The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1988

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters

1988

 

The AMC completes the system fielding of the M16A2.

The US Army Cold Regions Test Center continues arctic testing of the M249.

Aberdeen begins trials for the XM858 short-range training cartridge. Candidates include an aluminum-cased cartridge from Omark and plastic cartridges from Federal, Winchester and the United States Ammunition Company.

The US Navy SEALs begin issue of the Colt RO727 carbine.

Diemaco begins production of flat-top upper receivers.

The CETME Model L and LC enter Spanish military service.

FFV production Ak5 (FN FNC) enter Swedish military service.

CIS introduces the SR88, a product improved SAR80.

RO introduces the L98A1, a straight-pull cadet rifle conversion of the L85A1 rifle. They also introduce a proposed SA80 Carbine. Unlike the 1984 prototype, this model is just long enough to incorporate a vertical foregrip ahead of the trigger guard. In addition, they introduce the 40mm Enfield Close Assault Weapon (ENCAW), an underbarrel grenade launcher for the L85A1.

Papua New Guinea purchases 5,000 Australian-made AUG.

Testing resumes for the Wieger rifle. With the successful conclusion of testing, the Wieger 940 system is rushed into production.

Chinese engineers begin development of a long range, heavy bullet loading for the 5.8x42mm cartridge. This is intended for a future sniper rifle and LMG.

GIAT of France begins work on a PDW cartridge and weapon. The Armes de Défense Rapprochée (ADR) is envisioned as a family of three weapons: a pistol, a PDW, and a small assault rifle. Initial efforts are centered around a 5.7x25mm cartridge, apparently based on the 7.63x25mm Mauser (.30 Mauser) case necked down. It appears that later prototypes are chambered for a 5.7x22mm cartridge, based on the 7.65x21mm Luger (.30 Luger) case necked down.

The US Army Environmental Hygiene Agency publishes “Health Hazard Assessment Report on the Enhanced M16A2 Rifle Optical Sight.”

January:
The GAO publishes a classified report titled “US-Korea co-production: A Review of the M16 Rifle Program.” An unclassified, redacted version is released three months later.

ARDEC‘s ACR Project Office conducts the fourth quarterly review meeting for ACR Phase II.

Colt’s testing of Reed Knight’s muzzle brake/compensator (MBC) assembly indicates a successful decrease in recoil combined with a 15 to 20 decibel reduction in muzzle blast.

Picatinny awards a $449,000 contract modification to MDHC for ACR RDT&E.

Ireland adopts the Steyr AUG. The AUG has beaten out the Beretta AR70/90, the Colt M16A2, the Enfield L85A1, the FN FNC, the HK G41, the IMI Galil, the FAMAS, and the SIG SG550.

HK introduces camouflaged variants of the HK 33 and GR3. C-suffix rifles possess a woodland camo scheme while S-suffix rifles are finished in a desert scheme.

The British begin Environmental User Trials for the SA80. Besides standard production L85A1 and L86A1, two different modification packages for the IW/LSW are tested. To complicate matters, the two alternative build standards are labeled A2 and A3, not to be confused with the recent HK-modified L85A2/L86A2. RSAF Enfield labels the prototype IW as XL85E2 and XL85E3, with the LSW as the XL86E2. Parts modified for the A2 and A3 include the following:

  • Bolt
  • Magazine Catch
  • Trigger return spring
  • Safety plunger
  • Recoil spring
  • Gas plug
  • Gas port
  • Gas cylinder
  • Gas piston
  • Piston spring
  • Cocking handle
  • Ejection port dust cover

In addition, the A3 adds an extra recoil spring and uses a lightened bolt carrier.

AMCCOM awards a $1,235,000 contract modification to FNMI related to the M16.

February:
During an In-Process Review of the ACR project, Colt decides to use Olin’s full-caliber duplex cartridge and adopt Reed Knight’s MBC for use with their ACR. In addition, deliveries have been made of the ELCAN optic and the new 7-position collapsible buttstock.

The military specification for the M16A2 rifle, MIL-R-63997B(AR), is amended.

March:
AMCCOM awards a $31,000 contract modification to Colt related to the M16.

Aberdeen awards a $357,000 contract modification to Colt related to the M249.

Guatemala begins negotiations with Colt for a purchase of M16.

The HK G11 enters technical trials in West Germany.

Joseph C. Kurak, on behalf of R/M Equipment, receives US Patent #4,733,489 titled “Apparatus for Reconfiguring Automatic Rifle to Include Grenade Launching Function.”

April:
Colt concentrates their ACR program on recoil control, tweaking the design of their hydraulic buffer assembly.

Picatinny awards a $157,000 contract modification to AAI for ACR RDT&E.

Steyr’s Ulrich Zedrosser receives US Patent #4,739,570 titled “Firearm.”

AMCCOM awards a $1,593,000 contract modification to FNMI related to the M16.

May:
AMCCOM issues an open solicitation for M16A2 construction over a five-year contract.

AMCCOM awards a $99,000 delivery order to Colt related to the M16 for FMS.

ACR Phase III contracts are awarded.
Picatinny awards $104,000 and $700,000 contract modifications to Colt, a $500,000 contract modification to HK, a $800,000 contract modification to Steyr, and a $700,000 contract modification to AAI for ACR RDT&E.

MDHC fabricates their first complete, firing AIWS prototype. The final version is semi-automatic with a 10 round side-mounted magazine. The cartridges feed upwards from the magazine into the chamber. Spent casings are pushed out through the top of the weapon as the next cartridge slides into place.

The HK G11 receives its Safety Certification.

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

The British end Environmental User Trials for the SA80. The new bolts prove to be problematic as several fail during use. Two break after a mere four rounds have been fired. The A2 standard is found to be the most reliable, but all of the rifles still show problems in dirty conditions.

June:
MDHC is dropped from the ACR program.

The military specification for the M16 and M16A1 rifles, MIL-R-45587A, is validated.

The military specifications for the M199 and M232 Dummy Cartridges are canceled.

The HK G11 enters troop trials in West Germany.

July:
The Army Biomedical Research and Development Lab publishes the report “Comparison of Particulate Lead Levels for Different Ammunition Types Used with the M16 Rifle.” This study compares the relative amounts of airborne lead produced by the M16 rifle firing the M193 standard M16 5.56mm conventional ammunition, the M862 5.56mm plastic training ammunition, and the conventional caliber .22 rifle cartridge. Both breech and breech plus muzzle lead emissions were determined for each type of ammunition.

Picatinny awards a $532,000 contract modification to HK for ACR RDT&E.

Picatinny awards a $200,000 contract modification to AAI for ACR RDT&E.

Picatinny awards a $269,000 contract modification to MDHC for ACR RDT&E.

AMCCOM deallocates $647,000 in a contract modification to FNMI related to the M16.

AMCCOM awards a $182,000 contract to Balimoy Mfg. for replacement M16A2 lower receivers.

August:
Aberdeen awards a $74,000 contract modification to Colt related to the M249.

Picatinny awards a $989,000 contract modification to HK for ACR RDT&E.

Picatinny awards a $400,000 contract modification to ARES for ACR RDT&E.

Picatinny awards a $200,000 contract modification to Steyr for ACR RDT&E.

Steyr’s Ulrich Zedrosser receives US Patent #4,760,663 titled “Firearm.”

September:
AMCCOM awards $32,264,000 to FNMI for M16A2 production. It is the initial order of a multi-year contract worth $112,652,562 for 266,961 rifles.

AMCCOM awards $15,442,000 to FNMI for M249 production. It is the initial order of a multi-year contract worth ~$41 million for ~30,000 SAW.

AMCCOM awards a $675,000 delivery order to FN related to the M249. This is for FMS.

Picatinny awards a $493,000 contract modification to HK for ACR RDT&E.

RSAF Enfield finishes its last complete SA80.

At the ADPA Small Arms Symposium, HK reveals additional details of their G11 LMG. The design will use a three-chamber cylinder in order to help prevent cook-offs, and feed from a 300 round magazine located in the butt. HK has produced a working hardware model of the ammunition feed system, and have fired a fully functional breech and loading system. They are conducting live fire testing to determine the cook-off threshold.

Gene Stoner receives US Patent #4,770,098 titled “Telescoped Ammunition Round.”

October:
Colt files a protest with the GAO over FNMI‘s M16A2 contract award. Colt contends that proposals were not evaluated in accordance with the RFP evaluation criteria. In addition, Colt challenges the Army’s determination that FN is a responsible contractor claiming that the Army failed to consider information that FNMI was delinquent on a substantial number of its current contracts, lacked financial capacity, and had quality deficiencies. Colt alleges that the Army in bad faith deliberately chose to ignore the “performance risks” associated with the FN award, and that the Army awarded the contract to FN simply to deny the award to Colt.

A group of US Congressmen urge the State Department to halt a $13.8 million sale of 20,000 M16 to Guatemala.

The military specification for the M231 FPW, MIL-S-63348A(AR), is validated.

RSAF Enfield ceases production of SA80-related parts, and is closed soon after.

November:
Colt conducts the End of Phase II Maturity Demonstration for their ACR prototype.

AMCCOM awards a $800,000 contract modification to Steyr for ACR RDT&E.

Royal Ordnance’s Alexander Newman and Derek Skinner receive US Patent #D298,644 titled “Bayonet for an Automatic Firearm.”

Late:
Brunswick begins a company funded NDI qualification of the Rifleman’s Assault Weapon (RAW). The RAW is bowling ball-shaped, rocket-propelled grenade fired from a device attached to the muzzle and bayonet lug of a M16.

December:
AMCCOM awards a $7,936,000 contract modification to FNMI for M249.

AMCCOM awards a $483,000 contract modification to FN related to the M249. This is for FMS.

AMCCOM awards a $212,000 contract modification to AAI for ACR RDT&E.

(Next: 5.56mm 1989)

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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