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Army Begins Equipping Soldiers with M4A1s

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The U.S. Army recently started converting the first of a half million M4 carbines into M4A1s.

Army weapons officials are performing 3,000 M4/M4A1 conversions for the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.

The service decided to replace the M4 with the M4A1 version, wrapping up a five-year effort to search for a better individual weapon for soldiers. Last June, the Army formally concluding its Individual Carbine competition without selecting a winner to replace the M4 Carbine. None of the carbines evaluated during the testing phase of the competition met the minimum scoring requirement needed to continue to the third and final phase of the evaluation, weapons officials said.

The Army never released any of the test data that showed how test guns from Heckler & Koch, FNH-USA, Remington Defense, Adcor Defense Inc. and Colt Defense LLC performed in the competition.

The decision to convert the service’s 500,000 M4s into M4A1s by 2020 will give soldiers features such as a heavier barrel, an ambidextrous selector switch and a full-auto trigger. The Army’s decision to dump the current three-round burst trigger will give shooters a more consistent trigger pull and lead to better accuracy, weapons officials maintain.

U.S. Special Operations Command has used the M4A1 configuration since 1994.

Program Executive Office Soldiers officials praised the M4 and M4A1 for its reliability.

The M4 and M4A1 will fire “58 basic loads mean rounds between stoppages,” PEO Command Sgt. Major. Doug Maddi told reporters May 21. “A basic load is 210 rounds; you can do the math.”

Ok so I did the math and 58 basic loads equals 12,180 mean rounds between stoppages. I would really like to see the data from that test since the Army’s requirement for the M4/M4A1 is about 6,000 mean rounds between stoppages. Just say’n.

Anyway, the M4A1 gives soldiers a better weapon than soldiers had with the M4, and that’s all that matters. Army weapons officials said they are also looking at future improvements such as an extended rail system, a match trigger and a suppressor. The Army has been working on an improved rail system, but that is still source selection, weapons officials say.

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