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Thread: M-16: A Bureaucratic Horror Story

  1. #16
    Curmudgeon OldVet's Avatar
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    My only experience with an "M-16" was in AF qualification. It always worked fine with 5.56 ammo. The .22LR adapters not so much. One hundred rounds of anything during a leisurely training session is hardly worthy of proving reliability.
    Official Forum Curmudgeon Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.
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    Senior Member oldranger53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buku Ringo View Post
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    A guy I know who was in-country in Vietnam said the first thing he did was put down his M-16 and picked up an AK.
    This happened a lot.


    sent from phone, typos possible
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    Senior Member SatCong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldranger53 View Post
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    This happened a lot.


    sent from phone, typos possible
    Not when I was there. The only ones I saw get to do that was Spec Op's. We got weapons all the time and get to play with them for a little while. But not for long. They took the Weedmonkey weapons all the time.

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    Senior Member SGB's Avatar
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    I was issued and carried a M16a1, never had an issue with it. I kept it well lubed (LSA) and I was fastidious when it came to my magazines.

    "It's easier to avoid conflict than it is to survive it!"

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    Senior Member LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    I was in Viet Nam from Saigon to Hanoi off and on between 1965 and 1973. I never saw any troops from any military service from any allied country carrying an AK-47. We got to shoot some after they were cleared by EOD, but not keep them.
    Second Amendment: The difference between politicians and rulers.

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    Senior Member oldranger53's Avatar
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    Yes, Spec Ops.
    I should have specified. Sorry.
    It was not allowed in the regular units, at least not to my knowledge.

    Some units got away with a great deal of ”unconventional" behavior.

    Quote Originally Posted by SatCong View Post
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    Not when I was there. The only ones I saw get to do that was Spec Op's. We got weapons all the time and get to play with them for a little while. But not for long. They took the Weedmonkey weapons all the time.
    sent from phone, typos possible
    "Dedicated to those Rangers who laid down their lives that lesser men could be free to cry 'PEACE', when there was none."

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    Senior Member hackberry's Avatar
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    Somebody help me out here...I am scratching the hair off my head. I am not a vet but, I hear all the time that the advantages of the M-16 are that it is lighter, you can carry more ammo, etc.

    But, I am a WW II buff and have researched and written about it. That justification for the M-16 makes no sense to me when you consider that there were no battles, other than TET, that equate to

    the major battles of WW II, and the jungles of Viet Nam are certainly no worse or different than the Pacific Island jungles. These WW II battles were fought with M-1's and BAR's, for the most part, and

    GI's won the war using those heavier, lower capacity rifles. We're talking Normandy, the Bulge, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal (some Marines still had 1903's). At Normandy, Gi's were digging M-1's

    out of the sand and surf, field stripping and cleaning them behind sand dunes, and returning them to battle. Can you even do that with an M-16? I am having cognitive dissonance here.

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    Curmudgeon OldVet's Avatar
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    Sometimes haters just have to hate. I'd hardly place the M-16 at the top of the list of worst military firearms our troops have been blessed with. The article seems to imply the major issues were the ammo and not the weapon itself. Every weapon has its issues to deal with.

    I am less than impressed with the cartridge caliber. There have been suitable replacements developed, but the army balks at replacing the mountains of ammo already stocked. However, there is no one "fits all situations" caliber as of yet.
    Official Forum Curmudgeon Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.
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    Senior Member TRX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hackberry View Post
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    the major battles of WW II, and the jungles of Viet Nam are certainly no worse or different than the Pacific Island jungles. These WW II battles were fought with M-1's and BAR's, for the most part,
    The Pentagon is prone to fads, and the fad swung from "every man a marksman" to "spray and pray" and the AR came into service. Plus the usual incestuous lobbying by the arms industry. (in the US, it's not considered unethical for an active-duty general officer to also be employed by a defense contractor) Plus a big dollop of "CNC machined aircraft aluminum gee whiz."

    The move to the .223 started, what, five years after the Pentagon absolutely refused to consider the 7mm joint battle rifle cartridge proposed by the British (or agreed, then pulled out, depending on whose story you read), then decided to go even smaller than that...


    Consider Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union rolled in with their brand-new 5.45x39 AK-74s. (the dirty capitalist pigs went to a 5.56 round, so obviously the glorious People's arsenals had to one-up them by going to a 5.45...), with armor and more air support than the US troops in Vietnam could have dreamed of. And those nifty new AKs went up against ancient British SMLEs or Pathan-made copies, and the Red Army found that primitive tribesmen with 1888 technology could stand out in plain view, well beyond the range of the 5.45, and lob in .303 in from a safe distance when not eating lunch or making obscene gestures. There was a sudden rush to deploy all available Dragunovs, and then they hauled ancient Mosins, some made during the reign of the Tsar, out and assigning one to a "designated marksman" in every squad.


    Part of the push for the M-16 came from the Soviets' adoption of the AK-47. Soviet experience in WWII had shown that the SMG was far superior to a conventional rifle in the kinds of melee conflict they were fighting; the PPSh-41 and PPS-43 were cheap bullet hoses and highly effective in combat. The AK was developed as an up-powered, more flexible replacement for the SMGs; it was still a full-auto bullet hose with a 30 round magazine, but it was reasonably effective as a rifle, given the level of marksmanship training (and ammunition quality) of the Red Army.

    The Pentagon wanted a super-SMG too, but at the M-16's conception they were still hung up on "highest possible accuracy" and "every man a marksman." To that, they latched onto "lighest possible weight." So most non-structural parts of the M-16 were aluminum or plastic, and they downsized the ammunition toward that goal. They limited the magazine to 20 rounds, again to save weight, and the magazine was aluminum too, which didn't work out too well in practice. (and originally intended to be disposable!) Then there was the gunpowder thing...

    Remember the "accuracy" and "marksman" parts, and the comment about Soviet ammunition? The USSR used rather primitive and dirty powder and corrosive primers, as they do to this day. Besides being cheap, they are insensitive to extremes of temperature and have a long storage life. They didn't worry if ballistics varied a bit form batch to batch; they sorted lots of more-accurate ammunition for the marksman, and the troops got "go bang" ammunition.

    The US, in contrast, was caught between "light weight" and "accuracy." Non-corrosive primers were a given; the US was one of the first to adopt them, and that wasn't going to change. But the little 5.56 case didn't hold a lot of powder, and to get the kind of performance they wanted without high overall pressure, sudden pressure excursions, and meet military storage requirements, and to meet ballistics specs in the desert and the Arctic, made powder choice *very* persnickety. So having bureaucrats meddle there was particularly unfortunate.

    The Army's original requirement was "highly accurate rifle", but over the decades they've shortened the barrel, increased the magazine capacity, and made other changes to make the AR more like an SMG. If they need someone to take out a goomer at long range, they call for someone with a bigger gun.

    I think what the Army *really* wants is something like the AKS-74U, but they'll have to abandon the AR's recoil buffer arrangement first...

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