Good, by per my experience with public procurement (and it is same mess everywhere) it actually means probably... nothing.
Army Launches Second Phase in Carbine Selection Effort
May 02, 2012
Military.com|by Matthew Cox
Army weapons officials launched the second phase of their Improved Carbine competition on Wednesday by congratulating select gun makers that still have a chance to unseat the M4 carbine.
So far, Colt Defense LLC, FNH USA, Heckler & Koch, Remington Arms Company and Adcor Defense Inc., confirmed that they received letters from the Army telling them they have been selected to move on to Phase II of the IC.
Army officials confirmed that Phase II letters have been sent out, but said that federal acquisition guidelines prevent the service from commenting on how many companies will advance to Phase II and which firms did not make the cut.
"The Army's intent is to ensure that the competition is as fair as possible," Army spokesman Matthew Bourke said in a written response to a Military.com request.
"The Army does not want to adversely affect the competition in any way. Providing the names of potential offerors; the number of proposals received, and/or any details pertaining to the offerors and/or their proposals has the potential to skew the competition."
The news comes on the heels of the Army awarding an April 20 contract to Remington to make 24,000 M4/M4A1 carbines. By outbidding Colt Defense -- the original maker of the M4 -- Remington may end up being the only winner in what many gun makers have labeled as the Army's well-intentioned but doomed effort to arm soldiers with a better carbine.
The award is part of the M4 Product Improvement Program, an effort that focuses on evaluating commercially available components such as forward rail assembly and barrel that could improve the performance of more than 500,000 M4s already in the inventory.
Despite the progress in the competition, Army leaders recently discussed canceling the competition in light of the dismal forecast for defense spending over the next decade, a source told Military.com.
Phase I of the competition had nothing to do with evaluating test prototypes, but instead focused on weeding out companies that may not have the production capacity to make thousands of weapons per month.
Once Phase II of the carbine competition begins, Army testers will shoot hundreds of thousands of rounds through the test weapons to assess accuracy, reliability and durability. Phase II will end with the award of contracts to three gun makers that will advance to Phase III. The Army will buy more of these weapons out of the contracts to conduct three limited user evaluations.
In the end, the Army will conduct a business-case analysis to see if it is worth buying a new carbine over the improved M4.
Last June, the service invited gun makers to submit proposals for off-the-shelf carbines that could replace the M4, made by Colt Defense LLC. The Army's senior leadership first announced its intention to hold a competition for a new carbine in November 2008 and directed infantry officials at Fort Benning, Ga., to update the requirement for the carbine to reflect the current and future needs of soldiers.
PS: And Colt has protested the recent M4 recompete production contract to Remington.
Good, by per my experience with public procurement (and it is same mess everywhere) it actually means probably... nothing.
Current: HK45C, P30L, P2000SK, MR223
Past: P2000, P30, P7M13, Expert, G3 (MKE T41)
Plans: USP 9 SD, MR308
Thanks for the update on the IC competition. Is there any chance that M4 PIP will still want a new upper? Is there any possibility that the Army would use the test data generated by the IC competition to improve the M4? IMO, I think that the 5.56mm AR-15 platform can benefit the most from are improved magazines (constant curve mags with anti-tilt followers), CHF barrel and modern op rod gas system (ie HK pusher rod gas system to increase MRBF and service life) along with the adoption of BTB ammo (ie MK318 or ATK 77gr TOTM).
Last edited by M995; 05-06-2012 at 05:16 PM.
Why?IMO, I think that the 5.56mm AR-15 platform can benefit the most from are improved magazines (constant curve mags with anti-tilt followers), CHF barrel and modern op rod gas system (ie HK pusher rod gas system to increase MRBF and service life)
Have you read the MIL-SPEC for the M4? Or the M4A1?
Do you know what the acceptable amount of failures are for the systems during the endurance test? Do you know the service life of the parts? Do you know the malfunction requirement for M855?
Do you know why weapons fail? Do you know which parts are worn out most frequently, and how often they need to be changed?
These specs far exceed a normal combat load, and far exceeds the amount of rounds fired by GPF during a year in training.
I am going to provide some context:
When browsing the MIL-SPEC for the M193 and M855, they have a requirement they need to pass in regards to fouling:
M193 (MIL-C9963 F):
MIL-C-9963 F - CARTRIDGE 5.56MM BALL M1933.12 Fouling. -The fouling accumulated In the weapon during the firing of 1000 sample cartridges shall not cause failure of the weapon to function.
MIL-C-63989 A - CARTRIDGE 5.56MM BALL M8553.13 Fouling. The fouling accumulated in the M16A2 and M249 weapons during the firinq of the sample cartridges shall not cause failure of either weapon to function
NOTE 4 The sample for this test shall be the sample
specified for the Function and Casualty test for each respective
weapon, i.e. 800 rounds for the M249 and 800 rounds for the M16A2.
Now, these spec's indicate that the weapon should function firing 4-5 times the normal combat load without failure, with these loads. It does not say anything about the lubing scheme used for the testing.
According to the MIL-DTL-71186A for the M4A1 Carbine, the Endurance test is 6000 rounds, and having to pass these requirements:
Table I:3.6.7 Endurance.
188.8.131.52 Endurance functioning. The weapon shall fire 6,000 rounds of M855, 5.56mm ball cartridge in accordance with drawing 9342868. There shall be no more than the number of malfunctions and unserviceable parts allowed in Table I.
184.108.40.206 Endurance functioning. Each weapon shall be fired in accordance with the Operatorís Manual 9-1005-319-10 and shall be held in a firing stand simulating shoulder firing in accordance with drawing 11837945 (auto firing), using ammunition M855, 5.56mm ball cartridges in accordance with drawing 9342868.
a. Firing procedure. Firing shall be accomplished in 50 cycles using 30
round magazines. One (1) firing cycle shall be as specified in Table V.
Cooling of the barrel shall be to the point that it is capable of being held by the bare hand. Supplemental cooling is permissible in the hand guard area.
MIL-DTL-71186 A - CARBINE 5.56 MILLIMETER - M4A1b. Cleaning and lubrication. Weapons shall be cleaned and lubricated at the beginning of the test and at the end of every 10 cycles. Weapons shall be lubricated after the fifth cycle and at every 10 cycle increment. No other cleaning and lubrication shall be performed during this test. At the close of each day's firing, the weapon shall be protected against corrosion.
i. Lubrication. Weapons shall have been lubricated using lubricant
in accordance with MIL-PRF-63460. Apply a light coat of oil to
all surfaces of the bolt carrier group. (Do not apply excessive oil
in the bolt firing pin recess.) Apply a moderate coat of oil on all
firing mechanism components in lower receiver.
It is quite clear that the tolerance levels are quite good.
If your weapon and ammunition combination can pass the requirements documented in the mil-spec's provided here, I would say that all is well. M855 must not cause a failure to function in 800 rounds (M16A2). That is 2/3 of total rounds fired in the course of 10 firing cycles fired before relube and cleaning.
So, why do weapons fail?
1. Bad magazines (bad feed lips, dents etc)
2. Insufficient lubrication
3. Worn parts (Extractor spring, ejector spring, bolt rings)
4. Dirty ammunition
3 of those are up to the user to avoid and fix, and the last factor is a user and armorer responsibility to uncover and fix.
So, most failures are user induced, and not a result of weapon design or operating system, barrel type or magazine design. Also, parts wear, som faster than others.
As for the barrel, the M4 could probably use a heavier profile for reduced heat build up, but unless a cyclic rate of fire is used to the point where it exceeds the threshold of the barrel, it is not an issue.
Don't get me wrong, I like the HK416 and in my experience it is a VERY reliable weapon system. However, to my knowledge there are no comparable tests publicly available to use, in order to claim increased service life of parts or MRBF numbers. Yes, I know there are numbers stated in different articles and on the different websites, but unless we know the testing the weapon is subjected to, we need to be careful to state opinions as facts. The M4/M4A1 systems are very reliable weapon systems, the main reason for failures are caused by lack of training and by not cycling out magazines when needed.
It would be very interesting to see the endurance test specs and requirements for the HK416, and compare it to the MIL-SPEC for the M4/M4A1, and the weapon hopefully exceeds the M4/M4A1 specs like HK says.
I know the M4 is a reliable weapon and the US army listed the MRBS as 3600 and the MRBF is listed as 6000. CHF barrels have longer service life compared to the standard M4 barrel (20,000 vs 6000). Regarding the magazines, the problem with USGI mags with green followers are well known and you can ask various people in industry why green followers and the dog leg in the STANAG mag are less than ideal. Here is what Cris Murray had to say about the M16 magazine:
"The AR15/M16 was originally designed for a 20 round magazine, the taper of the cartridge case and the number of cartridges did not require a radius to be formed into the magazine, the angled bottom plate provided enough offset for the accumulated angles; and the lower receiver was made accordingly to accept a straight magazine. When a larger magazine capacity was demanded, a radius was simply added to the lower portion of the newer, longer magazine in an attempt to compensate for the accumulated angles rather than resign the lower receiver for a new 30 round magazine with a radius formed into its entire length. Here lies the problem with the original American designed 30 round capacity 5.56mm M16 magazine, the cartridges must turn a corner where the magazine transitions from the radius's section to the upper straight section required to fit the rifles receiver. This corner causes the cartridges to readjust/realign their positions and or bind as they attempt to complete this turn.
What the supposed high reliability magazines have done is to internally eliminate as much of this corner as possible, less disruption to the established cartridge stack as it turns the corner. Reducing this corner also allows for a longer skirt follower/anti-tipping to improve smoother more reliable cartridge movement."
Also, in the dust test, many of the M4's stoppages were caused by standard mags. Magpul or tan anti-tilt followers and Pmags are more reliable options and solves most of the STANAG mag's problems. The green followers may still nose dive and reservists in the Canadian Army have black followers that got stuck/binded. Most of the C7's problems in the reserves were due to crappy magazines (thermolds or USGI mags with black followers). This was also the reason why HK designed a constant curve proprietary magazine for the G36.
G3 kurz have stated that the HK416 has shown longer service life and reliability in testing and DocGKR said the 416 had higher MRBF than the standard issue M4 in testing. The HK416's minimum service life is higher than the minimum service life of the M4. You can find the service life of the M27 in the IAR brochure and the M4's service life in a NDIA presentation by Troy Smith.
Last edited by M995; 05-06-2012 at 06:53 PM.
Magazines with green followers are only approved for use until stores are exhausted:
Magazines with the tan follower is the newest issue magazine.Benefit/Value
Issue: TACOM has become aware of units ordering 30 rd. commercial (i.e.
polymer, etc.) magazines for their M4/M16 family of weapons. The
M4/M16 Army authorized magazines are the following: NSN 1005-00-561-7200
(improved magazine) and NSN 1005-00-921-5004 (older magazine; use until
User Actions: TM 9-1005-319-10, the Additional Authorized List (AAL),
states that NSN 1005-00-921-5004 is authorized, as well as NSN
1005-00-561-7200. Units may use the older magazine NSN 1005-00-921-5004
with the green follower until exhausted. The improved magazine is available
in stock, NSN 1005-00-561-7200, and has a tan follower. The improved
magazine features an improved follower and follower spring. These new
features help to reduce the risk of magazine-related stoppages. Units are
only authorized to use the Army authorized magazines listed in the technical
manuals. Remember; "tan-is the plan, green-start to lean, black-take it
back." Magazines with the black follower are the oldest and should be turned
in to your unit supply sergeant or local supply point.
Also, there is no STANAG magazine. There was a draft for STANAG 4179, but it was never adopted.
And based on what tests are PMAGS more reliable than USGI mags? Subjective user opinions? There have been reports of many failures with PMAGS as well, broken feed lips, mags breaking in cold weather etc. And as such, the use of any polymer magazine is now prohibited in the US Army.
CHF barrels have longer service life compared to the standard M4 barrel (20,000 vs 6000)
Where is the data? What kind of firing cycles? Back it up with sources.
In that test, all the weapons had magazine related stoppages.Also, in the dust test, many of the M4's stoppages were caused by standard mags.
With no disrespect meant to the two persons mentioned, as they are both knowledgeable individuals, but so what? Their comments are not a de facto discussion ender. I would like to see actual numbers, not statements made without any documentation to back it up. I am not saying that it is not so, but I would like to see the numbers. Then you can make a fair and qualified comparison, not a kool-aid one.G3 kurz have stated that the HK416 has shown longer service life and reliability in testing and DocGKR said the 416 had higher MRBF than the standard issue M4 in testing.
The M27 IAR brochure says barrel life 15.000 rounds, parts life 10.000 rounds. Well, what happens after 15000 rounds through the barrel? How much has accuracy degraded? Which parts break @ 10000 rounds? Do all parts break @ 10000 rounds? Do some break before reaching 10000 rounds? Do some last more?You can find the service life of the M27 in the IAR brochure and the M4's service life in a NDIA presentation by Troy Smith.
The spec is more interesting, as far as comparisons go, as there are too many factors that influence wear on a weapon when it is used in real life.
Could not find an NDIA presentation by Troy Smith adressing the M4 service life.
Also, polymer tends to be more impact resistant than metal b/c polymer will flex while metal stays bent. Generally, polymer has to be 2-3x thicker than metal to have the same strength. I haven't heard of significant problems with Pmags in Iraq and Afghanistan, do you know of any? I agree with you that Pmags should be adopted only if they pass all the tests (including cold environment testing). Emags have been adopted by the UK army so it would be interesting if their data and testing is available.
HK stated that their CHF barrels last 20,000 rounds for the 416 and the IAR brochure stated that the barrel life is 15,000 minimum. I made a mistake about the author of the NDIA presentation on the M4 service life data, it was not Troy Smith (my bad, Smith was the one who gave a presentation on the SCAR), it was Lucius Taylor, et al.CHF barrels have longer service life compared to the standard M4 barrel (20,000 vs 6000)
Where is the data? What kind of firing cycles? Back it up with sources.
In Mr. Taylor's presentation, it was stated that "barrels subjected to harsher firing schedules burn out between 4000 and 6000 rounds. On milder firing schedules, they may last 10,000 rounds."
The C7 and C8 also have CHF barrels and IRRC, they also have longer barrel life compared to the standard M4 barrel. I can ask a former Lt. Colonel who still works for the CF to find or verify the data if you want.
IIRC, the US Army wanted improved magazines like the tan follower because they believed that the other test guns had improved mags and had less magazine related stoppages in the dust test.In that test, all the weapons had magazine related stoppages.
Last edited by M995; 05-07-2012 at 01:15 AM.
Mostly anecdotal accounts of cracks in magazine bodies and broken feed lips. Like I have heard the same anecdotal accounts of USGI aluminum mags working very well. I have not had any issues with my USGI mags either, be it during training or in Afghanistan. The one E-mag I had stopped working after one live fire drill, when it would not drop free from the mag well. The issue has been fixed in later versions of the magazine.I haven't heard of significant problems with Pmags in Iraq and Afghanistan, do you know of any?
My point is that no magazine is indestructible. It is a consumable item, meant to be discarded when it does not work any more. If the follower is binding because of the design, then it should be fixed. Although, from what I can gather the issue with binding is most prominent with the last few rounds in the mags.
However, the biggest issue with magazines breaking are mistreatment by the user. Speed reloading partial mags, menaing the magazine hitting the deck feed lips first. Same with dumping LBE's/BA on the deck, and with the mags carried rounds down, same problem. If the follower binds because of a dent in the magazine body, mark it and discard it.
If units had proper procedures in place for cleaning, inspecting and gauging magazines, and replacing broken mags, the magazine related problems would probably be heavily reduced.
The HK super duper mags are prone to spreading feed lips, and increased spring wear, as well as being heavy and expensive, so they are not the end all be all magazine either. We pay approximately 50$ for ours. I have had a few mags where binding of the follower has occured, and I've had a failure to feed. Discarded the mags, and signed out a new one.
And I really don't see how an increase in the overall service life of the weapon benefits the soldier. Sure, parts might not need to be replaced that often and weapons don't have to be replaced that often, but that is a cost issue. The main points to improve should be reliability, accuracy and terminal performance.
I, personally, can't wait for the actual testing to start and for the results to start coming out.
I seem to remember some scuttlebutt about the sand tests and the reason the 416 had the number of failures it did(which was pretty damn small comparitivly) was due to a magazine issue? (pleae correct me if I am wrong).
I's like to see what the outcome is of the current tests, hopefully with all working components.
It is missing the point to think that the martial art is solely in cutting a man down; it is in killing evil. It is in the strategem of killing the evil of one man and giving life to ten thousand -Yagyu Munemori