French Carbine Downselect

A bit of old news, but I’m finally getting around to it.

The French are looking into replacing their FAMAS carbines with something new, because the FAMAS rifles are about 40 years old. And, because the French small arms industry is basically nonexistent1, they have to look elsewhere for a new carbine. The manufacturer must be European though. Sorry Colt and LMT.

Anyway, seeing as the new design had to be European, five companies stepped up to the plate to bat for this contest:

Heckler & Koch (HK 416A5)
Fabrique Nationale (FN SCAR 16)
Beretta (ARX 160)
HS Produkt (VHS 2)
Swiss Arms (aka SiG; MCX)

Of note is that the only bullpup design was the VHS 2.

A brief comment on the MCX. It’s a super new design; another AR with some not-so-small changes. SiG put in a truncated bolt carrier and a gas tappet operating system. The return spring setup is straight off an AR-18. It’s very, very light, and but for the lame looking stock, I rather like the design concept. And light is generally good. That said, of late SiG doesn’t have the best QC reputation2, and being the newest design, it doesn’t have the testing/refinements of some of the other designs. And this one is a bit more complicated than just adding an op rod, excuse me, a tappet gas system David ‘Carbine’ Williams. Truncated bolt carriers have been done before, but never with all that much reliability. Still, I commend them for entering it.

And now we have the results of the downselect. Still in the contest are HK and FN. So we’ll be watching the SCAR 16 and the HK416 go head to head to battle it out. This should not come as a surprise; both of these rifles have been used by some French special forces units, and both have been quite well tested and abused already. Honestly, I think the favorite at this point is the HK416.3 I’m pretty sure it’s the better gun, and it’s already got a pretty big contract up in Norway.

But this is a good choice. Going with the proven guns was a no-brainer here.

Also, not being a fan of bullpups, I’m quite happy to see the French return to the conventional layout.

1.) This makes me very, very sad. Such a shame that the nation that first developed smokeless powder can’t make it’s own small arms anymore. On the bright side, Col. Nicholas Lebel is probably spinning in his grave so fast that you could hook up a generator and power half of Paris.
2.) And this is with classic, proven designs: the P226 and P229. Which were *fine* until some genius decided to start messing with the designs to squeeze some more profit out of the margins.
3.) The favorite to win is a rifle made by la Boche? Sacre Bleu! At this point M. Lebel is going to be able to power all of Paris with his spinning.

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