

The M16/M4 is a finely polished weapon system, the few bugs that remain are well documented and preventative measures are already in place. Considering we are currently fighting 2 major wars, and a host of smaller actions, I would rather stick to the weapon which we know, that trying to work the bugs out of a new system in combat. That is what happened in 1966-1973, with deadly consequences to servicemembers.

ETA: Dragonskin had a fatal flaw. When rounds impact at greater than 70 degrees from the perpendicular, they tend to zip on through the chinks in the armor. The Army's published body armor testing protocol only tests to 30 degrees from perpendicular, which is why Dragonskin performed better than the Interceptor in published testing, but was rejected.

TechBrute
February 5, 2011, 12:31 AM
If anyone thinks that a DI platform is reliable enough for combat, I just hope that those assumptions are after you've shot it through sand/mud and not just plinking at the range. I haven't fired it, but I've heard some pretty scary stories.

Your entire statement could have started and stopped with this.

As a country, we have literally fielded millions of DI rifles, and have somehow managed to get them to fire off more than a few rounds.

Last I heard, the EAG Tactical loaner rifles had logged over 50K rounds without being cleaned.

But hey, let's throw a few more moving parts in the mix and see what happens, why confuse the issue with actual data.

With most combat engagements occurring within 300 yards (and even that's a stretch), do we really need all the accuracy that the DI has to offer?

We need to lock you in a room with the people that are pushing for a larger cartridge because of the engagement distances in Afghanistan.

I don't care if we're coming out of a recession. More of an effort needs to be made in supplying the front lines, not the 100,000-ton aircraft carriers. In an age where the biggest world threats are terrorist militias and the occasional pirates, why are we investing so much cash in over-the-top military projects? Shouldn't the Army grunt get an upgrade to his rifle before the U.S.S. Nimitz gets a new paint job?

Last one, I promise...

I'm pretty sure the "grunts" would like to continue receiving air support, which is often from said 100,000 ton carrier.

Oh, and welcome to THR. :D

spartan00054
February 5, 2011, 12:38 AM
Also, while combat it is not, just good old range time in the desert in SoCal can get pretty dusty. I feel very confident in my DI ARs after running them hard for a couple of weeks in Imperial County talcum powder with relatively high round counts, no cleaning, and light reapplication of CLP, and when that ran out, some Mobil 1. Never a cough from any of them.

HorseSoldier
February 5, 2011, 12:38 AM
I would vote the Garand as the best US service rifle ever issued, with the 1903 as a close second. The Garand was superbly reliable, required little maintenance, and was superior to every other nations issued weapon at the time it was in use. The M16 cannot make any of those claims.

Mythology.

The Garand had its own teething problems (most notably a proclivity for frequent jamming whenever it was fired in rain storms).

It was problematic and unreliable in the jungles of the Pacific.

It was super innovative when first adopted, but was obsolete the moment it met StG-44s on the battlefield. Sadly, we subsequently used it or its M14 variant for another 20 years after the obsolescence was demonstrated.

Quentin
February 5, 2011, 12:39 AM
So you're 16 and you've never fired a DI rifle yet you want our military to dump them for something you say is better. Like what, an XBox?

Chris Rhines
February 5, 2011, 12:41 AM
Okay, this is ridiculous. Dude, you are in high school. You don't have the credentials or the experience to even have an opinion on this matter, much less an opinion worth sharing.

Sit down, shut your mouth, open your ears, and quit bloviating upon subjects that you know noting about.

-C

spartan00054
February 5, 2011, 12:45 AM
We need to lock you in a room with the people that are pushing for a larger cartridge because of the engagement distances in Afghanistan.


LOL. I'm not even sure how a Venn diagram of those groups would come out, much less a deathmatch. What about the guys who swear by their 6.8 SPC piston rifles? Would they alternate arms while punching themselves in the face?

TechBrute
February 5, 2011, 12:55 AM
I lied... I can't leave this alone...
In an age where the biggest world threats are terrorist militias and the occasional pirates, why are we investing so much cash in over-the-top military projects?
Watch the news. Pay attention to the parts where they talk about "North Korea" and "Iran".

Tim the student
February 5, 2011, 01:09 AM
Man oh man.

If anyone thinks that a DI platform is reliable enough for combat, I just hope that those assumptions are after you've shot it through sand/mud and not just plinking at the range.

I think it is reliable enough in combat. And gasp - I've actually been in combat with it! Not deployments, but combat. And gasp - it worked just fine! No failures of any kind. The only gripe that I have is the ammo - and that is a far cry from a gripe about the rifle.

A lot of people on this forum support the DI platform and say that it's "plenty reliable." But ask yourself: is that because of economic, civilian reasons or actual combat experience?

My opinion is based on "I did" not "I heard".

Precision
February 5, 2011, 02:08 AM
well, you gotta give me credit for trying. :(

gunnutery
February 5, 2011, 02:27 AM
I don't get it! The federally budgeted military expenditure of the United States Department of Defense for fiscal year 2010 was $685.1 billion, but we can't fork over any cash for providing gear that works to men and women that are risking our lives for us?! That's not fair!

I haven't seen a break up of the allotment for distribution, but my guess would be that most of that budget is already taken by re-arming missles ($80,000 + per shot for the cheap ones), bombs, buying munitions, re-fueling (that's probably a big peice of the pie chart there), payroll, training foriegn militaries, etc. etc.

By the time we pay out all that, there's not a lot of money left for upgrades and re-tooling.

I'm not opposed to bigger caliber upgrades, but it'd be our luck that after going to bigger calibers, we'd be engaged in a jungle war again.

well, you gotta give me credit for trying.

It never hurts to ask.

spartan00054
February 5, 2011, 02:30 AM
Precision, it's not the question, the issue is with how you ask it. This is not a lesson that applies solely to this thread, but to the rest of life as well. If you have a question, ask it, seek to have your curiosity satisfied. That is a good thing. However, I would recommend against asking a question and then muddying the waters with any preconceived notions you may have, and then compounding the problem by making false appeals to authority. That is off-putting to the people who have the answers/honest opinions you need to get up to speed. In most communities, and especially in the shooting community, you'll find people who will jump at the chance to share their knowledge and experience if you give off the proper vibe of curiosity and humility. I speak from experience here.

blackops
February 5, 2011, 03:19 AM
So you're 16 and you've never fired a DI rifle yet you want our military to dump them for something you say is better. Like what, an XBox

Ouch, no jab or anything? Just a right uppercut? haha

At least the kid is trying to look out for our soldiers, is in to firearms, and enjoys to be involved. Better than most kids these days it seems.

gdcpony
February 5, 2011, 03:27 AM
Piston uppers are not all its cracked up to be.

Alot of this is hope to sale more rifles. If you look at the M16 family, they are the longest running service rifle the US Military has ever had.

From the M16 to the M4 its been the best service rifle ever issued.

Many of the issues you read, or hear about are from people in non-combat arms MOS's that rag on the system with very little trigger time behind one.

For the past 14 years I have carried a M16A2, M4 and now a colt Ar-15 at work. I would not trade it for any rifle for personal use or professional use.

As a matter of fact, the Service rifles used in CMP matches see more rounds down range in a given month then most military rifles see in a year. If the design was such a "hog" why would so many people shoot them in matches and so many LEO's have them as trunk rifles?

Its all B.S. with poor maintenance of a weapon and improper cleaning techniques.

John
^^^^ What he said. I love my M-4. "Anna" hits well and serves me faithfully. The last thing I want is them to add parts that WILL complicate it and have other issues. Just let me keep it the way it is.


And I don't want another replacement weapon like the M-9 vs. the 1911. That was a mistake!

laguna0seca
February 5, 2011, 03:50 AM
Never had any issue or jam with my M4. It fired every time the trigger was pulled, and it didn't get the best treatment (we lived in ranger graves). Our saws were utter garbage, that weapon is just not built to be used in sandy conditions. The fact that our saws were hand me downs from god knows how far back didn't help the situation, however. The Marines get the shaft, everybody knows it. The army is much better equipped. At least from what I have seen.

laguna0seca
February 5, 2011, 03:52 AM
I do however agree that the body armor issue is complete bull. We need to save weight, especially grunts, we had a guy snap both bones in his lower leg because of how much weight he was carrying.

gdcpony
February 5, 2011, 04:26 AM
Sorry if I offended any DI worshipers, and I know you exist. A short-stroke gas piston system just seems the way to go. With most combat engagements occurring within 300 yards (and even that's a stretch), do we really need all the accuracy that the DI has to offer?

Actually in our AO most are being reported from units that never fire a shot. Then we engage with HIMARS (arty). They tend to be measured in km's not m's. LOL

I all honesty as a varmint hunter who uses the 5.56 (.223), I will say even with heavier bullets it is a 300-400yd round. Oh and I have used AR type weapons in both military and civilian field conditions and have NEVER had a malfunction that was because of the weapon. My reloading is another story when I first started. LOL

Shadow 7D
February 5, 2011, 04:39 AM
In the technical world, they have a phrase

"operator Error"
DI works, works well, as long as it is worked within it's system, I carried one in the 'bad situations' and 'bad environment' and it works...

mljdeckard
February 5, 2011, 04:46 AM
I have a rifle that works very well. I have no desire to modify it. For pistons to be a benefit, you have to commonly reach the operating temperatures where it would be an actual benefit. If you are firing your rifle that much, you should have used a SAW.

RockyMtnTactical
February 5, 2011, 05:11 AM
Precision,

I appreciate your enthusiasm for shooting and gun rights. It's a good thing. Don't lose that.

However, what I do recommend is spend more time listening and asking questions and less time telling everyone how it goes. You're still wet behind the ears and the only thing that fixes that is knowledge and experience.

The gunboards and internet is full of great amounts of knowledge and helpful tips. It's also full of total BS. You need more experience and knowledge to be able to filter through that BS.

My suggestions are, keep up the enthusiasm, get out to the range, go hunting, join the military (if you feel so bold), or whatever, but you GOTTA get out out of the house and get that personal experience, and you have to keep up on it to a degree too.

It's taken me years to gain any amount of real useful knowledge about guns. I would say that the first few years I was learning, I still knew next to nothing. Definitely not enough to be teaching others much of anything especially useful. I still learn new things EVERY DAY and don't plan on stopping. I'll never know it all...

Tirod
February 5, 2011, 06:55 AM
Honest enthusiasm isn't a crime, and, yes, there are a lot of us who would like to see an upgrade from the M4. And buying it for the Army would cost about one fighter plane in money spent.

Here's what you aren't hearing: When most of the current Vietnam vets served, they lived in an America that had 1 in 10 other citizens who had served in the Armed Forces. Now, it's 1 in 100. Most of what the public hears these days is distorted second hand BS.

Chalk me up in the category of combat trained, Infantry and MP, but my deployment was in the wire - not even inkpens allowed. I used the M16 in the Reserves for 22 years, but I learned more about it in the last 16 months BUILDING one than the Army ever taught me.

In brief: No, the M16/M4 does not have problems with dust, it has problems with soldiers who won't clean it every day, keep it clean, and kept it lubricated WET in the upper cam pin channel per the TM. Soldiers do keep the port cover closed, add a plastic muzzle cap to protect the barrel, and even bag them in high dust areas. What's not being said is the AK has the same problems, and being DI or piston has really nothing to do with it.

Magazines have been a big source of the M16's problems since nearly the beginning. What makes the AK reliable is a nearly bullet proof machined magazine that works, and what makes the M16 fail is a cheap stamped aluminum magazine that will jam if dropped on the feed lips when loaded. The fix is the Marines are using Pmags, and the Army is buying them, too. If you can't bend it, dent it, or make it hang up inside, a mag works, and there are a lot less problems with them.

Who we train to use a gun is part of it, too. Think about it, the kids you teach soccer really haven't much clue about it, they still kick with the toe, don't pass well, can't exploit an opening, or dribble downfield against 5 opponents and attempt a goal. Well, an 18-23 year old new recruit hasn't lived with a M16 since birth (like some recent immigrants who dominate the game locally,) and there's a lot to learn.

I was watching a Marine squad leader teaching his team the finer points of simply switching from carrying the weapon pointing left to pointing right - you depress the barrel to the ground as you sweep your buddy in line in front of you. Don't shoot him in the back, the guy behind you doing the same. 22 years in the USAR, I'd never seen that.

There are literally hundreds of tips, tactics, and tricks to learn, the problem being making them lifesaving habits in less than three years before someone ETS's. A lot of them don't even get the habit of cleaning the weapon daily - especially if you don't fire it for months at a time. Haji isn't ambushing us that much, he'd rather plant an IED, read up on what really kills our troops.

Switching to a piston won't fix the REAL problems, DI works just fine.

Lovesbeer99
February 5, 2011, 08:37 AM
I'm not for or against it but I do have a few comments and thoughts.

Do we even have a standard Piston system? From what I see each company that puts one out uses the same concept but not the same parts and they are not interchangable.

Also it seams to me that a lot of poeple pretend that the DI system is new and a sole concept of the AR15 family of rifles. It's not new by any means. It was developed by Stoner in the AR18 to improve upon the AR15 years ago.

As far as combat goes I'm pretty sure the AR18 or 180 I forget , was used by military in african countries for years. Anyone have reports of it's use cause I can't find any.


I have a DI for a competition service rifle and I have no combat experience.

MrCleanOK
February 5, 2011, 10:26 AM
OP, I don't know your Marine friend personally, so I'm speaking generally here.

There are a lot of people in the military who are not the most mechanically inclined, and don't know crap about guns, how they work, or how to keep them working. Not every claim that "my M16 was a jamming piece of crap!" is a valid one. The overwhelming majority of soldiers keep their M16s and M4s functioning properly just fine.

68wj
February 5, 2011, 10:41 AM
OP, I don't know your Marine friend personally, so I'm speaking generally here.

There are a lot of people in the military who are not the most mechanically inclined, and don't know crap about guns, how they work, or how to keep them working. Not every claim that "my M16 was a jamming piece of crap!" is a valid one. The overwhelming majority of soldiers keep their M16s and M4s functioning properly just fine.
As a former Marine armorer, I concur. Not knocking anyone, but some people are quick to blame the hammer when they hit their thumb.

I had an Lt. cursing a .50 one day. When clearing the weapon before working on it, I noticed a bone dry gun with a chamber full of sand. Sir, let's clean this thing off a little and try some lube. Purred like a tiger afterward. Many similar stories exist.

TexasRifleman
February 5, 2011, 10:46 AM
well, you gotta give me credit for trying.

Give you credit for trying WHAT?

I think everyone here appreciates a young person interested in guns coming here to get educated.

That said, it usually works better to ask questions rather than just argue with no real experience on the topic.

jerkface11
February 5, 2011, 10:59 AM
Pistons aren't a big a enough improvement to be worth it.

snakeman
February 5, 2011, 11:16 AM
This is a long and pricey process that is currently in the works. Now what I wish is that nato would adopt the 6x45 or 6.8 as the standard nato round. That would save a lot of lives when coupled with a gas piston upper or something like the acr.

Balrog
February 5, 2011, 11:59 AM
I don't see any point in wasting my tax payer dollars on a new rifle for the Army.

taliv
February 5, 2011, 12:05 PM
question asked an answered. this topic has been done to death

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