10 September 2016

Idle Speculation

Also known as "what if"?

When debating the relative merits of civilian versions of military guns such as the M1A and AR15 we often lose sight of how their military versions were developed and supplanted.

While Springfield Armory in Illinois might make a fine product today, the fact is Springfield National Armory in Massachusetts had a lot of problems.  It was a national scandal, in fact, following a gunnie scandal that perhaps the testing vs the FAL may have been rigged to favor the home team.

Two procurement scandals over one rifle does not lead to trust in the system.

Robert Strange (pronounced Fucking) MacNamara's trust in the system was so strained that he, as Secretary of Defense, did an end-run on it and almost literally shoved the Air Force's M16 down the Army and Marine's throats.  That the recalcitrant Army was able to resist enough to make their gun the M16A1 is a minor miracle.

But what if?

By the late fifties it was becoming obvious that Springfield had outright lied about all that experience with the Garand would make the M14 cheaper and easier to produce than the guns it beat out.  Only TRW was dependably making parts to spec and they were certainly not able to keep those parts under-cost.

If the normal system had been engaged that would have meant either a massive overhaul of the M14 into the M14A2 (because A1 had been assigned already) or a new rifle competition opened up.

That competition would certainly have included a massively overhauled M14, but who else would be entering the fray?

By the time the M14 debacle was undeniable, The FAL had become combat proven.  H&K had Germanized the Spanish CETME.  Armalite had made AR10 sales and it had also seen combat.

So the speculative competition could have seen:

  • A standard M14 as a control.
  • An improved M14 from the National Arsenal.
  • A metric pattern FAL from FN.
  • An inch pattern FAL from Canada (Not sure if England or Australia would bid or not here).
  • A much improved from the last time AR10 from Armalite/Colt.
  • A much improved CETME from H&K in the form of the G3.
  • An actual CETME!
  • A SIG 510-4 from Switzerland, a long shot dark-horse but in production and in service in South America!
  • A Madsen LAR, too late for the initial NATO trials and eager for a second chance.
  • A BM.59 from Italy, which would really be embarrassing since Italy managed to convert a Garand to 7.62x51mm NATO and a 20 round box faster and more economically than the mighty USA.
  • The timing is wrong for Japan to offer a clone of their Type 64, which was still developmental at the time.

Let the XM17 rifle competition begin!

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