Colt Doubles Down

Colt Doubles Down
The Colt M16A1 harkens back to the original rifle.

Fielded during difficult times, Colt's M16A1 became forever entwined with the war in Vietnam. Adopted as a replacement for Army Ordnance's darling M14, it was a rifle well ahead of its time.

Built with space-age materials and blessed with an eye-catching Buck Rogers appearance, it was light and quick-handling with little felt recoil. It was accurate, and its high-velocity 5.56mm cartridge proved effective while allowing the soldier to carry more ammo for the same weight compared to the 7.62. The M16A1 would soldier on through the war in Vietnam and then the Cold War before finally being officially replaced in the 1980s with the M16A2.

Today many shooters and collectors are fascinated by the rifles of this period. Colt recognized this and in early 2016 announced it would be doing a small run of semiautomatic M16A1 rifles for the shooter and collector. Late last year I had the chance to handle and fire what Colt has designated the M16A1 Reissue during an event at Gunsite Academy. It was a real blast from the past.

The M16A1 Reissue carefully replicates the look, feel and features of the original Vietnam classic. Picking one up you suddenly remember just how light and handy this model was. Weighing in at just 6.6 pounds, the M16A1 Reissue is lightning fast to the shoulder and easy to carry. The buttstock is shorter and more comfortable than the M16A2's. The pistol grip lacks that annoying nub, and I like it better than the A2's. Plus, the handguards have that classic triangular shape and distinctive feel. They may not be as robust as the later A2 units, but they sure do look cool.

Barrel length is the traditional 20 inches and features the early 1:12-inch twist, which is a perfect match for the 55-grain M193 ball load issued alongside the original. The barrel features the original lightweight "pencil" profile and is chrome-lined. It's tipped with a classic three-prong flash suppressor.

The Reissue is fitted with the early round front sight post, which is adjustable for elevation but uses a different tool than the later M16A2; a bullet tip will suffice. The L-shape rear sight is integral to the carry handle. Windage can be adjusted with a bullet tip, and flipping the sight provides battle-sight and long-range options. The carry handle is designed to accept the early Colt 3X and 4X scopes.

The rifle is period-correct from the teardrop forward assist to the sling swivels, and Colt even applied original markings, including "Property of the US Government" as well as "Safe," "Semi" and "Auto" selector markings.

The M16A1 Reissue not only looks good, it shoots well, too. Cartridges loaded easily into the 20-round magazines. The magazine inserted neatly with an upward push and a tug to verify it was properly seated. Run the charging handle and cartridges loaded smoothly into the chamber. The rifle has a distinctive feel in the hand due to its light weight and triangular handguard.

I shot it offhand, kneeling, sitting and prone on steel silhouettes and found it enjoyable to shoot. The sights are good, the trigger is acceptable and recoil is mild. Unfortunately, production will be small and the suggested retail is high at $2,499.

While Colt's M16A1 Reissue looks to its past, the new Combat Unit Carbine looks toward the future. Dveloped with input from well-respected trainers such as Mike Pannone, Ken Hackathorn and Daryl Holland, this model finally introduces a mid-length gas system into the Colt rifle line. Many shooters, myself included, prefer a mid-length gas system over a traditional carbine length because it creates a softer-shooting gun.
The Combat Unit Carbine is a modern take on the AR-15 with a mid-length gas system.

The Combat Unit Carbine features a Centurion Arms M-LOK free-floating handguard. No old-school 1913 "cheese grater" here, but rather a good-looking, comfortable and useful lightweight design. It also comes nicely equipped with a Magpul MOE SL stock and pistol grip as well as a Magpul MOE trigger guard.

The SL stock is fairly light, adjusts easily and doesn't yank your beard or stubble like many other designs. The butt is nicely contoured and doesn't slide around as do lessor designs. The SL pistol grip is a favorite of mine due to its contour and aggressive texturing. Neither piece has bells or whistles, but they feel great and are very functional.

The Centurion Arms handguard is also practical. Its light, has a small diameter and the ability to add accessories—either via dedicated M-LOK accessories or through the addition of 1913 rail section.

Riding inside the free-floating handguard is a chrome-lined, medium weight barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO. It features a 1:7 twist, so it will shoot a diverse range of heavy and light bullets well.

Overall, the gun is lightweight, quick handling and well suited for sport, recreation or personal protection. Suggested retail price is $1,299. I am happy to see Colt finally listening to customers and moving in the direction people are asking. The Combat Unit Carbine exudes the sense of quality a Colt rifle should, and I'm glad it's here.

Recommended for You


Browning's New X-Bolt Max Long Range Rifle

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 11, 2019

Browning's new X-Bolt Max Long Range rifle is an accurate rifle tailored for long range...


Three Rangefinder Products from Leica

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of...


M&P15 SPORT II Rifle Available with CTS-103 Optic

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 23, 2019

Smith & Wesson's M&P15 SPORT II OR rifle with Crimson Trace CTS-103 optic will be on display...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

RS Sako Finnlight II

The new Sako Finnlight II sports an innovative stock and Cerakote metal paired with the terrific 85 action.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Thompson/Center Arms Adds Stock Options to Rimfire Line

Rifle Shooter Digital Staff - April 16, 2019

Thompson/Center Arms rimfire rifles are available with Traditional Hardwood and Flat Dark...


Federal Berger Hybrid Hunter Ammo

Brad Fitzpatrick - April 30, 2019

The Federal Berger Hybrid Hunter Ammo combines high BCs with a forgiving bullet profile and...


3 Great Takedown Survival Guns

David Fortier - March 19, 2015

When I decided to review three different rifles chambered in .22 LR and geared toward survival...

See More Stories

More MSR


Colt Doubles Down

David Fortier - September 11, 2017

The Colt M16A1 harkens back to the original rifle.


Mossberg MMR Pro

Brad Fitzpatrick - January 08, 2018

The Mossberg MMR Pro delivers 3-Gun features for shooters looking for a competition-ready gun...


Review: Ruger AR-556 MPR

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

Ruger's AR-556 MPR is one gun that can do it all.

See More MSR

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.