Heavy lubrication shown to improve M16, M4 effectiveness
By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jul 16, 2007
Army weapons officials might have found a way to improve the M16 family’s performance in the desert.
“Dust chamber” tests at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., last year show that M16 rifles and M4 carbines perform dramatically better when the weapon’s bolt assembly is heavily lubricated.
During each phase of the two-part “system assessment” at Army Test and Evaluation Command, testers fired 60,000 rounds through 10 weapon samples of each model.
Treated with light lubrication, new M16A4s and M4s, performed poorly in the extreme dust and sand conditions of the test, according to a January report from ATEC.
But when testers applied a heavy coat of lubrication to the weapons, the test results showed a “significant improvement.”
Out of the 60,000 rounds fired in each phase, the M4 stoppage-rate dropped from 9,836 with light lubrication to 678 with heavy lubrication.
The M16A4 stoppage-rate dropped from 2,124 with light lubrication to 507 with heavy lubrication, results show.
For years, Army weapons officials have preached to soldiers to virtues of applying a light coat of lubrication during weapons maintenance.
But the test results reinforce a recent change in weapons maintenance guidance Army units are practicing in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Col. Carl Lipsit, project manager for Soldier Weapons.
At the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the Army will conduct a similar dust-chamber test in August, pitting the M4 against the Heckler and Koch 416, the H&K XM8 and FNH USA’s Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle.
All of the participating weapons will be treated with a heavy coat of lubrication during the test, Lipsit said.