Well, that struck a nerve!

Patton once said,“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” I’ve seen plenty of alike-thinking people jump on the “Kill Armalite” bandwagon. As with every story, there is another side.

I’m a marksman (at least, I try to be) and my interest is software, or the human component of this equation. I have no special love for the M16/AR15 as it certainly has its faults. However, I don’t see any specific proposed alternative that is an obvious big win.

When the US military replaced small arms in the past there was usually an obvious improvement associated with the new device.

  • The Trapdoor Springfield used breech-loaded metallic cartridges and supplanted a muzzle loader.
  • The Krag repeater replaced single shot rifles.
  • Springfields and Enfields were much faster to reload and fired a more powerful cartridge than the .30-40 Krag.
  • The Garand gave us semi-auto capability
  • The M14 more than doubled capacity.

The last change we made to the AR15/M16 was probably the most controversial. However, the thinking was that troops measure “firepower” in volume, not individual hits, and can’t reliably hit point targets past 300 meters on the range, much less in the field. A heavy cartridge is needlessly powerful and cuts down on volume while a light cartridge and rifle lets the trooper carry more. There are valid reasons to disagree with this concept, however, if this is the chosen idea used then the M16 is a good fit.

Despite being created as a light shorter range rifle (or battle carbine if you prefer), the M16 is winning across the course out to 600 yards and has all but toppled the M14 there. As a bonus, it requires less fiddling than a match conditioned M14/M1A. Many Service Rifle shooters have called the AR-15 a gas operated bolt action. The construction and ammunition improvements that caused this to happen are finding their way into the hands of troops on the ground. We have a handy rifle capable of reaching out and hitting at 1/3 mile while retaining the lightweight, quick-handling attributes that led to its initial adoption.

We finally got the thing optimized, so now the proposed “solution” is to throw it away? And replace it with what? What is THE fix? What magical death ray exists that has already proven to be 100% reliable?