The AMD 5.56 Carbine

By Jean Huon

The AMD 5.56 carbine is an American rifle 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, it is 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 not occupied by the Germans. After the arrival of the Allied Forces 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 regarding the roughness of its methods. To assist the regular police, three special units of policemen were organised to assist the city police.

In 1941, the French police were completely reorganized and on July 7, 1941, a new unit was formed: the Groupe Mobile de Réserve (or GMR). They were developed to avoid rioting in the cities, but were also employed after autumn 1943 to research Resistance groups by the Vichy government.

Historical research showed that the GMR were not very busy with this project. That anti-Resistance work was by the Germans or the French Milice (aka Milice de Vichy), a political/paramilitary police force dedicated to the orders of 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 assimilated former GMR and Resistance fighters, after a selection process. It was absolutely necessary to avoid any questionable people.

The CRS were immediately integrated in the armed forces and they fought against the German entrenchment on the Atlantic Ocean shore and in the East of France.

The unit was reorganized several times. The units were first used to secure the country during several strikes and restlessness in France just after WWII. 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 CRS duties are:

• highway city police and traffic safety;
• safety on roads, mountains and seashore;
• security and anti-riot units.

Size of the units are approximately 14.000 people.


Each company is between 100 to 150 people, including 4 officers and 20 to 30 NCOs.


Over a long time, CRS received old small arms discarded by the Army:

• P 38 and MAC 50 pistols and recently SIG-Sauer SP 2022;
• Lanchester, MAS 38 and MAT 49 submachine guns;
• Mauser K98k rifles, Mannlicher-Berthier M1916 carbines and AMD 5.56;
• Chatellerault light machine gun (not in use since 1975-1980);
• Various materials such as tear 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, chose to replace the Mannlicher-Berthier M 1916 carbine. At this time, it was already a collector’s gun! Developed in 1890, it was not able to be an effective anti-riot tool, no contemporary cartridge was available (the last brand was produced in 1950) and no spare parts were available.

Firing could be done only with a 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 1970’s, 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 was on, and the FAMAS had not replaced the MAS 49-56 and the MAS 36 was kept to fit out reserve troops (several hundreds of thousands of rifles).

So that request was denied. Then 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 had trials in 1977 with 18 semi-auto or full auto shoulder arms, including:

• M 1 and M 2 carbines;
• MAS 49-56 in 7,62 mm NATO, with 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.

The first issue was the choice of a new cartridge. The .308 Win/7.62x51mm NATO, was considered too powerful for urban use. Then, the choice went to the 5.56x45mm. That was logical because the French Army had chosen this cartridge for the future assault rifle program in August 1970.

In case of a crisis, the CRS could receive cartridges from the Army. Approximately at the same period a new gun was developed by Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc., the Mini-14, which looks like a reduced sized M14.


It was designed by L. James Sullivan and William B. Ruger and the first model was sold in June 1973. The size is near to the M1 carbine, but it fires a more powerful cartridge. The rifle was based on the M14, with a bolt system similar to the Garand’s.

Various models were developed:
• stainless steel construction;
• fixed or 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), semi-auto 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;
• XG1, developed in 1985 in .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester, which never entered production;
• MINI-14 NRA, limited edition (2008), with polymer stock and 16.25” barrel;
• MINI-6.8, chambered for the 6.8 x 43 cartridge;
• MINI-14 BOA, bolt action only;
• And many others
• The MINI-14 and other variants are used by police or military forces of several countries in the world: Argentina, Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, France, Great Britain, Haiti, Honduras, Hong-Kong, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, United States, Venezuela and others.

AMD 5.56

The Mini-14 was presented to the Home Office by Humbert, the dealer in France for Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. The carbine was immediately appreciated for its excellent balance between weight and power. The manufacturer did accept some modification regarding the French Police requirement and also agreed to the fact that the gun could be assembled in France.

The model retained was designed by the Police Armament Bureau (BAMD) after some improvement.

The new gun was finally derived 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 per a rounded L shape lever;
• No bayonet lug, nor flash suppressor;
• 5 shots magazine used during riot control, holds a plastic stub to cover the floor plate;
• Side-mounting 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. Inside the forend there is a sheet metal stamped U-shaped part. The butt plate is made of rubber. The first model with front position sight had a wooden hand guard, later replaced by a plastic ventilated hand guard on models with a rear position sight. The stock and hand guard were of walnut and made in France, with squared grip and forend.The barrel is in .223 caliber, with six right-hand twist grooves, one turn in 10”. Its rear part is covered by a hand guard assembled to the barrel with an elastic open collar.The receiver has smooth sides and is open at 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 roller to make friction easy with the cocking handle when it opens. Extractor is at top. The striker passes through the bolt and has no return spring.The cocking lever with a half moon button is assembled with bolt carrier by welding. Gas cylinder is very short and works directly on the bolt carrier without piston.Most of the metallic parts are made of milled steel from moulded elements.

The trigger mechanism is of light alloy, it is made of the trigger, sear, hammer and safety. The safety is a flat lever inside the trigger guard, with “safe” in the rear position, it locks the hammer and blocks the trigger finger from entering.The trigger guard is steel and it locks the trigger mechanism in its housing.This carbine has a selector which permits semi-auto, 3-shot burst or full auto. The full-auto position is locked during normal service. It is accomplished with an automatic sear and a disconnector.The front sight is triangular without any edged part and rear sight is an aperture, with click windage and elevation screws: one click for a 4cm (1.55”) displacement of the aiming point at 100m (109.4 yards).Some models had a Leupold 4x scope (or other models) as well as light intensification / or night vision scope.Five or twenty round magazines are used by the French Police, but the 30 round magazine is usually not.

This description is about the AMD 5.56 M1 used by the French Police which had 6000 carbines assembled by Humbert. Most of them are used by the CRS. Some others were also used by special police forces but are now withdrawn.


AMD 5.56 mm

Calibre: 5.56 mm (.223)
Ammunition: 5.56 x 45
Overall length: 946mm (37.2”)
Barrel length: 470mm (18.5”)
Weight: 2.9 kg (6.4 lbs)
Magazine capacity: 5 or 20 round


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.


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 peculiarities:

• Firing selector removed;
• Handmade walnut oiled stock, with SSMI escutcheon and letters R.F. (French Republic) engraved under the fore end;
• Walnut floor plate;
• Metallic parts are matte nickel plated;
• Leather sling.

Twenty-two carbines were made, 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 the Ministry of Justice for prison guard. It is an AMD 5.56 without selector, it kept the hook cocking lever of the Mini-14. On the left side of the receiver is a mount developed by Humbert to fit a Trijicon sight.

Two thousands specimens of this gun were delivered to the Administration Pénitentiaire (Penitentiary Office). They were replaced in 2008 by HK G36 assault rifles.


The AMD 5.56 is a gas action with a piston. Operation works like others automatic weapons fed by box magazine.


• 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 off the bolt.
• Withdraw the hand guard from the barrel.
• The reassembly is carried out in the reverse order.


The AMD 5.56 carbine is used now for 35 years. Was it really the best law enforcement tool? Without doubting its qualities, this author says: Probably not:

• This gun is not designed for violent confrontation with demonstrators, the robustness of the buttstock does not allow it;
• tear gas grenades with a rod cannot be used, so the CRS uses other materials, such as K98k and U.S. Enfield M1917 converted to tear grenade launcher with a V.B. type (Viven-Bessière) accessory, MAS 36-51 with V.B. launcher and now Alsetex Cougar.

It is an efficient carbine for shooting, but some mechanism parts wear. Gunsmiths use three tools to verify the headspace:
• GO;
• NO GO;
• Field.

Guns with an excessive headspace had to be repaired at the factory.


Jean-Louis COURTOIS.
Christophe BANNIER.
Patrick JOUGIT.
Patrick MORVAN.
And others…

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N3 (April 2017)
and was posted online on February 17, 2017


Comments have not been generated for this article.