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A couple of points:

The malfunctions in the "Extreme Dust Test" have to be kept in perspective. As the name implies, the test was extreme.

A: Carbines spend half hour in dust chamber.
B: Fire 120 rounds.
C: Repeat A+B four more times.
D: Wipe off dust and add more lube.
E: Repeat A through D.
F: Throughly clean carbine and relubricate.
G: Repeat A through F four more times.

In short, the carbines did not receive even a simple wipe down until they had spent a cumulative 2.5 hours in the dust chamber and fired 600 rounds. They were not fully cleaned until they had spent a cumulative 5 hours in the dust chamber and fired 1,200 rounds. All of the carbines were effectively trashed by the end of the test. For instance, the headspace of all of the carbines increased to "no go" status due to the cumulative wear and tear. As a result, the "winning" XM8 suffered 10 case separations before the test was complete, while the "losing" M4 had only one. All of the carbines were less accurate by the end. While the XM8 suffered the least degradation of accuracy, it was also the least accurate model to begin with. Its accuracy was nearly as bad before the test as the other models were after the test.

As for the Marine Corps Times, the Military Times family are not official publications of the DOD nor any of the individual service branches. While marketed to a military audience, they have always been civilian owned and edited. The current owner Gannett is the same outfit that publishes USA Today.
 

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If they are going with a new weapon, I'd like to see them take a full plunge into it and not just stick their toes in the water. We need a gas piston driven system as well as a caliber change to 6.8mm SPC. Yeah, I know our NATO allies will be pissed about it, because right now there is ammo interchageability among NATO members, but the problem is that not many of the NATO members are fighting our wars right now and our guys lives are being endangered. You can keep all of the Colt and FN lowers and just do an upper change to a gas piston rig in 6.8mm.
 

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Patrick Sweeney said:
OK, so you shoot your carbine until the barrel is "white hot." Explain to me how a piston design/conversion is going to change what inevitably follows.

If you treat an M4 like it was a SAW, you get a predictable result. If you use a SAW the way you could use a water-cooled Browning, you again get a predictable result.

Is there a better rifle/carbine than the M16/M4? Probably. Has anyone proven that this-or-that one is better? Not that I've seen. The plural of anecdote is not data.
I think you have a good point. Maybe the army should have some sort of liquid cooled weapon if they are going to use emplacements. The advantages of air cooled weapons for mobility were key in them replacing water cooled ones, but maybe for emplaced guns it should be reconsidered.

Also this garrison had a lot more problems at hand than overheating guns. Those guns were being pushed to that point because of how desperate the situation was. Proper support for them and consideration of the lay of the land might have cut the chances of such a nasty attack hitting them in the first place.
 

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I was actually in AF when Wanat happened and was part of the aftermath. I can tell you that a lot of things were done very badly. Intel told the unit the attack was imminent, but it was ignored. It's also important to note that Wanat was a Vehicle Patrol Base, not a hardened permanent base like a FOB or Fire Base. Now in the soldier's defense we were always getting reports that 200 insurgents were going to overun us and it usually never happened, or the numbers were severely inflated (we called it Afghan math 200=20). Well intel was right on this one and their security posture wasn't what it should have been, although I'm not entirely sure it would have done them any good. What of course isn't mentioned in the article is the fact that our soldiers held off an enemy force nearly four times their size. Fighting went hand to hand and there were more than a few dead insurgents that were beaten to death with M4s or knifed, not because the M4s malfunctioned, but because they were out of ammo. There were some real heros in that battle. I'd also like to mention that things were made particularly difficult for them due to the enemy setting up DsHK 12.7 mm machine guns in the village and using civilians for cover. America has become so casualty averse that they had to go looking for something, or someone to blame and the M16/M4 has been a target for a while now. Did some weapons malfunction? Probably. I'm sure some Afghan's AK malfunctioned too. Some M14s probably malfunctioned in Vietnam and M1s in WWII and Korea, it happens.

Now after a total of 28 months in AF I can say my M4 never malfunctioned, nor did any of the M4s in my team. Do I think it's the best weapon available, hell no, but mainly because of the caliber and not the weapon. Yes the HK 416 is awesome, but outside of Special Ops the average grunt won't see it. The Army is talking about converting existing rifles over to gas piston systems, but what it really needs is the 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. As for the 90% happy with the M4s among the ranks, well the only option is the M16 so soldiers are ecstatic about the easier to carry and handle M4, they just wish it would kill people better.
 
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