Who actually produces M16's & M4's for the US military?


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Frog48
June 21, 2007, 11:45 PM
Every M16/M4 I've ever seen has either been Colt or FN... But if you flip through the pages of any gun magazine (or websites), it seems like every AR manufacturer claims that they make M16's & M4's for the US military.

I have a hard time believing that these seemingly civilian market oriented companies produce on a large scale for the military, because (to me) they seem like mom-and-pop operations, small in size.

Even the larger, more well known makers, such as Bushmaster, DPMS, etc claim to build for the military, yet I've never seen one.

Obviously, just because I've never seen one doesnt mean that they dont exist. I'm just curious.

So whats the real scoop on who makes M16/M4's?

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RNB65
June 21, 2007, 11:48 PM
FN has the current contract for the M4. They're made at FN's facility in South Carolina.

I don't know about the M16.

W.E.G.
June 21, 2007, 11:53 PM
Colt still has some M4 contracts.

I've seen some Army Marksmanship Unit shooters with match-grade service rifles outitted with Bushmaster receivers.

kcmarine
June 21, 2007, 11:59 PM
Bushy, FN, and Colt, I believe.

Owen
June 22, 2007, 12:07 AM
All m4's are made by Colt's.

All M16 A2/A4 are made by FN Mfg.

Hoppy590
June 22, 2007, 12:08 AM
some companys may subcontract parts. or so i understand. this would account for all the claims of other companys

jefmad
June 22, 2007, 12:31 AM
Bushmaster, Rock River, etc. also have U.S. Govt. contracts just not with the military.

RockyMtnTactical
June 22, 2007, 01:28 AM
Having a contract with the govt doesn't necessarily mean you have a contract with the US military.

HorseSoldier
June 22, 2007, 02:21 AM
Never seen anything besides a Colt or FN lower receiver on a military issue weapon. Uppers and other components can be more varied.

RevolvingCylinder
June 22, 2007, 03:01 AM
I've seen a Harrington & Richardson M16A2(older weapon and no longer a contractor). The only M16s and M4s that are currently produced are primarily FN and Colt. Never seen any Bushmaster nor Rock River Arms. Rock River Arms does have a contract with the DEA and I wouldn't doubt that Bushmaster has some contracts with other agencies.

Phantom Warrior
June 22, 2007, 03:43 AM
My M4 and my 203 are both manufactured by Colt, as was my M16A4 in basic. In basic our rifles were a mix of Colt and FN, with a couple receivers by a company called...Bali something from Florida, I think. Everything I've seen since coming into the active Army has been Colt.

Don't Tread On Me
June 22, 2007, 06:14 AM
I agree with most of the above. The M4 is still made by Colt. FN does the A2 and A4 in North Carolina.

Bushmaster, RRA and others do not have any military contract that I know of. If that ever happens, it will be big news on the web as many forums will have huge Colt-hater/Bushmaster fanboy threads. They do have government contracts though.

I don't think the military really cares who makes their rifles so long as they are the lowest bidder and located within the continental United States. Whomever makes them will have to make them to the military specification which should make a military contract Bushmaster equal to the Colt or FN or even an Olympic! It's not the company, it's the spec. It either meets the spec or it doesn't. As simple as that. Too many people take the things said about Colt as being a fan of the company. Most Colt owners (like myself) don't really care about Colt - we just recognize that their LE line of rifles are made to a higher quality than others. I'd rather Bushmaster build a superior AR than Colt - that way it wouldn't just be the best AR, but be an AR that comes from a good company too. Think of it like Ruger. Ruger is scum of the earth and probably the worst when it comes to screwing over gun owners with their idiotic crusade to limit magazine capacity (which hasn't stopped). However, if you want the best autoloading .22LR ...the 10/22 is pretty much it. Yeah, there's Marlin or you can get a high-dollar clone like a Volquartsen ...but for $170, the 10/22 is impossible to beat. However, Colt has not been anti-civiliangunowner as the web would have you believe. Most of what is spread around the web is an exaggeration or BS. A few things are true, but are misconstrued. S&W and Ruger have done 10x worse.

Anyway,

It is known though that politics have been involved in maintaining the business relationship between Colt and the military.

Nightcrawler
June 22, 2007, 06:25 AM
Older M16s that I've seen? My Guard unit had old M16A1s. I saw Colt lowers (some so old they were stamped "COLT AR-15" and lacked the ridge around the magazines release), H&R, and, of course, GM Hydra-Matic.

Right now, I think FN makes all of the M16A4s, but many A2s might be refitted to A4 standard. (My M16A2 in basic training was an overstamp conversion of an A1, for exmaple.)

Bushmaster supplies government agencies, but they have no military contracts, as has been stated. Some contractors use Bushmasters (we had them in Qatar) but those are purchased by the company.

This is going to be bugging me now. For the life of me, I swear I can recall seeing another manufacturer of M16A1 besides Colt, H&R, and GM, but I can't remember what it was...

Number 6
June 22, 2007, 06:36 AM
FN and Colt make almost all of the guns the US military uses for front line duty, but there are some exceptions. Bushmaster did make something like 80 M4s one time for the military before it was told to stop. Bushmaster was also awarded a contract to produce M16s for a contract that was brokered by the US army, but the US army was not the recipient.

There have also been reports of certain Rock River guns showing up here and there, and were largely thought to be video simulation training guns that somehow made it into the supply chain. Not to mention the various non-Colt A1s and retrofitted A2s that pop up from time to time. For US troops they get Colt and FN guns, but the military buys a lot of guns for other people as well and for other purposes.

Jeff White
June 22, 2007, 07:01 AM
Colt made the first M16s and M16A1s. Later to expand production, GM Turbo Hydromatic Division and Harrington and Richardson made M16A1s.

Colt originally made the M16A2. Later FN underbid Colt for the M16A2 contract. Only Colt can make an M4 they own the license for sales to the US military through 2013 IIRC after that other companies can produce the M4 but must pay Colt a royalty on each made.

Many of the old M16A1s have been converted to M16A2s and A4s. That's why you may see one with a lower receiver made by GM or H&R.

Bushmaster never made M4s for the Army. Any Bushmaster weapons you might see in the hands of the marksmanship units were most likely hand built by the marksmanship unit from commercial parts.

LMT has provided parts and complete weapons for some units that purchased them with their own funds. But only Colt, GM FN and H&R ever made M16s or M4s for general issue.

Jeff

Number 6
June 22, 2007, 07:57 AM
Bushmaster never made M4s for the Army. Any Bushmaster weapons you might see in the hands of the marksmanship units were most likely hand built by the marksmanship unit from commercial parts.

Bushmaster did provide 65 M4 type guns to the Army in 1990. I was incorrect about the quantity of guns in my previous post. It was one of the issues that came up in Colt's lawsuit against Bushmaster. It is mentioned on page 12 and 24 of the link below. I would not call that a huge contract or one of significance, but it does give them some ability to claim that they have supplied the military. I would be curious to know what happened to those Bushmaster M4s however.

http://www.med.uscourts.gov/opinions/cohen/2005/dmc_09202005_2-04cv240_colt_v_bushmaster_affirmed_12062005.pdf

Glockfan.45
June 22, 2007, 08:23 AM
Bushmaster never made M4s for the Army.

Bushmaster did provide a small number of M4s to the military at the start of Desert Storm. Then they got their butts sued by Colt, and that was the end of Bushmasters .gov contracts. As of this moment only two companys provide M16A2s, M16A3/A4, and M4s to the U.S military those two companies being Colt, and FN. I suspect that once Colt loses the sole rights to the TDP for the M4 FN will bid them out of prodution.

Once Colt loses production of the M4 you will either see them try to market the next "latest and greatest thing" to the military, or become a little more friendly to us civies.

steveracer
June 22, 2007, 08:47 AM
All of the Navy guns I've seen came through Crane, who makes the configuration you order from the pieces they have. All of our MK18s and M-4s have FN lowers, Colt's uppers, and LMT small parts (sights, rails, etc)
The AR-15s that we see from time to time, (Marked Colt AR-15) all have a Crane stamp on there somewhere.
The MP-5s say Crane on them, and the M500s do, too.

Prince Yamato
June 22, 2007, 09:03 AM
Oh come one people! Everyone knows that Vulcan Arms produces "The Machineguns of the Special Forces!" :neener:

BigG
June 22, 2007, 10:10 AM
It would be cool if the H&Rs had the old logo of their breaktop target revolver and the target with bullet holes rollmarked on the side of their M16. :neener:

SlamFire1
June 22, 2007, 11:21 AM
[QUOTE]It was one of the issues that came up in Colt's lawsuit against Bushmaster. It is mentioned on page 12 and 24 of the link below. http://www.med.uscourts.gov/opinions...d_12062005.pdf
QUOTE]

Just scanned the document and an interesting read it is. What you see is that since 1967 Colt has been trying to maintain a monopoly of supply on AR and M16 rifles. Obviously they lost the monopoly of supply for the basic M16 rifle, but in later contracts with the Army, they got the Army to agree to a "sole source" procurement.

Colt has aggressively brought many companies to court to protect a AR15 monopoly, both with Government contracting, and civilian sales. When I talked to Springfield Armory, they were the first to have a AR15 rifle on the market. At that time they were a little company and Colt sued them into the ground. To save the company they had to agree never to make any AR15's ever again. And if you notice, they have not. I think it was Bushmaster who broke the Colt monopoly on civilian sales. And thanks to Bushmaster, competition has been restored to the market place.

It is so unfortunate but Colt is not a market leader on anything. All Colt has is a history going back to the 1850's, patents and trademarks, and a huge bunch of lawyers. I suspect Colt has sued every firearm company that has ever produced a SAA, a lever action, a shotgun, or a semi automatic rifle.

The company is like some sort of evil Zoombie that feeds on the living. The sooner Colt is gone, the better the market place will be.

Joe Demko
June 22, 2007, 12:20 PM
Throughout its history Colt's has had a symbiotic, even parasitic, relationship with government. They've careened into, and out of, bankruptcy repeatedly and all that has saved them in those times were the government contracts.
When I was in an MBA program, I had to take a business ethics class. One of the "cases" we studied was how the M-16 was originally adopted and Colt's role in that. While they didn't do anything illegal, there was an overall sliminess in how it took place.

BigG
June 22, 2007, 01:26 PM
When I was in an MBA program, I had to take a business ethics class. One of the "cases" we studied was how the M-16 was originally adopted and Colt's role in that. While they didn't do anything illegal, there was an overall sliminess in how it took place.

Ha! what you didn't point out was the other side of that transaction: The gubermint! Anybody who does business with them has to dance to their tune and ends up doing tricks like a trained chimpanzee. It's the govt that is at least half the story. They have almost unlimited capacity for abuse of power and the petit bureaucrats love it. JMTC

Joe Demko
June 22, 2007, 02:50 PM
Ha! what you didn't point out was the other side of that transaction: The gubermint!

I wasn't implying that the slime came only from Colt's.
there was an overall sliminess in how it took place.

The players on both sides of the transaction fairly oozed it from every pore.

BigG
June 22, 2007, 03:27 PM
The players on both sides of the transaction fairly oozed it from every pore.

Oh heck, I wasn't 'cusin you, Joe I was just pointing out the other dance partner. It's not like ArmaLite and parent Fairchild did not bend over backwards to try to market their products, wining and dining all the dignitaries from DC before leaving the AR 10 and AR 15 to wither on the vine. Colt bought the entire rights to that system in 1957 (IIRC) and had to market their hineys off until they finally got Curt LeMay and MacNamara to bite. People (not you) that say Colt did nothing prove they know nothing of what they say. There would be no M16 without Colt. It would be a footnote in a history book somewhere. JMTC :)

vanfunk
June 22, 2007, 06:54 PM
When I talked to Springfield Armory, they were the first to have a AR15 rifle on the market.

Can you clarify your source for this? AFAIK, Springfield Armory never made an AR-15 pattern rifle.


I think it was Bushmaster who broke the Colt monopoly on civilian sales.

Bushmaster, like any other company, was free to manufacture rifles of the AR-15 pattern after the original design patents ran out. What Colt trademarked (wisely) was the AR-15 moniker, which of course no other manufacturer can use. That's why the Bushmaster offering is an XM15E2S, etc.

It is so unfortunate but Colt is not a market leader on anything. All Colt has is a history going back to the 1850's, patents and trademarks, and a huge bunch of lawyers. I suspect Colt has sued every firearm company that has ever produced a SAA, a lever action, a shotgun, or a semi automatic rifle.

Colt has led the way in product innovation for the AR-15 family of weapons, and currently makes 8000 M4's a month. The fact that they have attempted to protect their product (with varying degrees of success) is simply sound business practice. Cometition is a good thing, consumer confusion about product integrity is another. For example, an "M4" is a very specific type of weapon, endowed with certain physical and operational characteristics. When Bushmaster says they make an "M4", but it doesn't have M4 feedramps, or an "F" marked front sight base, or a 1/7" twist barrel, or a mil-spec receiver extension, or an MPI'd bolt, etc., is it really an M4? Well, no.

Anyway, in answer to the original query, right now only Colt and FN (and LMT in some way, to the Navy) supply weapons to the US military. Colt recently received a contract for more M16A4 rifles; FN produces only M16A4 rifles at present. Colt has the exclusive contract to provide the military with the M4 until 2009. At that point, Colt will likely retain the current contract, although FN is expected to supplement M4 production.

Outlaws
June 22, 2007, 07:55 PM
It is so unfortunate but Colt is not a market leader on anything.

Who cares. If Colt quit making firearms tomorrow, would anyone even notice? There are better products out there for equal or less money, just ask Kimber...they are Colts "excuse" for not making normal production 1911's any longer.

Grunt
June 22, 2007, 08:10 PM
Out of the thousands of weapons I've inspected and handled over the years, I've seen M-16 series dating from the 601 series AR-15s made by Armalite, Colt made M-16s, Colt and FN made M-16A2s and Colt made M-4s. If there are any Bushmaster, DPMS, Armalite (current company) Stag or other makers weapons or parts out there, I have yet to see any.

gezzer
June 22, 2007, 08:19 PM
Keep up guy sin the last month or so Bushmaster won against Colt. The M4 designation and it's spec are belonging to the .Gov and Colt looses anyone may make to that designation as it is public domain. Do a google.

Frog48
June 22, 2007, 08:20 PM
Thanks guys, lots of good info here.

HorseSoldier
June 22, 2007, 08:29 PM
All of the Navy guns I've seen came through Crane, who makes the configuration you order from the pieces they have. All of our MK18s and M-4s have FN lowers, Colt's uppers, and LMT small parts (sights, rails, etc)

Crane is an assembler, not a manufacturer. They do great work, but they don't fabricate much in house.

The MP-5s say Crane on them, and the M500s do, too.

Hmmm. My unit's MP5s don't, but maybe they're purchased from a different contract.

ar154life
June 23, 2007, 01:09 AM
Didn't bushmaster win a contract for some m16a3s a couple months back?

KC&97TA
June 23, 2007, 02:01 AM
I've only seen Colt M4's and I see about 30 to 35 different students each three weeks, all carrying M4's.

My issued Rifle in my last unit was a M16A4, made by FN. I must say... it was the most accurate M16 I've had the pleasure to do buissiness with.

Besides Colt and FN, the only other "varriant" of the M16 that I've seen is the SR-25, by Knights Armament, it's not really an M16

I'd say it is safe to say that there maybe many different "XM" varriants of the AR/M16 platform floating around, but they aren't in anyway part of a large contract.

Several years ago I was part of a platoon that was testing different versions of M16's, even one that was belt fed, I believe they were all Colt lowers, but we were in such a pinch for time to; burn out the barrels and record the round count allong with the different types of malfunctions, that I didn't pay too much attention to the lowers.

Number 6
June 23, 2007, 06:47 AM
Didn't bushmaster win a contract for some m16a3s a couple months back?

Yes, but the recipient was not the US military. Rumor was that they were going to the Iraqi military or for contractors working for the military.

vanfunk
June 23, 2007, 10:00 AM
Keep up guy sin the last month or so Bushmaster won against Colt. The M4 designation and it's spec are belonging to the .Gov and Colt looses anyone may make to that designation as it is public domain. Do a google.

Can you elaborate on your understanding of the Colt vs. Bushmaster lawsuit? I'm well aware of the outcome, but I admit I am having trouble keeping up with your point.

Thank you,

vanfunk

Warbow
June 23, 2007, 12:22 PM
Keep up guy sin the last month or so Bushmaster won against Colt. The M4 designation and it's spec are belonging to the .Gov and Colt looses anyone may make to that designation as it is public domain. Do a google.

That was only for the use of "M4" as a generic term to label and advertise. Colt still holds the proprietary rights to the design specifications of the M4 until 2011 according to the judgement. So Colt is still the sole-source provider of M4s to the military until then.

Bluehawk
June 24, 2007, 04:33 PM
Speaking of the M4...did you know Colt has contracted with a company in Turkey to manufacture and export the M4??
When I was in Basic Training at Ft Dix in 1969 I didn't see an M16 until the
6th week (we trained with the M14). My "M16" was stamped...Armalite...AR15!
Just curious...why wouldn't that guy that posted vote for Fred Thompson???

kcmarine
June 24, 2007, 04:44 PM
There's a little factory with little elves that make them.

mp510
June 24, 2007, 08:30 PM
When I was in Basic Training at Ft Dix in 1969 I didn't see an M16 until the
6th week (we trained with the M14). My "M16" was stamped...Armalite...AR15!
Colt made rifles from that era, made in c.1970, also had AR-15 stamps on them.

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