Full Auto: Battlefield Necessity or A Waste of Ammo?

Even if the Army does nothing more to improve the M4, the service should be applauded for its decision to dump the three-round burst setting. It’s ineffective, never used and hinders accuracy with its inconsistent trigger pull.

But switching to a full-auto setting does raise an interesting question — does the infantry need full auto when most battle-seasoned veterans — including special operators — agree that semi-auto fire is highly effective for suppressing the enemy?

I posted a story this morning on Military.com that looks at the Army’s shift to full auto, what it will mean to soldiers and how it might affect training and tactics.

I can’t really see a downside to it. Back in the mid-1980s — before the shift to the M16A2 and the three-round burst — active-duty infantry units kept to a strict rule that rifleman only fired their M16A1s on semi auto. Today’s combat-experienced infantrymen are even more disciplined.

Having a more consistent trigger pull can only help rifleman shoot more accurately.

Hopefully the Army won’t ignore the full-auto setting the way it did the three-round burst. It could be a useful tool in certain situations, but only if the service devotes the training time and the ammo needed for units to become proficient at controlled, full-auto fire.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at Military.com. He can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.
  • John

    Burst was definitely ignored… At 11B OSUT this summer, we were never once even allowed to fire on burst, much less train with it.

    • TFOrange

      Odd….Friends of mine who just did MOUT recently used burst fire so much on their M4s that it sounded like auto when they cleared those cinder block, blind cornered stairwells.
      If you don’t have a Mk 46/48, or a SAW or 240B etc etc etc, this is your ONLY choice. You may nearly melt a barrel, but if you know what you are doing, you won’t.


      Many SF (and those “special” operators who advance past ODAs) spray short, accurate bursts when in highly volatile situations all the time, and if they were using it daily in Baghdad, Basra, and Fallujah (Op Phantom Fury, which most people don’t know CAG were present w/ the USMC on those rooftops), then I trust it has MANY good uses and won’t be discrediting it anytime soon.
      If you go in with only three or four extra mags, then obviously it will be useless to switch over, but if you load out for a good sized contact, it is imperative to have this ability. PERIOD.

  • gunslinger6

    I think it is a tool in a tool box so to speak. You wont need it all the time, but when you do you will be glad the option is there. Just my .02

    • dethenigma

      Greetings ¬

      Though, I retired in 2000, I have to agree with this…

      I only used the burst option (like maybe) once/twice – “ever” – during my whole time in, and (when used) it was a extreme waste of ammo, 3 round burst is the way to go – imo –

      I (also) do agree that it will depend on the circumstances and what the task is actually, nonetheless, its good to have that (option) when needed.

    • Chris

      This is how I’ve viewed it. I carried an auto-capable M4 for most of my deployed time and never once moved the selector lever all the way back. That doesn’t mean that the capability is not needed.

      I remember in early ’04 I saw a National Guard unit running around Baghdad that had some weird metal bracket installed on the lower receivers of their M16s. I asked one of the unit NCOs what the bracket was for and he proceeded to demonstrate how the bracket prevented the selector switch from rotating past “semi”, preventing the shooter from putting the weapon on burst. He explained that unit leadership didn’t trust the soldiers to operate their weapons on burst, so they had installed safeguards to prevent such operation.

      I was floored. If the soldiers can’t operate a weapon properly, it’s the fault of unit leadership. The answer isn’t to limit combat effectiveness and take away a tool from a soldier’s toolkit. The proper solution is training the soldier until they are proficient on the use, as well as the proper explanation of what situations would likely benefit from the employment of burst or auto.

      At the end of the day, I’d rather have the capability and not use it than to need the capability and not have it at my disposal.

      • Lance

        Similar to thing i read about as well as seen Coast guardsmen shoot M-16A2s for qualification they never touched burst at all and many never shot them that way anyway. Depends on the fighting your in. In Iraq where the smaller M-4 was king and house clearing was the game auto fire and carbines was the way to go. BUT in Afghanistan or potential conflicts like the Iran/Iraq border or North Korea or even open areas in Libya a A2 or A4 rifle on semi auto is far better.

        Like I said it was the Navy NOT Army who started this with adopting the full auto A2 the M-16A3.

  • Dave

    Full auto is for the lame. It’s all about the bump fire.

  • My understanding is that the Russians train almost exclusively on full auto and use trigger discipline to keep control of their weapons. Their doctrine is to use semi only at long range or if ammunition needs to be conserved. I don’t know how well this training regimen works for them in real life, but it does provide a contrast to what we are doing.

    In my personal opinion, and I’m a nobody, just a “chairborne ranger”, it seems to me that full auto would NOT give a significant advantage in combat maybe 90% of the time, but the other 10% of the time it would be invaluable. Given my druthers I would flip the selector to auto in close quarters/MOUT type stuff, or when shooting from a moving vehicle (truck, helicopter, whatever). Basically in situations where speed is everything, there is little time for accuracy due to a short window of opportunity to connect with the target, and you need to apply “quantity” in an attempt to make up for the fact that you can’t obtain “quality” in that particular situation.

    But I’m just a civvie, I’m not trying to tell Big Green what to do with their guns or anything.

    • Not all Russian units train in such a way but the method is to use short bursts as you advance toward the foxhole and then switch to semi auto for the kill. With good trigger control you can fire a round at a time even at full auto with M-4 and AK veriants but that is just a matter of the right tool for the job at hand.

  • straps

    Train better on recoil managament in various realistic/forseeable firing positions and stances; I’ve worked with units that do this and they made burst effective. Better hardware, specifically in the fire control group of the weapon and in a compensator with flash AND muzzle-jump suppression. Piston uppers for true trigger pullers and their outside-the-wire attached support. Otherwise Full Auto is a waste of money 95% of the time.

    • Johnny Quest

      “Piston uppers for true trigger pullers and their outside-the-wire attached support”.


  • Ben

    Although i can see the benefits of full auto in certain situations, i really don’t see the need for it as semi-auto can do the job just as well.

  • jake

    Leadership,Discipline,Training is what full auto is about like with anything really.

  • Pulse

    Semi-auto is far better than full-auto.

  • FormerSFMedic

    This story brings up interesting thoughts. When I was in Group, we looked at full auto as an option for very specific missions and situations. In other words, it was mostly not used or needed. When I was in Group I served as a medic and wasn’t as involved in weapons and tactics as I probably should have been, but today its my specialty.

    The problem with training troops, at least for the Army, is that the Army has little understanding of modern weapons manipulation and shooting skills. Things are getting better, but the Army is still decades behind when it comes to weapons training.

    In almost every instance, semi-auto is plenty effective for the battlefield. The problem is that most soldiers don’t get the training in how to effectively control their rifles or efficiently work their triggers. I know guys in the civilian shooting community that can fire 8 to 10 rounds on semi in 1 second. You can see how this can negate the need for full-auto when you see these guys can keep all 10 of those rounds in 8in or less at up to 25yds. But, those same shooters also use a modern grip and stance that allow them to control that rate of fire. As I said, the average soldier DOES NOT get the kind of training he needs to understand this method of shooting.

    I think full-auto trigger groups are a good thing for soldiers since it will increase the quality of the trigger pull in semi-auto. However, that increase in performance isn’t going to mean a lot when the Army continues to teach outdated weapons skills. If the Army can effectively teach a shooter the methodology behind using the full-auto mode and teach him how to use a proper grip and stance to control the weapon while firing in this mode, then soldiers will better be able to utilize the new trigger system. Of course, if the soldier is proficient in working his trigger and controlling the gun, then full-auto won’t get used much anyways.

    The question on whether full-auto is useful or not is the wrong question to be asking. The question we should be asking is, “how are we going to get troops trained properly to utilize the full-auto selector switch?”

    • majrod

      I’m going to disagree to a point. Most of the Army is NOT as well trained in weapon skills as one would expect.

      I differ with you in that combat arms units (especially infantry units) do spend quite a bit of time, resources and expertise on weapon skills with the biggest determining factor being the unit’s leadership.

      I close with agreeing on how do we emphasize quality training.

  • FormerSFMedic: So you’re saying that we’re looking for a hardware solution to a software problem? I’m shocked, SHOCKED I say! ;)

    • FormerSFMedic

      Yes sir, Iam as shocked as you are. Surely there aren’t any other LEO and Military organizations doing this on a regular basis? NYPD anyone?

      Training Scar’s run rampant when important people make easy decisions!

    • Matt

      Does that sound like “hyperburst” anyone?

  • jake

    FormerSFMedic, that was a good post and nice opinion for the last few wars and current one. I guess it will change now that the budget is shrinking? and they will have to do more with less. I can say i had a friend in the service at a particular moment in our military history when it was just that. They were taking guys( cannibalizing) who stood out and training them to do a whole lot more/higher level then troops today by far. I hope like you do i think? that the training level will get back up to levels not seen in todays regular grunt units. I am a very firm believer in training as hard if not harder then you will fight as my friend said it.

  • VTGunner

    My unit still has M-16A2’s so by the time we get M-4’s or M-16A4’s they’ll have moved past this whole full-auto debate onto something else. I’m not too worried about it because it doesn’t really apply to me.

  • Canadian

    I don’t see any reason not to have the option. It’s rarely used, but if perhaps storming a trench, or laying down suppressing fire if machine guns go down- it can be useful. (yes I realise that your weapon will heat up, but sometimes you need a high rate) Semi can be faster with training, but in the event that a soldier is- tired, injured, in a poor position, has to fire sustained in an emergency- there is nothing wrong with having the option. Training is the key, and everyone could do with more (in any army), but remember the army is a broadsword, not a scalpel, so sometimes line units will be rougher around the edges.

    • Battalion Commander


  • Unistat76

    “Never go Full-Retard.”

    • gunslinger6

      “Everyone knows that”

    • VTGunner

      HA! Good movie!

  • Jake

    It was my understanding that the main advantage to switching to a full-auto FCG is a much more consistent trigger pull both in semi and full-auto modes. The current burst FCG is less than ideal because it has serious limitations in providing a crisp, consistent trigger weight, but with the proper training a full-auto trigger group can yield improved small arms capabilities to the solider and a better feel to the trigger.

    • KnowALittleBit
  • lightfighter

    Interesting conversation and a few points come to mind.

    1) Except when vehicle mounted, even ‘full auto machine guns’ are rarely fired in sustained strings

    2) Although the M4 and the MP5 are different weapons and used in different contexts, I’ve never heard an MP5 user complain about the ‘ineffective’ quality, utility or accuracy of the three round burst. If the three round burst is a problem for the M4 the trigger should be improved.

    My training has been done with semi auto fire only and I can’t think of an instance where I would want to use full auto fire except in a last ditch spray and pray suppression and that just seems all to Hollywood.

    • Johnny Quest

      3RB in an MP5 series weapon compared to the M16 3RB is comparing apples and oranges. They are two different weapons using two different mechanisms to provide “burst” function.

  • jake

    Unistat76, Head shots only or nothing, good thinking.

  • Matt

    Full-Auto would be good for the better trigger pull and it would be there in case you need it. For the people who say “It’s a waste of ammunitoion and the Army would have to revamp their training.”- the Army needs to do that any way so we might as well give them a trigger group that gives soldiers multiple benifits and could actually get used once-in-a-while.

  • Mike

    I was told many years ago by my Section Sergeant that “Full-automatic is for damn fools who can’t hit aat they’re shooting at.” This is true 95% of the time. The OTHER 5% is when you have 150,000 screaming Chinese coming at you in a Human Wave…then full-auto is mighty useful…

  • Marine

    In the Marine Corps, all Marines qualify annually on a KD range and field fire, which has progressed to essentially a shortened version of a CMP/EMP shoot. For grunt units, we also conduct CMP shoots (Tables 3 and 4) all the time, which focuses on short range engagements mostly at 25 yds or less from different stances and on the move. This helps train trigger control and gun/eyeball reaction. It’s extremely relevant since studies have shown majority of engagements in MOUT are w/n that distance. I’d bet Army grunt units do similar training as well. So, I’d say marksmanship training has improved from the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s.

    Semi is best. I could see auto in certain limited situations, and I’m confident warfighters wouldn’t change their fire discipline if you switched from 3 rd burst to auto. But, at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. With budget cuts looming, the money is better spent on developing lighter body armor to replace the SAPI plates. It’s ridiculous how we’ve become walking turtles with all the PPE we have to wear. Dexterity is limited, situational awareness is limited, and we have to consume lots of water just to not suffer heat exhaustion/stroke. I’ve trained with Ukrainian Marines and those guys can go all day in 90+ heat with just half a canteen of water b/c they don’t wear all the PPE we do. It’s almost like they go slick. Their tactics suck, their level of training is subpar, but they don’t have the logistic requirements we do.

  • Tinman74

    In the UK, we have only had semi auto and full auto since the introduction of the L85, aimed rounds for the field and full auto for trench clearing or fibua!!

    • Pulse

      Except us in the UK don’t call it FIBUA.

      • douche

        Err, yeah we do. Never called it anything else. If you call it FISH you are gay. If you call FIWAF, FIWAF, you are also gay.

        Full auto for trench/enemy positions. Every. *******. Time.

        • Pulse

          We just call it Urban in the Para’s but then we are better than ********.

          • Pulse


          • douche

            yer yer yer cos your the elite an all that… ;p

  • majrod

    “Full Auto: Battlefield Necessity or A Waste of Ammo?”

    Simple. It ALL depends on the training and leadership.

    Like the author I served in units were auto fire by troops was strictly controlled. It wasn’t always that way. My first assignment had terrible fire discipline. The again the previous platoon leader had been relieved for cause and the PSG (who was superb) was overwhelmed with doing EVERYTHING. It changed over a couple of weeks but its all about the leadership. Tools only get you so far. Use a hammer wrong and your bound to have bruised thumbs. Not something tacticool types seem to realize is more important than the tool.

  • Count me as one of those who never used auto except on a few rare occasions out at the range, and only because it was the end of the day and we wanted to have some fun. I think that most of us veterans would have a different perspective on this issue if we were fighting in the jungle rather than the desert. In thick foliage there would be more close range contacts so I think auto would be a serious consideration and incorporated into our training a little more seriously.

  • Lance

    The Navy already solved this ten year ago when it adopted the M-16A3 which dumped 3 round burst. SOCOM also did this and now the Army with its buy and improving M-4A1s. Biggest thing not to over worried is that even with burst many solders fired fast enough to make it look just like full auto so many vets already have experience shoot rapid fire this will ditch the crappy trigger pulls.

    Im glad the Marines will ditch this in there talked about M-16A5 they will be working in the next few years. I never shoot any auto setting on my M-16A2 so nothing BIG for me on this i prefer semiauto anyway.

  • mpower6428

    i hope they dont make the same mistake again.

    springfield carbine, krag jorgenson, m16a2…. logistics should not trump a priceless frontline option, rare though it may be.

    say what you will of the soviets but, the Red Army were kings of “top down” leadership at all levels, it would be foolish to contradict the most basic of their guidelines. even a stupid civi like myself can watch drone footage of firefights that somehow, someway end up “face to face”.

  • Johnny Quest

    Automatic fire capability: better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

    Trigger control is how you effectively use burst fire, not a mechanical device that does it for you.

  • Canadian

    It’s not used for sustained fire, but for close “last ditch” work when it COULD be a prefferable option. Again, in an EMERGENCY situation it allows a rifle to be used for area suppression in place of a machine gun.

  • Battalion Commander

    It would have been hard for the injured Mike Durant to watch the backs of the Delta Snipers (Shugart and Gordon) in Black Hawk Down if his MP5 and M733 weren’t full auto capable. Its not ideal, and shouldn’t be used except in the rare occasion, but its a good insurance policy to have.

    Plus, if I remember correctly, the soldiers from the documentary Restrepo were only allowed to go auto or cyclic unless the enemy was at the gates, so to speak.

  • Uncle Willie

    Full Auto: Because ammo is heavy and hitting is overrated.

  • Moondawg

    I am a Viet Nam Vet and former competative shooter. In Viet Nam full auto was the thing to do. I think alot of ammo was probably wasted, but spray and pray seemed to be the name of the game, and we could carry alot of ammo because we were not loaded down with armour. Auto at very close ranges during an ambush might be usefull, but to be perfectly honest I could shot semi more than fast enough and alot more accurately. From my own POV, I do not see the need for full auto on every rifle/carbine. Thats what the squad automatic weapon (what ever it may be) is for.

  • swilliams

    I have no military experience so I don’t think my opinion matters that much but wouldn’t situations like what the Army faced in Wanat where they were under such extreme suppressive fire that there was no other option but using full auto? I remember reading that SAW’s were melting and the metal was fusing so that it was inoperable.

  • Jim

    Look at Break Contact in the Jungle, mass of automatic fire, then fire and manouvre. Full Auto has its place and time. Lack of quality training, will always reduce its effectiveness.

  • nraddin

    I don’t see why we shouldn’t have full auto although I don’t think we should buy new rifles just for that.

    There is a lot of talk about when full auto would be useful. MOUT, trench clearing, etc and I can’t help but think I would rather have a semi-auto shotgun for those situations that a rifle or SMG on weapon on full auto. But I guess you can’t really expect people to carry both around so full auto is the choice.

  • mpower6428

    i hope they dont make the same mistake again.

    springfield carbine, krag jorgenson, m16a2…. logistics should not trump a priceless frontline option, rare though it may be.

    say what you will of the soviets but, the Red Army were kings of “top down” leadership at all levels, it would be foolish to contradict the most basic of their guidelines. even a stupid civi like myself can watch drone footage of firefights that somehow, someway end up “face to face”.

  • Jay

    Full auto is a necesity. Not needed 90% of time, specially in the curent type of wars, but, as mentioned before, you better have it and not need it than need it and don’t have it.
    There are a few problems tho. M16 family of rifles and carabines have a bit too high rate of fire. 750-1000 rounds per minute (short barrel and/or supressor use) is too much for a rifle. It’s normal for a machine gun, but too much and not needed for a rifle.
    I think slowing down the action to bring the rate of fire to 600 rpm would make the rifle more controlabe, in both full auto and fast semi auto. This would also reduce wear on the rifle significantly, specially in supressed aplications.

  • jake

    Jim your a smart man! also not only for jungle warfare but for warfare not spoken of because it has been so long and that’s urban warfare(when the enemy has just as much firepower).You all know when things are so heavy you can’t blow through the front door(or call in air strikes) but have to blow mouse holes and grenades tossed in to clear rooms.The very old school methods to those knock down heavy hitting wars which we haven’t been in for a long time but may see in the future. These last set of wars have been far at ditsance for many contacts(not all but the majority) because the enemy knows not to get into American fire power range it’s certain death for the scumbags. The military can’t keep making the same mistakes over and over with their pants down then catch up. If and when the next conflict such as the norks/china in some form or another and so on, we will be dealing to another way of fighting. Fact the 3 round burst is a failure and there is no device that can correct poor training ,it has to come from Leadership/Discipline/Training. These three words should apply not only to full auto but to every aspect of warfare . Our enemies never sleep nor should we in our effectiveness and ability to fight on any spot around the globe. This is of course what my firend tells me from the back of McDonalds washing dishes.

  • OmegaDR

    Full auto offers little that a 3 to 5 round burst can’t do better. More control, better accuracy, more rounds on target, even in the fire suppression role.

    • jake

      Fact the 3 round burst is a failure and there is no device that can correct poor training ,it has to come from Leadership/Discipline/Training.

  • LTC V

    Why is no one addressing piston vs. gas which is and has been the underlying problem with the M16 and M4 for years. HK has had a conversion kit that has been shot down by weenies in the Program Office for years probably because of contract issues and who get’s them. Weapons contracts and the changes that motivate them have been political issues forever that always end upfavorign those who are in favor with a good deal of disregard for the actual ground truth.

    • Lance

      Not going to be one of the final product improvement s to the M-4 will be a piston system or a cleaner DI system.

    • FormerSFMedic

      Probably because a good DI gun is much better than a piston gun for military operations. The trend is reduced weight, not adding weight.

    • Johnny Quest

      First, the bastardization of Gene Stoner’s design is borderline criminal. To scab a piston system on a rifle that was not designed to have one is ludicrous. The Stoner design runs like a raped ape (see Filthy 14) when contrary to traditional military doctrine, the weapon is kept well lubricated.

      To those that worship at the altar of Orbendorf, the HK 416 is the *******. In reality, the HK 416 is not only a bloated, overweight, more complex, and proprietary rifle, it is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

  • avidus

    The Canadian Forces have carried full auto capable C7s (M16A2) since original issued.

    During my time in the ranks we were trained for both burst and full auto fire under select conditions. The vast majority of the time the rifle was used in “repetition” semi-auto, but full auto was doctrine for a small minority. The primary use of full auto when I went through Royal Canadian Regiment Battle School was in patrolling. For break contact drills it was an “Aussie Peal Back” with each section member firing on full auto then pealing back as the next did the same, while someone else rigged the claymore or got ready to drop CS and run. The other was after being ambushed while on patrol, then it was “AMBUSH – RIGHT/LEFT” pivot, full auto fire and fight through the ambush. The primary goal being that in some scenarios the two LMGs per Section weren’t enough and that every rifleman going full auto would quite literally save lives. In those rare situation winning the firefight through suppressive fire would get the enemy’s heads down so you could either break contact or regain initiative in an ambush.

    We were trained to do three rounds bursts in full auto but that was for those suicide wave attacks. The CF still remembers Korea.

    The only other times I ever heard full-auto mentioned was trench and room clearing – frags first, then two riflemen, two mags of full auto before moving forward. Oh, and those delightful air defence movies where you were told to aim two football field’s distance ahead of the jet bombing or strafing you, empty your mag, and hope his engine ingests the round – as that’s the only way your rifle will hurt it.

    All in all, I’m with the “rather have it and not need it, rather than need it and not have it crowd”. Especially as fire discipline isn’t something the CF has issues with, full auto rifles notwithstanding. It’s the training not the tool.

    Aside from one particular Colonel’s ND in Afghanistan of course.

  • casey

    I love these articles. Five minutes of article and 60 minutes of discussion.

  • Brandon Webb

    A rifleman should shoot accurate semi-auto. Machine gunners need full auto….We NEVER went full auto in the SEAL Teams with (MP-5, M-4, M-14, SCAR, etc..). Not that this is because we are Spec Ops but rather because it’s a waste of ammo and not as effective/efficient as accurate point and fire. SFmedic…well said, most you guys are spot on with your comments. Thanks Gents. BW out.

  • Combat Arms JO

    4 points.

    1. Even in combat units right now the M-16/M4 is still better a better (more accurate) rifle then the user is a shot in the vast majority of cases, so a different trigger group and smother/more constant trigger pull will not make much of a difference. yes it matters for people like the AMU or some JSOF units but those units have their own weapons anyway.

    2. When we talk about all the cases when we need full auto I am reminded about the problem we had as an army back in the 50s when we completely missed the development of a true assault rifle because we kept focusing on the need for a general issue rifle that could hit out to 1000M. we were focusing on past battle fields not the future. when we talk about spray and pray in response to jungle ambushes or cleaning trenches we are forgetting that more and more wars are going to be fought in cities because thats were the majority of people are and will be living (50% now, 60% by 2030, and dramatically going up after that according to the UN). well automatic fire is great for room cleaning if you are 100% (almost never) sure that there are no civilians in the room, and if we like it or not avoiding civilian casualties is only going to get more important. Hence even in room clearing semi auto is preferred. so i fail to see how this capability is really that much of a benefit for the money though could be much better spent in other places

    3. you talk about training more being the answer, which it is. well riddle me this. where am i going to find more training time, I already have more things that i am required (by DOD/DA/Theater, Corps, Division, BDE, BN) to train annually then I have training days. then add in all the details post puts on us, then duty weeks, funeral honers teams ect. so find me the time to train my platoon on something everyone agrees is not needed 90% of the time when i already have to take risks selecting what not to train on or not to train as well on.

    4. lastly, where is all this money and ammo going to come from? its already hard to get all the ammo i want/need and now money is going to get tighter.

    all in all this is something that has a minimal benefit, takes money that could be better spent elsewhere and is something i am not going to train my guys on anyway since i could use that time more productively elsewhere and probably won’t even have the ammo to train with anyway.

    • majrod

      Jo – ref#3. Finding time is always hard. There’s a multitude of things you can do. First EVERYTIME soldiers pull triggers it’s marksmanship training. Approach it that way and keep track of it. Long ago my BN did some high speed ambush training. Everyone was patting themselves on the back until some grizzled combat vet from Nam mentioned we only hit the target 10% of the time. Guess what? Marksmanship took on a new importance. Note how you do in miles, simunitions and live fires.

      Second, I volunteered for extra tasks. When the company was red cycle we volunteered to run a range for the support guys. We got them “qualified” and shot their extra ammo. After a year the rifle company was over 75% expert qualified and we started doing advanced shooting for those guys that were qualified expert.

      Last and most important, be a shameless advocate for marksmanship training. Get as smart as you can and create other experts. A good leader can shame his superiors to do the right thing. You also become the “go to” guy and can influence more people. Granted this is all hard to do as a leader. Very hard but then again that’s what’s expected of leaders. Soldiers love to shoot. It’s NEVER a waste of time.


    In my abundant experience of shooting fully automatic weapons aka playing COD and Battle Fieled, I find the fully Automatic option is great for those “OH S*!T!!” moments at close distance. <- Sarcasim In my unit we would always do familiarization fires with the three round burst especially when doing CQB drills. While it was nice knowing that when you pulled the trigger three rounds were going into your target it was not all that reliable. Even with the proper maintaining of my weapon system I always tended to have more malfunctions on burst then on semi. The most common one was the bolt not proper riding forward and on occasion an over ride. I much prefer the semi (that's what she said) to the burst. I have always been taught that you use full auto weapons for suppressive fire or to hold off communist hoards that are pouring down the hill. To caveat my statement - it sure is a lot of fun to shoot a fully automatic weapon especially when you do not have to flip the bill on ammo.

  • Lance

    @ William C

    You told me and I agree there alot of improvements to the M-4 coming to the Army while the Marine this wont be a issue because they use M-16A4s instead of carbines. But the main thing is full auto is step 2 with step one being a heaver barrel. Other steps to come will be a free floating barrel a new bolt and possibly bolt carrier then a piston vs DI measurement before any final touches are added. I don’t see it logical especially when BIG BIG cuts are coming to dump millions in this program for another rifle especially when a Improved M-4 may be just as accurate and even more reliable than some plastic junk gun or a HK416. Any way still agree from earlier comments?

  • mka

    I was in the 101st in Vietnam. I know for a fact you do not turn a blind corner
    without having your rifle on full auto. Of course I am talking about the point man,
    and perhaps the slack man. I was a medic and never did either of the two.
    I will say full automatic lends confidence to an anemic 223 round and the possibility
    of return fire or more than one enemy to be engaged.

  • jimma

    Let me preface that I have absolutely zero military experience or training. Just love reading this site. This topic got me thinking a little. I just watched Hotel Rawanda, where UN “Peace Keepers” were being overrun by a machete wielding horde. Are most units (not just infantry or SF) trained to deal with a situation like that and would semi auto still be the best option over full? Lets assume that they are ignoring gun fire and still charging forward. What would be the most effective to suppress the crowd?

  • Michael

    This is another very old issue that goes back decades, such as the controversy about 9mm pistol rounds vs. the .45 round with the .40 cal. being the compromise to some. Sure, the Russians in WWII sure liked their PPSH burp guns, didn’t they–full auto at close range. I went through basic army and advanced infantry with the M1 Garand and later in W. Germany, the M14 in the early 60s. I guess the debate will go and on….

  • jake

    “Hence even in room clearing semi auto is preferred” i am very sorry but you are very wrong and misguided in your info.Please don’t get offended it’s not your fault this is what you know and have been taught for years some for deacades. If you go back and check many training manuals you will see the lessons. In these type of wars the civilian factor goes way down when it comes to the matter of life and death for a country. You seem like a very smart human being and you don’t need examples i am sure just go back and check.

  • jake

    BW, because you have never been in that type of situation. You have been taught what many have been taught in the newer modern military. This country has not been back to this type of warfare for a long time. First i say i have allot of respect for men like yourself and others who have carried on the tourch for us all. The second thing is when we get into a war where the enemy has just as many toys as us and know how in warfare. When the situation comes about were you can’t call in for help such as indirect fire/air support and so on.It will get down to the very basics that many have let go in urban warfare that is down and dirty hard core. My friend was shown this from men in the very same levels/ outfits you come from at the time he was in the service who said the opposite of what your saying now.Please forgive me for not being able to put in words what i am trying to get at, it just all comes down to what i posted before about warfare it all boils down to Leadership,Discipline,Training with anything .Full auto is a great tool once your shown and trained the right way. For a very small example when johnny grunt shoots his full auto he should “AIM” at the enemies feet thus bring up the hit ratio because the of muzzel rise( 5 enemy running between buildings at 50 meters say).This has been known for a very long time which i am sure you already know.Sorry for the lameness in my postings please have a great New Years from my family to all of yours and to the rest at Kit Up also. I am just a dishwasher who lives in his parents basement that’s all and i am very proud to be that.;-)

  • Dan

    I have two LWRC piston ARs, the weight difference between them and my M4 at work is hardly noticeable. In fact, I actually prefer my “heavy” LWRC M6A2 to my M4 because it has better “balance” and feels better. That’s just me though. I agree with you though that most piston ARs are heavy, especially the HK.

  • Dan

    JQ you realize there are other piston systems out there right? I agree the 416 is bloated garbage, but I love my LWRCs. Very simple design and easy to break down for cleaning (what little of it there is to clean) with little weight gain. It also runs no matter wet or dry.

    • Johnny Quest

      A solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

      • Lance

        True DI is more accurate than piston system and is just as fine as piston. Only down side takes longer to clean. but that’s really it.

      • Johnny Quest

        Lance –

        See Filthy 14.

  • Bill

    Navy SEALs love full-auto;

  • Scout

    I once took a class in weapons systems where the instructor explained and proved with calculations that the winner (in evenly matched opponents) is statistically the unit or individual that acquires the target first. # rounds fired had little to do with the outcome in the analysis and simulations. It makes practical sense too (Find your target!) but that being said I think there may be a legit. need for full auto in some circumstances.

  • irobj

    If semi is the way to go…why does the ATF charge me extra for full auto? :P

  • Dumb Grunt

    Outstanding answer. The other thing you can do is go to IPSC/USPSA, IDPA matches or seek outside training to learn some of the shooting techniques and then adapt them to the needs of his unit. The basics of this will help in recoil control as well as the transition from target to target by perfect practice. Yes, it means doing this off duty, but the information will be priceless and any money spent should be tax deductible.
    Lastly, most competitive shooters will be honored to help any way they can.

  • KnowALittleBit

    Just to address what Chris reported concerning “some weird metal bracket installed on the lower receivers of their M16s.” That metal piece was designed to keep the full auto M16A1 on semi. It was added as an accessory to the M16A1 after the Kent State incident back in the day. It was never intended to be used on the M16A2, M16A4, or M4, all of which are three round burst weapons. It was also never intended as a battlefield implement; it was intended to limit the fire power of Guardsman in domestic crowd control situations, especially when those Guardsmen were using the muzzle launched M34 non-lethal round (sting rag) which could only be used with the weapon on semi. The fact that Guard weapons were deployed in theater with this metal piece in place shows a distressing lack of knowledge on the part of that unit’s leadership, as well as ignorance of proper weapon deployment and use.

    The debate over burst vs semi vs auto will go on for years. Certain versions of the MP5 have semi, burst, and auto all in one package. Generally speaking, the troops who are issued weapons like this are in highly trained elite units, not line units. At the end of the day, if it shoots straight and the shooter is properly trained and deployed correctly, the job will get done. Everyone would love to have a Buck Rogers piece that does it all, just as everyone would love to have a bullet that can do it all. Someday, maybe, but don’t hold your breath. Every weapon out there is a compromise for a very good reason; the state of the art in military firearms has essentially been static for decades.

  • Pulse

    Better beleive it sucka. ;)

  • whskee

    I should pipe up I suppose because my last two units do train in full auto. I was with a Naval Special Warfare team and now Riverines. We have always done full-auto training in addition to semi. I found ‘Stance-Check’ full auto drills helpful with new guys. Basically, line up on target, and dump 30 in a single long burst and see if you’re getting shoved around from recoil. It drove home getting a proper stance for both semi and auto shooting. We all work very hard on our trigger control as well. Where we found auto most useful was in CQB environments where multiple close-range hits would bleed-out the baddie more rapidly than the standard 2 to the chest would, while hopefully preventing them any control to return fires to us. Any decent shooter can do the same job in semi, it’s just more effective to switch to auto and let the gun sing for 3-5 rounds under that stress instead of the jerkiness of trigger slapping the same number.

    Someone above commented on ‘start at the feet and let muzzle rise walk up’…That is non-sense old-school untrained talk. It pains me to read that. Every single one of my guys can hold a tight auto stream center mass, anywhere from 5-10 rounds at a time with about 75% hit rate at 15m (pie-plate size target). It doesn’t take much training to achieve that. 5.56 isn’t a heavy-recoil round. The weapon will sing if you just hold it properly and train well, and good trainers are the key to that. They must be ‘in-the-know’ with modern techniques. The guys from Magpul Dynamics and Panteo Productions seriously get it right.

    Semi is rightfully the dominant mode of fire, but full-auto has it’s niche and SHOULD be trained for. Use the weapon systems to their full capability and leave it up to the fighter to determine where he puts his selector switch and when, it’s his job to pull the trigger, and he should be trained well enough to make the distinction or shouldn’t be pulling triggers in the first place. I really feel terrible when commands have guys with guns but don’t trust them to use them properly. Any way that you can, TRAIN MORE.

  • T-9

    My wife just ask what the heck was so funny.

  • Mike Flynn

    If you’ve ever seen 3 VC coming down a trail shoulder to shoulder each firing a Browning A-4 you’ll learn the quickly learn the need for full rock and roll. Tactic used to counter act – Put your head down behind a log, stick your M-16 up, pull the trigger and spray and pray.

  • Matt

    That is unbelievable! I’m not accusing you of lying but if I had seen that I would have been floored too!

    I believe in the option to use full auto myself. We had the capability to fire full auto and used it more than once. However just like anything else it has to be drilled and drilled and drilled. Unfortunately all to often the only time non-infantry/non-scout soldiers go to the range is for their bi-annual weapons qual and if they qual their first time around they may only fire 80 rounds a year.
    I spoke to an engineer SGT in Kuwait on my way to Iraq for my second tour who had not fired his assigned weapons ever and who had not qualed in over a year. Shame on him for being in a leadership position and allowing that to happen and double shame on his entire chain of command.

    • Juan Gabriel

      Hello Matt, you can believe that there were in my 20yrs whole units that would send a few soldiers to qualify for the unit or worse yet send the unit to the range, fire the required rounds to “qualify” when in fact the soldiers, with their supervisors approval cheat for each other so that unit stats wou
      Would look good. We arrived in Saudi in 91 for Desert Shield/Storm and the soldiers came up to me to see if the commander would allow us to set up a range to learn how to shoot! These were on paper Experts/sharp shooters! This is also the same unit that had been telling Brigade HQ that our vehicles status was at 98% effective when in actual fact we were closer to 48%. We lost so many vehicles on that 4 day convoy from **** due to mechanical failures. Seems our chief mechanic supervisor had not been repairing/maintaining our vehicles because he was more concerned with his private car lot and his mechanics were too busy playing sports. Which is another problem Witt the unit. I had been through the Master Fitness Program so our old cmdr thought perfect tester/evaluator for the PFT. Well, I had to fail or give low scores to most of the athletes because they could NOT do a prer push up or sit up. I informed the cmdr and he immediately relieved me of my testing duties, retested the soldiers the next day and unbelievably they all maxed the PFT! Have to wonder how many other units have cooked their books!

  • Matt

    Really? Youtube? So a few instances that end up on the internet are like spring shower in the Pacific (and most of the auto fire was from the squad machine gunners).
    If you have never worked USSOCOM, maybe you shouldn’t comment on it.
    Unlike Mr. Webb I did use full auto, but it was only twice. 99% of the time it is a waste of ammo but when you need it it’s great to have.

  • Juangabriel

    Hey Chris, would you believe a Major taking away the ammo from his troops because he was more scared of being fragged by his own soldiers than he was of the enemy? True story, during Desert Storm our commander (former flight surgeon) disarmed all but his E-7s because he was so scared we would accidentally shoot him! Can you imagine going on a patrol without ammo? Of course he did have reason to fear since he was such an over educated idiot that he screwed up so much. Another example of our “educated” leadership, we had one gps unit for our company, remember in 91 not all units had them, anyway, he had it but did NOT take time to learn how to use it and we found our whole unit was lost and not at our assigned location. BTW, we took friendly fire because of it. Our Major had reason to be afraid, but he risked all of us. NG is not the only force with stupid officers!

  • seabee08

    no urban warfare? forgot about something called operation phantom fury? or a lot of the iraq war?

  • Rick Yerby

    This is why we are now having reliability issues with the M-4. Under trained troops getting scared and burning mag after mag. Not happening in the Marines.

    • KnowALittleBit

      In reply to Rick Yerby, what reliability problems are WE having with the M4? Could you be a bit more specific? Failure to fire, failure to function, failure to eject, bad magazines, what? Same gun SOME (a few thousand) of the Marines have, but most Marines carry an M16A4, which is a different weapon altogether. In reading the posts on this topic, it is clear there is a lot of discontent with Army training, and there should be. I ask again, what reliability problems with the M4? REAL problems or “reported” problems. A lot of “reported problems” have no basis in fact. Help us all understand what you really mean! And thanks for your time.

      • Lance

        The main failure is Not really the m-4 itself out side of the fact its a carbine whose job is for officers and NCO and none combat personnel. The M-16A4 is suppose to be the rifle mans weapon but the Army wanted a all carbine force. The USMC got it right the army been screwed up since General Sensaki drove the army into the ground 12 years ago. Most problems come from lack of maintenance and solder getting lazy and not cleaning there weapons. And Army spray and prey tactics drilled into basic solders head from day 1 of basic weapons training. if the Army move back to the USMC style in training and maintenance discipline this who problem would be fixed.

        • KnowALittleBit


          Erik Shinseki didn’t drive the Army into the ground, Don Rumsfeld and George W did, but that’s another discussion entirely; check your facts. Shinseki was the one who said we’d need over 500,000 troops to occupy Iraq; he was asked to step down because he told the truth, and the truth wasn’t politically correct. God bless the man for his honesty and courage. And while the Army never sought to be totally equipped with the M4, events drove it to attempt to do so.

          Now, just to help you a bit on your history, the requirement for the M4 orginally came from the USMC, not the Army. In fact, the USMC requirement was for a fully automatic carbine (now known as the M4A1), and the only reason the Army bought into the concept was because the acquisition game back then allowed the Army to get the carbine with the three round burst capability (now known as the M4) as opposed to full auto M4A1. So WE haven’t learned a thing historically, have we?

          Another little fact you might not be aware of is that the M4 was originally destined for Army aviation and armor units in the beginning, not line fighters, and definitely not solely for Officers and NCOs as primary operators. The original concept was to give armor crews a replacement for M3A1 grease gun, and to give chopper pilots something with a bit more range and ammo capacity than a .45 cal pistol. In both cases, a more compact weapon was required due to space limitation in the operating environment. The conflicts in Afghanistan and later in Iraq caused the Army to realize that line fighters would be the primary trigger pullers, starting with the 10th Mountain Division (first in Afghanistan after USASOC), and shortly thereafter with the 82ND, 101ST, and 3RD divisions ( the primary units of the 18TH Airborne Corps). As a result, the line fighters got the M4 first due to a DA directed change in fielding schedules. Avaition and armor units finally got their authorization for the M4 about 3 years ago. Note that I’m talking about the M4. ALL units of USSOCOM, regardless of what branch they derive from, have been authorized the full auto M4A1 since it’s introduction. This includes Army Rangers and Marine Force Recon elements, as well.

          I agree with pretty much every thing else you said concerning training and doctrine. Having worked with the M4/M16 family on the maintenance/logistics side of the house for over 20 years, I’m pretty well read into the alleged reliability “issues” attributed to the M4 carbine. It’s a fine weapon and does exactly what it was designed to. I can only say that after working for and with the Army for many years, it wouldn’t hurt a bit for the Army to adopt some USMC approaches to it’s field maintenance.

          • Lance

            Nothing there to argue about. but I remember Seniseki started the drum beat to a all M-4 Army. I much prefer the M-16A2 and M-16A4 for rifle men in a company than a all carbine service.

          • KnowALittleBit


            The guy who started the drive for the M4 for the Army was then BG Keane when he was Commandant at Ft. Benning. He was also the one who insisted the M4 have a removable carrying handle to make room for an optic (first the M68 CCO, later the ACOG). In fact, the first 900 M4s were produced with an M16A2 upper receiver, but were later rebuilt with the flat top receiver before being issued. I agree it was on Shinseki’s watch when it became clear that a more compact weapon was needed for CQB/MOUT combat. It’s a pretty safe bet he was involved in the Army’s change of fielding plan which resulted in the M4 going to line uniits before the aviation and armor folks. I was involved in fielding the weapons to the Army at that time, and had access to the fielding plan.

            Like I said in my very first post on this topic, there ain’t no do it all Buck Rogers guns out there, not yet anyway. The debate between rifle or carbine is much like the debate between semi and full auto and burst. Ya pays yer money and ya takes your chances. I think the one thing I’ve seen on this topic repeated over and over, and which I very much agree with, is that training overcomes much, and good leadership fills in the gaps. With those two in hand, it’s up to the grunt or jarhead to get it right. The shooter aims the weapon, but the Officer/NCO aims the shooter.

          • Lance

            No I agree with much you say. Strange but the Army still has alot of M-16A2s in service still. Most none combat and reserve and National Guard units have them. The Navy and USCG will use A2 and A3 for a long time to come. I liked how the XM-4 looked looks better with a fixed carry Handel than a removable one.

            I agree too. I don’t also see much of the ICC competition doing much of anything since there no real reap in technology in assault rifles yet. this was Senator Tom Coulbers crusade from his money payers FN and HK which is not do to the M-4s faults in the field. (Hay it has over 95% approval from solders.) its a fine weapon but politics. I do see some major M-4 upgraded coming soon and a new bolt and bolt carrier may enhance the weapon still.

  • Charles Gannon

    So does this mean the Army returns to the old RVN saying – “when in doubt, empty the mag!

  • Sgt OldCorps

    Oh give me my old M1 !! Nothing but semi-auto. One shot, one dead_______ fill in the blank. Marine Corps was Fire Superiority AND Fire Discipline back in those days. And when I was with the Weapons Platoon, you were considered a good gunner if you could single shot it! That was the M1919 Browning Machine Gun. We rarely fired full auto with that. Burned out barrels and wasted to much ammo. And, the bad guys could get a fix on you real easy.

  • First, recent studies show a single 5.56mm diameter round may not yaw and fragment. If it penetrates through-and-through, it doesn’t do much damage, so you get a much better probability of useful effects with at least 2 rounds. You would like these to be launched and both hit the target. They used to have a 7.62mm X51 ‘duplex’ round that would launch both bullets from the same cartridge, but I never heard of such a thing for the 5.56mmX45. That would push you to hoping for a high cyclic rate of fire (say 1000 rpm) between a two round burst.

    In the assault, you want to suppress with single rounds to keep the enemy off his gun. Single rounds every 2 seconds with a 30 round magazine gives you about a minute of suppression. With two people shooting the suppression, one can pick up while the other changes his magazine. A soldier should be able to change magazines in less than 10 seconds.

    In the defense you would like to use weapons to set up a ‘final protective fire’ line (intersecting and overlapping bands of fire). You would like the cyclic rate of fire to be about 240 rounds per minute (like the old BAR) or 4 rounds per second, with a second shooter to fire the FPF while the first shooter is changing magazines.

    In WWII, Germans put two MG-42s to shoot a single FPF, so the second would open fire when the first had to change his barrel. With a 1300 round per minute rate of fire, German machinegunners changed barrels a lot, and eventually carried two spare barrels. The US did a similar thing with the BAR, and other members of his fire team would fire suppression with M-1 Garands while the BAR gunner changed magazines.

    Conclusion: You need a single round for zeroing or suppression, a duplex round or a high cyclic rate with a 2 round burst for point targets, and full automatic with a slow (240 rpm) rate of fire to lay down a final protective fire.

  • Find your target first: but your enemy uses cover and concealment, so that is hard to do. Wait to see a muzzle flash (hard with small caliber low flash powder)?

    In the Assault: Shoot first! Fire at known or suspected enemy positions. Keep the enemy’s head down, and get fire superiority, then maneuver to close with him, to the flank so his cover doesn’t work, and so close that his concealment doesn’t work.

    In the Defense: Hold your fire until the enemy is close, then, shoot around cover, enfilade fire and use full automatic when you have a group of the enemy. Fire your FPF across the path the enemy must take to approach your position, or to get away.

  • Sid Helmer

    Most of you have got it right: Semi auto is Much better in most situations for all the reasons stated. However:
    Sometimes at close quarters you need to throw out lead as fast as you can
    to either hit the enemy, or make him miss his target. I had to do this in Tet 1968.
    Mech infantry and armored cav.

  • Jim

    I have several state trophies in competitive shooting. I was practicaly born with a rifle in one hand and a pistol in the other. I was a sniper and a forward observer while in the service. I would much rather go into combat with a semi automatic rifle or a bolt action rifle than a full automatic any time. The reason being that under fire if you have a clip you will fire a clip of ammo. If you have a round you will make it count period. That is why every squad should have a full auto machine gun. Anything more is a waste of taxpayer money and ammo. When I was 12 years old I learned to hunt with a double barrled shotgun for rabbits or birds. I uasually fired one shot and got the rabbit or grouse. When I was old enough to work I baught the new Remington Model 1200 semi auto shot gun. I wasted a box of shells trying to hit a wood ****. I went back to the house got my double barreled shot gun and never missed. If you have them you will shoot them if you have one or two rounds you will make them count. Always! One shot one kill.

  • C Wolf

    1. Better trigger is always a good thing.

    2. Accurate ammo would be even better (Army ammo has no accuracy spec).

    3. Full auto on an M16 is a different critter than full auto on an M14.

    4. I’d vote for the slowest possible rate of fire. Better control, less muzzle climb, and more time to traverse.

  • theboltz46

    I was a Marine ARMAN in Vietnam and with practice I could keep my M-14 on full automatic all the time and fire 1-2-3-5 round bursts with finger control. It just takes practice.

  • KnowALittleBit


    The M4/M4A1 carbines have had something like 50 improvements made to them since their introduction. Some of those improvements have migrated over to the M16A2 and M16A4. The latest Product Improvement Program (PIP) includes converting virtually all of the M4s to the M4A1 configuration (full auto and the heavy barrel). No point in repeating what’s already been said about the cleaner break of the full auto trigger group. Other than that, the weapons are only separated by five or six components. Both weapons are also slated to get an ambidextrous fire control selector under the PIP. That accounts for about half of the Army shoulder fired inventory. The other half, the vast majority of which are M16A2s, with a much small number of M16A4s, will benefit by also receiving the ambidextrous fire control selector. Both the A2 and A4 have heavier barrels than the original M16/M16A1, and most remaining M16A1s in the Army now have this heavier barrel.

    As for the “new” bolt and bolt carrier, this is something that has been around for as long as I can remember. Like the M16/M4 family as a whole, the current bolt and carrier are pretty much optimized, short of a total redesign, and that would mean a total redesign of the weapon itself. Pretty pricey, and probably not worth the money IMHO.

    Concerning the PIP, the proposed last phase, which may never happen, is conversion of the carbine to a piston style system. Again, this would be a total redesign of the weapon, with highly questionable benefits compared to the likely cost. Most people don’t realize that when Colt started building M16s back in the day, they did a lot of testing to determine whether a gas piston or gas impingement system was the way to go. The fact that they chose the current system we are all familiar with, and have stuck with it for over 5 decades, speaks volumes. Further, the numerous military variants of the M4 (M177, GUU-5P, etc) all share the same gas system. It is true that the Colt Law Enforcement carbine is a gas piston weapon, but it’s also true that while many military weapons can and are adopted for law enforcement use, the opposite is not true. With the notable exception of shotguns, the majority of weapons produced for the general populace and/or law enforcement simply are not robust enough for sustained military operations.

    One last comment: Lance mentioned Senator Coburn and his campaign to replace the M4. Senator Coburn was qouted in the press as saying that the M4 is a good weapon, but maybe it’s not the BEST weapon for our troops . He must have had the BEST weapon in kind when he basically forced the Army to spend several million dollars a few years back to conduct a reliability test of the M4 against the FN SCAR, and not one, but two HK products, the HK416 and the XM8. The M4 came out on top, surprise, surprise. For those with long memories, the XM8 (a hopped up G36) was the previous attempt, which failed miserably, to replace not only the M4 but ALL variants of the M16 family. A true Buck Rogers gun if there ever was one. Given that it failed (Congress finally and mercifully defunded the program in 2006), and cost us tax payers several tens of millions of dollars in the process, one has to wonder why it was involved in the test against the M4. BLUF: The Army neither wants nor needs a new individual weapon, but there’s gold in them there hills, and certain companies are mining for that gold. And that gold, my friends, is your tax dollars. For those companies, it’s not about the trigger puller, it’s about the profit margin. At the end of the day, the Army can either continue to make incremental improvements to the M16/M4 family, or replace the family with a different weapon system. Not enough money to do both, and maybe even not enough money to continue with incremental improvements to the current weapons. That’s the reality, like it or not.

    • Lance

      So you say the M-4 is here to stay?

      I agree with last November the USMC saying they will NOT adopt any ICC winner if one happens cuts the legs out of the attempt to replace the Stoner system weapons in service. Another BIG clue is that multiple barrel change and caliber change requirements ICC had where dropped few months ago. I don’t see much of anything happening with BIG cuts coming to defense.

      I think the Stoner weapons are far better than other 5.56mm weapons on the markets they might not be the most dust resistant but with cleaning and a good scope can take out any bad guy out there.

  • Theadore Stone

    I remember back in ’03 when the army brought out a Rifle with a 5 round magazine, and the command structure wanted an ON/OFF switch for magazine bypass requiring the soldier to load each round individually. Because if they had five round to fire without reloading their firing discipline would ‘go to pot’ and their aim become ineffective. That was actually in 1903, I was not there, and the rifle the 03 Springfield first chambered for the 30-03, then later for the 30-06. And for a trained marksman like Cpl York, Alvin S it was all about single round placement not a high volume of fire. You need to train in the use of your weapon system, full auto for a rifleman is only necessary when you know you will not miss your target, and there are more targets than you can address with single fire.

    Remember it is ‘one shot one kill’ not ’20 shots one scared’.

  • jinx

    Full-Auto is a waste of ammo. When room clearing, if you do it correctly, you don’t need full auto. When suppressing, you have the SAW or new I.A.R or the 240’s. Burst fire is useful but you can get faster shots off in semi-auto if you’re a good rifleman. Regardless of all of this the MOST IMPORTANT factor is going to be reload times. If you are using full auto on M4/M16 series AR’s, you need to teach reloading better. My time as a Marine 0311 Rifleman, we trained extensively on cutting down reload times; if you can’t get the magazines back in in time, it doesn’t matter how many rounds you can put down range at once…

  • Dan

    I would believe that the National Guard would do that. After 9/11 the PA Guard got the airport duty. It was meant to reassure everybody that the airports were safe from terrorist. My buddy was in charge of the ammo. He kept every round they had in a locked ammo box. All the National Guard troops you saw with M-16s had no rounds on them or in their M-16. Of course nobody else knew that.





  • Let’s not use these two wars to make major changes to ANYTHING! Both of these wars are what is referred to as Low Intensity Conflicts, or Operations Other Than War. (and please, let’s not get off subject and debate that).
    In these current wars, the enemy was civilians, with AK’s & RPG’s.
    Keep conventional wars in mind. Consider the North Korean battlefield, or the Iranian Battlefield. Those countries have real army’s, with tanks, artillery, well armed and disciplined Infantry, aircraft, missiles, rockets, etc.
    In the Infantry squad, you have designated automatic riflemen. The M-249 SAW is their assigned weapon. If one of those gunners goes down, another member of the squad picks up his SAW and keeps it moving across the battlefield.
    But full auto should still be an option, especially for the Infantry and other assault troops. In a true MOUT environment, a room is either fragged or sprayed before anyone enters. Keep in mind the door kicking in Iraq was not a true MOUT operation in the conventional sense.
    Any situation where the soldier might find himself in a situation confronted by a group of enemy soldiers at close range, full auto should be available.
    Full auto is also used to suppress the enemy, to allow forces to maneuver. Whether it’s a two many buddy team, or a company assault.
    The take-a-way here is don’t re-write doctrine based solely on OIF/OEF. Keep an eye on the big picture. You just never know.

  • Bob Falco

    I retired in 2000, so used both the M16A1 and A2. I only used full auto a couple of times at familiarization ranges and during room clearing activities, but was glad it was there if I ever needed it.
    If the concern is accurracy and ammo discipline, leave the full auto option and institute a real marksmanship training program that includes putting bullets downrange, often.

  • XFunc_CaRteR

    The answer isn’t in the rifle. It’s in the soldier.


  • Johnny Quest

    “Erik Shinseki didn’t drive the Army into the ground, Don Rumsfeld and George W did……..”

    Pull your head out of where the sun doesn’t shine, unless you like the view.

  • Johnny Quest

    “That metal piece was designed to keep the full auto M16A1 on semi. It was added as an accessory to the M16A1 after the Kent State incident back in the day.”

    Yeah? You have some documentation to support this? How was this ‘metal piece’ attatched?

    Oh, forgot to add the Guard was carrying M14’s at Kent State.

    • KnowALittleBit


      You wanted documentation, I suggest you do the research like I did. The documentation is in Army TM 9-1005-249-23&P, Page 4-4 (M16/M16A1 Organizational/Direct Support Maintenance). Below is a cut and paste of the WARNING from that page:

      The lock plate prevents the selector from being placed in AUTO and will be installed
      at the discretion of the unit commander. It is mandatory for use in civil disturbance
      (riot control).

      Further, below is a cut and paste from Army TM 9-1005-249-10, Page C-5, Additional Authorized Items List (M16/M16A1 Operator’s Manual):

      PLATE, LOCKING: for riot control use,
      prevents selector from automatic fire
      (refer to organizational maintenance
      for installation and instructions on use)
      (19***) *******

      The locking plate, which is the official nomenclature, was installed between the lower receiver and the pistol grip. It’s all in the book; get yourself a copy and study up. Most TMs are commercially available at various websites, for a fee. I happened to get mine free by virtue of the fact I’m one of the people who wrote the TMs.

    • KnowALittleBit


      Just thought you might need a little bit more info:

      The Kent State incident forced the National Guard to re-examine its methods of crowd control. The only equipment the guardsmen had to disperse demonstrators that day were M1 Garand rifles loaded with .30-06 FMJ ammunition, 12 Ga. pump shotguns, and bayonets, and CS gas grenades. In the years that followed, the U.S. Army began developing less lethal means of dispersing demonstrators (such as rubber bullets), and changed its crowd control and riot tactics to attempt to avoid casualties amongst the demonstrators.

      My reference to Kent State in an earlier post did NOT say M16s were used there. I DID reference the necessity of having the M16/M16A1 on semi in order to fire the M34 non-lethal round, which lead to the development of the lock plate. The M34 was the first of the “less lethal means” mentioned above. To all, I have consistenttly mis-stated the model number for this initial less lethal system. It is actually the M234, and is dealt with in Army TM 9-1010-224-20&P. My apologies to all, guess I’m getting too long in the tooth to remember everything.

  • reliability problem? Sure there is one. You can’t count on it to put your target down unless it is within fairly close range. Muzzle velocity is compromised with a shorter barrel. I know….you can hit a target out to 300 meters with no problem. Compare the 5,56 to the 7.72×39. Big difference. The Army has been working with an M-16 type carbine since the 60’s…..the CAR-15 (C for Colt…..not carbine), some of which had a 4 position selector switch, much like recent HK’s.
    The M-4 got by in Iraq, but it’s deficiencies have been made clear in Afghanistan. 6.8 has been working well for the snake eaters. Other large calibers are in use as well. Scenario driven. Same goes for the full auto option. Modularity is a big plus. Swap out upper receivers and go from an 11.5 inch barrel to a 20 inch barrel, and you’ve got two completely different animals. And calibers for that matter.

    • KnowALittleBit


      I agree that the 5.56MM round has always had some issues with knocking down the target. The ammo debate has been around at least as long as the weapon debate(s). The original 5.56MM round, the 55 GR M193, was designed to cause massive tissue damage. When the M16A2 came along, the M855 62GR round, utlizing a steel core penetrator, was adopted with ComBloc style body armor in mind, whch makes it less effective against folks without body armor. Troops in CQB and/or MOUT should be drawing the M193 rather than the M855. There’s plenty of it left in the inventory. As with weapons, there is no Buck Rogers do it all round out there, at least not yet.

      Not sure about the reference to snake eaters and the 6.8MM round. The current issue FN SCARs (SpecOps only) come in NATO standard 5.56MM and 7.62MM, hence SCAR Light and SCAR Heavy. USASOC did test the 6.8MM round some years back, and it was viewed very favorably: about the same energy as the 7.62MM and comparable in weight to the 5.56MM. Unfortunately, the weapon(s) to shoot the 6.8MM round has not yet been adopted, at least not officially. Swapping out upper receivers/barrels/bolts has definitely been looked at over the years, in fact that was the concept behind the original design for the SCAR, as well as for the ill-fated XM-8, but weapons that utilize this approach aren’t in the inventory yet. Of course, the SpecOp community is always playing with new stuff, so who knows. The latest twist is the conversion of the 7.62MM M24 sniper gun into the XM2010 .300 WINMAG. Of course, SpecOp has had a .300 WINMAG for a while, the MK13.

      • T-9

        Know, I have the 855 ammo. Why is it it’s less effective on unarmored targets? pardon my ignorance on the subject but is it simply that the round doesn’t expand on impact?

        I picked up like 1000 rounds from cheaperthandirt for, well, cheaper than dirt. Makes good range ammo.

        • personally I was more accurate on any given day (back in the day) with the 885 ammo.

        • KnowALittleBit

          Nothing wrong with M855, just a matter of what target. As for why M855 is not real effective on unarmored personnel, the short answer is that it was designed to penetrate ComBloc body armor. A round that penetrates the armor tends to stayed lodged in the target’s body, which will result in increased trauma. However, when hitting a soft target, it tends to blow right through. The result is that unless you hit something vital, or make a clean head shot, it just isn’t effective on unarmored personnel. It hurts like ****, but is not necessarily a show stopper. M193, on the other hand, is/was notorious for entering a target point and exiting somewhere else (so-called tumbling), leaving a massive wound channel. Excellent for unarmored targets, but pretty useless against personnel with good body armor who know how to keep their heads down. Take the right gun with the right ammo for the right target. Damned if was that easy, eh?

          The new M855A1 shoots even flatter than the original M855, and is somewhat more accurate as a result. The same can be said of the new MK318 MOD 0 ammo the Marines have started using. Both penetrate body armor (and most common obstacles) really nicely, but both also are more lethal on soft targets than the M855. However, for maximum tissue damage, the M193 is still the champ.

      • SOCOM was the first to ask for, and test a larger caliber to replace or augment the 5.56. The only reason 6.8 wasn’t adopted was $$$ for retooling. It’s been said, for the past 100 years, that the 6.5mm round was the closest to the best overall round, due to it’s muzzle velocity and trajectory. Goes back to the Itlaian Carcano’s, the Swiss bolt rifles, the Swedish Ljungman semi, etc. But 6.8 is in use today with certain SPECOPS elements. But we digress. Original topic is do we rock and roll, or waltz? I say, it depends on your dancing partner.

      • Lance

        SOCOM ditched the SCAR L in favor of the H model. Most SOCOM members still use M-4A1s or Mk-18s for 5.56mm. Overall The Army and USMC dumped M-193 over the body armor issue which turned out to be not true since Commie armor sucked and prof in Afghanistan of almost every round the Islamist shot at a Soviet troop penetrated his armor, only 7.62×39 in the right condition could be stop. 5.45mm would go right threw.

        Over all USAF and USGC still have lots of M-193 ammo.

        • KnowALittleBit


          Good info. The 62GR M855 was designed for body armor penetration, and because of the increased bullet weight, the rifling of the M16A2, M16A3 (full auto A2),M16A4, M4 and M4A1 was changed to 1 in 7. The rifling on the M16/M16A1 was 1 in12, more than enough for the 55GR M193, but not sufficient for the heavier M855. Back in the ’90s, the Army upgraded all of its A1s with the A2 barrel, hand guards, and butt stock. The holder of the most original M16s is still the USAF. No surprise there, since they were the first Service to adopt the M16 into use.

  • T-9

    Thanks, Know. I appreciate you taking the time to spell it out.

  • Lance

    So you agree the M-4 is going to be around for a while as primary Army carbine?

    • KnowALittleBit


      Yes, the M4 (and the M4A1 after the planned conversion with the PIP), will be around for a long time to come. ****, just over half the shoulder fired weapons in the Army is still the M16A2/M16A4. People, do you have any idea how long it takes to replace about one million weapons? For God’s sake, the Army was still fielding the M16A2 to the National Guard when Gulf War II started in 2003, and it began fielding the M16A2 back in 1983-84!

      • Lance

        Actually the M-16A2 was in the USMC first from 83-86. The Army stubbornly stuck to the M-16A1 till 1986, same for the Air force. Cant remember when the Navy and CG went to A2s. The A2 and A3 will be around for a long time soon the Navy and USCG still use them as primary weapons. Strangely I prefer the A2 over the M-4 sight picture is better more balance and more accurate at long ranges. A4s are nice but way heaver with the KAC rails on the forearm.

        I cant tell if there’s any A1s in US service I do think in some federal LE and Prison Guards have some still. I do know that A1 carbines are in Air Force service, not sure on full sized rifles. Pitty they don’t sell A1s to CMP with full auto setting deleted and sell them for AR-15A1s then.

  • T-9

    I think my Bushmaster has 1/12 rifling. should I not be using 855 in it? Good lord I have a metric ton of that ammo. would hate to waste it.

    • KnowALittleBit


      Your Bushie probably has 1 in 9 rifling if it’s got a carbine barrel, possibly 1 in 12 with the rifle barrel. Best thing to do is go to the range, do some zeroing drills, and take down some stats from your impact points on paper. Up to you to do the math and make sight adjustments or tweak your scope if you’re using one. 1 in 9 will work just fine for M855, out to about 400-500 meters. If you’re shooting farther than that, you might want to rethink what caliber you need. Don’t get me wrong, 5.56MM is actually damned good, but like I also said, ain’t no Buck Rogers guns or ammo out there. Decide what you want to shoot at, match that with the correct gun and ammo, and let ’em fly!

      • Lance

        No military weapons have 1/9 twist it came from the industry to Civilians and US Law Enforcement. Too many where shooting lightweight bullets lighter than 55gr ammo which would be destroyed in the fast twist. They don’t want 1/12 twist since they couldn’t shoot heavy 62gr ammo in them. So the industry came out with 1/9 for people shoot almost all .223 REM ammo available only real heavy 70-77gr ammo is none accurate in a 1/9 twist.

        For the military which only has 55gr and 62gr FMJ ammo. the switch never and will be never needed.

        • KnowALittleBit


          Actually, SOME in the military do have 77GR 5.56MM. SpecOps has access to the MK262 MOD1, which is produced by Black Hills using a Sierra boat tail bullet. Works just fine, but not available to the military as a whole. Early version of the MK262 (MOD0)had some temperature sensitivity/primer issues, but that was cleared up some years back. The MK262, unlike the M855, does not deflect off of windshields. The M855A1 and the MK318 both are also”barrier blind”, but still weigh in at 62GRs.

          • Lance

            True very true. Though like some local Coast Guardsmen I know id stick with old M-193 ammo for duty (If I use FMJ not standard HPs).

  • a field mod by SF in Nam was to cut down the buffer spring, to reduce the rate of fire. The real trigger pullers should be given a selection to chose from.

  • Jinx,

    Ref room clearing, let’s not use OIF as an example (I assume you are referring to OIF). In that situation, there were more good guys behind the doors than bad guys. In a true MOUT scenario, where the enemy has created a strong point out of an abandoned city/town, every room potentially contains nothing but bad guys. Big difference. Big difference between a patrol and an assault. The belt feds typically make up the support or security element. The assaulters will have a rifle or carbine. Each room is sprayed or fragged before entering. True MOUT has a high ammo consumption rate, as well as casualty rate.

  • Bruce McCauley

    That’s a FACT Jack!!!

  • J Gibbs, PhD

    For those who have seen combat outside an open desert, when numerous enemy are “feet” away in thick brush with heavy camo or caught sitting by a river bank, well aimed semi-auto fire isn’t your first choice (Maybe your last tho). Give me the tools, and I will chose when and where it is needed.

  • Steve in St. Louis
    • KnowALittleBit


      Excellent point! Any discussion of weapons that doesn’t include the ammo to be used is pretty much like flying with one wing.

  • Steve in St. Louis
  • Johnny Quest

    Never saw one, the locking plate or the manual. What is the date on it?

  • Johnny Quest

    Typo, and it did come across as though 16’s were at KS, or at least should have been. M1’s were not altogether unheard of in Guard units – stateside – during that time.

  • Nathaniel Moseley

    I think Full Auto is a Waste of Ammo I prefer the burst. With the prices of ammo going up and up it will be wise to save whenever you can. Also if you give anyone a full auto they are most likely going to go through the ammo and than what? in the middle of a battle and out of ammo.

  • KnowALittleBit
  • Riceball

    “It’s a waste of ammunition” has been an excuse used by the Army for a long, long time, for not adopting weapons with a faster rate of fire, or, in this case, full auto capability. This was the excuse used by the Army for not adopting lever action rifles during the Civil and Indian Wars period, reluctance (by some) to adopt the M1 Garand, and for going with the M16A2 before adopting the M4 although to be fair to the Army, the Marine Corps thought the same thing which is why they made the A2 only burst & semi instead of full auto and semi.

  • Riceball

    In regards to MOUT, having full auto would certainly be useful given that when I was in I was taught to first chuck a grenade into a room, then spray it down with an entire magazine, something that I feel would have been easier with full auto.

  • Riceball

    I think the difference comes from two different methods of room clearing; there’s CQB style much like what was done in Iraq where a house would just as likely have civies as it would have bad guys. Then there’s MOUT style room clearing which is much more like old WW II style house to house combat where the enemy occupies an entire city and there are few if any civilians left. In MOUT you want at least a burst capability if not full auto since doctrine (back when I was in the Corps during the 90’s) dictated that you cleared rooms by first chucking a grenade and then hose it down with a full mag just in case anybody inside survived the grenade. In this method of room clearing semi is much too slow and accuracy isn’t as much of a concern as much as trying to get as much lead into as possible into much of the room in as short of a time possible.

  • Each war has different “fireing” requirments.
    As a FO in the Korean War.
    I sat at the ridge top of the hill along our MLR.
    During mass assults I had 5 Thai solgers assigned to aid me in defending
    my OP position. We had two weapons for each of us, even the BAR that I
    used. Four Thais stood with me on the hill edge so we could fire down slope,
    and the 5th guy passed us newly loaded weapons as we emptied our rifles. I used the semi-auto on my BAR in a measured, sustainable rate of fire, with my BAR setting the pace with its Bomp, Bomp every four seconds, our MLR followed our pattern for a 30 minutes of steady firing at one “wave” every hour.
    The result was a devastating fire field. Firing down slope the BAR and the Garand the Thai’s used would cut through 2 to 4 guys. We rolled grenades down slope to break up the piles of bodies to keep our firing field clear. The Chinese came within 5 yards of the OP but no further. The next day the body count of dead Chinese in front of the
    OP ran over 1,200.
    My directed mortar fire took out 8,000 +- a hundred or so. With the sustained rate of fire, I could figure out how much amo we would need. We had 500 unused rounds at dawn cutting it close. Full auto would have used 4 or 5 times that amount.

    Like I said different style of War needs a different pattern of fire. You’ve got to think to survive. If you haven’t trained with a weapon, better do it yourself, strip it clean it, use it, know it. Knowing your adversaries fighting pattern, knowing your weapon
    will help you keep a clear head, knowing first aid will help your confidence too.

  • Joshua

    it is very very needed, if for no other reason than a consistant trigger pull, not the crappy never know what your gonna get burst

  • Greg

    Just give em back their A2s and A4s, the A2 was the most versitile compared to the pain in the *** prone A1s and it’s early variant’s. Plus for the Army to go all out M4 everywhere just wussifys and stains the meaning of the name “infantry” Witch the army is more infantry than the corps is to whom have been constantly laughing behind the back of grunts, saying that “grunts get short barrels cause they got short *****” While saying Marines can handle long barels because they have bigger *****. Sounds rather childish but it’s true, the BIG A has lost it’s way on beeing soldiers with some big guns and some serious fire power in turn for M4s, Drones, Droping the bayonet, lastly adopting UCPs grey blocks, ditching black boots. Then telling every soldier he or she is “special” by robbing the rangers of their cherished blcak berets when evey grunt wasn’t that special at all, thats why we got Delta Force for. p.s. also ading the armys lack of propper distinction between an assault rifle “M16”, and an assault carbine “M4”. Sorry army a carbine is not a rifle, the marines have that figured out.

  • Geodkyt

    M855 has three issues compared to M193, that relate to its suitability as a combat bullet for rifles and carbines.

    First, being heavier, it is slower than M193 fired from the same barrel*. This is a PROBLEM, because the primary wounding effect of the US 5.56mm rounds is VERY velocity dependant. M855 from a 14.5″ M4 at 50m HITS like M193 from a 20″ M16 at 150m or so. Very little chance of the tumbling fast enough to break the jacket, which causes DEVASTATING wounds. (By the way, the tumbling is simply the effect of gyroscopic forces on an AEROdynamic projo that is trying to turn into a HYDROdynamic projo — pointy end forward and spinning very fast is great in air, but heavy end forward is the more stable choice in liquid media (especially since you CAN’T spin it fast enough for pointy end forward to be hydrodynamically stable). . . and for terminal ballistics purposes YOU are a liquid medium. The gyro effect of spinning 1 revolution for every 7″ at 3000 feet per second or so is tremendous, but STILL is orders of magnitude too low to stabilize a spitzer type bullet in meat — you would need rifling that looked like fine threading, and that would just strip jackets off.) Basically, the real indicator of the odds of explosive fragmentation in military ball ammo is impact velocity — generally speaking if you examine two bullet wounds, one caused by an M193 55gr slug hitting at 2900fps, and one in a similar body area caused by an M855 62gr slug hitting at 2900fps, only the coroner will likely know, and only because the steel core looks different than lead and reacts to magnets.

    Second, the inclusion of the steel penetrator in the M855 projo means there is simply MORE VARIATION between bullets in the same lot. ANY variation in bullet CG or balance translates to a variation in ballistics, thus lower accuracy. M193 is actually MORE ACCURATE than M855 out to about 500m, although the differences are far less significant than would be apparant in a combat situation. (After 500m, the M855 round is more accurate because the effect of retaining more momentum because of bullet weight outweighs the consistancy issue.)

    Third, the M855, because of a combination of the slightly slower velocity at normal infantry ranges, AND the inconsistancies between bullets because, frankly, the M855 is more complex than the M193, there is a slightly higher chance that, due to freak coincidence, a particular bullet may NOT explosively fragment, despite hitting at the “butter zone” velocity of “greater than 2600 – 2700 fps”. Which is why controlled pairs or short (2-3 rounds) bursts are a great idea for CQB — the odds that 2 or more bullets will also be freakishly resistant to fragmentation are on the order of winning Powerball and geting a ******* from Anne Hathaway on the same day. You are also at least twice as likely to hit something REALLY IMPORTANT to his warfighting abilities, like heart, aorta, or spine. Last is also a (fairly obscure) physiological effect of hitting someone multiple times in a brief period of time that registers as “simultaneous” to his nervous system. . . the human body tends to interpret the multiple hits in those cases as marking the perimeter of a single FREAKING BIG injury, increasing the chances of a CNS shock incapcitation, even if no CNS targets were physically struck. (Basically, you are more likely to trip the “oh ****” breakers in the INVOLUNTARY part of his brain and he goes down as the body shuts down to minimum essentials. . . of course he’ll bleed out and die from hypovolemic shock before the CNS “breakers” reset, but, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes” — and fighting US troops is “stupid games”. Shotguns and pistol caliber SMGs display the same effects.)

    * (Yes, M193 shoots JUST FINE from a 1:7″ barrel. It’s only shooting M855 from a 1:12″ barrel that forced the “M193 for M16A1, M855 for M16A2/M4″ mantra — M855 from a 1:12” barrel doesn’t throw a group, it throws a pattern (like 00 buckshot ), with bullets tumbling IN AIR.)

  • Geodkyt

    Last I checked, M4s and M4A1s have been purchased with 1:9″ barrels for some time now by DoD. The reason for the 1:7″ twist in the M16A2 was the USMC insistance on having a rifling rate that would stabilize the tracer round that came along with the M855 (off the top of my head, M856?) out to tracer burnout — about 800 meters. Since teh tracer round (needing room for trace compound) is LONGER than M855 (proper twist rate has a LOT to do with bullet LENGTH), it needed 1:7″ twist to do it.

    This was considered less of an issue with the M4 and M4A1 carbines, since the idea of realistically having to shoot tracer ACCURATELY to 800m in combat was already a stupid idea for the line grunt rifle, it was even stupider for the carbine. Moving to 1:9 for teh carbines decreased barrel wear rates, and still adequately stabilizes M855. Heck, the Army was pushing for a 1:9″ twist in the M16A1E1 (M16A2 trials), and even after the Marines adopted the M16A2.

    • Kevin O. Moore


      Not sure where you’re information came from, but M4 and M4A1 barrels are 1/7 twist (always have been), just like the M16A2 and M16A4 barrels. It’s easy to verify: it’s stamped right on the barrel, along with 5.56MM NATO. It’s also what is listed in the physical characteristics section of the technical manuals. Even the 10 1/4″ barrel used by SPecOps on the M4A1 is 1/7 twist. The reason for the 1/7 twist was because when the M16A2 was introduced, the M855 ball round was also introduced. The M855 is 62GR, as opposed to the 55GR M193 used in the M16/M16A1, which has a 1/12 twist.

      Many .223/5.56MM commercial barrels are 1/9 twist (Bushmaster, Armalite, etc) , but not the M16/M4 family barrels.

  • Peter Ferguson

    We in the British Army probably get taught differently but how do you guys clear rooms or trenches of enemy troops, we always put a full magazine into a trench or *********** we know has enemy in it, and that’s a follow up to a frag grenade (just to make sure).

  • This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally
    I have found something that helped me. Cheers!

  • Ben

    Full Auto has it uses especially when used by trained people. I know people that can write their names with an M4 on full auto and others that cant hit the broad side of a barn from the inside on semi.

    I found the inconsistent trigger pull on the bust rifles to be annoying and preferred the auto even if I never moved the switch to fun mode outside of the range.

  • Gabe

    Ok, here it goes, Full Auto has it’s place in combat!! Supression fire to keep the enemies head down while you retreat or get a better position. After you get to a better shooting position and cover, then you can lay down aimed fire with single shots. Having full auto is like”having part-time 4 wheel drive cabability” it’s nice to have just in case you need it. You are not going to need it 95% of the time, but that other 5% time may come up when you least expect it!!!!! It does have its place on weapons!!!! Remeber the german stormtroopers with their MP 40s, that was full auto only and those troops were very effective with 9mm ammo!!

  • TaskForceOrange82

    I know for a FACT that full auto being standardized among slightly more exp 11Bs and obviously any US SOF units is a MUST HAVE for breaking contact.
    I have been part of an IAD (combat drills) where it was shown, with sim rounds, that using full auto fire at ranges of 80-100m and below were FAR MORE efficient in keeping heads down while simultaneously adding to the body count of those stupid enough to raise their heads or torsos long enough to try to catch a glimpse at their quarry.

    This purist, “I know what works and you don’t”, ridiculously (almost hysterically humorous) idea that full auto carbines have no use in actual combat is just plain ignorant and obviously comes from the subconscious of those who had it beaten into their heads at Benning for far too long by their D.Is that it’s a “waste of ammo”.
    Let me tell you…..
    In an experience I had (i’ve not seen a lot of combat or anything, so this is being said humbly), full auto was a GODSEND and it kept me and those in my stack alive. They (those with me) would wholeheartedly agree.

    If you watch PMCs who didn’t train the same way, lets say, down south of the border (where I was), you would see that when they were ambushed by teenagers with full auto AK-74/47s, who would spray the entire convoy or group of personnel we were attached to for PSD, they LOVED their (HK)416, M4A1s, and LWRC modified M6A1s (I think thats what they were) on full auto (albeit, in 10 round bursts-not just spraying-, and sometimes 5 round or lesser sized bursts) they were able to drop at least %70 of their immediate threats (anyone within 50m) and everyone else dispersed immediately.

    …Now if we had said “contact right!!” (as our brethren had been trained to do) and started popping a constant and steady stream of single shot fire, I doubt these drugged up Sinloan sicarious would’ve been shaking in their boots. They would’ve taken cover (as they would’ve been having plenty of time to do) and made it infinitely harder to make our exfil w/ our packages.

    FULL AUTO IS NOT A WASTE. There is good reason why the Russian SOF, Danish SOF, Aussie SOF, and especially certain units in the Regiment (SAS and even those in the renowned Black Sqd of the SBS) still use it if they can (or have the right AR for it).
    I’ve seen Royal Marines using it like it was going out of style when they were ambushed in Kunar Province (this was a video a NAVSPECWAR friend sent me) and they wiped out (w/ the full auto assistance of the ANA alongside them) a 50 man Taliban/AQT element that had formed an L-shape on them in seconds.

    Speaking of NAVSPECWAR, those in the community whom I call “friends” (and I don’t call many my “friends”) who work in EOD or w/ SWCC etc (and yes, the Frogs too, as I did grow up my whole life in Miramar/Coronado area) use full auto all the time during training when doing their drills for ambushes/counterambushes etc. Maybe not every time, or even half the time, but when called for, they are happy to burn two or three mags so they can peel back and start bounding towards their back door.
    If you disagree, then you need to do some research or better yet, go ask an unbiased operator what he would do in this situations I described. When the SAS and DEVGRU elements went to save Linda Hargrove (did I spell her name right? the journalist?), I was told by those in the know that they were using NOTHING but full ato fire (short bursts of it) as they cleared the two or three caves they believed the Afghans and Linda were in. They didn’t do single shot whatsoever unless they were on overwatch.
    When moving to contact, if you are an experienced veteran operator who has been downrange more than just a few times, you flip to full auto (and although I am NOT AN EXPERIENCED OPERATOR, just someone who lets just say “works in a security field alongside such people in this community”) and just hope for the best and expect/prep for the worst. When you bust that corner in that hut filled w/ ACM, you wanna bust your corners with that carbine on full auto (unless you are training in a shoot house w/ instructors or told/prefer otherwise). I personally bust every corner with my AR set on kill, not “stun”. A gut or chest shot with a quick double tap of 62gr ammo (unless you have 77gr Black Hills) is NOT gonna put them down every time….maybe a lucky shot will, but not likely.
    I’d rather be sure….

    • TFOrange

      The Linda Hargrove incident, btw….I should make a correction. They were using (I could be wrong) a new type of porcelain/composite round that breaks up on the walls of caves etc, hence why bursts were used. Also, I want to retract that single shot wasn’t used. It was used by some on that operation, but for the most part, once the cat was out of the bag, and the intel that a DshK was nearby entered their minds, along with the possibility of a dozen more bad guys coming out of those caves, they used auto and burned as much as they could into those crevices as they could in order to keep their 6’clock clear.

      Oh, and a friend of our family by the name of Glen Dougherty (i barely knew him personally but our family did) who would visit SEALFit (where I would spend much of my time speaking with friends on my off days) apparently used full auto many times during operations in places like Libya (not the visit he was killed during, but on others before), and also in Somalia, Yemen, and even Sudan (or maybe Kenya) as well.

      ST5 or ST7 (can’t remember) also spoke of their love of full auto when asked at the Act of Valor DVD release event held at SEALFit a while back that I was fortunate enough in my hectic schedule to attend in Encinitas (San Diego, my hometown). They used single shot in the film for authenticity (and because other squids on-set would’ve given em grief) but in reality, I was told by someone from the film that if they were REALLY being chased by more than 30+ individuals less than 30m away in numerous armed vehicles right behind them, they would’ve used full auto as much as they could before going “black” on ammo (last magazine).
      Just a thought…


    Full auto is used ALL THE TIME. Burst and single do not ALWAYS put out enough suppressive fire to do the job and during the Battle of Roberts Ridge, there were prob about a dozen instances where ST6 and Rangers used it to take care of Taliban less than 200m away (some even 50m away).

    I am not saying single doesn’t have an OBVIOUS use for precision fire, but full auto being “ridiuclous”??? COME ON!!
    if it was so useless, why has the M4A1, IAR, M416, etc used it? There are MORE than enough instances where, downrange, it is a powerfully effective tool for numerous types of contacts.
    I know of not just Robert’s Ridge, but also there are stories in Ramadi, Fallujah, Herat, Kabul (many times in fact….by SBS and JTF2) where it was used on a freakin DAILY BASIS.

    Stop with this elitist AR15.com crap ok?? You guys don’t know sh*t about any of this or anything in general. Stop reading Soldier of Fortune and actually speak with guys in ST6 (or really ANY of the numerous NAVSPECWARCOM Teams who train with it) as well as those in CAG/Delta and other units they train with. Hell, even the Philippines designed a rifle around FA!!! They slowed the ROF down, but it’s there. If it was so useless, the MP5, HK416 (who those in CAG/Delta that I’ve spoken to on NUMEROUS occasions) would swear by it’s efficiency when it is needed….which is a ALOT MORE OFTEN THAN YOU “GUN NUTS” think. Stop jumping on the wagon and go watch NAVSPECWAR training at the “Islands” (San Clemente etc) and you will see controlled half-mag bursts of full auto being used for NOT suppression but instead for actual combat.

  • FkkyouUnistat76Die

    You ldiots. Full-auto is the best fklng thing ever. Full-auto is accurate and wins. Semi-auto sucks. Fgts. Dle. Unistat76 is a down syndrome tard. Dle.