Equipment Piece of the Week: M4/M4A1 Carbine

M4/M4A1The M4 Carbine is designed for lightness, speed, mobility and firepower and is standard issue for brigade combat teams. In more than 10 years of sustained combat operations, the M4 has proven itself an effective weapon system that serves our Soldiers extremely well. The system is one pound lighter and more portable than the M16 series of rifles. The M4 can also be mounted with the M203A2 Grenade Launcher, M320A1 Grenade Launcher or M26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System. The weapon has received many performance-based design improvements since its inception.

In September 2010, Headquarters Department of the Army authorized the M4A1 as the standard carbine for the U.S. Army. Compared to the M4, the M4A1 is fully automatic and incorporates a new ambidextrous fire control. It utilizes a heavier barrel that increases the sustained rate of fire.

The M4 improvement plan is broken into two phases. As part of Phase I, PM Soldier Weapons converted its contract in August 2010 for all remaining M4s to M4A1 specifications. Subsequently, PM Soldier Weapons initiated a competition for an additional 48,000 M4As to complete its acquisition objective at the time. It issued solicitations and awarded multiple contracts for weapon components to convert fielded M4s into M4A1s with ambidextrous fire control assemblies through Modification Work Orders beginning in early spring 2014.

Phase II explores the feasibility of further improvements to the M4A1. In one solicitation, the Army concluded that no bolt and bolt carrier assembly submissions met the solicitation requirements, particularly for reliability, durability and high-temp/low-temp tests. In another solicitation, the Army continues to compete and test forward rail assemblies. Comprehensive technical testing and a down-select decision to a single vendor are planned to be complete by the end of 4QFY14.

Learn more about the M4/M4A1 Carbine.

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