We recently wrote about Enhanced Tactical Arms with their new grip design at SHOT 2018. But during the show, we were able to get a behind the scenes look at the small companies efforts to replicate the developmental history of the M4 carbine from the early beginnings in the Vietnam War, until today with the SOMOD Block II program and subsequent H&K 416 use in SOCOM. The collection has been featured in Larry Vicker’s AR15 Guide.
We recently wrote about Enhanced Tactical Arms with their new grip design at SHOT 2018. But
during the show, we were able to get a behind the scenes look at the small companies efforts to
replicate the developmental history of the M4 Carbine from the early beginnings in the Vietnam
War, until today with the USSOCOM SOPMOD (Special Operations Peculiar MODification)
program and subsequent H&K 416 use by US SOF. Weapons from the collection have been
featured in both volumes of the Vickers Guide AR15 by Larry Vickers and James Rupley.
The rifles pictured are fully operational and were put together with the intent to replicate the
progression in special operations carbine development. Whenever possible, the team uses period
correct parts, fabricates components, or hand picks commercially available replicas after
determining their historical accuracy.
Putting the collection together is more of an historical labor of love than an actual commercial
venture which is what makes interacting with it really neat (although the team is willing to
assemble specific historic weapons at a customer’s request). I took photos of the collection in
chronological order from earliest examples to later ones.
Starting the collection off is a Colt XM16E1, essentially the genesis of the AR15 in use by the
U.S. Military. Below that is a commercial Colt 605 with the barrel chopped down to the front
The GAU-5A/A is especially important because it resembles the beginnings of the CAR15 and
later on the M4 in use today. Note the flash suppressor, telescoping buttstock and the fiber optic
Single Point optic. The carbine is historically significant because of its use on the Soy Tay Raid
in Operation Ivory Coast in November of 1970. GAU-5A/A is an Air Force nomenclature for a small arms designation.
The optic is merely a tube with adjustable turrets for height and windage, but the only reticle
present is lit dot against a black background. This necessitates using both eyes open while using
the carbine. The ETAC Arms team will be publishing an article chronicling the details of the
AR15s of Son Tay, with a detailed discussion on low light employment.
Right now the group is working on putting together a Colt Model 607, which would symbolize
the transition from the 605 to the GAU-5A/A. The 607 used telescoping two position buttstock
that was shaped like the early M16A1 buttstock but smaller and had a shortened barrel with the
triangular handguard. The 607 is a work in progress and awaiting parts to complete the lower
receiver before it can be fully added to the collection.
Below is the Colt Model 723, as used by US Army Special Operations Forces in the famed Mogadishu, Somalia raid of October 3rd, 1993. Notice the actual Aimpoint optic mounted on top of the carrying handle and the light with pressure switch clamped to the handguard. Below this rifle is a Model 727, replicating what Staff Sergeant Matt Eversmann carried during the battle.
Starting right before 9/11 and the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is this modification of an M4 by the 82nd Airborne Division with the enormous flashlight mounted on the bottom of the carbine. This wasn’t a new carbine, much more just a modification that some elements of the 82nd did. Next, starting at the beginning of the GWOT-era Special Operations weapons is an M4A1 equipped with first generation SOPMOD Program accessories.
The next weapon is an Army special operations M4A1 fitted with a Knight’s Armament MRE rail system that extends beyond the front sight post, AN/PEQ-2 ITPIAL, (the MRE gun is not a SOPMOD gun) and an original “Gangster” forward grip that is fitted with a white light and wired to activate both the light and laser.
Outside of the SOMPOD Program is this modification of an M4A1 by the 82nd Airborne Division with the enormous flashlight mounted on the bottom of the carbine. This wasn’t a new carbine, much more just a modification that some elements of the 82nd did. Below that is an Army Marksmanship Unit modified M4A1.
Below are two HK416s, 14.5 inch barrel on top, and a 10.4 inch barrel equipped with a Surefire FA556-212 (predecessor to the SOCOM) suppressor on the bottom. Note the difference in rails, the top version being the standard 416 detachable rail and the Geissele rail on the bottom. Both are equipped with the Enhanced Tactical Arms Direct Action Grip. The team’s CQBR M4s (commonly referred to as Mk 18 Mod 1 and Mk 18 Mod 2) and CQB school configured rifles were not available at the time the photographs were taken.
The elements of the ETAC Arms logo emphasizes their dedication to connecting military history with the development of future systems. The ETAC Arms logo consists of a night vision mil dot magnified optic reticle targeting the silhouette of a mountain. The mil dot scope reticle represents the prior military service of the team members. The green color and honeycomb pattern reminiscent of night vision devices captures the company’s dedication to improving the combat capability of the modern warfighter. The stylized mountain silhouette is based on the high terrain surrounding the Khyber Pass, which reflects the team’s commitment to uncovering and capturing the lessons of history.
Enhanced Tactical Arms, LLC (www.etac-arms.com) is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada and is responsible for manufacturing and sales if the SMRT (Sympathetic Movement Reduction Technique) Direct Action Grip, which allows single handed activation of the tactical light or laser when mounted on an AR15 type weapon.
Additionally, ETAC Arms conducts original scholarly level defense industry research and produces museum quality replica firearms. The ETAC Arms replica weapons, screen used film props, and supporting equipment have been used for historical projects, weapons accessory development, and educational efforts.
ETAC Arms personnel have assisted the US military (product development and testing), museums, civilian law enforcement organizations, and partners within the firearms and entertainment industry. Feel free to contact ETAC Arms at [email protected] with any questions. ETAC Arms is an ITAR compliant company.