The Colt M16 is a select fire assault rife based from the AR15 design. It has been the standard issue combat assault rifle for the US Military since the late 1960s. It got its introduction during the Vietnam War where the US had a need to replace the aging M14. The main reason the US military wanted to replace the M14 was because they needed a lighter, fully-auto rifle to engage multiple targets much easier. The M16A1 used in Vietnam had a 20 round magazine. Today’s standard M16 versions use a 30 round magazine calibrated using 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition.
M16: Standard Service Rifle for the US Military
With the success of the M16 in Vietnam, the M16 family was expanded into numerously widespread versions, upgrades, and variants for various purposes within the US armed services. Future versions were adopted by multiple branches of the US Military and many are still in service today. These versions have also been adopted around the world, making the M16 and its variants the most used rifle using the 5.56x45mm caliber on the planet.
The M16 is a military version of the AR15 – a select-fire, gas-operated, rotating bolt, magazine feed rifle made by the American small arms company ArmaLite. It was developed by a man named Eugene Stoner who had a history in aircraft engineering. The designation “AR” stands for “ArmaLite Rifle” and not Assault Rifle like most people might think. The AR15 design was new and ingenious at the time on how it operated.
During the late 1950s, the US military was introduced to the AR15 and wasn’t interested in it at first due to it’s smaller caliber round. The Colt’s Manufacturing Company bought the rights from ArmaLite and manufactured their own version to civilians. It wasn’t until the start of the Vietnam conflict where US military officials slowly introduced the AR15 to special infantry units for testing. When these special units gave great praise to the AR15, US officials went into full production of their military version of the rifle – the M16.
The M16 had a rocky start during the beginning years of the Vietnam conflict and into full scale war. Jamming was a big issue which caused many soldiers their lives. Cleaning kits were issued to clean the rifles and methods were put into practice to prevent future jams. Small manufacturing production changes were also applied to fix jamming issues. This solved the majority of the problems soldiers were having with the first generation M16.
Through the rest of Vietnam, the M16 preformed admirably especially after the jamming issues. Since Vietnam, the M16 platform has expanded and has been used in every US conflict since.
Since Vietnam, the M16 has been the backbone of the US military infantry. Newer versions along with different variations have had widespread adaptation throughout the US military. The most common versions are listed below:
- M16A1: The Vietnam War version. 20 round magazine
- M16A2: Introduced in the 1980s. An upgraded model with a 30 round magazine and a limited 3 round burst fire mode
- M16A3: A fully auto version on the M16A2 model
- M16A4: Modified with a Rail Interface System to support weapon attachments; released sub versions which supported either burst fire mode or full auto along with the semi-auto mode
The M4 Carbine
The M4 Carbine is a shorter version of the M16. The original M4 carbine has a 3 round burst fire and the more popular M4A1 was outfitted with a full-auto mode. The M4 was approved to replace many M16s as the standard issue service rifle in 2015. Being an adjustable shorter version of the M16 with very similar performance, the M4 has been a preferred choice for soldiers in the field.
The civilian version of the M16 is the AR15. The AR15 started in civilian life before the M16 was introduced so the AR15 has more history being a civilian firearm longer than the M16. Many firearm manufactures have improved and created their own versions of the AR15 platform. Even now firearms created in AR15 platform are an extremely popular firearm type. It is one of the most accurate, reliable, and modifiable firearm types on the market. It is also widely sought after due to it’s wide range of use and functionality.
Today, the AR15 has created many forms of controversy because of the platform’s similarities with it’s military cousin – the M16. Most people that want the AR15 banned are confused on the differences between the two usually because of ignorance and the role AR15s have had in mass shootings.
Overall, the AR15 is a great hunting and self-defense weapon for civilian firearm owners. Learn to shoot one here.
- Caliber 5.56x45mm
- Overall Length 39.625 in
- Capacity 20 rounds
- Muzzle Velocity 3250 fps
- Rate of Fire 800 rpm
- Weight (empty) 6.55lb
- Caliber 5.56x45mm
- Overall Length 39.63 in
- Capacity 30 rounds
- Muzzle Velocity 3100 fps
- Rate of Fire 800 rpm
- Weight (empty) 7.5 lb
Vortex Optics SPARC Red Dot Sight Gen II – 2 MOA Dot
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