Individual Carbine Competition To Get The Axe

Matthew Cox at has broken the news that the Pentagon has finally got its way and the Individual Carbine Competition will be cancelled.

The U.S. Army plans to cancel its Improved Carbine competition before conducting the final, soldier-evaluation portion of this multi-year effort to replace the M4 carbine.

Now the Army is rethinking how to use what amounts to more than $300 million the service budgeted for new carbines through 2018. The decision now rests with Secretary of the Army John McHugh, according to another source with insight into the Army acquisitions community.

Over a year ago it was obvious to anyone in the industry that this would happen. The recent budget cuts have finally given the DoD the ammunition it needs to counter the politicians who were championing the program.

Ultimately the modular construction of the M4/AR-15 is what has kept the platform going. The design of the M4 does not put a lot of constraints of what type of upgrades can be installed. The barrel, trigger, rail, optics, magazine and other components have been upgraded over the years. The only major upgrades that cannot be achieved (without radical alterations of the rifle) are a side-folding stock, forward charging handle and quick change barrel.

Thanks to Peter for the tip.

Title photo shows The ADCOR B.E.A.R Elite Carbine.

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.


  • John

    ADCOR Bear, Arms-Tech Recon Rifle, and Ferfrans SOAR probably the most innovative ARs where in it I think.

    • CB

      Somebody should put an Arms-Tech upper on a SOAR lower and go to town.

    • n0truscotsman

      the arms tech is pretty interesting!

      Still, nobody submitted a long stroke AR piston gun

      PWS produces one that is very light weight and simple

      Faxon Firearms also has the ARAX upper.

  • John

    Wonder if the ZM LR-300 was taking part

    • Agitator

      It wasn’t. IIRC, the only competitors remaining at this point are the HK 416, Remington ACR, Adcor BEAR Elite, FN SCAR-16, and Beretta ARX 160, though I may be leaving someone out.

    • noob

      I think i saw a video where the ZM was disassembled and the quote was “if you lose this little cotter pin, you’re done”

  • I’ve said it before, but, as long as we’re living in the brass cased 5.56 world, the M4 carbine and it’s relatives will remain kings.

    We’ve seen all of the attempts to alter the paradigm, mostly AR-18 polymer shell derivatives, but fundamentally, the weakness of the platform comes down to what can be accomplished with the cartridges currently in inventory and the manual of arms that the M4 has inculcated.

    Really, we’re at the same point the Soviet’s arrived at with the AK-74. The fundamental features of the weapon can’t change without massive retraining, the cartridge dimensions (although sometimes not it’s characteristics) must be retained in order to continue using ammunition stocks and existing inventory, and compatibility with existing upgrades is preferable to fundamental changes in features.

    The only change is going to come with what I refer to as the M14 point- the extent to which our reliance on current infantry doctrine and conventional materials and cartridge availability hits a wall. We’re going to see one final issuance of a gun which stresses the current paradigms to the limit of what is possible, and then a forward-thinking official is going to move beyond that to something which is untested and untried but which fundamentally changes the nature of the wars we wage. Maybe that’s the M27, maybe it’s the SCAR, maybe it’s something that hasn’t been adopted yet, but we’re going to see the final form of the 5.56 aluminum/polymer infantry carbine within the next decade, and then it’s going to get left behind forever.

    • CB

      I’ve thought for a while that all of these programs are just to buy time until LSAT is ready. I think our next carbine will be something from 6.5-7mm and use CT or CL ammo. Probably CT.

      • dm

        LSAT was shut down

        • The development phase was, now it’s in evaluation.

          • Guardsman26

            LSAT may be in evaluation, but the Army still hasn’t issued a requirement for LSAT, no further funding has been allocated and there’s been no additional development in 3 years. Looks dead to me…

  • Nathaniel


  • noob

    What is the most important tool in COIN operations anyway? the MRAP? The camel back? A radio?

    Major combat in open desert is dominated by air assets and artillery.

    What conditions will bring the military need for a new individual weapon into sharpest relief? And will the next individual weapon be even something we civilians can own, or will it be some airbursting the grenade gun like the xm-25

    • Yeah, but we haven’t had major open desert combat in awhile. We had a few weeks of it in Iraq, the rest was urban combat and counter insurgency, and then mostly mountain combat in Afghanistan. The wars we seem to be winning just fine, the insurgency takes longer by default, and having a new rifle probably wouldn’t change that.

      That said, I’m of the mindset that there shouldn’t really be anything ‘us civilians’ can’t own. I don’t see much changing any time soon, though; as stated elsewhere quite often, until you get that radical shift, there really isn’t much a reason to change. There is no big improvement, and really hasn’t been for years. This isn’t like the radical years where you went from muzzle to bolt-action to magazine fed to detachable boxes to semi-auto to full auto full size to intermediate and so on. Every new rifle is just a LITTLE bit better, and not really enough to justify costs.

      And it won’t. Even caseless faces the problem of existing ammo stocks. Cost benefit analysis will be a factor there.

    • 11b

      I second this. In Iraq, the m4 is actually pretty good, because its very pointable, controllable and accurate. In Afghanistan you’re going to have CAS in 20 minutes most of the time anyway, and they scare off the baddies. 556 doesn’t have the range, but this isn’t a carbine issue its a function of the ammo. Is it the most reliable carbine money can buy? No. Keep up on your PCIs and maintenance though, and it will do you right.

  • Patrick

    I hope some time between here and next decade that US does get in new shooting war where a soldier has depend on m4 only capable being reliable for frist 6000 round than shit out luck after that. To some that alot rounds if look what happen in black hawk down event US Ranger fighting in where all most complete out ammo time event end it. Two Delta Force soldiers MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart ran out ammo in fire fight againts over overwhelming enemy numbers bent on killing them did so soon as they ran out ammo. Even in modern battle field of today with assault helicopter killer drones abrams tanks body armor only sure thing keep soldier alive is rifle. It anger me where still hand out m4 rifle that just barely good enough work becuase well goverment rath pay for employees get sex change operations than give troops some thing real works better than what have defend there lifes with.

    • Jay Dun

      I don’t really get your point but the AR is the best small arm rifle currently available. It is the prefer choice for the best warriors the world have to offer.

      • Esh325

        I don’t think there’s any such thing as “best small arm rifle” every country has different needs and tactics, which one rifle can’t fulfill.

        • Nicks87

          Esh325, Is that why so many countries are switching to AR style rifles?

          Patrick, there is nothing wrong with the M4 or its variants as long as it is used in it’s proper role. The M4 is not a light machine gun and it is not a sniper rifle. Complaints of unreliability and the 5.56 being ineffective at long distances are the results of improper usage not design flaws.

          • Esh325

            I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it, I just said there’s no such thing as “best small arm” because country has a different idea of that depending on their tactics and other factors. There are countries switching to the M4, as there are countries moving away from it. Israel for example, replaced the M16 and M4 with the Tavor.

          • Joshua

            While I am here I will reply to this. The Tavor replaced the M16 and M4 because their AR-15’s were ancient and still using the double shield eggshell handguards, and 2 the Tavor was made by them. The Tavor had numerous issues that were horrible, which is partly why the X95 came out to address issues found in the Tavor.

          • Esh325

            The M16 had numerous issues too when it first came out. They could have replaced it with a M4-M16 like weapon, but they didn’t.

          • n0truscotsman

            Its about the scale of production, keeping unit costs low, that explains why the M4 is becoming more popular. Personally, i run AKs but i dont scoff at ARs. Theyre just as good as anything else that troopers are running around with

          • RickH

            Exactly. It is now as prolific as the AK was. Parts supply is enormous, why wouldn’t you switch to something that has that much support and is cheaper. Israel had the Galil, which was a super accurate AK variant. But it was much cheaper to buy from the US than manufacture their own weapon.

          • MOG

            Absolutely. If you are just out there slinging bullets most of the time, you want a bullet slinger. If you want to pick your shots, use a rifle. (And, no, I was not born yesterday, so I don’t have the prevailing reverence for little rifle looking thingies that you hang stuff on).

    • Joshua

      I do not post here often if ever but your comment is a special kind of dumb and worth posting for.

      First things first where do you get this magical 6,000 round number that the M4 is supposedly only good for then its a crapshoot?

      Your point about “Black Hawk Down” is a bit strange, you do realize every rifle submitted was firing 5.56 right? If they ran out of ammo with their rifles, they would have run out of ammo with the SCAR, HK416, ADCOR, ect.

      The M4 is anything but barely able to work. Certain groups have had the SCAR and HK416 at different times and most of those groups are back to the M4A1 and M4CQBR/MK18, while a few still retain the HK416 the majority no longer retain those weapons. Then you add in the SOPMOD package items and it bring even more life into what the M4A1 has to offer, this is why the Army is currently working on the PiP which will get them a FF M4A1 like what SOCOM decided on. I have carried a M4A1 and it never let me down and I had well over that magical 6,000 number you mention.

      As it stands the M4A1 is one of the best rifles out there, there is a reason why the M4 is still winning competitions despite the “next gen” rifles competing against it. Now there is always room for improvement and we are still seeing those improvements make their way to the AR-15 system across all the branches(M4 PiP, M16 PiP), but that does not change the fact that most prefer the M4 to their standard rifles when they get a chance to use them.

      • MOG

        Patrick was talking about future rifles, not present. Keep your finger alongside the keyboard till you identify what you are typing about. I did read one review where a future variation was expected to have a life of 6000 rounds. You are correct, given an overwhelming number of attackers, running out of ammo is a very real possibility with any weapon. “Special Kind of Dumb”? (I had to post, are you a special kind of brilliant)?

  • LJK

    And that’s how you get the big budgets. As any government agency, you have to be able to justify your spending or you won’t get the same budget the next year. A long competition is a nice one and it’s especially good if you manage to convince the people who are giving you money that this new [insert whatever here] is needed so you get an extra chunk of change to acquire that new thing after the “competition” is over.

    “Now the Army is rethinking how to use what amounts to more than $300 million the service budgeted for new carbines through 2018.” I’m sure they’ll figure out something, those poor guys.

  • MOG

    Got to spend that taxpayer money.

  • Anonymoose


  • Lance

    There was no carbine a world better than the M-4 series of weapon if we stay with 5.56mm NATO. ICC was a waste and a pork program. The SCAR offered nothing over the M-4 and the political hacks were mostly SCAR lovers (Sen Colburn) who wanted ful adoption. But SOCOM ditched the light model then the Army is staying with the M-4 much like SOCOM. LSAT in a decade may be the only program that’s makes a new generation carbine that may worth being a look at.

    • It’s like the Abrams tank. Congress is trying to shove more down the Armies throat and they don’t want anymore. The old doing favors routine is alive and well.
      Of course this pertains to individual weapons as well.

      • n0truscotsman

        The abrams tank is also hideously expensive to maintain and keep battle ready. Most of the abrams fleet has been mothballed, numbering some 6k tanks. Thats not even getting into the stryker and the bradley. Then there is the porky F35 and GCV.

        The military needs reformed yesterday

    • n0truscotsman

      Im with lance. Keep the M4 and its sopmod block 2 upgrades. Reduce spending asap

  • lolinski

    Doesn’t the Steyr AUG have forward charging handle and quick change barrel? Granted there is no side folding stock but being a bullpup it doesn’t matter.

    • Anonymoose

      Murrica don’t want no bullpups.

      • Joshua

        Neither do the SF groups of countries using them thar bullpurps.

        • Esh325

          Like the Israelis?

  • Guardsman26

    As a Brit who used an M-16A1 while serving in Belize as long ago as 1984, I was super impressed with this weapon back then. I found it incredibly light, accurate and reliable. I can’t remember experiencing a stoppage, let alone a major problem. Despite firing multiple magazines in quick succession succession it never overheated. If it was that good 30 years ago, I suspect that any improvement today would merely be incremental. I hope Colt will implement many of the IC competition innovations (piston system?) as part of a continuous upgrade program anyway. If the US does replace its existing M4s, please can we Brits have them to replace our heavy, awkward and unloved L85A2s.

  • Travis

    I didn’t think the ICP would net anything except a piston upgrade for the M4 (if anything at all). And from the looks of the comments here, I seem to have been the *most* optimistic about the whole thing! XD