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The M16A4 may soon retire. This week, the Marine Corps announced via internal memo that the M4 carbine will become the primary-issued rifle in infantry and security units, as well as replace the M16 rifle in supporting training schools by September 2016. Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller approved the change, which was first proposed to the previous commandant, Gen. Robert Dunford, according to Marine Corps Times. This decision falls in line with the Army’s phased transition away from the M16 over the past few years. The M16A4 is on the outs simply because it is outdated, and here’s why:
Fixed stocks no longer make sense for an standard-issue infantry weapon.
The fixed stock is a holdover from Cold War-era weapons design that doesn’t fit with other changes in training and equipment. The M4 retractable stock allows for an adjustable length of pull, helping troops with different body types to maintain good shooting fundamentals when they shoulder their weapon. The increasing use of body armor has underscored this, as comfortable length of pulls change once one dons a plate carrier or other protective system. Finally, the M4’s stock makes it easier to stow for transport; this is an important feature for vehicle and aircraft operations.
The 20-inch barrel isn’t needed anymore.
One of the biggest differences between the M4 and the M16A4 is the barrel length: 14.5 inches versus 20 inches, respectively. The M16A4’s longer barrel allowed for a higher muzzle velocity and a longer effective range; conversely the shorter M4 barrel limited its performance in both categories. But improvements in ammunition design have enabled the M4 to close the gap with its longer forefather. The Marine Corps adopted a new 62-grain, 5.56x45 mm Special Operations Science and Technology round. The SOST round is designed to perform out of barrels as short as 10.5 inches, so the M4 has no difficulty shooting out to the extreme end of effective range, negating the advantage of the long M16A4 barrel.
The M4 saves weight.
As a shorter weapon, the M4 naturally weighs less than the M16A4. At the time of the M4’s introduction in 1994, the weight difference was not that different between the two weapons. But the advent of modular rail accessory systems and the growing use of optics over iron sights added more weight. The long length of the M16A4’s rail systems adds a great deal of weight for little benefit; most of the rail space goes unused. The M4 rail mounts the same requisite accessories as the M16A4 with a significant weight savings.
The three-round burst isn't relevant anymore.
The M16A4’s three-round burst fire mode originated in post-Vietnam studies that recommended the feature in order to promote ammo conservation during combat, reasoning that the first three rounds fired in any automatic burst were the most likely to strike a target. The M16A2 incorporated a cam-based burst feature in the early 1980s, and the M16A4 features it as well. Versions of the M4 also have burst mode. But today, three-round burst is not really necessary. Current training emphasizes semi-automatic fire in most situations, so the impetus behind the burst function is moot. The cam system also gives the M16A4 a sloppy, inconsistent trigger pull even while in semi-auto mode. This fundamentally impedes good marksmanship. Some versions of the M4 feature burst as well; the Marine Corps has made no announcement on whether it is converting to the special operations M4A1, but it’s possible the Corps will follow the Army’s example and do so.
The M16 lacks maneuverability compared to the M4 and other weapons.
A large part of why the M4 carbine is popular with troops is its overall maneuverability in close quarters. Many of the aforementioned features of the M16A4 make it difficult to manipulate inside structures and during vehicle operations — two environments that have dominated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even some new weapons with longer lengths than the M4, like the 16-inch barrel of the Marine M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, still beat out the M16A4 because of features like collapsible stocks and lighter rail systems. The bulky ergonomics of the M16A4 can force troops to compromise their close-quarters battle techniques in order to maneuver the weapon effectively; ultimately a poor tradeoff.
The M16A4 is not completely gone; it will remain in the armories of some training and non-combat units in the Army and Marine Corps. It’s also possible that surplus rifles may be modified for other roles, such as designated marksmen rifles. But the ubiquitous name of the M16 in modern culture will likely be replaced by ‘M4’ when referring to America’s premier infantry weapon.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.
"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.
Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.