And the winner of the U.S. Army competition to replace the M4 carbine is … the Army’s new and improved M4 carbine.
At least that’s the outcome gun makers attending Shot Show 2012 predict for the completion of the service’s improved carbine competition.
The Army is nearing the end of the first phase of the competition, now referred to as the IC. The service will soon announce which companies can advance to the second phase, when Army testers will start shooting hundreds of thousands of rounds through the prototype weapons.
Phase one has had nothing to do with evaluating test prototypes, but instead has focused on weeding out companies that may not have the production capacity to make thousands of weapons per month. This has become a bitter point of contention that has driven away some companies with credible names in the gun business.
“I’m not going to dump half a million to a million dollars for them never to review my rifle,” said Steve Mayer of Rock River Arms, standing amid his racks of M4-style carbines at Shot Show, the massive small-arms show here that draws gun makers from all over the world.
I’ve been knocking the other services for their inability to run a reasonable procurement program. But let’s face it, the Army has mismanaged small arms for 40 years now. The only really good purchases of small arms the Army has made have been new-build M2 .50 cals, and the decision to switch from the M60 to the M240… which is just a MAG58 with updated furniture, and is in fact an older design than the M60.