Safety Of Use Message: M16/M4

BLUF

  1. A small number (881 out of 259,000) of M16/M4 weapons have been found to potentially have an unintended discharge while manipulating the selector.
  2. An additional step in the updated Function Check will readily determine if your M16/M4 is affected.
  3. If your M16/M4 passes the additional steps to the Function Check to inspect for this problem, there is absolutely no need to change Immediate Action procedures.
  4. The previous Immediate Action procedure (“SPORTS”) has been since replaced with an improved procedure described in TC 3-22.9. TACOM and the published Technical Manuals have not yet updated to the new standard.

SOUM #18-004 alerted the field of an unintended discharge on an M4A1 PIP’ed (Product Improvement Program) weapons that occurred when the operator pulled the trigger with the selector switch between the SEMI and AUTO detents (outside of detent). The weapon did not fire when the operator pulled the trigger and instead fired when the selector was moved further. As a result of this incident, an on-going investigation determined that there is the potential for all carbines and rifles noted above, to behave in this way.

First, this potential mechanical problem is uncommon. The Army has converted 259,000 M4s to M4A1s in the past three years with the M4 carbine product improvement program. Out of 259,000, 881 have been found to exhibit this problem.

Second, TACOM’s updated Function Check will easily determine if your M16/M4 is one of those of the small number affected.

Updated Function Check
User Actions: Until a resolution is found, units are required to perform the following additional function check on all M16 and M4 series rifles and carbines. If the unit reported failure data IAW SOUM 18-004, then reporting action for those weapons has been satisfied.

1. Ensure weapon is clear by observing the chamber, the bolt face, and magazine well. The weapon should always be pointed in a safe direction. Do NOT perform this check with live ammunition.

2. Perform standard function check IAW WP0007.

3. Move the selector lever to the SEMI position then move the selector to a position between SEMI and AUTO (BURST for non M4A1’s) and squeeze the trigger. The hammer should drop when trigger is squeezed. If the hammer drops, repeat by slightly repositioning selector between SEMI and AUTO (or BURST). If the hammer does not drop when the trigger is squeezed, this is a failure. Record this information and continue to the next step.

4. If hammer does not drop, move the selector in either direction. If the hammer drops without squeezing the trigger, this is a failure. Record this information.

5. Gather information recorded from the additional function check and submit to TACOM Equipment Specialists.

Do NOT use SPORTS or C-SPORTS

The SOUM goes on the describe a suggested “update” to the now out-of-date Immediate Action procedure that has since been replaced in TC 3-22.9.

First problem, an Immediate Action amendment is completely unnecessary if the Function Check is passed. Confirming correct mechanical function is an administrative action conducted during Drill A – Weapon Check, not something to do while engaging targets.

Second problem, SPORTS was replaced as an overly-convoluted and less effective approach than what the new Immediate Action procedure in TC 3-22.9 directs. Taking a tangled “immediate” six-step procedure and adding yet-another step defies the entire point of immediate action.

Third problem, this low percentage mechanical problem only occurs while manipulating the selector. Immediate Action is only necessary after attempting to engage target(s), meaning the weapon was already set to discharge (obviously) and there is no need to manipulate the selector while performing it.

TC 3-22.9, page 8-10

RULES FOR CORRECTING A MALFUNCTION
Do not attempt to place the weapon on SAFE (unless otherwise noted). Most stoppages will not allow the weapon to be placed on safe because the sear has been released or the weapon is out of battery. Attempting to place the weapon on SAFE will waste time and potentially damage the weapon.

TACOM-SOUM-18-005

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