The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 2002

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters



The ATK OICW is designated the XM29.

Inspired by their SA80A2 refurbishment program, HK begins a detailed assessment of M16/M4 Carbine technical deficiencies. USSOCOM provides HK ten M4A1 carbines on loan as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE).

The USAF awards a contract to Aimpoint for more than 20,000 CompM2 sights.

Certain USSOCOM units and individual operators begin local modifications of the 4x Day Optical Scope (ACOG) and selected sniper scopes to utilize commercially available Miniature Red Dot (MRD) sights.

The British MOD purchases 149 FN Minimi Para (L110A1) for issue to troops in Afghanistan. This number is later increased to 300. LSW Comparative Trials are restarted. The competitors include the L86A2, FN Minimi, HK MG43, IMI Negev, and Vektor Mini-SS.

The Norwegian military awards a $3 million contract to Diemaco for unspecified small arms.

The Danish Navy awards a $3 million contract to Diemaco for unspecified small arms.

SME Ordnance Sdn Bhd resumes Steyr AUG production when the Malaysian government orders an additional 24,000 rifles worth RM84.5 million.

Winchester introduces the .223 Winchester Super Short Magnum (WSSM). It is essentially a shortened and necked-down version of the Winchester Short Magnum (WSM) case.

HK introduces a variant of their 40mm AG36 underbarrel grenade launcher for the L85-series. Once adopted, it is known as the L17A2 in British service. (The L17A1 is used on the SAS‘ Diemaco C8-SFW, or L119A1.)

HK begins development of a 4.6x30mm pistol.

The 5th Special Forces Group receives official approval for a Proof of Concept program to develop an Enhanced Rifle Cartridge (ERC). The ERC is intended to outperform existing 5.45x39mm, 5.56x45mm, 5.8x42mm, and 7.62x39mm cartridges. The project is led by MSG Steve Holland.

TACOM awards a $60,385 delivery order to FNMI for M16A4.

TACOM awards Colt $1,551,960 for 3,240 M4A1 Reliability Enhancement Kits. These kits are to improve the performance of the 3,240 M4A1 with heavy barrels previously purchased for USSOCOM.

TACOM also awards Colt a $157,950 contract option for 243 M4.

NSWC-Crane awards a $47,121 delivery order to FNMI for Mk 46 Mod 0.

WSESRB extends approval for outdoors training use of 5.56mm frangible ammunition.

The Deputy for Systems Management and Horizontal Technology, OASA(ALT) directs that the OICW and the OCSW have the same caliber and possibly be capable of firing the same ammunition. In response to the Deputy’s request, the OCSW Program Office contracts with Altarum, formerly Vector Research Incorporation, to conduct a comparison study.

The SOPMOD PMO is notified of an unrequested Congressional “Plus-Up” of $1.46 million for Miniature Day/Night Sight development.

TACOM awards a five-year contract to Aimpoint. The first delivery order worth $213,151.66 is for 603 M68 and related accessories.

MARCORSYSCOM‘s Infantry Weapons Product Group issues a RFI for flash hiders for weapons of .50 caliber and less. These devices should be compatible with current weapon systems, in particular the M16A2, M249, M240G, and M2. The flash hider should significantly reduce the current flash signature, making the discharge of the weapon as close to invisible as possible to both the naked eye and third generation night vision devices.

David Armstrong, on behalf of the US Navy, files a patent application for an adjustable sloping cheekweld buttstock that possesses storage chambers on either side of the stock. (This becomes the SCB issued in the SOPMOD kit.)

C-More’s Ira M. Kay receives US Patent #D452,722 titled “Underbarrel shotgun.”

HK‘s Helmut Weldle and Gerd Spinner file an US patent application for the retractable buttstock design of the MP7 PDW.

TACOM awards a $99,884 delivery order to FNMI for M16A4.

TACOM awards FNMI a $83,303 contract for M249 production.

TACOM deallocates $423,938 in a contract modification to FNMI for M249.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of the USMC, issues a sole-source solicitation to Winchester for 5.56mm Jacketed Frangible Cartridges. Intended for use in the M4A1 and M249, the quantity is for total number of cartridges that can be purchased for the amount of $4,825,313.19.

An informal meeting is held at the 2002 SHOT Show between Remington’s Sean Dwyer, Troy Lawton, and MSG Holland regarding the ERC/SPC project.

TACOM awards a $76,415.15 delivery order to KAC for 133 M5 RAS and 133 M4 RAS. This is on behalf of the USMC.

TACOM awards KAC a $71,835.89 contract option for assorted MWS parts.

ARMS, Inc.’s Richard Swan files another patent application for the SIR system.

Altarum begins a study to determine the feasibility of a common caliber for the OICW and the OCSW programs.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of USSOCOM, MARCORSYSCOM Ground Weapons, and the FBI, issues a sources-sought notice noting the re-initiation of the EGLM requirement. The EGLM is envisioned to replace the M203 in Special Operations Forces and possibly, the US Marine Corps and the FBI. The program seeks an EGLM that will demonstrate operational and technical improvements over the current M203-series grenade launchers. Although the currently fielded M203 40mm Grenade Launcher meets existing military performance specifications, the M203 has exhibited performance characteristics that do not meet SOF requirements when subjected to the extreme operational conditions imposed upon them by SOF operators. Specific M203 shortfalls include:

  1. Barrel mount design degrades host weapon accuracy;
  2. Quick Detach Mount is fragile and complex;
  3. Cannot load cartridges longer than 138mm;
  4. Unreliable in surf, sand, and mud;
  5. Inaccurate, requires many costly rounds and hours to train; and
  6. Most of current ammo stockpile is old and inaccurate.

The program’s objective is to rapidly field a quick attach/detach enhanced 40mm grenade launcher module that fires the current inventory of US and NATO 40x46mm ammunition as well as a new generation of enhanced, non-developmental munitions, to include programmable rounds. The core goal is increased day/night lethality, with first-round effect on target (objective), or second-round effect on target (threshold). The EGLM will possess a ballistic self-ranging sight and/or range finding and/or stadiametric ranging sight that is day/night capable. The EGLM must not attach to the barrel of the host weapon; instead, it will attach to a rigid 6:00 MIL-STD-1913 rail on the host weapon. The EGLM must be capable of removal from the host weapon and fired in a stand-alone configuration, and should therefore have provision for a pistol grip and/or an accessory buttstock. The breech mechanism should open to the side rather than forward like the current M203. Side opening will allow the operator to chamber and fire longer NATO cartridges. Side loading will also facilitate reloading in difficult or awkward shooting positions. The barrel release latch and mechanical safety should be located in a position that will alleviate or eliminate inadvertent activation. The trigger mechanism must not require the operator to open the breech in order to cock or re-cock the weapon. Controls should be ambidextrous and intuitive. Improvements should also include improved reliability, durability, service-life, and ergonomics.

The initial draft specifications for the EGLM are released for industry comment.

NSWC-Crane awards a $49,036,961 contract to Wilcox Industries for M203 Day/Night Sight Mounts.

MARCORSYSCOM announces its intent to purchase twelve each of FN‘s P90 (Universal 1913 Triple Rail variant) and HK‘s 4.6x30mm PDW (MP7). The PDWs are intended for head to head testing and experiments conducted by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) in support of Project Rifleman.

TACOM awards a $1,389,301 delivery order to FNMI for M16A4.

TACOM awards Colt a $86,450 contract option for 133 M4. These are intended for the USMC.

ARDEC announces its intent to procure 60 barrels and 150 bolts for the M16 Rifle/M4 Carbine Long Life Barrel Program.

NSWC-Crane awards $55,680 and $145,556 delivery orders to FNMI for Mk 46 Mod 0.

The PMOICW issues a sources sought announcement for the execution of the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Phase of OICW development.

Altarum presents the report “Objective Crew Served Weapon Caliber Study” to JSSAP. The study recommends that:

  • A common ammunition or round for the OICW and OCSW is not feasible; however, a common projectile (internal workings of the fuse and warhead) will be feasible;
  • The two weapon systems should utilize the same fuse setting, range determination, and safe and arming mechanism; and
  • The two weapon systems should have similar 25mm ammunition.

Although Altarum determines that using similar 25mm ammunition for the OICW and the OCSW will increase the weight of the OICW, this approach will allow a reduced cost per OICW ammunition and would increase OICW lethality. Altarum also determines that the OCSW fuse is cheaper to manufacture than the OICW fuse by $5.48 per fuse.

The US Coast Guard announces its intent to award a sole-source contract to Leitner-Wise Rifle Company (LWRC) to modify eight M16A2 rifles for their proprietary .499 LW cartridge.

NSWC-Crane awards Wilcox Industries a $49,036,961 contract for the M203 GLD/NSM (AN/PSQ-18). Passed along to the US Army for testing with the M203E2 MWO, the AN/PSQ-18 also sees combat in Afghanistan and later, Iraq.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of USSOCOM and the FBI, issues a Commercial Agency Announcement (CAA) noting the re-initiation of the Family of Muzzle Brakes and Suppressors (FMBS) program. Intended for use with 5.56mm and 7.62mm weapons, the FMBS is planned to consist of four models: 1) Close Quarters Battle Receiver (CQBR), 2) Standard Model M4, 3) Special Purpose Receiver (SPR), and 4) Light Machinegun (LMG). The suppressor must reduce sound pressure levels by 25 decibels and decrease flash signature by 75 percent when mounted on the intended weapon system. It may not change point of impact more than 1.25 minutes (thresholds are 10 percent less than objectives). The quick attach/detach type suppressors will be suitable for precision, semi-automatic, and automatic firing. 5.56mm suppressors must not attach to 7.62mm weapons’ muzzle brakes, although the reverse may hold true.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of USSOCOM, issues a CAA for Miniature Day/Night Sight (MDNS) development. Improved/miniaturized versions, or alternative items are sought to replace or supplement the following SOPMOD subsystems, in order of priority: Group A, Passive Miniature Day/Night Sight Subsystems: 1) 3.5X-10X and 2.5X-8X Special Purpose Receiver (SPR) Sights, 2) Clip-On Night Vision Device (CNVD), 3) Miniature Night Vision Sight (MNVS), 4) ACOG Reflex Sight, 5) ACOG 4X Sight; and Group B, Active Miniature Day/Night Sight Subsystems: 1) Visible Bright Light (VBL), 2) Integrated Pointer/Illuminator Module (IPIM), 3) AN/PEQ-2 Infrared Laser Pointer/Illuminator (ITPIAL), 4) AN/PEQ-5 Carbine Visible Laser (CVL).

MARCORSYSCOM issues a requirement for a Multipurpose Bayonet (MB). The potential order will run between 5,000 to 120,000 units.

TACOM issues Ground Precautionary Message GPM-02-017 “Commercial 100-Round Magazine for Use in M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW).” During testing, rounds were sometimes left loose in the Beta C-Mag drums. Blank ammunition showed a very high stoppage rate. The message specifically recommends that the magazines not be used in an operational setting.

TACOM awards KAC a $79,385.92 contract option for assorted MWS parts.

TACOM awards FNMI a $399,740 contract option for 1,000 M16A2. These are for FMS to Bahrain.

TACOM awards Colt a $76,840 contract option for 113 M4A1. These are intended for the US Navy and USAF.

TACOM awards FNMI a $92,111.40 contract option for the production of 30 M249.

TACOM awards a $65,453.30 contract modification to FNMI for 22 M249 for the USMC.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of USSOCOM, issues a CAA for vendors who can provide accessory parts and assemblies for performance improvements to the M16/M4-series rifles/carbines. Specifically required are Special Purpose Receivers (SPR) for both short and long range precision fire, with improved MIL-STD-1913 rail interfaces, as well as related improved weapons parts and assemblies. The latter improvements, listed in priority order of government interest, may include new and improved 1) magazines, 2) bolt assemblies/bolt carrier groups, 3) barrels, 4) upper receivers and upper receiver groups, 5) trigger, sear, and hammer sets, 6) ambidextrous weapon controls, 7) flip-up/spring-up front and rear iron sights, 8) front and rear pistol grips, 9) buttstocks, 10) bipods, and any other components of, or mechanical accessories to, the M16-series/M4A1 carbines, with the exception of the lower receiver.

NSWC-Crane also issues a solicitation for 40,686 boxes of Black Hills Ammunition 5.56mm, 77 grain long range SPR Ammunition.

TACOM awards a $284,648.50 contract option to KAC for 500 M4 RAS and various MWS parts.

MARCORSYSCOM, on behalf of the MCWL, issues a sole-source solicitation to Simunition for FX marking cartridges: 197,600 Red and 53,200 Blue. This solicitation is in support of MCWL‘s Project Metropolis (Millennium Challenge ’02).

The SOF Weapons Program is spun off from SOPMOD. Among the projects moved include the SPR, the SPR MBS, the long range SPR 5.56mm cartridge, and certain M4A1 carbine platform upgrades such as the EPS-2, HRM, and the Sloping Cheekweld Buttstock (SCB).

TACOM awards a $44,040 delivery order to FNMI for M16A4.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to Colt for 25,764 M4 and 12,972,700 M4A1 Carbines.

TACOM also issues a sole-source solicitation to Colt for 2,300 heavy replacement barrels and 2,000 upper receivers for use with M4/M4A1 carbines.

NSWC-Crane awards a $28,800 delivery order to FNMI for Mk 46 Mod 0.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation to Black Hills Ammunition for 96,500 rounds of Mk 262 Mod 0.

Remington’s R&D Project Engineer, Greg Dennison, directs the production of sample ERC/SPC cases in 5.56mm, 6.5mm, 7mm and 7.62mm. Samples are provided with small and large primer pockets, along with some with case rims rebated to match the standard M4A1 boltface.

The CF C7A2 update proposals are briefed to the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3 PPCLI).

FN‘s Charles Denuit receives US Patent #6,389,725 titled “Fire Arm with Forward Ejection or Ejection Brought to the Fore-part of the Fire Arm.”

The Philippine Armed Forces sign a contract for 402 FN Minimi costing P117.4 million. The Minimi had beaten out the Ultimax 100 and the Daewoo K3.

TACOMARDEC and PM-Small Arms issues a requirement for Back-up Iron Sights (BUIS). The BUIS shall provide a 300 to 600 meter capability on the modular versions of the M4 Carbine and M16A4 Rifle.

ARDEC issues a solicitation for 14,100 to 64,100 Accessory Rail Kits for the M249.

TACOM awards Center Industries a $787,000 contract for the production of 100,000 M16 thirty round magazines.

KAC‘s Reed Knight and Doug Olson file patent application for an improved muzzle attachment that can serve simultaneously to reduce muzzle rise, recoil, and flash signature. The device can also serve as the attachment point for a sound suppressor.

Milestone B is approved for the SPR and its long range 5.56mm cartridge. The SPR is type-classified under the designations Rifle, Special Purpose Mk 12 Mod 0 and Mk 12 Mod 1. The Mk 12-series are designated marksman rifles built by NSWC-Crane armorers. The upper receiver is a mix of military and commercial parts, which is then mated to a M16A1 lower. The Mk 12 Mod 0 is recognizable primarily from its Precision Reflex, Inc. (PRI) free-float forearm. The Mk 12 Mod 1 use a KAC free-float RAS forearm. The Mod 1 evolved from the earlier SPR/A and SPR/B, which varied primarily as to which Leupold Vari-X III scope was mounted (3.5-10x versus 2.5-8x, respectively). The current Mk 12 Mod 1 reportedly uses a Leupold 3-9x.

The issue ammunition for the Mk 12 SPR is the 5.56mm Special Ball, Long Range Mk 262 Mod 0 (using the 77 grain Sierra MatchKing). The Mk 262 is the end product of accuracy testing which started with 27 different commercial match projectiles. The projectile choice was eventually narrowed to three: the 73 grain Berger LTB (Length Tolerant Bullet), the 87 grain PRL (Powell River Laboratories), and the 77 grain Sierra MatchKing. Availability issues with the first two manufacturers resulted in the Sierra MatchKing being chosen. To date, Black Hills Ammunition is the sole source of the Mk 262 Mod 0; however, there are indications that Lake City will begin loading the ammunition. The Mk 262 Mod 1 will reportedly use either the 77 grain Sierra MatchKing or the 77 grain Nosler Custom Competition (formerly, the J4 OTM). The main difference will be the introduction of a cannelure. Use of the Mk 262 Mod 0/1 has since filtered down to other 5.56x45mm weapons in USSOCOM‘s inventory. The Mk 262 Mod 1 has also been adopted by certain USMC units for use in their M4/M4A1 Carbines.

TACOMARDEC issues a sources sought announcement to identify enhancements for the M4/M16 series of weapons. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to: 1) Reliability/Durability – bolt carrier assembly and upper receiver/barrel improvements – to reduce failures to feed/extract and increase the service life of these parts; 2) Accuracy – forward MIL-STD-1913 rail system with free-floating barrel (M203 and sling attachment to rail system), more consistent trigger pull, repeatable accessory rail mounts – to improve system accuracy at extended ranges for individual targets; 3) Survivability – reduced flash and IR signature, faster target acquisition/engagement – to reduce visibility and exposure time to enemy fire; 4) Ergonomics – ambidextrous controls, adjustable front/rear pistol grip geometry, buttstock cheek weld, folding/detachable front sights, balance/controllability, reduced weight, battery storage – to enhance soldier/weapon interface; 5) Maintenance – corrosion resistance, ease of cleaning, shot counter – to reduce/simplify maintenance requirements. No modifications to the standard lower receiver are anticipated.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to Colt for the production of M4 and M4A1 Carbines.

TACOM orders nine M4A1 Reliability Kits for shipment to Picatinny Arsenal for further testing. The ECP for the Improved Buttstock is reincorporated into the contract for a total of 8,128 stocks.

TACOMARDEC issues a sole-source solicitation to Nammo for 5,371,221
to 7,471,221 M995 AP cartridges.

ARDEC issues a sources-sought notice for commercial or militarized optical devices to enhance the performance of the M4/M16 series of weapons. The devices should improve long-range target engagement, while not degrading the existing capability to rapidly engage targets at short ranges. Performance to 500 meters is required.

MARCORSYSCOM‘s Infantry Weapons Product Group issues a RFP for 1,208 M249 complete feed tray covers with MIL-STD-1913 Universal Mounting Rails, in support of the M249 SAW upgrade.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to KAC for 25,000 M4 Rail Adapter Systems, 28,000 M5 Rail Adapter Systems, and 9,300 M203 Quick Release Brackets.

TACOMARDEC issues a source-sought announcement to identify qualified sources with the capability to evaluate the existing manual process, procure, and assemble 4,000 NDI M249 Collapsible and Adjustable Buttstocks. The collapsible buttstock must be a self-contained assembly, able to retain a vertical orientation of the buttstock throughout its entire length of travel, while incorporating the standard hydro-pneumatic buffer. It must also be compatible with all other components of the M249, assemble to and disassemble from the weapon in the same manner as the M5 buttstock, and exhibit durability equal to, or better than, the M5 buttstock. It must not change the cyclic rate of fire of the M249. Furthermore, it required to demonstrate MOUT capability at least as good as the M249 when equipped with the M5 buttstock, provide at least one intermediate locking position from which the weapon can be fired, provide a device to allow the weapon to rest on the user’s shoulder similar to the flip up piece on the existing M5 buttstock, and possess a locked position when extended. The overall length of pull must be approximately 15.25 inches when extended, with a collapsed length of pull not to exceed approximately 12.00 inches (required) or 10.25 inches (desired).

NSWC-Crane issues a solicitation for 5 to 40,000 shot counting devices suitable for special operations training and combat use.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation notice to KAC for 300 Compensators and various RIS/MWS spare parts.

MARCORSYSCOM‘s Infantry Weapons Product Group issues a RFP requesting improved flashhiders for the M2, M240G, M249, M16A2, M16A4, and M4.

CECOM and PM-Soldier Sensors issue a market survey notice for an Infrared/Visible Aiming Light/Illuminator (ILWLP). This device will provide an infrared aiming laser, a visible aiming laser, a fixed-beam white light, and an infrared illuminator. The device will have dual activation controls and be capable of operating both infrared or both visible beams simultaneously. The device must be able to mount on a US Army Standard Rail (MIL-STD-1913) using an interface device (rail grabber).

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation notice to Simunition for 100 M4A1 FX conversion kits.

Magpul’s Richard Fitzpatrick and Stephen Hines file a patent application for a modular adjustable buttstock (now marketed as the M93).

Colt’s Vincent Battaglia files a patent application for a new eight-position rail system which replaces the handguard caps and mounts the rails above the existing M4 handguards.

TACOM awards Colt a $18,468,365.60 contract for the production of 25,764 M4 and 300 M4A1 Carbines for the US Army, USAF, and Foreign Military Sales (FMS).

NSWDG issues a solicitation for a variety of weapon parts including 24 Mk 46 barrels, 10 stainless 16″ barrels for the M4A1 Recon Rifle upper receiver, 14 Long Rifle RAS Assemblies, and 14 Match 2-Stage Triggers.

NSWC-Crane issues a solicitation for 17,972,760 to 69,134,200 rounds of 5.56mm Frangible Ammunition.

Reports surface regarding the unreliability of the refurbished L85A2 and L86A2 in Afghanistan. Allegations are made that the 2001 In-Service Reliability Trials in Kuwait were fixed. Hessian matting was reportedly laid on the test ranges to protect the rifles. Exposure of the weapons to sand was further minimized by keeping them inside protective bags whenever the weapons were not being fired. The price of the upgrades has now topped £92 million.

TACOM awards KAC a $694,575 contract option for assorted MWS parts.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation notice to Okay Industries for 10,000 High Reliability Magazines (HRM).

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation notice to KAC for 803 Suppressor Compensators.

NSWC-Crane issues a solicitation for 2,020 Tenebreax anti-reflection devices for the AN/PVS-17A MNVS, and 1,400 Tenebreax killflash anti-reflection devices for 4x ACOG scopes.

The USMC Northeast Regional Contracting Office issues a solicitation for M4 SESAMS Barrel Kits, with Carrying Handle/Sight assemblies.

C-More’s Ira M. Kay receives US Patent #6,418,655 titled “Underbarrel Shotgun.”

C-More’s Ira M. Kay files another patent application for the LSS accessory shotgun.

On behalf of the US Navy, Michael M. Canaday and Mark R. Whalen file a patent application for an adjustable back-up iron sight for the M4 and M16A4.

USAF Space Command, Patrick AFB – 45 CONS issues a solicitation for 32 Trijicon TA31F ACOG and 16 Trijicon RX01NSN reflex sights.

Picatinny’s PM-Small Arms (PMSA) is reorganized as PM-Soldier Weapons (PMSW).

TACOM awards FNMI a $1,998,700 contract option for 5,000 M16A2. These are for FMS to Nepal.

TACOM awards FNMI a pair of $79,948 contract options for 200 M16A2 apiece. These are for FMS to Jamaica and Bahrain.

The M4A1 SOPMOD OCONUS Performance User Review and Special Purpose Rifle (SPR) Capabilities Upgrade Conference is held. The majority of users prefer the Mk 12 Mod 0 over the Mk 12 Mod 1 in part due to ergonomic reasons. In contrast, the SPR builders uniformly prefer the Mk 12 Mod 1 due to ease of construction. However, there are some disgruntled users, particularly in the SEAL community, who really wanted a lighter 16″ barreled Recon/”Recce” carbine instead of a heavy, militarized match rifle.

NSWC-Crane issues a sole-source solicitation to Black Hills Ammunition for 1,138,160 to 18,868,200 rounds of 5.56mm, 77 grain long range (LR) ammunition (P/N D223N9).

Later, NSWC-Crane issues another sole-source solicitation to Black Hills Ammunition for 14 cases of 5.56mm Subsonic Cartridges, and 31 boxes of Mk 262 Mod 0 ammunition.

PEO-Special Programs recharters the SOPMOD program. Now all future accessory upgrades must consider compatibility with other weapons in USSOCOM inventories.

NAVICP issues a solicitation for 1,426 M4QD sound suppressors.

NAVICP issues a solicitation for 1,400 TA01M4A1 ACOG.

ACA-Fort Lewis issues a solicitation for 40 Optical Gun Sights for use on the M16 Rifle Family.

USAF Space Command, 45th CONS – Patrick AFB issues a solicitation for 35 each KAC M16QD sound suppressors and Streamlight M3 weapon flashlights. These will be used with GAU-5.

On behalf of the US Army, Gary J. Houtsma files a patent application for a semi-permanent back-up iron sight for the M4 and M16A4 that can be mounted to the firearm at the same time as a M68 CCO or other sight.

PM-Soldier Weapons issues a memorandum of urgent requirement for the development of the XM8 lightweight carbine. The memorandum was based on the ongoing requirement of PEO-Soldier to lighten the weight of equipment carried by warfighters. Citing the urgent requirement, PM-Soldier Weapons has the OICW contract modified to include the XM8.

The USMC announces its intent to replace the M16A2 with the flattop M16A4.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation to FNMI for 5,000 M16A2 rifles.

The MCWL‘s Project Metropolis (ProMet) team begins the second experiment in the “Tactical Warrior” series. The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether the inclusion of riflemen trained to perform the functions of a Squad Advanced Marksman (SAM) will enhance the operational effectiveness of the infantry platoon. Using forces from III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), the training and testing are held at US Navy and USAF ranges, along with a closed housing area of Andersen AFB, Guam. Prototype M16 rifles, designated the SAM-R, are used as a surrogate for a future service rifle. Built by the Precision Weapons Section at Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, VA, the prototype SAM-R features a free-floated stainless steel match heavy barrel with 1 in 7″ twist, a detachable bipod with swivels, a M16A1 trigger group with the automatic sear removed, and a forearm with MIL-STD-1913 rails. The optics tested are the Trijicon TA31F ACOG and the AN/PVS-17B.

TACOMARDEC awards a $11,183,492 contract to Nammo for the production of 7.62x51mm and 5.56x45mm AP ammunition.

NSWC-Crane awards a contract worth up to $9,205,500 to Black Hills Ammunition for 35,000 to 10,000,000 rounds of 5.56mm Reduced Ricochet Limited Penetration ammunition

The USCG awards Leitner-Wise Rifle Company a contract to supply .499 LW upper receiver conversions, ammunition, and Meprolight reflex sights.

TACOM awards Colt a $54,626.40 contract for 3,240 ‘H2’ Buffer Assemblies for the M4A1 Reliability Kits. The H2 is heavier than the previous ‘H’ buffer used in the M4 due to the use of two tungsten weights with a single steel weight. The ‘H’ buffer possesses only one tungsten weight with two steel weights.

ARDEC awards a $1,039,500 contract to Matech, Inc. for Backup Iron Sights.

Todd Griffin, on behalf of R/M Equipment, receives US Patent #6,453,594 titled “Apparatus for Attaching a Supplemental Device to a Minimally Altered Host Firearm.”

Diemaco introduces a variant of its C7CT requested by the Canadian military for use as a sniper spotter’s rifle. The new model is dubbed the CFCT (Canadian Forces Custom Tactical).

ARDEC awards Alliant Techsystems (ATK) with a contract modification to the XM29 OICW program. The 5.56mm NATO KE Module is to be developed further into the XM8 Lightweight Assault Rifle. The XM8 is intended to replace the M4 carbine for issue to the “Objective Force Warrior.” The MWS equivalent for the XM8 is later titled the Multiple Attachment Point System (MAPS).

TACOM awards a $1,957,720.30 delivery order to FNMI for 4,264 M16A4 rifles. These rifles are for the USMC.

TACOM deallocates a total of $25,977 over six contract modification to FNMI for M16A4.

NSWC-Crane awards a $81,957 delivery order to FNMI for Mk 46 Mod 0.

The MCWL‘s ProMet team concludes the Squad Advanced Marksman (SAM) experiment.

KAC‘s Doug Olson files patent applications for an improved M16 bolt and an improved bolt catch actuator for use with the SR47.

The EGLM project office issues a combined synopsis/solicitation seeking working demonstration samples of EGLM candidates. Only two candidates are submitted: HK‘s AG-C (a AG36 variant) and a model from ISTEC Services Ltd.

The 10th Mountain Division, deployed in Afghanistan, issues an “Urgent Operational Need” statement requesting a shotgun attachment for their M4 Carbines. Such an attachment would eliminate the need to carry a separate weapon to support non-lethal and door-breaching requirements.

NAVICP issues a solicitation for five TA01M4A1 ACOG.

NAVICP awards KAC a $891,405 sole-source contract for 1,395 M4-QD suppressors.

TACOM issues a sole-source solicitation notice to Okay Industries for 650,000 magazines. Later that month, TACOM awards a $3,874,000 contract.

TACOM awards an $83,016.60 contract to Okay Industries for 10,002 thirty round “High Performance Select” magazines. These are for shipment to Fort Bragg.

TACOM awards a $151,470 delivery order to Polymer Technologies for 5,100 M249 100 Round Soft Pack Magazines.

Colt reorganizes as two companies. Colt’s Manufacturing Company will manage civilian production and sales, while the defense side of the business will be handled by Colt Defense.

A system requirements review is held for the XM8. The OICW Program Office informs ATK and HK that no specific weapon requirements exist for the system. Consequently, the OICW Program Office negotiates the specifications with ATK and HK.

TACOM awards a $12,566,590.54 delivery order to FNMI for 27,377 M16A4. These rifles are for the USMC.

The USAF begins accepting delivery of flat-top M4 fitted with the M68 CCO to replace their stocks of M16/M16A2 rifles and GAU-5/GUU-5 carbines. (Note: The USAF‘s GAU-5 series started with the original XM177, and consists of three variants differing primarily in barrel length. The models are the GAU-5A, GAU-5A/A, and GAU-5P. (A GAU-5A/B, or more properly a GAU-5B/A, is referenced by one source, but its existence has not been confirmed.) The GAU-5P is the longest, equipped with a 14.5″ barrel. Many of the older weapons were eventually converted to this variant when an individual weapon required rebarreling. Several years back (1997?), the GAU-5 still in USAF service were eventually upgraded with a 14.5″ M4-configuration barrel using a 1-in-7″ twist. These upgraded models were redesignated GUU-5P.)

CIS‘ Tuck Wah Chee and Felix Tsai receive US Patent #6,481,144 titled “Firearm.”

NATO‘s Conference of National Armament Directors (CNAD) is forced to cancel the scheduled selection of a PDW cartridge for NATO standardization. Due a lack of consensus on how to evaluate the ETBS report and questions regarding ETBS‘ conduct of the trials, the NATO Army Armaments Group (NAAG) is forced to form a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) to independently examine the report and conduct further testing as necessary.

Program Executive Office-Soldier’s commander Col. James R. Moran challenges the PM-Soldier Weapons office to produce 40mm thermobaric cartridges within four to six months.

TACOM awards a $9,780 delivery order to LMT for 200 M203A1 modification kits. These are for FMS.

HK‘s Berthold Weichert, Jurgen Gablowski, and Gerhard Gielke are awarded US Patent #6,481,145 titled “Grenade Launcher.”

NAVICP awards KAC an additional $8,946 sole-source contract for M4-QD suppressors.

TACOM awards a $611,622.07 delivery order to Aimpoint for 2,400 M68 and related accessories.

NAVICP issues a solicitation for 232 TA01M4A1 ACOG.

TACOM awards a $30,150 contract to Trijicon for 40 TA01NSN ACOG. These are for FMS to the Philippines.

Diemaco’s David Compton files an US patent application for the TRI-AD clamp-on accessory rails.

During the XM8 preliminary design, ATK and HK request clarification on 15 of the requirements negotiated for the XM8 system. In addition, ATK and HK propose system specifications for meeting some of those requirements. These specifications are accepted for use in developing the weapon.

TACOM awards a $74,361.24 delivery order to FNMI for 162 M16A4.

TACOM modifies its M4/M4A1 contract with Colt for a net increase of $1,212,568.72. Additional quantities are procured for the US Army, while the USAF‘s order is slightly reduced.

NSWC-Crane, on behalf of the USMC MTU, issues a solicitation for 1,520 cases of Black Hills 5.56mm Match Ammunition, 77 grain with moly coating.

A consortium of German investors purchase HK from BAe/RO.

TACOMARDEC issues a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for JSSAP, in support of the Objective Force Warrior (OFW) program. The purpose of this BAA is to solicit proposals for component technologies that will support the development of a Lightweight Family of Weapons and Ammunition (LFWA). The LFWA will provide the Lethality component of the OFW program. The initial focus of the LFWA program will be on developing lightweight machine guns and ammunition. The objective is a “clean sheet of paper” approach that will yield technologies (weapon and ammunition) that are reproducible in mass, robust, easy to operate and maintain, and reliable under all conditions, while taking up less volume and weighing 30-35 percent less than current systems. Proposals submitted under this BAA shall be limited in scope to a 12-month effort. Submitters are urged to focus their efforts on individual component technologies that will help dramatically reduce the size and/or weight of individual and crew-served weapon systems while maintaining current performance. Improvements may evolve from technologies developed for other weapon systems or from applications not used previously in the weapon and ammunition arena. Also, technologies may reveal applications of old ideas which technological barriers heretofore prevented.

Congress, on behalf of OPS Inc., requests that the DOD‘s Inspector General audit the recent sole-source awards to KAC for M4-QD suppressors. Not only is the justification for the sole-source awards called into question, OPS Inc. alleges that their Special Purpose Receiver suppressor is superior to the KAC design in terms of accuracy, cost, loudness, and operational suitability.

TACOM awards $11,426,587.46 of a $29,300,000 contract to KAC for MWS components and assorted spares. The first delivery order includes 1,500 M4 RAS, 27,377 M5 RAS, and 2,000 vertical pistol grips.

TACOM awards a $126,555 contract option to Bestwork Industries for the Blind Inc. for 5,500 M16 MWS Sling Adapter Kits.

MARCORSYSCOM awards a $214,150 contract to Ontario Knife Company for the Multi-Purpose Bayonet (MB).

ARMS, Inc.’s Richard Swan receives US Patent #6,490,822 titled “Modular Sleeve,” and US Patent #6,499,245 titled “Modular Sleeve Yoke.”

HK‘s Johannes Murello and Wilhelm Fischbach receive US Patent #6,487,806 titled “Weapon Housing System for an Automatic Loading Firearm.”

(Next: 5.56mm 2003)

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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