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Posted: 8/25/2006 12:43:48 AM EDT
Let me know if I have this right or where any corrections need to be made. Thanks.

M16: US Military designation of their standard infantry rifle based on the AR-15 design. Variations of this specific designation include M16A1, M16A2, M16A3 and M16A4 representing changes brought on by adopting new standardized upgrades. Original M16 had a 1/12 or 1/14 twist, skinny pencil barrel, three prong flash suppressor, shoots 55g M193 ammo, simple sights, no forward assist, triangle handguards, shorter stock.

M16A1: same as the M16, except for the forward assist, "fence" around the magazine release, chromed bore/chamber, brass deflector, and new birdcage flash hider. It was standard issue from about 1965-68 through 1985 or so.

M16A2: longer stronger stock, round handguards, more complex rear sight with different sized aperatures, safe, semi and burst (3 round), closed bottom birdcage flash hider, heavier government profile barrel (light under the handguards) in 1-in-7 twist for the 62g M855 ammo with a steel penetrator for better performance on Soviet body armor and light cover.

M16A3: essentially the same thing as an M16A2 with a flat top receiver and removable carry handle.

M16A4: current Marine Corps Issue, it's an A2 with a flattop receiver, and a quad rail handguard system being the major changes.

M4: US Military designation, essentially an M16 with a shorter barrel (14.5”), adjustable stock, etc… It also carries A2, A3, and A4 distinctions that mimic those on the different M16 variations.
Link Posted: 8/25/2006 1:27:07 AM EDT
Re M4 Carbine.
There are only two -the M4 Carbine- 3 round burst, and M4A1 Carbine, which is FA.
The "A2", "A3" monikers are marketing hype.
Link Posted: 8/25/2006 1:36:42 AM EDT
A3 is a flattop, 20" barrel with SAFE, SEMI, AUTO
A4 is flattop, 20" barrel with SAFE, SEMI, BURST

Rails can be added as a separate subcomponent of the weapon system (M5 rail

ETA: Recently I found out that all M16A2 rifles were supposed to be rebuilt at Direct Support level to M16A4 (including the model number change) as per MWO by 2003.
Link Posted: 8/25/2006 3:00:09 AM EDT

A3 is a flattop A2, 20" barrel with SAFE, SEMI, AUTO
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