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50 years of complaints about the reliability of the M16

Discussion in 'Military History' started by KodiakBeer, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I'm not getting that at all. If your mag doesn't empty and you must drop it and insert a new mag, you have a stoppage. It may well be magazine related, or it may be something else, but that isn't in the question.

    Perhaps so, but the M4 had over THREE TIMES the overall stoppage rate of the next rifle on the list.

    * XM8. 127 total stoppages. First place.
    * SCAR. 226 stoppages.
    * H&K 416. 233 stoppages.
    * M4. 882 stoppages. Note: the M4's only had 307 stoppages in the first series of tests.

    And again, I'm not suggesting they throw out the M4 or the M16, only that they look at gas system.
     
  2. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I am not sure how you got those numbers from that table but the way I interpet "Figure 6" is as follows:
    M-16
    50% never experienced a failure to empty a magazine
    33% Experienced a stoppage 1%-25% of the time
    8% Experienced a stoppage 25-50% of the time
    4% Experienced a stoppage 50%-75% of the time
    5% Experienced a stoppage 75%-100% of the time
     
  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Add up 33, 8, 4 and 5 = 50% 50% experienced a stoppage, with the rate of stoppages from 1% up to 100% of the time.
     
  4. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Magazine related stoppages could be anything from from operator error to failure to feed.
    The raw numbers do not explain what kind of stoppage occured of how it was remedied or how it impacted soldier performance.

    I think the most telling statistic is the satisfaction table.
     
  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I wouldn't rate an 80% (M4) and 71% (M16) satisfaction level as very high. I'd throw out the M16 survey because many of those weapons are old, but just looking at the 80% level of the M4 gives me pause. I don't know of a single consumer product that would stay in business if only 80% of their users were satisfied.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Except that's not quite what it says either. It says the magazine failed to empty with no stoppage. I take this to mean that you get somewhat less than 20 shots our of a 20 round magazine before you have to change magazines.
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    50% never experienced a failure to empty a magazine
    33% Experienced a stoppage 1%-25% of the time
    8% Experienced a stoppage 25-50% of the time
    4% Experienced a stoppage 50%-75% of the time
    5% Experienced a stoppage 75%-100% of the time

    ?????
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    But look at the recomendations for improvement and you'll see some of the reasons that some weren't satsified.
    #1 (20%) Go to a larger caliber bullet.
    #2 (10%) Improved magazine
    #3 (8%) replace weapon because it's too loud (or issue a silencer) or doesn't have enough range.
    #4 (6%) Ammo packagaing
    #5 (5%) need hollow point or AP ammo
    #6 (5%) Too much maintenance or too suseptable to the elements.
    Looks to me like most of these are not directly related to the rifle Indeed when you look at the M-26
    #1 (13%) Go to a larger bullet
    #2 (13%) shorten barrel (which would shorten the range and potentiall decrease stopping power compare to #3 for the M4 and #1 for the M16
    #3 (10%) replace with a newer M16
    #4 (9%) improve magazine or increase capacity.
    #5 (9%) Make weapon lighter (conflicts with parts of #4 congruent with #2 implies M4)
    #6 (6%) make butt stock shorter/collapsable.

    Note that addressing some of the above would have negative effects on the others and that most or not directly related to the rifle.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Where does it say "Experienced a stoppage"?
    Here's what it says (emphasis mine):
    and
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The answer is just below in the table.

    50% never experienced a failure to empty a magazine ie: never experienced a stoppage. 33% experienced a stoppage between 1 and 25% of the time, etc, etc...

    Don't get hung up on the wording.
     
  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Wow! I thought everyone had heard of Microsoft. Probably all of their products are around that mark. Or worse.

    Not to mention the majority of the American auto industry are right around 78%-82%.
     
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  12. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

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    Finally some sanity! :)
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm looking but not seeing that. Here'st the link I'm usilng:
    http://images.military.com/pix/defensetech/cna_m4_study_d0015259_a2.pdf
    In the document I'm looking at the first thing below figure 6 is the text
    "Weapon repairs"
    That's on page 19 of the document.
     
  14. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    "Failure to empty a magazine without a stoppage" is too arbitrary. The stoppage and resulting failure to empty the magazine could be due to any number of factors. Without knowing the type of malfunction that created the stoppage/ failure it is difficult to assign it to any component.
     
  15. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The text that goes with the table is on page 18.


    It's a follow-up to the table 5 question on stoppages during enemy engagements.
     
  16. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I agree. This study was geared towards general soldier satisfaction with the weapon. I suppose unit armorers do detailed reports on types of malfunctions that require their input.
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Indeed and it specifies without a stoppage. Indeed your quote confirms what I've been saying and not what you stated.
     
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  18. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    I think you're confused. With the M4, 47% of soldiers had a stoppage while running through an entire magazine. With the M16, 50% of soldiers had a stoppage (the M16's are older rifles, more prone to problems). The subsequent breakdown details how often the 50% or 47% had a stoppage while shooting through an entire magazine - from 1% of the time, to 100% of the time.

    I don't know why they are using the criteria of "failure to empty a magazine" but perhaps they just want to weed out people who just fired a few shots. I suppose a lot of people might shoot a single shot every day or so just to check their zero.
     
  19. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    No LWD is correct in his interpretation of the report.

    This is not correct. The stoppage rates for both the M4 and M16 were equal at 19%, not 19% of the time but at least one stoppage during the deployment.
    From the report: "Reports of stoppages with the M4 and M16 were equal at 19 percent." Also, that "older rifle" as you termed it, and used ones at that, scored better in the Army's reliability test than the M4 or the three piston guns.

    It should also be noted, since this discussion is on the relative merits of the gas impingement vs gas piston systems, that the weapon with the most reported percentage, 30%, was the M249 a gas piston weapon.

    That's not what it says. It specifically states "without a stoppage"

    "Figure 6. Percentage of time a magazine failed to empty completely without a stoppage."

    These are magazine failures, weak springs that don't raise the last round or two high enough to be fed. A pinched mag that keeps the follower from raising past a certain point, again preventing a portion of the ammunition from being available to the weapon. There are magazine failures that result in a stoppage, but these are included in the weapons stoppages number. I would speculate that in most of these cases the soldier thought the weapon had run dry changed mags and then realized that there were rounds left in the magazine.

    No, remember there was an ongoing debate about magazine reliability that coincided with the questions about the M4's reliability. This led to the improved STANAG, PMag and other entries to try and address this real problem. It was disclosed in the reliability test data that 1/2 of the M4's stoppages were magazine related. This is important because the STANAG is a NATO standard, even if the XM8, HK 416 or SCAR had been adopted, they would have been required to accept a STANAG magazine, so no matter how reliable the weapon itself was, the magazine failures would have still been there.
     
  20. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Man, with all these facts flying around, somebody should be able to prove something. After digesting all this info, I think we can all agree that eventually there will be stoppages/malfunctions when engaged, and it will always be at the most inopportune time. It's not a question of if, but when. That's when training and discipline comes into play. If all else fails, there's always the bayonet and the butt stroke to save the day. It works in the movies.
     

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