More Rifle Talk

Kim Du Toit, the blogosphere’s go-to guy on firearms has an excoriation of the Army’s new rifle, the Objective Individual Combat Weapon. (He includes a follow-up piece with more details as well). The OICW weights a full 68 lbs fully loaded, which is ridiculously heavy for a combat weapon. By comparison, the M16 that’s currently standard issue weighs a svelte 8.75 pounds fully loaded. The M16 isn’t much heavier than a standard deer rifle thanks to a lot of plastic and composite parts that keep the weight down. In terms of weight, the M16 is a very good rifle. (In terms of size and field maintenance it’s a pain in the ass, but that’s another story.)

The problem with the OICW is that it’s designed to do everything and anything and does none of them well. Yes there are times when it would be nice to have a rifle that can be programmed to detonate at a certain distance. However, there are times when the priority is to have a rifle that just works. The AK-47 can be dragged through mud, sand, and water and still fire. An M16 would jam. An soldier carrying the OICW had damn well better hope he had a good sidearm or he’s going to have to kill the enemy by chucking the damn rifle at them. You can’t expect soldiers to drag a 40lbs battery pack just to be able to use their rifle. The fact that the OICW can’t be separated from its electronic gizmos shows that it was designed to fufill a set of requirements on paper rather than being built for soldiers.

What the military needs is a small, lightweight, and accurate rifle like the MP5. Hell, even the French FA-MAS is a better rifle than the OICW. Kim DuToit suggests something like the HK G3KA4, which is a nice rifle. Surely the DoD can come up with something that is less finicky than the M16 but doesn’t require soliders to carry something that is the rifle equivalent of Fat Bastard. The Israeli Tavor rifle is a good example of a rifle that’s designed for urban operations without sacrificing battle readiness of Israeli troops. The Tavor accomodates the same 5.56mm NATO round as the M16 but has a smaller frame because of its “bull pup” design style. However, it’s designed to have a 24cm muzzle length for increased accuracy.

Best of all the Tavor features a combat weight of the rifle, a 30 round magazine, an optical sight, and a carrying sling of only a little over 8 pounds. Given the choice of lugging a 60lbs rifle and an 8lbs one, it’s pretty damn clear which one is the better option. Less weight for the rifle means more ammo, armor, food, or water than a soldier can carry. The Tavor would be my choice for the next generation US combat rifle, it’s small, accurate, and exceptionally flexible. The OICW is a concept taken to its illogical extreme while the Tavor is a rifle designed for and by soldiers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.