Colt 603 - XM16E1 - "We Were Soldiers" (1963-1967)

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$947.00 - $1,057.00

The Colt 603 XM16E1 is the last version of the "experimental" series before official adoption of the later M16A1. Fielded 1963-1967. Also used extensively by the British/Australian SAS as well as numerous foreign Special Forces.

This model was made famous in the movie "We were Soldiers" being the primary weapon of the 1st Calvary Division (Airmobile) at the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in 1965.


Changes made on the 603:

  • First model with a Forward Assist (if you want the version without Colt 602)
  • Flash Hider changed to the improved "3 Prong" (with which we are all familiar)
  • Early models had Chrome BCG's, later models had Phosphate


This is a highly authentic reproduction Colt 603 XM16E1 with Charging Handle. Available with or without BCG.


Special Features:

  • Genuine Colt AR-15 Fiberglass Handguards (not polymer)
  • M16A1 Receiver with Tear Drop Assist (C7 optional)
  • Original 1:12 twist (1:7 optional)
    • 1:12 Chromed Line, Phosphate finish
    • 1:7 Nitride finish (out pf stock)
  • Flat Style Straight Slip Ring (not Delta)


* Notes on Options


  • A1 with Tear Drop Forward Assist is historically correct. This is a NoDak upper.
  • C7 is an A1 receiver with an Shell Deflector.. best choice for Left Hand Shooters, not a NoDak (1983-1995)

* Note: C7's were never official Army issue. Only Special Forces and the Canadians (C7/C8) used this transitional receiver style. Walks and talks like an A1 but doesn't hit you in the face when shooting southpaw.


Twist Rates:

  • 1:12 is the only twist rate used on all Colt models from 1963-1983. The choice if you want the closest possible to the real thing and will only shoot 55gr bullets.
  • 1:7 can shoot anything you can buy, including 77gr heavies (mk262), 75gr TAP and Tracers (1983 - current). Finish is Nitride, which is significantly more rugged/durable than the original Phosphate finish.




From 1960-1965/66 all M16 variants were probably delivered with Chrome BCG's. 1967/68 on-wards the finish was changed to Mag Phosphate, as it is to this day. So it's entirely possible either was used, in anything, after 1967. Choose Chrome or Phosphate - no cost difference.. or get it without a BCG if you don't need one.



  • Receivers, 7075, Mil Spec Type III Anodizing (will match black lower)
  • M16A1 "NDS" code (NoDak)
  • C7 "A" code (not NoDak)
  • Choice of Twist Rate: 1:7 or 1:12
    • 1:12- 20" "Pencil" profile barrel, Chrome Lined, Phosphate finished
    • 1:7 - 20" "Pencil" profile Barrel Nitride finish (out of stock)
  • Genuine Colt M16 Triangular Fiberglass Handguards (used, good condition)
  • Tear Drop Forward Assist
  • Chrome or Phosphate M16 BCG, MP tested - same cost
  • Front Sight Base (FSB) Tapper Pinned
  • Flat Style Straight Slip Ring (not Delta), Original Colt
  • Round Front Sight Post
  • Rear Sight Assembly, Original Colt
  • "3 Prong" Flash Hider (later model)
  • Charging Handle, 7075, Made in USA
  • Sling Swivel
  • Made in USA

 CURRENTLY ON BACK ORDER - No Estimated Time frame for in stock.

  • 3

    Posted by Al on 2nd Sep 2019

    Could have been a 4 or 5 star rating. Why 3? When I made the order, the credit card charge stayed in Pending for 5 days before cancelling itself. I figured there were issues at the business, reached out and didnt hear anything. Suddenly, there is a charge on my card another week later. Not good as I almost bought a similar rifle at the Camp Perry matches. I kept a wary eye on things as a few people have complained on the web about Retro Rifles yet others say give him time as the business grew faster than he could handle. For me he was 5 stars on the build time. Took about 15 days. Product arrived packed in bubble wrap but the front sight and forward assist were poking through the box. Found the forward assist cracked off. I had another tear drop one so I popped it on. Front hand guards were worn at the locking lips on each end. Duct tape was used to tighten the seal. However, I had some vintage but better shape ones and I replaced those. The hand guards might get some very angry and not bother others. Finally, I got it to the range and a function test at 25 yards had no issues except a jam when I believe I loaded a spent case. 50 rounds went through flawlessly after that and it grouped well. So, a 4 or 5 star build unless you downgrade for hand guards. 1 star on packing. 5 stars on timeliness of the build.