AR10, M16 and M16A1Rifles
If you have a story to add to this thread, please send it to David J. for posting.
First 5 Photo’s Courtesy of Steve DewhurstThe original AR10 of the late 1950’s
Note the three-prong flash suppressor and a bayonet lug under the barrel
The original AR10 partially field stripped.
Note the similarity to the later M16 rifle
The original Military issue M16 rifle (circa 1965) with no forward assist and with the original three prong flash suppressor
The M16A1 rifle with the forward assist and “bird cage” flash suppressor and 20 round magazine (1967)
The M16A1 rifle with 30 round magazine and a 40mm M203 grenade launcher (circa mid 1970’s)
Joe Bossi has asked for a survey of those Brothers who had a jamming problem with their 16 while in Nam. If you did experience a problem with your weapon please let us know. It would be interesting to know.
One of the problems is the troops not keeping the weapon clean, during Vietnam, the stories ran wild that the weapon was not worth a crap and jammed when you needed it. I was unlucky as the ones that I had never jammed also in Iraq, we have Two different systems the M-4 and the M-16, the high speed units have the M-4, SF,173rd ,82nd and the 101st,the other units still have the M-16, 1st Armored 1st ID and Support units the weapons still needs maintenance and most of the unit problems are as a result of poor maintenance, example the 407th that got ambushed, I would be interested in asking the brothers we have on line on how many had there rifles jam, what were they doing when was the last time before that the weapon was clean and did they have a cleaning road taped to the upper hand guard to use if the weapon jammed and last but not lease, did the weapon have its selector switch on Rock and Roll, all the time so that the ejector pin wore out because the weapon was always fired on auto.
When I was first assigned to my platoon I humped the 60. The gun was so well used it required much TLC to keep it going, so I spent a lot of time doing maintenance. I kept up the practice when I started carrying a 16.
To answer Joe’s questions more specifically it was SOP in A 2/327th (69-70) for each trooper to break down and clean his weapon daily while still maintaining security. Each 16 had a small hole bored into the hand guard so a cleaning rod would fit into it and a steel pot cover band secured the rod on the stock. I carried a number of different makes of the 16, even had a Colt for a short time but the best shooting one in my opinion was made by H & R.
In the flatlands on night ambush, my first magazine was full tracer and fired on Rock N Roll. I think all did the same. After the first mag I always flipped to semi and conventional loaded mags.
Never did I have a misfire or a jam…
Good shots of the M16 history. Some 101st background. Do not remember the unit, but the 101st found a cache of some of the first M16 ever sent to VN. As you can see by the purple stocks, later black, these were the first to be shipped. I believe they found out that these were to be shipped to the Air Force, but did not make it.
The cache was complete and untouched new, still wrapped, M16. I believe there was about 50 or 60 found. Everyone wanted a “Purple” stock M16, but they were whisked away very fast.
This was in the Duc Pho AO.
Thanks for the pictures and history. I think you ought to know that the 101st Airborne Division was issued the M16 in September of 1964. We were told at the time this was because we had defeated the 82nd Airborne Division at our annual war games in California. We became “Strak one” due to this accomplishment. The 101st Airborne Division deployed to Viet Nam with this rifle. I was reassigned to an Aviation unit and deployed to Viet Nam with a M14 rifle.
And to answer Joe’s question, any weapon will jam if it is dirty. I never fired fully automatic, except in practice. And yes, firing pins do wear out. My buddies in the 101st complained that the M16 jammed when it had sand in it. Duh! They also had their weapons taken away for a while after a firefight with the 0 deuce, first night in country. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. “We were young….”
I also received more pics from Steve (Dew) of a CAR 15 and 2 more assault rifles questioning whether or not these weapons were used in country. I told him I thought the CAR 15 was a prototype of the M16 and I never saw the other two anywhere. Can anybody shed any light on this? I am attaching photos of the assault rifles.
Here is some info on the XM177E1 I have another page if anyone wants it.
Saw the CAR being issued to Platoon leaders early 67 I believe. We teased them about carrying “Mattells” instead of real rifles.
The picture looks like the AR15 and I remember some of our officers carrying them. Most of us wanted to get one but there weren’t enough available.
We had a plt. leader killed in a firefight, his CAR was captured by the enemy. Several days or weeks later we recaptured the same weapon. I wish I could remember his name, but I do remember feeling good that we got it back. It felt like we did it for him.
I was walking rear security during a night, company-sized movement. While sitting on the trail taking a break, I had three dicks walk out of the darkness right up on me. As soon as they spotted me they turned and started to run. I began firing until they disappeared into the darkness. I then switched to, “rock and roll” and got off a short burst (maybe three rounds) before the trigger froze rendering the M-16 worthless.
At first light (and after carrying an M-33 in my right hand all night) I inspected my weapon. The little straight pin in the trigger mechanism (that holds it in place) had fallen out on one side jamming the trigger. Once I replaced it the rifle operated properly again.
I was issued 2 M-16,s during my 19 months with No Slack and both were Colts with forward bolt assist upgrade and the basket flash suppressor. Both had seen much previous service and the first one I was given had just been repaired after being hit by fragments of shrapnel. Dam thing looked like it had been run over by a tank but it was flawless as far as firing and feeding is concerned. I kept it as clean as I could and it never let me down not one time and we went through some intense periods of firing many times during 1968…The second M-16 I was issued in 1969 was another retread that had been ridden hard way to many times and put away wet all the time. After a period of cleaning and much needed maintenance’s got the old girl working like a Swiss watch again. All in all I believe the M-16 to be a good if not great war gun and if we had some of the ammunition that is being manufactured and used today I believe we would have respected the little black gun a little more. The Army Shooting team and the Air Force team both shoot the M-16 and have spectacular results at 600 yards with some of the new match ammunition……..I personally cannot recall any time where shooting long distances was a factor during any firefights we were in. Everything seemed to be up close and personnel almost all the time.
I walked point. I swapped the lead round every day. I also had a bad habit of blunting the tip of that round.
I was one of the few non-Officers who carried the CAR 15 for a time. I received the CAR as a hand me down when I had to replace my M-16 after the March 21, 1967 firefight that decimated “C” Co. 2/327. I carried the CAR for about a month and turned it in on my own accord. The reason for turning it in was simply, when carrying a heavy medic’s rucksack I could not get the leverage from the CAR that the M-16 provided me when getting up or climbing inclines. Digging the butt of the M-16 in to the ground always provided me with the necessary support I needed. As far as jamming rifles I had my M-16 jam during my last firefight. We had made contact at the bottom of hill next to a stream; I got off about five shots when the rifle jammed. About that time I had a wounded brought to me. I set the M-16 down to carry the wounded man up the hill, while passing others. I had an adrenalin rush going. Someone picked up my M-16 on their way up the hill and had it in working order by the time it was returned to me. So I don’t know why it jammed.
I also remember cleaning my M-16 almost daily. I have to admit that there were a few days that I missed when it wasn’t very convenient to do so. I also carried an assembled cleaning rod that was fitted through the hole bored into the hand guard and secured with a helmet band. I also carried 32 magazines with 18 rounds in each one. We were told that filling them to capacity would cause the rifle to jam….don’t know if that was true but I figured it was a lesson learned in combat and followed the recommendation. I would break down one magazine each evening…..clean the spring, wipe the inside of the magazine and ammunition with a dry cloth and reassemble. This also gave me a chance to inspect the ammunition for any bad dings or corrosion. I used to wrap an empty accessory pack over the muzzle from my C-rations or LRRP food packet to keep dirt from entering the barrel. Finally, I would replace the round that was in the chamber with a fresh one. Again it was because I was told that the round could swell if it was left in the chamber. Don’t know if that was true but I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything and usually replaced the magazine with a fresh one at the same time. My M-16A1 never jammed.
Like everyone said you had to keep your weapon clean. When I was Plt Ld and Company Commander my SOP was Daybreak 50% clean weapons and 50% alert and the same at sundown. Also encouraged a toothbrush or rag swipe at your weapon during breaks on the trail. This seemed to work pretty well as there were few jams.
I carried a CAR-15 as Company Commander, they were issued to some Company Commanders and platoon leaders as there were only a few available.
I remember the CAR-15 CAMANDO . That was in 67 , & Issued too Plt. Leader’s & Such. I wish Nick Poulous, was online . He’s got One Hell of A “TRUE STORY!” J About A Lt. (His Plt. Leader) & A .45 Pistol & CAR-15 , Swap ? That, Went Sour , BIG TIME ! When The DOODIE Hit The Fan.
I thought it was a good weapon for a leader who should be directing fire, calling arty etc. Of course, I am also a firm believer in the .45 as opposed to the 9mm. Did have some jamming problems with the M16. After the chrome job and the ram I found it an acceptable weapon. Problem was range. Great little weapon in a close in fire fight; long range? The biggest problem with the M16 was fire control. Everyone wanted to go to full auto and spray instead of single aimed shots. Full auto wasn’t bad when you couldn’t see the enemy. When he was visible single aimed shots were far better. Fire control in Vietnam is a story in itself. If you have not read Marshall’s MEN AGAINST FIRE read it and do the comparison. The weapon everyone wanted more of was the M60, effective, good range, penetrated foliage and laid down one H— of a base of fire.
I carried a Car 15 in 68.
I carried the M-16 throughout my tour 69-70 (battle of Ripcord) except for a brief 30 day period while I carried the M-60. Never had a jam or any other mechanical failure, and I admit to being lax at times in cleaning the weapon. I think the M-16 was the perfect weapon for jungle warfare in close combat situations…however, we need to take a close look at the hitting power factor in other global situations re: Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.
All are eggs are in one basket so to speak but that’s a whole different story.
I never had a jamming problem with my M-16, and I don’t think anyone else in my platoon did either. I kept my weapon clean, and so did they other guys. We found that dousing the bore with some mosquito repellant a couple of times per day did the job nicely. The repellant is a very light oil, and applied liberally, actually washes/flushes the bore. But it has to be flushed more often than once a day, because the oil is light and can evaporate quickly. And a more conventional cleaning maybe once or twice a week is a good idea.
1st platoon, B Co, 1/327
One jam caused by broken extractor, late 66 or early 67. It was our habit to quickly break down and clean every time we stopped for can of c-rats. Don’t really recall anyone else in platoon having a problem.
We cleaned ours more than once a day as well as taking the shells out of the mags and cleaning them..
Mine still jammed a lot but being one to not listen as well as I should I always put 20 rounds in the mags rather than the prescribed 18.
Good evening gentlemen. Thirty five months in country with Tiger Force and LRRPS and never had an AR-16, M-16 or CAR jam. I might be the exception but this is my experience. I had an M-60 that would jam after 15 to 30 rounds. Worked great in the rear. In December of 67 I received a brand new M60. Thirty minutes later it was smoking with no problems.
Walked point 67 July 68. Kept mine on Rock & Roll and never jammed at first contacts. Had one jam that year and it saved my life. The round bent side ways in the chamber. I have a Ruger 223 now and would hit the bush with it any time.
The CAR-15, or XM-117 was mostly used in country by SF’s Projects, and Mike Forces advisors. We in the LRRPs/LRPs/ Rangers 75th used them within the companies on choice. They initially had jamming problems not related to cleaning but to the buffers weight. The later models cleared up the problem. Overall they were a good weapon and the original M-16 and its trial and error was over. You must remember that the XM-16E-1 which we in the 1st Bde went over with in 65 suffered from McNamara’s folly, the production of the original rifle which had no chromed chamber or bore. It was to save money. Hence the rust, pits in the chamber when formed and the round was fired portions of the brass case expanded into the pits or on the rusted area’a. The jam was also caused as the spring loaded extractor did not have the tension to extract, and would unlatch from the cartridge rim. Clean was also a factor.
Above The Rest.
Thank You, Be Safe, Enjoy Life, Live Long, and Prosper, and Good-By:
Henry B. Morton
I got “drafted” to carry the prc-25 radio… the advantage being that I very rarely had to take point! But for quite a long stretch my squad leader preferred to do point, so I always ended up taking slack. Never had a problem with my M16A1. Religiously followed the advice to load only 18 rounds in the mag. When I was in the army reserves, we usually went to Ft Indiantown Gap Pa for range fire. We used the A1’s and had a good number of jamming problems occurring on that first round with 20 rounds in the mag! I continued the old habit to put only 18 in mine and never had a jam on the range. These rifles were not personal issue… it was just a “grab bag” deal. You got the next one in the pile to use for familiarization.
Back to ‘Nam, in our nightly squad sized ambushes in the flats under FSB Tomahawk, Roy, & LosBanos we didn’t get into anything really heavy. But on the first sprung ambush I experienced, (carrying about 400 rounds in 21 Mags) I fired up about 2/3 of my ammo in very short order without any rifle problems… But as I surveyed all of my empty magazines I thought, “Damn! I better stop all this shootin’ in the dark cuz probably ain’t nobody gonna loan me their bullets when my own are all gone!!” I learned after that night to be much more discriminating with my ammo.
P.S. My new friend Paul (last name forgotten now) took a round across his jaw that night not 2 feet away from me. Helped carry him onto the dustoff and never saw him again. Heard that he would be ok but shipped back to the world. God Bless you Paul, where ever you are.
B Co 2/327 Sept 69 – Sept 70
The carbine series M-16 was designed for truck drivers, APC drivers, etc. Nothing romantic like LRRPs or Rangers [both of those groups had actual beds to sleep on at Camp Eagle, hmmm,].
I qualified with a M-3A1[grease gun] as did all 11B’s in AIT [infantry] which was the standard M-113 drivers weapon. It was cliped right above the seat.The M-16 series carbine was designed to replace the old warhorse “grease gun”.
Why anyone would carry a reduced sized version of a weapon that was too small to begin with is beyond me.
You don’t always have time to change magazines if you are at the point of contact.
In general terms that means the M-16 wasn’t a very good club compared to a M-14 or M-60. The Carbines would have to be about useless in that mode. Butt stroke? Not hardly. And leverage with the bayonet would be seriously reduced.
Lest we not forget the “spirit of the bayonet”!
I first saw CAR-15’s in 1967 in the 173rd. I was told that the CAR stood for Carbine, which is a short rifle. It was only authorized for Officers, Medics and others who normally weren’t on the firing line but had other primary duties but still needed self protection.
I am still researching this with Colt. I am sure the one I carried had Colt Commando Assault Rifle stamped on the left side of the weapon.
“Colt marketed various derivatives of the M-16 to the DoD. One was a heavy-barreled squad automatic rifle on a bipod for use similar to the old Browning Automatic Rifle. The AR-15HB was not successful. A belt-fed version of the AR-15 was not successful either. A shortened carbine version called the CAR-15 “Commando” by Colt was successful and was issued to the DoD as the XM-177, XM-177E1, and XM-177E2.”
From what I’ve been able to find, CAR does stand for Colt Automatic Rifle. Maybe this has already been discussed, but in my copy of the 1969 edition of “Small Arms of the World” it said that the Colt CAR-15 was a weapons system, all variations of the M16-A1. This system included the CAR-15 submachine gun, with a 10-inch barrel. The CAR-15 carbine had a 15-inch barrel, 34-inch overall length. The CAR-15 heavy assault rifle M1 had the same barrel length as the rifle, but with a heavier barrel, weighing 7.6 pounds empty compared to the rifle at 6.3 pounds. The CAR-15 survival rifle had a tubular stock and 10-inch barrel. There was also a grenade launcher, the CGL-4, which looks like it was the precursor to the M-203.
One final thought, I’m sure everyone’s noticed that in 99% of the pictures of 101st soldiers (that I’ve seen anyway) they are carrying the M4A1, the modern short version assault weapon.
I think so to, because when the rifle first appeared in 1964 it was referred to as the AR 15. Colt had the contract at the time and we were referring to the M16 as the Mattel rifle.
My two centavos worth. (In TEXAS, we use centavos instead of cents.) I carried one when I was with L/75th Rangers. I distinctly remember it was marked:
Property of U.S. Govt
As to what the CAR stood for, my guess is as good as the next man’s. What I do know is that when I put it on “sprinkle” and pulled the trigger it always worked.
They Traveled in Harm’s Way
L Co 75th Rangers
The plastic, no-account M-16 rabbit shooter that our Army warriors have painfully packed since early in the Vietnam War might at long last be on its way out.
I can only say “good riddance” to a bad rifle that’s been outmatched by the Soviet AK-47 since Ho Chi Minh became Enemy No. 1. I condemned it in my first after-action report while I was with the 1/101st Airborne in Vietnam in 1965, but – in spite of many such complaints across the decades from trigger-pullers wading through the world’s killing fields – that lousy sucker has remained in service longer than any other rifle in U.S. history. A shameful testimony to the power of generations of military-industrial-congressional-complex porkers.
The M-16 and its popgun cousin, the M-4 carbine, have neither the range nor the bang. Nor is their tiny 5.56-mm slug much of a grunt morale multiplier. Ask the Rangers who fought in Somalia how many insurgents they drilled – and drilled again – who just kept coming.
The hot contender currently being tested by the Army to replace these lemons is the XM-8, a revolutionary smart-weapon being put through its paces by professionals who, so far, give it two thumbs up. It’s a different kind of rifle, lighter and less expensive, yet it offers additional features and performance not available in any other assault rifle in the world.
For instance, the XM-8 is a flexible system easily converted into a carbine, and there’s a sharpshooter version for increased range, an automatic-rifle version for more squad firepower and the ultra-compact carbine variant for close-in fighting or use by armored-vehicle crewmen. Whiz-bang options include an easily attachable single-shot 40 mm grenade launcher with side-opening breech and a lightweight 12-gauge shotgun module. Either system can be quickly added to the XM-8 in the field without the need for special tools.
Think of it as a 2005 Mercedes replacing a 1970s Ford Pinto. But that’s only if we’re talking an XM-8 with an upgraded 6.8-mm slug that can put an enemy down and keep him there. That’s what is needed to give our soldiers confidence in their primary fighting weapon.
The best serving master gunner I know says this about the 6.8-mm upgrade that Special Forces is presently reviewing: “If we are going to go through the cost of providing a Mercedes like the XM-8, we should be prepared to put Pirelli tires on it.” He asks, “You wouldn’t want to have a Mercedes but run it on low-octane gas, so why have a Mercedes-quality rifle and run it on 5.56?”
Should the XM-8 get green-lighted, Germany’s Heckler & Koch plans to build a factory to produce it in Columbus, Ga. Unlike so many companies exporting jobs overseas these days, H&K touts this as its “Buy American” project.
If everything clicks, the new weapon could start getting into our grunts’ hands as early as 2005 – and at last our soldiers will have a rifle that’s GI-proof. For starters, it’s not a jammer. Carbon doesn’t build up inside the receiver group, which greatly reduces the need for cleaning. It also has a battery-powered sight right out of James Bond’s inventory that includes a red-dot infrared-laser illuminator and a close-combat optic system with a backup etched reticle that’s factory-zeroed.
And last, but far from least, it shoots faster then the Terminator – it can fire more than 15,000 rounds without lubrication or cleaning, and tests show that it works as smoothly as a sewing machine in desert environments, which should make the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan a whole lot happier.
These days there’s a lot of flag-waving going down about supporting the troops. But the best way to take care of our grunts is by making sure they can outgun their opponents. And no way is that happening when we allow greedy or uncaring pork contractors, no-time-in-the-trenches engineers and folks in Congress and at the highest level of our armed forces to stick them with a worthless, Mattel-like excuse for a rifle. With the upgraded XM-8, our warriors will finally have a weapon that will do as good a job punching holes in enemy soldiers in the 21st century as the M-1 and Browning Automatic Rifles did in the 20th.
David H. Hackworth
I liked -no, loved – the M-16, never had any trouble with it.
I took care of my M-16, my M-16 took care of me. The only problem I ever had with mine was that it wouldn’t come home with me.
I have handled and fired the XM 8, in .223. I got a chance to shoot them in Las Vegas, the day before the SHOT Show. HK had invited rack wholesalers, some of the larger dealers and media to attend their “introduction” and demonstration.
There were several writers there that are probably familiar to most of us, Kokalis, Fortier and a slew of others. First off the people who had helped in the initial development were introduced, most if not all of them had served in the military, some of them I know had served in harms way. They then went about explaining the advantages of the XM 8 over anything else out there. Did I mention that I was somewhat reserved about the whole deal? I went in with both eyes wide open, ready to find fault with the new weapon system.
I asked questions about the weapon, about the gas system and operation, if it was adjustable, about fouling, if it was reliable with the short barrels and so forth. I also asked about the charging handle, and whether the bolt would lock back on the last round. The reps took the time to answer all of my questions. Then proceeded to give us much more info.
They claimed it would function wet, and I mean very wet as in coming out of submersion without draining the barrel. They also told us that it would function dry, and with sand in it, mud as well. They told us it was controllable, more so than the AR series in full auto, and that a squib load would not render the weapon ineffective.
They mentioned that the current configuration did not have any type of iron sights, but they were going to add them. I kept thinking OK, something will happen and the demo will be canceled, they won’t get to “prove” anything. Wrong, they did get to prove things to us.
When we went to the firing line, one of the reps proceeded to go over the range rules and explain what they were going to show us, then it would be our turn to fire the weapons. The rep then inserted a loaded mag into the rifle, laid it on the ground and kicked dirt over the rifle, completely covering it with sand a small rocks. He picked it up, shook it off, worked the charging handle and fired it full auto, no failures.
The next step was taking the same rifle with another loaded mag in it and a chambered round to the water barrel, where it was submerged to the pistol grip. They left the rifle there for about 10 minutes while they showed us the new HK M4’s, which are gas piston operated as well. Then the rep went over to the barrel and pulled the XM 8 out of the water and fired full auto, water was draining out of the mag and blowing out of the muzzle.
They did the same thing with the new M4 after firing 4 mags through it on full auto and passing the bolt and carrier around so folks could see for themselves how cool and clean the bolt and carrier were.
Then it was our turn to fire the weapons, the only thing I didn’t get a chance to fire was the new MP 7. I was impressed with the XM 8, and with HK’s new and improved AR uppers. They worked flawlessly. I went in as a skeptic and came away convinced that HK might have the next US Military weapons system almost ready.
The XM 8 will not be made for the civilian market, at least according to the reps, they aren’t going to offer the M4 uppers to the civilian market either, at least at the present time.
As for some of the concerns about the fragile cocking handle, it really isn’t that fragile, it can be used with either hand, and as a forward assist. No lube was used during the demos, or at least none that I was aware of. The XM 8 will be available in a variety of colors, is easy to maintain, can be easily converted to several different configurations without the use of special tools. Transition time to also going to be quick, cleaning them is a breeze.
I didn’t mean to be so long winded on this, my opinion as always is worth exactly what you paid for it, but I think this weapon system is probably going to end up in the US Military arsenal.
I used the M-16 and CAR-15 about as much as anyone I guess. All the bad press I’ve ever heard about the M-16 came mostly from REMF’s who never used them and never kept them clean. I never had a malfunction of any kind. Kept it clean (several times a day), kept my magazines clean and never fully loaded them, and that’s about it.
Okay the M-16 is a great up-close weapon; less than 300 yards, and not a long range weapon like you’d need in the desert (however I have made some hits much in excess of 300 yards). Have I hit people several times with the M-16 and they kept coming? Yep.
Have I seen American soldiers hit several times with an AK and kept coming? Yep. The human animal is a funny species. Most of them don’t quit easy.
Can we improve on the M-16? Sure. Anything can be improved on, and it’s time to move on to a new generation of weapons better suited for the needs of today.
In my view, the M16 does not deserve the kind of press that Hackworth and others have given it over the years. It has been a good weapon and I for one liked it very much.
I loved the M-16 after they solved the jamming problem. After that I never had any problems with them. A lot of Armies use the M-16 including the Israeli Army. If the Israelis use it, it’s usually a good system. I’d go into combat again with a “16”.
I didn’t clean my M16 or CAR-15 everyday; only when it got muddy or soaked. In 35 months in Nam I never had a malfunction with either weapon – yes I was on the ground.
I consider the M-16 a specialty weapon. It still has a place for some combat units although it lacks the hitting power of a 7.62mm. I used my M-16 after the jamming problem was solved (69-70) and it never let me down. I must confess that at times my M-16 could have used a cleaning. No problems at all, but if I was in the present conflicts in Afghanistan, or Iraq I would deff have a larger caliber weapon. It just makes common sense.
OK guys remember the national matches are shot with the M16 AR15 service rifle ranges are 200 yds 300 yds and 600 yds men look pretty small at 600 yds is that 6 foot ball fields? not bad for a 22 cal.
My concerns with the M-16 was the weight and speed of the round. In very thick foliage I experienced problems with the round ricocheting. Sometimes I might load magazines with just Tracers. This would give you a realistic visual indication of where the round was going. Maybe some of you have experienced situations on the receiving end of an AK, where the AK might bite bark on the trees and kick up dirt all around you; while you were firing through underbrush or bamboo and just unable to “Reach Out and Touch Someone”. It can be frightening to realize your weapon doesn’t have the weight or punching power to penetrate obstacles between you and hostiles who do have such a weapon. Sometimes weight and speed can work against you. I was there in 66-67 and did not have problems with jamming, though I did hear stories of those that did. What I heard happened was many who were trained with M-14 over lubricated the bolt. The M-16 bolt moved at such a rapid speed and generated such high heat, the lubricant crystallized , slowing the bolt down, causing the jam. The problem was resolved by removing excess lubricant from the bolt after cleaning. I won’t swear to this problem or solution. But that is how it was explained to me.
I was issued my M-16 when I got to Fort Campbell about September 1966. It was the original M16 with no forward assist and the three prong, open flash suppressor. I was a medic and since I liked the practice I covered the firing ranges quite a lot, so I put a lot of rounds though my M-16. I made all my jumps with that M-16 too, and I can tell you – it seemed much better suited to jumping than the M-14. I qualified as Expert with that rifle. And that was the M-16 I carried to Vietnam in November ’67, when I deployed with the Advance Party of the 2nd and 3rd Brigades.
I also remember when our M-16’s were replaced with M-16A1’s sometime in ’68 in Vietnam. I wasn’t happy about it at all – I knew my M-16, I’d put many a round through it and I trusted it. I would have preferred keeping it. It seems I saw my first CAR-15’s about then too.
For a while in the summer of ’68 I was a medic with 101st Replacement Company, in the division rear, when that was still at Bien Hoa. I remember the cadre doing a demonstration of the M-16 vs.. the AK-47 by shooting barrels filled with water. The AK would drill neat little holes through the barrel. The M-16 would blow great big holes on the exit side.