“He Should Have an AK”

When I noted that this year is the 60th birthday of the AK-47 assault rifle, I included lots of links to sources testifying to that weapon’s quality and reliability — especially when compared to the weapon U.S. soldiers have carried since the Vietnam era, the M-16 rifle. Here’s another one.

I was reading a thread on Phillip Carter’s excellent site Intel Dump today and found a link to an interview that shows just how low the M-16 is still rated compared to the AK-47, even after decades of improvements. It’s a PBS interview that includes some talk with one of the original designers of the M-16, a fellow named Jim Sullivan. Sullivan compares the improvements that have been made to the AK family over the years to those made to the M-16, and when asked by interviewer Paul Solman which one he would rather have his son carry into battle in Iraq, Sullivan is pretty blunt:

JIM SULLIVAN: He should have an AK.



It’s a sad statement about our military procurement system when we can always find the money for the latest mega-budget project with no clear rationale for existing, but when it comes to providing the  basics for the grunts on the ground — rifles that don’t jam, body armor that stops today’s bullets, vehicles that shield their crew from injury — we can’t seem to make it happen.


Joe Dailey

October 10, 2007
6:00 pm

If, I repeat If, you can keep the thing clean,
The m-16 is superior to the AK rifles because it is lighter, much more accurate and the rounds are more powerful. That is why a m-16/m-4 is a perfect weapon for a police swat unit, since they can put the time into keeping the weapon clean, are not using the weapon in constant combat, and will usually need to make single shots that count.
How you can keep it clean in a desert (or a jungle, or any other place on the planet) is the problem no one has been able to fix for the past 40 years. If you can fire your m-16 on the guy with the AK before he is in effective range, you win. If your m-16 jams, you die (and with my limited experience with m-16s, they jam all the time).
Now, rumor is that the Germans over at H&K have developed the HK416 (m-4/m-16, get it?), which might have fixed the reliability problem.
Of course, the U.S. Army won’t buy the new weapon.

Jason Lefkowitz

October 11, 2007
9:45 am

The Army Times agrees with you, Joe:
“One critical lesson has been that the M4 and M16 rifles that regular Army troops carry are dangerously vulnerable to the fine sand and extreme temperatures of those combat zones. Soldiers have had their weapons jam when they most needed them — while under fire. Keeping them clean in the combat zone requires more care than is reasonable to expect from busy, weary soldiers.
Members of Delta Force decided they wanted a weapon more reliable than the Colt-made M4 and bought a new carbine, the 416, from gunmaker Heckler & Koch. The 416 essentially is an enhanced M4 but with a critical difference: It features an operating system that better cycles the heat and gas created when rounds are fired, reducing both the rate at which the wea-pon jams and the wear on parts.
Though the 416 is more reliable and comparable in cost to the M4, Army leaders are not considering it for regular soldiers, saying it did not represent enough of a leap in technology.”
Yeah, “works in the field” obviously isn’t whiz bang enough. Jesus!