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HK 416 carbine got shot down by Army

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Caseless, Mar 13, 2007.

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  1. Caseless

    Caseless Member

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    Probably old news, But the anecdotes of M4 carbine failures are scary.
    http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/02/atCarbine070219/

    Quote:
    <a similar survey that Infantry Center officials participated in along with other members of the Army’s small-arms community.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,”>

    Obviously these weapon testing officials have no clue about weapon maintenance schedule on a battlefield.:rolleyes:
     
  2. Number 6

    Number 6 Member

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  3. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    The Army times is kind of a joke among most in the military.

    Here's the response from Colt on the article

    Dear Editor,

    Until the cancellation of the XM8 program in 2005, Army Times and its staff writer, Matthew Cox, strongly promoted the HK XM8 for its adoption as the service weapon for the US Army. In his recent feature article, “It’s better than the M4, but you can’t have one” Mr. Cox attributes cancellation of the XM8 program to “a sea of bureaucratic opposition.” Mr. Cox fails to mention a DoD IG report on the Acquisition of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (D-2006-004) dated October 7, 2005, which addresses the XM8 Program and is found at http://www.dodig.mil/audit/reports. This DoD IG report clearly stated the rationale, which indicated the XM8 offered no potential efficiency over the present weapons systems, as well as including mismanagement by those persons responsible for the program, both of which clearly may have been a strong consideration in the cancellation of the program. Another related and informative DoD IG report is Competition of the 5.56 Millimeter Carbine (D-2007-026) dated November 22, 2006 and is also found at http://www.dodig.mil/audit/reports. Now, promoting the HK 416, Mr. Cox references unnamed experts, misrepresents data for comparison between the HK 416 and M4, misleads readers by using findings in a 2001 SOCOM report on the M4 and a Marine Corps test of the M4 in 2002 but he does not inform the reader of measures taken immediately by the Army and Colt to eliminate those problems, uses quotes to imply the M16 and M4 are the same weapon used 42 years ago, which they are clearly not, and bases his argument for adoption of the HK 416 for the entire US Army on use by a group of elite operators within SOCOM who rightfully develop their own kit of weapons and modify them to their needs. His stated rationale is based on unsupervised tests made on a rifle made in Germany.

    Additionally, his writing very wrongly alleges that Army leadership is not providing our men and women in uniform the best weapon available and, more disturbing, his article irresponsibly raises a concern to the Soldiers, Marines and Special Operations Forces in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families that their service weapon is not reliable. This is absolutely not a true statement and could cause serious morale issues to those engaged in day to day combat operations and to those in leadership positions in these units. To go further I would question his loyalty to those in uniform and his lack of real credibility, truthfulness and personal integrity in writing an article of this nature.

    The M4 speaks for itself as to its combat credibility. Before its introduction into the US Army inventory in 1994 it was subjected to the full range of functioning and environmental tests required by the US Army test and evaluation process. Later, as a result of the 2001 SOCOM report on the M4, referred to by Mr. Cox, the US Army and Colt immediately conducted a joint effort to rectify the problems raised. This effort took until spring 2002 and manufacturing changes were implemented at Colt by fall 2002. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps conducted their own test of the M4 with weapons produced prior to the fall 2002 manufacturing change and they experienced similar problems as SOCOM. These issues were also resolved with the manufacturing changes implemented thereafter. From fall 2002 to today, government quality deficiency reports for the M4 have been nearly non-existent and that is attributable to the joint effort between the US Army and Colt to solve the problems raised in the 2001 and 2002 reports. Additionally, regarding reliability of the M4, from fall 2002, US government inspectors at the Colt plant have overseen the firing of nearly 4,000,000 (million) endurance rounds with only three endurance gun failures: one in January 2004, one in July 2005 and one in August 2005. The government quality assurance representative at Colt holds the documents supporting this testing. In June 2006, Colt had the opportunity to endurance fire an HK 416. At 3,000 rounds, a broken firing pin spring was found in the HK 416. Without a spare part, the endurance testing was ended. Other findings in those 3,000 rounds of firing were frequent loosening of the hand guard retainer screw and the cyclic rate of fire was over 1,000 rounds per minute. The gas piston system in the H&K 416 is not a new system and was initially rejected by the Army for the M16 in the 1960’s. Colt Defense has the present ability and expertise to manufacture in great numbers piston system carbines of exceptional quality should the US Army and other US Services initiate a combat requirement for this type of weapon. Attached is an email written to Mr. Cox by a recognized weapons expert, Mr. Chris Bartocci, author of Black Rifle II, who provides background on the M16 and M4. Anecdotal examples of fouled weapons are not taken lightly, yet the information is not helpful if the type of fouling is not clearly defined. In a desert environment, for example, sand and dust have the same effects on a weapon, whether it has a gas piston system or a gas impingement system. This issue is completely different from a debate over a gas piston system operating cleaner than a gas impingement system. Is a gas piston operated weapon less vulnerable to the effects of the desert than a gas impingement system? If so, where are the results of the controlled tests. Additionally, there are a number of reasons for fouling of weapons to include the reliability of the ammunition and reliability of magazines. The M16 and M4 have undergone major enhancements since introduction of the M16 into the US military inventory in the 1960s. These enhancements have improved functioning, reliability, maintenance and versatility for the individual Soldier and Marine throughout the years. Currently, there is a government funded operational evaluation being conducted for SOCOM by Colt and Ultra Chem Technologies (UCT) for greaseless operating parts on the M4 to improve maintenance, functioning and the wear of select parts of the weapon. In closing, at the 2006 Laboratory and Industry Day sponsored by the Chief of Infantry and Commanding General United States Army Infantry Center & School, Fort Benning, Georgia, the M4 Carbine was listed by the Commanding General and included in his brief as one of the many success stories in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    James R. Battaglini
    MajGen, USMC (Ret)
    Chief Operating Officer
    Colt Defense LLC
     
  4. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    Mr.Cox,

    I just had the opportunity to read your article "It's better than the M4, but you can't have it" regarding the HK416 compared to the M4. I have to say I was quite disturbed. My name is Chris Bartocci, I am the author of Collector Grade Publications title, Black Rifle II. This is the definitive history of the product development and procurement of the M16/M4 carbine from 1985 to present. I am also a contributing editor to Small Arms Review magazine as well as many other publications. My area of expertise is the M16 family of weapons and am quite familiar with the HK416. I am also very familiar with firearms design and trouble shooting (particularly the M16/M4 family of weapons).

    I do not feel you portrayed the facts of the service of the M4/M16 rifle correctly and in fact it is quite disturbing. This is very much the propaganda that H&K has been pushing since they came up with the idea that the direct gas system was flawed and they had the century old magical piston system which they claim is new. Please let me give you some background that you might not be aware of nor the people you interviewed for this article. First the M16 rifle was designed to give decreased weight and ability to provide aimed and accurate semi as well as automatic fire. During the development phases, the conventional piston system had been around for more than 50 years, the same way the H&K system is now. The Army during the war in Vietnam tested all these weapons side by side and it was found the AR-15 outperformed all of them in accuracy and reliability. Being rushed into service, the Army disregarded the orders of the Secretary of Defense to put the AR-15 through a development process and got it ready for the troops in the field. Problems began with malfunctions when the ammunition propellant was changed and chambers corroded due to the Army not finding it necessary to test ammunition that had been changed from its spec nor to chrome plate the chamber, which is a significant reliability enhancement that became a Mil-Spec after the war in the Pacific during WW2. Every small arm in the U.S. inventory had it but the AR-15.

    During this time, the AK47 was already known already for its reliability in adverse conditions. So the Army asked Colt to develop an M16 that would utilize the piston system (AK-type same as HK416). Colt developed their model 703, which was the same type piston system. This is in the late 1960's. After the congressional hearings on the M16 program came out, and the Army was accused of being "borderline criminally negligent" on their entire handling of the M16 weapons program, the rifles were modified to work with the newly manufactured 5.56mm ball ammunition. This included a change in the manufacturing process and design of the buffer, chamber, bolt and some trigger components, and the piston system was dropped by the Army. After the "bugs" were worked out and the new M16A1 came online, the reliability increased and troops who went to Vietnam after 1969 encountered little trouble. My point is that the piston driven AR is an old concept that the Army rejected in favor of the direct gas system currently in use in the M16. They found no significant increase in reliability due to the use of the piston system. The M16/M4 would go on to be the most combat proven 5.56mm rifle and carbine in the world seeing service in every climate in the world. From the jungles of Southeast Asia, the deserts of the Middle East and the Arctic of Canada and Alaska. All have been chosen by armed forces in the regions including Canada (Arctic) and Israel (Desert). For one to call the M16/M4 operating system "Obsolete" is untrue and unprofessional. This system has worked in combat reliably for more than 40 years. It worked then and it works now. I do not hear anybody calling the M1911 obsolete after more than 100 years of service. It works as well now as it did then. For something to be obsolete would mean it was replaced with something better, the Army has tried several times and goes back to this system. It is only obsolete to a faction that is trying to dislodge the weapon from service and get theirs adopted. The only way to constitute a change is to claim the current equipment is flawed. This is basic marketing.

    Colt developed the M4 carbine in the late 1980's with it being finalized in 1995 and type classified as the first general purpose carbine since the M1 carbine of World War 2. It was designed for troops that needed more power than a pistol but could not carry a standard rifle. Colt was given restrictions by the Army to mandate significant amounts of part interchangeability with the current M16A2 rifle. The Army was more concerned with interchangeability than reliability and Colt had to work within this framework. As the carbines began to circulate, it was not the truck drivers, tankers and maintenance people who were carrying them, it was front line special operations forces operators. Those who would later go on record calling this weapon flawed because the 6 pound carbine would not function as a high volume of fire, light support, belt fed weapon they required. They also went on record saying they use this weapon well beyond its design parameters. This does not mean this weapon is flawed, it means it was not designed for what they wanted to use it for. Regular Army units loved the M4 carbine, over the M16A2 and A4. That is why Colt has received additional contracts since the wars began. The regular troop use them as intended.

    You made mention of the SCAR program where Special Operations Forces adopted (although not fielded) the FN rifle. Some additional pertinent information is that the reason for the SCAR program had much to do with SOCOM wanting to be their own project manager and have the ability to make changes to the weapon specific to them. This is something they could not do with the M4A1. The M4A1 is a procured weapon by the Department of Defense from Colt and is subject to mil-standards and the technical data package. You mentioned the government inspectors at Colt, which is part of this. As the M4 and M4A1 are adopted, these are the standards Colt must meet, no more and no less. Any change or modification must be requested by the Department of Defense, not SOCOM. For example, SOCOM had issues with barrels bursting when used under extreme firing sessions and they made the claim the barrels were flawed. When Rock Island Arsenal investigated they found that the firing schedules from 540 to 596 rounds per minute were fired within 3 and 3.5 minutes and heated the barrels up over 1300 degrees, which is their transformation temperature. The round count that resulted is more ammunition than a combat soldier would even carry. Machine guns change barrels due to this heat. Rock Island found that this had not occurred in any place other than SOCOM and that it was cause by abuse of the weapons and would not act on any changes from Colt. Another major issue SOCOM had was maintenance. They had no real maintenance schedules to replace worn parts so they ran weapons without round counts and maintenance until they broke. As General Keys mentioned about the extractor spring that is how difficult it is to get the Army to make changes. The Army would not make changes to the weapons if they worked for them. SOCOM could not request the changes needed due to them not being the procurement agency. This led to animosity and friction between Colt and SOCOM. Colt has had many improvements they have made to the government over the years to improve the weapons and they were shot down every time.

    When the SCAR trials came out, SOCOM was the procurement agency and they would have full control of the weapon and changes it may need in the future. Colt had submitted 3 entries into that as well. Two were direct gas rifles and the other a piston operated mechanism. Based on my research, all the Colt weapons served well and passed the trials as did the FN. In the end, the FN candidate was selected. The Colt piston system rifle is the ONLY piston driven M4-platform weapon to ever complete an official SOCOM trial, not the HK416. This weapon was not in the competition. As of right now, the M4A1 is the weapon of choice for SOCOM with the exception of Delta who procured the HK 416 on their own. Also based on my research there is a possibility the SCAR program could be cancelled as well.

    As for the combat reliability of the HK416 over the M4, well, the M4 has been on the battlefield all over the world for more than a decade and is used by some of the most elite units in the world to include the legendary British SAS who use a Colt Canada made SFW, which is a M4 derivative. Based on my research and discussions with several of the finest engineers in the industry, there has never been any military comparisons between the two systems to determine which is better. More importantly, the criteria set for by the Army for the M4 has been met and the Army has said on record that the M4 has exceeded the government specs by 3 times. The specs and "improvements" of the HK416 are self-made specs that have nothing to do with the Army. For example, the crown jewel hammer forged barrel of the HK416, Colt has offered hammer-forged barrels to the U.S. government for more than a decade since their licensee, Diemaco (now Colt Canada) has manufactured them. The Army told Colt no as they found no evidence it would be an improvement over the current barrels. The stronger bolt of the HK416, Colt proposed to the government a redesign of the M4/M4A1 bolt/barrel extension to cope with the higher impact of constant automatic fire and the U.S. government rebuffed. Colt has offered this technology before, actually all of it. They offered the piston system, the hammer forged barrels, improved life bolt and much more. The Army says they are satisfied with the current production weapons.

    The stories you depict in this article from the field are very misleading. First, I have heard many stories from the sand box that are the exact opposite. Troops claim their M16 and M4 work just fine and I have heard some amazing stories of long distant shots taken with M4 carbines. ALL weapons malfunction in that environment if not maintained. There have been complaints surfaced about the M9 pistol, M249 Saw and many other weapons. This sand jams AK's. The soldiers in question, you do not know the condition those weapons were in. How dirty were they? Were they worn out? Did they have defective magazines? The malfunctions described, particularly the failures to extract, are normally caused by corroded or damaged chambers which any weapon would have. Without knowing the circumstances and why the weapons malfunctioned, it is not responsible to claim it is a flaw in the weapon design.

    There is something I want to caution you against. During the war in Vietnam the reputation of the M16 far overstated the actual malfunctions. What it did was hurt morale of the troops. It made troops lose confidence in their weapon.. Opinions were formed before they even pulled the trigger. It hurt morale worse than the actual amount of problems. With an article like this, which is basically an H&K sales pitch based on their claims the M4 is flawed, you are doing the same thing to those troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hurting their morale and confidence in their weapon when the groups that are having the problems abuse the weapon admittedly and use them beyond their design intent. That is dangerous. If you are looking to buy oil for your car and you walk into a store and buy Quaker State and it runs in your Grand Am, perfect. Now a race car driver puts that same oil in his race car and it breaks down and causes engine problems. I ask you, is that oil the problem or maybe that high performance engine needed a different kind of oil to serve its purpose? This is what you are looking at, the difference between SOCOM and the rest of the military.

    I am writing you this based on my concerns for the fallout on the troops in combat who will read it and get very misinformed about their equipment and make them feel unjustly that they have substandard equipment when in all actuality they carry the world standard that all modern military rifles are compared. If I did not know better, your story would scare the hell out of me.

    If I can be of any help to you in reference to this issue, please feel free to contact me.

    Respectfully,
    Chris Bartocci author, “Black Rifle II”
     
  5. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    Wow great posts, in this thread and the others.

    But it should be repeated that direct impingement gas systems are not the best for use with suppressors. That's a real reason why a piston would be useful.
     
  6. U.S.SFC_RET

    U.S.SFC_RET Member

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    Like I said in other posts "I never had an M16A2 jam on me, ever" To be honest with you I don't remember the M16A1 jamming on me either. I never had the priviledge of using the M4 in the Military but I suspect that weapon system wouldn't of jammed. What causes those jamms are the lack of discipline in cleaning them correctly in the first place. Making sure that the gas rings gaps are staggard and not found behind each other. Proper lubricity. and proper TLC. I have seen those weapons shoot and shoot and shoot. They have tight tolerances for a reason, accuracy.
    A soldier who gains confidence with an M4 or M16A2 on the battlefield is a fearsome combination. Easy to shoot and very accurate.
     
  7. Jeremy2171

    Jeremy2171 Member

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    There is ample time to clean your weapon on today's "Modern" battlefield. No excuse for having a filthy weapon other than lack of supervision or attention to detail..... period.
     
  8. PercyShelley

    PercyShelley Member

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    More to the point, could someone remind me exactly why the 416 was supposed to be more reliable? A gas piston system doesn't mean that dirt is suddenly not a problem any more. A gas piston just means that there is less residue fouling, and how often is that blamed for M16 failures?
     
  9. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    I had a DPMS parts assembled AR15E1 configuration rifle repeatedly jam on me this weekend.
    Of course had I lubed the rifle instead of carting it off to the range bone dry this wouldn't have happened.
    If I had checked and lubricated the rifle at the range instead of cussing the ammunition I was shooting, this wouldn't have happened.

    Best part is I just used the rifle as a manually operated repeater and guess what, except for the semi automatic function part, the weapon worked just fine.
    Shot some impressively tight groups too.

    Oh yeah, the forty rounds of Winchester USA 62 FMJ ammunition I had on me functioned the rifle just fine, bone dry.
    A little positive pitch for the American made Winchester stuff there.
    The foreign produced ammunition was giving me fits and I was absolutely sure that was the trouble except it functions just fine in four other AR rifles I own.

    I used to cuss the M16 rifle when I was working for Uncle Sam as a Small Arms Repairman, thought the weapon was an absolute P.O.S.
    It didn't occur to me until years later that every single M16 that I had to repair for malfunction problems had those problems directly traceable to abuse or misuse by the individual soldier the weapon was issued to.
    The faults didn't lie with the weapon platform, the faults lay with the poorly trained individuals to whom the weapons were issued.
     
  10. Smellvin

    Smellvin Member

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    A lot of feeding issues can be caused by the magazines if they aren't cared for properly (such as little grains of sand adding friction to the follower's action). Other than those problems caused by magazines, in my limited experience I've not had a single malfunction caused by the weapon.
     
  11. Gun Wielding Maniac

    Gun Wielding Maniac Member

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    While I agree with the basic premise that the M16 as a whole is a reliable weapon, especially when considered in comparison with other contemperaries, I'd like to point out that a majority of stoppages are not a result of failure to clean the gun.

    At the training center, 90% of malfunctions are a result of failure to seat the magazine properly when first inserting the magazine. There are also a large proportion of failures to eject for the first 100 rounds of the M4's service life, while it is being broken in. After that, the remainder of failures are a result of bad magazines (and it can be hard to identify which are bad until a failure happens) as well as stovepipes.
     
  12. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Actually, Lightfighter.com posted this same article (which has been posted multiple times here) and the NCO who ordered the men to carry a cleaning rod on their weapons in that particular battle chimed in.

    http://lightfighter.net/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/7206084761/m/4901025003

    He mentioned that the M4s in question were about seven years old and were shot at least 1,000 rounds a month for the CQB qual course (around 84k rounds by my count). He also mentioned that parts replacement was problematic and that there was no preventive maintenance due to budget issues. Parts were only replaced once they had broke and you only got that part (so if the extractor spring lost its temper at 12k rounds, you only got an extractor spring - even if routine use showed the extractor was already past its likely lifespan).

    The stuck cases thing had been enough of a problem in training that he had Self and the others attach homemade rod sections they had created to the handguards when they went into the fight.

    His opinion was that it was that the jams were just a combination of extreme wear on the M4s and no budget to replace worn parts or rifles. Remember that this fight happened early on in the war and the military was still suffering from a lot of Clinton-era budget cuts.
     
  13. AndyC

    AndyC Member

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    Want to crawl around in the dirt in Iraq first then run that by me again? ;)

    We kept our weapons spotless, but dirt happens during a contact.
     
  14. Jeremy2171

    Jeremy2171 Member

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    Parts only replaced when they break? I replace them all the time once they start to have excessive wear. 84k should have warranted a barrel replacement more than likely. I can't believe the Army much less a SPec Ops unit doesn't "have funds" for basic small arms repair.

    I certainly haven't had any issues getting parts for my weapons, now or during the CLinton regime.
     
  15. Jeremy2171

    Jeremy2171 Member

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    Sure, did that yesterday.....

    What I mean is, if you clean it regularly like you are supposed the chances of it working when you need it are much higher than just ignoring it or only giving it a quick brush over which most troops do.
     
  16. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Well, feel free to register with Lightfighter.com and take it up with the person who posted it there. I am sure a senior Ranger NCO would welcome the opportunity to discuss it with you in a gentlemanly fashion.
     
  17. AndyC

    AndyC Member

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    Oh, absolutely - I do agree w.r.t. cleaning regularly and thoroughly. Problem is, though, the sand over there is like talcum-powder and it gets everywhere - once you go prone with even an exquisitely-cleaned rifle, all bets are off - and the middle of a bunfight is not a great time to get out the ol' brush ;)

    Edit: Edited to mention - I have no combat trigger-time with the M16/AR15/M4 system, so my comments are neither for nor against those, merely on the subject of cleaning.
     
  18. cheygriz

    cheygriz Member

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    HK 416 to replace M4?

    Why fix something that aint broke??:confused:
     
  19. Inner Monkey

    Inner Monkey Member

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    I know this is just anecdotal but I have done quite a bit of training in Yakima, Washington. The sand there from what soldiers have told me is very similar to the sand in Iraq. It is more of a powder than sand you would find in most of the US.

    Back to my point. I have shot well over 10,000 rounds of Federal & Lake City 5.56 from both of my RRA M4 clones. Granted my RRA is not a fare comparison to a true Colt M4. But my point is in all of those round s in over 10 rifles classes I had a grand total of 1 failure to feed.

    This included lots of prone shooting & lots of dust, sand & dirt flying.

    I have never been to Iraq, but I would not feel under armed with an M4. Would I take a 416. You bet I would. But I think an M4 would serve me well as long as it was maintained as well as I maintain my own rifles.
     
  20. Trempel

    Trempel Member

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    Exactomundo. The piston will keep the system running cooler and less carbon will get blown into the receiver, but it does nothing about the fine sand and dust. IMHO, clearances between parts an the number of lugs on the bolt need to be re-examined. Piston or not, the dirt still has to go somewhere.
     
  21. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    But what about suppressors? It's pretty universally agreed they should be general issue items, and with the AR15 gas system if gas is trapped in the suppressor it just makes more blow back into the chamber, and the shooter's face.
     
  22. Creeping Incrementalism

    Creeping Incrementalism Member

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    It is?
     
  23. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    I don't know if universal issue of suppressors is really universally agreed upon . . .
     
  24. Lucky

    Lucky Member

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    By the guys pulling the triggers in Iraq it is. Even at the squad level they're organizing and equipping themselves.
     
  25. doubleg

    doubleg Member

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    When will H&K stop trying to reinvent the wheel?
     
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