Colt M4 Commando: Precision and Versatility in One Package

Author: Eric Sof

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The Colt M4 Commando is a compact, high-performance rifle known for its reliability and versatility. While the original Colt Commando was based on the M16A1, the M4 Commando was based on the improved and NATO-compliant M16A2. Like its predecessor, it occupies a space between pistol caliber submachine guns and carbines and assault rifles with a longer effective range. It is chambered in 5.56 mm, making it well-suited for various combat situations.

Introduction

As armed conflicts have evolved in the modern era, there has been a need for automatic infantry weapons that are more compact and lightweight to allow for easier maneuverability in urban environments while maintaining a high level of combat effectiveness. This has been demonstrated through the execution of special operations in these environments.

History

The Colt M4 system represents the evolution of the well-known M16/AR15 rifle platform, which is the result of American designers’ expertise and the changing needs of the field. From a historical perspective, the M4 system was among the first to be specifically designed for urban operations. Its manufacturer highlighted its compactness, excellent weight balance and ergonomic features, and low weight as key advantages. It is undeniable that when this American carbine system was introduced, it set new standards in producing modern rifles through composite materials, a telescopic stock, and logical placement of basic controls.

AKS-74U submachine gun and Colt M4 Commando
AKS-74U and Colt M4 Commando (Photo: XY Guns)

Design

The Colt M4 Commando is a rifle that uses a rotating shutter as a locking system and operates by harnessing the power of gunpowder gases. However, this system has been criticized by users for causing damage to the internal mechanisms of the rifle, especially when used in dirty or contaminated environments or with a shot silencer attached. To address these issues, American designers have developed several improved models of the Colt M4, including the M4 A1. The current top-of-the-line model in the series is the Colt M4 Commando, which features a special conversion based on the Heckler patent that prevents the entry of gases and particles into the rifle’s internal workings, greatly increasing its reliability.

Close-up of the inscription above the trigger guard on a Colt M4 Commando
A close-up view of the Colt M4 Commando is shown, with the inscription above the trigger guard being the main focus. The M4 Commando is a compact and lightweight variant of the M4 carbine, a shortened version of the M16 rifle. The inscription above the trigger guard is likely the manufacturer’s logo or some other identifying mark (Photo: XY)

The Colt M4 Commando is a modern automatic rifle designed for close-quarters combat in urban environments. It is compact, well-balanced, and ergonomically designed to be highly efficient in the hands of a skilled shooter. Its straight construction improves accuracy, and the low weight of the weapon facilitates aiming and target acquisition. The layout of the basic controls is also well-thought-out and has been adopted by other manufacturers.

Barrel

The barrel of the Colt M4 Commando is made through a cold forging process and features grooves on the inside to improve the precision of the bullet’s path. It has a twist rate of 1:178 mm, meaning the bullet makes a full rotation every 178 mm. A flame suppressor is located at the end of the barrel to help mask the shooter’s position during firing and has four radial slits.

Accessories

The Colt M4 Commando comes with a Picatinny rail on the top of the receiver for mounting accessories, and additional rails on the front of the barrel can be added upon request. The rear mechanical sight is foldable, adjustable for height and direction, and mounted on rails. The front sight is fixed and located at the front of the barrel, which may be seen as a design flaw by some users, particularly those who prefer optoelectronic sights.

A Colt M4 Commando with an optical sight mounted on the picatinny rails
The Colt M4 Commando is shown with an optical sight mounted on the Picatinny rails on the rifle’s top. The M4 Commando is a compact and lightweight variant of the M4 carbine, a shortened version of the M16 rifle. The Picatinny rails allow for the attachment of various accessories, such as the optical sight shown in this image. The optical sight can be used to improve accuracy and target acquisition when shooting the M4 Commando (Photo: XY)

The Colt M4 Commando is made of aluminum alloy, and consists of an upper and lower part joined by a front and rear wedge. The standard model comes with a composite material barrel liner. The shell ejection port is on the right side of the rifle and is equipped with a protective cover that shields the inside of the rifle from dust and debris. This cover is lowered when the bolt carrier and bolt are in the rear position. Powder gases are ejected through openings on the bolt carrier body via this port.

Operating system

The Colt M4 Commando accepts standardized 30-round box magazines, and the release button is above the opening on the right side of the stock. It is well-shaped and easily accessible. To enhance the shooter’s combat efficiency, there is a button for fixing the bolt above the mount on the left side of the weapon. Pressing this button prepares the rifle to fire after inserting a new magazine.

The bolt lock lever is located on the upper side of the case, near the beginning of the butt, and remains stationary during firing. The grip handle is designed to use both hands’ index and middle fingers. There is an integrated cylindrical forward assist button on the right side of the receiver that can be pressed to complete the locking of a partially-locked bullet. This feature was likely added to the design at the users’ suggestion rather than being the original intention of the designers.

A disassembled Colt M4 Commando with all of its parts laid out
The Colt M4 Commando has been disassembled in this image, and all of its individual parts are visible. The M4 Commando is a compact and lightweight variant of the M4 carbine, a shortened version of the M16 rifle. The stripped M4 Commando includes the upper and lower receivers, barrel, handguard, bolt carrier group, charging handle, and various small parts such as pins, springs, and screws. All of these parts are arranged in an organized manner, likely for cleaning or maintenance purposes (Photo: XY)

The Colt M4 Commando’s mode of operation can be changed by adjusting the position of the regulator lever, which is located on the left side of the weapon above the handle. This lever is included in the standard set but can be installed on either side upon request. It is easily accessible without the need to remove the hand from the grip and allows for stiff (front position), single (middle, upper), and automatic (rear position) fire modes. Pictograms indicate these modes.

The ergonomic handle is hollow and angled to match the angle made by the hand with the index finger extended. The trigger, located at the front of the handle, has a slight curve and a bumper that allows for comfortable operation even when wearing gloves. The trigger pull is consistent and short. The Colt M4 Commando’s telescopic stock can be adjusted to four lengths by pressing the lever on the underside of the stock and sliding it to the desired length.

Variants

The Colt M4 Commando in the M16A2 or M4 series of rifles is known for its consistency in its feature set. However, for many years the M4 Commando was produced using whatever parts were available. All M4 Commandos feature an 11.5-inch barrel with a 1:7-inch NATO twist rate. However, the barrel profile, sights, upper receiver design, and other aspects could be either A1 or A2 patterns.

Technical specifications

Country of origin:United States
Manufacturer:Colt’s Manufacturing LLC
Type:Gas-operated, direct impingement
Locking:Rotating bolt
Caliber:5.56x45mm NATO
Length:780 mm stock extended; 700 mm stock retracted
Barrel length:290 mm
Weight:2.44 kg
Rifling:6 grooves, 178 mm right-hand twist
Muzzle velocity:796 m/s
Rate of fire:700-100 rounds per minute
Sights:iron sights, optical sights mounted on Picatinny rail
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