FORT SILL, OK (TNN) - After a half century of using the same rifle for basic training, the United States Army now has a new weapon of choice. The M4 is replacing the M16 that was first issued during the Vietnam War.
240 basic trainees hit the range Thursday for marksmanship qualification, using brand new M4s.
“Now they have these brand new weapons, they fire nicely,” said Jonathon West, a drill sergeant at Fort Sill. “There are no issues, no malfunctions, better for the soldier, less stress for them and they qualify as soon as possible.”
The brigade was issued 2,000 M4s in December. 2nd Lieutenant Zach Cochran says the previously issued M16 had an abundance of problems which took focus away from the most important task - training.
“We’d have retaining pins snap in half on qualification days,” said Lt. Cochran. “We’d have parts of the bolt that would rip off. The charging handles would pull out of the weapon, parts of the handguard completely break off and have to replace it while we were out here qualifying.”
The M4 weighs just under six pounds, about two pounds lighter than the M16. Another advantage to the M4, is its collapsible butt stock, which soldiers can adjust based on arm length and body size. The rate of fire is also more efficient, capable of full auto versus the M16’s three-round burst.
“Personally, shooting M4s is a much better experience,” said Lt. Cochran. “The M16s were bulky and heavy. Some people refer to them as muskets.”
Another feature of the M4 is its rail system, giving the soldier the ability to easily add on different optics and attachments. When everything in the Army relies on mobility and speed, the size and reliability of the M4 can make all the difference on the range and in combat.
“It’s great to not interrupt training for a malfunctioning weapon,” Lt. Cochran said. “I think that’s the most important part, giving the trainees the best experience possible in basic training and preparing them for the force and preparing them to get out there and do great things in the Army.”
The brigade is expecting more M4s in the near future.