Matthew Cox in Army Times:
Army weapons officials say there is no movement toward replacing the M4 but say they will continue to improve upon the design.
–We want to increase reliability,” said Col. Robert Radcliffe, the head of the Directorate of Combat Developments for the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga.
One of the upgrades that may be coming in the future is a more reliable magazine. The test revealed that 239 of the 882 stoppages M4 suffered were magazine-related.
The hope is that upgrades, such as stronger springs, will increase the magazine’s ability to feed rounds more effectively, Radcliffe said. If all goes well in testing, the improved magazines could be ready by next spring.
It shocks no one to learn that the magazine is a significant part of the problem with the M4. Considering that it appears no problem on earth will convince the army decision makers that any other weapon should be given a serious look, I guess we should be thankful that they’re perhaps going to revisit the magazine issue once again.
The green plastic follower was supposed to solve most of the problems, but, while it’s helped, aftermarket replacements such as those offered by Magpul remain popular items with the troops.
27% of the M4’s stoppages in the recent tests were magazine-related, and this announcement by the Army is certainly intended to cut down on the level of disgust many are feeling after learning just how badly the M4 lost against three piston-driven challengers.
The 239 magazine-related stoppages are more than any of the other three weapons suffered total, magazine-related or otherwise. And even if 100% of the M4’s magazine-related stoppages were eliminated, that would still leave 649 non-magazine failures, or more than 2.5 times the next-worse result in the test.
That next-worst weapon, the HK416, is often mentioned as a great candidate because of the ease of dropping an HK416 upper receiver onto an existing M4 lower receiver. Interestingly, this would mean that existing magazines could and would be used with piston-ized M4s. I wonder what sort of magazines were used with the HK416 in the tests and, if standard mags were used, how much they contributed to the weapon’s 233 stoppages.
The mention of upgrading the M4’s barrel refers to switching to a hammer-forged barrel in order to lengthen its service life.
For what it’s worth, if the Mk16 SCAR-L and the HK416 work out for the Special Forces and Delta operators that are making the switch, I suspect that we’ll begin hearing a lot more about the rifle issue from the troops.
Caption to the photo:
SGT Timothy Frie from the 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and 101st Airborne Division, FT Campbell Ky., armed with M4 Carbine w/grenade launchers takes cover behind a M1043 Humvee during a gun battle. The nine-day Operation Starlit mission was conducted to rid the area of Anti Iraqi Forces. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika) (Released) Location: COB SPEICHER, SALAH AL DIN IRAQ (IRQ)
Camera Operator: SSGT RUSSELL LEE KLIKA, USA Date Shot: 6 Jul 2006
Bzzzt on the “grenade launchers,” Mr. Caption Writer.
Also, he’s shooting left-handed. Is he even allowed to do that?