Springfield Armory Museum - Collection Record
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|Title:||GUN, SUBMACHINE - U.S. SUBMACHINE GUN XM177 "COMMANDO" 5.56MM SN# 901635|
|Date of Manufacture:||1966|
|Catalog Number:||SPAR 3292|
|Measurements:||OL: 78.7CM 31 7/8" with stock extended; 28 1/8" with stock closed. BL: 27.9CM 10"|
U.S. SUBMACHINE GUN XM177 "COMMANDO" 5.56MM SN# 901635
Manufactured by Colt, Hartford, Ct. - Special purpose weapon designed for close in fighting. This is the Air Force version with no forward assist. Blowback-operated. 6-groove rifling; right hand twist. Muzzle velocity 3000 fps. Cyclic rate of fire 700-1,000 round per minute. Weapon has an overall length of 31 7/8" with stock extended, 28 1/8" with stock closed, and weighs approximately 6.6 lbs. unloaded. Complete with 30-round detachable box magazine. Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO. Weapon resembles the currently issued M4 assault carbine. Magazine moved to 207/2.
Magazine housing: Rampant Colt in circle. COLT/AR-15/PROPERTY/OF U.S. GOVT./COMMANDO/CAL. 5.56MM/SERIAL 901635.
Frame: COLT'S PATENT FIRE ARMS MFG. CO./HARTFORD, CONN./U.S.A.
Select switch: SAFE, SEMI, AUTO.
Magazine: KAY in circle. INDUSTRIES/INC./NEW BRITAIN, CONN. U.S.A.
Weapon being held in picture by National Park Ranger Lisa M. Andrews.
Notes: Weapon classified by U.S. Army as "Submachine Gun" despite the fact pistol ammunition is not being used.
The flash suppressors on the XM177 series of weapons have been determined to be noise suppressors by BATF. These are registerable and taxable items.
"Model 610 AR-15 submachine gun (XM177). Acquired for trials with the U.S.A.F. in 1967, this lacked the bolt assist. The stock was a sliding type. Model 610B was similar, but had an additional three-round burst-firing capability and, therefore, a fourth position on the selector." - John Walter
"CAR-15 Sub-machine Gun - This was an abbreviated version of the standard rifle with a 10in barrel. The butt and pistol grip were shortened, though some of the earliest examples were fitted with a telescoping version of the conventional butt instead of the later tubular pattern.
The submachine-gun attracted the interest of the US Army, which ordered 2,815 in June 1966 as the 'Commando' (Colt Model 609). The first examples retained the 10in barrel and had a long flash-hider with a small diameter exit port. However, the muzzle blast and flash was such that the project was suspended while a more effectual muzzle attachment was developed. This was satisfactorily accomplished, whereupon the CAR-15 was reclassified in January 1967 as 'XM177' (Colt Model 649), or 'XM177E1' with the bolt-closing device. First deliveries had been made in November 1966.
The perfected XM177E2 was an 'E1' with an 11.5in barrel. Colt also made some Model 610B guns, similar to the Model 609 Commando but with a burst-firing system.
Though the XM177E2 was popular with the special forces, it suffered continual accuracy problems. Changes were suggested to make the suppressor more effectual, but the entire project was dropped in 1970. Colt subsequently offered fully automatic versions for police use, with the barrels 11.5-16in, in addition to a semi-automatic Sporter Carbine. In the 1980s, however, renewed interest created an improved XM177E2 known as the 'XM4.'" - John Walter
"Current versions of the Commando-style telescoping stock carbine date back to weapons created during the Vietnam War to fill the need for a weapon that operated like a 'submachine gun,' even though it used a rifle cartridge rather than a pistol round. The present models of these 'submachine guns' are created by combining the rifle receiver and inner parts with a telescoping stock and a 14.5-inch or 16-inch barrel. While the original Commandos had 10- or 11-inch barrels with a special flash suppressor, current Commandos have standard AR-15 rifle flash suppressors. These short carbines enjoy brisk sales worldwide and - though the U.S. military is not currently using the Commando as a standard weapon - it will be adopted by U.S. forces as tanker/weapons crew/commander weapon. Carbines are also being made by Colt for foreign sales with the 14.5-inch barely and a standard AR-15 rifle stock.
The telescoping stock's release lever is located on its lower side. The rifle can be fired with the stock in the closed position, since the Commando has a shorter It should be noted that the proper name for these carbines is not the 'CAR-15.' The 'CAR-15' designation, used by Colt Firearms when they first started marketing the rifles in the early 1960s, stands for Colt Automatic Rifle-15. Since the Commando was often the first 'CAR-15' many users saw, and since the rifle's military designation 'M16,' the conclusion is often falsely drawn that the 'CAR-15' is the Commando-style carbine. It's a shorter version of the M16 rifle or an XM177 - the experimental designation used by the U.S. military." - Duncan Long
"The Colt Commando is one of those weapons which do not fit neatly into any one particular category and is variously described as an assault rifle or carbine and submachine gun, but here it is being treated as a submachine gun. The weapon was, in fact, a shorter and handier version of the M16 rifle and was intended for use in the Vietnam War as a close-quarter survival weapon. Mechanically, it was identical to the M16 but with a much shorter barrel, which reduced the muzzle velocity slightly and also reduced its accuracy at longer ranges. The short barrel also caused considerable muzzle flash which had to be overcome by a 4in (100mm) flash suppressor, which could be unscrewed, if necessary. The Colt Commando had a telescopic butt which could be extended when it was necessary to fire the weapon from the shoulder, it featured selective fire and a holding-open device, and was actuated by the same direct gas action as the M16. In spite of the limitations on range, the weapon proved useful in Indochina and although it had been designed as a survival weapon it fitted the submachine gun role so well that it was better issued to the US Special Operations Forces and was also used in small numbers by the British SAS." - Miller
"THE CAR-15 COMMANDO BECOMES THE XM177/XM177E1 - A test of 'one tool-room model' of Colt's 'latest configuration' CAR-15 in September featured for the first time a special Colt 'noise and flash suppressor,' developed in an attempt to reduce the signature of the CAR-15 to the level of the standard rifle. Deliveries began on 7 November, with the shipment of '1190 sub-machine guns and 85% total repair parts.' The next mention in the Project Manager's report for the week of 23-27 January established the official description of the CAR-15 Commando for the first time: 'CAR-15 submachine gun: The Type Designator SUBMACHINE GUN, 5.56MM, XM177 (Air Force Version) and XM177E1 (Army Version) has tentatively been assigned to the CAR-15 SMG.
THE XM177E2 - ONE OF THE DEADLIEST FRUITS OF WAR - Improvements to the XM177/XM177E1 included an additional 1.5 inches of barrel length which, when mated with a redesigned Colt noise and flash suppressor, offered the best possible trade-off between versatility and increased noise and flash. Col. Yount reported: 'XM177/XM177E1 submachine gun: Consistent with improvements made...a new designator, XM177E2, has been assigned to the current model. Contractual actions are in process to procure 510 each XM177E2 submachine guns with concurrent repair parts for the Studies and Observation Group, Vietnam (MAC-SOG). Delivery date is anticipated by 30 September....Submachine gun 5.56mm, XM177E2:...The cyclic rates of the test weapons showed large variations within a burst. The noise/flash suppressor lost its effectiveness due to clogging as firing progressed, and the ball bullets showed unusually large yaw on some occasions apparently owing to the effect of the...suppressor. Tracer cartridges, regardless of the propellant loading were incompatible with the weapon due to severe yaw and some projectile breakup. USATECOM recommended further development of the buffer and noise/flash suppressor and that the (experimental) Delrin charging handle latch be considered unacceptable. The handles showed structural failure at - 65 degrees F....
It was announced in the weekly PMR report for 11-15 November 1968 that Colt's had estimated a complete ballistic/kinematic study of the XM177E2 would take six months and cost $ion prohibiting export sales of silencers was the last straw, as it meant that Colt could not sell the XM177E2 abroad.
After the war, as part of the recommencement of production of civilian semi-auto AR-15s, the XM177E2 was transmogrified into several special, suppressor-less full-auto 'CAR-15' models with 11 1/2, 14, 1/2" and 16" barrels for law enforcement sale only, as well as a legal 16"-barreled semi-auto model featuring the XM177E2's telescoping buttstock called the 'Colt Sporter Carbine,' for civilian sale.
Militarily, after successful trials during the early eighties, Army and Marine Corps acceptance of Colt's new 'shorty' version, called the XM4, appears imminent at the time of this writing (February, 1987)." - R. Blake Stevens
"The SEALs I would take along were usually big guys who carried big guns. These guys would carry an M60 machine gun and four to six hundred rounds of ammunition. This was nice, as these guys could stand up and cut trees down. You could also stand behind them if you wanted to. These guys would carry an M60 machine gun along with an assortment of other lethal toys. For myself, I preferred the CAR-15, the short submachine gun version of the M16. Using the CAR, I would rarely extend the stock, as most of the fighting was done close in with instinctive firing from the hip being the norm." - Frank F. Thornton, Jr.
"About the same time that the Montagnards joined SOG, a new weapon arrived in SOG's arsenal. Based on the Colt CAR-15 survival rifle, it featured a barrel half the length of an M-16's and a collapsible stock - a deadly but compact weapon that fit a recon man's needs to a tee.
The Swedish K and other 9mm submachine guns always would be part of SOG's armory, but after 1966 they became special-purpose weapons, usually employed only with suppressors. It was a One-Zero's prerogative to arm his men as he saw fit, and he had dozens of different weapons to choose among, from Soviet-made RPG rocket-propelled-grenade launchers to Walther PPK suppressed pistols. The CAR-15, however, would reign supreme as SOG's trademark; in fact, SOG recon would be the only unit armed entirely with CAR-15s." - Plaster
Faucett, Bill. HUNTERS & SHOOTERS. Avon Books. N.Y., N.Y. 1995.
Long, Duncan. ASSAULT PISTOLS, RIFLES AND SUBMACHINE GUNS. Carol Publishing Co. N.Y., N.Y. 1986.
Long, Duncan. THE COMPLETE AR-15/M16 SOURCEBOOK. Paladin Press. Boulder, Co. 1992.
Miller, David. Ed. THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF GUNS. Salamander Books Limited. London, England. 2000.
Miller, David. THE ILLUSTRATED DIRECTORY OF 20TH CENTURY GUNS. Salamander Books Ltd. London, England. 2001.
Plaster, John L. SOG: THE SECRET WARS OF AMERICA'S COMMANDOS IN VIETNAM. An Onyx Book. N.Y., N.Y. 1998.
Stevens, Blake. THE BLACK RIFLE. Collector Grade Publications, Inc. Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. 1994.
Walter, John. RIFLES OF THE WORLD. DBI Books, Inc. Northbrook, Il. 1993.
Walter, John. RIFLES OF THE WORLD. 2nd Ed. DBI Books, Inc. Northbrook, Il. 1998.
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