Marines Leaders Finally Embrace the M4 Carbine


The Marine Corps may finally follow the U.S. Army and Special Operations Command with its plan to replace its M16s with M4 Carbines.

Marine officials recently announced the service wants to adopt the M4 Carbine to replace its beloved M16A4 for Marine infantry units, according to a source familiar with the effort.

The Army made the same decision in 2009 to replace its M16A4s with the M4. The lightweight weapon’s compact size makes it ideal working in tight quarters such as urban operations.

The M16A4 is 39.6 inches long and weighs about 8.8 pounds. The M4 is 33 inches long with its stock fully extended and 29.75 inches long with the stock retracted. It weighs about 7.5 pounds.

The M4, however, is not new to the Corps. The service has been issuing M4s to select Marines about a decade.

Change is slow. Marine Corps senior leaders have always had an extreme fondness for anything that can double as a club for beating the enemy to death.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • Kevin O. Moore

    Mr. Cox, always right on target almost thirty years behind. The USMC issued the first requirement for the M4 Carbine back in the 1980’s.

    • Daniel E. Watters

      The XM4 Carbine originated from a Quick Reaction Program initiated by the US Army’s 9th Infantry Division in April 1983. Not long afterwards, the USMC came up with its own requirement for a compact 5.56mm weapon for Force Recon units in order to replace the M3A1 SMG. The XM4 became a joint Army/Marine Corps program sometime in 1985, but the Army pulled its funding in 1986. The USMC actually approved the carbine for service use as early as May 1987. Besides the Force Recon requirement, there were plans to issue the carbine as pistol substitute within the Fleet Marine Force as a whole. However, Congress used the lack of Army interest in the XM4 as one of many excuses to refuse funding for the Corps’ carbine acquisition plans. After multiple years of failing to gain congressional approval, the USMC gave up on the carbine for nearly a decade. The Army stepped back in around 1989, adopting the USMC’s Required Operational Capability document for the carbine. Even the Army couldn’t scrape together sufficient funding to support the XM4 carbine’s type classification until 1991. In the meantime, Force Recon received the HK MP5N as their M3A1 SMG replacement, until they finally got their M4A1 carbines around 1998.

      • Carl

        And yet the marines can fund their own air force with a number of F-35’s jets at $160 million a pop. How many M4’s could you buy for that amount?

        • Mike

          Aviation funds come from a different pot of money controlled by Naval Aviation.

      • The history of the M4 Carbine is not independent of the CAR 15 & XM177 or the M16A1 carbine with 14.5″ barrel. These efforts range back to the mid 1960’s where the Army and the Air Force were primary proponents.

        • Daniel E. Watters

          That is true. The 9th Infantry Division’s Quick Reaction Program request in 1983 was originally framed in terms of a modified XM177E2 with improved furniture and a 1-7″ twist barrel.

        • Daniel E. Watters

          I found some of the proposed procurement figures in a 1988 budget hearing. The USMC requested 897 XM4 in their Fiscal Year 1987 budget. This was increased to 8,814 XM4 in subsequent budget years.

    • Greg

      The requirement was for replacing SMGs for dismounts, with a new carbine. Not frontliners. The M4 was never meant to be used in the same role as a superior range rifle like the M16. Integrity level of the internal parts and barrel are clear indicator of that. Hence the Army and field foul-ups with the M4 jamming.

    • guest

      I recall carrying a short barreled M16 type carbine in Viet Nam, circa: 1970. I was in the Army,

    • straps

      Cheap shot. You’re correct that this weapon has been in Evals for a loong while. This is the first sign that they will see use in the field–or whatever arcane term Marines describe when the mean “most everyone gets one.” Mr. Cox notes that some elements have had the M4 for quite a while.

      What I’m interested to see is what this weapon does to Qual scores. M4s are NOT forgiving weapons, though the the SOCOM improvements go a loong way, and serve as continued proof of the Marines’ “Go ahead, refine this thing until it actually works, we’ll give it another look when you’ve worked the bugs out of it” approach.

      • Marine brass was not complaining about M4 reliability. Remember the Marines have been issuing M4’s to Force Recon for decades and its officers and NCO’s since ’07. If one want to say the Corps didn’t trust the M4 you have to admit the Corps was issuing its most elite with an unreliable rifle. Doubtful. Heck, they are going to take those same weapons that are already in the Corps’ inventory and start issuing them. Why would they do that if they doubted its reliability?

        In the past what Marine brass did say were primary concerns about adopting the M4 across the branch were its crowd control/hand-to-hand versatility, range and effectiveness against targets (IMO more a function of the ammo than the minor velocity difference).

        Seems there will be an attempt to make excuses for the Marines tardiness in adopting the M4 instead of looking to the historical tendency of the Marines to resist change when it comes to its service rifle. The same thing happened with the M1, M14, M16 and optics. The Marines in some ways, are more traditional than other branches and resistant to change. Let’s embrace that truth which isn’t necessarily bad than blaming external factors. E.G. Former Marine Commandant, Gen Conway, “Well, the Marine Corps will always be a rifle Marine Corps. The carbine is an extension of the pistol, not a reduction of a rifle.”

        Finally, the M4A1 has been fielded for a very long time in the Army’s SF community. It was not hidden away from Marine eyes if they were really interested in M4 fielding. There’s also the fact that Marines initiated the M4 program in the 80’s. Were they trying to bring on an unproven rifle then? No. The traditional Corps and money were the reasons then not a weakness in the system.

  • Stefan S.

    Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children are always late to the party. Navy needs to give them a hug.

    • Lance

      Nope the navy uses the M-16A2 still as well as M-16A4s probably from the cancelled Army contracts. Only helicopter/ small boat crewmen and SEALs use M-4s in the Navy most seamen and Seabees use M-16s. Why not its not there normal job to shoot anyway.

      • Guest

        Not correct. EOD has been issued M4s for some time now. I know a number of sailors who would beg to differ with regards your comment about shooting not being a part of their normal job.

      • Guest

        The Navy submarine force has been using M4/M4A1 carbines for shipboard force protection for over a decade, on a select few boats. Now all boats have the option and haven taken advantage over the last several years.

    • Jango Soprano

      Wow, how original. Marine Bashing. let me get my lawn chair. If you did your research you would see that Recon had them ages ago and the Marines did research this way on back.

    • straps

      Not late to the party, they just insist that the weapon WORK before adoption.

      My unit transitioned from M16A2s to M4s in late, as we prepped for a Kosovo rotation. Some of us considered ourselves pretty good shots, but the M4 was humbling. NOT a forgiving weapon, NOT helped by the discrepancy between barrel twist, barrel length and the ammo characteristics of the time (we were using old stocks of M193 and beyond 50M, the published ballistics info was pure fiction–more reliable info was being made available on this new place called the world wide web). The M4 got us back on to fundamentals and into the books and we bridged the gap. And then by October, there was more ammo to train with.

      I’ve had the opportunity to fire SOPMOD and the SOC variants on the flat range and each is a cumulatively more accurate weapons system. Willing to bet the longevity is better also.

      So yeah, late. Fashionably so.

      • “they just insist that the weapon WORK before adoption.”

        The Corps will in fact be using M4’s it started acquiring in ’07. Why would the Corps be issuing a weapon that doesn’t “work” starting in ’07? The M4 has been working for quite awhile.

  • lance

    Wrong on two accounts one not all brass and the USMC commandant have yet approved this measure and two the Marines on small arms where usually ahead of the Army like Adopting the M-16A2 in the 80s Adopting the M-240 in the 90s and if the do reject this idea I don’t see any disadvantage the M-16A4 is a good weapon and in open combat in Afghanistan been proven better than the kiddy M-4 in open area combat.

    • seans

      The M4 is just as capable in Afghanistan as the M16. The range difference is neglible, especially in combat. Have you any military experience?

      • Lamar

        Yes, 2 tours in Afghanistan as a USMC Grunt. A4 outranges M4 in shooting across farm fields and in the mountains, especially when you add in an ACOG. We ran into an issue where tangos would engage us with Med MG’s only because they knew our A4’s would out range their AK’s. That being said, the M4 is more practical getting in/out of MRAPS and the weight difference is huge when humping through opium paddies for hours on end. I carried an A2 & A4 in Iraq for 2 tours, and an M4/203 in Afghanistan. I pick the M4 personally. Keep the DM’s with scoped A4’s or the modified/Suppressed A2’s, all others should carry the IAR or M4/203.

        • USMC1995

          I’m calling bull on this. No one calls them tango’s outside of COD.

      • Lance

        Then why make the change the USMC has more to do with foot patrols and longer range shots than the Striker units in the Army so then this idea is a waste of time.

      • Anthony

        Still has what we cal “combat accuracy”. I’ve never shot a person in an actual combat scenario past 120m. My m4 I have issued now and I’ve had the same one (miracle) sense 2012 has NEVER malfunctioned on me once.

        By the way ground pounders don’t use the a1 as it is full auto and suppressor ready. Snipers and up use them. Some POGs have them. But as a current squad leader and past rifleman I assure you there is none in our battalion except for the ones with snipers.

        • Justin

          Oh no! You said the P word!!!

      • straps

        No, he’s mostly right. A4 ballistics and accuracy are superior. M4 with 855 runs out of gas and spins out at Afghanistan distances and altitudes.

        That said, the SOC variants have heavier barrels and the variants I saw had floated rails (which will be ENORMOUSLY useful to Marines who LOOOOVE that front sling tension). With ‘262 Ammo it’s a closer gap.

        I WECSOG’d an M16A5–A4 barrel in a floated rail with a VLTOR-designed buffer in a shortened tube. Best of all worlds–especially in battle rattle. Luckily, I didn’t get enough use of it to gauge reliability in long fights but it was a blast to shoot.

    • Badshot

      Please provide factual data to support your assertion regarding the A4 v M4

      • Lance

        try talking to a vet read a bit the Black Rifle is a good start.

        • guest

          Out of print, very difficult to find and very expensive even for a used copy.

    • “two the Marines on small arms where usually ahead of the Army”

      Really? Actually they are not and are more likely to follow suit on an Army small arms decision.

      The Army adopted the M1 Garand in 1936. Marines did it in 1938.
      The Army invented the M14 and started fielding it in 1959. Marines in 1962.
      The Army adopts M16 for jungle ops 1963. Marines experimented with it in 1966-’67
      No doubt Marines led the way with the M16A2.
      Army has continually been issuing cut down M16’s since the mid 1960’s and in large numbers to the conventional forces in the late 1990’s. Marines issued M4s to officers/NCO’s starting only in 2007.
      Army started issuing optics wholesale in the late 1990’s. Marines grudgingly started in about 2003.

      While I don’t think the Army is the only branch that’s innovative there’s a knee jerk assumption that the Marines innovate more than any other branch. It’s simply not true. Anyone who looks past just the recent history they are using to prove a false belief can see that. All the branches at some point or another “lead the way”.

      • lance

        its a mixed picture. So the marine did lead on the M-16A2 and amphibious APCs. Army did better on getting to semi auto firearms and on tanks. The USMC didn’t adopt the M-1 till 1942 after combat experience on Guadalcanal showed the M-1 to be better than Mauser based M-1903s and Japanese Arisaka rifles.

        • Marines adopted the M1 in ’38 four years before Guadalcanal. Slow procurment had Marines at Gudalcanal not sporting M1’s just like some US soldiers when they landed in Africa.

          It’s mixed but not as much as many think or try to project. There’s a lot more than what you listed e.g. artillery, trucks, munitions, machineguns, AT weapons, mortars, camo etc. and in many of these the Army has and continues to set the pace.

          • guest

            When it comes to heavy weapons, historically and traditionally, the Marines have gotten the Army’s cast offs and obsolete weaponry.

          • That is a very famous and notorious myth promulgated for a variety of reasons but almost universally untrue. I have been unable to find one case of “used” Army equipment ever issued to Marines. There is no little old lady in sneakers stamping USMC on old Army equipment. It’s old USMC equipment.

            The Marines historically and typically leverage Army buys. Sometimes the BRAND NEW equipment is labelled “US” because the order was submitted too late to label USMC or was simply acceptable with a US. More recently the Marines have purchased service unique equipment which is again, brand new.

            The times Marines have had to deal with worn or obsolete equipment is because the Navy and the Corps replaces equipment at a much slower pace than the Army. Most recently this was the case with the M249 SAW the Marines said were failing and becoming unreliable. The Marines did not buy new parts and weapons as the Army did early in the last decade and instead of acknowledging the decision, blamed the weapon. Strange, Army SAWs seem to be working just fine.

            The few examples that exist of Marines using Army equipment like M1 Garands and uniform/field kit in WWII or M1 tanks in Desert Storm were brand new items issued by the Army from its war stocks to make up for poor decisions by the Navy/Marines in equipping the force.

            It’s ironic that the Army is rewarded for helping the Corps with blame for its conscious decisions to not maintain its equipment or procure the most effective weapons. The myth does come in handy. No one ever questions the wisdom of the Corps decisions. Notice, few are asking about the 180 degree change in direction by the Corps adoption of the M4. Maybe shortly we’ll have someone start the rumor that the Army copyrighted the M4 and wouldn’t share?

            The Corps has much to be proud of but blaming the quality of their equipment on the Army is below their proud heritage and record of accomplishments.

          • Edward

            Marine had one unit of M-1s in Desert Storm but the M-60A1s did very well too over Iraqi T-55 T-62 and even T-72s in Kuwait.

    • Rene

      Lance buddy, I know for a fact that the army was using the m-240 in the early 80’s. My armor unit was using the m-240 as its coax in the m-60a1tanks. Owe some weapon! Rarely ever jammed.

  • guest

    It will be a glorious day in the world of the American infantryman.

  • DBM

    Lance, The Army adopted the M-240 in the late 80’s. The A2 was originally a Marine Corps rifle program and the army convinced them to let them take over the development as a cost savings measure but also so the Army’s rifle would shoot the same round as the 240. The army then screwed up the A2 by putting a 3 burst option with a terrible trigger and took away the thick barrel which the Marines wanted to reduce barrel warpage during high rates of fire.

    • Lance

      Not the infantry M-240B yes the Army bought 240s but they were strictly the tank co-axial version the Infantry version was not adopted till 1997.

    • “The army then screwed up the A2 by putting a 3 burst option with a terrible trigger and took away the thick barrel which the Marines wanted to reduce barrel warpage during high rates of fire.”

      You do realize the Marines were proponents for the M16A2 and fielded it first, YEARS before the Army?

      How did the Army force the Marines to adopt (and hold onto) the three round burst in the M16A2 before the Army even started fielding it? Did the Army also force the Marines to keep three round burst on the M16A4 that is only issued to Marines?

      I don’t know how you can blame the Army for taking away the M16A2’s heavy barrel. Army & Marine M6A2’s have a heavy barrel.

      Why play the eternal victim and mislay blame for honest mistakes by the Marines on another branch?

    • Stormcharger

      Wait… Just how exactly did the Army manage to get the 7.62mmNATO round from the M240 to fit the M16A2? That alone would make the Army oh so much superior to the Marines.

  • Juanito

    Let’s just hope they get ammunition along with the new firearm.

    • straps


  • guest

    Lots of hugs and cuddles from the Navy folk keep the Marines happy and out of trouble. Go Navy.

  • Mike

    Serious question…what’s with the chemlights on the belts ? Rooms cleared?

    • Dev

      LZ marking, room clearing, mag changes, anything and everything that Recon might decide to use them for…

  • Robbie

    If true, this is a resounding endorsement for the M4. It means the Army has now tweaked the M4 to the point that it is operationally superior to the M16. The synergy from the improvements to the M4A1 and its M855A1 round are a huge upgrade that can no longer be denied by the usual gang of haters…….

    • guest

      Yea, Go Army

    • James B

      There’s also the issue that the M16 was always optimized for longer engagements than typically we get into. A 500-meter rifle is nice, but dramatically more so than a 300m weapon.

      • guest

        I don’t see the Marines adopting the M4 except on a limited basis. The average rifleman will continue to carry a longer barreled M16.

  • John Hawk

    Glad to see Colt get the contract! Made in the USA!

    • Riceball

      It wouldn’t matter who got the contract, it would be made in the US regardless. Izmash of Russia could have won the contract and it still would have been made in the US as all military weapons, clothing, and gear contracts require.

  • IAC

    IMNSHO, the barrel on the M4 needs to be lengthened 2 inches for longer range /down range accuracy.

    • Greg

      Hmm.. M16A5?

    • JCL

      16 inch barrel with mid lenght gas system sounds like a good idea

      • guest

        It would give a little more velocity and punch, and significantly better reliability.

  • MTNpatrol

    BAD MOVE! The short barreled M4 loses so much velocity that the round is FAR less lethal than needed beyond 100 meters. A bull pup design for shortening the rifle (Like an AUG or Tavor) but keeping the barrel length for retaining enough muzzle velocity is a better answer to a “short rifle”.

    New rifle and new cartridge are sorely needed.

    • Chuck

      Bull. The difference only starts occurring beyond 400 meters. Bullpup rifles also suck to reload in the prone.

      • Valvatorez

        If your an overweight American it sucks to reload. Everyone else not so much.

        • Yellow Devil

          Seeing that some of the largest land forces in the world (Germany, Turkey, Russia, etc) have all avoided bullpup designs, obviously not.

        • Sean

          I can attest that reloading an Aug type rifle form the prone also sucks for an extremely fit 24 year old Australian. Actually bullpups in general are really awkward. The only time I prefer them is when a grenade launcher is attached as it helps to balance out the weapon system.

          Reference: 4 years in the Australian Army wishing I had a conventionally laid out weapon.

          • RAAFie

            It’s even worse if you’re left handed. To reload in the prone I have to tilt the weapon to the right and reach my right arm under the weapon to cock and lock it, then tilt it to the left to inspect the chamber, then tilt it to the right again to change the magazine then tilt it to the left again to release the working parts so I can continue firing.

          • guest

            I understand the brass bouncing off your nose can be upsetting for lefties shooting some bull pups.

    • Robbie

      The M855A1 round is optimized for the M4A1’s strengthened shorter barrel. Unlike the M855, the EPR completes its full powder burn within the length of the M4’s barrel, maintaining optimum velocity and dramatically decreasing muzzle flash.

      • Lance

        The USMC is not using M-855A1 they are using Mk-318 ammo which was made for both rifles.

        • Robbie

          The SOST round provides similarly optimized performance in the M4A1.

          • lance

            No its a standard pressure load with a 62 Open tip bullet. Powder load rom M-855 ball.

    • Robbie
  • MTNpatrol

    REALLY Robbie??
    “… “the M4… is operationally superior to the M16.” ??
    Pray tell in what ways besides being shorter and easier to use in close quarters.

    I’ll put my AUG up against the M4 in any scenario and it will still be a better assault rifle. More accuracy, better retained energy of bullet at any distance to 800 meters, better balance, longer trigger group life, etc.and it’s a 35 year old design.
    And the M16 falls short of the M4 only in the ease of use in close quarters. Do you see M4 length barrels in 3 gun competitions? NOPE!

    • seans

      Hmm how many countries use the AUG currently? That should be a clue right there. The SOPMOD M4A1 is pretty much world class at this point. As for the 5.56, all the current loading such as MK262, MK318, M855A1, 70 grain make the 5.56 incredibly lethal past a 100 yards even with a 10 inch barrel.
      Any time someone starts mentioning 3 gun competitions, they lose any credibility in talking about a combat weapon.

      • Tigger

        How many countries using the AUG proves nothing about its effectiveness. Countries other than the USA that use the M16 do so because of political and economic reasons. These countries are within the USA’s sphere of influence and most of them are to small to afford their own small arms development program. Any country with a reasonable GNP has its own program and not the M16. Moreover AUG is a good weapon, sure it needed refining but no more so than the M16 family of weapons. This debate is proof of that. I’ve only used earlier M16’s and I hated them. Comparatively I preferred my SLR (FN) to the M16 (back in the day of iron sights) but I really liked the AUG when we got it. It’s ergonomics are great for patrolling, it’s light and has clear mags. I never found it a problem changing mags prone either. About the only thing I didn’t like was not being able to use it left or right handed but everything else made up for that. It is incorrect to make assumptions about a weapons quality or accuracy because these kinds of purchases are based more on the national interest of the country. That’s why the USA has stuck with it for so long.

      • Tigger

        How many countries using the AUG proves nothing about its effectiveness. Countries other than the USA that use the M16 do so because of political and economic reasons. These countries are within the USA’s sphere of influence and most of them are to small to afford their own small arms development program. Any country with a reasonable GNP has its own program and not the M16. Moreover AUG is a good weapon, sure it needed refining but no more so than the M16 family of weapons. This debate is proof of that. I’ve only used earlier M16’s and I hated them. Comparatively I preferred my SLR (FN) to the M16 (back in the day of iron sights) but I really liked the AUG when we got it. It’s ergonomics are great for patrolling, it’s light and has clear mags. I never found it a problem changing mags prone either. About the only thing I didn’t like was not being able to use it left or right handed but everything else made up for that.

    • Robbie

      As my post says, it’s the synergy of the M4A1 and the M855A1 round that finally pushes the M4 system past the M16 in operational effectiveness (you do know what that term means, right?). Read this:

      • lance

        Except the USMC doesn’t use M-855A1 they use Mk-318.

    • James B

      What’s the price point on an AUG? What variety of parts exist? How easy is the bullpup design to maintain in the field?

      M4s are inexpensive (in this case, the Marines already have enough M4s in inventory, they just need to issue them), there are incredible aftermarket options available for modification, and they are a very simple design to clean and fix.

  • JohnD

    Te 14.5″ barrel does lose needed velocity Nd power over the 20″ barrel. The Mk 262. 77gr round does improve this but isn’t generally available. 6.8mm or6.5mm variants. Are costly changes for minimal gains over the 6x45mm. The USMC needs new rifles, the M-27 end run didn’t work,so now you get the M 4 shoved into your hands.

    • guest

      I thought the M27 IAR was a wonder weapon and the greatest invention since the band aid. The USMC was going to field tens of thousands of them. What happened?

      • Anthony

        We ran out of money lol. We barely have 3 per squad and they are pretty beat up at this point.

        • James B

          I think the contract worked out to $2000/weapon, but I never heard them intended to be issued as more than a SAW replacement, so 3 per squad would be right. Cost of an M249 is listed as 4 grand, so the M27s can afford to wear a little faster than the SAW.

          • Anthony

            Yeah it’s one per team just like the saw. Each of my iar dudes have broken at least two sets of the garbage larue bipods. They are more durable in terms of small moving parts but usually if an IAR gets yellow tagged it’s gone for a few months because we just don’t have the parts right now. It’s still too new. Granted we were the last unit to get them in hand.

          • Krakass

            Larue doesn’t make a bipod. Do you mean Harris with a Larue mount?

  • Chuck

    All I can say is why did it take them so damn long? The only thing the M16A4 rifle is good for nowadays is drill. We have the IAR and other dedicated marksman rifles for distances in excess of 500 meters.

  • Anthony

    I used an m16 my first time i went to sangin and hated it. It’s too long (I’m too short) and the ones the marine corps has are so beat to shit they are less accurate than most m4s. The m4 is great at distance having qualified high expert with it three times (shoot at the 200, 300, 500) plus the m16 uses a different RCO, different 203, different leaf sight, and a different sling. Just from the logistics of logistics in the of small parts it’s a nightmare to get anything fixed. I could go on for hours but I’ll leave you with this. Throw a 203, a pair of 24’s and a psq-18 on an m16 and tell me if it’s still a good weapon. I’m glad to see my branch make a change for the good finally.

    • guest

      The longer barreled M16 is the true battlefield killer and a much better mount for the bayonet.

      • Edward

        Its better and less wear and tear on the system. Overall its not very much longer than a M-4 just 4 inches longer. It has better accuracy better for hand to hand combat and is more stable than a kiddy carbine. Face it this is more tacti cooler screwing up the military.

        • M119Doc

          M4’s have always had a 14.5″ barrel so an M16 is 5.5″ longer. Civilian carbines are 16″. This is only because that is the minimum barrel length before it becomes an NFA-regulated SBR.

  • lance

    I would add Mr.Cox made s mistake the Army did NOT adopt many M-16A4s, nor in 09 threw them away. Only a few thousand and the Army went M-4 carbine wide year before the M-16A4 was adopted. The USMC didn’t get A4s till 2003. the USMC was primarily the buyer of A4s mostly they wanted to stay with the A2 but have modular rails like the Army M-4, so the M-16A4 is a hybrid of a M-16A2 and a M-4. The Army instead and still using M-4s for front line units while most Europe and State side troops as well as support personnel use M-16A2s not A4s. Some A4s saw Army service with infantry attacked to Armored units but that ended in 07. Most units I’ve seen and read about in Europe and in CONUS still have M-16A2s look at and look at pics if its not a M-4 its a M-16A2 99% of the time. The Navy is the 2nd user since 08 till equip Seabees with A4s to go along with the Marines. While most Ship and Navy base users have M-16A2 and M-16A3s.

    Overall like I say we should look at Canada and maybe adjust which M-16?M-4 to the user and what they want to carry.

  • Justin

    Marine Corps wide should get the M4. I did a tour in Centralia during the Centralian Revolution. I carried a M16 and wish I had the M4. It was mainly close quarters fighting anyway, the M16 was a hassle.

    Let’s just remember those who partook in the war in Centralia.

    • guest

      The Marines will stick with the M16A4, a real battle rifle.

  • bigfatduke

    Give me a good ole M-14 with a few modifications, and there is a good chance I will get the enemy at a thousand meters, before he will get in range to get me.

    • seans

      Lets see, a outdated, heavy, inaccurate rifle, that has a hard time holding zero, is expensive to produce, unreliable in the elements. And I highly doubt you could be making those shots.

    • 45k20

      This is not a qualification range. How do you expect to ID your target at 1k meters? That worked fine for WWI & II trench/front line warfare. Today you can’t assume the person on the far side of your muzzle is a combatant.

    • guest

      Spoken by a man who has no experience with the M14 and has never shot one at long range.

    • Dean

      Damn Skippy

  • MTNpatrol

    The biggest issue, the 500 pound gorilla in the room, is getting rid of the AR design and moving on to modern assault rifle designs.
    The AR type rifles are direct impingement and get dirty and hot very quickly (EXCEPT the piston-driven versions like HK and Ruger). All that gas going back to the bolt heats it up and makes it dirty, And if it’s a 7.62 NATO DI rifle it gets far worse, far faster.

    Direct impingement is outdated. NO other assault rifles in the world aside from AR types use direct impingement actions. It’s very difficult to get suppressors to work on DI rifles, ESPECIALLY on the short M4 due to the lack of gas control to the bolt. Thus you get bolts slamming too fast and wearing the lugs out quickly, high extractor wear, etc.

    A FN SCAR or Remington Defense ACR rifle would solve those problems nicely. Hell, I’d take a Ruger SR 556 or SR 762 AR type rifle with its piston and adjustable gas block over any M4 or M16, especially if I had to use a suppressor, as most special ops people do. And yes, FN offered to make the SCAR with a non-reciprocatiing bolt charging handle but SOCOM said “No”. Go figure on that one… (Oxymoron defined-> “military intelligence”)

    Finally, with new rifle we could go to a 6.5 round and a slightly larger cartridge and have outstanding velocity and trajectory, even compared to the 7.62 NATO round. And perhaps finally get away from all metal magazines while we are at it.

    • guest


    • seans

      You know why the AR design is still around. Cause it works and currently can’t be beat by weapons like the SCAR or ACR. And if you think adding a Op Rod to a AR design is a good idea, that shows the extent of your firearms knowledge.
      You know why no one else uses DI, cause its not a easy system to design. Its a more advanced system than throwing a Op Rod on a gun. Its easier for countries to design and produce a OP Rod driven gun than work out a reliable DI system. That doesn’t in any way make them more reliable.
      Its difficult to run suppressors on DI guns. That is news to me, and everyone else who was issued a MK18 and KAC or Surefire Can. Or the MK11 or MK12. As for getting the gun dirty, I would go thousands of rounds with my MK18 suppressed without malfunctions with that weapon. And these days, there are adjustable gas blocks for DI systems if you really feel like tuning the system for some reason.
      Anyone who recommends a FN SCAR or the ACR shows their knowledge when it comes to weapons.

    • 45k20

      For being such a poor rifle, it sure seems to have put a lot of enemy combatants in the ground over the last 50 years.

      • lance

        the AR design is just fine why do most modern army’s in Asia and even Europe use the M-16 or M-4 then nothing wrong with either design. Just the argurment as the last generals look at this proposal is that which barrel length would be better? I think the longer is less pressure in a full length gas system to wear and tear on your BCG. But I like SOCOM would take any AR rifle over a crappy SCAR.

    • guest

      Gas systems carbon up too and have to be decarboned, also extra weight, more parts to break, and decrease in accuracy. There is no free ride. DIs have been working fine for several decades now.

  • guest

    It is a modern assault rifle and it works. All rifles become less reliable when they get too dirty, so clean it before it gets gummed up. Field cleaning is not difficult or time consuming. I agree we could probably use a more robust cartridge than the 5.56.

  • guest

    I am concerned that with the M4, the Marines will be shooting it in full auto and wasting ammo. Same with the M27. By restricting their small arms to semi-auto only not only will accuracy be enhanced, but ammo costs will be greatly reduced, and service life of bolts, extractors etc. will be extended.

    • Yellow Devil

      With that “logic”, maybe you think we need to bring back springfield m1903s and krag-jorgenson rifles with the magazine cut off permanently fixed so that service member have to load one round at a time. After all, the military brass at the time thought that would save ammo and “improve” marksmanship.

    • That’s funny. History repeating itself?

      Concerns about ammo expenditure was one of the reasons the Marines didn’t adopt the M1 in 1936 like the Army. (The others were reliability and accuracy.)

  • MTNpatrol


    The generals of the Civil War era said the same thing about repeating rifles and stayed with the muzzle loading Springfield cap-and-ball rifle. They felt the soldiers would burn through ammo with repeating rifles. Events in later wars proved them wrong.

    If soldiers are well trained they will not “spray-‘n-pray”.

    • guest

      No time or money for that much rifle training.

      • MNOR

        So pretty much every Army in the western world that have FA-capabillity on their rifles/carbines(pretty much everyone other than the US) are constantly running around Spraying and praying, and running out of ammo?

        This is strange considering that they thaught me to exclusively use aimed single shots even though my issued HK416 has FA.

        How to traing grunts on the virtue of using semi-auto:

        The DI tells the recruit “full-auto is useless past 50m, don’t do it” , then demonstrates why.
        Training on not using n’ pray completed.

  • guest

    If the Marines standardize on the M4, doe this mean that they are becoming more like the Army, and is it a sign of serious decline in Marine standards of small arms excellence?

  • Bill

    Everybody can;t be Marines – That is why it’s the Few The Proud, The Marines.

  • William_C1

    This is a mistake in my opinion, an upgrade of the existing M16A4 would be more cost effective and still provide a somewhat greater effective range than the M4. A collapsible stock could be added and a better S/1/F trigger versus the problematic burst mode.

    • guest


    • guest

      You are absolutely correct.

    • Increased range isn’t the issue. Most engagements are still happening inside 250m. The M4 is still effective out to 500m which is the maximum range the overwhelming majority of Marines get yearly training on (10 rnds/yr or 20% of total rounds fired and up to a minute to fire each round).

      What has changed is we are operating from vehicles and in urban environments more. Urban fighting was predicted to grow long ago because it somewhat negates some of our advantages and isa by product of humanity’s increased urbanization. It’s only relatively recently that more humans live in cities than rural areas and that proportion continues to increase. Having hauled a long gun for awhile there are more advantages to an M4 over an M16 given the above combat realities.

      • William_C1

        I understand your point about urban warfare and typical engagement ranges, but hasn’t Afghanistan shown that the exception to what’s “typical” still needs to be planned for? I recall reading that up to 50% of firefights there took place beyond 500 meters.

        I think the M4 makes sense for a lot of roles, for example the light armored reconnisance units should have M4s as standard, but replacing the M16 as the standard weapon of the Marine Corps rifle squad? I still think it’s a mistake. Allow units to exchange their M16s for M4s on a situational basis but not replace the weapon from an organizational or doctoral level.

        • The statistic of 50% of firefights took place beyond 500 meters I believe comes out of Erhart’s otherwise excellent and informative paper but is totally based on anecdotal evidence.

          Even if true, which I highly doubt because of the casualty rate, you have to consider what the enemy is using to reach out past 500m. It’s not the AK. The AK 47 has a shorter effective range than the M4 so even if we are being engaged 50% of the time at longer ranges it’s by bolt action Enfield rifles, the occasional SVD sniper rifle or crew served machine guns which are issued in the same or higher density among our frontline formations.

          Finally, it makes little sense to issue everyone rifles that are effective beyond 500m when we train (and equip) only a small minority to be effective beyond that range. Today, each Infantry fire team (1 of 4 Infantrymen) has either a SAW or M27 that can reach those greater ranges. Arguing everyone needs a rifle that can reach beyond 500m when most of the fight happens well inside that range is like giving every fighter pilot an F15 (without the training to use it to its full potential) when an F16 is still answering more than 50% of the requirements.

  • Rick

    The adoption of the A2 over the A1 was an error for the Corp. I am a former Marine so hear me out. Our Corp has a bad habit of taking good combat weapons and turning them into target rifles. The A2 added weight to the M16 platform and the change of twist from 1-12 to 1-7 caused less wounding power for the system. Combine this with going to a heavier bullet muzzle velocity was cut by 150 fps. The M4 is a decent system if left on semi and its wounding power could be increased by going to a 1-12 twist and a 55grn bullet. There is no difference in accuracy at range between the A2 or M4 if optics are used.

  • Tom Tilque

    If the Marine senior officers wanted to keep a weapon to be able to beat an enemy over the head with they would have kept the M1 or the M14. When we were issued brand new M16’s in 1969 we looked for the “Made by Mattel” label but couldn’t find one. We knew there was one there at one time but had been removed. ;o)

  • Greg

    My daughter carried the M4 in the Corps last year. Always preferred the M16A1 myself.

  • Top

    I would like to see the Marine Corps adopt something like the M4 but would recommend a piston over a gas system because they are more reliable and stay so much cleaner. I have to say I laughed when I read someone mention that they weren’t good for drill, but I’m sure the 1stSgts and SgtMajs will come up with a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. I just hope they aren’t involved in the decision making process as this is a decision that should be made by the Gunner community!

    Semper Fi

  • guest

    What the Marines really need is to go back to the M1 Garand, just have it chambered in 7.62 nato.

  • Rick

    To be reliable in Full auto they will have to have an op-rod. Can’t go to a Garand no matter how much I like mine. The stock is impossible with armor and kit on. I was in Baghdad as a police adviser and my thoughts changed because of the experience. A modern battlefield weapon has to have an adjustable stock. Even the A-2 was about impossible with gear on. Also got to be able to carry as much ammo as possible.

  • JAR69

    If I were in the desert I would like the old M14.

  • Rick

    Not with all the shit you have on. It is impossible to get a good stock weld and you carry fewer bullets.

  • ForceReconMarine

    I have to agree with the objections to both the M16A4 AND the M4. In my less than humble opinion, neither of them is a fit weapon to put in the hands of an American fighting man, much less the Marines. Lightweight, prone to warpage and malfunction, fundamentally inaccurate at anything beyond close combat range, and firing squirrel hunting rounds instead of real combat loads, they are both products of what we referred to as the Practical Joke Department at the Pentagon. It’s mostly staffed with officers who’ve never even been in a combat theater that spend their days designing and speccing weapons “systems.”

    A Marine’s weapon should do three things. First, it should be accurate at a significant effective range, say 1000 yeards. There is something to be said about taking out your enemy before he gets within range, as well as being able to interdict an enemy sniper without having to radio for a sniper of your own. Second, it should be rugged and dependable. If you put it in the hands of a Marine, I promise he will be called on to carry it and use it in every forsaken hellhole on the face of the planet, from the 163 degree heat index of Iraq and Kuwait to the -70 wind chills of Korea. That piece better work, first time, every time. Third, it needs to fire a round that strikes an enemy combatant, knocks him down, and does it hard enough that he does not get back up. The .45 was and is such a round, but unless things have changed very recently, only my Force Recon brothers are still issued the .45 auto pistol. All other issue sidearms are 9mm. My only comment on the 9mm round is that I am living testimony to its non-lethality, having been shot on more than 4 separate occasions in combat with the round and still telling the story decades later. If you’re worried about capacity, FN makes a .45 that holds 15 in the mag and one in the tube, and frankly, any Marine that can’t take down 6 to 8 bad guys with that many rounds before changing clips probably shouldn’t be carrying a pistol.

    Am I opinionated? Hell, yes, and I earned every bit of the right to be so. After our first insertion, I swore I would never again have to carry one of my team out on my shoulders because of a weapon failure, and I did my utmost to keep that oath to the day I was retired. In any case, thanks for listening to an Old Corps type lecture you guys.

    Semper Fi – Do or Die!
    Major Dula
    2nd Force Recon

  • Rick

    There is no such thing as stopping power. The power of the 5.56 is adequate for the job and with more ammo you last longer.