by David Crane
The following article was written and published in June, 2002.
It’s no secret that the performance of both the M4 Carbine and it’s 5.56x45mm caliber have, so far, been somewhat less than outstanding in the war against Al-Queda forces in Afghanistan. In short, the enemy hasn’t been dropping quickly enough when they are hit.
Apparently, the M855 has been zipping right through the bad guys, leaving clean holes out the other side. This is not good. It means that our guys have to hit an enemy soldier multiple times, sometimes as many as 4 or 5 times, to put them down. This is extremely dangerous when one is engaged in CQB inside a dark cave, which is already dangerous enough, by its very nature. DefRev doesn’t yet know how the newer M995 AP round is doing, but we can’t see how it could be doing any better than the M855. Now, when you add to the stopping power situation the fact that the M4 tends to overheat and malfunction when run extensively on full auto, the picture starts getting even bleaker. Apparently, as the M4 gets hot, it eventually blows its gas rings, and can even fire rounds literally out of the side of the barrel. The barrel problem occurs when, while firing on full auto, the barrel begins to bend and vibrate under the intense heat that builds up. It’s DefRev’s opinion that something’s got to be done abut this weapon/ammo problem, and right quick.
Here’s a question: What if we were to issue our Special Operations forces the latest Russian AKM’s, at least on a temporary basis, since both the 5.45x39mm and 7.62x39mm rounds have better stopping power than our own 5.56x45mm? I mean, let’s face it—the Russian rounds certainly can’t do any worse. I’m fairly sure that, right now, we could acquire AK-74M’s and AK-100 series guns in both 5.45x39mm and 7.62x39mm very inexpensively from Russia, particularly since we’re on such good terms with them at the moment(right now, President Bush and Russia’s President Putin are tight). Even at normal prices, the AK-100 series rifles cost a good bit less then what our military is spending on M16’s and M4’s. The same goes for Russian ammunition. Also, both Russian calibers are proven stoppers under combat conditions, even against tough-as-nails Afghani fighters. In fact, during the Russians’ own Afghan war in the late 70’s through the early 80’s, the 5.45x39mm quickly developed a reputation among the mujahidin as a devastating round, due to it’s yawing effect inside the body, which caused massive injuries. AP(Armor Piercing) ammunition is available in both the 5.45x39mm and 7.62x39mm, so our SpecOps operators shouldn’t be at a disadvantage in that department either. If our guys need shorter carbine length guns, no problem. AK-104’s and 105’s will do the trick. None of these modern AKM’s should suffer any of the weapon or ammunition-related problems that our M4’s are currently suffering. You can run an AK pretty much all day, and under all conditions. They’re ready to go, right out of the box.
Now, some of you out there may be thinking that Kalashnikov rifles have one major drawback with regard to tactical application(besides the less-than-ergonomic selector switch and mag release)–they don’t allow for a true 1913 picatinny rail system. Everybody knows that over the last several years, our special operators have gotten used to having rail systems on their M4’s that they can use to mount all kinds (a plethora, if you will) of optical gunsights, tactical lights, lasers, night vision scopes, thermal scopes, vertical foregrips, and God knows what else. Two of the most popular are the Knight’s RAS and A.R.M.S. S.I.R. systems. Well, guess what? Knight’s Armament has just come out with an RAS for AK’s. Assuming it works as well as their M4 RAS–problem solved.
Understand that I’m not proffering the idea of outfitting our special operations personnel with RAS outfitted modernized Russian AK’s as a permanent solution. However, as a temporary solution, it’s hard to beat. If someone out there has a better idea that also solves the current weapon/ammunition problem outlined above, DefRev would very much like to hear it, as we want our boys in Afghanistan to come home on their feet, none the worse for wear.