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Senator Tells Army to Reconsider M4

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Echo Tango, May 2, 2007.

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  1. Echo Tango

    Echo Tango Member

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    I get the feeling theres gonna be a riot.
    Sound off......what do you guys think of this?



    http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,133962,00.html?ESRC=dod-bz.nl

    Senator Tells Army to Reconsider M4
    Military.com | By Christian Lowe | April 30, 2007

    The debate over the Army's choice to purchase hundreds of thousands of M4 carbines for its new brigade combat teams is facing stiff opposition from a small group of senators who say the rifle may be inferior to others already in the field.

    In an April 12 letter to acting Army Secretary Pete Geren, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said purchase of the M4 - a shortened version of the Vietnam-era M16 - was based on requirements from the early 1990s and that better, more reliable weapons exist that could give Army troops a more effective weapon.

    Coburn asked the Army to hold a "free and open competition" before inking sole-source contracts worth about $375 million to M4 manufacturer, West Hartford, Conn.-based Colt Defense - which just received a $50 million Army contract for M4s on April 20.

    "I am concerned with the Army's plans to procure nearly half a million new rifles outside of any competitive process," Coburn wrote in the mid-April letter obtained by Military.com.

    A Geren spokesman said the secretary's office is putting together a reply to Coburn's letter, but provided no further details.

    Coburn has banded together with a small group of like-minded senators to push the Army into a competition to determine whether the M4 is the best choice to equip newly-forming brigade combat teams, a top Coburn aide said.

    The senator's concerns grew out of media coverage that showed the M4's design fails in critical situations and that special operations forces prefer other designs.

    "Considering the long standing reliability and lethality problems with the M16 design, of which the M4 is based, I am afraid that our troops in combat might not have the best weapon," Coburn wrote. "A number of manufacturers have researched, tested and fielded weapons which, by all accounts, appear to provide significantly improved reliability."


    Special operations forces, including "tier one" units such as the Army's Delta Force and the Navy's SEAL Development Group - or SEAL Team Six - have used their own funds to purchase the Heckler & Koch-built 416, which uses a gas-piston operating system less susceptible to failure than Colt's gas-operated design.

    "That's significant, because these guys don't screw around," the aide said.

    In fact, Colt included four different weapons in the competition to build the Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, or SCAR, none of which used the M4s gas system, the aide said.

    In a routine acquisition notice March 23, 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. The M4 fires using a system that redirects gas from the expended round to eject it and reload another. The 416 and SCAR use a gas-operated piston that physically pushes the bolt back to eject the round and load another.

    Carbon buildup from the M4's gas system has plagued the rifle for years, resulting in some close calls with Soldiers in combat whose rifles jammed at critical moments.

    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."

    Yet the Army has still declined to buy anything other than the M4 for its regular troops, requesting about $100 million in the 2007 wartime supplemental to buy M4s for its Soldiers.

    The office in charge of equipping Soldiers said in a March 30 statement the service has no plans to purchase the HK416.

    "I am certain we can all agree that America's Soldiers should have the best technology in their hands," Coburn wrote. "And there is simply no excuse for not providing our soldiers the best weapon - not just a weapon that is 'good enough.' "

    The Army has not yet responded to Coburn's letter, but his aide said if the senator doesn't receive a response to the letter by Monday, Coburn plans to call Geren personally to address the issue.

    "Our feeling is once people see the facts on the face of it they're going to say that this is ridiculous and demand that the Army does it right and competes the contract," the aide said.
     
  2. MarshallDodge

    MarshallDodge Member

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    Follow the money.

    I really like the AR platform BUT I don't have to shoot it in a full-auto configuration. The gas system on the M16/M4 should be designed to keep the gases out of the action and there are companies selling them in these configurations.

    They have the full-auto HK down at the local range along with about a dozen other full-auto guns for rent including the M16 and M4. The guy who runs the range said the HK is the most reliable gun they have.
     
  3. Werewolf

    Werewolf Member

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    Springfield Armory's line of M-14 Clones with 16" barrels come to mind as an excellent choice for a carbine or something like it.

    Maybe something in .270 or whatever the military version of that caliber would be (6.8 SPC???).

    As much as I enjoy my M4 I wouldn't want to go into combat with one unless it was going to be strictly urban and I doubt if that's the only type of combat this new carbine purchase will be used for.
     
  4. Soybomb

    Soybomb Member

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    I hardly ever feel like a senator is well informed on a subject they speak on that I consider myself well versed in as well. I don't believe the senator is well informated on this subject either.
     
  5. buzz_knox

    buzz_knox Member

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    There's a range with a 416 available? Nice.
     
  6. Geronimo45

    Geronimo45 Member

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    Wish they'd give 'em something from FN - the FNC, F2000, SCAR - all seem to be nice weapons. And FN seems to be reasonably friendly towards civvies.
    'Course, that'd be a nightmare for spare parts/gunsmithing work, I reckon. Nice thought, though.
     
  7. Fn-P9

    Fn-P9 Member

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    The senator brings up a good point in that they are purchasing these rifles without competition. I don't mean to say that every time we buy some guns that we need a whole new review but the M16 has been around for awhile and with modern machining techniques, we may be able to build a better rifle for the same price, or near to it.

    O and I think we should give a + 1 to an American company while doing any and all reviews FOR AMERICAN guns. Maybe use HK's idea and purchase their patent :evil:
     
  8. Dienekes

    Dienekes Member

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    Old saying--"The best is the enemy of the good". Small arms development has always been more about politics and marketing than anything else. We were extraordinarily lucky in this country to have gifted, patriotic men like John Browning and John Garand as designers--and even then it was iffy at times.

    Even though I had a very personal interest in what I carried in the days of godless Communism, the truth is that small arms per se are not deciding factors in modern conflicts. Good troops could probably get along pretty well with SMLEs and Webleys. Sort of the WWII era Jeep and the Humvee--do you really get more bang for the buck or was it just bling? I'd go for less concern with gee-whiz stuff and more--much, much more--live fire under all conditions.

    Life magazine circa 1940 was running similar stories about whether the Garand was a big mistake and if we should dump it for the Johnson rifle.
     
  9. PPGMD

    PPGMD Member

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    I can understand looking at new rifles periodically, but this is just another purchase for newer units of an already fielded weapon system. The time and money it would take to do a full competition would mean that these units wouldn't have the weapons they need when they need it.

    Of course this Senator forgets that there have been recently two different replacement systems proposed none of them provided much more over the M-4/M-16 system for the added cost. Only the Hk 416 (and related clones) provides any enhanced capabilities, but are those worth the cost over a traditional M-4?
     
  10. bogie

    bogie Member

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    Gee... I didn't know there was a government weapons contractor in Oklahoma...

    Go with what works. If the other stuff works, phase it in, but don't do a complete switchover until the guys on the ground say to.

    You'll KNOW when they say to.
     
  11. KC&97TA

    KC&97TA Member

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    I personally like the HK configured AR upper, BUT... there is nothing wrong with the AR/M16 platform... Gen Conway USMC, recently stated that "Marines need to be trained better, on how to shoot and there is nothing wrong with the M855 5.56mm round"... Practically how do you train Marines Better? As a Tactical Weapons Instructor, for an "abc soup/secret squirel" training unit, If we aren't on top of our game currently, I don't know how much better training we could provide.

    Personally I believe Marines and Soldiers could use a 77gr or bigger round, chambered in 5.56mm. That's just me, I'll testify that green tip will kill a man with one shot, placed center mass, but I'll also testify that it will shoot through a mans gut and he'll still shoot back at you. Since 2001 concentration on shooting has improved, and if they're worth shooting once they're worth shooting twice, has become LAW. There are Millions, if not Billions of dollars invested into the M16 and varriant accessories, so replaceing such a weapons system would be just plain dumb. The Law Enforcement Dept's don't seem to be haveing a problem with ammo such as Hordy TAP, so give US Fighting Men better ammo.

    BTW: Clean M16's don't jam and I fired my rifle dirty for 8 days in Fallujah w/o a hic-up, I've never had a properly maintained weapon go down because of the weapon, Magazines Yes, carbon NO. Maybe if NCO leader ship would do there job and double check thier gun slingers weapons, certain people wouldn't have problems. The Problem isn't the M16, those issues have been resolved over 40 years of use, the problem is lack of proper military dissipline on and off the battle field.

    OK - I'll get off my soap box.
     
  12. heypete

    heypete Member

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    The M16's been around for ~40 years now. It's been through several iterations and improvements. When properly maintained, it's a perfectly serviceable military rifle. One cannot neglect maintenance and expect their equipment to work properly, whether we're talking about a rifle, a vehicle, an aircraft, or even a pair of boots. Boots need new laces and soles now and again too.

    For SF guys spending months out in the middle of nowhere without regular periods of maintenance, I can see how the 416 would be beneficial, but for your average soldier who comes back to base (usually every night, but say up to once a month), it's hardly a problem. Somehow, I don't suspect it's the gas tube itself gumming up with carbon, but rather a lack of proper cleaning of the bolt carrier, bolt and locking lugs combined with the fine dust and sand in the area that's causing the issues.

    I have friends who have full-auto M16s (some DIAS, mostly RRs, a few post-86 dealer samples) and shoot the everliving snot out of them. They shoot some of the dirtiest surplus, Wolf, and other ammo by the caseload and clean them "when they need it" (when the gun stops working, or when shooting corrosive ammo). The guns require a few drops of oil after a thousand or so rounds, but otherwise keep working fine until about 5,000-7,000 rounds have been fired before they really start malfunctioning due to accumulated crud. A quick shot of CLP from an aerosol can or spray bottle (like a Windex bottle) into the ejection port and a few cycles of the bolt carrier will keep the rifles running indefinitely, though it does cause more crud to accumulate. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary. I've never seen dirtier guns of any sort (I wouldn't be surprised if the bolt carrier and bolt increased in weight by 10% due to the crap building up on them), yet they keep ticking. These guys shoot more ammo in six months than most military companies shoot in a year, even in combat operations.

    I suspect that the issues the military's having with their M16s and M4s are due to training issues (use the CLP to clean, wipe parts almost completely dry, keep your dust cover closed, magazine inserted, round chambered, and muzzle cap on whenever possible) rather than hardware issues with the guns itself.

    If the Army wishes to have gas-piston M16s, why not just replace the uppers with gas-piston uppers as barrels need replacement? Buying them onesies and twosies costs several hundred bucks (what, $500 or so?). I'd imagine if they were buying 20 million, they'd get some sort of discount. It's an easy two-pin replacement, and all the soldiers would have to do is re-zero their guns and they're ready to rock. Cheaper than replacing the whole rifle...somehow, I suspect the 416 lower is identical in all respects to the current M16/M4 lowers.

    I'm not sure if there's any AR/M16 manufacturer in the US other than Colt which can produce the quantity of rifles necessary in the proper timeframe. Even big manufacturers like Bushmaster simply don't have the same production lines that Colt does. A sole-source contract to Colt is because Colt's one of the very, very few companies than can actually make and deliver that quantity of M16s within the timeframe required.

    Just my $0.02. I had no problem with either an M16 or an M4 when I was in the army. The M4 was a bit handier to keep in the turret of the tank and when kicking in doors, but I preferred the M16 for its stock and balance.
     
  13. usmarine0352_2005

    usmarine0352_2005 Member

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    The Senator sounds right to me.

    M4's and M16's are prone to jam.....still.

    I saw the 416 on the show "Future Weapons" and it seems ultra-reliable.

    Why not give it a shot????

    Competition is good. And the American soldier/Marine needs a better rifle!!!!

    If I was going back into it again, I wouldn't want a M16. I can tell you that.

    I had a 9mm....ha. Ouch.
     
  14. 30 cal slob

    30 cal slob Member

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    HK. Because You Suck, And We Hate You.
     
  15. ServiceSoon

    ServiceSoon Member

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    The standard M16 gas system causes blow back, thus jamming and the Hk 416 upper doesn't. Why not change?
     
  16. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    "Blow back"? "Jamming"? "M16 not reliable"?

    Well, I see the good Senator has been reading the usual nonsense on the Errornet.:D What is it about Senators from Oklahoma and the M16? Been through this before in the '60s, right?

    I tremble to think that military hardware decisions may be made on such "knowledge" of the Errornet.:uhoh:
     
  17. delta53

    delta53 Member

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    6.8

    I hope they change to another cal then we will get some cheap 223
     
  18. possum

    possum Member

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    i read about this just the other day in the recent issue of armytimes. as a solider i believe that the m4/m16 system works, but i would love to see a different cartridge used. like the 6.8, the weapon system has never given me a problem i just wish they packed a little more punch.
     
  19. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    delta, what make you think President Clinton would allow it to be sold to you?:confused:

    Clinton I destroyed millions upon millions of rounds of .308, destroyed all the guns he could and sent bunches of M14s out of the country (so there was no hope of Congress changing the Title II to I rule because of import restrictions). Clinton II will do much worse.
     
  20. delta53

    delta53 Member

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    because next President will be named

    :neener: After the first sub machine gun
     
  21. Geno

    Geno Member

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    That they continue with the same Colt M4 design is fine if that is what they want. However, to expend that amount of money without a sealed bid process should never happen! Bushmaster, DPMS, Colt et. al. should all have the chance to bid. Colt has been notorious for over a century of bilking the government for its government contracts. In the civil war era, Colts were costing double a Remington. Competition is good.
     
  22. cbsbyte

    cbsbyte Member

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    Its about time the military reconsider the future of the M16 platform. There are now far better weapons systems out there compared to the M16 which has always been plagued by negative press.
     
  23. GEM

    GEM Member

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    With all the problems the military has, funding and testing a new gun with little real effect is a waste of time.

    All the rifle changes won't stop one IED or will a new handgun.
     
  24. El Tejon

    El Tejon Member

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    Plagued by bad press?:confused:

    "Johnson, get on that computer and type up some good PR. Then we'll defeat the enemy with glam photos, photo ops and then book the M16 on Oprah. We'll win this war yet!"
     
  25. ArfinGreebly

    ArfinGreebly Moderator Emeritus

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    El T

    Funny.

    I was having that same dialog in my head.

    :D
     
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