Statement for the Record Senate Armed Services Committee: Airland Subcommittee May 18, 2017–MG Robert H. Scales, USA (Ret)

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Airland Subcommittee is concerned with overmatch of US small arms by threat systems. This Statement for the Record to the Senate Armed Services Committee was offered to on May 18, 2017, By Major General (Retired) Robert H. Scales.

Mr. Chairman: Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before your subcommittee. I’ve waited many years for this moment.

Since the end of World War II the richest and most technologically advanced country in the world has sent its Soldiers and Marines into combat with inferior small arms. So inferior, fact, that thousands have died needlessly. They died because the Army’s weapon buying bureaucracy has consistently denied that a Soldier’s individual weapon is important enough to gain their serious attention.

The stories are a century old and as new as today. The venerable “Ma Deuce” 50 caliber machine gun, the one most Soldiers use in mounted combat, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019. Try to imagine any service (other than our ground services) still holding on to a centenarian for a weapon. The M249 Squad Automatic Weapon performed so badly in Iraq and Afghanistan that the last commandant of the Marine Corps wrote a check to get rid of it in infantry squads. He replaced it with the superb HK 416, the finest automatic rifle in the free world. By the way it was a German made HK, not an American weapon, that killed bin Laden.

After fifteen years of testing and a $175 million investment the Army achieved a breakthrough with acceptance of the XM 25 grenade launcher. This amazing weapon fires a “smart” grenade that uses a laser to determine the range to an enemy hiding behind defilade, then transmits that data to the grenade. The XM 25 reaches out with great precision to 500 meters or more and detonates the grenade directly over the head of an enemy hiding behind a wall or inside a building. No longer will the Taliban be able to huddle under cover until our infantry fires slacken before he runs away. Now he has nowhere to run. The XM 25 is the first truly revolutionary small arms technology the Army has developed in almost half a century. By the way, the Army leadership canceled the XM 25 program last week.

The Army’s Acquisition Community wasn’t able to select something as simple as a pistol. After eight years and millions of dollars the only product they produced was a 400-page written “Request for Proposal” for an off the shelf commercial pistol. It took an enraged Chairman of this Committee and weekly interventions by the Army Chief of Staff to force the acquisition bureaucrats to pick the German made Sig Sauer pistol and get on with buying it for our Soldiers.

The most horrific story has to be the one about the rifle. During my 35 years in the Army, it became clear to me that from Hamburger Hill to the streets of Baghdad that the American penchant for arming troops with lousy rifles has been responsible for a staggering number of unnecessary deaths. In wars fought since World War II, the vast majority of men and women in uniform have not engaged in the intimate act of killing. Their work is much the same as their civilian counterparts’. It is the infantryman’s job to intentionally seek out and kill the enemy, at the risk of violent death. The Army and Marine Corps infantry, joined by a very small band of Special Operations forces, comprises roughly 50,000 soldiers, some 4 percent of uniformed Defense Department employees. During World War II, 70 percent of all soldiers killed at the hands of the enemy were infantry. In the wars since, that proportion has grown to about 80 percent. These are the (mostly) men whose survival depends on their rifles and ammunition.

In combat, an infantryman lives an animal’s life. The primal laws of tooth and fang determine whether he will live or die. Killing is quick. Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq reinforces the lesson that there is no such thing in small?arms combat as a fair fight. Infantrymen advance into the killing zone grimy, tired, confused, hungry, and scared. Their equipment is dirty, dented, or worn. They die on patrol from ambushes, from sniper attacks, from booby traps and improvised explosive devices. They may have only a split second to lift, aim, and pull the trigger before the enemy fires. Survival depends on the ability to deliver more killing power at longer ranges and with greater precision than the enemy.

Any lost edge, however small, means death. A jammed weapon, an enemy too swift and elusive to be engaged with aimed fire, an enemy out of range yet capable of delivering a larger volume of return fire—any of these cancel out all the wonderfully superior and expensive American air- and sea-based weapons that may be fired in support of ground troops. There’s also a moral dimension as well. An infantryman who perceives that his weapon is inferior loses confidence in the close fight and might well hold back fearing that his opponent can kill him at greater range and with more precision. A soldier in basic training is told that his rifle is his best friend and his ticket home. If the lives of so many depend on a rifle why can’t the richest country in the world give it to them?

The answer is both complex and simple. The M4, the standard carbine in use by the infantry today, is a lighter version of the M16 rifle that killed so many of the soldiers who carried it in Vietnam. (The M16 is still also in wide use today.) In the early morning of July 13, 2008, nine infantrymen died fighting off a Taliban attack at a combat outpost near the village of Wanat in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province. Some of the soldiers present later reported that in the midst of battle their rifles overheated and jammed. The Wanat story is reminiscent of experiences in Vietnam: in fact, other than a few cosmetic changes, the rifles from both wars are virtually the same. And the M4’s shorter barrel makes it less effective at long ranges than the older M16, an especially serious disadvantage in modern combat, which is increasingly taking place over long ranges.

The M16 started out as a stroke of genius by one of the world’s most famous firearms designers. In the 1950s, an engineer named Eugene Stoner used space age materials to improve the Army’s then standard infantry rifle, the M14. The 5.56mm cartridge Stoner chose for his rifle was a modification not of the M14’s cartridge but of a commercial Remington rifle cartridge that had been designed to kill small varmints. His invention, the AR15, was light, handy, and capable of controlled automatic fire. It outclassed the heavier, harder recoiling M14. Yet the Army was again reluctant to change. As James Fallows observed in 1981, it took the “strong support” of President Kennedy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to make the Army consider breaking its love affair with the large caliber M14. In 1963, it slowly began adopting Stoner’s invention.

The “militarized” adaptation of the AR15 was the M16. Militarization—more than 100 proposed alterations to supposedly make the rifle combat ready—ruined the first batch to arrive at the front lines, and the cost in dead soldiers was horrific. A propellant ordered by the Army left a powder residue that clogged the rifle. Finely machined parts made the M16 a “maintenance queen” that required constant cleaning in the moisture, dust, and mud of Vietnam. In time, the Army improved the weapon—but not before many U.S. troops died.

Not all the problems with the M16 can be blamed on the Army. Buried in the M16’s, and now the M4’s, operating system is a flaw that no amount of militarizing and tinkering has ever erased. Stoner’s gun cycles cartridges from the magazine into the chamber using gas pressure vented off as the bullet passes through the barrel. Gases traveling down a very narrow aluminum tube produce an intense “puff” that throws the bolt assembly to the rear, making the bolt assembly a freely moving object in the body of the rifle. Any dust or dirt or residue from the cartridge might cause the bolt assembly, and thus the rifle, to jam.

In contrast, the Soviet AK-47 (and most other western designed assault rifles) cycle rounds using a solid operating rod attached to the bolt assembly. The gas action of the AK-47 throws the rod and the bolt assembly back as one unit, and the solid attachment means that mud or dust will not prevent the gun from functioning. Fearing the deadly consequences of a “failure to feed” in a fight, some top?tier Special Operations units like Delta Force and SEAL Team Six use a more modern and effective rifle with a more reliable operating rod mechanism. But front line Army and Marine riflemen still fire weapons much more likely to jam than the AK-47. Failure to feed affects every aspect of a fight. A Russian infantryman can fire about 140 rounds a minute without stopping. The M4 fires at roughly half that rate. Today it still jams after overheating and in dusty field conditions, just like in close combat. In the open terrain of Afghanistan, the M4 is badly out ranged by Taliban weapons manufactured before the First World War.

Sadly, until very recently the Army has done all it could to cover up the poor performance of the M 4. After my article “Gun Trouble” appeared in January’s Atlantic Magazine Army Public Affairs responded that the weapon was fine, as good as it could be. Then Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times revealed a few months later that the M-4 was undergoing over 140 improvements. So, Rowan asked: “why, if the gun was so perfect in January, was it necessary to rebuild it a few months later?” Remember we aren’t talking about stealth, encryption or lines of code here. There are no interoperability and integration issues. Nothing is hidden deeply in Area 51. It’s a seven-pound piece of plastic and steel.

What should a next generation, all purpose infantry rifle look like? It should be modular. Multiple weapons can now be assembled from a single chassis. A squad member can customize his weapon by attaching different barrels, buttstocks, forearms, feed systems, and accessories to make, say, a light machine gun, a carbine, a rifle, or an infantry automatic rifle.

The military must change the caliber and cartridge of the guns it gives infantry soldiers. Stoner’s little 5.56mm cartridge was ideal for softening the recoil of World War II infantry calibers in order to allow fully automatic fire. But today’s cartridge is simply too small for modern combat. Its lack of mass limits its range to less than 400 meters. The civilian version of the 5.56?mm bullet was designed as a “varmint killer” and six states prohibit its use for deer hunting because it is not lethal enough to ensure a quick kill. The optimum caliber for tomorrow’s rifle is between 6.5 and 7 millimeters. The cartridge could be made almost as light as the older brass cased 5.56mm by using a plastic shell casing, which is now in final development by the Marine Corps.

The Army can achieve an infantry version of stealth by attaching newly developed sound suppressors to every rifle. Instead of merely muffling the sound of firing by trapping gases, this new technology redirects the firing gases forward, capturing most of the blast and flash well inside the muzzle. Of course, an enemy under fire would hear the muted sounds of an engagement. But much as with other stealth technology, the enemy soldier would be at a decisive disadvantage in trying to determine the exact location of the weapons firing at him.

Computer miniaturization now allows precision to be squeezed into a rifle sight. All an infantryman using a rifle equipped with a new model sight need do is place a red dot on his target and push a button at the front of his trigger guard; a computer on his rifle will take into account data like range and “lead angle” to compensate for the movement of his target, and then automatically fire when the hit is guaranteed. This rifle sight can “see” the enemy soldier day or night at ranges well beyond 600 meters. An enemy caught in that sight will die long before he could know he was seen, much less before he could effectively return fire.

But infantrymen today do not use rifles equipped with these new sights. Hunters do. In fact, new rifles and ammunition are readily available. They are made by many manufacturers—civilian gun makers and foreign military suppliers that equip the most?elite Special Operations units. Unlike conventional infantry units, top tier Special Operations units are virtually unrestricted by cumbersome acquisition protocols, and have had ample funding and a free hand to solicit new gun designs from private industry.

These units test new guns in combat, often with dramatic results: greater precision, greater reliability, greater killing power.

The Army has argued that, in an era of declining resources, a new rifle will cost more than $2 billion. But let’s say the Army and Marine Corps buy new rifles only for those who will use them most, namely the infantry. The cost, for about 100,000 infantrymen at $1,000 each, is then reduced to roughly $100 million, less than that of a single F?35 fighter jet. The Army and the Marine Corps can keep the current stocks of M4s and M16s in reserve for use by non?infantry personnel in the unlikely event that they find themselves in combat.

What to Do…

There is some good news in this doleful saga. Since 911 the M4 has been marginally effective against poorly equipped and armed insurgents like al Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban. But reports about the fighting effectiveness of Putin’s well equipped little green men is disturbing. The Russians have spent their defense rubles wisely investing in a new family of assault rifles and the new Ratnick soldier systems that include a new soldier suite for protection, small arms and communications. Putin’s philosophy is to spend money only on units he needs to advance his national security aims: Spetnaz, GRU, naval infantry, airborne infantry and special armored units.

The Army now realizes that the varmint gun can’t defeat Russian body armor and is easily outranged by the latest Russian small arms. Senior leaders are now calling for the adoption of a “middle caliber” bullet and a new rifle to shoot it. It’s about time. The problem is that the Army’s turgid acquisition gurus want seven years to develop the new rifle.

Mr. Chairman, seven years is too long. With your help, we can develop and field the rifle our Soldiers and Marines deserve in about a year. Here is what we should do:

For the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, we request that you authorize 100 Million dollars to support an open competition to development a new family of dominant small arms. This single authorization should expire in a year. The effort should be run and overseen by ground combat arms officers and Non-Commissioned Officers. The Executive for managing this effort should be a consortium of the Ground Service Chiefs and the Commander, Special Operations Command. No acquisition agencies from any service should be involved in executive decision making or the management of the competition.

Competition will be open to anyone, small business, big business, foreign, domestic or even clever individuals. After one year the consortium leadership will conduct the shoot- off. The shoot off will be open to all services, the media and congress and anyone from the public who is interested. Results will be scored and posted daily on a web site.

The new rifle requirements document will be one page. It will speculate only six characteristics:

· First the rifle must be modular capable of being converted in the field to a carbine, rifle, machine gun or sniper rifle.

· Second, it will fire an intermediate caliber bullet probably a military version of the venerable Remington 270.

· Third, the rifle will be suppressed. A muzzle suppressor greatly reduces a rifle’s report and in the confusion of a close fight a quieter rifle gives a decided advantage.

· Fourth, the new rifle will use a solid recoiling action like most first-rate assault rifles.

· Fifth, the rifle should have a snap on digital sight capable of killing reliably to a range in excess of 1,000 meters.

· Sixth, the rifle should be able to fire ammunition in a polymer casing. Polymer rounds weigh 30% less than brass cartridge casings.

A desirable feature would be an attachment to allow the rifle to fire belted ammunition.

The winner would be awarded about 100 million dollars to manufacture the first 100,000 rifles, enough to equip all close combat small units in the Army and Marine Corps as well as those who fight close to the infantry to include Sappers, Fire Support Teams, and intelligence specialists. The rest of the Army and Marine Corps will do just fine with the M-4…for now.

I am not alone in calling for a significant reform of our small arms systems. Many very senior combat veterans share my passion. One in particular comes to mind. This from an often-quoted note to a friend written in 2009:

Yesterday I was at Walter Reed and among others spoke at some length with a fine young Marine infantry officer, Lt David Borden, who lost a leg in Ramadi to a suicide bomber. He lost a leg along with other serious wounds, blast killed one of his lads, wounded others. Most notably, he emptied a magazine into the man charging them, at close range, even as his fellow Marines riddled him as well at close range. Certainly, the guy was on drugs, but the bottom line was that our assault rifle did not have the stopping power to put the enemy down on first, second, third…fifteenth etc. rounds to the body…

Once the problem is well defined (we are using a rifle whose caliber is illegal for shooting small deer in nearly all states due to its lack of killing power), we will move swiftly to the solution. While I believe, the solution is 6.8mm, I’m open to whatever will work. Physics says that the best advances in bullet technology will not give us the increased stopping power/energy of the 5.56, since any improved 5.56 ammunition could only be more effective if adopted at 6.8mm or other heavier round.

The sender of the message was General James Mattis.

My grandson is ten and I’m very proud of him. He tells me he wants to be a Soldier someday. If we leave the Army’s Acquisition bureaucracy in charge of developing our next generation of small arms I’m fearful that he will be walking point some day with the same weapon that failed my Soldiers so tragically fifty years ago in Vietnam.
Please don’t allow that to happen.
[COURTESY: LTC Lewis Higinbotham, USA (Ret) and passed to me by James D]

95 Responses to “Statement for the Record Senate Armed Services Committee: Airland Subcommittee May 18, 2017–MG Robert H. Scales, USA (Ret)”

  1. El Guapo says:

    The author, despite his good intentions, is completely full of shit.

    The M4 performs extremely well in combat- it’s accurate, reliable, and easy to use. There’s a reason why most of the free worlds SOF forces use a version of it. The reason why some failed in the Battle of Wanat wasn’t because it’s a bad carbine, it’s because they used it as a field expedient SAW. Throw 15-16 mags full auto through an M4 with minimal lube and you’ll have issues. This isn’t anything even remotely similar to the debacle of the M-16 in Vietnam.

    The issue isn’t the hardware, it’s the software. We need better training. On proper lubrication, inspecting magazines, and marksmanship. The 300m qual is the furthest we shoot, when with the right training (and even more so with the right optics) it can be pushed to 500-600m. This is where we could do the most practical improvement. But it’s not sexy, so the Army has not only lost interest in adding more training, they’ve discontinued some of the better shooting schools.

    Could we improve the M4A1? Sure, add a longer FF rail, mid length barrel, and maybe a better trigger, but until we focus on practical marksmanship it’s a waste.

    • SSD says:

      You have to remember, he wrote this,

      I don’t agree with a lot of what this guy says but he is saying we need a new gun and a new caliber and Congress is going to hear those two things. Embrace the positive.

      • El Guapo says:

        Oh, I remember that article- it’s probably the most inaccurate article on small arms I’ve ever read. I actually laughed out loud and had to make sure it wasn’t from the DuffleBlog. It’s like he did his research from scrolling through 10 year old ARFCOM posts…

      • Joshua says:

        Scales needs to stick with artillery

      • CAP says:

        Yes we need new rifles and a few new calibers, but the M4 and 5.56 are not what needs replacing. Scales seems to be advocating making every rifleman a sniper. What we need are more squad level designated marksmen and an LMG that weighs as much or less than a PKM. Lets get a CSASS and SAW both chambered in whatever 6.5 round SOCOM chooses and work on a rugged 1-6x optic for everyone.

        Look at SOCOM, they’re happy M855A1 and just want to upgrade the M4 with a better gas system and handguard.

        • Kinetix says:

          The part where he mentions a “clip on device” to make these new “rifles” fire belted ammunition seems to imply, at least to me, that he thinks that a singular weapon can fulfill all of these roles – rifle, SAW, and DMR and/or sniper rifle which is absurd of the highest order.

          However, the idea of using polymer cased ammunition (pending the SOCOM/USMC RFI for a .338NM LWMMG using polymer cace ammunition and a serious evaluation of its efficacy, durability, and reliability) could go towards your up-gunned SAW idea. A SAW using some sort of 6.5 or intermediate cartridge made of polymer ammunition would give substantial increases in range and lethality but lessen the weight increase.

    • Dev says:

      Is training based on shooting out (accurately, I must add) to 300m a real big issue honestly? Especially when considering the “fists” of an infantry unit up to battalion level is on the support weapons it’s supposed to employ anyway?

      Don’t get me wrong, a lot of training procedures can definitely be improved on especially when shooting out to 300m under stress and pressure. However as far as I understand it as long as there are support weapons employed effectively to close the distance, is the 300m “limit” really such a big deal?

      • El Guapo says:

        Only once did we ever get fires support overseas, and it took about 20 min to get that clearance. Yet almost every time we were engaged it was from beyond 450-500m, probably because they seemed to be afraid of our M203’s. Also it’s not like we’re going to be calling for fire support / air strikes on anything past 300m.

        And danger close for 155’s is what, 500m? So yes, 300m might be good enough for soft skills but not for trigger pullers.

        • Airborn_fister says:

          Shoot I got it every time in a few seconds. Even in city limits. Either you had a crappy senior officer or your FO’s were in an area where they had to use HiMARs. Not very accurate and if that’s all I could get I would ask for air support. 99/100 times I got it no questions asked except for the ones the pilot needed.

    • Will Rodriguez says:

      New comments seems to be turned off.

      I’m pleasantly surprised by the majority of comments here. Love Scales analysis and retelling of campaigns and history but that expertise all but vanishes when discussing a specific implement of war, the rifle. Scales really should stick to doing big picture analysis than trying to cash in on his rep weighing into the Infantryman’s rifle. He hurt his credibility.

      Scales seems to have done a casual internet search and taken popular beliefs from a variety of blogs that almost all fail when scrutinized at any level of detail. Wanat, do it all rifles, why the M16 did so poorly when first fielded and more have been addressed appropriately in comments above and below.

      The only two not corrected is the silliness of having a dedicated fixed barrel squad machine-gun and the SAW didn’t fail in its role. The BAR, full auto M14 and M16 employed in the AR role for the rifle squad all failed for the same reasons. Fixed barrels and magazines don’t provide sustained automatic fire. Secondly the Marines didn’t invest in spare parts and maintenance of the SAW like the Army did. Of course there were going to be reliability issues.

      About the only thing Scales got right is acquisition is screwed up. But it’s easy to jump on that train and believe SOCOM has it right when there’s problems there also. SOCOM has much deeper pockets when it comes to equipping the individual, has fewer individuals to equip and doesn’t get the bloody nose conventional forces get when they waste money e.g. Mk23, 5.56 SCAR. Apply the same approach and you’ll get some great solutions but you’ll also get the waste on much larger scales. (no pun intended)

      • SSD says:

        How can new comments be turned off if you commented?

        • Joshua says:

          I think he means he has to reply to someone else first.

          Seems to happen most on mobile devices. There’s no comment box at the tbottom so you have to reply to someone you don’t want to.

      • AlexC says:

        Let’s not forget about the whole EOTECH sight alignment issue. I read back on SSD and did some internet searching. I still don’t know if USSOCOM did any testing of EOTECH’s when they originally bought them.

    • cameron says:

      love how many people are so in love with the m4 they refuse to see logic. great gun but certainly obsolete in comparison to newer tech.

      1). ‘more training is needed’, so you want to spend more capital on training people to get around the product instead of having the product fixed. poor logic.

      2). ‘a well oiled weapon wont jam’, yes, until you dont have time to oil it correctly again, or the firefight gones on longer than your first application of oil will provide.

      all in all, these are not good reasons to avoid upgrading/replacing the weapon. be smarter and less prone to mindless love of the weapon system you know. I love the m4, i have a beautiful DD long rifle, but i know its shortcomings in comparison to an HK416…because im a RATIONAL individual

  2. Joshua says:

    Oh yeah,also $100 million for 100,000 rifles…hahahahahahaha.

    Also one can barely see a human target standing still in a huge open field at 300M.

    How the hell are you expecting us to see, pid, engage, and kill snap targets at 1,000M?

    • Joshua says:

      I mean we’re talking .338 LM sniper rifles here, not a general issue Carbine.

    • Joshua says:

      Last thing. You want to get soldiers killed? You want to make us entirely underequipped against any near peer nations?

      Get a rifle that does what Scales wants. His ideas will get more soldiers killed than any small arms in the history of war.

      May as well issue everyone a flintlock rifle and pistol, they’ll be about as useful against a near peer nations.

    • SSD says:

      1×6 optic

    • Joshua says:

      I said I was done but Im not. This just pisses me off.

      The fact that he suggests SOCOM should attend and help select the rifle, Jesus Christ scales.

      USASOC themselves have said they love the M855A1 and plan to stick with a DI rifle in either Carbine or mid length(Depending on CRANE results). Listen to them Scales and take your head out of your ass!

      Sorry SSD. This got my blood pressure up to just imagine what this would do.

      • SSD says:

        Relax. The locomotive is on the tracks. It is in motion. It’s okay if the US gets a 6.5 cartridge. The plan is to get there eventually. It just may happen earlier.

        • Joshua says:

          6.5 is cool. A 1000+M capable gun/optic is not.

          A carbine light and small enough to serve as a general issue rifle will never be 1000+M capable.

    • Max says:

      Barely see an enemy at 300m on an open field? You must be blind

    • Max says:

      You are definitely blind if you can’t see a target at 300m in an open field. You talk shit

      • Joshua says:

        Bit of an exaggeration. Still a 6′ tall man at 300M will be around 24″. Or 2′.

        That’s rather small, now if you take into account cover, movement, etc that 24″ becomes even smaller.

        If you move that out to 500M a 6′ tall man is now 1.2′ tall.
        If you move even farther to 1,000M a 6′ tall man is now around 7″ tall.

        Those are of course standing in a wide open field with no cover or movement.

        Hitting someone using movement and cover at 300M is very hard, at 500M it’s insanely hard, at 1000M it’s practically impossible to 99% of people.

      • Steve says:

        Back in 69 I qualified on the M-1 on a range that had 300 and 500 yard targets. With iron sights. So it is possible for the average joe to both observe and engage targets at that range, especially with the 30.06 round.

  3. CWG says:

    Sure, buy new rifles to make the 10% of the Army that carries 100% of the weight downrange feel better about watching their P3 chit bros hang out in the rear with their families.

    The Army could be investing in people, but that won’t pad any retired GO pensions.

    • Kirk says:

      Yep… 90% of our problems could be solved by firing most of the civilian-sourced JAG officers writing the ROEs we’re constraining ourselves under, better training, and some judiciously selected pieces of better accessory equipment (TRIPODS!!!), as well as some improvement to our doctrine at the lower levels.

      Some better line-of-sight airburst stuff wouldn’t hurt, either–I’d love to see the XM25 ranging/sight/fusing systems applied to the Carl Gustav, as well as a better support platform for it. I’m sorry, but much past 300m, you need something you can dial in with precision, and that’s not off some grunt’s shoulder. Hell, even something like an attachment system for one of the Bogen photographers tripods would help steady the damn thing for really long-range shots, but there’s nothing in the system for that.

      One of the big issues I just don’t see the geniuses in our small arms procurement programs addressing is the fact that you only have so much accuracy you can wring out of a human being used as a weapons support. That’s what drove me nuts about the XM25–The system might have made sense on full-auto from a tripod, where you could fling a bunch of those itty-bitty grenades over a target or through an opening, but a semi-auto fired off the shoulder… WTF were they thinking? You’re gonna predicate your weapon design on the “Golden BB” approach? How the hell do you think PFC Joe Grunt is gonna be able to steady that thing enough to pop a single 25mm round through a sanger slit or even a damn window/door at 500m?

      The XM25 never made a lick of sense from that standpoint alone. What they were selling wasn’t attainable without some serious changes, like full-auto and a tripod-based weapon–Hell, if they’d have done what the Chinese have done with some of their 30mm and 40mm grenade launchers, and made them kinda-sorta inside the LMG envelope, fired off a bipod with a substantial full-auto magazine? Well, then the idea might have made some sense. Off the shoulder? LOL… Someone was smoking some good dope when they approved that idea. And, we see the results before us in the effective cancellation of the system.

  4. Kinetix says:

    So does fiscal responsibility never come into play here? The H&K 416 is a marginally better rifle but incredibly expensive, and that’s if you believe the hype (and are a piston fan) and the XM-25 was and is an incredible waste of money that failed dramatically. But somehow those are the future of small arms developments? Does he work for H&K or something? Further, a 100M competition for new rifles AFTER the Induvidual Carbine competition waster millions and found that there are weapons that are likewise marginally better than the M4 (from a reliability standpoint) at best?

    • SSD says:

      Still waiting for phased plasma rifle in the 40w wangle?

      • Joshua says:

        So what do you suggest?

        A heavier rifle firing a heavier round, with lower magazine capacity to compete in ranges that the M4A1 + M855A1 is already good out to?

        Can you name a rifle in a larger caliber that doesn’t weigh more and reduce ammunition capacity and carry capacity?

        Because currently the M4A1(as issued by the Army recently) weighs 6lbs 14oz, and a 30 round magazine of M855A1 weighs exactly 1lb.

        M855A1 from the M4A1 is the ideal “Infantry Half Kilometer” setup. Just follow USASOCs lead and get a new handguard and I fixed the issues with no weight gain.

    • Max says:

      The HK416 is not well liked by SOF units. There are so many problems with it along with the HK417.
      It’s time to realise that a bigger caliber ammunition is needed. The 5.56 is a pea shooter

      • SSD says:

        Really? Which ones?

      • redbeard says:

        Perhaps you’re thinking of the SCARs.

      • rustex says:

        >The HK416 is not well liked by SOF units. There are so many problems with it along with the HK417.

        Just in case people are reading this and are deciding if they should believe it, don’t, SOF like the 416. This guy is either trolling or retarded.

  5. Airborn_fister says:

    Hey I will say this. As guy who has called in many rounds. I will say why give it to fisters? The minute I am using my rifle we have bigger fish to fry. My radio is my weapon. Don’t believe me? Ask any fister or jtac JTAC. We love calling in an air strike or artillery. I can count on my both my hands the amount of times I had to use my rifle for any firefight. Other then marking a target for my gunners or a gun run!

  6. CAP says:

    Scales statement is bad.

    And he should feel bad.

  7. Donny says:

    I dont know how I feel about a modulating a weapon system as far as this guy stated, barrel changes for caliber sure.. But Assault rifle to sniper… The Army already settles to low on MOA limits within a rifle, No thanks. Over all the Platform is outstanding.. It just needs a round with some more thump, longer rails, quality trigger and furniture.

    Complete overhaul of the platform is just unnecessary… I think You could spend an hour at Rainier arms and build the future Combat Rifle. The techs out there we just keep letting wieners that cant shoot past 400 meters pick our kit.

    A wiener shooting his noveske in 556 out to 800m.

  8. Uncle Dan says:

    I was thinking Hellje Yayus till he said Remington .270…JFC!

    6.5 123 Scenar at 3K will send many lost souls to their Paradise in efficient manner.

    Buy the ticket, take the ride.

  9. Billy Herrington says:

    This reads like a stream of vomit embellished with history channel myths.

  10. Nicklas says:

    The HK416 is an excellent weapon, but not better than a well-made modern M4.The M249 was only supplemented, not replaced.
    The HK416 is mainly an american weapon, using an AR18 gas system on an AR15 body.
    XM25 is bulky, heavy, and renders one soldier out of every squad useless to respond to quick pop up threats.
    Wars fought since WW2 have mainly been insurgencies, where small arms kill more soldiers because insurgencies are usually not as well funded as regular armies. The only exception is Korea, where US troops had only WW2 era rifles comapred to their Chinese and NK counterparts.
    The M4’s that jammed during Wanat were fired way over any reasonable limit, any other rifle would have also jammed in that situation.
    Modern combat shows an increasing trend towards urban combat, where a shorter barrel is a great help to soldiers.
    The M16 was not a maintenance queen, but rather only needed lubricant and a light wiping off. Big Army didn’t issue lube or cleaning kits or chrome line the chamber, barrel, and BCG, so unlubed and uncleaned rifles jammed. The design never was the problem, only US Ordinance.
    What you are describing is inherent to literally any automatic weapon system. What you meant to say was that the puff of expanding gasses fouled up the chamber by being pushed into the reciever. This is untrue, as Stonger Gas System vents almost all excess gas out ports in the side of the BCG. Look at high speed video and it’s apparent the most fouling that gets into the reciever is by chamber blowback, something that happens with every automatic firearm.
    The “bolt assembly” (BCG) is not freely moving, but rather rides on 4 rails.
    The M16 also has solid attachment, as the BCG acts as the op rod. Mud and dust will stop any AK from functioning if it gets into the reciever, like any other firearm. DEVGRU and Delta use the HK416 because it was designed for them, and it uses more modern steels and plastics than curreent issue big army M4’s, not because it is bettter than the M4A1 Block II. The HK416 was adopted much earlier than the Block II, so at the time it was the best option. Delta and DEVGRU hange onto it because it’s about as good as the M4 and they already have tons of spare parts and rails for it. The M4 is lighter and just as good in every other way.
    The M4 can fire much more than 140 rounds per minute without stopping, even on full auto. The AK can and will jam in dusty conditions. Comparing the Lee Enfield riflew to a modern rifle is misleading at best. While technically true, the Lee Enfield is a bolt action rifle with a 10 round magazine. It’s much more like the M40A1 sniper rifle in use, and US forces have M240’s and DMR rifles to fight off insurgents with High-caliber weapons. The AK467 absolutely does not outrange tyhe M4. 7.62x39mm drops very fast pat 300 yards, while 5.56 flies fast and straight for up to 600 yards (with the right ammo).
    MK262, the current issue SOCOM loading of 5.56 can kill at up to 800 yards easily. States prohibiting the USE of 5.56 as a hunting caliber does not mean the caliber can’t kill deer. It can and will kill large game (including grizzly bears) at up to 200 yards.
    While plastic shell casing isa a great idea, it would be best to stick with 5.56 in a polymer casing as 6.5 and 7mm rounds would hurt the favorable ballistics and killing capacity of 5.56 in modern chambering like M855A1 and MK262.
    Adopting expreimental technology for infantrymen is very dangerous, as it might not be durable enough for modern combat.
    The only experimental guns used by US forces are the HK416, the SCARl, and the SCAR17. Of those, the HK416 is only used because it uses modern materials comapred to the military’s M4A1, and it allows Delta and DEVGRU to modfiy their weapons without asking SOCOM. The SCAR-L was only used for a couple of years until the M4A1 SOPMOD Block II was produced, which is a better rifle in nearly every way. Not by much, but still better. The SCAR-H is still used, but not in the same role as the M4A1 Block II. Because there is no other modern battle rifle, SOCOM uses it as a DMR rifle.
    The reason people say the M4 doesn’t have much killing power is because of US Ordinance. In the 80’s, USO decided to “upgrade” the M193 loading for 5.56. They developed the M855, a 62 grain bullet compared to the 55gr M193, that also had a steel penetrator in it. That penetrator caused the essential fragmentation, the main killing method of 5.56, to only occur after 7 inches of travel in a soft target. This means that for most small bodied people, M855 would just “ice-pick through their body, doing little damage comppared to the earlier M193. Why make this choice? Because for some reason, USO decided the new round had to penetrate a soviet helmet at 600 yards. I don’t need to tell you the impracticality of that situation. However, with modern loadings such as MK262 and M855A1, 5.56 is more letha at greater distances than ever before.
    New Russian assault rifles are merely AK74’s updated with platic stocks. These rifles fire 5.45x39mm, an extremely similar round to 5.56. The difference being that USSR Ordiannce didn’t destroy the killing capabilities of the cartridge with a terrible loading.
    M855A1 can penetrate up to Level 4 armor, much higher than the current russian standard issue. 5.56 is already a middle caliber. Latest russian small arms have less range than M4’s due to the Russian’s little use of optics and the AK74’S inherent innacuracy.
    Converting one rifle to every battlefield role is a good idea, but nearly impossible to pull off without a lower and upper reciever that only attach at two points and separate very quickly for the changing of uppers. Oh wait, the M4 already has those capabilities and can fulfill every role easily with a quick upper swap.
    Remington 270 is not a cartridge, perhaps you meant Winchester 270? As shown before, 5.56 is the perfect blend of cpacity and lethality so why go up a few millimeters?
    The M4 already has a solid recoiling action, more solid than any external piston as the psiton is inside the reciever and nearly impossible to damage without destroying the rifle completely.
    1000 meter engagments are extremely rare, and we already have snipers for shooting that far.
    The Marine was fucked over by US Ordinance, like thousands of young men before him. Their adoption of the M855 and destruction of the original M16 program is sabotage and treason of the highest order.
    Only 6 states disallow the use 5.56 in the killing of deer, and many thousands of hunters take deer with it every year. If the US Military was a deer hunting organization I woudl recommend them a good Remington 700 in .308, but unfortuneatly freedom needs protecting. With the M4, and 5.56.

    • Max says:

      Hahah M4?!! Honestly?! Get over yourself. The weapon is outdated. Sell it to third countries. A new weapon is needed now!

    • Evi1joe says:

      I agree with most of this, but I do think the 6.5 (Grendel) has much better ballistics than the 5.56. It shoots flatter and farther, even hitting harder than 7.62 past 650m.

  11. mudd says:

    Meh… when you spout a bunch of ill-informed poo in front of a convening body, no matter how well intentioned, whatever good is going to be discounted by the obvious flaws & fallicies. Flush now.

  12. Steve says:

    I must have gotten another brain injury on my last JFEO because most of his recommendations sound good to me. Some of it’s a stretch, some is exaggeration, but the key points I’m taking away are fast, transparent, and open competition (logisticians not invited) for a new rifle in a larger caliber with a suppressor and new optic. What’s wrong with that?
    I love the M4 but with the next round of improvements it’ll be more band-aid than rifle. Not to mention 1/3 of our M4s are deadlined at any given time and most in my battalion (IN ABN) still have Aimpoint comp M2s. I don’t remember seeing this much hate for the caliber overmatch articles over the last few weeks.

    • Joshua says:

      There is no overmatch if you compare apples to apples.

      The whole overmatch fallacy hinges on comparing a general issue 5.56 rifle to that of a belt fed MMG and Sniper rifle firing 7.62x54r.

      Yeah our general issue rifle is overmatched against a MMG and Sniper rifle, then again so is every other near peer nation against our MMG’s and Snipers.

      Apples to Apples, the M4A1 firing M855A1 is a better weapon than the rifle average line unit guys are using in Russia, China, Japan, Nork, etc.

      • Steve says:

        Absolutely, but the question isn’t “how does 5.56 compare to 7.62×39 and 5.45×39?” because it’s more than adequate, the question is can we make our most common cartridge better than anything the opposition has? And yes, they all get the same effect with proper shot placement in the head.
        You can blame almost all weapon shortcomings on training because it will hold true and it’s the cheapest fix. We’ve been working on the training for 30 years, it’s better and there’s still room to improve, but if you can make sloppy body shots count with a harder hitting round and make the average shooter more precise with a better optic why not?

        • CAP says:

          Our most common round is already better than anything the opposition has. M855A1 outclasses every other standard infantry round available in 5.56, 5.45, 7.62×39, or 5.8×42 .

          But expecting a rifleman with a standard infantry rifle to be able to engage targets out to 1000M is rediculous. When the Taliban perches themselves on a hillside and pops a few rounds at us with a DsHK a kilometer away, you dont return fire with a rifle chamberd in an intermediate cartridge and a 1-6 variable scope. You use snipers, heavy machine guns, and CAS. We already overmatch anything our enemies have.

          • Joshua says:

            Even the fire we receive from a DsHK at max engagement ranges is 99% just harrassing fire.

            It’s not like they’re hitting us or causing casualties.

    • Kinetix says:

      The issues here aren’t the broad points, tucked in here are snippets of sensibility: the broad idea of getting better small arms and reforming the acquisition bureaucracy (the same bureaucracy that made his beloved XM-25), looking at new more effective calibers, and new ammunition types – specifically, using polymer cased ammunition. But these ideas are lost inside this insane fantasy of some kind of Individual Carbine Competition 2.0 to find an M14-concept 2.0 rifle.

      Firstly, the incorrect and incoherent history given as testimony is…problematic. But also are the core aspects of his proposal.

      -Direct Impingement is a “flaw that no amount of militarizing and tinkering has ever erased”. This is rhetoric not based on any established fact, but he’s using his status to promote a single product…the H&K 416 (even though SOCOM broadly will stick with DI).
      -“First the rifle must be modular capable of being converted in the field to a carbine, rifle, machine gun or sniper rifle.” – The M14 2.0 nonsense.
      -“Fifth, the rifle should have a snap on digital sight capable of killing reliably to a range in excess of 1,000 meters.” – Others have pointed out that this makes no sense for a standard rifleman.
      -“A desirable feature would be an attachment to allow the rifle to fire belted ammunition.” – Assuming that this made any sense whatsoever, which it does not, it would be incredibly ineffective at best and make for both a bad LMG and a bad rifle.

      No doubt, there are some old M4’s and outdated accessories out there. The Army needs to keep up on replacing worn out guns and fielding modern accessories to the entire infantry force, it also needs to get serious about practical and cost-effective upgrades for the M4, ones like those that el Guapo mentioned above. They also need to look seriously into sensible emerging technologies like polymer cased ammunition (i’ll give Scales that). but the idea that a whole new weapon competition, especially one as vague and flawed as the one that Scales promoted, will do anything to give US infantry overmatch is nuts.

  13. Weaver says:

    In addition to his playing fast and loose with reality (i.e. the Wanat incident details), MG (RET) Scales is falling into the same trap which has doomed so many big DoD projects – the concept of the one-size-fits-all solution to firepower.

    This has been most often seen in the Air Force, with the F111, the F4, and now the F35 programs – single airframes which were supposed to fulfill all functions with “minor” modifications, but whose inherent design compromises meant that the aircraft couldn’t do much of anything well.

    This will happen if anyone is foolish enough to try to make a modular, one-size-fits-all uber-rifle, capable of being modified (presumably at arms-room level? Otherwise what sense does it make at all?) between carbine (light, fast, maneuverable, durable), rifle (not-so-light, longer, more accurate), sniper rifle (still longer, massively more accurate), and most bizarrely machine gun (relatively heavy, big, belt-fed, moderately accurate).

    It sounds great on paper to have one rifle to engage everything from 10m out to 1000m – but all the design compromises will make the final product somewhat less than useless. Think a SAW used both as the first weapon through the door, then with a quick parts swap used to snipe targets a klick away.

    Modularity seems like a great cost-savings measure – but it causes more problems than it solves.

  14. SuperiorDan says:

    This is all a croc of shit. The ROE altogether is what gets Soldiers, Sailors and Marines killed. Why are we entering borderline fair fights with 17th century tribesmen and other dramatically inferior foes?

    ROE should be, if a round is fired at US solider, drop a MOAB on that location. No more nation building. If there is a threat, destroy it and come home. We are a fantastic military when given a military mission.

    That being said, better weapon systems should always be explored.

    • Kirk says:

      ROE is only part of the problem–A big one, but only a part.

      Bigger problem? What the hell kind of genius is it that has us subsidizing the Pakistani military and ISI, when they’re the ones funding and supporting the Taliban? Run that one by me, again? We at least had the sense to make the Soviets fund the VC and NVA, but here in the 21st Century, we’re paying the Pakistanis to support our enemies, while bribing them to ensure our supply lines aren’t cut… Seriously: This is a level of stupid beyond belief.

      Instead of bombing the Afghan countryside, which even the Soviets gave up on as being essentially a waste of time, being as there’s the small fact that “bombing them back to the Stone Age” would actually represent a bit of an upgrade to their living conditions, we ought to be telling the Pakis that for every US or Coalition soldier killed, we’re cutting their aid package by a billion dollars, and then giving two-three billion more to the Indians to pay for better weapons.

      The Taliban would shut down tomorrow if the Pakistanis were to quit supporting them with money, logistics, and safe havens. Take their toys away, and watch what happens: I am pretty sure the Taliban would evaporate like spilled water in desert sand.

      • MK262 MOD1 says:

        Holy Hell can I get an AMEN!!
        Kirk, you are the man.
        This and and the comments of many others in this thread are pure, righteous, logical gold.
        THIS is why SSD is my first and last stop every day.

        • Sgt A says:

          After reading through the rest of the comments section and realizing why I don’t spend much time here – Kirk, you nailed it.

  15. CoolActionGuy says:

    6.5-7mm? At 1,000meters? Doesn’t that require at MINIMUM a 20″ barrel with 24-26″ being much more effective? Add a suppressor and u have a 30+” weapon system. 6.5 Grendel is an effective round, not sure about the terminal ballistics, but requires a 20″barrel also. How well will a 20″+ barrel weapon systems work in urban terrain, armored personnel carriers?? 6.8 is a fantastic round, but lacks at longer ranges…… guess no one round does it all.

    • James says:

      The 20″ BBL requirement for a 6.5grendel is a myth. Both Bill Alexander and David Fortier have done testing with shorter hair down showing that a 16″ gun only looses about 70fps to the 20″. The 14.5″ guns will still remain supersonic to around 1000yds.

      • James says:

        Hair down? Auto correct done lost it’s mind! Barrels!!!!!!

      • CoolActionGuy says:

        But it is “optimized” at 19″ according to Alexander. My point being is there a point with 6.5 in less than, lets say, a 16″ barrel?

        If its shorter than that and u want always supersonic – 6.8 SPC….. if u want the option of subsonic – 300BLK. This article talks like there is a one fit all weapon. There is no one round that is gonna crack savages at a grand then suppress for housework.

        Are we gaining much over an optimized 5.56 in 77 or 70 grains??

        You could def fit all these options on the same lower receiver. Even the belt fed requirement ala Ares or something similar.

        • James says:

          And according to Sullivan the 5.56 was designed for 20″ too though. The point is that as long as ammo is designed to operate best from a 20″ gun it will of course be a little better in that length barrel. If you tweak the powder and bullet choice for shorter barrels they get a little better in shorter barrels.

          As far a what you gain over MK262, about 300 yards and over 50% more energy. In fact at longer ranges 6.5 Grendel has more energy than m80 7.62.

          Now I don’t believe the Grendel is ” the answer” just that ballistically it is close. The sole reason I don’t think it’s “it” is that it was designed around the M16 magwel. If you free it from that constraint it’s just going to get better. That’s exactly what AMU is trying with the .264USA and” AR12″ sized gun.

        • James says:

          Over the 6.8 in shorter barrels it’s all about the ballistic coefficient, you get similar velocities but much sleeker bullets. The .300 BLK has lower velocity and worse ballistic coefficient than either in supersonic loads.

  16. Marcus says:

    Certainly a debate worth having based on facts.

    Mission drives the gear. Will today’s mission be tomorrow’s? Are today’s small arms aligned with TTP’s? Across the services- should they be? Are SOCOM’s needs the same as a general service rifle? Doubt it, but can we leverage that experience?(you bet your ass we can).

    I keep hearing about the failures in training. That’s seems pretty ubiquitous and something that could be addressed quickly. Why hasn’t it been?

    Modularity in my thinking is a given. Modern service rifles have some of that but could use more innovations (which are coming).

    Acquisition programs have become a bad joke. How many more people do we need to parade before Congress to realize that? I’m all for ensuring we have the right equipment and reasonable timeframes. But that so many good people are stating this is a problem is a giant freaking clue.

    The remainder we can debate based on facts. But let’s actually have that debate this century.

  17. Desert Lizard says:

    Is MG Scales on the payroll of a firearm manufacturer or does he truly believe what he says?

  18. kit crazy says:

    No amount of evidence would convince most of you guys that the M16/M4 is a dated and silly concept with its DI system. People in the US are so brainwashed and love to say how many Spec ops types from around the world use it. They use it because the mighty USA uses it and we have spent decades making every possible accessory for it to keep it going. They are cheap as hell too. People love it because they know nothing else and own several of them.

    • Joshua says:

      Well that’s some herp derp right there.

    • Kirk says:

      Well, if you were right, the system wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.

      And, of course, there’s the small point that the AR-10 through AR-15 are not “DI” systems at all–There’s a piston there, but it’s in the bolt carrier/bolt group, where it is directly in line with the barrel bore. The Stoner system was an elegant approach to solving the inherent physics of a automatic rifle mechanism–It is as lightweight as possible, and as much of the reciprocating mechanism as possible is in direct line of the barrel. All the issues you see with piston adaptations to his design stem from things that change when you go away from the original Stoner design, like carrier tilt.

      Most of the perceived problems with the Stoner system, whether we’re talking the AR-10 or the AR-15, stemmed from a piss-poor initial fielding process that bordered on deliberate sabotage. The modern guns we’re issuing are still at the leading edge of things, given how many are still fielding them as new weapons, like the Dutch and the Danes. Hell, the New Zealand procurement settled on the Stoner system version of the LMT offerings, which ought to tell us something about how “bad” Stoner’s design really is.

      If you’re calling the Stoner designs “direct impingement”, you don’t understand the term, nor do you understand the Stoner design. It is emphatically not a “direct impingement” rifle–Those are things like the Ljungman, and the MAS 49-series rifles. Both of those feature gas blown against a carrier, with no piston. The Stoner has the gas tapped back into the bolt carrier, where it acts against the bolt with its piston rings as a key part of the mechanism.

  19. Jon, OPT says:

    Well then, walking point in a jungle with a weapon designed to shoot accurately at 1000m would be kind of NOT HOW SHIT WORKS.

    That makes as much sense as engaging a low percentage target during HR with a Gustav.

    Just saying.

    Hies strong valid points seem to be offset by what reads as a complete lack of experience in field operations.

  20. Mike Nomad says:

    It’s a real drag seeing someone that far up the food chain talk that much nonsense in front of company…

    Could the A4 stand a little tweaking? Sure. Put on a Free-Float hand guard; Make NiB a standard treatment for the BCG; Add an adjustable gas black. Easy stuff, no refit hassles, and doesn’t cost a lot.

    To go a little bit in his direction, I can see moving to an 18″ barrel,
    not because of accuracy, only because mid-gas. To get real OCD, go with VLTOR’s A5 kit… again, Sofa Cushion Money.

    See where things wind up after the above, and maybe a faster move to a 6.5 is warranted. Even with that, there’s still no significant reason to move off DI for piston.

    • SSD says:

      You’re just wasting tax pair money and the services’ time if you know where you need to be and you don’t go directly there.

      The future is piston. Every new gun that is released is an AR18 copy.

      • James says:

        A lot of the criticism that I see of piston guns is based off of first generation 416’s. Normally, it’s that they break more because of over-gassing, and are heavier. ” If we just tweak the M4 with a free-float and mid- gas it will be just as accurate and lighter than the M27″ kinda thing. Failing to see that updating handguards and gas system tweaks would do the same for the M27.

      • Joshua says:

        If the future is piston why does USASOC want DI?

      • Mike Nomad says:

        “You’re just wasting tax pair money and the services’ time if you know where you need to be and you don’t go directly there.”

        We are in total agreement there. And that’s the context for my comment(s): There are things that seem glaringly obvious. Address them, and then see where we wind up. Maybe then, the move to 6.5 is the next obvious step. And part of seeing how secure the footing of that next step would be should include testing DI vs. Piston for the new cartridge…

        “The future is piston. Every new gun that is released is an AR18 copy.” With a very heavy dose of cynicism, I can see that perspective: Piston actions are non-standardized and require more parts, making any Big Army Contract Winner giddy like a school girl with dreams of parts contracts dancing in their heads.

        DI and Piston both have strengths and weaknesses. For me, Piston in 5.56 is a solution in search of a problem. Of course, YMMV.

        • Kirk says:

          I think piston is a solution in search of a problem when applied to the AR-15 platform. In a weapon actually designed around the various flavors of piston-operation? Well, that’s the thing, see: When you design around it, you’re designing around it, and can make the choices you need to make for it to work well. With the AR-15…? LOL; nope.

          Carrier tilt is a big one; the fact you have that issue with the various piston-conversion designs is because you’re working against the original design vision/intent of the AR-15, which was to put everything reciprocating in line with the bore; that’s why the AR-15 piston is inside the carrier, and in direct line with the bolt. Stoner was trying to maximize recoil control and make the weapon as light as he could–And, I’d say he succeeded. The AR-10, which is what he really designed, is probably one of the more controllable-on-full-auto 7.62 designs out there.

          If you’re gonna insist on a piston, and are willing to pay the weight charges inherent to that choice, you need to have a weapon designed around it, not something like the AR-10/15, which is designed around the Stoner system. The things that Stoner did, like the in-line carrier that tends to tilt when you start trying to use a piston with it, are simply not well-suited to a piston operating system. You want a piston, you really want a totally different weapon, not a half-ass adaptation like the HK416 or most of the other guns out there. Have the courage of your convictions–You want the AR-18, get the AR-18.

  21. Database says:

    I’ve read Scales other diatribes against the AR-15 platform before. And as previously find myself generally unconvinced. In a broad sense he is making several good points here. We should always be looking into ways new technologies can be leveraged to increase the survivability and lethality of our troops. The military acquisition process is bloated and broken. That it is worth while perusing new modern calibers that could improve on the current issue cartridges. However, Scales is blinded my his admittedly horrific experience with the early days of the M16 and it illogically biases him against the AR-15 platform. I am 100% onboard with the idea of providing the war fighter with a superior rifle. But the can be done easily and cost effectively by taking the AR-15 and improving it instead of replacing it. Mid length gas systems, free float light weight rails, better barrel steels and profiles, improved component coatings like nickel boron and salt bath nitriting. All of these things can be relatively quickly and easily applied to the already existing fleet of rifles and would vastly improve their mechanical reliability and handling characteristics. Anyone that actually believes there is something fundamentally flawed with Stoner direct impengment system should give a look at Ballistic Radios test of a KAC SR-15 Mod 2. 20,145 rounds, never cleaned, zero malfunctions.

  22. Nick says:

    While I do believe He was being ridiculous, I do think some of his points are legitimate. For arguments sake, do you believe that the M4 is the most reliable system out there, when you can’t properly maintain them. If not what makes other systems more reliable?. Generally I here most people say other weapons, usually AKs are the most reliable in adverse conditions. While the 5.56/223 is a good round, I believe there are better rounds out there, that would be better at distance, for example rounds in the 6.5 range. Either way if we can find a round with better ballistics, why not test them, and switch, if we find them a significant improvement. I could see an AR variant in a new caliber with a standard, DMR, and maybe belt fed variant available If they wanted. Regardless of what we have now, there is nothing wrong with making sure we have the best weapons available, even if what we have now is as good or better than everyone else.

  23. Kirk says:

    Overall, I’m kinda-sorta with the general thrust of what Scales is saying here, but with a huge caveat: I don’t think he’s factually correct in a lot of what he’s saying.

    In my opinion, with which you can get a cup of coffee at Starbucks if you add five bucks, I think a lot of our problems in the small arms arena stem from our general inability to look at these things from a standpoint of what used to be termed “operational research”. We really don’t have solid, quantifiable data in a lot of the areas we need information from in order to make good decisions involving these matters of small arms design and procurement.

    Purely on a subjective basis, I think we got it fundamentally wrong back in the beginnings of this during the post-WWII era. Trying to create one cartridge that can do it all down at the squad level is probably a lost cause–The needs of the MG team do not coincide with the needs of the individual rifleman, and the idea that we can have one cartridge to “do it all” is a chimera, something that ain’t going to happen no matter how hard we wish for it. That being said, I believe that the two-cartridge system that the Wehrmacht, the Soviets, and finally ourselves settled on is probably the way things need to be, at this point in the technology. Unfortunately, I think we got it wrong with our interpretation of this fact set, and our individual weapon cartridge is a bit too lightweight, while our MG cartridge almost certainly is. This is something I’m not absolutely certain of, however, and I think that what we need to do is actually get the data we need to quantify things in this area.

    If you go to the NTC, the mechanized world is wired for sound; you can tell who shot who with what in any given engagement. This sort of thing helps quantify things for the armor/mech community, because if the system has good fidelity with reality, you get decent numbers from which to make decisions about where to put your money, and what characteristics the big-ticket weapons need. There’s nothing really equivalent in the small arms world–We don’t know, for example, why the hell the guys we fired the XM25 at in Afghanistan quit shooting at us with their weapons, and that’s damn important; if they quit shooting at us because the XM25 had devastating impact on their health and sense of well-being, that’s good stuff. If they quit firing at us because those crazy Americans were playing with some new toy they didn’t understand the characteristics of yet, well… As soon as they figured out the real deal with the XM25, they’re gonna come back on us with either a sense of confidence, or countermeasures. Knowing the actual effect on the enemy downrange is a key and critical datum we need to determine whether what we are doing is working. Without it, you can’t make good decisions, because you’re basing your decisions on crap that is based purely on subjective impressions, which may or may not be accurate.

    And, all too much of what we’re trying to do with small arms is like this; are we really outranged by the Afghanis with the PKM, or is it that our problem is more based on training/doctrinal issues than real problems with the cartridges and weapons? My personal belief is that a lot of our problems with answering the PKM fires could be addressed with better training and better support systems for the weapons we have, but that’s another purely subjective thing. The numbers aren’t available, because we’re not going out to get them, and like the Soviets used to say about reconnaissance, it’s something you have to fight for on the battlefield. We need solid downrange BDA on what we’re currently doing to the enemy with our small arms, and I just don’t see us doing what needs to be done in order to capture that data. Somalia is a good example of the problem–I know guys who insist that they were getting good, solid hits with their rifles on the Somalis, but that they weren’t going down. Other guys who were there at the same time report the exact opposite, that the cartridge/weapon combo worked, and worked well, so long as you got solid hits with it. So, which was it…?

    Without going downrange and assessing what the hell happened after the action, we’re never going to know. Did SPC Smith actually hit the Somali gunman he “saw hits on”, when dust went “poof” from the guy’s clothes, or did he miss the Somali and just hit the guy’s clothing? Did PFC Jones put the Somalis he was shooting at down with his M16A2, or did he just think he did because the guys with the adjacent platoon’s M60 team raked the area with fire just as he shot?

    I would submit that there’s an awful lot we just don’t know about what is actually happening downrange, and that before we start making wild-ass decisions to replace small arms systems that have worked well for the last generation or so, we might actually want to make sure that the things we’re “fixing” are actually the issues we need to address. I’m not sure that we’re basing a lot of these decisions on good, solid numbers that are quantifiable or valid.

    • Joshua says:

      None of the people who used the XM25 ever found a single body that could implicate the weapon actually worked.

      So either the XM25 didn’t kill anyone, or they carried every single body off the battlefield and went back home to bury them.

      • Kirk says:

        Hence my suspicions about the actual efficacy of that weapon…

        The so-called “field testing” in Afghanistan stank of a managed PR event so badly that you wanted to scream. I have to wonder how much of HK’s alleged refusal to work with ATK is due to HK realizing what a mess they were involved with, and wanting to take the first available out.

    • Kinetix says:

      US infantry definitely are outranged by the PKM, the question is, where is the issue? As others have pointed out, it should be expected that an American rifleman using a 5.56 carbine would be outranged by anyone using a PKM. There are good reasons to want to replace the 5.56 round, but overmatch by PKM and 7.62x54R isn’t, or shouldn’t, really be the motivating factor since it should be expected given that situation.

      M240’s can counter the PKM in several areas, but the issue presents itself at extended long ranges. Namely, the 7.62x54R simply offers a bit more range than 7.62×51. A secondary issue is that a PKM weighs 19 lbs, an M249 weighs 21-22 lbs, the M240B weighs 28 lbs, and the M240L weighs 22-23 lbs. The PKM is simply a more portable weapon with more reach, that’s where the overmatch is.

      • Kirk says:

        The PKM isn’t a magic wand; it has its inherent limitations, just as our weapons do.

        The thing is, we’re not doing everything we can to wring out the full performance of the M240 family when we go outside the wire. Everyone keeps assuming that we’re doing that, but… Seriously, the M122/192 tripod? How many people even bother to take that primitive-ass shit outside the wire?

        Off the bipod, an M240 is probably good for 800m with the average gun crew. The PKM fire we’re taking is usually just past that range, but still within the range we could reach with a good tripod support. Off the tripod, the old standard was 1200m, and now they say the system is good out to 1800m. So, where’s the problem? I say it lies with our selection of tripod system, which is really only suitable to supporting the weapon in a prepared defensive position, not out on patrol in the countryside.

        Seriously–Anyone wanting to really educate themselves on the things you could do with a good gun team and a decent tripod system needs to go look up the WWII German training films for the Gebirgsjager MG42 gun teams. With the Lafette, you can extend the legs independently, change up the angles of the legs, and generally rapidly adapt the tripod to the terrain a hell of a lot faster than you could ever hope to do with the M122/192. The Germans were expecting their gun teams to be returning effective fires within some unGodly time, like less than 60-120 seconds from taking fire. And, from the best I can tell in my research, they attained that standard a lot of the time. There’s a reason the German infantry units were so deadly, and a lot of that goes to the combination of the gun and tripod they had going. Well, that and the light mortars that were with most elements.

        We could be doing the same, but you’re not going to attain the WWII German standard with an M240 and M122/192. Those are simply not flexible enough, or rapidly adaptable to any degree that’s even relatively close.

        As well, our predilection for the low rate of fire in our guns is another problem; the Germans were in love with the MG42’s “excessive” rate of fire at 1200rpm because they wanted to absolutely saturate that beaten zone as quickly as possible–And, that gun/tripod combo enabled that, which means that they were able to engage effectively well outside the envelope our guys can with a bipod-mounted weapon.

        I’m convinced that we could solve a lot of our issues with three things: A better, more adaptable tripod, more light mortars on patrol, and more effective training. Most of our MG ranges are insanely predictable, and not what you’re going to run into in Afghanistan. What we should be doing is finding a high-mountain training area in the Rockies we can shoot the shit out of, and which looks like Afghanistan, wire that sumbitch for sound, and then have the MG teams have to run up a bunch of valleys and take positions under fire on the fly with their equipment. Most of our training and qualification ranges look about like we’re planning on re-fighting the goddamn Battle of the Somme, or something… Utterly flat, totally predictable, and completely unlike the reality our gun teams will face. The Germans in WWII had the sense to go up into the mountains for their Gebirgsjager, and train there with their weapons in the terrain they were going to fight in. Their record in the Caucasus speaks for itself–Those Alpine units fought well above their weight, and did a lot more damage to the Soviets than they really should have been able to inflict. And, it all goes back to those goddamn guns and their tripods…

        • Kinetix says:

          I completely agree, no weapon is a magic wand, the PKM isn’t the be-all end-all, and there are certainly many things that can be done to counter and overcome a combatant(s) with a PK. Rather, I was simply pointing out that the PKM offers an almost unique amount of firepower in a very portable package. The M240L closes the gap more or less in weight (but at high cost), but the round itself is still attempting to punch a little above its weight (to steal your phrase) when compared to 7.62x54R at range.

          In this case, it would make sense to move to a weapon in a larger caliber (than 7.62×51) and the GD LWMMG offers a myriad of benefits not simply related to its range – like power, weight, and accuracy.

          I agree that any military but especially ours should always be looking for ways to make its weapon systems and sub components more effective, and its training more realistic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do the same for the calibers of our small arms. After all, applying the polymer case technology from the LWMMG’s .338 NM to 7.62×51 would make M80 much easier to carry, and increase the effectiveness/capability of gun teams. There is no reason why developments can’t go both ways – providing new technologies to be used in new/current weapons, and applying lessons learned from current weapons (like getting rid of as many training artificialities as possible) to new weapon training.

  24. DSM says:

    I think the General’s use of “.270 Remington” is further amplified with his use of “6.8” later on. He’s read an article or two about the 6.8 SPC, maybe liked it was Army-inspired and is now championing it. He probably likes it because it provides empirical data saying it’s better than 5.56; heavier bullet, bigger hole, etc, when objectively it wouldn’t make a darn bit of difference because how it would be trained with and employed wouldn’t be changed.

    I also think the basic level of ADHD of America is reaching a pinnacle and here’s why; 6.X caliber rounds have been around for a long, long time, albeit in different flavor and combinations than today. (Read about the 6mm SAW if you get a chance, had we committed to that path way back then we’d probably not be having this discussion now). You can’t hardly read an article without seeing hype for “6.X is the future!” Will it poke a hole in something? Yes of course, then again so do the forty-eleven other loadings out there. It’s the bigger, better deal so let’s push it out there in everything we can.

    There are other issues at play here and they’ve been hit upon by wiser people than I am. ROEs, employment and training.
    I do agree the basic issue M4 is dated but that doesn’t mean we scrap the whole dang thing when an entire industry that has built itself around it has COTS solutions for most of the problems, perceived or otherwise. Is it modular and mission configurable? Last I checked two push pins hold the receivers together; you issue a soldier a golf bag, so to speak, of uppers and allow him to select the best one for the job and you’ve got it. Yes, you can make them different calibers even if that’s what lifts your skirt.

  25. Seamus says:

    Everyone needs to take a collective chill pill. Gun nerds like us were not the intended audience of this speech…idiot congressmen were.


    All the Congressman heard from MG (Ret) Scales was…

    #1 Russians are scary and bad
    #2 Russians have cool new toys that are better than our toys
    #3 America needs cool new toys to beat the Russians
    #4 New cool toys cost $2 Billion 🙁 sad face
    #5 But you can spend only $100 Million and problem still goes away 🙂 happy face
    #6 This will make Army happy too 😛 very happy face
    #7 Can tell voters that YOU saved $1.9 Billion…yay fiscal responsibility! happy dance!!!

    MG Scales is a genius! He may have just secured the $$$ AND the politic pressure to get the Army SOMETHING/ANYTHING better than what we have, and that is nothing to shake a stick at. In the end whatever happens will look nothing like the 6 step plan MG Scales laid out, but if we every get ANYTHING positive out of this, I guarantee you that this speech will have had a YUGE impact in getting it done at all.

  26. cassius says:

    DOD RDTE acquisition and fielding entities can and will continue to put rifles and ammunition in the hands of infantrymen to the best of their abilities. They need money to do this job and the General is wise enough to know his way around the budget allocation foodfight and that speeches like his keep infantry weapons development prioritized. It is a fool’s errand to be too critical of an Vietnam-era artillery officer who has worked himself into a position to be able to influence our largely whimsical Congress and attempt to push the button that opens more $$$ for rifle/ammo development. The M4 is a decent enough weapon and, paired with the right ammo, can be employed effectively by both conventional infantrymen with a few weeks of live fire training and SOF with far more weapons training under their belts. Were I to have the General’s platform, I would instead argue that training has by far the biggest impact on the battlefield and conventional force training, in particular, is imperiled by diminished standards, over reliance on technology and poor execution. We can and should put a better rifle/ammo in the hands of the infantryman but without the training, it will have little impact on the battlefield. In every firefight I’ve been in, I’d rather be relying on training than a new rifle that at best will incrementally improve our chances when the rounds are flying both ways. To be sure, we need GO’s with real combat experience (nearly extinct breed for about the next 5-10 years) to be weighing in to get the best equipment into the right hands but the discussion, IMHO, is far too focused on equipment solutions rather than the dire shortfall plaguing USA and USMC conventional infantry: training.

    • SSD says:

      Best is the enemy right now. We need a nice helping of better than what we already have. Keep focusing on best and we’ll get nothing.

  27. KevinB says:

    It’s hard to know where to start debunking MG Scales (USA RET) diatribe.

    1) He mentions ‘we’, yet presents as an individual. So who is his ‘we’ and what undisclosed lobbying is he doing?

    2) ‘His’ requirements mention a ‘solid operating system’ which Inam assuming he means some sort of piston – so he ignores actual MRBS/MRBF data to try to eliminate any other system.

    3) JSSAP already has 6.5 CTA guns that evolved from LSAT, why would anyone suggest a semi-poly case ammo when CTA guns are currently possible.

    4) The whole thing stinks of political tail wagging with some Foreign owned company paying off retired Brass to make a point they don’t even understand.

    5) For the next 5-10 years a PIP M4/Mk18 like USASOC is attempting makes the best sense.

    6) Regardless of the course of action for the ‘Big’ Services it needs to be twinned with a software solution to make the Soldier a competent marksman – right now the avg Army Soldier is a 50m capable one. As much as I distrust Army Studies of late, Picatinny conducted Shooter in the Loop/Shooter Out of Loop hit probability testing on the M4A1.
    Weapon alone is 96% Ph to 630m
    SIL on KD Range ph 50% at 300m
    SIL in combat 50% at 100m

    We have an effective weapon – the biggest defficiency is currently our Soliders training.

    Anyone who really wants to fix the issue starts at the Soldier First

  28. cameron says:

    love how many people are so in love with the m4 they refuse to see logic. great gun but certainly obsolete in comparison to newer tech.

    1). ‘more training is needed’, so you want to spend more capital on training people to get around the product instead of having the product fixed. poor logic.

    2). ‘a well oiled weapon wont jam’, yes, until you dont have time to oil it correctly again, or the firefight gones on longer than your first application of oil will provide.

    all in all, these are not good reasons to avoid upgrading/replacing the weapon. be smarter and less prone to mindless love of the weapon system you know. I love the m4, i have a beautiful DD long rifle, but i know its shortcomings in comparison to an HK416…because im a RATIONAL individual