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US Military rifle designations

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by CleverNickname, Mar 31, 2003.

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  1. CleverNickname

    CleverNickname Member

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    Ok, silly question... We had the M1, M1 carbine, M2 carbine and M3 greasegun during WWII. Then the designations jumped up to M14 and M16 by the 60s. Now we're back to M4. What's up with the numbering system? Were there some other rifles between the M3 and M14 that were prototypes that never went into production?
     
  2. Dill

    Dill Member

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    I believe we're at M4 because thats a carbine...while the M14 and M16 aren't considered a carbine, they're more rifle class :)
     
  3. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

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    We had the M1 Carbine. Semi auto only. Then there was the M2 which was a select fire version of the M1 Carbine. The M3 Carbine came next which was a special M2 carbine set up to accept an infrared sniper scope. Now we have the M4 carbine. We stopped the numbering sustem there though for the M4A1 which is identical to the M4 except for full auto fire instead of burst. If we kept our system the M4A1 should have been the M5 like the M2 was to the M1 carbine.

    I don't know what happened in rifles between the M1 Garand and the M14 though. The M15 was a squad automatic version of the M14, then we got the M16 of which we are up to M16A4.

    Jeff
     
  4. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The rifle numbers between M1 and M14 were used, but not all were issued. One exception - the M13 was the nomenclature given to all the various .22 target rifles used at one time or another by the army.

    The reason for the gap is that they changed the method of designating test weapons. At one time there was an M1 rifle (the Garand). Then if a new rifle was tested it was called the T1 or T26 or whatever number the T series was up to. If it was adopted, it would become the M2. Then they decided to assign a number to experimental rifles and leave it whether the rifle was adopted or not. The letter "X" would indicate that it was experimental. So there would be an XM2, XM3, etc., but they were experimental and not adopted. While this may be a good way for the army to keep track, it confuses people who see a gun with a high model number (e.g., the SAW M249) and wonder what the others were.

    In fact, since numbers are assigned prior to testing, there may be higher numbers already assigned; in the Squad Automatic category, there was an XM262, a H&K design tested along with the FN design that became the M249.

    Less confused, or more?

    Jim
     
  5. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Seems like there were separate systems for rifles, carbines, etc. How did we jump from 1911A1 to M9?
     
  6. natedog

    natedog Member

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    Most (if not all) US Military arms before the M-1 Garand were designated as M(insert year). M1919 Browning, M1911, M1903, etc.
     
  7. CMcDermott

    CMcDermott Member

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    BigG - we didn't. After the M1911, there was the M1917, the revolvers from Colt & S&W for 45 ACP with moonclips for WWI. Then with WWII, the M numbers started, and the S&W 38 special for the Air Force pilots got a number, the "Tunnel Rat" S&W N-frame for Vietnam got a number, all of the special forces pistols got numbers etc. I'm kinda surprised that the pistols were only up to "9" for the Beretta when it was adopted. The smallest number I think would be for the submachine guns, the WWII M3 grease gun is still the most recently adopted example that I know of.
    Now for the M10 pistol if they would only go for a return of the M1911, except in 45 Super with 200 grain flat point bullet; a polymer frame with a double stack magazine and 6" slide (heavy slide for less recoil impulse and lighter recoil spring). It would hit harder, be lighter, recoil less and be easier to control than the M9.
     
  8. voilsb

    voilsb Member

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    Except the M11 is a Sig 228, so maybe the M12 should be a Kimber BP10.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2004
  9. Blackcloud6

    Blackcloud6 Member

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    Doe anyone know why the M1 Garand did not become the Model 1936 Garand?
     
  10. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    Because right about the time the Garand was adopted, the Army changed its type classification system. They stopped going by year and started with 1. Hence the M1 Rifle, the M1 Carbine, the M1 Submachine gun, etc.

    Every so often they like to reset the type classification systems. The Air Force and Navy did with with their aircraft in the 60s. Hence the USAF went from the "century series" to the F-4, F-5, etc, and this series continues today (the odd man out, of course, being the F-117).
     
  11. pauli

    pauli Member

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    wasn't there an m1 tank prior to the abrams? never quite understood that particular designation.
     
  12. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    A lot of the designations, for any device with a number, is purely on whim, to make it sexy or to sell the program. I am /sure/ the M9 is a "9" because it was always gonna be a NATO spec 9mm. Since then they have just been adding one to all other pistol designations, so they look boring, but the numbers before that don't make any series sense.

    The Abrams is a typical case, where we stopped the numbering scheme just to make it sound cool. M1 is neater than M... 70-something, I suppose. Also, maybe we were worried about confusion with soviet numbers, which are year-related.

    Remember fighter numbers stopped in the mid 100s, (F-105, -106...) and started again with 1 (ish). The first one you have proably heard of was the F-4 Phantom II. A neat trick with this was the F-117; everyone thought it would be the next-in-line: F-19, but they tricked us by going back to the old scheme.

    For large numbers, like the current MGs, I want some explanation, though. Why is the M-240 much newer-adopted than the "9-higher" M-249?
     
  13. Fly320s

    Fly320s Member

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    It's even more confusing since the plane is a light bomber/attack aircraft, not a fighter.

    Don't forget the M60 tank as opposed to the M60 machine gun.
     
  14. modifiedbrowning

    modifiedbrowning Member

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    Actually, the M11 is a Sig 228.
     
  15. voilsb

    voilsb Member

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    My bad; brain fart. Corrected in my original post.
     
  16. DMK

    DMK Member

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    What about the XM-8? Is it a rifle to succeed the M16 in the rifle numbering scheme or a carbine to succeed the M4 in the carbine numbering scheme?
     
  17. Nightcrawler

    Nightcrawler Member

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    The XM-8 is to suceed the M4 carbine, since the "standard infantry" version has a 12" barrel. That's definately a carbine in my book.

    The OICW was the XM-29. Who knows how they got from M16 to M29, but they did. There generally isn't a whole lot of ryme and reason to this stuff.
     
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