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Assault rifle


The M16 is considered as one of the best assault rifles in the world

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1967
Caliber 5.56x45 mm
Weight (empty) 2.89 kg
Length 986 mm
Barrel length 508 mm
Muzzle velocity 945 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 650 - 750 rpm
Practical rate of fire 40 - 100 rpm
Magazine capacity 20, 30 rounds
Sighting range 500 m
Range of effective fire 460 m


   It was designed by Armalite to meet the US Army requirement for a new assault rifle, chambered for a new intermediate cartridge. This rifle was designed by Eugene Stoner and designated as the AR-15. The first Armalite AR-15 rifles were delivered to the US Army for testing in 1958. Initial tests revealed some reliability and accuracy problems. In 1959 all rights for the design of this rifle were sold to Colt. Later the original designer of this rifle left Armalite and joined Colt. In 1962 Colt company sent a batch of 1 000 AR-15 assault rifles to Vietnam for field trials. In 1964 the US Air Force and the US Army officially adopted this rifle as the M16. Currently variants of this assault rifle are still in service with the US Military, as well as over 50 operators worldwide. It is still manufactured in USA, Canada and China.

   The US Army demanded for a very light weapon. So the M16 has a number of lightweight materials in order to save weight. It uses aluminum in place of steel, fiberglass construction in place of wood. Also it has an ergonomic design.

   The M16 is a gas operated, selective fire weapon, chambered for the 5.56x45 mm (.223 Remington) round. At the time of its introduction the M16 had many flaws, however many of them were fixed and this weapon is considered as one of the best assault rifles in the world. It is a reliable, accurate and comfortable to fire weapon, however it can not match reliability of the famous AK-47 or AK-74.

   First production models of the M16 had an effective range of only 450 meters. The main reason for this was an unstabilized bullet. Later models were adapted for a new round and have improved range and accuracy. One interesting feature about the M16 is its progressive design, as weapon's barrel is in the same axis with buttstock. This feature reduces muzzle climb and increases accuracy, as the recoil force is directed backwards, rather than upwards.

   The safety / fire mode selector switch is located on the left side of the receiver, above the pistol grip. It has three positions for "safe", "semi-auto" and "full-auto". A cocking handle is located at the rear of the receiver and does not reciprocate when the gun is fired. Ejection port is located on the right side.

   The original M16 rifles were fed from a box-shaped aluminum magazine, holding 20 rounds. New 30-round curved magazines were introduced in 1970.

   Standard adjustable iron sights of the M16 are of diopter type. Range adjustments are made by rotating a rear knob. First production rifles had a sighting range of 500 meters.

   This assault rifle has a solid buttstock. It is worth mentioning, that because of internal design this weapon can not be adapted for a folding stock. Alternatively a telescopic stock can be used.

   The M16 and its variants are compatible with the M203 40-mm underbarrel grenade launcher, mounted in place of the standard handguard. A knife-bayonet can be attached. Some types of flash hiders can be used to cut barbed wire by placing the flash hider over the wire and firing.




   M16A1 improved version of the original M16. It has been adopted by the US Army as a standard rifle in 1967;

   M16A2 a variant of the previous M16A1, adapted for a new SS109 5.56x45 mm standard NATO round. This assault rifle has a heavier barrel and different rear sight. After the Vietnam War the US military examined use of their M16 assault rifles in combat. It was determined that firing on full-auto past 3 rounds largely resulted in a waste of ammunition. So a full-auto firing mode was replaced by a 3-round burst mode. Ejection port of the M16A2 has a spent case deflector. The M16A2 has been adopted by the US Army in 1982 and by the US Marine Corps in 1983. Soon it became the standard-issue rifle. Even though the M16A2 was eventually replaced by newer -A3 and -A4 versions, as well as M4 carbines, a number of these assault rifles remain in service with all branches of US military;

   M16A3 improved version, fitted with Picatinny-type rail instead of the carrying handle, which accepts a variety of scopes. It comes with a detachable carrying handle with built-in sights Weapon's trigger mechanism has a semi- and full-auto modes only. Only a relatively small number of these assault rifles was adopted by the US Navy SEALs, US Navy Seabees, and some other units;

   M16A4 similar to the M16A3, however has a three-round burst mode instead of the full-auto mode. It was adopted by the US Marine Corps in 1998 as a replacement for their M16A2. It became a standard-issue USMC weapon and was widely used up until 2015, when it was replaced by a more compact M4 carbine. Currently the M16A4 is still used by support and non-infantry marines.

   M4 carbine, a shortened version of the M16A2, fitted with a telescopic buttstock. It was adopted by the US Army in 1994. Currently it is also a standard-issue weapon of the US Marine Corps.


Video of the M16 assault rifle

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