The M16A1 is a type of American assault rifle that was first unveiled and used in the Vietnam War. The M16 is the American adversary of the AK-47.

The M16 is America's answer to the AK. The M16 does a number of things better than the AK. The design is much more modern, and has a number of additions to make it more user friendly, such as a last round lock back, to notify the user when the firearm is empty. The design is also more accurate, due to its design and the faster, smaller and lighter round it fires. Also, its sights are built into a handy carrying handle. The firearm is also built from plastics and aluminum alloys, so it is much lighter than the AK. However, the M16 has a number of fatal flaws, such as a lack of stopping power and a polarizing reputation for reliability under adverse conditions, due primarily to its dirtier direct impingement gas system and tight tolerances. The M16 also held less rounds than the AK during the first years of the Vietnam war.

First BloodEdit

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A National Guard soldier armed with an M16.

The M16A1 is a weapon John Rambo is very familiar with, echoing its use in Vietnam, a war John Rambo was involved with. 
The M16 is used by several members of the Hope, Washington police department as well as by the National Guard while they hunt down John Rambo in the forests of the Cascade Mountains. Rambo then returns fire on the National Guard with a captured M16A1 and discards it when it is emptied. These guns replace the AR-15/SP1 when the officers fire on fully-automatic. Hope police chief Will Teasle himself personally carries an AR-15 in the style of the original M16 when he goes after Rambo. 

The M16A1, and the M16 were not seen again for thirty years in a Rambo film. This is possibly because the M16A1 was quickly phased out by the United States Military, and American police forces would transition to more sophisticated and smaller arms, such as the M4 Carbine. 

Rambo IVEdit

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Karen Rebels armed with M16A1 assault rifles.

The M16A1's first and only appearance was at first only in First Blood. However, 30 years later, the M16 design appeared again. Keen-eyed fans will spot M16A1s briefly in use by the Burmese Karen Rebels in the final scenes of Rambo IV. 


The M16 rifle, officially designated Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16, is the United States military select-fire adaptation of the AR-15 rifle. Both were designed by Eugene Stoner, and were adapted for semi-automatic and full-automatic fire. Colt purchased the rights to the AR-15 from ArmaLite, and currently uses that designation only for semi-automatic versions of the rifle. The military was interested in the M16, because they were looking for an high-capacity assault rifle, but one that was light. Because of this, the M16 was designed with high-speed aluminum alloys and synthetic fiberglass polymers. It was also revered for accuracy (due to both the design of the rifle and its lighter, smaller and faster bullet) and its space-age look. The M16 was then dubbed the "black rifle". The M16 fires the intermediate 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge, which was a .223 Remington varmint cartridge loaded to higher pressures. The rifle entered United States Army service and was deployed for jungle warfare operations in South Vietnam in 1963, becoming the U.S. military's standard service rifle of the Vietnam War by 1969, replacing the M14 rifle in that role, although the U.S. Army retained the M14 in CONUS, Europe, and South Korea until 1970.

However, in Vietnam, the problems with the M16 surfaced. The largest problem with the M16 was that it was prone to jamming after being exposed to sand and mud, both of which were common in Vietnam. G.I.s did whatever they could to stop this from happening, going as far as to tape condoms around the firearm's muzzle. Another problem of the rifle was its operating mechanism. Not only did its gas tube retain water, but it was also a direct impingement design, unlike an AK-47, which used a gas operated piston mechanism. This direct impingement fouled the action and made the M16 prone to jamming, which resulted in the deaths of many American soldiers in Vietnam. However, after 1967, the M16 performed better, because the problems were addressed. The M16 was originally not issued with a cleaning kit, as it was wrongly believed that the firearm was self-cleaning. The M16 was then cleaned after every use, and even if it was not used, it was cleaned to keep the gun free of sand, water and mud. The newer M16A1 was also issued with a chromed chamber and a forward assist to help fix jamming. Another culprit for the poor performance of the M16 was that it was using ammunition it was not designed for. The M16 was designed to fire XM193 5.56, but the smokeless propellant composition was changed to ball powder, which was much dirtier and helped to foul the action and cause jamming much faster.


M16A1 carbine, the CAR-15

Nonetheless, the M16 has not had these problems since Vietnam because the problems have been addressed and largely solved. As long as the M16 is kept clean, it functions fine. The M16 is still in use as the primary service rifle of the United States Armed Forces since its adoption in 1963, although it is no longer the classic M16A1. In 1983, with the USMC's adoption of the M16A2 (1986 for the US Army), the M16 rifle was modified for three-round bursts, with some later variants having all modes of fire. Since then, the M16 has spawned several variants, including the newer M16A4 and the M4 Carbine. The M16A2 had round handguards, as opposed to the original triangular handguards of the M16 and M16A1. It also had a more ergonomic foregrip and adjustible rear sights. Other than that, the rifles were the same, and newer M16 variants remain basically the same, except for cosmetic differences. The M16A4, for instance, is the same as the M16A2, except it has a removable carrying handle with a picatinny rail for mounting optics. The handguards also have quad rails for mounting lights and foregrips. 

Since its design, the M16 has become the second most popular assault rifle in the world, as well as the most common firearm in its 5.56 chambering. The M16 has also been widely adopted by other militaries around the world. Total worldwide production of M16s has been approximately 8 million, making it the most-produced firearm of its caliber. As of 2010, the U.S. Army is supplementing the M16 in combat units with the M4 carbine, which is a smaller version of the M16 with an adjustable stock and more ergonomic furniture.