22 Mar 2020
Tips from a seasoned Operator:
“A note on the short-barreled ARs (SBRs):
ARs with barrels shorter than 14″ did indeed have reliability issues, and the H&K 416 ran much better in that set-up, as you noted
I was a early adopter, and was issued a 416 in 2006.
By 2012, the AR situation had greatly improved, and one factor was lubrication.
Short-barreled ARs do not run well with heavy, viscous lube (Militec). When we switched to light lube (G96), reliability greatly improved!
Heavy lube, even heavy grease, works just fine with 16-inch-barreled M4s that are fired exclusively semi-auto, but not with SBRs, particularly when a lot of full-auto fire is involved.
During high-volume, long training days, we lube them in the morning (G96), and then re-lube at lunch.
They most-generally run fine, so long as they don’t over-heat, but no matter what kind of lube is used, SBRs will never be as reliable as 16-inch-barreled M4s that are fired semi-auto only.
SMGs (sub-machineguns) in pistol calibers became necessary (at least in the eyes of contemporary war planners) during static, trench-warfare in the European Theater of WWI. SMGs were needed to close “the last 200 yards,” of a ground offensive, and they also became acutely necessary once you were actually in the enemy trench, or the enemy was in yours!
SMGs, and pistol ammunition for them, were easy and cheap to manufacture, as most were straight blow-back guns, little more than stamped-and-welded bullet-squirters. Joe Stalin manufactured them (PPSH) by the millions!
The term, “sub-machinegun” was actually coined by John Thompson, manufacturer of the famous Thompson SMG. In Europe, they preferred the term, “machine-pistol”
SMGs in pistol calibers are controllable in full-auto from most “expedient” firing positions. In rifle calibers, less so. In fact, most 7.62×51 rifles, when fired full-auto from any position other than prone and with a bi-pod, are completely uncontrollable!
However, by the end of the Korean War, with motionless trench-warfare mostly a distant memory, western war planners considered pistol-caliber SMGs obsolete, save maybe for tank crewmen and truck drivers.
There are none in general use by modern militaries today.
Our current generation of high-speed Operators (as noted above) have an affection for full-auto SBRs (in 5.56×45 caliber) for the same reason WWI and WWII soldiers liked SMGs in pistol calibers. They’re handy for offensive maneuvering in tight spaces, and you can use them (as part of a team) to quickly and efficiently take-out closely-confined groups of enemy combatants at close range (albeit a capability that requires a great deal of training to adequately develop).
This capability is irrelevant for most non-military American gun-owners, who keep serious guns for personal, domestic self-defense, rather than for offensive, military operations.
With their short barrels (8″ to 12″), SBRs lose a lot of velocity, and hence extended-range accuracy and effectiveness. They’re a “special purpose” weapon!
For American gun owners, rifles with full-auto capability, and/or with barrels shorter then 16″ become NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) items, and ownership, though possible in some states, involves a lot of paperwork, expense, and delay.
Hardly worth it just to get a temperamental, single-purpose weapon, in my opinion!
A 16-inch-barreled, semi-auto-only, military self-loading rifle (with some training) will give its owner control over every bit of ground about which he need be concerned. It will run reliably and not overheat. Most any lubricant will suffice. No special paperwork is required for ownership, and it will continue to render good service despite dirty environments and continuous lack of maintenance (to a point).
It makes the best option for most of us, in my opinion.
Any rifle that I mentioned in my previous Quip will do nicely and is recommended!