Many different weapons have been pressed into service by the American military and other military personnel around the world in the last hundred years. One of the most popular in the modern era is the M16 rifle, also called the Rifle, Caliber 5.56mm, M16, which is almost identical to the civilian AR-15 rifle.
The M16 is adaptable to three automatic versions, focusing on semi-, three-round burst, and full-automatic firing methods.
Since 1970, the military has considered the M16 their standard weapon due to its efficiency, reliability, durability, and effectiveness, although the M4 carbine has been used as a supplement for the last three years. However, it is not just the go-to weapon for the U.S. military, but also for many different military forces and militant groups all over the world, with over eight million weapons produced to date.
Original Design and Manufacture
Plastic, steel, and aluminum alloy (7075) are used to build the M16’s components, with receivers using the aluminum alloy, steel for the barrel, bolt carrier, and bolt, and the plastic comprising the hand guards, buttstock, and pistol grip. Considered a lightweight weapon for its time at about 6.5 pounds, the M16’s newer adaptations are still considered lightweight for their style at about eight pounds now.
The barrel is designed with the ultimate accuracy in mind, making it an ideal weapon for combat purposed all over the world and in many different ecosystems and environments. The m16’s ergonomic design makes it popular for gunsmiths and gun enthusiasts of all ages, and it is designed for ultimate comfort.
The first M16s saw use in the field in the 1960s for American military personnel, along with the Army’s XM16E1 (a similar weapon, later called the M16A1). Improvements and modifications to the earliest versions of these weapons led to the development of others within the first few years. These included a forward assist option and similar options, and the Army released the weapon to troops starting in 1964 with these modifications. The M16A2 version requested by the U.S. Marines was disseminated starting in 1980, and began to see larger order scales by the late 1980s.
Different Versions and Modifications
Beside the M16A1 and M16A2, there have been several other versions of this weapon used by the military throughout the years as they became available. Many are simply modifications of prior versions, with adjustments and adaptations based upon need, desire, or demand. Keep in mind that these were primarily designed with the U.S. military in mind though, and it can be very difficult to get permission to build or own a weapon such as this for the average gunsmith/gun enthusiast.
- M16A3: used by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard divisions, classified in the same category as the M16A1 regarding the fire control group. This includes both automatic and semi-automatic firing options, but note that the A2 replaced the A1 as far as the upper receiver went around 1995.
- M16A4: U.S. Marine Corps standard issue after 2004, replacing the M16A2. It stands as a supplement, along with the M4 carbine, for the M16A2 as standard issue for the Army as well. It has the M4’s flat-top receiver, four-rail hand guard, and the ability to mount accessories such as forward handgrip, night vision capability, removable handle, laser, flashlight, or sight.
In addition, the M16 inspired weapons for many years to come, including the Colt Model 733, MSSR rifle, Norinco CQ, and the M231 Firing Port Weapon. Other nations have adapted features modified and first innovated by with M16 as well, so when building this weapon keep its adaptability in mind. It is very easy to modify the weapon and wind up creating something totally unique or only loosely resembling the original design.
Legality of the M16
The M16 is considered a fully-automatic weapon, and therefore difficult to obtain licensure for the average gun owner. However, with a lot of money and work the weapon can be adapted to create a semi-automatic mode that is legal in the United States. One cannot purchase a weapon like this off the shelf, it must be built or created from scratch using blueprints such as the ones included.
Nevertheless, it is worth the effort to own a weapon that is fully automatic so long as the owner has the proper license. Many states have bans on assault rifles and similar weapons, but a few permit them with the right type of license (often called something such as a High-Capacity Weapon license), applicable fees and registration, and so on.
Some conflicting information states that a federal license is available for those who wish to register and purchase an assault rifle such as the M16, but it costs upward of $600. A few websites claim that this license is fake or no longer valid, while others have members who claim to pay the fee and enjoy the benefits. It is definitely worth looking into for those who hope to own this type of weapon someday to avoid jail time, monetary penalties, and much more on occasion.