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“M4A1” redirects here. For the World War II tank, see M4 Sherman.
Carbine, 5.56mm, M4
An M4A1 with SOPMOD package, including Rail Interface System (RIS) and Trijicon ACOG 4x.
Place of origin United States of America
In service 1994–present
Used by United States of America and numerous others
Wars War in Afghanistan (2001–present), 2003 Invasion of Iraq
Variants M4A1, CQBR
Weight 2.52 kg (5.56 lb) empty;
3.0 kg (6.6 lb) w/ 30 rounds
Length 757 mm (29.8 in) (stock retracted)
838 mm (33 in) (stock extended)
Barrel length 368.3 mm (14.5 in)
Cartridge 5.56 x 45 mm NATO
Action Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire 700–950 round/min
Muzzle velocity 905 m/s (2,970 ft/s)
Feed system Various STANAG Magazines.
The M4 Carbine is a family of firearms tracing its lineage back to earlier carbine versions of the M16, all based on the original AR-15
made by ArmaLite. It is a shorter and lighter version of the M16A2 assault rifle, achieving 80% parts commonality with the M16A2. The
M4 has selective fire options including semi-automatic and three-round burst (like the M16A2), while the M4A1 has a "full auto" option in
place of the three-round burst.
2 History and variants
2.2 M4 MWS (Modular Weapon System)
2.4 SOPMOD Block I
2.5 SOPMOD Block II
4 Lessons learned regarding use of the M4 Carbine
5 U.S. citizen ownership
6 Trademark issues
8 See also
9 External links
The M4 and variants fire 5.56 x 45 mm NATO ammunition and are gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire firearms with a
4-position telescoping stock. Original M4 models had a flat-ended telescoping stock, but newer models are now equipped with a
redesigned telescoping stock that is slightly larger and the end has a curvature. A fixed stock can also be fitted, but this is not a
common practice in the U.S. military.
The M4 Carbine with the newer, redesigned telescoping stock.As with many carbines, the M4 is handy and more convenient to carry
than a full-length rifle. While this makes it a candidate for non-infantry troops (vehicle crews, clerks and staff officers), it also makes it
ideal for close quarters combat (CQC), and airborne and special operations. It has been adopted by United States Special Operations
Command (USSOCOM) and is the preferred weapon of the U.S. Army Special Forces. Malaysia purchased M4 Carbine service rifles to
replace the Steyr AUG service rifles in its armed forces in 2006.
The M4 was developed and produced for the United States government by Colt Firearms, which has an exclusive contract to produce
the M4 family of weapons through 2009; however, a number of other manufacturers offer M4-like firearms. The M4, along with the
M16A4, has mostly replaced M16 and M16A2 firearms; the U.S. Air Force, for example, plans to transition completely to the M4 Carbine.
The M4 has also replaced the M3A1 submachine gun that remained in service (mostly with tank crews). The M4 is similar to much
earlier compact M16 versions, such as the 1960s-era XM177 family, though unlike them it is not intended to fire the earlier M193 ball
The United States Marine Corps has ordered its officers (up to the rank of lieutenant colonel) and SNCOs to carry the M4A1 carbine
variant instead of the M9 Beretta pistol. This is in recognition that pistols are largely useless in current conflicts, and is in line with the
Marine Corps phrase, "Every Marine a rifleman." United States Navy corpsmen will also be issued M4A1s instead of the M9, according
to the Marine Corps Times.
 History and variants
For more details on M4 Carbine variants, see AR-15 variants
Except for the very first delivery order, all U.S. military-issue M4 and M4A1 possess a flat-top NATO M1913-specification (Picatinny) rail
on top of the receiver for attachment of optical sights and other aiming devices — Trijicon TA01 and TA31 Advanced Combat Optical
Gunsights (ACOG) and Aimpoint M68 Close Combat Optic (M68 CCO) being the favorite choices —, and a detachable rail-mounted
carrying handle. The current government standards are the Colt Model 920 (M4) and 921 (M4A1).
The major difference between these models is that the M4 has a "S-1-3" (safe/semi-automatic/3-round burst) trigger group, while the
M4A1 has a "S-1-F" (safe/semi-automatic/fully automatic) trigger group.
 M4 MWS (Modular Weapon System)
M4 MWS (Modular Weapon System) shown with various accessories including M203 grenade launcher, RIS foregrip, removeable carry
handle/rear sight assembly, AN/PEQ-2 laser system, and several optional optics.Colt Model 925 carbines were tested fitted with the
Knight's Armament Corporation (KAC) M4 RAS under the designation M4E2, but this designation appears to have been scrapped in
favor of mounting this system to existing carbines without changing the designation. The U.S. Army Field Manual specifies for the Army
that adding the Rail Accessory System (RAS) turns the weapon into the M4 MWS or Modular Weapon System.
The M4A1 carbine is a variant of the basic M4 carbine intended for special operations use. The M4A1 can be found in use by many U.S.
military units, including the Delta Force, U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Rangers, and the U.S. Marine Corps' Radio Reconnaissance
Platoons and Force Reconnaissance companies. The M4A1 Carbine is specially favored by counter-terrorist and special operations
units for close quarters combat because of the carbine's compactness and firepower. These features are also very useful in urban
warfare. Although the M4 does not have as great an effective range as the longer M16, many military analysts consider engagement
with a non-specialized small arm above a range of 300 meters to be unnecessary. It is effective at ranges of 150 meters or less. It has
a maximum effective range of about 460 meters.
In the last few years, M4A1 carbines have been refit or received straight from factory with barrels with a thicker profile under the
handguard. This is for a variety of reasons such as heat dissipation during full-auto and accuracy as a byproduct of barrel weight.
These heavier barrel weapons are also fitted with a heavier buffer known as the H2. Out of three sliding weights inside the buffer, the
H2 possesses two tungsten weights and one steel weight, versus the standard H buffer, which uses one tungsten weight and two
steel weights. These weapons, known by Colt as the Model 921HB (for Heavy Barrel), have also been designated M4A1, and as far as
the government is concerned the M4A1 represents both the 921 and 921HB.
 SOPMOD Block I
SOPMOD (Special Operations Peculiar Modification) Block IUSSOCOM developed the Special Operations Peculiar Modification
(SOPMOD) Block I kit for the carbines used by units under its jurisdiction. The kit features an M4A1 carbine, a Rail Interface System
(RIS) handguard developed by Knight's Armament Company, a shortened quick-detachable M203 grenade launcher and leaf sight, a
KAC sound suppressor, a KAC back-up rear sight, an Insight Technologies AN/PEQ-2A visible laser/infrared designator, along with
Trijicon's ACOG and Reflex sights, and a night vision sight. This kit was designed to be configurable (modular) for various missions,
and the kit is currently in service with special operations units (though many soldiers have changed the Trijicon reflex sight for M68
CCO red dot sights and EOTech holographic sights).
 SOPMOD Block II
A second-generation SOPMOD kit (now known as SOPMOD II) is currently under development, with many different manufacturers
competing for a contract. Notable bidders include Knight's Armament Company, Atlantic Research Marketing Systems (ARMS), and
Lewis Machine & Tools. Daniel Defense has won the contract for the RIS-II, the next generation of rail handguards.
Variants of the carbine built by different manufacturers are also in service with many other foreign special forces units, such as the
Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR). While the SASR uses weapons of essentially the same pattern built by Colt for export
(Colt uses different models to separate weapons for the U.S. military and those for commercial/export purposes), the British SAS uses
a variant on the basic theme, the SFW built by Diemaco of Canada. Although Diemaco was purchased by Colt and renamed Colt
Canada, the Diemaco names and related firearms were kept.
As mentioned, the M4 replaced the M3A1 "Grease Gun" submachine gun that remained in U.S. service, mainly with tank crews. They
previously had M3s, but this was changed to two M4s and two M9 pistols ("personal defense weapons"). This was as much to increase
capability as it was to change over from .45 ACP, as M3A1s could be configured to fire 9 mm ammunition.
M4 with M203 and M68 Close Combat OpticThe M4/M4A1 5.56 mm Carbine is a gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire,
shoulder-fired weapon with a telescoping stock. A shortened variant of the M16A2 rifle with a 36 cm barrel, the M4 provides the
individual soldier operating in close quarters the capability to engage targets at extended range with accurate, lethal fire. The original
M4 Carbine has semi-automatic and three-round burst fire modes, while the M4A1 has "semi" and "full auto", with no three-round burst.
The M4 Carbine achieves over 80% commonality with the M16A2 rifle and was intended to replace the .45 ACP M3 submachine guns
and selected M9 pistols and M16 rifle series with most Army units. (This plan was thought to be changed with the development of the
XM29 OICW and the XM8 carbine. However, both projects were cancelled.) The M4 Carbine is also capable of mounting the M203
Some features compared to a full-length M16A2 rifle include:
Selective fully automatic rather than 3-round bursts (M4A1 only)
However, there have been some criticisms of the carbine, such as lower muzzle velocities and louder report due to the shorter barrel,
additional stress on parts because of the shorter gas system, and a tendency to overheat faster than the M16A2.
M4 with M203 grenade launcher and (redundant) quadrant and leaf sights attachedLike all the variants of the M16 assault rifle, the M4
Carbine and the M4A1 Carbine can be fitted with many accessories, such as night vision devices, laser pointers, telescopic sights,
bipods, the M203 grenade launcher and the XM26 LSS shotgun, and anything else compatible with a MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail.
Other common accessories include the AN/PEQ-2, Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), and M68 Aimpoint. EOTech
holographic weapon sights are to be part of the SOPMOD II package. Visible and IR (infrared) lights of various manufacturers are also
commonly attached using various mounting methods.
The M4 is used with a blank-firing attachment (BFA) when using blank rounds; without the BFA it does not cycle.
 Lessons learned regarding use of the M4 Carbine
Troops armed with M4 Carbines prepare to enter a house on a combat patrol in February 2006 in Tal Afar, Iraq. The 2nd and 4th
soldiers from the right have M203 grenade launchers attached.An April 2002 presentation by the Natick Soldier Center presented by
LTC Charlie Dean and SFC Sam Newland reported on lessons learned from M4 use in Afghanistan (such as use during Operation
34% of soldiers reported that their M4's handguards rattle and become excessively hot when firing.
15% reported that they had troubles zeroing the M68 reflex sight.
35% added barber brushes and 24% added dental picks to their cleaning kits.
Soldiers reported the following malfunctions:
20% reported double-feeding.
15% reported feeding jams.
13% reported that feeding problems were due to magazines.
89% of soldiers reported confidence in the weapon.
20% were dissatisfied with its ease of maintenance.
Soldiers requested the following changes:
55% requested the firearm be made lighter
20% requested a larger magazine
 U.S. citizen ownership
An M4 just after firing, with an ejected case in mid-air; the M203 and M68 CCO are attachedSales of actual M4s by Colt are restricted to
military and civilian law enforcement. Only under special circumstances can a private citizen own an official M4 Carbine. While many
machine guns can be legally owned with a proper tax stamp from the BATFE, an amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of
1986 barred the transfer to private citizens of machine guns made in the U.S. after May 19, 1986. The only exception was for Special
Occupational Taxpayers (SOT): licensed machine gun dealers with demonstration letters, manufacturers, and those dealing in exports
and imports. As such, only the earliest Colt M4 prototypes built prior to May 19, 1986 would be legal to own by civilians not in the
 Trademark issues
Many manufacturers produce firearms that come very close in terms of appearance to a military M4, sometimes colloquially called "M4-
geries". Usually, M4-like firearms feature 16-inch barrels and are semi-automatic only. Though some may have shorter barrels, either
being registered as a Short Barreled Rifle, or having a permanently attached flash hider or muzzle brake bringing the total length up to a
minimum of 16 in. Colt has maintained that it retains sole rights to the M4 name and design. Other manufacturers had long maintained
that Colt had been overstating their rights — "M4" has now become more of a generic term for a shortened M16/AR-15. In April 2004,
Colt filed a lawsuit against Heckler & Koch and Bushmaster Firearms, claiming acts of trademark infringement, trade dress
infringement, trademark dilution, false designation of origin, false advertising, patent infringement, unfair competition, and deceptive
trade practices. Heckler & Koch later settled out of court, changing one product's name from "HK M4" to "HK416". However, on
December 8th, 2005, a District court judge in Maine granted a summary judgment in favor of Bushmaster Firearms to keep the M4 Type
^ Photo of the Colt M4 with the redesigned telescoping stock
 See also
Military of the United States Portal
M16, AR-15, Colt Commando/XM177
List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces (rifles)
Heckler & Koch HK416
 External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
M4Colt M4 Official Page (Military)
Colt M4 Official Page (Law Enforcement)
US Army M4 fact file
The AR-15/M16 Magazine FAQ
U.S. Army Won't Field Rifle Deemed Superior to M4
The USA's M4 Carbine Controversy
[hide]v • d • eAR-15 variants
AR-10 • AR-15 • M16/A1/A2/A3/A4 • M4/A1 Carbine • Diemaco C7, C8 • Colt Commando, XM177, CAR-15 • Colt 9mm SMG • Bushmaster
M4 • HK416 • HK417 • M468 • M231 FPW • SDM-R • SAM-R • Mark 11 'SWS' / SR-25 • XM110 SASS • Mark 12 'SPR' • SEAL Recon Rifle •
Mark 18 'CQBR' • Ares Shrike • La France M16K • SR-47 • Colt Automatic Rifle / CAR
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M4_Carbine"
Categories: Articles lacking sources from September 2007 | All articles lacking sources | 5.56 mm firearms | Assault rifles | Colt |
Modern firearms of the United States | Rifles of the United States
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