The AMD 5.56 Carbine
By Jean Huon
The AMD 5.56 carbine is an American gun assembled in France and used by a branch of the French police named Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité or CRS.
In 1921, the French government organised a special military unit designated as the Garde Républicaine Mobile; a subsidiary of the Gendarmerie used for anti-riot control to assist the regular police and avoid the use of the army.
After the disaster of June 1940, these units were located in the South of France in the part of the country that was not occupied by the Germans. After the arrival of the Allies in North Africa in November 1942, all the French territory was occupied and the Garde Républicaine Mobile was dissolved.
After the riots in 1934 and strikes in 1937, the Garde Républicaine Mobile was not very popular due to the rough methods it embraced and used. So to assist the regular police, three special units of police personnel were organised to assist the city police.
In 1941, the French police were completely reorganized and on July 7, 1941, a new unit appeared: the Groupe Mobile de Réserve (or GMR). They were developed to avoid riots in cities, but were also employed after autumn 1943 to research Resistance groups by the Vichy's government. Historical research showed that the GMR were not very busy in this way. Executions were made by the Germans or the French Milice (aka Milice de Vichy), a politic/paramilitary police force dedicated to the orders of the Pétain’s government.
After the country was liberated, the GMR was dissolved on December 7, 1944 and one day later, the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité was created. They receive in their ranks, former GMR and resistance fighters after a selection process. It was absolutely necessary to avoid any people associated with the old regime.
The CRS were immediately integrated into the armed forces and they fought against the German entrenchments on the Atlantic Ocean shore and in the east of France. The troop was reorganized several times. The units were first used to secure the country regarding several strikes and restlessness in France just after WW II. At last, a cleanup took place within the units to exclude communist sympathizers. The CRS were also used in Algeria and later they were deployed for safety missions.
The size of the CRS units were approximately 14,000 people and their duties included highway city police and traffic safety; safety on roads, mountains and sea shore and security and anti-riot units. Each company is between 100 to 150 people, including 4 officers and 20 to 30 NCOs.
For an extended period of time, the CRS received old small arms discarded by the army that included P 38 and MAC 50 pistols and recently SIG-Sauer SP 2022; Lanchester, MAS 38 and MAT 49 submachine guns; Mauser K 98 k rifles, Mannlicher-Berthier M1916 carbines and AMD 5.56; Chatellerault light machine gun (not in use since 1975-1980); and various materials such as tears gas grenade launchers and rubber bullet guns (less than lethal).
A New Choice
After the dramatic “black spring” of May 1968, the Home Office, who managed all police forces, choose to replace the Mannlicher-Berthier M1916 carbine. At this date, it was already a collector's gun. Developed in 1890, it was not able to be an effective anti-riot device, no contemporary cartridge was available (the last brand was produced in 1950) and no spare parts were available. Shooting could be made only with small bore (.22 L.R.) converted from M1916 (or 1892 M16) guns made by Unique in Hendaye (Manufacture d'Armes de Pyrenees Françaises), but only 800 were made.
Then, at the beginning of the 1970s, the Home Office asked the Defence Ministry for the assignment or a loan of MAS 36 rifles. These robust rifles were particularly adapted for the CRS duties. But at this date, the Cold War still existed, and FAMAS did not replace the MAS 49-56 and the MAS 36 was kept to fit out the several hundred thousand reserve troops. Thus the request was denied.
Thus it was necessary to find a rifle or a carbine able to replace the old M1916 carbine for the CRS. The Police Small Arms Division conducted trials in 1977 with 18 semiautomatic or full auto shoulder arms, including: M1 and M2 carbines; MAS 49-56, barrelled in 7.62mm NATO, laminated stock and light alloy striker holder; AR-15; HK 33 F with rubber stock pad; B.A.R. FN .308 Winchester carbine; Remington 742 carbine, also in .308, etc.
The first issue was the choice of a new cartridge. The .308 Win/7.62mm NATO was considered too powerful for urban use. Then the choice went to the 5.56x45mm. That was logical because the French Army retained this cartridge for the future assault rifle program in August 1970. Then, in case of a crisis, the CRS could receive cartridges from the Army. In approximately the same time period in the U.S., a new gun was developed by Sturm Ruger & Co. that looked like a reduced sized M14 battle rifle and was named the MINI-14.
Designed by L. James Sullivan and William B. Ruger, the first model was sold in June 1973. The size is near to the M1 carbine, but uses a more powerful cartridge. The device is conceived from the M14 with a bolt system similar to the Garand's. Various models were developed:
- stainless steel construction;
- folding stock;
- AC 556, assault rifle with full auto capacity, solid wooden or plastic stock or folding stock, flash hider and bayonet lug;
- AC 556 K, short barrel and folding stock assault rifle;
- Ranch Rifle (1982), semiautomatic carbine with scope attachment, a modified gas system designed to reduce barrel vibration, and new iron sights;
- MINI-Thirty, chambered for the Russian 7.62x39 cartridge;
- Tactical Rifle, solid or telescopic stock and Picatinny rail on the fore arm;
- XG 1, developed in 1985 in .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester, it never entered production;
- MINI-14 NRA, limited edition (2008), with polymer stock and 16.25-inch barrel;
- MINI-6.8, chambered for the 6.8x43 cartridge;
- MINI-14 BOA, bolt action only;
The MINI-14 are used by police or military forces of several countries in the world including Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, France, Great-Britain, Haiti, Honduras, Hong-Kong, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, United States, Venezuela and others.
The MINI-14 was presented to the Home Office by Humbert, the dealer in France for Sturm Ruger. The carbine was immediately appreciated for its excellent balance between weight and power. The manufacturer accepted some modifications regarding the French Police requirement and also agreed that the gun could be assembled in France. The model retained was designed by the Police Armament Bureau (BAMD) after some improvements. The new gun derives from the AC 556, with selector:
- hook cocking lever was replaced by a ring and later by a half moon to avoid injury in case of confrontation with demonstrator;
- rear sight was an open U notch located just behind the receiver, quickly moved to the rear of the receiver to avoid hand guard fragility and made of an aperture with rounded cover;
- rounded front sight;
- magazine lock was replaced with a rounded L shape lever;
- no bayonet lug nor flash suppressor;
- 5 shot magazine used during riot control, holds a plastic stub to cover the floor plate;
- side fixed sling.
This model was finalized by Jean-Louis Courtois, Gabriel Nirlo, Patrice Poirson and Etienne Riffault from BAMD.
The one piece stock has a pistol grip and a short forend. It receives inside the forend a sheet metal stamped U shape part for heat protection. The butt plate is made of rubber. The first model with a front position sight had a wooden hand guard, later replaced by a plastic ventilated hand guard on models with a rear positioned sight. The stock and hand guard were of walnut and made in France, with squared grip and forend.
The barrel is .223 caliber, with six right hand twist grooves, one turn on 10 inches. Its rear part is covered by a hand guard assembled on the barrel by an elastic open collar.
The receiver has smooth sides and is open at the top for ejection of empty cases. The bolt is a cylinder with a flat top and two locking lugs – the right of which has a roll to make friction easy with the cocking handle when it opens. The extractor is at the top. The striker passes through the bolt and has no return spring.
The cocking lever with a half moon button is assembled with the bolt carrier by welding. The gas cylinder is very short and works directly on the bolt carrier without a piston. Most of the metallic parts are made of milled steel from moulded elements.
Trigger mechanism is of light alloy and consists of the trigger, sear, hammer and safety. The safety is a flat lever aside the trigger guard: when in the "safe" in the rear position, it locks the hammer and prevents the finger from entering above the trigger. The trigger guard is of steel and it locks the trigger mechanism in its housing.
This carbine has a selector that permits semiautomatic shooting, 3 shot burst of full auto. The full auto position is locked in normal service.
The front sight is triangular without an edged part and the rear sight is an aperture with click windage and elevation screws: one click for a 4cm (1.55-inch) displacement of the shooting point at 100m (109.4 yards).
Some models received a Leupold 4x scope (or other models) as well as light intensification / or night vision shooting scope.
Five- or twenty-round magazines are retained by the French Police, but the 30-round model is not. The magazine is introduced in a housing above the trigger guard.
This description is about the AMD 5.56 M1 used by the French Police that received 6,000 carbines assembled by Humbert. Most of them are used by the CRS though some were also used by special police forces but are now withdrawn.
Calibre: 5.56mm (.223)
Overall length: 0.946 m (37.2 inches)
Barrel length: 0.470 m (18.5 inches)
Weight: 2.9 kg (6.4 lbs)
Magazine capacity: 5 or 20 rounds
AMD 5.56 M1 Police
- folding stock model with wooden stock;
- folding stock model with plastic stock;
- short barrel model with flash hider and short barrel, front sight is located on the forward band, this model was not used by the CRS but by special police forces;
- model with Leupold 4x scope.
AMD 5,56 SSMI
Parade variation used by the Service de Sécurité du Ministère de l'Interieur (Home Office Guard). It was designed by Nicolas Jeannot in 2007 by the Lyon Police Small Arms Technical Center, with the following characteristics:
- firing selector removed;
- handmade walnut oiled stock, with SSMI medallion and letters R.F. (French Republic) engraved under the forend;
- walnut floor plate;
- metallic parts are matt nickel plated;
- leather sling.
Twenty two carbines were realized, 20 of them for the SSMI, one for the National Police Small Arms Bureau and one for the Lyon Police Technical Center. These weapons were first used for a ceremony at the Unknown Soldier grave in May 2007 at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
AMD 5.56 A.P.
Model made for the Ministry of Justice for prison guards. It is an AMD 5.56 without selector and it kept the hook cocking lever of the MINI-14. It receives on the left side of the receiver a mount developed by Humbert to fit a Trijicon sight. Two thousand specimens of this gun were delivered to the Administration Pénitentiaire (Penitentiary Office). They were replaced in 2008 by G36 assault rifles.
- Remove the sling.
- Remove the magazine and clear the gun.
- Cock the hammer and place the safety in the "On" position.
- Put a screwdriver or metallic rod in the hole at the rear part of the trigger guard and pull it.
- Remove the trigger guard.
- Remove the barrel-receiver group from the stock.
- Remove the recoil spring.
- Pull the charging handle to the rear, aligning the projection slide with disassembly notch on the receiver.
- Take out the bolt.
- Withdraw the hand guard from the barrel.
- Reassembly is carried out in the reverse order.
The AMD 5.56 carbine has been in use now for 35 years. Was it really the best law & order tool? Without doubt of its qualities, we say: Probably not – as this gun is not designed for violent confrontation with demonstrators for the robustness of the butt does not allow it and tear gas grenades with a rod cannot be developed. Thus, the CRS uses other materials, such as K98k and U.S. Enfield M1917 converted to teargas grenade launchers with a V.B. type (Viven-Bessière) accessory, MAS 36-51 with V.B. launcher and now Alsetex Cougar. While the gun is an efficient carbine for shooting, some mechanisms present wear. Gunsmith uses three tools to verify the headspace: GO; NO GO and Field. Guns with an excessive headspace had to be repaired at the factory.
(Thank you to the following for assisting in the preparation of this article: Jean-Louis Courtois, Christophe Bannier, Patrick Jougit, Arnaud Lamothe, and Patrick Morvan.)
|SUBSCRIBER COMMENT AREA|
Comments have not been generated for this article.