New M16A4s are being shipped the the US Marines. The A4 model of the standard US military assault rifle incorporates several new improvements, including a removable top handle to more easily mount a variety of high-tech sights and integrated under-barrel mounts for grenade launchers, lights, and IR illuminators.
There will also be a comparable model of the M4 carbine.
The Marines have been watching the development of the new XM8 assault rifle, but don’t intend to switch from the tried-and-true M16/M4 system. (The article describes the shelved XM29 instead of the XM8, by the way.)
I’d like to hear the Marines’ specific reasons for sticking with the M16, but if it’s good enough for the USMC it should be good enough for anyone. I’ve commented before that the Marines, in part because they are so much smaller than the Army, seem to have the mind-set and procurement system that’s going to be needed to fight the Fourth World War. If the Marines are not going to adopt the XM8, that’s a pretty strong indicator that the Army shouldn’t adopt the XM8.
In related news, ACE has a great post on Barrett’s new M468, a 6.8 SPC semi-automatic rifle. A lot of folks are keeping an eye onthe 6.8 SPC as a possible replacement for the 5.56 NATO round currently used in all US light weapons. Go check it out.