Skip to comments.HK creates new and improved M4
Posted on 02/18/2004 9:23:07 AM PST by heckler
THE HKM4 SYSTEM
Inspired by the resounding success of the midlife improvement program of the British SA80 (L85/L86) Weapons System, Heckler & Koch began a detailed assessment of the technical deficiencies of the standard US-issue M4 Carbine in early 2002.
Combining the lessons learned from this program to the already world renowned design, testing and manufacturing capabilities of HK an internally funded project was launched to improve the reliability, safety and durability as well as the salient features of the baseline weapon system. Working with current users from around the globe HK set out to produce an M4-type Carbine that would outperform the baseline weapon and provide the high degree of performance required by the user community, particularly those within the special operations arena who demand more and expect no compromise when lives are at stake.
High-speed video assessment and extensive live-fire testing in extreme operational environments such as the U.S. Army Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona revealed multiple areas for immediate improvement. Improvements have been made to the internal operating system and miscellaneous component parts to improve reliability in best and worse case scenarios, with all types of ammunition, with all barrel lengths and with and without sound suppressors attached.
A unique user removable gas system can be factory retrofitted to existing weapons and fits within modified hand guards or a modified Rail Interface System (RIS) allowing all current standard accessories and sights to be fitted to the HKM4 as normal.
The HK-proprietary gas system does not introduce propellant gases and the associated carbon fouling back into the weapons interior. This radically reduces operator cleaning time, increases the reliability of the weapon and extends the interval between stoppages.
The elimination of the gas tube typical of the Stoner AR15/M16/M4 direct gas operating system means that the HKM4 will function normally even if the weapon is fired full of water without first being drained.
To improve reliability, service life and operator safety during obstructed bore occurrences or after extreme extended firing sessions (>300 rounds) HK has produced its famous cold hammer forged barrel for the HKM4 in various lengths to include 10, 14.5, 16.5, and 20 inches.
The highest quality European steel is used in this unique manufacturing process producing a barrel that provides superior accuracy for greater than 20,000 rounds with minimal degradation. The goal of the program to offer an M4-style carbine that will fire 20,000 rounds without cleaning, lubrication, stoppages, or parts replacement has been realized in the development of the HKM4 Enhanced Carbine.
In addition to the improvements in the baseline weapon HK has produced a high reliability magazine and a proprietary buffer to improve functional reliability as well as an add-on single shot 40 x 46mm AG-C grenade launcher for quick attachment to the RIS without tools.
HK has applied its proven and fielded Safety Blank Firing Attachment and Live Round Excluder Magazine technology to the HKM4 Carbine to eliminate the possibility of live rounds being loaded into and fired through a standard issue weapon outfitted for blank firing only.
While development and validation testing of the HKM4 is still ongoing, it is anticipated that HK will offer retrofit services for existing M4-style weapons to the HKM4 standard for U.S. and foreign military and law enforcement users. A drop in HKM4 upper receiver module and a complete carbine are also nearing completion.
The HKM4 has been developed by HK for use by military and law enforcement personnel as an interim performance upgrade to existing US M4 carbines to improve solider survivability in combat until the XM8 design is completed, fully tested and available for fielding. The HKM4 is not expected to be available for military or law enforcement deliveries until late 2004. No definitive decision has been as yet made to offer the HKM4 or its components for commercial or retail purchase.
The full potential of the M4 carbine has now been realized with the introduction of the HKM4.
Better late than never. The US military needs to end its love affair with the M-16 and the 5.56mm round.
Yup, after 40 years in service, and greater distribution worldwide than any other small arm besides the pot metal AKM, somebody would've figured out how much the M16 series sucks.
You have your opinion, and you're entitled to it. I have experiences that formed my opinion. Just Keep your (?) M-16 very, very clean.
Actually, that aspect of Stoners design is the least appealing. The M16 series is certainly one of the most difficult rifles on the planet to clean properly, and it does get funky.
In my experience, though, the M16/AR will shoot fine dirty - but it has to be in good shape - especially the extractor/ejector and associated springs - running clean (minimal fouling) ammo.
Blanks are particulary notorious, I've never met an M16 that ran well for long on blank ammo.
This is just speculation, but it doesn't look like any of these parts would be affected by any current federal gun control regulations.
The trigger group, flash hider, pistol grip and collapsible stock make the M4 LEO/military only, but adding the HK retrofit to an otherwise legal AR might (should) be a non-issue, should HK decide to sell it to civilians.
Also the other undesirable aspects of the M16 series, IMHO, were the charging handle, the forward (bolt) assist, and the ammo. To operate the handle, while on target, one must move the rifle away from the eye, pull the handle to clear and recharge the weapon (if you're lucky), then re-acquire the target. What the target is doing while you are performing these tasks could be fatal.
When I first held an M16, after going through basic with an M-14 and saw the M16's need for a "forward assist", I was not pleased. When I learned that the M16 round only weighed 55 grains (I knew a .38 spec. pistol round weighed 110 to 158 grains) and was really a Remington .223, that I knew to be only varmint ammo, the "pucker factor" really hit.
Bear in mind I had hunted with my father since I was a child. I had excellent weapons at home. Better, I thought, than the M16. I prefered my lever action .30-30. As I later learned, I had good reason for my apprehensions.
Other than that, the "15/16" is a great little rifle. It will take a Coyote, with a good scope.
Looks like H&K proposes to build new barrelled upper receiver assemblies. As long as the barrel length and muzzle configuration and/or bayonet lug conform to whatever regulations apply when these are actually produced, then it does indeed look like the stuff should be okay (barring any nonsensical BATF policy to the contrary).
The gas piston conversion is not a new idea. There have been aftermarket kits to do this; they just never caught on with the civilian market. They still turn up at gun shows every now and then.
ZM Weapons has been building a version of the AR/M-16/M-4 with the piston type gas system for several years now. I wonder how much of H&K's design is really *proprietary*, if you catch my drift. From what I can tell, the H&K G-36 uses a gas system much like that designed by Eugene Stoner for the AR-18/AR-180 - which was designed as an "improved" M-16 (right about the time the U.S. military fumbled the ball in manufacture of M-16 barrels and ammunition during Vietnam). Maybe Stoner's upgrade is finally making it "home".
Very effective on poodles also, or so I've heard.
I've been looking for a link to the RHINO conversion available a few years back; not sure if it's still available but IIRC it's the same idea.
Yep, that's the one I remember. I don't remember if it was made by Rhino Replacement Parts, but that used to be a company (in S.C., I think) that sold all sorts of AR goodies. IIRC, their catalog was the first place I ever saw the gas piston kit. The rig is pictured in Duncan Long's book on the AR-15 pattern rifles, too. I don't know what prevented the idea from taking off before now, but I'd wager that price was a big part of it. Civilian-owned AR-15s just don't *need* such a gas system swap like heavily-used military assault rifles do.
FWIW, Armalite is building the AR-180B for probably less money than HK's upper converion parts will likely cost. That H&K rollmarking is worth at least a 150% markup, you know...
Oh Geez! Is Kerry claiming he shot poodles too in Vietnam.................;^)
BTW, I have always longed for a 20 rnd. magazine fed, lever action, .30-30. I have my kinky side too.
Gotta get me onea these...
Have you happened to notice that the case head and rim dimensions of that new 6,8mm SOCOM military cartridge are the same as for the rim of the .30-30? That suggests some real interesting possibilities....
No I haven't and yes it does.
I mentioned the .30-30 because it is a respectable caliber that women, large boys and small men, can shoot without discomfort. In '68 I was told by a "Lifer" Sergeant that the M16 was replacing the M14 because of the 14's "kick" and new draftees, as well as the small framed Vietnamese were having trouble with the recoil of the M14. They were not aiming and were "flinching" due to recoil. The M16 was "user friendly" regarding recoil (and weight) and was chosen for predominately this reason.
Now, I don't like to pick the lint out of the belly button of a lot of good men's favorite rifle. For me, the M15/16 had only two flaws: Lack of an actual bolt handle and the puny size of its bullet. To me, 2-22's and .223 were for prairie dogs and small coyotes, not communists shooting back at me. The .30-30 (or a similar round) is user friendly in regards to recoil and can have a respectable bullet suitable for combat.
If you have the G2 on the new 6,8mm SOCOM military cartridge, I'd appreciate some more info. It's about time the US military began a serious upgrade of its main battle rifle.
There are emerging ideas and theories; and not everything in the 6,8s future has yet been written. But you'll find a great deal of info- some conflicting- on the 6,8 *here*.
Thanks for the link. Very interesting "Gun Site". I've not been there before. I took some comfort from the above quote on that forum. Seems that I am not alone after all.
So too the the circa-1950 British EM-2, a .276 caliber weapon that offered great promise, but which was suppressed in favour of NATO standardization on the US T44/ 7,62x51mm NATO cartridge.
The bullpup rifle was not without its flaws, common to those of that configuration, but still outstanding for one of the first iof its breed. And it's quite porobable that having worked its way through succeeding generations of refinement and improvement, the resulting A3 or A4 version would be quite highly thought of.
In any event, I'm working on something similar for myself. But the XM8 may suffice for most, and the M4 carbing, in 6,8mm or not, whether by H&K or other contractors, should do until that development sees the light.
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