The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1994

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters



The US military finally accepts an improved buffer assembly for the M4/M4A1 originally recommended during the carbine’s initial development. Previously, the military did not want to introduce a new part different from that used by previous Colt carbines in inventory.

The USMC approves “Operational Requirements Document 1.14.” This document repaves the long and twisting path for the eventual adoption of the M4A1 Carbine by Force Recon and other units with need of a CQB weapon more capable than the current pistol-caliber SMG (HK MP5N).

Colt receives an order from the UAE for 5,200 M16A2 rifles and 2,500 M4 carbines.

KAC produces a very small quantity of cropped M4A1 variants, dubbed the M4A1K, for use by USSOCOM helicopter aircrews. (By early 1997, less than two dozen have been produced.)

IMI introduces the Galil Micro (AKA: Galil MAR). The South Africans introduce a similar variant as the R6 along with a 5.56x45mm conversion for their SS77 GPMG.

IMI provides technical assistance to Colombia’s INDUMIL for limited production of the Galil.

GIAT introduces the product improved FAMAS G2. Intended primarily for export sales, the G2 variant offers a STANAG 4179 magazine well along with other modifications. (A transition model, the G1, did not possess the STANAG magazine well.)

FN introduces the Minimi Mk2, which roughly parallels the improvements from the US M249 (PIP). On the 5.7x28mm PDW front, FN begins to release new details of their long-awaited 5.7x28mm pistol.

At the 1994 ADPA Small Arms Systems Division’s annual conference, Chinese representatives from the PLA‘s Changping Research Institute confirm the development of a 5.8x42mm weapon family.

RO produces a new SA80 carbine, longer than the 1988 model. The new carbine uses an unmodified LSW forearm.

The US Army Cold Regions Test Center conducts arctic testing on the M249 collapsible buttstock.

The British ITDU conducts trials concerning a bayonet catch, a modified bayonet, pintle mounts for the LSW, and additional user assessments of the Beta C-Mag.

Acceptance trials for the M249 PIP are complete.

The military specification for the M4 carbine is revised to MIL-C-70599A(AR).

The M4A1 carbine’s military specification, MIL-C-71186(AR), is issued.

The Australian Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO) publishes “Experiments to Determine the Effects of Different Flash Suppressor Designs on Accuracy of an F89 Light Machine Gun.” Tests were performed to determine the accuracy of a F89 LMG having barrels fitted with and without flash suppressors. It was observed that the addition of a flash suppressor from a FN MAG58 machine gun could reduce the size of mean radius dispersion by as much as 41 percent over an original FN Minimi flash suppressor and 35 percent over none being fitted. It appears that when using standard taper-ended Minimi barrels, 19 percent of this improvement can be attributed directly to the mass of the MAG58 flash suppressor. However, this mass had no apparent effect on accuracy when using heavier F89 barrels. It is concluded that gas dynamic effects due to flash suppressor design may have a significant role in weapon accuracy and merit further study.

AMCCOM awards a $1,000,000 contract modification to FNMI for M16A2.

On behalf of USSOCOM, AMCCOM awards Colt a $2,640,749 contract for the production of ~6,000 M4A1.

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

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

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

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

AMCCOM deallocates $47,264 in a contract modification to FNMI for M249.

The Dutch military adopts the Diemaco C7/C8 family, with an initial contract for 52,285 weapons worth DFL 96.4 million (US $51 million). C7A1 are procured for the Army and Marine combat units, C7 for support troops, C8 Carbines for the Air Force and Military Police, C8A1 for Special Forces, and C7A1 LSW (Light Support Weapon) for the Marines. The Marines will receive 4,750 C7A1 rifles and 535 C7A1 LSW. The Army will receive 33,500 weapons, the Air Force 12,000, and the Military Police 1,500.

HK‘s Helmut Weldle files an US patent application for the upper receiver design of the G36.

HK‘s Ernst Mauch and Manfred Guhring file an US patent application for the G36’s upper receiver gas relief ports. These are intended to help prevent damage and/or injury if a case failure were to occur.

AMCCOM issues a solicitation for additional M4 carbines.

AMCCOM awards a $411,124 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

British armorers receive an improved flash eliminator spring for retrofit to the SA80. The new spring is to help prevent the bayonet or a rifle grenade from falling off of the muzzle.

AMCCOM awards a $30,616 contract modification to FNMI for M16A2.

AMCCOM awards a $722,250 contract to FNMI related to the M249.

The OICW Phase 1 design study begins with three competing teams led by AAI, ATK, and Olin. AAI’s team includes:

  • Dyna East (Warhead development)
  • Dynamit Nobel
  • Hughes Aircraft (Fire control and Training)
  • Mason & Hanger

ATK‘s team includes:

  • Contraves (Fire control)
  • Dynamit Nobel
  • HK

Olin teams solely with FN.

The ARL publishes “Durability Evaluation and Live Firing Exercise for Two 100-Round Assault Packs and a Product-Improved 200-Round Magazine for the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).” The findings are fairly positive for the 100 round soft pack vis-à-vis the other two designs. The 100 round soft pack was more likely to remain attached to the SAW, and was less likely to damage the dovetail rail assembly. The soft pack was also more easily removed and attached to the weapon than even the 100 round hard pack. However, there were problems with misaligned rounds in the soft pack, causing failures to feed. The 100 round hard pack fell off in 10 of the 100 trials and suffered 11 critical failures during testing. The 200 round hard pack was found to be much less reliable than the version tested in 1991, suffering 36 percent failures and 15 percent critical failures during the trials. This contrasted to 6 percent and 3 percent respectively in 1991. The difference is blamed on a change in the plastic used to construct the hard pack.

Field testing of the AN/PLQ-5 LCMS results in negative comments about the system’s overall weight of 42 pounds.

AMCCOM awards a $8,256,003 contract to Colt for ~18,000 M4 carbines. AMCCOM also awards a $153,102 contract modification related to the M4 carbine.

AMCCOM awards a $12,849,530 contract to FNMI for 5,844 M249.

AMCCOM awards a $369,600 contract to Colt related to the M16.

The US Army officially adopts the M4 and M4A1 Carbines. Only the first lot of M4 will be delivered with fixed carrying handles. Afterwards, all M4/M4A1 in inventory will be shipped with flat-top upper receivers.

AMCCOM awards a $58,769 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

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

Australian Defence Minister Senator Robert Ray announces the possible sale of ADI-made AUG to Indonesia. After public criticism, the government claims that is merely donating 20 rifles for evaluation.

Colt exists Chapter 11 Bankruptcy with its sale to Zilkha & Company.

ARDEC publishes “External Barrel and Handguard Temperature of the 5.56mm M4 Carbine.” This test report examines the external barrel temperature of the 5.56mm M4-series carbines as a function of time and as a function of longitudinal location on the barrel. It also compares the effects of the handguard on barrel temperature and measures the temperature of the M4 Carbine handguard external surface and internal liners.

The military specifications for the M4 and M4A1 carbines, M16A2E3, and M16 and M16A1 rifles are each amended.

ARDEC, the US Navy, and USAF form an initial tri-service working group to identify needs and goals for each service regarding the “green ammunition” initiative.

ARMS, Inc.’s Richard Swan receives US Patent #5,343,650 titled “Extended Rigid Frame Receiver Sleeve.”

FN‘s Jean-Louis Gathoye receives US Patent #5,347,912 titled “Elements for Decelerating the Recoil of the Moving Parts of a Fire Arm.”

AMCCOM is disestablished. The armament and chemical defense functions of AMCCOM become the Armaments and Chemical Acquisition and Logistics Activity (ACALA). The Tank-Automotive Command takes operational control of ACALA, ARDEC, and the Belvoir Research, Development and Engineering Center (BRDEC). As a result of the added responsibilities, Tank-Automotive Command is redesignated the Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command (TACOM).

The military specification for the M231 FPW, MIL-S-63348A(AR), is amended for the fourth time.

The OICW Phase 1 design study is completed. The teams headed by AAI and ATK are chosen to proceed to Phase 2, the system design and critical subsystem technology demonstration stage.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 200 M16A2 to Belize at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 4,562 M16A1 to Uruguay at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

FNMI contracts with Richard Baker to develop a modular rail system based on ideas from FNMI engineer Aurelius A. Mooney.

(Next: 5.56mm 1995)

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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