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The Little Known "CAR-60" by Rock Island Armory

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Just some information for the M60 guys here on the boards........

After the Vietnam War the M60 remained the primary medium Machine gun in the U.S. Military for decades.... As weapons evolved post-Vietnam, manufacturers were on a mission to improve the M60 and secure the military contracts that would follow.
Around 1983, Rock Island Armory introduced its "CAR-60" ... Which aimed to make the M60 shorter, lighter, and more maneuverable. They created a conversion kit / Upgrade kit which could be installed on any existing M60...These kits consisted of: Short fluted barrel, Forward pistol grip, Bipod that was mounted on the gas tube. The barrels were made from existing standard barrels which were cut down and fluted. The bipod was made by modifying a M14 Bipod. The forward pistol grip used an M16 grip which mounted to an adapter that slid over the gas tube.
These Kits were sold to the general public in fairly small numbers..... In 1984 the RIA CAR-60 appeared to be getting some attention. It was featured on the cover of the April 1984 issue of "Survival Weapons and Tactics Magazine" and included a lengthy write up in that issue.

While the CAR-60 addressed some of the issues with the M60, it fell short of addressing all of the issues..... In 1985, Saco Defense (the current US Mil supplier at the time) introduced the M60e3 Machine gun. The M60e3 would turn out to be a vastly superior option to the CAR-60. It was, and remains to be, the lightest variation of the M60 ever made.. The improvements made with the M60e3 would be:

- Pencil Barrel (both long and short) with carry handle mounted to it (no more mittens to change barrels)

  • Top cover reconfigured so the weapon could be charged with top cover closed
  • improved operating rod with secondary sear catch
  • improved drive rod (thicker) and drive rod spring (single strand as opposed to multi strand)
  • lightweight bipod which mounted to the gas tube
  • heatshield and forward pistol grip, lightweight furniture to decrease overall weight of the weapon

The M60e3 would go through rigorous military trials. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps would choose to upgrade all of their M60s to the M60e3. The Army and Air Force would reject the M60e3 and continue to use their standard Vietnam Era M60s. Based on speaking with many veterans of the time, the M60e3 was viewed as to "flimsy" and not as rugged as the standard M60. Which may have contributed to the Army and Air Force decision to not upgrade their guns.

With the introduction of the M60e3 and the 1986 ban on newly manufactured machine guns, The RIA CAR-60 would be discontinued. There is still some of the parts out there floating around. But they are very hard to find. When guys do find them, most don't know what they are or the story behind them.

Regardless of the project never securing any contracts, the work that Dave Reese and Rock Island Armory did during the 1980s is commendable. There is a lot of transferable M60s in existence today because of them.

Aaron - Mohnton, Pa

Link below to a transferable CAR-60 Which sold in 2022 for $82,250



The April 1984 Issue of Survival Weapons and Tactics:

CAR-60 Barrel and forward Pistol Grip:







Edited by Aaron in Mohnton Pa
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