Country of origin
Cyclic rate of fire
650 - 750 rpm
Practical rate of fire
40 - 100 rpm
20, 30 rounds
Range of effective fire
created 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 Armalite
Rifle 15, or AR-15 for short. It was based on the previous Armalite
AR-10 rifle, chambered for 7.62x51 mm ammunition. However the AR-15
was scaled-down, extensively modified and used a new 5.56x45 mm
(.223 Remington) ammunition. 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 due to financial problems all rights for the design of this rifle
were sold to a Colt company. Later Eugene Stoner, designer of this rifle, left
the Armalite company and
joined the Colt company. The Colt company made some modifications to
this weapon and in 1962 sent a batch of 1 000 AR-15
assault rifles to Vietnam for field trials and evaluation. In 1964 the
US Army and US Air Force
officially adopted this rifle as the M16. Shortly after this weapon
was adopted by the military, Colt introduced a semi-automatic only
version for civil customers and law enforcement forces and also used
the AR-15 trademark for this weapon. 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.
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
use weapon. Unfortunately the M16 can not match reliability of the famous
However the M16 has longer range and is much more accurate than AK-
type assault rifles.
production models of the M16 had a relatively short 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.
M16 rifles were fed from a box-shaped aluminum magazine, holding 20 rounds.
New 30-round curved magazines were introduced in 1970.
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.
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
improved version of the original M16.
It has been adopted by the US Army as a standard rifle in 1967.
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.
improved version, fitted with Picatinny-type rail instead
of the carrying handle, which accepts a variety of scopes. It comes
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.
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
M4 carbine. Currently the M16A4 is still used by support and
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