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US Army cancels test after competitor outperforms M4

Seems the Army is vested enough in the M4 that, even when it’s bested by another rifled, they call off the competition:

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.

Rigged the game and it still won. I wonder what it was? But that’s a secret.

21 Responses to “US Army cancels test after competitor outperforms M4”

  1. HL Says:

    I bet it had a four letter name starting with “S” and ending with “CAR”.

  2. Jim Says:

    My bet would be the Tavor

  3. comatus Says:


    Similar things happened during initial trials of the AR. Despite the metallurgy, there’s some irony involved.

  4. Phil Says:

    Can’t say I’m shocked.

    It’s not just about “Is there something better?” but “Is it better ENOUGH?” It needs to be enough of an improvement that it’s worth spending millions of dollars to not just buy the new design but do all the training, maintenance, etc.

    25% more reliable might be significant or it might not- depends on how the rifles tend to be used. Better in a torture test may not translate to a significant improvement in real use.

    At some point we have to decide good enough is good enough and we can’t afford perfection. Sure “We want our troops to have the best” is a wonderful sound bite, but even in our wildest dreams we can’t afford it.

  5. SayUncle Says:

    Because money matters to bureaucrats

  6. Paul Kisling Says:

    Yes lets somehow make the bullets work more effectively in a short barreled rifle… The AR was a questionably reliable design initially. Leave it to the government to turn it into a downright crappy design.

  7. Paul Says:

    If it cost billions to make a 5 percent realistic combat improvement, a improvement that might not really help at all. then I can see why they nixed it.

    Yea I know the M16/M4 is basically a 50-60 year old design but the new stuff is not as big a leap as the Colt SAA compared to the cap-n-ball revolvers.

    Still shoots the 5.56 mm round, still holds 30 rounds, still has the same accuracy. Just the MTBF is a bit better.

    So I’m not surprised they backed out.

  8. Anon Says:

    I agree with Paul, but at the same time, new rifles for the entire army would cost less than a single B-2.

  9. Ambulance Driver Says:

    If memory serves, they rigged the game against the M-16 in much the same way, back in the day.

  10. rickn8or Says:

    AD, If I’m not mistaken, it was the same deal with the FN/FAL vs the M-14.

  11. Ian Argent Says:

    “A third graphic shows the M4A1 performed best for Class 3 stoppages, which are more significant failures that require a specialist, or armorer, to clear” – and then goes on to note the M4A1 went 6K rounds while gun C went 4,500.

    That right there is a reason to favor the M4A1 – the Class 1 and 2 stoppages can be cleared in the field (>10 s and <10 s respectively according to the article), but it your rifle goes tango uniform and you can't clear it on the spot, you've got a pretty crappy club.

    Is it a sufficient reason? I'm not a procurement monkey.

  12. MAJMike Says:

    Comatus beat me to it. The “gravel crunchers” tried to bum rush the AR15 during the original tests.

  13. Rivrdog Says:

    On the Army’s side here. Most will disregard the HUGE investment in related costs, for example, training of weapons maintenance troops, their related equipment, spares, etc. All these ancillary factors must be figured in.

    As to changing the ammo during the trial, that’s also a no-brainer. Of course you will evaluate every different round in the inventory. It would be an invalid test if you didn’t. If the competitors didn’t forsee that, maybe they shouldn’t have entered a rifle in the competition.

  14. Kristophr Says:

    I’ll bet the real winner was a Romanian AK in .223.

  15. Sigivald Says:

    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.

    Quite possible.

    But unless the outperformance was really significant it doesn’t matter anyway; the changeover cost is huge, and if the improvement is only marginal (or far exceeds actual use patterns even in a total SHTF emergency), it’s not relevant.

    (God knows the Army has a history of … questionable arms decisions, but there’s not enough evidence yet to say if this is one of them.)

  16. Hank Says:

    Still think the military is planning to dump the 9mm in favor of the .45ACP?


  17. Tam Says:

    Ooh! I bet it was $MY_FAVORITE_GUN!

    This should make internet gun joints fun for a week or two. (The article, meanwhile, was painful to read. It was like reading a car review by someone who didn’t even have a driver’s license.)

  18. The_Jack Says:

    Well, at least the article didn’t have asides fretting about how if the military did pick a new rifle, it would mean the streets would be flooded with some new uber-gun.

    Unlike say certian reports about a potential new miltiary handgun..

  19. Bubblehead Les Says:

    I see this coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. After all, if the Army can GIVE M16s/M4s to the Police, why do they need to spend money on a New Rifle? After all, The Anointed One has brought Peace and Prosperity to the Whole of Mother Gaia, in spite of those EVIL Warmongers in the DOD!

    No, no, better to take that money and give it to, say, Health and Human Services. After all, THEIR Budget is ONLY TWICE that of those Fascists at the DOD!

  20. Mr Evilwrench Says:

    Something is better than an M4? I’m skeptical. Ok, I’m just kidding. If we don’t treat our active duty soldiers any better than we treat our veterans, (somehow I doubt we do), there’s no reason to think we’d spend the money to give them the best equipment. They obviously deserve so much less.

  21. Geodkyt Says:

    And teh whining about the Army specifying that competitors would be tested with the M855A1 EPR. OF COURSE the Army changed the standard round to the M855A1 for the purposes of the test.

    It’s the round the new rifle would be firing, since the Army standardized on it in 2010 (a YEAR before the competition in question even began).

    What? Were they supposed to allow companies to compete that were optimized for M193 or something? No — they tested it with the round the standard line rifle will most likely be firing.