5.56 Timeline


photo thanks to Alex Young

The photo above is from the collection of Alex Young. It’s a nice look at some of the LMG options Colt made over the years. At top of the newest, the IAR. This is the gun that was submitted for the project that eventually became the M-27.

Below the IAR is the Colt LMG. Iconic and instantly recognizable by its hand guards, vertical fore grip, carry handle and bipods. Fires from an open bolt and was meant to be fill the light machine gun role. The barrel is the much heavier HBAR for sustained full auto. You will all notice that while it is a A2 upper, it has no forward assist. Not needed when the gun operates as an open bolt. A slightly different version of this gun is still in service with Canada and a few other countries as the LSW.

Above is the modern LMG/LSW. Everyone realized the flat top was superior 3 seconds after it was thought up. And so the flat top upper has made its way on to all modern AR15 variants.

Bottom two uppers are the M16A2 HBAR. The bipods used are the same as used on the M60 machine gun. This is the same basic idea as the M16A1 HBAR.

The HBAR and LMG variants never had widespread use. A few countries use versions of the LMG/LSW but most stick to belt fed LMGs like the M249. No doubt the limit of 30 round mags didn’t make the idea very attractive for the role it was intended for in infantry combat. Even with the Beta C-mag. Now we have the H&K IAR/M27 that is a carbine version of this concept that the USMC apparently loves so much they are going to give one to everyone. The average gun enthusiast has no idea that decades ago Colt already had this concept ready to go as well as a piston version of the AR15. Bad timing or ahead of its time. Go figure.

The USAF take-down GAU-5A survival gun

Picture from USA Military Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9ENCaRlYOM

Not that long ago, the Air Force adopted a new break down rifle for the survival kit of pilots. They decided to recycle the designation GAU-5A for this new weapon configuration.

The original GAU-5A was the Colt Model 610. Here is a picture from RetroBlackRifle.com

Many of old carbines were later rebuilt into other configurations, the GAU-5A/A, GAU-5A/B, GAU-5B/A, GAU-5P, GUU-5P, etc. There is a fair chance there are a few of these floating around in their original configuration, and others have likely been rebuilt into M4 carbines.

But this isn’t about that cool old gun.

The new GAU-5A is a retrofit to a standard M4. This break down setup was picked because they could jam it in their current survival kit along with four full thirty round magazines.

To make the lower smaller, they remove the sling loop from the M4 stock, and install a FAB Defense folding pistol grip. Part number AGF-43S. I looked around for price and most places had it out of stock. $43.99 was the price I found for a black one, 36.49 for other colors.

This break down rifle uses a shorter barrel. From what I can find, it is reported that a Bravo Company 12.5″ barrel is being used. I’m guessing the model at this page: https://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-Standard-12-5-Carbine-Barrel-Stripped-NFA-p/bcm-brl-s-12%20std.htm Flash hider appears to be a standard A2. The stripped barrel is for sale for $239. You would still need a low profile gas block, flash hider, and crush washer.

A low profile gas block is used, and for the take down system a custom different length gas tube is used. That is provided with the take down kit.

The take down kit is a retrofit for standard AR15 uppers and barrels. It is made by Cry Havoc Tactical. This “QRP Kit” sells for $349 shipped. They also make a model for .308 ARs. This kit lets you use most standard aftermarket free float hand guards. Link here: http://cryhavoctac.com/qrb-kit.html

The chosen hand guard is a 10.5 inch long Midwest Industries “MI-G3ML10-BLK”. Due to the quick change barrel kit, this hand guard is pushed out longer than if it was mounted normally. It runs $169 dollars from MidWest Industries website. https://www.midwestindustriesinc.com/product-p/mi-g3ml10-blk.htm

For sights, this little survival carbine uses the Magpul MBUS PRO LR. It appears to be using the version adjustable for distance. This would let the shooter roughly adjust from 200-600 meters. To buy a new set would run you about $200 dollars.

With the exception of a full auto lower, if a person wanted to make a “clone” of one of these guns, all the parts would be easy to source and readily available.

When this weapon was first announced, I recall the gun forums and the like generally responded negatively to the announcement of this weapon. All sorts of alternatives were suggested, most of them ridiculous.

This new gun is an interesting oddity. But I don’t imagine it will get much of a fan following. I doubt it will ever be considered classic like the original GAU-5A.

WTF quote of the day

This gem bought to you by AR15.com, a giant forum that sometimes talks about guns.

The 5.56 round is practically harmless unless it fragments. Reliable fragmentation velocity is about 2600 fps.
Your barrel has a muzzle velocity under 1900 fps, which means its effective range is zero meters. You could shoot someone with it point blank in the chest and they’d likely be fine, unless you happened to get lucky and strike the spinal cord. If you had used an 11″ barrel, you would probably OK for 30 yards or less…or if you had used a .300 blackout, you’d be fine with that barrel length.

AR15.com User Pebble LINK

At least the first person to respond to him responded with laughter.

What’s the best AR15 stock?

I was perusing a gun forum and stumbled across someone asking this question.

There were all sorts of answers. From people saying the old CAR stock is all you need, to people saying your stock choice depends on your optic choice. Various blanket answers like “LMT SOPMOD” or “Magpul CTR”.

Wasn’t that long ago there was only a handful of option. Now it seems like every company makes their own stocks, grips, hand guards, and the like.

At this point, it is more a matter of person preference than anything else.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple.

CAR stock

This is the classic “CAR” stock. Light and compact, it is my favorite collapsible stock. You could argue that it does everything you need, but it lacks many modern conveniences such as QD sling sockets or a bottom sling mount.

M4 “waffle” stock

The M4 stock, aka a “waffle” stock moves adds a sling mount to the bottom, allowing for more traditional sling usage.

B5 “SOPMOD” stock

Back in the early 80s, if not even earlier, there were various designs for an improved cheekweld stock. This pretty much got finalized with the NSWC SOPMOD stock. This stock is now made by a few companies, and many other companies offer stocks with sloping sides for “improved cheekweld”. On many of these, that gives some storage space. This B5 stock, like the later LMT SOPMODs, have a QD socket in them.

Magpul ACS stock with old style extended buttpad

Some figured that a couple of battery compartments are not enough, so they added even more storage space. Put in a cleaning kit, or extra CLP. Maybe even jam a “fun sized” Snickers bar in there. Just note that some designs, like the VLTOR stocks, can grab beards and pluck hairs.

Magpul CTR with old style extended buttpad

I remember the Magpul CTR was considered a pretty big deal when it came out. It had a second lock that would eliminate all slop and wobble making it lock up like a fixed stock. All the advantages of a fixed stock, in a collapsible stock. I didn’t like it at first until I learned about the extended rubber buttpads. Now I really like it. But all of mine have worn and have plenty of slop like the old CAR and M4 stocks. If a person didn’t need the QD socket, I would suggest getting the MOE stock, which is the same profile minus the QD socket and extra friction lock.

Ruger RPR stock. Adjustable for length, cheek piece height, the butt pad can be adjusted in height and rotation.

For the bench rest or space-gun shooter, there are all manner of stocks that are extremely adjustable. While these designs vary, many of them have so much adjustment they can be custom adjusted to suit a particular shooters individual needs.

But, we shouldn’t forget fixed stocks.

M16A2 stock

There are the old M16, M16A1 stocks. The slightly longer (about 5/8 inch IIRC) A2 stock. Rarer odd ball options like the CS stock. If a person wants a fixed stock, they can find them in several lengths. “Entry” fixed stocks tend to be the shortest, and there are extensions available for those freaks out there that think an A2 stock is too short.

Colt CS stock marking. The CS stock is A1 length, but made of the A2 materials.

You can get fixed stocks like the Magpul PRS or the LMT DMR stock that are adjustable for length, cheek height and are designed to ride a rear bag.

There there are all sorts of other options like the non-stock braces, or stocks designed for non-AR weapon systems. Now that we can shoulder braces, there are some people who prefer these braces over standard stocks. That seems odd to me, but it is an option. There are shorter stocks, side folders, etc that will work with alternative recoil systems.

Some people highly recommend fixed stocks for precision rifles. Sometimes it is for the extra weight to reduce recoil, but often the argument is that wobble in the adjustable stock would adverse effect precision shooting. Personally, I’d rather have a collapsible stock as I prefer different length for different shooting positions and I like being able to reduce the length of the weapon for storage.

I think it really comes down to picking a stock that supports the sling and shooting positions you want to do and allows you to be repeatable in your head position.

And that isn’t even broaching in on the weird options like stocks made for visor use.