Army Cleared to Tap Next M4 Maker

The Government Accountability Office recently denied Colt’s second protest of the Army’s M4 Product Improvement Plan, hopefully ending what seems to be a money-driven, seven-month delay over who gets to make M4A1 carbines for soldiers in Afghanistan.

This all began when the Army chose Remington Arms Company over Colt in April to make tens of thousands of M4A1 carbines. That award meant that more soldiers would go into combat with the M4A1, a SOF version of the carbine that features a more durable barrel and a full-auto capability. The Army’s decision to dump the  three-round burst setting will give soldiers a more consistent trigger and better accuracy.

Now, the GAO did rule that Colt’s first protest over the Army’s miscalculation of royalties it would receive for contract awards on its M4 design. The July 24 ruling forced the Army to rework the original solicitation so the vendors that fell into the competitive range could submit new price bids. All gun makers involved were forced to reveal their previous price bids for the $84 million contract to keep things fair.

Colt officials then filed an Oct. 9 protest with the GAO three weeks after the Connecticut-based gun maker received the Army’s amended Sept. 21 solicitation. Colt officials wouldn’t talk about the reason for the second protest then and have not returned my Nov. 29 phone call to discuss the issue.

The Army is now moving forward with its revised attempt to resolve the issue, said Don Jarosz, a spokesman for Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command.

“The Army intends to complete the source selection process and promptly issue a contract award in accordance with the amended solicitation.  No contract award has been made yet, and we are not aware of any appeals made by Colt,” he said.

With luck, the Army will soon be able to complete the M4 Product Improvement portion of service’s dual-path strategy to improve the individual carbine. Army weapons officials launched its plan to radically improve the M4 carbine about a year after senior leaders announced a plan in November 2008 to search for a possible replacement for the M4. Roughly three years later, the improved carbine that has emerged from the effort is the M4A1, a weapon that has been in the special operations inventory since the mid 1990s.

 The Army has fielded more than 6,000 M4A1s to soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky., this summer. The service plans to begin upgrading existing M4s to M4A1s with special conversion kits next summer.

About the Author

Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox has been a defense reporter since 1998 and is an associate editor for Military.com. He traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq numerous times from 2002 to 2008, covering infantry units in combat. Matthew was an infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division.

32 Comments on "Army Cleared to Tap Next M4 Maker"

  1. If I want a 30-06 I buy a Remington-
    If I want a 1911, or M-16 variant I go to Colt-
    If I want an affordable Colt quality M-16 variant I go to Windham Weaponry in Maine…!

  2. Much the same way that FN took over the M16 contract from Colt, the Remington rifles will be made to the same specifications used by Colt to make their rifles. They will be inspected by government inspectors before they are issued to our troops. I have not heard of any problems with the FN guns and I don't expect their will be with the Remington rifles either.

  3. Remington has good DoD experience and will do well in making M-4A1s for the Army. They make M-24s new XM-2010s, and M-40 series rifles already. Good for them.

  4. Colt needs to Fire former Gen Casey former CSA, even he couldn't influence the comittee!!

  5. Shows too the M-4 isn't going away. With hundreds of thousands made and next year millions of conversion kits coming the M-4 is staying in the Army.

  6. Wasn't most of the problems with Colt's made M4s/M4A1s cause by the full-auto fire and the wearing of the barrels because of it? plus wouldn't fully automatic fire mess up accuracy? IMO the Army is just asking for more future problems with these (i believe) regretable changes, no matter who produces them. Don't be surprised it ends up back to 3 Round burst in less than 10 years. Just remember, and M4/M16s were never intended to shoot like AK-47s, even the newer SOCOM made weapons, SCAR, Mk14, HKs ect can be prone to wear and failure. So better to be safe then sorry, to keep burst mode.

  7. We don't need no GD new M4, we need to close with the enemy kill them

  8. A little off topic, but why would that soldier in the photo be using a 20 round mag?

  9. Shotbag, you clearly aren't the one carrying the current M4/M16A4. How's the war from your laz-y-boy recliner? Please give your opinion more often, it's so good to hear how fat civilians feel about our infantry weapons. I'm sure you have a lot of experience in this area. On second hand, how about you just don't pipe up. If I need the phone number to the nearest Papa John's Pizza, I'll ask you.

  10. if it ain't colt spec, it ain't colt quality….Windham god bless em, definitely ain't colt spec.

  11. One issue with the article. Completin the M4A1 phase is just Phase I.

    Phase II consist of the now cancelled BCG PiP(none offered any improvements) and the Forward Rail PiP which is still ongoing.

    After all is said and done we will have a M4A1 with ambi selector, a far better trigger than the one in the M4, and a FF forward rail. Sounds good to me, no current 5.56 rifle offers any true advantages that justify the billions it would cost to change systems.

    The Marine Corps will also soon be looking at a PiP for their M16(heavy barrel, ambi selector, collapsing stock, FF forward rail, adjustable gas block).

  12. Regardless of who wins the "contract",keep full auto on the weapon.The wasting of ammo is less important than the wasting of my ***.
    I am much too old to get involved in ammo wasting verses aimed shots.However
    when our point men turned the corner and there within 10 meters was one or more
    on the trail,the full auto the point men carried there rifles on was greatly appreciated.

  13. It's getting better. When I shot the first Aimpoint on a 10-22, I couldn't get anyone to listen to trying to put the sight on our M-16s. That was in SF. Now cooks have some sort of sight on their weapon. The system is still ruled by the power/money brokers. But every once in a while a breath of fresh air drifts through. Things are getting better. Our soldiers are better trained and better equiped than when I was an 11B. Im hopeful that some in our current leadership can keep us moving in the right direction. I just try to remember "It's the Indian, not the arrow".

  14. From an old 11B, I'm glad to see the FA capability is there. There are very few times it will be needed, but there is a need for it. Next thing the Army needs to worry about is reliability issues. Get rid of DI and go with a piston system, similar to the HK416. I know my piston driven systems stay much cleaner and if they get into less than ideal conditions, it still goes bang. I don't know how the new m855a1 rounds are, but the older M855 (62gr) ammo sucks, by comparison to something like a 69gr round, or even up to 77gr round. I've seen what an M855 does to a body and I've also seen what a 77gr round does. The 77gr round is much better and it extends the range of the weapon system significantly. As far as Remington making the M4's, I don't see any problems with them making it as I'm already not a big fan of Colt. The 3rd burst was about the dumbest thing to put on a weapon. All it is, is a bandaid for lack of training. With a little training, it's not hard to put your weapon on auto and crank out however many round you want to at a time… Controlled pairs, 3rds, 5rds, etc, etc…

  15. Glad things are moving along. Colt is really starting to wear on me. (Off topic) With all of this M4 news, I'm glad I have my SBR but I'd like to get an IWI Tavor X95.

  16. Agreed Colt will still get money from this. They are also making money making M-240 GPMGs.

  17. Gives me faith in the system.

  18. This is not first time when Colt f*ked the army and it got back in through the back door. All this guys did this century was to milk the government and beg for bancrupty protection. Not a single succesful military firearm was designed by Colt, from the ground up, for over a century. Their legacy this century was screwing the tax payers, screwing their employees, screwing the army and getting good men killed. The only people that had a good time since Colt rules DOD small arms procurement, are few generals and politicians.
    Everyone else got screwed. It's nice to see some people trying to fix this, but I doubt they can. Colt has too many fat cats in their pocket.

  19. Well.
    -Colt made rifles did get good men killed in Vietnam.
    -They lost the M16 contract because extremely poor quality and bad overall service, after milking it for few decades with little to no improvements.
    -They went bankrupt right after, since they weren't able to function in a normal civilian compiting environment.
    – Colt holds the record for the longest strike in the American history.
    -after all those failures, some how they got back in charge to make millions of M4s. Why?
    -The last succesfull military firearm they designed was the 1911, a single stack pistol… about 100 years ago. Small changes to firearms designed by other companies they got to milk for a reason or another don't count.
    -got fat cat generals straight into exec positions when they "retire" from the army.

    Sorry. Their record the last century wasn't exactly that stelar. You would expect companies that get such huge millitary contracts to spend a penny or two on developing new firearms, not just pay generals and politicians.

  20. I'll start this off by saying, even though I'm a battlefield airman, I'm still a POG. But as a shooter, I have to say I think that the M4A1 is a step in the right direction. It's mechanically simpler, and I like that. Also, I've never been allowed to use anything other than semi. As for full auto, I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. In addition to shooting real firearms, I also play airsoft, and I so rarely use Full auto, because I believe in getting the biggest payoff for the least effort, even airsoft guns have muzzle climb. I just hope the Air Force gets the M4A1 soon.

  21. What is the IAR? A heave barreled M16. So what is the big deal? There has been several incarnations of heavy barreled M16's.

    The BAR was the ONLY rifle in it's time that did what it did. The RPK is nothing more than a AK47 with a 20" barrel with a bipod mounted on it and a 40rd mag. Far ahead of its time? This was no groundbreaking advancement in tactics with the RPK. Put it this way, you seem them in use currently by the Russians or Chinese? May see old stuff in third world hot spots.

    When the Germans came out with the MP43/44, the game changed and the IAR concept became obsolete. Why not just issue everyone a HB 16" M16 and they could all be "riflemen".

    Curious, what weapon did the Russian automatic rifleman use in WWII?

  22. 20 rounders are also convenient if you're working around vehicles and dismounting quickly. They're a lot less likely to drag a handmike or BFT cable out of the truck with you.

  23. "What is the IAR? A heave barreled M16. So what is the big deal? There has been several incarnations of heavy barreled M16′s."

    typically a IAR is a assault rifle with a heavier receiver and barrel. The US tried such a beast before with the M16 Automatic Rifle/Light Support Weapon and somehow dropped it for the M249 instead of augmenting it.

    "The BAR was the ONLY rifle in it’s time that did what it did."

    If by that you mean a lightweight, suppressive fire rifle that fires the same cartridge as the main rifle then that is incorrect. There was the DP. The Bren. The MG42 (which was the best weapon of its type in that war because it was light AND belt-fed). In fact, those weapons were better than the BAR because they had larger magazines.

    "The RPK is nothing more than a AK47 with a 20″ barrel with a bipod mounted on it and a 40rd mag."

    and a heavier receiver and integrated carrying handle. These features are critical differences between assault rifles and automatic rifles

    "Far ahead of its time? This was no groundbreaking advancement in tactics with the RPK. Put it this way, you seem them in use currently by the Russians or Chinese? May see old stuff in third world hot spots."

    Actually it was ground breaking. It was a "light" suppressive fire weapon similar to the AK that gave infantrymen the ability to fire and maneuver on a far superior level than with the heavier caliber PKM and the RPKs heavy belt-fed predecessor, the RPD. This was instrumental to the perceived Warsaw Pact tactics required to break through NATO lines during a anticipated WWIII.

    And yes, the concept is still in use. There is the RPK74 used by the Russian Armed Forces (and others). There is also the QBB95 (used by the PLA). IARs should supplement light machine gun and general purpose machine guns, not replace then.

    "When the Germans came out with the MP43/44, the game changed and the IAR concept became obsolete."

    not remotely. The assault rifle still didn't have the suppressive fire capability of a machine gun. belt-fed machine guns (at that time) didn't have the light weight to accomodate fire and maneuver. Besides, such a statement would mean the MP44 made the MG42 light obsolete. http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=8672 This is obviously not true.

    "Why not just issue everyone a HB 16″ M16 and they could all be “riflemen”."

    Because riflemen have niche specific jobs in a fire team that are different than automatic riflemen. Equipping all riflemen with a infantry automatic rifle would make them automatic riflemen, which obviously affects the flexibility of the infantry fire team and squad. Also, IARs are still heavier and less mobile than rifles or carbines. The automatic rifleman job should utilize both belt-fed and IAR-type weapons to encourage flexibility. Assault squads can use IARs and Support can use belt-feds just for a generalization.

    "Curious, what weapon did the Russian automatic rifleman use in WWII?"

    The DP Degtyaryov.

  24. Remington makes the 6.8 spc :D maybe we will see a push to get the m4 replacement in 6.8 spc! whoop whoop

  25. You must have too much time on your hands, but I will play.

    “What is the IAR? A heave barreled M16. So what is the big deal? There has been several incarnations of heavy barreled M16′s.”

    "typically a IAR is a assault rifle with a heavier receiver and barrel. The US tried such a beast before with the M16 Automatic Rifle/Light Support Weapon and somehow dropped it for the M249 instead of augmenting it."

    Nothing to augment. A “special” rifle (that is not so special) as described and built by HK is a farce. I keep repeating this but it apparently is not getting through. A similarly configured rifle by Colt, FN, or whomever based on the Stoner di system would do the same thing at less cost, parts commonality, lighter weight, and better accuracy.

    By the way, their ain’t no ‘heavier receiver component to the current IAR

    “The BAR was the ONLY rifle in it’s time that did what it did.”

    "If by that you mean a lightweight, suppressive fire rifle that fires the same cartridge as the main rifle then that is incorrect. There was the DP. The Bren. The MG42 (which was the best weapon of its type in that war because it was light AND belt-fed). In fact, those weapons were better than the BAR because they had larger magazines."

    Uhhh, no I am not, and I beg to differ. What the BAR lacked in mag capacity it more than made up for in weight savings.

    The BAR generally weighed in around 15-16 lbs and fired from a 20rd magazine.

    The DP during the war weighed in at around 20 lbs and fired from a 30 rd mag.
    The Bren is in a whole other class and weighed in at around 22-23 lbs and fired from a 30 rd mag.

    The point being, is both weapons mentioned are quite a bit heavier than the BAR, but nevertheless, I was speaking of US inventory. Plus, these weapons and the concept were replaced with lightweight single man portable belt feds. That is just the way it is. The IAR is not going to add any more ‘suppressive fire’ than a similarly configured di M16.

    The MG42 shouldn’t even be mentioned in the discussion.

    “The RPK is nothing more than a AK47 with a 20″ barrel with a bipod mounted on it and a 40rd mag.”

    "and a heavier receiver and integrated carrying handle. These features are critical differences between assault rifles and automatic rifles"

    Same receiver made out of 1.5mm material versus 1mm material which is not a big deal really and not enough of a departure from the AKM to really classify it other than anything but a longer barreled AK with a bipod.

    The HK, Colt, LWRC, etc. IAR rifles usr the same receiver as a standard M16.

    “Far ahead of its time? This was no groundbreaking advancement in tactics with the RPK. Put it this way, you seem them in use currently by the Russians or Chinese? May see old stuff in third world hot spots.”

    "Actually it was ground breaking. It was a “light” suppressive fire weapon similar to the AK that gave infantrymen the ability to fire and maneuver on a far superior level than with the heavier caliber PKM and the RPKs heavy belt-fed predecessor, the RPD. This was instrumental to the perceived Warsaw Pact tactics required to break through NATO lines during a anticipated WWIII."

    Yeah, but the Warsaw tactics sucked, and I highly doubt the RPK was gonna change the day if the big one happened. I would take an RPD 100 times over and RPK. I like belt feds if you can't tell.

    "And yes, the concept is still in use. There is the RPK74 used by the Russian Armed Forces (and others). There is also the QBB95 (used by the PLA). IARs should supplement light machine gun and general purpose machine guns, not replace then."

    I have not seen any recent information that shows the Rooskies still using a RPK type in front line units. I could be wrong there as I haven’t really had the interest to look in depth.

    That is what I am saying, the concept doesn’t supplement anything in the palce of a belt fed unit. If I lose one belt fed to the bloated HK turd, I am ******.

    “When the Germans came out with the MP43/44, the game changed and the IAR concept became obsolete.”

    "not remotely. The assault rifle still didn’t have the suppressive fire capability of a machine gun. belt-fed machine guns (at that time) didn’t have the light weight to accomodate fire and maneuver. Besides, such a statement would mean the MP44 made the MG42 light obsolete. http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=8672 This is obviously not true.

    Suppressive fire is one of the exact reasons the Germans came up with the MP43/44, the ability to get more controllable rounds down range in a hurry. The MG42 wasn’t light weight relative to its peers of the time, considering the volume of fire, and the capacity of a quick change barrel?

    “Why not just issue everyone a HB 16″ M16 and they could all be “riflemen”.

    "Because riflemen have niche specific jobs in a fire team that are different than automatic riflemen. Equipping all riflemen with a infantry automatic rifle would make them automatic riflemen, which obviously affects the flexibility of the infantry fire team and squad. Also, IARs are still heavier and less mobile than rifles or carbines. The automatic rifleman job should utilize both belt-fed and IAR-type weapons to encourage flexibility. Assault squads can use IARs and Support can use belt-feds just for a generalization."

    How does it affect it adversely? The are the same friggin rifle except one uses a bit of a heavier barrel. You act like 20 magawatt lasers are coming out the doggone thing. When rounds are being exchanged, allot of this stuff goes out the window. The IAR in its current form – HK – blows. There simply is no advantage to that rifle over a similarly configured M16. In fact as I have said here in this post as well as previous ones, the fact that the op rod is scabbed on the thing and never was designed to have one, the weight, the physical distortion the rifle experiences when fired due to the op rod, proprietary parts, etc. make it a boondoggle.

    “Curious, what weapon did the Russian automatic rifleman use in WWII?”

    "The DP Degtyaryov."

    I knew that but it was a 30% heavier weapon than the BAR. So I don’t consider it the “same”. Maybe in concept it is. I will tell you this, it played far less of a role in the success of the Russians than the PPSh or PPS-43. How is that for a hard fact?

  26. Joshua is 100% correct. The accuracy comes from a consistant trigger pull. Also, if I am not mistaken, the joke was a Tropic Thunder reference.

  27. Can someone tell me what ISAF and /arabic text means on the shoulder patch shown on this picture.

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