I was looking at my notes and realized I hadn’t shot my AR15A4 in over a year, so I took it out last weekend.
The reason I keep an A4 configured rifle around is because I carried one in combat. I actually carried the M16A2 more while I was in the service, but I had an A4 in Iraq.
I know that I write a post like this each year, and I’ll probably have another one for you all next year.
When we carried the M16A2 in the Corps we felt it could do everything we needed. From CQB to 500 yards. Now one could argue if we really could do what we felt we could do.
Ignoring what our actually capability might have been, we had no idea what we were missing. Since our experience was only based around the A2, we didn’t know how much of a combat multiplier an optic would be, or how much handier a carbine would be, etc.
It was common knowledge in the Corps back then that the M4 was too unreliable, inaccurate, and didn’t have enough stopping power for military use. Just like how it was common knowledge that the M14 was the best service rifle ever and it would one shot kill commies even if you shot them in the toe, and the .50 BMG created a super shockwave that would rip people to pieces even if you missed by three feet. Then other things that were taught and believed started to get really silly.
Now I think going to the M16A4 over the A2 was as big improvement as suddenly we learned that we could customize our weapons to fit our mission. Optics made for a huge improvement in hit ratios. Story goes that there was a quiet investigation on the Marines during the invasion of Iraq because so many enemies were being shot in the head that higher ups thought that Marines were executing people. Turns out it was just a massive increase in head shots due to the ACOG optic.
We could suddenly effectively mount lights, lasers, night vision devices, thermal, bipods, etc to our rifles. Not that we couldn’t before but we couldn’t do it easily. The old barrel mount for the AN/PEQ-2 IR laser required us to beg an Armorer to install it. Now we could just slap an IR laser on anywhere.
I remember being in Iraq and seeing another unit that was issued Harris Bipods and Surefire M900 lights and being so jealous of them. But their higher ups were worried about guys loosing the equipment, so they were required to have both on their rifles at all times. That must have been so heavy and awkward.
The A4 got the job done, but the M4 would have done just fine. Now it is clear that the future is all carbines.
I find it hilarious how the Marine Corps used to say that a 14.5 inch M4 barrel was not good enough for general use but then they decide that a 16.5 inch barrel is good enough for an automatic rifle. I really think the adoption of the M27 IAR was the Corps trying to get a carbine with out buying the M4.
I spend a great deal of time to get my Colt AR15A4 set up exactly the way I wanted it, but each time I shoot it it is a reminder that the A4 just doesn’t excel in any particular area. It isn’t a precision rifle, it isn’t a light handle carbine, it is just a sort of jack of all trades. Using it is like owning many knives, but none of them sharp.