The US Army is moving forward with their competition to evaluate rifles which may be selected to replace the M4. Part of the ongoing process to see if the market can provide a rifle that shows measurable improvement over the M4 that started back in 2005 with the XM8 project, it appears as if at least five companies have made it to round two of the Individual Carbine competition.
The companies that are moving on to the second stage are Adcor Defense, Colt Defense, FNH USA, Heckler & Koch and Remington. The rifles are the Adcor Defense BEAR Elite, the Colt ACC-M (sometimes called the ACM), the FN FNAC, the Heckler & Koch HK416 and the Remington ACR.
There may be others who have also made the cut but not spoken up; regulations prohibit the Army from publishing which companies are moving on, while these companies have announced their success independently.
“The Army’s intent is to ensure that the competition is as fair as possible,” Army spokesman Matthew Bourke said in a written response to a Military.com request. “The Army does not want to adversely affect the competition in any way. Providing the names of potential offerors; the number of proposals received, and/or any details pertaining to the offerors and/or their proposals has the potential to skew the competition.”
Phase one of the competition was to see which companies could meet the Army’s “Threshold Requirements,” which include technical specifications of the rifles that must be met for the rifle to be considered at all, such as rails for optics and other accessories which have become necessary in the field, and the ability to use existing M320 grenade launchers and M26 shotguns. Other parts of phase one included proof on the manufacturer’s part that they could make enough of the rifles to meet the US Army’s needs.
The Army also evaluated “Objective Requirements” which are not at all requirements per se. They are features that manufacturers might include that the Army decides are really cool and would love to have with their order of shiny new rifles. These could be any features that the manufacturers came up with, like quick-change barrels, caliber conversion kits or multiply modes of operation, as in safe, semi-auto, full-auto, and burst. One pertinent Objective Requirement is, surprisingly enough, aftermarket support. The Army recognizes that soldiers want to tweak their guns, and that options here are worth taking into consideration.
Phase two is where the rubber meets the road. Brass and lead are gonna fly in all directions. These second stage rifles are going to be put through the wringer to determine which have the best qualities where points will be awarded for accuracy, reliability, ease of operation, and flexibility. No matter what happens as a result of this phase, the companies that do well will definitely reap benefits in other markets.
The best three second-phase rifles will be selected for phase three. Phase three will be phase two and then some. It will be pure torture test.
And we wait impatiently for the results.