It was bound to happen. The U.S. Army has been buying M4 carbines exclusively from Colt since 2002 (though the first Colt M4 contract was awarded in 1996). But, as of 18:20 today, Remington Arms has been added to that dance card. The question is whether Colt retained a portion of the contract. It appears they haven’t, but it’s hard to tell from the published documents.
According to the Department of the Army’s Chief of Legislative Liaison, the Army today executed a delivery order to buy 24,000 M4/M4A1s worth $16,163,252.07.
LT Rusty sent me this tidbit the other day. Apparently, Colt is just about at its capacity for small arms manufacture, so Remington is going to get a nice little contract. In the scheme of military spending, $16mm is a rounding error in some programs. But small arms programs seem to attract considerable attention.
The last time I can remember the government stepping away from Colt was to purchase M16A2s from FN. Since FN is a foreign company, they had to build a plant in the US for the rifles.
My unit at Ft. Carson converted from M16A1s to FN M16A2s right as I showed up. And they were dogs. I’ve NEVER had a malfunction with any Colt M16A1 or A2 that wasn’t directly attributable to the magazine. But the FN weapons had failures all the time (, oddly, we never had problems like that with the FN built M240C or M249 machine guns).
Hopefully, Remington will do better.
LT Rusty also pointed out, the Army doesn’t own the design for the M16/M4. Colt does. The Army bought the rifle “off the shelf” as it were. So even though the Army can choose a second source producer, there’s still a license fee to be paid. Whether that’s paid by the government or directly by Remington, I just don’t know.