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Posted: 8/23/2017 8:43:22 PM EDT
I came across one of these in a collector's vault a few years ago, and recognized what it was because I'd seen a picture of something like it in TBR
Of course I asked him if he'd sell it! He said no, but he might run into the guy he bought it from and if he did he'd ask if there were any more where that one came from.
Well, a few weeks ago and I got a call from the gentleman saying he had in fact run into the guy and that yes, he had another one.
The collector put me in touch, and I spoke to the fellow with the uppers. He said he'd seen these at a show somewhere; the seller had "several" of these on his table. The story was that the guy at the show had gotten them from a scrap dealer or something. He'd swapped out the barrels and done some other stuff to "a few" of these but didn't need the others so he was selling them.
So the fellow I spoke with bought all that were left, maybe four total. After a short negotiation we struck a deal, and this past weekend I picked it up.

[ETA: This was a friend-of-a-friend kind of thing and I was very lucky to get the one I have. There are no more of these for sale.]

I took some pictures of it, so y'all tell me what you think.

A couple of notes and comments:
First, if you want to look it up, the only information I've ever seen on these is in The Black Rifle (pp. 331-336) and several of the details match up to my upper.

TBR cites a 1971 outline from the Commanding General of CONARC stating that the M16A1 was going to be the service rifle, so the military better get with the program and produce a National Match Rifle.
Most of the outline talks about modifications to the lower and its components, but one thing stands out: "...two heavy barrel versions of the M16 have been tested by the USAMTU. This barrel is standard length, with increased diameter and weighs approximately one pound more than the standard barrel. One version has a 1-9 twist. The other has the standard 1-12 twist." My barrel looks fits this description, and is marked 1/9.

On p.335 there are a couple of pictures of a Navy Match M16A1. The carry handle has been "shaved" and it has been fitted with Redfield Olympic rear sights by means of an in-the-white aluminum plate attached to the carry handle with two hex-head bolts.

The upper receiver appears to be an early M16A1 or maybe XM piece - no evidence of any forge marks.
The lower is an A1.

But the front sight base appears to be a 601 piece - note the curved "ears" around the sight as well as the straight line across the back where "UP" would have been.
As to the sight, TBR caption (fig. 356, p.336) compares the NM sights "with an early model 01 AR-15" and says "The two holes in the standard M16 sight block were filled with silver solder, the block was slotted front-to-rear, and a new blade sight was inserted, approximating the shape and width of the M14 front sight blade."
I tweaked one of the pictures so you can see where the cut was made.


I have several pictures to post, so have a look and see if I really have something here. Note the Redfield Olympic rear sights and so on. The front sight has been re-worked, the barrel is pretty beefy and is marked "XM20668 1/9",  Also, the front sight block had to be "opened up" to accommodate the Match rifle's heavy barrel.

The number "2" has been stamped on top of the shaved carry handle and the rear sight body has been etched with "6".

There are no other markings that I can see.

Another thing I noticed is that the handguards look to be the very early "no drainhole" type. Those came with the upper and if you look at the right handguard there is some fouling at the top front which matches up with fouling on the gas tube.

The chamber does not appear to be chromed. The chrome bolt carrier group came with the upper. I have no way of knowing if it's original, but as some parts are obviously of 601 vintage maybe that was there all along. Or maybe some shooter just liked chrome because it was easier to keep clean.
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 8:47:37 PM EDT
[#1]
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 8:54:32 PM EDT
[#3]
While I'm not qualified to speak to the authenticity of the upper, it's certainly a cool piece.
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 9:04:01 PM EDT
[#6]
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 9:08:28 PM EDT
[#7]
That is awesome! Really want one now!
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 9:09:35 PM EDT
[#8]
SWEET PIECE!  Congratulations.
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 9:29:49 PM EDT
[#9]
That is certainly an interesting piece.
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 9:29:54 PM EDT
[#10]
Am I seeing M4 feedramps? Or, am I hallucinating?

It's ok to tell me I am, if I am.
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 9:58:03 PM EDT
[#11]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Am I seeing M4 feedramps? Or, am I hallucinating?

It's ok to tell me I am, if I am.
View Quote
I think so... all the receiver extensions had "feed ramps," enlarged areas that were to help the rounds feed into the chamber.
With the standard rifle, the feed ramps were only milled into the barrel extension and just stopped - there's a definite line where the barrel extension ends and the receiver body begins. With the M4 feed ramps, there was milling of the upper receiver to make an extension for those enlarged areas so it's one smooth ramp.
If you look closely, you'll see that there is a distinct edge where the barrel extension meets the receiver itself - no M4 feed ramps on this one.

Let me see if I can find a picture of that... yep:
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 11:21:04 PM EDT
[#12]
Any more available?  
Link Posted: 8/23/2017 11:45:40 PM EDT
[#13]
If there were, I'd have bought them, too!
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 6:41:47 AM EDT
[#14]
Looks the similar to a 30 y.o. NRA print I have as far as the rest site mod.
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 6:53:34 AM EDT
[#15]
Thanks for sharing this interesting upper.
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 7:56:12 AM EDT
[#16]
Looks the similar to a 30 y.o. NRA print I have as far as the rest site mod.
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 7:56:36 AM EDT
[#17]
Goes to show how the early AR was no where near the competition marksmanship rifle that the M1 and M14s are. The command given to the AMU no more M14s, 'Make the AR competitive' led to the A2 rear sight, high twist tube, and heavier projectiles. It is interesting to note how the A2 came full circle returning to the AR10's drum rear sight. But now the A2s are obsolete (and more RETRO every day), the carry handle AR has gone the way of wood and steel.

Nice find OP, was the seller formerly associated with AMU?
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 11:31:49 AM EDT
[#18]
You wowed the retro guys.  That is impressive!
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 12:07:05 PM EDT
[#19]
How well or poorly does it perform?
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 1:02:35 PM EDT
[#20]
The FSB is not a cast FSB so it wouldn't be a 601 type. It's an early forged with flashing removed and no drain hole. Very cool and unique upper and thanks for sharing OP!!
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 1:19:52 PM EDT
[#21]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Goes to show how the early AR was no where near the competition marksmanship rifle that the M1 and M14s are. The command given to the AMU no more M14s, 'Make the AR competitive' led to the A2 rear sight, high twist tube, and heavier projectiles. It is interesting to note how the A2 came full circle returning to the AR10's drum rear sight. But now the A2s are obsolete (and more RETRO every day), the carry handle AR has gone the way of wood and steel.

Nice find OP, was the seller formerly associated with AMU?
View Quote
The previous owner is literally a friend of a friend. (My buddy knows the guy who had the one I saw, who knows the collector who sold me this one, who bought them from the guy who saw them at a show on the table of the guy who bought them from the scrap dealer. Got all that?)

So I didn't know the seller before this, but my buddy's friend has a substantial collection - which includes a Colt Gatling Gun - and he says my seller is a big collector of AR-15/M16 rifles and gear.

After being put in touch with the seller, I had a lengthy conversation with him about Black Rifle Disease, etc. I think he wanted to make sure I was a collector and not some yutz who'd flip it or just strip the upper for parts. He has no affiliation to AMU, nor do I think he was ever in the military - just a kindred spirit to us Retro guys. He must be the last such collector remaining off-line. He'd heard of Arfcom but isn't a member, and thought the Retro forum might be worth checking out. OTOH, I do know a few serious collectors, and I mean really serious millionaire types, who have never even ventured online to buy or sell anything. They all kind of know each other and do everything face-to-face and at collector shows.
So obviously there's a lot of collectors with a lot of good stuff still out there in the non-virtual world waiting to be discovered, and in fact many of my best finds in the last several years have been not at gun shows, but at military collector events.

As to the A2, it did come full circle in some ways, but that was some 15 years later and inspired by the USMC shooters. One thing about the A2 is that the target rifles all had heavy (in this case, very) barrels but the A2 barrel was heavy forward of the sight block not for accuracy, but to make it more soldier-proof.

And of course the M16 was never intended to be a long-distance shooter, as the whole rationale behind a small caliber weapon was that thing about soldiers never shooting beyond 300 yards. Kind of like not giving the F4 Phantom a gun, methinks.
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 1:22:54 PM EDT
[#22]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
How well or poorly does it perform?
View Quote
 I'll probably never shoot it. It obviously has problems with the gas tube leaking at the FSB, and that fouling establishes that the handguards are original or at least used with this upper.
To fix the gas tube would be to destroy that evidence of its history, so I'm inclined to leave it alone.

I may clean it all up, fix the issue and shoot it, but only after carefully photographing and documenting everything.
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 1:25:17 PM EDT
[#23]
Question for you guys: Do you think this chrome BCG is original to this upper?

Obviously some parts are 601, but the upper receiver is black and may be a later replacement (for the original 601?) upper to make it conform to A1 configuration.
If so, would the original bolt and carrier have been retained, or updated to phosphated parts?
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 2:13:26 PM EDT
[#24]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Question for you guys: Do you think this chrome BCG is original to this upper?

Obviously some parts are 601, but the upper receiver is black and may be a later replacement (for the original 601?) upper to make it conform to A1 configuration.
If so, would the original bolt and carrier have been retained, or updated to phosphated parts?
View Quote
The armorers probably used whatever parts they had lying aroud
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 3:23:08 PM EDT
[#25]
Your move, Braceman.
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 4:06:44 PM EDT
[#26]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
The FSB is not a cast FSB so it wouldn't be a 601 type. It's an early forged with flashing removed and no drain hole. Very cool and unique upper and thanks for sharing OP!!
View Quote
The reason I thought 601 is because the line where the top flat meets the rear flat is a straight line; the forged types have more of a curved profile.
I saw a picture of the difference in TBR so I'll check it and post if relevant (after I get home from work).

[ETA] Yep, you're right - I got home and looked at it closely compared to my own 601 and sure enough, it's a tad different.
If you look closely there is a curve there. Also, I think the curved sight protection "ears" had me thinking 601.
So, probably an early 603/XM16E1 with the 2nd version FSB?
Link Posted: 8/24/2017 9:47:54 PM EDT
[#27]
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
I think so... all the receiver extensions had "feed ramps," enlarged areas that were to help the rounds feed into the chamber.
With the standard rifle, the feed ramps were only milled into the barrel extension and just stopped - there's a definite line where the barrel extension ends and the receiver body begins. With the M4 feed ramps, there was milling of the upper receiver to make an extension for those enlarged areas so it's one smooth ramp.
If you look closely, you'll see that there is a distinct edge where the barrel extension meets the receiver itself - no M4 feed ramps on this one.

Let me see if I can find a picture of that... yep:
http://thunderarmory.lt/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/M4STDramps_Troy.jpg
View Quote View All Quotes
View All Quotes
Discussion ForumsJump to Quoted PostQuote History
Quoted:
Quoted:
Am I seeing M4 feedramps? Or, am I hallucinating?

It's ok to tell me I am, if I am.
I think so... all the receiver extensions had "feed ramps," enlarged areas that were to help the rounds feed into the chamber.
With the standard rifle, the feed ramps were only milled into the barrel extension and just stopped - there's a definite line where the barrel extension ends and the receiver body begins. With the M4 feed ramps, there was milling of the upper receiver to make an extension for those enlarged areas so it's one smooth ramp.
If you look closely, you'll see that there is a distinct edge where the barrel extension meets the receiver itself - no M4 feed ramps on this one.

Let me see if I can find a picture of that... yep:
http://thunderarmory.lt/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/M4STDramps_Troy.jpg
I should have been more specific: the receiver extension looks like M4 ramps, not the upper.
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