In 2018, we first reported of the U.S. Air Force equipping its airmen with a new carbine: The GAU-5A Aircrew Self Defense Weapon. Well, Air Force gunsmiths recently completed delivery of the new takedown M4-style carbine for pilots and air crews.

The carbine breaks down and stows under pilot ejection seats. The Air Force Gunsmith Shop delivered 2,700 of carbines, classified GAU-5A, chambered in 5.56mm.

Air Force Fields GAU-5A, Aircrew Self Defense Weapon

“We were asked to design a stand-off weapon that was capable of hitting a man-size target at 200 meters,” Richard Shelton, chief of the Gunsmith Shop, told “It disconnects at the upper receiver … and can be put together within 30 seconds if needed.”

The new takedown carbine comes via the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) Armament Directorate, according to The GAU-5A, also known as the Aircrew Self Defense Weapon, weights 7 pounds and utilizes iron sights. The weapon system, which cost $2.6 million, aims to increase aircrew survivability.

“The most rewarding part of my job is getting [small arms] through the shop and taking a weapon that has been beat up and heavily used, and returning it to the user practically brand new,” Shelton told “The other rewarding thing is when we work with the using community to develop specific weapons for a specific Air Force need.”

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