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 isnâ€™t looking for the lowest bidder, itâ€™s looking for the most accurate, efficient, quiet, lethal and reliable weapon available.
Service leaders detailed what they want â€” and how they plan to get it â€” in a June 30 request for proposal. It seeks â€œan assault weapon that will provide accuracy, lethality, minimized visual and aural signature and survivability enhancements to all Army formations. â€¦ 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.â€
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 weaponâ€™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:
â€¢ Technical aspects, such as the ability to mount existing weapons, optics and suppressor kits;
â€¢ The companyâ€™s ability to produce 2,000 and a surge of 4,200 carbines per month;
â€¢ 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.