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USAF TCP with M4 (courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/rcsadvmedia/5554389421/)

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.

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203 COMMENTS

  1. Assuming that when you say “M$” you really mean “M4”, are you telling us that the Army is demanding a rifle that is essentially more than twice as reliable as the current inventory?

    • Thats the point they wanted a huge leap over the M-4 but the SCAR and 416 did not. so they lost Nick’s a SCAR lover and cant sand the fact his favorite gun lost.

      • You forgot he’s sponsored by FN, so the opinion is skewed even more and not to be taken seriously. However, conflicting interests aside, if reliability was such an importance, we should be switching to AK’s to be honest; we all know those things are reliable.

        • Depends on who made the AK. If you’re looking for pure reliabilty the chicom Aks were beasts. Not that accurate but in a close in fight….unbelievable.

    • Do you expect them to spend 10s of billions of $s implementing an entirely new supply line, training programs and logistical infrastructure for something that’s just a little bit better? It has to be A LOT better. And 3,500 rounds was what they established as the minimal acceptable standard.

  2. The SCAR sucked face it the gun FN made to replace everything with and meant to shoot no matter what never could Handel M-855A! ammo which shoots the same 62gr weight as M-855 ball. Face it there was nothing extremely better than the M-4A1 and SO it failed as it should as long as we stay with 5.56mm NATO stay with the gun meant to shoot it..

    And Nick you really dont think ICC will come back in a year? With production of M-4A1s going like crazy and budget cuts complete now face it Nick the M-4 is going to stay for the 20 teens. Im serious Nick lets talk about this.

    • The SCAR sucked
      You’ll never hear Nick acknowledge this or talk about it. Now that he is on FN’s 3 gun team, he is nothing more than a shill. Why do you think the SCAR is the only gun mentioned in this article, even though there were several other guns in the competition. And when it was mentioned, he became a apologist blaming the ammo rather than the rifle.

      • Easy on the koolaid guys. If someone else has a stated preference don’t jump down their throat. As well as 5.56 & ammo issues go hand in hand since the M-16, when they get it right, it works great, when it is not, there are issues.

        Just for kicks they should have put a arsenal 5.56 AK in to see how it would score.

  3. I was under the impression they didn’t feel like any of the new guns did any better than the M4 in the 5.56 class. Which means it’s not worth the cost of “re-tooling”. But I believe they are still considering the SCAR-H in the .308 class, since a heavy semi-auto rifle is still useful.

    • Agree this was one reason in the ICC death announcement why they lost the other was in all other fields they didn’t offer anything over a M-4 or new M-4A1. As for DMR the cheapness of M-14s and the fact the military is committed on M-110s you wont see too many SCAR Hs outside of SOCOM.

    • No FN and tom Colburn where the two that started ICC in the first place. M-4s had good field reviews and nothing against them. SO Sen Colburn got FN money to make a issue out of nothing to waste millions on a forgone conclusion. Bet FNs madder at Colburn than the Army they thought they bought the Army threw congress.

    • If taken care off, and routinely cleaned, the venerable AR type rifle will be around for at least another 10+ yrs, and will be challenging the venerable AK47/AKM for top of the pile. Read an article that during the 2nd chechen war, russian spetznaz and internal security ministry elite troops were DITCHING their limited supply AN94s and AK74s for the older bigger bullet firing ’47/ AKM! Maybe we’ll see a return to the M14 for our troops in desert/ Afghanistan conflicts( modernized with optics and shorter barrels like the M1A scout), while our UK and western allies dig out their old FALs and G3s???

      As a lightweight carbine that can hit man sized targets with 2-4 ” groups at 450 + yds, its doing what it was designed to do-provide troops with accuracy, moderate lethality, plenty of ammo, and light weight. Its,a 50+ yr old that doesn’t need “viagra” to keep up with the 20-30 yr olds( G 36, LA85a2, Steyr AUG, FAMAS….)

  4. Not too surprising. It’s not just the cost of replacing the rifles, it’s the cost/obsolescence of your spare part inventory, as well as training costs for soldiers and armorers on the new rifle; it will require a huge leap in tech to replace the M4.

    • Still don’t understand why it matters; let the soldiers pick their own guns since they all have to fire the same round and use the same mags, wtf is the difference?

      • Think about it. You’re in Afghanistan and your firing pin breaks. Is your unit armorer going to have to carry the firing pin for the FS2000, Tavor, SCAR, or Mini-14 that you decided to carry?

        It seems like pretty basic logistics. Part standardization is key.

      • > Still don’t understand why it matters; let the soldiers pick their own guns since they all have to fire the same round and use the same mags, wtf is the difference?

        Because it’s not the type of rifle your shooting that will win or lose you the war. It is the tactics and logistics that win or lose wars.

        What do you think people are suppose to do when they wear out parts on their guns? Have the soldier call home to mommy and have her fedex replacement parts or something for their piece of crap custom AR15?

      • I know quite a few people in the Army. If you let them choose what they wanted to carry, you’d probably have a squad made up of 5 Mk 19s, 3 Barrett .50 cal rifles, and one M14 for the squad leader.

        *Yes, I know you meant 5.56 rifles.

        • Gotta love group think. You’re right, tactics and logistics are part of winning wars, whether it’s a scar or other 556 rifle doesn’t matter. Somehow the afghans manage it without an armorers and weapon standardization. Soldiers clean and take care of their weapons religiously, so knowing when something will fail is easy to detect and getting parts should be easy too. If you can ship tanks 1000s of miles away, getting firing pins from manufacturers should be relatively easy. Soldiers already use pmags which aren’t standard, so this isn’t really different. It’s short sighted and lacking flexibility, that sums up the military.

      • Because then some beauracrat wouldn’t be getting as big a kickback from the manufacture.

  5. The firearm must be able to shoot our current ammo, the SCAR failed. The M4 platform has been proven for 50 years now, Those wanting to replace it had better step up their game. My Colt eats anything I feed it. Being finicky is not an option. just my .02

    • +1000 Especially when your life depends on it. Most ammo breaks the gun but don’t worry because SCAR owners all agree it’s the best rifle! If you run out in the field and have to scavenge ammo odds are it will not work, but don’t worry because you will die holding a SCAR.

      Sorry, I get sick of all the undeserved hype the SCAR fanboys give it. I like hearing them cry and makes excuses when it falls short, which so far has been every single time. Your weekend fun at the range or 3-Gun match does not translate to the battlefield.

      • @leo
        Just say you hate that the scar fan boys can afford nice toys and that your mad at life you can’t …….then move on.

    • Face it Nick and other SCAR lovers will whine for weeks to come. Face it the SCAR L sucked and admit the H will solder on, get over it M-4 is better than the SCAR L was why SOCOM ditched it and why the Army ditched it.

      • Lance, you got some powerful hate going on, dude. Did you even see Nick’s review of the SCAR? I though Glock fanboys were bad, but you’re over the top.

        • Not for Nick but for the SCAR for years SCAR lover said the M-4 was doomed and the M-4 was junk to the FN. But it wasn’t true so all the Hate SCAR lovers spewed is now rebutted. The M-4 is STILL better. face it SOCOM ditched it as did the regular Army.

        • Nothing against Nick, but I would take any review about FN products with a grain of salt due to a conflict of interest.

        • Hence why he hasn’t reviewed any FN products since this stint with the team started and has repeatedly said it would be a conflict of interest. He reviewed the SCAR16 a year or two back, long before he could have hoped to be where he is. I don’t understand where people are coming from when they start dog piling him.

  6. Maybe the army should spend the money from a new rifle on marksmanship and weapons cleaning skills and proficiency. And put a 20″ barrel on the M4.

    • Amen to that. Like the M-9 the only problems where from solder who did not clean or lube there weapons. when cared for M-4s kicked butt. Maybe the Army can hire men who care for there weapons more than stupid women and liberal idiots who hate guns. But that’s against the liberal way.

      • Maybe the Army should switch to a weapons platform that doesn’t need babying to be reliable? Maybe instead of cleaning and inspecting their rifles the soldier could spend their time doing massively more important things… like catching up on some sleep?

        • the M-9 doesn’t need to be nursed to work. It worked well won over SiG in test trials and can shoot under water Glock cant w/o modification. Im saying all guns even the SiG need to be lubricated and lack of due to poor soldering can make any gun SiG Glock Beretta ect jam and fall apart. Any gun need maintenance.

  7. If they sold off their current stock of M4s, m16s and what have you to the civilian Market, they could afford to buy new guns and parts.

    But that would be “crazy” and think of the “Children”

    • Obama would much rather send old M-4’s to the Mexican Army as military aid…which means the drug lords will pay/threaten a metric sh!t ton of PFC’s to defect with 5 carbines each… they will be out killing border patrol agents inside of 3 months.

  8. in what photoshopped crazy world is there an chair-farce Staff Sergeant in the eighty-deuce?

    • He’s airborne qualified. They don’t maintain seperate schools for seperate branches. He’s probably a PJ or an air commando.

      • Airborne would be jump wings worn above the left breast pocket.

        The “All American” 82nd Airborne patch on the RIGHT shoulder of this USAF Staff Sargeant non-digi set of BDUs would signify a combat tour with the 82nd either during prior service or possibly attached as a FAC. Non digital BDUs are still in use stateside in non combat units until they’re gone.

        I too thought the uniform out of the norm, maybe a file photo from somewhere, but not out of the realm of possibility.

    • AIRTACs (Tactical Controls) PJ’s and Combat Weathermen are all cross leveled (or were during the time of this photo: 1990s to early 2000’s) from the Air Force to the 82nd as they were needed to make up Airborne Operations Task Force, providing the needed links to fighter pilots and guiding in waves of jumpers etc.

    • Odd pic with the man has airmen stripes of rank and yet has the 82 airborne patch on the same sleeve.

        • Probably just a stock photo from somewhere, but it’s bad attention to detail. I would also guess the photo is dayed due to the fact the Airman is wearing BDU’s. Without being able to see his function badge, it’s hard to say what his MOS is. It is definitely not a Soldier participating in rifle testing.

          A vast majority of Army schools are open to Air Force personnel: Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder, Combat Diver, Sniper School, Ranger School… As far as what MOS he belongs to he could be Security Forces, TACP, Combat Weather, SERE, Pararescue, EOD, Air Combat Control.

    • Not soon till Obama leave office no gun ammo will be surplussed.

      Like to try some myself. Seems not just the M-4 but M-16A2 can handle it fine too.

      • > Not soon till Obama leave office no gun ammo will be surplussed.

        Don’t worry. If Obama misses any ammo then you’ll be sure that whatever republican stooge that will replace him will be sure to make sure that is melted down and destroyed before it gets shipped out.

    • I’ve been trying for M855A1 since it came out. No dice. The Mk 318 Mod O is great stuff, though. It’s tough to find Mk 318 these days as well.

  9. Just wondering what the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine did in test back in the day. Where is Dyspeptic Gunsmith …

  10. I’d be curious to know how long the other rifles made it without a stoppage. I would consider twice the round count before a stoppage as being a pretty significant advancement. My understanding (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the military never wanted to hold this competition in the first place. This explanation sounds more like an excuse than a real reason to me. That being said, replacing the M4 would be a very expensive proposition, and is not a decision to be taken lightly. I imagine cost factors had a lot more to do with this decision than lack of performance.

  11. I am surprised the H&K 416 could not pass. I wonder what magazines they had the rifles that can take the standard USGI mags using.

  12. Wow, so when did the elites, including congress, ever let reliability stop them from choosing a weapon THEY don’t have to depend on?!?!? You really think the AR paltform was reliable when they chose it? No one came up with enough of a bribe or they would have gone to a different weapon. The current AR system is still very lacking. All the civilians that love them don’t have to put up with the overheating and over filthing from the stupid (but cheaper) gas tube. The newer rifles do have some teething problems that will be solved. They are NOWHERE near the piece of garbage the M-16’s were.

  13. Oh, and by the way, the 92 was chosen over other handguns also, remember? Yep, over the Sigs, etc. Wasn’t that a wonderfull display of incredible stupidity?

    • Strange ive carried a M-9 for years out shoot Glocks and SiGs every time. Strange it was congress who forced the military to goto 9mm NATO hence M-9. If we stayed with .45 cal we still be using M-1911A1s.

        • Most accurate handgun I’ve ever fired, bar none was a bone stock Smith and Wesson Model 15 .38 special. Does that mean if I was a young soldier heading off to Astan would I want my revolver over the auto loader? Hell no!

        • I agree Jwm Id just say the M-9 for a 9mm handgun dose the job fine. The 9mm Glock offer really nothing over a 9mm M-9. If you want to argue then caliber .45 is far better yes.

          PS a Colt Python beats your M-15 any day 🙂

        • The Glock is more suitable for gunfighting than the beretta. End of story.

          Thats not to say that the M9 is bad. It isn’t. Its reliable and very accurate.

          I hate DA/SA handguns. They take longer to master than a striker fired gun and have more small parts (need i go into Beretta’s numerous small parts?)

        • Thats not true at all the M-9 passed all dust and mud test and can shoot under water. Even the Glock w/o modification cant do that. LAPD and other PDs swear by them and the fact I carried one for many years for work no issue what so ever with one. Seen Glocks blow up a few times not pretty but all guns have issues. The Glock is not the all superior pistol sorry.

        • Actually it is, which is why a majority of law enforcement agencies and militaries moved to them

          it takes a fraction of the time to train someone to operate and become proficient with a striker fired gun versus a SA/DA.

          There are far fewer parts in a Glock than a Beretta (and have far less tiny springs and parts). These parts can also be acquired pretty much anywhere. So can the magazines.

          They’re less expensive than Berettas.

          They’re just as accurate.

          And BULLSHIT about the “not shooting underwater”. Yes, Glocks can. Yes, there are maritime spring cups for maritime operations. Shooting underwater is a fantasy anyways and whether a weapon can fire underwater or not is not a merit or demerit on the technical design. The only people ive ever heard about “firing underwater” are mall ninjas.

          • Not 100% true I know you love your Glock but many PDs have Beretta’s LAPD Minneapolis and San Diego. Do numerous small ones also still use M-92FS. Alot of PD use Glocks but most militaries dont use them Norway and Austria are some yes. The US didn’t want them for a sidearm lack of a manual safety and its mostly polymer frame where reasons. Even the ill fated modular pistol competition idea dismissed the Glock for the XD USP and SIG-PRO and others. The M-9 can shoot under water with no special parts the Glock has to have modified firing pin. SIG cannot all together. The military wanted SA/DA the NYPD and other dont thats why your Glock wasn’t adopted as well. M-92 passed all dust test and has high troop approval as well. The Army will buy new ones for another 5 years as well.

        • 1.) Um. can you please stop attacking strawmen? I said a majority of agencies use Glock. That is a fact.

          Yes, some use Berettas or anything in between. But Glock is the king of the hill in terms of ubiquity.

          2.) Yes, major military players do have Glocks as a sidearm. Many, such as the British military, are transitioning to the Glock. They will soon surpass SIGs (if they havent already) and the Browning High Power.

          3.) The US never had a chance to evaluate them against the Beretta and the SIG. Glock never participated in the trials. It was not because of the lack of a safety and polymer construction.

          That goes without saying, certain units in the military are already using Glocks (19, 17, and 22)

          4.) In the Joint Combat Pistol trials, the Glock 21 was also a participant before the project was axed.

          5.) Who f^cking cares about shooting underwater? that does not make or break a pistol as far as being a modern, combat effective weapon. End of Story.

          Btw, yes, SIGs can fire underwater. LOL. I dont know why you’re getting wrapped around the axle about firing underwater.

          6.) I do love my Glock 19. I love my Walther P99 just as much.

          • No I dont know why you arguing. Military uses Beretta LAPD and other PDs yes many use Glocks for PDs. But your Glock wont be a US military side arm. Dont know why your getting off topic on sidearms. face it Beretta will live on so will Glock your idea every one will use Glocks is crazy. The G-21 was far down on the list in JCP trials.

            Man you should agree to disagree your arguing is making you should bitter and little.

        • off subject with handguns?

          I was responding to YOUR comment about the M9. Do try and stay with the program here.

          I never claimed that it will be a US military sidearm (god im getting tired of addressing your strawman arguments), although certain units do use them. And there’s no way the army would anyways: they cater to the lowest common denominator and treat grown men like children, so they would never trust them with a striker fired handgun and spend the time to train them properly.

          Oh really? “far down” the JCP trials?

          citations please?

          Im not agreeing to disagree. If you are going to spam someplace, at least pass around good information.

        • Let’s not forget that the US military HAS in fact adopted a SIG, the M11 based on the P228. Not nearly as widely issued, but it’s still an issue weapon.

          • Yes but only in small numbers to CID and some pilots of maned aircraft. The USCG went to SIGs for some units that are attached to DHS. But 90% of pistols in US service are Beretta M-9s.

        • I . . . ahhh . . . what’s your point Lance? Seems you pretty much repeated what I said . . . . The M11 probably isn’t as widely issued as the M9 due to a few factors I can think of: cost, spare parts stock, mag capacity, and the lack of a manual safety. The US military likes them some manual safeties. They seem just as durable and reliable as each other, though I personally like SIG’s more for the way they feel in my hand. No hate though to the M9, fine weapon.

          • No I can agree the SiG has its god sides im saying unlike other there no superior 9mm pistol SiG works like the Beretta M-9. Glock works for LE. We all got our preferences and many PDs and the military have there own tastes.

        • “We all got our preferences and many PDs and the military [sic] have there [sic] own tastes.”

          Exactly. That’s the pivotal point in why there are so many moderate-to-great 5.56 rifles and 9mm handguns out there. That’s also why I want to own one of each to play with and learn why diff. countries/orgs use diff. rifles.

    • Seriously dude, you’re spamming the entire thread. You hate the SCAR. Everyone get’s that. Move one and get over it. Plus, grammar and punctuation are your friend… it’s really hard to take your spamming seriously when they look like they were written by a 14 y/o failing English class.

      • Sorry I didn’t know your a SCAR living English teacher who know squat about guns to start with. All im saying is they hype over the SCAR is now proven to be bull. And all the crap said by these SCAR lovers was false and fact is you dont like it get over it. Your name calling is the spam.

        • No Lance, you really are spamming. I’m an English teacher, and you should seriously go read The Little Brown Handbook, The Little Seagull Handbook, and The Elements of Style before you write another word. No hate though, you can improve.

          • No id say you. If all you got are personal attacks I know your not knowledgeable on small arms and just want to brag about a SCAR or 416 you bought. Now fight on points not personal attacks and maybe you can act like a adult.

        • Back to guns, throughout the years I have learned that the M16 and its derivatives are great weapons. In basic training I hated the M16A2 because it is fairly big, bulky, and slipped around when very sweaty. We were also issued magazines that would jam every 10 rounds. After basic I got more into guns and found that my main gripes were the stock pistol grip and the mag, both of which Magpul has fixed 🙂 Now, five years later, I’ve never had a jam in my M&P-15.

          As for the HK’s and FN’s out there, I haven’t had any extensive experience with either. They seem like fine weapons, but the weight, feel, and purchase of the ol’ handy service carbine will make changing my mind pretty difficult.

        • Strange Jake carried a A2 for years and shot it even longer never had a issue in hot weather or cold. Your problem is from worn out “Black” follower mags in basic and the new “Green” and “Tan” mags corrected this so no new issue there.

        • Really? Why don’t you just go “neener neener”?

          As a mater of fact, I’m not a “SCAR lover”. Shot a few and liked them, and might one day pick up a SCAR-17 if I have the $2,600 (or whatever they go for these days) and nothing better to spend it on (gun wise). But I’m plenty happy with DDM4v3 AR-15, and feel no real need to go buy a SCAR. You’re incessant SCAR bashing is just tiring.

          And I’m not an English teacher (videographer/editor actually, and recent TV news refugee), but you’re command of the English language makes it both hard to read your comments because they’re so poorly written and hard to take your arguments seriously. Typos are one thing, but you can’t even be bothered to at least make an attempt at a proper coherent sentence.

          • Now Now your name calling makes you look small. You yourself made grammar errors but I dont attack people who dont love you favorite gun by attacking spelling. Shows you lost your argument.

        • “ONE MORE FLAME AND YOU WILL BE PERMANENTLY BANNED”

          Then f^cking do it then.

          Since you seem to love feeding the likes of mikey numb nuts, hmmmmm job, and LANCE, a prolific troll that has been chased off other military affiliated sites for his lack of grammer and poor information derived from the despicable rumor mill, maybe my permanent deletion would be doing me a f^cking favor.

          Lance, to quote patton oswald, “you are going to miss everything cool and die angry”

  14. An average of 1,700 rounds between stoppages is still 55+ magazines. 3,500 is 116+. Forgive my civilian ignorance, but would your average soldier or Marine ever conceivably go through that many rounds in combat without having a chance to clean their rifles?

      • Im think MikeH who has a issue about me is right no way your going to shoot threw 55+ mags of ammo w/o field maintenance of some type. Face it there no self cleaning rifle out there by FN or any one.

    • Excellent point. That’s a stretch for any semi-auto.
      If your troops need that many rounds, you should consider a different tool like an LMG (with a 2nd barrel). For long distances, maybe a fire mission.
      Closer in, grenade launcher or light mortars.
      I suppose if you’re about to be over-run, or retreating under fire, you could go through those amounts of ammo, which = Gyufygy’s “Bad Day”.

      • Remember that incident where an OP right outside a FOB got overrun a few years ago.over in the stan? I think 9 soldiers died, there were numerpus reports of stopages though that may have been due to the M4’s being used more like LMG’s.

        • Very true Sen Colburn used Wannat to promote the SCAR but in the end it was poor training and lack of artillery and air cover that mad the battle a disaster.