M4Army leaders have set in motion plans to kill the Improved Carbine competition right before it enters its third and final phase, according to sources.

Reporter Matthew Cox posted a report to Military.com with further details on the service’s work to reprogram money set aside for the program. The move signals an end to the multi-year program to replace the M4 carbine.

The Army has set aside more than $300 million toward the program through 2018. However, service officials are under pressure to cut costs anywhere they can.

When the Pentagon Inspector General started an audit of the program six weeks ago, it caught the attention of many observers of the program. When the IG questioned the requirements for it, even more eyebrows were raised.

Army Secretary John McHugh will make the final decision on the program, and if it proceeds. He told the House Armed Services Committee on April 25 that he would have an update early this summer. However, he didn’t offer a ringing endorsement when asked about its status.

“There has been some input recently out of the Department of Defense as to the Army’s requirement and lack thereof. We are trying to go through those findings to make a determination,” he told lawmakers.

Read the rest of the story here.

{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark May 2, 2013 at 9:02 am

What? Isn't it individual carbine and not improved carbine.

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Lance May 2, 2013 at 9:26 am

Mark is right. ICC is individual carbine which was the new carbine. Improved carbine is the slogan for the M-4 PIP which is going very well, with FN making thousands of new M-4A1 carbines for infantry men soon.

Overall this is a welcomed news for years I said ICC would not produce a new carbine that's world better than the M-4, face it it was SCAR lovers who wanted it after SOCOM ditched the 5.56mm only version in 2010 many groaned and yet anted the Army to adopt it fully. fell apart in 2011 when the USMC said no ICC winner would replace the M-16s and M-4s in there service then in 2012 the Army bought alot of M-4s from at first Remington now FN face it ICC was doomed years ago.

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Rodney May 2, 2013 at 10:46 am

They could get the greatest gains for the money by selecting a new round, but that ain't gonna' happen anytime soon….

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Sivispace May 2, 2013 at 10:51 am

So once again the grunts get rat fucked by the politicians. The 6.8 SPC is head and shoulders above the 5.56. The 5.56 is great for urban combat and medium range engagements only. The M-4 is a great carbine as far as it goes. The HK version is better. An ideal carbine would be more modular allowing for conversion to SAW duty in small units. By now we know that optical sights improve first shot hit potential. Consequently, all our troops should have them standard. If the military needs to cut its budget, let it start with reducing at the top. And Congress needs to stop forcing the military to accept systems it does not need. The SCAR can be chambered in 6.8 SPC and a long barrelled conversion and Surefire high-capacity magazines could easily convert the SCAR into a SAW on the fly. The military also needs to get away from reinventing the wheel every time we need to upgrade. They should work with off-the-shelf technology like the SCAR and that would save billions and better protect our most precious asset, the man or woman down range.

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Vincent May 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I'm shocked and amazed.

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Peally May 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I love these massive (repeated) money wasting programs. They're always the living equivalent of a facepalm.

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Moondawg May 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm

The 6.8 SPC has problems with longer range ballistics. 6.5 Grendel is a better option if will give accuracy and good knock down power well past 600 meters. In fact the 6.5 Grendel would be a superior round for the SAW, or even a lightweight medium machine gun. It would also be superior for the short to medium range sniper/SDM.

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Sivispace May 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Good point. Can you fit as many rounds in a standard M-16 magazine?

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Moose May 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Good move. No M4 competitor is enough of an improvement over the M4 for the money, just like no metallic cartridge in the sub-7mm range offers enough of an improvement over the green 5.56mm round for the money. When the DoD is ready to embrace LSAT's caseless or polymer cased rounds, then we buy a new weapon built around it. That WILL be worth the money.

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stefan S May 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

They tried that in the late 80's early 90's HK had a caseless round. Don't plan on the morons to see a good thing.

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crackedlenses May 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

The Army never wanted this; they have been prodded along into doing this by well-meaning but ignorant members of Congress, and apparently they have been doing everything to get out of it.

The Army is no closer to dumping the M16/M4, and we just flushed scads of money and gun manufacturer's time and effort down the drain. Nice going…..

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sigmund May 2, 2013 at 4:41 pm

sweet.

more wasted money.

can we fire these people??? please???

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DB Cooper May 2, 2013 at 4:43 pm

This is a typical army procurement. Any of you guys old enough to remember the original Lightweight BDU's? Amy spent millions developing it and making enough to field to the army. Problem was the PM decided that the 71L's working in air conditioned offices in Bld4 at FT Benning were the ideal test bed candidates. The test was a success and when they uniform got to the field when you washed it once it came out of the drier looking like you'd been bird hunting with Dick Chaney:-)

Even though it appears that for the foreseeable future we will be in the middle east area with middle to long range engagements being common the army brass is stuck in the high mobility close combat mindset where the low mass high velocity bullet performs well. Looks like the army is going to be stuck with the 5.56 AR design for the next 50 years. I hope they at least develop a new more lethal ammo.

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An_Army_PM February 5, 2014 at 11:11 am

I am old enough to remember that rip-stop meant rip-no-stop. But with enough money and redevelopment it could be made to work…much like the M16.

Calm down all you M16 and M4 lovers! It is a decent weapon that exists only because the Army wanted a controllable squad automatic weapon that was smaller and less expensive than the M60.

M14s on full auto were uncontrollable. This plus NATO desires due to ammo costs was why 5.56 went into service. Lacking a desire to rechamber the Army for a smaller round, even political favors for Fairchild (owned Armalite while these decisions were being made) would not have been enough justification to dump the still-new and very popular M14 for the AR-10 or its child the AR-15.

In retrospect that was a very expensive decision, as the M16 required DECADES of development and refinement, and trainloads of money, to approximate the reliability that the M14 had within a year or two of initial fielding.

Don't tell me about 'new' vs 'old' designs. I've been issued and carried all of them in my 25 years in the Army. There are trade-offs between the two, no doubt.

But the point here is not in the rifle per se. 5.56 does not, and will never cut it at mid-to-long ranges. And, personal experience, that 75 year-old M1A design was (and still is) very competitive.

Now, if costs are a concern I would mention this: The Vietnam era M14s are still held in storage.

If you just want to get the Army and USMC to 7.62 individual weapons quickly and cheaply, it is a no-brainer.

But from the acquisition point of view that is not enough. As an acquisition process the change must generate enough profits for someone that they will buy the political clout to run interference when the M4 contractor-of-the-day squawks at losing his rice bowl.

None of the competitors in ICC are enough of an improvement – not only over the M4, but also over the low-cost solution stored M14 arsenal – to resist pushback from the current crop of defense rent-seekers.

And that, my friends, really and truly is how military acquisition decisions get made.

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stefan S May 2, 2013 at 5:40 pm

XM-8 anyone?

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hikerguy May 2, 2013 at 5:43 pm

As if any of us were really surprised.

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Kris May 2, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Thats what I was thinking.

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Johnny Quest May 2, 2013 at 6:06 pm

hK416 blows ass. A well lubed DI weapon is lighter, more accurate, less expensive, fewer parts, and it was originally designed that way. Few are true students of weaponry, and Gene Stoner does not get enough credit for his genius.

That being said, the 5.56 round and the various types within the genre are fine. If you need more ummph, jump to the 7.62x51mm and call it a day. F**K all that 6.5 and 6.8 crap.

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Agent_Orange May 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Doesn't take much to recognize a DI fanboy… much like the platform they coddle, they tend to foul their own nest.

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HCOREUSMC May 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm

please tell me im not the only one who saw this one coming, the army isn't great at that whole change thing. I knew from the beginning they weren't going to replace the m4 at least not for a good while yet. But despite my love and devotion to the HK416 and ACR aswell as the 6.8 caliber round as opposed to the 5.56, you have to admit that despite some downfalls the M4 has held up surprisingly well. All im saying is I saw this one from a mile away.

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HCOREUSMC May 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm
Paralus May 2, 2013 at 10:37 pm

It's funny, they budgeted for GCV, AMPV for sequestration but they neglected this.

Once they required that the price of any replacement be cheaper than the M4A1, it was doomed. It just needed an excuse like looming cuts for the Army to offer it up to the IG as budget fodder.

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Drew Del May 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm

YES! ACR's & FN SCAR's would be a big improvement over the m4/16's.

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Lance May 3, 2013 at 9:28 am

The SCAR offered rally nothing over the M-4. Both are 5.56mm pea shooters and both are modular.

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S. May 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm

You need to read some of the feedback from ACR owners.

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Joshua May 5, 2013 at 12:24 pm

You would be wrong, The SCAR suffers from issues that are not fixable without redesign and the weapon is in its 7th generation or so?

And the ACR is just laughable, They cannot even get the civilian models seeing 2000 rounds a year to run well.

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Wayne H. May 3, 2013 at 12:18 am

News for ya, the Enhanced M4 is going to be a piston M4. Deal with it.

And Doctor Eugene Stoner later designed the AR-18 and tried to sell it to the US Army, it is a gas piston rifle that also solves the other inherent problems with his AR-10/AR-15 design. The Army rejected it, so he approached the Italians, they bought it and built it under license and contract to Beretta a the AR-180. It's latest version is the ARX-180.

The Germans a Heckler & Koch took note and tweaked the design into what became the G36, and that was enhanced as the XM8. The piston system in the HK416 is based on the G36. Who has the HK416 (M27 IAR) replacing the M249? Right, the USMC.

So no, DI is not the best thing since sliced bread and pockets in jeans. It's far from it in fact.

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Joshua May 3, 2013 at 9:49 am

Incorrect, the Operating system part of the PiP was cancelled and honestly Piston guns offer little to no improvement over the M4A1. You remember the MK16…yeah that did not go as planned once it got past the lab testing and got into the field where it had issues.

Eugene Stoner designed the AR-16 after Armalite sold the patents of the AR-15 to Colt. Eugene Stoner did not make the AR-18 since he was a big bore man and preferred the 7.62. Sullivan scaled down the AR-16 into the AR-18. It is interesting that the last rifle Stoner made was the SR-25 for KAC.

The Marines also do not have the M27 replacing the M249, it supplemented it. There is a big difference between the two and there is a reason the HK416 won compared to the others which I cannot get into.

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DBCooper May 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

M27 IAR | Marines Magazinemarinesmagazine.dodlive.mil/2012/05/16/m27-iar/‎CachedMay 16, 2012 – In December 2010 initial fielding of the M249 SAW's replacement, the Heckler and Koch M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, was fielded and is now …

I remember when the marine general announce this. All I could think about was this guy is either a supply type or completely forgot everything he ever learned as a 2LT. US light machineguns were designed to be used as area suppression weapons and not pin point accurate engagements. Thats what rifle fire is supposed to do. Turn the M27 into a belt fed weapon and you'll have the best of both worlds

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Joshua May 3, 2013 at 11:06 am

The Marines like the whole BAR idea for whatever reason…..I have never understood it but I know one part is the guy with the SAW cannot easily clear a building, different strokes I guess.

They are still keeping the M249 so the M27 did not completely replace the M249, it supplemented it and could still be issued out if needed. The Army on the other hand chose to upgrade their M249's which IMO is the better idea. I will say once the M27 was in the system the Marines did look into getting it as their standard issue rifle….They found it to be far to costly and then looked into the M16 PiP and found that it was cheaper(70% cheaper than going full M27) and got them the required capabilities they needed.

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Joshua May 3, 2013 at 12:43 am

Heres my shocked face….I had called this ages ago. SOCOM learned these lessons early on and I am glad to see the Army is actually calling this now. Even the Marines looked into adopting a purpose built system but found a M16PiP was the best route to take…..Amazing huh.

On a side note there is a whole lot of those who have no idea what they are talking about posting, The HK416, SCAR, nor the ACR are leaps and bounds better than the M4A1. There is a reason most have moved to the M4CQBR and M4A1 after having some of those weapons

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Lance May 3, 2013 at 9:30 am

I agree I always said the most Senators who pressured the Army to make ICC where SCAR lovers and shock to them SOCOM ditched the L version and test shown it was not a world better than the M-4A1 reason SOCOM still uses M-4A1s for its 5.56mm carbine.

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JCitizen May 3, 2013 at 12:46 am

Sorry folks! But I am old enough to remember when the Individual Multi-Purpose(IMP) system was to be introduced clear back before 1981, and it died just like everything afterward. The M4 was not anything surprising 'cause in Vietnam we were playing with the XM177 carbine – which is basically an M4 – so go figure!! Nothing new under the sun here folks – just move along!

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William C. May 3, 2013 at 1:50 am

The 6.5mm Grendel isn't completely ideal as a combat cartridge either. The case dimensions would be a problem for belt fed weapons. We can do better than both.

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Trenchdoc18D May 3, 2013 at 2:28 am

Interesting banter going on here. Makes me chuckle

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Larry May 3, 2013 at 5:20 am

We need to remember that there are a lot of other parameters to consider when selecting a new round/configuration. One of the issues with the early caseless technology (maybe not the one that HK developed) was its stability over time in storage or its stability or safety when stored at high temperatures (read that as Iraq or Afghanistan). Some of it degraded over the course of several months (which is not unusual for military ammunition either at depot or at unit level) or it wasn't safe when the temps creeped up into the 100's.

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DBCooper May 3, 2013 at 7:12 am

Larry, your comment on caseless ammo is a good one. Most people don't know that the Army fielded its first caseless ammo back in vietnam in the Sheridan. The 155mm caseless round was considered cutting edge and worked beautifully. Problem was it was never tested in high humidity and rainy environments. The propellant got wet and crumbled and the only other round the gun fired was the Shillelagh AT missile. This made the vehicle nothing more than a lightly armored mobile machine gun.

History is full of military equipment fuck ups. In WW2 the navy fielded short 28 in barrels for the M-2's to the Seabees. This resulted in unburned powder building up in front of the fighting position. An old vet told me that every once in a while during attacks on his position he'd toss a lite match over the sand bags to burn it so that he wouldnt get blinded by the enevitable flask burn. The people who fielded those barrels knew that would happen but didnt care because their butts werent on the line.

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Adam May 3, 2013 at 6:23 am

Why do these incompetent fools still have jobs? Anyone else would have been fired after the first million lost not after several hundred. One team of competent men with a strict goal and timetable could have finished this. Not to mention congress. What happens when their approval rating drops to below 10%? Nothing?

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DBCooper May 3, 2013 at 7:00 am

Adam,

I work in a PM shop and I see this every day. The incompitents you speak of will soon be promoted and moved to bigger things to screw up. F up and move up.

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Matthew Cox May 3, 2013 at 6:56 am

Actually, individual carbine is what the Army has chosen to call it in the budget line, but Army officials have always referred to it as the Improved Carbine Competition. Just say'n

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Lance May 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

Just was a G-36 in new clothes no new improvement period.

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stefan s May 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm

You both missed my point. The GD DoD spend billions of tax dollars on projects only to cancel them at the last minute. Except the UCP/ACU nightmare.

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Joshua May 3, 2013 at 9:41 am

The current ammo selection is fine with MK262, M855A1, MK318, and brown tip in 5.56. A person skilled enough can make hits out to 500M or more with the M4. There is little to no reason to replace the 5.56 just so we can all run around and fight it out with mister hajji bad ass at 800M. Not to mention the astronomical cost of getting LC to completely retool, purchase new everything(manuals, training, spare parts, rifles, magazines, ect, ect.). Honestly it's not even their AK's that are the issue(those are not even 300M guns) its their 7.62x54r that is the ones we have to worry about, and for those we have weapons to counter.

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DBCooper May 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

Joshua,

We've had this discussion before. The standard 5.6 round just isnt up to the task and never has been. They could be improved but the army for some reason wants to stay with what they have. The army is the smallest its been in over 60 years and in that time it went from the M-1 to the M-14 to the M-16. It can be done easily however I do agree with what others have said – if it isnt an big improvement over what we currently have why change.

I do love my SCAR-17s though. Almost no recoil and the most accurate out of the box rifle I've ever fired..

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crackedlenses May 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Hopefully the Army will eventually phase in the SCAR to regular units; considering the current economic conditions, the Army in the meantime will probably get the best value by continuing to upgrade the M4A1 and 5.56 mm. ammunition it currently has.

Honestly, most of this mess about the M16/M4 seems to be a mix of Vietnam horror stories and personal preference conflicts. The last thing the Army needs is wading into the argument by fielding something new…..

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DBCooper May 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Cracked, The M-4/M-16 of today is a better weapon than the ones in Vietnam and the ammo that caused most of the problems is gone. Funny thing is the brit 5.56 fires so dirty that the army recommends a thorough cleaning of your weapon immediately after you finish firing it. Someone previously said that the army is to invested in ammo and parts to walk away from the M-4's and they are probably right. Putting the heavier barrel the rifle should have had put on it 20 years ago is a start.

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Lance May 4, 2013 at 10:07 am

The SCAR offered nothing over the M-4 and it was inferior in some ways. Newer none M-855 ammo is alot better in combat and since were moving back to the Pacific region and out of the sand box I think 5.56 will do just fine. 5.56mm is on par with enemy rounds better than 7.62×39 same as 5.45×39. way better than 5.8 PLA.

No planes for any new larger rifle the SCAR H isnt even coming out of SOCOM to Coopers disappointment. Army is intrenched into M-110 and M-14EBR weapons.

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Joshua May 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree.

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DBCooper May 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Josh, Its hard to find two people that agree about anything concerning guns. Everyone has their own idea about what a perfect weapon would be. Unfortunately weapons procurement for the military is usually based on politics, envy and bad combat doctrine.

Besides when everyone starts agreeing its time to get scared.

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John D May 3, 2013 at 10:45 am

Fire all the generals who wasted the ton of money on these worthless trials, like the ACUs, this has been a big wast of money and time. The data on any upgrades is avaliable in data bases all over the place! The testing and trials are a big waste of money. They build Grand Prix cars via computer models and design weapons by the same techniques. The old days of putting side by side comparisons under simulated combat fixed trials are ancient history!!

You have the basic weapons system in the M-16 platform, do the upgrades and buys the systems! The rest of it is a waste of time an dmoney!!

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11B May 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Optical sights ARE standard on every rifle, at least in the Army (im guessing Marines too). Also, @ Moondawg, the hit probability for the average grunt at 600m is very low. Add stress under fire and its almost nil. IMO, what the Army needs to do is add more squad level DMs with NEW rifles (not beat to shit m14s) and good glass. Something in 6.5/5.8/7.62 that can tag a dude and knock him down at 600m.

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Frank May 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm

OK, I don't think I've posted this anywhere in a year or more, so it's time. Forgive me if this has already been said but I have no intention of plowing through all the comments on favorite calibers and weapons. It's irrelevant. First off there will not be a new weapon or caliber for the remaining life of the United States (semi) Republic. The General officer Rodeo is completely happy with what's presently being used and that's that. Nothing else matters. If it didn't happen in Vietnam, where we faced a very formidable infantry opponent, it's certainly not going to happen now when we're facing extremely marginal opponents. And where it does matter (in SOC) those units have the ability to make changes… and they do. I've watched this "testing" cluster $*@# going on for 45 years. There's only one answer and it ain't a new weapon or caliber. I recommend the next study be done on a stick that levitates and fires Fairy Dust. The result will still be the same but hey, it will be money better spend.

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sigmund May 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

1.) The 416 is more advantageous when suppressed or during maritime operations.

2.) The 416 is more accurate than other AR equivalents (excluding varmint, non-military wunder guns) because of its cold hammer forged barrel.

3.) The internal piston (not DI) AR/M4/M16 is not without disadvantages, although, yes, Stoner was a genius.

4.) I agree, the 6.8 calibers present their own unique set of problems (faster barrel wear) and inherit similar weaknesses as 7.62 NATO (heavier ammunition, recoil, etc).

a intermediate (270 sized) cartridge could have been adopted way back in the 30s. it wasnt, life goes on. The Army is stupid that way. with the 276 pedersen, we wouldnt be having 5.56/7.62 caliber wars.

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sigmund May 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm

…now lets cut the F35 and GCV programs!!! pronto!

oh wait…probably wont happen.

Individual small arms? posh /sarc

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sam May 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm

amen to that

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FormerSFMedic May 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm

The ideal solution would be to go the .223 Remington route and develops a new cartridge from the ground up for combat. With that said, the 5.56 is adequate at getting the job done. Soldiers need to be able to make fast accurate hits before we start messing with carbines and ammunition. The only way that will get achieved is if the Army completely overhauls their training programs which probably won't happen anytime soon. The private sector has completely surpassed the military when it comes to training methods and shooting techniques. A new round would be great if that round was specifically developed from a blank sheet. The 6.8 and the 6.5 have inherent drawbacks that make them less than suitable for a service cartridge.

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S. May 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm

How do you feel about Mk262?

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FormerSFMedic May 5, 2013 at 10:07 am

I like the MK262 MOD1. If you know anything about the QC procedures over at Black Hills then you know the 262 is by far the most high quality ammo our guys use for 5.56 guns. The 262 has some serious effects on tissue all the way out to 700m or so. It's also extremely accurate and I would even argue that it's 50% of the accuracy we get from the MK12 systems with the rifle being the other half of the equation.

The advantages of 262 are also it's disadvantages. The 77 grain Sierra Matchking is a lightly constructed match bullet. The light construction makes it devastating on soft tissue but not so impressive at penetrating alternate barriers. With that said, how important is penetration through cinder block, light armor, light steel, etc. for our guys overseas? That's what you would have to consider. Me personally, I think the Army has gotten too fixated on penetration through armor. An infantry squad is always going to have SAW gunners, grenadiers, maybe a rocket or two, and maybe even a heavy belt fed to get through the big stuff. Add in close air support, artillery, mortars, and grenades and penetration for the rifleman doesn't seem so important. I think the 262 would be a great cartridge for the rifleman if there was just enough to go around.

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Kaos 1 May 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Just to make it clear , FN's rifle in the competition is not the "scar". It's the "FNAC".

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crackedlenses May 3, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Which looks for all intents and purposes like a pared-down version of their SCAR….

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Moondawg May 4, 2013 at 6:08 am

I have to agree with JQ on the advantages of DI. It's been proven again and again, around the world, over the past 50 years. Piston systems add weight, additional parts to fail, and do not help accuracy. When you fire a round the carbon and powder/primer debris has to go somewhere. In a piston system it just clogs up the piston and related parts, instead of going to the easily cleaned and lubed carrier.

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oscar d May 6, 2013 at 3:39 pm

We here in the Philippines have been fighting the longest running counter-insurgency in SE Asia. We don't have complaints with the M-16A1 nor with the .223. There was this time though that AFP leadership decided to use plastic mags. Boy that was a clustersuck. To the leadership's credit, those mags were pulled out. DI? .223/5.56? No problem. To the lowly Filipino Soldier, they worked fine. The only difference though is that we don't have internet keyboard commandos here who think they know better than the lowly Filipino fighting man.

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billywhat? May 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Lets look around us? Could we find an army thats always on tight budgets, thats always fighting wars and who have replaced M4/M16? Yes, the israelis did, they replaced them with the tar-21. Its a real step up. More accurate, long barrel in a short package, it does not jam or quit on you. And because of weight distribution its easy to carry when you are walking around all day with it. I say, buy that!

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Lance May 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

The TAR 21 is a urban combat rifle and lacks accracy or good ergonomics none bullpups have for regular infantry fighting in none West Bank wars.

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Joshua May 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Last time I checked the M4 does not jam or quit on you either, unless your some lazy ass(not a reference to you just a comment.) who refuses to clean their rifles in the field after 2 days of use.

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Matt Woodbury May 5, 2013 at 6:06 am

of course this deevolved into a DI vs Piston pissing contest, glad to see a wasteful pointless program cut.

the M4 did what I needed it to do. it's a fine weapon. seems to me that an awful lot of folks allow personal biases in weapons systems to cloud the results. the guys deserve the best.

is the M4 the best? maybe…I sure liked mine.

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JCitizen May 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

To address comments on the Direct Gas Impingement system vs. Piston system, I feel a little history is in order here:

Eugene Stoner sold the AR-16 system to Colt because he was sure he could promote the AR-18 and Stoner 63 systems to the Armed Forces as they were the superior design. However Eugene underestimated the ability of Colt to forge the then new science of aircraft grade aluminum in the receivers and make a relatively cheap modern light weight system in mass quantities, which is what the Army needed – and fast.

Forging is one of the most economical and fast ways to build any metal part in industry, and the relatively simple gas impingement system could easily be made in droves in regular engine lathe machine turning centers. This does not mean the design is necessarily the best combat design in the world, just one of the easiest to manufacture, and assemble/disassemble. I realize that DI vs Piston is probably a dead issue for now, but I've owned several Stoner designs, and in my testing, the piston system was vastly easier to keep clean, and just as easy if not easier to disassemble in the field. I got the same MOA groups on paper at 100 meters that I did with the M-16/15 rifle, but I was using the Armalite AR-18/180 systems. My only gripe was the crappy stamped steel receiver of the AR-18; the AR-15 definitely has the superior construction and resistance to corrosion and battle field damage in the forged aluminum receiver. I once witnesses an M-16 run over by an M-35A1 2 and 1/2 Ton truck and a fully loaded water "buffalo" trailer, with NO damage to the metal or barrel alignment in any way. I was the armorer and replaced only the hand guards to make it like new again. That will make a believer out of anyone.

However – that does not mean I would NOT prefer a combination of both of the best from both designs – just how hard is that do to now days? We have modern CNC powered factories and I just don't understand why we can't get a piston gas system going here. I've worked on M-16s for thirteen years and I can tell you I am sick of maintaining that damn direct gas impingement system and it should be relegated to the dustbin of history as an obsolete design, just like Eugene thought he was doing 50 years ago!

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FormerSFMedic May 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I have been involved with the testing of DI and piston guns on countless occasions for years now. Some of those tests and evaluations even pit DI against piston systems. Early on, around 2004, I was a big fan of the piston guns. They seemed to offer big advantages over the legacy operating system. At least on paper. When we started really testing the guns we started to realize that the piston guns were more of a niche system than anything. In many tests the DI guns ran better than the piston guns and in almost every test the DI guns could maintain accuracy through heavy round counts when the piston system could not.

I don't subscribe to the "DI vs piston debate". I just look at the data and combine that with my own experience. With that said, I would choose a DI gun for pretty much any mission. The niche for piston guns is with SBR's and even then I think a DI gun can still get the job done especially when suppressed. If a piston system is your choice I reccomend going with a platform that was built as a piston gun from the beggining. In the AR15/10 the DI gun still rules. That's why Stoner continued working with this design all the way into the late 1980's.

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Joshua May 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Good point. Personally I had great success with my CQBR suppressed. One thing I really like about the Stone piston system(the AR-15 is not a true DI system) is that when firing suppressed I can easily access the piston if it starts getting sluggish by adding a few drops of oil through the vent holes in the carrier. When it comes to suppressed there is little to no difference in how dirty piston Vs. DI gets, one just allows me to keep the moving parts oiled.

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JCitizen May 6, 2013 at 5:36 pm

There is no doubt that if one uses a piston system, it better be designed from the ground up, as that type of technology. I see a lot of 'niche' designs that are basically conversion of DI systems; it is no wonder they perform poorly. I don't agree with some posts here that pistons add more weight or more parts to the maintenance. Many good designs weigh the same as the M-4, and have fewer parts in the check list.

For wide open country, I like my Israeli built 7.62x51mm FAL – I can bank on that battle rifle in Denver! Confidence is paramount if I'm planning on going in harms way. I've always been nervous carrying any M16 variant unless the M203 was mounted – then I could sleep well! I must admit though, that some of my buds in the GWOT tell me the M240 and M249 aren't entirely reliable either, and they have piston actuation. I don't know if these guys did their PMCS or not.

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Sivispace May 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm

For my SHTF I have an IMBEL FAL topped with a Leupold VR-X 1.5-3 and an HK-91 with an IOR Valdada M-2 CQB scope. For close up and covert help, I have a V-51 pistol with an EOTECH 551 sight. It takes the same mags as the HK and offers a lot of mahem out to 300 meters in a briefcase size. Yes, I have a couple of AR carbines but that V-51 pistol is my go to for heading out of town.

JCitizen May 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I here you there Sivispace! I can't complain about the roller block lockup of that HK platform, it was awesome on the MG3 also! Total reliability there! My only complaint was that some versions had flutes in the chamber to augment extraction, and that damaged the shells beyond a state of good reloading stock. But – If your using Berdan primed steel cartridges who cares? Nothing beats a good recoil operated machine. Browning's .50 cal M2 HBMG is also good evidence of that.

sigmund May 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I prefer my Vepr (7.62x54R) for open country but FALs are fine too!

JCitizen May 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm

@sigmund;

Yes! IF you can find one! PKMs have disappeared from the market too. I'm afraid I wouldn't accept a Dragunov, of which most are junk , but VEPRs are solid stock with receivers that may possibly be stronger than most variants of the PKM.

Joshua May 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Your history is a bit off. First off Armalite sold the AR-15 to Colt, and with Stoner being a designer he then created the AR-16 in 7.62 which was later scaled down to the AR-18 by Sullivan, just like what happened to the AR-10 – AR-15.

When Stoner left Armalite he went to Colt to continue work on the AR-15 and in his later years went to KAC where he created…..Guess what? The SR-25 which is of course DI.

Since you also mention the cleaning aspect I will say that there is military cleaning….and proper cleaning. If I was not trying to pass inspection I chose to just take out the BCG and wipe it down, wipe down the inside of the receiver/chamber(chamber mop) and run a patch or two down the bore and then relube, the whole thing took me 5 minutes or so and I never once had issues with my rifle outside of ammo/magazines which are out of anyones control.

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JCitizen May 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Thanks for your post Joshua – for those interested, please also see the reference guide 'Small Arms of the World' for more history on the matter. I will always advocate for piston gas systems; I guess that will always be a determined debate subject.

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Joshua May 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Certainly. Stoner also did other ventures and even made a company of his own, but you get the general gist of what he did with my post.

Moondawg May 5, 2013 at 6:09 am

The reminds me of the early 1989s when congress tasked the Army with procuring a 9mm replacement the elderly 1911a1. It dragged it's feet, procrastinated, and did everything it could to gum up the process. Finally congress striped all funding for pistol ammo from the Army and we ended up with the Beretta . At the time, the AF was the driver behind the change in pistol calibers. The Army and USMC were happy with the 1911, and the Navy didn't much care one way or the other. In the long run, it probably would have been better if Congress has listened to the Army and USMC, and kept the 1911. Let the AF procure whatever wonder nine it wanted. All the Army and USMC wanted to do was replace all its 40+ year old 1911A1 slides and frames with brand new pistols of the same design and caliber. They felt the venerable 1911 worked fine for it's intended purpose. It was the AF that demanded a lightweight, high speed, low drag, small caliber sidearm.

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Joshua May 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

The Beretta is a much simpler weapon to maintain than a 1911, though MARSOC recently chose Colt to make the new M45A1(this is a different animal requiring no hand fitting….a very rare thing for a 1911).

Not only that but the Beretta outperformed the 1911 in the trials by a great degree only being beat by the Sig by an average of .5% while the Sig absolutely failed the dried mud test which was later thrown out so that Beretta would have some competition for pricing. In the pricing Beretta offered a cheaper, better package than Sig and won due to pricing and the fact that the handguns were both even during testing.

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Lance May 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm

I agree the reason we went to 9mm is that women complained too much about .45 recoil and we needed to be NATO compatible. The reason we dont have a new rifle caliber is that 5.56mm is NATO standard and we wont change from that.

The M-9 is fine carried one for years no problems what so ever. better than the SiG in fit and reliability handling in my opinion.

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DB Cooper May 6, 2013 at 7:34 am

-I agree the reason we went to 9mm is that women complained too much about .45 recoil and we needed to be NATO compatible.

Lance I was active duty back then and the first haalf of your comment is pure BS but the second part is closer to being true. However the NATO countries thought were nuts for going to the 9mm because of its combat proven ineffectiveness.

- The reason we dont have a new rifle caliber is that 5.56mm is NATO standard and we wont change from that.

Thats a NATO standard we set and not vise versa. The other NATO countries were looking at rounds in the 6-6.8 calibar range for their next rifle because it combined lethality with range and and controlability/lower recoil than the 7.62. Once again they thought we were nuts but many went to the 5.56 because if the balloon went up the US would be supplying them with ammo. Most of the NATO countries never had more than a one day supply of ammo.

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sigmund May 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

we went to 9mm because it was standardized by NATO and the military realized that it is absolute idiocy to field a handgun that is more or less similarly effective with only a seven round magazine instead of fifteen.

Personally, the military would have been better with the Glock 17 but whatever. I like the M9 beretta too.

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MCB May 6, 2013 at 7:14 am

April 2003, just south of Baghdad, I cleaned my fantactic, greatest thing ever, most tested M-9 with my issued cleaning toothbrush. Upon doing a functions check, the BEST EVER Berretta M-9 failed to work in double action mode. The problem was the little leaf spring inside the right grip pannel was dis-lodged by the army issued toothbrush, from cleaning the dust out of the mag well. Luckly the armor was; 1 accessable and 2 carried a bag full of the leaf springs because they frequently came out. So much for the daunted, most tested piece of crap M-9. Just my opinion and personel experience.

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GWB May 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Sounds like a training problem to me son. Pretend the magwell is your mouth and you're brushing it carefully and gently rather than you thinking your servicing the mouth of a Subic Bay pole dancer my friend.

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Moondawg May 5, 2013 at 6:09 am

Sorry, should be 1980s

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Moondawg May 5, 2013 at 6:23 am

I cannot see that the TAR-21 has enough advantages over the improved M-4 to make it worth the cost of replacing the M-4 with it. It appears to have been designed as primarily an urban warfare weapon. Israel is a small country, and it's army is going to stay pretty close to home for all its fighting. The U.S. ground forces are global in nature.

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crackedlenses May 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

Not to mention having to retrain to use a bulpup; the Tavor is likely a good weapon, just not what the US military needs….

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Joshua May 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

The TAR-21 is a very poor weapon with numerous issues that are not publicized, There is a reason the X95 is not being issues instead of the TAR-21.

Not only that but no one here wants a Bullpup, the standard design is far superior to the bullpup design.

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Lance May 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I agree ergonomics and handling with Bullpups sucks reason most large military's dont use them.

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sigmund May 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

which issues with the tavor???

perhaps it will make me rethink my purchase of one from atlantic firearms

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S. May 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I think the whole 5.56 vs 7.62 argument has to do with the way we're fighting in Afghanistan and didn't hear about it during Iraq. A writer on Breach, Bang, Clear wrote an article about how he noticed when troops are engaged they tend to stay put and return fire. You don't see troops maneuvering towards the enemy. This is possibly why the whole 5.56 issue is being brought up.

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S. May 5, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I mean the 5.56 vs any other round argument*

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crackedlenses May 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Good catch. Afghanistan definitely has longer ranges of engagement then Iraq did. One could perhaps say that the extended distances being encountered are the exception and not the rule….

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DB Cooper May 7, 2013 at 7:17 am

Cracked,

Afghanistan may or may not be the exception to the rule but rifles soldiers are a result/reflection of army combat doctrine and plain old dick measuring contests. Up until Vietnam we were not a high speed mobile army and combat engagement ranges began at longer ranges so higher calibars and longer rifles were desireable. We go the AR-15 because the russians had the AKs and by god were were going to have one too (same reason why we procured the Bradley). Shorter lighter weapons were more desireble at the close combat ranges in vietnam and for high mobility mech infantry. We also traded the massive injuries caused by larger calibar rounds for multiple hit smaller rounds. In WW2 the basic load for an infantryman was 50 rds for the M-1 vs 210rd for the AR-15/M-16. With the increased power of the M-885 round the army was able to shorten the weapon for the firing ports on the M-2 Bradley. The firing ports were another F@ck up. The army didnt learn a thing from the soviets use of firing ports. Soviet soldiers refused to leave the percieved safety of their vehicle.

That was a long winded way of saying Afghanistan should be an excellent example of why the army needs a modular weapon so a longer barrel for long range shooting can be made practical. If staying with 5.56 get rid of the SS-109 flying ice pick. Thats all it is after 100 meters with that steel core.

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crackedlenses May 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm

"We go the AR-15 because the russians had the AKs and by god were were going to have one too (same reason why we procured the Bradley)."

And the Russians got the AK because the Germans had the Stug-44. In both cases you list the Russians were fundamentally right. The AK/AR-15 and the BMP/Bradley still work and are used in large numbers to this day.

"That was a long winded way of saying Afghanistan should be an excellent example of why the army needs a modular weapon so a longer barrel for long range shooting can be made practical."

That is a big reason why I rooted for the XM8 and now root for the SCAR to become the next infantry weapon, supplementing if not eventually replacing the M16/M4. I don't see any problems with the current 5.56 ammunition (and the Army will keep doggedly improving it), but I believe that the only way to settle this whole debate is to make 5.56 and 7.62 rifles and carbines available to the average rifleman, and let them pick and choose, depending on the mission and their personal preferences.

Because, at the end of the day, preference is what most of this debate boils down to. Many have used 5.56 and would bet their lives on it. Others will never like or trust it. Solution? Give them both….

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Joshua May 7, 2013 at 11:57 pm

The XM8 sucked and the SCAR-L has issues that no one is allowed to comment about due to NDA's…

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MCB May 7, 2013 at 11:15 am

GWB,

Thanks for the advice! I started carring a GI issue 1911A1 in 1976 when I was enlisted in B 1/75 (M-60 gunner), carried it in jungles, mountains, artic, desert, just about every enviroment. Cleaned it with the army tooth brush and never had an issue with it not functioning or firing when I squeesed the trigger. I guess after 36 years of service, five "official" combat tours and numerous "others", a little training would be in order; then again I'm retired now and can carry what I want. The last good hand gun I carried in Afghanistan was a HK USP 45 acp, no problems with it either.

V/R

MCB

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Joshua May 7, 2013 at 11:53 pm

The Glock did not compete, and I am not even sure it was invented yet. Those trials were in the 80's.

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Joshua May 7, 2013 at 11:55 pm

I have no idea if the Civilian one has the fixed of the X95 or not since I have not had the opportunity to check them out, but bolt breakage was a huge problem as were a few others with small parts breaking. The X95 fixed those issues though and for the most part is a nice weapon.

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crackedlenses May 8, 2013 at 11:50 am

@Joshua

"The XM8 sucked and the SCAR-L has issues that no one is allowed to comment about due to NDA’s…"

Hence the fact that we are still using the M16/M4 dozens of shiny new rifles later. Hey, maybe the Army is right and the internet commando ranks are wrong after all…..

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DB Cooper May 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Cracked, After dealing with the military for close to 40 years my vote is for typical indecisive and incompetent, don’t rock the boat officers and govi’s running the operation. Look at how badly they continue to screw up the uniforms and about every other procurement. Its not about providing a good piece of equipment for the soldier its about not making waves and presenting the appearence that the stuff works and thats how you get promoted. Look how long the army has stayed with the M-203. It still had a high dud rate in soft earth areas and is next to worthless in many areas as in urban and jungle settings because like a mortor its high arc. In vietnam they had to use quick arming rounds because of the often short range engagements which meant they had to be sued in direct fire.

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sigmund May 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm

well screw it then.

Ill stick with my trusty AKs ;)

ill stay away from the tavor and the SCAR. I never fully trusted purchasing a SCAR L because since it is newly introduced (in 2007 I believe), there needs to be some time before it is tested and experience is gained through it (Non Disclosure Agreements in reference to the SCAR…W…T….F…!?!?!?)

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sigmund May 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm

in the case of the F35, it was a trillion dollars (I wish i was joking) and its still going strong >:(

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sigmund May 8, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I have a collection of Vepr rifles, one in 5.45 (my fighting rifle with a surefire and aimpoint ((thank god for RS products and texas triggers)), one in 7.62×54 and one in 7.62 NATO both configured like Dragunovs. Both are extremely accurate, on par, if not superior in some ways to the original Dragunov and definitely more than the Romaks.

Yes, they are scarce right now. To me, they are the best deal for a designated marksman rifle combining excellent build quality with superior accuracy and a comparatively inexpensive (pre panic prices) price. They are also lighter than a M14.

And they use the same receiver and trunnion as a RPK (in the intermediate calibers). I think the same barrels too.

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DB Cooper May 9, 2013 at 4:42 am

Guys,

I have a question regarding the Dragunov's and recent anti gun laws. In the State of Maryland they specifically outlawed the ownership of CHINESE made Dragunovs. Why not Russian, or Romanian etc made Dragonov's? There are other head shackers too like outlawing M&P9 and M&P45 but not the M&P40 . They are the same pistol design, just different calibars.

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sigmund May 8, 2013 at 7:38 pm

that makes sense joshua. the lack of a external safety also wouldnt go over well in big army i assume.

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MarkM May 8, 2013 at 8:32 pm

So, what's the status on the LSAT? If we are talking major budget cutting, and dumping the ICC to just leave well enough alone, then are we still shoveling money into caseless technology?

If LSAT is still moving forward, then it could be construed that it's working well enough to not bother spending the money on a loser. If it's getting cut, too, it's a big indicator the M4 isn't such a POS after all – or that the money is a lot more important itself, in national strategic terms.

What about the LSAT? That tells us things from another perspective. It sure beats the monkey dancing going on here.

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JCitizen May 8, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I'm praying I can get my hands on a Beretta ARX 100 after they come out. I've always been interested in something that took AR magazines that had a removable barrel, in 5.56mm NATO, that was cheaper than an M249. The ROBARM M96 Expeditionary rifle has disappeared off the market, so I'm not wanting something that has no support. So far the design looks promising as far as completely being ambidextrous and convertible to the max. I don't know about accuracy, but it has to be more accurate than an AK or Mini 14! This design looks way more convertible than the Robinson's Armament XCR; which doesn't have much factory support, and is complicated in barrel changing. Basically I'm looking for a light squad support weapon, of course.

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FormerSFMedic May 8, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Unfortunately the average infantryman is NOT experienced enough nor knowledgeable enough to make the choice between 5.56 and 7.62. Not only that but the majority of those soldiers aren't skilled enough to squeeze the full capability out of either of those cartridges. I'm not trying to beat a dead horse but the Army MUST overhaul the infantryman's training FIRST before going with new cartridges and/or service rifles. The 5.56 WILL get the job done if the shooter does his part.

The Army chose to go with the 5.56 not because of NATO OR to compeat with other service rifles of the time. They went with 5.56 in light of the research done prior to it's adoption.

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DB Cooper May 9, 2013 at 4:26 am

SF I agree with you about training our soldiers to use their weapons better but you need to dig deeper into history about why we adopted the 5.56. The round was rejected 3 times as being inadequate. The general opinion was if the round couldnt reliably drop a white tailed deer with one shot its not a powerful enough for use in a military rifle. The original purchase was for the AF and then forced on the army.

Also In IOBC almost 30 years ago we were taught that only very few soldiers actually shoot AT the enemy. Most soldiers point their weapons in the direction of the enemy and fire. WW2 had the highest rate of soldiers actually shooting to hit the enemy and that was 1 in 10. Its also the reason FA and mortars have always been the biggest killer of the enemy on the battle field.

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Joshua May 10, 2013 at 8:24 am

The reason we chose the 5.56 was because studies showed that combat distances were 200M or less, even then the majority still wanted a .30 rifle. But a fraction of the military was interested in the idea of a light weight, controlable select fire rifle using a SCHV round.(small-caliber, high-velocity).

At the time the .222 was the hottest varmint cartridge on the market and was the base for the scaled down AR-10, but it was found the .222 did not have enough velocity so the .222 Magnum was chosen. Due to the severe shoulder angle it had, it was less than ideal for a semi auto magazine fed rifle. So they decided to lengthen the case to make it work and thus the 5.56 was created.

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DB Cooper May 10, 2013 at 9:12 am

Josh, the decision was political not practical. Just like Styker.

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Sivispace May 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

I hate to perpetuate the DI vs. piston debate but it seems to me that the main problem with reliability of the DI system was related to dirty ammo and poor maintenance practices. I'm no physicist but it seems to me that more massive ammo, i.e., 7mm or greater might provide enough mass and inertia to make the debate more meaningless than it already is. Besides, rifles are like women-you can never have too many. One is not enough. They can all be tempermental. And when they are dirty, our lives get interesting.

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Ryan May 21, 2013 at 9:50 am

I agree. I like the Grendel but a 240 Bravo would choke to death, that shoulder just ain't no good for the hungry ones. I personally say just go 7.62 x 51mm on everything and be done with it. AR platform's awesome with 7.62 already.

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