In the dense jungles of Vietnam, the MACV-SOG units, elite forces conducting covert operations, required a weapon that matched their unique demands for stealth, reliability, and firepower. Enter the CAR-15, a compact and versatile carbine born from the iconic M16 family.

MACV-SOG Operator in Vietnam
MACV-SOG Operator in Vietnam (Photo: Reddit)

Colt marketed the CAR-15 in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly its Commando variants like the XM177E2, which became a lifeline for these special forces. Weighing only around 5.35 lb and equipped with a distinctive flash suppressor, the CAR-15 offered an optimal balance of mobility and lethality, with a muzzle velocity that made engagements effective up to 400 meters.

Despite Colt’s discontinuation of the “CAR-15” name in favor of newer models, the legacy of these rifles in the hands of MACV-SOG operatives remains a testament to their adaptability and enduring performance in the harshest combat environments.

Combining Vietnam War Legacy with Modern Enhancements

Based on the 10.5” CAR-15 rifles used by MACV-SOG. This is not a one-for-one clone but my bastardized version using some modern-day enhancements.

Building the Ultimate MACV-SOG CAR-15: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. To not have to SBR this firearm, we’re using a Shockwave pistol brace
  2. Aero Precision 10.5” upper with Magpul MOE Carbine handguard and fixed A2 Front Sight
  3. Aero Precision Detachable A2 Carry Handle
  4. Aero Precision AR15 Pistol Lower with A2 grip
  5. The CAR-15 used a unique flash hider. Although you can get these and have them pinned and welded to bring the barrel length to 16 inches, I decided to use a more modern linear compensator. The linear comp gives me a few advantages over the retro flash hider. First and foremost, it directs the blast and concussion forward of the shooter and towards the threat. Second, it’s much shorter, keeping the firearm more compact.
  6. Magpul MS1 sling attached to the A2 front sight with a Blue Force Gear Uloop attachment.

To feed this firearm, I’m using the old-school metal mags with upgraded anti-tilt followers. The ammunition of choice for this build is the M855 green tip. Although, I’m going to be doing some testing with the newer AAC 62-grain black tip ammo.

Building the Ultimate MACV-SOG CAR-15: A Step-by-Step Guide

Additionally, this lower already had the Law Tactical folding stock adapter installed, so I left that in place.

Why Aero Precision Over Colt?

The decision to utilize Aero Precision upper and lower components instead of Colt, like the original CAR-15s, was driven by historical accuracy, modern engineering, and practicality. The MACV-SOG CAR-15, renowned for its service in the Vietnam War, was initially produced by Colt. However, for this specific project, the goal was not to create a perfect historical replica but to construct a modern interpretation that honors the legacy of the CAR-15 while leveraging modern advancements in firearm manufacturing.

  • Mil-Spec Compatibility and Quality: Aero Precision components are machined to mil-spec dimensions, ensuring they work seamlessly with standard AR15 parts. This compatibility is crucial for builders who seek the highest quality, ensuring a reliable and high-performing firearm.
  • Modern Enhancements: The chosen Aero Precision parts incorporate modern enhancements not found in the original Colt CAR-15 designs. This includes using a 10.5” upper that aligns with the CAR-15’s compact and versatile nature but is designed to meet today’s firearm performance and reliability standards.
  • Cost-Effectiveness and Availability: Aero Precision is known for offering high-quality components at a competitive price point. Their products are readily available, making it easier to acquire the necessary parts for their builds.
  • Durability and Performance: Finally, Aero Precision’s reputation for durability and performance assures builders that their modern CAR-15 build will look the part and perform reliably under various conditions, from competitive shooting to tactical applications.

Making This 10.5” A2 Build Lethal Out To 200 Yards

For accuracy and zeroing, I’ve been a longtime proponent of the 50/200 zero mainly because of where I live and the typical engagement distances I would be dealing with.

With the A2 sighting system, you can still rock a 50/200 Improved Battlesight Zero using the following instructions. Pretty cool if you ask me!

Building the Ultimate MACV-SOG CAR-15: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Set the drum to 6/3
  2. Loosen the set screw with a 1/16” Allen wrench
  3. Turn the bottom drum up 8 clicks
  4. Align the top drum back to the 6/3 mark
  5. Tighten the set screw
  6. Now, go down 4 clicks to be at your 50/200 yard zero
  7. Zero the rifle for 50/200 using the front sight post

Reference the following chart for the differences between a detachable carry handle system (what I’m using) and a fixed carry handle system.

A2 Improved Battlesight Zero

Here is a video you can reference for setting up your A2 sighting system for a 50/200 yard zero:


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