M16/M4 Coming

KUALA LUMPUR: After almost two years of waiting, the first batch of the last generation M16/M4s from Colt Defense, some 20,000 rifles are finally being shipped to Malaysia before year end.

For those asking what contract?, MINDEF signed the deal with SME Ordnance in DSA 2006. With DSA 2008 coming in April, the arrival of the rifles is a welcome relief.

Some including Malaysian Defence had wondered what had happened to the contract after the signing ceremony.

Apparently, the answer was more academic. With a backlog of orders for US forces (due to the Iraq and Afghanistan operations) Colt which had not been so lucky in terms of orders (for the last decade) could not ramp up their manufacturing quickly enough to fulfill our order ASAP. Uncle Sam is and always the main priority, I’d say

Plus the fact that our M16A4/M4 are actually not the USGI M16/M4s , it would certainly have slowed down the manufacturing process.

Technically speaking, our M16/M4s are actually AR15s (commercial) with select fire capability. Only rifles bought by the US Govt are technically could be described as M16/M4s. If the guns are sold by the US Govt (from the batch meant for US forces) to another country, technically, only then the rifles are actually M16/M4s. The new batch of rifles are sold to us via direct commercial sales as notified to the US Congress onSept 25, 2007.

Just like our original M16A1s are called M16A1s as it was made for the US Govt which sold it to us. Moreover at that time Colt Manufacturing (the original company) did not differentiate its export version apart from its own internal company designation. Moreover, it is not a very good idea to sell the same rifle to another country and called it with its commercial name as sold in the US!

After the first batch and another 14,000 rifles, SME Ordnance will start manufacturing these rifles locally, I am told some 120,000 rifles, for the next 10 years. I hope these time we will not be looking for another AR within the next 10 years.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
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  1. So, finally they come…
    Iniatially it was anounced that deliveries should start in 2006. Only 1 year delay.

    But why 20,000? I thought the firts batch would consist of only 14,000 rifles?


  2. It appear that my original info was wrong, it is indeed the number to be purchased is 14,000 (contract announced during LIMA). But the price had increased to RM89 million, an increase of RM19 from the figure announced during DSA 2006. As for why the contract had become more expensive, its apparently due to NATIONAL INTEREST!

  3. RM 6,357.14 or USD 1816 each. A commercial contract Colt M4A1 like the ones being procured are going for about USD 1200 each. Uncle Sam pays about USD 950. Export M4s are not subject to the 11% Fireamrs Excise Tax levied on fireamrs sold inside the US.

    So they are going for some 50% above market price. Wait, maybe it’s got to do with magazines? They’re expensive….no? Only if you’re a dumbass. HK steel mags are going for as little as $35each and new USGI sticks are $8 each in bulk (I would imagine we qualify)

    Accessories…..it has to be. Well, there aren’t any. Indeed they are being shipped with the quaint carry handles, which are about as dumb an idea as can be.

    But there’ll be some sort of offset package???? Sure, paid for by the tax payer to establish M4 manufacturing for the Malaysian market only. A lot like Steyr AUG project.

    The really funny bit is that it is the same people who brought you the AUG that are bringing you the M4? Why? Now that’s a great story in itself……but one better saved for another day.

    We have come full circle from the M16A1 to the AUG and now the M4. Incidentally there is no functional difference between the commercial model Colts and a USGI Colts apart from the $$$$.

    The really stupid idea of course is that you ahve to buy an M4 from Colt since everyone and their dog in the AR trade can supply you not only complete weapons but also parts and components to do assembly. Also, I’m curious…..was there a tender for this deal??????


  4. Yes, the cover story is of course for the offset package (expect second hand M16/m4 making equipment declared as new for this sorry exercise). But as they did not give an indication of the actual price of each gun, we have to guesstimate of course.

    We could only get the same price as Uncle Sam if we bought the guns under FMS programme. Since ours was bought through a direct commercial deal the price is higher of course although I know it is way too much higher. LE Agency in the US can also get the same price as Uncle Sam which according to some reports I read is priced as low as USD650! (perhaps its the price of the M4 while the figure USD950 you quoted is the M16 with the 20 inch barrel. Its nothing to do with the magazines, Colt supplies all M16/M4 and AR15 (commercial) with three magazines.

    Accessories like vertical grips and other exotics are optional extras and Colt dont make them although it could get it from other suppliers. I believe that they will announced a separate contract for the optics (most probably to be announced during the DSA.

    SME Ordnance, the infamous maker of the AUG is indeed going to manufacture these guns. It has new management after the Steyr debacle although the top honcho remained the same. There was no tender for this exercise.

    As SME is partly owned by LTAT and it cannot survive without this gift, it was pre-selected for this project. My only, obvious disappointment, is of course, the head honcho will nonetheless make a profit out of this, for just being there. The fact that many ex-SME people had a tough time about 10 years ago and a lot remained in the same predicament, really makes me feel sad and angry at the same time.

    I am not naming names but you know who you are!

  5. In all fairness and for the sake of accuracy, the AUG was pr0duced by a subsidiary of SMEO’s sister organization, SMEA at their Sungai Buloh facility. The AUG was really very well made and is still a very fine product but there was no R&D and innovation to either improve it or reduce manufacturing costs in a period when CNC production capabilities are far more abundant than when the process was initiated back in the 90s.

    The M4 project took hold after Steyr Mannlincher Malaysia, the JV company that was formed by Steyr-Mannlincher GmBH and SMEA self-destructed in spectacular and litigious fashion for internal reasons. This in spite of outstanding orders from the Malaysian Armed Forces for more AUGs. Production terminated at around 60,000 rifles or about half the projected procurement (again the mythical 120,000).

    Actually the lower figure is for the M16A2/A4 from FN-USA who lose money on each gun going out. Colt was bushwahacked into $950 some years ago by a particualrly underhanded move by the US Army who effectively ran a bogus competition with the express intnet on pressuring Colt. As a result Colt is dragging it’s feet to deliver M4s to the US military since it’s just not terribly profitable. (Uncle Sam audits your costs and then allows you to make a 15-20% mark up). Color me surprised to learn that they can deliver 14,000 rifles in 08 when US government agencies have been told that there is nothing available until 09.

    The truly sad thing is that strategic defense capabilities have been entrusted to the private sector ostensibly to bring a modicum of fiscal accountability to them but have in turn become commercial liabilities that have to be underwritten by the tax payer. Even sadder is that if properly run, it would be reasonably lucrative for all involved without recourse to dubious contracts.

    One would have expected that the cronies of the old order would have been put to pasture and lot be allowed to cling miserably on to delusions of adequacy and importance.

  6. SMEO came on board after SMEA was closed down after the first production contract was completed. Instead of spending the money on R/D they unwisely spent the money on building the MD3 Aerotiga.

    Of course, they failed, and once the money ran out, they had to let the workers go (all trained to make guns but most ended up selling goreng pisang and nasi lemak, or one of them went on to become a very successful insurance agent. I had lost track of them due to my busy schedule after the police and BPR decided not to pursue any action against the top management of SME, of which I believed deserved to be prosecuted.

    Whether or not they could be convicted, is another issue which was used to justify the No Action order. As one senior official said to me it is not in the National Interest.

    Based on my limited experience with the Malaysian-made AUG, if given the chance and license, I would undoubtedly put money on the table to buy the guns made during the first contract. As for the second batch, I would not even used them for spares!

    I however, would not used locally manufactured ammunition if I have to use the AUG or any other firearms, in a combat environment.

    As for the cronies, they are waiting for a hundred millions in compensation, when it comes to money its Their interest, for you and me its National Interest.

  7. “Instead of spending the money on R/D they unwisely spent the money on building the MD3 Aerotiga.’

    -> Remind me of Proton. After 20 years, still selling SAGA, guess it goes well with their Pisang Goreng Mentality

  8. MD3 was a ‘bodek'(English: suck-up or kiss ass) exercise to the previous administration to show that Malaysia too could build aircraft. Admittedly small, next to useless aircraft with next to no real utility and uncompetitive in a price-sensitive market segment but hey, the feel good factor is important in Malaysia.

    The recently released US Army Phase III Adverse Dusty Environment tests don’t flatter the M4 either. It came dead last with as many stoppages as the 3 other weapons combined. Of course the response is that there are no deserts in Malaysia. That our guys have been KIA in such dusty environments like Mogadishu and that we have deployed to Namibia are conveniently forgotten.
    Or that our soldiers froze in the coldest winter Bosnia had seen in 30 years.

    SMEO can do good ammo. Really. Old 80s Malaysian surplus is very well regarded. The cases are very nice and sturdy, even after being used in proof loads (30% over pressure). Accuracy is acceptable and lacquer sealant is pretty well applied. Much better than a lot of 5.56 I have had to misfortune to fire.
    The ammo is shipped in 20-round carboard boxes, which is fine if you don’t intend to stockpile but not so good when stored due to our high humidity and temperatures (SG store their ammo in A/C bunkers). If we wanted long-life ammo, we should package it thus, either in the foil sealed ‘battle pack’ or even better in a tin like the Russians. 40-50 year old ammo wtill runs fine. Note:- Old tins are much better since the tin is much thicker and less prone to rusting on the seam.

    We could be doing so much better with what we have. I guess that is true tragedy of our situation, the tyranny of the mediocre and incompetent.

  9. Is that 7.62 ammo you are talking about? I too had bad experience with 5.56 ammo. As for the packaging, cost triumphs over anything else.

    You are right about the Malaysian tragedy. As always Perfect is the Enemy of Good Enough and in our case National Interest seemed to trump everything else, even doing things right and the honourable way. Shame is almost extinct…

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