Everything You Need to Know About CAR 15 Colt

The CAR-15 Colt is a legendary firearm with a rich history dating back to the Vietnam War era. Originally designed as a lightweight and versatile alternative to the standard M16 rifle, the CAR-15 has evolved over the years to encompass a wide range of configurations and applications. As a modular system of rifles, the CAR-15 family offers various designs for different military needs, making it an iconic weapon that has captured the attention of both military personnel and firearm enthusiasts alike.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of the CAR-15 Colt system, exploring its origins, key features, and the many variants that have been developed over the years. We’ll also discuss the notable users and applications of this legendary firearm, as well as tips for collecting and owning a CAR-15. So whether you’re a seasoned collector or simply intrigued by the history and design of this iconic weapon, read on to discover the remarkable story of the CAR-15 Colt.

Short Summary

  • CAR-15 Colt weapons system is a versatile rifle family with various features to improve accuracy and maneuverability.

  • Notable users include US and foreign military forces, making it an important part of firearms history.

  • Collecting CAR-15s can be rewarding for firearm enthusiasts, requiring regular cleaning and maintenance according to the owner’s manual.

The Origins of CAR-15 Colt

navy seal holding car-15

The CAR-15’s story begins with Armalite’s AR-15, a lightweight rifle designed for military use. When the US Army declined to purchase the AR-15, Armalite sold the design to Colt, who saw potential in the weapon and sought to improve upon it. Colt rebranded and redesigned the AR-15 as the CAR-15, a shortened version of the Colt Model AR-15 SBR with a 15-inch barrel length.

The CAR-15 family was born with the introduction of the Model 603 and Model 604, laying the foundation for a versatile and modular system of rifles. These early models were equipped with lightweight pencil barrels and various barrel twists to reduce barrel fouling and improve accuracy.

The Versatility of the CAR-15 Family

car-15 configurations throughout history

One of the defining characteristics of the CAR-15 family is its versatility. Its modular system of rifles allows for numerous configurations and designs catering to a wide array of military applications. From the early Model 603 and 604 variants to the specialized Model 606 heavy assault rifles and the Model 605 and 607 special operations cars, the CAR-15 family has something for everyone.

In the following subsections, we will delve deeper into the early models, heavy assault rifles, and special operations cars that make up the diverse CAR-15 family. We’ll explore the unique features of each variant and discuss their specific roles and applications in the military sphere.

Early Models: 603 and 604

Models 603 and 604 were the first M16 variants to be adopted by the US Army and Air Force, respectively. Both models featured 20-inch lightweight pencil barrels, making them significantly lighter and more maneuverable than their predecessors. The Model 603 was equipped with a forward assist and case deflector, while the Model 604 lacked these features.

The adoption of Models 603 and 604 marked a significant shift in military weaponry, as the CAR-15 rifles offered greater firepower and a lighter design than the Thompson SMGs they replaced. This combination of lightweight design and increased firepower allowed the US military to equip its personnel with a more versatile and effective weapon, regardless of their branch or role.

Heavy Assault Rifles: Model 606 Series

The Model 606 series of heavy assault rifles were designed as support weapons, featuring heavier barrels and bipod attachments for increased stability during sustained fire. Marketed as support weapons, the Model 606 series saw limited adoption due to their specialized roles and the existence of other squad automatic weapons (SAWs).

Available in standard and A and B configurations, the M1 and M2 models of the CAR-15 Model 606 series were equipped with a forward assist design in the A configuration, while the B configuration, featuring no forward assist, included a four-position selector for safe, semi-automatic, burst, and full-auto fire modes.

Special Operations Carbines: Models 605 and 607

Designed specifically for special operations forces, Models 605 and 607 featured shorter barrels and collapsible stocks for improved maneuverability in dense environments. The CAR-15 Model 610 had a 10-inch barrel and a 2-position aluminum stock, while the tanker model, Model 607, had a 14.5-inch barrel and a 4-position aluminum stock. However, the initial three-prong flash hiders on the Model 607 generated excessive concussion and muzzle blast for most shooters, and only 50 of these rifles were produced for the SEALs and Green Berets.

The original Model 607 lacked forward assists, while the later 607A models included 603 uppers with forward assists. Despite their limited production, Models 605 and 607 were instrumental in the development of modern special operations cars and were precursors to the M4 Carbine and other retro carbine designs.

Key Features of CAR-15 Variants

car-15 configurations and variants

The CAR-15 family boasts a number of key features that contribute to its versatility and performance, setting it apart from other firearms. These include lightweight pencil barrels with various barrel twists, flash suppressors for muzzle control, and a range of attachments, such as bipods, for added stability and customization.

In the following subsections, we will explore these features in greater detail, discussing their benefits and applications in the CAR-15 family of rifles. From pencil barrels and barrel twists that enhance accuracy to flash suppressors and muzzle control devices that minimize visibility and noise, the CAR-15 family is designed for optimal performance in a variety of roles and situations.

Let’s take a closer look at these key features and how they contribute to the success of the CAR-15 family.

Pencil Barrels and Barrel Twists

The lightweight pencil barrel is a standout feature of the CAR-15 family, measuring just 0.625 inches in diameter. This design reduces the overall weight of the rifle while maintaining accuracy and performance, making it easier to handle with the addition of a carry handle. In contrast to the heavy barrel and longer barrel options, the shorter barrel offers a more manageable option for users.

The CAR-15 Colt is also equipped with a selection of barrel twists, including 1:7, 1:8, 1:9, and 1:12. These twists help to reduce barrel fouling and improve accuracy, particularly when firing different calibers of ammunition.

Flash Suppressors and Muzzle Control

Flash suppressors and muzzle control devices are essential components of the CAR-15 Colt, enhancing the shooter’s experience and diminishing their visibility to adversaries. The 5.56×45 Colt USGI A2 flash hider is the accepted flash suppressor for the CAR-15 Colt, but other options are available, including the A1 flash hider, the M16A2 birdcage flash hider, and the M4-type flash suppressor.

These devices help to control muzzle flash and noise, making the CAR-15 a more effective and comfortable weapon for the shooter. This not only improves the user’s experience, but also provides a tactical advantage in combat situations where visibility and noise can make all the difference.

Bipods and Other Attachments

Bipods, including the bipod attachment, and other attachments can be affixed to a CAR-15 rifle to provide additional stability and precision, as well as allowing for customization to suit various roles and circumstances. From scopes and sights to grips and slings, the CAR-15 family can be adapted to fit the unique needs of each user.

While these attachments can offer numerous benefits, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks as well. Adding attachments can increase the weight and size of the rifle, making it more challenging to transport and maneuver. However, when used wisely, these accessories can greatly enhance the performance and adaptability of the CAR-15 family.

Post-Vietnam Developments

ar-15 rifles at mogadishu

After the Vietnam War, Colt discontinued the CAR-15 Modular Weapon System concept but continued to develop short-barreled and heavy-barreled variants of the M16 family. This led to the creation of the M4 carbine and other modern designs, which continue to serve as the basis for many contemporary military rifles.

The development and evolution of the CAR-15 family after Vietnam demonstrate the lasting impact and influence of this modular system of rifles. From the early models to the modern M4 carbine, the CAR-15 legacy continues to shape the landscape of military firearms and their applications in diverse combat scenarios.

Notable Users and Applications

navy seal in jungle with car-15

The CAR-15 Colt Commando has been employed by various military forces throughout its history, including the US Army, Air Force, Navy SEALs, and Army Special Forces. These elite units recognized the advantages offered by the CAR-15’s lightweight design and modular system, making it a valuable asset in their arsenal.

In addition to its use by US military forces, the CAR-15 Colt has also been utilized by foreign armed forces since colt introduced this versatile weapon. This widespread adoption speaks to the versatility and performance of the CAR-15 family, making it a truly iconic weapon that has left a lasting mark on the history of firearms.

Collecting and Owning a CAR-15

car-15 collection

For firearm enthusiasts and collectors, owning a piece of the CAR-15 legacy can be a rewarding experience. From popular models like the M4 Carbine and AR-15 Military Classics to more specialized variants like the 7.62 Modular Carbine, there are numerous options available for those looking to add a CAR-15 to their collection.

In the following subsections, we’ll explore some popular models for collectors, as well as discuss maintenance and care tips to ensure that your CAR-15 remains in top condition and retains its value for years to come.

Collectors often seek out popular models from the CAR-15 family, such as the M4 Carbine series, the AR-15 series, the 7.62 Modular Carbine series, and the AR-15 Military Classics. These rifles represent both the historical significance and the continued innovation of the CAR-15 family, making them highly sought-after additions to any firearm collection.

With varying features and configurations, these popular models cater to different preferences and interests among collectors. Whether you’re drawn to the modern sporting rifle design of the AR15A4 or the revolutionary 7.62 Modular Carbine with its easily interchangeable upper receiver group, there’s a CAR-15 model that’s perfect for every collector.

Maintenance and Care Tips

Proper maintenance and care are essential to preserving the functionality and value of a CAR-15 rifle. Regular cleaning of the seam and disconnector surfaces, applying trigger grease, and periodic magazine cleaning are just a few of the measures that should be taken to ensure the proper upkeep of your CAR-15 Colt.

Additionally, it’s important to consult the owner’s manual for appropriate maintenance and inspection guidelines. This may include recommendations for replacing the barrel after a certain number of rounds or other specific upkeep requirements for your particular CAR-15 model.


The CAR-15 Colt is a truly iconic weapon with a rich history and a legacy of innovation and versatility. From its origins with Armalite’s AR-15 to the development of countless variants and configurations, the CAR-15 family represents a remarkable story of firearm design and adaptation. Its use by elite military forces and foreign armed forces alike speaks to its effectiveness and enduring appeal.

Whether you’re a collector, a firearm enthusiast, or simply intrigued by the history and design of this legendary weapon, the CAR-15 Colt offers a fascinating glimpse into the ever-evolving world of military firearms. As you explore the many variants and configurations of this remarkable weapon, you’ll discover a rich legacy of innovation, performance, and versatility that continues to shape the landscape of modern firearms.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Colt CAR-15 and M4?

The primary difference between the Colt CAR-15 and M4 is that the M4 features a full-auto or burst fire mode, whereas the AR-15 does not.

There are also slight differences in barrel length and attachments, but these are minor differences.

What does Colt AR stand for?

The AR in the “AR-15” rifle stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. It was originally designed by machinist and firearms designer Eugene Stoner and was later modified and trademarked by Colt’s Manufacturing Company.

“AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”

What is the primary purpose of the CAR-15 Colt?

The primary purpose of the CAR-15 Colt is to provide a lightweight and versatile alternative to the standard M16 rifle, with different configurations to suit various military requirements.

Popular models of the CAR-15 Colt for collectors include the M4 Carbine, AR-15, 7.62 Modular Carbine, and AR-15 Military Classics.

How can I maintain my CAR-15 Colt?

To maintain your CAR-15 Colt, make sure to clean the seal and disconnector surfaces, apply trigger grease, and periodically clean its magazine.

Following the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines will ensure that your gun is working optimally.

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