Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Many M4 Rifles Recalled from unhappy Border Patrol Agents


All of you who have read my posts on rifles know that I'm not a big fan of the AR15/M16 rifle design.

And yes, you most likely know my angst with civilian law enforcement agencies being armed with M16 rifles, the M4 carbine, and other types of military weaponry for routine use against citizens.

Most know real well that I am thoroughly against equipping state, city, and county law enforcement agencies with military gear and weaponry.

Yes, this is especially true these days when statistics prove that violent crime is at a 40 year low and that the shooting deaths of civilian law enforcement officers is at the lowest point that they have been since 1887 when the population of the United States was less than one fifth of what it is today.

That being said, it should also be noted that I am not against giving every military advantage to the Border Patrol Agents who are protecting our borders. To my way of thinking, since they are acting in lieu of our military in a war on the border -- they should be armed to meet the threat from Mexican snipers and the Mexican Cartels.

While I have long thought that there should be a replacement for the M16 design, the M4 which is the carbine version of the M16 rifle is the standard weapon for our nation's Border Patrol agents.

The M4 carbine is one of several rifles derived from the M16 design. The M16 rifle is an air-cooled, gas operated, magazine fed, shoulder and hip fired weapon. It fires a  5.56x45mm round and is capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire.

The M4 is just shorter and lighter, but fires in three-round bursts while in full automatic mode like other M16s today. Already used heavily by our military, the M4 is slated to eventually replace the M16 in all of our military.

Although Colt was the original manufacturer, versions are now made by such gun-makers as Bushmaster and Remington.

As I said before, I am not a fan of the M16 design. And yes, the M16 is a horrible design that has been part of our military since the 1960s.

Some say it has the distinction of being the service rifle with the longest service time. I say it also has the distinction of being the rifle that has gotten more American troops killed in combat than any other.

In an article from February 2014, The M4 Rifle Is Getting Our Troops Killed, I focus on a news article Troops left to fend for themselves after Army was warned of flaws in rifle which states what many of us who were in the military during the transition from the M14 to the M16 pointed out.

Yes, even back in the 1970s, many of us using the M16 were pointing out problems with the M16. Among those flaws were its jamming, failure to feed, failure to fire, extraction problems, and many of the plastic parts were broken.

These problems persisted throughout the 1980s and 1990s even as newer versions of the same design came forward.

As for the M4, in 2002, USMC officials said, the M4 malfunctioned three times more often than the M16A4 during an assessment conducted in late summer 2002 for Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, VA.

Malfunctions were broken down into several categories: magazine failures, failure to chamber, failure to fire, failure to extract and worn or broken parts.

Supposed during the comparison tests between the M4 and the M16A4, the M4 failed 186 times across those categories compared to the M16A4 which failed 61 times during the testing over the course of over 60,000 rounds fired.

In 2013, it was reported that the M4 finished dead last in a sandstorm reliability test, against 3 competitors that include a convertible M4 variant. But even worse is that the M4 had over three and half times more jams than the 3rd place finisher.

Complaints about the M4 by our military also include:

• At a 250-yard effective-kill distance, it lacks range;
• Its 5.56 mm round lacks killing power;
• It requires constant maintenance;
• It is prone to jamming;
• Troops also complain that the magazine dents easily and the springs break.

So now, we find ourselves in 2014 and there is a report that the U.S. Border Patrol is recalling 40% of their M4s because of malfunction problems.

Yes, after nearly one-third of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's 16,300 M4 carbine rifles were tested by the agency's office of training and development, it was determined that more than 2,000 had the potential for malfunction.

CBP Deputy Chief Ron Bitiello said the rate of nearly 40 percent was "more than we are comfortable with."

Consequently, the Border Patrol has done the right thing and pulled thousands of rifles from field agents in a large-scale effort to refurbish the weapons.

"Our top priority is to make sure our agents are safe," said Bitiello, adding that the agency intends to eventually cycle through all of the rifles to ensure that those in need of repair are fixed.

"They will be like new when they are refurbished."

While I understand the desire to recall such a flawed weapon is necessary, Border Patrol agents say the agency’s gun recall puts them in danger.

Yes, believe it or not, the recall has prompted the rank-and-file of Border Agents to complain that they've been left with the dangerous options of "sharing guns" or being disarmed altogether.

While that is certainly not the case, Border Patrol agents are "dubious" about the department's claims given that the guns' manufacturer Colt, has not issued a recall.

Well, maybe if they took a minute and actually thought about it, than maybe they'd understand why Colt has never recalled any of the M16 line. Remember, the weapon's design has had problems going back to the early 1960s when troops first found and reported some of the problems with the rifle's basic design.

And as for not recalling the M4, there are probably a few reasons why Colt has never "recalled" the M16 rifle or any of its spin-offs like the M4 carbine. Some of those may be:

1) If Colt recalls a product, they are admitting that there are problems inherent to design flaws and that they have an inferior product.

2) Sales and contracts for future sales would be in jeopardy.

3) If Colt had "recalled" their M4, then their action would probably also open them up to lawsuits from families of fallen troops who died as a result of a malfunction.

The Border Patrol agents are vehemently opposed to so-called "pool guns."

While "pool-guns" sounds like a derogatory term, it is a term used to describe guns kept in the armory and not issued to agents as "personal assault weapons".

"Pool guns" are weapons, such as rifles and shotguns, which are shared by more than one agent.

"We’d like to know why the rifles were recalled and when they will be returned," Shawn Moran, spokesman for National Border Patrol Council, the Labor Union which represents those agents, told FoxNews.com.

He went on to say, "Our agency is trying to figure out why they were pulled."

But what doesn't Moran understand?

It is fairly easy to comprehend:

1) Nearly one-third of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's 16,300 M4 carbines were tested by the agency's office of training and development.

2) The results of those tests determined that more than 2,000 had the potential for a malfunction which would render the weapon useless..

3) Even the slightest potential for a malfunction can cost an agent their life.

4) Because of a genuine concern for the lives of their agents, nearly 40% of the M4s in inventory has been pulled from field agents in a large-scale effort to refurbish the weaponry.

It seems pretty simple to understand, the Border Patrol chiefs are demonstrating that their top priority is to make sure that agents are safe.

Of course, let's be very frank here, the agent's Union would probably be the first to accuse the Border Patrol chiefs of not doing their job and keep agents safe if just one of the agents died as a result of just one of the gun's notorious malfunctions.

Besides, the Border Patrol has more than 16,000 of the M4 carbines -- and only 40% were pulled for refurbishing.

Moran said there is potential danger for agents relying on rifles shared with others, noting the importance of personalizing settings and having a general familiarity with a personal weapon.

"You don’t want a weapon that is zeroed in to someone else," he said. "You don’t share guns and you don’t share needles because both could end with people dying. We work in areas and situations where having these rifles could be a matter of life or death.

Really? Come on? This is the sort of talk that aggravates me.

Comparing "pool gun" to sharing needles is really uncalled for. That is just a lot of bullshit!

While I agree that agents work in areas and situations that could be a matter of life and death, and while I admit that "pool guns" or "armory guns" are used and misused, I don't accept the whole "pool guns" don't have an agent's "personalized setting" so subsequently agents are at risk argument. It is too unbelievable.

First, if one is a professional, then one should be able to pickup any weapon and make it work proficiently.

And second, Moran's statement is a slap to all civilian law enforcement officers, police, deputies, and corrections officers, who draw their weapons from their department's armory at the start of each shift and check it back in at the end of each shift.

Yes, the vast majority of law enforcement in America uses so-called "pool guns" which are more accurately known as "armory guns".

As for personalizing "zeroing" in a weapon?

Zeroing a weapon is the process of adjusting the iron sights and/or the optic to have the bullets hit point of impact to a certain point of aim at a designated distance.

Per both the Marine Corps and U.S. Army field manuals, a proper battle sight zero, or what was called "combat zero" in my day, will allow a Marine or Soldier to engage an enemy threat without adjusting the elevation of their iron sights from point blank range or zero yards/meters out to 300 yards/meters for that particular rifle.

While this is important for 99% of shooting out to 300 yards, does every police officer really need to worry about his own "personalized setting" when in fact the weapon itself is zeroed?

Fact is, with more and more police and county sheriff departments issuing M4s to their personnel for a given shift, can't it be assumed that a rifle can have a zero setting at say 50 yards to shoot exactly where an officer aims at 50 yards no matter who is using it? We should, because the rifle should.

Zero is zero, no matter who is behind the trigger.

Another person upset about the Border Patrol taking the initiative and recalling the M4s which failed to pass the basic functioning test is Jeff Prather.

He made statements pertaining to the M4 and the Border Patrol which FoxNews .com decided to use as an authority on the subject.

Prather is a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent. He now runs the Warrior School which is an independent law-enforcement training facility in Tucson, Arizona.

"They are losing 40 to 50 percent of their M4s," said Prather.

Because we know that the Border Patrol is recalling only 40% of a 16,000 gun inventory, I really don't understand why Jeff Prather said, "They are basically disarmed."

According to Fox News, Prather said, agents already risk being outgunned on the border where powerful cartels are entrenched and armed to the teeth, and that agents have privately expressed their concerns to him.

"If they are less prepared, they are going to be less inclined to engage," Prather said. "It’s a real concern, especially if they are telling me about it."

So now, is Prather correct? If the Border Patrol chiefs remove 2,000 faulty weapons from the agents, are they less prepared? Or is it that they are now better prepared since their weapons have been replaced with weapons known to be reliable?

Besides, it's not like the Border Patrol chiefs are removing those weapons without anything to replace them while they are being repaired. Remember, the Border Patrol has 16,000 guns and they are only recalling 2,000 to be fixed and refurbished.

With a remaining 14,000 M4s on hand, are they really less prepared? Frankly, if a total of 14,000 M4s with full auto capability isn't enough to arm a security force, then how many do they need?

Or is this about something else? Is this really all about agents and their Union reps who simply want each Federal agent to be issued a "personal M4" to take home with him or her?

And what about the problems with the guns malfunctioning and not passing the tests, should it be just ignored until an agent gets killed?

Prather, who was supposedly armed with the M4 throughout his law-enforcement career, said the weapon is "very robust" and that any issues found in the Border Patrol inspections are likely simple fixes.

Sounding pretty naive about the M16/M4 design flaws and malfunctions that are constantly being reported throughout all branches of our military, Prather said, "All you need to do is pull out the old firing pin and put in the new one and the rifle is ready to go."

So should we expect our Border Patrol agents to act as gunsmiths and armorers now? Should they be tasked with carrying the following parts and do their own repairs?

I agree with CBP Deputy Chief Ron Bitiello who addressed Prather's statement by saying that may be the case -- but the work must be done by a specialist -- yes, an armorer.

“It may be easy to replace a firing pin, but these are things that should be done by a professional,” he said.

And yes, it is that reason that most civilian law enforcement agencies had armorers on staff to tend to those so-called "pool guns" in the armory.

While it would be wonderful to have every law enforcement officer in the United States their own "personal M4" to take home with them like many Federal Agencies actually do, that is not be practical nor cost effective.

And yes, while it sounds like it might break some hearts in the Border Patrol, agents may have to do as most civilian police officers, deputies, and correctional officers do --  use "pool guns" which they draw at the beginning of their shifts and check back in at the end of their shifts.

If they do, then I hope those agents are both smart and seasoned enough to do as most law enforcement professionals do when drawing their weapons from the armory -- and inspect it to make sure it functions properly.

Yes, that's what regular cops and correctional officers have been doing for a long time.

Until the agents get the 40% returned, the Border Patrol agents may have to adapt and improvise to overcome not having their own "personal M4" assault weapon to take home every night.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa




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