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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  1. Volomon  June 27, 2010

    I have to say that the military generals just don’t want to face facts, there under the impression that like in WW2 and up to Vietnam that the war was carried by soldiers these days it’s not just a soldier to soldier warfare but, recon, air, naval, tanks, and other things that contribute. You can see this approach by the way tanks were designed in WW2 they were meant as artillery to support the soldiers instead of being what we consider tanks today heavy combat vehicles, yet in WW2 they had barely any armor. Why bring this up, this doctrine continues in the older generation that still maintains command over the army. They figure they need the most accurate shot, the longest range, the problem is Vietnam proved this was not the case the amount of ammunition wasted to hit one person was insane. You can not accurately fire in guerrilla warfare and in urban environments. You need POWER, to knock holes in walls and doors and any other cover that may be used. This is in essence what they are talking about when they say the AK47 is trumping the M4. The army’s attempt to counter the AK47 sniper meaning nothing more than a scope added on, is to issue a ERB, with the higher caliber round similar to the AK. I think this more than proves the sound logic of upgrading the weapons our soldiers have, but they do not want to reinvest.

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