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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 2/22/2006 1:43:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/21/2006 10:20:48 AM EDT by AvengeR15]
Guys, I am at an NCO school right now, preparing to give a briefing on the development and operational history of the M16 rifle. I am sharing one terminal with 14 other soldiers for research, so I can only get on for a few minutes at a time. I still need some information for my briefing, and I am hoping you guys can help.

1) When was the M16A2 first fielded by the US Army?

2) When did the USMC begin fielding the M16A1? During Vietnam, or after?

3) What year was the actual M4 first introduced? I know there were a number of similar variants prior to that.

4) When was M855 ammo introduced?

I could also use a few good pics if you guys don't mind providing them. I've Google Image searched a few pics, but I think I could do better if I had more time. I need good LARGE pics of the M14, M16A1, and M16A2 in action (or on parade in a soldier's hands, etc).

Thanks in advance for any help, guys. I'll post a transcript or video of my briefing after I give it on Sunday. I will try to log on later tonight or tomorrow if possible.
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 4:25:10 PM EDT
Your welcome to use this pic of me in Iraq during Desert Storm if you wish. I'll try and dig up some info ASAP.



Link Posted: 2/22/2006 4:56:18 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/22/2006 5:18:19 PM EDT by theshootersden]
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 4:56:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/22/2006 4:58:06 PM EDT by sgtmike]
Here is a link to a page at The Gun Zone. It is actually a timeline for the development of the 5.56mm round, but there is lots of information on the development of the M16 system as well. It is a long read, there are 5 or 6 pages, but it is full of lots of information.

Sarge
Link Posted: 2/22/2006 5:08:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:

1) When was the M16A2 first fielded by the US Army?



January 1985, the Army ordered 50 M16A1E1 rifles (already type classified and ordered as the M16A2 by the Marines at this point). In March 1986, the Army announces its first major order for the M16A2 rifle (100,176 rifles) In November 1996, the first Army frontline units begin to receive the rifle.


2) When did the USMC begin fielding the M16A1? During Vietnam, or after?


During Vietnam, by April 1967 all USMC maneuver and recon units in Vietnam were using the M16A1


3) What year was the actual M4 first introduced? I know there were a number of similar variants prior to that.


First 40 XM4 rifles delivered to Picatinny in February 1986. Marines standardize the M4 in April 1986 for issue to Special Operations units.


4) When was M855 ammo introduced?


October 1980, NATO STANAG standardizes the FN SS109 cartridge as the new 5.56mm ammo. The U.S. variant is designated XM855; but isn't actually fielded for several years.

Here is a great history link if you need it for further research:
www.thegunzone.com/556dw-3.html
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 6:09:57 AM EDT
how about a M231?


here is my M16A1
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 8:21:54 AM EDT

Thanks for all the info, guys, you've all been a big help.

Link Posted: 2/23/2006 9:04:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Bartholomew_Roberts:

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:

1) When was the M16A2 first fielded by the US Army?



January 1985, the Army ordered 50 M16A1E1 rifles (already type classified and ordered as the M16A2 by the Marines at this point). In March 1986, the Army announces its first major order for the M16A2 rifle (100,176 rifles) In November 1996, the first Army frontline units begin to receive the rifle.


2) When did the USMC begin fielding the M16A1? During Vietnam, or after?


During Vietnam, by April 1967 all USMC maneuver and recon units in Vietnam were using the M16A1


3) What year was the actual M4 first introduced? I know there were a number of similar variants prior to that.


First 40 XM4 rifles delivered to Picatinny in February 1986. Marines standardize the M4 in April 1986 for issue to Special Operations units.


4) When was M855 ammo introduced?


October 1980, NATO STANAG standardizes the FN SS109 cartridge as the new 5.56mm ammo. The U.S. variant is designated XM855; but isn't actually fielded for several years.

Here is a great history link if you need it for further research:
www.thegunzone.com/556dw-3.html



Good post. You have a typo on the year for US Army fielding of the M16A2, should read 1986, not 1996.

The rifles issued to the Marines in late 1966 and early 1967 were XM16E1's. Same thing as an M16A1 though, just a name change.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 9:12:25 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:
3) What year was the actual M4 first introduced? I know there were a number of similar variants prior to that.




You want the long or short version of this story?
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 1:00:18 PM EDT

Short version, if possible. I guess actually the best date would be the initial issue timeframe for the M4A3, which is what these soldiers I am briefing are most familiar with.

Thanks.

Link Posted: 2/23/2006 1:19:29 PM EDT
Very short version:

The first contract awards were in 1994. The M4 and the M4A1 were adopted Standard A that same year, and issue began.

The M4 is Colt's model RO920 and is burst fire.

The M4A1 is Colt's model RO921 and is full auto.

Typically the M4 is issued to infantry divisions while the M4A1 is issued to SFG's and such.

The first batch sent out in 1994/95 mostly went to SFG's and the like, with a few hundred delivered to each infantry division.

Large scale issue to line troops did not really get going till 1997 or so. Colt is still pumping them out, and they are still being issued.
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 3:53:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/23/2006 4:07:47 PM EDT by Combat_Diver]

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:
Short version, if possible. I guess actually the best date would be the initial issue timeframe for the M4A3, which is what these soldiers I am briefing are most familiar with.

Thanks.




There is no M4A3 at this time that I'm aware of or M4A2 for that matter.

I exchanged my XM16E1 for a M16A2 in 1987 then swapped that out in 1995 for a M4A1. Log on to AKO for loads of current photos of wartime use of the guns. The M855 ammo was introduced with the M249 SAW. Here's some range pics of the AR from my last rotation in the sandbox.







CD
Link Posted: 2/23/2006 4:01:30 PM EDT
Well, looks like you got the info portion of what you were looking for covered! Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. Hope at least the pic helps.
Link Posted: 3/21/2006 10:20:06 AM EDT
Here's a copy of the briefing that I delivered. Bear in mind it was delivered to personnel that don't necessarily have an all-encompassing interest in the history of this weapon. I tried to keep it interesting without getting too deep into the details. Feel free to critique all you like - just remember the damage has already been done.


Greetings, my name is SSG Anderson. This is an unclassified information briefing on the development and operational history of the M16 and M4 rifles. Please hold all of your questions until the end of the briefing.

The M16 can trace its birthright to the late 1950s. At this time the standard issue rifle for the military was the M14, an improved derivative of the legendary M1 Garand rifle. The M14 was an accurate and powerful rifle, but was also very heavy and difficult to control during full automatic fire. Additionally, the troops could carry relatively few of the heavy 7.62mm NATO cartridges the M14 fired. A study conducted by the Army after WWII found that accurate aimed small arms fire produced fewer enemy casualties than mass area fire. So, the Army was looking for a smaller rifle with lighter ammunition, which was easy to control when firing rapidly.

Enter Mr. Eugene Stoner. Stoner was an aerospace engineer who left the company he worked for – Fairchild Aircraft – to put his experience and training with aircraft-grade aluminum to work in a new class of lightweight military rifles. Stoner formed his own company, Armalite, and began developing prototype rifles. Eventually, he developed a gas operated carbine he named the XMAR15.

The new XMAR15 was considered by some to be the future of small arms, both in theory and in practice. Previous small arms ha d been manufactured primarily out of tool steel, with wooden furniture such as the stock and the pistol grip. The XMAR15 was machined out of aircraft grade aluminum with a steel barrel, along with injection molded plastic furniture. The result was a rifle that weighed significantly less than any other battle rifle of the day. The caliber itself was revolutionary for its time as well. Instead of the big, heavy, hard-hitting 150 grain bullets used in other rifles, the new 5.56mm cartridge fired a tiny 55 grain projectile at incredibly high velocities. The new bullet had a tendency to pitch and yaw once it entered an enemy soldier’s body, doing terrific damage on its way through.

Stoner hoped that his new carbine would be procured by the US military, and he eventually wound up at a picnic with the famous and flamboyant Air Force General Curtis Lemay. Lemay fired the little carbine at some watermelons during the picnic, and exclaimed, “I like it, I’ll take 20,000”. Lemay followed through on his promise, and in 1961 the newly designated M16 was in the hands of Air Force Security Police at air bases all over the world. Unfortunately, duty on the tarmac at an air base was hardly a rough environment for the new rifle, and this was to have tragic results in only a few years’ time.

During the early 1960s, Robert McNamara was the Secretary of Defense. McNamara was a former CEO of Ford Motor Company, and on his arrival to the President’s Cabinet, he proceeded to shake things up. McNamara brought a number of bright and enthusiastic young Ivy-League graduates to the Department of Defense. These young men became known in the American media as the “Whiz Kids”. The Whiz Kids brought a number of progressive and beneficial changes to the Armed Forces. However, one extremely ill-conceived project ended up costing the lives of hundreds of soldiers. When McNamara learned of the Air Force’s purchase of 20,000 M16s, he enthusiastically backed the initiative. In fact, he liked the futuristic rifle so much that he ordered all the service branches to adopt it. At this same time, the Army was already field-testing the M16 for possible procurement. McNamara suspended further testing and commanded that the rifle be put into immediate service in the growing conflict in Vietnam. The M16 was literally put into the hands of soldiers in combat who had never trained with it, or even seen one before. The rifle was described as ‘self-cleaning’, and no cleaning kits were issued with it. Each soldier was initially issued only three 20-rnd magazines with the rifle. Because field testing was suspended, no one knew how the M16 would perform in the muddy jungle terrain of Vietnam.

The results were predictable, and horrific. The untested weapons were virtually useless in the Southeast Asian climate. Rounds would fail to eject, or double feed inside the chamber, forcing soldiers to break down their weapons in the middle of a firefight. Good young men died on muddy hills with cleaning rods in one hand and jammed M16s in the other. No one knows how many died in Vietnam because of the M16’s early failures, but to this day there are veterans who hate the M16 with a passion because of their experiences with it.

The Army quickly worked to overcome the M16’s initial weaknesses. Cleaning kits were issued as fast as possible, and an improved M16, designated the M16A1 was issued about two years after the first M16s. The M16A1 featured a chrome lined barrel and chamber, to prevent rust and corrosion inside the weapon, plus a forward assist to help ram the bolt home and reduce feeding problems. The A1 models also had new birdcage type flash suppressors mounted at the end of the barrel, to reduce the weapon’s firing signature during low light. Other more compact variants appeared as well, such as the CAR15 and XM177. These rifles were the forerunners of the modern M4.

By the end of the Vietnam era, the M16 had eased most of its reliability issues, and had been accepted as the standard small arm of the Marine Corps as well. On a side note, on November 20th, 1970, the US military launched a daring raid deep into North Vietnam to rescue American POWs at a prison camp near Son Tay. The raiders carried CAR15s on the mission, along with Armson Singlepoint Nite Sites, newly purchased from Sears Roebuck. The sights were son new, in fact, that no mounts were available, and the sights had to be taped to the carry handles for the duration for the mission. This marked the first use of red dot optics in combat.

After the end of the American involvement in the Vietnam conflict, the US military went through an extended period of apathy and low morale, where little progress was made in research and development of new weapons and systems. Eventually, most M16A1s were replaced with M16A2s beginning in 1986. The new M16A2 featured an improved rear sight, quieter hand guards, and a 3-rnd burst mechanism which replaced the fully automatic firing mechanism of the older A1 models. Commanders believed that troops firing on full auto needlessly wasted ammo and rarely hit their targets. The 3-rnd burst mechanism helped conserve ammo and ensure more rounds on target.

Fast forward to the early 1990s. Operation Desert Storm kicked off in southwest Asia, and the M16 – 30 years old by this point – served admirably in this conflict. Fifteen years after the end of the Vietnam War, the Army had completely turned itself around, evolving into a flexible and rapid-deploying force.

In 1993 however, another serious problem was identified. On October 2nd, US Army Rangers and Delta Force Personnel fought a fast moving battle in the city of Mogadishu, Somalia. After the battle was over, the AARs and investigations began. It was determined that the standard issue M855 round was inadequate. First issued in 1980, the M855 round – more commonly known as the ‘Green Tip’ round – was designed with a steel core to penetrate Soviet issue body armor, as well as unarmored vehicles. However, the round’s terminal ballistics were unsatisfactory against the slender Somali fighters. The 62 grain green tip rounds had a tendency to punch straight through a person without disabling them, creating a wound similar to being stabbed with an ice pick. Because of the lessons learned in Somalia, the Army has begun issuing a new round in limited quantities, the MK262 Mod 1, which is a 77 grain open tip match round, enabling shooters to engage targets out to 600 meters, with significantly improved terminal ballistics.

In 1994, the Army began to issue a new carbine based on the M16, designated the M4. The M4 featured a short, 16” barrel and collapsible stock. The M4 was intended for armor and helicopter crews, because of its reduced size in compact spaces. However, Special Forces and other high speed units quickly snapped up the new rifle, because of its reduced weight.

In the arena of small arms development, there has been no faster development than in the area of optical sights. Electronic sights have exploded on to the scene in the past 20 years all over the world, and particularly in the US Armed Forces serving overseas in the past four years. Top of the line electronic sights from companies such as Trijicon, EOTech, and Aimpoint costing hundreds of dollars each are now commonly seen on soldiers’ rifles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Electronic sights offer two significant advantages over iron sights. First, the illuminated sight reticule is easier to acquire during low light conditions. Second, the sight reticules are much faster to visually track because they are in focus with both eyes open, allowing the soldier a much wider field of view than when peering through a rear peep sight with one eye closed. Other peripheral enhancements include improved slings, weapon mounted flashlights, visible and infrared lasers, and vertical fore grips.

In conclusion, as the battlefield evolves, from Vietnam forward to Iraq and beyond, so does the M16, and it will continue to evolve for years to come. Are there any questions?

Link Posted: 3/21/2006 11:34:48 AM EDT
Was it well received by the troops? What types of questions did they ask afterwards? Did you think the visual aids were effective?

Thanks, and good job.

uxb
Link Posted: 3/21/2006 12:09:47 PM EDT

They were all complimentary of the briefing, but no questions were asked, as we were cycling through about 15 briefings that day.

The visual aids were a big help as well, and I got 100% or some such on the briefing.

Link Posted: 3/22/2006 4:26:39 AM EDT
good read. it flowed very well and was not a boring read.
don't ya hate boring presentations?
good work
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 9:43:35 AM EDT
There are a lot of factual errors in that, particularly relating to Stoner, Armalite and the early versions of the rifle. As you said, the damage has been done, but if you are going to give the presentation again, all your facts need to be checked.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 10:00:40 AM EDT

The M4 featured a short, 16” barrel and collapsible stock


Not to nitpick, but I thought the M4 used a 14.5 inch bbl.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 10:22:21 AM EDT

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:

The M4 featured a short, 16” barrel and collapsible stock


Not to nitpick, but I thought the M4 used a 14.5 inch bbl.



It does and so did the Carbines before it.

16" is purely a Civilain market thing.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 11:35:54 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BattleRife:
There are a lot of factual errors in that, particularly relating to Stoner, Armalite and the early versions of the rifle. As you said, the damage has been done, but if you are going to give the presentation again, all your facts need to be checked.



Care to elaborate? Statements like that need some verification.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 12:01:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Ekie:
Very short version:

The first contract awards were in 1994. The M4 and the M4A1 were adopted Standard A that same year, and issue began.

The M4 is Colt's model RO920 and is burst fire.

The M4A1 is Colt's model RO921 and is full auto.

Typically the M4 is issued to infantry divisions while the M4A1 is issued to SFG's and such.

The first batch sent out in 1994/95 mostly went to SFG's and the like, with a few hundred delivered to each infantry division.

Large scale issue to line troops did not really get going till 1997 or so. Colt is still pumping them out, and they are still being issued.



This is gospel.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 12:13:45 PM EDT
Tag for the good info, and good luck AvengeR!
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 12:33:11 PM EDT
I might've tossed some stuff in there about the AR-10 losing the M14 competition, if time had allowed. That's really what the M16 traces to.

Not bad though, except for "Greetings". Sounds like you're
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 3:23:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/22/2006 3:24:27 PM EDT by BattleRife]

Originally Posted By seahorse:
Care to elaborate? Statements like that need some verification.



Sure:

Enter Mr. Eugene Stoner. Stoner was an aerospace engineer who left the company he worked for – Fairchild Aircraft – to put his experience and training with aircraft-grade aluminum to work in a new class of lightweight military rifles. Stoner formed his own company, Armalite, and began developing prototype rifles. Eventually, he developed a gas operated carbine he named the XMAR15.

Addressing the errors (in blue):
1. Stoner did not leave Fairchild to work on the AR-15, he joined it. ArmaLite was a division of Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Corp.
2. Stoner did not own ArmaLite, he was an employee. As noted above, ArmaLite was owned by Fairchild.
3. The AR-15 developed by Stoner was not a carbine, it was a rifle.
4. I have never heard of such a thing. Given that "XM" is a suffix from military nomenclature, while "AR-15" is a commercial trademark, I doubt I ever will.

Et voila, one short paragraph, four factual errors.

I would also point out that a history of the AR-15 that never mentions a certain firm named Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co. (not even once) has serious errors of omission.

And the forward assist was not NOT NOT added to overcome problems of jamming in Vietnam. This has been stated many times, I don't know why people refuse to learn it.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 3:41:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By scottryan:

Originally Posted By Ekie:
Very short version:

The first contract awards were in 1994. The M4 and the M4A1 were adopted Standard A that same year, and issue began.

The M4 is Colt's model RO920 and is burst fire.

The M4A1 is Colt's model RO921 and is full auto.

Typically the M4 is issued to infantry divisions while the M4A1 is issued to SFG's and such.

The first batch sent out in 1994/95 mostly went to SFG's and the like, with a few hundred delivered to each infantry division.

Large scale issue to line troops did not really get going till 1997 or so. Colt is still pumping them out, and they are still being issued.



This is gospel.



That is...in the Army.

The Marine Corps had the M4, and called it that, as early as 1986. This per Patrick Rogers, who I imagine would know.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 7:16:05 PM EDT

I'm not going to dispute BattleRife's criticisms. I am sure he is right on most if not all points. I had to throw the thing together fairly quickly and went partially from memory and partially from sources I could find with a minimum of research.

On the 'rifle' vs 'carbine' issue, I was under the impression that a carbine was a term used to describe a light, short rifle, which the AR15 most definitely was when compared to other rifles of the day. Is carbine meant only to indicate a shortened version of similar rifle?

Link Posted: 3/22/2006 7:29:17 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/22/2006 7:34:23 PM EDT by FlamingGlory]

Originally Posted By AvengeR15:
I'm not going to dispute BattleRife's criticisms. I am sure he is right on most if not all points. I had to throw the thing together fairly quickly and went partially from memory and partially from sources I could find with a minimum of research.

On the 'rifle' vs 'carbine' issue, I was under the impression that a carbine was a term used to describe a light, short rifle, which the AR15 most definitely was when compared to other rifles of the day. Is carbine meant only to indicate a shortened version of similar rifle?




Stoner was the Chief Engineer at Armalite. He didn't own the company. Rather well covered in this link www.armalite.com/library/history/history.htm

A carbine is a short-barreled lightweight firearm originally used by cavalry. An AR-15 is a rifle because it has a full length barrel and full sized stock. Also the terminology used in nearly every discussion regarding it calls it a 'rifle'. Not a huge point but most individual small arms are referred to as rifles unless they were expressly developed as carbines.

Edit: this is also a very well researched article on the rifle en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M16_%28rifle%29
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 8:05:01 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/22/2006 8:05:46 PM EDT by scottryan]

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:

Originally Posted By scottryan:

Originally Posted By Ekie:
Very short version:

The first contract awards were in 1994. The M4 and the M4A1 were adopted Standard A that same year, and issue began.

The M4 is Colt's model RO920 and is burst fire.

The M4A1 is Colt's model RO921 and is full auto.

Typically the M4 is issued to infantry divisions while the M4A1 is issued to SFG's and such.

The first batch sent out in 1994/95 mostly went to SFG's and the like, with a few hundred delivered to each infantry division.

Large scale issue to line troops did not really get going till 1997 or so. Colt is still pumping them out, and they are still being issued.



This is gospel.



That is...in the Army.

The Marine Corps had the M4, and called it that, as early as 1986. This per Patrick Rogers, who I imagine would know.



The M4 was adopted as the Standard A carbine for the United States military in 1994. End of discussion.

Link Posted: 3/22/2006 8:07:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/22/2006 8:14:14 PM EDT by scottryan]
We have gone over this several times within the past few months.

A carbine with an "M4" style barrel does not make it an M4.

Even the Colt models on there own website are not M4s even though the lowers are marked M4.
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 8:11:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BattleRife:
...3. The AR-15 developed by Stoner was not a carbine, it was a rifle.
....



IIRC Stoner developed the AR-10, it was Jim Sullivan (and someone else) who scaled the AR10 down to the AR-15 initially. Though IIRC Stoner later went to work at Colt to help out with the initial production of the AR15.

Damn I need to back and reread The Black Rifle
Link Posted: 3/22/2006 8:12:33 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Forest:

Originally Posted By BattleRife:
...3. The AR-15 developed by Stoner was not a carbine, it was a rifle.
....



IIRC Stoner developed the AR-10, it was Jim Sullivan (and someone else) who scaled the AR10 down to the AR-15 initially. Though IIRC Stoner later went to work at Colt to help out with the initial production of the AR15.

Damn I need to back and reread The Black Rifle



Robert Fremont
Link Posted: 3/25/2006 9:01:02 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/25/2006 9:02:02 AM EDT by Ekie]

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:

That is...in the Army.

The Marine Corps had the M4, and called it that, as early as 1986. This per Patrick Rogers, who I imagine would know.



Yes, there was an M4 in 1986, 40 of them that is, they were experimental and refered to by Colt as the Model 720/721. No evidence of any being issued prior to 1994. There were quite a few Colt Model 727 M16A2 Goverment Carbines issued in the 1988-93 time frame, and some confuse that carbine with the M4.

Link Posted: 3/25/2006 9:02:59 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BattleRife:
There are a lot of factual errors in that, particularly relating to Stoner, Armalite and the early versions of the rifle. As you said, the damage has been done, but if you are going to give the presentation again, all your facts need to be checked.



Agreed, better not to say anything then to pass along bum info.
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