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Colt AR-15 Box Colors

 

1963 - 1966
1966 - 68/69
1970 - 1984
1984 - 1989
1989 - 1990
1991 -
Plain Box
Tan Label
Tan Label
Green Label
White Label
Blue Label
 
1985 - 1992
Yellow or Gold Label
Large Hole Lower Large Hole Lower Large Hole Lower Large Hole Lower Small Hole Lower Small Hole Lower
Three Prong Flashider Three Prong Flashider Birdcage A1 Birdcage A2, other A2 features come into product line at various points. Raised fence and magwell mods on lower, milspec firecontrol pins. No bayo lug,
1992 DIAS Block,
1993 large hole fire control parts

 

From John M, as posted to the AR15.com board

I first put out a color /history of the labels that to be honest was very biased. It was based loosely on fact but more appropriately on opinions offered and comments from those helping with my fact gathering. This in no way makes it factual and in some ways hurts what was meant to aid those in learning facts. I have asked several people, who are and have been, excellent sources of invaluable information for their help in determining the correct dates of transition and periods of time that pertain to these labelís and color of these labels. They are the true Colt experts. I simply wish to ensure that what is available to help you determine what is true is indeed that. With that being said here is what has been determined as correct from this date and please accept this as truly well intended and not led to misinform you.

" Colt AR15ís first shipped in plain cardboard boxes with no apparent label at all. On the side were hand written the serial number and model number. The model number 6000 was the only semi auto production numbered weapon from 1964 until 1978. A small white sticker with the model number was introduced early on and I guess that makes it the start of what we now term as "labeled" Coltís. Several people have stated that in the latter 70ís, and from my first memories of seeing my first AR15 in 1973, the side of the brown cardboard box had a "Tan" colored label. I had first reported that Colt had dark labels late in the 60ís. This is not true. The appearance of a colored label/ ID tag starts in the 60ís but it is white and has no factory logo on it. The tan color seems to have come in the 70ís and stuck around until the change to what we call the "Green" label series. The Green label appears to begin with the M16A2 series sent to the US Marine Corp. and the US Army in 1984. It also becomes attached to the AR15 series at this point. Colt changed the color of the labels in 1990 to distinguish a newer type. The Sporter series. This "Blue" label weapon was born to separate the new series because they were to have different features than the Green labels and this would allow them to be shipped to states banning those ARís with green label features. The "Yellow" label has typically identified the Colt custom shop. They can be found throughout the 80ís and the 90ís. The "White" label is a rare model. When Colt was having deep financial problems in the late 80ís, they had lost the M16A2 contract to FN, they had a lot of parts left over from their DOD contractís. They started producing a limited run of "combo" labels, if that is an appropriate term, that had Blue label AND Green label features. These are what are known as "White" label guns. They supposedly shipped with a white tag/ id label that separated them from their earlier green label cousins. I remember reading an American Rifleman magazine, from 1990/91?, that had an article about one. The story writer/editor wanted to have a bayonet lug put on his AR15. It had a "semi" M16 production line lower, small front take down screw/pin, standard diameter fire control pins but lacked the bayolug. The white labels are pre blue label but post green label. They start in 1989 and seem to be made for less than a year. Colt has stuck with the Blue label now for 10 years."

Lets hope they keep this color for awhile longer. If not this FAQ section will continue to grow with the changes. I would like to thank Stokes, Sterling and those wishing to remain anonymous for their help with this information.

 

Last Modified on December 31, 1999
aalbert@biggerhammer.net