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Thread: I Think I Have a Colt Addiction

  1. #41
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    Thank you. I'm actually using an ancient Panasonic DMC-FZ5 LUMIX with a Leica lens. I really need to get a newer model but this one still does the job pretty well for me. I just wish the resolution was a little better because the pictures can get a little blurry if you blow them up too much.

  2. #42
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    Let's look at some early magazines and pouches:

    At the bottom are three of the first pattern "waffle" steel magazines and an early style pouch. I actually had access to four of them but, like the dimwit I am, I only took pictures of three. Oh well, it looks just like the other ones anyways. Up top are two early pattern aluminum magazines and another early style pouch. I hesitate to use the description of "first pattern" on anything but the waffle magazines because there are just so many versions of everything that what actually came FIRST can be hard to pin down!


    We'll start with a right side view of a steel magazine:

    Even though it's steel, I couldn't really tell any weight difference between it and an aluminum one. I guess you might see a difference if you put it on a scale but the steel is so thin that it's really light. Remember, these were designed to be disposable.


    Left side:

    I think these look neat. Yes, I like them simply because they are old but I also just like the way they look. Of course, if this design was actually what became standard and what is so ubiquitous now would have been the early design, I'd probably like that one more. We humans are strange like that, aren't we?


    Front view of three waffles:

    You can just make out the spot welds running up the front of the magazine on the right.


    Rear view:

    Note no seam. One these, the seam is on the front.



    Top view:

    Notice that one does not have an "S" on the cast metal follower. What that means, I do not know. Remember when we looked at some common magazines earlier and I mentioned the unknown plethora of variations? Well, it seems the variations started pretty early!


    Floor plate:



    The early aluminum looks pretty much identical to what is still in use today:







    The seam has moved to the back where it remains to this day.


    Metal followers of course.


    Compare this floor plate to the one above. The text is about the same but the mechanical design is different. This one is very nearly identical to a current production plate differing only in the cutout where the front retention spring protrudes through.


    The pouches are rubberized cloth and very simple in design. We've already seen the front of them but here is a back view:

    They have no belt loops so how you are supposed to attach them to gear is unknown to me.


    The only marking I can find is a very faint "-7-" on the inside of the right flap of both pouches. Both are shown below:





    A detail of the snap and weave of the rubber impregnated canvas:

    The welting is rubber impregnated too.


    That was fun!

  3. #43
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    Yes, that was fun!

    I absolutely love the waffle mags. I could never justify or afford the cost for one if there was one to be found so I have the Brownell's copy, close enough for me.
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

  4. #44
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    We just looked at one of the oldest Colt AR15's made so now we're going to shift gears a bit and take a quick look at a couple current production carbines that also happen to be semi-automatic only examples of the current government issue M4A1. The reason we're going to look at two examples of the same model is to illustrate that even the newest and most current production shows variation from rifle to rifle. I'm not bothering to show the same thing twice for each example because most things are identical between the two. I'm also not necessarily going to point out which carbine a particular picture is illustrating unless it is germane to the conversation. And finally, the main focus here is to point out variation, not to present an in-depth look at this particular model so I'm not going to cover every little detail. Okiedokie, here we go...…


    First up is the box:

    It's cardboard..... yay!! It's nothing special but it serves its purpose well enough.


    The label:

    I have no idea what "2013 Config"uration means. Notice that the model number starts with "LE" but the serial number starts with "CR" Also, the barrel length is listed as 16" but that is only achieved by pinning and welding an elongated flash hider on the end of an M4 14.5" barrel.


    Inside the box is the rifle wrapped up in an unsealed storage bag and a sealed bag of accessories:



    Bag marking detail:

    Both carbines came in bags dated April of 2019.


    The bags o' accessories:

    Both are supposed to be melted shut to seal them but one was only partially sealed. I guess a melty baggie tool thingee was too deep for somebody. The contents are a manual, magazine, lock, vertical foregrip and a short rail cover for use when the foregrip is used.


    One accessory bag was dated September of 2018 and the other was April of 2019:





    These were bought for collecting, not shooting so the bags are not going to be opened. Still, we can read the cover on the manual and see that somebody needs to be fired in the editing department:

    It CLEARLY states that this manual is for semiautomatic rifles and carbines but later states that the manual should always accompany this pistol. Nice.


    Because the one bag was only partially sealed, I could get the foregrip and short rail cover out without disturbing anything:

    I could get the lock out too but who wants to look at that??


    Although not a real variation that matters, the chamber flags, while made by the same company, were two different colors:



    Alright, now we get to the carbines proper. Because there are two, we can see both sides in one frame:

    Ugly damn things aren't they? I prefer the looks of the 601 myself. It has the neato space age look to it and the elegant curves of the carry handle make the rifle look like it's actually moving forward even though it's sitting still. This thing has all the elegance of a hammer. I think somebody either forget to finish putting it together or lost the carry handle. And what's with those handguards? Oh, I forgot......you need someplace to hang all your tacticool crap and it doubles as a cheese grater. To be serious though, the handguard is made by Knights Armament and provides rock solid multiple mounting points for essential tools on the modern battlefield. Normally, I would make fun of range "operators" who put this stuff on their rifles but Colt is selling this as a semi-auto version of the current military issue carbine so it gets a pass.


    While we're on the subject of the handguard, I took one off to see what markings are inside both the upper and lower were manufacturer marked but I found it interesting that the upper one was dated:



    These models have a heavy barrel with flat areas milled out for mounting the M203 just as they should:



    There is a small "0" on the rear of the barrel:

    If I remember correctly, this mark signifies that the bore and chamber are chrome lined.


    As stated earlier, this model uses actual military production M4 barrels that have had an elongated flash hider pinned and welded on so that they meet ATF length requirements. According to Colt, the entire upper is straight off the military production line. Here, we see the weld at the bottom of the flash hider:



    Markings on top of the barrel:

    "13629" is Colt's Cage Number. Any time you see that on a part, that means Colt made/supplied it.


    I've got more to post about this but I'm up WAY later than I should be so that's it for tonight. I'll be back tomorrow night (later today at this point) to pick up where I left off. See you then.

  5. #45
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    Another very well done post!

    When did you say your book on Military firearms is due to be released? I want a first edition signed copy!
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

  6. #46
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    Thank you Scott. No book in the works at this time buddy. LOL. I'd like to but I'm not sure I'm smart enough.


    Continuing with the M4A1, the barrels are dated behind the front sight underneath the gas tube:

    This one is dated November of 2018. The other one is July of 2018 but I couldn't get a clear picture because I didn't remove that handguard. The serial number of the carbine with the July dated barrel is 538 lower than the carbine with the November dated barrel.


    The front sight tower is identical between the two carbines:



    Notice that they are no longer stamping an "F" on them. I guess fixed handles are far enough in the past that they no longer see the point in it.


    The receiver markings are where things really start to get strange from example to example. The first picture is of the earlier specimen:


    And one assembled 538 units later:

    The elephant in the room here is that the markings are not stamped but rather engraved. When this model was introduced in 2017, the markings were typical standard Colt "rollmarks" which is a fancy way of saying they were stamped the way Colt has always done them. Not very many were made in 2017. Early 2018 production also had all marking stamped but some were very lightly struck. Then they started showing up with engraved serial numbers but everything else was stamped and finally, everything was engraved. According to Colt, they were having serious problems with the marking machine so they switched to engraving and they say that that is how all of them will be done going forward. Other than the serial number prefix, the markings on the magazine well is identical to current military production so whether ones destined for government use are also engraved I do not know but I would like to. Some guys are extremely annoyed about the change from stamping to engraving but to me, the only constant in life is change. That's just how they are now. If you want one, you're just going to have to either accept it or find an earlier example.
    Notice that the QR code (the little dot matrix looking thingee below the magazine catch) on the earlier carbine is larger. When these were first released, the QR code was small as seen in the second picture. Then they got larger when the engraved receivers showed up. Now, they have apparently gotten small again. Or maybe both are being produced concurrently. Whatever the case, there are variations. And if you look closely, you'll see that they are not just different sizes but actually different in content. I need to scan these and see what pops up.
    I don't like that Colt ground off the selector stops and didn't engrave "BURST". I mean, the object was to build a civilian legal reproduction of a military carbine. They put the M203 flats on there even though they are useless to civilians (well, MOST civilians). They could have made the selector markings and stops look the same too even though they would be useless. Oh well, nothing is perfect.


    Here is the right side of the receiver on the earlier carbine:

    It has an ambidextrous safety just like a true M4A1 does but the main item of interest here is that Colt has discontinued the once ubiquitous "C" and replaced it with their Cage Code "13629". Notice that the forge mark is present too as you would expect.


    Here is the same view on the later example:

    Whatever marking were once there have been milled away prior or the upper being anodized......or perhaps prior to it being RE-anodized. This upper has been sanitized. Did Colt even make this part?? I don't know but I DO find it most fascinating and intriguing. I've also seen M4A1's with a forge mark but no Colt mark. I know that Colt is currently churning M4's out as fast as they can because of a recent government contract and I also know that, according to Colt, these uppers come off of the regular contract production line so I think it a reasonable assumption that for one, they are probably using uppers made by other companies when necessary to keep production moving and two, M4's in the field must also show a considerable amount of variation even from the same production run.


    Here are the picatinny rail markings on the 13629 marked upper:

    Although I didn't take a picture of it, the font of the numbers are identical to those found on the first carbine we covered at the beginning of this article.

    Compare the number font in the above picture to those seen on the sanitized upper:

    Although all are slightly different, it is especially apparent in the "0", "1" and "6". Of course, it is possible that Colt made this upper and they have multiple machines with different dies for marking the picatinny rail but if that's the case, why mill off the markings?? My suspicion is that they had a shortage of uppers in house and did a little outsourcing. You see it often in WWII US firearms so why not now too?


    These M4's come with a current issue Matech rear sight:

    It's all metal and built like a tank.


    The stock:

    Notice that it has a round blank spot where a commercial manufacturer's mark would go. That's fine. Colt has been using stocks that look like this for a while now and I assume that the manufacturer makes these for not just Colt but anybody who wants them, hence the round blank spot.


    Of course, Colt doesn't make them but rather buys them from Molding Solutions (AKA P&S Products ) in Lexington, Kentucky as is evidence by their Cage Code on the stock:


    However, I find it a little disappointing that the other box which used to contain Colt's Cage Code now just says "MADE IN U.S.A":

    Of course, it's possible that ALL P&S stocks are now marked this way, both commercial and USGI and this is normal. I simply do not know.


    In the next post, we'll finish up by looking at some internal bits and talk about some variation there too.

  7. #47
    Senior Veteran Combloc's Avatar
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    We'll finish up with the M4A1 in this post by looking at some internals.

    The bolts in these are full automatic profile:



    In both examples, the bolt carrier is marked with a "C" but they are no longer stamp marked but electro-penciled or laser cut or some such other newfangled way:

    However it's done, it's sloppy. I have heard of some not being marked. That would anger me.


    The bolt heads on both of these are marked MPC2:

    Again, I have read that some are marked other ways including "MPC" or not at all. And again, not marked with a "C" would bother me. How are you going to explain that your carbine has proper parts in it down the line if they aren't marked? At least with the sanitized upper receiver, the barrel is marked and you can tell it's never been apart.


    The hammer markings are the same in both:

    The reason it's shiny is that it's covered in factory cosmoline and it smells just dandy. I love the smell of cosmoline in the morning.


    The stake marks are typical Colt and very well done:





    Now this bugs me:

    One has the proper H2 buffer and the other has a standard carbine H buffer when it should have an H2. True, this matters not one bit in a semi-auto only firearm but it's not how it should be. I may be calling Colt on this because, at this price point (around $1400) it should have what it is supposed to have in it.


    A view up into the breach:

    It's hard to tell from this picture but the entire inside of the receiver has what looks to be a grey coating sprayed on it. I'm no expert on these things.....is that the "dry film lube" coating I've read about?


    Here's a close in shot that shows it much better. It's battleship grey:



    And here you can see the overspray on the bottom of the upper receiver clearly creating a contrast between the black anodizing and the grey sprayed schtuff:

    I'm pretty sure this is called "dry film lube" but I could be wrong.


    Well, that's a brief look at a couple M4A1's. In the limited amount of research I've done on these things, it seems there are all kinds of weird things showing up, mostly marking related and some of which I have illustrated above. Some guys seem to be REALLY upset about the engraved lower markings and pine for a stamped roll mark. Other guys, myself included, are just happy to have one. There are some things that irk me a bit like the machined off selector stops and the lack of and "AUTO" marking. FN makes an M4 too and theirs has these things BUT, the FN offering lacks a true M4A1 barrel too so it's a case of get this but give up that. Regardless, one thing that seems to be consistent in everything I've read is that they are reliable, accurate and well built. In other words, they are what Colt has come to be known for. Yes, they are expensive but Colts always are. Besides, I've never heard of anyone losing money on one and very often heard of people making a tidy profit when it came time to sell. So, I'm pleased with my latest Colt purchase and, unless you are cranal (crazy anal) about every little detail as it related to a true GI issue M4A1, I think you'll be happy too. Short of enlisting (and I'm way too old for that), it's as close as you are going to get in a Colt.

  8. #48
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    I called Colt today about the lack of an H2 buffer and the missing marks. On the buffer, they said that they'd send one out no problem at all. I asked if they would like me to return the other one and was told to keep it.

    As to the marks, I was told that Colt is making carbines for not just the US gooberment but also other militaries. Marks are added or removed depending on the contract they are working on and the markings you will see on your A1 upper will depend upon what contract was running down the line at time of build. After I got off the phone with customer service, I did some research and found that Colt is indeed involved in multiple international contracts at this time. If what I was told by Colt customer service is in fact true, I kinda' like the sanitized upper as it adds a little something.

  9. #49
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    Next up is what I think is Colt's first marketing brochure for the AR15 printed sometime in 1960. I wish they still made brochures this way. Instead of just being a glossy paged standard book, it's a multi-fold affair chocked full of information. The way it unfolds creates an almost interactive experience and I'm afraid I really didn't do it justice in my photographs. Still, some bad photos are better than none at all I guess. Let's take a look

    Here is the front cover:

    Notice that the rifle has the now familiar aluminum magazine mounted in it. Being that this is the first ever mass advertising Colt ever printed for the AR15, it should give you some idea just how few of the steel waffle pattern magazines were made as they clearly switched over to ribbed aluminum very early on.


    Back cover again showing the ribbed aluminum magazines:



    A detail of Colt's contact information at the bottom of the back cover:



    This thing folds open so much, its like an origami advertisement! First you open it like a book and see this:

    On the left side are the marketing "hooks". You can almost here the used car salesman voice as you read through the bullet points. I especially like the last one which states "NOW IN FULL SCALE PRODUCTION - INQUIRES INVITED". On the right are the specifications and an explanation of the "NEW GAS OPERATING SYSTEM".


    Close-up of the above:





    Opening each side out again, we get a large scale drawing of the rifle with both a scope and grenade affixed and text pointing out various features in the illustration:

    The scope illustrated is a Dutch made unit. We'll look at one of those in a later post.


    We can even "remove" the scope to see what the rifle looks like without it attached and get even more information in the process:



    Here are some close-ups of the above:









    Even after unfolding the brochure twice, it opens up even more! The extreme left will now fold up, revealing yet more information and the front of the rifle illustrated with a bayonet attached instead of a grenade:



    Some close-ups of that:









    All in all, this thing is packed with a TON of information and it's probably the most clever and fun firearms brochure I've ever encountered. It's a real gem of a marketing tool!

  10. #50
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    That is an awesome brochure! Never seen one like that. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    14EH AIT Instructor-PATRIOT Fire Control Enhanced Operator/Maintainer

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