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  • Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

    http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/11/army_M4_112109w/

    Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

    Army wants new barrel, faster fire and 4 other improvements
    By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
    Posted : Sunday Nov 22, 2009 13:20:30 EST

    The Army is considering a major redesign of the M4 aimed at making the weapon shoot cleaner and longer — at high rates of fire.

    As the Army awaits Defense Department approval of a competition to find a new carbine, weapons officials have identified six fixes intended to address shortcomings in reliability, durability and handling of the Army’s inventory of more than 400,000 M4s.

    Army weapons officials presented the proposed changes to Congress on Oct. 30. They are:

    • Adding a heavier barrel for better performance during high rates of fire.

    • Replacing the direct-impingement gas system with a piston gas system.

    • Improving the trigger pull.

    • Adding an improved rail system for increased strength.

    • Adding ambidextrous controls.

    • Adding a round counter to track the total number of bullets fired over the weapon’s lifetime.

    The Army is considering upgrades to the M4 at the same time it is poised to begin a competition to replace the weapon, a variant of the Vietnam-era M16 family.

    Senior leaders launched the effort to find a new weapon in November 2008, a year after the M4 finished in last place in an Army reliability test involving three other carbines. Then-Army Secretary Pete Geren directed the Army’s Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., to update the carbine requirement.

    That document is now under review at the Army senior staff level, but the service cannot start a competition until the requirement is approved by the DoD’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council.

    Even if the Army releases a request for proposal to the small-arms industry before the end of the year, it’s unlikely that the service will complete the competition and select a new carbine before fiscal 2013. And once a new carbine is selected, it will then take years to replace the M4s and M16s in the inventory.

    Army weapons officials say they want to give soldiers something better, sooner. While there is no set timeline, the hope is “to have this nailed by [early] January,” said Col. Doug Tamilio, the head of Project Manager Soldier Weapons.

    “As we move down this carbine competition path, let’s continue to make substantial improvements to the M4,” Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller said Oct. 27. Fuller commands Program Executive Office Soldier, the command responsible for soldier weapons development.

    The Army has made 62 changes to the M4 since it began fielding the weapon in the mid 1990s, weapons officials maintain. The changes have ranged from improved extractor springs to high-tech optics to a more reliable magazine.

    But soldiers’ criticisms of the M4’s performance have continued. They were detailed recently in a report on the July 13, 2008, battle at Wanat in Afghanistan.

    Enemy Afghan forces with superior numbers and firepower dominated the terrain around the platoon-sized Army outpost at Wanat. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team eventually fought off the attack, but not before the enemy knocked out the unit’s heavy weapons, killed nine soldiers and wounded another 27.

    One staff sergeant described how his M4 failed him early in the battle.

    “My M4 quit firing and would no longer charge when I tried to correct the malfunction,” said the soldier, identified as Staff Sgt. Phillips in a draft analysis paper on the battle written by Douglas Cubbison, a military historian at the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

    Another soldier, Spc. Chris McKaig, experienced problems with his weapon later in the battle, according to the report.

    “My weapon was overheating. I had shot about 12 magazines by this point already, and it had only been about a half hour or so into the fight,” McKaig said in the report. “I couldn’t charge my weapon and put another round in because it was too hot, so I got mad and threw my weapon down.”

    Army weapons officials maintain that the M4 has an approval rating among soldiers of more than 90 percent.

    Sgt. Eric Harder, a team leader with B Troop, 3rd squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, said his M4 didn’t have a single stoppage during an Oct. 3 enemy attack on Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan that lasted for more than six hours.

    “I shot over 40 mags that day, and I didn’t have one jam,” Harder said during an Army video interview posted on Digital Video & Imagery Distribution’s Web site.

    Army officials stress, however, that they are not discounting the alleged weapons problems Phillips and McKaig encountered at Wanat.

    Sturdier, heavier barrel
    One improvement they are considering for the M4 involves outfitting the weapon with the heavier barrel used on the M4A1, the special operations variant that’s designed to fire on full auto. The standard M4 has a three-round burst setting instead of full auto.

    In past Army tests on the standard M4, the barrel eroded and warped after 540 rounds were fired in 2 minutes and 48 seconds. In another test, the barrel burst after 596 rounds were fired in 3 minutes and 39 seconds, weapons officials said.

    But the heavier M4A1 barrel was able to shoot 930 rounds in 4 minutes 30 seconds. In that test, the heat shield melted but the barrel appeared undamaged, weapons officials maintain.

    While the sustained rate of fire would have to be much lower, the heavier barrel would allow the soldier to fire longer without worrying about heat problems, Tamilio said.

    “We have proven it, we have tested it and we already own it,” he said.

    The only downside, he said, is there is a weight penalty that would add 5 ounces to the 6.5-pound M4.

    One change that might be more challenging involves replacing the M4’s direct-gas system with a piston gas system, officials said. Both systems rely on the gas created when a round is fired to help cycle the weapon.

    With a piston system, the gas siphoned from the round pushes a piston rod into the receiver and cycles the weapon. The M4’s direct-gas system uses the gas itself to cycle the weapon. This results in heat and carbon residue being blown back into the chamber, which can lead to malfunctions and parts wear.

    The piston gas system performed well in an Army reliability test in November 2007. During the test, the M4 suffered more stoppages than the combined number of jams in the Heckler & Koch XM8; FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle, or SCAR; and the H&K 416. All three of those weapons use versions of the piston gas system.

    Army weapons officials agreed to perform a dust test after a July 2007 request by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. Coburn took up the issue after a Feb. 26, 2007, Army Times report on moves by elite Army special operations units to ditch the M4 in favor of carbines they consider more reliable.

    U.S. Special Operations Command began fielding the first SCARs to its elite forces this spring. The command decided to move away from the M4 in November 2004, when the command awarded a developmental contract to FN Herstal to develop its SCAR to replace its M4s and older M16s.

    Adding a piston system to the M4 would likely require the Army to release a request for proposal since many gun companies offer M4 upper-receiver groups with piston gas systems, Tamilio said.

    Tamilio added that the Army might not request a piston gas system in an RFP but instead ask for an easier-to-clean and more reliable weapon and let the industry propose what it wants.

    The other changes being considered are an improved trigger to give the shooter a more consistent trigger pull, which many experts say is key to accurate shooting.

    Adding a “monolithic” rail design would add strength to the weapon because the upper receiver, hand guard and rail system are forged together out of a single piece of aluminum.

    Adding ambidextrous controls such as the selector lever, magazine release and bolt release would make the M4 easier to operate for both right-handed and left-handed shooters.

    A round counter, or shock sensor, mounted in the pistol grip would make it much easier to know when parts need replacing, Tamilio said.

    Weapons officials use gauges to check for wear, but “it would really be nice to know that this one has shot 4,000 rounds, this one has shot 7,000 rounds and this one has shot 10,000 rounds,” Tamilio said. “We have never been able to do that.”

    A special “integrated product team” will evaluate the pros and cons of each of the proposed improvements and decide which options, if any, will give the service the “biggest bang for the buck,” Tamilio said.

    The team will be made up of multiple agencies such as the Infantry Center, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and Program Executive Office Soldier. It will also include soldiers with combat experience and members of the small-arms community.

    Representatives from the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force will also get a chance to weigh in on the decision for future improvements to the M4.

    |

  • #2
    Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

    Yes but are they going to reduce the bullet spread?

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    • #3
      Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

      Just get them fancy HK's they revamped.
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      • #4
        Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

        416 accept no substitute.


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        • #5
          Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

          Piston gas system should help VERY much, as it is the basic large improvement of the 416.

          In the end, if they're cheap enough for them, I really hope the next military rifle is the ACR or something similar. Thing is a beast.

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          • #6
            Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

            The proposed changes will improve the lifetime of the rifle, but unfortunately there will still be malfunctions of the system. 99% of all my problems with the M4 (double/triple feeds) were caused by crappy USGI magazines.

            Purchase some aftermarket PMags (or some aftermarket followers and springs) and most of the unreliablity of the average M4 carbine has been solved.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

              The M-16 model has as we know spawned many variations, I wonder if the Army has consulted companies other than colt, since the two below examples are different forms of the standard M-16/M-4 Model but with several distinct changes as a result.

              Both of the below examples I recently saw displayed on The Military Channel's Ultimate Weapons show which highlighted Close Quarter Battle Weapons.

              1. The SRT is a series of carbines designed and manufactured by LWRC, based on the M4 carbine, with which it shares 80% of its parts. Like the HK416, it features a proprietary short-stroke self-regulating gas piston system and bolt carrier/carrier key design, which prevents trapped gases from contacting the bolt carrier or receiver of the weapon, which reduces the heating and carbon fouling of the internals; simplifies field maintenance, and improves reliability.

              Standard length barrel is 14.7 in, with a 1/7 in twist, and hard chrome lined bore (6 lands, right twist).

              Models

              M6 and M6A1

              The M6 is LWRC's most basic model. It is the most similar to the M4, but it still has the short-stroke gas piston system common to all LWRC's models. The M6A1 is also similar to the M4, but is designed to accept SOPMOD accessories similar to the M4A1 used by USSOCOM.

              M6A2

              The M6A2 is identified by LWRC as its "standard carbine" and has features that allow it to be used in multiple roles in addition to an assault weapon, such as an optional longer barrel allowing it to be used as a designated marksman rifle. It is a duty weapon of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

              M6A3

              The M6A3 is designed specifically to be a designated marksman rifle. It features an adjustable gas system to allow the user to adapt the rifle to different conditions and is designed to accommodate optics such as scopes and reflex sights.

              M6A4

              The M6A4 is designed to fulfill the role of the squad automatic weapon. It was developed for the United States Marine Corps' Infantry Automatic Rifle program, which seeks to replace some M249s with a more maneuverable weapon. However, it was not accepted for testing.

              It fires from a closed bolt during semi-automatic fire, and from an open bolt during automatic fire which is labeled as "OBA" for Open Bolt Automatic. While in OBA mode, the first round may be fired from a closed bolt (it will then lock back and subsequent shots will be from an open bolt until the operator manually closes the bolt again).

              Firing from an open bolt increases cooling and eliminates the potential for accidental discharges due to rounds "cooking off" in an overheated chamber. It also allows for a faster rate of fire. However an open bolt design means that the first round fired will have reduced accuracy when compared to a closed bolt design. This is due to the fact that when the trigger is pulled, the bolt slams forward under spring tension, stripping a round from the feeding device, chambering it, then firing it. This sequence of events shakes the firearm and takes longer than a closed bolt design to fire the first round (greater lock time). This also introduces extra potential points of failure in the ignition of the first round.

              PSD

              The PSD is designed to take the role of a submachine gun while providing the greater firepower of a rifle caliber. It is 25 inches long.

              REPR

              The Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle (formerly the Sniper/Assaulter Battle Rifle) is designed to be quickly converted from an assault rifle to a marksman rifle and vice versa by changing the upper receiver. It is the only LWRC rifle available in 7.62x51mm NATO. Its charging handle is on its side to allow the user to chamber a round without looking away from the target.

              2. Ferfrans SOAR: http://www.ferfrans.net/p_soar.htm
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              • #8
                Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                I thought all the gas piston designs had long-term reliability problems related to wear on the buffer tube? Has someone found a fix for that?
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                • #9
                  Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                  Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                  I thought all the gas piston designs had long-term reliability problems related to wear on the buffer tube? Has someone found a fix for that?
                  My understanding was that the AK-47 used a gas piston design, and is considered to be the 'cockroach' of the modern battlefield. Rain, dust, ice, sand, mud, nothing seems to stop them from firing.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                    I like the 50 cal M16 best :)

                    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaRvzEq_l7o[/media]



                    and 6.5mm m16

                    [media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51XwLRg4ihA[/media]




                    My understanding was that the AK-47 used a gas piston design, and is considered to be the 'cockroach' of the modern battlefield. Rain, dust, ice, sand, mud, nothing seems to stop them from firing.
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxiz6...video_response

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z29pm...response_watch


                    If you find yourself in a fair fight, then you have obviously failed to plan properly.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                      Originally posted by DrakenViator View Post
                      My understanding was that the AK-47 used a gas piston design, and is considered to be the 'cockroach' of the modern battlefield. Rain, dust, ice, sand, mud, nothing seems to stop them from firing.
                      AK-47s were built to be a weapon for the "unwashed masses" of the old Soviet Army, so to speak. You can see its purpose in every part of its design, even down to the selector switch, which goes to full automatic with the first click off safety, versus American M-16/M-4s which go to single shot with the first click. Direct impingement is just a piece of the puzzle. It's famous reliability is mainly due to none of the pieces fitting precisely. Everything has room to wiggle, "engineeringly"-speaking, so loving maintenance isn't absolutely necessary.

                      However, this rock-solid reliability comes at the price of accuracy. Point-target for an average AK-47 is around 100 meters.

                      That being said, my knowledge of the AK platform isn't all that extensive. I'm planning to purchase one in the near future, though.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                        Originally posted by Gill View Post
                        However, this rock-solid reliability comes at the price of accuracy. Point-target for an average AK-47 is around 100 meters.
                        Heh, slightly farther than an airsoft gun.

                        I would add that between the upgrades to the 47 (AKM, 101, etc), and following good maintenance procedures one can get pretty decent accuracy.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                          Some of the inaccuracy of the AK-47 is inherent with the rear sight forward of the magazine. The AK-47 derivatives have moved the rear sight back to its traditional position.

                          See:
                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AK...T-89-01131.jpg


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                          • #14
                            Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                            Give me a Ruger SR-556 any day.
                            Skud


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                            • #15
                              Re: Major Revamp Possible For M4 Carbine

                              Originally posted by Adiventure View Post
                              Heh, slightly farther than an airsoft gun.

                              I would add that between the upgrades to the 47 (AKM, 101, etc), and following good maintenance procedures one can get pretty decent accuracy.


                              Ive read a review of various ak47 makes from eastern european to chinese and apparently some chinese models can give accuracy equal to m16. Sorry I dont have a link right now but it sounds feasible considering the m14 is using 7.62mm


                              If you find yourself in a fair fight, then you have obviously failed to plan properly.

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