Townsend Whelen once said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” Truer words have never been spoken. Occasionally we get a gun that’s not only accurate, but also brings a story and lineage behind it that makes you sit up and take notice.
Troy has been a well-respected member of the top-tier firearms community forever, so it was not an earth-shaking surprise when the company announced a new project that it was working on. Troy’s new “My Service Rifle” project is an endeavor with a scope unlike anything previously developed inside the firearms manufacturing world. The goal of the program was to recreate specific AR-style rifles that were critical to the history of the United States military. One of the first weapons unveiled in this series is the Troy XM177E2.
This new Troy XM177E2 was built as a replica of the guns introduced and used by U.S. Special Forces in the Vietnam War. Troy has taken great strides to meticulously recreate the carbine to exact 1967 military specifications. Coming in at only 30 inches collapsed and weighting just over 6 pounds unloaded, the Troy XM177E2 is a lightweight fighter.
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The original XM177E2 was specifically built for the covert combat needs of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) soldiers, and it’s become a U.S. special operations icon. As the son of a soldier who served in Vietnam and 30 years in total, this Commando rifle has always been a fascinating weapon to me. Like many people my age, I grew up seeing iconic images of the rifle, and it helped define the “coolness” of special operations soldiers of that era. To say that it is a collector-worthy piece is the understatement of a lifetime.
There are only a few minor differences between Troy’s XM177E2 and the original. This new gun is engraved with “PROPERTY OF U.S. GOVT.” as well as “XM177E2” and “CAL. 5.56 MM.” Another enjoyable part of the lower receiver is the inclusion of complete safety selector markings with safe, semi- and full-auto positions. To that end, the gun also includes a faux third pin found in full-auto guns. Of course, Troy has cut the interior of the receiver to preclude any home-based gunsmithing that would actually convert the gun to full-auto. The gun is also internally marked “Replica Semi Only.”
The look is realistic and period correct to the guns that were actually deployed. The upper receiver, with its fixed carry handle rear sight, and lower are made from an A2 forging, making them as durable as they are good looking. The upper and lower are both hardcoat anodized, film coated and lined as per military specifications of the time. This is the same finish used on the original rifles. The internals of the gun are quality commercial-style parts, including a standard AR-15 bolt carrier group.
Something that speaks volumes about Troy’s commitment to keeping this gun as authentic as possible is the pistol grip. These are actually original military- surplus grips, and they will be included as long as Troy’s supply lasts.
The 12.5-inch barrel has a mil-spec profile with a pinned and welded “moderator” muzzle device. The moderator was originally designed to slightly dampen the sound of the gun. At the same time, a set of baffles kept pressure up inside the gun to help ensure reliable functioning. The device included in the Troy XM177E2 is a hollow replica, yet it once again adds to the overall aesthetics. In fact, the BATFE has listed the original moderators as suppressors, making their inclusion on this rifle next to impossible. The base of the moderator also includes a grenade launcher ring in case you happen to have a 40mm M203 grenade launcher sitting around your house somewhere.
The barrel has a 1-in-12-inch twist rate and is chrome lined internally and Parkerized externally. The plastic handguards come with a single internal heat shield. The sights consist of a period-correct, A1-style front post and the aforementioned carry handle rear sight. One last item that stands out is the aluminum two-position buttstock. Coated black, it harkens back to a time when metal was the standard for hardware parts.
While rarely a noteworthy part of any review, the items included with this rifle caught my eye. It comes with both 20- and 30-round, GI-style, metal magazines; an OD green canvas sling; a cleaning kit; and a vintage 1967 rifle manual as well as a 1969 M16 rifle comic. This comic-style manual taught soldiers about their rifles and how to maintain them. I have seen copies of these around over the years, and it was pure genius for Troy to include one with the rifle. The sling is unique as well because it was the preferred version used by Special Forces. With paracord at both ends, these soldiers designed it to be quieter than the original sling issued with the guns.
XM177E2 Range Time
While the gun could rightfully be assigned a permanent space in a collector’s safe or wall cabinet, I found myself chomping at the bit to get some range time with it. I knew that this was as close as I would possibly ever get to shooting a gun similar to the ones carried by the best of the best in Vietnam. Unfortunately, my range terrain resembled the arid Middle East more than the tropics of Vietnam. But, a range is a range.
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Because this gun is not designed as a match rifle, I didn’t really focus on trying to get tiny five-shot groups at distance. I also did not chronograph the test ammo, but I suspect that the short barrel resulted in a 300-fps velocity reduction. However, the gun ran very well, with the 55-grain Federal American Eagle load leading the pack with a 1.25-inch five-shot group.
Following the bench session, I took the rifle for a spin around the range, shooting steel at distances from 50 yards out to 300. Once again, the XM177E2 ran like a champ. The lightweight fighter was a pleasure to shoot and functioned without any issues over 300-plus rounds. I came to appreciate all of the factors that made this rifle popular and effective. It is very easy to run and bring to bear. Even with the iron sights, the gun was accurate. As I said before, the rifle was never intended to be a sub-MOA benchrest gun. This is a “minute of man” weapon, and it was designed to serve in a harsh, demanding environment.
It’s important to note that the motivation behind these guns is to honor those who carried them. With that, Troy has used the sales of the weapons within its My Service Rifle program as fundraisers for specific related charities. According to the company, “Immortalizing duty, sacrifice and honor, proceeds from each Troy XM177E2 will support the charitable efforts of the Special Forces Association and the Special Operations Association, as they commemorate fittingly the memory of those who have given their lives in defense of the Free World.”
At a recent event hosted by Troy, veterans that actually carried these weapons were presented with their own rifles. I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Troy’s Juliane Brayton about the event. To say her face lit up when she spoke would be an understatement. She expressed the honor she felt by being present for the ceremony and being able to support charities that help those who protect our freedom.
According to Juliane, “The total contribution from the 2016 My Service Rifle program sales exceeded $25,000.” Troy was also privileged to discuss the XM177E2 with Special Forces combat veteran John Stryker Meyer. On the Troy website, Meyer has shared several photos in his collection that include the XM177E2. At the end of the day, Troy’s program is a fantastic role model for the rest of the industry.
All in all, the Troy XM177E2 was a pleasure to work with. It’s a throwback that would serve as well today as it did 50 years ago, and Troy has done a great thing by giving back to those who gave us so much. The company’s My Service Rifle program has been a success, and Troy is already moving forward on other guns that are built around specific events in history.
Caliber: 5.56mm NATO
Barrel: 12.5 inches
OA Length: 30 inches
Weight: 6.1 pounds (empty)
Sights: A1 front, carry handle rear
Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
Finish: Black, gray
Capacity: 20+1, 30+1
This article was originally published in “Tactical Weapons” August/September 2017. To order and subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.