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“It is always nice to be asked, unless of course you are being pointed towards the door. So when Rich [The Reptile House] approached me to do a little write-up on my Retro Armalites, I was flattered.

Truth be told, I like to play hard and fast meaning my equipment gets chucked about a lot. The wear marks are therefore all genuine and Tac’s moisture proofing gets challenged regularly when crossing the DorkingNam ‘rivers’.

But onto the Retro Girls.”

The Carbine

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“The carbine [above] started its life as a bog standard 08 PTW M4 SCK (my first PTW), fully Tac’d of course. It then evolved in stages:

– G&P XM177 sliding stock
– Prime M16A1 lower (as close to a proper AR-15 marked item I could get at the time and they are sublime)
– RS Reproduction upper, reengineered for PTW
– G&P slimmer accurate hand guards with heat deflectors
– Black lipomodded stock tube
– RS Repo front iron sight/gas block with bayonet lug removed
– Thinned and reblackened outer barrel
– G&P flashhider
– Home made grenade launcher ring (thanks, John!)
– Modified original pistol grip
– Shortened Systema inner barrel
– Systema flared Delta ring (the 630 did not have a cylindrical one)
– Home made sling (thanks, Phil!)
– Mostly put together by Tac…and a lot of the sourcing of parts”

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“As it is right now, I believe it is pretty much as close to a US Air Force Colt Model 630 USAF GAU-5A/A as I can get it without trying to find a good AR-15 badged lower (mine is a M16A1 stamped item).

The army had a later and more well known similar model with a round delta ring and forward assist called the XM177E2. US PJs (combat paramedics) have been spotted in Afghanistan in 2010 with these ‘in the wild’ (bar the distinctive flash hider).

We are looking at a 40 year old classic still used in combat with no shell deflector and no forward assist.”

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The Rifle

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“The Rifle [above] used to be a ready-built Systema 08 M16A2 bought at a nice discount from the shelf of a shop where it was gathering dust. It turned out to be Tacked already, result!

The necessary evolution went as follows:

– Upper from same series as the GAU-5 above
– Ditto Prime lower
– RS triangular handguard
– RS Repo front iron sight/gas block
– G&P fixed stock with cleaning lit/battery compartment
– Cylindrical Delta ring (Thanks Toby!)
– Modified original pistol grip
– Thinned and reblackened barrel (Thanks, Paul!)
– Airsoft 3-Prong flash hider (Yes, it DOES pick up the vegetation very easily which is why the Army changed it to the birdcage the same year)
– 4x G&P optics, pretty much as close to the real thing as can be without burgling a Nam Vet’s house
– RS sling
– Again a fair amount of Tac help with engineering, sourcing of parts and advice

The result is my Air Force Model 603 M16A1 rifle in its counter-sniper guise (ehrm, same as a normal one but locked on single shot and with a 4x scope on it ;)).”

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“Side note on mags:

My first home made prototype of a ‘20 round’ short (Vietnam style) magazine was just starting to be a reliable feeder when MAG brought out their own aluminium mags. Oh well I thought, and went out and bought them. They feed pretty well and have one of those un-loseable magazine followers I love so much. They are also wearing nicely and are just starting to look ‘real’ as in: ‘used’.

Both of these rifles have taken me the best part of 2 years to build, there will always be some details which will not be as ‘1967’ as they should be but I am a player, not a collector, so I am happy with the compromises I made.

They are both very reliable and comfortable to handle in that Sixties ‘lets have some round edges everywhere’ kind of way that a RIS’ed Up M4 just doesn’t do.”

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Many thanks, Pier!