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Soldiers Want a Bigger Bang

Nearly 80 percent of Soldiers said in a recent survey they are satisfied with their weapons, though almost half recommended a replacement for the standard-issued M9 pistol or ammunition with more stopping power.

Additionally, nearly 30 percent of Soldiers in the December 2006 survey, conducted on behalf of the Army by the Center for Naval Analyses, said the M4 carbine should be replaced or more deadly ammunition fielded.

"Across weapons, Soldiers have requested weapons and ammunition with more stopping power/lethality," the report said.

The study was commissioned by the Army's Project Manager for Soldier Weapons to address concerns raised by Soldiers returning from combat about the dependability and effectiveness of their small arms.

Download the entire CNA report here (2MB pdf).

"This study assessed Soldier perspectives on the reliability and durability of their weapons systems in combat to aid in decisions regarding current and future small arms needs of the Army," said the study, which was obtained by

CNA surveyors conducted over 2,600 interviews with Soldiers returning from combat duty, asking them a variety of questions about accessories, weapons training, maintenance and recommended changes to their small arms.

"The U.S. Army Infantry Center is conducting a study to refine the Army's Small Arms Strategy, which focuses on the employment of rifles, carbines, ammunition caliber, and future technologies," said Army spokesman, Lt. Col. William Wiggins, in a statement. "All Services are participating in this study, which is expected in the July/August 2007 timeframe."

The survey lends weight to Army claims that current-issued weapons are effective despite growing criticism from Soldiers and lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the service should re-assess the standard M4 - as well as the M9 pistol.

In April, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) sent a letter to acting Army secretary Pete Geren taking issue with the service's sole-source contract to buy about 500,000 M4 carbines despite evidence that new rifle technologies could provide more reliable weapons.

The study found the most stoppage problems with the M249 machine gun and M9 pistol, with an average of about 30 percent of respondents saying they experienced stoppages with each weapon in firefights. About four in ten Soldiers who said they experienced jams during combat with their pistols or machine guns claimed it took them out of the fight.

Though vocal critics of the M4 say it's prone to jamming in the talcum-like sand environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, only 19 percent of M4 users said they experienced stoppages in combat.

But of those with malfunctioning M4s, nearly 20 percent said they were "unable to engage the target with that weapon during a significant portion of or the entire firefight after performing immediate or remedial action to clear the stoppage," the report said.

Soldiers who attach accessories to their weapons experienced a disproportionate number of malfunctions, with M249 users nine times more likely to experience a stoppage "if accessories were attached via zip cord, four times more likely if attached with duct tape and three times more likely if attached with dummy cords or rails."

"Accessory attachments had a significant impact on reported stoppages," the report said. "Those who attached accessories to their weapon were more likely to experience stoppages, regardless of how the accessories were attached."

The CNA surveyors also asked Soldiers for their opinions on possible improvements to their small arms. The top request from Soldiers was for more knock-down power, reigniting the debate over America's small arms caliber choices.

"When speaking to experts and Soldiers on site, many commented on the limited ability to effectively stop targets, saying that those personnel targets who were shot multiple times were still able to continue pursuit," the report said.

A full 20 percent of M9 users said they wanted a new weapon, and "some were more specific and requested a return to the Colt .45 for standard issue pistols," including others who asked for hollow-point ammo.

Hollow point rounds have been deemed illegal for military use.

Additionally, M16 users were "consistent and adamant" in asking to be re-issued the more compact M4.

-- Christian

May 25, 2007 01:30 PM | Guns
Latest Comments
So the vast majority of troops express satisfaction with their weapon systems yet the headline is "Soldiers Want A Bigger Bang".

Anything to get the armchair warriors all stirred up over the next piece of shiny kit being pushed.


Posted by: FWM at May 30, 2007 10:07 AM

the 9mm is a fine hand gun and very accurate. the 45 has a velocity of 850 fps. slower than the 9mm but very hard hitting. i love the old 45. it also was an accurate piece. or i never had any trouble with hitting a man sized target. bring back the 45. it will do the job.after almost 90 years it is still a very fine weapon. like to have one myself and get shed of my 380.

Posted by: richard clark at May 30, 2007 09:45 AM

The stopping power of the 5.56mm has debated since it's introduction during Vietnam. The military 40 years later, still hasn't gotten it through there heads.
As far as the 9mm v .45, everyone knows that the .45 is a better round. Since hollow points are against the Geneva convention, the U.S. doesn't seem to fight countries that signed it, the move back to the .45. An easy way to do that is to increase production of the HK USP45. Make it the double action only version for simplisity. Then you would have a round with a higher one shot kill ratio and a weapon that has a higher ammo capacity than the 1911. If HK isn't the way to go, there several reliable double stack, 1911 style .45's out there.

Posted by: copdoc at May 30, 2007 09:44 AM

Speaking of legalities, in WWII, if you were caught by the Germans or the Brits, out of uniform, conducting war, you were tried (very quickly), and executed as a spy. It was known to special new formed units such as the SAS and Royal Commandos that this was a distinct possibility if captured. I think we should incorporate the same rules-of-engagement. Out of uniform? BANG BANG.
As far as what weapons to use....notice on TV how many Marines and Soldiers are using AK's (Can't ell if they're 47's or 74's). Troops seem to know what works. I loved the M-16A2 at the range, where it was extremely accurate. But the combat our guys are seeing over there is short range combat, and a lot of CQC, for which I'd be more than happy to sacrifice accuracy for reliablility.
Pistol? Is there any question it shouldn't be the .45? And Glock will never get the contract, even though it's the perfect soldiers pistol, as they won't give up what it's made of (Hence they were looked at, but not invited to the first 9mm test years ago). Single stack 1911a1 is the way to go. Uncomplicated, everybody makes one, and we all know it works. nuff'said.

SEMPER FI, and keep those virgins comin'

Posted by: Dia Mortensen (Sgt. USMC, Former) at May 30, 2007 09:31 AM

i do belive with most of the people here that we should go back to the colt .45 it is a good gun. it woked very well back in world war 2. my Granfather was saved on more then one occasion by the .45 i havent a clue as to why they chaned to samller pistol with much less stopping power. Another think is why can the military use hallo points, that doesent make sence to me. They can add a lot more stopping power to a low calibar round. hallo points will hit and kill a target but wont go through the body so you arent hitting things you dont want to. like children or civilians. so with the hallo points you kill the people you want to with out the possibilty of hitting someone else. Thank you armed forces

Recruit Morrissette
united States Navy

Posted by: Steven at May 30, 2007 09:24 AM

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It isn't the calibers. It is the ammo. FMJ doesn't do wonders. Most deaths in combat are blood loss related. JHP will take care of that.

And I seriously think the US needs to get a Glock contract. I mean come on!

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i don't remember what thread i posted it in, but some rep for the military said plain and simple, when they went with 5.56 they where trying to incorporate a "shoot to wound" strategy. i suppose, for some reason we look better in the public eye if we aren't trying to kill the people we go to war with?

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Nose Nuggets said:
i don't remember what thread i posted it in, but some rep for the military said plain and simple, when they went with 5.56 they where trying to incorporate a "shoot to wound" strategy. i suppose, for some reason we look better in the public eye if we aren't trying to kill the people we go to war with?
Actually that is totally false. The ARPA studies of 1961 showed the 5.56/.223 in 1961 showed the ammunition more lethal than our 7.62 NATO or 30M2. Its what got the defense department under McNamara all excited. Wounds that normally would have been minor with the T65/7.62NATO were fatal with the 223 ammo. The only reason we have reduced lethality is the fact that was with 55 grain bullet with a 1 in 14 twist barrel, and since these were early models and Colt was not used to rifling barrels most speculate that they were 1 in 15 or 16 twist meaning the bullet was not even stable or just barely. Since we upped the grain to 62 and teh twist remarkably. When the Govt adopted the M16 and changed teh rifiling to 1 in 12 so that it would be accurate to -65F it lost 40% lethality. Add to that the 62gr FN load needs atleast a 16 inch barrel and the M4 falls too short of that and you have a great reduction in lethality.

We messed with a sound design and stopped listening to Eugene Stoner in 1962, The US Govt at one ime proposed over 100 changes to the AR and actually did about a dozen....most against Stoners advice. The Marines didnt even want the gun and preffered the Stoner 63.

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i remember now, it was the new M4 upper thread

"What it all boils down to is that when the 5.56mm cartridge was first introduced to U.S. combat rifles, it was adopted because of its size and its fit with the U.S. "shoot-to-wound" philosophy of the time. ",14632,Soldiertech_M468,,00.html

but with a little more googling i found that this is a myth statement, as you noted.
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