The M16 is prized for it's lightweight parts, it's reliability in the field, it's ability to be easily and quickly maintained in the field with minimal use of tools (all of which are used for cleaning, a full field stripping can be performed without tools), and it's accuracy. It also shares common parts with a large number of rifles, making it easy to replace parts. It also uses standard NATO 5.56x45mm rounds, making sharing ammunition with other forces easy.
The M16A2 was the result of the United States Marine Corps's combat experince in the Vietnam War. The M16A2 was designed to be resistant to damage in the field, hold up well under prolonged sustained fire, and encourageto encourage Marines to use proper trigger control.
The M16A2 is a gas operated, air cooled assault rifle intended to be an infantryman's primary weapon used to engage targets at ranges out to 800 meters.
- Length: 39.63"
- Weight: 8.79lbs (w/ 30 round magazine)
- Muzzle Velocity: 853m/s
- Rate of fire-
- Magazine Capacity: 30 NATO 5.56x45mm rounds
- Action: Gas operated, air cooled.
- Trigger Group: Safe, Semi, Burst
- Replacement Cost: $586
Improvements over the M16A1
Significant changes were made to the M16A1 to improve the effeciency and life span of the rifle.
The rear adjustable sights were replaced to allow for tool free range and windage adjustments using dials.
- The rifle's action was modified to replace the automatic fire function with a three-round-burst, which prevented poorly trained soldiers and Marines from using "spray and pray" tactics common in the Vietnam War. The US Army found that a 3 round burst provides an excellent balance of firepower, accuracy, and ammo conservation.
- The barrel was made thicker past the front post to prevent bending and increase the amount of time sustained fire could be maintained, while still allowing use of an under-slung M-203 Grenade Launcher.
- The muzzle was modified, closing the bottom of the flash suppressor to cut down on recoil and muzzle flash, as well as to prevent debris kicking up when the weapon is fired from the prone position.
- The rear stock was made slightly shorter and of much stronger DuPont Zytel glass-filled thermoset polymers, increasing it's strength by ten fold.
- The front grip was changed from a triangular shape to a round grip, which was found to be better for smaller hands.
- The rifling was modified to a 1:7 twist so as to accommodate trajectory-matched tracer rounds.
- As a result of the changes made and the heavier rounds being used, the muzzle velocity decreased to 2800 f/s.
The M16A2 is the basis for the M16A3 and M16A4 variants, as well as the M4 Carbine:
- The M16A3 is an A2 with an A1 trigger group, trading the three-round-burst for fully automatic fire. It was mostly used by Navy security and special forces, including SEALS.
- The M16A4 is the current generation of the M16, and is the standard issue rifle for many US Service members along with the M4. It is nearly identical to the M16A2, but with lighter parts and an improved rail system that allows for a more modular weapon system. As a result of this improved flat top receiver, a number of advanced optics systems such as ACOG and red dot sights can be attached to the weapon.
- The M4 Carbine is an M16A2 with a shortened barrel to be used in tight spaces and close quarters. It is generally used frequently by the US Army (where it is slated to replace the M16 rifle), and as a replacement for the M9 carried by Marine Corps officers and Navy Corpsmen E5 and below.
As Seen in Video Games
The M16A2 and it's variants are as common in modern military video games as they are in modern military across the world. However there are often significant differences between video game M16 variants and their real life counterparts.
Many shooters do not allow weapons to select different firing modes, and as a result they must designate a single firing action for M16 variants. For example the M16A4 in Call of Duty is a three round burst weapon only. Meanwhile the M4 Carbine is actually the fully automatic M4A1.
As well as limited firing modes, one does not see video games requiring you to adjust the rear sights to get a proper Zero, and often the seperate aperture used for long range engagement is only for show.
A number of games, from the Battlefield: Bad Company series to the Call of Duty franchise do make use of the M16's comparability with the M-203 40mm grenade launcher. In Bad Company this grenade launcher is used to great effect in blasting through thick brick walls of buildings to breach a structure, or potentially even bring it down.
In Bad Company 2 the weapon is shown to have a handguard designed for use with the M203 Grenade Launcher, which many games that make use of an underslung grenade launcher on the M16A2 don't display.