What makes an ideal combat rifle?


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briansmithwins
January 30, 2012, 03:55 AM
Ran across an interesting paper on human factors for combat rifle design.

TLDR version: Most combat shooting is pointed rather than aimed and occurs close in. 5.56 has plenty of power at typical ranges. Open sights can be better than peep sights in combat.

Whole paper is here: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B09fZpC9S7gDNGJmYTcyZGEtZjNjMy00ZGE0LWJjYTMtZWIxMWJlZWQ3NmFk

A survey (1) of Army and Marine combatants from the European and Pacific theatres of World War II and from the Korean War indicates that 80 percent of the rifle fire was pointed rather than aimed when the targets were visible enemy soldiers.

US military experience in Viet Nam corroborates the findings from World War II and Korea; and a future war in Europe should be characterized by an extremely high density of fire from tanks, artillery, and both vehicle- and ground-mounted small arms. The result will be an environment where neither shooter nor target will be willing to risk exposure long enough to deliver aimed fire or be a target for very long.

The ranges of engagements and the frequency of engagements that occur at these ranges do not dictate the use of the heavier 7.62 cartridge for
the infantry rifle. These ranges are within the capability of a 5.56 cartridge, such as the SS 109, to be satisfactorily effective.

The conclusion that should be drawn from the existing data is that it is important that a combat rifle be configured to optimize its performance for quick, unaimed (pointed) semiautomatic fire. It should be designed around a cartridge that results in a low recoil impulse (less than 1.2 lb/sec).

A notched rear sight is slightly superior to a peep sight for pointed fire and under low light levels. A notch sight should be as accurate as a peep sight for aimed fire during more usual daylight conditions.

The sights should be capable of being zeroed in azimuth and elevation, but there is probably nothing to be gained by providing a rapid windage and range adjustment.

Controls such as the safety, fire-mode selector, magazine release, and charging handle should be designed so they are, to the highest degree possible, equalLy convenient for left- and right-handed shooters.

The chamber area of the receiver should be designed so that it is readily accessible for clearing jams and other stoppages.

The charging handle must be designed so that sufficient force can be applied to the bolt in both directions to quickly clear jams such as double feeds.

This doesn't sound a awful lot like a M16 to me.

BSW

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Abel
January 30, 2012, 04:25 AM
I had several M16 config rifles in the infantry. I shot them all left handed. They worked very well, especially with live ammo. They didn't jam, because we cleaned them like it was religion. We probably had the cleanest weapons systems of any squad in the entire army.

jehu
January 30, 2012, 07:49 AM
AK47 ,so easy even a Cave Man can do it!!:neener:

benEzra
January 30, 2012, 08:09 AM
There are a couple of developments that have changed the paradigm since that study was written. Primarily, the development of reliable 1x illuminated optics (e.g. Aimpoint/Eotech) that make fast, accurate sighted fire feasible under all lighting conditions and at pretty much all distances. As a result, iron sights---whether V-notch or aperture---are gradually being relegated to backup status, since dots are faster than iron sights under most conditions (particularly in bad lighting or nonstandard shooting positions) and are far more accurate than point shooting, particularly beyond across-the-room distances. Aimed fire using fast optics will dominate unaimed fire at anything beyond close quarters, as has been demonstrated in Iraq against mostly-point-shooting adversaries.

I also note that the increase in vehicle-mounted operations in recent wars has driven a trend toward weapons of shorter overall length, e.g. the wider adoption of the M4 vs. the 20" M16.

mgregg85
January 30, 2012, 08:21 AM
I imagine a lot of fighting in Vietnam was at very close range or at night, thus aiming wasn't so important as throwing a lot of lead in the general direction of the enemy.

Do some new surveys with Iraq and Afghanistan vets and see what they say, I'm betting they liked having the Aimpoints and Eotechs and used them.

briansmithwins
January 30, 2012, 08:27 AM
The paper I quoted was written in '82 and had this to say about reflex sights:

The rifle should have iron sights rather than a reflex collimator sight, telescope, ring or other type sight. Reflex collimator sights, while at first glance appear to offer significant benefits, have never been demonstrated to be better than iron sights, especially in adverse environmental conditions.
Their greater cost and inferior ruggedness render these sights undesirable. The fact is, except for long-range sniper fire where a telescope has an advantage, iron sights are still the best choice for a combat rifle.

I think technology has provided optics that are as tough if not tougher than the rifles on which they are mounted. Personally, I think the current reflex sights have shown themselves to be a improvement on irons.

BSW

kaferhaus
January 30, 2012, 08:46 AM
Did the paper also mention that less than 20% of all casualties were from direct fire? Casualties from rifle fire have been under 20% ever since the civil war. In Vietnam they were under 10% In the second Iraq war they were under 5% and currently in Afganistan they're under 3%.

Indirect fire (artillery, mortar's, RPGs, aerial bombardment, etc) and area denial weapons (mines, IEDs etc) have been the cause of well over 90% of all casualties on both sides since WWI.

Obviously you have to have rifles. But the M16 does indeed meet the vast majority of those old out-dated studies.

And the other poster is correct, the move is away from iron sights as a primary sighting system for the infantry rifle. Additionally if you watch any of the Irag war footage where American soldiers are engaging the enemy you will see that the vast majority of their fire is indeed aimed fire. The Iraqis on the other hand seldom took the time to expose themselves long enough to aim.

Even in the European theater of WWII the average rifle engagement was 100yds or less. In WWI the vast majority of casualties were from machine gun fire across vast open spaces. In the same theater in WWII the majority of bullet wounds also came from.....machine guns.

303tom
January 30, 2012, 09:47 AM
Did the paper also mention that less than 20% of all casualties were from direct fire? Casualties from rifle fire have been under 20% ever since the civil war. In Vietnam they were under 10% In the second Iraq war they were under 5% and currently in Afganistan they're under 3%.

Indirect fire (artillery, mortar's, RPGs, aerial bombardment, etc) and area denial weapons (mines, IEDs etc) have been the cause of well over 90% of all casualties on both sides since WWI.

Obviously you have to have rifles. But the M16 does indeed meet the vast majority of those old out-dated studies.

And the other poster is correct, the move is away from iron sights as a primary sighting system for the infantry rifle. Additionally if you watch any of the Irag war footage where American soldiers are engaging the enemy you will see that the vast majority of their fire is indeed aimed fire. The Iraqis on the other hand seldom took the time to expose themselves long enough to aim.

Even in the European theater of WWII the average rifle engagement was 100yds or less. In WWI the vast majority of casualties were from machine gun fire across vast open spaces. In the same theater in WWII the majority of bullet wounds also came from.....machine guns.


A+............

JustinJ
January 30, 2012, 11:13 AM
The most important quality of a combat weapon is reliability, IMO. And there should be no caveats such as "if you keep it clean" or "don't shoot it too much".

Wapato
January 30, 2012, 12:38 PM
currently in Afganistan they're under 3%.


Is that true even in the "insurgency" stage of things? That sort of a number makes sense for anything resembling a pitched battle.

But my impression now was that restrictive rules of engagement we leading to a lot of engagements where precision and highly discriminatory rifle fire was needed at long range, and engagements indoors.

Or did you mean fatalities on our side, where body armor and improved medical care seem to be doing a great job of keeping our boys alive or even in the action after being shot.

Sheepdog1968
January 30, 2012, 04:13 PM
My semi auto rifle of choice has a large apature ghost ring rear and a front sight that I painted with fluorescent orange model paint. For out to 100 yards it works very well. I'd be hard pressed to shoot as well as quickly with a notch rear sight. I have the same set up on a dangerous game rifle.

For my "normal" hunting rifle, I use fixed low power optics 2.5x or 4x and that is more than adequate for my ethical hunting distances.

crazy4milsurps
January 30, 2012, 04:22 PM
I love to read about how the M16/AR15 is perfect as long as it is maintained properly. Which is simple, just press the pause button during the battle and clean it. If there is a chance of the rifle not out lasting the battle, what good is it?

243winxb
January 30, 2012, 04:37 PM
What makes an ideal combat rifle? The selector that has a setting marked "AUTO" http://i338.photobucket.com/albums/n420/joe1944usa/M16A1%20Carbine/th_M16A1Carbine007.jpg (http://s338.photobucket.com/albums/n420/joe1944usa/M16A1%20Carbine/?action=view&current=M16A1Carbine007.jpg)

Robert
January 30, 2012, 04:51 PM
If there is a chance of the rifle not out lasting the battle, what good is it?

Um what? There is always a chance that something will happen that will take a rifle out of the fight. There is no way around that. But, a well trained solider will have kept their weapon clean prior to the battle. Stop for more than 5 mins, and run a patch down the barrel if you are able. Or just squirt some more oil on the vital parts and keep on rocking.

I did not clean my rifle all summer, somewhere in the area of 1000-1200 rounds, and had no dirty rifle issues. The idea that the AR, M16 or M4, will fail if not kept spotless is even older than the study in the op. Don't believe me, check out Pat Rodgers and Filthy 14. And for the record I am not a soldier, just a competition shooter.

T.R.
January 30, 2012, 05:22 PM
After WWII Russians interviewed combat veterans and examined actual battle scenerios. They determined that a compact semi-auto was best for overall infantry use. Cartridge power should be halfway between a pistol round and high powered rifle round. Hence the SKS carbine firing 7.62 X 39 cartridge and later on, the AK-47.

I'm no fan of commies but their research and logic has merit.

TR

Ragnar Danneskjold
January 30, 2012, 05:33 PM
I can count on one hand with fingers to spare how many times I heard of a buddies rifle going down while in Afghanistan. Mine never did. The current M4 is an awesome weapon, and people who keep dragging out the "you need to keep in immaculate or it doesn't work" nonsense need to pull themselves out of the 1970s and join us in the 21st century.

crazy4milsurps
January 30, 2012, 05:38 PM
I've tried 3 times, all 3 failed after a minimum 300 rounds. I refuse to trust a platform as picky as the AR.

Robert
January 30, 2012, 05:56 PM
3 times with three separate rifles or just one rifle? If it was 3 different rifles what were the makers of the 3 rifles? What were the failures? Could it have been a bad mag or an ammo issue? A bad parts build? 300 rounds is not really dirty enough to cause something to fail. There are numerous other places I would look first.

crazy4milsurps
January 30, 2012, 05:58 PM
bushy, delton and dpms. it was one of those trveling carbine courses. fte , ftf, ftf, bolt lock up all of the classic symptoms. ammo was mixture of wolf, pmc and LC

crazy4milsurps
January 30, 2012, 06:00 PM
having to buy only certain ammo is bs a good rifle will eat anything. my ARs weren't very hungry i guess. i gave up. i'll take any other rifle!

Zundfolge
January 30, 2012, 06:01 PM
The selector that has a setting marked "AUTO"
Not true, the vast majority of shooting done with M16/M4 type rifles is done semi auto.

Keep the switch on "Auto" and you run dry real fast.

243winxb
January 30, 2012, 06:03 PM
The M4 carbine finished last in a 2007 “extreme dust test” to demonstrate the M4’s reliability compared to three newer carbines. Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the H&K 416 http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/12/army_carbine_dusttest_071217/

FMF Doc
January 30, 2012, 06:05 PM
There is no ideal combat rifle because there is no ideal rifle. I really liked my M-4 in urban areas in and around the HOA and Iraq, but much prefered an M-16 or MK-11 in Afghanistan. Infact, I would have loved a "re-"commissioned M-14 if I could have gotten one. Like anything else, right tool for the right job.

Robert
January 30, 2012, 06:05 PM
mmmm If they were "range" guns there is no telling what their maintance schedule looked like or even the quality of the build. That sucks that you had a poor time with 3 different rifles. Your expereince has been totally different than mine or most of the guys I shoot with. I might think the Wolf ammo would have something to do with it. Some rifles just do not like it for whatever reason. I have personaly seen it gunk up a rifle in competition and cause a stoppage. But three time with three different rifles in the same class makes me think it might have been something on their end.

Edit:
I see these were personal weapons... well I guess there is alway the AK.

crazy4milsurps
January 30, 2012, 06:08 PM
oh, sorry it wasn't the same class it was with 2 seperate classes. first class was dmps, it failed som sold it bought the delton for the next day and it too failed. smarted up for the next years class and bought a bushy and same turd different toilet!

helotaxi
January 30, 2012, 06:22 PM
And none of those are mil-spec rifles. Get a good AR and come back to the conversation. There are crap versions of every weapon out there. Even some of the current AK clones currently on the market are known to be junk.

Ragnar Danneskjold
January 30, 2012, 06:37 PM
The question was indeed "what makes a good combat rifle?" Bushmaster, DPMS, and Delton are civilan-lookalikes, not combat rifles. "Mil-spec" means Military Specification. Rules the DOD has in place about how a weapon is made, its materials, tolerances, etc. If a AR makers does not follow those specifications, they have made a civilian rifle meant to look like a combat rifle, not a rifle built for actual combat. helotaxi is right. You did not test a rifle made to combat standards.

benEzra
January 30, 2012, 06:50 PM
having to buy only certain ammo is bs a good rifle will eat anything. my ARs weren't very hungry i guess. i gave up. i'll take any other rifle!
A quality AR *will* eat anything. Even a lot of mid-grade AR's, or a bottom-market AR that's been properly tuned (gas key screws properly torqued and staked, the correct weight buffer and spring for the gas system and gas port size, a quality extractor, and good magazines). Here's a cheap Model 1 Sales AR that went 15,000 rounds of Wolf without cleaning:

http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2010/06/09/a-clean-wouldnt-hurt/

I have a midmarket AR (Rock River 16" midlength, chrome lined) that I shoot USPSA matches with, using cheap steel-case Tula from Walmart. It has never had a failure of any kind, clean or dirty. I did have an AR armorer torque and stake the gas key for me right off the bat, since a lot of low- and midmarket makers cut corners on that. But properly set up, AR's are plenty reliable.

No manufacturer is perfect, but the top of the AR market is generally considered to be Noveske, BCM, Daniel Defense, Colt, etc.

crazy4milsurps
January 30, 2012, 07:00 PM
I'm hesitant to say that there has been a little voice urging me to give it one last try.

Ragnar Danneskjold
January 30, 2012, 07:02 PM
I'm hesitant to say that there has been a little voice urging me to give it one last try.

If you know someone who owns a Colt AR-15 (there are other good ones but Colt supplies the DOD, so it's the only true "combat" rifle) ask if you can run it through it's paces. I think you'll be happy with the results.

Robert
January 30, 2012, 07:44 PM
I tend not to get all wrapped up about Milspec or not, well that is to say I think of Milspec as the bare minimum. Many "civilian" rifles are better made than the military versions. But you will pay for it. My little Rock River mutt gun runs like a champ so I don't really worry about it. It was built out of whatever left over parts were laying around and I couldn't love it more. Far and away my favorite rifle.

But it has a mix of Colt parts and high quality after market parts from companies like LaRue (the gas block). The lower parts kit and trigger and of unknown make.

I agree with Ragnar, before you take the plunge again see if you can dig up someone with a good rifle and give it a go. Heck see if you can rent a Colt or similar at a range.

FMF Doc
January 30, 2012, 08:28 PM
If you know someone who owns a Colt AR-15 (there are other good ones but Colt supplies the DOD, so it's the only true "combat" rifle) ask if you can run it through it's paces. I think you'll be happy with the results.
Colt is not the only manufacturer making rifles for the military. I carried one in Afghanistan that had "KAC" (Knights Armament Company) stamped on every part. Colt lost the sole contract and the trademark for M-4s in late 2009. But everything else that has bee nsaid is pretty much correct.

helotaxi
January 31, 2012, 03:49 AM
And Colt only had the contract recently for the M4. The M16s of recent acquisition were made by FN.

briansmithwins
January 31, 2012, 05:34 AM
Unless your rifle has the 3 round burst mechanism and a cyclic rate between 700-900 rounds per minute it's not 'mil-spec'.

Everything else is just how much it differs from the document.

BSW

Mil-specs for the M4 and M16 are here: http://www.biggerhammer.net/ar15/milspec/

Mp7
January 31, 2012, 05:41 AM
it´s light, spits lead and is reliable.

Ak-4gery :-)

husker
January 31, 2012, 05:54 AM
IMO A battle rifle should be able to bash the enemies skull into bits with the butt or any other part of the weapon & still function.

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