For me, the 416 was an acquired taste. I never used to like it. It wasn’t a ‘proper’ M4. It’s use with special forces worldwide did not impress me.
After all, arguably the best special forces in the world, the ones upon which all others are based, use the Diemaco C8! How good could the 416 possibly be…?!
Well, thats what my UKSF-obsessed mates tell me 😉
I’m using the mighty Seraph’s blaster to illustrate my point in this blog…which is right at the end, if you don’t want to read the entire thing. I’ve collaborated with Seraph on many occasions in the blog, beginning in 2013. So just use the search box and type in Seraph to find some real gems.
There are a good few impressionistas who are compelled to use the 416, purely because it completes their impression. I speak to these guys all the time and many tell me they prefer the M4. They put up with the 416 because it’s more authentic to their loadout.
So what is it that people actually like about the 416? A friend of mine, Tent, commented that the 416 looks like an M4 which has been flattened by a steamroller – which was quite an amusing and apt observation – down to the 416’s extended top rail.
The 416 is based on the M4. Cosmetic differences aside, in the real world the 416 distinguishes itself from the M4 in its lower propensity toward stoppages. Internally, its most notable difference is the short-stroke gas piston system (which was borrowed from Heckler and Koch’s own G36 series). This is what lends the 416 its advantage over the M4 in stoppage terms.
However, perhaps the most interesting thing about the 416 is that it was developed in partnership with Delta/CAG…which is well documented to have replaced its M4s with the 416 in 2004.
Delta aside, perhaps the single biggest driver of interest in the 416 was its association with DEVGRU…as publicised by Mark Owen’s No Easy Day and Kathryn Bigalow’s Zero Dark Thirty – which will have given many their first taste of this variant’s aesthetics.
So, the ‘Use What They Use’ doctrine (originally coined by a Daniel Defense campaign, advertising the SOF issued RIS II) is very strong. You don’t necessarily need the entire loadout to want to use what the pros use.
Another attractor is that the 416 is an M4 variant, but definitely not an M4. Its original designation was HK M4. But this was quashed as a trademark in the US by Colt, which holds the licence for producing the governments M4s. Still, the 416 accepts many of the same mags and can be accessorised similarly to the M4. I say many of the same mags and not all, because the 416 has an extended magwell, which does conflict with some mags e.g. Gen 1 Pmags.
One of the reasons I like the 416 – and as I said at the beginning, it’s a taste I’ve acquired – is actually because you can’t swap quite as much shit out as you can with an M4. I’m sick of swapping stuff out. It’s quite nice to own a platform where options are more limited.
Saying that, I’ve accidentally accumulated additional rails and shit:
Read my Koch Options article, here.
I do like the look of the 416.
It looks serious, purposeful and designed for use rather than aesthetics.
The form factor is also great. Many 416 fans point to the extended top rail as an ergonomic improvement. Those with long necks can benefit from using standard M4 height optic mounts and BUIS. This is a lucky coincidence, however, because the original reason for this heightened top rail was to house the gas piston system, which requires more room. If you look at the BUIS which were originally shipped with the 416, they are very low indeed – replicating the sightline of an M4. Similarly, 416 specific optic mounts like LaRue’s excellent LT660HK, are very low.
The big ergonomic improvement I like is the extended magwell. It makes mag changes easier and provides extra purchase for those who grip the magwell with their support hand.
There is precedent in hybridising the 416 and M4 (or M16A1, to be precise). The real magic of the 416 – the gas system – is in the upper. Any lower will do. Early on in Delta’s use of the 416, the upper was used atop of pre-existing M16A1 lowers.
I spotted this pic on HAO’s Facebook page earlier, which is a great in the wild example:
Interestingly, the newest 416 – the A5 or G38, depending on who’s using it – exhibits a lower which is a lot like an M4.
Full circle, or what?
Given that HAO has released it’s 416 upper as a separate entity, I can guarantee there will be a lot more 416/M4 PTW hybrids around.
Can’t wait to blog them. Get in touch through IG if you have one to show off.