Comments on Comments: Weapons

For this edition of our mail bag, we wanted to focus on another hot-button issue for Soldiers: their weapons. We’d originally intended to just do a few questions, as we did in our last mail bag. However, COL Tamilio provided responses to just about every single question we sent him. For anyone who has met him, this kind of enthusiasm which verges on that of a force of nature is completely normal.

There’s a lot of great information in this post, so we hope you’ll take the time to read it. However, we also don’t want to break your RSS readers, or frighten you with a tremendously long post.  So read on after the jump.

Mark Mayemura

Posted under “M4 Reliability”

http://peosoldier.armylive.dodlive.mil/2009/10/21/m4-reliability/

While I do not disagree with any of the facts presented by COL Tamilo, I must respectfully disagree with his overall assessment of the M4. The M16 family of weapons to include the M4 contains at least a dozen inherent design flaws which remain uncorrected. Just in terms of reliability, these would include the lack of a gas port regulator and the use of a direct gas impingement operating system. There have been numerous accounts of M16 and M4 unreliability, probably most recently those of overheating and jamming in the battle of Wanat, Afghanistan in July 2008.

PEO Soldier responds:

Mark,

Thanks for your comments. As the post indicated, we have documented strong Soldier support regarding the performance of the M4. In terms of reliability, we believe the M4 is as high as, or exceeds, the reliability of the majority of the weapons out there today. The fact is that any weapon fired over its sustained rate of fire is going to overheat. We know that. That is not a reliability issue, that is a physical characteristic of all weapon systems.

Please know that we will always continue to look for ways to improve the reliability and effectiveness of our weapons systems. As reported in the Army Times and in other venues, we are considering a number of upgrades to the M4 including: a piston impingement system, heavier barrel, enhanced rail adapter system, ambidextrous operation, improved trigger pull, and even a round counter. No weapon system is perfect, and all have their tradeoffs, but we remain confident in the M4 as a world-class carbine that serves our Soldiers well.

– COL Douglas Tamilio

Project Manager Soldier Weapons

Mark Mayemura

Posted under “CNN Profiles the XM25 ‘Smart Weapon’ for Soldiers

Is the XM25 intended to be a replacement for 40mm grenade launchers? In that respect, it appears to be an improvement in all areas except for munition lethal radius. I question whether a 25mm grenade, even airburst, with a relatively small casualty radius, can deliver enough of a punch for use in a semi-automatic shoulder fired weapon. I would have liked to have seen the weapon developed in a larger caliber, say 40mm. I suspect that most soldiers would agree this to be a good trade-off, given that such a weapon in order to accomodate the larger caliber, would probably need to be non-magazine fed (single shot) with a reduced range and lesser ammunition basic load.

PEO Soldier responds:

Mark,

No, the XM25 is not a replacement for the 40mm grenade launchers. As for munition radius, we have made a tremendous amount of progress in reducing the amount of electronics that are in the 25mm round. As a result, we have been able to double the explosive power of the warhead.

The airburst nature of the 25mm round allows for a greater percentage of its payload to have the desired effect as opposed to a 40mm round that detonates upon contact with the ground thereby absorbing some of its blast. What is not absorbed by the ground has a particular blast pattern that is not as effective as the pattern of the 22mm airburst round.

Also, remember that since the XM25 is shoulder fired, recoil is a significant design consideration. A direct fired 40mm weapon would make for some sore shoulders. Suffice to say, we are confident that the 25mm HEAB round has the desired effect.

Thanks for reading,

– COL Tamilio

Matt

Posted in “Two High Tech Products Receive High Praise

Boy, that XM 25 seems impressive, but I just have visions of the thing not working correctly after a deployment or two. There are way too many moving parts and fine tuned electronics for my comfort level. An infantryman’s weapon should be simple, reliable, lethal, and very tough. If you can make it light weight, well then that is perfect.

If you want to get technological, then make some 40mm that is ultra-lethal and has some reach. Or if you can make a basic grenade launcher to shoot this 25mm round, that would be cool too. But I certainly hope these 25 mm rounds are equal to, if not better than the 40mm rounds. I would tend to think that size and payload factors would favor the 40mm in lethality, but I could be wrong. Just my thoughts and good for PEO for getting some recognition.


PEO Soldier responds:

Matt,

As a matter of course, we put all our developmental weapons through their paces before putting them in the hands of Soldiers. We test using thousands of rounds of ammunition in all kinds of environments. They undergo stress tests, drop tests, and extreme environment tests to include, arctic, jungle, desert and more before they get the green light. These weapons durable, reliable and effective when we put them in the field. With regards to the punch of the 25mm round, we’re confident in the lethality the XM25 can deliver.

Thanks for your comment,

– COL Tamilio

Jeff

Posted under “Army’s Improved Magazine Increases Weapons Reliability: ‘Tan is the Plan’ for the New Magazine

Not sure of the purpose of the video as it is a simulation and is compared to nothing…

The Feed Lips Wear Tool is a good idea. Every platoon sergeant should have one if not every squad leader.

PEO Soldier responds:

Thanks for your comment, Jeff. The video is intended to show the interior action of the wider spring.

– Debi Dawson

Director of Strategic Communications

Jeff

Posted under “Army’s Improved Magazine Increases Weapons Reliability: ‘Tan is the Plan’ for the New Magazine

Re [The Author’s] [UA1] comments –

[1] I began putting the Magpul followers in my USGI aluminum mags when they recommended by various gunfighters who had extensively tested them. Forgive me if I tend to go with the opinion of men who have taken the gear into harm’s way rather than the word of guys in a lab. Compared to the green follower, my malfunction rate decreased to virtually no malfunctions caused during feeding. Any subsequent malfunctions could be attributed to the weapon drying out as in the lubrication had burned dry.

[2] Once the Magpul Pmag hit the market I again listened to those who used the gear and then tried it myself exhaustively. In Afghanistan my first two mags were Pmags, the one in the gun and the go to mag. A Pmag is not only more durable than the USGI aluminum mag but it is much more quiet when bumped into things – especially at night when sound carries further.

[3] [The Author] side steps the issue with a general statement that bug spray can actually damage certain plastics. He didn’t specifically say that it would damage the Pmag. Presumably the plastic from which the new follower is made is resistant to the deteriorating effects of bug spray…

[4] Aluminum mags are functional in a wide variety of environments yes, but drop a half loaded mag and it will land on the feed lips and then it is done. Don’t trust your life to it.

The aluminum mag is the weak link in the M16/M4 weapons system.

PEO Soldier responds:

Jeff,

Through testing, we know that the aluminum magazine is the most durable magazine there is for its weight. We also know that certain plastics do not work in all operational environments. In extreme cold, they can crack. When you expose them to different types of lubricants and things, they can corrode.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of good magazines on the market, which is why we are planning to develop an approved product list in 2010 for those COTS
magazines that meet the full military specifications.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

-COL Tamilio

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