US Navy, Marines Buy M-16 Rifles
The US Army has run into controversy over its plan to replace its existing rifles with M4 carbines, without competition, and despite recent test results that show significant improvements from other 5.56mm weapons and even an M4 variant in use by US special forces. The US Marines and Navy have been known to use M4s, but it is not their primary battle rifle. The M16A3 is a fully automatic version of the M16A2, and is used by the US Navy. The M16A4 is the standard rifle of the US Marine Corps. Its biggest innovation is replacement of the M-16 family’s the well known carrying handle/sight with the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail that lets troops mount and remove a carrying handle, sights, and other useful attachments without specialized tools. Other MIL-STD-1913 rails can be found on the front grips et. al. of the A3s and A4s, where they mount useful items like flashlights, laser pointers, grip pods, et. al.
Unlike the M4 Carbine, which is procured as a sole-source item proprietary to Colt, M-16 production is competed. Contracts are issued based on bid prices from qualifying vendors, with better pricing resulting in proportionately more contracts. This kind of competition may also be part of the reason that the longer, heavier replacement barrels for the M16 cost $100, while spare M4 carbine barrels cost $240.
Contracts & Key Events
Dec 26/07: FN Manufacturing in Columbia, SC received a $33.7 million firm-fixed-price, contract for M16A3 and M16A4 Rifles to support the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Columbia, SC, and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/10. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Web bids were solicited on Sep. 10, 2007, and 9 bids were received by TACOM LCMC in Rock Island, IL (W52H09-08-D-0121).
Dec 26/07: Colt Defense in Hartford, CT received a $15.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for M16A3 and M16A4 Rifles to support the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. Work will be performed in Hartford, CT and is expected to be complete by Dec 13/10. Web bids were solicited on Sept 10/07, and 9 bids were received. by TACOM LCMC in Rock Island, IL (W52H09-08-D-0122).