Tag Archives: M4

NGSW? Don’t Hold Your Breath

The current NGSW field 

The U.S. Army is full-speed ahead on an initiative to select a new series of innovative 6.8mm-caliber Next Generation Squad Weapons to phase out its 5.56mm platforms for combat troops. However, it would seem the Department of the Army is hedging their bets with traditional systems just in case things don’t work out like planned such as in past ambitious programs for futuristic small arms.

In April, FN won a 5-year $119 million contract for new M4/M4A1 Carbines from the company’s South Carolina factory– where 500 of the shorty 5.56s roll out every, single, day.

And this week, Big Army likewise issued a $78 million award to FN for more M249s, the squad-level U.S-made variant of the FN Minimi light machine gun that has been standard since 1982.

Just google the Individual Carbine (IC), Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), or the Advanced Combat Rifle (ACR) programs to see why keeping the legacy infantry arms in production until things work out is a good idea.

The army advanced combat rifle ACR prototypes.

After SPIW, ACR, and OCIW, is NGSW the charm?

Despite past programs such as SPIW, ACR, and OCIW that left the U.S. Army still fielding successive generations of Eugene Stoner’s AR platform at the end of the day, today’s NGSW program could be different. The new Next Generation Squad Weapon program is moving right along and its competitors read like a who’s who of modern rifle, ammo, and optics makers.

Names like Beretta, Heckler & Koch, Leupold, Sig Sauer, Vortex, and Olin-Winchester are enumerated among the current vendors of what could end up as the most revolutionary small arms award of the 21st Century thus far.

The current field

More in my column at Guns.com

Guns of the U.S. Army, 1775-2020

While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?

For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.

Colt: Back on the Consumer AR Market

While Remington has quietly ditched traditional black rifle brands Bushmaster and DPMS in the past several months– perhaps in a bid to get bought by the Navajo Nation — Colt exited the AR market late last year, much to the applause of anti-gun groups and politicians.

However, I spoke to Colt at the time and they made clear the departure was only temporary, due to having landed a multi-million FMS contract for overseas allies.

With that being said, Colt says they are now back to the business of shipping ARs for the consumer market again. Everything old is new again, it would appear.

Colt first began marketing the semi-auto AR-15 Sporter to consumers in 1963 and continued to sell the SP-1 (R6000) series with few changes until 1984, since moving on to other AR-style rifles.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Sig Says they have delivered their prototype Next Gen small arms systems to the Army

New Hampshire-based Sig Sauer reports they have recently delivered their Next Generation Squad Weapons system to the U.S. Army for testing and evaluation.

Sig is one of three contractors who last year got the nod from the Pentagon to continue with the NGSW program, which is designed to replace 5.56mm NATO small arms– such as the M4 Carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon– in the Army’s frontline units.

Sig’s belt-fed MG 6.8mm machine gun, which is submitted as the NGSW-AR, is billed as being 40% lighter than the M249 but with “dramatically reduced felt recoil.” It has ambidextrous AR-style ergonomics, quick detach magazines, increased M1913 rail space, and a quick-detach Sig-developed suppressor.

Meanwhile, Sig’s MCX Spear rifle, submitted as the NGSW-R rifle, is also chambered in the new 6.8mm cartridge, has a fully collapsible and folding stock, rear and side charging handle, free-floating reinforced M-LOK handguard, fully ambi controls, and a quick-detach suppressor.

More in my column at Guns.com 

Welcome (back), M16A4

The humble original M16 was originally Armalite’s AR-15, and was first ordered for military service with a contract issued to Colt Firearms in May 1962 for the purchase of early Model 01 rifles to be used by Air Force Security Police.

Note, these guns had waffle-pattern 20-round mags, no forward assist, a thin 1:14 twist barrel, and the early three-prong flash hider.

Fast forward to the XM16E1, which became the M16A1 in 1967, and you started to come closer to the standard Army/Marine rifle used in Vietnam and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. It used a forward assist and a 1:12 twist barrel.

By 1983, the M16A2 came about, it had a thicker barrel in front of the front sight, a modified flash suppressor (closed on bottom), a new polymer buttstock (lighter and stronger), faster barrel twist (from 1:12 to 1:7), and a spent case deflector for left-hand users. Considered downright vintage by the Army and Marines, the Navy still sports them these days.

M16A2- check
M9 in drop leg holster- check
Body armor- um, about that……

By 1998, the M16A4 was in play, primarily for the Marines, which had a removable carry handle, a Picatinny top rail to allow for optics, short rails on the handguard for accessories, and a 20-inch barrel with a 1:7 RH twist rate.

Note the size difference between the compact M4 Carbine, top, and the full-length M16A4 rifle, bottom. (Photos: Department of Defense)

Since the GWOT kicked off in 2002, the big shift over the years has been to move from the full-length M16 family to the more compact M4/M4A1 carbine, with its collapsible rear stock and stubby 14-inch barrel, leaving the increasingly old-school style rifle as something of a relic today. Heck, the Army for the past couple years has been very actively working on replacing their 5.56 NATO rifles and SAWs with a new 6.8mm weapon. 

Now jump to 2020, and the M16A4 is now apparently the Army’s designated rifle for Foreign Military Sales to equip overseas allies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Nepal.

Colt and FN are competing in a contract to supply as much as $383 million smackers worth of M16A4s by 2025.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Has Vortex cracked the combat optic of the future?

Wisconsin-based Vortex Optics announced Monday they have entered into an agreement with the U.S. Army an agreement to deliver a possible component of the service’s Next Generation Squad Weapon.

The contract between the Pentagon and Vortex is an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreement, an award type traditionally used to fund innovative prototype procurement and development of forward-looking technology. As such, Vortex will provide production-ready prototypes for use in Soldier TouchPoint evaluations.

The optic at the center of the OTA is Vortex’s 1-8×30 Active Reticle Fire Control, which the veteran-owned company explains is “built around a revolutionary technology based on many years of internal research and development, along with multiple cooperative development efforts with the Army’s PM-Soldier Weapons group.”

The Active Reticle has reportedly been proven to increase hit percentage and decrease time to engage during Soldier TouchPoints in the past two years. In the case of a battery power loss, users still have an uncompromised 1-8x, direct-view optic and glass-etched reticle, which alone exceeds current optics.

And it looks pretty sweet.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Ever thought about a SCAR in 6.5 Creedmoor?

Last year, FN apparently trialed a version of their MK 20 SSR (sniper support rifle) in 6.5 Creedmoor as USSOCOM was flirting with the idea of fielding the new– and increasingly popular– round for future use. Not to let research go to waste, the company just announced they will start selling the commercial variant of the SSR, the FN SCAR 20S, in 6.5CM.

Boom.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Le Glock Mle 2020

French trench raiders during the First World War, winter 1917 Bezange Forest, Lorraine, note the Ruby pistol.

The French military has flirted with modern semi-auto pistols for longer than most. During the Great War, thousands of Spanish-made Ruby and Star pistols augmented the country’s rather lackluster Modèle 1892 revolvers.

This cleared the way for the later FN 1922-inspired MAB Model D pistol and Charles Petter’s famous Mle. 1935, the latter design one that went on to morph into the Swiss SIG P210, arguably one of the best handguns of the 20th Century.

After WWII, the MAC Mle 1950, itself very P210-ish, was adopted and, coupled with the PAMAS G1, a domestically-made clone of the Beretta 92F, is still in service today.

The French MAC 50 PA modèle 1950 pistol

Now, 115 years after the Ruby was first ordered, the French defense ministry has placed an order for 75,000~ new Glocks.

The Glocks, reportedly a two-tone Gen 5 G17 MOS with a threaded barrel, suppressor-height night sight, and optics plate, will be delivered through 2022.

Besides the Austrian polymer pistols, the French are also going FN when it comes to a rifle to replace their venerable FR F2 (itself a souped-up MAS1936).

Sniper overwatch by a 3e RPIMa marksman with a French FR-F2, Rwanda, 1993. These rifles will be upgraded to SCAR H PRs in the coming years. 

More in my column at Guns.com.

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