Colt Carbines

Overview


The IDF has a long history deploying Colt Carbines, dating to the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when the U.S. launched a massive airlift to Israel containing various weapons and gear. Included in the airlift were many M16A1 rifles and CAR15. Shortly after the war, the IDF adopted the Galil as its standard issue weapon, resulting in limited M16 service during the 1970's.

However, few SF units tested the M16A1, liked it and decided to use it instead of the Galil and the AK47 variants commonly used at the time. Following a successful experience with the M16A1, CAR15 entered service with the IDF SF in the late 1970's and saw instant success. Interestingly, one of the reasons for the CAR15 usage was its M203 variant, which was lighter and more compact than the Galil/M203 combo used at the time.

Throughout the 1980's IDF SF units gradually switched to the CAR15 from the Galil SAR and AK47, and by the of that decade CAR15 had essentially become a standard issue weapon in the IDF SF community. The IDF regular infantry units were soon in the early 1990's when the IDF officially adopted the M16 as its standard issue weapon for all infantry units including both SF and regular forces. The Galil remained in limited usage with non-infantry combat units (primarily the Armored Corps and Artillery Corps), which had less need to traveling by foot and rarely used their personal issue weapons.

When the Second Intifada broke in the Territories in 2000, non-infantry combat units such as the Armored Corps and the Artillery Corps were assigned infantry oriented missions, and as the infantry units before them found the Galil's weight, low accuracy and limited versatility misaligned with their new tasks. The IDF reserve infantry units, which were equipped with the long M16A1 rifles, express similar concerns how maneuvering tight places. At the same time, the CAR15 that in service experienced an accelerated wear after over a decade of extensive usage.

Due to the factors above and repeated delays in the Tavor project the IDF decided on the following steps:

  • Numerous full size M16A1 rifles were converted by IDF armories to CAR15 carbines configuration. Known in the IDF as "Sawn Off" ("Menusar" in Hebrew) this weapon issue in the IDF represents the end of the Galil era as a combat weapon. Today, the Sawn Off CAR15 is commonly used by non-infantry combat units, primarily the Armored Corps and the Artillery Corps.

  • In addition to the few hundreds M4 and M4A1 procured in the late 1990's issued to SF units, the IDF began mass procurement of the M4A1. These weapons soon became the IDF standard issue assault rifle for all infantry oriented units including both regular and SF units.

IDF CAR15 configurations from left to right: a Designated Marksman, M203 combo and standard configuration fitted with an Elbit Falcon.

 

Variants


There is a great deal of confusion regarding the various versions and configurations of M16 carbines used by the IDF due to the following reasons:

  • Mix up in terminology between Colt official models, U.S. Army designations and the IDF terminology.

  • M16A2 modifications done to the CAR15.

  • Hybrid models of M4 and M4A1 uppers coupled with older CAR15 lowers.

 

IDF Colt Carbines can be grouped into the following:

Models

Description

Barrel

CAR15

Factory fixed loop A1 carbine

14.5"

M4

Factory Fixed loop A2 carbine

14.5"

M4A1

Flattop factory A2 carbine

14.5"

Sawn Off CAR15

IDF-made fixed loop carbine converted from full size M16A1 rifle

 13"

All IDF carbines were made by Colt and feature a safe-semi-full auto trigger group.

Status


Most CAR15 and M4 in service have been replaced with the M4A1. In recent years, the M4A1 has been partially replaced by the Micro Tavor in few infantry and SF units. However, the M4A1 along with the M4 Commando remain the dominant carbine  platforms with SF units.

Weapons Guide