I’m traveling and haven’t had much time to look into this, but someone in the comments at Heartless Libertarian points out Colt Canada, and last night on the plane I was re-reading the solicitations and noticed that the carbine calls for the majority of production to be in the “United States/Canada”. Hmmmm.
I really wonder if this isn’t some attempt to get an M4-flavor carbine, though I don’t understand why they’d have to play games to buy more of the same. Unless this is being driven by those who cried about “open competition” when the XM8 was on the fast-track, and now they need to walk the talk just enough to get their program the green light. Say, for instance, the XM8 or another weapon comes in with far better specs, but a cheaper option which meets these dumbed-down requirements can make the “good enough” claim and wins the contract.
If we’re going to go through the pain of a change, we shouldn’t be settling for “good enough”.
The big drop in minimum requirements from the OICW1 spec and the vagueness of the whole thing really have me wondering what’s up. If they just want more M4s (which is the first thing that comes to mind when I read this solicitation), why not just buy more M4s? That’s what I think is so fishy.
Make sure to read Heartless Libertarian’s post.
If the XM8 works as advertised, it should be able to compete well and have the advantage of having gone so far in deveopment recently. Get rid of that stupid proprietary mounting system, add Picatinny rails, and they should be golden. (You’ll notice that the requirement calls for the rails to be “incorporated on each weapon”. When critics of the XM8 complained about the integrated system (a criticism with which I agreed), HK immediately rolled out M1913 rail add-ons. The next step is to ditch the propietary system and incorporate M1913s to begin with.
The HK416, too, might fit the bill. I’ve also wondered if the SCAR-L might not work, but I think it might be too heavy, and someone in my comments noted that it was. Not sure on that and no time to look right now. If someone could verify that, I’d be much obliged.
UPDATE Commenter Steve helpfully posted these numbers for our consumption:
G36C- 6.28 lb (HKpro)
G36 is 7.28 lb (from HKPRO)
HK416- 7.3-7.7 lb (10-14 inch barrel) (HK website)
HK53- 5.96 (~8 inch barrel) (HK pro)
Colt M4 Commando – 5.38 lb (Colt website)
Colt M4 – 5.9 lb (colt website)
Busmaster- Has a bunch from 5-7 lb’s
SCAR-l 7.7 lb (according Defense tech)
Steyr AUG A3 – 8.2 lb (Steyr-Man. website)
Sig 552 – 7.0 lb (8.9″) (Stg 90 page)
Sig 551 – 7.7 lb (16″) (Stg 90 page)
I honestly had no idea that the HK416 was so (relatively) heavy. When the OICW1 was shelved, I meant to do an in-depth post on the HK416 but never got to it. If I had made the time and done a little research, I’d have known. But MO readers once again save the day. Well done!
And, for what it’s worth, if this is a ploy to get more M4s, I’m not necessarily opposed to the plan. If we need more time to get the OICW program back on track and require a large number of weapons to hold us over (due to the delay and the heavy use in the combat zones the current inventory has seen) I have no problem with more of the same, or a incremental upgrade of the same. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to swap out primary weapons in a large part of the military just to do it again in a few years when the OICW (or equivalent) comes online. For all the griping and all the debate over the 5.56, it’s not like our guys in the field have sub-par weapons. The M16/M4 system is definitely up to the task. It’s just that there might be something better out there. Plus, it seems to me that a carbine is just plain not going perform as well as the troops want in a lot of cases, due to the fact that it’s a carbine. A carbine is a weapon that compromises performance for size and weight.
Repeat: A carbine is a compromise. That’s why there is such a thing.
So if this is just to hold us over for a couple of years, let’s drop the theatrics and just get more of what we’ve got.
But if this is really and truly a bid to get us the next-generation standard weapons, someone needs to explain why the bar is so low.