M4 costs $800 – $1000


The NY Times has posted interesting article about the M4 Carbine.

For bulk purchasers, a new M-4 costs about $800 per rifle, though the price is often higher when after-market rail systems, used for mounting optics and lights, are included. For rifles used by the American military, the United States Army requires Colt to install a rail system manufactured by Knight’s Armament Company of Vero Beach, Fla.; this pushes the price per piece to about $1,100.

[ Many thanks to Keith for emailing me the link. ]

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • d

    not really surprised, only thing different is the auto sear group, which wont cost that much more anyways.

  • Lance

    I wonder how much they’ll cost after theArmy chnges the barrel and adds a piston to the weapon.

  • jdun1911

    Ten years ago it cost the military around $500. I guess that sounds right.

    A plain civilian Colt should run around $1200. So they getting a good deal but on the hand the Knight rails is a rip off. Over 300 tax payers bucks for a non-free floating rail tube is ridiculous. Troy version which is better IMO cost less then $150.

  • snmp

    Cheaper than, HK G36E areound 1000€ – 1500€ with optic or an HK416 around 1400€

  • Tahoe

    I apologize in advance, I know this isn’t the best place to mention this, but I started reading the article with an open mind, hoping to learn something new about our weapons. This paragraph then quickly struck me:

    “The current round, the M855, was designed for penetrating Eastern Bloc body armor. Some soldiers believe it passes too easily through victims wearing everyday clothes.”

    So now our enemies are “victims”? Nice slant, NYT.

    On a more germane note, the Wanat story has been blown way out of proportion. Steve, thanks for your post on it a couple weeks ago, pointing out that it wasn’t really weapon failure, it was using carbines as SAWs that caused many of the problems. I wish more people would read that, including the Congressmen who are picking up this non-issue as a publicity item.

  • John K.

    Hmm, I was expecting real-world procurement cost to be well below that, to be honest. I mean, come on, it’s a mass produced product with little in terms of R&D to be done or manufacturing capability to be build up and we’re buying a ton of M4s (we, as in the taxpayer for the military as well as in the general public since all those M4geries should reduce per unit cost, even if only marginally).

    Quality costs money. We all know that. And I certainly want our guys to have the best tools available, period. But with the numbers of M4s we’re buying over the next 5 or 6 years alone, it seems like they should go for less than $1k.

  • http://www.ljforestier.com James

    Sounds a bit over priced. When I went through BCT, a Drill Sergeant told us that the M16A2s were running about $700 each.

  • Lance

    The government like civilians are paying $200-$300 dollars more just for the Colt logo on the reciver a M-16 made by Sabre, Olympic, or FN is around $600-$700 dollars.

  • Bill Lester

    In the quantities bought by the Pentagon, these carbines should be a lot less than $1100.

  • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

    I’ll have to dig back through the contract documents, but I believe the last .mil price for a plain, no accessory M4 was higher than $800.

    As for Lance’s comments, the difference in cost between the M4A1 w/ heavy barrel and the standard M4 is minuscule. However, the price for a Mil-Spec M16 is indeed lower than a M4. The M16A4 rifles from FN are running just under $700, and the Sabre Defence M16A3/M16A4 are around $880. Olympic Arms only provides non-firing M16 training rifles for the USAF, so their price is irrelevant.

  • jdun1911

    Colt make very very good M4s. In fact they are the standard which every company that produce AR try to match.

  • Lance

    I agree with you Jdun1911

    Its just I feel they are a bit over proced like a Olympic M-4 is $800 they sell theres for $1300 Not fair.

    But for military Colt is the best thats why the Army is staying with the M-4 its a good weapon Colt makes. The M-4 is going to be around for a long time and Cot with it.

  • jdun1911

    I do have an Olympic AR. In fact it is my first AR15. Still have it. I bought it 20 years or so ago. Olympic was less then a handful of firearms manufactures that produced AR back then. It was all caste receiver (upper and lower), like all receivers back then except for Colt IIRC. It is the only AR that I bought complete. I built my other six AR. Well five complete, working on the six upper (lower done, waiting for the MI T10 rails).

    People have said that Olympic make bad AR but I shot tens of thousands rounds and experience little trouble with it. They makes good AR but over the years they got a bad rep from the internet commandos. With that said if you have the extra money get a Colt or built one if you intend to run it very hard.

    I do think $800 is reasonable for a plain M-4. What I don’t think is reasonable is the Knight rail. Rip off IMO.

  • Lance

    I agree you can buy quad rails for a M-4 for $50 bucks why need a $350 knights????

  • Bill Lester

    Here’s a link to the latest in a New York Times series on the M4. The article includes two videos of mil. spec. carbines shot full auto until failure. I’m sure many of you will like it.

    http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/12/m4-and-m4a1-guns/?hp

  • jdun1911

    It depend on what you want out of the product. Some products at a low price aren’t near as good as products at a higher price.

    The problem I have with KAC rail is the weight. I am willing to paid a very high premium on items that weight less. KAC rail weight 11.6 oz while Troy version is at 8.5oz and cost around $150 or less. Knight version is twice as much and weight more. That’s why I called it a rip off. However, iIf KAC rail weight less then I probably said it is worth it.

  • Mark

    NYT is wrong. Current price of M4A1 (NSN 1005-01-382-0953) is $1,329.00 for all services.
    https://www.webflis.dlis.dla.mil/WEBFLIS/pub/pub_search.aspx
    Plug in the NSN and see for yourself.

  • http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html Daniel E. Watters

    While Colt’s price jumped for 2010, the current contract price is not $1,329. TACOM’s latest delivery order modification added six M4A1 at $1,213.59 apiece. The price includes the M4 ARS, BUIS, and seven magazines for each carbine. I don’t know what the DLA is factoring in to get the higher price they quote.

    W52H09-07-D-0425-0038 Modification 02 (January 7, 2010)

  • jamie

    the KAC rail is not a rip off if it met the specs set my the military. Please guys dont even bring up other comparable units unless someone knows what the specs were for the bid. It doesnt matter if the other one is 99 % the same, 99% as good, if it misses one little detail that KAC met. KAC gets the contract cause they met all the specs and no one else did in that instance.

    My dad said he knew a guy who dropped his m16 in the river in ‘Nam. This was about 1969/70. Anyways the m16 was dropped in the deep part of a river (well over 100ft down, otherwise he would have dove in and got it). Anyways the navy billed him $185 for it.

    Something like 2 weeks pay at the time, maybe more than two weeks.