The New Zealand Army has been looking to replace their aging Steyr AUG rifles for some time. The New Zealand Ministry of Defense held trials to select a successor, competing in which were Beretta, CZ, Colt Canada, FNH, Steyr, SIG, H&K, and LMT. It was recently announced by the NZ MoD that Lewis Machine & Tool was selected as the winner – though what rifle they submitted was not mentioned:
A Request for Tender for the provision of contemporary individual weapons, necessary training, and associated support to the NZDF closed on 12 November 2014. Following the evaluation of the tender responses, the companies listed below were selected for the trials programme phase of the evaluation, which was undertaken between 2 March and 1 June 2015.
The following companies were selected for the Individual Weapon trials phase:
- Beretta New Zealand Limited
- Česká zbrojovka a.s.
- Colt Canada Corporation
- FN HERSTAL
- STEYR MANNLICHER GmbH
- XTEK Limited (Sig Sauer)
- Heckler & Kock GmbH
- Lewis Machine & Tools Co Inc
Following the trials programme phase of the evaluation of tenders, the Ministry has selected Lewis Machine & Tool Co Inc of the USA as preferred Tenderer. Subject to the Ministry undertaking a Due Dilligence activity and negotiation of a contract package, New Zealand Government approval will be sought to proceed to award of a contract.
The New Zealand Army recently ordered a 7.62mm LMT rifle very similar to the L129A1 in use with the British Army, so this may have been a factor in the company’s selection for the new NZ Individual Weapon. Conspicuously, the New Zealand Army expressed no preference for a bullpup platform.
UPDATE: Steve (the editor) here. We have a number of readers in New Zealand. Two of them both reported that the NZ Army have been referring to these rifles as the “M4”. I am not sure if this is an official designation, a model number or if it literally references a US mil-spec M4 Carbine (probably not).
Soldiers who say the rifles say the Army was testing two versions, one with a 16″ barrel and one with an 18″ barrel.
Apparently LMT rifles test at the Burnham Military Camp a couple of weeks ago resemble the LMT CQB16ODGB (although probably is not this exact model) which retails for $2,100. The CQB16ODGB features:
* CQB MRP® Upper Receiver (ODG).
* 16″ Chrome Lined 1:7″ Twist H-Bar Contour 5.56 Barrel.
* Standard Semi Auto Bolt Carrier Group.
* Tactical Charging Handle Assembly.
* Defender Lower (ODG) with SOPMOD Buttstock and Standard Trigger Group.
* Tactical Adjustable Flip Up Rear Sight.
* Tactical Flip Up Front Sight.
Apparently the NZ Army uses, or is planning on using, heavy 77 grain 5.56mm ammunition.
Thanks to all our Kiwi friends for sharing information with us.
Phil Note: While we would love to tell you and show you the exact rifle common government contract restrictions prevent the company from sharing that information.