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M4 Reliability

M4/M4A1 Carbine Reliability Issues: Why They Occur, and Why They’re Our Fault!

I fired 15,000 rounds through a semi-automatic M4/M4A1-type direct-gas-impingement (DGI) carbine in 31 weeks without a single malfunction attributable to anything except bad ammunition or bad magazines, with a grand total of 9 malfunctions. The least number of rounds fired between cleanings was 960 rounds, and the only parts replaced were gas rings at 8,860 rounds. And you can, too.

8 Responses to “M4 Reliability”

  1. Steve Ramsey Says:

    The artical in question points out precisely why the M-16 deriviative rifle is an inferior basic weapon for combat troops.

    ” Overhaul the gun every 5,000 rounds, or prior to any operational deployment”

    This cannot (due to budgetary factors) and will not (due to standard military unit/depot/arsenal logistics) occur. Ever.

    ” Make it service/agency wide SOP that all magazines are marked in a numerical sequence with the operator’s initials/call sign/ battle number or some other individual marking traceable to him.”

    This comment ignores a basic fault in the M-16 system, the magazine. It also ignores the practicality of maintaining such records at unit level, the constant turnover of unit personnel, and the fact that in many units, soldiers are lucky to have enough servicable magazines to caryy a basic ammunition load at all.

    “3) Keep a rifle log book with shot record and log of malfunctions per rifle”

    Yeah sure. You betcha. Snuffy’s going to clean his weapon, maintain his equipment, take care of his personal hygiene, get some chow, pull some guard duty and maybe work in some sleep. Then he’s going to scribble FTA in his shot log.

    “4) Create a new training culture”

    This guy cannot grasp the task of training soldiers to shoot in batches of a hundred and fifty.

    He cannot grasp the idea of thousands of blank rounds fired in training, he cannot grasp troops that clean the absolute piss out of their weapons using steel cleaning rods and just about anything that works mechanically or chemically in order to pass an inspection on ANY area of the weapon with a fresh cotton swab.

    He basically advocates the remedy as making every soldier fluent in M-16 design engineering and operational theory, and have full access to the entire AR-15 aftermarket parts world, and be relieved of possible prosecution for modifying his issue weapon.

    This guy might be an operator of some sort, but he knows fuck all in my opinion.

    The solution is a new rifle. A rifle for soldiers. Look I own one and so does damn near everyone as far as I can tell. As a civilian, in a civilian environment, I’m comfortable with it. As a soldier, I hated it. I felt I couln’t trust my life with it.

    I still have some liking for it, as many do. Some are in love with the damn thing. But that doesn’t change the facts about it. It’s endured because of money and politics. Not because it’s a great weapon.

  2. jdun1911 Says:

    rolleyes on the above post.

  3. Tam Says:

    Surprise!

    Guns malf.

    Guns break.

    Guns suck.

    It’s what they do.

    (Although sometimes they shoot, too. This shouldn’t be taken for granted, however…)

  4. Rabbit Says:

    In the immortal words of John Muir, author of “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual Of Step By Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot.” “Come to kindly terms with your ass, for it bears you”.

    Dude, if you’re going to trust something with your life/transportation/livelihood/girlfriend/etc., treat it right, and treat it first.

    Regards,
    Rabbit.

  5. Mark Says:

    I have one of those idiot books. I drove a VW for 10 years.
    It would behoove anyone relying on an AR series rifle to have an extra bolt on their person, and replace the buffer spring every now and then. The spare bolt fits perfectly into the Tango Down VFG.

  6. DirtCrashr Says:

    I like how he said it is, “the functional equivalent of driving a vehicle until it breaks down before getting it serviced.” If Snuffy can hit the internet during off-time and call Mom in Fresno on Skype with his laptop then why not understand how his gun works? Meanwhile let the Drones watch the night and do their work. My MIAD grip holds a spare bolt and firing pin too.

  7. Steve Ramsey Says:

    He can understand it all he wants. Along with all the other things he must understand, and accomplish, in field conditions.

    Then the entire military training and logistics chain, all the way to the pentagon, has to agree with private tentpeg, giving him all the aftermarket whizbang, a set of headspace guages, an extra bolt, a spare parts kit, and opprortunity to test fire at will, maybe some coated dewey cleaning rods, more than just clp as a solvent, and a platoon sergeant and armorer who wont keep him toiling till 2 in the morning on that white glove cleaning job. (can your AR be swabbed with a q-tip, anywhere, inside or out, and come out virgin white?)

    Or you can give him a rifle that works under the conditions that ground troops operate, both in garrison and in the field, one that may well change hands a dozen times or more, and recieve abuse you never imagined.

  8. Mike Pannone Says:

    STEVE, HERE ARE MY COMMENTS TO YOUR POST:

    The article in question points out precisely why the M-16 derivative rifle is an inferior basic weapon for combat troops.

    ” Overhaul the gun every 5,000 rounds, or prior to any operational deployment”

    This cannot (due to budgetary factors) and will not (due to standard military unit/depot/arsenal logistics) occur. Ever.

    THE OPERATIVE PHRASE WRITTEN IS “OR PRIOR TO ANY COMBAT/OPERATIONAL DEPLOYMENT” WHICH IS COMPLETELY DOABLE.

    ” Make it service/agency wide SOP that all magazines are marked in a numerical sequence with the operator’s initials/call sign/ battle number or some other individual marking traceable to him.”

    This comment ignores a basic fault in the M-16 system, the magazine. It also ignores the practicality of maintaining such records at unit level, the constant turnover of unit personnel, and the fact that in many units, soldiers are lucky to have enough serviceable magazines to carry a basic ammunition load at all.

    AGAIN THAT GIVES CREDENCE TO MY COMMENT ABOUT IT BEING OUR FAULT. I HAVE MAGAZINES THAT WERE ISSUED IN JSOC MARKED 1992 THAT STILL WORK AND HAVE HAD VERY LITTLE PROBLEMS BECAUSE THEY WERE PROPERLY FABRICATED AND PROPERLY MAINTAINED MAGAZINES.

    “3) Keep a rifle log book with shot record and log of malfunctions per rifle”

    Yeah sure. You betcha. Snuffy’s going to clean his weapon, maintain his equipment, take care of his personal hygiene, get some chow, pull some guard duty and maybe work in some sleep. Then he’s going to scribble FTA in his shot log.

    I HAVE TAUGHT SOLDIER TO DO THIS AND MANY HAVE FOR THE SAME REASON A SNIPER KEEPS A SNIPER LOGBOOK. THAT IS A FUNCTION OF LEADERSHIP TRAINING AND YOUR COMMENT ATTRIBUTES NO SKILL, DEDICATION NOR EVEN REALLY INTELLIGENCE TO THE SOLDIER.

    “4) Create a new training culture”

    This guy cannot grasp the task of training soldiers to shoot in batches of a hundred and fifty.

    I DID THAT FOR 2 YEARS WITH AWG AND I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND IT.

    He cannot grasp the idea of thousands of blank rounds fired in training, he cannot grasp troops that clean the absolute piss out of their weapons using steel cleaning rods and just about anything that works mechanically or chemically in order to pass an inspection on ANY area of the weapon with a fresh cotton swab.

    AGAIN A LEADERSHIP ISSUE. DON’T DO Q-TIP INSPECTIONS AND SOLDIERS WON’T ABUSE THEIR GUNS CLEANING THEM. AS WELL HOLD THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR RIFLES IF IT IS NOT MAINTAINED PROPERLY BY THEM.

    He basically advocates the remedy as making every soldier fluent in M-16 design engineering and operational theory, and have full access to the entire AR-15 aftermarket parts world, and be relieved of possible prosecution for modifying his issue weapon.

    YES THEY SHOULD BE FLUENT IN CARBINE THEORY, THEIR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF OTHERS PLUS MISSION SUCCESS RELY ON IT. IT TAKES ABOUT AN HOUR TOTAL TO TEACH A GOOD CARBINE THEORY CLASS AND THAT LASTS A CAREER. NO, I DIDN’T SAY THEY NEED ACCESS TO EVERY AFTERMARKET GIZMO. AS A MATTER OF FACT THE ONLY THINK I PUT EMPHASIS ON WAS THE SOPMOD BOLT UPGRADE KIT WHICH IS IN THE MILITARY SYSTEM AND IS AUTHORIZED.

    This guy might be an operator of some sort, but he knows fuck all in my opinion.

    I AM WHO I AM AND IT IS RIGHT OUT THERE FOR THE WORLD TO SEE. THOSE THAT KNOW ME KNOW I AM A COMMEN SENSE GUY AND BELIVE THE SOLDIER DESERVES ABOVE ALL BETTER LEADERSHIP FROM AN INSTITUTIONAL PERSPECTIVE. I DOUBT IF YOU KNEW ME YOU WOULD SAY THAT TO MY FACE AS I ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. YOU SAT BACK AND WAS CRITICAL OF THE ARTICLE WHICH IS FINE, BUT YOU POSED NO SOLUTIONS AND ALL YOU SAID WAS, IN ESSENCE, ‘JOE IS TOO STUPID AND LAZY AND THE SYSTEM CAN’T TAKE CARE OF HIS GUN SO GET A GUN THAT TAKES NO MAINTENENCE AND LITTLE TRAINING.’ THAT SOUNDS REMARKABLY LIKE THE SAME EADERSHIP THAT DOES Q-TIP INSPECTIONS BUT LET GUNS BE SHOT UNTIL THEY BREAK.

    The solution is a new rifle. A rifle for soldiers. Look I own one and so does damn near everyone as far as I can tell. As a civilian, in a civilian environment, I’m comfortable with it. As a soldier, I hated it. I felt I couldn’t trust my life with it.

    I THINK A NEW RIFLE WOULD BE GREAT AND I AM A BIG ADVOCATE OF THAT, BUT HAVING WORKED WITH DIVISION LEVEL STAFFS OF MAJOR DIVISIONS IT IS OBVIOUS THAT A NEW RIFLE IS A GOAL BUT IT IS STILL AT A FAR DISTANCE. FOR THAT REASON SOLDIERS AND UNITS NEED TO MAKE THE BEST OF THE RIFLE THEY HAVE. THE NEXT RIFLE (M4 REPLACEMENT) WILL BE A PISTON DRIVEN GUN AND IT WILL HAVE PROBLEMS LIKE EVERY WEAPON EVER FIELDED. I HAVE SEVERAL AND THEY CYCLE EXTRAORDINARILY FAST AND MAKE FAILURES TO FEED FAST ENOUGH FROM A WORN MAGAZINE EVEN MORE PRONOUNCED. THEIR IS NO MAGIC RIFLE OUT THERE.

    I still have some liking for it, as many do. Some are in love with the damn thing. But that doesn’t change the facts about it. It’s endured because of money and politics. Not because it’s a great weapon.