Colt M4 Carbine Deal Falls Through, Chile Adopts FN SCAR Instead

A few months we reported that Chile had agreed to purchase 2,000 Colt M4 Carbines. The Chilean government now claim that Colt were unable to deliver the rifles at the price they originally agreed upon. They have now made a deal to purchase FN SCAR-L and SCAR-H rifles instead, and will also be buying 7.62mm FN MINIMI machine guns from Colt to replace their 5.56mm ULTIMAX Mk3 machine guns. Indodefensa reports

The order for 1,800 pieces, also includes a number of light machine guns MINIMI. The current plans of the Chilean Navy provide a second order, to complete a total number of 3,500 weapons.

The SCAR-L 5.56mm caliber to replace HECKLER & KOCH HK33A2 the same size as standard light gun rifle CIM, while the SCAR-H 7.62mm is the weapon used by shooters chosen squad, replacing the Heckler & Koch HK33SG1 employed by these so far.

I have to say, the canceling of Colt’s contract sounds very suspicious to me.

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.


  • Will

    Why suspicious?

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      They announce a contact then cancel it a couple of months later.

      • Tinkerer

        The article states that there wasn’t a contract, just an unsolicited offer from Colt that later failed to stand.

      • Jay

        That’s not even a blip on the radar compared to the royal shaft US SOCOM gave FN with the SCAR competition.

        • Joshua

          There is a reason why we did what we did.

          Unless you were issue a Mk-16 you can’t talk.

          What FN gave us in the competition was a far cry from what we deployed with. Once we fleeted the weapon all the nasty fleas came out to light.

          Once the SOPMOD II trials finished they gave us our M4A1’s back and everyone I knew was very happy about that.

  • DZ

    More 33 parts kits? Yes please.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      You might be right there. It is also possible, though, that the Chileans will simply re-issue the HK33’s to reserve or security units.

    • Tinkerer

      The chilean military doesn’t like to dispose of their old guns. At the local regiment -a mountain one- they still issue old SIG 510s alongside the newer SG-540s. They’ll either go into storage or issued for garrison duty.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        An SIG-510 — now there’s a really solid, well-made full-powered battle rifle that has proven very reliable and versatile in service. Although some would say that It is not particularly attractive to the eye, it is a highly practical weapon with a lot of well-thought-out, user-friendly features such as the alternate bipod mounting positions closer to the muzzle under the front sight and just in front of the receiver. Like the FN FAL, it is long, heavy, powerful, over-engineered, accurate and almost indestructible, a battle rifle of the “old school”.

        • Man pippy

          Rather paranoid since they should fear a popular revolt more than an invasion by their neighbors.

  • Tim B.

    Good for them. They traded a dog for a quality weapon!

    • Joshua

      Thats not what we found when SOCOM shoved them down our throats.

  • BenJamin

    Methinks that the incident with the Bolivian President has made Latin America not too thrilled with the US at the moment and Chile would rather pay more for the Belgian SCAR’s, than to do business with the Americans

    • Juan Carlos

      Chile is not THAT part of South America. Au contraire, mon frere, Chile is more than willing to bend over to the US or UK.

    • USMarine

      The SCAR is made in the US at FN’s plant in Columbia South Carolina. It is the only place that FN makes the SCAR weapons system. It is also the same place where FN makes all of the US military’s M-16’s, M-249’s and M-240’s.

  • Gunhead

    What was wrong with the Ultimax? I thought it was designed specifically for men of small stature to run around in the jungle with.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      You brought up a good point in that the Ultimax 100 is an excellent and highly-portable LMG. However, it appears that the Chileans have decided that they would prefer a reliable and proven Light GPMG with full 7.62mm firepower. The Minimi fulfills this requirement quite well.

      It should also be noted that Chile is a country of vastly-differing geographical and environmental circumstances, ranging from heavily-wooded lowlands to barren high desert and temperate mountainous terrain ( the Andes ), and from sub-tropical conditions in the northern part of the country to frigid sub-Antarctic conditions at its southern tip ( Tierra Del Fuego and Cape Horn ).

      Also, Chileans are of multi-ethnic origin, and many of them are of European stature. Those of direct native Indian descent tend to be shorter, but are very strong and sturdy, and there are many of mixed ethnicity who are physically somewhere in between. So they are not exactly “men of small stature”, nor is Chile mostly jungle or woodland.

    • Juan Carlos


      Pick one

      • José Pulido

        Chile is dry ass mountains 🙂

  • Geoff a well known Skeptic

    Colt thought they were dealing with the US Government. Establish a price, then say “ADJUSTMENT” and triple it. Cross reference the F-35 project from 85 Million per plane to 235 Million, and rising, depending on how you calculate it. Geoff Who is disgusted a contract should be enforced, not a joke!

    • Cornelius Carroll

      I’ve always suspected that some of those cost over-runs get rolled into “related research and development” for black projects.

    • Formynder

      To be fair, the military keeps adjusting the requirements on the F-35 as well. That whole project needs to be canned at this point.

  • Jay

    Good for them. They got a better weapon system in two calibers.
    Question for the writer: How can they get 7.62mmMinimi from Colt? That machinegun is made by FN. The Mk48 in US service. Colt never made a succesful machine gun.

  • Axel

    How price competitive do you think the scar is? The receiver is based on a simple aluminum profile, right? With a polymer lower at makes for one hell of a cost-efficient product… (/engineering student)

    • Frank

      And it’s not made anywhere near the same volume. There’s a good reason why they go for so much more in the US than an AR-15.

      • Tuulos

        And the reason is that people are willing to pay for them. The military price is roughly the same as the military price for Colt M4.

        • Frank

          I highly doubt it. Volume like that is hard to beat by anyone. The mil price for an M4 is in the range of $800. You think FN can afford to sell the scar for that little?

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            You’re quite correct as to pricing and production volume. On the other hand, the Chileans may have simply opted to pay the higher initial price for a better weapon, realizing that in the long run they would probably benefit more from reduced maintenance costs, greater reliability and superior overall battlefield performance.

          • Frank

            What Battlefield performance? As far as I know the only real deployment experience the scar ever had was a limited deployment with a Ranger unit in Afghanistan. Most of the problems with M4 reliability are with the older magazines. Something fixed with the newer anti-tilt followers that the army issues now or any of the various magazines made by third parties. What does the Scar really offer over the M4 other than a folding stock? It’s not as accurate and it’s heavier.

          • BryanS

            Ive shot them in 5.56 and .308 out a few hundred yards with no discernible difference in accuracy. I’ve seen them in competition hit out to 500+ yards from an offhand position.

            So, what has made them less accurate for you?

          • Frank

            It’s a small difference, but a DI gun is still potentially more accurate than a piston gun. So what you’re left with is a gun that you can fold the stock on that’s not more accurate, has less aftermarket parts for it, and costs more.

          • MNOR

            AR-15 Fanboys…..(joke)
            Yes a DI gun is potenitally more accurate than a piston. Fewer moving parts—> cleaner recoil.
            However, modern assault rifles are more than accurate enough for any infantry soldier, SOF or grunt. Nowadays the gun is typically more accurate than the shooter regardless of piston/DI.

            And lets face it, millitary standard issued rifles aren’t going to be treatet like someone’s “range/safe-qeen”. They’ll get banged around, get wet, muddy and dirty. Not to mention that the accuracy of bulk-produced millitary ammo isn’t always top notch.

            Now, no one’s saying that Stoner’s AR-15 platform is a bad one. It will perform well when properly maintained.
            But, why would you want a weapon that NEEDS more maintanance than it’s competition?
            Why not take a modern piston-operated system, that will function regardless of mud and sand when you have the option, and the budget to do so?

            I have about 5years worth of experience with HK’s 416.
            And that thing will fire dry, wet, and doesen’t get it’s chamber and BCG gunked
            up with GSR. Seriosly I have seen 416’s with 20.000-rounds of steel(!) cased ammo trough them, with practically no maintanance(barrel only), still going strong,
            Show me any DI-gun that can match that roundcount unmaintained.
            (BTW, the carriertilit-thing that the internet keeps telling me the HK416 has: Well, I have yet to see, hear about or experience any such problem with it.


          • GarbageCan
          • Esh325

            Not really a scientific test.

          • GarbageCan

            Then please, point us toward some scientific tests of this nature. I would love to see them if you can.

          • Esh325

            There’s none available to the public.

          • GarbageCan

            Well. There… You… Go.

          • Tinkerer

            If I recall correctly, the most accurate service assault rilfe available today, is the SIG 550 -a long stroke piston design-.

          • Esh325

   It’s not really heavier when we look at similar models with similar capabilities 7.0 lbs unloaded for the M4, and 7.2 lbs for the SCAR.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Battlefield performance is not defined merely by accuracy, especially marginally superior accuracy at a given range that has little to no bearing on its sufficiency against an armed opponent in a military context, nor is it determined by small differences in other areas of performance. A gun is only as good as the sum of its parts, and battlefield performance is defined by the overall capability of the weapon in question, taking into account accuracy, durability, reliability under adverse continual conditions, ease of maintenance, simplicity, minimum maintenance and down-time, ease of parts replacement and repair, versatility, suitability across a very wide range of battlefield scenarios, etc. When all these factors are taken into consideration, the M-4/M-16/AR rifles and carbines perform well in their present evolved version, but not exceptionally well. There are other rifles and carbines that do better, some much better.

            It’s interesting how you seem fixated on the SCAR’s folding-stock feature, as if this were the be-all and end-all of your argument, not taking into account the fact that folding stocks are also available for the M-4/M-16/AR platform as well. The argument about DGI ( direct-gas impingement ) being “potentially more accurate” also does not stand up to scrutiny in the real world. As MNOR and Jay have quite correctly pointed out, the DGI versus piston-operated system argument is really moot, since the latter has long since been consistently proven to be superior in virtually every aspect of real-world ( read battlefield ) performance and ultimate reliability.

            And, just in case you don’t realize it, even Eugene Stoner and James Sullivan, the highly-talented designers of the original M-16 — and its latter-day M-4 and AR derivatives — have grudgingly but openly admitted that Kalashnikov’s AK rifle is a better battlefield weapon, due in no small part to its gas piston-operated system, among other things. To support this, really knowledgeable AR builders and aficionadoes will tell you that a properly-specified and built gas piston version of an AR is much, much better than a DGI type, regardless of the manufacturer.

            While I respect the fact that enthusiastic AR owners take justifiably great pride in their guns, no amount of pride, rationalizing, personal conviction or emotion is going to change hard mechanical and engineering truths. Facts are facts, especially when proven in that most searing crucible of all, the military battlefield. I have worked extensively with all types of M-16’s, M-4’s, civilian model AR’s, AK-47’s. AK-74’s, vz.58’s, FN FAL’s, H & K G-3 variants, HK-33’s, etc. In that light, and in the context of this discussion, my battlefield preference is still definitely for a proven gas-piston operated rifle.

          • Jay

            Frank. The Mk17 is being used for years by, basically all us special forces units. Some units also use the mk16. There are foreign units using the scar platform. The “DI gun is more accurate” is a marketing slogan. We are not talking about competition guns here, we are talking about combat rifles and carbines and this days there are plenty piston guns that shoot just as well or even better than a DI combat rifle.

          • Joshua

            And we have numerous issues with our Mk-17’s as well. They often like to become bolt action guns, same thing happened to our Mk-16’s as well as other issues.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Please let me know the next time you see a firearm’s price determined on it’s material costs. We have forged guns going for $600 and plastic guns going to $3000. Material cost is not relative to product cost.

  • Cornelius Carroll

    I’m assuming “shooter’s chosen squad” is like a squad of SDMs?

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Most likely. The SCAR-H in my opinion makes an OK-to-Fair choice as a DMR, but the lack of a longer rail sort of hurts it. Add a longer rail and it fits in nicely to blend in with the Ls.

  • Jeff

    I guess the Chilean Government probably isn’t happy with our Government leveraging everything to get at Snowden.

  • Lance

    Bet most of them will be H model the L is a piece of crap. Bet two to one if they bought M-4s from FN or Bushmaster or any other M-4 maker they have a good time. Colt keeps prices high because the US gov let them for so long.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Do you do anything other than speculate about topics you know nothing about? I was enjoying the Lance-vacation we had when the site switched to the new format. But I see you’re back.

      I have extreme speculation you have ever handled a SCAR H or SCAR L. Let alone know what makes one vs the other “crap”. Just stop.

      • Joshua

        Well I was issued one an it was crap. Mk-17 is better as is the Mk-20 but all have issues.

  • Tinkerer

    Just a few points: the chilean military has a history of not standardizing their small arms across their branches: the Army is quite happy with theis FAMAE SG-540, and the Air Force with their Galils. The Navy went the same way for their Marine Corps -which are integral part of the chilean Navy, not an autonomous branch-, so when they went to arm their newly formed Expeditionary Amphibious Brigade, they went their own way.

    Now, the cited article mentions that Colt sent the chilean government an UNSOLICITED proposal of M4 carbines, which halted the selection process to let Colt compete, because they offered a much lower price than the competing rifles -the SCAR and the HK416. However, Colt was unable to man up to their price proposal, so they were dismissed.

    • Man pippy

      They should have a standard rifle, it’s unprofessional otherwise. The Galil Ace is probably a better choice due to it being cheaper and Chile not being rich.

      • Tinkerer

        Each branch is pretty independent from the others, with their own procurement lines. As for money: a fixed amount of copper export earnings from the state-owned CODELCO mining company go straight into military funding. Hence the modernization plans from the last 20 years -Scorpene subs, F-16s, Leopard tanks…-
        Now, what competitive edge has the Galil over the locally produced SG-540 family?

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        That’s an interesting counterpoint in this discussion if we’re looking at this from the viewpoint of viable cost-effective alternatives to the SCAR, although I would say that Chile is actually quite modern, well-developed and prosperous, and can certainly afford to spend the money if she chooses to do so. Might make for an intriguing spin-off discussion among the knowledgeable members of this web site.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      Those are very strong points you have made — good analytical and critical thinking on your part. Thanks!

  • Kirill

    Its more than likely due to the new legislation passed here in Connecticut. They have basically forced out all gun manufacturing companies over the years and the new taxes they have been imposing on them are starting to choke Colt. With the sudden demand of AR-15s and anything still stamped “COLT MFG. HARTFORD CONN.” after Sandy Hook, they likely saw the big money was to civilians and were forced to rush to manufacture the M4s, raising costs.

    That is just my guess.

  • Jesse P Weaver

    At the end I think you meant to say contract, not contact.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)


  • idahoguy101

    Didn’t SOCOM reject their SCAR-L’s recently? Perhaps those rifles were return to FN and resold to the Chilean Navy at a lower price than new M-4’s?

    • Anonymoose

      No, they didn’t make that many of them except for the dust tests and Ranger field tests, and those rifles have probably been refurbished and reissued to other parts of SOCOM or converted to Mk17s. USSOCOM and USASOC rejected the Mk16 and opted to keep their current M4A1s and HK416s, but all the other forces’ parts of SOCOM independently ordered Mk16s.

      • Joshua

        Wrong, no one else is using the Mk-16, not even the SEALs. Everyone is back to the M4A1 and only 2 units are using the HK416.

        We had numerous issues with our Mk-16’s during field trials, some plague the Mk-17 and Mk-20 as well but not like the Mk-16.

        • Anonymoose

          orly? Would you care to elaborate on these issues?

          • Joshua

            Broken bolts and receivers were the most common, rifles also had a tendency to become bolt action rifles if you didn’t keep the rails clean.

            They also had a tendency to destroy any optic we mounted on them in short order.

          • Anonymoose

            Intredasting. That last part sounds like a common complaint about the HK416 as well.

          • Joshua

            We had some rifles go tits up in as little as 1,000 rounds with broken bolts. Was not a fun time when we had our MK-16’s

  • AgentBauer

    They must have some smart folks making decisions in Chile

  • Tinkerer

    Steve, I finally took some time to re-read the source material for your article, and I have to say that in no part of the source is there any mention of Colt providing the 7.62 MINIMIs. In fact, it says that part of the contract with FN for 1800 total units is to be made with MINIMIs. Just where did you get that info, anyway?

    PS: I’d be happy to provide with spanish-english translation services for you.

  • Joe Cirino

    Much better weapon

    • Joshua

      Not, we got our M4A1’s back for a reason and it wasn’t money, we had the money for the Mk-16’s. we were even issued some, I carried one and I’ll take my M4A1 over it any day.

    • Man pippy

      A better weapon eventually once they get all the bugs out, good thing the U.S played guinea pig.

  • MOG

    Maybe they need something besides a PDW for combat troops.

  • Joshua

    I wonder if they will have the same isues we did with our Mk-16’s.

    Nothing made me happier than the day we got our M4A1’s back and they came with the SOPMOD II equipment.

  • Joshua

    Honestly what I see here is that they got a super sweet deal on a family of weapons that was to good to pass up on, thus they found a way to purchase them over the M4. If they had just gone from the M4 to choosing the SCAR-L I would have a differing opinion, but going from the M4 to the SCAR-L, the SCAR-H, and the MINIMI I am going to call it as I see it, and I see FNH made a deal to good to pass up.