Remington and the XM110 program
Author: Michael Haugen
Like many things in this life, you cannot understand something fully unless you understand where it began and the processes involved getting to the end. What makes something such as this interesting to some is the nuances, specific events, and view point of the situation whereas to others it is the raw facts and details. It is for this reason that I am presenting this in all of its glory but providing “chapters” so some can get right to what they want. I apologize in advance for the length of this article, however there is a lot to tell and should I skip something that someone deems important, I am sure I will hear about it. Lastly, I will refrain from commenting too much on the various SASS competitors as anything I would have to say would generally be hearsay. Anything I will say will be something I believe to be true or was involved with.
As America became more invested in the Global War Against Terrorism (GWOT) and more and more US soldiers and units were deployed to Afghanistan and eventually Iraq, the requirements to fight this relatively new form of conflict begin to emerge. Specifically, a need had been identified for a semi automatic precision rifle in a caliber greater than 5.56 to facilitate longer range engagement as the new battlefield provided an enemy who knew how to use the terrain and to stay out of effective rifle range of large scale US units armed with M16’s and M4’s.
As a result of this identified need, the US Army looked at ways to meet the requirements of the war fighters in the most expeditious manner possible. One effort that has been talked about for some time was to acquire M14’s that were safely stored in cold storage at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, revitalize them and issue them out. Subsequently and as a matter of haste, this effort was authorized and M14’s began to flow out of storage, were inspected and optics mounted and then pushed to deployed units. A large problem quickly emerged which was how these weapons should be employed and used. Secondary to this was actually how to use them and maintain them.
The Army had been looking at a “Designated Marksmanship” or DM program prior to the war, but the war provided the needed emphasis to make something happen. The main issue with the DM program was that of “who” should be a DM and how should they be task organized within the various units. Subsequently and like so many other similar efforts, local commanders were allowed to constitute and employ the DM capability as they saw fit. In some units, the organic sniper element inherited the M14’s and used them quite successfully, in other units normal infantry riflemen were handed the rifles and told they were now a Designated Marksman”. Of course there were many variations of this effort to include a training effort developed, offered and applied by the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) both in the US and in-country.
Some readers might be wondering if this article is about the DM program or the M14 at this point, however I assure you it is about the SASS program. All of the above is to lay the ground work for what was to come. Due to the success and issues with the DM program and the M14, it was identified that a new weapon system needed to be sourced as the M14 was not well supported in the field and not generally considered a “precision” rifle (yes I know that the M14/M1A is an awesome rifle and capable of great accuracy, however the battle rifles that were in hand by the Army would require far more time and money to meet the requirement than the Army felt was tolerable).
One interesting action that the Army took was the modernization of the M14 but adding the Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR) stock designed and sold by Sage International. Despite being on the heavy side, this stock really changed the rifle and the way it was used. More importantly, this stock allowed the use of modern optics and laser aiming devices which really made it effective. The robust nature of the rifle made it reliable and able to withstand a significant amount of abuse.
Sometime in late 2002 or early 2003 a new Operational Requirements Document (ORD) was formulated specifying what would become known as the Semi Automatic Sniper System or SASS. The weapon system was to be a precision rifle that could be suppressed and would use such things as night vision and laser aiming devices. The ORD was provided to all major Army units for input to include the US Army sniper school and the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC). As with anything of this nature, there was much debate on what this weapon should look like and do; some wanted to specify essentially a sub MOA sniper system whereas others wanted something much more like a DM rifle. Ultimately what was written was something in between, a rifle capable of ~1 MOA accuracy (later changed to 1.3 MOA), able to be suppressed, and be able to apply night vision and ancillary systems. Additionally, all of the other physical and performance requirements were specified to include weight, length, system components, color, etc.
The ORD was then staffed through the various element of the US Army and then funding was sought out in order to move forward. In mid to late 2004, the ORD was approved to move forward and subsequently it was turned into a Solicitation (W15QKN-05-R-0433) and was issued on 12/6/04 to FEDBIZOPS where it was available to the public and thus the race was on. The actual solicitation was 93 pages long and specified all of the requirements and regulations to be followed. The original submission date was 2/7/05 not later than 3 pm, in which all samples and written submissions had to be delivered. There would be 6 amendments to the original solicitation that covered simple clerical changes and specifying terms and issues in the original document. At some point, the submission date was extended 30 days to approximately 3/7/05.
What each company had to provide for testing along with the written component of the submission (pricing, delivery, etc) was follows;
1.7 Each SASS delivered shall contain the following components:
- MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny Rails
- Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS)
- Collapsible Bipod (adjustable and/or removable desired)
- Weapon Ammunition Magazines: each system will come with four (4) twenty- round magazines, two (2) ten- round magazines, and two (2) five- round magazines
- Carrying Sling
- Day optic rifle scope
- Combination Acoustic, Flash, and Blast Suppressor
- Muzzle flash reducer/flash hider when suppressor is not used
- Protective (hard) Weapon / System Carrying Case(s)
- Soft Rifle Scope Carrying Case
- Deployment Kit
- Cleaning Kit
- Blank Firing Adapter (if available)
Additionally the solicitation called for a “Sniper Accessory Kit (SAK)”
3.6.1 Sniper Accessory Kit. The SASS shall include a SAK consisting of components that enhance the sniper’s capability to perform missions with greater lethality and survivability. Inclusion of individual SAK components will be based on a determination of their utility, cost and warfighting benefit.
We decided that we would include a sniper log book with cover, mil dot master, and Angle Cosine Indicator as our Sniper Accessory Kit.
Companies had to provide 5 samples of their product but were free to provide additional items as they felt necessary, however the list above was the minimum.
REMINGTON’S PRODUCT SELECTION AND DEVELOPMENT
In 2003 when I was hired, Remington did not have a dedicated Military component, division or office. At this time, defense business was booming and since I had just retired from the Army and had been involved with the SASS requirements document, I began to formulate a plan for the coming SASS program.
Initially we approached JP Enterprises as I was very familiar with their quality and their products. Unfortunately, at that time JP was not in a position to support our effort for a variety of reasons and subsequently I turned to DPMS. I traveled to St Cloud and met with Randy Luth who was the owner/CEO of DPMS and proposed a partnership to support the coming solicitation. Randy and DPMS were enthusiastic about the effort but really more from a commercial aspect as they would be a sub-contractor to Remington.
What I intended to develop was a semi auto 308 with an 18” barrel, suppressor and as much technology as I could muster to meet the demand. Early on I wanted some Remington influence, so I elected to use M24 barrels configured for an AR. The idea here was that this barrel was highly successful on the M24 as it was a 416R stainless steel barrel with 1:11.25 twist which shot M118 very well. We also decided to flute the barrel to reduce some of the weight.
THE HAND GUARD
The hand guard was something of a “work in progress” as I knew it needed to have a full top rail, some type of bottom rail and rails or the ability to mount rails on the sides for lasers and such. There was a bit of a “discussion” with DPMS about this issue for a period of time as they had a number of hand guards they thought would work. Unfortunately I disagreed and really wanted something more like the JP hand guard. Ultimately I ended up using a Superior Weapons System (SWS) hand guard for the submission as it was exceptionally robust and durable. The problem was that it was fairly heavy and a bit on the fat side, but by the time we got to this event I had little choice.
At the time of development, we had a very good relationship with OPS INC as we were using several of their suppressors on a couple of other sniper systems. However, I had a meeting with Surefire who had recently stood up their suppressor division and their products were all the rage within the defense community. Therefore I decided to do some internal testing and secured suppressors from both manufacturers.
The OPS INC suppressor was a very simple and relatively “old school” affair using a single port brake and a tapered portion of the barrel to provide suppressor lock up and alignment. The OPS can was very robust and durable and had proven that it could take about anything a soldier could subject it to, however it was very heavy (especially by today’s standards), sealed and did not have a QD capability.
The Surefire suppressor on the other hand was supposedly the latest in technology and was significantly lighter than the OPS suppressor. It featured a QD mechanism which was definitely in favor at the time and provided good noise reduction. The down side to the SF can was the muzzle brake/flash hider which required a unique barrel contour to fit and it had to be clocked very specifically.
We had an issue trying to install one of the SF muzzle devices that turned out to be pretty serious. Since the SF device had to be clocked and we already had the barrels turned, we planned to shim the muzzle devices to properly position them. Unfortunately we received 5.56 shims so we were forced to use a ceramic locking compound to “lock” them where they needed to be. While attempting to do this, a muzzle device was hand threaded on to see how far off it would be and then while trying to remove it, the device “locked” up and would not come off. Later we discovered that the muzzle devices were made from stainless as was the barrels and the two galled or fused together.
Both suppressors performed adequately in terms of noise suppressor/reduction and point of impact shift (can off, can on), however the decision came down to price with the SF can costing about a third more money than the OPS can and given I was trying to meet a price point, I elected to use the OPS suppressor.
THE GAS SYSTEM
One issue that materialized early on was the functioning of the rifle with and without a suppressor. At that point in time, suppressors were not allowed to be used or sold in MN (where DPMS was) and given that DPMS was a commercial company, they had little to no experience with suppressing their rifles. We discovered pretty quickly that adding a suppressor greatly increase cyclic rate and would over a relatively short period beat the rifle apart (I had one buffer tube break the back cap off allowing the buffer spring and buffer to fall out). Therefore we began to try and figure out how to overcome this issue. We tried a number of things like heavier buffers, different buffer springs, etc. Eventually we focused on the gas system specifically and experimented with some different gas tubes. We discovered that a “FAT” tube actually worked pretty well but at that time souring one for a .308 gun was difficult, so the next best solution was using a MGI adjustable gas tube. With this device we could “tune” each rifle to optimize its function. The objective was to slow down the cyclic rate with the suppressor on just so it ran which would mean that it ran well unsuppressed. This was a time consuming effort and I always had my doubts about this system as anything with a screw is an invitation for someone to mess with it; that being said it was the best solution at the time.
The issue of a butt stock was a complicated one. I knew that we needed something with adjustments; length of pull (LOP) and cheek. An adjustable stock like found on a carbine would meet the LOP requirement but would not meet the cheek adjustment. I looked at everything on the market at that time and could not find a suitable solution that was not cheap or looked bad. I was contacted Greg Baradat who worked for me at the time telling me that he had found a stock online that would be perfect. He directed me to Magpul’s website on which was a drawing of a stock they has been thinking of making.
I contacted Richard Fitzpatrick the owner/CEO of Magpul and we discussed this product. Turns out that Richard and I had been on Okinawa at the same time, he in the Marines and me in the Army, so we had some common ground to work from. Richard explained that the stock was something he had been thinking of for awhile but had not gotten around to making. I explained what we were doing and wanted to use it on our SASS submission. He stated he wanted to help but really didn’t have the resources at the time to do it, but he did offer to sell the design to Remington and then manufacture it exclusively for Remington. I took his offer and submitted it “up the chain” but at that time, Remington really was not interested in AR rifles or really anything AR related. Subsequently, Richard agreed to move forward and make some prototypes for us to see and play with to determine whether or not we wanted to move forward.
The first samples were made from Rapid Prototype material and were fairly fragile. We tried to use them on actual firearms, but the material would not allow it and they would shatter quickly. Fortunately Magpul had another material they could use and made some new ones that were significantly more robust which we used. To ensure that the stock would survive the drop test, we installed a thick Limb Saver butt pad which absorbed most of the impact. We would later change the butt pad as the Limb Saver had a tendency to “melt” and stick to anything near it; but that would be after the submission.
During the development stage we used some 6 position collapsible stocks as we were waiting for the Magpul products. During this time, we used the DPMS 308 carbine buffer and spring but once we received the Magpul stocks we switched to a DPMS 308 rifle length buffer and spring (due to the rifle length buffer tubes being used) and retained this system throughout the rest of the program.
This stock would later become known to the world as the “Precision Rifle Stock or PRS” and Richard once remarked how happy he was that Remington did not take him up on his offer as this stock would become an AR consumer favorite which continues to this day.
THE TRIGGER, BOLT AND PISTOL GRIP
When it came time to look at the trigger, I wanted something that was befitting a precision rifle but was not fragile and would withstand the rigors of military use. We looked at using a JP spring kit on a standard DPMS trigger which did offer a relatively more consistent trigger pull. I was informed at some point that Chip McCormick was making drop in triggers for ARs, so I contacted him to determine if this was something we wanted to use. At the time, Chip was making 2 stage triggers only and I wanted a single stage for this rifle. After some debate he agreed to make us some single stage for use to try. The delivered triggers worked pretty well so I elected to use them.
The bolt we used was a standard hard chromed (polished) bolt carrier group (BCG). This turned out to be a good thing when we went to dura-coat the guns and the inside of the receivers were coated by mistake. All of the bolt internals were standard DPMS components.
The pistol grip was a matter of compromise; initially we were going to use a standard A2 style pistol grip but DPMS really like the PSG style for this platform. While I was not a huge fan, I didn’t fight it all that much because I was dealing with the hand guard issue and felt we could always trade it out later.
OPTICS, MOUNTS AND SIGHTS
For optics, I selected the Leupold Mark IV M3 3.5-10 with illuminated mil dot reticle. I chose this because I had used it on another platform and felt that shooters would be familiar with it. We found out late in the game that a competitor was going to submit using a tan version of this optic, however Leupold informed us that they could not supply us with the same optic due to an agreement with the competitor.
For the mounts and because there was a requirement for iron sights, I wanted a quick release style optic mount. I looked at several that were on the market and decided to use the Larue mount as they were in favor with the user community at the time and we had a relationship with Larue.
The iron sights posed a bit of a problem in that all of the “BUIS” on the market at that time were designed to be used with 5.56 systems. I searched in vain for something that would provide the shooter with something they could actually use reliably and that offered elevation and windage adjustments. Ultimately I settled on the DPMS “Magnonel” iron sights as they were robust and worked about as well as anything else at the time.
The solicitation listed a variety of accessories which we sourced from a number of places; here is the list and the relative comments.
- Hard case – the hard case we selected was the Hardigg Storm IM3300. I have always preferred these over other cases on the market having used most if not all of them. They are exceptionally durable and rugged; additionally the latches stay closed no matter how they are treated. We received the cases with foam which we cut out to accept the suppressor and also cut the foam short to accept the scope hard case.
- Cleaning kit – The cleaning kit consisted of a field kit (sectional rods) and a Dewy one piece coated 30 cal rod. Due to the rifle being an AR, we were able to use a relatively short rod so that it fit into the case. We included a Dewy bore guide, parker-hale style jag and a bronze bore brush.
- Scope hard case – as noted, the solicitation called for a hard scope case so we selected a Hardigg brief case which fit into the IM3300 nicely. The thought was that the operators would most likely discard the hard case and leave the optics mounted; however the case would allow all of the miscellaneous spares and tools to be kept in.
- Scope soft case – The soft scope case afforded us an opportunity to provide something that was functional beyond just a carrying case. We designed a case that could be used as a protective cover for the optic when it was mounted to the rifle as well as a carrying case should the optic be removed from the rifle.
- Sling – the sling we decided to offer was the Viking Tactics padded long rifle sling. Having used these slings previously, I felt this was a good addition to this platform. We did include some rail/sling stud adapters with the rifles to allow the sling to be mounted as necessary or desired.
- Bipod – at the time of the solicitation, there was a very limited selection of bipods; having used Harris bipods for years, I initially wanted to go with the BR-S bipod, however these are pretty low (6-9”) and ultimately we decided to use the L-S model (9-13”) which we added the KMW PodLoc to allow the swivel function to be tensioned to the user’s preference.
- Deployment kit – The deployment kit was a little difficult to develop in that there are not a lot of tools required to maintain an AR platform. We did include the tool that comes with the Larue mounts and the Hex wrench that comes with the Leupold optics. Other than that, there were not many other tools to be provided. We did however provide spares in the deployment kit which included a spare firing pin and extractor.
PRODUCTION AND TESTING
Once we had an idea of what we wanted to built, we moved on to sourcing the components and DPMS begun building rifles. One of the first issues we encountered was that of markings; IAW BATFE regulations, a letter of variance is required for a manufacturer to mark any “firearm” with anything other than what they have been approved for previously. Given the time line we were working from, the decision was made to use lower receivers that had “Remington” engraved on the right side of the magwell and retain the BATFE approved DPMS markings on the left side.
Eventually we (DPMS) obtained the letter of variance and we were able to mark the lower receivers properly.
As the guns were built we had to overcome a few issues but overall it was a pretty straight forward production effort. One item of interest was the coating; the solicitation allowed for “tan, gray-green, gray or taupe”, but we were sure they really wanted tan. We looked at the different ways we could get the guns coated and eventually arrived at Dura-Coat, mainly due to their proximity to DPMS which allowed components to be turned around fairly quickly. The one problem in reference to this that we discovered was that no one seemed to inform the person doing the coating what to tape off; we initially ended up with coating everywhere resulting in us having to spend a lot of time removing it. I can say with some authority that trying to get coating off where you don’t want it is a royal pain.
After the initial guns were built (the ones with Remington on the right side), we set about testing them and ensuring that they performed as needed. As mentioned above, we tried out 2 suppressors and discovered that aside from weight, they performed pretty much the same. I can say that the OPS INC suppressors were very consistent whereas the Sure Fire suppressors did show some deviation in POI shift can off and on, however these were a relatively new product for them and there may have been some issues in mounting the muzzle device which could have equated to the differences we saw.
We fired all of the guns for accuracy out to 100 meters feeling that if the guns performed there, they would perform at 600 meters. The first accuracy requirement published stated that the SASS had to exhibit the “same or better” accuracy as the M24 (1 MOA), however this was later changed to 1.3 MOA as several of the manufacturers informed the Army that 1 MOA consistently out of a semi auto was a bit optimistic. During our testing, every rifle shot well and would typically print .7 MOA groups; however (and as with many AR .308’s) this was not always repeatable. In other words, a rifle might shoot a .7 MOA group followed by a 1.1 MOA group and then a .9 MOA group, etc.
During this period I also set the gas system to ensure that the guns would run with the suppressors on and off. Basically I would turn the gas down until the gun would not operate with the suppressor on and then increased the amount of gas until it would run again. At that point I would remove the suppressor and shoot the rifle again to ensure it would.
The original submission date was 2/7/05, so this was the date we were working towards. The one issue that was not “set in stone” was the butt stock due to the fragile nature of the first samples we received from Magpul. As described under “Butt Stock”, we used collapsible stocks initially until the Magpul products could be obtained, however approaching the original submission date we were not sure what we were going to do. While at SHOT that year we met with Magpul and stated that we could not submit with the samples they provided. They informed us that they “could” use something more durable but they could not have them to us in time for the submission. I spent considerable time looking at options while at the show but nothing jumped out. It was during this show that we were informed that the submission date had been extended 30 days, so we went back to Magpul and informed them and they told us they would do their best (which they did).
Aside from the hard items (weapon, accessories, etc), we also had to develop a written submission which included many aspects to include pricing, representations and certifications, etc. This is the “business” side of a government contract and can be very complicated and stressful. There are many components to a full and open solicitation, all of which much be addressed because if they are not you can be disqualified on day one. The pricing aspect was a knife fight to say the least because you are in business to make money but at the same time you want your proposal to be competitive and worth doing should you win. For my part and as a former soldier, I wanted the package to be advantageous to the tax payer meaning that they were getting a lot of “bang for the buck”. I knew what the USG was paying for the M24 and in my mind I did not think the SASS should be all that much more. Where we ended up was around $7000 (slightly less actually) which was good considering the government was paying almost the same amount for the M24 at the time.
When the time came, I personally packed all of the guns into their cases and shipped them to the address on the solicitation. We also electronically submitted the written component on the due date. At that point, the waiting game commenced as we crossed our fingers in what would become a futile effort.
We were not allowed to attend any portion of the testing nor did the government provide any details as to how the testing was going. We heard some rumors that this or that was going on and that a vendor or two had been dropped, but really had nothing to substantiate anything.
For those not familiar with government weapons contracts, I will briefly describe what transpires during the conduct of one. Keep in mind that while many times these efforts follow a very specific flow, those running the evaluation can change the order which things are done based on resources, Once all of the submissions are received (on or before the closing date), the test team will evaluate the submission samples for completeness and compliance to the terms and requirements of the solicitation. Samples are usually inspected for compliance to the physical requirements (length, width, weight) as well. After this, the testing begins in earnest and the samples are normally tested in a controlled environment to ensure they function safely, then in some cases the environment testing is conducted followed by the user down select and live firing.
Throughout this testing period there will be periodical checks with the various people involved (shooters come from the major units) to obtain “user” comments which are collected and added to the overall assessment.
Remington was notified in September 2005 that the USG had a number of questions in reference to the written solicitation. They submitted several technical questions in reference to quality control, procedures, etc. They informed us that we had a limited time to respond or would be found in default. Subsequently we spent considerable time responding to the inquiries and as I remember it, we returned a 99 page document in an attempt to meet answer their questions.
Within days after submitting the answers we were notified that we were not to be selected and that Knight Manufacturing would be. It was at this point that I inquired as to how this decision was reached. I was informed by the contract specialist that he was not sure but was told the construct the award letter to KAC.
We were afforded the opportunity to receive a “Pre-Award Debriefing” which essentially is a briefing from the government as to how your product performed problems with the submission etc. It does not provide any insight into how anyone else did or any problems they experienced. We elected to receive this briefing and I traveled to New Jersey along with one of our company executives.
During the debriefing a number of inconsistencies begin to emerge. They provided us with a list of “user comments” which were supposed to be things the soldiers had stated about our product (good or bad). Looking through these comments, it became very clear that a percentage of the comments were about someone else’s weapon as they noted problems or issues with specific features that our weapon did not have. When this was brought up, the government officials didn’t know how to respond but eventually basically stated “sorry”.
We were informed that our weapons samples were rated as “unsatisfactory” due to a number of problems; one of which was “failure to remain together”. When I asked about this deficiency, I was informed that during a cleaning period it was noticed that one of our guns was missing the extractor buffer. I asked if they meant the blue or orange plastic piece that goes under the extractor inside the spring. They answered, “yes, that one” to which I informed them that our rifle did not use this device and that none of our rifles had them. I then asked them why they didn’t look at all of the samples, they didn’t have an answer.
Another specified problem was that the rifle was found to be “over-weight” during their inspection. I asked when they discovered this and they responded that they had just weighed the samples at the end. I found this curious as this would normally be something that should have been done in the beginning. Additionally, I was very interested in this because I had weighed every rifle before submission and they all came under the 16 pound maximum. I asked the government what configuration the rifle was in when they weighed it, they didn’t know. Subsequently they called out to Aberdeen proving ground to ask and to ensure that the rifle was in the correct configuration to be weighed. By the end of the meeting we were told that the rifle was actually under weight.
The biggest issue was failures during firing. As it turned out, on one of the rifle the bolt catch had broken (actually bent and would not go up and down), so they determined that this was a failure and it was counted multiple times as a failure which eventually combined to deliver a “unsatisfactory” rating and kick us out. We argued this at length and questioned how they counted the various “points” that resulted in the “unsatisfactory” rating (it is a very complex and confusing formula which evidentially even the government didn’t understand). The end result of this effort was that they eventually agreed to change the rating to “satisfactory” and would have to go back and reevaluate all of the results.
Sometime later (a week or two I believe) I received a call from the contract specialist who stated that Picatinny has decided to maintain their award to KAC. The contract specialist really did not have any other information to share.
As was our right, we chose to protest this decision based on the fact that our rating had been changed to “satisfactory” and in our opinion it should have come down to the administrative submission. Out of all of the possible issues contained in the administrative submission, we believed that pricing was one of the more if not the most important issue that separated us from our competitor.
As noted above, we had gone in with a per unit price of approximately $7000 and we had discovered that our competitor was around $14,000 a copy, so we felt that this issue was the most problematic for the government. In accordance with USG procedures we filed a protest with the US Government Accounting Office (GAO) and begin to develop our case.
What we were really focused on was the cost benefit analysis which the government is supposed to do for most if not all acquisition efforts. Basically they are to determine if something is worth the cost. What we discovered was that in fact the government did not do a cost benefit analysis but rather decided internally who was to be awarded to.
It should be noted that much of the discovery of cases like this are not provided to the respective clients, rather it is argued by lawyers (both civilian lawyers representing the protesting client and military lawyers who represent both the protesting party and the government). Due to the fact that many of the facts were not released, it was difficult to say why the award went as it did, suffice to say that at some point, the judge (a US Army Colonel I believe) was told that the award would remain as it was by his/her higher.
Sometime after all of this our guns were returned. They were definitely well used and showed signed of very hard use. Several of the guns were completely inoperable and all were in need of being rebuilt.
As a former soldier working for a defense provider, I always said that I did not mind losing to a capable and quality competitor, however this was not the case in this event. I am not sure why the award went as it did other than at that time Remington was not known for SA precision rifles and KAC was. Also, the fact that DPMS would have been a sub-contractor perhaps played into the overall scheme of things.
I can say now that in hindsight it was probably for the better in the way it turned out. Many more people were then exposed to KAC than had in the past which eventually led the military to look for another source (currently ongoing with the CSASS program). Also, Remington and DPMS at that time were not fully positioned to take on something this size and with the demands of this type of contract. That said, I am fully certain that had we won, we would have produced a very high quality product and stood firmly behind it without issue, however this would have equated to “living hell” for me and others that were involved with defense business at that time.
As a side note, we did have interest in our rifle from a number of other users. Specifically the USMC was looking for something similar and begun the Rapid Engagement Precision Rifle (REPR) program. At the beginning of this project, we did supply a rifle to be tested and used overseas, however the program did not pan out.
Sniper’s Hide wants to thank Michael Haugen for his awesome insight into the Remington XM110 Program.
Michael Haugen retired in early 2004 from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) as a Chief Warrant Officer 3 (promotable) after 26 years in the US Army. In late 2003, Michael was hired by Remington Arms as a Military Product Representative in the new Military Products Division (MPD). He became the manager of the Military Products Division in 2005 until he was selected to be the Director of International Military and Law Enforcement Sales. Michael left Remington in 2016 and subsequently took a position as the Senior Vice President for Christensen Arms. In January 2017 Michael became the President of SBS Training Solutions as well as President/Owner of Inextremis Consulting.
Michael has dedicated a considerable amount of time to the art and skill of sniping and long range precision. He wrote articles for virtually every edition of The Tactical Shooter in addition to contributions to various Harris publications and the Infantry magazine. While with Remington, Michael was actively engaged in the development, testing and promotion of their entire military/LE sniper rifle line. He currently resides in Washington State with his wife and remains exceptionally active in the firearms industry and precision weapons.