Lothaen, of The New Rifleman, recently published a post on Loose Rounds that caught my interest. His piece serves as a counter point to a previous posting on the same blog explaining why the M16A4 is an inferior weapon compared to the M4. Lothaen very nicely explains the benefits of a longer barrel and the overall great general purpose capability of a longer rifle equipped with a collapsing stock and better furniture than the old KAC M5 RAS.
He also posted an accompanying thread on AR15.com that was an entertaining read, drawing out quite a few opinions on the subject. I could tell the older guys were all for the 18″ to 20″ configuration shooting m193. Others were declaring, rather definitively, that all one needs is a 10.5″ to 12.5″ SBR to take care of any and all needs of a modern fighting gun.
I don’t want to rehash those arguments, as they are done to death. I also do not want to take away from Lothaen’s work, as I largely agree with him (except that I would probably stick closer to the 20″ over the 18″ due to the need for a larger gas port on the 18″).
My vision of a modern fighting rifle for modern marksmen is not to dissimilar from Lothaen’s. I would want an adjustable stock, and the ability to fire a wide variety of readily available ammunition (M193, M855, Mk 262, or whatever). What trips me up is the barrel length.
I’ve become a big fan of the 20″ barrel, as evidenced by my continued appreciation and enjoyment of the PMR. But such a configuration is limiting in a lot of ways. The most limiting, of course, is being more cumbersome in both weight and size. I have to be honest and ask myself if the velocity gain of an 18″ or 20″ barrel is significant enough over a 16″ to really warrant the extra weight. For most people, I’m not so sure.
Now, I’m not usually one to participate in TEOTWAWKI/SHTF/OMGZOMBIIEZZZ lines of thinking. But if I had to configure one rifle to issue to all of the “survivors” of my tribe, it would be a lightweight 16″ middy with a red dot and a flashlight. But we’re not talking about those kind of scenarios. We’re talking about a rifle that could effectively be used to a reasonably trained marksman to defend their home, town, or homeland against some perceived threat. History has shown that most firefights take place well within 100 yards. Does a modern marksman’s rifle really need to be capable of regularly making lethal shots at 500 and 600?
I would argue yes. Our nation’s experience in Afghanistan shows that you just never know.
I once read Monty (of Centurion arms) talk about there being a very good argument for having three rifles: a 12.5″, a 16″, and a 20″. And, when you think about it, this makes sense. The image of the lone survivor roaming the wastelands with his one trusty rifle is just fantasy. In any real homeland defensive scenarios, you will have the opportunity to tailor the weapon to the situation. I see no reason to doubt the man, as his experience FAR outweighs me or just about any other blogger out there.