Minus a few drawbacks that some of us find in the AR-15/M4 platforms, I’m a big fan of the AR-15 platform, after all it is what we use in the military. I recall on a few deployments working with SEAL teams, 1st SFOG, and our K-9 handlers, a few of the guys carrying the HK 416 before it was as highly publicized as it is today. At first I thought that it was a chopped down M4 until I asked one of our K-9 handlers exactly what it was.
I had an amazing opportunity to operate one of these weapons over the course of two weeks recently and was extremely impressed. I hadn’t had much work with a piston operated platform so I really didn’t know what to expect. The HK 416 uses an HK-proprietary short-stroke gas piston system derived from the Heckler & Koch G36. My first observation of the system that I learned to like, was the fact that you can purchase only the upper receiver and place it on your existing AR lower, instead of purchasing the entire system itself.
The US Army Delta Force has been using this weapon platform as early as 2004 to replace their M4 carbines for a particularly good reason. The piston driven system design, prevents combustion gases from entering the weapon’s interior. The reduction in heat and fouling of the bolt carrier group increases the reliability of the weapon and extends the interval between stoppages. It also reduces operator cleaning time and stress on critical components, something that becomes almost an inconvenience in the field for standard AR platform users.
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