There was big news on the service rifle front last month as the DoD awarded Remington a contract for an intital 24,000 M4 rifles to begin rolling out in September 2013. Thats big news because since 2002, Colt Defense has held the exclusive Army contract for M4's. And Colt has pretty much been supplying the Army with M16's and M4's since probably before you and I were born. But Colt's exclusivity in the M4 market doesn't just end there. Colt owns the name "M4", the name "AR-15", and holds exclusive rights to the all-important, super-secretive Technical Data Package (for more info on what this is and why it's important see here.
The fact that the Army is staying with the Direct Gas Impingement M4 platform is really not surprising, given that there have been more Army Individual Carbine Competition trials than you can count on your fingers, and no rifle has been able to supplant the M4 as the service rifle (not the HK416, FN SCAR, ACR, or LWRC m6 even though they are all top quality rifles.) Even though some of these excellent piston-driven rifles are in service in various sections of our military, the hesitation to change across-the-board to a piston rifle has been evident. Whether it's cost, weight, durability, etc, nobody except the most priveleged individuals know the answer to why the M4 continues to eclipse all others in these competitions.
So why Remington over Colt, or Bushmaster, or even FN? Who knows for sure, but the price tag is surely a contributing factor. Remington is producing each rifle at $673 apiece whereas an "identical" rifle from Colt was costing $1221. Clear as mud, right?
One thing is for sure. Colt has stood the test of time. The Eugene Stoner designed M16/M4 has carried America's troops through 8 conflicts (starting with Vietnam) using largely the original design with modest improvements. The rifles coming out of Colt's manufacturing plant today are the finest quality rifles in the company's history and Colt has shown the willingness to adapt to change while keeping the same high quality of rifle (see: Colt Adaptive Piston Carbine).
Who says Colt isn't adaptive?
Maybe this new thing with Remington will work out. Maybe it won't. Time will tell, but the current Colt M4's that are in service won't go away easily. Expect them to stay operational for some time to come.
See you next time guys.