Colt Loses M4 Contract

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 7 months ago

Long-time suppliers tend to lose control over QA.  I don’t know if this has affected Colt’s proposals for the new M4s, but I do know that even though my former Marine son, Daniel, was a SAW gunner, of course he had to shoot and qualify on the M16 and M4.  After shooting my Rock River Arms rifle, he was very impressed at its quality.  I believe he had some complaints about the rifles with which he qualified.

So Colt has lost the contract for the next generation M4s, and here is the rest of the story.

Colt recently filed another complaint with the Government Accountability Office in further attempts to block competing vendors from supplying the US Army with new rifles. They do not want to lose their position as the primary M4 supplier to the Army, and they’re pulling out all the stops to prevent being undercut by the competition.

Shortly after signing Remington to the US Army’s $84 million M4 contract, Colt filed a complaint with the GAO, claiming that the contract did not properly calculate the royalties owed to Colt for each rifle. The GAO agreed, and the Army re-opened the bidding for the contract to supply them with much-needed M4A1 carbines.

Colt since filed a second complaint with the GAO, and while the details of their filing are unknown, it matters little as the GAO has denied their second claim.

Vendors will continue on with the current bidding schedule, and hopefully get back on track to supplying the military with the M4A1s they need to replace their aging M4s and M16s still in service starting in 2013. In order to keep things fair, all vendors have had to make their first bids public, acknowledging the fact that Remington’s bid was revealed by the GAO inquiry.

The plan to roll out new rifles dates back to 2008 when the Army started looking into ways to improve or possibly replace the M4. That could have been Colt’s intent all along, in order to be able to come in for less than all of the competing vendors.

The M4 Product Improvement Plan eventually settled on updating the M4A1 and fielding it to all troops. Although the M4A1 is more than a few years old it’s also extremely well-established in the military, and replacing existing rifles with it means no additional training requirements nor any teething issues rolling out a new main infantry small arm. Also, it’s very cost-effective. The cost per rifle Remington originally contracted for was just $673.

[ … ]

The main advantage of the M4A1 is that it fires in full-auto rather than in a three-round burst. On AR-type firearms, the way the three-round burst mode works is with a ratchet that, on ever third shot, engages with the disconnector halting continued fire. This effectively gives the trigger two different pulls, one when the disconnector is in the stop notch and one when it isn’t. Even though a mil-spec trigger isn’t the best in the world, it’s still better than two different mil-spec trigger pulls.

Absurd.  The Marines are dumping the M249 in favor of the ridiculous IAR, about which my son said this.

This is sad. The reason we went with the SAW was because the BAR and its associated concept were inadequate.  At times in combat in Iraq, we had all nine SAW gunners firing during engagements, and I’m glad that we did.  We needed the fire power.  In the thousands of rounds I put down range stateside and Iraq, I never had a single problem … never … had … a … single … problem, with my SAW.  I kept it clean.  This change to the IAR is a testimony to laziness.  What do Marines want to do – take someone out on a date?  What else do they have to do when they’re deployed?  What’s the problem with cleaning weapons?  Mine worked because I maintained it right.  All this has done is make the Marines weaker.  It may be that this IAR could be used for select circumstances like room clearing, but the death of the SAW will bring nothing good.

So we’re dumping our only true stand-off area suppression fire system for the fire team and squad, adding full auto machine guns back to the fire team, and essentially returning to the days of Vietnam where everyone has a machine gun, the fire team is homogenous and the members don’t have different functions, and they waste ammunition.  Great.

And the complaint that Colt filed?  It rested on this charge.

The issue? Colt has a five percent royalty agreement with the Army for its rights to the M-4 rifle model. A royalty is a payment to the owner of the “intellectual property,” White said.

Colt argued in May its royalty wasn’t factored into the other manufacturers’ total prices and questioned the Army’s assessment of Remington’s past performance and production capability, according to a July decision issued by the Government Accountability Office.

While the decision dismissed the challenge of the assessment to Remington’s past performance and production capability, it was agreed the instructions on how the royalty was determined were not clear because the Army didn’t notify Colt or the competing manufacturers the royalty would be subject only to parts of the product.

And so Colt protested again in August, arguing this was inconsistent with the agreement, but in mid-November that was dismissed, and the accountability office determined it would not resolve a dispute involving the specifics of the agreement.
This is something that must be settled between the Army and Colt.

Seriously?  Royalty?  To Colt?  For the M4 design?  Seriously?  How about this.  Ditch royalties to Colt, find the surviving members of the Eugene Stoner family, and give the money to them.  Eugene Stoner was a genius.  Colt is being a bunch of snots.  And if the Army isn’t getting a Rock River Arms rifle, they aren’t getting the best.  Sorry. Story over.

You are currently reading "Colt Loses M4 Contract", entry #9518 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Army,Firearms,Guns and was published December 11th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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