Confidential Report On Army Carbine Competition

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 3 months ago

Washington Times:

A competing rifle outperformed the Army’s favored M4A1 carbine in key firings during a competition last year before the service abruptly called off the tests and stuck with its gun, according to a new confidential report.

The report also says the Army changed the ammunition midstream to a round “tailored” for the M4A1 rifle. It quoted competing companies as saying the switch was unfair because they did not have enough time to fire the new ammo and redesign their rifles before the tests began.

Exactly how the eight challengers — and the M4 — performed in a shootout to replace the M4, a soldier’s most important personal defense, has been shrouded in secrecy.

But an “official use only report” by the Center for Naval Analyses shows that one of the eight unidentified weapons outperformed the M4 on reliability and on the number of rounds fired before the most common type of failures, or stoppages, occurred, according to data obtained by The Washington Times.

[ … ]

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, fought a long battle with the Army to persuade it to look at other carbines. He said Army National Guardsmen back from the wars told him the gun was unreliable and jammed frequently. All of Mr. Coburn’s work crumbled last year when the inspector general essentially sided with the Army by giving it a justification to cancel the Improved Carbine competition.

The probable takeaway from all of this is that the Army is in a sloppy love affair with Colt, and nothing will ever replace it.  Colt lost the contract for M4s almost two years ago, and due to pressure from various lawyers, government entities (GAO) and others, they reopened the bidding and testing process.

Then it closed, with no selection of a new firearm.  You know what I think about H&K (their attitude to customers, “you suck and we hate you“).  I really don’t care much for who won the competition because I think it was badly framed to begin with.

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.

But you, dear reader, can have whatever you want for the right price.  The government doesn’t (yet) have the authority to tell you not to buy a Rock River Arms AR-15, or LaRue Tactical, or whatever you want.

And let’s try to keep it that way.  Weapons are best vetted and tested in the civilian market anyway.  The Army and Marine Corps uses what they’re given.  We have the right to use what we want.  We are the most picky users who give the best feedback.

If some reader wants to pick at this issue until he gets hold of this report, we would all be interested to read it.

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Comments

  1. On August 22, 2014 at 9:01 am, Paul B said:

    The civilian market can be a better test as we have more shooters. Although we do not put them through combat cycles we do shoot some what more often.

    If Cletus can use the gun, Gomer will be able to use it as well.

    It was once said a weapons system does not get a good work out until it goes to war, but what do I know.

  2. On August 22, 2014 at 9:54 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Paul, what the Pentagon wanted is for companies like Rock River Arms to compete, ejecting them from the process later for not being able to fabricate “x” number of carbines in “y” months. They they could say that Colt beat out all of the competitors.

    RRA wouldn’t play their game, so the well was poisoned before it ever began. The remainder of the process was a meaningless exercise.

    If the Army and Marines don’t have a Rock River Arms, Daniel Defense or LaRue Tactical, they don’t have the best.

  3. On August 23, 2014 at 9:56 pm, BeGe1 said:

    How exactly can the general usage of the civilian market be quantified and tested with controlled variables? Are you suggesting that the best gun should be chosen based on whose gun has the best anecdotal stories from the civilian market?

  4. On August 23, 2014 at 10:16 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    The very nature of the civilian market runs poor performers out of it. It also causes modifications and adaptations to things that otherwise would not happen in a controlled environment like Milspec. That’s why at TAGs in Jacksonville, N.C.,Marines can go to get equipment better than they can get MC issued, whether it’s tactical gear or whatever. I could give a thousand other examples but won’t.

  5. On August 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm, BeGe1 said:

    Modifications and adaptations? You’re talking about the development and improvement of firearms, which does happen in the civilian market.

    What mil-tests are about is taking the various levels of developments and adaptations currently out there and doing a controlled test to see which of them are hype and which of them are actual improvements, and if an improvement, quantifying by how much.

    The development of a thing and a test to determine the adequacy of that development are not the same, you gotta keep them separate and understand the point of each part of the process.

  6. On August 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    I didn’t want to get into a long and drawn out discussion on this, and still don’t. I’m an engineer, I know the difference between one thing and another.

    Both happen in the civilian market. For additional reading on just what Milspec means – and what it doesn’t – see:

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2014/02/02/notes-from-hps-24/

    And

    http://wintersoldier2008.typepad.com/summer_patriot_winter_sol/2014/02/what-does-the-term-mil-spec-mean-well-as-it-turns-out-quite-a-bit-and-not-very-much-at-all-.html

  7. On August 25, 2014 at 5:37 pm, BeGe1 said:

    What does the meaning of milspec have to do with it? What does development of open bolt systems have to do with it? And why are you AGAIN talking about research and development in response to comments about testing processes after having just asserted that you know the difference between research and development and testing?

  8. On August 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Weapons in the civilian market are quantified and tested as rigorously as any weapons out there. I brought up Milspec in order to invoke the issue so that you would think about the fact that Milspec means certain things related to contractual obligations for parts specifications, not anything else.

    I brought up open bolt systems in order to give another example of something where we would never again see development in America due to the fact of the NFA and GCA. Research and development happens when there is impetus and demand for it, not when the government says so. R&D necessarily requires testing.

    Again with regard to testing, civilians don’t have a dog in the fight. They spend money on what works, and will put a product through its paces as well as anyone (including the military).

    A million shooters test a rifle (or sidearm) hundreds of times at ranges, and evidence piles up in discussion forums, parts that have to be ordered and re-ordered, the cost of the firearm (which rises with the good ones and tails off with the bad ones), driving poor performers from the market.

    That’s why some SOCOM went to RRA to develop the 0.458 as opposed to say, a poor performing maker. And that’s why the pentagon wanted RRA to be part of the process – so they could say that Colt beat the best (along with Daniel Defense, LaRue, etc.).
    Now. You can agree or disagree (it makes no nevermind to me what you think about my views), but trim your whiskers a little and be less of an ass about it. Get a better damn attitude.

  9. On August 24, 2014 at 4:29 pm, Bill Daigle said:

    Never had a Colt, but have heard the ” stories ” ever since Viet Nam, I do own 1 Rock River M4, it’s a fine gun, eats what I feed it without hiccups. Given all the ” reasons ” for going to the M 16 – M4 guns, I still think the 14 was a far better gun, I carried one enough to know that the reliability and effectiveness more than makes up for the weight difference. Of course this is only my opinion, it’s unprofessional, free and worth what you paid for it.

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This article is filed under the category(s) AR-15s,Firearms,Guns and was published August 21st, 2014 by Herschel Smith.

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