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Whats the deal with the M-16's in vietnam evertime I see pictures of the soldiers they always have real short mags like 10 or 15 round seems like that wouldn't be the best and a nice 30 rounder would be better. Where these guns full auto it seems like some of the guys were shooting semi auto?
 

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20 round mags were standard for most of the war. 30s came later. Guns were select fire. Semi indicates good fire discipline. Full auto wastes ammo except for very specific circumstances. Our best operators train for fast semi shots with quick transition from target to target.
 

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Hi Greg,

You are looking at twenty round mags. These were standard issue during the Vietnam war, and we loaded ours with eighteen rounds to prevent feeding problems. I will say, however, that both before and after my tour in Vietnam, I fired many, many mags loaded with a full twenty rounds and never experienced any problems. The rifles carried in Vietnam were M-16s and M-16A1s and featured a safe, semi, and auto selector. No three round bust position.hth-TR
 

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Actually, many of the M16s during Vietnam weren't either full or semi auto. They were single shot, requiring popping the spent case out with a cleaning rod through the barrel!


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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com

[This message has been edited by dsk (edited 12-05-2001).]
 

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Don't get me started on M16s and Vietnam. For a guy who wasn't even alive, I'm full of opinions on this subject! For one, I don't believe the M14 should have been phased out so quickly. The M16 was clearly rushed into service, and the combination of misinformation about the rifle's maintenace needs and poor ammunition resulted in many unnecessary American deaths. Vets, am I on target here or just spouting off where I shouldn't?

Back to the original subject, I've got more experience with the 20-rounders than 30-rounders, because that's what we have at the Academy. There are always lots of problems with them (many are probably too worn) and we never load them to full capacity. Alibis during shooting strings are a very regular occurrence. I wouldn't trust my life with the metal 20-rounders we have - on the other hand I find the 30 round Thermolds to be great.

As for the semi auto thing, my best friend was a Marine infantryman and to this day he shudders when we talk of M16s on full auto. They absolutely DRILL semi auto into them. No one, and I mean no one dares fire an M16A2 on burst mode in the Corps. Machine guns are for full auto and rifles are for aimed single shots (the way it should be IMO).

In Vietnam the infantry often traded aimed fire for saturating the bush ahead with spray & pray, full auto, rock & roll mayhem. I can't remember the exact statistics but the doctrine meant that tens of thousands of rounds were fired to inflict a single casualty. I'd like to see similar statistics for rounds fired vs. casualties inflicted for WWII and Korea; I imagine we were a little more efficient then.
 

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Burst mode is a thing of the past in the Army. The new A2's get Safe, Semi and 3 shot.. no full auto. This is a drag with a former 11/Bravo like myself, that was about all the 16 was good at! SUPPRESSIVE FIRE!

if you dont have a hulk toting a M249 or M60 along for the hike, it gets really lonely in a firefight with only 3rd burst settings!

I was fortunate enough to tote what I wished (Within reason), and the M16 series was never a first choice. I would tote the M14, or H&K series rifle over the M16 anyday. I was out before the M4, which I think is an excellent evolution of the 16 system.

My father was 82nd in Vietnam (3 tours..cause he was stupid). He was issued a first run M16 in late 68.. after 5 CONSECUTIVE broken rifles.. he grabed a M14 and carried it for the rest of the conflict. I would not own an AR15/M16 older than an A2 series rifle. make it an A2 or A3 or nothing. Preban or not, I wouldnt trust my life to an A1 or older.
 

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re: short mags...my Dad said he always prefered the 20 rounders because it allowed him to set the rifle on his web belt while strolling along through the jungle. The gun was immediate into action, but didn't have to be carried or slung. The 30 round mags were too long for this.

BTW...in the two and a half years he was over there, he only remembers cleaning his M16 twice, and never had a malfunction.


[This message has been edited by boing (edited 12-06-2001).]
 

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Here's another question for this topic:

Was the M16 rushed into use becuase the M14 was inferior to the AK-47? Or was it simply a matter of arming all of the branches of the armed forces with the same rifle?

"Later, in Vietnam, the AK-47 so outperformed the Army's M14 (a sort of super M1), we hastily adapted, as a countermeasure, the M16."

-by Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14195-2001Nov25.html
 

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Originally posted by GI-45:
Here's another question for this topic:

Was the M16 rushed into use becuase the M14 was inferior to the AK-47? Or was it simply a matter of arming all of the branches of the armed forces with the same rifle?

"Later, in Vietnam, the AK-47 so outperformed the Army's M14 (a sort of super M1), we hastily adapted, as a countermeasure, the M16."

-by Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post
That's not my recollection but I went over there with a 16A1. Those that were there during the transition my know more about that subject.

As to the AK out performing the 14 I can tell you that is not true. The AK is an outstanding weapon but it certainly is not as accurate a weapon as the 14.

I will say because of its size the AK is certainly a handier weapon in the bush than a 14 and considering the ranges that were typical there the accuracy difference between the AK and 14 was basically inconsequential.

One thing is for sure; the AK is really a soldiers weapon as far as I am concerned. It's tough as hell, incredibly dependable, and moronically easy to maintain.

The 14 is also a soldiers weapon from the standpoint of durability and dependability but it is a more complicated and moderately more difficult weapon to maintain when compared to an AK.

The 16 series was lighter and easier to handle in the bush than a 14 and one could carry more ammo without a big weight penalty. But GAWD it was a pile of crap when it came down to maintenance.

IF, maintenance was done right the 16 was very dependable. My biggest complaint was double feeds and I didn't get many of those. The problem was, at least while I was there, was the fact that a lot of the deadly maintenance rumors were still floating around and I saw guys oil ammo etc.

I didn’t use 30 round mags over there because there were none. I didn’t however short load my mags; I loaded a full 20 rounds. The double feeds that I experienced were not at the start of the mag but usually somewhere in the middle and after it got hot.
 

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The advantage to the M16 is weight and recoil. A grunt can carry more 5.56 rounds than 7.62 and the current philosophy on warfare holds that whoever throws the most lead wins. Also, many recruits are intimidated by the recoil of a 30 cal rifle. This was true in earlier conflicts, and studies have discovered that a surprisingly large percentage of troops never fired their weapons because they were afraid of them.

I don't think the M16 was rushed into service. The rifle was ready for service when issued. The problem came with the use of ammo loaded with ball powder. Eugene Stoner (M16 designer) warned the army not to use it, but they did and it fouled the gas systems on the rifles.

The debate over .22 vs .30 is moot. The small caliber is here to stay. Combat is generally at short range, so the long-range advantage of the .30 cal is not critical. But the benefits of the smaller caliber are real.
 

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Aside from the ball powder issue, I understand also that the "whiz kids" decided to approve the -16A1 without a chromed chamber, citing that "Eugene Stoner would have designed it with one if it needed it."

The lack of a chromed chamber also caused some corrosion/fouling that negatively affected reliability.

Although I seem to recall that this was remedied pretty quickly, within the 1st year of SE Asian use.

/TCP



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Measure Twice....Cut Once
 

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One of the chief problems with the AR15 is fundamental to the design - the fact that gas is blown directly into the receiver to operate the bolt. Anyone who's cleaned one knows they get dirty as hell after a few mags. Ball powder only exacerbated this problem, making regular cleaning a must. Add to this a non-chromed chamber and you had a recipe for extraction failure; they just stayed in there.

I still don't think the M16 is a very good field design compared to the Garand or Kalashnikov. You ought to be able to go a while without cleaning, because who knows when your next opportunity will be. I'll gladly own an AR15 because I can clean it whenever I want to, but then I don't live in the field.

SaxonPig, I've got a few issues with your assertions. The current philosophy in warfare is not just to spray bullets at the enemy and hope you hit someone. That was a doctrine started by the Soviets with the AK47 and copied by us to a great extent in Vietnam, but we are thankfully leaning back toward marksmanship as a priority. The Marines don't make everyone qualify annually at 200, 300, and 500 meters for ****s and giggles.

I do enjoy the low recoil of the M16, but not because heavy recoil scares me. The higher weight of the .30 caliber rifles absorbs recoil well. The advantage to the M16's recoil is quicker follow-up shots. I'd still rather be firing 150 grain bullets at the bad guys. The extra weight doesn't matter to me that much. It's nice to have a light rifle, but it's not the most important thing.
 

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I was a couple years shy of going to vietnam, but I was close . I only know about the 16's thru my friends that served and things like the history channel . The 16 was designed by committee and needed a chromed chamber and a cleaning kit... which was not included at first. The rifle has evolved into an incredibly accurate and excellent gun. I would have not wanted to be doing the field testing in vietnam to see the effects of dirt, humidity, ball powder, no cleaning training, poorly hardened firing pins , too high twist rate... etc. They got it right eventually, I hope the military is now better at getting it right before handing them out. The good news is that the light easy to carry and shoot gun is well suited to modern urban and short range war environments . The m16 fired full auto was only good at supressing fire , not hitting anything. The garrand, 03 springfield and BAR and AK were born great rifles, the m16 was developed into one.
 

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One thing not mentioned is that a 30 rd mag sets one's head that much higher off the ground when firing from a prone position. Makes it easier to stop flying objects with one's forehead. Not good for longevity. A 20 rd mag lets one get lower.

During WWII a M1 Garand was modified with a 20 round mag but the powers that be decided it would result in more head wound casualties. They stayed with the 8 rd clip. Much later they reconsidered and came out with the M14.
 

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McNamara- In WWI it is estimated that 100 rounds were fired for every casualty inflicted by US soldiers. In WWII it was 1,000 rounds. In Vietnam it was 1,000,000!

Are things getting better in terms of marksmanship? Unlikely given that fewer and fewer recruits are coming from rural areas where they grew up hunting and know how to sight and lead a target.
 

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If you haven't already, I recommend that you read Ezell's "The Black Rifle."

Dick Culver was a marine who served in Vietnam while the M16 was introduced and had its worst teething problems. He later became an ordnance officer. He's got two articles on his web site about the M16:
http://www.jouster.com/articles30m1/index.html http://www.jouster.com/articles30m1/M16part2.html

Basically, there were a number of factors which lead to the M16 problems in Vietnam. They included:

1) the military used a different type of powder than the one the gun was designed with. That powder had a different pressure profile, which caused major problems.

2) the gun really was rushed into production too soon. There were a number of things that just weren't well specified (e.g., dimensions of the magazine well).

3) Colt oversold the gun early on, saying that it didn't need cleaning, etc. Since it didn't need cleaning, then it didn't need cleaning kits. Cleaning kits were thus in short supply in the early days in Vietnam.

I think tha M16 has evolved into a relatively accurate and reliable gun. I think it has darn good ergonomics, especially compared to the AK. However, it has gained a fair bit of weight, and is now not much lighter than the M14 it replaced. I do think the gas system design is a mistake.
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Saxon, those are interesting and yet not surprising statistics. Unfortunately, adopting a rifle that is easy to shoot has not resulted in better combat marksmanship. It's all about the experience one already has coupled with the quality of training.

I also like the ergonomics of the M16. For me, though, it's not the length of the magazine that matters. I've compared the prone position of the M16 and the M1, and they are the same. It's the length of my forearms that determines the height of my head above the ground.

I've read Dick Culver's articles. They give a very sobering perspective on the relationship between the high-ups and the grunts. Essentially the whiz-kids didn't care (or have the slightest clue) about what was needed for combat effectiveness. Even when reports were made to the effect that the malfunctioning M16 was killing soldiers and Marines, they were ignored, so the whiz-kids could save face. Bastards, I hope they pay.
 

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I also agree that the M16 would be a much finer weapon if the gas system didn't puke directly into the action. That idea was D-U-M-B.

ZM Weapons makes a top end assembly for AR-type rifles that uses an upper similar to the flat top A3, but the operating system is a conventional piston arrangement. I have seen a couple, and their owners claim they are simply AWESOME. However, the top end unit alone costs more than a pre-ban AR-15! If it wasn't for the price I'd own one.



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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com

[This message has been edited by dsk (edited 12-08-2001).]
 

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Originally posted by dsk:
I also agree that the M16 would be a much finer weapon if the gas system didn't puke directly into the action. That idea was D-U-M-B.

ZM Weapons makes a top end assembly for AR-type rifles that uses an upper similar to the flat top A3, but the operating system is a conventional piston arrangement. I have seen a couple, and their owners claim they are simply AWESOME. However, the top end unit alone costs more than a pre-ban AR-15! If it wasn't for the price I'd own one.
Anybody know what ever happened to the "Rino" system? It has to be at least 20 years ago but Rino developed a system where a piston and rod assembly replaced the direct gas system.

The piston fit inside the gas chamber and was connected to an operating rod that was of such a diameter that it fit inside the existing gas tube and of course exerted its force against the bolt carrier key. I also believe there was a replacement bolt carrier key that came along with the system.



[This message has been edited by Patrickl (edited 12-08-2001).]
 
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