Army buying M4 Carbines from Remington, Colt Still Earning Royalties For M16 Design.

Mr. Curtis over at Gear Scout broke the news that Remington will be manufacturing M4 Carbines for the US Army.

According to the Department of the Army’s Chief of Legislative Liaison, the Army today executed a delivery order on an existing contract to buy 24,000 M4/M4A1s worth $16,163,252.07. The order comes as line 001 on an IDIQ contract for up to 120,000 carbines worth $83,924,089.00, though U.S. Army Contracting Command lists the “Max Potential Contract Value $180,000,000.00.” The rifles will be made at Remington’s factory in Ilion, N.Y., from the Colt technical data package and, by my math, will cost about $673 a copy. That’s a hell of a group buy price.

This comes as no surprise. In 2009 the US Army took control of the M4 TDP (Technical Data Package), allowing the Army to second source production. The DoD likes to spread production around in order to maintain a “manufacturing and industrial base”.

Colt will still receive royalties from the DoD for any guns derived from the M16 until 2050! I doubt anybody at the time thought the M16 would still be in service today, nearly 50 years later (the previous service rifle, the M14, only lasted 11 years).

Colt M16s and M4 Carbine

In 2009 gun historian Daniel E. Watters wrote (emphasis added) …

It is a bit of an exaggeration to say the Army has control of the TDP. As of July 1, the Army merely gained limited license rights to use the M4 TDP to second source production, as an extension of the 1967 licensing agreement for the M16. Until the end of calender year 2050, the Army will have to pay 5% in royalties to Colt for every M4 procured from second sources. The TDP will remain Colt proprietary data, and any second source M4 contractor will no doubt be required to sign non-disclosure agreements
just as they do for the M16.

This is not the end of Colt’s current .mil contract for the M4. The current contract allows new delivery orders to be placed to the end of calender year 2010. As it now stands, the current delivery orders stretch production out to Spring 2011.

[ Many thanks everyone who sent this in. ]





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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  • Brandon

    $673 a carbine? I’ll take two please….

    “Colt will still receive royalties from the DoD for any guns derived from the M16 until 2050!”
    Does that mean if the replacement for the M4 was say, an LMT or LWRC or ADCOR BEAR based off the AR platform colt would still get royalties?
    I don’t understand where Colt’s financial difficulties have come from, they seem to have themselves set up pretty well.

    • Other Steve

      No, it means any gun build for the mil of Colts drawings and tolerances (TDP).

      The Stoner/Armalite/Colt patent has expired so there is no trade dress or design patent infringement on guns that look or work the same way.

      The big difference here is that Colt and FN have always had te TDP and stuck to it. I suspect DD, HK, and a few others that have been supplying to mil have had TDP. Crap mfgs like DPMS have just guessed a tolerances like most others. But now, REM/Bush/DPMS/AAC all have access to TDP, the potential result is their guns could become higher quality if they stick to the same requirements on the civilian side. No saying that will be the case, but it is possible.

      • farmboy7.62

        You have to realize that following the TDP can be expensive. As an ar15/m16 armorer I am constantly telling folks to only buy Colt, DD. Larue and BCM. It’s amazing how many people are content to buy garbage. Bushmaster and all the other crap manufacturers have a pretty good idea how to build a mil grade gun…its just expensive. Most ar15 owners won’t even shoot enough to know they bought a piece of garbage. It’s also amazing how many Ar’s I see that run with broken parts!! A real testament to the design.

  • jay1975

    I wonder if this means that the ACR is getting a serious look and the Army wants to establish a working relationship with Remington beforehand.

    • Joseph

      Or that they’re making room for Colt to produce something… ah? 😉

      • jay1975

        As I understand it, Colt will supply some of the enhanced M4A1’s to bridge the transition to the new carbine, but the CM901 is not in the running. The Army told the manufactures that they will provide “x” number of rounds in one caliber and if a weapon system is multi-caliber, then the manufacturer needs to provide “y” amount of rounds in the second caliber. Basically, they are limiting themselves to 5.56 by making it less cost effective to bring a multi-caliber platform to the trials. With the new M885A1 steel tip rounds, the Army seems to be set on 5.56; all the while Spec Ops is favoring the 7.62

      • jdun1911

        Unless there is a major break through in small arms and seriously doubt it due to the fact that we reached the mechanical peak. The AR will still be in uses in the military long after we are all six feet under.

        Remember Musket were first induced in the 13th-14th century. It became obsolete at end of the 19th century. We still got a long way to go.

        As for an entire different caliber than the current batch (5.56, 7.62, .50 cal). That’s not going to happen. Not in our life time. Logistics prevent it.

      • Stella

        So going to the moon is doable but switching bullets is too hard?

      • SFC E

        Not “too hard,” just not worth the huge cost for minimal improvement that such a caliber change would mean.

        Changing calibers is a waste of resources. Especially when simply switching to a better designed projectile — as the Marines have done with their Mk318 “SOST” 5.56mm load — can be done for a fraction of the cost while allowing stockpiled parts and ammunition to still be used.

    • jdun1911

      It means the ACR is now officially dead as a future US military small arm. Remington is now focus on producing M4. They got their military contract that they desired.

      • I don’t think it means anything. They are just topping up inventory levels.

      • Lance

        Overall I agree the ICC is dieing. with two nails in its coffin from last years USMC/Navy saying NO to any ICC winner to the M-4 BIG purchases today I dont see under currents cuts and coming sequestration any appetite to fold JLTV or GCV for this dumb idea. Overall the M-4 won because its good at what it dose and w/o barrel change or new caliber is just as good as any other weapon on the market. 120,000 new Remington carbines is BIG purchases and is going to replace early M-4s for most front line troops as secondary troops get older M-4s now for defense weapons.

      • W

        not remotely. and the ICC is not dying.

        It fucking amazes me how the attitude of “just good enough” is prevailent throughout the armed forces and government.

        Sure, the M4 is a great weapon system. Is there better? yes. Any advantage, however slight, should be jumped on like a ant on sugar.

      • jdun1911

        W,

        Good enough? The AR design is only one of two military small arms rifle/carbine that proven itself in all environment and major wars. The other is the AK.

        What advantage does the ACR and SCAR has over the AR? Nothing. In fact it behind the technical curve. Every years new innovated products are made primary for the AR platform. The ACR and SCAR is just another modified Sullivan action that was first seen in the AR18.

        Changing from one weapon to another in a big institution like the US military doesn’t takes months. It take at least a decade. Everybody in the military must be retrain and equip. It is a logistical nightmare.

      • Lance

        overall I know the plastic gun lovers will be at war for weeks hating this news. But the military isn’t going that path The fact other sevices said no and now the Army is buy ALOT of M-4s which cost millions and even the Army would spend this much on rifles they use for two years then replace, they are staying with the M-4 platform.

        Over ICC dumped new calibers and modular barrel change. So in the end in the class of a 5.56mm NATO caliber fixed barrel rifle nothing beats the M-4 in any major way. The ACR SCAR have nothing in the 5.56mm area to be worth replacing a Stoner action they themselves are copies of the AR-16/18 action which the Army rejected in the 70s. Overall if there where a real change a ACR in 6.5 Grendel would have been awesome. BUT for many reasons not happening this decade.

        Overall Jdun1911 hit this whole M-4 and carbine question right on the head and got it right. of course he worked in this field so he know alot.

      • W

        “W,

        Good enough? The AR design is only one of two military small arms rifle/carbine that proven itself in all environment and major wars. The other is the AK.”

        It is not “only one of two military small arms rifle/carbine that has proven itself in all environment and major wars”.

        There is the FN FAL, the G3, the SKS, and others that im sure im forgetting. Oh and the M1 garand and M1 carbine. There are many other proven small arms designs and actions.

        The M4 and M16 are awesome weapons dont get me wrong, but it is illogical to want to keep something because it has proven itself in all environments and major wars. If we stuck to that logic, we would still be using 03′ springfields or muskets.

        “What advantage does the ACR and SCAR has over the AR? Nothing. In fact it behind the technical curve. Every years new innovated products are made primary for the AR platform. The ACR and SCAR is just another modified Sullivan action that was first seen in the AR18.”

        How is it behind the technical curve? It is on the same curve as the direct impingement AR15 design. The reason why new products are made for the AR platform is because it has served the US military since the 60’s…no shocker there. They are also increasingly popularizing because the US is the world’s top arms exporter. Again, unsurprising.

        “Changing from one weapon to another in a big institution like the US military doesn’t takes months. It take at least a decade. Everybody in the military must be retrain and equip. It is a logistical nightmare.”

        Which explains why many newer rifle designs incorporate AR15-type ergonomics. Of course, the US will never adopt a bullpup rifle because of this, though another conventional layout rifle, especially one that is similar to the AR15’s ergonomics, is not outside the realm of possibility.

        The ICC competition is anything but dead. at least there has been a step taken to adopt a superior rifle, or, worst case scenario, a improvement over the existing one.

        “overall I know the plastic gun lovers will be at war for weeks hating this news. But the military isn’t going that path The fact other sevices said no and now the Army is buy ALOT of M-4s which cost millions and even the Army would spend this much on rifles they use for two years then replace, they are staying with the M-4 platform.”

        plastic gun lovers. cute. As i have pointed out several times, the same criticism was given to the M16 when it was first adopted. LOL

        just because the other services say no, doesn’t mean a branch will adopt a specific rifle. History supports this (johnson rifle and krag jorgenson). It is possible that the M4 can be replaced or upgraded, as it should be. Costing millions? woopidie doo. “millions” is pocket change for the government that has a defense budget exceeding 1 trillion dollars. It is possible; god forbid we produce one less F22 or Zumwalt destroyer, despite having overwhelming advantages in the air and sea.

        “Over ICC dumped new calibers and modular barrel change. So in the end in the class of a 5.56mm NATO caliber fixed barrel rifle nothing beats the M-4 in any major way. The ACR SCAR have nothing in the 5.56mm area to be worth replacing a Stoner action they themselves are copies of the AR-16/18 action which the Army rejected in the 70s. Overall if there where a real change a ACR in 6.5 Grendel would have been awesome. BUT for many reasons not happening this decade.”

        See this is where we dont see eye to eye. i believe any and all possibility to improve the effectiveness of individual soldiers should be pursued, even if that means replacing or upgrading a beloved weapons design. The same reasoning is used to justify spending billions in pursuit of the F35, F22, FCS, and Zumwalt, though strangely enough, small arms development is placed on the back burner. The reason the AR18 was rejected was because of politics, plain and simple; the military saw no reason to replace the M16 after the vietnam war.

        “Overall Jdun1911 hit this whole M-4 and carbine question right on the head and got it right. of course he worked in this field so he know alot.”

        Jdun is jumping the gun by drawing to wrong conclusions. Im not saying he’s wrong because he thinks the M4 will stay, i can certainly respect that position, though im going to go ahead and agree with steve. since the US military is leaving iraq and afghanistan, there are large numbers of inventories that need refilled, not to mention older M16A2’s that need replaced.

        What will happen with the ICC? who knows at this point. im curious to see the results when it is finished.

      • Lance

        I knew some will have tissy fits over this new and want the FN plastic adopt not going to happen nor will I respond to overly long and hate filled comments here.

        Jdun thanks for good logic to this conversation.

      • Stella

        By what metric do you consider the M-16 and M4 proven? The other “proven” platform you cited, the AK-47 and its progeny, are legend in their reliability and combat effectiveness. If nothing else, controversy and (often) ignominy has surrounded the M-16/M4 since its inception. The M-16’s introduction to the Vietnam conflict was an abject disaster; the M4’s performance has been the subject of ongoing and recent criticism forcing current revisions. Perfect platform clearly it is not.

        They are, however, very inexpensive, American and produced by politically connected companies. These facts should not be confused with technical merit.

      • Lance

        Id say Stella that the M-4 has over 95% approval by troops and SOCOM units. It worked just fine in combat ops and its more than accurate to shoot bad guys 300+ yards away. hat pretty good and can beat a AK-47 and Type 56 anyday.

      • Stella

        The Crown Vic has a 97% approval rating by plain clothes police officers. It’s the best car in the world.

      • W

        overly long and hate filled? cool your jets man. I was actually agreeing with you on certain points. but you would know that if you actually read it LOL.

        The M4 is proven…hands down. I would agree with stella however: technical merit is not the primary reason why the M4 is popular.

        The only “tissy fit” that is being thrown is by people that actually realize to not make any assumptions, that it is any gun design’s poker hand when it comes to this game of MIC favorites.

      • Lance

        I wasn’t meaning just at you W I was saying to other attack not just me but some comments Jdun did too. Sorry if you thought I just targeted you. Amense?

      • W

        lance, no worries 😉

  • Ben

    How does that work? No patents last over 20 years so how is it colt collects off it for over 50? Isn’t it awesome how large corporations buy off politicians and then get corporate welfare forever? So much for open and fair markets. Its pretty obvious the military doesn’t buy whats best, they buy whatever their friends are selling. (and I’m not crapping on the M16 design, I have 3 ARs and love them, but the whole Colt get royalties for 50+ years feels pretty dirty).

    • nikonmikon

      Patents can be extended… ask any patent lawyer. This is how licensing works.

      • The term of a patent once issued cannot be extended (save for some few months accounting for processing delays ). Patent terms are 17 years from issuance for patents in the past, 20 years from filing for currently issued patents.

        One can extend patent protection of a product only by later patenting improvements to it, but that does not extend patent protection beyond the term of the patent’s originally disclosed ideas.

        In fact, a patent license that purports to license out a patent’s claims beyond the term of the patent itself is illegal.

    • jdun1911

      Until 2009 Colt own the M4 technical data package. That means only Colt can produce real M4 for the military. The US government now owns Colt’s M4 technical data package and can now contract other companies other then Colt for M4.

    • Its not a patent issue, its a contract (licensing agreement) between Colt and the DoD.

      The DoD probably “there is no chance that this plastic gun is going to be used for more than 20 years, so we might as well just agree to their demands”.

      • Ben

        Thats what I’m saying. The payed off buddys of Colt signed away our money to Colt to payback favors. They’ve been doing it for ages now.

        As for this being a “big order” its not when compared to the real military budget. Its why I don’t understand all these (expensive) trails that keep getting the legs kicked out from under them. Sit down, design a new cartridge that meets whatever specs they want it to meet (similar weight and recoil to 5.56, but with more damage, more range and better barrier performance). So 6-7mm probably is a good choice, regardless they should spend a big portion of the time designing the cartridge.

        As for the rifle, someone that allows an adjustable folding stock (similar to the SCAR) a magazine system designed to feed various type of bullets the new cartridge can carry (VLD type things for the DMR, etc) heck test out a P90 style magazine system, find something that works well and can handle large capacity mags. And something with a QD barrel design. I’m sure they have plenty of good ideas.

        The crazy thing this possible 77m$ order isn’t half the cost of a single F22 Raptor. Don’t we all think we should be outfitting our ground troops with better equipment? (the ones we’ve used the most for the past 20 years in the ME) Instead of buying more extremely expensive top end hardware that even the richest nations out there can’t match? (For example, China doesn’t have a functional carrier fleet. Nothing that would get destroyed in the first hour of open war against our fleets. Its that lopsided).

    • the TDP is not a patent, it’s a collection of secret manufacturing processes and QC, etc.

      Colt used their own resources to develop the M4 and the TDP involved with its manufacture.

      So, they have successfully managed to keep ownership of it (at least through 2037).

    • The royalties are for proprietary data – protected under trade secret law – not patents.

  • Lance

    All the way this is the better idea since there is no rifle on the market that w/o modular caliber and quick barrel change (which nullifies the ACR’s advantage) allowed will be better than a standard M-4A1. The Fact the USMC and Navy said NO to any ICC winner anyway making this a army only program doomed this program last year. Over all the new Remington M-4A1s will address alot of issues they had with older M-4s in service. The addition of a free floating rail system will be the BIGGEST improvement. the USMC’s M-27 IAR has ineradicable accuracy due to its FF system so adding it to M-4s and M-16s is only logical. Overall the cancellation of the new bolt/carrier isn’t a lose since it was only the bolt lugs that had issues with shorter gas systems. A FF is the beast improvement to the design is made light enough.

    Overall Colt wont lose as much as some think though the US Army own the rights to Colt’s M-4 any companies who makes them for the Army still has to pay royalties to Colt to produce the weapons and the fact Colt makes SAWs and M-240s for the DoD now ensures they do fine. Im glad to see other US companies making money US military carbines. Remington quality is just as good if not better than Colt is anyway. Im sure that they be great new M-4 in the future.

    • Other Steve

      There clearly seem to be two Lances…

      • idahoguy101

        When did Colt start making SAWs and M-240s? Last I heard was they were from FN in South Carolina.

      • SFC E

        Colt got a contract for M240Bs back in 2009.

  • IanE

    Where will these Remington M4s be made?
    What about Remington’s supposed quality control going down recently?
    How long til another NBC hit piece comes out?

    • Other Steve

      Isn’t the only production left now in NY?

  • 276pedersen

    I’m just glad they’re buying these rifle at $673 a pop. Normally we would expect to hear stories about the gov’t getting fleeced and paying much more than market value.

    Hopefully these will be better than the 870, since those are inherently unsafe… cuz NBC said so.

    • mosinman

      Yesh mah N bee CEE neva liez!

  • John Doe

    Made by Remington? I need to make up another BS piece!
    -NBC

  • Keith

    Can the TDP documents be downloaded from a .gov site, now that the government has had access to the documents since 2009? Or are the TDP’s only available to companies that manufacturer weapons for the U.S. Military?

    Would be cool to take a look at the TDP’s.

    • Colt still owns the TPD. Remington will be given access to it.

      It is possible that Remington engineers who work on the M4 Carbine won’t be allowed to ever work on Remington’s M4 competitors or share knowledge with those engineers.

  • schizuki

    If they make M4s one-tenth as badly as they’ve been butchering Marlins, soldiers are going to die.

  • charles222

    Mighty coincidental that the Russians dumped 7.62×39 en masse after Vietnam. Mighty coincidental. Seriously, who the fuck besides Venezuela has bought a straight AK-and I’m not counting spruced-up variants like the Galil and Valmet because those are vastly superior to their forebear and designed to be used with different doctrine-in recent history, IE after the Soviet Union fell apart and stopped passing out AK-47s like party favors?

    Israel uses M4s and M16s. Canada uses M4s and M16s. The SAS uses M4s. Norway uses a variant of the M4. The Australian SAS uses M4s. Taiwan issues a variant of the M16. Argentina uses the M16. Bahrain uses the M16. Bangladesh uses the M16. Barbados issues the M16. To sum it up the M16 is issued by nearly half the damn countries on the planet-95 of em-and suggesting it’s somehow lacking because “lol the AK-47 is so reliable” when the M16 has been adopted and used by 95 countries in literally every last climactic condition from arctic cold to desert heat to jungle humidity in the last 50 years is ridiculous.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M16_rifle#Users

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AK-47#Users

    • Lance

      Agree the Iraqi and some special Afghan force prefer the M-4 over the AKM they used years earlier. Almost every vet and current troops I meet love the M-4 and the only complaints are from Vietnam vets who had issues with M-16A1 in the early part of the war. Every man now who has a M-4 or M-16A2 has no problem with one.

  • Lance

    @Sella No but it means the Police cruiser is fine for the job nothing against Ford either.

    • Stella

      Fine for the job does not equal the best, which was the qualitative assertion made about the M-16 platform with precisely zero quantitative evidence.

  • David

    The M4/M16 platform will be here easily another 20 years. Also, the rifle is very accurate out to 300 meters with the 14.5″ barrel for the M4 and even out beyond this with the 20″ M16A4. There is nothing on the horizon as of yet that is really a major improvement over this platform. In fact human right organizations were investigating all the head shots scored by the M4/M16 in Iraq with the optics available to it. They thought US troops were killing the Iraqis execution style due to the accuracy.

  • idahoguy101

    The USMC has set itself up to replace their M-4’s and M-16A4’s in the future if they want to. Now that they are buying the HK 416 to replace their old M-249 SAW’s.

    As for comparing the M-16 versus the AK-47… Well the production number of the AK’s is estimated at 100 Million!!!! The M-16 is about 10 Million total produced.

    • Lance

      IDK where you get your mixed info but the USMC has already told congress they will use the M-16A4 and M-4 for decades to come and will not have anything to do with the army’s failed IC competition. The AR guns will stay for a long time to come in US service.

      • idahoguy101

        All the USMC need do is use HK 416 upper receivers onto their M-4’s and M-14A4’s. then their M-4A2’s and M-16A5’s… They have a history of getting what they need.
        The Marines went around the Army’s back and replaced all their M-60 machine guns with M-240G’s removed from MBT’s taken out of service and placed in DOD surplus before the Army could do anything about it.

    • Lance

      Wrong the USMC is not replacing the M-16A5 with the M-27 its a LMG replacing most SAWs in service the USMC is upgraded in a few years the A4 and said not to any army IC weapon forever and also refused M-4 PIP the Army is doing.

      • idahoguy101

        Lance, I’m not talking about any LMG. Retread my post. I wrote that the USMC is positioning itself to upgrade their existing M-16A4’s and M-4’s with an HK upper reciever which has the advantage of a gas piston operating system.

      • Lance

        Not happening M-27 is staying but the marines said they are staying with the M-16A4 not replacing them with a HK-416.

    • go4it

      The USMC reveived “dispensation” – a VERY LIMITED exception – to buy an extremely small number of H-K 416s. Their most notable use – yeah, there have been other applications – as the tricked-out versions modified to shoot 220gr. suppressed .300 Blackout rounds in the Obama bin Laden raid.

  • idahoguy101

    The US military is not going to replace the 5.56 and the 7.62 with an intermediate cartridge. Both existing cartridges are NATO Standard. It would screw up the Logistics in that we have Treaty obligations to follow. I know that the .45ACP isn’t a NATO round but it falls under SOCOM’s purchasing authority, not Big Army.

  • B

    Meh, after reading all the stats on the extreme dust tests ( THERE’S MORE THAN ONE TEST ) I conclude that all major military rifles are pretty much equal to each other.