BREAKING: Colt Defense Granted $212M M4 Contract, Good Until 2020

Looks like Colt has a guardian angel in Washington. From today’s DOD contract announcements:

Colt Defense LLC, West Hartford, Connecticut (15QKN-15-D-0102); and FN America LLC, Columbia, South Carolina (W15QKN-15-D-0072), were awarded a $212,000,000 firm-fixed-price multi-year contract for M4 and M4A1 carbines for the Army and others, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 24, 2020.  Bids were solicited via the Internet with six received.  Funding and work location will be determined with each order. Army Contracting Command, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, is the contracting activity.

It’s not surpring that Colt Defense submitted a winning bid, since I expect it’s very difficult to underbid a company as desperate as one in bankruptcy, and Colt historically has had a lot of political influence.

Thanks to Daniel for the tip!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Paul Epstein

    Uh, it says that Colt and FN both received it right in the quote. So the title of the article is extremely misleading, Colt certainly is not getting all of that contract.

    The question then is, what portion of it is Colt actually producing rather than FN. Because if FN has the lion’s share of the contracts, it might not be enough to matter for Colt’s finances.

    • Blake

      Yeah that’s pretty sloppy not to notice that; my guess is the writer just missed that bit. But you’re right, the split percentages are definitely going to make a huge difference.

      • sean

        easy to be blinded when you are a colt fanboy

        • The other guy thought I was being too hard on Colt, so which is it? 😉

          • Joel Schneider

            Listen…you know gun talk becomes literally the nerdiest ever when something is wrong. The point is that when you read something there is always a catch. If you just read the title you would know nothing about FN. If you read the entire article you get to throw in the caviot morsel to be the bigger know it all. All you need gun people out there need to thank the writer that he left an opening to look smarter than the other guys in the shop if you actually read the article.

          • Yep. 🙂 The article is 123 words long. If you simply can’t read the article, then the title conveys just fine that Colt – the company in bankruptcy here, and the whole reason this post is breaking news – received a 5-year contract for M4 rifles worth millions of dollars.

          • MR


          • PacoDaPrussian

            You said “hard on”…..

    • Joshua

      Probably split down the middle. Usually they are at least.

    • John

      My guess is very little.

      Based on a feeling in my butt, the majority of it–at least $106 million, which is 50% of the contract–will likely go to FN for supplies, manufacturing and distribution. Colt would likely get royalties on the M4 patent, which would then mostly go towards paying off their debt.

      So FN gets to stay productive for the U.S. military (because ain’t nobody buying their SCAR ’till the cost comes down) and becomes the new golden child for milspec guns, while Colt gets to stay alive until the creditors squeeze every drop of blood that they can.

      It’d be pretty cool if the tribe that made an offer actually got to own them, once everything is finished. Maybe then Colt will go back to making quality revolvers.

    • As usual, the crowd is utterly merciless. There is always a tradeoff between brevity and accuracy when writing post titles. I usually choose brevity (as I did here) because it gets people reading. And it worked, since you all read the post and discovered that it was a joint win for FN and Colt.

      • Russ

        So you rather mislead your audience with your clickbait? Last time I checked this was TFB, not the yellow press.

        • I figured that my readers were quite capable of reading the listing for themselves.

          • McThag

            You overestimate us!

      • Paul Epstein

        The words ‘part of’ or ‘shares’ would take up far less than the ‘good until 2020’ portion of the headline- which is itself a really strange way to put the true but extremely minor fact that they need to produce the rifles within the next four years.

        • I wrote this post as soon as I got the information and posted it as soon as I could. I don’t see the value in nitpicking the title to this degree. I chose a briefer title than an accurate one – no, I didn’t do a government funded study to figure out what would be the optimum title for maximum combined brevity and accuracy according to the US Army’s Brevity-Accuracy Dispersion Analysis Spectrum System.

          • Nunn Yabizz

            Could have just added the words “share of” to the title between the words “granted” and “$212M” and been totally accurate.

          • Well, this is certainly the first time I’ve ever been accused of writing post titles that are too short.

          • Nunn Yabizz


          • roguetechie

            The adults in the crowd appreciate the way you work incredibly quickly to get out news like this. Honestly the most surprising and utterly rare way you’re so scrupulous about correcting your own earlier posts!
            True commitment to your craft is something very rare these days.

      • Don Ward

        Death to the warm bloods!!!

        I mean…
        Boo. Hisssss.

        Dang it.

      • supergun

        I thought COLT was not doing anymore business because it was tied up in bankruptcy court.

        • No, they are still operating during the bankruptcy proceedings.

          • supergun


      • Ike

        Instead of being defensive about it, take this very valid criticism as a chance to improve. Colt was not awarded the $212M contract; Colt and FN were. As has been noted, this is not an issue of brevity, as the completion date of the contract is less important to the story than accurately stating who won the contract. This headline is inaccurate and unprofessional.

        • It’s trivial criticism.

          • Ike

            You really don’t see your headline as factually inaccurate and entirely misleading?

          • I have faith that people will actually read the bloody text.

          • J.T.

            That still doesn’t make it less of a misleading title.

          • PacoDaPrussian

            You’s British? That may be the problem!

  • Spyco

    Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  • Texas-Roll-Over

    This is horrible…why would you continue to buy from a company like Colt…worthless.

  • Wolfgar

    He made a mistake, oh my God lets get the pitch forks and torches and go to his house and burn it down. Lighten up gents, it doesn’t mean he is a Colt fan boy or inept, he just made a mistake.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Aw… no fun.

      • Wolfgar


        • ostiariusalpha

          And Crom damn it, it’s a Blood Moon this Sunday! Blood for the Blood God, skulls for the Skull Throne, yadda-yadda-yadda… Now what am I supposed to do this weekend?

    • I actually did not make a mistake. I chose a brief title that got folks reading… And they did. 🙂

      • Patrick M.

        clickbait strikes again!

        • 10 Reasons You Won’t Believe That Reporting On DoD Contracts Is The Furthest Thing From Clickbait.

          You want a clickbait title? I wrote an article a while back called “Yes It’s True: FIREClean Is Crisco”. You can complain over there. 😉

      • Wolfgar

        I see, a trouble maker.” I like” 🙂

      • BrandonAKsALot

        Admit how much of a noob you are already. DO IT! The gods of FNH demand repentance!

    • BrandonAKsALot

      You obviously have no idea how the internet works.

      On that note: Let’s correct your grammar because I hate you and you suck.

      He made a mistake. PERIOD!

      Oh my God, (COMMA) lets get the pitch forks and torches, (COMMA) and (UNNECESSARY CONJUNCTION) go to his house, (COMMA) and burn it down (DO NOT END A SENTENCE IN A PREPOSITION. HOW DARE YOU?!).

      Lighten up gents.(PERIOD) It doesn’t mean he is a Colt fan-boy(SHOULD BE HYPHENATED) or inept. (PERIOD) He just made a mistake.

      How pwned do you feel? Are crying to your mother yet? Have you been soothed by Nathaniel by him giving you his old #1 Colt Super-Fan shirt yet? Am I shitposting enough?

  • Beomoose

    There’s also the part where they make a quality product. Could mention that.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      Colt makes products? When did this happen. I thought everyone just compared everything to them and then talked about how their dad’s and grandfather’s had them, but pawned them.

  • Lance

    Politics my friends. they must keep jobs in the liberal N.E. so Dems force the DoD to split the M-4A1 contract for Colt. Republicans own the conservative South and so they get half for there South Carolina FN plant as well.

    Its good to see the M-4 solder on and see Colt avoid falling into Financial Oblivion.

    • Mike Goodwin

      Of course, politics was involved! Isn’t it always? But, that’s what makes the world go around (and buys votes with your money). And, a genuine “Thanks” to you, Lance. Your post didn’t seem to harbor the glee in seeing a fine old firearms company wallowing to stay afloat, glee without justification that is not very well hidden in other posts. How could anyone in the enjoyable world of firearms obtain any satisfaction by watching the process? Colt, I truly hope that you outlive us all!

    • Blackjack6

      The liberal NE makes some of the best guns in the world.

      Colt, S&W, Kimber, Dan Wesson are just a few.

      • Secundius

        @ Blackjack6.

        Colt is not one of them! Colt has lost EVERY Military Contract Shooting Competition, going back to 2007. But then again, They Beat Out Every Other US Manufacturer in those Competition, as well. Every Competition was Awarded to a International Arms Manufacturer. Like HK and FNH…

  • Dracon1201

    What a pile of s–t.

  • Patrick M.

    Guardian Lobbyist*

    • Squirreltakular


      • MR

        Love me some pork.

  • floppyscience

    Awesome, now they don’t actually have to innovate to survive. I’m looking forward to another 5 years of Colt doing nothing.

    • **grows neckbeard and grabs fedora**
      Man, they just need to bring back the Python and Woodsman and they will be saved!
      (Dont worry, would complain if Pythons werent reintroduced at $500)

      • MR

        Dont worry.
        Be hoppy.
        Dont worry, be hoppy now.

      • PacoDaPrussian

        I paid $450 for my Colt Annaconda in 1994. I would definately buy a couple more at that price now.

      • floppyscience

        No worries, I forgot they just came out with that run of $8800 BAR rifles. The future of Colt is secure.

  • lowell houser

    Colt, because in America you don’t need to innovate. you don’t need to run your company
    well. You just need to know which DoD hack to set up with a golden parachute and you can dine at the public trough until forever.

  • BTW: The DOD contract announcement left out the W at the beginning of Colt’s contract number. “W15QKN” indicates the office that let the contract, in this case, ACC-NJ (Picatinny Arsenal). “15” indicates that it was awarded in Fiscal Year 2015. “D” indicates that it is an “Indefinite Delivery / Indefinitely Quantity” (IDIQ) contract. The last four numbers simply indicate the sequence of the award.

    It will be interesting to see which company gets the bulk of the award. By awarding IDIQ contracts, Picatinny short circuits Colt and FN’s legal ability to protest the ultimate split. You see, an IDIQ contract only guarantees the minimum order. The government is under no obligation to place additional delivery orders beyond the quoted minimum. However, it leaves the option of placing additional orders of any amount during the life of the contract as long as the cumulative total doesn’t exceed the cited maximum quantity.

    The military contracting community has been using multiple IDIQ awards more and more often in an attempt to defuse potential award protests. If Picatinny had just made a single award to say FN, then Colt could keep things tied up by filing an award protest and follow-up appeals. By signing their contracts, Colt and FN now only have legal grounds to protest if their minimum order is not made, or if their delivery orders ultimately exceed the contract maximum.

    • Excellent info, Daniel. My understanding was that the big problems with Colt’s previous bids has been their price; surely being in bankruptcy they bid as low as possible, so maybe the DoD will buy more from them than the minimum?

      Either way, this is essentially putting Colt on a leash.

      • I don’t think the DOD has any desire to see its small arms industrial base shrink any further than it already has. While there are a lot of companies selling AR15 clones, how many can deliver large quantities on short delivery schedules all while meeting full military specifications?

        Given that Colt was barely making a profit even when they had a sole-source monopoly via the “M4 Addendum,” I don’t think any contract award can really save them from their existing bankruptcy. However, I think it opens Colt up to questions as to how they suddenly managed to dramatically lower their price on the M4 carbine after it was so high in the past. There is historical precedence for the government to claw back “excessive profits” from over-priced contracts.

        • Emfourty Gasmask

          Honestly surprised Sig or Beretta haven’t jumped on that train.

  • C.

    Too big to fail?

  • Sickshooter0

    Perfect. Now Colt can start ignoring the consumer market again; starting…!

  • Matt

    a band-aid on this poorly ran company

  • RickH

    Well that’s good! Now they have enough money to take care of the executive bonuses before they fold…..

  • Esh325

    Ahh the American military industrial complex buying weapons it doesn’t really need. Couldn’t they at the very least buying a m4 that has the upgrades they want like free float rail and ambi controls instead of buying standard m4s?

  • Bud Harton


    You missed the important part of that announcement:

    ]”. Funding and work location will be determined with each order”

    The only thing Colt is going to get out of this is payment per rifle/carbine made by some other company. Colt owns the technical drawings so they are always listed in a contract but they are not going to be making the actual firearms. That has vbeen true inb every contract issued including the one that they are operatiung under right now. You know, the ones being made by FN.

    Why didn’t you catch that?

    • Why do you think Colt would not be making any of the M4 order? They typically make at least a share of it.

      • Bud Harton

        Colt originally lost the M4/M16 contract because of quality control. They had more than a 10% rejection rate, Seriously you haven’t even begun to touch on the real story here. Look back at all the previous contracts and you will see they are written the exact same way and Colt didn’t produce a single rifle or carbine. Their name is their only because they own the drawings.

        • So, none of the previous contracts are actually available on the DoD website, and those that are available via do not list Colt. Example.

          • Bud Harton

            Nathaniel you really do need to do a lot more research before you put some of this stuff out. I will do you a favor and stop posting on your articles.

          • See you later!

    • You’ll note that two separate contract numbers have been issued: one for Colt and the other for FN. The previous second-source M4 contracts to Remington (W56HZV-12-D-0056) and FN (W56HZV-13-D-0030) were not announced with a co-contract award with Colt. Yes, Colt gets royalty payments, but these contract documents have been phrased differently. With regards to FN’s contract, Colt’s royalties appear to have been paid via multiple contracts coinciding with either individual delivery orders or the specific line items from these individual delivery orders. These royalty payments have been labeled as either purchase orders “P” or as definitive contracts “C”. Here are some examples specifically mentioning M4/M4A1 carbine royalties, although not all may not be linked to FN’s contract:

      W56HZV-13-P-0258 was awarded to Colt on 6/25/2013 to pay $30,498 in

      W56HZV-13-P-0334 was awarded to Colt on 6/25/2013 to pay $127,075 in

      W56HZV-13-P-0344 was awarded to Colt on 6/25/2013 to pay $5,685 in

      W56HZV-13-P-0345 was awarded to Colt on 6/25/2013 to pay $6,219 in

      W56HZV-13-P-0393 was awarded to Colt on 7/1/2013 to pay $5,787 in

      W56HZV-13-P-0394 was awarded to Colt on 7/1/2013 to pay $6,242 in

      W56HZV-13-P-0573 was awarded to Colt on 9/12/2013 to pay $3,718 in royalties.

      W56HZV-13-P-0577 was awarded to Colt on 9/12/2013 to pay $1,137 in royalties.

      W56HZV-14-P-0016 was awarded to Colt on 12/2/2013 to pay $8,528 in

      W56HZV-14-P-0017 was awarded to Colt on 12/3/2013 to pay $4,207 in

      W56HZV-14-P-0018 was awarded to Colt on 12/3/2013 to pay $107,479 in

      W56HZV-14-P-0019 was awarded to Colt on 12/3/2013 to pay $6,231 in

      W56HZV-14-P-0408 was awarded to Colt on 9/11/2014 to pay $61,864.17 in royalties arising from FN’s fourth delivery order for W56HZV-13-D-0030.

      W56HZV-14-C-0224 was awarded to Colt on 9/18/2014 to pay $689,400.00 in royalties arising from FN’s fifth delivery order for W56HZV-13-D-0030.

      W56HZV-14-P-0409 was awarded to Colt on 9/18/2014 to pay $20,555.61 in royalties arising from FN’s sixth delivery order for W56HZV-13-D-0030.

      W56HZV-14-P-0510 was awarded to Colt on 9/18/2014 to pay $52,864.81 in royalties arising from FN’s seventh delivery order for W56HZV-13-D-0030.

      W56HZV-14-C-0312 was awarded to Colt on 9/23/2015 to pay $1,655 in

      W56HZV-14-C-0315 was awarded to Colt on 9/24/2015 to pay $46 in

      W56HZV-15-C-0084 was awarded to Colt on 3/9/2015 to pay $9,038 in

      W56HZV-15-C-0085 was awarded to Colt on 3/5/2015 to pay $1,953 in

  • Guido FL

    So the US Army and others want to keep buying these under powered .22 rifle withe very dirty direct impingement system ? This rifle system and caliber is out dated and needs to be replaced rather than given a longer life ! And yes I have two of these varmint rifles.

    • Why do you feel the .223 is underpowered? Also, are you aware that many other operating mechanisms are just as dirty, even many that are considered to be very reliable? Even operating rod type mechanisms still blow gas into the receiver via the chamber.

      • BrandonAKsALot

        It really depends on the system and timing. The fouling has to go somewhere though and it just depends on where you want to clean. FN’s tappet system is remarkably clean and very little fouling is present on the bolt/carrier and chamber area even after 500+ rounds.

        • spydersniper

          You are correct. Every M-16 going to the military for the last 20 or so years has been made by FN. There is a problem with several manufacturing areas that Colt has never been able to figure out that FN has,which is why they manufacture all. But Colt owns the original designs,etc. They collect royalties from FN for all weapons built.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      The 1970’s called and they’d like their arguments back.

      Direct gas =/= direct impingement.

    • Phil Hsueh

      The question is, what’s out there now that’s significantly better than the M16/M4? So much better that it’s worth the time and money to replace them? Because replacing the M16/M4 involves a lot more than just simply replacing a bunch of rifles, it means replacing all of the spare parts that we have on hand and will receive down the line, possibly replacing all of the magazines we have in stock, and it also means re-training armorers so they know how to work on the new rifle, training DIs/DMs to train new recruits and training trainers to train those currently serving on how to use the new rifle. I’m not saying that these are reasons for not getting a new rifle just that a new rifle has to bring a lot to the table to make it worth it.

  • meg

    Does anyone know which other 4 companies bid and lost?

    • Short of someone filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to ACC-NJ, I doubt we will ever know.

    • Secundius

      @ meg.

      I tracked down Three of them, the fourth is unknown. HK-USA, Remington and Smith & Wesson…

      • Secundius

        @ meg.

        Actually it’s possible that Colt Defense was the Fourth Contractor. And FN Herstal-USA, is throwing Colt the “Bone”. Just to keep them from going under…

  • Vitsaus

    Anyone who didn’t think they were getting a bailout was delusional.

  • Alright, the awards finally posted to

    For reference, here is the original solicitation W15QKN-15-R-0011:

    Colt’s contract W15QKN-15-D-0102:

    FN’s contract W15QKN-15-D-0072:

    In the solicitation, the government was looking at acquiring approximately 292,000 carbines over a five-year period from FY2016 to FY2020. The intention was to award contracts to up to two vendors, with a guaranteed minimum order of $10,000 for each.

  • Secundius

    Colt Defense, LLC., is the Sub-Contractor in the Deal. FN-USA, is the Prime Contractor in the Gun Buy…

  • CavScout

    Colt has made guns for the military for a long time. I really didn’t think they should be straight up cut out of the deal. The gov SHOULD show some amount of loyalty for quality goods delivered for many years. That to me is worth more than a few million extra, especially the way our gov pisses tax money away. Also, we keep more/larger factories running, good Americans employed, and the knowledge and capabilities at the ready if needed. I’ve used both Colt M4’s and FN M16A4’s. Both were good to go.

  • Mazryonh

    So now that Colt has a lifeline, will they try to regain the goodwill of civilian consumers and do things like reintroduce their snake-named revolvers? Or even make a newer version of their Colt Delta Elite pistol with an accessory rail and more modern cocking serrations, for instance?