Colt No Longer Exclusive Owner of M4 Rifle

The month of July marked a significant change in the business world of military firearms, when the U.S. Army took control of the design rights to the M4 carbine. Those rights had belonged exclusively to Colt Defense LLC for the last 15 years.

What might that transfer of rights mean? According to Army Times, “With an uncertain budget looming, the service is free to give other gun companies a crack at a carbine contract….In late November [2008], Army senior leadership announced the service’s intent to open a competition for a new carbine this fall in preparation for the June 30 expiration date of Colt’s hold on the M4 licensing agreement. The Army is slated to finish fielding the last of its 473,000 M4 requirement some time next year.”

“We probably won’t do anything with it right now,” said Colonel Doug Tamilio, project manager for the Army’s Soldier Weapons program. “We have what we need. The good news is we will own it now; that gives us the flexibility to do what we need it to do.”

Officials at Colt LLC could not be reached for comment. But other gun makers were glad to weigh in over the change.

“Now that the sole-source era is over, we hope to see free and open competition of any interim or long-term solution for the service rifle or carbine for the American soldier,” Jason Schauble, vice president of the military products division of Remington, told Army Times. “Now there is a chance to get something better in the hands of the soldier. Why not do it? If Colt wins again, God bless them.”

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