×
Aviation & Aerospace - Airpower 2024 - Aircraft by Country - Aircraft Manufacturers Vehicles & Artillery - Armor 2024 - Armor by Country - Armor Manufacturers Infantry Small Arms - Warfighter 2024 - Small Arms by Country - Arms Manufacturers Warships & Submarines - Navies 2024 - Ships by Country - Shipbuilders U.S. Military Pay 2024 Military Ranks Special Forces by Country

Colt M4


Assault Carbine


United States | 1994



"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: 08/10/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

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

April 2022 - The MCX-SPEAR has been selected by the U.S. Army for further development as the XM5 to succeed its aging line of M4A1 assault carbines through the Next Generation Squad Weapons Program. Similarly, the LMG-6.8 in the SIG lineup will become the XM250, succeeding the M249 SAW.

Physical
The physical qualities of the Colt M4. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
838 mm
32.99 in
O/A Length
368 mm
14.49 in
Barrel Length
5.95 lb
2.70 kg
Weight
Gas Operated; Semi-/Full-Automatic; Locking Bolt
Action
5.56x45mm NATO
Caliber(s)
20- or 30-round detachable box magazine
Feed
Iron; Optional Optics.
Sights
Performance
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Colt M4. Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
1,640 ft
499.9 m | 546.7 yds
Max.Eff.Range
700
Rounds-Per-Minute
Rate-of-Fire
2,900 ft/sec
884 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Colt M4 Assault Carbine family line.
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.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Colt M4. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): 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 Brazil 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 Jamaica 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 Ukraine 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; Brazil; 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; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States; Yemen ]
1 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
2 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
3 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
4 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
5 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
6 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
7 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
8 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
9 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.
10 / 10
Image of the Colt M4
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS image network.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to requirements.
AUTOMATIC FUNCTION
SPECIAL FORCES
SILENCED/SUPPRESSED
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Similar
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Colt M4 Assault Carbine.
Going Further...
The Colt M4 Assault Carbine appears in the following collections:
HOME
SMALL ARMS INDEX
SPECIAL FORCES
ARMS BY COUNTRY
ARMS MANUFACTURERS
COMPARE ARMS
ARMS BY CONFLICT
ARMS BY TYPE
ARMS BY DECADE
IRAQI FREEDOM ARMS
MODERN SMALL ARMS
RUSSO-UKRAINIAN WAR
SPECIAL FORCES
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.


©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)