WASHINGTON — In the chaos of an early morning assault on a remote U.S. outpost in eastern Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Erich Phillips' M4 carbine quit firing as militant forces surrounded the base. The machine gun he grabbed after tossing the rifle aside didn't work either.
When the battle in the small village of Wanat ended, nine U.S. soldiers lay dead and 27 more were wounded. A detailed study of the attack by a military historian found that weapons failed repeatedly at a "critical moment" during the firefight on July 13, 2008, putting the outnumbered American troops at risk of being overrun by nearly 200 insurgents.
Which raises the question: Eight years into the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, do U.S. armed forces have the best guns money can buy?
I won't go into details on the story, you can read those yourself if you're so inclined. But let me say once again, as I'm sure I've said plenty of times before, the M-16 and M-4 are gigantic pieces of shit. I'm sure I'll get plenty of hate mail from all those folks with an AR-15 or other Evil Black Rifle variant, but it's a shitty weapon. It fires an undersized, underweight round for combat, and it's gas operated.
For those who don't understand that first part - the M-16/M-4 fires the 5.56mm round, which means that it's a friggin .22 caliber! This is a round perfect for hunting varmints and small game, but you wouldn't go hunting deer or elk with it. Well, if it won't take down a 200 pound deer, how the hell will it take down a 200 pound man? IT WON'T! And that's been proven in combat, when we've had to shoot the same mother-fucking terrorist bastard five or six times just to bring him down.
For the second part of the statement - gas operated: Every semi-automatic or automatic rifle needs to have some way to cycle the bolt. The standard cycle of a weapon is feeding (push a round out of the magazine), chambering (put the round in the chamber), locking (locks the bolt into position), firing, unlocking, extracting (pull expended case from chamber), ejecting (push expended case out of weapon), cocking (get set to do it all again). Now on a bolt action rifle, all of this is done by physically maneuvering the bolt by hand. In a semi-auto or full-auto weapon, you have to make the weapon do it all on it's lonesome. On the M-16/M-4, this is done with the gasses created by the round being fired. You have a gas tube that starts close to the end of the barrel, and goes all the way back to the bolt. The gasses that are pushing the actual bullet out of the barrel go into the gas tube and back down to the bolt, pushing it back and cycling the weapon.
"So Dave, what's wrong with that?" I can hear you ask. Well, you have a machine, and like all machines it's enemies are heat, dirt and moisture. By using the gasses from the round to cycle the weapon, you are literally shoving the heat and dirt BACK INTO THE WEAPON! The chamber and bolt of an M-16/M-4 get absolutely filthy after just one magazine being run through it. If you take my SKS, run fifty rounds through it, you have to clean the barrel, wipe the bolt off, swab out the chamber and put some gun oil on it. That's it. Done. Maybe 20 minutes, 15 if you have a bore-snake.
If you run fifty rounds through the M-16/M-4, you have got to completely disassemble that bitch, take the bolt completely apart, scrub the fuck out of it, clean the barrel, scrape the baked carbon out of the chamber, scrape the baked carbon off the bolt face, scrape the baked carbon off the firing pin, and put a thin layer of CLP all over everything in the vain hope that your gun will remain clean.
But it won't remain clean. It never remains clean enough. Every time the Army deals with problems from the M-4, they put out that mealy mouthed bullshit excuse: "Army officials say that when properly cleaned and maintained, the M4 is a quality weapon that can pump out more than 3,000 rounds before any failures occur." Well FUCK YOU VERY MUCH, you worthless pansy-assed shithead! DO IT IN THE DESERT, where the sand isn't actually sand, it's fucking talcum powder and you can't keep it out of ANYTHING! Where machinery goes to die, because there ain't enough filters in the world to keep that said talcum powder out of the works. "Properly cleaned and maintained" means fucking spotless when it comes to the M-4, because one tiny speck of dirt jams the whole thing up. In essence, "properly cleaned" is a fucking fairytale once you get to anyplace other than a carefully maintained and regulated training environment. I once read over at Mad Ogre's site that when it comes to a battle rifle, if it jams you need to be able to open the bolt, piss into the chamber to clear it out, close the bolt and have that bastard work.
If you did that to the M-4, it would shriek like a three-year-old girl who just got a boo-boo, and then run away whimpering until it had it's government issued therapist stroke it and tell it that it's just as good as all those other weapons, and wouldn't it like to go out and show the nice Soldiers how well it can work? The M-4 is the dysfunctional, wussy kid brother to an actual battle rifle.
The US Army could fix this entire mess by doing two things: Using a bigger bullet, and replacing the gas tube with a gas PISTON. A bigger bullet would put terrorist tumblefucks down for good with fewer that five hits, and a gas piston would stop all those corrosive gasses at the piston itself, which means you would just scrape the baked carbon off the head of the piston instead of your entire fucking weapon. It would stop all that crap from covering the inner guts of the gun, and it would keep the bolt cooler. Which means what, boys and girls? LESS JAMMING! As an added bonus, by reworking these two items, you would only have to replace the upper receiver of the weapon, which means that you wouldn't spend millions replacing an entire weapons system. You could still use the basic rifle that US troops are accustomed to, and give them an insanely better weapon.
If you truly want to know what works and what doesn't work, look at what the Special Forces are using. Because their lives DEPEND on their weapons. They don't have time to dick around with a piece of shit that fails time after time. They don't use the M-16 or the M-4. They don't use the 9mm either, but that's a rant for another day.
I'll put it this way - I would rather use a M1903A3 boltie than the M-16. I would rather use the M1 Garand than the M-4. Hell, I'd rather use my old Mosin-Nagant 91/30 than the M-16 or M-4, because at least my Mosin-Nagant goes boom every time I pull the trigger, and I know damn well that whatever I hit with it will go down. I won't have to shoot some bastard five times, it's ONE SHOT, ONE KILL. Which means less time sticking my head up, less time exposed, and more time making sure the terrorist fucks don't ever terrorize anyone ever again.
I dream of the day we get rid of the M-16/M-4 or any variant of the 5.56mm weapons system.