In the interest of, Happy Friday, here is this May 1945 U.S. Army Signal Corps image of an M4 Sherman tank crew from the Library of Congress.
“A tank sunk in 5 feet of water waits for towing equipment. The Tank Commander gives vent to his feelings with a string of unprintable phraseology, while his driver uses a helmet to bale out the interior. Okinawa.”
So last week, Colt signaled they were getting out of the consumer rifle market, at least for now, which basically means they weren’t going to sell AR-15s to the public. This set about much hand-wringing by some pro-gun advocates who called the company all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons and some high-fiving from anti-gun groups who all thought it fit their agenda of fewer guns in fewer places until that number is 0/0.
Sure, it was a big move. But it was one that you could see coming from a mile away.
Long the only game in the AR-15 market, Colt had exclusive rights to the platform for a generation after they bought the program from the Armalite Division of Fairchild Aircraft in 1961. However, once the basic design passed into the public domain, dozens of AR-specific companies such as Bushmaster, Daniel Defense, Eagle, and Olympic sprouted up, nibbling away at Colt’s dominance of the market.
More recently, traditional gun makers such as Remington, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Savage, and Smith & Wesson all jumped on the ever-growing domestic AR train, effectively crowding Colt out of its own niche. This has seen the company switch gears and return to popular offerings it long ago put to pasture, such as revolvers.
Then, on Wednesday, the other shoe dropped with the Pentagon saying that Colt had just won a $42 million M4 contract in the form of Foreign Military Sales to several U.S. overseas allies.
“Our warfighters and law enforcement personnel continue to demand Colt rifles and we are fortunate enough to have been awarded significant military and law enforcement contracts,” said Dennis Veilleux, Colt’s president and Chief Executive Officer, in a statement Thursday. “Currently, these high-volume contracts are absorbing all of Colt’s manufacturing capacity for rifles.”
So will Colt return to the consumer market once their military orders are filled? As long as they can be competitive, you can bet your sweet bippy they will.
And the beat goes on…
Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division loading aircraft for Holland, 17 Sep 1944:
Part of the epic First Allied Airborne Army, the 82nd, along with the 101st, the British 1st Airborne, as well as later Polish and other Allied units, was to make a daylight combat jump in what is still the largest airborne operation of all time, Market Garden.
The paratroopers and their follow-on glider-borne infantry/artillery were to clear and hold the myriad of bridges in the Eindhoven–Arnhem corridor across the Netherlands while the British XXX Corps, a mechanized unit, was to come up and quickly relieve and reinforce them.
Of course, not all goes as planned…
Official caption: “Foreign-born soldiers made citizens, Washington, D.C. Sept 13, 1918. Group of naturalized soldiers, the following are represented: L-R: Front Row Armenian, Austrian, Russian Pole, Greek, Italian, Danish. Back row: Russian Jew, Turk Portuguese, German, Italian, French.”
“Bomber gas station,” diagonal view, Route 99 E., Milwaukie, Oregon, 1980 by John Margolies:
Built at Vega Burbank as a B-17G, the plane is SN 44-85790. Flown to Rome 14 July 1945, it saw no combat and was soon sold as surplus post-VJ-Day. Purchased by Art Lacey or Portland, Oregon, 5 March 1947, it was named the Lacey Lady and used as gas station canopy at Lacey’s Bomber Gas Station in Milwaukie, Oregon until 1995. It is now under restoration to airworthy status by the B-17 Alliance Museum in Seattle, Washington.
The image is from the Library of Congress’ John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive which includes more than 11,710 color slides the roadside photographer snapped around the country from 1969 to 2008. You should check out the other images and explore the real Americana.
Some 100 years ago this week, Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower of the U.S. Tank Corps rumbled into San Francisco from Washington, D.C. via the rudimentary ” Lincoln Highway,” completing a 62-day epic road trip for his experimental “Truck Train.” Surprisingly, even at two months in travel, he was only a week late from the originally anticipated arrival date.
His group consisted of 24 Tank Corps and Motor T officers, 15 War Department observers, and 258 enlisted men. A large part of the reason why the trip took over two months, besides bad/non-existent roads and hundreds of mechanical breakdowns, was that the train had to stop and fix no less than 80 wooden bridges that they broke during the trip.
Of note, according to Google, a drive from D.C. to San Francisco only takes 41 hours today, largely courtesy of the Eisenhower Interstate System.
Big Green has been looking at shrinking the weight of small arms ammo for decades. The theory is: the lighter it weighs, the more can be carried or sent in resupply, making each warfighter more deadly. This has included polymer cased ammo (don’t laugh, the Marines have been buying millions of rounds of polymer .50 cal for years) and more exotic telescoping cased rounds.
In 2016, the the Army started shopping hard for a new Next Generation Squad Weapon-Rifle (NGSW-R), a replacement for the M4/M4A1 carbine; and the Next Generation Squad Weapon-Automatic Rifle (NGSW-AR), which would take the place currently held by the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. Both would be in an updated 6.8mm chambering that would be up to the manufacturer to develop with ammunition industry partners.
Now don’t think this is existing 6.8mm Remington or similar, but something totally different.
At least 37 different arms makers looked at the NGSW program, and five submitted prototype systems last year.
In the past week, three got down-selected to continue: AAI Corporation/Textron Systems in Hunt Valley, Maryland; General Dynamics-OTS Inc. in Williston, Vermont; and Sig Sauer in Newington, New Hampshire. While Gen Dyn has Heckler & Koch as well as Winchester-Olin on board to help carry the load, Sig is going all-in and striking out alone.
They have released the most information on their submissions and they look pretty sweet:
More in my column at Guns.com