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Colt CAR-15 Commando (XM177) Carbine (1966)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/20/2011

The Commando represented a product developed from lessons learned in jungle and close quarters warfare in Vietnam.

Despite its caliber, the Colt Commando is classified as a submachine gun and was developed from the successful AR-15. The AR-15 proved to be of some use by US Army forces in the Vietnam conflict, leading to the development of a more portable weapon suitable for jungle-type warfare or close-quarters work while still retaining the lethality of the automatic carbine model.

The system began as the XM177E2 to which, when adapted by United States Special Forces groups, became the Commando as produced by Colt Industries of Hartford, Connecticut. The Commando sported a smaller profile, measuring in at just 31 exact inches with the collapsible butt extended and a mere 28 inches with the butt retracted. Ammunition consisted of the standard 5.56x45mm M193 type fitted into either a 20 or 30 round detachable box magazine.

The system borrowed many of the inner workings of the AR-15, though performance was effected some by the introduction of the telescoping tubing for the butt and the shortened barrel. Considering that the Commando would be firing the ammunition that was initially designed for the larger, longer AR-15 automatic rifle, the Commando suffered in the accuracy department. Additionally, a flash suppressor was fitted the system to compensate for the additional back blast and muzzle flash in the firing action.

In any case, the Commando fit a need and was an average rifle-turned-submachine gun hybrid based on a successful preceding design. Steps were indeed taken to make it a more effective weapon and the final result proved worth the effort, albeit with some modification.

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Specifications for the
Colt CAR-15 Commando (XM177)

Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Colt Industries - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1966

Overall Length: 826mm (32.52in)
Barrel Length: 292.00mm (11.50in)
Weight (Empty): 5.36lbs (2.43kg)

Caliber: 5.56x45mm M193
Action: Semi/Full Auto; Gas Operated; Locking Bolt
Feed: 20- or 30- round detachable box
Muzzle Velocity: 2,750ft/sec (838m/sec)
Rate-of-Fire: 750 rounds per minute

CAR-15 "Colt Commando" (XM177) - Base Series Designation

United States