M-14, AK-47 seem better than M4

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The recent disclosures that the standard issue M4 may not be the best military carbine for US troops in Afghanistan has prompted considerable debate both within and outside the military community.  I recently visited the Fox News Site which currently has 58 comments to an article which compared the AK-47 to the M4.

Now I am not a gunsmith and have little intelligent commentary to add to the debate, but I was struck by the knowledge and articulate views of the readers who weighed in on the subject.    I am hesitant to reprint the Fox photograph of the two weapons, since one astute reader (panadox177) pointed out that the M4 (weapon shown below)  is actually a picture of the “semiautomatic civilian AR-15 with a flat top upper and a 16″ barrel, instead of the correct 14.5″ barrel found on a real M4.”  Happy to receive any feedback on this observation:

AK-47 and M4 (below)

With the recent DoD Inspector General report detailing the problems of sourcing spare parts for the M2 Heavy Machine Gun, our troops now seem to woefully under-armed on the Afghan battlefield.  Clearly, the M4’s lack of lethal effectiveness over 300 meters as documented by Maj. Thomas Ehrhart is a most pressing issue, but “fixable” according to most of the experts who commented on the Fox report.

I was, however, amused that one commenter suggested bringing back the M-14 (the weapon I fired in Basic Training) which was eventually phased out in favor of the M-16 (essentially an early version of the now modified M4) for Viet Nam.  I still remember the training officers telling us to “keep your weapon clean and well oiled” since it had a proclivity to jam (sound familiar?).    I seem to recall that the Viet Cong were using the trusty AK-47 which didn’t jam and still seems to work after 60 years of warfare.  We can put a man on the moon, but have difficulty building a serviceable and effective military carbine.  Go figure!

Richard W. May

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