Thursday, June 13, 2013

Army's Individual Carbine Competition Canceled

Soldier Systems is reporting that the Army has decided to cancel the Individual Carbine competition. This was the Army's search for a replacement for their current carbines the M4 and M4A1. The cancellation was done because none of the contenders made a high enough score to make it to the next round of the competition.

From the Army's release:
The IC program consisted of a three-phased competitive strategy to determine whether industry could provide a best-value, improved alternative to the M4A1 carbine. Phase I consisted of reviews of vendor proposals and non-firing evaluations of bid samples. All vendors successfully met Phase I criteria. In 2012, the Army commenced Phase II of the competition, which subjected IC candidates to rigorous evaluations that tested the extreme limits of weapon performance in such areas as weapon system accuracy, reliability, and durability. For Phase III, the Army planned to award between zero and three contracts for weapons meeting Phase II requirements for further environmental and operationally oriented Soldier testing. Upon completion of all testing, the Army planned to conduct a cost benefit analysis between the top performing competitor and the M4A1 carbine.

At the conclusion of Phase II testing, however, no competitor demonstrated a significant improvement in weapon reliability — measured by mean rounds fired between weapon stoppage. Consistent with the program’s search for superior capability, the test for weapon reliability was exceptionally rigorous and exceeded performance experienced in a typical operational environment.

Based upon Army analysis, test results may have been affected by interaction between the ammunition, the magazine and the weapon. The Army’s existing carbine requirement assumed use of the M855 ammunition; the weapons tested in the IC competition all fired the next generation M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round (EPR) currently in fielding. The use of the M855A1 round likely resulted in lower than expected reliability performance. These effects are unique to testing conditions and are not known to affect the reliability of any weapon in the operational environment.
The remaining monies from this program will now be reallocated to other Army budget priorities. There is some speculation that this is the real reason they ended the competition.

The end result is that that Army will continue to field the M4A1 and will not be buying such weapons as the FN SCAR, the Remington ACR, or the HK 416 or the like. Colt Defense and Adcor Defense were also in the competition.


  1. The Army has been working on a plan to convert all of their existing M4s into M4A1s - replacing barrel with a heavier barrel, and replacing entire trigger group with full-auto components, along with milling out "BURST" and stamping "AUTO" plus adding A1 stamp. They've also talked about going to a free-float quad-rail; which is ridiculous for a line carbine.
    I don't understand why they don't just modify the existing trigger group rather than replacing everything, but they don't consult me on this stuff. Lots of silly wasting of our money. Now they're doing away with the program for annual inspection and repair. What could possibly go wrong with that decision?

  2. It's now time for the firearms industry to bring about a major leap in assault rifle design. So far the next generation of assault rifles have only scratched the surface of new developments; modularity, ergonomics, new materials, even reliability in operating systems. A major leap is going to require all of the new developments and new technology. The Army CLEARLY hamstrung all the vendors involved. Especially changing ammo during competition. And not requiring the current M4 to measure up to the same standard.
    Instead of waiting for the Army to step outside of the box,(remember we're talking about weapons procurement) make the best rifle you can. Set a desired goal, then do it. How about something like this: 7.5lbs (magnesium alloys, upper & lowers; new carbon fiber technology barrels). Long stroke piston operating system, comparing recoil impulses, longevity of components, folding stock ability. And lastly CALIBER. QCB & long range(500m +)proficiency. 6.5 Creedmore or 7mm-08. That means an AR-10 style rifle. Remember what killed the M-14 as a standard arm? It was recoil & weight. Plane & simple. Now the M-14 is only used in a speciality role. Very soon AR-10's will be implementing some & I say only some of these new features. Its also clear, most companies will only develop what they can make money on. Which means years will go by before the next leap. It doesn't have to be that way.