This article was originally posted on Thefirearmblog.com
We recently wrote about Enhanced Tactical Arms with their new grip design at SHOT 2018. But during the show, we were able to get a behind the scenes look at the small companies efforts to replicate the developmental history of the M4 carbine from the early beginnings in the Vietnam War, until today with the SOMOD Block II program and subsequent H&K 416 use in SOCOM. The collection has been featured in Larry Vicker’s AR15 Guide.
The rifles pictured are fully operational and were put together with the intent to replicate the progression in special operations carbine development. Putting the collection together is more of a historical labor of love than an actual commercial venture which is what makes interacting with it really neat.I took photos of the collection in chronological order from earliest examples to later ones.
Starting the collection off is a Colt M16E1, essentially the genesis of the beginning of the AR15 in use by the U.S. Military. Below that is a commercial Colt 605 with the barrel chopped down to the front sight post.
The GAU5A/A is especially important because it resembles the beginnings of the CAR15 and later on the M4 in use today. Note the flash suppressor, telescoping buttstock and the fibreoptic Aimpoint optic. The carbine is historically significant because of its use on the Soy Tay Raid in Operation Ivory Coast in November of 1970. “GAU” is Air Force nomenclature for a small arms designation.
The optic is merely a tube with adjustable turrets for height and windage, but the only reticle present is lit dot against a black background. This necessitates using both eyes open while using the carbine. It cannot be used at night due to the lack of light.
Right now the group is working on putting together a Colt Model 607, which would symbolize the transition from the 605 to the GAU-5A/A. The 607 used telescoping two position buttstock that was shaped like the early M16A1 buttstock but smaller and had a shortened barrel with the triangular handguard. Because it is an SBR the company is waiting on completing the lower receiver before it can be fully added to the collection.
Below is the Colt Model 723, as used by Delta Force operators in the famed Mogadishu, Somalia raid of October 3rd, 1993. Notice the actual Aimpoint optic mounted on top of the carrying handle and the light with pressure switch clamped to the handguard. Below this rifle is a Model 727, replicating what Sergeant Matt Eversmann carried during the battle.
Starting at the beginning of the SOPMOD Program (Special Operations Peculiar MODification) is the M4A1 fitted with a AN/PEQ-2 ATPIAL, Knight’s Armament rail system that extends beyond the front sight post and a forward grip that is fitted to a white light. Below that is an M4A1 SOPMOD Phase Replacement Block where the rail system has been simplified from a previous Stoner design with the barrel nut.
Outside of the SOMPOD Program is this modification of an M4A1 by the 82nd Airborne Division with the enormous flashlight mounted on the bottomw of the carbine. This wasn’t a new carbine, much more just a modification that some elements of the 82nd did. Below that is an Army Marksmanship Unit modified M4A1.
Below are two HK416s,14.5 inch barrel on top, and a 10.4 inch barrel equipped with a Surefire SOCOM suppressor on the bottom. Note the difference in rails, the top version being the standard 416 detachable rail and the Geissle rail on the bottom.