Difference Between HK416 and M4

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 into the carbine. While 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 vs M4

The main difference between the HK416 and the M4 is that the former is a gas stroke piston assault rifle, while the latter is a direct impingement assault rifle. The HK416 is a well-known improvement over the standard M4 carbine design as it features the formidable short-stroke gas piston with a rotating bolt.

HK416 vs M4

Comparison Table Between HK416 and M4

Parameters of ComparisonHK416M4
Action TypeHK416 is a gas stroke piston rifle.M4 is a gas-operated, direct impingement rifle.
Barrel LengthHK416 models have different barrel lengths ranging from 9 inches to 20 inches.M4 has a barrel length of 14.5 inches.
Muzzle VelocityMuzzle velocity is higher than the M4 rifles.Muzzle velocity is lower than the HK416 rifles.
Effective RangeHK416 has an effective range of 330-870 yards.M4 has an effective range of 550 yards.  
Rail MountHK416 is equipped with a rail mount that simplifies the use of accessories.M4 is not equipped with a rail mount.
Firing RateThe HK416 can fire up to 900 rounds per minute.The M4 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute.
Accuracy RatingsHigher accuracy ratings procured by the HK416.Lower accuracy ratings secured by the M4 rifles.
WeightThe more advanced versions of the HK416 model are heavier than the M4 rifles.The M4 is lighter than the more advanced HK416 models.
Manufactured ByHeckler and Koch manufacture this rifle in partnership with the Delta Force.Manufactured by Colt Defense.
Used ByThe HK416 is used by the U.S Armed Forces and Marine Corps.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 ranging up to 20 inches, a formidable range of efficacy as well as almost perfect accuracy test scores, the HK416 is a game-changer in the domain of 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 fire arm for many armed forces around the world including the U.S Marine Corps.

What is M4?

The M4 is known as the lighter and shorter variant of the M16A2 rifle. It was first introduced as a standard fire arm 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 has a caliber 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 often preferred over the HK416 as it is significantly lighter and more compact in size.

Main Differences Between HK416 and M4

  1. The main difference between an HK416 and an M4 rifle is that the former uses a gas stroke piston, while the latter uses 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 heat into the carbine.
  2. The barrel lengths of each rifle are also different. While an HK416’s barrel length can range from 9 inches to 20 inches, the M4 has only one market variant with a barrel length of 14.5 inches.
  3. The HK416 has a muzzle velocity range of 730-917 m/s, while the M4 has a muzzle velocity range of 910 m/s.
  4. The HK416 has an effective range of 330-870 yards, while the M4 has an effective range of 550 yards.
  5. 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.
  6. HK416 is manufactured by Heckler and Koch in collaboration with the Delta Force. The M4 rifle is manufactured by Colt Defense.
  7. The M4 rifle is lighter than some of the more advanced versions of the HK416 model.
  8. The HK416 model has a rail mount that allows the rifle to accept more accessories than the M4 model.
  9. The accuracy ratings of the HK416 are far better than the M4.
  10. 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).
Difference Between HK416 and M4


Both the HK416 and M4 are formidable models within the category of assault rifles. They both offer the user certain undeniably effective features and specs.

However, the difference between the two is quite conspicuous.

The most notable dissimilarity between the two can be encountered in terms of the kind of action permitted by each rifle. While the HK416 is a gas-stroke piston rifle, the M4 is a direct impingement model.

This makes their carbines significantly different.

Moreover, the two models also differ in terms of their manufacturers, barrel length, firing range, muzzle velocity as well as accuracy test ratings.

In a comparative analysis between the two, the HK416 emerges victorious due to its improved specs and offerings. However, if the weight of the rifle is the deciding factor, then the lighter and more compact M4 is the better option between the two.


  1. http://yadda.icm.edu.pl/yadda/element/bwmeta1.element.baztech-article-BWA0-0051-0032
  2. http://www.quarryhs.co.uk/GPC.pdf
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