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The Colt/ELISCO 653-P

Ever been watching Platoon and noticed that the carbine carried by Barnes and Elias look a little odd? That’s because they aren’t XM177s. They are something different. Something dictated by filming location.


The guns used in the movie are Colt rifles made under license by Elisco in the Philippines.

The 653P is essentially the same as other M16A1 carbines at the time with a 14.5 inch barrel. An interesting bit about Elisco below. At least some of the gun was made by Colt and the parts sent to the Philippines. In some pictures the “C” can be seen on the upper receiver. The barrel’s were likely made by Colt as well.

Eagle arms bought the US name from the Philippine Company that bought the rights from the Original Armalite


ArmaLite Division of Elisco Tool

The short-lived third phase of ArmaLite’s history began with Elisco Tool Manufacturing’s 1983 purchase of ArmaLite. The new ArmaLite operation was headed by an Englishman hired to serve as interim President, Mr. Bruce Swain. Mr. John Ugarte later replaced Swain. ArmaLite continued to market existing rifles and parts manufactured by Sterling under the leadership of the new vice-president of Marketing, Mr. Joe Armstrong.

Elisco Tool had successfully produced the M16A1 for the Philippine armed forces and police. Difficulties with Colt over M16 licensing prompted Elisco to seek another 5.56mm rifle, and the AR-18 was the only real contender.

Inventory, tooling, and machinery were therefore dispatched from Sterling’s plant to the Philippines. The process fell apart not in the U.S. market, but due to political events in the Philippines themselves. In short, Ferdinand Marcos was overturned and went into exile. The political and economic links of the government were dramatically shifted, and Elisco was unable to carry out the AR-18 production. The U.S. arm of the operation was closed in 1987.

Armalite today is not the Armalite they would like you to think they are.

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