Iraqis going with 5.56 ARs

Iraqi soldiers switching over to M-16s and M-4s

Not new news, but worth mentioning as Stars & Stripes has a good article up:

In a major shift of weaponry, the Iraqi army is crossing over from the AK-47 assault rifle to the American-made M-16 and M-4 rifles, U.S. military and Iraqi officials have confirmed.

The first class of Iraqi recruits has already been issued M-16s instead of AK-47s, American officials said, and as many as 1,600 Iraqi troops will be using the standard American-issue weapon by the end of May.

The U.S. command issued a statement saying that –the Iraqi government made the decision to crossover from standard AK-47 assault rifles as part of the reshaping of their military and security forces.”

Under the new program, officials said, Iraqi army officers will be issued M-4 rifles while rank-and-file soldiers will receive M-16A4 models.

The M16A4 is the flattop version of the standard A2 model, allowing the use of M1913-compatible equipment in place of the “carry handle”-style rear sight. (Murdoc’s poodle shooter is an A4-style carbine, click here for a pic of the thing without the rear sight.) The Marines opted for the M16A4 rather than the XM8 back in 2004, and by now I think that most of the Corps has them.

Am I the only one curious to see if the Iraqis are patient with the slightly temperamental M16/M4? These folks have been AK users their whole lives, and though I can’t see anyone really wanting to switch to an AK after using a finely-machined AR with accurate ammo, I’m wondering if we’ll be hearing about griping over the need to, you know, actually CLEAN the weapon from time to time.

Maybe the Iraqis will end up with the XM8 or the HK416…ouch.

What do MO readers think about issuing US weapons to the Iraqis? The plans include selling them M60 tanks.


  1. Its a good idea. 1) Provides a check on the behavior of future Iraqi leaders.(eg. play nice or you will not get spare parts.) Plus its allows us an easy way to put Iraq on the ally dole train.(See Isreal, Eqypt) 2)Makes it easier to tell the good guys from the bad guys. 3) Provides a market for Colt to sell it POS’s to someone else and maybe that will appease senator Dodd enough to allow the pentagon to buy some real weapons.

  2. Well once the guns make it to the rank and file, I look forward to it getting into the insurgent’s hands (I’m guessing it won’t take very long). Thats something that I’m pretty happy about actually, since 5.56 is a pretty weak round 🙂 Oh and next time I kick in a door and find a cache of weapons, the guy can’t say that he keeps an M-16 for personal defense.

  3. Maybe that’s why we keep using that piece of garbage gun. We are trying to set back Middle Eastern insurgencies by supplying them with worthless weapons. Yeah, that’s it. Then we are going to wake up and buy real guns that put big holes in bad guys. It could happen…

  4. This will be fun to watch – unfortunately it will get some Iraqi good guys killed when their POS jams at the wrong time. In a long-range firefight I’d rather have the M-16. In a short-range urban brawl where a jam would be fatal, I’ll take the AK (even though I hate the weapon). Most non-infantry MOS Soldiers in my National Guard unit are still issued M-16A2’s. Nice to hear that even the Iraqi Army has newer equipment.

  5. This is a good move on our part. With AKs being in the hands of every thug in the 3rd World, it makes sense to try and elevate the Iraqi Armed Forces above that image. People can criticize the M4/M16 all day, but the fact remains that people are taken out of the fight when they are shot with it. I agree that it makes procurement easier and not only puts Iraq on the dole, but it also shows that Iraq has a connection to us, that they want to be more like us and fight like us. Which I think is a good thing. Also, most of the AKs that the Iraqi troops are carrying are old and worn out and need replacement. If they drop some cash in America’s economy while doing so, why is that a bad thing? you might think that Colt builds a POS (which is just your opinion), but there are American workers that depend on these contracts to get a paycheck, so I say more power to them.

  6. I suspect the most immediate effect will be to make 7.62X39 cheaper and more available, and 5.56 completely impossible to get. I think the Iraqis will eventually figure things out and the demand for different caliber uppers will skyrocket. This might end up as one way to get something like the 6.8 SPC in widespread use.

  7. Mutt – I know beyond any doubt that Colt (and other contractors) builds a POS. (The M-16’s FN produces in Florida certainly feel tighter but I have never had the chance to compare them to side-by-side for reliability and accuracy against the Colts.) I don’t blame Colt – they build whatever the DOD tells them to build. The DOD and their political bosses – I blame them for a lot of things.

  8. I have a friend who just lost a dog to a coyote that has been roaming the neighborhood. He plans on taking the coyote down with a .22. I advised him against it, but he said it would be ok because he was going to use ‘long rifle’ shells. I’ll bet his neighbors are going to love him when that wounded coyote is roaming the neighborhood. If there’s anything better than having a healthy coyote running around, it can only get better if it’s been wounded by some fool using too little gun for the job. Damn city boys. Can’t tell them anything.

  9. Yeah, 22mm shells are very scary. Big bullets. Back on topic.. the only good thing I can think of about this, is that it will be easier to tell IA and IP from the bad guys from a distance, for civilians as well as military. As long as everybody makes the switch, that is…

  10. Maybe if we can arm both sides with the 5.56 we will decrease sectarian violence (unless they start beating each other over the head).

  11. Dfens – Your friend just needs to get a real dog. Never an issue when I took the Bullmastiff to the mountains.

  12. That cracks me up, Bram! I told him the same thing. Murphy, they can’t beat each other over the head with those guns, they’ll break them and they’re damn expensive to replace. That’s the whole point, dontcha know?

  13. I think it is another example of the fine job our military contractors are doing. Not only have they convinced our crooked politicians to buy a peice of junk that jams after three rounds, they have also convinced crooked politicians in other countries to do the same. In all seriousness, I hope they get the piston operated variety out to both US and Iraqi militaries ASAP!

  14. You know, in a somewhat related vein, elements of the Afghan Army have been/are being issued S&W Sigma 9mm pistols. I never shot one, but I’ve been to the factory, handled them, and they feel terrific in your hand. Just not so swell on durability and function, from what I read.

  15. I’m not so sure this is a good idea. Russian weapons, from rifles to tanks, were designed to be maintained by poorly educated conscripts. I think even the naval and air hardware was built that way. Our weapons systems assume a somewhat higher level of education. Uncle Saddam had a relatively well educated population until the end of Desert Storm, it’s all been downhill since then. Most Iraqi jundi (soldiers) are illiterate, near 75%. The Iraqis also seem averse to doing much in the way of preventative maintenance. It will be twenty years before they are capable of maintaining complicated equipment. AKs and T-55s are just easier to keep running, in my humble opinion.

  16. Has anyone posting here ever used an M-16 variant (or anything else for that matter) in combat? I ran my M-4 dry for at least a month in Iraq and it got through several long and nasty firefights without a hitch. I think if the Iraqi’s can afford it it’s a great step up from the AK, which, despite the godlike qualities bestowed upon in by armchair commandos on the history channel, is nowhere near as reliable as said.

  17. I was in the first Gulf War – Fired my A2 at range – never in live firefight – many jams in a freshly cleaned rifle. My company (H&S, 1/25 Marines) was literally freaking out at how many rifles failed at the range 2 days before Desert Storm started. I think the AK is a piece of shit meant for untrained peasants to spray bullets. The G3’s the Suadis used back then and the Steyr’s they replaced them with are better alternatives.

  18. The problem goes beyond one person having a fire fight or two where their gun didn’t jam. That doesn’t make it a great weapon. The issue is not whether or not some of the M-16s work ok. The issue is do 99.999% of them work like they should 99.999% of the time. The answer to that is clearly no, and it has been for 30 years. Then add to that they fact that it shoots a wimpy little round, although that’s part of what makes it unreliable, it’s a gun that does nothing well. It doesn’t make a good club. It doesn’t hold a bayonet well. It barely meets the criteria of being a weapon, except perhaps one of subtrefuge. A weapon for our enemies. Don’t make the mistake of blaming our military contractors for this POS. They don’t care about the M-16. They’d prefer to have the gun made by the Chinese and import them all. I’ll bet most of the parts already are made there. All they really want is the development money to replace it. They’d be happy to drag that development effort out another 30 years because you are stupid enough to pay them more profit on development than you do on producing weapons. Is that the military contractor’s fault? Nothing’s going to get better until you finally figure out that when you pay someone more to fail, they’re going to fail. Capitalism works. It can either work for you or against you. It’s your choice.

  19. When I say ‘you’ in the above rant, I don’t mean ‘Bram’. He knows what a screwed up mess our current procurement system is. I mean ‘you’ the US taxpayer who is getting screwed by this mess. Just making sure I was clear.

  20. It would be waaaay to easy and cheap to buy 500k G36’s off the shelf from H&K for $900 a pop. Where’s the fun in that? How will that help keep some folks in Congress?