M4 Carbine - History - Improved M4

Improved M4

On 1 July 2009, the U.S. Army took complete ownership of the M4 design. This will allow companies other than Colt to compete with their own M4 designs. The Army planned on fielding the last of its M4 requirement in 2010. On 30 October 2009, Army weapons officials proposed a series of changes to the M4 to Congress. Requested changes include an electronic round counter that records the number of shots fired, a heavier barrel, and possibly replacing the direct impingement system with a gas piston system. The benefits of this, however, have come under scrutiny from both the military and civilian firearms community. It should also be pointed out that, according to a PDF detailing the M4 Carbine improvement plans released by PEO Soldier, the direct impingement system will only be replaced after reviews are done comparing the direct impingement system to commercial gas piston operating system to find out and use the best available operating system in the US Army's improved M4A1.

In September 2010, the Army announced it will buy 12,000 M4A1s from Colt Firearms by the end of 2010, and will order 25,000 more M4A1s by early 2011. The Army announced also to have open competition for the newly designed M4 bolt carrier and gas piston operation system, which will be fitted to the newly bought M4A1 carbines. The service branch plans to buy 12,000 of these conversion kits in early 2011. In late 2011 the Army plans to buy 65,000 more conversion kits. From there the Army will decide if it will upgrade all of its M4s. On 21 April 2012, the US Army announced to begin purchasing over 120,000 M4A1 carbines to start reequipping front line units from the original M4 to the new M4A1 version. The first 24,000 will be made by Remington Arms Company. Additional purchases will be sought, but no number of weapons or any gun makers has yet be contacted. Remington is to produce the M4A1s from mid-2013 to mid-2014. After completion of that contract, it will be between Colt and Remington to produce over 100,000 more M4A1s for the US Army. Eleven vendors competed in submitting an upgraded bolt carrier group (BCG). After a year of testing, it was found that none of the BCGs offered outperformed the current model. Competitors fell short in reliability, durability, and high and low temperature conditions, so the effort was terminated. Because of efforts from Colt to sue the Army to force them not to use Remington to produce M4s, the Army will relaunch solicitation for new M4A1s to avoid legal issues from Colt. Remington is expected to win. A new effort to make a free floating barrel assembly has begun and in 2014 three makers will be selected to test three free floating assemblies until fall of 2014 when a winner will be selected.

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