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 Colt 603/M16A1 ('68-'69) finish?
TehVice  [Member]
2/9/2013 9:25:06 PM
Hopefully someone here can enlighten me. I'm somewhat confused as to what shade finish was applied to U.S. Property marked 603/M16A1 rifles manufactured 1968-1969. My understanding was that it was 'Colt' or 'XM' grey, but the images and accompanying descriptions in the "Colt's USGI M16 series variation guide edition IV" seem to indicate something much darker. Was grey used only earlier on?
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sandsock  [Member]
2/10/2013 7:43:13 AM
I saw a lot of 604s and they were all Type II grey finished as were most early M16A2s. The best person to recreate it is Victor at US Anodizing with what he calls XM Grey. I think the darker appearance may be due to film exposure, especially black and white photos. We used to touch up receivers wirh a gray dry film lubricant but it was a different shade of grey and I suppose under the right lighting it could appear darker because it didn't seem to reflect as much light.

My understanding is the tree huggers killed this stuff off, if anyone knows where to get it, I'd be interested. The stuff they replaced it with was clear and no good.
TehVice  [Member]
2/10/2013 1:51:23 PM
Well, this is the picture that's really throwing me off. (It's from the "USGI Colt 603 XM16E1/M16A1 upper buyers guide Edition II," not the "variation guide." My mistake.)



"1968-1970
M16A1

...
gray/green or gray/blue anodizing
..
purple slip rings transitioning to black
..."

So if I'm understanding correctly, the "gray/green" would essentially be the gray finish that Victor applies as "XM gray" (or, according to his website, "Pre-ban gray")? Is there a special name for the "gray/blue" anodizing?

Thanks for the help. I'm just trying to figure this out before I have my upper/lower and parts done. It would drive me crazy if I found out I'd had the wrong finish applied.
GiggleSmith  [Team Member]
2/10/2013 2:06:51 PM
My Unretouched Lower:

SmashingPumpkins  [Member]
2/10/2013 2:26:28 PM
Yeah I'm sort of concerned too. Whenever they become available again I'm wanting to buy a Nodak lower---16A1. I see it's available in XM grey which I assume is grey/green. However the guide says my CH upper is grey/blue.

Has anyone paired a Nodak XM grey lower with a grey/blue upper??

I looked through my wife's copy of "Shades of Grey" but no mention if it in there.
m1carbinekid  [Member]
2/10/2013 2:43:48 PM
Originally Posted By SmashingPumpkins:
Yeah I'm sort of concerned too. Whenever they become available again I'm wanting to buy a Nodak lower---16A1. I see it's available in XM grey which I assume is grey/green. However the guide says my CH upper is grey/blue.

Has anyone paired a Nodak XM grey lower with a grey/blue upper??

I looked through my wife's copy of "Shades of Grey" but no mention if it in there.


My first retro rifle was a Nodak XM gray lower mated to an original finish 604 upper. I guess the upper would be called gray/blue. The color difference bothered me a lot. You do see a color contrast in original photos but, it seems to be more due to wear rather than color of the anodizing. It seems that most M16s and vasriants were the darker gray from 67-68 through the 70s. I'd love it if nodak offered the darker color on the A1 lowers.

sandsock  [Member]
2/10/2013 4:06:20 PM
Just thinking aloud, but I know a lot of stuff was refinished after Vietnam both by the Navy at Crane and the Army at Anniston. I wonder if any one knows if there is a correlation with how things looked post refurb? The Anniston guns were stamped at the magwells and the Crane guns had a small stencil. It's possible some finishes weren't factory as many guns took a beating in combat (which makes the retro thing even cooler....up there with a DCM Garand or bolt gun).
GI-45  [Team Member]
2/10/2013 4:15:25 PM

Originally Posted By TehVice:
Well, this is the picture that's really throwing me off. (It's from the "USGI Colt 603 XM16E1/M16A1 upper buyers guide Edition II," not the "variation guide." My mistake.)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/0603/Ekie12091941/M16A1%20upper%20guide/68-69small.jpg

"1968-1970
M16A1

...
gray/green or gray/blue anodizing
..
purple slip rings transitioning to black
..."

So if I'm understanding correctly, the "gray/green" would essentially be the gray finish that Victor applies as "XM gray" (or, according to his website, "Pre-ban gray")? Is there a special name for the "gray/blue" anodizing?

Thanks for the help. I'm just trying to figure this out before I have my upper/lower and parts done. It would drive me crazy if I found out I'd had the wrong finish applied.

Victor's "XM Gray" (now called "Early Gray") is darker than "Pre-ban Gray":


Top to bottom:
Black
Pre-ban Gray
Early Gray (XM Gray)
Clear
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