A bit More Info On Alleged M-4 Failures at Wanat

Discussion in 'Weapons, Equipment & Rations' started by jumpinjarhead, Oct 15, 2009.

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  1. This is from a fellow I know who is in small arms testing and acquisition for the US who has read the still classified after action report from Wanat:

    The M-4 has become the designated weapon of choice for the United States Army since combat operations have demanded a modular carbine in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. Much of the focus and shift has been on the full functionality of the M-4 as a platform for added on items such as a thermal weapons sight, reflexive fire optics, laser designator and others.

    A study released this weekend by the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, stated multiple failures of the M-4 during the firefight at Wanat, Afghanistan in which 9 soldiers were killed. The study which has not yet been publicly released cited battlefield after action reviews in which soldiers having fired more than a basic load on their individual M-4 were found searching for functioning M-4s of fellow fallen Platoon members. Those too apparently were not functioning.

    While soldiers in both theatres have spoken for and against the M-4 the study shows a grim side to the weapon in which it may or may have not been a factor in the deaths of some soldiers. The Army has entertained testing against a few other weapons including the M-4, HK416, SCAR and HK XM8. The testing in July of 2007 had an end result of the SCAR suffering 226 stoppages ranking second to the XM8 with 127 stoppages, but less compared to the M4 with 882 stoppages and the HK 416 with 233.

    Having personally fired the M-4 quitea a few times I’ve found the function and fit comfortable to my size and though I have suffered stoppages I can’t speak for units Army wide. And while the M-4 when well cared for and maintained has proven itself in Iraq and Afghanistan only time will tell if we have the best weapon money can buy…which is what it comes down to… Taxpayer dollars.
  2. Snipped a bit for brevity. 882 seems quite a large number compared to the others; how many rounds were fired through each, and what conditions were used?
  3. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

  4. I'd like to see how it stacks up against the M-14 or SLR for stoppages... probably not very well
  5. Of course the unstated, but no doubt main contributing, cuprit here was not the weapons, but the leadership that allowed this situation to arise in the first place.

    I'd like to see a frank discussion about how the bad guys were allowed to concentrate so closely to a location like this without being detected/ ambushed/ counter-attacked/ issued parking violations etc.


    Must... get.... back.... to ... my armchair...
  6. This has an entry in Wikipedia:-

    2007 dust test
    In the fall of 2007, the Army tested the M4 against three other carbines in "sandstorm conditions" at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland: the Heckler & Koch XM8 rifle, Fabrique Nationale de Herstal SOF Combat Assault Rifle (SCAR) and the Heckler & Koch HK416. Ten of each type of rifle were used to fire 6,000 rounds each, for a total of 60,000 rounds per rifle type.[7] The M4 suffered far more stoppages than its competitors: 882 stoppages, 19 requiring an armorer to fix. The XM8 had the fewest stoppages, 116 minor stoppages and 11 major ones, followed by the FN SCAR with 226 stoppages and the HK416 with 233.[8][9] The Army was quick to point out that even with 863 minor stoppages—termed "class one" stoppages which require 10 seconds or less to clear and "class two" stoppages which require more than ten seconds to clear—the M4 functioned well, with over 98 percent of the 60,000 total rounds firing without a problem. The Army said it planned to improve the M4 with a new cold-hammer-forged barrel to give longer life and more reliable magazines to reduce the stoppages. Magazine failures caused 239 of the M4's 882 failures. Army officials said the new magazines could be combat-ready by spring if testing went well

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_carbine
  7. Here is another way some units are fixing the problem:

  8. I think that report is confusing "barrel" with "upper"...
  9. Of course, taking the really big heli-view, the sheer number of small arms being manufactured worldwide, coupled with the often dodgy functioning, is caused by political procurement. There hasn't been anything like the advances in small arms that there have been in motor cars or cameras, because cars and cameras are freely traded, people will buy the best, so companies will tool up and spend on R&D to gain an advantage. If US manufacturers thought that everybody in NATO would buy the best lots more would have been spent on the development of small arms, but of course the manufactuers know that (for example) the British will try to reinvent the wheel if there is a man and a dog in Wakefield who need to be kept in work.
  10. I still think its the round, not the weapon, and that 5.56-scaled systems are on the borderline of functionality in dusty environments.

    It would be interesting to see dust reliability tests of, say, 416 vs 417, M4 vs (hypothetical) AR10 carbine, AK vs AKS, etc.
  11. I agree-I tried to get find the actual FAR solicitation but couldn't.
  12. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    I think that the bigger the round, the more forgiving of environmental conditions vis-a-vis dust and dirt on/in the rifle.

    Having said that, and despite it having the highest number of stoppages out of the four rifles in the dust test, 882 jams in 60,000 whilst covered in sh!t and dust, or to put it another way, 1 round jamming out of 60 does not create the situation described at Wannat, where almost every rifle jammed up so badly it became unusable and they almost ran out of useable firearms during the firefight.

    There's been fire-fights to numerous to count in Afghan during which the M-4 has been used to fire thousands and thousands of rounds. Surely, if it was that bad, this issue would have been more greatly reported and more US soldiers would have died?
  13. Just think what a grain of sand looks like to a 308 and its tolerances compared to a 223.

    Or even better, what it looks like on a nice, wartime-toleranced 303, head-spacing on the rim.