And you would be, Colt can sell it's carbine to police (not private citizens) for $1,699 because the government is buying in bulk.
When I bought my AR15, about thirty years ago, they were cheaper - and so was gasoline.
I've watched this dance over costs of aircraft procured by the government - 'rip off' is a cornerstone of USG dogma - it's not true.
MANY years ago, and just for chuckles, a group of us obtained the USG specs for the $600.00 ash tray then being trumpeted: Of course you could have purchased an ash tray for $2.95 but if you followed the AF requirements they got a deal.
On the other hand, a piston system you could pin onto an existing receiver sounds like a really nifty upgrade.
Should retail be LESS than what DOD pays?
Piston has to be dialed in, and has to stay dialed in, or it jams too.
My Bushie ARs run fine, all day long, but the fit and finish of the Colt is better. I’d pay 15 for a Colt if I didn’t already have the Bushmasters for 12.
Wet and dirty runs a LOT better than dry and dirty.