Tactical Tailor

BCMGUNFIGHTER History – Pt 3 – Kyle Defoor


It happened around 1994.

We were finally given approval to use a carbine for CQB (Close Quarters Battle) versus the H&K MP5 submachine gun that we had worked with exclusively up until that point. The MP5 had been the weapon of choice for CQB by the British SAS and both Army and Navy Special Operations Forces were heavily influenced by how the Brits had run their operations. But after studying the performance in the field, from special operations in Vietnam to the hostage rescue mission at Princess Gate, the decision makers in the US realized that a rifle caliber was needed, even at CQB distances inside rooms.

Put simply, a shoulder fired weapon shooting a pistol caliber round was not regarded very highly, and no one had the confidence to actually take it on a real mission. To this end, during Operation Just Cause (Panama) and Operation Gothic Serpent (Somalia), both The Unit and The Command deployed with highly modified CAR-15s. Experiences there cemented the utility and lethality of what would become the one of the most effective assault weapons of all time.

I remember being issued my M4, very clearly. Our “new” carbines weren’t really that new on the inside, but they featured a few game changing modifications that would improve the lethality of the weapon over the CAR-15s we had been using to that point.

One of the things most of the guys did, was to take a hacksaw and cut the removable carry handles down to create a bomb-proof fixed rear iron sight. This made room for the literally brand new “red dot” mounts that attached directly to the 1913 Rails on the upper receiver. One of the less than stellar side effects of having a fixed carry handle carbine was that any optics had to be mounted on top of the carrying handle giving the shooter a chin weld versus a solid cheek weld. Mounting optics this way also rendered the iron sights useless as they were obscured by the optic mounts. (I still laugh that companies are still making the same rear iron sight today that we “invented” by chopping the carry handle.)

The plastic hand guards were replaced with a 7 Inch 1913 Picatinny Rail System built by the Knights Armament Company. The 1913 rails allowed us to attach a light and a PEQ-2 laser without hose clamps, safety wire and duct tape. The rail system also allowed us to attach a Knights Armament vertical fore grip to the carbine which lined up with the MP5Ks we had trained with for so many years prior. What we also figured out was that the use of a vertical for grip on a 7 inch rail made it way easier for the shooter to manipulate their light and PEQ-2 laser.


It wouldn’t be until years later, with the HK 416’s 9 inch rail, that guys were able to start going without a vertical fore grip because the extra 2 inches of handguard created enough space for laser and light to be activated without any unnatural contortions of the arms and hand.

Finally, Knights also made the flash hider that would accept their first ever successful quick detach suppressor. While these suppressors added several inches to our 14.5″ M4s, we ran them 100% of the time, because of the advantage they gave us in terms of muting the sound and flash signature.

Still, it would be another year before we took delivery of the first Surefire 6P in an ARMS mount and an Aimpoint Comp M2 paired with either an ARMS or Wilcox mount, depending in where you worked. It was at this point, that we finally had one gun to do-it-all.

Not long after, we were deployed to Sarajevo, snagging war criminals and taking them to The Hague for trial. With a few dozen missions under our belts, we started eyeballing a shorter version of the gun, specifically driven by our constant use of suppressors that made the M4s unwieldy for use in the low visibility and CQB missions we were tasked with.


When we got back, we started working with Crane and the Shorty M4, as it was called by the guys in The Command, was born.

10.3″ Barrel with 1:7 Twist
Carbine Length System
Improved Buffer
Knights Armament RIS (7″)
Standard Front Sight Tower
Cut Down Rear Carrying Handle
Knights Armament Vertical Fore Grip
Aimpoint Comp M2
Wilcox Aimpoint mount
Surefire 6p with Wilcox mount
Boonie Packer 2 Point Adjustable Sling (who else remembers that!!!!)

This is the gun that both Tier 1 units originally took to war before the 416. It was the first real rifle caliber gun that we had been issued that worked well for a commando mission. Compact, light, easy to load in vehicles, easy to jump and overall a better CQB weapon which was our primary tasking.

This set up has killed a metric ton of bad dudes.

In my opinion, this is the gun that won the war. This is what we had when we figured out how to do assaults, ambushes, reconnaissance and just about everything else we had to do in Afghanistan.

Over gassed? Check. Needs more lube than a typical M4? Check. Sucks for getting dirty when shooting with a suppressor? Double check. But nothing is perfect.

The IR filters for our flash lights required duct tape to stay in place on our 6P lights and the QD suppressors required duct tape to stay attached to the barrel. On the old Aimpoints, we had to even duct tape the on/off knobs to prevent them from falling off. We ran out of barrel caps and had to duct tape the barrels to keep dirt out during helo operations. The list goes on, but I’ll put it up against any modern weapon as long as it’s in the right hands. The carbine worked wet, it worked in the sand, it worked in the dirt, it worked at altitude and it shot out the 200 yards no problem.

This was not an Army Soldier’s carbine. It was not a Marine’s rifle. It was an Assaulters weapon, period.




38 Responses to “BCMGUNFIGHTER History – Pt 3 – Kyle Defoor”

  1. mike says:

    *slow clap*

    That was a great read!

  2. Awesome write up! How soon we forget the stories and karma behind our gear. Would be interesting to hear the birth of the 416 from the Dam Neck perspective.

  3. Mike Nomad says:

    Many Thanks for a great history lesson.

  4. tcba_Joe says:

    I’d love to see a book full of these types of stories.

    Sure there’s tons of info on the development of the AR, but I’d love to see more of the modern development with “modern” SOF, and how it was later accelerated through GWOT in addition through the development of the 416 to the newer requirement for the LVAW. Additionally, the use and development of peripherals such as RDSs, weapon lights, and laser systems.

  5. Correction here; Delta never used the Crane built Mk18 back in the day and Dam Neck had nothing to do with the initial development of the Hk416 – just an FYI for everybody since this thread was sent to me for my comment

    • Mike says:

      What did the Unit use at the time?

      • CB says:


        Where did Defoor say that Delta had Mk 18s or that DG developed the 416?

      • COL REMF says:

        He can’t say the weapon without violating his NDA, but during a meeting in his past he did reiterate Dr/COL Martin Fackler’s findings that 5.56 needed 14+ inches to generate a specific velocity for projectiles to fragment and deliver effective terminal ballistics with then available Hague-compliant ammunition (some paraphrasing from the original discussion, and he didn’t mention Fackler during the meeting)

    • Jeff Freeman says:

      That’s because the LAV helped develop the Hk416C. Need to put his face on the hunn-doe. That platform counted coup on OBL.

  6. SGT Dan says:

    +1 vote for “these need to be a book”.

  7. BAP45 says:

    Love these stories, Just reread the Scud hunter one the other day.

  8. Jon, OPT says:

    A metric ton is 1000 kilos, that’s about 15-20 skinny men.

    I would gander at a metric kilo-fuck-ton at least in the last decade, on top of the kilo-shit ton in the decade prior.

    Great write up, when I first got to Group the DA guys were still running those really long Holo sights on their M4 carrying handles, and the PAC-4C was still in use by some people. Now a private in the 4th ID is carrying what was once only fielded to the very pointy tip of the SPEAR.

    Jon, OPT

  9. ODG says:

    I was just stoked to get issued a rail on My state of the art M16 A4 in 2004 so that I didn’t have to velcro and zip tie my weapon light anymore. My.. how shooting turd bags for the last decade and half has spurred innovation!

  10. jw says:

    If this post is PT 3, and the post from JD Potynsky is PT 2, where’s PT 1?


  11. Matt says:

    great article! so how come the short 5.56 weapons went out of favor after vietnam for the mp5, only to come back again??

    • SSD says:

      Types of missions.

      • Matt says:

        Could you elaborate? i mean they already had 10″/11.5″ 5.56 rifles with red dots(Armson OEG) during vietnam. Now they use the 10.3″ 5.56 rifles with red dots on missions where they once used the MP5s. They already had the weapon they use now for the those types of missions. I know the reliability of the short 5.56 rifles wasnt what it is today. Or was it as simple as MP5s were what the SAS used, so thats what the US went to?

        • SSD says:

          Short and simplified answer is that it was about the mission. Tubular assaults, hostage rescue. There was concern for over penetration of the 5.56 round and nothing was as short and reliable as the MP-5.

  12. 404953C says:

    For those of you asking about a collection of these stories, BCM has something in motion. Look to SSD for updates down the line 🙂

    • SSD says:

      I am very stoked about this.

    • Tackleberry says:


    • AbnMedOps says:

      I hope they capture both the “story”, as well as the technical detail. Documenting this kind of information before everything is lost to the blur of bullshit and time is super important to historian and those who are hoping to extract actionable information and lessons learned form that history. Footnote the hell out of it (who/what/when/where, and NSN!) and provide citations for who said what (whenever possible). Photos too!

      Vast portions of the US Army’s history in OEF/OIF are not going to be credibly represented in official histories, because of some extremely short-sighted policies about deleting hard drives and shredding everything. Almost nothing was saved for the historians. Thankfully some individuals care enough to make a record of their piece of the pie!

      • SGT Rock says:

        This… ^ I can only imagine how many personal stories from warfighters have been lost to the annals of history or only become a bookmark in the larger scope of operations. There’s tons of examples of this throughout human history, so yes, this is something that needs to be documented and passed on.

    • Mono says:

      (Breathing heavily)

  13. Hubb says:

    Has anyone read the books SOG and Secret Commandos by Major John L. Plaster? I would like to see him team up with these special ops vets and write a book about some of these operations. Plaster has a great writing style and it would be great to read about this type of history.

  14. IR Filters for 6P flashlights…We’ve come a long way in such a short time in this department.

  15. RayForest says:

    When does Kyle get his BCM Gunfighter video???

  16. PJ2RESQU2 says:

    Can anybody comment on the Jeff Cramblit fiberglass modular forearms that preceded the KAC system?

  17. darkhorse says:

    Many people find interest in how items are developed and the “history” of said items- Most of what you have heard thru the grapevine is incorrect about who developed what, why said item has certain features etc.

    I’m not referring to this article or insinuating this article isn’t factually accurate.

    Tier 1 units are the only units “chartered” to develop items thru the RDT&E process. That process and the requirements that feed into that process has to be protected.

    What people fail to realize is that developed items are based on requirements that are sensitive in nature and that means there will never really be a book or article that truly is accurate because it would be giving up TTP’s etc.

    • AbnMedOps says:

      I’m OK with that, but it still needs to be documented. We have all kinds of historical write-ups which are classified. Too much blood, sweat, tears (and $) is invested to have those lessons learned go down the memory hole, and have to be painfully relearned down the road.

      • darkhorse says:

        It’s documented with SECRET SPECAT message traffic. From RDT&E program/effort kickoff, to a procurement message. It’s all documented. If you’re a clearance holder and assigned to USASOC, JSOC, or USSOCOM there should be no issues finding the message traffic.