|Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16|
From top to bottom: M16A1, M16A2,
|Place of origin||United States|
|Used by||See Users|
|No. built||c. 8 million|
|Weight||6.37 lb (2.89 kg) (unloaded) |
7.5 lb (3.40 kg) (loaded)
|Length||39.5 in (1,003 mm)|
|20 in (508 mm)|
|700–950 rounds/min cyclic sustained |
45–60 rounds/min semi-automatic
|3,150 ft/s (960 m/s) (|
|Effective firing range||550 m (601 yd) (point target) |
800 m (875 yd) (area target)
|Maximum firing range||3,600 m (3,937 yd)|
|Feed system||20-round detachable box magazine: |
0.211 lb (96 g) empty / 0.738 lb (335 g) full
30-round detachable box magazine:
0.257 lb (117 g) empty / 1.06 lb (480 g) full)
Beta C-Mag 100-round double-lobed drum:
2.20 lb (1,000 g) empty / 4.81 lb (2,180 g) full)
The M16 rifle, officially designated Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16, is a United States military adaptation of the
In 1964, the M16 entered U.S. military service and the following year was deployed for
In 1983, the U.S. Marine Corps adopted the M16A2 rifle and the U.S. Army adopted it in 1986. The M16A2 fires the improved
The M16 has also been widely adopted by other armed forces around the world. Total worldwide production of M16s has been approximately 8 million, making it the most-produced firearm of its 5.56 mm caliber. The
After World War II, the United States military started looking for a single automatic rifle to replace the
However, senior American commanders having faced fanatical enemies and experienced major logistical problems during WWII and the Korean War, insisted that a single powerful .30 caliber cartridge be developed, that could not only be used by the new automatic rifle, but by the new
The U.S. Army then began testing several rifles to replace the obsolete M1 Garand. Springfield Armory's T44E4 and heavier T44E5 were essentially updated versions of the Garand chambered for the new 7.62 mm round, while
The AR-10 featured an innovative straight-line barrel/stock design, forged aluminum alloy receivers and with
In the end the U.S. Army chose the T44 now named
The first confrontations between the
As a result, the Army was forced to reconsider a 1957 request by General
This request ultimately resulted in the development of a scaled-down version of the
After modifications (most notably, the charging handle was re-located from under the carrying handle like AR-10 to the rear of the receiver), the new redesigned rifle was subsequently adopted as the M16 Rifle. "(The M16) was much lighter compared to the M14 it replaced, ultimately allowing soldiers to carry more ammunition. The air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed assault rifle was made of steel, aluminum alloy and composite plastics, truly cutting-edge for the time. Designed with full and semi-automatic capabilities, the weapon initially did not respond well to wet and dirty conditions, sometimes even jamming in combat. After a few minor modifications, the weapon gained in popularity among troops on the battlefield."
Despite its early failures the M16 proved to be a revolutionary design and stands as the longest continuously serving rifle in American military history. It has been adopted by many U.S. allies and the
In July 1960, General
The damage caused by the 5.56 mm bullet was originally believed to be caused by "tumbling" due to the slow 1 turn in 14-inch (360 mm) rifling twist rate. However, any pointed lead core bullet will "tumble" after penetration in flesh, because the center of gravity is towards the rear of the bullet. The large wounds observed by soldiers in Vietnam were actually caused by bullet fragmentation, which was created by a combination of the bullet's velocity and construction. These wounds were so devastating, that the photographs remained classified into the 1980s.
However, despite overwhelming evidence that the AR-15 could bring more firepower to bear than the M14, the Army opposed the adoption of the new rifle. U.S.
In January 1963, Secretary McNamara received reports that M14 production was insufficient to meet the needs of the armed forces and ordered a halt to M14 production. At the time, the AR-15 was the only rifle that could fulfill a requirement of a "universal" infantry weapon for issue to all services. McNamara ordered its adoption, despite receiving reports of several deficiencies, most notably the lack of a
After modifications (most notably, the charging handle was re-located from under the carrying handle like AR-10 to the rear of the receiver), the new redesigned rifle was renamed the Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16. Inexplicably, the modification to the new M16 did not include a chrome-plated barrel. Meanwhile, the Army relented and recommended the adoption of the M16 for jungle warfare operations. However, the Army insisted on the inclusion of a
In November 1963, McNamara approved the U.S. Army's order of 85,000 XM16E1s; and to appease General LeMay, the Air Force was granted an order for another 19,000 M16s. In March 1964, the M16 rifle went into production and the Army accepted delivery of the first batch of 2,129 rifles later that year, and an additional 57,240 rifles the following year.
In 1964, the Army was informed that
In March 1965, the Army began to issue the XM16E1 to infantry units. However, the rifle was initially delivered without adequate cleaning kits or instructions because Colt had claimed the M16 was self-cleaning. As a result, reports of stoppages in combat began to surface. The most severe problem, was known as "failure to extract"—the spent cartridge case remained lodged in the chamber after the rifle was fired. Documented accounts of dead U.S. troops found next to disassembled rifles eventually led to a Congressional investigation.
We left with 72 men in our platoon and came back with 19, Believe it or not, you know what killed most of us? Our own rifle. Practically every one of our dead was found with his (M16) torn down next to him where he had been trying to fix it.
In February 1967, the improved XM16E1 was standardized as the M16A1. The new rifle had a chrome-plated chamber and bore to eliminate corrosion and stuck cartridges and other, minor, modifications. New cleaning kits, powder solvents and lubricants were also issued. Intensive training programs in weapons cleaning were instituted including a