Army Concludes Individual Carbine Competition

M4 Carbine

How good is the M16 – M4 – AR15! There have been many competitors in the past, with excellent weapons – but the smart design of the Colt carbine continues to win through with its modular accessory support, improved gas systems and readily available parts and ammunition. By now many people know the pros and cons of the M16 versus the AK47 – but the M16 allows it to now be built mission specific in calibers and accessories.

After extensive testing of vendor submitted carbines, the Army formally concluded the individual carbine (IC) competition without the selection of a winner. No carbine evaluated during the testing phase reached the minimum score to continue in the evaluation.

The Army will continue funding and equipping soldiers with the M4A1 carbine, freeing IC funding to address other high priority Army needs. The decision is also consistent with recent DoD Inspector General testimony questioning the value of an IC competition in light of existing upgrades to the M4 carbine.

The IC program sought to determine whether industry could provide a best value, improved alternative to the M4A1 carbine through a three-phased competitive strategy. All vendors met Phase I criteria, in which their proposals and non-firing evaluations of bid samples were reviewed. The Army commenced Phase II subjecting candidates to rigorous tests of weapon performance in areas such as weapon system accuracy, reliability and durability.

Then came Phase III, the Army planned to award up to three contracts for weapons meeting Phase II requirements for further environmental and operationally oriented soldier testing. Finally, the Army planned to conduct a cost-benefit analysis between the M4A1 carbine and the top performing competitor. However, no competitor demonstrated a significant improvement in weapon reliability at the conclusion of Phase II testing.

The Army’s decision not to pursue a new carbine competition was reached following careful consideration of the Army’s operational requirements in the context of the available small arms technology; the constrained fiscal environment, and the capability of our current carbines. The Army remains committed to the development of future competitive opportunities that support Army small arms modernization.

Tactical Gear For Sale

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The tactical-product market continues to evolve beyond what some consider to be basic needs, and the driving principle is simple: “What is the problem, what is the solution, and how can we provide that?”

The trend in this year’s new tactical-product line is to make things lighter, more compact, more convenient, and more versatile. Nowhere is that better illustrated than in the illumination-device market.

Thanks to high-technology LEDs, flashlights are becoming both smaller and more powerful. The illumination levels that used to require a heavy five-D-cell flashlight are now achieved with a model half the size and weight—and, in some cases, compact enough to carry in a pocket.

LED technology has also emerged to overtake the chemical light-stick market. These are standard kit items for most first responders and military personnel, but they have drawbacks. The new BriteStrike APALS line of LED light strips overcomes these hurdles with a product that is lighter, more compact, and more cost effective.

Sighting systems are becoming more precise, and in the same size/weight package. New reticle designs, combined with ballistic compensating turret adjustment dials, allow shooters to determine the range, dial it in, and make the hit.

Some scopes go beyond that and actually feature a built-in laser, with computerized internals that will adjust for uphill or downhill angles. Laser sighting systems are seeing the introduction of green lasers that are more easily visible to the human eye, and thus give the laser sight a greater range under varying light conditions.

In the firearms arena, the compact backup-gun market seems to have peaked, and new service-size handguns that follow the “polymer-framed-adjustable back-strap” designs have proven effective. At the same time, however, several new .45 ACP models show that the venerable cartridge is still alive and well in the minds of those who go into harm’s way.

The long-gun market is a bit different. Here, we see an emphasis on operator versatility (in order to meet specific mission requirements) through new introductions that allow the changing of barrel lengths, stocks, and sighting systems.

Those who favor a 12-gauge shotgun when things get close might want to look at the UTC-15 series. It packs a lot of ammo and allows the operator to select between the loads used—another way of providing versatility. Here is a closer look at some of the most significant new introductions.

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