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SIG Sauer M400

There’s a lot to be said for having everything you need and nothing you don’t, all at a reasonable price. Enter the SIG Sauer M400.

By Steve Adelmann (RSS)
February 3, 2012

I am going to render an opinion that may make me unpopular with custom gunsmiths or anyone associated with the tactical firearm accessory market: Tricked-out guns will not make you into a good shooter. Can they enhance skills and tactics or help reduce the negative effects of poor technique? Yes, but they are not going to transform a novice into a pro. (For a gallery of photos of the M400, go here).

I say this as a guy who spends a lot of time transforming basic rifles into tuned, accurized and customized tactical platforms, so I think I speak objectively here. In reality a simple, well-built firearm reliable enough to bet your life on is the perfect foundation upon which to build all successful shooting. In the world of AR rifles and carbines, SIG Sauer’s M400 is the perfect example of just such a solid base.

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SIG Sauer’s name has become well-known throughout the tactical firearm industry. The quality and reliability of the company’s pistols and rifles is evidenced by their use by police agencies and military forces around the world.

Prior to the introduction of the M400, SIG’s tactical semi-automatic rifles were all piston-operated and generated quite a loyal following. Naturally the company raised a few eyebrows when it unveiled the M400, due to its direct-gas-impingement (DGI) configuration. This traditional AR operating system takes a beating, and certain aspects of that criticism are valid. But from a marketability standpoint, a DGI system on the M400 makes a lot of sense. Police departments and other agencies that already have DGI carbine fleets may not have the resources needed to switch to piston-driven rifles. DGI usually involves fewer moving parts and is both lighter and slightly less expensive than piston-driven rifles. This no-frills carbine is a definite candidate for individuals and organizations needing high-quality, cost-effective, simple to operate and maintain 5.56 NATO firearms having parts compatibility with other standard ARs already on hand.

Lacking many of the superfluous bells and whistles often found on new AR-15s, the SIG Sauer M400 is a straight-shooting, lightweight carbine ideal for most any application.

The M400 is a civilian-legal version of the M4 carbine with a few minor upgrades built into the lower-receiver assembly. Most noticeable to me as I removed the M400 from its hard case were a pair of quick-detach (QD) sling-mount receptacles milled into each side of the lower receiver. This is a logical addition to the basic design, because QDs are very popular and, when not needed, they leave only an empty socket without the added bulk of an add-on mount.

Rear sling-attachment points at the junction of the receiver and buffer tube is not for everyone, but it gives M400 shooters two ready-made options. The six-position collapsible buttstock is of standard M4 design and is mounted on a commercial-diameter receiver extension.

Its pistol grip is a standard A2 model, but any AR-compatible grip can be retrofitted. A very handy divergence from run-of-the-mill ARs is an ambidextrous magazine release. The simplicity of the ambi design caused one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments to bounce around my empty head. A simple textured button is affixed via a roll pin to the long metal bar portion of the magazine release normally protruding through the left side of the receiver. When pressed, this button cams against the lower receiver’s exterior wall, pulling the mag release out from right to left, just as if the normal release button were pressed on the right side of the receiver. I am a lefty, so I found this feature to be very handy. There is no truly efficient way to drop the mag out of a traditional AR with the left hand when in a firing position. SIG’s M400 design changes that, while still leaving the normal right-handed magazine release intact. Heavy protective fencing is present on both sides of the lower receiver, shielding the mag releases. Guns intended for rough duty use often suffer from unprotected releases. If you have never brought your unexpectedly magazine-less rifle to bear one on a target, please take my word for it: extra magazine-release protection is a welcome addition to any tactical rifle.

The M400’s handguards contain two metal inserts, providing double shielding and enhanced heat dissipation.

Additional metal relief is also evident in a nicely flared magazine well to aid with rapid mag changes. In addition, the magazine well’s leading edge has grip lines milled into it to provide an additional gripping surface for those shooters who prefer a choked-up support-hand position. The last minor difference on SIG’s lower receiver is a raised rib on the right side of the non-ambidextrous selector lever that serves as an extra visible and tactile indicator of the gun’s “fire” or “safe” status.

The M400 uses a flattop upper receiver with the ejection-port cover, brass deflector and forward-assist assembly in familiar places. M4 feed-ramp cuts are present inside the upper, mating nicely with the barrel extension’s ramps.

Hidden inside, just aft of the chamber, is a protrusion that lines up with the extractor when the bolt is in battery. This button-like addition supports the extractor body when the gun is fired. Only 1⁄3 of an AR’s extractor is contained within the barrel extension when the bolt is fully in battery, leaving the remaining length retained only by the extractor pin that also acts as a hinge for normal function. The extractor is a common first point of failure when a cartridge case head ruptures due to excessive pressure or lack of sufficient support. Since it is the weak point in the bolt’s encirclement of the case rim, the extractor takes the brunt of excess gas pressure and is typically pushed outward far enough to break or bend both the extractor and the extractor pin. This can result in a ruined bolt-carrier assembly and possibly even destroy the upper receiver. While the level of pressure necessary for this type of failure often ruins other parts of the firearm, supporting the extractor adds an extra element of support to help contain pressure at the case head by preventing the rear of the extractor body from being pushed away from the bolt and into the upper-receiver wall.

A removable carrying handle comes standard and uses an A2-style adjustable rear peep sight. I noticed the handguards were large in diameter, like those on a military-issue M4, but slightly oval in shape. The resulting feeling is of a full-but-slim handguard. I never liked the jump in handguard size when my old Army unit switched from the CAR-15 to the M4, so I consider the M400’s handguards a step back in the right direction.

A detent located underneath the rear takedown pin lug applies upward pressure to the rear area of the upper receiver, eliminating annoying wobble.

A peek inside the handguard revealed double shielding via two metal inserts between each handguard half and barrel. The 16-inch barrel is chrome-lined from chamber to bore, as any non-stainless steel/non-match duty AR barrel should be. Its barrel’s profile is close to that of an M4 with additional metal removed in front of the gas block. The carbine-length gas system is fed through a standard, carbine-height front-sight assembly/gas block. An A2 flash suppressor/compensator is found at the muzzle. Of course the 1⁄2×28 tpi threads will accept other common AR muzzle devices.

Initially I planned to test the M400 using a magnified optic. However, this handy carbine’s simplicity quickly reminded me it was designed for tactical use out of the box, so I decided it made more sense to shoot it that way—using the iron sights. The M400 has a stock trigger, so I knew going in I would not be driving any nails, however, the trigger was actually quite good for a run-of-the-mill AR, easing into a 5-pound sear release. I have used many stock triggers that were far heavier in both creep and weight.

I decided to shoot groups from the prone position, off of 30-round magazines instead of a bag rest. Over the years, I have found this position to be very stable (when executed correctly) and as it turned out, the SIG did not let me down. The M400 handled very well and reminded me that even without a fancy stock and muzzle brake, the basic AR is very shootable. (For a look at the SureFire Mag5-60 that was function tested on this gun, go here.)

The 2 MOA overall average for two types of factory ammunition was better than expected, especially considering the carbine’s fat front-sight post covered up most of my targets at 100 yards. I shot several reference groups at 200 and 300 yards that also averaged 2 MOA.

A small protrusion inside the barrel extension supports the extractor body when the rifle is fired, relieving stress on the extractor pin should there be an over-pressure issue.

Once I finished with my grouping exercise, I loaded several magazines with 55-grain Winchester FMJ target loads and headed for the 25-yard line. The only surprise I encountered while shooting close-range drills was when I learned the M400 handled as well as heavier carbines and rifles. Over the years, I have convinced myself that the heavy weight and muzzle adornments on my own rifles are required for smooth shot-to-shot transitions, but the M400 handled this task very well. I found the double-shielded handguards controlled the barrel’s heat during rapid-fire strings, even with an ambient temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit. It was actually fun to work through shooting drills with nothing more than iron sights.

Finding a flaw in something that adheres to basic mil-spec configuration is really a critique of the overall specification, not one manufacturer’s execution. If I had to recommend one change to an AR that strives to remain as true to the basic configuration as possible, it would be for rail-equipped handguards should be used instead of slick ones. The average self-defense rifle shooter understands the value of a weaponlight, so not including at least one section of rail on an inexpensive handguard seems to be an oversight. This criticism is not unique to SIG by any means. I think any basic AR carbine and rifle should come with a short rail section on the handguard.

Vertical lines milled in the face of the mag well provide purchase for shooters who prefer to grasp the area with their support hand.

The current AR in its simplest forms remains true to Eugene Stoner’s original intent to provide a lightweight, shoulder-fired long gun that goes bang each time you pull the trigger. When built to meet or exceed U.S. military specifications, stock ARs are solid, multi-purpose rifles that shoot a cartridge suitable for plinking, varmints, competitive shooting, defensive purposes and close-range offensive combat. SIG’s handy little M400 falls squarely into this category. Putting one through its paces reminded me I have too much stuff strapped to my own ARs and how sometimes getting back to basics is a good thing.

Manufacturer: SIG Sauer; (603) 772-2302, www.sigsauer.com

Action Type: Direct-gas-impingement operated, semi-automatic

Caliber: 5.56 NATO

Capacity: 30 rounds

Barrel: 16 inches; chrome-moly, chrome-lined chamber and bore

Rifling: 6 grooves; 1:7-inch RH twist

Trigger Pull Weight: 5 pounds

Sights: Detachable carry handle with A2 close- and long-range apertures; front post

Stock: Six-position, M4 collapsible

Length: 34.6 inches (extended), 30.4 inches (collapsed)

Weight: 6 pounds, 7 ounces

Accessories: Manual, hard case, magazine

MSRP: $1,065

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Comments

60 Responses to SIG Sauer M400

  1. Terrance says:

    Cool! Looks a bit lighter than the Sig556. When will one be available with a railed gas block/flip up front sight?

  2. tommy says:

    SIG SAUER M400 REVIEW PT 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd1ygxGIVLo

    SIG SAUER M400 DETAILED REVIEW PT 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuNGhkiJPfQ

  3. ATF gun grabber says:

    You guys will never know that the small barrel protrusion in the barrel extension is actually an RFID chip!

  4. RowlandP says:

    The receiver extension is not commercial diameter. It is a 6-position mil-spec diameter tube. This error in the article has resulted in some people buying incorrectly sized stocks. Otherwise, nice write up.

  5. Crazy Dave says:

    Got it. shot it, love it! Ambi-mag relaease, safety, & quick detach sling mount milled into lower rec. is very nice. Oozes quality which is why I wonder why the Stag 3 is lifetime warr. & Sig is 1 year? So far as trusty as my ’99 Mushmaster ES-2. Highly reccomended, especially for those of us who do not clammer for extra parts & weight of gas piston. Bushmaster runs dirty with lube. Guy recently said his gas piston allowed gun to run “dry”. Oh yea, that piston will save dry metal against dry metal!

    • Sigma says:

      The Sig M400 [(] in all variations[)] comes with a limited lifetime warranty. If you are shooting a Sig with a 1 year warranty you are shooting a Mosquito, their only [(] new[)] weapon with a 1 year warranty

    • lmt shooter says:

      It has nothing to do with it being a piston gun.Its the nickel boron coating the gun has that allows it to run with little to no lube. Any AR with that coating on the internal parts can run with just a small amount of oil.

  6. Pingback: Sig 516, sig m400?

  7. Bill Westfall says:

    ha I had a mini 14 for a long time and just thought it was great if you like a 7 in group, I always dreamed of owning a AR-15, well I found the M400 and it was in my price range, man what a gun its perfect for me and very easy to shoot, everyone that shoots it can’t get over it. I know some of you have seen better but for my first AR-15 I just don’t how you can get any better of a gun for the price!!!

  8. Pingback: Sig M400 - XDTalk Forums - Your XD/XD(m) Information Source!

  9. WISR says:

    Has anyone tried a 22 coversion kit either a CMMG or one of the others?
    How did it work?
    Thank you.

  10. LegitStormcloak says:

    Why is the buffer tube type always mistaken for commercial on the M400 reviews? I had to go out of my way and consult local gunsmiths just so I could purchase an aftermarket stock out of sheer confusion.

    The buffer tube is MIL SPEC. Correct your article please.

  11. Dale says:

    Was thinking about one of these and a RRA …may still try it out. Has anyone done a torture test on it yet? Also for Crazy Dave’s post about a gun running dry…Believe it because I have a POF which is gas piston. Ran 100 rounds through it for break in, got home to clean it & surprisingly on the bolt all I had to do was wipe with a dry cloth. There was hardly any powder residue that I could see which I normally get with my DI AR’s. Next time you,re at a range and you see someone shooting one….just ask them to see it and you’ll be a believer.

    • lmt shooter says:

      Your POF you said can run without lube has absolutely nothing to do with it being a piston gun.
      It can run without lube/oil because the bolt carrier and internal parts are nickel boron coated which gives the parts lubricity that allow them to run with little to no lube. Sure the piston system keeps the gun running cleaner yeah but doesn’t have anything to do with it operating without lube.

  12. Patrick says:

    The CHP will apparently soon be replacing their AR rifles with the SS/M400. Many of their rifles are M-16 hand-me-downs from DOD and Colt HBAR Sporters.

  13. Steve Adelmann says:

    Regarding the comments about receiver extension (aka buffer tube) confusion: I checked my notes and the extension on the test sample I received was 1.165 OD, or commercial, not MilSpec (1.14). SIG’s basic M400 flyer does say “MilSpec” buttstock so my test doesn’t match up with production. I don’t know if my eval sample was a prototype or test gun, early production, a fluke or if a change was made during production. It’s also possible that I suffer from numerical dyslexia. I’ll take the hit either way since I did not check my notes against the downloadable flyer when I wrote the article. Sorry for the confusion.

  14. chewy says:

    any OTB testing been done on m400 yet?

  15. Brian says:

    I just bought the flat top version and love it. It has fired and cycled all ammo from Wolf to Hornady. My purpose for this carbine is home defense and hunting. The only thing I can’t figure out is the sling attachment points on the lower receiver .

  16. Richard says:

    Cany anyone tell me if Sig Sauer sells a castle nut wrench for the M400. My wrench does not seem to fit the slots.

  17. rmc252 says:

    If you think this Sig is the same quality as the REAL sigs that cost thousands your crazy. Most likely not even made by Sig. By the name. Your getting a sub par gun all day long. 2 moa at 100 yards. The worst guns on the market get better then that. I have a buddy that deals sigs. They make two levels of quality. Homeowner and actual shooter. So have fun homeowners. And 1 year warranty shows how much they stand behind it.

    • Ed Friedman says:

      RMC,

      Is the M400 the same as a SIG550 or the like? No. It is a relatively inexpensive AR that functions well. For the money, it’s actually one of the better ARs we’ve tested, but then again, there aren’t a whole lot of ARs at the M400′s low price to begin with. As for the two levels of quality, that is not what we’ve seen with SIG Sauer firearms we’ve tested from the company’s lower priced models through its high-end rifles and handguns.

    • steve says:

      I just recently purchased the sig m400 enhanced and it has a lifetime warranty I’m not an ar expert but its one hell of a nice rifle for the money.Why are there so many haters on these blogs.

    • Sigman says:

      ‘ i have a buddy that deals Sigs’ So based on that comment , you are an expert on quality? I doubt it. All new Sigs come with a lifetime warranty except for the Mosquito which is 1 year. Are you one of those airsoft shooting posers that hopes to own a big boy gun some day? [(] just sayin…[)]

  18. Violative says:

    Thank you for this very insightful review, I have a Colt 6920 and now I have this. I got it from wally world it’s the SRP version with the Prismatic scope.

  19. John David Dunson says:

    i don’t get why people always rag on iron sights. i shot expert (far exceeding expert, actually) for five years using nothing but iron sights on an M16, and i very rarely missed at 500 yards in the prone. when the zombies come, my M4 will have nothing but iron sights and a flashlight. keep it simple.

    • Cliff says:

      Thank you John, I feel the same. I’ve grown up with iron sights, so why change now? Too many people rely on a red dot to aim… Batteries only have so much of a shelf life. If you practice and shoot solely with an optic of some sort, you’re going to be in a world of hurt once it breaks/dies. I say point shoot up to 20-25 yards or so – then switch to irons past that.

  20. Bruce says:

    Just recently purchased the M400 OD green Magpul package. I have added some quick release optics as I agree with John Dunson (October 10) as I qualified Expert with a USMC M16-A2 with iron sights. Call me old school, dated, stubborn…whatever but I was pleased to find the fixed front sight and rail mounted rear sight that folds under the optic. I am quite pleased with my choice and would recommend the Sig Sauer M400 as the platform for adding nothing or maximum accessorization.

  21. Richard L F says:

    you can always tell when someone is talking about something they know nothing about by the sarcasm and inability to bring forth a point in constructive evaluation… mc252 made sure I picked the M400

    • nick99 says:

      Well, to be up front, I know little about weapons except to load and shoot them. But mc252 does make a wise & probably correct comment. That is, “most likely not even made by Sig”. These days, could be right! This reminded me of what a salesman said the other day, that he was MOST sad that AR’s were stamped “made in china.”

      • Ed Friedman says:

        nick99, that is simply not true. While some furniture, usually aftermarket accessories, may be made in China (and even there, most are made in the US or in Israel), the guns (in the case of ARs, lower receivers) themselves are not. I am not aware of any upper receivers being made in China, either. It is illegal to import firearms from China since at least the Clinton administration, and since most of the ARs you’ll see in stores today are newly manufactured, they cannot be made in China.

  22. Crazy Dave says:

    Yep Richard the Mc252 is quite the expert, just ask him, typically marked by condescending arrogance! One in every crowd as if no one knows you get what you pay for.

  23. DI-Lopez says:

    The Uppers appear to possibly be CMMG.
    The Lower Receivers are definitely Sig Sauer http://goo.gl/Xn7qD

    This is a nice weapon I choose as Best Built AR In its Price Range. It is tight!

  24. steve says:

    I did a lot of looking around before I purchased my first AR,did a lot of reading articles and watching reviews on different brands of rifles and it all lead down to one for what you get all mill spec,magpul furniture m4 feed ramps lifetime warranty chrome lined barrel 1 in 7 twist and I could go on and on the sig m400 enhanced is hands down one hell of a nice rifle.There’s just Too many haters out there that think what they have is better that than everyone else’s.I think if they tried the M400 they would like it,there’s not a ar out there that can match what the M400 has for the price!!

    • Shao says:

      Agreed… best AR for the money hands down… Even before the recent buy-out craze, I couldn’t have built an AR this nice for this amount of money. It’s just about perfect. All of my friends have AR envy.

  25. sean says:

    Former Army 10th SF, shot expert M16A2.

    Great piece, captures original intent of 5.56 AR design without all of the fluff. If you need a red dot to shoot straight, then you need to take off the toys and learn all over again. Everyone is a wannabe SWAT member, but seconds when count you need to be a confident fundamental handler of your weapon. The less to go wrong, the better.

  26. lggiles says:

    What is a “mosquito” and how do you identify if you have one?

  27. HeyExpert says:

    Hey sig M400 hater. Guess what you are not an expert. An expert would not be on this site. You are less an expert then the rest of us so stop talking!!! You Dufas.

  28. RickH says:

    I have had mine for 13 months now. Currently at 4000 +/- rounds. Other than a few instances with ftf while using an ancient colt 20 rd mag, I have had no other stoppages or problems. I have the basic model with detach carry handle, and use iron sights exclusively. This is the first AR I’ve owned since 1987, when I had 3 previously, 2 Colt’s and one home built. This is a great AR platform rifle, don’t let the snobs influence your purchase.

  29. Leland Smith says:

    The weapon itself compares very favorably with my Smith M&P Tac, except the fit and finish of the Smith are better. The Sig is a bit more sturdy looking. I like the ambi mag release and heavy duty nature of the reciever.

    I wanted the Sig to put in the tool box during Hurricanes and have just in case. Now I am re-thinking this whole thing and put it in the hard case with my Smith. I have decided to continue to use my Para AK as a pick up truck gun.

    Mine is unadorned with junk. I shoot iron sights most of the time and actually shoot much better this way. Get one you won’t regret the expenditure.

  30. mike patrick says:

    Just a novice who just purchased the M400 at Wally Mart. Can’t seem to find a description in the owner’s manual of what function the button looking thing in back of the ejection port of rifle? The button can be pushed in and will pop back out. Seems to be for the release of pressure or something. Driving me crazy. Thanks

    • Ed Friedman says:

      Mike,
      I think you’re referring to the forward assist. Basically, it is used to ensure the bolt is properly locked. It pushes the bolt carrier forward in case it has not gone all the way into battery. The vast majority of the time, you won’t need it.

  31. JK Lanum says:

    Looks great shoots even better

    • Dean B. says:

      Just brought home an M400 enhanced FDE after almost a 6 month wait.Haven’t fired it yet but was sad to see they have discontinued to ship them in the nice plastic cases and now in cardboard boxes. Also, the enhanced model comes with all magpul furniture and magazine but they excluded the magpul 30 rd. magazine and shipped it with a cheap metal generic magazine which looks like crap when mixed in with the all the other magpul furniture. They should have lowered the price of the gun if they were going to pull such a stunt. Customer service basically told me “tough crap.” I’ll just have to purchase the correct FDE magazine so it will match and look right and a carry case of some sort.

  32. frank_myres says:

    I just bought mine and it was all magpul. Love the gun so far. Added eotech on it and shoots great groupings with buis and halo sight

  33. uncle sam says:

    I shot a 30 round magazine at one and a halve mile distance with shot groups on halve inch apart. Of course, I was on a skate board and the targets were moving. I wish I would have not being sneezing, I could have done better. Other than that, nice ar…

  34. Mickey Free says:

    Thanks for the review and write up on this platform. Price can’t be beat and if it’s as reliable/well-built as it seems to be, this shouldn’t be a hard sell for me to buy one. I have my Daniel Defense and want something my wife is comfortable with for home defense. Surefire or Streamlight in conjunction with a quad rail and some MagPul P-Mags and that’ll be that for accessories.

  35. spatcher says:

    Are the 5.56 and .223 ammo interchangeable? Are different size mags required?

    • Drew says:

      I have one and it doesn’t like most .223 loads that I have tried, short strokes.Seams to run ok on 5.56. Sent it back to sig when returned still no better.

  36. metal mag says:

    The metal mags that are sold by sig and come with the m-400 are NHMTG mags. They are the best metal mags on the market. Made for colt by nhmtg and for the armed forces.So ya there tough! these and p-mags are the only ones to buy hands down.

  37. 69mach1 says:

    Howdy all new guy here, just picked up my M400 Enhanced today from Gander Mountain, and what an awesome weapon it is! I spent a lot of time researching many different brands before my purchase of this rifle and I am very satisfied with the quality, features and value of this new arrival to the AR world. I am an ex Air Force Marksman and in my opinion I think the M400 series rifle is solid well built weapon that I would feel comfortable with on the firing range or battle field.

  38. gnther says:

    I Have an M400 Enhanced, it is the best AR I have seen for the money. It may not have an H stamped buffer or some of the other CRAP that haters like Colt owners whine about but in My opinion who really cares. it is a great rifle that you can trust your life to. is it envy? I dont know but everybody seems to think that all components have to be mil-spec to be good.

  39. Chaz says:

    Just got a M400 pistol with Sig brace. Put about 125 rounds through it. It shoots incrdibly nice. I’ve owned and shot a lot of military type guns. I was shocked at how well this performed. Get one is my advice. Excellent close defense weapon. Freakin love it.

  40. 10ring_or_quit says:

    I have 2 Sig pistols: a 226 and a Sig Pro 2340 with interchangeable .40/.357 SIG barrels. I love them both, never failed me. Easy to maintain, shoot true, and the parts are made in Switzerland or here in the USA. There is a SIG factory 20 minutes from me. Picking up my M400 enhanced tomorrow and can’t wait. Friend works there and along with a salesman helped me choose the best gun for what I wanted in a platform, round size, capabilities, and performance. We just kept coming back to the M400. I like the Magpul accessories including the poly Magpul magazine. Yea, there were similar rifles but were $1,000-$2000 more. Doesn’t mean you are gonna get that much more gun for the money. SIG has been a tried and true supplier for law enforcement and the military for years and for good reason. Quality, performance, durability, modification ability, and they are just damn great weapons. Way too many people on here running their mouths about things they don’t know with nothing better to do. An RFID chip in the barrel? Seriously? You and the rest of your ignorant hater buddies can go back to your Dungeons and Dragons game and let the big boys handle this stuff.

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