US rifle reliability trials highlight M4 stoppages

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#1
Janes reports:

The US Army has completed its rifle reliability shoot-off and announced that the gas piston-operated weapons tested proved less vulnerable in desert conditions than the direct gas system of the M4 carbine during extreme dust trials.
Which nicely dove tails with the reports from all over the web, and for the guntechs amongst you, common fcking sense.

So, will uncle sams boys be waiting 15 years for an HK refit or do we think they'll be getting a new toy within the time it takes a Senator to cough?
 
#2
Doesn't SOCOM or whatever it's called already use the 416/417?* As for general issue? Doubt it unless Colt gets in on the act.

*Funnily enough, I think that came about on the back of the A2 fixes. :D
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#3
A lot of web forums praise the M4 but in duscussions last night on ideal calibres at the HBSA the subject of the M4 rebarrelling to 6.8 was discussed and although most 7mm proponents seemed happy I raised concerns about reliability of the platform. It seems to have turned a full circle. perhaps its time to dust of the SAID for the L9 and get it into production with a decent sight!
That said the Israelis seem happy with the calibre and have intoduced the Tavor which should be in general service this year!
They are not happy with the M4.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#4
SOCOM users I spoke with were happy enough with 5.56 but the stoppages was a major downer.

The calibre question remains, in my opinion, a big thing for a lot of people who like shooting but don't actually have to (a) pay for it or (b) use it in battle.
 
#5
I've used the M4 for ages, and never had a stoppage with it, I find it's very reliable. I've completed COD4 twice now! ;)
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#6
There was somewhere on this forum the results from accuraccy and penetration testing which alleged that the M4 shorter barrel put it at a disadvantage over longer distances such as 350 metres and further.
Now this may be a little due to the lack of stability in a shorter barrel ie the bullet isnt as stable as from a longer tube and is prone to yaw affecting both accuracy and penetration.
There is also the thought that the bullet wont reach its fullest potential as it is out in the open before the powders has all burnt and pressure peaked.
It may be a combination of both.
I also agree that a lot of proponents of calibre change never get near a two way range however those are the sorts of people that we wouldnt want in such a situation when reactions are needed not analysis!
 
#7
There was a link put on here showing that M4/HK job. Looked like the M4 but the gas pasts looked like they were lifted right out of the A2. Their whole 'recoil spring' looks very ineficiant to me as well, but again I've never fired one, just going on what I've seen.


T C
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#8
ugly said:
There was somewhere on this forum the results from accuraccy and penetration testing which alleged that the M4 shorter barrel put it at a disadvantage over longer distances such as 350 metres and further.
IIRC it was on a thread titled something like "Does 5.56 actually work or is it just 7.62 set on stun"

To which the sum of the thread (before getting highjacked by people with 6.8mm etc agendas) was "yes it does from the SA80 thanks very much" and the M4 was broadly covered with "not good over 250m" (IIRC though you may be correct and it was 350m). Again for the reasons you say.

I suspect its only a matter of time until somebody posts a 7mm best of both worlds chart/table discussion.

As was explained to me by Stoaty over the blower recently, the problem with the M4 is its discharging of excess gas and stuff into the working parts area of the wpn during the cycle which makes clog too easily in dirty environments.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
Mr Happy said:
ugly said:
There was somewhere on this forum the results from accuraccy and penetration testing which alleged that the M4 shorter barrel put it at a disadvantage over longer distances such as 350 metres and further.
IIRC it was on a thread titled something like "Does 5.56 actually work or is it just 7.62 set on stun"

To which the sum of the thread (before getting highjacked by people with 6.8mm etc agendas) was "yes it does from the SA80 thanks very much" and the M4 was broadly covered with "not good over 250m" (IIRC though you may be correct and it was 350m). Again for the reasons you say.

I suspect its only a matter of time until somebody posts a 7mm best of both worlds chart/table discussion.

As was explained to me by Stoaty over the blower recently, the problem with the M4 is its discharging of excess gas and stuff into the working parts area of the wpn during the cycle which makes clog too easily in dirty environments.
I thought the idea of 5.56 was based around the amount of ammo you could carry, traded off against power and long range effectiveness. This being the case, 5.56 is the better choice, even though we are still running out of ammo quickly in firefights - albeit it lasts a lot longer than with the amount carryable in 7.62.

As for the shorter barrel argument - the propellent needs to burn faster, or more explosively and have done its job by the time the barrel-end is reached - thus, changing the powder would sort out the acceleration issue. As for stability of the round, that can be improved by fine-tuning the rifling/bullet - not easily achieved in mass-produced service weapons and ammo (see problems with .5 cal ammo from India or wherever the hell it came from). It's not like we are using match-grade ammo or barrels, and nor are the setics. We did the job nicely by having the bullpup configuration that allowed the longer barrel to be retained whilst shortening the weapon to make it more useable in more circumstances.

As for clogging up the working parts, that's a trade off between finely machined working parts with associated finer tolerances, and thus clogging in real-world scenarios, and highly reliable systems such as the AK range that have lousy accuracy. You could try and achieve higher reliability by having cleaner-burning powders and closing off access routes for dirt - but that costs more money, and let's face it, getting the weapon swamped in filth in battlefield conditions will negate that route.


HK, from what I understand, have worked wonders with the A2 by making a number of changes to the design, and the septic weapon could yet be improved along similar lines. The septics have got huge amounts of money, and could, as has already been said, achieve improvements before you could say "who farted?". Improving the design and working parts would be quicker than developing and testing a whole new system, before finding various real-world flaws, redeloping, more testing and so on.

One only has to look at the Porsche 911 for an example of long term reworking of essentially the same product - it beats most of the modern-designed vehicles into a cocked-hat.
 
#10
Is not the pentagons policy on small arms to seek something thats miles
better than m4/m16 5.56mm rather than just a little better .
Had all sort of trials and spent lots of $ but nothing seems to be really that much better yet .
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#11
yeah, there was that whole ACR thing looking at XM8 with its 20mm underslung and so on. I know that got thrown out but what happened to the programme?
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#13
IIRC the requirement was to "double the accuracy of the current weapon".

So the out of the box solutioners had that 20mm airburst to take out hiding/sheltering targets. Sounded like a blue on blue/collateral damage nightmare to me - we've enough trouble with tgt identification let alone allowing shooting at targets that can't be identified..

Not sure what the other systems did/could bring.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
The XM8 was put on hold, and then cancelled because Congress refused to hand out $29m to fund it, as well as pressure from other manufacturers who said it was an unfair advantage (the deal) and the competition should be opened up. Not only this, the US has a formal policy of picking own-brand solutions for their weapons, negating the purchase from H&K, who were British owned for a while before being bought back by the Germans.

The technical issues had not all been resolved when it was shelved.

Technical issues were: Melting handguard, short battery life for the scope, ergonomics and weight.

The ergonomics and weight were still being addressed.

The DOD has asked US manaufacturers to come up with something that matches the abilities of the XM8, but they haven't been able to yet - no surprise there.

Edited to add: The US policy on own-brand toys is something the EU is attempting to counter by having the same policy for EU forces equipment AFAIK - hence the pressure to buy Fuchs and other items despite better off-the-shelf US products being available. The dumb EU policy also attempts to cut out Commonwealth trade, and not just military products either.

Edited again for further update: (wiki)

Had this program not been cancelled, the XM8 system may have faced competition from weapons such as from the FN SCAR, Robinson Arms XCR, or H&K 416, all of which can be re-configured to various roles. The U.S military's XM8 program was cancelled in fall 2005 after being suspended earlier in the year. Independent work by H&K on the XM8 has continued. It was altered and entered as a candidate for the SCAR competition but was unsuccessful.

Despite reports to the contrary, the XM8 is not dead. In July 2007, the US Army announced a limited competition between the M4 carbine, FN SCAR, HK416, and the previously-shelved HK XM8. Ten examples of each of the four competitors were involved. Each weapon had 6,000 rounds fired in an "extreme dust environment." The purpose of the shootoff was for assessing future needs, not to select a replacement for the M4. [1] The XM8 scored the best, with only 127 stoppages in 6,000 total rounds [2], while the M4 carbine had 882. The FN SCAR placed second with 226 stoppages, and the HK416 had 233. The difference between the XM8, HK416, and FN SCAR was statistically equivalent when correcting for the less reliable STANAG magazine.

The competition was based on two tests that were conducted in 2006 and in the Summer of 2007 before the latest test in the Fall of 2007. In the Summer 2007 test, additional lubrication was credited with "drastically improving" the M4's performance over the initial 2006 test which involved both M16 rifles and M4 carbines, scoring a total of 307 stoppages. The Fall 2007 test was also conducted with the additional lubrication used in the Summer 2007 test but resulted in 882 stoppages.

This discrepancy of 575 stoppages is so large that it has thrown the validity of all three dust chamber tests into question. Army officials are looking into possible causes for the change such as different officials, seasons, and inadequate sample pool size, but have stated that the conditions of the test were ostensibly the same, which points to the test itself as being non-reproducible and invalid as a scientific platform for evaluation of the rifles
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#15
Biped said:
The XM8 was put on hold, and then cancelled because Congress refused to hand out $29m to fund it, as well as pressure from other manufacturers who said it was an unfair advantage (the deal) and the competition should be opened up. Not only this, the US has a formal policy of picking own-brand solutions for their weapons, negating the purchase from H&K, who were British owned for a while before being bought back by the Germans.
Beretta 92F aside...

The technical issues had not all been resolved when it was shelved.

Technical issues were: Melting handguard, short battery life for the scope, ergonomics and weight.

The ergonomics and weight were still being addressed.

The DOD has asked US manaufacturers to come up with something that matches the abilities of the XM8, but they haven't been able to yet - no surprise there.

Edited to add: The US policy on own-brand toys is something the EU is attempting to counter by having the same policy for EU forces equipment AFAIK - hence the pressure to buy Fuchs and other items despite better off-the-shelf US products being available. The dumb EU policy also attempts to cut out Commonwealth trade, and not just military products either.
Protectionism on military kit does have its sense when it comes to keeping alive industries that you might need and of course, BAE will be becoming American to open the US market to it. Britian will continue to buy from BAE because there's nobody left.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#16
Mr Happy said:
Protectionism on military kit does have its sense when it comes to keeping alive industries that you might need and of course, BAE will be becoming American to open the US market to it. Britian will continue to buy from BAE because there's nobody left.
Only if it allowed to under EU rules. It's a particularly messy predicament, with BAe moving offices to the US and the share-split being a little interesting. There are attempts to keep the UK on the books of the company in order to allow the UK to continue purchasing BAe products despite the EU pressure.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#17
I think the M4 outer range may be less than I thought. However the reliability issue will vary from usage and also who gets issued the piece of kit. The Yanks are always looking for technological advances in weaponry and good on them, it allows us to review their testing for free. The only at home argument riles most US allies as they often have or had to take US kit in order to receive other aid. The 92F was also after the initial testing batch for acceptance made in the US. the US Army etc doesnt really care who makes its guns but its elected representatives certainly do!
 

Alsacien

MIA
Moderator
#18
Biped said:
The XM8 was put on hold, and then cancelled because Congress refused to hand out $29m to fund it, as well as pressure from other manufacturers who said it was an unfair advantage (the deal) and the competition should be opened up. Not only this, the US has a formal policy of picking own-brand solutions for their weapons, negating the purchase from H&K, who were British owned for a while before being bought back by the Germans.
[/quote]

I think you will find this is incorrect - I understand the policy is that production must happen in the US - but country of origin is open.
With the Beretta 92SBF procurement full production in US happened only after 3 years.
IIRC this only happened after the competition with US submitted designs failed to meet the specifications.

That of course assumes an open competition as they can also hand out contracts for specific procurements whenever they feel like it.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
Alsacien said:
Biped said:
The XM8 was put on hold, and then cancelled because Congress refused to hand out $29m to fund it, as well as pressure from other manufacturers who said it was an unfair advantage (the deal) and the competition should be opened up. Not only this, the US has a formal policy of picking own-brand solutions for their weapons, negating the purchase from H&K, who were British owned for a while before being bought back by the Germans.
I think you will find this is incorrect - I understand the policy is that production must happen in the US - but country of origin is open.
With the Beretta 92SBF procurement full production in US happened only after 3 years.
IIRC this only happened after the competition with US submitted designs failed to meet the specifications.

That of course assumes an open competition as they can also hand out contracts for specific procurements whenever they feel like it.
I stand corrected on that point. This may explain why they made the Harrier under licence, as we do with some of their technology.
 
#20
Biped said:
Edited to add: The US policy on own-brand toys is something the EU is attempting to counter by having the same policy for EU forces equipment AFAIK - hence the pressure to buy Fuchs and other items despite better off-the-shelf US products being available.
Errr.... that would be the Fuchs that the US forces bought as an off-the-shelf purchase, because they had nothing similar, and it was best-in-class? Have kept and upgraded for eighteen years, and are only now looking at a replacement?

http://www.army.mil/factfiles/equipment/nbc/m93.html

PS The Stryker vehicle intended to replace it has only just had its funding authorised, so hardly "off the shelf"...

http://www.army.mil/-news/2007/12/20/6696-army-to-get-more-stryker-nbc-recon-vehicles/

And only completed initial testing a year ago, so hardly "mature"

http://www.army.mil/-news/2006/12/14/965-initial-tests-completed-on-stryker-nbcrv/

While being described to congress a couple of years ago as "we're just going to transfer the equipment from the Fuchs into the Stryker"

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=1858

(You can tell I love Google...)
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
msr The Intelligence Cell 7
B Aviation 5
Jip Travolta Current Affairs, News and Analysis 8

Similar threads

Top