A look at the Capco M16A2 upper – Part 1


Once again I spend money I shouldn’t have spent on something I don’t really need. But I wanted it. I carried a M16A2 for most of my time in the Corps.

Capco is a defense contractor that has been around since 1968. I only learned about them a year ago. At some point, they provided M16A2 replacement uppers for the U.S. Military.

For the past little while, there were lots and lots of Capco M16A2 uppers for sale. Used uppers in the $350 range, and new in wrap uppers for $430-450ish. I’d been watching these for sale and kept telling my self I was going to get one. There were what appeared to be hundreds of them for sale from various sources. I kept waiting and waiting and finally broke down and got one. It was the last one on Gunbroker. Now more might get listed as any time, but I don’t see any for sale currently. Good thing I didn’t wait any longer. As the supply might have dried up.

It came sealed in a rust preventive bag.

It had a wick in the bore, but that had slid down into the receiver.

It had some various little blemishes on the bottom. Looked like when someone hammered in the forward assist roll pin they caught the upper a couple of times.

The upper is finished black (Not like the older “Colt Grey”). It has the newer style small forward assist.

The upper receiver is marked with a raised P and the Splintered A. The barrel markings are very faint on mine. At first I thought the barrel wasn’t marked and I looked over it several times. Finally after oiling it all up I was able to make out the stamping on the top near the muzzle. “P MP 5.56 NATO 1/7”

Bottomed out at 8/3-1

Out of the package, the rear sight bottomed out at 8/3-1. I used a 1/16th allen wrench to implement the RIBZ (Revised Improved Battlesight Zero).

Bottomed out at 8/3-3

By doing this, 8/3-3 will be my 100 yard setting. 8/3-2 will be my 200 yard setting.

I noticed the pin under the elevation knob has some type of black goo or sealant on it. I don’t know if they were trying to rust proof or water proof that, or cover up for damage. I have seen a couple of cheap Capco M16A2 uppers where the upper was damaged by improper installation of that pin. It could be they put a dab of black paint to cover up heavy handed clumsy roll pin installation. The black stuff is dabbed on both sides, so I’m not sure.

Much to my annoyance, the windage knob was not timed so that the bold line next to the R would be straight up when the sight is centered. I’m enough of a nut case to care about such things, so I removed the knob and reindexed it.

If someone is looking for a minty perfect looking upper, this Capco would be a poor choice. It has a handful of various blemishes, and plenty of things to nit pick. But for someone wanting to get something semi-retro, or for the collector with more money than common sense, the Capco M16A2 upper might be a great choice.

I’ll write more after I get to shoot it.


  1. Are those excess uppers from the conversion kits? I remember doing hundreds of those conversions and I’m certain they were all Capco kits. If so, how they interacted with every generation of AR15/M16 from the earliest 601 to the last A1 was hit or miss but I don’t recall any terminal issue with the uppers themselves. Rack grade, standard performance but you got yourself a nice piece of history and a shooter.

    • They are. Reviews I have seen tend to be positive, but I hear that the first run of Capco uppers were rejects, and then sold to the public. I don’t know much about those details. Kinda hope mine isn’t from that run.

      • If so they’d have been in storage somewheres for over 20yrs because that’s when the conversion kit fiasco started. Some lady, and I don’t use that as a pejorative just as an identifier for the responsible party, in our Materiel Command got a $10K payday for that idea. Oh, our CATM troops can do it for free? Even better! It’ll only take a couple years? Brilliant! Well, a decade later and we were still doing data calls on non-converted rifles. The concept was sound; Air Force rifles by and large see little use. I mean finding original contract 601s still with a wicking tube was not uncommon. How that plan was executed was a sh!t show. It should’ve been contracted out and centralized. Little things like those 601s having to be pulled from service later on because, well, you can’t get replacement pivot pins when some supertrooper loses it. Letting out a contract on that replacement part would be cost prohibitive for such a small number of pieces but now you’re stuck with the disposition of an unserviceable weapon. Then re-marking the lowers to add the “A2” and new fire control markings. Many were broken by some heavy hands with the stamps.

        As I understand it this is how the Army has been handling their M4 to M4A1 conversions. They’re being done centrally or at least more centralized amongst their major commands. They’ve got better resources at least for ensuring it’s all done correctly.

        Gee whiz, there were also A4 conversion kits as well. It was one of the options I researched as a COA for the DM concept I had worked on around the 02-03 timeframe.


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