Colt is taking over the world.

Visit virtually any gun blog, and one of the most contentious issues is the 5.56mm Colt M4 carbine. Thousands of people will argue against it and push for the adoption of another weapon, and often another caliber.

Oddly, however, surveys of active soldiers are almost universally supportive of the M4. Of course, most soldiers, even Infantrymen, have little experience with military small arms outside of their own issue weapons. Still, the level of satisfaction suggests that while the M4 may not be perfect, it isn’t so egregiously flawed as to require immediate replacement.

And another little secret is that while other nations developed their own 5.56mm weapons about the time the US lead NATO to shift from 7.62mm to 5.56mm as the standard rifle round, many have quietly adopted the M16/M4 platform, at least for certain applications.

Israel equipped its soldiers with the indigenous Galil rifle, but has since seen most of its troops shifted to the M4.

In the mid-1990s, Canada, then equipped with a variant of the FN FAL rifle in 7.62mm, worked with Colt and the US Marine Corps to develop their own version of our 5.56mm M16A2. Introduced into service as the C7 rifle, it and the carbine C8 series (very similar to our own M4) have been the standard service rifle of the Canadians, and have been adopted by several other NATO members, such as Norway, Denmark, and even Iceland.

When the US lead the shift to 5.56mm, Britain developed their own rifle, the fairly exotic looking SA80.

It has not been particularly successful competing in the small arms export market. 

Britain steadfastly claims the SA80 (L85A1 in UK service) is superior to the M16/M4 family.

But the truth is, special operations forces of Great Britain don’t like it, and never have. And they’ve been buying C8 carbines from Canada.

One of the great strengths of the Colt rifle is that it can be customized in an almost unlimited number of ways.

Our friends across the pond at Think Defence have two posts on the Colt in British service (where it’s known as the L119A1).

A Mid Life Colt Canada C8 Upgrade

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The upgraded, customized version will be known as the L119A2.

L119A2 – Colt Canada C8 Upgrade

L119A2 C8 SFW 640x304 L119A2   Colt Canada C8 Upgrade

I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Great Britain quietly, slowly makes the Colt the de facto standard weapon over the next few years.

More Armored Recon – The Lynx, Offspring of the M113

Another contender armored recon category in the 1960s, a variant of the M113 offered by FMC, Corp., rolled out in 1966. The FMC offering, called M113 ½, appeared for all purposes a shrunken version of the Armored Personnel Carrier (APC). With only four road wheels (vice five on the APC), the M113 ½ stood just over six feet tall.

The M113 ½ featured a redesigned front hull and a rear mounted engine. The crew consisted of a driver and observer seated side-by-side, along with the commander at the main weapon station on a .50-cal machine gun. FMC’s ACRC weighed over eight tons, but could reach over 40 mph on roads. Power came from a 6-cylinder diesel.  Like the M113, the ACRC offering was amphibious, with a trim vane that deployed in front of the front hull plate.  Armor on the M113 ½ was slightly better, due to the front 60-degree slope mostly, over the base M113.

On paper, the M113 ½ seemed like a good bet, particularly considering commonality with the M113 family. However with the M114 already in production, the US Army opted not to pursue the M113 ½. That didn’t stop FMC from offering the vehicle for sale to other countries. In 1966 the Royal Netherlands Army purchased the first of 260 modified M113 ½.  In the mid-1970s  most received a turret mounted 25mm Oerlikon KBA cannon.

Overloon, Marshall Museum
Dutch Lynx Recon Vehicle, Overloon, Marshall Museum

The Dutch retained the side-by-side seating for driver and observer.  Note the side crew hatch (seen open here).  Aside from the turret, very similar to the type evaluated in the US.

The M113 ½ attracted orders from Canada also.  FMC modified the basic offering for Canadian specifications, placing the observer behind the driver in tandem, with a 7.62mm machine gun (either a M1919 Browning or FN MAG machine gun).  With this move, the commander’s station moved to the right, retaining the original .50-cal machine gun.  And the Canadians dispensed with the side hatch.

Canadian Lynx

Thus configured, the Canadians call the M113 ½ the “Lynx.”

Canada, the Netherlands, and FMC, who continued marketing the vehicle for a while, proposed and tested armament upgrades.  But size restricted a significant weapons enhancement.  Like the M114, the Lynx could not pack enough firepower to pose a threat to any enemy armor force encountered.  But, in the two NATO countries which used the vehicle cavalry doctrine differed from that in the US.  A small, lightly-armed, thin-armored vehicle measured well against Canadian and Dutch expectations.  Both armies used the M113 ½ into the 1990s, but gradually replaced the type with wheeled scout vehicles.

A nice, detailed walk-around of the Lynx is posted here: Lynx Walkaround.