The M16 - A New Age in Assault Rifles

Entering service with the US Army in 1964 the M16 is the most mass produced rifle in its calibre (about 8 million rifles manufactures to date) in the history of armed forces so far. After World War II where the US army had made extensive use of the M1 Garand the M14 was introduced as it's replacement. While a very good rifle (and still in use today with some units) the M14 was simply too heavy and awkward to use in jungle or urban combat (which the Army saw as the combat theaters of the future) and it was decided that a replacement was needed.

Carbine Panther M16 A1

Enter the M16. A total departure in weapon design. Gone was the use of steel only in the construction of a rifle - alumiunium being used to replace it in the M16. The M16 itself is a lightweight, gas operated rifle which fires the 5.56mm round. The decision to use this size of round (instead of the standard Nata 7.62mm round) was made because of in-depth studies into combat wounds. It turned out that a 5.56mm round was capable of causing as much damage to an enemy combatant as a 7.62mm round if used in the right weapon.

Availabe in the MA1, MA2, MA3 and MA4 variants the the M16 has become the most commonly used firearm in the US army today; whilst also being used extensively by more than 10 Nato allies. It took a long time for the M16 to come to being developed fully but finally the AR15 prototype weapon began active service as the M16 in 1964. The M16 offered a choice of semi-automatic (3 shot burst)or fully automatic firing from either a 20 or 30 round clip.

The weapon was not, however, without fault. Early models were prone to jamming and there were frequent reports of US troops in Vietnam ditching their M16s and using AK47s instead - simply because it was more reliable in jungle combat conditions. The later variants fixed most of the "bugs" present in the M16A1 with the M16A4 being a highly reliable combat weapon.

For the airsoft fan out there you have a wide choice of M16s available to you in both airsoft spring and electric airsoft (AEG) variants. Some of the rifles are just the bare M16 whereas others come supplied with tactical scopes and grips - you'll be able to easily find an airsoft M16 to suit your budget and your tastes.