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Colt M4


Assault Carbine (1994)


Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

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Jump-to: Specifications

A close-quarters version of the successful American M16A2 Assault Rifle became the popular M4 Assault Carbine.



Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited: 03/30/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com; the following text is exclusive to this site.
The M4/M4A Carbine is a 5.56mm compact, lightweight, gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed weapon system with selective fire that can be sighted from the shoulder. The M4/M4A Carbine is the latest weapon in a family of firearms dating back to the M16 and even to the carbine AR-15. It is a shorter and lighter version of the M16 assault rifle, and 80% of the parts are parallel. The M4 is 1.3 pounds lighter and 6.58 inches shorter extended and 10 inches shorter with the stock collapsed. This comparable ability to exchange parts also reduced the need for training and maintenance. The M4 has selective fire options including semi-automatic and a three-round burst available in the M16A2. The M4A1 has a full auto option in place of the three-round burst.

The conflicts in Panama and Somalia required the need for soldiers to operate in towns and close quarters and mandated the need for a new weapon. This close quarters combat (CQC) was the impetuses behind the M4 with a collapsible stock and a short barrel with accuracy to engage targets at extended ranges with lethal fire. As with many carbines, the M4 is handy and more convenient to carry than a full-length rifle. The Army also will use the weapon for non-infantry troop crews and staff officers who will no longer carry side arms. It is also preferred by airborne units and special operations teams needing effective ranges up to 600 meters.

Variants of the M16 assault rifle, the M4 Carbine and the M4A1 Carbine can be fitted with accessories, night vision devices, laser point optics, telescopic sights, and bipods. The M203 or the M320 grenade launcher are attachable to the M4 top rail. Other accessories include the AN/PEQ-2, Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), and M68 Aimpoint with EOTech holographic weapon sights. Visible and IR (infrared) lights are attachable using various mounting methods. The M4 accepts a blank-firing attachment (BFA) for training.

However all was not well in the military community with the adoption of the M4. The strength of being part of the M16 family was also a negative. In 1969 at Ft. Ord California while I was in a Army basic training live firing class, a drawback for the M16 was demonstrated. The training Sergeant threw a M14 and M16 into a prepared mud puddle and after kicking in more dirt he picked up the M14 and fired the weapon without a stoppage. He then took the M16 and on the initial trigger pull the weapon jammed without firing a shot. This lesson was never to be forgotten that constant cleaning of the M16 was a survival requirement.

During a US Army fair weather and sandstorm condition testing the M4 was compared to 3 competitors and the M4 finished last, with 3.5x more jams than all others tested. Other criticisms of the carbine were a lower muzzle velocity producing a louder report due to the short barrel. Parts receive greater stress and the M4 has a tendency to overheat more rapidly than the M16A2. With agreed upon short comings the US Government purchased the M4 for use in all branches including the National Guard. The Army had the M4 improved and Colt agreed to make modifications going forward to address future problems. A cold-hammer-forged barrel would give a longer life and retooled reliable magazines did reduce the stoppages. 2006 tests which included 10 new M16s and 10 new M4s both fired approximately 5,000 rounds between stoppages, a major improvement.

The M4 Carbine has seen active combat actions in Afghanistan since 2001 and has also been deployed by US forces in Iraq following the invasion of 2003.

November 2018 - Colt's Manufacturing has received a U.S. Army contract to cover additional M4 and M4A1 carbine weapons.

Specifications



Service Year
1994

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Classification


Assault Carbine


Colt Manufacturing / Remington Arms Company - USA
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Australia National flag of Bahrain National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Canada National flag of Colombia National flag of Czechia National flag of Ecuador National flag of Egypt National flag of France National flag of Georgia National flag of modern Germany National flag of Greece National flag of Hungary National flag of India National flag of Indonesia National flag of Iraq National flag of Israel National flag of Italy National flag of modern Japan National flag of Jordan National flag of Lebanon National flag of Macedonia National flag of Malaysia National flag of New Zealand National flag of the Philippines National flag of Poland National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of Serbia National flag of Singapore National flag of South Korea National flag of Thailand National flag of Turkey National flag of the United Arab Emirates National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States National flag of Yemen Afghanistan; Australia; Bangladesh; Bahrain; Belize; Canada; Colombia; Czech Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Salvador; France; Georgia; Germany; Greece; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Iraq; Italy; Israel; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kosovo; Lebanon; Macedonia; Malaysia; Nepal; New Zealand; Panama; Philippines; Poland; Saudi Arabia; Serbia; Singapore; South Korea; Thailand; Tonga; Turkey; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Yemen
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Automatic Function
Features a mechanical function to automate the firing action.
Special Forces
Qualities of this weapon have shown its value to Special Forces elements requiring a versatile, reliable solution for the rigors of special assignments.
Silenced
This weapon is either inherently silent/suppressed or can be made so through special assembly added at the muzzle, specialized subsonic ammunition or a combination of both.


Overall Length
838 mm
32.99 in
Barrel Length
368 mm
14.49 in
Empty Wgt
5.95 lb
2.70 kg
Sights


Iron; Optional Optics.


Action


Gas Operated; Semi-/Full-Automatic; Locking Bolt

Semi-Automatic
One shot per trigger pull; self-loading or auto-loading action aided by internal mechanism; trigger management (and initial cocking) typically required by the operator; subsequent shots are aided by the unlocked / moved bolt.
Full-Automatic
Rounds are automatically ejected from the breech, a new cartridge stripped from the feed and set in the chamber, and rounds are continuously fired so long as the trigger is pulled and an ammunition supply exists.
Gas-Operated
Gas-operated system is featured, typically involving a gas cylinder and rear-driven piston directing energy to the bolt component.
(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


Caliber(s)*


5.56x45mm NATO

Sample Visuals**


Graphical image of a 5.56mm intermediate rifle cartridge
Rounds / Feed


20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
1,640 ft
(500 m | 547 yd)
Rate-of-Fire
700
rds/min
Muzzle Velocity
2,900 ft/sec
(884 m/sec)


M16A2 - Assault Rifle Form on which the M4 Carbine is base on.
M4 - Carbine Form; semi-automatic and three round burst fire.
M4A1 - Full automatic fire in place of three-round burst option.
M4 MWS (Modular Weapon System) - Addition of the Rail Adapter System (RAS); originally labeled/designated as "M4E2".
SOPMOD Block I - "Special OPerations Peculiar MODification"; for special forces use; M4A1 model with Rail Interface System kit by Knight's Armament Company; optional M203 40mm grenade launcher; leaf sight device; sound suppressor; laser/IR designator; night vision sight; reflex sight.
SOPMOD Block II - Proposed improved SOPMOD modelunder consideration.


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