Starting in 1965, Colt attempted to market the M16 rifle as a modular weapons platform that could fulfill all of the various needs of an army, similar to the marketing plans for the AR-10, its predecessor, and the Stoner 63, its rival. In order to compete with the Stoner 63 which could be converted into a belt-fed light or medium machine gun, Colt also included the short-lived CMG-1 and CMG-2 machine guns in the CAR-15 Military Weapons System, though the CMG-1 and CMG-2 had few parts in common with the CAR-15s. By using various upper assemblies, buttstocks, and pistol grips, the weapon could be configured as an assault rifle, a heavy-barreled automatic rifle, a carbine, a submachine gun, or as a survival rifle.
Due to their compact size, the short-barreled Colt Commando and XM177 versions of this family continued to be issued to the U.S. military after the Vietnam War.
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