What is an M4 Carbine assault rifle?

The M4 Carbine rifle is a more compact and lightweight variant of M16A2 assault rifle of the 5.56X45 NATO caliber class. A carbine is essentially a long gun that has a shorter barrel than a rifle or musket.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Published: November 7, 2017 6:16 pm
An Indian Army paratrooper with the 50th Independent Para Brigade examines an M4 carbine prior to sighting in the weapon May 4, 2013, at Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Indian security forces on Tuesday confirmed that the nephew of Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar was killed in an encounter in Pulwama in Kashmir. An M4 carbine assault rifle was also recovered from the encounter site. The rifle had featured in his online propaganda videos on multiple occasions.

What is an M4 Carbine rifle?

The M4 Carbine rifle is a more compact and lightweight variant of M16A2 assault rifle of the 5.56X45 NATO caliber class. A carbine is essentially a long gun that has a shorter barrel than a conventional rifle or musket. Some of the carbines are compacted forms of full length rifles but use the same caliber ammunition. Some even fire ammunition designed for handguns.

The appeal of an M4 for troops is the compact size which allows greater maneuverability as well as ease of movement and agility due to the lighter weight. The M4 Carbine is therefore used by mobility troops, special operation troops, paratroopers etc. It is also used by those troops who are not required for full combat operations. However, the weapon is being used as standard-issue in many Armies like in the US, precisely for the fact that the reduced weight can be offset against added equipment that gives the troops added edge in the battleground.

The design of the M4 Carbine originated in the US and has been adopted and modified by various manufacturers around the world. The gun has been used in several wars including the Colombian conflict, Kosovo war, Afghanistan war after 9/11, Iraq, Syrian civil war, Iraqi civil war, Yemeni civil war etc.

The gun weighs 2.9 kgs without cartridges and 3.4 kgs with a 30 rounds. It has a standard iron sight but is capable of being fitted with various kinds of scopes. It can fire at a rate of 750-900 rounds per minute depending upon the barrel temperature and ambient conditions. Its shots travel at a rate of 910 m/s and it has an effective range of 500 metres.

Due to liberal gun laws in the US, it is even available for retail in some of its states with the stock kit selling for as low as $800 (Rs 52,000).

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