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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend and the subject of the M16 came up, and that conversation evolved to a discussion of the merits of the M4. I made the observation that it wasn't until we adopted the M4 that we matched the AK. The M16 has always been a fine rifle, but the dogged insistence on a once size fits all weapon has really put a damper on us getting to the realization that one rifle will not do everything.

The M4 actually surpasses the AK in pretty much every category but reliability (and penetration if we're talking the 7.62 AK's), but it's taken us 50 years to catch up while Russia has been there the whole time. The final thing was size, and the AK has proven time and time again that its overall size is just perfect as a general issue infantry weapon.

We've also caught up on other fronts. We now recognize that while we may have a general issue infantry rifle that does most things, there are often times where a different weapon is called for, and when that time comes, you'd better have it with you. Re-issue of the M14 and the new M110 in significant numbers ALMOST gets us to the Russian Designated Marksman concept (we just don't have nearly the same saturation at the squad level). I believe a Russian squad (12-20 soldiers) will always contain one or two designated marksman armed with an SVD. This system works very well, just ask insurgents in Chechnya or Ossetia

Adoption of the M249 finally got us to the same concept as the Russian PK and RPD roles. And it was a good move to dump the M60 and adopt the FN-MAG which IMO is the finest 7.62 NATO GPMG in the world. Curt Debord and his people at US Ordnance finally made the M60 into a fine MG, but not until after we had abandoned it.

Clearly the Russians "got" the roles of small arms in an infantry unit much better than we did; but we finally learned.

Now comes the next question…What is the real role of the RPK, and should we be doing the same? I have some thoughts on that, but I'd like to hear what others have to say.

*On my web site, I have an article about the AR vs. AK (The great AR-15 vs AK-47 debate | Shooters' Journal ). I got the biggest kick out of a comment from a guy who clearly wasn't a fan of the AK. He said, "The only thing the AK has is reliability and penetration". I giggled for the better part of the day, and finally answered, "Yeah, who wants that in a military rifle?"
 

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Different philosophies. The M4 mini-carbine became the rage when 'everyone':rolleyes: just knew that future combat would be urban. Then came A'stan, and suddenly 'everyone':rolleyes: realized that long-range performance is still needed; so now money is being poured out to make the 5.56 effective at long range from the 14.5' barrel of the M4, when the 20' barrel of the M16 carbine (face it, that's what it is!) gives the round its best performance at medium to long range.
IMO, the telescoping-stock M16 is the best overall iteration of this design.
The Russians went for a bullet-hose that untrained peasants could keep running.
Each does the job, take your pick.
:)
 

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shep854; ALL,

As an old soldier (who is hourly getting OLDER - chuckle), i believe that we ought to be either buying back the tens of thousands of M14 rifles (and perhaps the machinery) that "wee willie klintoon" so STUPIDLY sold to Taiwan for pennies on the dollar of their actual value OR immediately designing/building/fielding a MBR.
(It's no particuliar surprise to certain readers/members here that i'm NO FAN of the M16 and/or M4 carbines. Offhand i cannot think of a MBR that is any better than a M14.)

The M16/M4 is nearly worthless out at ranges beyond 500M, when compared to a MBR in the hands of a competent marksman.
(You do NOT want to stand out at 600M & let my younger "brother-of-the-heart" , C.E. Harris, shoot at you, as you will soon resemble SWISS CHEESE - He's VERY good with his M1A target rifle that he shoots at Camp Perry & at other rifle matches.)

just my opinion, sw
 

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Discussion Starter #4
shep854; ALL,

As an old soldier (who is hourly getting OLDER - chuckle), i believe that we ought to be either buying back the tens of thousands of M14 rifles (and perhaps the machinery) that "wee willie klintoon" so STUPIDLY sold to Taiwan for pennies on the dollar of their actual value OR immediately designing/building/fielding a MBR.
(It's no particuliar surprise to certain readers/members here that i'm NO FAN of the M16 and/or M4 carbines. Offhand i cannot think of a MBR that is any better than a M14.)

The M16/M4 is nearly worthless out at ranges beyond 500M, when compared to a MBR in the hands of a competent marksman.
(You do NOT want to stand out at 600M & let my younger "brother-of-the-heart" , C.E. Harris, shoot at you, as you will soon resemble SWISS CHEESE - He's VERY good with his M1A target rifle that he shoots at Camp Perry & at other rifle matches.)

just my opinion, sw
While I agree on the need for the MBR, I see it as a specialty weapon anymore and not a general issue weapon. Most combat is WELL under 200 meters, and inside that range, the lighter, smaller weapon is more effective. The lighter recoil makes training a fraction of what it takes to make a competent rifleman with a 7.62, and between the lighter weight of the weapon and ammo, a soldier can carry at least twice as much ammo.

But I think the Russian model of incorporating designated marksmen in numbers within an infantry squad/platoon is THE way to go. Give the additional training to those most likely to make effective use of it.

Personally if it were ME going into combat, I'd like a Sako built RK-95. Finnish quality on the AK design, feeding Lapua 7.62x39, topped with an ACOG and back up irons; a soldier has never been better armed. Completely effective all the way out to 500m, medium weight so you can carry a good 180 round of ammunition, and you have a .30 caliber bullet doing the job.
 

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KevinGibson,

I do NOT disagree with you. - we MPs call such people "designated marksmen".
(that's the "politically-correct term" for SNIPER! - 2 DM per squad is about the right mix, imVho.)

Also, the Czechs have a NICE little AK-"sort of clone" that is in 7.62x39 too, that they sell into Latin America & other places. - I got to shoot one in Venezuela, when i worked for the OAS,there years ago. =======> It's SWEET & little, if any, larger than a M1A1 folding stock .30 carbine.
(the VZ Military & National Police have ZILLIONS of US carbines, Uzis, AKs & any number of other weapons in their inventory. ====> during a "junk on the bunk" inspection of a MP BN, we found that there was over 10 different kinds of issued weapons in SIX different calibers, including some 1893 Mauser 7x57mm rifles!)

SADLY, i can tell you "from the field" that how many rounds that a soldier can carry is MOOT, as all too many do NOT ever fire their weapon.

yours, sw
 

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Having carried an M-16 (or GAU5a) daily for most of my 14 years in the USAF, I'm extremely fond of the little bugger. Now, I was never in combat, so I can't speak personally about it's effectiveness. I agree with Shep that the 14.5" barreled M-4's MUST be at a disadvantage, especially with the heavier rounds now being issued to extend accuracy and, I guess, barrier penetration. I personally feel well armed with my civy Rock River 16" barrel and XM193 ammo.

I also own an AK clone, and I appreciate it's inherent toughness and .30 caliber cartridge.

I USED to have (Gosh, I say that a lot!) a Springfield M-1A1 set up with a Springfield Armory Mill Dot scope that would shoot 3/4 groups @ 100 yards with Federal Match ammo all day long. But I SURE wouldn't want to lug that gun (and a decent load of ammo) for any great distance. Or go house to house room clearing with it, either.

A new Main Battle Rifle? Lessee...no heavier or longer than a 16" barreled AR, firing a .30 cal round accurate and deadly out to 500 yards, not recoiling much more than a 5.56, and as ergonomic as the AR platform...

Which ain't possible...at least I don't think so. And if it were (like if the 6.8's, yadda yadda) were able to deliver that kind of performance, I think you's play hell getting the government to pony up the BILLIONS of dollars that would cost.

I think a designated marksman or two per squad is a great idea. I just don't know what you would arm them with. I just don't think a 7.62 X 39 would be effective/accurate at that range. Could be wrong...I'm going on my gut here.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I’ve had good luck hitting at extended distances with my Russian AK. I have experience with the old Valmet M62’s and when paired with good ammunition they are fairly accurate, at least as accurate as a rack grade military M14 or Garand. Top with optics and the Finnish AK is a solid 500m weapon. So the soul is willing even if the body is a bit weak. Once I get a PSO scope for my Russian AK, I plan on paring it with some Lapua ammo to see what she’ll do at 500m. As she sits right now, she wears an Aimpoint M68 CCO, so it’s not what I’d call a long distance weapon. But inside of 300m, I don’t recommend shooting at me and sticking your head up.

I think the reference to a new Main Battle Rifle was as a specialty weapon, not something for general issue. I’ve maintained for decades now that the M16/M4 as a general issue weapon is an awfully hard act to follow. It really does a good job in the hands of people who have never seen a firearm and are generally terrified to shoot a rifle to begin with. It’s about the only rifle I’ve ever encountered that’s more inherently “shootable” than the M1 Carbine.

For a new MBR, I could see further development of the AR-10 platform to work the bugs out and just make it more reliable and it would be fine. I’ve always felt the FN-FAL was the finest MBR ever built, and I still stand by that. But let’s be realistic, we won’t be adopting a FAL. We had the opportunity to do so once and we settled for second best (still damn good though). The FN SCAR or expansion of the M110 program would do just fine.

But I still come back to the fact that the Russians have had it about perfect since the early ‘60’s when they created the SVD deployed it in large numbers.
 

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On the original question, sad but true...look at the history of US arms acquisition, all the way back to the Civil War, and you will see lots of wacky thinking.

In semi-modern times, Big Mac rejecting the .276 Pedersen to hold onto the .30-'06, insisting on an equivalent (if a bit smaller round) for a rifle/BAR/carbine/SMG replacement, then rejecting the FAL*, then holding out for a 'space gun' (SPIW, etc) and adopting the M16 as a stopgap...:rolleyes:
I'm sure I just scratched the surface.:confused:

*The Marine in me cringes at having to say that, but as great as the M14 is for a range rifle, the FAL is hands-down the better combat rifle.:dunno: sorry...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah, you pretty much couldn't make that stuff up. The M16 turned out to be one hell of a rifle, but the procurement & development was a case study in how not to do things.
 

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Yeah, you pretty much couldn't make that stuff up. The M16 turned out to be one hell of a rifle, but the procurement & development was a case study in how not to do things.
At least the weapons weren't bad, but it really says a lot about the men (even if a whole lot of them were teen-agers) who did exploits with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
We’ve had good luck and bad luck. The M1 Garand’s and Carbines were a major coup in the world of small arms. We had a reliable and accurate 8 shot semi-auto when everyone else was using a 5 shot turnbolt (SMLE excepted). The M1 Carbine was comfortably ahead of its time. It was the PDW before they even coined the phrase. The Garand was adopted in good faith, and just as soon as they learned of issues, they were addressed and ironed out. The Carbine is somewhat of a miracle rifle, I’m unaware of any serious functional issues from the first one to the last. About the only real “issue” was the pushbutton safety right next to the pushbutton magazine release. Not a functional issue, but as we learned; not a real bright idea.

The Springfield was a Mauser that was weakened, but had really nice sights. The Trapdoor Springfield wasn’t the best rifle by a long shot, but it was a good rifle and could be had on the cheap. Considering how short of a life span it had, we probably made the right call. The Krag was a good rifle who’s magazine proved problematic and unpopular. In battle it came in well behind the Mauser. Why the US refused to just pony up for the Mauser I’ll never know.

The M14 was a bit of a mess of a program. Go read gun magazines in the 1950’s and see what the gun press had to say. Like the M16 we ended up with a solid weapon, but how we got there wasn’t real pretty.

One big advantage we have now is that we don’t have a big amount of pressure for a new weapon. The M16/M4 is a very competent, capable weapon. So now we can take our time and be very methodical in our testing and procurement of a new service rifle…like we did in-between the two big wars.
 

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Good comments, Kevin.
On the bright side, the US was quick to drop Johnson and Reising weapons--nice concepts that didn't pan out.
Imagine a 10-shot, .276 Garand though...
As for the Springfield, it would seem that NIH is not a new thorn, though we did come out with one of the great competition rifles.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Good comments, Kevin.
On the bright side, the US was quick to drop Johnson and Reising weapons--nice concepts that didn't pan out.
Imagine a 10-shot, .276 Garand though...
As for the Springfield, it would seem that NIH is not a new thorn, though we did come out with one of the great competition rifles.
Both the Johnson and Reising were victims of timing than most anything else. The Reising is known for a lack of reliability. It's a very simple and robust blowback SMG. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the design, but the details of manufacturing process and materials needed to be worked out. I have not a doubt the Reising could have been a perfectly acceptable SMG given the right development.

But we had the M3 that required much less development, and could be made much easier and cheaper. If both were reliable, I'm sure most everyone would choose the Reising over the M3. The M3 isn't the most user friendly SMG ever built, and it's one of the few that suffers from firing too slow rather than too fast.

As for the Johnson…

From a design, and certainly a manufacturing standpoint, it was WAY ahead of the Garand. The Johnson had even better parts interchangeability than the Garand and made extensive use of investment casting. What's more, it had about 85% interchangeability with the Johnson 1941 LMG which was far superior to the BAR. I've actually fired a Johnson LMG and I'm here to tell you, it was considerably better than the BAR, and this coming from a fan of the BAR. It's lighter in weight, has a quick change barrel, has parts interchangeability with the rifle and much more controllable in full auto fire than the BAR. The Johnson can easily have its magazine topped off (both rifle and LMG), or you could just drop in a single round, like a tracer, AP, or grenade launcher blank.

But the Johnson came along a good 7-9 years too late. The Johnson saw some combat but it wasn't as reliable as the Garand and fell out of favor quickly. One must remember, when first adopted, the Garand wasn't all that reliable either. If the Johnson received the development of the Garand, it would have been a significantly better rifle than the Garand.

By the end of the war, it was obsolete as the world was now looking at Assault Rifles, or MBR's with high capacity detachable magazines.
 

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I've read that the Reising was an excellent LE subgun, where the working environment was fairly benign. It wasn't until it was thrown into the harsh SWPAC jungle combat that it choked. Kept clean and cared for, and it's reputed to be a very nice little gun--and there are still some to be had at a reasonable price!
 

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the fn-fal is NOT a "better" combat rifle- after having toted one of these for a considerable length of time, as well as the m14, i'd much rather the m14- no windage on the ones we had, ( you needed a special tool for that) and if you wiggled the change lever just right, it would fall out, the rear disc falling down, and when you did need to scope it, you had a special riveted number that you couldn't swap out if damaged, in short , i considered it a pos,save the para model- so much that while i could have one, i CHOOSE not to- instead i have 3 m14s( a springfield,an h&r, and a trw when the isrealis suplussed them- in my opinion only the m16 "family" are obsolete, with the styr aug actually sounding the death knell some time ago- if you had to go with american made, the bushmaster m17- right now, i've got a TAVOR, and that's about the best CQR i've ever handled
 

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Different philosophies. The M4 mini-carbine became the rage when 'everyone':rolleyes: just knew that future combat would be urban. Then came A'stan, and suddenly 'everyone':rolleyes: realized that long-range performance is still needed; so now money is being poured out to make the 5.56 effective at long range from the 14.5' barrel of the M4, when the 20' barrel of the M16 carbine (face it, that's what it is!) gives the round its best performance at medium to long range.
IMO, the telescoping-stock M16 is the best overall iteration of this design.
The Russians went for a bullet-hose that untrained peasants could keep running.
Each does the job, take your pick.
:)
geez, we got some long rifles - i realise it's only a hash mark, but one hash mark is FEET, 2 is INCHES
 

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Discussion Starter #17
the fn-fal is NOT a "better" combat rifle- after having toted one of these for a considerable length of time, as well as the m14, i'd much rather the m14- no windage on the ones we had, ( you needed a special tool for that) and if you wiggled the change lever just right, it would fall out, the rear disc falling down, and when you did need to scope it, you had a special riveted number that you couldn't swap out if damaged, in short , i considered it a pos,save the para model- so much that while i could have one, i CHOOSE not to- instead i have 3 m14s( a springfield,an h&r, and a trw when the isrealis suplussed them- in my opinion only the m16 "family" are obsolete, with the styr aug actually sounding the death knell some time ago- if you had to go with american made, the bushmaster m17- right now, i've got a TAVOR, and that's about the best CQR i've ever handled
Guess you had your hands on some beat up FAL's. All the FAL's I've used were in great shape and I strongly prefered them over the M14. But the 14 clearly had nicer sights.
 

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shep854,

When i was in grad school at Tulane, i worked for a while for Pinkerton's special services at a nuclear power plant & we has REISINGS which proved VERY ACCEPTABLE & ours were shot a GREAT DEAL, without a hitch.

fyi, the FBI had a lot of them for years to replace the TSG, as did the BNDD detectives & they seemed FINE in that regard too.

otoh, the Reising was designed as a POLICE weapon, rather than for fighting in the Pacific Theater with the Marines. - The Reising does NOT do well with sand/dirt/mud in it's action & the "wire stock model"was VERY FLIMSEY.

yours ,sw
 

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I was in the US Army 1972 - 82 as a Small Arms Repairman and Inspector, and did a whole bunch of paperwork as well.

Wiser heads than mine have said, "In WWI the Germans carried a hunting rifle, the Americans carried a target rifle and the British carried a battle rifle." Despite the UK War Office wanting to replace that battle rifle, but the war interfered with their plans.

I've read dozens of books and articles about the M-16 and the process to create it.

My conclusion, US Army officers conspired to kill their own troops in order to discredit the M-16 in SVN. There I said it. If this was based on ignorance or arrogance I leave to the local representatives of the Officer Corps.

The M-14 was primarily a target optimized version of the M1. It required a tool to disassemble the bolt and tool to align the flash hider, not good in the field.

The M-14 and FN-FAL were not good in full auto at all, the G3, I lack experience.

The 7.62x51 round was a mistake, based on theory rather than fact. If you are going to belt MG ammo, it does not need to be related to your rifle ammo. More theory over practicality.

I suspect the 6.5mm Swede might be the best military rifle round, but you can hardly call it proven in combat and the case can be much shorter now days.

I suspect the bull pup is another theory over practical experience victory. I note the French have gone to a conventional design, but the French are so incompetent, it's hardly representative.

I have noticed the opinions of the troops returning from the sandbox tend to reflect common beliefs as much as real experience. I really don't know how you can get an unbiased evaluation.

Geoff
Who suspects the fighting men will make do as always.
 
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