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US M16 5.56mm Rifle

  • The Vietnam War
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

The US Model 16  5.56mm Rifle was first deployed with American Forces during The Vietnam War (1965-1975). Seen as a replacement for The Model 14 Rifle, it was touted as being more effective and better suited for Jungle Warfare. The standard NATO 5.56mm (equivalent to a .223 Cal. Round), provided little recoil (seen as imperative).  Designed mostly of Plastic (with critical components made of Metal), The Model 16 Rifle was first envisioned in 1956 (but The US Government was not interested). The Armalite Company sold it's Patent to The Colt Firearms Company (who redesigned it). The US Army became interested in The Rifle in early 1964.

 

Weighing just 8-pounds, it was one of the smallest of America's battle rifles. It was also the smallest at just 40-inches (20 of which was barrel).  A gas operating, rotating bolt weapon, it was effective from 600 to 1,000-yards. It originally featured a cyclic rate of 12 to 15 rounds per minute. However, with battlefield use, certain flaws were found. First, the rigors of Jungle warfare  (and climate), caused the weapons bolt and therefore cyclic rate, to jam. Also, rounds could could only be fired as fast as a Soldier could "squeeze the trigger".

 

The first correction, was a redesign known as The Model 16A1. In this, a "Forward Assist" actuator was installed to allow one the ability to reseat a jammed bolt. Further, a "Automatic Sear" switch was installed. This gave the Shooter the ability to use a 3-round selected burst or - full automatic fire capabilities. In this mode, 30 rounds could be discharged within 30-seconds. Issued with a 20-round ammunition clip, the more popular 30-round version (nicknamed The "Banana" Clip), was preferred. The M1A1 was also given an over the barrel, 6-inch Bayonet. The Model 16 was met with some resistance by Soldiers. One either "loved it or hated it". Nonetheless, The Model 16 and it's many variants, is the most produced Military Rifle in The World  (with over 8 Million produced).