Monday, November 23, 2009

Major revamp possible for M4 carbine

Army wants new barrel, faster fire and 4 other improvements. Still trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Why not pick something better that is already proven and available?

The Army is considering a major redesign of the M4 aimed at making the weapon shoot cleaner and longer — at high rates of fire. As the Army awaits Defense Department approval of a competition to find a new carbine, weapons officials have identified six fixes intended to address shortcomings in reliability, durability and handling of the Army’s inventory of more than 400,000 M4s. Army weapons officials presented the proposed changes to Congress on Oct. 30. They are:

• Adding a heavier barrel for better performance during high rates of fire.

• Replacing the direct-impingement gas system with a piston gas system.

• Improving the trigger pull.

• Adding an improved rail system for increased strength.

• Adding ambidextrous controls.

• Adding a round counter to track the total number of bullets fired over the weapon’s lifetime.

The Army is considering upgrades to the M4 at the same time it is poised to begin a competition to replace the weapon, a variant of the Vietnam-era M16 family. Senior leaders launched the effort to find a new weapon in November 2008, a year after the M4 finished in last place in an Army reliability test involving three other carbines. Then-Army Secretary Pete Geren directed the Army’s Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., to update the carbine requirement.

That document is now under review at the Army senior staff level, but the service cannot start a competition until the requirement is approved by the DoD’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council....

The Army has made 62 changes to the M4 since it began fielding the weapon in the mid 1990s, weapons officials maintain. The changes have ranged from improved extractor springs to high-tech optics to a more reliable magazine.

But soldiers’ criticisms of the M4’s performance have continued. They were detailed recently in a report on the July 13, 2008, battle at Wanat in Afghanistan. Enemy Afghan forces with superior numbers and firepower dominated the terrain around the platoon-sized Army outpost at Wanat. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team eventually fought off the attack, but not before the enemy knocked out the unit’s heavy weapons, killed nine soldiers and wounded another 27.

One staff sergeant described how his M4 failed him early in the battle. “My M4 quit firing and would no longer charge when I tried to correct the malfunction,” said the soldier, identified as Staff Sgt. Phillips in a draft analysis paper on the battle written by Douglas Cubbison, a military historian at the Army Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Another soldier, Spc. Chris McKaig, experienced problems with his weapon later in the battle, according to the report. “My weapon was overheating. I had shot about 12 magazines by this point already, and it had only been about a half hour or so into the fight,” McKaig said in the report. “I couldn’t charge my weapon and put another round in because it was too hot, so I got mad and threw my weapon down.”

Army weapons officials maintain that the M4 has an approval rating among soldiers of more than 90 percent. Sgt. Eric Harder, a team leader with B Troop, 3rd squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, said his M4 didn’t have a single stoppage during an Oct. 3 enemy attack on Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan that lasted for more than six hours. “I shot over 40 mags that day, and I didn’t have one jam,” Harder said during an Army video interview posted on Digital Video & Imagery Distribution’s Web site.

Army officials stress, however, that they are not discounting the alleged weapons problems Phillips and McKaig encountered at Wanat. One improvement they are considering for the M4 involves outfitting the weapon with the heavier barrel used on the M4A1, the special operations variant that’s designed to fire on full auto. The standard M4 has a three-round burst setting instead of full auto.

In past Army tests on the standard M4, the barrel eroded and warped after 540 rounds were fired in 2 minutes and 48 seconds. In another test, the barrel burst after 596 rounds were fired in 3 minutes and 39 seconds, weapons officials said. But the heavier M4A1 barrel was able to shoot 930 rounds in 4 minutes 30 seconds. In that test, the heat shield melted but the barrel appeared undamaged, weapons officials maintain.

While the sustained rate of fire would have to be much lower, the heavier barrel would allow the soldier to fire longer without worrying about heat problems, Tamilio said. “We have proven it, we have tested it and we already own it,” he said. The only downside, he said, is there is a weight penalty that would add 5 ounces to the 6.5-pound M4.

More here

IL: Clerk shot robber but prosecutors charge accomplice with murder: "A store clerk in East St. Louis killed robber Larando King, but it was holdup accomplice Michael T. Hunter Jr., who was charged Friday with first-degree murder, officials said. A person committing a felony can be charged with murder under Illinois law for the death of anyone during the crime. … Police said four men forced their way through a locked door of the Quality Market, at 1032 Bond Avenue, about 3:15 a.m. The clerk, 21, pulled a gun, which fired during a struggle. … St. Clair County State’s Attorney Robert Haida, whose office filed the charge, said in a prepared statement: ‘I commend the shop clerk for what is clearly a legal act of self-defense.’ He added, ‘This type of defensive action is allowed by law-abiding citizens when violent, unlawful acts are perpetrated against them.’”

PA: Bill would change definition of “self-defense”: "Pennsylvania law justifies the use of deadly force in self-defense, but requires people outside their home or workplace to try and retreat first, if they think that’s safe and possible. A bill before the House would eliminate that provision, and reads a threatened person ‘has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and use protective force, including deadly force.’”

Arlington shooting underscores need to understand law: "Many people will sympathize with an Arlington, WA man who fired a couple of shots at a burglary suspect who later turned up dead with jewelry belonging homeowner’s wife in his pocket, because the homeowner has now been arrested for investigation of second-degree murder. Keira S. Earhart was booked into the Snohomish County Jail and is being held there on $1 million bail. The man he shot, Ryan A. Rzechula, 25, of Stanwood, has a criminal record, according to the Everett Herald. What allegedly occurred in this case will need some sorting out, but the basic facts are that Earhart arrived home Nov. 16 to find Rzechula running from his house. Earhart discovered that some of his wife’s jewelry was missing and called the Snohomish County Sheriff Deputies responded, including a K-9 unit, but a search failed to find the suspect. A few hours later, Earhart apparently spotted the same man hiding in a nearby ditch, yelled at him as he started to run, fired a couple of shots at him, and then called the sheriff again."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your article said "fired a couple of shots at him." There is no evidence of this. he claims to have shot two warning shots. There currently have not been any bullistics released, trajectory, etc.