The Army has outlined the competition that will select the best new carbine — and one that ultimately will face off against the improved M4A1 in a battle to become your next weapon.
The overall schedule of competition, testing, production and fielding is approximately three years to first unit equipped.
No caliber restriction has been placed on a new design.
As the $30 million carbine competition is conducted, the Army also will move forward with the second half of its “dual path” strategy — an overhaul of the M4. The first phase essentially distributes an improved M4A1, which is notable for its heavier barrel and automatic fire. The heavier barrel reduces warping and erosion, resulting in better performance and longer life. It also allows for a higher sustained rate of fire. The Army also is adding ambidextrous controls.
The second phase will focus on increasing the M4’s effectiveness and accuracy, with emphasis on the bolt, bolt carrier assembly and the forward rail assembly.
The third phase, focusing on the operating system, will begin in about 18 months. The goal is to improve the gas system by allowing less gas and dirt in, or replacing it with a conversion kit.
Once the carbine competition’s winner is determined, the Army chief of staff will determine whether the service should go with the top carbine or the improved M4 as it recapitalizes the force. In an era of diminishing budgets, the winning carbine must hit financial goals as well as it hits targets.