M4A1: The M4A1 is a common service rifle/carbine in the United States Army and USMC, as well as in other militaries. The highly reconfigurable rifle derives from the classic AR-15 and M-16 designs and the M4 version is planned to replace the M16 rifles in the US military over the coming years. The M4A1 features selective fire with semi-automatic/full automatic fire modes, while the M4 is limited to semi-automatic and three-round burst.
The M4A1 is also the basis for the SOPMOD Block I, II, and III used by USSOCOM and others. SOPMOD adds in a rail interface system with the ability to add in an M203 40mm Grenade Launcher, sound suppressor, and other special attachments.
The weapon system has seen deployment in recent combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other areas around the world. Current users include Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, Canada (as the C8), Czech republic, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mlayasia, Nepal, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, UAE, United States, and Yemen. Many of the users are special operations or police forces in these nations.
While the M4 has been in service in many nations, there is some controversy over the weapon’s effectiveness at longer ranges–a necessary compromise given the shorter barrel length (at 14.5″) compared to the M16 series of rifles (18″ and up). This has driven the development of alternatives such as the XM8, FN SCAR, HK-416, and Bushmaster ACR, as well as a push for larger calibres, such as the 6.8 SPC or “green” ammunition such as the M855A1. The M855A1 ammunition uses a copper core and faster-burning powder to attain higher muzzle velocities out of the shorter barrel.
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