The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1984

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters

1984

 

General Richard H. Thompson renames DARCOM the US Army Materiel Command (AMC).

Australia receives SCAMP machinery.

Fiji purchases ~750 M16A2 from Colt.

The US makes a FMS of 40 M16A1 to Egypt for evaluation.

The US State Department’s Office of Munitions Control denies an export license to Guatemala for 3,350 laser sights for the M16 worth $ 7,705,000.

Spain places an order for 14,000 CETME Model L rifles.

GIAT introduces the FAMAS Commando.

Beretta introduces the AR70/84 LMG, a product improved variant of the AR70/74.

Daewoo introduces the K2 rifle, K1A carbine, and K3 machinegun.

RSAF builds a pilot model SA80 carbine. A Phase III prototype is sacrificed for the purpose. The resulting weapon is as short as a L2A3 SMG with its stock folded. In fact, the weapon is so short that there is no provision for a foregrip.

The British approve Radway Green’s SS109 equivalent as the Cartridge, Ball, L2A1. The L1A1 Tracer and L5A1 Drill Cartridges are also approved.

Sweden places an order for 80,000 FN FNC (Ak5). Initial deliveries come directly from FN, until domestic production of the rifle can begin at FFV Ordnance (later absorbed as part of Bofors).

FMAP-DM begins limited production of their 5.56mm rifle, now dubbed the FARA-83.

Cameroon’s military purchases the Steyr AUG.

Djibouti acquires 400 FAMAS.

Early:
Under Secretary of the US Army Ambrose increases the funding available for the ACR program and other small arms projects.

January:
The first 1,500 M16A2 rifles are delivered to the USMC Marksmanship Training Unit at Quantico for use in matches. Grumbling arises from Marine competitive shooters about the negative effects of the 3 round burst mechanism upon the consistency of trigger pull weight in semi-auto use.

AMCCOM deallocates $1,443,000 from a delivery order to Colt related to the M16.

The M249 SAW‘s military specification, MIL-M70446(AR), is issued.

Lake City AAP files “Study Plan for Monthly Production of 5.56mm Rounds to Determine Staffing.” Later, Lake City issues its findings in the study “Total of All 5.56mm Rounds & Plant Staffing (1980 Through 1983).”

The military specification for M197 Tracer, MIL-C-60111C, is amended.

The military specification for M862 Plastic Practice Ball, DOD-C-70463(AR), is published.

Pre-Acceptance and Provisional Acceptance Meetings are held to determine whether the SA80 IW/LSW are ready for service introduction. British manufactured 5.56mm NATO Ball and Tracer ammunition is given full approval. Limited approval is given to the IW, SUSAT, Colt-manufactured magazines, the armorer’s tool kit, and the bayonet with its multi-purpose scabbard. However, acceptance is deferred for the LSW due to its lack of burst fire accuracy. Comparative trials with foreign LSW alternatives are approved.

After five years of trials pitting the FN FNC versus the M16A1, the Canadian government decides for the latter.

LEW introduces the R5 carbine.

February:
AMCCOM awards a $46,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16.

Colt files suit against Daewoo and the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.

Diemaco is awarded over $107 million (Canadian) for 79,935 rifles, 1,565 carbines, 470,570 Thermold magazines, and 6,500 FN Minimi. The C7 rifle is to become a variant of the Colt M16A2, albeit retaining the full-auto mode, rear sight, and shorter buttstock pattern of the M16A1. (Diemaco claims to have eventually made 150 changes to the TDP.) The C8 carbine is closer to the profile of the old Model 653 carbine, updated to the 1-in-7″ twist and other “M16A2” improvements (except for the M16A1-style rear sight). The C8 is to retain 86 percent parts commonality with the C7. Colt designates these Canadian variants, the Model 715 and 725 respectively. The FN Minimi becomes the C9. These are intended to be built to Canadian specs using a number of Diemaco-made parts.

Colt’s Henry Tatro receives US Patent #4,433,610 titled “Open Bolt Firing Mechanism for Automatic Firearm.”

AMCCOM awards a $287,000 contract modification to Parsons Precision Products.

March:
AMCCOM awards a $493,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16 and M203.

US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirms the lower court’s decision granting the injunction against Springfield Armory and Rock Island Armory.

The BRL begins the third phase of testing of the Lake City M855 and M856. The testing is a real-range determination of striking velocity and limit-cycle yaw for the four ammunition types, using the limit-cycle test equipment in the BRL Transonic Range.

The military specification for M855 Ball, MIL-C-63989(AR), is published.

The military specification for 5.56mm Heavy Bullet Reference cartridges, MIL-C-70460(AR), is published.

The military specification for the M857 Dummy Cartridge, MIL-C-70468(AR), is published.

ARRADCOM awards a $250,000 contract modification to AAI for ACR caseless ammunition RDT&E.

ARRADCOM awards a $712,000 contract modification to HK for ACR RDT&E.

April:
The flat-top M16A2 rifle project is relabeled the M16A2 Enhanced Rifle, or M16A2E1.

ARRADCOM awards a $81,000 contract to Colt related to the M16.

AMCCOM awards a $100,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16 and M203 for FMS.

AMCCOM also awards a $92,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M203.

Indonesia finally negotiates for a production license for the FN FNC.

Phase B of British Ordnance Board Trials ends for the IW/LSW. The performance is even worse than the Phase A results. The IW turns in 106 MRBS and the LSW dramatically falls to 116 MRBS. However, the creative accounting continues. With only the most severe stoppages/failures counted during the endurance phase alone, the IW posts a 4,035 MRBF. Under the same method, the LSW falls to 1,984 MRBF. The “split-burst” phenomenon also rears its head for the LSW. While the first round in a burst will hit near the point of aim, the remainder of the burst will group elsewhere. A separate meeting is held to review the LSW accuracy issue.

SIG‘s Alois Bernet and Eduard Brodbeck receive US Patent #4,443,962 titled “Bolt Slot Guard for a Hand Weapon.”

May:
AMCCOM deallocates $28,000 from a delivery order to Colt related to the M16.

The US Embassy in Fiji propose liquidating $35,000 from a Fijian Army holding account for the purchase of additional M16, if they could be transferred to a funding package for the Sinai Multilateral Force and Observers (MFO). If not, the funds could be used to purchase badly needed M16 repair kits. The rifles are needed for training personnel who be assigned to the Sinai MFO.

ARRADCOM awards $147,000 and $33,000 contract modifications to AAI for ACR caseless ammunition RDT&E.

L. James Sullivan and Robert L. Waterfield, on behalf of CIS, receive US Patent #4,445,418 titled “Drum Magazine for a Gun.”

June:
The USMC and Colt sign a follow-on contract for 50,364 M16A2 rifles.

The US Army issues a RFP for the production of 28,750 M249.

Lake City AAP issues the study “5.56mm Staffing Levels.”

The British ITDU begins LSW Comparative Weapon Trials. The LSW is pitted against the FN Minimi, HK 13, and Steyr AUG-HBAR. The L4A4 LMG and L7A2 GPMG are used as controls. The LSWs used have been modified with a pistol grip near the butt, and a swing-up shoulder support.

L. James Sullivan, on behalf of CIS, files US patent applications for the bolt carrier design and the lockwork mechanism of the Ultimax 100.

AMCCOM awards $2,046,000 and $2,083,000 contracts to Parsons Precision Products.

July:
AMCCOM awards $65,000 and $593,000, and deallocates $1,398,000 in delivery orders to Colt related to the M16.

The British ITDU ends LSW Comparative Weapon Trials. The LSW fails the semi-auto accuracy standard, still produces split groups, yet manages to pass the revised standard for full-auto group size. Reliability is still deemed to be poor, and the new shoulder support is considered useless as it is mounted too high to actually contact the shoulder. The foreign competitors are all considered to be more robust and reliable; however, each possesses their own deficiencies. The FN Minimi produces excessive sized burst groups, the HK 13 produces split groups in full-auto fire, and the Steyr AUG-HBAR fails to meet the semi-auto accuracy standard. While the Steyr is the favorite of the trials staff, its use of a non-standard magazine makes it unacceptable as a LSW replacement.

As a result of the trials, a new version of the LSW is created, the XL73E3. The main difference is the introduction of a full-length receiver extension, which places the bipod under the muzzle.

HK‘s Horst Jakubaschk and Erich Weisser file an US patent application for the G11’s magazine.

August:
AMCCOM awards a $25,000 contract modification to Colt related to the 1967 Licensing Agreement.

September:
Colt is awarded a third contract for 63,188 M16A2 rifles.

AMCCOM awards $31,341,000 and deallocates $29,000 in delivery orders to Colt related to the M16.

Colt holds a meeting to begin development of a M16A2-based carbine, what will later become the XM4. The USAIB begins testing of the prototypes as they are made available.

Springfield Armory and Colt settle the patent suit. Under the settlement, Springfield/Rock Island is permanently enjoined from selling M16 rifles to El Salvador. Moreover, Springfield/Rock Island cannot use Colt’s proprietary drawings and information in the manufacture or sale of M16 rifles, unless Colt is later determined to have lost its trade secret rights.

The British finally give provisional acceptance to the Enfield LSW.

October:
The military specification for M855 Ball, MIL-C-63989(AR), is revised to MIL-C-63989A(AR).

The military specification for M856 Tracer, MIL-C-63990(AR), is revised to MIL-C-63990A(AR).

The military specification for 5.56mm Heavy Bullet Reference cartridges, MIL-C-70460(AR), is revised to MIL-C-70460A(AR).

The military specification for the M200 Blank, MIL-C-60616A(AR), is revised to MIL-C-60616B(AR).

The military specification for the M857 Dummy Cartridge, MIL-C-70468(AR), is revised to MIL-C-70468A(AR).

After improvements, SIG redesignates the SG541 as the SG550.

L. James Sullivan, on behalf of CIS, receives US Patent #4,475,437 titled “Sear Actuator,” and US Patent #4,475,438 titled “Gas Operated, Automatic or Semi-Automatic Guns.”

Honduras purchases Ultimax 100.

November:
Picatinny awards a $68,000 contract to Colt related to the M16 for RDT&E.

A senior US Administration official indicates that the US will provide FY 1985 military aid to Fiji to allow them to standardize on the M16 for the country’s three army battalions. Ultimately, $300,000 in aid is provided under the FY 1985 MAP.

The British ITDU begins hot weather trials of the SA80 family.

Pier G. Beretta files an US patent application for the ambidextrous magazine catch of the AR70/90 family.

SIG‘s Bruno Schwaller receives US Patent #4,484,403 titled “Weapon Magazine.”

December:
AMCCOM awards a $80,000 contract modification to Colt related to the 1967 Licensing Agreement.

The British ITDU ends hot weather trials of the SA80 family.

HK‘s Rudolf Brandl and Heinz Matt file an US patent application for the linkless ammunition feed system for the HK 73.

(Next: 5.56mm 1985)

by Daniel E. Watters, Small Arms Historian
Post questions or comments at The 5.56mm Timeline’s Facebook page.

Document History
Publication: 12/10/1998
Last Revised: 05/17/2009

 

Author’s Note
This article was originally published at The Gun Zone — The Gunperson’s Authoritative Internet Information Resource. My friend and mentor Dean Speir has graciously hosted my articles at TGZ for nearly 16 years. These articles would likely have never appeared online without his constant encouragement and assistance. 

With TGZ’s closure in early 2017, Dean encouraged me to find a new home for my scholarship so it wouldn’t be lost in the dustbin of the Internet. Loose Rounds has welcomed me with open arms. In the future, I intend to expand my legacy TGZ articles and add new contributions here at Loose Rounds.

 

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