The Army is asking “industry” to provide ideas for a combat rifle to replace the M16/M4 platform. Thus, they have instigated what will likely culminate in months of flamewars on Arfcom and other locales as people tirelessly debate the merits of this cartridge vs. that cartridge and platform X vs. platform Y. But don’t think that the Army is doing this because they’ve had an epiphany that the M4 sucks (it doesn’t) or that 5.56 round sucks (it also doesn’t). Here’s why they’re doing it:
The move to broaden the competition is also calendar-driven: the so-called “technical data package” of the M4 — essentially the blueprints for the design — are up for release in June of next year. That means the Army can rebid the M4 to any company that can make it, potentially driving down costs and boosting production capacity.
Which is a smart move – if they can rebid on the contract to manufacture the M4, why not get bids from all sorts of places, see if someone can offer a better rifle for a lower cost. For my part, as long as no one starts talking about “awesome” the XM8 is, I think I’ll be happy.
What I’m saying is that gas-piston and HK fanboys should not get their hopes up about the Army switching to a new carbine platform. If they did switch platforms, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they ended with the FN Herstal SCAR platform though – that’s a serious combat rifle and is already in use with the Green Berets.