The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1991

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters



The US Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA) publishes the internal report “Evaluation of the Operational Test of the Advanced Combat Rifle Concepts.”

Aberdeen’s HEL publishes “HEL Evaluation of a Product-Improved (PIP) 200-round Magazine for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).”

The Canadian government purchases nearly 65,000 ELCAN Wildcat scopes, which will be type-classified under the designation C79.

ADI-Lithgow begins licensed-production of the FN Minimi (F89) for the Australian military.

Malaysia begins licensed production of the Steyr AUG. National Aerospace and Defence Industries (NADI) and SME Aerospace Sdn Bhd are responsible for production.

Production for the Spanish military of the CETME Model L and LC ends.

Given ARDEC‘s Bursting Munitions Program revival of their earlier 30mm grenade experiments, Alliant Techsystems sponsors the Individual Grenade Launcher System (IGLS), a 10 round semi-auto launcher designed by Knox Engineering.

AMCCOM awards $122,000 and $96,000 contracts, and a $58,000 contract modification to Colt related to the M16.

AMCCOM awards a $31,000 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

Belgian Prime Minister Wilfried Martens announced that the Belgian government would pay the bill for the US Military’s order for 978 M249 from FN. Worth ~$2.6 million, the payment is intended as a gesture of support for the Allied forces involved in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi control.

Burma receives the Czech-converted 5.56mm G3 along with technical documentation.

The British Infantry Sales Demonstration Team (ISDT) tests the DateStyle Muzzle Stabiliser with the L1A1 SLR and the SA80 family. The device works as advertised in reducing group size during automatic fire. Oddly enough, it also appears to reduce the number of stoppages suffered by the SA80.

AMCCOM awards a $2,021,000 contract modification to Okay Industries.

AMCCOM awards a $4,141,000 contract modification to Center Industries.

AMCCOM awards a $4,369,000 contract to Colt related to the M16.

Czech technicians arrive in Rangoon to set up production facilities for the 5.56mm G3 conversions.

AMCCOM awards a $5,034,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16.

AMCCOM awards a $8,065,000 contract modification to FNMI for 5,930 M249.

The US Army requests funding for the M4 carbine in its Fiscal Year 1992 budget.

BAe/RO purchases HK.

The British ITDU publishes the LANDSET report. The Land Systems Evaluation Team had interviewed soldiers from three Armoured Infantry battalions involved in combat during Operation Granby (Gulf War). The results were not favorable for the SA80 system. Troops lacked confidence in their rifles and most expected stoppages to occur as early as the first magazine. In a throwback to the dark days of 1967 and the XM16E1, some troops had even taped assembled cleaning rods to their rifles to use as ramrods for clearing cases jammed within the chamber. In addition, the tips of firing pins were prone to breakage (as were bayonets). Colt M16 magazines were preferred over Radway Green magazines.

After the contents of the LANDSET report reach the press, it is officially dismissed as fake, then as unofficial, later as semi-official, and finally, as unscientific and not authoritative.

The US Army issues a Request for Proposal (RFP) for modified NDI telescopes to be used with the M16 and M249. The scopes are to include laser eye protection, tritium illuminated reticles, and lens covers.

The military specification for the M203 grenade launcher, MIL-L-45935A, is amended for the third time.

The military specification for the M16 and M16A1 rifles, MIL-R-45587A, is amended.

The military specification for the M16A2 rifle, MIL-R-63997B(AR), is amended for a second time.

Colt’s Paul G. Kennedy receives US Patent #5,010,676 titled “Hand guard for firearms.”

Olin’s Stephen J. Bilsbury, William G. Dennis, Jr., and Stephen K. Kernosky receive US Patent #5,009,166 titled “Low Cost Penetrator Projectile.”

AMCCOM awards a $1,699,000 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

AMCCOM awards a $134,000 contract modification to FN related to the M249.

The military specification for M193 Ball, MIL-C-9963F, is amended.

FN‘s Jean-Paul Denis and Marc Neuforge receive US Patent #5,012,743 titled “High-Performance Projectile.”

AMCCOM awards a $215,000 contract modification to Center Industries.

AMCCOM awards a $178,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16. AMCCOM also awards a $927,000 contract modification related to the M16 and M203.

AMCCOM awards a $37,000 contract to Canadian Commercial Corp. for RDT&E/Weapons Engineering Development related to the M16.

The military specification for M197 Tracer, MIL-C-60111C, is amended for a second time.

The British ITDU begins trials of a modified sling swivel for the LSW.

HK‘s Raimund Fritz, Norbert Fluhr, and Berthold Weichert file an US patent application for the receiver design of the G11.

Aberdeen’s HEL publishes “Effects of Competition and Mode of Fire on Physiological Responses, Psychological Stress Reactions, and Shooting Performance.” This research supported the Advanced Combat Rifle field test and the HEL‘s stress program by evaluating competition as a methodology for producing a known level of stress in soldiers. The subjects in this field experiment were volunteer infantrymen from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). During the 2 competition weeks, 10 soldiers from each division participated; during the control week, 20 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division served as subjects. The subjects fired M855 ball ammunition loaded into 30-round magazines from M16A2 rifles equipped with Naval Weapons Support Center-Crane No. 1 muzzle devices. Each subject fired two different target scenarios during the record-fire days, one scenario in semiautomatic mode and one in burst mode. Each scenario consisted of 36 target presentation events. Events involved presenting one, two, or three targets for 1.5, 3, or 5 seconds at 50, 100, 200, or 300 meters. The stress created by competition was assessed by comparing the psychological and physiological responses of the soldiers firing competitively with the responses of soldiers firing during noncompetitive, control conditions, and with the responses obtained from subjects in other stress protocols.

The ARL conducts a limited durability and human factors evaluation for prototype 100 round belt boxes for the M249. Both hard pack and soft pack magazines are tested. Testing is cut short due to numerous shortcomings and deficiencies.

The British ITDU ends trials of a modified sling swivel for the LSW.

Picatinny issues a sources sought notice for research and development of a battlefield optical munition (BOM) concept, designated “Perseus.” The munition will be used in the M203 grenade launcher.

AMCCOM awards a $125,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16 for FMS.

Mark Westrom, a civilian employee at Rock Island Arsenal, drafts a Joint Service Operational Requirement (JSOR) for a 5.56mm Special Purpose Rifle (SPR), an “especially accurate” 5.56mm Rifle for use in tactical situations and CMP competition. In an annex, Westrom also drafts the requirement for a Special Match 5.56mm cartridge for use with the proposed SPR.

The military specification for the M200 Blank, MIL-C-60616C(AR), is amended.

ARL personnel assist an ARDEC engineer in reevaluating the 100 round belt box designs for the M249. The goal is to determine the causes of the reported deficiencies. The findings lead to both types of magazines being redesigned.

The US State Department grants Colt an export license to ship M16 to Indonesia.

The military specification for M855 Ball, MIL-C-63989A(AR), is revised to MIL-C-63989B(AR).

The military specification for M856 Tracer, MIL-C-63990B(AR), is amended.

ELCAN delivers the first batch of C79 sights to the Canadian military.

The GAO upholds Trijicon’s protest of the Army’s contract awards to Hughes Leitz Optical Technologies, Inc., Optic-Electronic Corporation, and S-Tron. The contract was for modified NDI telescopes to be used with the M16 and M249.

The ARL submits a recoil research proposal to JSSAP. The last known research on the effects of recoil on shooter performance dated back to the 1950s. JSSAP subsequently funds a two-year research program in support of their bursting munitions program.

US Marine Corps Systems Command awards a $29,378 contract to Colt related to the M16.

AMCCOM awards a $1,606,800 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

(Next: 5.56mm 1992)

by Daniel E. Watters, Small Arms Historian
Post questions or comments at The 5.56mm Timeline’s Facebook page.

Document History
Publication: 12/10/1998
Last Revised: 05/17/2009


Author’s Note
This article was originally published at The Gun Zone — The Gunperson’s Authoritative Internet Information Resource. My friend and mentor Dean Speir has graciously hosted my articles at TGZ for nearly 16 years. These articles would likely have never appeared online without his constant encouragement and assistance. 

With TGZ’s closure in early 2017, Dean encouraged me to find a new home for my scholarship so it wouldn’t be lost in the dustbin of the Internet. Loose Rounds has welcomed me with open arms. In the future, I intend to expand my legacy TGZ articles and add new contributions here at Loose Rounds.


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