What's next for the AR platform?

What's next for the AR platform?

This is a discussion on What's next for the AR platform? within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; My latest read has been Patrick Sweeney's "The book of the AR-15 (the first one)" and it was fascinating reading about the inception and surprisingly ...

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    Ex Member Array DetChris's Avatar
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    What's next for the AR platform?

    My latest read has been Patrick Sweeney's "The book of the AR-15 (the first one)" and it was fascinating reading about the inception and surprisingly rocky history of the platform. From it's days winning the SCHV contest to Vietnam to Mogadishu to present day, the M16/M4 has been persevering but not perfect.

    A finicky and sensitive system that took decades and several iterations to make acceptable, one that requires at least some routine cleaning to keep running and probably the biggest fly in the ointment is the 5.56 NATO round. It's a really small round compared to the 7.62x39 or most other 30 cal military offerings.

    All this got me wondering about the future of the platform...

    1) is the US military considering switching to more modern weapon systems? Maybe the SCAR or a bullpup design such as the FN P90 or maybe the F2000? Or perhaps the Israeli Tavor?

    2) Or is there a new weapons contest underway now to replace the AR? Maybe a "modular barrel (ala LMT's), bull pup, 308 Win/ 30-06 Rem modern infantry weapons platform"?

    3) probably most plausible is for the military to switch to the new but extremely awesome .300 AAC blackout cartridge? All the benefits of an AK-47 in the AR platform. Maybe retain the 5.56 for longer range work or switch to .308 Win for sniper roles, but general infantry work would be the Blackout.

    Any thoughts on this?


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    they will not switch to another platform. May change to piston uppers, but will not switch.

    To many parts in the supply chain. Would take years, possible decades to get it switched over. Nope the m4 is here to stay for at leas another 30 years. I will be probably the last guns our military uses until the Plasma rifle in 40 watt range.
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    Member Array MMinSC's Avatar
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    I would guess a rechamber is the most probable change. It would be the most cost effective improvement. Then again, guessing what makes sense with the government involved is a fool's errand.

    Improvements I would like? Maybe some slots in the hand guard so I can heat up hot dogs an the range. I get hungry out there and the grease would keep the rifle lubed.
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    Member Array ashamans's Avatar
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    They wont even change to piston uppers, that came and went

    6.8 spc, came and went

    Scar and other weapons have been evaluated, not enough improvement to "upgrade"

    They are issuing ar 10s now as designated marksman rifles
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    The problem is that, for the military, "perfection is the enemy of good enough." They won't replace the AR system until they find something "perfect," and that is impossible (Glock marketing hype notwithstanding...coming from a Glock guy).

    Plenty of rifle systems have been developed that are "better" but the military wants a "quantum leap." I don't think they even know what such a "leap" would be.

    In any case, we have had the answer for decades, but for various reasons it has never been implemented on a wide scale. The "best" intermediate infantry cartridge is something in the .270 cal range...hence the 6.8, 6.5, etc. Good balance of range, control, barrier penetration and ability of a soldier to still carry a lot of ammo.

    Maybe, some day, we can go to "caseless" ammo, so a soldier can carry a good quantity of larger caliber ammo for the same weight as the current brass-cased ammo. Another option might be liquid propellants, but that has its own issues and complexity.
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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    The SCAR is the most exhaustively tested and developed small arm in military history. It was only slightly more reliable than the M4.

    I'll edit this in a bit.
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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    Some clues here:

    Lightweight Small Arms Technologies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I believe the XM29 was the most forward-thinking project that got legs under it recently, but that was canned years ago already. I'm with Rob - my guess is that the AR-15 in 5.56 will be around for as long as conventional firearm technology is effective. There's just not enough advantage in switching en masse to something new when the entire Western world is standardized to that cartridge, which the AR-15 platform uses well enough. Especially considering our economic situation.
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    Ex Member Array DetChris's Avatar
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    What's the word on the 300 blackout making it to prime time? I see absolutely no disadvantages to the round when used in the M16/M4's primary role - close quarters combat at 200 yards or less.


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    Quote Originally Posted by DetChris View Post
    What's the word on the 300 blackout making it to prime time? I see absolutely no disadvantages to the round when used in the M16/M4's primary role - close quarters combat at 200 yards or less.


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    While a good caliber/cartridge you need to consider stocks of what the military already has as well as NATO compatibility. Logistically Speaking , I imagine the 5.56 is here for a while.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonconsiglio View Post
    The SCAR is the most exhaustively tested and developed small arm in military history. It was only slightly more reliable than the M4.

    I'll edit this in a bit.
    The above demonstrates that the problem with seeking a replacement of the M16 FOW is that there isn't anything that provides enough of an advantage to make the cost worth it. To me, better training teaching combat arms forces to actually fight with their rifles, instead of merely shooting with them, would reap much more benefits than a hardware "upgrade".
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    Ex Member Array Gearhead's Avatar
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    It's all about funding. The military, like the rest of the country, is broke. Even if they wanted to change service rifles (or pistols) they could not afford to do it. No Bucks, no Buck Rogers

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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    5.56 and 7.62x51 are going to stay for a good while. Retooling and replacement would take a number of years and tens of millions of dollars.

    As already mentioned, until we move to caseless or telescopic ammunition or something along the lines of 7mm, any changes will be marginal at best.

    Until someone one comes up with a carbine that will never fail, it would be extremely hard to outperform the M16 FOW as proven by the SCAR program.

    A Ranger I know of was issued the SCAR H 7.62x51 along with many guys in his unit. Some had the 13.5" barrel and other longer. They used these as their primary rifles for a deployment. I linked or quoted a detailed post of his a while back and I'll try got find it later.

    He stated that there was almost no performance gain and the heavier weight of the load out was the most noticeable difference. They still fired the same number of rounds to incapacitate. Their engagement ranges were the same, though their unit would close with and destroy the enemy instead of getting into long range firefights... They carried less ammo but fired the same amount as 5.56.

    There re was no real accuracy benefit unless shooting off of the bench.

    All around, there was really no improvement in reliability or number of rounds fired to incapacitate. The negatives were added weight and added blast and concussion from the larger caliber.

    The same can be said of the 5.56 SCAR L, minus the wright issues. The improvement was so small that SOCOM canceled the purchase and use of the SCAR L and replaced all future purchases with the SCAR H 7.62x51. The SCAR H is a definite improvement over all other available 7.62x51 rifles.

    6.8spc has seen a bit of time on the battle field. These were typically shorter rifles so the benefits weren't as obvious as if it was 14.5" rifles. They were much more concussive and harder recoiling and these things basically cancelled out any benefit to the 6.8 ammunition over 5.56.

    Theres e's no question 6.8 is one of the better choices for short to mid range fighting, but when we shorten the barrel similar to the issued 10.5" 5.56 rifles, we lose most of the benefits that we'd see comparing 14.5" rifles.

    300blk is in use by a certain unit. To what extent I have no clue. The 300blk is one of the best choices for a shorter rifle for distances out to 300 yards or so (from even a 9" barrel). Blast and concussion and very little and it's hard hitting for the barrel length. It is a significant improvement and an excellent replacement for the MP5SD 9mm, MP7 4.6mm, MK18 10.3" 5.56 and HK416 10" 5.56. Even though it's not as hard hitting and flat shooting as the 6.8, comparing 9" barrels the difference is small yes the. 300blk has noticeably less recoil and blast, so it's a better choice for most situations at shorter range.

    Not or to mention it suppressed well and is nearly as quiet as the MP5 SD and MP7 suppressed yet hits considerably harder.

    300blk would not be the best choice for general use. The trajectory would be hard to handle for most shooter beyond 250 to 300 yards.

    300blk would be one of the best choices for law enforcement in the US and would be a much better choice for direct action team members that are currently using the 10" 5.56 rifles.

    In my line of work, executive protection, I think a very short 300blk is the best hunt going right now. I'd say the same for law enforcement. You could issue 8" to 10.5" 300blk rifles and cover all law enforcement needs except for special circumstances where they still use a bolt gun or a 7.62x51, etc.

    Anyway, the fact of the matter is that nothing currently available is worth the cost of replacement as any advantage will be so small that most won't even see it. The M4, especially with the new heavy barrel and full auto trigger group, is about as good as we can get without thinking outside the box for general military use.
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    My guess is that what replaces the AR platform will be some sort of directed energy weapon.

    I'm not joking here. We have lasers capable of shooting down missiles. All they need to do is make them smaller and lighter.
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    Member Array remington79's Avatar
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    I use to think that the M4 and 5.56 were bad. They may not be the best, I think 6.8 would be a good way to go but the more I've read the higher my thoughts on the AR/M4 platform are.

    A lot of the bad rap of the 5.56 is the lack of stopping power. that was mainly because of the use of the steel perpetrator ammo (M855) that would just go right through people not wearing armor. There are new rounds out there to fix that such as the M855A1 and the Mk 262 and Mk318.

    As for being finicky the more I read the more it appears to be the rifle/carbine is under lubricated. I also see you don't need the pick to get every crevice clean and a lot of people over clean and don't use enough oil. Here is an example of a dirty, rode hard, put up wet carbine. There are also some pictures in the link. BCM Filthy 14 ?? - Page 3

    After doing some research before buying my first AR I've come to see that the round can perform better than people hear about and the platform is more reliable than it's given credit for.
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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Exactly. An understanding of HOW the different choices in ammo wound, and the fragmentation/expansion threshold of those bullets, the M4 becomes a much more capable rifle.

    Unfortunately, m855 is one of the worst performing 5.56 bullets available. From a 14.5" barrel, it reaches the minimum velocity for fragmentation at about 90 yards or so. This is terrible. Compare that to Gold Dot or 70gr TSX, which are still performing as designed out to 300 to 375 yards.

    At 150 yards, m855 is just punching holes. At 300 yards, 70gr TSX (which is one of the best performers available), TBBC, Gold Dot, Winchester's new 64gr bonded, etc are not only punching holes, but are expanding fully and reliably, creating a wound channel as much as 5 times that of m855.

    Understanding this is very important for any defensive or professional use.

    The other thing to consider is accuracy. You hear all these claims about how ineffective 5.56 can be at times. Well, m855 through the stomach at 350 yards isn't really the best way to immediately incapacitate.

    5.56 is one of those calibers that is very dependent on bullet design. The difference between m855 and 70gr TSX at 100 yards is truly shocking.
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    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

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