Lawmakers Want Army to Finish Carbine Competition


I filed a story Thursday about the House Armed Services Committee’s new budget amendment that could prevent the Army from canceling its improved carbine competition without completing the final, soldier evaluation phase.

Army program officials are in the process of reprogramming the $49.6 million requested in the proposed fiscal 2014 budget to buy 30,000 new Individual Carbines, reported May 2.

But the HASC decided Thursday it wants the Army to finish the carbine effort it has already funneled $20 million into before making a final decision.

Committee members voted unanimously in the wee morning hours of June 6 to support the amendment to the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization ACT sponsored by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, ranking member of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee.

The amendment, if passed into law, prevents Secretary of the Army John McHugh from canceling the IC competition before the Army completes the Phase III user-evaluation portion, conducts a business case analysis, and reports back to congressional defense committees with the effort’s findings, according to the amendments official language.

Read the rest of the story here.

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Matthew Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • Lance

    Don’t matter there wasn’t a new carbine better than the M-4 and so why they are cancelling the competition. I also know this Republican Budget bill this amendment is a attached to cannot pass the Senate or the WH veto so this is a dead amendment. Also the budget wont pass till October so if the army cancels it now the amendment wont matter.

    SO Mr Cox get my email and call me I got a few questions on this for you.

    • Paralus

      How would you know there isn’t a better carbine if the testing isn’t completed?

      Whether another carbine is actually better than the M4A1 is a separate question from whether or not they will actually acquire another carbine.

      The Army needs to finish the program, then it can decide if another carbine should be selected.

      • Lance

        Not really test after test showed the M-4A1 can hold up aginst the HK 416 or the crappy SCAR. All other IC entries are M-4s with new hub caps on. Overall as long as we stay on 5.56mm NATO the M-4 is best platform for grunts to stay with.

        • Belley

          HK416 its the best weapon in this world no one ca beat german made like always…

          • Lance

            Down side of the 416 its too heavy and alot more expensive than a M-4A1.

          • Joshua

            Not sure if serious???? The HK416 is nothing special. The only time I ever saw the HK416 be better than the M4A1 was pre fleeting back when they were hand built test samples, alot had to change when they became fleeted though.

        • Jer

          Really? The “crappy” SCAR? What have you been smoking? The SCAR is pretty much the most incredible non-altered (meaning strictly with factory settings) 5.56 carbine you could find. It’s versatile, and it’s a piston-driven system, not gas-driven like the M4. This makes it a cleaner, more reliable weapon. I own an M4, and I do like it — but I’d trade it straight-up for a SCAR any day of the week.

          • Nance, Elliot

            Not saying the SCAR is bad but SOCOM had this discussion before and they felt the SCAR was similar enough to the M4A1 that it wasn’t worth the time or money. Obviously this only applies for the SCAR-L as the SCAR-H is still used by them.

            That is really the problem with all 5.56mm carbines, they are so similar that they really aren’t worth the cost in changing to them. Since a new weapon most likely also means new tools and parts to fix them and possibly new basic weapons training for the armorers or everyone. You’d most likely be paying well over $300 million for a new rifle that can’t really do anything more than the improved M4A1 already can.

  • Will

    Christ on a crutch… Can’t we make an amendment that makes lawmakers shut the hell up about military procurement matters?

    • Paralus

      Yeah dang Constitution and all that pesky civilian oversight.

    • FormerSFMedic

      ^LOL. Now that’s a great comment!

    • moondawg

      Well, look at it this way, the civilians and congress are paying the militaries bills. It isn’t like the military was self supporting, or out earning any money.

  • Oldbreed1963

    There are better rifle then the M-4 out there. More reliable and better calibers also. The men that are at the tip of the spear have to have crap but we have to have a raptors?! I have a sneaking suspicion why the Corps is using the HK. The SAW is already in the inventory. The Corps can just field more HK’s in the squad. Way above the M-4 in performance. SOC community is already been using HK-416’s etc. All the Frontline troops should have the best rifle and caliber we can provide. I was a Marine Infantryman and would have preferred an HK or FN to an M-4/M-16.

    • Joshua

      What are you talking about? The M27 is basically a 5.56 BAR, something the Marines just love. They still use the M16 and M4 for their standard rifles and are working on a M16 PiP to give it a free floated barrel and collapsing stock. I have tested the HK416 and outside of very specific niches it is no better than the M4A1. I should point out that 95% of the special forces guys use the M4A1 and CQBR.

      I won’t argue there are better calibers but the IC is nothing but a new rifle firing the 5.56 and none of them really do it better

      • Lance

        So you agree since congress started this IC crap in the first place is this there way to try to stall the inevitable end where M-4A1 stays? Really I dont see another carbine winning because of this congressional thievery. Agree?????

        • Joshua

          Its tough to say. Is there anything significantly better? Not. But congress is congress and when your campaigning for your district they can be persuasive.

          At this point it would no surprise me if they did end up with a new rifle with how congress is acting about this whole thing.

          • Lance

            But i Doubt it you have to agree the GOP budget in the House will not pass a Democratic Senate. Agree with that???

          • Joshua

            Nust got word none of the rifles made it past Phase II. Supposedly none met the requirements required to pass.

            We will see i the Army makes a statement that correlated with what I was told.

      • Oldbreed1963

        Oh you ‘tested’ the 416 ? That’s nice.

  • thursday88

    The best way is to keep the platform but upgrade the caliber. The only problem with that is the cost. It would cost billions to retool for a different caliber and would take years to get ammo stocks up to the needed amount.

    I think 6.8 is a better combat round than 6.5.

    • J.Grizzly

      6.8 is a bad hammer I had a civilian version.

    • JCitizen

      Actually the ability to quickly change caliber in the field – if need be – is the only reason to change – I like the modular rifle Colt put out – that can be switched from 5.56mm to 7.62x54mm NATO in a heart beat. They would only have to make enough of these to sprinkle then among groups with missions that may point that way, like special operations – but they have something like them already – so it boils down to a force that is smaller, over all but more agile. I’ve seen some really good designs, that still shoot MOA – and don’t weigh any more than an M4A1

      Hell – even if they simply made a better upper, that would not impact parts inventory or other factors, as much. and It would be cheaper too.

  • Jer

    I agree a new caliber is needed, but that says nothing of the platform. Find the most reliable platform you can, and then select the most appropriate caliber. The rifle had its problems, but that was the idea behind the ACR: create one reliable platform that could be converted to support multiple calibers.

    • Thursday88

      I still believe the M4 is a terrific platform, I’ve yet to have a problem with my BCM. I think most complaint have to do with poor maintenance [whether at armory level or individual level. (i.e. general maintenance and spring replacement)] Google the filthy 14. I know I have 2,000 rounds through mine with only running it wet.

      I believe the ACR was a great platform (as introduced) maybe more an answer to a question that hadn’t been asked but good non the less. The problem was with the execution, once Bushmaster got their hands on it and made changes it was absolutely terrible.

    • ian

      The problem is the best caliber I s not in production yet so you cant get a rifle in it to test. If you saw what is being worked on with caseless ammo and polymer case telescope ammo you would agree.

  • Tanman

    Just switch to .300 blackout and be done with it.

    • Rusty Shovel

      Blackout has too many weaknesses to be considered.
      6.8 is better up close but loses umph too quickly.
      6.5 is more powerful than 5.56, and shoots long range like a champ.
      The m855a1 version of 5.56 addresses of lot of issues–and doesn’t require change.
      7.62 works, but is heavy and lacks the “gee-whiz” factor of so-called modern rounds.

      All the above is irrelevant if there’s no budget to train professional soldiers. It’s not the arrow that kills you, it’s the Indian.

      • thursday88

        I have no dog in this fight but,

        From the info I’ve seen the 6.8 and 6.5 perform quite similarly, almost identically. Until we get to longer ranges like SDM ranges, where the 6.5 shines. However the 6.8 perfromed admirably in the carbine fighting range (0-300m+).

        Of course that’s just my understanding of the two platforms. Granted, I believe going to either a 6.5/6.8 platform over the current 5.56 would be a win.

    • thursday88

      Credits go to DocGKR.

      “Both 6.8 mm and .300 BLK are excellent cartridge choices for individuals and organizations requiring a caliber larger than .223, that functions reliably in an AR15. At this time, the major .300 BLK loadings all penetrate deeper than the 12-18″ ideal range for LE use; in contrast there are multiple 6.8 mm loads which currently meet this criteria, along with offering acceptable intermediate barrier capability.”

      Along with meeting that criteria I believe both 6.8 and 6.5 perform better at longer ranges. Don’t get me wrong .300 blackout out of a suppressed weapon at close quarters is a game changer.

  • Cjsniper

    WTF!! the should just use the acr rifle it’s looking to be the best replace for the m4 come on man it’s can be change from 5.56 to 6.8 even the 7.62. come on now people it don’t take a rock science find the best gun!!!

  • Colin

    Question (from a brit). If the programme was/is canned why are the army allowed to “reprogramme the $49.6 million”? Why aren’t they just made to return the money (with regards to the recession)?

    With regards to a calibre change, the US pushed the last to calibres on other NATO members, if you do change again could you do a proper non-biased research programme first – and pick the right calibre.
    (just a little bit of sarcasm there)

  • John D

    If it’s close to finalization then complete it. Doesn’t mean that the military will buy new weapons in the era of bargain basement armies!! The military has banned efficient plastic magazines again since they can’t seem to make a solid decision. This item and proper cleaning and mantainence of weapons should fix the current weapon situation. Only the Army seems to be having trouble, not the Marines who take weapons as a religious experience!! Another leadership failure in the Army!!

  • Mang

    Wow. I can’t *believe* Congress is holding the Pentagon accountable on this, and I’m impressed.

  • 881824

    Congress is trying to hold the Pentagon accountable — the amendment hasn’t passed.

    For the Brit: the U.S. DoD moves money around on a regular basis to address pressing needs. $49.6 Million is so insignificant in the overall scheme of things that it won’t make a difference in the Budget.

    While there are better combat rounds and gun designs, the ACR is too heavy to add to a typical combat load. An increase in caliber increases the weight of the ammo in that load or reduces the number of rounds available. While a 6.8 would be better ballistically, it effectively reduces the number of rounds that a marine can hump through the mountains of Afghanistan or North Korea (if that happens).

  • Sev

    There is no such thing as a rifle for everything. They should issue rifles based on METT-TC of the theater. Long range mountain combat in the mountains of Astan? Issue a battle rifle in .308 or 30-06. Mid range combat in a city or rural area? Issue assault rifles in the 556, 6.8, what have you.

    Honestly for all the money spent on these useless competitions we could have issued several new rifles for every soldier in addition to the current m4 inventory. Just like the camo issue, there is no universal gun.

  • ty c.

    You’re right. There is no universal gun but you average g.i ‘s need to have the same ammo in theatre. Sure would suck if you couldn’t share when you run out .

  • Rodney

    Sure, keep the M4 around- it’s had 40+ years to get the kinks nearly worked out (forward bolt assist, twist rate, cleaner powder, enclosed flash-hider, feed ramps, chrome bore, polymer mags, ditched the carry handle for optics, etc.)

    But, to put this in perspective, for the cost of ONE F-35 you buy 25,000 6.8/6.5 uppers, mags and several years worth of ammo so our guys in Afghanistan (and the next hot GWOT theater) can reach out past 300 yards. A more effective long range caliber should be available when it’s needed.

    BTW, the Swiss have got to be doing head smacks if they are paying any attention to the 5.56’s (lack of performance) in Afghanistan, as they have similar terrain to defend. Hopefully they didn’t get rid of all their STGW57s.

    • Joshua

      The 5.56 does fine at 600M, could larger calibers do better? Sure but the 5.56 is a low recoil light round and if you hit what you aim at it will do the job.

      In my experience most soldiers can not guess distance, and most cannot hit what they aim at. Part of that issue is again the whole distance thing and not understanding how a bullets flight path works.

      M855A1 also is leaps and bounds better than M855 even if it has a few kinks that need to be worked out.

      • Rodney

        Re: “The 5.56 does fine at 600M” (!!) Numerous studies show that just simply is not true. See for example. Some education is in order here. Besides, anyone who has hunted with the 5.56 knows first hand its limitations.

        • Joshua

          Yes I have read that, and there is certainly a place for something like the 7.62. It doesn’t change the fact that the MK262 has recorded kills at 700M from a Mk12. A COM shot at that distance will still kill someone. If we trained soldiers to understand bullet flight and to be better marksmen at 600M it would make a huge difference.

          I wasn’t saying the 5.56 was the best most ideal long range caliber, but if your aim is good it will do its job at 600M, that was my point.

          I like how you try to educate me with that paper which I take you did not write? My experiences and AAR’s I have read have proven that with good shots 5.56 works out to 600M, but do not miss understand that larger calibers work better at these ranges.

          For the time being for a general issue round the 5.56 works.

          • Rodney

            Here’s another for your reading enjoyment (no I didn’t write it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pass it along as an educational opportunity): Can’t argue with physics.

        • FormerSFMedic

          First of all Rodney, we’re not talking about hunting. Most game animals have a much more sturdy build when compared to humans. Just because a cartridge isn’t suitable for hunting game doesn’t mean it’s not suitable for duty use.

          Second, we can look at test data and theories all day long but it’s the real world performance that counts the most. The 5.56 has proven itself over and over again at ranges beyond 600m. The accuracy skill level of the average infantryman has not been nearly as consistent. If soldiers were actually getting the proper training the 5.56 would likely see a substantial increase in effectiveness. Unfortunately the Army training doctrine is always behind when it comes to weapons manipulation and shooting skills.

          The 5.56 is a cartridge that can and does get the job done from close quarters out to 600m+.

          • Rodney

            You’re right, we’re not talking game animals (5.56 is a fine varmint round, but no one would ethically argue you could take anything larger than a whitetail deer with it, and would use an expanding bullet at that). We’re not talking unwilling Soviet conscripts either. We talking Taliban who are juiced on Jihad and opiates, who don’t feel a thing when hit with a Ø.22″ 62 grain bullet at 300m +. Shock and tissue damage is what stops them, not “OMA, I’m hit!” It’s about physics, 120 grain 6.5@500 yards= 913 ft/lbs (not too far from 7.62 territory). 115 grain 6.8@500 yards= 680 ft/lbs, 62 grain 5.56@500 yards= a pitiful 385 ft/lbs (sources Federal & Hornady ballistic charts). Given the choice, what would you rather carry into battle in open terrain?

          • Joshua

            When it comes to drugs not even a .50 is guaranteed to stop them. I have seen se guys who just refuse to die even after taking 5 rounds of Mk262 to the chest, just like I have seen some take multiple hits from 7.62 and keep going. Then there are those that drop in one hit….humans are funny that way.

  • Bman

    The M4 is a great weapon but there are better ones out there. The two things are most important are the reliability of the weapon and the reliability of the round. Then you have accuracy which we already know the ACR, SCAR and others are just as accurate if not more. So the question is do any of them provide a substantial increase in reliability? Given that big Army and the Marines idea that very little lubricant is a good idea, then a newer weapon is required with the coatings that improve lubricity. Second, is there an option that increases range and lethality? In several of the contenders, there is. They can accept 5.56 and 6.8 and I believe some offer 6.5. I think it is a win-win for the entire military if they continue the program.

  • JohnD

    Use the 6x45mm round with the 90gr round. You will,have a good compromise with more power, no need to,get new mags, links, bolts only new barrels! Stop wasting limited funds on stupid tests! There have been tons of tests up to this point! Save our troops- and the money! Just get the new weapons bilingual!