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The US Army adopted this carbine in 1994 as the M4. This carbine is still in service and being issued as a personal defense weapon for the non-frontline troops, vehicle drivers, artillery crews, airborne troops and special operation units. The Colt M4 is also in service with at least 30 operators worldwide.
It is a gas operated, selective fire weapon, chambered for the standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. Its internal design is similar to that of the M16A2.
The safety / fire mode selector switch is located on the left side of the receiver, above the pistol grip. Trigger mechanism has semi-auto and three round burst modes. A cocking handle is located at the rear of the receiver and does not reciprocate when the gun is fired. Ejection port is located on the right side. It has a deflector, which propels spent cases away from left-handed shooters.
Standard adjustable iron sights of the M16 are of diopter type. Range adjustments are made by rotating a rear knob. The M4 has a sighting range of 600 meters. Later production models were fitted with a Picatinny-type rail on top of the receiver for attachment of sights. These could also mount a detachable carrying handle.
The Colt M4 has a telescopic 4-position stock, which is adjusted for length, and allows to shorten the rifle when required. It is worth mentioning that the M16A2 rifles have solid stocks, because of internal design limitations of this weapon, which cannot be adapted for a folding buttstock.
Specially for the SOCOM M4A1s, US Naval Surface Warfare Center developed a SOPMOD M4 kit, that consisted of the M4A1 carbine equipped with Rail Interface System (RIS) instead of the standard handguards. The kit also includes a variety of the add-on goodies, such as various sights (ACOG 4X telescopic, ACOG Reflex red-dot, detachable back-up open sights), laser pointers (visible and infra-red), detachable sound suppressor (silencer), modified M203 40mm grenade launcher (with shortened barrel and improved sights). The kit also included a detachable front grip and tactical light.