The US Army has issued a request for information for new upgrades to the M4A1 rifle, seeking a new “M4A1+” standard. From Soldier Systems:
Yesterday, the Army Contracting Command issued a Sources Sought Notice in support of PEO Soldier’s Program Manager Individual Weapons seeking information to “identify sources/vendors with experience in small arms manufacturing and associated technologies (corporate knowledge, technical expertise, facilities, manufacturing equipment, and product acceptance test hardware) capable of the production of…Non-Development Items (NDI), for improvements to the M4A1 Carbine.” While it’s not a pre-solicitation (yet), it’s very exciting stuff seeing the Army leverage all of the commercial off the shelf advancements made to the Black Rifle in recent years.
Collectively, these NDI improvments are being referred to as M4A1-Plus (abbreviated as M4A1+) components. Here’s where it gets a little sticky. According the the RFI, it is anticipated that the M4A1+ components will be evaluated as a system. Sounds like they dont plan on seeking best of breed but rather a turnkey solution from a single vendor, although if this makes it through there may end up being some horse trading this component for that. Of note, although the Enhanced Trigger Module is included in this RFI, it will be procured seperately. Additionally, sounds like Black is out and Brown is in for the M4, at least for the rail system, which will conceptually be much more like what is currently available commerically than the current system, designed back in the 90s.
The RFI goes on to state that the offered M4A1+ system must install on/interface with stock M4A1 Carbines. “The M4A1+ components will seamlessly integrate with the current M4A1 Carbine (to include but not limited to the barrel, gas tube, upper receiver, bolt and bolt carrier) without negatively impacting or affecting the performance or operation of the M4A1 weapon. The M4A1+ components shall be compatible with current M4A1 ancillary equipment without modification to the ancillary equipment and/or the equipment’s mounting brackets. This ancillary equipment includes but is not limited to optics/sights, aiming/pointing devices, training devices, slings, and rail covers.” Considering the Army is wrapping up its current upgrade to the M4A1 comfiguration that all makes sense.
I highly recommend our readers click through and read the whole text of the Sources Sought Notice, which is replicated in the Soldier Systems article.
The “M4A1+” is a part of the dual path strategy outlined by Colonel Armstrong, Program Manager of Soldier Weapons, in 2012. The fielding of the M4A1 and subsequent improvements to it constituted one path towards improving the infantry rifle, and the Improved Carbine competition constituted the other. The latter failed to establish any competitor as providing a meaningful improvement over the M4 during the second phase, and was called off in early 2013.