CAR-15 XM177

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CAR-15 XM177 Commando
Colt XM177E2
Place of originUnited States
Production history
ManufacturerColt Defense
Mass5.35 lb (2.43 kg)
Length31 in (790 mm) (XM177E1, stock extended)

28.3 in (720 mm) (XM177E1, stock retracted)
32.5 in (830 mm) (XM177E2, stock extended)

29.8 in (760 mm) (XM177E2, stock retracted)
Barrel length10 in (250 mm) (XM177E1)
11.5 in (290 mm) (XM177E2)

Cartridge5.56×45mm NATO
ActionGas-operated, rotating bolt (Direct impingement)
Muzzle velocity2,650 ft/s (810 m/s) (XM177E1)
2,750 ft/s (840 m/s) (XM177E2)
Effective firing range400 m (440 yd)
Feed system30-round box magazine or other STANAG magazines.
SightsIron sights or various optics

The CAR-15 XM177 or CAR-15 Commando was a part of the CAR-15 Military Weapons System designed in 1966 in response to the US military's desire for a compact M16 variant to improve on the inadequacies of earlier shortened M16 types.

Development history[edit]

Although the United States had already tested the CAR-15 Model 607 submachine gun in Vietnam, it had a number of shortcomings, including overwhelming muzzle blast and an overly complicated, unreliable collapsible stock. To address these problems, Colt came up with the XM177, which featured a number of improvements. The triangular collapsible stock was replaced with a much simpler two-position telescoping tubular aluminum buttstock, while the fragile improvised handguards of the Model 607 were replaced by reinforced round handguards. Each half of the round handguard is identical, simplifying logistics by not requiring a top/bottom or left/right pair. The Model 609 Commando has a forward assist, while the Model 610 Commando does not. A Model 610B with a four-position selector was available, but not used by the U.S. military. All versions are equipped with the 4.25-inch (108 mm) long moderator.


The XM177 uses a unique flash suppressor sometimes called a flash or sound moderator for its 10-inch (250 mm) barrel. This device is 4.2 inches (110 mm) long and was designed primarily as a counterbalance measure as the shorter barrel makes the weapon unwieldy.[1] This device reduces flash signature greatly and sound signature slightly, making the normally louder short barreled carbine sound like a longer barreled M16A1.[2] Although it has no internal baffles and does not completely reduce the sound signature to subsonic levels, because it alters the sound level of the weapon, the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has declared this muzzle device to be a sound suppressor and regulates its civilian purchase in the United States.[2]

The Model 610 was classified as the XM177[3] but adopted by the Air Force as the GAU-5/A Submachine Gun (GAU = Gun, Aircraft, Unit). The Army purchased 2,815 Model 609 CAR-15 Commandos on June 28, 1966, which were officially designated Submachine Gun, 5.56 mm, XM177E1.[3] As part of the contract, Colt was supposed to supply each XM177E1 with seven 30-round magazines, but Colt was unable to build a reliable 30-round curved magazine that would fit in the M16 magazine well, so most XM177E1s were shipped with 20-round magazines. The exception was 5th Special Forces Group, who received a total of four early 30-round magazines. Colt completed delivery of the purchased XM177E1s in March 1967.

In 1967, in response to field testing, Colt lengthened the Commando's barrel from 10 to 11.5 inches (254 to 292 mm). The increased length reduced noise and muzzle flash, and allowed fitting of the Colt XM148 grenade launcher. A metal boss was added to the moderator for mounting of the XM148 and rifle grenades.[4] The chambers were chrome-plated. The Commandos with the longer barrels were called the Model 629 and Model 649. The Model 629 Commando has a forward assist; the Model 649 Commando does not.

In April 1967, the Army purchased 510 Colt 629 Commandos for use by troops assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), and designated them XM177E2.[3] Delivery was completed by the end of September 1967. The Air Force adopted a similar model without the forward assist feature as the GAU-5A/A. Sources debate whether or not this was a Colt Model 630 or 649.[3] According to John Plaster and other sources, the lack of 30-round magazines continued to be problematic and SOG operators resorted to pooling their personal resources and purchasing the larger capacity magazines on the civilian U.S. market.[5] Problems with range, accuracy, barrel fouling, and usage of tracer bullets continued to plague the XM177 series, but Colt estimated that it would take a six-month $400,000 program to do a complete ballistic and kinematic study. There were also recommendations for a 29-month $635,000 research and development program. Both recommendations were declined by the U.S. military as American ground force involvement in the Vietnam War was gradually winding down. Production of the CAR-15 Commando ended in 1970.

It is rumored that the People's Army of Vietnam's M-18 was designed based on XM177 carbines seized from dead or wounded American and South Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War.[6][7] They were first seen in public in 2010,[8] made by Z111 Factory.[9]



GUU-5P Carbine (7414627680).jpg
GUU-5/P carbine
Place of originUnited States
Rate of fire700-1000 RPM
Muzzle velocity2,611 ft/s (796 m/s)

The United States Air Force has made ad hoc upgrades to its GAU-5/As and GAU-5A/As. The barrels and moderators were replaced with the longer 14.5-inch (370 mm) barrel with a 1-in-12 twist, but the weapons retained their original designations. With the change to M855 cartridges, they received either a new barrel with a 1:7 twist ratio or complete upper receiver assembly replacements. The GAU-5/A or GAU-5A/A markings were removed and the weapons redesignated GUU-5/P. They also retain automatic fire instead of burst.

The new designation more accurately reflected the weapon's place in the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Equipment Type Designation System (AETDS). The weapons had initially been designated in the same format as aircraft guns, being placed in the GA category (GA designating an aircraft gun, with U meaning unit, representing a complete system and not part of a kit), followed by the /A suffix meaning the system was for aircraft. GUU is the "guns, miscellaneous personal equipment" category, and the /P suffix indicating personal equipment.[10]



  1. ^ Rottman, Gordon; Lyles, Kevin (2002). Green Beret in Vietnam: 1957-73. Osprey Publishing. p. 42. ISBN 978-1-85532-568-5. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b Rottman, Gordon (2011). The M16. Osprey Publishing. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-84908-690-5. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Ezell, 1988. p. 401
  4. ^ Dockery, 1997. pg. 143
  5. ^ Plaster, 2004. p. 216
  6. ^ "Việt Nam sản xuất "phiên bản Việt" của súng tiểu liên Mỹ?". Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  7. ^ "Việt Nam sản xuất "phiên bản Việt" của súng tiểu liên Mỹ?".
  8. ^ "Điều ít biết về khẩu M18 do Việt Nam sản xuất". tin tức
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Designations Of U.S. Aeronautical and Support Equipment".