Industry News: October 2001

By Robert Hausman

CAPCO Replaces Colt as Air Force’s M-16A2 Kit Supplier

A small, privately-held company, CAPCO, Inc., of Grand Junction, Colorado, has won a $22.7 million U.S. Air Force contract to produce upgrades for M-16 rifles. CAPCO defeated gunmaking giant, Colt’s Manufacturing, Inc., after a convoluted, three year battle, CAPCO vice president, John Younker said.

“It’s a nice contract and we’re pleased to get it,” Younker said. “It means the Air Force can upgrade to the M-16A2 model at half the cost of buying new.” Younker added the Army’s Tank Automotive & Armaments Command first bid the job in 1998. CAPCO lost out to Colt, which was the low bidder. However, Colt’s bid was apparently too low, Younker disclosed, as he said Colt defaulted. So the Army rebid the job, and this time CAPCO got the work.

The M-16A2 modification kits include new upper receivers, barrel assemblies, hand guards, butt stocks, pistol grips and firing mechanism components. The parts improve the rifle’s accuracy and range. CAPCO’s number of employees will increase from about 115 to about 150 thanks to the contract. “This contract is for 30 months of product shipment starting in November,” Younker added.

In other contract news, U.S. Army personnel based at Fort Hood, Texas, and other sites will soon begin training for battle with electronic simulation gear supplied by Anteon Corp. of Fairfax, Virginia. The company has won a nine-year contract from the Fort Hood Contracting Command for simulation services. If all options are exercised, the contract’s value could reach $47 million.

Firearms Training Systems, Inc. (FATS) of Atlanta, will supply small arms training simulators to the U.S. Air Force Reserve and the U.S. Navy Seabees. The simulators, to be supplied under a $1.8 million contract with the Air Force reserves, and a $1 million contract with the Navy Seabees, will allow the services to train their personnel on any of a variety of arms the two services use.

The U.S. Army has awarded a $13.5 million contract for environmentally friendly training ammunition to Alliant Techsystems of Hopkins, Minnesota. The ammunition, using a core made of tungsten and tin, or tungsten and nylon, instead of lead, is similar in performance and effectiveness to traditional lead core rounds.

In another deal, Alliant will transfer technology to produce lightweight 30mm ammunition and 120mm tank rounds to Hellenic Arms Industry, Athens, Greece. Hellenic, owned by the Greek government, manufactures light arms and ammunition for the Greek military. Alliant also won a $1 million contract from Hellenic to provide hardware and assembly technology for lightweight 30 mm high-explosive, dual purpose tactical and training ammunition. Under the one year contract, Alliant will supply Hellenic with kits consisting of projectiles, cartridge cases, fuzes and propellant, along with the technology to assemble the rounds.

Under another Army contract, Alliant Ammunition Systems Co. of New Brighton, Minnesota, is developing a new 120 mm tank ammunition training cartridge for use by the M1A1/A2 Abrams main battle tank. The $3.6 million contract will provide soldiers with a realistic training experience for the 120mm M830A1 High-Explosive, Anti-Tank cartridge. The contract includes an additional development phase plus production options that could increase its value to $35 million over the next six years.

A subsidiary of Allied Research Corp. of Vienna, Virginia, will supply training ammunition to Brunei and another (unnamed) Middle Eastern country. Under the two contracts totaling $24.5 million, MECAR S.A. of Nivelles, Belgium, will provide 105mm training ammunition to the two countries.

The U.S. Army Material Command recently asked Congress for $14 billion to replenish its ammunition stockpile. The Army is said to be experiencing critical ammunition shortfalls.

A subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., of Falls Church, Virginia, will manufacture armor-piercing ammunition for the U.S. Army. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems of St. Petersburg, Florida, will make 25 mm M919 armor-piercing, fin-stabilized, discarding sabot tracer ammunition under a $7.3 million option to an existing contract. The ammo, fired from the Bradley fighting vehicle, is the only medium caliber, long-rod, armor piercing round produced in the U.S. Some 75,000 rounds will be produced.

Soldiers in U.S. Army reconnaissance vehicles will be more safely able to identify enemy positions thanks to the procurement of an electronic sensor system made by a division of DRS Technologies, Inc., of Parsippany, New Jersey. The company has won an $8.7 million contract from Raytheon Co.’s Electronic Systems in McKinney, Texas, to provide Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance Systems to be used in the M1114 Scout variant of the Army’s High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle. The new device is designed to replace systems that require soldiers on reconnaissance missions to move within direct fire range of the enemy. It incorporates an infrared sensor, a Global Positioning System receiver, an eye-safe laser rangefinder and a television camera.

To help train troops who guard nuclear and chemical weapon installations in Russia, Caswell International Corp. of Minneapolis, will build 12 shooting ranges for the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Defense. The $1.84 million contract was awarded by the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The U.S. agency is helping the Russian Defense Ministry in the training project as part of its mission to reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction to the U.S. In addition, Caswell is offering qualified U.S. range operator customers a one-year complimentary membership in the National Association of Shooting Ranges, a professional industry association.

Simunition, of Le Gardeur, Canada, is reported as developing a 5.56 mm version of its impact marking training ammunition. Presently the company markets a variety of training ammunition including 9mm. Development of the 5.56 mm marking cartridge is mainly intended for use with the M-16 rifle.

GIAT Industries, of Satory, France, has won an order from France’s defense procurement agency for five Caesar howitzers. The order comes during a modernization program to replace the towed 155mm howitzers France still has in service. The Caesar howitzer is a 155 mm/.52 caliber artillery piece mounted on a vehicle chassis. It can be brought into position, fire six shells up to a range of 42 kilometers and return to hiding within three minutes, making it less likely to be hit by enemy fire. The Caesar vehicle has a maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour (68.2 miles per hour) and can travel 600 kilometers without refueling.

International trade in arms during 1999 declined to $53.4 billion worth of deliveries, compared to $58 billion in 1998, according to a recent industry analysis report. The report ranks the Middle East region as the most active, with Saudi Arabia receiving deliveries worth $6.1 billion in 1999, more than any other country.

USA Armoring, LLC, designer and manufacturer of armor technologies for military, law enforcement and commercial applications, is changing its company name to Pinnacle Armor, LLC. The name change is one element in the company’s strategy to establish itself on a national and international basis as a provider of advanced armor solutions for personal protection (flexible body armor), as well as for vehicles, vessels, aircraft and buildings.

New Training Opportunities

SIG Arms Training Academy of Epping, New Hampshire, has made available five ranges within its training Academy for law enforcement, military, private security and corrections agency use. An agency can lease a range for as little as half a day. Range options include: Action Target MATCH house; indoor pistol range with variant lighting capability; outdoor steel reaction range; and a 300 yard outdoor rifle range.

SIG’s indoor pistol range was one of the first ranges in the country to support nontoxic, lead-free, frangible ammunition with the construction of special rooms for use with such products as SIMUNITION FX marking cartridges. The indoor range has turning targets, bobbing steel reactive targets and multiple moving targets.

The Action Target MATCH house contains multiple rooms and hallways for a wide variety of scenarios. The outdoor steel reactive range has both static and bobbing targets. The outdoor bullet trap is an environmentally safe total containment trap designed to allow the firing of leaded ammunition up to .50 caliber. For more information call the SIG Arms Training Academy (603) 679-2003.

U.S. Cavalry, a distributor of military, law enforcement and security equipment, is expanding its marketing activities by entering a partnership with The TEAL (Training, Education and Logistics) Team, Inc. to provide high threat security training and services. During the past 15 years, The Teal Team has trained elite units from over 50 countries in addition to thousands of officers in the U.S. For more information, contact U.S. Cavalry at (270) 351-1164.

D.C. Gun Amnesty Results

Information on the origin of traced firearms as well as gun ownership in the nation’s capitol were revealed in the recent release of a federal government report detailing results of the 1999 Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department’s Gun Buy-Back Amnesty Program. The report was released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF). The gun turn-in program was run for seven days in August 1999 in Washington, D.C. which essentially bans handguns and has severe restrictions on long gun ownership.

In the fall of 1976, legislation was passed in the District of Columbia designed to “freeze” the handgun population in the city. The new law required re-registration of all legally registered firearms and had the effect of significantly restricting legal handgun possession by the general public. Large numbers of Washington residents, however, continued to own unregistered firearms, particularly handguns.

Some 2,912 firearms were recovered during the amnesty. More than 75% of the guns recovered (2,200) were handguns. A total of 53.5% of the guns turned-in were manufactured before the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act.

The top ten manufacturers whose firearms were turned in under the District’s amnesty program were as follows: Harrington & Richardson 295 guns; Smith & Wesson 206 guns; Rohm 180; Iver Johnson 133; Colt 128; RG Industries 90; F.I.E. 65; Remington Arms Co. 64; Winchester 59; and J. Stevens Arms Co. 48 firearms.

During 1994, the Metropolitan Police Department conducted two firearms amnesty programs. These programs recovered a total of 2,400 firearms and in that year accounted for approximately 41% of all firearms recovered by that department. In total, during 1994, handguns accounted for 56.2% of the firearms recovered. In 1999, handguns accounted for 75.5% of the firearms recovered. In 1994, long guns comprised 37.1% of the firearms recovered. In 1999, long guns accounted for 20.5% of the firearms turned in.

NTC Origin

ATF notes the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) set in motion the eventual establishment of ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC). The GCA required all firearms manufactured in America to be marked with the manufacturer’s name, model, and a unique serial number. Imported firearms had to be marked with the importer’s name and address. as well as with a unique serial number. The GCA also required firearms manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to maintain permanent records of the dispositions of firearms in their inventories. In addition, the GCA required all unlicensed purchasers to complete a firearms transaction record.

Firearms tracing initially began as a regional concept. After the establishment of the ATF as an independent bureau in 1972, each of the seven geographical regions in ATF were responsible for conducting its own firearms traces. This procedure resulted in considerable overlap due to the interstate nature of firearms commerce. ATF’s tracing operations were centralized in Washington, D.C. in 1973. The National Tracing Center is now located in Falling Waters, West Virginia and is the repository of more than one hundred million transaction records of out-of-business licensed firearms dealers.

Trace attempts were made on the recovered Washington, D.C. guns, which resulted in a success rate of about 29%. The average street age for those guns successfully traced back to a retail dealer was nearly 15 1/2 years. These firearms were traced back to purchasers in 44 states and Canada. The oldest firearms, traced back to retail sales in the District of Columbia, had a street age of over 26 years. Firearms traced back to sales made in Maryland (148) and Virgnia (129) comprised the largest number of recovered amnesty program firearms.

Within Maryland, the largest numbers of guns were originally purchased in the counties of Prince Georges (78 guns), Baltimore (20) and Charles (14). Most of the guns had their origin in the southeast, with a few coming from as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as California. Three guns had their original retail point of sale in Alaska.

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V5N1 (October 2001)
and was posted online on April 11, 2014


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