The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1993

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters



The US Army Infantry Center (USAIC) publishes the fourth edition of the SAMP. The SAMP outlines objectives for a new family of infantry small arms. This translated into the following project name: Objective Family of Small Arms (OFSA). Requirements include the Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW), Objective Personal Defense Weapon (OPDW), and Objective Crew Served Weapon (OCSW). The OPDW is projected as a lightweight system (less than 1.5 pounds) with a 100 meter effective range, and capable of defeating body armor at 50 meters. There is also discussion of an Advanced Medium Machinegun (AMMG) requirement.

The Modular Weapon System (MWS) program is introduced as a SEP.

IMI begins development of the Tavor assault rifle.

SIG introduces the SG551-1P (AKA: SG551 SWAT).

CZ introduces the LADA family of 5.56mm and 5.45mm weapons. It is later renamed the CZ2000.

India publicly introduces the INSAS rifle and LMG. The INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) has been in development since the mid-1980s. With a requirement for 48,000 new rifles, the Indian Army places an initial order of 7,000 INSAS rifles. None are delivered.

The British ITDU publishes a summary of IW and LSW trials running from 1976 to 1993.

The ITDU also conducts user trials of a cant limiter for the LSW bipod.

NATO forms Sub-Group 1 under AC/225 Panel III. The Ad-Hoc PDW Working Group is tasked with determining whether FN‘s 5.7x28mm cartridge meets NATO‘s PDW criteria (D/296). Preliminary specifications are also drawn up for two types of PDW-class weapons: a pistol that weighs less that 1 kilogram (700 grams or less is desired) for engagements out to 50 meters, and a shoulder-stocked weapon weighing less than 3 kilograms capable of engaging targets out to 150 meters. Each is desired to possess magazine capacities of no less than 20 rounds, with a higher capacity considered as ideal for the larger weapon.

FN replaces its existing SS90 plastic core projectile with the improved 31 grain SS190, which uses a dual core of steel and aluminum. While offering a large increase in performance against armored targets, this change reportedly required a redesign of the P90’s magazine.

The British ITDU begins user trials of the Beta C-Mag with the LSW.

The ARL publishes “Flash Suppressor Comparisons and Analysis for the F89 and M249 Machine Guns.” The Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization (DSTO) reported a reduction in dispersion of 40 percent (single shot or burst) for the F89 light machine gun simply by changing the standard Minimi flash suppressor to a MAG58 flash suppressor. The reduction was first observed by the troops in the field and replicated by DSTO in the laboratory. This report documents a test conducted at ARL using a M249 SAW machine gun to verify DSTO‘s results. The ARL study failed to show a similar dispersion reduction.

British armorers are instructed to remove material from the LSW bipod’s feet due to interference with the bipod lock. Armorers are also instructed to reposition the cotter pin which secures the trigger rod to the trigger. It was possible for the pin to contact the safety catch and prevent the trigger from being pulled.

FN‘s Canio Fortunato files an US patent application for a magazine design capable of feeding the long 5.7x28mm SS90 cartridge but narrow enough front to back to allow for a managable grip frame.

Colt’s William M. Sokol, David M. Camera, and Ronald E. Giddish file a patent application for the adapter design for the stand-alone M203H.

The military specification for the M249 SAW, MIL-M70446(AR), is revised to MIL-M70446A(AR).

AMCCOM awards a $40,689 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

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

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

The Human Research and Engineering Directorate (HRED) of the ARL conducts a durability and live firing exercise of the redesigned 100 round magazines and the latest product-improved 200 round magazine for the M249. The purpose of this evaluation is to assess the durability of a reusable 100 round soft pack, a disposable 100 round hard pack, and a product-improved version of the disposable 200 round hard pack. The primary objectives are to determine if the magazines stay attached to the SAW during obstacle course maneuvers, if any of the magazines adversely affect the integrity of the linked munitions, and if the munitions in these magazines can be fed into and fired from the SAW after portability maneuvers. In addition, magazine removal and attachment trails are conducted to determine the ease with which the 100-round magazines can be removed from the ammunition carrying cases and attach to the SAW.

The British ITDU ends user trials of the Beta C-Mag with the LSW. They discover persistent feeding problems with the final 15 rounds in the magazine. Beta Co. blames the British ammunition, which develops lower port pressures than US made cartridges loaded with ball powder. Without a change in ammunition, Beta Co. offers a special C-Mag variant, which holds only 86 rounds. (Author’s note: I guess that would make it a LXXXVI-Mag instead.)

AMCCOM awards $151,482 and deallocates $75,250 in contract modifications to FNMI for M16A2.

AMCCOM awards a $8,608,611 contract to Colt for 18,597 M4 carbines.

The Jamaica Defence Force adopts the L85A1 and FN Minimi.

British armorers are instructed to remove material from the SA80’s bolt face around the ejector’s opening. This is to prevent brass build-up which could jam the ejector in place.

HK‘s Helmut Weldle and Hubert Krieger receive US Patent #5,214,233 titled “Cocking and Loading Device for Self-Loading Small Firearms.”

FN‘s Jean-Louis Gathoye files an US patent application for a delayed blowback system intended for a pistol chambered in 5.7x28mm.

The M4 carbine enters the Pre-Production Engineering Phase.

The British Commons Defence Select Committee releases the report on their investigation of the poor performance history of the SA80.

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

JSSAP issues a RFP for the OICW. The OICW will include ammunition, fire-control, and weapon technologies capable of firing high-explosive and conventional projectiles. The RFP states that “substantial improvements in performance can be obtained in an individual weapon using an airburst concept.” The OICW should be capable of hitting point targets at 500m 90 percent of the time, and area targets at 1000m 50 percent of the time. The government will fully fund three project stages, but will only fund one stage at a time. The first six month phase will involve concept design. The twelve-month second phase will include “breadboard” subsystem tests and overall design refinement. The twelve-month third phase will result in fabrication of a complete, demonstration-ready “brassboard” prototype weapon.

ARDEC publishes the report “Trigger Pull Testing M16A2 Rifle and M4 Carbine.” Using the current procedures of MIL-R-63997 for M16A2 Rifles, 22 percent of random trigger pulls taken failed the requirement of 5.5 – 9.5 pounds. Based upon an acceptable failure rate of 1 percent, trigger pull shall be taken three consecutive times with a requirement of 5.5 to 11.0 pounds. Using the current procedures of MIL-C-70599 for M4 Carbines, 65 percent of random trigger pulls taken failed the requirement of 5.5 – 9.5 pounds. Based upon a acceptable failure rate of 1 percent, trigger pull shall be taken three consecutive times with a requirement of 6.5 – 12.3 pounds.

President Clinton signs Executive Order #12856. The goal is to insure that all Federal agencies, including the DOD, conduct their facility management and acquisition activities so that, to the maximum extent practicable, the quantity of toxic chemicals entering the environment is reduced as expeditiously as possible through source reduction. Moreover, they should help encourage markets for clean technologies and safe alternatives to extremely hazardous substances or toxic chemicals through revisions to specifications and standards, the acquisition and procurement process, and the testing of innovative pollution prevention technologies at Federal facilities or in acquisitions. This kicks off DOD activity in replacing lead and other toxic metals in ammunition.

Colt’s William M. Sokol, David M. Camera, and Ronald E. Giddish receive US Patent #5,235,771 tiled “Hand Held Grenade Launcher.”

AMCCOM awards a $45,312 contract modification to FNMI for M16A2.

AMCCOM awards a $11,099,810 contract to FNMI for 4,644 M249. AMCCOM also awards a $52,778 contract modification for M249.

Germany issues new technical and tactical requirements for a 5.56mm rifle.

The ORD for the SOPMOD kit is validated. (The ORD will be amended four times leading up to 1999.)

The US Army publishes “Operator’s and Unit Maintenance Manual, Light, Aiming, Infrared AN/PAQ-4B.”

AMCCOM awards a $85,376 contract to FNMI related to the M249.

British armorers receive an improved wire cutter to retrofit to the SA80’s bayonet scabbard.

AMCCOM awards a $88,043 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

British armorers receive an improved bipod axis screw for retrofit to the LSW. The original screw was prone to loosen and allow the bipod to fall off of the weapon.

The Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Operations and Plans, Force Development approves the OICW Mission Need Statement (MNS).

The military specification for M862 Short Range Training Ammunition (SRTA), MIL-C-70725(AR), is revised to MIL-C-70725A(AR).

(Next: 5.56mm 1994)

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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