27 February 2021

This is Kaylee.

Kaylee is my first AR-15.  She started life as an attempt to make a clone of an XM177E2.  Unfortunately, I didn't know much about XM177E2's when I started; in fact I thought CAR-15 was the proper designation.  I later made a much more faithful clone of an XM177E2, and then I decided to make Kayee more of an Israeli  carbine.

This Israeli carbine, in fact.

But as time passes, plans change.  Kaylee was entirely too similar to The Lovely Harvey's Cheyenne.  Cheyenne is a clone of an R653-P because Harvey loves the carbine carried by SSG Barnes in the film Platoon.

Because she felt I was stepping on her toes, I changed Kaylee's furniture.  Then did some swapping with some Arfcommers and ditched the carry handle.

What we have here is a Del-Ton carbine kit that I have modified.  The 16" HBAR barrel that came with the kit was replaced with a 14.5" 1:7 nitrided Palmetto State Armory barrel with an A2 flash-hider (not shown is the $200 piece of paper that lets that be legal).  The C7 upper has been replaced with an Aero Precision flat-top and KAC 600m folding rear.  The lower receiver came from Anvil Arms, who are no longer in business.  Surplus Colt M4 pistol grip, Damage Ind. M4 stock with QD and Magpul MOE handguard.  Bravo Company mil-spec receiver extension and H Buffer.

Complete history after the fold.  There have been a lot of starts and stops along the way while I figured out what I wanted to do with her.  And yes, I give my rifle's girl's names.  And yes, you've seen this post before, it gets bumped and updated as I make changes.

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She is named after Kaylee from "Firefly".  She's the second one I built all by myself and the third I had a hand in. Dave's pile of Bushmaster parts was the first one I helped with. Geff's Olga was the first one I built alone because I wanted to take detailed pics of Kaylee's build.

Kaylee, as I mentioned before was supposed to be as close to an XM177E2 as I could make without going NFA. Since I knew that I couldn't get it exact, I dubbed her XM177E3, a "what-if" the carbine program had not resulted in the M4.  My making of Sabrina, a very accurate clone of an XM177E2 and Harvey's making of Cheyenne into a 99% clone of an R653-P made me decide to drop the facade of retro from her and make her into the M4gery I never knew I wanted.

Her baby pictures. The lower and the parts kit.  Interestingly, these are the only parts to have never been replaced (except for the pistol grip).

Freshly assembled. Complete Del-Ton 16" heavy barrel carbine kit, Anvil Arms lower and a DPMS slip-over flash suppressor. The M4 style stock here is commercial diameter. The upper receiver is known as a C7 model. When Canada adopted the M16, they retained many of the features of the M16A1 and combined them with features from the M16A2; in the case of the upper, they kept the simpler rear sight of the A1 and added the brass deflector bump from the A2.

It did not take me long to start making changes as suited me. I swapped the small round forward assist for a retro tear-drop unit.

The first real pic of the whole gun.

Vintage pistol grip to replace the A2 style. These are called "A1" grips, but are also present on A-Nothing M16s. Also a vintage Colt 20-round magazine.

Insanity breaks out! I succumb to the fashions of Arfcom and replace my A1 grip with a Magpul MIAD and the C7 upper with a flat-top. The optic is an L3 EOTech 552.A65/1, the back-up iron sights (BUIS) are Knight's 600m.

Because the optics and BUIS went onto my 6.8x43mm build, Dottie, keeping the flat-top seemed silly, so I put the C7 upper back on. The flat-top was recycled into the carbine that became Kevina.

The MIAD went to Dottie and I changed the commercial M4A1 style stock to a mil-spec early M4 style. Commercial receiver extensions are about an inch longer than mil-spec and I was sick of setting the stock back a click when I extended it. I figure that these things really have two positions, closed and all the way open to the stop because you will not have time for fidgeting when the SHTF. The A2 grip is back because I used the A1 grip on Bubba's AR.

The return of the A1 pistol grip! This also marks my realization that the SBR I am making has supplanted the retro aspects of Kaylee.

I changed the early pattern stock to a late pattern M4. There are three two M4 carbine patterns. The early is smaller and more closely resembles the original aluminum stock from the XM177 series, these are also known as "fiberlite" stocks. The middle design has a longer butt and a sling loop in the toe (the commercial stock that came with the kit is this style). The late pattern has a revised sling loop, slightly more pull and better reinforcement along the extension. I changed the conventional carbine handguards for the oval M4A1 style.

At this point, she is truly almost the what-if I set out to make. What if in the course of carbine development the special forces community had insisted that the M16A2 rear sight was needlessly complicated? What if they had lengthened the barrel to 13.5" and retained the moderator instead of going for 14.5" and normal flash-hider so they could use a bayonet?  What if the moderator had been made into an effective sound suppressor?  What if the use of optics and development of the flat-top upper had died in the womb? What if they had continued the previous designation scheme? So here we have an XM177E3, this is the carbine that Twilight 2000 would have in its original timeline.

I would like to point out that the XM177 series had no bayonet lug because the moderator was both too large a diameter and too short for the M7 bayonet. The lug is retained here just to have all the features banned by the Clinton Assault Rifle Ban.

Final change, M4 profile barrel.  The Army was very keen back on the change from XM177E1 to XM177E2 to be able to equip the carbines with M203 grenade launchers, but not to make a special version of the M203 for carbines. On the M4 (and here) this resulted in a small area of the barrel in front of the front sight base to be rebated for the barrel clamp of the M203.  This change also drops a full eight ounces of weight from the front of the gun, where it's most noticeable.


GURPS stats for my Twilight 2000 conversion.  Since it is finally adopted, the X is dropped from the designation and the E is changed to a nothing for the first issue.  Remember, the original timeline did not include Desert Storm, so the impetus to create the M4 carbine was not present, especially with the military budget firmly committed to a war against the Soviet Union as opposed to counter insurgency.  There was a special forces requirement for a carbine that had been festering since the Vietnam war, however.

Guns/TL8 (Rifle)
TL  Weapon                                   Damage    Acc      Range    Weight  RoF    Shots      ST  Bulk  Rcl   Cost  LC  Notes
8    Colt M177 (5.56x45mm 1:7)         4d+2 pi     4      750/2900    7.4/1    13     30+1(3)   9†    -4      2     $729   2

The Colt M177 is a shortened M16A1 upgraded with many features of the M16A2 specially tailored to the needs of Special Forces troops in the US military and based on experience from the IDF.  The 13.5" barrel is rifled for NATO ammunition and is equipped with a threaded detachable TL7 baffle sound suppressor (High Tech, p. 158-159) giving -2 to hearing.

I changed the front sling swivel over the the current USGI side sling mount.  I had originally bought it for Harvey while she was deciding what sling would suit her best for Kevina.  The main reason I decided to use it is that I was not happy with how the sling swivel rivet I set had come out.  It was solid, but cosmetically ugly.

I ditched the heavy barrel with the express purpose of shedding weight.  Weight that I seem to have added right back on with the late M4 stock, side sling adaptor.  What made me realize this was recycling the heavy barrel into Brunhilda and having her come out lighter than Kaylee!  So I have deleted the slip-over flash-hider in favor of a standard M16A2 unit.  It ruins my what-if story but makes the her so much handier and shootable.  In accordance with the modernization I put a small round forward assist back on her.  Talk about a cosmetic part!  I have never had to use one operationally.

Changed the furniture over to Colt stuff.  Also changed the sling to a lightweight M4 item.  The colt stock fits this tube better and the handguards are the double heatshield style.

I wonder if I am done this time.  There's always a temptation to spend the $200 on registering her as an SBR and cutting the barrel back to 14.5" and putting a flat-top and optic to replace the C7 upper. 

The double heat shield handguards don't fit well.  They don't engage the teeth on the barrel nut very well and will rotate a small amount.  That makes the gun unpleasant to hold and affects my consistency.  So I have replaced them with a set of Israeli contract 6-hole CAR type handguards.  The M4 stock doesn't look right with the narrow grips, so I used my Colt fiberlite.  At this point she very much resembles a late production R723.

Changed the flash-hider to a birdcage and the pistol grip back to an A1.  It's looking more like an Israeli parts gun every day.  Makes me want to get the elastic handguard covers and sling the Isrealis use.  Like these.

Kaylee and Cheyenne looked entirely too much like each other.  Far be it from me to mash on Harvey's toes; I have been accumulating M4 parts for a while.  Kaylee is now an M4gery, complete with flat-top and genuine Colt detachable carry handle.  Bravo Company's double heat shield handguards fit better than the Colt too!  

The next step is an optic.  I am torn between an Aimpoint Comp ML3 (2 MOA) in a La Rue mount or a Comp M4.  The ML3 is cheaper, but the M4 uses the far more common AA size battery instead of a DL1/3N.  With the optic do I keep the carry handle as a spare and swap it for the optic should something go wrong or get a dedicated folding backup iron sight (BUIS).  The Marines swap the handle.  The Army uses a BUIS from Matech.  It's known to be fragile and expensive.  Troy makes an excellent rear sight, as does Knight's Armament.  Decisions, decisions!

Or I could just put her back into the R723 configuration.  Honestly, I am more comfortable with things this way than as an M4gry.  I don't care for the look of the detachable handle and I have never been a big fan of the A2 rear sight.

Maybe there's space in my heart for an M4 or M16A4 clone; but Kaylee is not one.

She's now wearing genuine IDF accessories!  Eventually, she will be Form 1'd and I'll get a 14.5" pencil barrel on her.  This is honestly the happiest I have been about how she's been dressed since the very first day I put her together.

The magazine holder is because Israeli citizens and troops outside of a combat area are not allowed to have a loaded mag in the gun, and this is a handy way to have one nearly ready.

A little more genuine!  Got the tax stamp and added a 14.5" pencil barrel.  The Trilux is a bonus addition.

I added an authentic IDF touch to her.  A Lone Star Ordnance pistol grip.  You see these on lots of IDF guns, it's just interesting that something made in relatively small numbers in San Antonio, Texas is relatively common accessory in Israel.

 One neat thing about a 14.5" barrel on a carbine is the bayonet fits properly.


Ditched all the IDF stuff and changed over to Magpul furniture; because it resembled The Lovely Harvey's Cheyenne too much.  CTR, MIAD and MOE in foliage green.


Stumbled into a deal where I could get a flat-top upper for no out-of-pocket cost for me!  Changed the flat slip ring for a delta-ring and slapped on a YHM-9680 folding rear sight (both collecting dust in the parts bin).  Kaylee is now Mini-Dottie!


Although the Aimpoint has been mounted on Kaylee instead of Dottie for a while, this is the first time I thought to update her build saga.  Also pictured are the Surefire X300 and Magpul sling that're shared between Dottie, Kaylee and the 870; because Magpul Whore.  Behind the Aimpoint is the LaRue Po Boy LT649 with Hensholdt 2.5x magnifier.  For the longest I didn't have the optic far enough forward to use the magnifier, but today I was playing around and spotted that there's air between the delta-ring and the base of the M4s with it all the way forward!  The YHM rear has been replaced with a Knight's Armament 600m BUIS.


Replaced the Magpul MIAD with a Damage Ind. ECS grip.  I am more used to the angle thanks to the retro guns and it fits the M12 rack correctly.


Swapped the 14.5" barrel for an 11.5" from Sabrina.  Only 8 lb. as pictured, 6.9 lb. if you yank the Aimpoint and light.

Later, the same day, I decided that the Wilson Combat Accu-Tac was just plain cooler and it bothers Willard to no end to see a three-prong on an AR.  It's a very effective flash-hider, there's actually less visible flash from the three prong than with the 4.5" moderator that was on this barrel with Sabrina.


Put her back pretty much to where I had it six months ago.


Changed out the J&T for a Palmetto State Armory M4 profile, 1:7 nitride finish.

The nitride finish better matches the iconel of the flash-hider anyways!


I decided to save the weight and use genuine Colt M4 furniture.  I lose the rail for the light and the spiffy sling mounts.  A side mount sling for the front and a silent sling work fine.


Variety is the very spice of life!  Plus I still had that Damage Ind. A2 grip and Magpul MOE-Carbine handguard in foliage green burning a hole in my parts bin...  I ordered a Damage Ind. M4 QD stock for Kaylee...  Stripped of accessories, loaded she tares at a whopping 7 lb. 7.6 oz.


A $67 price drop and a free shipping special were too much for me to pass up trying Damage Ind. Enhanced Combat System stock.  Because the foliage green is on clearance, here's a link to the full-price black one.  It's got storage compartments for batteries or something, but it just fits my shoulder really well and hasn't pulled my beard after playing around with it for a while.  You can't beat that with a stick!


While I like the way the ECS stock feels I really don't care for how it looks.  Besides, I wasn't using those storage tubes anyways.

It's a very tight fit on the tube, but that means no wobble.  It feels nice on the cheek and doesn't seem to have a propensity to pull beard hairs.

It's also a lot lighter!  Almost 4 ounces.


Reverted to the traditional A2 type birdcage flash-hider.


Put the genuine Colt M4 furniture back on it.  7.2 lb. as opposed to the 7.5 lb. with the foliage green stuff on.


Changed the stock to a Damage Inc M4 with QD mount, which is current milspec for an M4.  Swapped the double-heat-sheild M4 handguards for a Magpul MOE.


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