Behind the Cover: Big changes for Marine service rifles


Since early in the Iraq war, Marines in combat have carried either the M16A4 rifle or M4 carbine, 5.56mm workhorses that leathernecks know well.

Soon, the Marine Corps could adopt big changes to those weapons. While the Army searches for a possible new carbine, Marine officials want to overhaul both the M16A4 and M4, modernizing to make them more adjustable, accurate and comfortable.

The effort to modernize the M16A4 shows a continued divergence with the Army, which continues to favor carbines and their shorter barrels. The Corps continues to stick largely with the M16A4 and its 20-inch barrel, which advocates say offers more accuracy and stopping power at distance.

Marksmanship offiicals with Weapons Training Battalion, out of Quantico, Va., walked me through the options in an interview last week. Several of them were recommended following the Corps’ 2011 Combat Marksmanship Symposium in March, but didn’t emerge publicly as things the Corps was moving on now until this month.

For the details, check the story out on newsstands this week or subscribe online here to read it now.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. No, Zach. Each Monday, we explain what the Marine Corps Times print cover story is in this “Behind the Cover” feature. The whole story is available in the print edition.

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