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He said the IG ignored the fact that the Army has not held a competition for a new rifle in more than 30 years. He said it failed to take into account test results that showed the M4 finished last in firing in extreme dust, such as that found in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I am afraid the quality of this audit is not consistent with the standards I have seen” in other IG audits, Mr. Coburn said.

The Army has begun converting basic M4 rifles into the heavier-barreled M4A1, a gun used in the competition and originally developed for special operations troops who need continuous fire. Critics say the need for a transition proves that the conventional M4 fails too often in battle.

The Army also changed manufacturers last year. FN Manufacturing in South Carolina won a competition with Remington Arms Co. and Colt Defense, the longtime M4 maker, to make the M4A1.