We’ve reported a few days ago about how the U.S. Army had stopped the competition to find a replacement for the current M4 carbine, and now we’re getting the details about why they did it. Turns out none of the competitors, which included Colt, FNH USA, Beretta, Remington and others, could meet the reliability requirements . . .
Military.com has an official “in the know” source who says that the bar for reliability was set at a little over 3,500 rounds through the gun before a stoppage. That’s an average round count, by the way, which means that if you make it to 6,000 rounds before your first stoppage and then 3 rounds before your second, you’re cooked.
Having had some extensive experience with the SCAR 16S (the civilian version of the SCAR-L, upon which the FNAC in the competition is based) and I think I’ve got it figured out as to what the issue was. The SCAR works amazingly well — provided you feed it properly. Feed it some delicious Hornady ammunition and it runs like a Swiss clock. Try using the dregs from the bottom of your ammo can and it won’t last past one magazine.
The SCAR works great with standard M855 ammunition, but for the test the army switched to the newer M855A1 EPR round that is making its way into the field these days. The newer round uses a lead-free projectile, protruding steel penetrator, and a different propellant than the older M855 round that is currently in service. All of these changes could have thrown off the gun’s mojo and made for a substandard result.
The Army says that it is going to work with the companies to keep working towards a better replacement for the M4, but for the time being the 50+ year old gun remains in service. FYI, the M4 lasted less than 1,700 rounds on average before a stoppage.