M4 is a direct impingement model that uses a gas-operated select-fire carbine. This important difference in their design affects their performance.
In the case of the HK416 rifles, the heat and combustion gases dissipate into the surroundings instead of entering the carbine. At the same time, there is a buildup of heat and combusted gases in the M4 as it does not have the same technical improvements as the HK416 rifles.
- HK416 is a gas-operated rifle designed for special operations, while M4 is a gas-operated rifle used by the US military.
- HK416 has a short-stroke gas piston system, while M4 has a direct impingement gas system.
- HK416 has a higher price point and is known for its reliability, while M4 is more widely used and has larger aftermarket support.
HK416 vs M4
The HK416 is a selective fire assault rifle designed and manufactured by Heckler & Koch. It was designed as an improvement over the M4 and is based on the M16 platform. The M4 is a carbine variant of the M16 rifle and is currently manufactured by Colt. It is a gas-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fed firearm that fires 5.56x45mm NATO rounds.
|Parameters of Comparison
|HK416 is a gas-stroke piston rifle.
|M4 is a gas-operated, direct impingement rifle.
|HK416 models have different barrel lengths ranging from 9 inches to 20 inches.
|M4 has a barrel length of 14.5 inches.
|Muzzle velocity is higher than the M4 rifles.
|Muzzle velocity is lower than the HK416 rifles.
|HK416 has an effective range of 330-870 yards.
|M4 has an effective range of 550 yards.
|HK416 is equipped with a rail mount that simplifies the use of accessories.
|M4 is not equipped with a rail mount.
|The HK416 can fire up to 900 rounds per minute.
|The M4 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute.
|HK416 procured higher accuracy ratings.
|Lower accuracy ratings secured by the M4 rifles.
|The more advanced versions of the HK416 model are heavier than the M4 rifles.
|The M4 is lighter than the more advanced HK416 models.
|Heckler and Koch manufacture this rifle in partnership with the Delta Force.
|Manufactured by Colt Defense.
|The U.S. Armed Forces and Marine Corps use the HK416.
|The M4 is used by the United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC).
What is HK416?
The HK416 is a formidable class of assault rifles manufactured and marketed by the renowned German arms company Heckler and Koch.
The most distinctive and widely appreciated feature of this category of rifles is their technical brilliance. Operating on a short-stroke gas piston gives these rifles an edge over the other market competitors.
With a barrel length of up to 20 inches, a formidable range of efficacy, and almost perfect accuracy test scores, the HK416 is a game-changer in assault rifles.
Furthermore, the rail forearm of the rifle facilitates the attachment of accessories easily.
The new and improved variants of the range include the HK416C. HK416D, and the HK416F. The HK416 has been commissioned as the standard firearm for many armed forces worldwide, including the U.S. Marine Corps.
What is M4?
The M4 is the lighter and shorter variant of the M16A2 rifle. It was first introduced as a standard firearm for the armed forces in 1994.
The M4 is a gas-operated, direct impingement model. Manufactured and marketed by Colt Defense, this select-fire carbine has an effective barrel length of 14.5 inches and an efficacy range of 550 yards.
The M4 rifle is equipped with 2 modes- the semi-automatic and three-round burst firing modes. The rifle uses 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridges and calibres of 5.56 mm.
It has an effective firing range of 700-950 rounds per minute.
The M4 has been adopted as the primary infantry weapon by the U.S. Armed Forces, especially the Marine Corps. This model is preferred over the HK416 as it is significantly lighter and more compact.
Main Differences Between HK416 and M4
- The main difference between an HK416 and an M4 rifle is that the former uses a gas stroke piston and a direct gas operating system. The HK416 assault rifle uses a short-stroke gas piston which prevents the combustion gases and heat from entering the carbine, while the M4 uses a direct impingement system. This results in the return of the combustion gases and heats into the carbine.
- The barrel lengths of each rifle are also different. While an HK416’s barrel length can range from 9 to 20 inches, the M4 has only one market variant with a barrel length of 14.5 inches.
- The HK416 has a muzzle velocity range of 730-917 m/s, while the M4 has a muzzle velocity range of 910 m/s.
- The HK416 has an effective range of 330-870 yards, while the M4 has an effective range of 550 yards.
- The firing rate of each rifle is a little different. The HK416 can fire up to 900 rounds per minute, while the M4 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute.
- Heckler and Koch manufacture HK416 in collaboration with the Delta Force. Colt Defense manufactures the M4 rifle.
- The M4 rifle is lighter than some of the more advanced versions of the HK416 model.
- The HK416 model has a rail mount that allows the rifle to accept more accessories than the M4 model.
- The accuracy ratings of the HK416 are far better than the M4.
- The HK416 rifles are used by the US Armed Forces and the Marine Corps, while the M4 rifle is used by the United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC).
Last Updated : 14 October, 2023
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.