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M4 Problems

Switching weapons but keeping the caliber won’t solve the alleged issues you’re having with the M4.

17 Responses to “M4 Problems”

  1. Sebastiantheguywithnoblog Says:

    Huh? Who’s engaging the enemy 2500 ft away with a MBR? Even by WWI trench warfare measures that’s pretty far.

  2. Tam Says:

    The military needs to lose its obsession with some imaginary bygone day of riflery, when every draftee could pick up his (M1873/Krag/Springfield/Garand/M-14/20″ M-16) and accurately engage point targets at mortar ranges.

  3. Weer'd Beard Says:

    I keep seeing more battle-field shots of the SCAR 17 in play. Just sayin’

    and I held one at the NRA show and it was AWESOME!

    DO WANT!

  4. Steve Says:

    The .223 can be expected to stop a charging woodchuck in it’s tracks pretty reliably.

  5. Shootin' Buddy Says:

    Ummm, no, it’s not the caliber, it’s the operating system.

    Have you read the new issue of Small Arms Review? Very informative interview with USMC Foreigh Weapons Skul Sgt.

  6. SayUncle Says:

    the OS has nothing to do with the bullet retaining velocity, which is the issue discussed at the link. If you have an OS that can crank it up, I’d love to hear about it.

  7. Steve Says:

    I’m getting all of my information second and third hand but I recall reading in a couple of places that the the short barrel of the M4 was not generating enough velocity to make it a reliable manstopper. Last year I asked a friend, recently retired from the military, who was involved in testing the M4 what he thought and he confirmed that it is considered a problem.

  8. Rivrdog Says:

    All the arfcommers need to go back to high school physics. How a fired bullet retains/does not retain it’s velocity over (long) distance is dependent on just two major factors, sectional density and mass, and a few minor things like humidity, density altitude, angle from plane of gravity, etc.

    Given similar sectional densities, just how is a 72-grain .223 fired bullet (the “long range” 5.56mm NATO round) going to equal a 168-gr .308 fired bullet (the long range 7.62 NATO round)?

    Barrel length between the M4 and the M16 might account for 200 fps difference at the most, depending on loading.

    Why don’t we gunnies just disinvite the under-educated from commenting on these matters that REQUIRE some actual science education?

  9. Tam Says:

    I’m no ballistician, but I’d be interested for someone to point out to me exactly where on the Binky doll a quarter-inch hole is no big deal but a .3-inch hole will make him DRT…

  10. Steve Says:

    It must be nice to already know everything.
    I’m no ballistician either; just reported what I was told by someone in a position to know.
    Obviously the internet high school physics experts have a “scientific” stopping power equation that they won’t share with the rest of us, including apparently, the USAF. And if it works on paper, then it must work in the real world too. You obviously thought of everything and left nothing out.
    A person in my trade spends around 7 years working about 50 hours per week before they could be considered an expert at the trade. An individual who has put that kind of time into shooting might be an expert. The rest of us are just students.
    R-Dog reminds me of the guy at the gun shop who talks too loud and has to let everyone in the place know what a “gun expert” he is. Never make eye contact with that guy if you know what’s good for you.

  11. Tam Says:

    It must be nice to already know everything.

    I sure don’t, which is why I phrased my answer in the form of a question, so lighten the fuck up, Francis.

  12. JD Says:

    “so lighten the fuck up, Francis.”

    I didn’t get it right away, but the stripes reference is not only a classic it’s hilarious.

  13. Geodkyt Says:


    The name you are looking for is “Fackler”. Basically, at 2600+ fps, both the M855 and M193 5.56mm ball rounds cause more damage than 7.62x51mm NATO ball rounds (if you want to compare special long range 7.62mm sniper ammo to ball 5.56mm, well, your prejudices are showing), because of the way the projos are built. At 2700+ fps, the damage is even more extreme, again, because of the way the projos are constructed.

    Sort of how the MkVII .303 British ball round was SO effective, compared to other FMJ iterations of the same cartidge (which weren’t INeffective themselves), because of bullet construction.

    Basically, ALL spitzer bullets tumble when they hit a liquid medium (like meat; meat is a liquid as far as that bullet is concerned). The farther to the rear the center of gravity is, the faster it tumbles. The faster it is travelling, the faster it tumbles. The faster it tumbles, the more stress is placed on the bullet. The smaller the bullet (generally) the thinner the jacket. The thinner the jacket, the weaker the jacket. AND US 5.56mm milspec ammo is made with a cannelure (crimping “groove”) to avoid bullet setback or loosening, which weakens the jacket further, and an area of especially high stress.

    So, the M855 and M193 ball rounds, hitting at high speeds, tumble like acrobats, and then fall apart. The faster they hit, the faster they fall apart, and teh more energy each fragment carries.

    Contrast to the US 7.62x51mm NATO M80 (the equivalent to M855 and M193 ball) ball round. Tougher jacket, better balance, less velocity all adds up to tumbling in meat less violently and being less likely to fragment to begin with. All the extra energy of the round is USELESS if it doesn’t get delivered to the TARGET — and energy wasted on the dirt behind the target after blazing clean through him was not delivered to teh TARGET.

    Heck, the M855 has better hard PENETRATION than M80 ball. . . again, due in large part to bullet construction. Hell, the M193 (the Vietnam era M16A1 BALL round) was specifically designed to punch a standard NATO combat helmet at 500m. But Main Battle Rifle Koolaid drinkers don’t like to discuss those figures.

    M193 has superior terminal ballistics in meat to M855 or M80 within about 150 – 200 meters (assuming a 20″ barrel, and a 1:7″ twist is fine).

    M855 has better hard penetration than M193 at the muzzle or so, and to far longer ranges than GOOD grunts reasonably hope to hit fleeting human targets it has better hard punch than M80.

    BOTH M193 and M855 are more accurate for general combat use than M80 — because they are flatter shooting.

    M855 is superior to M193 terminal ballistics in meat after 150m to 200m (assuming same length barrels.)

    BOTH M855 and M193 have superior terminal ballistics than M80 out to about 200m or so.

  14. Rivrdog Says:

    So, we jump from a discussion of kinetic energy at long range to wounding science and short ranges. Not much of a leap there, eh? I was referring, in discussion of the 7.62 NATO, to the 168-gr round, NOT the 147-gr M80 ball round. The 168-gr has a better sectional density, being a boat-tail design, and is capable of better accuracy over longer range.

    BTW, are our “grunts” even trained to shoot out past 300 meters nowadays? Maybe the Marines, and all the designated marksmen, most of who are carrying MBRs, but how much range time at 500 meters or more does the average rifleman get?

    Let’s bring in some practical experience, too, if we may.

    I go out to Joe Huffman’s Boomershoot exercise, and have for the past two years. We shoot 1 MOA out there or it’s a miss, and we have to have 1500 fps at the target to make it go boom. I don’t see anyone on that long firing line using a .223 rifle of ANY kind, let alone an M-4, to shoot at the targets beyond the 385-yard line. Those next targets start at around 600 yards, and go out to 700.

    I thought this discussion was about shooting at long range, not about whether a .223 hole in the body makes one more dead than a .3 hole, or whether the M4 is better for clearing buildings.

    And my point about physics is still valid: at long range, the .223 X 45 doesn’t have the energy left to do much damage, and it’s hard to aim at targets out past 600 yards with it due to it’s drop at that range.

    The current Army rifles are fine carbines, suitable for combat at carbine range of 300 meters or so. For small arms combat at double that range, something which shoots a larger and heavier bullet is required. BTW, I DO, in fact have a ballistics program: I use Joe Huffman’s “MBal”. You can too.

    BTW, if you read the original article, it noted that some combat is taking place at a range of 2,500 feet. None of the AR folks seem to want to discuss that distance, wonder why? Anyone? Bueller? Yes, Bueller, I heard that, physics is so last century.

    The M4 carbine is fine for most urban warfare, but the troops issued with it lose their edge at long range out in the ‘stans shooting against enemy equipped with rifles chambered in the 7.64X56R.

    I guess it’s a political decision. The politicians have to decide how many of our boys are going to come under fire at long range, and not be able to fire back until the heavy weapons platoon shows up. To my way of thinking, that’s a lose-lose situation. Equip every second troop with a main battle rifle, or accept some unnecessary casualties. Those are our choices.

  15. Rivrdog Says:

    Correction: the longer-range ComBloc rifles shoot the 7.62X54R, not that unknown round I listed above.

  16. Steve Says:

    Geodkyt, I think that you and I are pretty much on the same page in that what the math tells you to expect is not always verified when a bullet hits a human.
    Tam, none of my remarks were directed at you. I am not a ballistician either was just a statement of fact so please lighten up yourself.
    My remarks were directed at some of the more obnoxious gun experts floating around the internet. If I had a dime for every one I’ve run across…I’d have a shit load of dimes.

  17. Geodkyt Says:


    Yes, Marines train on teh KD range out to at least 500m. It may even be 800m.

    Which translates to exactly squat in terms of actually being able to SEE and HIT targets in combat at 800m.

    It does mean that they can be freakishly accurate at 300m or so.

    Now, at 800m, how much “stopping power” do you really think you need on a target to make him stop being a threat to you and you unit with his AK47, SMLE, or Moisin Nagant?

    Well, first of all, unless he’s an actual sniper (as in “probably trained by a Western, or at least European, army as a sniper”) or firing a tripod mounted MG, he’s ALREADY not a credible threat to you.

    Were you aware that past about 500 meters, it is very difficult with optics less than 10x or more, to tell if you actually hit, or clean missed, a combat target? Even a shooter who was used to calling their shots in pre-WWI 1000 yard shooting matches found it nearly impossible with a scope sighted .303 bolt gun to call shots in combat past a couple of hundred meters — it’s not possible to tell if the guy was hit and dropped, or just dove for cover, unless you see him sprawled out on the dirt with a steadily enlarging dark spot around his head.

    The ONLY time you really need “stops him like a rag doll in a logchipper” termnal ballistics is at closer ranges, where the bad guy has a chance of returning fire effectively before he shocks out.

    You put a ball round through his chest at 800m, and I don’t care if it’s 5.56 or 7.62 — he will NOT end up close enough to shoot back effectively, even if you walk over to him.

    But, frankly, if you think line grunts are going to get RELIABLE 800m hits with ANY rifle you could call a service rifle, then you think a 15lbs AR15, with fake GI handguards concealing a freefloat tube, fired with an M1907 sling cranked so tight you’d get gangrene if the stages were any longer, is a “Service Rifle” in the same meaning I’m using the word.

    1. There’s NO POINT in pretending that 800m is a viable infantry rifleman engagement range. The few times where a grunt will be able to see and identify a target for his rifle at that range is far less than teh chances he will have to fire his rifle at someone at 200 meters or less. Again, if a top end shooter who became a sniper seemed to think that the max range for a man with a TELESCOPICALLY EQUIPPED (at about the maximum power that would be at ALL functional for infantry combat), HAND SELECTED FOR ACCURACY, FULL BORE, FULL POWER CARTRIDGE (with individual LOTS hand selected for accuracy), WITH A SPOTTER equipped with a spotting scope about equivalent in power to what modern spotters use, had a maximum effective range incombat of about 600 yards, why do you keep insisting that 600m+ range is a reasonable yardstick to judge a rifle issued to regular old line grunts?

    Hell, the 1 MOA standard you insist is the gold plated measure of combat accuracy is not even realistic for a real service rifle with real service ball at ANY range. Go ahead, look up teh specs and requirements on the M16A2 — one of the tightest performance standards in accuracy of ANY service rifle.

    Show me the platoon of line grunts who can achieve 1 MOA RELIABLY, UNDER FIRE, with a standard issue infantry rifle and standard issue ball ammo. I don’t care if you call the Swiss.

    Your Boomershoot anecdotes is not “data” about realistic standards for combat firing.

    2. Infantry riflemen DO NOT WORK ALONE. That is why we have people with different job titles in a rifle platoon. Rifleman, Grenadier, SAW Gunner, MACHINEGUNNER, RADIOTELEPHONE OPERATOR, etc. The SAW, MG, and RTO can all reach out and make that target disappear at 800m with current equipment. A Designated Marksman with a scoped .308 semiauto rifle at platoon level could do it as well, and do it WITHOUT compromising the platoon’s ability to fight the overwhelming majority of infantry battles.

    3. If you want to look at 5.56mm ammo for standard issue (since we’re talking about ammo for standard “grunt guns”, not specialist weapons) and compare it to 7.62mm NATO, you need to compare BALL 5.56mm to BALL 7.62mm. M80 is equivalent to M855 and M193. Those beautiful 72 grain “long range” loads aren’t equivalent to 7.62mm match loads (which are designed to maixmize HITS at long range), nor were they intended to be — they were designed to extend the lethality of 5.56mm loads from 14.5″ barrels. Unless you want to compare your cherry picked ammo with MY cherry picked 5.56mm ammo, and use equivalent barrels, let’s stick with ball ammo versus ball ammo. Considering ANY of the “specials” cost significantly more, they WILL NOT be issued out as standard ball.

    So, maximizing the mythical effectiveness of the line grunt in one of the LEAST LIKELY scenarios at the expense of crippling his performance within the MOST LIKELY is a stupid idea. Especially since I don’t care if you equip PVT Skippy with frikkin laser blasters that will hold a 1m group all the way to the Moon from a bench — he AIN’T gonna SEE the target 99% of the time, he AIN’T gonna be able to reliably judge his range 99% of the time (OK, with a laser rifle, he doesn;t need to. . . ), and he AIN’T gonna be able to hold that steady in battle rattle after a hard day of humoing up and down that damned hill.

    Terminal ballistics are 100% irrelevant for rounds that miss their target in combat.

    Demanding equipment that weighs 50% more, which has to be fed heavier ammo, and is uncontrollable if he needs automatic fire for close range suppression, because you can hit 1 MOA targets that go BOOM translates, in your mind, to not only a NEED, but an ABILITY of line grunts to do that with equipment that is feasible in terms of both acquisition cost and RAM-D?!?

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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