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Centerfire Rifles - Semiautomatic or Gas Operated Centerfire rifles, carbines and other gas operated rifles.

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  #1  
Old 12-17-2007, 9:20 AM
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Default Newer carbines outperform M4 in dust test

Results are in, thank you Tom Coburn for lighting a fire under some *sses!

From Army Times: http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/1...sttest_071217/

Quote:
Newer carbines outperform M4 in dust test

By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 17, 2007 916 EST

The M4 carbine, the weapon soldiers depend on in combat, finished last in a recent “extreme dust test” to demonstrate the M4’s reliability compared to three newer carbines.

Weapons officials at the Army Test and Evaluation Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., exposed Colt Defense LLC’s M4, along with the Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the H&K 416 to sandstorm conditions from late September to late November, firing 6,000 rounds through each test weapon.

When the test was completed, ATEC officials found that the M4 performed “significantly worse” than the other three weapons, sources told Army Times.

Officials tested 10 each of the four carbine models, firing a total of 60,000 rounds per model. Here’s how they ranked, according to the total number of times each model stopped firing:

• XM8: 127 stoppages.

• MK16 SCAR Light: 226 stoppages.

• 416: 233 stoppages.

• M4: 882 stoppages.

the results of the test were “a wake-up call,” but Army officials continue to stand by the current carbine, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, the command that is responsible for equipping soldiers.

“We take the results of this test with a great deal of interest and seriousness,” Brown said, expressing his determination to outfit soldiers with the best equipment possible.

The test results did not sway the Army’s faith in the M4, he said.

“Everybody in the Army has high confidence in this weapon,” Brown said.

Lighter and more compact than the M16 rifle, the M4 is more effective for the close confines of urban combat. The Army began fielding the M4 in the mid-1990s.

Army weapons officials agreed to perform the test at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in July. Coburn took up the issue following a Feb. 26 Army Times report on moves by elite Army combat forces to ditch the M4 in favor of carbines they consider more reliable. Coburn is questioning the Army’s plans to spend $375 million to purchase M4s through fiscal 2009.

Coburn raised concerns over the M4’s “long-standing reliability” problems in an April 12 letter and asked if the Army had considered newer, possibly better weapons available on the commercial market.

John Hart, a spokesman for Coburn, who was traveling, said the senator was reviewing the test results and had yet to discuss it with the Army.

The M4, like its predecessor, the M16, uses a gas tube system, which relies on the gas created when a bullet is fired to cycle the weapon. Some weapons experts maintain the M4’s system of blowing gas directly into the firing mechanism of the weapon spews carbon residue that can lead to fouling and heat that dries up lubrication, causing excessive wear on parts.

The other contenders in the dust test — the XM8, SCAR and 416 — use a piston-style operating system, which relies on a gas-driven piston rod to cycle the weapon during firing. The gas is vented without funneling through the firing mechanism.

The Army’s Delta Force replaced its M4s with the H&K 416 in 2004 after tests revealed that the piston operating system significantly reduces malfunctions while increasing the life of parts. The elite unit collaborated with the German arms maker to develop the new carbine.

U.S. Special Operations Command has also revised its small-arms requirements. In November 2004, SOCom awarded a developmental contract to FN Herstal to develop its new SCAR to replace its weapons from the M16 family.

And from 2002 to 2005, the Army developed the XM8 as a replacement for the Army’s M16 family. The program led to infighting within the service’s weapons community and eventually died after failing to win approval at the Defense Department level.

How they were tested

The recent Aberdeen dust test used 10 sample models of each weapon. Before going into the dust chamber, testers applied a heavy coat of lubrication to each weapon. Each weapon’s muzzle was capped and ejection port cover closed.

Testers exposed the weapons to a heavy dust environment for 30 minutes before firing 120 rounds from each.

The weapons were then put back in the dust chamber for another 30 minutes and fired another 120 rounds. This sequence was repeated until each weapon had fired 600 rounds.

Testers then wiped down each weapon and applied another heavy application of lubrication.

The weapons were put back through the same sequence of 30 minutes in the dust chamber followed by firing 120 rounds from each weapon until another 600 rounds were fired.

Testers then thoroughly cleaned each weapon, re-lubricated each, and began the dusting and fire sequencing again.

This process was repeated until testers fired 6,000 rounds through each weapon.

The dust test exposed the weapons to the same extreme dust and sand conditions that Army weapons officials subjected the M4 and M16 to during a “systems assessment” at Aberdeen last year and again this summer. The results of the second round of ATEC tests showed that the performance of the M4s dramatically improved when testers increased the amount of lubrication used.

Out of the 60,000 rounds fired in the tests earlier in the summer, the 10 M4s tested had 307 stoppages, test results show, far fewer than the 882 in the most recent test.

in the recent tests, the M4 suffered 643 weapon-related stoppages, such as failure to eject or failure to extract fired casings, and 239 magazine-related stoppages.

Colt officials had not seen the test report and would not comment for this story, said James Battaglini, executive vice president for Colt Defense LLC, on Dec. 14.

Army officials are concerned about the gap between the two tests becaus the “test conditions for test two and three were ostensibly the same,” Brown said.

There were, however, minor differences in the two tests because they were conducted at different times of the year with different test officials, Brown said. Test community officials are analyzing the data to try to explain why the M4 performed worse during this test.

Weapons officials pointed out that these tests were conducted in extreme conditions that did not address “reliability in typical operational conditions,” the test report states.

Despite the last-place showing, Army officials say there is no movement toward replacing the M4.

The Army wants its next soldier weapon to be a true leap ahead, rather than a series of small improvements, Brown said.

“That is what the intent is,” he said, “to give our soldiers the very best and we are not going to rest until we do that.”

Col. Robert Radcliffe, head of the Directorate of Combat Developments for the Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., said the test results will be considered as the Army continues to search for ways to improve soldier weapons.

For now, he said the Army will stick with the M4, because soldier surveys from Iraq and Afghanistan continue to highlight the weapon’s popularity among troops in the combat zone.

“The M4 is performing for them in combat, and it does what they needed to do in combat,” Radcliffe said.



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the results of the test were “a wake-up call,” but Army officials continue to stand by the current carbine,


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  #2  
Old 12-17-2007, 9:33 AM
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The XM8 only had 127 stoppages and yet they still canceled the program .
Not a big enough difference to justify the change in their minds, but what about in the minds of those in the field?
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Old 12-17-2007, 9:37 AM
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Old 12-17-2007, 9:49 AM
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You can design any test that any gun will fail, and run enough tests to select the skew you want.

Nobody specified the lubrication/cleaning regime, etc. either.

I'm betting HK designed the test and passed the test regime to the bureaucracy who used it unchanged (labor savings of not designing a new test).

Remember that M14s actually performed worse in desert environments than M16 platforms during testing in Desert Storm, and Izzys had troubles with FALs there too.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2007, 9:57 AM
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"Before going into the dust chamber, testers applied a heavy coat of lubrication to each weapon."

I am not going to defend the M4, but I do wonder if it is appropriate to lube all weapon systems the same way when they operate differently (gas vs piston). IIRC the latest from Pat Rogers on the issue indicated a heavy lube should be used on the M4 so maybe it is a valid approach.
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  #6  
Old 12-17-2007, 10:13 AM
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A couple of my buddies who came back from Iraq who were issued M4's.

Fine Dust Brushes are used quite frequently there to brush away as much dust as possible.

Problem with the dust is that it binds and causes friction in the receiver when the rifle is fired. The more dust, the more friction in the upper receiver between the bolt and receiver and the bolt will seize due to a lack of smooth contact surfaces for the bolt to travel properly in the upper receiver.

Add to this the carbon fouling experienced with the standard AR Gas System while shooting thousands of rounds. Its like running your car engine on little or no oil, it will heat up, and seize.

Of course we are never going to shoot 60.000 rounds and many of do not live in extreme climate areas, so the AR15 design is still a great design and unless you do not keep your rifle clean, you should never have any issues like this experienced in the testing.
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Last edited by Addax; 12-17-2007 at 10:15 AM..
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:14 AM
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Why does this not surprise me? Don't get me wrong, I love the M4 (AR platform), but it certainly isn't the most up to date weapon in the world. It get's the job done though!
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by hybridatsun350 View Post
Why does this not surprise me? Don't get me wrong, I love the M4 (AR platform), but it certainly isn't the most up to date weapon in the world. It get's the job done though!
I wonder how an AK would do in the "dust test".
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:24 AM
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I wonder how an AK would do in the "dust test".
Probably about the same as Chuck Norris would do in a head-butting test
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoop View Post
I wonder how an AK would do in the "dust test".
Lotsa AK clones have problems in the Sandbox.
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:57 AM
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I have read a few articles lately where the guys are praising the M4s. Basically they are saying if you clean them like you are supposed to they work.
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:01 AM
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There's nothing wrong with modernizing. If the XM8 is 4x more reliable, then it's 4x more reliable.

The M1 was considered "The greatest battle implement ever devised". But like all man made machines, they eventually become obsolete in the face of newer improvements.
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:17 AM
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I have read a few articles lately where the guys are praising the M4s. Basically they are saying if you clean them like you are supposed to they work.
That's great as long as you have the time and materials to clean the gun
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:31 AM
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II don't know about the XM-8 but I know a few guys who deployed with the HK416 and they loved it! No stopages and just as familiar as the M-4. The M-4 is great but the gas system has sucked from the beginning! It just makes you work harder to keep it clean. Mine never stopped but I cleaned it religiously!
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:32 AM
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Probably about the same as Chuck Norris would do in a head-butting test
So considering Chucky's age, not too well?
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:36 AM
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why dont they just do a retro gas op rod upgrade to all the current m4/m16 service rifles and call it a day? the kit is out there, hell colt could desig a retro kit if they really wanted to.
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Old 12-17-2007, 11:51 AM
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why dont they just do a retro gas op rod upgrade to all the current m4/m16 service rifles and call it a day? the kit is out there, hell colt could desig a retro kit if they really wanted to.
Because there is zero evidence that such a kit - or a piston conversion - improves the rifle's time-to-failure. And the time/labor/parts to do the mod on existing upper would cost as much as a new upper.

Everytime you change something, there's another opportunity for failure. Gas pistons have their own problems - extra parts! - which can offer new & different failure modes and other areas to get dirty.

Unfortunately all these new rifles and subsystems do not have 40 yrs of R&D and testing cycles. It's rather disingenuous for all these other vendors to take their new guys and say "see, we're more reliable" without doing a whole battery of tests for extended duration for large volumes.
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Old 12-17-2007, 1:25 PM
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I heard that many AKs don't hold up well in fine sand environments. It was for this reason that israel developed the Galil.
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Old 12-17-2007, 1:31 PM
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I heard that many AKs don't hold up well in fine sand environments. It was for this reason that israel developed the Galil.
There's absolutely no reason that a Galil would be more reliable than an AK. Galils are basically milled receiver AKs with a few improvements. It's probably more accurate and more ergonomic, but other than that I don't see too many differences.
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Old 12-17-2007, 1:31 PM
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"Out of the 60,000 rounds fired in the tests earlier in the summer, the 10 M4s tested had 307 stoppages, test results show, far fewer than the 882 in the most recent test.

in the recent tests, the M4 suffered 643 weapon-related stoppages, such as failure to eject or failure to extract fired casings, and 239 magazine-related stoppages."

What does that mean?
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Old 12-17-2007, 3:51 PM
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Any indication of what type of ammo they were shooting. Wolf perhaps?
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Old 12-17-2007, 3:54 PM
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"Out of the 60,000 rounds fired in the tests earlier in the summer, the 10 M4s tested had 307 stoppages, test results show, far fewer than the 882 in the most recent test.

in the recent tests, the M4 suffered 643 weapon-related stoppages, such as failure to eject or failure to extract fired casings, and 239 magazine-related stoppages."

What does that mean?
I believe that weapon related stoppages are related to the weapon, i.e. fte (failure to eject) and mag related failures are failure to feeds ? That is what I see in that report. it's written more like a science report, dry and no nonsense. A little more straight forward to what most of us are used to reading in newspapers and magazines.
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Old 12-17-2007, 3:58 PM
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I believe that weapon related stoppages are related to the weapon, i.e. fte (failure to eject) and mag related failures are failure to feeds ? That is what I see in that report. it's written more like a science report, dry and no nonsense. A little more straight forward to what most of us are used to reading in newspapers and magazines.
You completely missed my point.

Same test, first one with 307 stoppages, second one with 882 stoppages.

That's an increased of 575 stoppages magically. The test went from showing that the M4 is only slightly more prone to stoppages in sandy conditions than the others to showing it as 4 times more likely. That's what I was making a comment on. Anyone else that missed this portion should consider themself "failed" at reading the entire message. What "occured" or changed during these two tests? As any statistician will tell you, a 180% increase in incidents should raise a red flag and at least a 3rd test should have been conducted with the variance nullified.
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Old 12-17-2007, 4:31 PM
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UPDATE:

Quote:
M4 may get tougher barrel, better mags

By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Dec 17, 2007 16:08:30 EST

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/1...aring_071217w/

Army weapons officials said Monday they are considering equipping the M4 carbine with a more durable barrel and improved magazines during a Pentagon briefing that discussed why three newer carbines outperformed the M4 in a recent reliability test.

Army Test and Evaluation Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., completed an “extreme dust test” in late November that looked at the M4’s reliability compared to the Heckler & Koch XM8, FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle and the H&K 416.

The weapons were exposed to 25 hours of heavy dust conditions over the course of the two-month long test that fired 6,000 rounds through each test weapon.

In the end, XM8 finished first, SCAR finished second, 416 finished third and M4 finished fourth.

Despite the findings, Army weapons officials are still pleased with M4’s performance, said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, commander of Program Executive Office Soldier, the command that is responsible for equipping soldiers.

Brown described the Colt Defense LLC M4 as a “world-class weapon,” at a briefing with reporters.

“There is a very high satisfaction rate with this rifle,” Brown said, adding that soldier surveys give the M4 an 89 percent approval rating.

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.

Another upgrade under consideration is a “hammer-forged” barrel, Brown said.

While there is no timeline in place, Brown said switching to this specific manufacturing process could yield M4 barrels that “have a longer life.”

Army weapons officials agreed to perform the test at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in July. Coburn took up the issue following a Feb. 26 Army Times report on moves by elite Army combat forces to ditch the M4 in favor of carbines they consider more reliable. Coburn is questioning the Army’s plans to spend $375 million to purchase M4s through fiscal 2009.
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Old 12-17-2007, 4:47 PM
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Problem is that none of rifles offer a vast leap of improvement over the STD issue M-4.......if you clean it....it works.....

Even the special ops guys won't pop off more than 500 rds on a op...

Now if you come up w/ a rifle that costs 300 bucks and is more effective.....now your talking.....

Paying twice as much for 5.56 rifle that really isn't that much better when you juggle the numbers......won't work...

And its about the money.....
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Old 12-17-2007, 5:14 PM
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So according to the tests we should be using XM-8 because it has fewer stoppages? We all know how that turned out, melted hand guards, bulkiness and poor ergonomics, general flimsiness of using a polymer receiver. There is alot more to a weapon than having it run X number of rounds without a failure.
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Old 12-17-2007, 7:26 PM
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Any indication of what type of ammo they were shooting. Wolf perhaps?
Come on dude, the military doesn't shoot Wolf ammo.
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Old 12-17-2007, 7:46 PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FXK-VRkqqM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn9Wc...eature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNAoh...eature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKg9S...eature=related

nuff said....
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Old 12-17-2007, 8:58 PM
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Anything exposed to fine enough dust/sand will fail- it's the most unfriendly envorinment on earth as far as machinery goes.

The simpler the design the better off you are. The AKs are reliable because of simplicity, but the same design sacrifices accuracy (gas system causes barrel flexing, stamped receivers flex, loose parts). The Sig 550 uses a highly modified AK system, but has many more moving parts and is much stiffer (very accurate- sub MOA). Sig also took great steps to keep extra grit out of the action as the tighter tolerances won't handle grit as well as an AK.

As far as all the new designs, nothing is combat proven yet. Very few wonder-rifles are. Maybe only the AUG, Sig 550 series and a handful of others have seen actual combat. And they're considered 'old tech' now

For the ultimate sandbox gun, I think we'd have to go to a caseless cartridge, with a minimal amount of openings to let in grit. With an electrically fired caseless gun, the only exit hole could be the barrel

-Dave

Last edited by saki302; 12-17-2007 at 9:01 PM..
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:00 PM
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Clean it, and it works fine. Nuff said.
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Old 12-18-2007, 3:28 AM
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"25 hours of extreme dust". No rifle here goes 25 MINUTES in the dust without a cleaning, or at least a good wipe down.

The testers lubed the rifle absolutely contrary to the -10 user manual, which insists on MINIMAL lube in dusty environs. The "test" was stacked against the M4 from the start, all resulting failures were designed.

Weapon system I see the most in my shop here? M240. The least? M249. The unexpected? AKM of all nationalities. Scariest? DsHK 12.7mm. That thing is a real piece of junk. The M4/M16A4 comes in mostly for parts the owner lost while cleaning.

This is real life, not a trumped up test.
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Old 12-18-2007, 3:23 PM
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Well, the OP didn't post the whole story. But I agree with the decision at the end of that piece. It is better to wait until you have a weapon system that is altogether revolutionary before you spend millions of dollars on a switch with questionable improvement.
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Old 12-18-2007, 4:00 PM
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Quote:
Despite the last-place showing, Army officials say there is no movement toward replacing the M4.
That's .gov for ya.
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Old 12-18-2007, 4:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isitkool View Post
Any indication of what type of ammo they were shooting. Wolf perhaps?
Probably lake city M855 as that's the standard issue ammo.
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Old 12-18-2007, 6:41 PM
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A few random comments: Thank's to Colt for providing M-4's that had almost twice as many stoppages as M-4's provided in the previous test. Quality control issues? I don't think Israel ever actually used the Galil. Sure they produced them, but they appear to be issued almost exclusively to Armor units and REMF's while the M-16 and M-4 do first line duty. I seem to recall a thread on Isayaret stating that being issued a Galil was almost a badge of shame. Lastly I would like to point out that a hot, dusty environment is not the only place a soldier might have to use a rifle. There are also cold and wet places one might need a rifle, and I'm not sure how well the competition might fare there. I seem to remember the arctic test causing the FAL to puke and fart while the M-14 received passing marks. I'm not sure what a hammer forged barrel will do to improve reliability, aside from making the M-4 have one more thing in common with the competition.
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Old 12-18-2007, 7:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Army GI View Post
Well, the OP didn't post the whole story. But I agree with the decision at the end of that piece. It is better to wait until you have a weapon system that is altogether revolutionary before you spend millions of dollars on a switch with questionable improvement.
Outfitting every Army and Marine Corps Infantryman with a 416 would cost the DoD less than ONE F-22.

Last edited by Pryde; 12-18-2007 at 7:29 PM..
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
Remember that M14s actually performed worse in desert environments than M16 platforms during testing in Desert Storm, and Izzys had troubles with FALs there too.
Do you have a link on this? It'd be interesting to read. I suppose the open receiver is a disadvantage when sand is blowing around. OTOH, you could just shake the sand out of the receiver...
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pryde View Post
Outfitting every Army and Marine Corps Infantryman with a 416 would cost the DoD less than ONE F-22.
Ya, but that's AIRFARCE........money.......
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