The M16 is one of the most recognized combat weapons of all time, but we guarantee you’ve never seen one quite like this.
M16 also known as AR-15 has received high marks for its light weight, its accuracy, and the volume of fire that it could provide.
Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) is the world’s top auction house specializing in antique and collector firearms, is selling a gold-plated Colt AR-15/XM16E1 with a particularly rich history.
The History Behind M16
This is truly an unbelievable find for the advance Colt collector or Class III enthusiast.
This original Colt AR-15/XM16E1 Model 03 Army Presentation rifle was presented to the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Wheeler, after all the redesign work and testing was completed on the new and improved “forward assist” upper receivers and associated bolt carrier group.
The forward assist was the primary recommendation of the Technical Coordinating Committee in 1963, which wanted soldiers to be able to close the bolt manually as they had been able to do with the M1 Garand and M-14 rifles.
Colt presented this rifle at some point to the U.S. Army Chief of Staff as the final improved design. It has a unique and one of a kind serial number of “COSUSA1”, obviously abbreviated as “Chief of Staff US Army, Serial Number 1”.
By tradition, a team from Colt was directed to visit Wheeler by Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay to examine the then-new M16 rifle. LeMay himself had the chance to check the weapon out prior to his promotion to Chief of Staff, and was keen on making it a standard military firearm.
For the most part, Wheeler liked what he saw, and thought it had many virtues for jungle warfare (lighter weight, more rounds of ammunition per pound of load, moisture-resistant plastic furniture, etc.), but there was a sticking point.
Specifically, he was concerned that a failure to completely feed due to residue or debris in the chamber might put the weapon out of commission, and wanted soldiers to have a way to readily solve the problem without having to stop and clean or disassemble the weapon.
This feedback led to the creation of the forward assist, and this rifle (the first test gun made with the newly developed feature) was finely finished and presented to General Wheeler as a memento.
It exhibits all the very early Colt M16 characteristics along with a unique, high polish deep blue/black metal finish on all the metal components except for the complete bolt and bolt carrier assembly which are chrome plated and the upper and lower receiver and barrel that have been given a matte type Gold washed/plated finish.
A similar golden presentation XM16E1 currently resides in the Springfield Armory Museum in Massachusetts. It bears the serial number 50,000 and is rumored to have been intended as a presentation to President Kennedy.
Any original Colt fully automatic M16 type rifle with U.S. Government markings is extremely rare, with this rifle being even more rare as a presentation, and is certainly a “One-Of-A-Kind”.
The left side of the magazine well is correctly marked with the large circled Colt Rampant Horse logo followed by COLT AR-15/PROPERTY/OF U.S. GOVT./XM 16 E1/CAL 5.56 MM./SERIAL COS USA 1″, with the standard “COLT PATENT FIREARMS MFG.CO./HARTFORD CONN./U.S.A.”.
The Colt AR-15/XM16E1 Model 03 Army Presentation rifle comes with an early AR-15 .223-caliber magazine and a black web sling.
RIAC estimates that it will fetch between $150,000 and $275,00 at auction. Visit their website to place a bid.