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The Main Battle Rifle for the US Army

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The most amazing thing I see when look at the US soldiers is the their main battle rifle-a descendant of the M-16 which is over 50 years old. In that time the Air Force has gone through 2 generations of fighters and the Navy a couple generations of ships.

NATO and other countries have changed their main battle rifle in that time too.

If this trend continues and there is nothing I know of that is going to replace the M-4 we could still be seeing US soldiers carrying a M-16 descendant when Shock Force 3, 4 a and 5 come out.

When you stop and think about it in the period between the Civil War and World War 2 we went from muzzle loading muskets to SMG/bolt action rifles/semi-auto riles and machine guns. Imagine what WW2 would have been like had soldiers been using Civil War weaponry.

The M-16 is on a path to meet if not exceed that time period and its not inconceivable to see it in general use for 75 to 100 years.

Below is an interesting article about the M-4

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-armys-main-rifle-failed-during-a-deadly-afghan-battle-57c055acc76b

With all the advancements its astounding the US Military can't seem to find a replacement.

Case less ammo looked promising, but don't hear much about that anymore.

I would think a gas piston system using the 300AC blackout round would be a good contender, but once again I don't see that happening anytime soon.

I guess you could say the same thing for the Russian main battle rifle.

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I guess for any army of this size getting marginally better performance for a much higher price tag simply isn't worth it, as i recall that is reason why the FN SCAR was rejected by SOCOM. Unless something revolutionary happens in small arms design i assume this might go on quite a bit.

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The problem is that the army can't find a weapon that is so much better than the current M4/M16 that it literally won't spend the billions it would cost to replace. You'd have to not only replace the weapons, but the ammunition, training soldiers , training armorers , changing weapons racks ( these are also expensive ) its not just a clear cut "this weapon will poke 7.62mm holes in bodies"

The m4/m16 is an excellent weapons system, moving the piston above the barrel only leads to extra parts that were never supposed to be there with additional problems that don't currently exist.

The piston fad is silly. The ar-15 design already has a piston, its in the bolt.

The only reason i've seen M16's jam is due to magazines that our supply sgt will not discard, the feed lips spread and will double feed or sometimes triple feed cartridges. I've had filthy dirty weapons, just apply lube and run them wet and they literally keep going. Hell there's a video on youtube of an m4a1 being fired on full auto until the gas tube actually melts and its still able to fire by cycling the charging handle.

The problem with the m16 is this. Training. Incompete soldiers who think they're hitting something when they're not. Combat arms soldiers will tell you the m4 is awesome. Go ahead ask them. REMFs will say it sucks because they're REMFs.

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This is less about technology and more about 'fashion', about the 'coolness' factor. Remember during the Iraq war some units were scrounging old M14s for big-bullet sharpshooter rifles. The guns would get pulled from surplus, be given a fancy new stock with added gizmos and suddenly it was a 'cool' weapon.

Ironsights.jpg~original

M14.jpg~original

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The plain fact of the modern high intensity battlefield is that bullets don't do very much of the actual damage. They just keep the other guy suppressed long enough to get the real pain on target. I expect Black Sea demonstrate this nicely.

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The plain fact of the modern high intensity battlefield is that bullets don't do very much of the actual damage. They just keep the other guy suppressed long enough to get the real pain on target. I expect Black Sea demonstrate this nicely.

That pretty much sums it up-although that may vary from time to time if I'm not mistaken. In WW2 most casualties were from artillery and shrapnel, while I've seen stats that in Viet-Nam over 50% of the casualties were caused by bullets. I have no idea what the recent conflicts stack up. IED's are probably up there, but some of the intense urban fighting I would guess bullets caused a lot of the casualties.

One instructor said who trained both military and SWAT said you could always tell who was training by just looking at the shoot houses that would be built/rebuilt by the Seebees.

If it was riddled with bullets the military was training. If there were just a few holes that were tightly grouped the SWAT team was training.

I like the infantry stuff in Combat Mission so I'll see how infantry vs infantry in a built up area works out. I suspect its going to be short and bloody.

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I had marksman training on the M-14 i quite liked the trigger on it (not that i have much to compare it with though). Getting the bolt to go back to it's place when field stripping it was a fun minigame as well...

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There is a BIG difference between a low intensity versus a high intensity conflict in this regard. In a high intensity conflict you level the building with whatever HE is handiest. Digging out defenders who set up after the whole block collapsed in the street is a separate, and harder, problem.

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It's not unusual for weapons to be in use for a very long time. The famous "Brown Bess" musket of the British Army was in use from 1722 to 1838 according to Wikipedia. We are used to a fast turn-over in gadgets due to the modern computerised age but weapons at the infantry level are not the kind of technology that changes rapidly as they are pretty low tech and don't need much improving.

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Case less ammo would seem like a worthwhile endeavor as it would save weight, but I guess what the army has tested isn't going to be deployed anytime soon. I saw some stuff on a SAW replacement that used case less ammo and those who did use it really liked it.

http://archive.marinecorpstimes.com/article/20120521/NEWS/205210317/Caseless-ammo-could-cut-25-lbs-from-gear

A while back there was an article about "smart bullets" probably won't see this anytime soon, but is interesting:

http://www.engadget.com/2014/07/13/darpa-smart-bullet-demo/

I guess we won't be seeing infantry using laser/gauss guns or electron magnetic rail guns anytime soon either.

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I have no idea what the recent conflicts stack up. IED's are probably up there

I recall the first year of the Iraq war - before IEDs became a 'thing' - the Pentagon reported that 50% of US KIAs that year were from RPG. Let me double check that (rummages around his references). Yup, I located the article.

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Case less ammo looked promising, but don't hear much about that anymore.
All that brass in a conventional round absorbs quite a lot of heat, which is then expelled when the cart case is ejected. Weapons that use caseless ammo have the same problem of heat build up, but no way to eject the heat.

a descendant of the M-16

M16a1m16a2m4m16a45wi.jpg

Top to bottom - M16A1, M16A2, M4A1, M16A4

File:M4w-att.jpgM4w-att.jpg

M4 with various modular clip-on bits.

Sure, the M4 is 'descended' from the M16 ... but they're not really the same weapon anymore. Consider the B-52 ... those things entered service over a decade before the M16, but you'd be silly to consider the B-52H to be the 'same' as the B-52B. Oh, and the B-52H were all produced before the M16 entered operational service.

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I've also seen reports that during the Iraq conflict, insurgents were avoiding engaging combat units as they knew they were difficult targets and going after the rear echelon troops who were less well trained in small unit combat and until corrected not nearly as proficient with handling weapons.

There really was no front line.

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All that brass in a conventional round absorbs quite a lot of heat, which is then expelled when the cart case is ejected. Weapons that use caseless ammo have the same problem of heat build up, but no way to eject the heat.

M16a1m16a2m4m16a45wi.jpg

Top to bottom - M16A1, M16A2, M4A1, M16A4

File:M4w-att.jpg

M4 with various modular clip-on bits.

Sure, the M4 is 'descended' from the M16 ... but they're not really the same weapon anymore.

Very nice. Black is beautiful in my book. Firearms tends to be a very personal thing and oftentimes emotional subject. I know some with vast experience who if they had to pick just one would unhesitating pick an AK-47, while others would stick with a AR/M4.

I like both, but I'm just into guns and like all sorts of guns.

The heat problem is an issue, but if you've seen any of the stuff on the smart metals in development you have to think DARPA and others are looking into some metal that can overcome that. I also wouldn't be surprised if someone is looking into utilizing the heat generated by bullets. Heat is energy and if that could be recycled back into usable energy it could get interesting like perhaps an outlet on the gun to recharge electronics from stored energy.

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emotional subject

Sure. Emotionally I'm not really a fan of the M16, but there's nothing much technically wrong with it. You started this thread with an argument based on technical obsolescence.

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Sure. Emotionally I'm not really a fan of the M16, but there's nothing much technically wrong with it. You started this thread with an argument based on technical obsolescence.

Interesting...I didn't intend to say the M4 is obsolescence. It was more of the military after much effort has not found a replacement.

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Below is an interesting article about the M-4

https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-armys-main-rifle-failed-during-a-deadly-afghan-battle-57c055acc76b

With all the advancements its astounding the US Military can't seem to find a replacement.

Do you have any info available on how the rifles of probable OPFOR armys do? Even if the M-16 family of rifles was unreliable in total numbers, wouldnt they still be sufficient as long as they are more reliable than the rifles of possible enemys?

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One could argue that vets aren't soldiers. They are former soldiers, and for an emotionally based argument the distinction is important.

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Do you have any info available on how the rifles of probable OPFOR armys do? Even if the M-16 family of rifles was unreliable in total numbers, wouldnt they still be sufficient as long as they are more reliable than the rifles of possible enemys?

There is a lot of info out there on the AK variants and the differences between the 7.62x39 and 5.45x39.

I wouldn't call the M4 unreliable. As mentioned by OP training is a very big component in this discussion.

I would also say the skill and level of education also plays a big role. Its one thing to issue an M4 to a volunteer military like we have in the West. It may be a completely different proposition to issue an AR/M4 type weapon to a peasant army composed of illiterate conscripts.

IMO the huge drawback of the AK is the sights are not as good and the magazine release is nowhere near as smooth and that has implications.

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Changes in small arms design at this point have reached the law of diminishing returns. An M4 can kill you like an AK can kill you like an SA80 can kill you. That's one reason why a US replacement rifle has stalled. Contenders have ranged from being measurably worse than M4 to functionally the same to of such marginal improvement that the price tag couldn't be justified. Its not unlikely at some future point there might be a sea change in opinion on optimal design, perhaps there will be a newfound value in long range accurate fire and piercing body armor. Which would bring big-bullet full power long-barrel rifles back into vogue. Not likely, but it didn't seem likely back in the 1950s that the US was going to switch to a carbine firing a .22 long bullet. :)

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