5.56 Timeline

The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1995

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters



Upon request by the Defence Procurement Agency, Royal Ordnance assigns HK to examine the issue of L85A1 and L86A1 reliability.

Bofors introduces the CGA-5/C2, a compact variant of the Swedish military’s Ak5 (itself a FN FNC variant).

The British L14A1 Drill Cartridge enters service.

China completes development of the 5.8x42mm heavy bullet load. The selected projectile weighs 77 grains.

The INSAS LMG completes troop trials.

The Civil Disturbance Control System is declared obsolete.

HK introduces a variant of their 40mm HK 79 underbarrel grenade launcher for the L85A1.

The US Army type-classifies the M5 collapsible buttstock for the M249. This is the same buttstock used for the Minimi Para.

Mark Westrom, now president of Eagle Arms, purchases the rights to the ArmaLite name and trademarks. The corporation is reorganized as ArmaLite, with Eagle Arms reassigned as a division of ArmaLite.

Richard Baker provides FNMI with design drawings for their requested modular rail system.

MIL-STD-1913 is approved, providing a standard for accessory/scope rail dimensions.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 34,744 M16A1 and 2,469 M203 to Israel at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

ACALA deallocates $142,501 in a contract modification to FNMI for M249.

The military specification for M193 Ball, MIL-C-9963F, is amended for a third time.

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

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

The military specification for M856 Tracer, MIL-C-63990C(AR), is amended for a second time.

CECOM issues a market survey announcement to locate additional sources for the AN/PAQ-4C Infrared Aiming Light (IAL) System, for use with the M16A1, M16A2, M16/M203, M4, M249, M60, and M2. CECOM intends to order up to 22,534 IAL.

Diemaco completes delivery of rifles and carbines for the Canadian military.

The British ITDU conducts User Reliability Trials of a modified gas system for the SA80.

The Objective Personal Weapon Shooters’ Conference is held.

FN‘s Canio Fortunato receives US Patent #5,388,360 titled “Loader with Tilting Cartridges for Pistol or Machine Pistol.”

FNMI is awarded a $9 million contract modification for an additional 4,098 M249.

ACALA awards $8,995,110 and $1,862,711 contract modifications to FNMI for M249.

ACALA issues a solicitation for 24,144 M16A1 Modification Kits. The kits will be used to upgrade existing M16A1 to the current M16A2 standard.

ARDEC publishes a report titled “ARDEC Evaluation of Blown 5.56mm M4A1 Carbine Barrel.”

Diemaco begins delivery of rifles to the Dutch military. The Royal Netherlands Marine Corps is slated for the first deliveries, with the other branches following.

USAF Materiel Command issues a sole-source solicitation to Havis-Shields Equipment Corp. for 403 Advantage Point Aiming Lights. The latter offers IR laser targeting and IR visible illumination from a single lightweight, unibody component mounted under the weapon.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 200 M203 to Jordan at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

ACALA awards FNMI a $6,955,520 contract for production of the M16A2.

ACALA awards a $191,665 contract modification to Colt for M4 carbines.

ACALA issues a sole-source solicitation to FNMI for 4,618 M249.

ARDEC and JSSAP, in conjunction with the American Defense Preparedness Association (ADPA), announces their intent to hold an Objective Personal Weapon (OPW) Conference in August 1995.

ACALA awards a $31,036 contract modification to FNMI for M249 RDT&E.

The German Bundeswehr officially adopts the HK G36 rifle, choosing it over the Steyr AUG. Later in the year, the Bundeswehr’s Special Operations Command (KSK) requests the development of a carbine variant, which becomes the G36K.

ACALA announces its intent to purchase a Multiple Magazine Holder (MMH) as a non-developmental item (NDI). The MMH will interface with the M16 series rifle or the M4 carbine, and hold a pair of 30 round magazines. If the MMH attaches to the weapon itself, the MMH must be compatible with the M12 arms rack and the M203 grenade launcher. The weight of the MMH shall not exceed four ounces.

CECOM issues a sole-source solicitation to Lockheed Sanders Inc. for the AN/PLQ-5 LCMS.

The US Army’s SAMP is updated and accepted by JSSAP as the Joint Services Small Arms Master Plan (JSSAMP). The OPW (formerly OPDW) is now described as a concealable lightweight system (less than 3 pounds), with recoil no greater than a 9x19mm pistol, an effective range out to 200m, and a low magnetic signature. Requirements for an Objective Sniper Weapon (OSW) are also added.

ACALA deallocates $40,500 in a contract modification to FNMI for M16A2.

ACALA awards a $668,180 contract modification to Colt for M4 carbines. ACALA also awards a $740,904 contract modification related to the M4 carbine.

ACALA awards a $36,548 contract modification to FNMI for M249 RDT&E.

CECOM issues a solicitation for up to 20,719 AN/PAQ-4C Infrared Aiming Light (IAL) Systems.

ACALA issues a solicitation for 17,107 Combat Slings for use with the M4/M4A1.

Denmark purchases 2,572 Diemaco C7A1 rifles for Danish troops assigned to UN Peacekeeping duties in Bosnia. The contract is worth $5 million.

The Luxembourg Army adopts the Steyr AUG.

ACALA awards a $10,789,042.75 contract to FNMI for 4,618 M249.

The French Army awards a contract to GIAT for pre-feasibility studies of the PAPOP (Polyarmes, poly-projectiles) multi-role weapon, similar in concept to that of the US Army’s OICW. By the end of the initial study phase, GIAT is required to deliver a computer-generated, three-dimensional rendition of the Arme Infanterie Future (AIF) kit and a plastic model of the PAPOP design. GIAT’s development team ultimately includes its subsidiaries FN (weapon architecture, system integration, and kinetic-energy ammunition), Euroimpact (air-burst ammunition), and SFIM ODS (fire control).

Picatinny awards a $200,530 contract to Trijicon for Reflex Collimator Sights and Mounts.

FNMI receives an order for 88,500 M16A2.

NSWC-Crane requests copies of the M4A1 TDP from ACALA. The TDP is needed in support of the SOPMOD kit.

ACALA awards a $8,120,825 contract modification to Colt for 16,217 M4 carbines. These are for FMS to Lebanon and Colombia.

ACALA deallocates $43,138 in a contract modification to FNMI for M249.

KAC receives a contract award for production of their Rail Interface System (RIS) forearm to meet USSOCOM‘s MWS requirements.

NSWC-Crane issues a solicitation for 50 to 21,000 Close Quarter Battle/Reflex Sights.

Robins AFB awards a $63,450 contract to Beta Co. for C-Mags and another $56,173 for magazine kits.

CECOM awards a $12,004,548 contract to Lockheed Sanders Inc. for 20 AN/PLQ-5 LCMS.

Aurelius Mooney, Edward Schmitter, and Richard Baker file a patent application for their accessory rail forearm.

Oak Ridge National Laboratories hosts an industry conference concerning OPW technologies.

FN officially announces the development of the 5.7x28mm “Five-seveN” pistol.

Rock Island Arsenal, on behalf of ACALA, responds to NSWC-Crane that it does not have a copy of the M4A1 TDP.

ACALA awards a $61,991 contract modification to Colt for M4 carbines. ACALA also awards a $70,799 contract modification related to the M4 carbine.

ACALA awards Capco, Inc. a $5,728,164 contract for 24,144 conversions kits to upgrade existing M16A1 rifles. The kits are earmarked for the USAF and USCG. There were 65 bids solicited, and five bids were received.

ACALA issues a solicitation restricted to HK and Sarco for Multiple Magazine Holders.

Both AAI and ATK demonstrate their OICW prototypes. AAI’s OICW team also reorganizes. Dynamit Nobel and Mason & Hanger leave while Olin, FN, and Omega Systems join.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 10,000 M16A1 to Egypt at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 30,000 M16A1 to Israel at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

ARDEC publishes “5.56-MM M856 Tracer Mini Round Robin Study.” Testing had been conducted to determine the amount of variation in the 5.56mm ballistic test results between ARDEC, Lake City Army Ammunition Plant, and Olin Ordnance. The testing included the use of the same lot of 5.56mm M856 tracer ammunition; test equipment; and 5.56mm electronic pressure, velocity, and action time test barrels from all three sites. The research concludes that there is less than a 2 percent variation between the three facilities.

A Joint Working Group is officially formed to pursue elimination of toxic materials from ammunition. Representatives are from all four services, plus the USCG, DOE, FBI, and FLETC.

Colt and Singapore Technologies are eliminated from the first round of Turkish 5.56mm rifle trials. FN, GIAT, HK, and IMI remain in contention.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 102 M203 to Bahrain at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

NSWC-Crane personnel directly call an ARDEC engineer at Rock Island Arsenal requesting the M4A1 TDP.

Congress is notified of the government’s intent to transfer 22,500 M16A1 to the Philippines at no cost as Excess Defense Articles.

ARDEC, under the Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP), solicits information on less than lethal 40mm rounds commercially available for use with the M203. The rounds must be capable of incapacitating an individual target out to 30 meters, with a desired effective range of 50 meters.

ACALA awards a $2,925,000 contract to Colt related to the M16 for FMS.

ARDEC issues a solicitation for a NDI 5.56mm non-toxic training cartridge. The cartridge must satisfactorily function all 5.56mm military weapons with no attachments or weapon modifications and must present no unusual risks or hazards to the user. All cartridge components must be free of toxic materials as defined by the EPA. The projectile must exhibit a ballistic match to the M855 cartridge to 100 meters or more and have a maximum range of 1000 meters or less. The projectile must completely break up upon impact with light weight (1/8 inch) steel plate.

The military specifications for 5.56mm Reference and 5.56mm Heavy Bullet Reference cartridges are inactivated.

MIL-STD-1453, the military specification for the ballistic standards and test method for evaluating and selecting 5.56mm ammunition for M16/M16A1 weapon acceptance tests, is canceled.

Jane’s reports that the Dutch Ministry of Defence will refuse further deliveries of Diemaco rifles if technical problems with the weapons are not solved. So far ~9,000 rifles have been delivered. In particular, there are problems with the rifles not feeding the last two or three rounds in the magazine in the magazine, along with failures to eject. Diemaco blames the issue on the overuse of training rifles.

Diemaco begins delivery of C7A1 to the Danish military.

The French Navy orders 20,000 FAMAS G2.

HK‘s Ernst Mauch and Manfred Guhring receive US Patent #5,475,940 titled “Firearm with Gas-Escape Port.”

NSWC-Crane issues a solicitation for a sound suppressor to be issued with the SOPMOD M4 kit. The order will run from 50 to 10,000 suppressors. They desire a 25 decibel sound reduction, a 3,000 round lifespan, and mounting without interference with the use of an attached M203 grenade launcher.

NSWC-Crane issues a solicitation for 50 to 10,000 Visible Lasers for issue with the SOPMOD kit. The Visible Laser shall have the following characteristics:

  1. Able to attach to the RIS installed on a M4A1 Carbine;
  2. Use 1.5V AA batteries;
  3. Include a detachable tethered pressure switch and an integral toggle switch;
  4. Be small, lightweight, rugged, and waterproof;
  5. Incorporate finger adjustable windage and elevation adjustments; and
  6. Project eye-safe laser light a minimum of 300 meters at night.

(Next: 5.56mm 1996)

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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