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War Rifle Re-Creation: OIF M4 Carbine

W170332 was the serial number of my M4 Carbine while I was in the Army. A number I will never forget. The carbine was nothing special, especially by today’s standards: a Colt M4 Carbine. I received it brand new while stationed in Ft. Richardson Alaska with 3/509th PIR. We had Knights Armament Rail Integration Systems with covers and vertical foregrips. We had carry handles which were quickly replaced with the MA Tech BUIS, and eventually, we all got brand new Aimpoint Close Combat Optics. PEQ2s and Surefire M952 flashlights were our icing on the cake.

Bear in mind this was all in the summer of 2005. All of this kit was cutting edge over ten years ago and we were the Army’s newest Airborne Brigade.


Flash forward a decade and everything about that carbine is outdated. The advancement in weapons technology and accessory compatibility is incredible. When I left active duty my first AR15 had a free float rail and all of the latest Magpul goodies. I used that carbine for several years and it wasn’t until recently that I found myself missing my old rifle. The number of new rifle and accessory manufacturers is staggering and with the current slump in sales, I am sure this number will dwindle.

However, this has provided the consumer with all the parts and pieces to fit practically any budget. After building and buying several AR15s I set forth to build a close enough replica of my issued carbine.

M4a1_clone07 M4a1_clone08

Folks have been building clone rifles for years but recently this has seen a surge. For me, it started when I received a Colt 14.5” upper receiver in a trade deal. This was the start to my re-creating my issued M4 carbine. To keep from filing for an SBR, I permanently affixed a GEMTECH Quickmount to the end. This was not part of my carbine back in the day but I had to put something on there and it was the obvious choice.

I quickly asked around and found an old KAC RAS from a friend; he had an extra from his days in the guard. It even had the look (old, scratched, and generally abused). A quick search on eBay found a KAC vertical foregrip (be aware of the seller and the item when buying these parts from eBay, the first VFG I received was a cheap knockoff and broke as soon as I mounted it to the rail).

I did purchase a MA Tech rear sight online that was new and in the package. Another friend of mine had his old stock from his issued rifle floating around in his garage, which he generously donated to the cause.

Halfway through my deployment, we had a squad leader transfer to another platoon–so I called dibs on his ACOG to replace my Aimpoint CCO. The ACOG was a welcome upgrade while we patrolled the more rural areas of Iraq. I was able to find a used ACOG at a local shop that wasn’t too outrageous.

My issued PEQ2 proved more difficult to obtain. I thought of getting an Airsoft replica but decided it would be best to just go with a DBAL. That falls into the realm of “close enough.” After all, I do want this to be a gun that I will actually grab and use.

The old issued Surefire 951 light was great back in the day but damn if it isn't huge and heavy. As luck would have it, one day while I was on the way to the chow hall on Camp Fallujah I found a Surefire Scout light! Let this be a lesson to all why tie downs are so important. I swapped to this light to help save some weight and have continued to use one to this day.


The lower receiver I am using is by Anderson Manufacturing. I know, blasphemy for such a project. I just have not bit the bullet yet to buy a factory Colt lower receiver. I suspect one will be in my future as long as Brownell’s continues to keep them available.

In the meantime, the Anderson does have a horse on the side, so it counts right?


I dug my original Spec Ops Brand Mamba three-point sling out of a box and put it on. I had modified it back then to just be a two-point sling, which even with its simplicity is still much better than a three point. I should swap it out for a more user-friendly and advanced system like a Blue Force Gear but nostalgia gets the better of me.


It is easier to put together clone rifles today than ever. Brownells is an excellent resource for clone parts as well as forums and auction sites. FN now offers the Military Collector line, which includes several of the parts I listed. Colt has introduced a budget rifle- if the brand is more important to you. Both are great starting points for this type of build and should help bring back old memories or fill a gap in your collection.

If you're interested in such a venture, here's a price breakdown that includes MSRP, street price, and what I ended up paying. You may find that you have a number of the needed parts in a seabag someplace or have a friend that does. If your “good enough” is more particular than my “good enough,” some prices are going to change.


    MSRP Street Price Paid
Rifle LE6920-OEM1 $849.00 $750.00 $400 (upper only)
[Lower] Complete Lower [$160] [$130] $100.00
Rail KAC M4 Carbine RAS $248.74 $165.00 On Hand
Light Surefire M600 Scout $299.00 $200.00 $200.00
IR Laser DBAL- A3 Class 1 $1,239.99 $1,239.99 $1,239.99
Optic Trijicon ACOG TA-01 $1,250.00 $725.00 $750.00
Sling Spec Ops Brand $40.00 $20.00 On Hand
Sling Parts Colt Side Sling Swivel $46.00 $30.00 On Hand
Totals:   $3972.73 $3129.99 $2,689.99

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