11 Jul 2011

New US Primary Long Arm Trials Scheduled

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The US Army has invited gun makers to submit candidates for the next US primary long arm, which they intend to be a carbine.

The Army has given gun makers that want to build your next carbine 90 days to throw their hats in the ring. The message is clear: The Army isn’t looking for the lowest bidder, it’s looking for the most accurate, efficient, quiet, lethal and reliable weapon available.

Service leaders detailed what they want — and how they plan to get it — in a June 30 request for proposal. It seeks “an assault weapon that will provide accuracy, lethality, minimized visual and aural signature and survivability enhancements to all Army formations. … This weapon will possess the capability, in offensive and defensive operations, to destroy or neutralize the adversary and their capabilities, at any time and in any place.”

The RfP allows competitors to submit only one weapon for consideration. There are no caliber restrictions. Although many modern carbines are multicaliber weapons, they will compete with one caliber. And if a weapon’s caliber is not 5.56mm or 7.62mm, the manufacturer must provide 234,000 rounds to cover all tests.

Top performers will be identified by way of two down-select phases that will start this fall. Phase I will grade the weapons in three key areas:

• Technical aspects, such as the ability to mount existing weapons, optics and suppressor kits;

• The company’s ability to produce 2,000 and a surge of 4,200 carbines per month;

• Cost. The Army says performance factors are more important than price.

It is interesting to note that the Army specifies that they want a carbine.

Carbines are shorter, characteristically somewhat less accurate, versions of a rifle, used traditionally by mounted cavalry which would find carrying a full-length rifle awkward and inconvenient. Infantry are normally armed with rifles. Besides being more accurate, the full-length rifle is superior to the carbine in some other crucial respects. Inevitably in war, there are occasions when hand-to-hand combat occurs in which the infantryman’s rifle is required to be used in the capacity of a spear or a club. The rifle is more suitable for use with the bayonet, and being heavier than the carbine is more effective as a blunt weapon.

The current US Army does not expect any longer to march to battle on foot, and instead functions as motorized or air mobile infantry. The modern infantryman has, thus, become the equivalent of the 19th century dragoon who rode to battle on horseback, but dismounted and fought with carbine on foot.

Experience in the Middle East has demonstrated the inadequacy of the 5.56mm service round. Let’s hope that the Army comes to its senses this time and opts for a more serious cartridge.

5 Feedbacks on "New US Primary Long Arm Trials Scheduled"


I agree with your assessment of carbines – those short barrels cost in accuracy and power. With all the armor and crap our soldiers are carrying, can’t we lighten up something else besides the last 4 or 5 inches of barrel? The Marine Corps still uses the full-length M16A4 as their primary issue. I’ve heard it’s far harder to qualify with the carbine on the Marine Known Distance course that includes 20 shots at 300 yards and 10 at 500.

I bitched plenty about my unreliable M16A2 but it never crossed my mind that the rifle was too long. A bullpup rifle would allow a full 20-inch barrel with a shorter overall length – but our Army hates them for some reason.

My prediction for the competition – the M4 will get thrashed by every entry for accuracy and reliability – and will remain the primary weapon for the Army for the rest of my life.

Lazarus Long

Could this be an instance of “fighting the last war” type thinking.

At some point everybody gets out of their transport and becomes “foot mounted”.

bob sykes

During WWII, the US issued more M1 carbines than M1 rifles. And not only to logistics, artillery etc personnel. Look at those WWII newsreels of the Marines in the Pacific. The front line Marines were carrying as many carbines as rifles.

It looks like the Army has finally, after 66 years, come to understand what an assault rifle is.

Kimball Corson

Instead of leaving cartridge development to the ammo and equipment manufactures, more recently, the military appropriated funds to a group of selected special ops troops as part of the Enhanced Rifle Cartridge Program to let them develop what they wanted between the 5.58mm and 7.62×51 NATO rounds.

The 5.58mm (close to the civilian .223) lacks good terminal characteristics and the 7.62 (close to the .308) is more than is needed and the ammo is quite heavy to lug about. Too much gun; more than needed to do the job is the consensus.

The group found optimal stopping power or terminal characteristics, all collateral matters considered, was with a 7mm cartridge; optimal accuracy, with a 6.5mm round. The cartridge arrived at by tests was the 6.8mm SPC which combines the best of both worlds and fast becoming very popular. It is not too far distant from a Remington 700 I once had chambered for the .270 which was a great gun.

Perhaps the Army will listen in time, especially inasmuch as the AR platform weapons can be rather easily refitted for the 6.8 SPC. The big draw back of course is presently it is not a NATO approved round. But that might change.


Kimball, the 5.56x45mm Nato cartridge and the .223 Remington are essentially the same round, with the only difference being the military round being made with a thicker brass cartridge case allowing it to be loaded hotter, i.e. to higher camber pressures, than the civilian varmint hunting round.

The 7.62x51mm Nato and the .308 Winchester really are the same thing, though the military loading will naturally differ from civilian hunting cartridges loadings.


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