Early M16 Issue Problems in the Field (Vietnam)

Discussion in 'Auto & Semi-Auto Discussion' started by pathfinder8008, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. pathfinder8008

    pathfinder8008 New Member

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    In another thread, "Best 30 Caliber Battle Rifle" the AR platform came up and then the unreliability of the M16 in early form issued in Vietnam when it replaced the M14. I have heard much urban legend surrounding this issue but have always been puzzled because of my twenty years of experience in the U.S. Army with the weapon.

    What I found was new information which was very interesting. So as the thread meandered away from the subject and I don't know how to or if you can redirect a thread so I thought a new thread would be the answer as there is obviously more good information out there. Here I will include the salient points.

    The first reference was from Therewolf:
    To which I replied:
    Then Johnny357 gave us a good reference:
    And Johnny357 also said:
    Also therewolf ammended:
    Also from Johnny357:
    To which I replied:
    OK, if there is any other good information out there please submit.
     
  2. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    This is good information. Thanks for taking the time to put it out there PF.
     

  3. therewolf

    therewolf New Member

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    Thank you pathfinder8008,

    I had no intention of creating such

    a massive reverb with my original post,

    and once again apologize for seeming

    to anyone here that I cast any doubts or

    negative comments on the AR platform,

    which I willingly admit has developed into

    one of the finest modular weapons of all

    time.

    I especially would like to see a posting from

    anyone
    who heard a person in position of

    authority at the time of the original M-16

    incident say cleaning the M-16 in the field

    was not needed...
     
  4. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    Pathfinder, one issue I didn't see mentioned yet - I have read that initial production lots of ammo did not use the proper type of powder, causing increased fouling.
     
  5. pathfinder8008

    pathfinder8008 New Member

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    Thanks, I did a google search concerning powder fouling and found this. There are no references listed so I can not verify this information but you may find it interesting reading.

    Armalite / Colt AR-15 / M16 M16A1 M16A2 M16A3 M16A4 assault rifle (USA)
     
  6. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A good friend of mine was on a troubleshooting team that collected data on the M16 rifle. Some kid would write a letter to his congressman saying his M16 jammed in combat. Often the team would find discover the kid was a support guy who had never fired his M16 in combat.

    All the M16 growing pains can be traced to these things:

    1. The US Army insisted in loading 5.56mm ammo with ball powder.

    2. The lack a chrome plated chamber: The chamber would sometimes rust. The Army wanted this feature but were over-ruled by the McNamara bunch in the Pentagon.

    3. The lack of a cleaning kit. The first M16 rifles were issued without cleaning kits. McNamara's "whiz kids" in the Penatgon over-ruled the Army on cleaning kits for the M16 rifle. They were backed up by Eugene Stoner who claimed the gun was "self cleaning.

    4. The lack of standard maintenance procedures for the M16 rifle.
     
  7. bb1

    bb1 New Member

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    Don't forget the puny caliber, after the rifle twist was changed to 1;8, the bullet lost its inherent ability to tumble. This required the double/triple tap to dispatch those who need killing. Remember the 6.8 SPC?
     
  8. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Please bear in mind- when the M16 was FIRST issued, there WAS no cleaning rod/ bore brush, so it would be rather hard to carry one in your pack. Rods for the previous rifles were .30 cal, and would not FIT. There WERE folks back home send CARE packages to their sons of 25 cleaning rods at a time.
     
  9. therewolf

    therewolf New Member

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    IIRC, the 5.56 is considered devastating to humans for it's size. The Viet Cong

    grew to fear and respect it.
     
  10. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver New Member

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    Anyone who ever saw the devastating effect of a 5.56 hit on human flesh would not call it puny. For taking down a un-armored, man-sized target it is plenty effective without being "large caliber". Add a penetrator round to it and it'll eat through body armor with no problem.
     
  11. rigjumpr

    rigjumpr New Member

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    I completely concur, with the lack of cleaning kits + the heat and humidity of the jungle. This, as we now know is not a good combination.
    This would lead me to believe that the fouling was mostly due to corrosion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  12. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member Supporter

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    i often hunt wild hogs with a .223/5.56mm. My favorite hog killing round is US Army M193 ball ammo. If you've never seen what that little 55 grain bullet does to a 250 pound hog, it's hard to believe. At ranges up to about 150 yards, when fired from a 20" or longer barrel, the bullet penetrates about five inches, yaws 90 degrees and fragments. Pieces of that bullet often tear up the heart, lungs, liver and diaphragm.

    At ranges over 150 yards the bullet quickly loses it's magic. Col. (Dr) Facker on wound ballistics:

    Military bullet wound patterns
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  13. pathfinder8008

    pathfinder8008 New Member

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    Great reference alsaqr. Dr. Facker's article is valid. I studied hundreds of color slides of high velocity gun shot wounds as part of a medical course. The teaching point was that the entire portion of what Dr. Facker terms 'temporary cavity' is tissue that will suffer damage from the shock wave of a high velocity bullet passing through and having to be debrided in surgery due to tissue necrosis. Unfortunately this shock-wave injury is not what we term man-stopping so in combat the 5.56 can in some cases be deficient; especially as the gentleman quoted in Military rifle bullet wound patterns, where the enemy is hopped up on Khat or some other stimulant drug as they were in Mogadishu and they don't seem to even know they have been shot.

    Wow, this could be a long discussion and it is very interesting.

    Another point that I would love to put to rest is the legend about 5.56mm projectiles tumbling when shot from an M16. I have heard this one many times and do not understand how the ballistics will allow a tumbling trajectory. Probably the confusion comes from the bullet yaw after penetrating surface layers of skin and bone.

    I think all of the questions put forward in this thread concerning maintenance, powder and chamber lining are answered by ofitg's THE INFLUENCE OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE ON THE ACQUISITION OF THE M16 RIFLE. Comprehensive and peer-reviewed, this paper can probably be taken for as near factual as we are going to get. Still rubbing my eyes after scanning through all 117 pages. Will have to spend more time with it to make any reports. Thanks oftig

    OK, I am tossing back to y'all.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  14. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    It is my understanding that early M16 prototypes utilized 1:14 rifling, and that the 55 gr slugs were found to be tumbling under arctic test conditions (very cold, dense air) at ranges of a couple hundred yards.

    Aside from that, I'm not aware of any instances where the bullets de-stabilized in air.
     
  15. pathfinder8008

    pathfinder8008 New Member

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    Bullet tumbling

    Roger that ofitg, a tumbling bullet would have a very degraded trajectory.

    Also, I believe after reading THE INFLUENCE OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE ON THE ACQUISITION OF THE M16 RIFLE, and the modernizations of the rifle listed did not include chromium lining the chamber and barrel; I can deduce that the chamber and barrel were already chromium lined.
     
  16. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    I'm not certain about the chromium linings..... online sources suggest that the chambers were chrome-lined starting in 1967 and that the bores were chrome-lined a couple years later, but I could not find any government publications to confirm those facts.
     
  17. Snakedriver

    Snakedriver New Member

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    Any light, high velocity bullet will easily be deflected or have its trajectory altered if it comes into contact with anything during its flight. It's a problem not unique to the 5.56/.223 of the M-16. That’s why many people like to use heavy, large caliber weapons when hunting in heavy brush and overgrown areas.

    In Vietnam where the battlefield conditions were most often in dense jungle overgrowth the M-16's bullets would tumble due to coming into contact with the heavy vegetation in the jungle.

    Additionally, if that same light, high velocity bullet hits bone or cartilage when it hits flesh it again will be deflected into various different directions that may resemble tumbling.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  18. ofitg

    ofitg New Member

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    Snakedriver, that's a good point. Considering that so many bullets probably were deflected by leaves and twigs in Vietnam, it's not hard to imagine how this would evolve into claims that the M16 ammo was inherently unstable/inaccurate.
     
  19. PowerViolence

    PowerViolence New Member

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    I was once told that the bad reputation of the gun was actually malfunctioning ammo and that the gun would have functioned otherwise fine if it hadn't been for the ammo? who knows maybe just another myth