View Full Version : Transferable XM177s

Johnny Guest
February 2, 2005, 05:10 PM
This concerns the Vietnam-era Colt "submachine gun" version of the M16. I've usually seen it called XM177E2.

Anyway, does anyone here have any information as to how many of this perticular model gun ever got registered for normal transfer? How about, as transferable dealer samples?

Even if you don't know the figures, do any of you have first hand knowledge of any of these in private hands, legal for transfer to a private individual?

Thanks in advance,

February 2, 2005, 05:25 PM
As far as I know, I've never seen one myself, but I do know they must exist - either as transferables or presamples. As you may know, the "moderator" on the end (which really did little more than create more back pressure to cycle the weapon reliably) was ruled by BATF/NFA to be a sound supressor. IIRC, it only really had a sound reduction of one or two decibels. In any case, the fact that BATF/NFA had to make a ruling on that thing is good evidence to me that there were also examples of the host gun which made it onto the registry.

Johnny Guest
February 2, 2005, 05:54 PM
I dunno, though, if the BATF was making the ruling as to the gun-and-moderator combo, or if someone managed to get hold of some of the front-end appliances without the guns.

I've seen such guns/combos at shows, but wasn't personally interested, so I didn't bother asking if "moderator" was the real thing or just some kinda dummy.

Another point: I'm presuming that the moderator is a spearate piece (doh!), by which I mean, it is not permanently attached. Any ideas on that point?

Certain integrally-suppressed guns - Whatever mark Sten, and the MP5SD, for example, only require the single tax stamp. Whereas, a normal MP5, with separate suppressor, requires two separate taxations.

Best, Johnny

February 2, 2005, 06:27 PM
The moderators were definitely removable -screw on, screw off - but if someone got the moderators registered, I can't see how they'd neglect to also register the gun. I mean, I'm sure they could have been seperated, but there's a lot of stuff in the registry that predates Vietnam, so I'd think someone must have had the good sense to get some of the guns in and registered along with the moderators. Even if no one else has one, I'd bet you'll find at least one in Reed Knight's collection.

On the one tax MG & supressor combos...

You are correct thatthere are some one-tax machinegun and supresor combinations out there, but generally BATF/NFA didn't allow them, and required wach device to be seperately registered. I know some are on the registry and transfer without any hassles, but the way I understand it, once BATF/NFA got wind of how people were registering MG & integrally supressed guns as one unit, BATF started disallowing it. As far as I'm aware, there were only a handful of MP5SD's that were actually done this way. I may be completely off base on this, but I seem to recall they were Ciener conversions.

February 2, 2005, 08:19 PM
If you have a registered Colt lower and someone made an upper that is identical to the XM177, would it not be hard to say that it is not an XM177?

Johnny Guest
February 3, 2005, 02:33 AM
handy, I fully agree with the premise: IF you have an M16 lower, you can put any kind of upper you want on it.

Can't recall the exact source of the following - - Whether I read it or was told it by a machine gun dealer - - but it surely seemed authorative to me at the time: There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of MP5s legally registered and transferable. HOWEVER, the vast majority of these were originally HK94 carbines, and they have been converted to MP5 configuration. They are still called MP5s. That source also stated that there are probably under one hundred transferable MP5s in the USA which were originally manufactured as such, and they bring a huge premium if one has documentation to that effect.

Similarly, a great many Colt AR15s were legally converted to selective fire, and these, too, are now registered as M16s. Likewise, an ORIGINAL Colt M16 brings a premium over the converted guns.

I have seen a couple of M16s, originally made up with the 20" bbl, with an interchangeable upper, made in the pattern of the M4 carbine. The owners call these M4s. Who am I to say different? I've never examined an XM177 to see how it is marked. I would certainly have to rely on someone else to tell me if the item was original. I guess an exception would be if I saw one in the US Army's Small Arms Museum, if that's the proper name for it.

I am satisfied that Colt's sold a number of different M16 vaiants to law enforcement agencies. I believe it logically follows that some of these were of the XM177 pattern, but I have not seen any proof of this deduction. I'd be glad to learn something definitive on this score. I'd say such law enforcement examples, sold through normal commercial channels, would be authentic examples. If registered prior to the '86 ban, these would be tran=sferable.

And there are any number of shooters who own (semi only) AR15s which they term "M-Forgeries." Many of these are not even built up on Colt receivers.

I guess the bottom line here is that I really have but limited knowledge of these two branches of the AR15/M16 family tree. :p


February 3, 2005, 11:22 AM
Aren't the XM177s marked by their model numbers? that is the RO609 - Commando w/ forward assist, 10 inch barrel (XM177E1), RO610 - Commando w/o forward assist (Air Force XM177) and RO610B - Commando w/ 4 position selector.

February 3, 2005, 11:49 AM
I think you're probably right on target with that. I never got much into all the intracacies of the Colt models and designations, and I don't have any of my issues of SAR handy to check, but I think you're spot on. I know I've never seen a factory marked XM177, but I wasn't thinking it may be designated by Colt otherwise like a RO609 or RO610.

Johnny - you're also correct that most MP5's are converted HK94's - either by a registered conversion part like a sear, or by drilling the front pivot pin hole in the receiver. To be completely truthful, my "M16s" are really only semi auto AR15's converted by registered sears and links. I still refer to them as M16's, M4's, etc, even though it would be more proper to call them full auto Bushmaster XM15's. I'm sure some purists would probably like to string me up for my willful misuse of the nomenclature, but I'm really not a purist, and its so much easier to simply refer to as an M16, M4, etc. since its a functional equivalent thereof. I still refer to my sear converted, full-auto SAR8 as a "G3", even though it was made in Greece and not as factory G3 or even as a machinegun.

February 3, 2005, 01:04 PM
I wasn't even going as far as talking about semiauto conversions. The XM177 was an X rifle. How accurately were such quasi-prototypes marked in the early days? Were they initially just built out of available M16 parts? If so, would there be any way of saying "no, this is an M16, not XM177 receiver"? In the mid-sixties there might not have been as much concern with markings.

February 3, 2005, 01:29 PM
I wasn't even going as far as talking about semiauto conversions. The XM177 was an X rifle. How accurately were such quasi-prototypes marked in the early days? Were they initially just built out of available M16 parts? If so, would there be any way of saying "no, this is an M16, not XM177 receiver"? In the mid-sixties there might not have been as much concern with markings.

Very true, Handy.

I think we need someone in Florida to make a pilgrimage to Knights to see what Reed has in his collection. :D

February 4, 2005, 09:51 AM
Shaggy, thanks for reminding me about the Colt nomenclature series in SAR. I went back and looked them up. They show the 609 and the 610B.
My scanner is not working right now but the 609 is marked with the Prancing Horsey logo and COLT AR-15, below that PROPERTY OF U.S. GOVT., below that COMMANDO, below that CAL5.56 MM, below that SERIAL XXXXXX.
There's a short paragraph below-
'This is the original "xm177" model of the M16 submachine gun. Original 609's are marked "commando" as in the issustration, and they are also U.S. Property Marked. Colt went back to the full pistol grip on the Commando. The "E1" Army version had the forward assist, and the straight XM177 do not-this was the Air Force model.
The 610B is marked with the Prancing Horsey next to COLT AR-15, below that is an open space (where COMMANDO was marked above), below that MOD. 610B, below that cal 5.56 MM, below that SERIAL XXXXXX
Also a short paragraph below this image-
The 610B toolroom guns were four position three shot burst submachine guns. The 610 series had no forward assist, and the regular 610 did not have a burst mechanism.

Hope this helped.

February 4, 2005, 07:30 PM
I was issued both the E1 & E2 versions in the late '70s. As I recall, they were marked AR-15, US Property, Colt Pony, but I seem to remember at least a couple that were stamped XM177 (with no "E-" designation). Never saw the word Commando anywhere on the weapons. All of ours had forward assists. They were all select fire with safe/semi/auto only. The lowers were original to the weapons.

We simply refered to them as CAR-15s. They were considered way cool at the time and issued to Plt Ldrs, Plt Sgts, Squad Ldrs, RTOs, designated point men, etc. Interestingly enough, most of the weapons were war veterans of SE Asia which were left in country at the end of the war. They were later "re-purchased" by the US Govt thru a third party arms dealer who procured them from Communist Vietnam. Most had seen heavy use (lots of war in the region after the departure of the Americans and even after the fall of the South). Strange how the wheel can turn full circle.

Most fired ok, but some had severely shot-out barrels (almost smooth bore) and some had damaged/mis-aligned flash suppressors. The first one I was issued would literally keyhole rounds thru a 25 meter zero target (bullet hitting paper nearly sideways and punching an oblong hole thru the paper). Needless to say, I DX'ed it quickly. Although it would have been lethal out to 25-30 meters, I couldn't reliably hit a damn thing past 50 meters. Not the weapon's fault...just clapped out. As the original flash suppressors occasionaly wore out (mostly from young studs repeatedly unscrewing them for detailed cleaning), they were replaced with standard bird-cages. This made for a lot louder weapon and significant (blinding) flash at night.

They were fun and handy (especially to rig for airborne ops)...a piece of history in your hand...but today's M4A1 is a vast improvement. I would not think that very many ever found their way into PDs or legal Class III registration.