Field Stripping the M4 Rifle


given an m4-
series rifle, place
the weapon on a
clean flat work surface.
ensure the weapon
is on safe, remove
any magazine,

pull back the charging
handle and observe
there is no round in
the breach, return the
bolt to the front.
remove the sling and
the rifle’s hand guards,
note the few grains of
Hajj sand that fall out,
left over from that
almost good enough
weapons cleaning right
before flying home

remove the lower
receiver from the
upper, take out the
bolt carrier, checking the
face of the piece for
carbon residue
bolt and the rifle’s
bolt carrier, checking the
face of the piece for
carbon residue…
…must have popped off a
few good ones to have
this much…put the bolt
assembly in the
locked position and
remove the firing
pin retaining block

let the components
drop—drop—just where they
are, like that patrol
when we smoked that hajj—
let them drop, onto
the working surface,
watching him fall down

set the components
aside and remove
the spring from the butt
stock assembly by
recalling how young
he was and how scared
his [-----] brown eyes seemed
lay the components
out and ensure none
have rolled off of your
working surface ‘cause
losing one of them
won’t [ ------ ] fly, not
here, not in combat

not when its your job
to bring young dicks like
jefferson home when
he flakes on patrol.
when your heart stops and
you don’t know where the
kid has got off to.

to reassemble,
put the spring back in
the butt stock, making
sure the hammer is
cocked; put together
the bolt and its carrier
in reverse order

sliding the face of
the bolt forward,
sliding—the face of
that man dress ‘raqi
kid with the AK;
sliding it; pointing
it at jefferson,

put it into the
groove within the top
receiver, back
into the—I said
back. i said get back,
son of a bitch, the
[----] you think you’re doin’?
jefferson, move this
way, i’ve got a bead
on him; [---]damnit,
soldier, stop shaking
and get over here.
jefferson! jeff, hey,
just look at that kid,

he’s more nervous than
you, [----- -----],
and probably younger;
see, he’s…holy [----].
put it down. put it
down now! drop it! drop
it now or i’ll…click
put the receivers
together. charge the
weapon, set it to
“safe.” attempt to fire.
it won’t. switch to “fire,”
pull the trigger, and
the hajj boy is dead

—Maj. L. Burton Brender, U.S. Army




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March 2023