Second Line SEAL CQBR

Published on March 1st, 2012 | by Bravo One

41

The M4A1 and CQBR/Mk 18 5.56x45mm

In this article, first, I want to talk to you about the M4A1 and what makes it our bread and butter choice across special operations teams. I will discuss the good and the bad, and why I think it’s here to stay.

Without a doubt, the M4 platform has been a success with a proven record but there are some lingering deficiencies to address as with any system. The Close Quarters Battle Rifle (CQBR)/Mk18 is slightly newer on the scene but is also making headway to securing its success being adopted by more teams.

M4 Carbine Firing

The M4A1 carbine entered service in 1994, taking feedback from lessons-learned in the Gulf War where the M16 series was dominant. A lot of troops were asking for a shorter weapon for a variety of reasons such as urban operations, vehicle crews, and special operators to name a few. With advancing technologies in optics and laser systems, there was a desire to produce a more effective and modular weapon, and that’s where the M4 platform excelled with the introduction of the Special Operations Peculiar Modification (SOPMOD) Program  which had been growing since the late 80′s and began production in 1992.

M4 Carbine SOPMOD Kit

I want to focus this article on the M4A1 since that’s the go-to choice of special operations. It differs from the M4 in having a full-automatic fire mode instead of a 3 round burst. Full-auto is nice to have and the trigger feels a lot better than a burst trigger. The standard M4A1 carbine has a handguard with double heat shields to better protect the user’s hands from the barrel heating up rapidly in automatic fire and the barrel has also been thickened to better dissipate heat. It should be noted that the Army plans to expand the M4A1 issuance to more units. The basic specifications are as follows:

  • Weight, unloaded/loaded:  6lb 7oz / 7lb 6oz
  • Length, extended/closed buttstock:  33in / 29.75in Barrel:  14.5in length, 1:7 right-hand twist
  • Rate of Fire:  700-950rpm cyclic, 45rpm semi-auto, 12-15rpm sustained
  • Muzzle Velocity:  2,900ft/sec (884m/sec)

M4A1 Left Side

The CQBR Upper Receiver is a drop in replacement for the M4A1 standard upper receiver and when installed is known as the Mk18 by type-designation. It was originally intended to replace the 9mm MP5 series of sub-machine guns with a weapon firing the common 5.56mm round capable of penetrating body armor, while still making use of SOPMOD accessories. As such, it is very effective in Close Quarters Battle (CQB) environments. 

M4A1 Right Side

Being designed by the Navy (NSWC Crane), SEAL Teams were the first to adopt it in 2001. It has some slight differences over the 14.5” upper due to having a shorter 10.3” barrel. The shorter barrel requires an enlarged gas port to cycle properly so it was enlarged to .070 from .062, and the bolt is upgraded using a one-piece gas ring and enhanced extractor spring. The flash hider is also purpose made for attaching the M4 Quick-Detach Sound Suppressor. One downside to the CQBR is that it can become extremely hot in full-auto, measuring up to 713°F after prolonged firing. I’ve personally seen the heat when we ran a suppressed CQBR with 2 100-round Beta Magazines in full-auto back-to-back which left the gas tube glowing white and the barrel red hot. It wouldn’t have been possible to handle the weapon without the vertical grip and gloves.

M4 CQBR

M4 CQBR

What really adds teeth to the M4A1/CQBR is the aforementioned SOPMOD program which provides outstanding modularity and sets it apart from any other weapon system in the world. Some of the best available technology is being fielded to our guys downrange, enabling them to get the job done anywhere, anytime. The program keeps current with emerging technologies and it shows when comparing the current kit to the former. My units weapons were typically set up with an EOTech Holographic Weapon Sight, an Advanced Target Pointer/ Illuminator/ Aiming Light (ATPIAL), and an M3X Weapon Light. The actual names for all of the gear gets confusing as you can see from the Block II image. The systems I just named in tech-speak would be the SU-231/PEQ, LA-5/PEQ ATPIAL, and the SU-233/PVS. A mouthful and far more confusing than just using the commercial names for the equipment which is what most do in practice.

SOPMOD Block II

Ammunition in 5.56x45mm has been a source of controversy for many citing a lack of stopping power. I want to go into detail here since this is a very misunderstood topic.

A lot of guys don’t understand that when shortening the barrel, the effectiveness of your round decreases since it was designed for a 20” barrel. The desired effect is that on impact the bullet yaws (tumbles) and fragments, causing severe trauma.

The early M193 round fired from an M16A1 was exceptionally effective at tumbling and fragmenting, and caused a stir as being an ‘inhumane’ round due to the severity of wounds it produced. The sooner the bullet does this inside our target the better. On a shorter barrel, the potential for that decreases and so does our lethality, causing so called ‘through-and-through’ hits caused by the reduced velocity of impact.

Operators in Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan reported having to shoot guys close-in multiple times to stop hostiles. What was likely happening was the bullet was not performing, and then shot placement can be argued. I bring up shot placement to point out that a regular bad-guy pumped full of adrenaline might take what seems like eternity to go down, even if hit in the lungs, heart, or liver/spleen. Only a brain or spinal (central nervous system) hit will cause an instant drop, even when placing good hits in the chest.

M193 Lethality

Currently, we are using the 62-grain M855 ‘green-tip’ with a steel penetrator. It has been established in several studies that for reliable yaw and fragmentation of the M855 round, the optimal engagement would be inside of 50 meters for the M4 and 30 meters for the CQBR. Many units have taken the heavier 77-grain open-tip boat tailed Mk262 long-range match round meant for sniper application and begun using it for combat loads in the CQBR because against an unarmored opponent the round tumbles and fragments immediately inside the target even at extended ranges. Alternatively, the Reduced-Ricochet Low-Penetration (RRLP) Frangible round has also been shown to be effective at close ranges.

M855A1In 2010, the Army began producing an improved M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) which is tailor-made for the shorter M4 platform. It uses a larger penetrator backed by a copper slug and according to the Army was superior to 7.62mm in some tests. The new round produces a higher muzzle velocity, improved accuracy, a lower flash signature, and vastly improved lethality. The round is also unique in being completely lead-free which is a first for military 5.56mm ammunition in common use. The new round can penetrate 3/8” mild steel unlike the standard M80 7.62mm and was tested out to 1000 meters against 24-layer kevlar, still achieving complete penetration.

Time will tell with the new ammunition, but I’m hopeful it will prove to be a much better round for our warfighters, especially in lethality.

I think the system as a whole is still very effective, and there has been a consistent drive to improve the deficiencies that are coming up. There are some problems I haven’t mentioned yet that have been publicized in the media. The weapon is said to foul easily when dirty for instance. In my experience in Iraq, this wasn’t a problem unless the user neglected to clean and lube the weapon at all. I’ve seen weapons caked in carbon and still run fine, as long as the system was ‘wet’ with a slight coat of lubricant. The dust issue could be remedied in all of 5 minutes with a simple nylon brush and a few drops of lubrication. Some users were under the false belief that keeping the weapons dry of lubricant was beneficial to keeping sand out, but I can say from experience that this will cause more malfunctions than nearly anything else will.

Benefits of M4A1/CQBR:

  • High modularity
  • Effective in CQB
  • Large assortment of advanced Optics and Lasers

Drawbacks:

  • System requires maintaining
  • Low round-life of barrels (Some fail after 6,000 rounds)
  • Weapon runs very hot in auto due direct gas system
  • M855 round not performing well (addressed by new M855A1 round)

I believe that with the Army investing in purchasing more and more systems, that the M4A1 will be around for a long time coming. There are competitors just chomping at the bit to take the reigns, such as Heckler & Koch with their HK416 piston system, the FN Herstal Mk16 SCAR (SOCOM is abandoning these already), and other commercial systems. Many want a new caliber such as 6.8mm but I don’t see it happening unless NATO as a whole adopts it first. I think it’s safe to say the M4A1 will still be king of the block in 10 years time. The commercial market has seen an explosion in growth of AR-15 designs and accessories showing it is just as popular with civilians as it is with operators, and rightfully so.  For further reading, please follow the article links.

Bravo One, out.



57 comments
Moe Sizlack
Moe Sizlack

This is from a old timer who has used both the M16A1 and the M16A2.  From experience, if you keep the weapon clean, properly lubed,  and use proper marksman ship, the weapon works fine and gets the job done. I do not know why the military ditched the older round in favor of the M855, but they actually made a mistake I think. The M16 series and the newly developed 5.56mm round at the time (when the M16 first came out) was never meant to be a long range weapon. It was meant to engage and kill targets from 25-350 meters if that.  I can appreciate the fact that there are problems taking down targets at extended ranges versus shorter engagement distances because of round ballistics and penetration issues.  As I said, the  military further compounded the problem by going to the M855 round.  I do know due to politics and squabbling within military ranks, the problems with the M16 series weapons will never be fixed. People can argue training, maintenance and shot placement all they want, but the fact is there are a lot of problems with the M16 series.  Shooter training only goes so far, as does maintenance,sad to say.  If the military really wants to keep the M4 as the now standard weapon, they really need to look at different calibers like the 6.5, or 7.62mm.

Moe Sizlack
Moe Sizlack

This is from a old timer who has used both the M16A1 and the M16A2.  From experience, if you keep the weapon clean, properly lubed,  and use proper marksman ship, the weapon works fine and gets the job done. I do not know why the military ditched the older round in favor of the M855, but they actually made a mistake I think. The M16 series and the newly developed 5.56mm round at the time (when the M16 first came out) was never meant to be a long range weapon. It was meant to engage and kill targets from 25-350 meters if that.  I can appreciate the fact that there are problems taking down targets at extended ranges versus shorter engagement distances because of round ballistics and penetration issues.  As I said, the  military further compounded the problem by going to the M855 round.  I do know due to politics and squabbling within military ranks, the problems with the M16 series weapons will never be fixed. People can argue training, maintenance and shot placement all they want, but the fact is there are a lot of problems with the M16 series.  Shooter training only goes so far, as does maintenance,sad to say.  If the military really wants to keep the M4 as the now standard weapon, they really need to look at different calibers like the 6.5, or 7.62mm.

Moe Sizlack
Moe Sizlack

This is from a old timer who has used both the M16A1 and the M16A2.  From experience, if you keep the weapon clean, properly lubed,  and use proper marksman ship, the weapon works fine and gets the job done. I do not know why the military ditched the older round in favor of the M855, but they actually made a mistake I think. The M16 series and the newly developed 5.56mm round at the time (when the M16 first came out) was never meant to be a long range weapon. It was meant to engage and kill targets from 25-350 meters if that.  I can appreciate the fact that there are problems taking down targets at extended ranges versus shorter engagement distances because of round ballistics and penetration issues.  As I said, the  military further compounded the problem by going to the M855 round.  I do know due to politics and squabbling within military ranks, the problems with the M16 series weapons will never be fixed. People can argue training, maintenance and shot placement all they want, but the fact is there are a lot of problems with the M16 series.  Shooter training only goes so far, as does maintenance,sad to say.  If the military really wants to keep the M4 as the now standard weapon, they really need to look at different calibers like the 6.5, or 7.62mm.

hisbilly
hisbilly

I enjoyed this article, I am not an fan of AR but I def dig that M203 launcher. I still perfer an Ak and a bolt rifle, but then again i'm  just a regular guy

hisbilly
hisbilly

I enjoyed this article, I am not an fan of AR but I def dig that M203 launcher. I still perfer an Ak and a bolt rifle, but then again i'm  just a regular guy

EliasFreire
EliasFreire

In addition:   "Both the MK18 and M4 CQBR come from NSWC-Crane, the NSNs for both items list Naval Sea Systems (the higher command for NSWC-Crane) as the manufacturer of the MK18 Mod0, however, the two items are listed under different NSNs.   NSN 1005-01-527-2288 is the "us navy MK 18 MOD 0 carbine with 10in barrel" while   NSN 1005-01-498-1913 is "navy issue M4A1 CQBR upper receiver with 10 inch barrel."   Weapons in use by SOF were originally issued as M4A1s with 14.5" barrels. The CQBR is an accessory / additional upper receiver group utilizing a 10.3" barrel - originally cut down by Crane from 14.5" barrels, and later sourced from Colt.   *ALL* SOF weapons, not just NSW, come from NSWC-Crane. They are the oversight for programs like the SCAR program and the SOPMOD program. NSWC-Crane does not mean Navy SEAL specific.   Both the MK12 and MK18 were originally inteded and developed as accessory upper receiver groups for the issue M4A1. Both ended up evolving to complete weapon systems. The MK18 was originally envisioned as the MK18 CQBR - but when it evolved into its own weapon system with its own basis of issue, the MK18 component and CQBR (Close Quarters Battle Receiver) component were de-coupled. The MK18 weapon system became the MK18 Mod 0 Close Quarters Battle Rifle (unfortunately - also shortened to "CQBR") while the M4 CQBR accessory upper receiver group became a different entity.   I don't have exact dates on this divergence, but pretty much everything I've seen indicates that this occured during development, before either were really issue items, other than field testing, just like the development of the MK12 from a Special Purpose Receiver to Special Purpose Rifle.   In other words, SOF, whether Navy SEALs or not, never used the MK18 Mod 0. They have always used a CQBR.   The MK18 Mod 0 and M4A1 CQBR use a common upper receiver group - however, current M4 CQBRs are having the DD RIS II installed before being issued, since it is the SOPMOD Block 2 issue rail system."

EliasFreire
EliasFreire

About the MK 18 and the M4CQBR, as I read in the AR15 forum, there are differences betweem them, I will copy and paste a very good explanation about it:   "Those weapons using the RIS II are CQBRs. The MK18 Mod 0 and M4A1 CQBR are two completely different things.   An M4A1 CQBR is a 10.3" upper receiver group provided either in addition to or as a substitution for a 14.5" M4A1 upper receiver as issued by MTOE to SOF.   The MK18 Mod 0 is a complete weapon system that can be ordered as such by conventional units with a need for them, usually to replace MP5s, but not always. This includes VBSS units and EOD units (un-verified).   The MK18 Mod 0 was developed around the same time that the Mk 12 SPR was developed - both originally intended as replacement receiver assemblies for the M4A1 Carbine in use by SOF.   Both eventually evolved into complete weapon systems, built by Crane and (usually) completed by a re-conditioned M16A1 lower receiver.   For a short while when the MK18 Mod 0 was maturing into a complete weapon system - it bore a superficial resemblance to the M4A1 CQBR in use by SOF - using the VBL II gun light and ECOS-N (Aimpoint CompM2 in Wilcox mount) and KAC M4 RIS (as opposed to RAS).   In many ways, at least in terms of parts, the MK18 Mod 0 is an M4A1 CQBR upper receiver group mated to a re-conditioned M16A1 lower and issued whole, rather than as a conversion kit for an operators existing M4A1.   This is why you frequently see RIS II equipped CQBRs with CAR style stocks - the "host" M4A1 is an earlier lower that pre-dates the M4 style stock. On the other hand, the MK18 Mod 0 is almost always seen with SOPMOD stocks or less frequently with M4 style stocks - current spare parts.   This is why the "Mod 1" nomenclature bothers me, because you're compounding the mis-use of nomenclature. The CQBRs used by SOF aren't MK18s to begin with. Therefore, there cannot be a "Mod 1" variant of it. On the other hand - for the most part, MK18s are still being issued in a "Mod 0" configuration and are still in the system as a viable, and complete weapon system. There's evidence that many are being reset with 14.5" barrels however. Circumstantial evidence suggests these might simply be falling under the umbrella now of "M4A1," at least functionally, but they're not the same thing as M4A1s, either. If nothing - then they should be MK18 Mod 1s, because they do not seem to properly match M4A1 specs, since USGI M4A1s all now use the RO921HB barrel profile, not the RO920 barrel profile like these 14.5" barreled MK18s."

EliasFreire
EliasFreire

In addition:

 

"Both the MK18 and M4 CQBR come from NSWC-Crane, the NSNs for both items list Naval Sea Systems (the higher command for NSWC-Crane) as the manufacturer of the MK18 Mod0, however, the two items are listed under different NSNs.

 

NSN 1005-01-527-2288 is the "us navy MK 18 MOD 0 carbine with 10in barrel" while

 

NSN 1005-01-498-1913 is "navy issue M4A1 CQBR upper receiver with 10 inch barrel."

 

Weapons in use by SOF were originally issued as M4A1s with 14.5" barrels. The CQBR is an accessory / additional upper receiver group utilizing a 10.3" barrel - originally cut down by Crane from 14.5" barrels, and later sourced from Colt.

 

*ALL* SOF weapons, not just NSW, come from NSWC-Crane. They are the oversight for programs like the SCAR program and the SOPMOD program. NSWC-Crane does not mean Navy SEAL specific.

 

Both the MK12 and MK18 were originally inteded and developed as accessory upper receiver groups for the issue M4A1. Both ended up evolving to complete weapon systems. The MK18 was originally envisioned as the MK18 CQBR - but when it evolved into its own weapon system with its own basis of issue, the MK18 component and CQBR (Close Quarters Battle Receiver) component were de-coupled. The MK18 weapon system became the MK18 Mod 0 Close Quarters Battle Rifle (unfortunately - also shortened to "CQBR") while the M4 CQBR accessory upper receiver group became a different entity.

 

I don't have exact dates on this divergence, but pretty much everything I've seen indicates that this occured during development, before either were really issue items, other than field testing, just like the development of the MK12 from a Special Purpose Receiver to Special Purpose Rifle.

 

In other words, SOF, whether Navy SEALs or not, never used the MK18 Mod 0. They have always used a CQBR.

 

The MK18 Mod 0 and M4A1 CQBR use a common upper receiver group - however, current M4 CQBRs are having the DD RIS II installed before being issued, since it is the SOPMOD Block 2 issue rail system."

EliasFreire
EliasFreire

In addition:   "Both the MK18 and M4 CQBR come from NSWC-Crane, the NSNs for both items list Naval Sea Systems (the higher command for NSWC-Crane) as the manufacturer of the MK18 Mod0, however, the two items are listed under different NSNs.   NSN 1005-01-527-2288 is the "us navy MK 18 MOD 0 carbine with 10in barrel" while   NSN 1005-01-498-1913 is "navy issue M4A1 CQBR upper receiver with 10 inch barrel."   Weapons in use by SOF were originally issued as M4A1s with 14.5" barrels. The CQBR is an accessory / additional upper receiver group utilizing a 10.3" barrel - originally cut down by Crane from 14.5" barrels, and later sourced from Colt.   *ALL* SOF weapons, not just NSW, come from NSWC-Crane. They are the oversight for programs like the SCAR program and the SOPMOD program. NSWC-Crane does not mean Navy SEAL specific.   Both the MK12 and MK18 were originally inteded and developed as accessory upper receiver groups for the issue M4A1. Both ended up evolving to complete weapon systems. The MK18 was originally envisioned as the MK18 CQBR - but when it evolved into its own weapon system with its own basis of issue, the MK18 component and CQBR (Close Quarters Battle Receiver) component were de-coupled. The MK18 weapon system became the MK18 Mod 0 Close Quarters Battle Rifle (unfortunately - also shortened to "CQBR") while the M4 CQBR accessory upper receiver group became a different entity.   I don't have exact dates on this divergence, but pretty much everything I've seen indicates that this occured during development, before either were really issue items, other than field testing, just like the development of the MK12 from a Special Purpose Receiver to Special Purpose Rifle.   In other words, SOF, whether Navy SEALs or not, never used the MK18 Mod 0. They have always used a CQBR.   The MK18 Mod 0 and M4A1 CQBR use a common upper receiver group - however, current M4 CQBRs are having the DD RIS II installed before being issued, since it is the SOPMOD Block 2 issue rail system."

EliasFreire
EliasFreire

About the MK 18 and the M4CQBR, as I read in the AR15 forum, there are differences betweem them, I will copy and paste a very good explanation about it:

 

"Those weapons using the RIS II are CQBRs. The MK18 Mod 0 and M4A1 CQBR are two completely different things.

 

An M4A1 CQBR is a 10.3" upper receiver group provided either in addition to or as a substitution for a 14.5" M4A1 upper receiver as issued by MTOE to SOF.

 

The MK18 Mod 0 is a complete weapon system that can be ordered as such by conventional units with a need for them, usually to replace MP5s, but not always. This includes VBSS units and EOD units (un-verified).

 

The MK18 Mod 0 was developed around the same time that the Mk 12 SPR was developed - both originally intended as replacement receiver assemblies for the M4A1 Carbine in use by SOF.

 

Both eventually evolved into complete weapon systems, built by Crane and (usually) completed by a re-conditioned M16A1 lower receiver.

 

For a short while when the MK18 Mod 0 was maturing into a complete weapon system - it bore a superficial resemblance to the M4A1 CQBR in use by SOF - using the VBL II gun light and ECOS-N (Aimpoint CompM2 in Wilcox mount) and KAC M4 RIS (as opposed to RAS).

 

In many ways, at least in terms of parts, the MK18 Mod 0 is an M4A1 CQBR upper receiver group mated to a re-conditioned M16A1 lower and issued whole, rather than as a conversion kit for an operators existing M4A1.

 

This is why you frequently see RIS II equipped CQBRs with CAR style stocks - the "host" M4A1 is an earlier lower that pre-dates the M4 style stock. On the other hand, the MK18 Mod 0 is almost always seen with SOPMOD stocks or less frequently with M4 style stocks - current spare parts.

 

This is why the "Mod 1" nomenclature bothers me, because you're compounding the mis-use of nomenclature. The CQBRs used by SOF aren't MK18s to begin with. Therefore, there cannot be a "Mod 1" variant of it. On the other hand - for the most part, MK18s are still being issued in a "Mod 0" configuration and are still in the system as a viable, and complete weapon system. There's evidence that many are being reset with 14.5" barrels however. Circumstantial evidence suggests these might simply be falling under the umbrella now of "M4A1," at least functionally, but they're not the same thing as M4A1s, either. If nothing - then they should be MK18 Mod 1s, because they do not seem to properly match M4A1 specs, since USGI M4A1s all now use the RO921HB barrel profile, not the RO920 barrel profile like these 14.5" barreled MK18s."

EliasFreire
EliasFreire

About the MK 18 and the M4CQBR, as I read in the AR15 forum, there are differences betweem them, I will copy and paste a very good explanation about it:   "Those weapons using the RIS II are CQBRs. The MK18 Mod 0 and M4A1 CQBR are two completely different things.   An M4A1 CQBR is a 10.3" upper receiver group provided either in addition to or as a substitution for a 14.5" M4A1 upper receiver as issued by MTOE to SOF.   The MK18 Mod 0 is a complete weapon system that can be ordered as such by conventional units with a need for them, usually to replace MP5s, but not always. This includes VBSS units and EOD units (un-verified).   The MK18 Mod 0 was developed around the same time that the Mk 12 SPR was developed - both originally intended as replacement receiver assemblies for the M4A1 Carbine in use by SOF.   Both eventually evolved into complete weapon systems, built by Crane and (usually) completed by a re-conditioned M16A1 lower receiver.   For a short while when the MK18 Mod 0 was maturing into a complete weapon system - it bore a superficial resemblance to the M4A1 CQBR in use by SOF - using the VBL II gun light and ECOS-N (Aimpoint CompM2 in Wilcox mount) and KAC M4 RIS (as opposed to RAS).   In many ways, at least in terms of parts, the MK18 Mod 0 is an M4A1 CQBR upper receiver group mated to a re-conditioned M16A1 lower and issued whole, rather than as a conversion kit for an operators existing M4A1.   This is why you frequently see RIS II equipped CQBRs with CAR style stocks - the "host" M4A1 is an earlier lower that pre-dates the M4 style stock. On the other hand, the MK18 Mod 0 is almost always seen with SOPMOD stocks or less frequently with M4 style stocks - current spare parts.   This is why the "Mod 1" nomenclature bothers me, because you're compounding the mis-use of nomenclature. The CQBRs used by SOF aren't MK18s to begin with. Therefore, there cannot be a "Mod 1" variant of it. On the other hand - for the most part, MK18s are still being issued in a "Mod 0" configuration and are still in the system as a viable, and complete weapon system. There's evidence that many are being reset with 14.5" barrels however. Circumstantial evidence suggests these might simply be falling under the umbrella now of "M4A1," at least functionally, but they're not the same thing as M4A1s, either. If nothing - then they should be MK18 Mod 1s, because they do not seem to properly match M4A1 specs, since USGI M4A1s all now use the RO921HB barrel profile, not the RO920 barrel profile like these 14.5" barreled MK18s."

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

Also the MK18 now comes as a complete weapon system and has a MOD1 variant. In my experience, the SEAL Teams were the main proponents of the upper receiver MK18's. By the time other SOF units caught on, the MK18 was issued as a complete gun. I think one of the more interesting M4 variants is the elusive M4 GL/SSC 12.5 in. barrel carbine. It's widely known but not widely talked about. I think other readers would agree, that an article on it's history and use would be interesting.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

I have so much to say on this subject I don't even know where to start. First of all, the new M855A1 is complete crap. It DOES NOT improve accuracy over the current M855. The accuracy requirement for the A1 is something like 5.5 MOA versus the 4 MOA of the Green Tip. Velocity is only increased by bumping up pressures and the powder formulation is about as dirty as it gets. Combine all these cons with the fact that there is 0 evidence so far showing that the M855A1 is terminally more effective than the Green Tip and you have a failure. Secondly, the reports of the 5.56 rounds ineffectiveness in the field is severely flawed. There are many reasons for this, but I've always believed that the main reason was a lack of training, shooting skill, and knowledge of things like terminal effectiveness. Guys go to combat and hit an insurgent with two rounds to the torso and expect him to fall over and die on the spot. There are very few assault rifle cartridges that will do that with FMJ. I bet money on it that if you put 10 rounds in the torso of a threat in 1.5 seconds you're going to have a much greater effect. But, our Soldiers aren't taught to shoot like that nor are many capable of accomplishing shooting like that if they wanted to. I know for a fact that a particular JSOC unit has been training with more modern shooting methods likes this and they have reported insurgents going down on the spot after taking hits like that. Skill level and knowledge come into play as well and I would be happy to explain how if anyone wants to know. Lastly, I agree with the author that the M4A1 is a reliable weapon. Once again a lack of training and understanding of the weapon system leads to completely false rumors that the M4A1 is unreliable. Very few soldiers (i would estimate around 1% or less) are "gun guys" and very few really take the time to master their weapon system. Sometimes it surprises me that the military would throw so much time and money at small arms and yet devote very little to actual weapons and shooting training. But, then again it's a large agency we're talking about here and those in charge almost always believe that a hardware fix is preferable over a software fix. The military solves it's problems with guns and and yet modern weapons training is severely lacking. The M4A1 and the MK18 are reliable and effective weapons. The 5.56 is capable of getting the job done so long as you put hits on target. But, until the military prioritizes ACTUAL modern weapons training, I fear we may not get to see these weapons full potential.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

Also the MK18 now comes as a complete weapon system and has a MOD1 variant. In my experience, the SEAL Teams were the main proponents of the upper receiver MK18's. By the time other SOF units caught on, the MK18 was issued as a complete gun. I think one of the more interesting M4 variants is the elusive M4 GL/SSC 12.5 in. barrel carbine. It's widely known but not widely talked about. I think other readers would agree, that an article on it's history and use would be interesting.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

Also the MK18 now comes as a complete weapon system and has a MOD1 variant. In my experience, the SEAL Teams were the main proponents of the upper receiver MK18's. By the time other SOF units caught on, the MK18 was issued as a complete gun. I think one of the more interesting M4 variants is the elusive M4 GL/SSC 12.5 in. barrel carbine. It's widely known but not widely talked about. I think other readers would agree, that an article on it's history and use would be interesting.

Old PH2
Old PH2

I remember the switch to M16A2 took a while to get over the feeling of that "burst trigger." I can't agree with the many comments I'm sure you'll be getting about the tendency for overheating.  Boils down to fire discipline.  Remember Mitchel Page at Guadalcanal?  If you operate any weapons system on full auto for very long, you're going to get burnt.  

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic moderator

I have so much to say on this subject I don't even know where to start. First of all, the new M855A1 is complete crap. It DOES NOT improve accuracy over the current M855. The accuracy requirement for the A1 is something like 5.5 MOA versus the 4 MOA of the Green Tip. Velocity is only increased by bumping up pressures and the powder formulation is about as dirty as it gets. Combine all these cons with the fact that there is 0 evidence so far showing that the M855A1 is terminally more effective than the Green Tip and you have a failure. Secondly, the reports of the 5.56 rounds ineffectiveness in the field is severely flawed. There are many reasons for this, but I've always believed that the main reason was a lack of training, shooting skill, and knowledge of things like terminal effectiveness. Guys go to combat and hit an insurgent with two rounds to the torso and expect him to fall over and die on the spot. There are very few assault rifle cartridges that will do that with FMJ. I bet money on it that if you put 10 rounds in the torso of a threat in 1.5 seconds you're going to have a much greater effect. But, our Soldiers aren't taught to shoot like that nor are many capable of accomplishing shooting like that if they wanted to. I know for a fact that a particular JSOC unit has been training with more modern shooting methods likes this and they have reported insurgents going down on the spot after taking hits like that. Skill level and knowledge come into play as well and I would be happy to explain how if anyone wants to know. Lastly, I agree with the author that the M4A1 is a reliable weapon. Once again a lack of training and understanding of the weapon system leads to completely false rumors that the M4A1 is unreliable. Very few soldiers (i would estimate around 1% or less) are "gun guys" and very few really take the time to master their weapon system. Sometimes it surprises me that the military would throw so much time and money at small arms and yet devote very little to actual weapons and shooting training. But, then again it's a large agency we're talking about here and those in charge almost always believe that a hardware fix is preferable over a software fix. The military solves it's problems with guns and and yet modern weapons training is severely lacking. The M4A1 and the MK18 are reliable and effective weapons. The 5.56 is capable of getting the job done so long as you put hits on target. But, until the military prioritizes ACTUAL modern weapons training, I fear we may not get to see these weapons full potential.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

I have so much to say on this subject I don't even know where to start. First of all, the new M855A1 is complete crap. It DOES NOT improve accuracy over the current M855. The accuracy requirement for the A1 is something like 5.5 MOA versus the 4 MOA of the Green Tip. Velocity is only increased by bumping up pressures and the powder formulation is about as dirty as it gets. Combine all these cons with the fact that there is 0 evidence so far showing that the M855A1 is terminally more effective than the Green Tip and you have a failure. Secondly, the reports of the 5.56 rounds ineffectiveness in the field is severely flawed. There are many reasons for this, but I've always believed that the main reason was a lack of training, shooting skill, and knowledge of things like terminal effectiveness. Guys go to combat and hit an insurgent with two rounds to the torso and expect him to fall over and die on the spot. There are very few assault rifle cartridges that will do that with FMJ. I bet money on it that if you put 10 rounds in the torso of a threat in 1.5 seconds you're going to have a much greater effect. But, our Soldiers aren't taught to shoot like that nor are many capable of accomplishing shooting like that if they wanted to. I know for a fact that a particular JSOC unit has been training with more modern shooting methods likes this and they have reported insurgents going down on the spot after taking hits like that. Skill level and knowledge come into play as well and I would be happy to explain how if anyone wants to know. Lastly, I agree with the author that the M4A1 is a reliable weapon. Once again a lack of training and understanding of the weapon system leads to completely false rumors that the M4A1 is unreliable. Very few soldiers (i would estimate around 1% or less) are "gun guys" and very few really take the time to master their weapon system. Sometimes it surprises me that the military would throw so much time and money at small arms and yet devote very little to actual weapons and shooting training. But, then again it's a large agency we're talking about here and those in charge almost always believe that a hardware fix is preferable over a software fix. The military solves it's problems with guns and and yet modern weapons training is severely lacking. The M4A1 and the MK18 are reliable and effective weapons. The 5.56 is capable of getting the job done so long as you put hits on target. But, until the military prioritizes ACTUAL modern weapons training, I fear we may not get to see these weapons full potential.

juan4759
juan4759

I've heard several law enforcement agencies use the 6.5 grendel and some even the 6.8spc. I'll always stick to the 5.56 and M4.

RamonaRandyWhelchel
RamonaRandyWhelchel

Weapon runs very hot in auto due direct gas system.,        1This is reason enough to replace this this weapon system, already deaths have come from weapons over heating in fire fights. A friend asked me about  this. I said "The M-4 was never designed to carry the whole weight of a battle on its back, but in this new world of no support fires for fear of injury to a COB we find the M-4 is now the work horse”    High modularity Effective in CQB Large assortment of advanced Optics and Lasers       2 These are not arguments for and hold no water, as any new upgraded weapon would have the same rail systems and may even have a selections of sized barrels, No, time to put the M-4 line of weapons in the rack of  the historical    Rw

Old PH2
Old PH2 moderator

I remember the switch to M16A2 took a while to get over the feeling of that "burst trigger."

I can't agree with the many comments I'm sure you'll be getting about the tendency for overheating.  Boils down to fire discipline.  Remember Mitchel Page at Guadalcanal?  If you operate any weapons system on full auto for very long, you're going to get burnt.  

Old PH2
Old PH2

I remember the switch to M16A2 took a while to get over the feeling of that "burst trigger." I can't agree with the many comments I'm sure you'll be getting about the tendency for overheating.  Boils down to fire discipline.  Remember Mitchel Page at Guadalcanal?  If you operate any weapons system on full auto for very long, you're going to get burnt.  

juan4759
juan4759

I've heard several law enforcement agencies use the 6.5 grendel and some even the 6.8spc. I'll always stick to the 5.56 and M4.

juan4759
juan4759

I've heard several law enforcement agencies use the 6.5 grendel and some even the 6.8spc. I'll always stick to the 5.56 and M4.

RamonaRandyWhelchel
RamonaRandyWhelchel

Weapon runs very hot in auto due direct gas system., 

      1This is reason enough to replace this this weapon system, already deaths have come from weapons over heating in fire fights. A friend asked me about  this. I said "The M-4 was never designed to carry the whole weight of a battle on its back, but in this new world of no support fires for fear of injury to a COB we find the M-4 is now the work horse” 

 

High modularity

Effective in CQB

Large assortment of advanced Optics and Lasers  

    2 These are not arguments for and hold no water, as any new upgraded weapon would have the same rail systems and may even have a selections of sized barrels, No, time to put the M-4 line of weapons in the rack of  the historical 

 

Rw

Tango9
Tango9

 @Moe Sizlack I "grew up" in the Air Force on the M16 and variants.  I'm out now and own a bushmaster gas-piston.  I also own an M1A.  If the SHTF, wife gets the M4 clone, I'll be on the M1A and the shotty.

hisbilly
hisbilly

 @Moe Sizlack I'm no Mil or LEO folk, I do agree with you.  Do I understand correctly too that UK uses SA80 5.56x45mm /M193 cartridge. Most civilians into 7.62 variants are sticking with simple AK, PSL, Nagant and similar Russian Comblock platforms. If I was an M4/AR-fan boy I would want to get my  Rifle chambered for the 7.62x54R because the bad guys use it, and theres plenty of FMJ and, incednary rounds out there just to take care of business defending myself or my family

Tango9
Tango9 moderator

 @Moe Sizlack I "grew up" in the Air Force on the M16 and variants.  I'm out now and own a bushmaster gas-piston.  I also own an M1A.  If the SHTF, wife gets the M4 clone, I'll be on the M1A and the shotty.

Tango9
Tango9

 @Moe Sizlack I "grew up" in the Air Force on the M16 and variants.  I'm out now and own a bushmaster gas-piston.  I also own an M1A.  If the SHTF, wife gets the M4 clone, I'll be on the M1A and the shotty.

hisbilly
hisbilly

 @Moe Sizlack I'm no Mil or LEO folk, I do agree with you.  Do I understand correctly too that UK uses SA80 5.56x45mm /M193 cartridge. Most civilians into 7.62 variants are sticking with simple AK, PSL, Nagant and similar Russian Comblock platforms. If I was an M4/AR-fan boy I would want to get my  Rifle chambered for the 7.62x54R because the bad guys use it, and theres plenty of FMJ and, incednary rounds out there just to take care of business defending myself or my family

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

@EliasFreire - Good info. I would like to add for those that may not know me from kitup, I have consulted as a civilian for the NSWC-Crane for the last 3 years. I work closely with the weapons projects and I can say that your info is pretty much spot on. I will add that the MK18 and the MK12 weapon systems originated as components of the ECP (Enhanced Carbine Project). The ECP has since been put to rest and both the MK18 and the MK12 are issued as complete weapons now. However, there are still various SOF personnel that get issued an M4A1 with a separate MK18 CQBR upper receiver because of preference or capability. When the M4A1 is outfitted with the MK18 upper receiver it becomes the M4 CQBR.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic moderator

@EliasFreire - Good info. I would like to add for those that may not know me from kitup, I have consulted as a civilian for the NSWC-Crane for the last 3 years. I work closely with the weapons projects and I can say that your info is pretty much spot on. I will add that the MK18 and the MK12 weapon systems originated as components of the ECP (Enhanced Carbine Project). The ECP has since been put to rest and both the MK18 and the MK12 are issued as complete weapons now. However, there are still various SOF personnel that get issued an M4A1 with a separate MK18 CQBR upper receiver because of preference or capability. When the M4A1 is outfitted with the MK18 upper receiver it becomes the M4 CQBR.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

@EliasFreire - Good info. I would like to add for those that may not know me from kitup, I have consulted as a civilian for the NSWC-Crane for the last 3 years. I work closely with the weapons projects and I can say that your info is pretty much spot on. I will add that the MK18 and the MK12 weapon systems originated as components of the ECP (Enhanced Carbine Project). The ECP has since been put to rest and both the MK18 and the MK12 are issued as complete weapons now. However, there are still various SOF personnel that get issued an M4A1 with a separate MK18 CQBR upper receiver because of preference or capability. When the M4A1 is outfitted with the MK18 upper receiver it becomes the M4 CQBR.

bravoone
bravoone

Thank you for the input. I didn't care to go that deep into detail over the CQBR or Mk 18 as it would get lengthy. It's essentially the same system, whether you order as a complete weapon or just the uppers to put on standard M4A1 lowers it accomplishes the same task. We ordered the CQBR upper for theater operations and switched them on in place of the 14.5" upper going out the door. On the subject of lowers, they get re-used a lot having a much longer life than the uppers so it's not uncommon to find odd old lowers out there. BTW the new SOPMOD RIS II is nice!

BravoOne
BravoOne

 @FormerSFMedic Good call's on the new ammo, I haven't heard much rumbling about it yet from anyone using it downrange.  I found it interesting that it was being touted as non-yaw and fragment dependent.  I need to get my paws on it and see what it can do with my own eyes.    I blame Call of Duty for the thinking so many have that 2 hits will drop an adversary really.  If I keep plugging good torso hits it will feel like forever before baddie is down as I said, and I know many that can pump out 5 hits before they're down.  We need more training emphasis towards CNS hits.  Our unit thankfully does, and like you mention, we're also using more modern techniques in handling and shooting.   We will see if anyone listens up about caliber changes like I left off with.  I know I constantly hear rumblings of new carbine competitions...Time will tell.

ConnorT
ConnorT

 @FormerSFMedic LWRC also reported that after firing 5k rounds of M855A1 through two rifles, each was more than halfway through its barrel life.

BravoOne
BravoOne

 @FormerSFMedic Good call's on the new ammo, I haven't heard much rumbling about it yet from anyone using it downrange.  I found it interesting that it was being touted as non-yaw and fragment dependent.  I need to get my paws on it and see what it can do with my own eyes. 

 

I blame Call of Duty for the thinking so many have that 2 hits will drop an adversary really.  If I keep plugging good torso hits it will feel like forever before baddie is down as I said, and I know many that can pump out 5 hits before they're down.  We need more training emphasis towards CNS hits.  Our unit thankfully does, and like you mention, we're also using more modern techniques in handling and shooting.

 

We will see if anyone listens up about caliber changes like I left off with.  I know I constantly hear rumblings of new carbine competitions...Time will tell.

Connor31
Connor31

 @FormerSFMedic LWRC also reported that after firing 5k rounds of M855A1 through two rifles, each was more than halfway through its barrel life.

BravoOne
BravoOne

 @FormerSFMedic Good call's on the new ammo, I haven't heard much rumbling about it yet from anyone using it downrange.  I found it interesting that it was being touted as non-yaw and fragment dependent.  I need to get my paws on it and see what it can do with my own eyes.    I blame Call of Duty for the thinking so many have that 2 hits will drop an adversary really.  If I keep plugging good torso hits it will feel like forever before baddie is down as I said, and I know many that can pump out 5 hits before they're down.  We need more training emphasis towards CNS hits.  Our unit thankfully does, and like you mention, we're also using more modern techniques in handling and shooting.   We will see if anyone listens up about caliber changes like I left off with.  I know I constantly hear rumblings of new carbine competitions...Time will tell.

ConnorT
ConnorT

 @FormerSFMedic LWRC also reported that after firing 5k rounds of M855A1 through two rifles, each was more than halfway through its barrel life.

bravoone
bravoone

Hmm...I haven't played with M855A1 personally yet, so I'm having to go by literature there. I haven't heard anyone using it speak ill however. I thought it odd the Army touting it as non-yaw dependent against soft targets, I want to see more of the testing and do some of my own. I'm with you about misunderstandings of the M855 and stopping power. I blame Call of Duty and the training saying to hit twice and access. I know a lot of units don't train for placing headshots, and I know it feels like eternity trying to put a guy down with chest shots if CNS hits aren't happening. I'm glad my own units have embraced more modern training in handling and shooting skill-sets. Like I left the article off with, who knows if the brass will get the hint to research calibers again before looking at doing any more carbine competitions for the same round we already have. I feel 5.56mm is fine still, but there are some nice calibers aside. I know 5.56 works, but is something else potentially better all around?

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

@RamonaRandyWhelchel - Unfortunately "the next best thing" hasn't come along yet. Marginal advancements aren't worth the money to the military. Those same marginal advancements may be beneficial to me and you or even the soldier in the field, but the military just doesn't want to spend money on "a little bit better".

bravoone
bravoone

True, and while an uncommon condition, it's something to be aware of. How often is someone going to dump a full 200 rounds straight auto other than screwing around? We were intentionally trying to see how much it would take. Having a suppressor attached actually increases the cyclic rate too. To credit the system, she was HOT, and the suppressor was too, but it suffered no round strikes, and the barrel still gauged out. It was already at nearly 5,000 rounds by that point.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic moderator

@RamonaRandyWhelchel - Unfortunately "the next best thing" hasn't come along yet. Marginal advancements aren't worth the money to the military. Those same marginal advancements may be beneficial to me and you or even the soldier in the field, but the military just doesn't want to spend money on "a little bit better".

hisbilly
hisbilly

@Tango9 @Moe Sizlack  If M4/Ar is your thing cool, not for me  last i remember  those rounds are not cheap. I can get 7.62x39 and 7.62x54R very cheap in TJ, Mexico and, or buy surplus commie ammo from  an vato in los angeles

hisbilly
hisbilly

@Tango9 @Moe Sizlack  If M4/Ar is your thing cool, not for me  last i remember  those rounds are not cheap. I can get 7.62x39 and 7.62x54R very cheap in TJ, Mexico and, or buy surplus commie ammo from  an vato in los angeles

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

@ConnorT - That doesn't surprise me at all. When you drive pressure up to almost proof load level, you're going to see increased barrel and parts wear. Also, the powder formulation is well known as being dirty as hell. Combine that with more heat and you get a decreased service life for the barrel. When you look at this from a logistical standpoint you realize that the M855A1 just isn't worth it. The A1 already costs more money than Green Tip and now we have to change barrels and parts more frequently. That just doesn't make sense to me.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic moderator

@ConnorT - That doesn't surprise me at all. When you drive pressure up to almost proof load level, you're going to see increased barrel and parts wear. Also, the powder formulation is well known as being dirty as hell. Combine that with more heat and you get a decreased service life for the barrel. When you look at this from a logistical standpoint you realize that the M855A1 just isn't worth it. The A1 already costs more money than Green Tip and now we have to change barrels and parts more frequently. That just doesn't make sense to me.

FormerSFMedic
FormerSFMedic

@ConnorT - That doesn't surprise me at all. When you drive pressure up to almost proof load level, you're going to see increased barrel and parts wear. Also, the powder formulation is well known as being dirty as hell. Combine that with more heat and you get a decreased service life for the barrel. When you look at this from a logistical standpoint you realize that the M855A1 just isn't worth it. The A1 already costs more money than Green Tip and now we have to change barrels and parts more frequently. That just doesn't make sense to me.

jrexilius
jrexilius

 @FormerSFMedic  @RamonaRandyWhelchel It is an unfortunate reality that given the budget environment for the next 4-5 years nothing will change in small arms.  Particularly as the threat we are repositioning to face is _large_ conventional force and nation-state conflicts again.   That being said, what I'm hoping is the next big thing is caseless ammunition.  I really hope that keeps getting pushed forward.  Dropping the weight of the case can provide opportunity for a slightly larger/heavier projectile like a 6.x and improve reach and terminal power at distance.  Or keep it small and increase ammo load out.

ConnorT
ConnorT

 @FormerSFMedic  @RamonaRandyWhelchel Which is why the M4 is going to win the individual carbine competition.

jrexilius
jrexilius moderator

 @FormerSFMedic  @RamonaRandyWhelchel It is an unfortunate reality that given the budget environment for the next 4-5 years nothing will change in small arms.  Particularly as the threat we are repositioning to face is _large_ conventional force and nation-state conflicts again.

 

That being said, what I'm hoping is the next big thing is caseless ammunition.  I really hope that keeps getting pushed forward.  Dropping the weight of the case can provide opportunity for a slightly larger/heavier projectile like a 6.x and improve reach and terminal power at distance.  Or keep it small and increase ammo load out.

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