Colt’s M5 Enhanced Carbine recently drew much interest and speculation at the formidable company’s latest entry into the AR15 market. However, we’ve recently learned more about the origins of the M5 and how it came to the U.S. market, oddly enough from the Australian Defense Forces. Interestingly, the M5’s first appearance wasn’t at BIDEC 2017, and was specifically mentioned in an article in Asian Military Review’s issue of May 2017–
On 24th January 2017, Australia’s NIOA signed a partnering agreement with Colt’s Manufacturing Company for the assembly of SALWs domestically, signaling a drive for the US-based company into the Asia-Pacific. Signed at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the news followed the launch of Colt’s latest assault rifle, the 5.56mm M5 Enhanced Carbine. According to Colt and NIOA officials, the agreement provides a: “framework to enable NIOA to undertake manufacture of Colt’s small arms product range in Australia and integrate into Colt’s global supply chain … NIOA, as the current provider of Colt small arms for the Australian Special Forces and law enforcement communities, is committed to maximising Australian industry capability in the provision of our support to Australian agencies.
Colt’s director for international sales, Matthew Fehmel, explained how the M5 Enhanced Carbine has been designed as an assault rifle series for the: “modern (soldier) and special weapons law enforcement professional when weight, comfort and adaptability are critical … Today’s battlefields demand the accuracy, reliability and performance of the Advanced Colt Carbine-Monolithic one-piece upper receiver and free floating barrel, resulting in increased accuracy and better zero retention with after-market sighting and aiming systems than the standard M4 carbine family of weapons,
As talked about in the article, Colt Defense is aggressively pursuing a presence in Australia with the relationship with NOIA, one of Australia’s largest defense products importers, in addition to other countries in the region, especially Thailand. From a show newsletter coming out of Defense & Security 2017 held in Bangkok, a Colt representative had this to say about the M5–
There is a backlog of demand in Thailand which we are now servicing”… “We are now introducing the M5 enhanced carbine into the region,” added Fehmel. “The carbine derives from anoriginal specification developed for the Australian Defense Force (ADF) Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
Specifically, the point about the Australian Special Operations Command solicitation seemed to be interesting and upon TFB reaching out to Colt directly about the matter, company officials confirmed that the M5 did in fact come from a query within ADF SOCOM to see if Colt could develop an AR platform, select fire carbine to meet the needs of the community. As of yet this isn’t a specific RFP, solicitation, or even contract. The odd addition of a Geissele handguard on a production weapon signifies the ADF’s SOCOM interest as Geissele handguards have been chosen by numerous Special Operations units the world over. In addition, an Australian defense author and analyst that TFB reached out to, explained that SOCOM is constantly looking for new rifles to replace older ones, doing so piecemeal already.
Instead, it appears that Colt was confident enough to develop a rifle for Australian SOCOM, and then decided to offer it to other foreign defense forces, in addition to LE in the States. We don’t have a crystal ball, but Colt might even offer a civilian legal semi-automatic, 16 inch barrel version in the United States at SHOT 2018.