USMC Switching from M16 to M4 Carbine
Russ Chastain 07.29.15
The Marine Corps Times has reported that the United States Marine Corp has “made the momentous recommendation to ditch the iconic M16 in favor of the M4 carbine as the new universal weapon for infantrymen.”
At the heart, the M16A4 and M4 are essentially the same. Each operates in the same manner, has the same type of receiver, and fires the same 5.56x45mm cartridge. The M4 has a shorter barrel, a less-bulky forearm/hand guard, and a more-skeletal collapsible buttstock, making it lighter and more compact than the M16A4 currently in use. Also, the M4 has a picatinny rail for mounting optics of sights in lieu of the M16’s carry handle with integrated rear sight.
I am far from an expert on military arms, but this move seems like a no-brainer from here. What infantryman wouldn’t want to tote a shorter, lighter rifle offering the same firepower–plus optics?
The recommendation to swap the venerated rifle that has served as the grunt’s primary implement of war since Vietnam now sits on the commandant’s desk, pending his final review and a decision. But, the swap appears imminent and if approved will relegate the M16 to a support role. It follows a similar shift already underway in the Army.
While the decision to swap isn’t clinched, the movement has some momentum.
With the endorsement of several major commands already supporting the switch — including Marine Corps Combat Development Command; Combat Development and Integration; Plans, Policies and Operations; Marine Corps Systems Command; and Installations and Logistics — final word is possible in weeks or months.
Even for a guy who balks at excessive military spending, it sounds oddly reasonable because they already have the M4s in inventory.
Ultimately, if the move to the M4 is approved by Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford, the M16 would be used exclusively by support personnel in communities like logistics or admin. Once approved, the swap could happen as fast as unit armories can issue weapons because the 17,000 M4s needed to outfit infantrymen who don’t already use one are in the current inventory, said Barb Hamby, a Systems Command spokeswoman. Thus, officials described the move as an ‘improved capability for the infantry at no additional cost.’
I suppose someone somewhere will resist this change–someone always does–but I don’t know why.