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HK416 – “Give me my M4 back!”


Pat McNamara talks about the HK416, and we analyze some of his thoughts.

“I picked up a 416, I think in ’02. Went down, zeroed it, trained with it for three days, brought it back to the arms room and said, give me my M4 back.” – Pat McNamara

He goes on to explain several of the reasons he didn’t really like the platform all that much. He mentions that there are multiple reasons why he didn’t like the HK416 over the M4.

For starters, he says that the HK416 “is not a battlefield multiplier”. He doesn’t see any advantage of the 416 over the M4.

Additionally, he didn’t like that the HK416 was heavier when compared to the M4. In his words, “ounces make pounds.” What he is getting at here is that soldiers carry a whole lot of gear. On top of that, they need to be able to move quickly. Every little bit of weight makes a difference and adds up. So, it is important not to add any weight that isn’t completely necessary.

Another complaint included the recoil impulse of the HK. He didn’t like the feel and sound of it. That’s obviously a simple personal preference. It is also likely influenced by a bias towards the M4, if we are being objective.

He also complained that the HK416 magazines were heavier and called them “a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.”

Pat did give the 416 some credit by saying its advantage was that it “runs cooler, less maintenance”. However, he followed that up by saying that he didn’t have a problem with the M4 anyway.

“That wasn’t good enough for me. Never had a problem with the M4. And I still haven’t had a problem with any of my AR platforms. Any of them. And I run those hard, man! When do I clean them? I don’t know. Every 2,000 rounds. Something like that. If that. I just keep putting oil on them and then making sure the bore’s clean.”

The interview was recent, but the information is dated. This story starts out 20 years ago. Why is it relevant today? Well, I think it is relevant today because it is coming from someone with extensive combat experience and training. Additionally, it may not say so much about the HK416 as it does about the M4 (and AR-15 platform in general).

We know that the M4/M16 as we know it today, or even 20, 30, 40 years ago is not the M16 of Vietnam. Many improvements were made to the M16 as it evolved into the M16/M4 we know today. 

This is not to say that the HK416 is a bad gun either. It was officially adopted by Delta force in 2004. At that time, they would no longer use the M4. It is in use with the Norwegian and French militaries, as well as with SOF units, police/SWAT around the world. I don’t wish to disparage the HK416.

Here’s my main takeaway from Pat:

  1. Get a good quality AR-15
  2. Clean it or at least keep it oiled up

I have nowhere near the same level of experience as Pat McNamara, but my experience is similar to his when it comes to the AR. I talked about this in a previous article called AR15 Maintenance Tip, keep it well lubed! Maybe Pat only fed my confirmation bias. However, I think I am in good company regardless.

Pat McNamara is an ex-special forces operator with 22 years of experience, 13 of those years with Delta force. If you want to listen to his interview where he talks about this very thing, see the video below.

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