S&W pulls out of Carbine Competition

S&W has pulled out of the Army’s next generation carbine competition. Army Times reports

Smith & Wesson’s M&P 4 is another strong competitor that has backed out for financial reasons. Company officials were confident they had a shot at the contract. But research and development cost a chunk of change, and the competition is drawn out over three years with no guarantee of payoff. Smith & Wesson decided the better financial strategy would be to focus on existing sales and walk away from the carbine competition.

This decision makes sense. The M&P carbines are nice AR-15s but they don’t have any major distinguishing features.

Colt says they are entering the Colt CM901 because they do not want to reveal trade secrets to competitors. This sounds dubious to me. The Army is not looking for multi-caliber capability, so the slightly bulkier 7.62mm capable Colt CM901 would be at a disadvantage against lighter 5.56mm-only competitors. Colt is instead entering their Enhanced M4 carbine. Ironically, Canada had to cancel a weapons purchase last month after the firearm industry refused to hand over technical specifications to Colt’s Canadian subsidiary.

[ Many thanks to Jason & Lance for emailing me the link. ]

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.


  • Lance

    I don’t see the M-4 going away when most major gun makers wont be joining the competition after all. Colt is ahead in the M-4 improvement competition and will help upgraded the Marine Corps M-16A4 rifles at A5 standard.

    With $600 Billion in cuts coming I don’t see any new Army competition about anything not just rifles to make into production. It may be cheap enough to upgraded M-4s but to scrap everything to goto a new rifle and new parts for them would cost too much. Since the USMC Navy and USAF wont be participating and said they wont use a ICC winner these competition may being cancelled soon much like the defunct Joint Pistol Competition.

  • John

    Given how the US military trolled the 4 gunmaker companies during last century’s ACR program, I have serious doubt that ANY gunmaker has an interest in the program cept colt…

    • Doug

      Excellent use of the word “troll.” With upcoming budget cuts and defense money on the chopping block, the military has no busIness wasting time, effort and money (or anyone elses) on a product they know won’t be bought.

  • Dan Shea

    This entire thing is just nonsense. Regardless of what manufacturers throw into the competition, they still sling the same projectile. They are not going to launch 5.56 in any form that is so much better as to justify the significant increase in weapon price.

    The M4 is a great platform. I am all for innovation, but I think the majority of innovation needs to take place on the 5.56. If they are not going to move to another caliber, then maximize how lethal the round is.

    To that end, I would have a 5.56 competition. I don’t trust the government to develop this kind of stuff. The government tried to do the net warrior thing and couldn’t even come close to doing what the iPhone could, and wasted untold millions in the process. Let the industry pros throw their best ideas into the ring and see what happens.

    • Jeff

      Well I think with this competition they’re mostly looking at reliability improvements, even if they can’t be satisfied without far more. The Army has said they don’t want a real replacement until such a replacement is leap beyond the M4, and when you consider what the Army regards as that type of advancement there isn’t hope of anything coming from this competition. On paper they’ve said they want to see what improvements can be made on a 5.56 carbine, but when you read every other program they’re working on what they really want is a weapon with a better bullet, with plastic casings or caseless, and the ability for “hyper-burst fire”. None of these things will ever happen because the civillian market has no pressing need, and the Army is the only one sitting on the necessary research to have all the pieces of what they want.

  • George

    Probably a good call, I don’t see this program actually happening. What’s more likely is slow improvements to the M-4 platform. New guns will offer very similar performance, undoubtably with a much higher price tag.

  • 18D

    “Colt says they ARE entering the CM901…..”

    You mean they aren’t?

    • Other Steve

      I read that too, and why isn’t it fixed yet?

      Morning blog release for awhile, but apparently morning updates/corrections too now?

  • Flounder

    LOL I just read through the link.
    So… The only guns in the competition are the “enhanced” 416 (yeah right HK), BEAR, Enhanced M4, SCAR, ACR (neutered). I don’t see any of these having a big enough improvement to replace the M4…
    What I do see it the LSAT program using telescoped rounds will lead to something that will be adopted in limited numbers. And the next step from there will be caseless. I’m callin this right now.
    The M4 will not be replaced until there are major improvements like totally ambidextrous, new round that performs MASSIVELY better, or is MUCH lighter, and piston operated. Oh and the rifle in full size is gonna have to weigh as much or less than the M4 carbine.

    • noob

      I really hope that LSAT works out and gets adopted by NATO and coalition forces… if only because I can see somebody building an *insane* revolver based on the cartridge as a sidearm.

    • Madeleine Goddard

      Interestingly enough, I was told at the London DSEi defence exhibition in September that the UK is most interested in acquiring the LSAT technology as the basis for its SA80 assault rifle successor and that there have been discussions with the US over adopting both common ammunition and a common weapon. I was a bit surprised as I had assumed that H&K would almost certainly get the contract given it tends to be the UK’s favoured small arms contractor. If the US sticks with more traditional ammunition I am not sure where this leaves the UK, which has the same issues as the French (i.e. it needs a new weapon from about 2020 or even sooner and does not have a national programme – hardly surprising as the cost of developing one from scratch for perhaps 200,000-250,000 weapons would be significant).

  • jay

    Based on the screwing the competitors, and winners got in the last few “competitions” held by us military, I find it surprising anyone, except Colt showing up.
    What’s the point, really?