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View Full Version : HK 416 carbine got shot down by Army


Caseless
03-12-2007, 11:03 PM
Probably old news, But the anecdotes of M4 carbine failures are scary.
http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/02/atCarbine070219/

Quote:
<a similar survey that Infantry Center officials participated in along with other members of the Army’s small-arms community.The executive summary said that M16s and M4s “functioned reliably” in the combat zone as long as “soldiers conducted daily operator maintenance and applied a light coat of lubricant,”>

Obviously these weapon testing officials have no clue about weapon maintenance on a battlefield.

jumbopanda
03-13-2007, 1:16 AM
This talk about the HK416 has me thinking about those gas piston ARs. There are actually several brands of them on the market, although they haven't really caught on yet. I'd be interested in getting one although the prices are pretty steep, and I don't plan on going into combat anytime soon, so it might not be worth it.

Technical Ted
03-13-2007, 1:19 AM
Colt's response:
Dear Editor,

Until the cancellation of the XM8 program in 2005, Army Times and its staff writer, Matthew Cox, strongly promoted the HK XM8 for its adoption as the service weapon for the US Army. In his recent feature article, “It’s better than the M4, but you can’t have one” Mr. Cox attributes cancellation of the XM8 program to “a sea of bureaucratic opposition.” Mr. Cox fails to mention a DoD IG report on the Acquisition of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (D-2006-004) dated October 7, 2005, which addresses the XM8 Program and is found at http://www.dodig.mil/audit/reports. This DoD IG report clearly stated the rationale, which indicated the XM8 offered no potential efficiency over the present weapons systems, as well as including mismanagement by those persons responsible for the program, both of which clearly may have been a strong consideration in the cancellation of the program. Another related and informative DoD IG report is Competition of the 5.56 Millimeter Carbine (D-2007-026) dated November 22, 2006 and is also found at http://www.dodig.mil/audit/reports. Now, promoting the HK 416, Mr. Cox references unnamed experts, misrepresents data for comparison between the HK 416 and M4, misleads readers by using findings in a 2001 SOCOM report on the M4 and a Marine Corps test of the M4 in 2002 but he does not inform the reader of measures taken immediately by the Army and Colt to eliminate those problems, uses quotes to imply the M16 and M4 are the same weapon used 42 years ago, which they are clearly not, and bases his argument for adoption of the HK 416 for the entire US Army on use by a group of elite operators within SOCOM who rightfully develop their own kit of weapons and modify them to their needs. His stated rationale is based on unsupervised tests made on a rifle made in Germany.

Additionally, his writing very wrongly alleges that Army leadership is not providing our men and women in uniform the best weapon available and, more disturbing, his article irresponsibly raises a concern to the Soldiers, Marines and Special Operations Forces in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and their families that their service weapon is not reliable. This is absolutely not a true statement and could cause serious morale issues to those engaged in day to day combat operations and to those in leadership positions in these units. To go further I would question his loyalty to those in uniform and his lack of real credibility, truthfulness and personal integrity in writing an article of this nature.

The M4 speaks for itself as to its combat credibility. Before its introduction into the US Army inventory in 1994 it was subjected to the full range of functioning and environmental tests required by the US Army test and evaluation process. Later, as a result of the 2001 SOCOM report on the M4, referred to by Mr. Cox, the US Army and Colt immediately conducted a joint effort to rectify the problems raised. This effort took until spring 2002 and manufacturing changes were implemented at Colt by fall 2002. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps conducted their own test of the M4 with weapons produced prior to the fall 2002 manufacturing change and they experienced similar problems as SOCOM. These issues were also resolved with the manufacturing changes implemented thereafter. From fall 2002 to today, government quality deficiency reports for the M4 have been nearly non-existent and that is attributable to the joint effort between the US Army and Colt to solve the problems raised in the 2001 and 2002 reports. Additionally, regarding reliability of the M4, from fall 2002, US government inspectors at the Colt plant have overseen the firing of nearly 4,000,000 (million) endurance rounds with only three endurance gun failures: one in January 2004, one in July 2005 and one in August 2005. The government quality assurance representative at Colt holds the documents supporting this testing. In June 2006, Colt had the opportunity to endurance fire an HK 416. At 3,000 rounds, a broken firing pin spring was found in the HK 416. Without a spare part, the endurance testing was ended. Other findings in those 3,000 rounds of firing were frequent loosening of the hand guard retainer screw and the cyclic rate of fire was over 1,000 rounds per minute. The gas piston system in the H&K 416 is not a new system and was initially rejected by the Army for the M16 in the 1960’s. Colt Defense has the present ability and expertise to manufacture in great numbers piston system carbines of exceptional quality should the US Army and other US Services initiate a combat requirement for this type of weapon. Attached is an email written to Mr. Cox by a recognized weapons expert, Mr. Chris Bartocci, author of Black Rifle II, who provides background on the M16 and M4. Anecdotal examples of fouled weapons are not taken lightly, yet the information is not helpful if the type of fouling is not clearly defined. In a desert environment, for example, sand and dust have the same effects on a weapon, whether it has a gas piston system or a gas impingement system. This issue is completely different from a debate over a gas piston system operating cleaner than a gas impingement system. Is a gas piston operated weapon less vulnerable to the effects of the desert than a gas impingement system? If so, where are the results of the controlled tests. Additionally, there are a number of reasons for fouling of weapons to include the reliability of the ammunition and reliability of magazines. The M16 and M4 have undergone major enhancements since introduction of the M16 into the US military inventory in the 1960s. These enhancements have improved functioning, reliability, maintenance and versatility for the individual Soldier and Marine throughout the years. Currently, there is a government funded operational evaluation being conducted for SOCOM by Colt and Ultra Chem Technologies (UCT) for greaseless operating parts on the M4 to improve maintenance, functioning and the wear of select parts of the weapon. In closing, at the 2006 Laboratory and Industry Day sponsored by the Chief of Infantry and Commanding General United States Army Infantry Center & School, Fort Benning, Georgia, the M4 Carbine was listed by the Commanding General and included in his brief as one of the many success stories in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

James R. Battaglini
MajGen, USMC (Ret)
Chief Operating Officer
Colt Defense LLC

Technical Ted
03-13-2007, 1:23 AM
Chris Bartocci's response:
Mr.Cox,

I just had the opportunity to read your article "It's better than the M4, but you can't have it" regarding the HK416 compared to the M4. I have to say I was quite disturbed. My name is Chris Bartocci, I am the author of Collector Grade Publications title, Black Rifle II. This is the definitive history of the product development and procurement of the M16/M4 carbine from 1985 to present. I am also a contributing editor to Small Arms Review magazine as well as many other publications. My area of expertise is the M16 family of weapons and am quite familiar with the HK416. I am also very familiar with firearms design and trouble shooting (particularly the M16/M4 family of weapons).

I do not feel you portrayed the facts of the service of the M4/M16 rifle correctly and in fact it is quite disturbing. This is very much the propaganda that H&K has been pushing since they came up with the idea that the direct gas system was flawed and they had the century old magical piston system which they claim is new. Please let me give you some background that you might not be aware of nor the people you interviewed for this article. First the M16 rifle was designed to give decreased weight and ability to provide aimed and accurate semi as well as automatic fire. During the development phases, the conventional piston system had been around for more than 50 years, the same way the H&K system is now. The Army during the war in Vietnam tested all these weapons side by side and it was found the AR-15 outperformed all of them in accuracy and reliability. Being rushed into service, the Army disregarded the orders of the Secretary of Defense to put the AR-15 through a development process and got it ready for the troops in the field. Problems began with malfunctions when the ammunition propellant was changed and chambers corroded due to the Army not finding it necessary to test ammunition that had been changed from its spec nor to chrome plate the chamber, which is a significant reliability enhancement that became a Mil-Spec after the war in the Pacific during WW2. Every small arm in the U.S. inventory had it but the AR-15.

During this time, the AK47 was already known already for its reliability in adverse conditions. So the Army asked Colt to develop an M16 that would utilize the piston system (AK-type same as HK416). Colt developed their model 703, which was the same type piston system. This is in the late 1960's. After the congressional hearings on the M16 program came out, and the Army was accused of being "borderline criminally negligent" on their entire handling of the M16 weapons program, the rifles were modified to work with the newly manufactured 5.56mm ball ammunition. This included a change in the manufacturing process and design of the buffer, chamber, bolt and some trigger components, and the piston system was dropped by the Army. After the "bugs" were worked out and the new M16A1 came online, the reliability increased and troops who went to Vietnam after 1969 encountered little trouble. My point is that the piston driven AR is an old concept that the Army rejected in favor of the direct gas system currently in use in the M16. They found no significant increase in reliability due to the use of the piston system. The M16/M4 would go on to be the most combat proven 5.56mm rifle and carbine in the world seeing service in every climate in the world. From the jungles of Southeast Asia, the deserts of the Middle East and the Arctic of Canada and Alaska. All have been chosen by armed forces in the regions including Canada (Arctic) and Israel (Desert). For one to call the M16/M4 operating system "Obsolete" is untrue and unprofessional. This system has worked in combat reliably for more than 40 years. It worked then and it works now. I do not hear anybody calling the M1911 obsolete after more than 100 years of service. It works as well now as it did then. For something to be obsolete would mean it was replaced with something better, the Army has tried several times and goes back to this system. It is only obsolete to a faction that is trying to dislodge the weapon from service and get theirs adopted. The only way to constitute a change is to claim the current equipment is flawed. This is basic marketing.

Technical Ted
03-13-2007, 1:24 AM
Continued:
Colt developed the M4 carbine in the late 1980's with it being finalized in 1995 and type classified as the first general purpose carbine since the M1 carbine of World War 2. It was designed for troops that needed more power than a pistol but could not carry a standard rifle. Colt was given restrictions by the Army to mandate significant amounts of part interchangeability with the current M16A2 rifle. The Army was more concerned with interchangeability than reliability and Colt had to work within this framework. As the carbines began to circulate, it was not the truck drivers, tankers and maintenance people who were carrying them, it was front line special operations forces operators. Those who would later go on record calling this weapon flawed because the 6 pound carbine would not function as a high volume of fire, light support, belt fed weapon they required. They also went on record saying they use this weapon well beyond its design parameters. This does not mean this weapon is flawed, it means it was not designed for what they wanted to use it for. Regular Army units loved the M4 carbine, over the M16A2 and A4. That is why Colt has received additional contracts since the wars began. The regular troop use them as intended.

You made mention of the SCAR program where Special Operations Forces adopted (although not fielded) the FN rifle. Some additional pertinent information is that the reason for the SCAR program had much to do with SOCOM wanting to be their own project manager and have the ability to make changes to the weapon specific to them. This is something they could not do with the M4A1. The M4A1 is a procured weapon by the Department of Defense from Colt and is subject to mil-standards and the technical data package. You mentioned the government inspectors at Colt, which is part of this. As the M4 and M4A1 are adopted, these are the standards Colt must meet, no more and no less. Any change or modification must be requested by the Department of Defense, not SOCOM. For example, SOCOM had issues with barrels bursting when used under extreme firing sessions and they made the claim the barrels were flawed. When Rock Island Arsenal investigated they found that the firing schedules from 540 to 596 rounds per minute were fired within 3 and 3.5 minutes and heated the barrels up over 1300 degrees, which is their transformation temperature. The round count that resulted is more ammunition than a combat soldier would even carry. Machine guns change barrels due to this heat. Rock Island found that this had not occurred in any place other than SOCOM and that it was cause by abuse of the weapons and would not act on any changes from Colt. Another major issue SOCOM had was maintenance. They had no real maintenance schedules to replace worn parts so they ran weapons without round counts and maintenance until they broke. As General Keys mentioned about the extractor spring that is how difficult it is to get the Army to make changes. The Army would not make changes to the weapons if they worked for them. SOCOM could not request the changes needed due to them not being the procurement agency. This led to animosity and friction between Colt and SOCOM. Colt has had many improvements they have made to the government over the years to improve the weapons and they were shot down every time.

When the SCAR trials came out, SOCOM was the procurement agency and they would have full control of the weapon and changes it may need in the future. Colt had submitted 3 entries into that as well. Two were direct gas rifles and the other a piston operated mechanism. Based on my research, all the Colt weapons served well and passed the trials as did the FN. In the end, the FN candidate was selected. The Colt piston system rifle is the ONLY piston driven M4-platform weapon to ever complete an official SOCOM trial, not the HK416. This weapon was not in the competition. As of right now, the M4A1 is the weapon of choice for SOCOM with the exception of Delta who procured the HK 416 on their own. Also based on my research there is a possibility the SCAR program could be cancelled as well.

As for the combat reliability of the HK416 over the M4, well, the M4 has been on the battlefield all over the world for more than a decade and is used by some of the most elite units in the world to include the legendary British SAS who use a Colt Canada made SFW, which is a M4 derivative. Based on my research and discussions with several of the finest engineers in the industry, there has never been any military comparisons between the two systems to determine which is better. More importantly, the criteria set for by the Army for the M4 has been met and the Army has said on record that the M4 has exceeded the government specs by 3 times. The specs and "improvements" of the HK416 are self-made specs that have nothing to do with the Army. For example, the crown jewel hammer forged barrel of the HK416, Colt has offered hammer-forged barrels to the U.S. government for more than a decade since their licensee, Diemaco (now Colt Canada) has manufactured them. The Army told Colt no as they found no evidence it would be an improvement over the current barrels. The stronger bolt of the HK416, Colt proposed to the government a redesign of the M4/M4A1 bolt/barrel extension to cope with the higher impact of constant automatic fire and the U.S. government rebuffed. Colt has offered this technology before, actually all of it. They offered the piston system, the hammer forged barrels, improved life bolt and much more. The Army says they are satisfied with the current production weapons.

The stories you depict in this article from the field are very misleading. First, I have heard many stories from the sand box that are the exact opposite. Troops claim their M16 and M4 work just fine and I have heard some amazing stories of long distant shots taken with M4 carbines. ALL weapons malfunction in that environment if not maintained. There have been complaints surfaced about the M9 pistol, M249 Saw and many other weapons. This sand jams AK's. The soldiers in question, you do not know the condition those weapons were in. How dirty were they? Were they worn out? Did they have defective magazines? The malfunctions described, particularly the failures to extract, are normally caused by corroded or damaged chambers which any weapon would have. Without knowing the circumstances and why the weapons malfunctioned, it is not responsible to claim it is a flaw in the weapon design.

There is something I want to caution you against. During the war in Vietnam the reputation of the M16 far overstated the actual malfunctions. What it did was hurt morale of the troops. It made troops lose confidence in their weapon.. Opinions were formed before they even pulled the trigger. It hurt morale worse than the actual amount of problems. With an article like this, which is basically an H&K sales pitch based on their claims the M4 is flawed, you are doing the same thing to those troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hurting their morale and confidence in their weapon when the groups that are having the problems abuse the weapon admittedly and use them beyond their design intent. That is dangerous. If you are looking to buy oil for your car and you walk into a store and buy Quaker State and it runs in your Grand Am, perfect. Now a race car driver puts that same oil in his race car and it breaks down and causes engine problems. I ask you, is that oil the problem or maybe that high performance engine needed a different kind of oil to serve its purpose? This is what you are looking at, the difference between SOCOM and the rest of the military.

I am writing you this based on my concerns for the fallout on the troops in combat who will read it and get very misinformed about their equipment and make them feel unjustly that they have substandard equipment when in all actuality they carry the world standard that all modern military rifles are compared. If I did not know better, your story would scare the hell out of me.

If I can be of any help to you in reference to this issue, please feel free to contact me.

Respectfully,
Chris Bartocci author, “Black Rifle II”

jjperl
03-13-2007, 2:23 AM
This artical makes the m4 and m-16 sound like pieces of junk. Now I wish I would have gone with a gas piston upper :(

nothing4u
03-13-2007, 3:49 AM
You might wanna reread the article. There is nothing wrong with the direct gas impingment of the current M16/4 . If anything its more reliable than the gas piston, less moving parts equals less stuff to break. The 416 was nothing more than scam by HK to get more money after the US Army ditch the OICW program and cut back funding. And the piston upper is not new. There were piston driven uppers before HK's 416 even came out. Check out Patriot Ordnance Factory.

Ford8N
03-13-2007, 6:34 AM
Hmmm...Just about every picture of a rebel in some far flung place.. they carry an AK. The special forces and CIA operatives in Afganistan used AK's. If they can get away with it, our guys in Iraq seem to use the AK. Not to bring up the old arguement, but something seems to work in a harsh combat environments and it doesn't need batteries or Breakfree.

twl
03-13-2007, 6:59 AM
The entire article is BS.

And nobody zip-ties a cleaning rod to their M4 to clear weapon jams.
You can't clear a malfunction in an M4 with a cleaning rod.
If a case was jammed in the chamber, then that has absolutely nothing to do with whatever operating system was used. It would have happened in a 416 just as easily, if there was enough sand in the chamber to malfunction an M4 or break the extractor. And the 416 uses the same extractor system as the M4.

Complete hogwash.

It is so much BS that I can't stand to read it.


And as far as "the CIA using AKs", if they do that, it is not for "reliability purposes". It is for clandestine activity where the sound of the shots and the brass left on the ground does not indicate that our people were there.

battlehatch
03-13-2007, 8:26 AM
And as far as "the CIA using AKs", if they do that, it is not for "reliability purposes". It is for clandestine activity where the sound of the shots and the brass left on the ground does not indicate that our people were there.

I agree that this is true but, I think that the reliability and availability of ammo might be another factor. I have read stories of soldiers in Vietnam picking up AK's to use along with ditching the M16 for a shotgun and 203(type weapon).

luvtolean
03-13-2007, 8:29 AM
Hmmm...Just about every picture of a rebel in some far flung place.. they carry an AK. The special forces and CIA operatives in Afganistan used AK's. If they can get away with it, our guys in Iraq seem to use the AK. Not to bring up the old arguement, but something seems to work in a harsh combat environments and it doesn't need batteries or Breakfree.

Which is why the Israelis, who can use whatever they want, including wharehouses worth of AKs they've picked up over the years, or their Galil, choose the M4 right?

Addax
03-13-2007, 8:48 AM
I believe Colt also developed a Gas Piston Upper back in the 70's or 80's.

I think it was going to be called the AR18 or something like that..

I also understand that there was a piston kit mfg. by colt for the older M16/M16A1's with the pencil thin barrels...

HK took a design that was already developed, put a little bit of German Engineering into it.

I think it would be neat to have a Gas Piston Upper, but I am not sure I want to plop down $1200+ for an upper right now.

Besides, my standard AR's work fine with a chrome lined bore and chamber.

You might wanna reread the article. There is nothing wrong with the direct gas impingment of the current M16/4 . If anything its more reliable than the gas piston, less moving parts equals less stuff to break. The 416 was nothing more than scam by HK to get more money after the US Army ditch the OICW program and cut back funding. And the piston upper is not new. There were piston driven uppers before HK's 416 even came out. Check out Patriot Ordnance Factory.

Technical Ted
03-13-2007, 9:19 AM
I believe Colt also developed a Gas Piston Upper back in the 70's or 80's.

I think it was going to be called the AR18 or something like that..
You're thinking about the AR18/AR180 developed my Armalite in the 1960's(The division of Fairchild, not the current incarnation which has nothing in common with the original other than name.) and manufactured in England by Sterling.

The design required less sophisticated manufacturing processes and was intended for international sales.

Yes, Colt developed their own piston design.

One thing to consider is where will you get repair and replacement parts for a piston upper 5, 10, 20 or 40 years down the road? Of all the designs being introduced, which one will be in production long enough to create an adequate supply of components for that long?

This assumes you acquire the piston upper to shoot frequently due to perceived reliability improvements.

The AR15/M16/M4 gas impingement system, along with it's well known commonality and interchangeability, has been in production for over 40 years--and will be for the foreseeable future.

Pryde
03-13-2007, 9:20 AM
Which is why the Israelis, who can use whatever they want, including wharehouses worth of AKs they've picked up over the years, or their Galil, choose the M4 right?

They do this because our government gives them M16/M4s for next to nothing. It had been easier and cheaper for them to train and equip all their soldiers with these almost free guns than it is to use ones they produce themselves. As of right now I believe they are switching to the Tavor bullpup rifle design anyway.

The reply by Colt/Bartocci has already been discredited on other internet forums (ARFCOM included). Colt is just trying to save its own hide and Bartocci is a well known mouthpiece for the Colt Firearms Company.

nothing4u
03-13-2007, 10:37 AM
It's buy 1 get 4 free. If I recall correctly it costs Uncle Sam 200-300 for new M16 and a little more a M4.

bwiese
03-13-2007, 11:28 AM
HK Marketing has reared their head again. They've always tried to promote 'mystique'.

There is nothing wrong with the M16 and the M4.

The SOCOM issues with these rifles were from overheating due to their being used, in essence, as a squad machine gun with continious bursts of fire and lack of cool-down time.

In 1st Gulf War, the M14 had much worse failure statistics than the M16 platform. Many Iraqi forces are not happy with their AKs, either and have tried to acquire M16/M4s.

Other incidences where M16/M14 fhave a failure due to environmental conditions appear to be for reasons that would cause other guns to fail, too. A round stuck due to FTE in the chamber is fairly independent of impingment vs piston operation.

Oh - that comment that Chris Bartocci has been discreted on ARFCom is kinda funny when you think about it :)

Toolbox X
03-13-2007, 11:33 AM
What bothers me about the responses by the Army and Mr. Bartocci is their failure to address or even admit to the problems they clearly state the M4 and M16 have.

All I hear from them is how the majority of the time an M4 or M16 fails it is because the soldier was using the rifle in a way that wasn't intended. Either the soldier didn't keep the rifle spit-shine clean, or he was putting too many rounds through it too fast.

Well I've got news for them. Our military specializes in getting the job done, regardless of whether or not they have all the proper and equipment intended for the mission.

If our boys out there needs to fire 2000 rounds full auto through their M4 because their lives depend on it, the excuse I'm hearing doesn't cut it.

To me it sounds like the HK 416 has identified and implemented a large number of improvements that should be made to the M4/M16, but aren't because of bureaucratic bull****. I don't care if Colt has identified the same improvements as HK. Those improvements need to be implemented if they will help our boys out there.

The correct attitude should be one of eagerness to make the U.S. service rifle work as well as possible, regardless of how far beyond intended use that reliability goes.

-Grant

Pvt. Cowboy
03-13-2007, 11:58 AM
HK Marketing has reared their head again. They've always tried to promote 'mystique'.

... There is nothing wrong with the M16 and the M4.

... Many Iraqi forces are not happy with their AKs, either and have tried to acquire M16/M4s.



Three thoughts:

1. I have been an Hk owner for a long time. Yes, their marketing dept is famous for keeping the 'Hk mystique' alive for all these years. They're more dedicated to protecting their company's legendary (and largely illusionary) upper echelon status in the minds of the world's shooters than the Scientologists are in protecting the sanctity of their organization's inner workings. Why, didn't you know that all Hk products are handmade by magical little elves inside a gingerbread house hidden in a secluded glade in the Black Forest of the Swabian Alps? That's not Tritium they use in their night sights, that's pixie dust!

2. There are HUGE problems with the AR15/M16/M4.

3. Iraqi forces trying to acquire M16/M4s are likely doing so out of a desire to attain a status symbol over their contemporaries. Once the majority of them finally get their hands on one, the status seekers amongst them will move on to an Hk system once Hk's evangelical marketing department gets it's chance to convert those Iraqi heathens to the One True Creator: Heckler und Koch.

3rd_gear
03-13-2007, 12:06 PM
As others stated, there is nothing wrong with the direct gas system of the m16/4, in fact it may be better in a desert enviorment than a piston system. The direct gas system can blow sand out of the action everytime its fired.
I've also read somewhere that militants in the Gaza strip and Lebanon prefer using the M4 and spend their own money buying them, which can cost them up to 15 times the price of an AK.

pullnshoot25
03-13-2007, 12:12 PM
The entire article is BS.

And nobody zip-ties a cleaning rod to their M4 to clear weapon jams.
You can't clear a malfunction in an M4 with a cleaning rod.
If a case was jammed in the chamber, then that has absolutely nothing to do with whatever operating system was used. It would have happened in a 416 just as easily, if there was enough sand in the chamber to malfunction an M4 or break the extractor. And the 416 uses the same extractor system as the M4.

Complete hogwash.

It is so much BS that I can't stand to read it.


And as far as "the CIA using AKs", if they do that, it is not for "reliability purposes". It is for clandestine activity where the sound of the shots and the brass left on the ground does not indicate that our people were there.

If it were solely for clandestine purposes, then wouldnt a standard M16 would be fitted with an AK47 mag well adapter and a 7.62x39 upper? That would leave the same brass and have the same sound, right? And the safety wouldn't go "CLACK!"

bwiese
03-13-2007, 12:26 PM
There are really no special problems the AR/M4 platform has in current combat that do not affect other rifles to the approx same extent.

Proper basic care/ daily lube is one key issue, and that is resolvable thru training and command. The Jessica Lynch 'my weapon jammed' situation was entirely avoidable from that individual on up thru her command.

I've chatted with a variety of folks who 'have been in the sand' and are entirely happy with M16 and M4 performance.

Yes, the M4 is a tad less reliable (i.e, a tad fewer avg rounds to a malf) than M16 due to shorter gas system. Engineering is the study of tradeoffs, and a slight delta here is perceived as worthwhile for a more compact, easy-to-handle carbine.

Rigorous statistical evaluations of AK vs AR performance reveal actually a *lower* reliability for the AK (some fraction of this is due to crap ammo, of course). Note there are a wide variety of AKs out there, too, and the bottom end is pulling the top end down in these stats.

ANY gun that's not at least an LMG for heavy sustained fire is gonna have trouble when used as a bullet hose, esp when that the barrel gets so red hot that you can see the round travelling thru the barrel. That is not 'combat rifle duty'. Aside from feed/loading issues, the Garand, M14, regular FAL, other 223 rifles, etc. would all suffer from a variety of problems relating to this. That's the talk of 'misapplication': basic combat rifles are not, and cannot be, designed to be used as squad MGs/LMGs.

For the record, Colt did make an M16 LMG MG that fires from an open bolt, and it would be a technical solution to these issues, other than it's not really carryable as a combat rifle/carbine.

99% of soldiers are well-served by the M16/M4 platform when they remember what they're trained (or what they should be trained). There are notable exceptions in some service/support commands where apparently weapons handling was somehow regarded as a secondary duty and service/cleaning/lube procedures were not followed.

We've already seen some ex-.mil folks here propagating BS about using 'grease' in an M16/M4, which is absolutely prohibited. I can only assume some fraction of folks still in service harbor same misinformation.

Oh BTW - the folks officially sanctioned to use AKs in the 'Ghan or elsewere are not only trying to maintain an acoustic profile, but a physical one as well (i.e, how the gun looks at a distance thru binocs). They're also using AKs because of supply issues and 'live off the land' concept. That's less an endorsement of the platform than for special covert requirements.

luvtolean
03-13-2007, 12:39 PM
All I hear from them is how the majority of the time an M4 or M16 fails it is because the soldier was using the rifle in a way that wasn't intended. Either the soldier didn't keep the rifle spit-shine clean, or he was putting too many rounds through it too fast.

Has anyone tested the 416 to show it improves anything in this area?

If the army made that a requirement for the weapon, and asked people to submit fixes, they would all try. But they haven't. Because they don't need to.

If our boys out there needs to fire 2000 rounds full auto through their M4 because their lives depend on it, the excuse I'm hearing doesn't cut it.

If they need to do that, the military needs to make it a spec.

If you fortify a general issue weapon to the point it can take medium machine-gun type abuse, how many other lives are lost by guys that are now hampered by a large, heavy weapon while clearing houses?

To me it sounds like the HK 416 has identified and implemented a large number of improvements that should be made to the M4/M16, but aren't because of bureaucratic bull****. I don't care if Colt has identified the same improvements as HK. Those improvements need to be implemented if they will help our boys out there.

To me it sounds like this is HK's marketing shtick. As they said in the article, Colt has already proposed them to the army. Long ago...HK's marketing people have identified a public perception problem, and tried to exploit it with their efforts. HK is dying to sell the US military rifles apparently, but the problem is, they haven't come up with anything good enough to warrant the change.

I work in technical marketing, trust me, we know how to sell a product based on perceived benefits...what HK is doing is just what I'd try to do to get in to a customer who has a preferred vendor with a product they like.

NIB
03-13-2007, 12:56 PM
The Army Times can be about as reliable as the National Enquirer.

Pvt. Cowboy
03-13-2007, 12:58 PM
There are really no special problems the AR/M4 platform has in current combat that do not affect other rifles to the approx same extent.

The two worst problems unique to the AR/M16/M4 platform, as I see it:

1. The milspec magazine. The majority of problems with the rifle can be pinpointed to a sheet metal magazine that was originally intended to be shipped loaded, used a few times, then pitched. The AR/M16 mag well geometry doesn't generally allow for much improvement either, but there are some synthetic alternatives. Once your M16 mags get bent feed lips from wear and rough treatment, they're a liability. This may not be a factor for people like Calgunners who normally shoot at a range and aren't in Afghanistan diving for cover and landing belly-first on their mags. I can tell you that I was never issued a brand new magazine in the service and only got a replacement when they caused a FTF. In contrast, the Steyr AUG magazine is the finest magazine that mortal man can possibly imagine.

2. That horrible charging handle keyway in the AR/M16 upper receiver. Combined with a faulty mag, it's just a matter of time before you get a double-feed lockup that welds the action shut when the second round porpoises up out of the magazine and rams the case of the first cartridge up into that keyway. If you've never met anyone who has kicked down frantically on a charging handle to unlock this type of jam, allow me to introduce myself. I know of no other combat carbine/rifle that can get into this type of predicament. Whenever you occasionally find unfired 5.56 rounds laying on the ground at the shooting range that look like they've been in a car crash, you know an AR shooter was just there.

luvtolean
03-13-2007, 1:16 PM
Magazines are a significant thing to look at. And it's the military's fault, not the designer's, or even the design, for using them incorrectly. (not the grunt's, not Colt's, but the people in the general staff who choose not to use the mag as designed)

How about the HK high reliability steel mags? Those seem like a very worthwhile improvement. Sweeney tried them in non-combat settings and liked them too.

The charging handle problem isn't going away with the 416, but that is an interesting one.

The hardest rifle on brass I have is easily my FAL. Man, it's just ugly.

brando
03-13-2007, 1:40 PM
Okay, the scoop on this retort from a Colt rep is just business and politics. Both authors were stretching things a bit. Is the gas-impingement system in the AR problematic? Yes, but it is probably the best design of it's kind out there. Any system that floods the action with hot, dirty gas is just asking for trouble, requiring a higher level of upkeep than a direct-impingement system. The gas piston setups out there come in all kinds of flavors, each with pros and cons.

As someone who spent over a decade carrying all kinds of AR variants (M16/CAR-15/M4), it's still one of the best weapon systems out there. Are there problems? Of course, and most have to do with the gas system and the problems it can induce. It requires near F-15 levels of constant care and lubrication. This is especially true of the desert where I found myself cleaning my weapon twice a day (once thorough in the evening and one quick in the late morning) and lubing any chance I had between shooting. It's very tough for an M16/M4 to burn through a basic load of ammo without getting sluggish - and this is specifically from the gas system dumping it's crap into the action.

The HK 416, and "some" other gas piston systems remove the main problem of the M16/M4 gas system by eliminating the hot, dirty gas fouling the action. It's remarkable for any veteran of the M16/M4 to break open the action on a 416 (or LW for example) and handle the BCG without burning fingers. With the action only exposed to the environment (without the addition of hot gas and residue), the sluggishness you get with the M16/M4 pretty much goes away and the lube issue is mitigated somewhat.

So, overall by changing the gas system to a direct-impingement system, the 416 can function more reliably than the M16/M4 in stress conditions (ie low frequency care). There are also accuracy issues as well, but that's worthy of another thread.

brando
03-13-2007, 1:44 PM
One more thing. On the issue of why the Army isn't transitioning or upgrading the existing M16/M4 family, it's simply a monetary issue at the core. Sure, there's huge politics as well, with HK and Colt having some majory rivalries and plenty of fan boy generals at the Pentagon. The 416 was designed by and for JSOC elements who procure specialized equipment in relatively small numbers by Army standards.

JPN6336
03-13-2007, 2:05 PM
I wonder if a conversion unit like the Ares G-35 would be cost effective for the military.

Centurion_D
03-13-2007, 4:27 PM
Just outta curiosity can you purchase a gas piston upper? Who sell's them. Does HK sell them to civvie's?

jumbopanda
03-13-2007, 4:39 PM
Just outta curiosity can you purchase a gas piston upper? Who sell's them. Does HK sell them to civvie's?

You can get them from POF, Leitner-Wise Rifle Co., and several other companies.

aklover_91
03-13-2007, 6:27 PM
You might wanna reread the article. There is nothing wrong with the direct gas impingment of the current M16/4 . If anything its more reliable than the gas piston, less moving parts equals less stuff to break.

And it sprays fouling into the action, which is why they need to be cleaned so much too function, but hey.

brando
03-14-2007, 11:36 AM
Yup, just about every AR manufacturer is making gas piston uppers including Colt and Bushmaster. Leitner-Wise was one of the first out of the gate after HK, with POF not far behind. I can can't speak for the others, but I used a LW 16" for several stages of a carbine class and was really impressed. HK has serious hang-ups with regards to civilian sales, so don't expect to get your hands on a 416 unless you're a JSOC DA guy or a Fed in DC.

Aluisious
03-14-2007, 12:45 PM
It's very tough for an M16/M4 to burn through a basic load of ammo without getting sluggish - and this is specifically from the gas system dumping it's crap into the action.
True, I do find it a tad annoying when my AR gets "sluggish" at the range after 100 rounds or more. In particular I find feeding becomes less reliable.

bwiese
03-14-2007, 12:48 PM
Understand that others came out with a piston system to "be different', too.

Colt did that as well with the LE1020 piston carbine.

The LE1020 won't be priced that much differently in large-scale sales from M16s: if it were that worthwhile, Uncle Sugar would sign up and do a scaled introduction.

bwiese
03-14-2007, 12:52 PM
And it sprays fouling into the action, which is why they need to be cleaned so much too function, but hey.

They don't need to be cleaned "so much". Once a day and/or significant expenditure of rounds is fine.

An AR15/M16 can be cleaned in ~3+ minutes. If it's really grubby from external environment (dust, etc.), add a couple of minutes.

AKs fail too when dirty and have actually acquired some pretty poor statistics in the sandbox. Lotsa 7.62x39 ammo is very dirty compared to our 5.56 so it kinda balances out...

brando
03-14-2007, 2:07 PM
When I was downrange I did a thorough cleaning of my M4 each night. Even without firing a shot all day the conditions in Iraq in both summer (heat/sand) and winter (snow up to your armpits) lead to fouling of one type or another. This cleaning took anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes depending on how many rounds were put through it. A 30 round mag alone can build-up a decent amount of carbon on the bolt. During the day, usually before noon, I'd do a quick spot lube job on the bolt carrier group, but that's about it.

You can keep one up and running fairly consistently with this arrangement, but it's honestly necessary. Without it, your gun will go down in that environment. The 416 is a different story.

Morales
03-14-2007, 4:25 PM
It seems like most of the defenders of the AR15 platform are people who have never had to depend on it for their lives. There is no reason why fighting men, in the field should not be armed with the most relyable possible weapon, no matter what the military has to spend to keep them alive. The bottom line is that these are our friends and family members, and it is cost that is preventing them from being given the best equipment possible. Watch CNN for 10 minutes and anytime you see footage of troops in Iraq, there will be at least one American solider carrying a weapon that is not US general issue. Yes, HK are masters of marketing, but that does not change what the men in the field are asking for.

artherd
03-14-2007, 4:33 PM
I've shot thousands of rounds through several ARs, all without cleaning. If your parts are to spec and are well worn-in, you should be OK.

In an emergency, I bet I could put 10,000 through with just shooting some CLP into the chamber every now and agian.

It'd be a black muddy mess, but it will still cycle just fine.

HK 416 adds some chamber cleanlieness, and costs unknown reliability complication with extra parts, and possibly a *huge* hit in accuracy.

Aluisious
03-14-2007, 4:36 PM
There is no reason why fighting men, in the field should not be armed with the most relyable possible weapon, no matter what the military has to spend to keep them alive.

Sure there's a reason.

Here it is: they're expendible and we just don't care that much.

The underlying problem is worse than direct vs piston.

hiyabrad
03-14-2007, 4:36 PM
When can I buy one?

Technical Ted
03-14-2007, 4:58 PM
There is no reason why fighting men, in the field should not be armed with the most relyable possible weapon, no matter what the military has to spend to keep them alive.
Well hell. We need robots. Big freakin atomic powered robots with laser eyes and jack hammer arms to pummel the enemy into submission.

Fighting men are inherently frail and inefficient. They require a limited operational environment. They're prone to injury. They require regular feeding, cleaning and rest periods. Not only that, they intermittently void themselves of solid and liquid waste.

Fighting men should be more reliable than their weapons.

Big freaking atomic powered robots I'm telling ya.

jdberger
03-15-2007, 12:16 AM
It seems like most of the defenders of the AR15 platform are people who have never had to depend on it for their lives.
That, Sir, is an interesting assumption. Care to back it up?

Or are you casting aspersions - making an ad hominem attack to discredit those who disagree with you?

Crazed_SS
03-15-2007, 5:41 AM
The only problem I ever had with my M-16 was due to crappy recycled gov't issue mags. :confused: .. Once i got the armory to get me some new mags, I never had any problems.

twl
03-15-2007, 7:01 AM
I'd heartily recommend shooting these weapons for extended sessions, with accuracy testing, and handling comparisons, before plunking down any hard-earned cash for one.

Every single comment that I've heard from people who actually shot a 416, was that they were severely disappointed in the performance.
The FN SCAR was a bit better, but still fell short of expectations.
Their AR15/M4 carbines shot alot better and were just as reliable.
In the end, they all told me that they'd stick with their M4 over either of the newcomers.

Compare before you buy!


The list of guns which were "claimed" to be better than the AR15/M16/M4 over 40 years time, is as long as your arm.
None of them ever have been, in the final analysis.



-

Morales
03-15-2007, 5:40 PM
I can back that statement up only with what I have been told by friends, and family members who have served in Iraq, Afgahnistan, and Vietnam. My two uncles, who served late in the Vietnam war (1970's) abandoned their m16s in favor of AK47s as did many in their platoons. As for the present conflicts, my friends and cousins have told me that they would prefer something like an AK that had better reach, but that COs were strict about men in the field trading weapons. The point is, these are people close to me, and so I worry about them, and if there is something that can be done to keep them alive, why not do it?

bwiese
03-15-2007, 6:26 PM
I can back that statement up only with what I have been told by friends, and family members who have served in Iraq, Afgahnistan, and Vietnam. My two uncles, who served late in the Vietnam war (1970's) abandoned their m16s in favor of AK47s as did many in their platoons. As for the present conflicts, my friends and cousins have told me that they would prefer something like an AK that had better reach, but that COs were strict about men in the field trading weapons. The point is, these are people close to me, and so I worry about them, and if there is something that can be done to keep them alive, why not do it?


Anecdotal material. And who knows if they're following T&M procedures?

I chat with folks doing serious work in the Sandboxes and most are pretty pleased with M16s. I hear more gripes about stock length (too long, to short) and magazines than I do the rifle.

JPN6336
03-15-2007, 11:11 PM
Watch CNN for 10 minutes and anytime you see footage of troops in Iraq, there will be at least one American solider carrying a weapon that is not US general issue.

Funny, when I was there, the only non-US issue weapons I saw were in the hands of government contractors and the Iraqi Army and police that we were training. Aside from that it was M16A4s, M4s, M249s and of course vehicle mounted MK 19s, M2s, M240s....etc....

Pvt. Cowboy
03-15-2007, 11:58 PM
I saw video of a Marine clearing a house with an antique Soviet PPSh-41 and thought 'Good choice'. Here's a still of that video:

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y239/moje_slike/DSC03523.jpg

I put a stick mag through a crusty old Korean War-era Chinese Type 50 clone of the PPSh-41 when I was in SOI and it just flat ripped. The hot cases rained straight down on top of my head a second later. Everyone wanted to fire it.

I'm not saying it proves anything, but there's plenty of pics on the web of US soldiers and Marines using captured ComBloc weapons:

http://img48.imageshack.us/img48/6231/1irakdragunov431693376wecgggph.jpg

Dr. Peter Venkman
03-16-2007, 12:23 AM
I saw video of a Marine clearing a house with an antique Soviet PPSh-41 and thought 'Good choice'. Here's a still of that video:

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y239/moje_slike/DSC03523.jpg

I put a stick mag through a crusty old Korean War-era Chinese Type 50 clone of the PPSh-41 when I was in SOI and it just flat ripped. The hot cases rained straight down on top of my head a second later. Everyone wanted to fire it.

I'm not saying it proves anything, but there's plenty of pics on the web of US soldiers and Marines using captured ComBloc weapons:

http://img48.imageshack.us/img48/6231/1irakdragunov431693376wecgggph.jpg

From what I have read on other forums, that series of photos with the PPSH was staged.

brando
03-16-2007, 8:58 AM
From what I have read on other forums, that series of photos with the PPSH was staged.

No doubt. While I was over there I had a short AK handy, but in general there was a rule that you couldn't use anything other than your assigned weapon, so it's not like folks were ditching their M16/M4s for AKs like some would have you believe.

brando
03-16-2007, 9:01 AM
HK 416 adds some chamber cleanlieness, and costs unknown reliability complication with extra parts, and possibly a *huge* hit in accuracy.

Dude, the short 10.5" HK416 is apparently shooting as well as the 14.5" and is functioning reliably, according to folks downrange. That's huge if you've ever had to deal with a 10.5" AR. They are notorious for having cycling issues.

Rugerman
03-16-2007, 10:24 PM
just because the Army shot it down doesn't mean other places like Navy S.E.A.L.s or SOCOM will

twl
03-17-2007, 6:43 AM
Dude, the short 10.5" HK416 is apparently shooting as well as the 14.5" and is functioning reliably, according to folks downrange. That's huge if you've ever had to deal with a 10.5" AR. They are notorious for having cycling issues.

Yes, accuracy is not a function of barrel length, and it is entirely possible that a 10.5" could shoot as accurately as a 14.5". However, there will be the attendant loss of velocity(comparatively) and the trajectory drop associated with that. So, different bullet-drop compensation and zero would be required of course.

But, controllability is another matter, and all the reports I'm getting from over there say that the HK416 is a "recoil jackhammer" compared to a normal M4. Not nearly as controllable during rapid fire. Also, the increased "height over barrel" of the 416's optics rail/sight-plane causes exaggerated aiming issues in CQB and for any BDC adjustments for optics calibrated for M4 rail height.

10.5" AR systems are notorious for being more finicky than longer ones, but they can be made to run reliably.

Interestingly, I personally know some Marines who participated in the Battle of Fallujah, kicking doors and room-clearing with their 20" M16A2 rifles.
They all reported zero failures of their weapons during their entire tours of duty. Same DI operating system, just a little bit longer length. Somehow these guys managed to get thru their tours without failures under very heavy battle conditions, in the sandbox.

IMO, the piston operating system is not a "fix" for the M4 rifle, because there is nothing broken. It actually performs better than an HK416 in handling/shooting qualities, and is tough and reliable in battle conditions.

I've also heard the stories of many AK47 rifles being choked-up by the sand there, so sand-clogging issues are not just related to the M4. It's happening to the M240, M249, and all the other weapons there.

There's an agenda being put into place here, and the M4 must be viewed as "broken" before another company(companies) can sell "their fix" for it.

Beware of the "snake-oil".