US Army Still Seeking M4A2+ Carbines?

    Spc. Landrew Sappa, of Aua, Pago Pago, American Samoa deployed with the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, man's the gunner's hatch of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. He maintained security for more than four hours on this convoy. (Photo by: Sgt. Justin Graff)

    After being cancelled in mid-2016, could the M4 Carbine upgrade program still be alive? That is the suggestion from a line in the US Army’s justification for its research budget in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which references an “M4A2┬áPlus Rifle” as a new weapons development effort:

    The justification is a little dated – having been posted in May of this year – but it still indicates that the M4 upgrade program may be hanging on, even over a year since its cancellation.

    Whatever the future Army procurement needs may be, the development and fielding of an upgraded M4 Carbine specification is an obvious first next step. The current M4A1 is a good rifle, but lacks substantial refinements which have been available on the commercial market for close to a decade. Higher quality cold hammer forged barrels that last longer, rail systems that free float the barrel and gas tube assembly improving practical accuracy while maintaining a low POI shift for laser attachments, and new trigger assemblies which substantially improve trigger weight and feel, all are potential upgrades that could turn the “good” M4A1 into an excellent weapon that is competitive with the very latest rifles on the international market. If such a program were conducted, the Army could piggyback developments onto the US SOCOM’s Upper Receiver Group program, which aims to accomplish the same upgrade to the M4 Carbine platform. Perhaps at the same time, they could court USMC interest, possibly preserving the inter-service weapons commonality┬ámaintained with the successful M4 platform.

    Thanks to Ramlaen 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. He can be reached via email at [email protected]