One of the recent hot-topics in the Colt collecting community has been Colt eliminating some of their production marks on their AR-15 rifle components. The vague history of the different marks (forge marks on upper receivers, markings on the top of barrels, ‘F’ marks on front sight bases, etc) have had their roots in either DoD contract requirements or some other manufacturing necessity. Today, I am going to briefly touch on the most visible change of recent and that has been the elimination of the ‘F’ on the front sight base as seen in the photo below.
At one time Colt was producing flat top (picatinny rail on the top of the upper receiver for a detachable carry handle, optics, etc.) AR’s and AR’s with fixed carry handles at the same time. The specifications for a front sight base for a flat top rifle is different from a front sight base that is put on a rifle with a fixed carry handle. See illustration below. There is a .04 inch height difference. In order for the proper front sight base to get put on the correct rifles, Colt was marking front sight bases for flat top rifles with an ‘F’.
Now that Colt is no longer making rifles with fixed carry handles, there is no longer a need to put an ‘F’ on the front sight bases because only a single type (specification) of front sight base is being used in production. People don’t like the mark no longer being there but the reality is, that little ‘F’ mark no longer serves a purpose. Continuing to include the ‘F’ mark on front sight bases equal additional production cost and man hours. Colt has to continually streamline their operations to minimize cost and improve efficiency. As much as we hate to acknowledge it, maximizing profits is necessary for all successful businesses.
In short, I support what they are doing to modernize Colt production and keep the company successful. As with everything in life, things change. We may not like it but I would rather they modernize operations, remain profitable and keep producing rifles than close their doors. They cannot stay stuck in an old production model trying to keep a few of us happy that are not their primary income stream.
I tried to keep this simple and not bury people in a lot of details or technical speak. I will do posts about other discontinued marks in the near future. If you have additional information or comments, please join the discussion.