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Ok you Vietnam vets.... I’m reading a book called The Gun, most of it is about the AK-47 but it has a pretty large section on the M-16’s development and use in Vietnam.... The author claims it had a 40% failed rate, mostly failure to extract during full auto
What did you guys experience or hear about during that time?
 

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When we first got the 16s, they did not come with a cleaning kit. As designed by Stoner, it was meant to be self cleaning. But trust the gummint to screw up a wet.... uh, to screw up.

Instead of using the powder the rifle was meant to use, they loaded with a different powder- which was DIRTY. And got the bolt, chamber, BCG and gas tube really dirty. With no means of cleaning the thing. Early on they would fail to extract- and unlike the M14/ M1/ m1 carbine, you could not get to the head of the cartridge with a pocket knife, bayonet, etc. And no cleaning rod, could not knock it out from the muzzle.

Using the rifle on full auto meant it would dirty up real fast. But fail to extract could be semi or full.

From Wikipedia:
During the early part of its career, the M16 had a reputation for poor reliability and a malfunction rate of two per 1000 rounds fired.[68] The M16's action works by passing high pressure propellant gasses tapped from the barrel down a tube and into the carrier group within the upper receiver, and is commonly referred to as a "direct impingement gas system". The gas goes from the gas tube, through the bolt carrier key, and into the inside of the carrier where it expands in a donut shaped gas cylinder. Because the bolt is prevented from moving forward by the barrel, the carrier is driven to the rear by the expanding gases and thus converts the energy of the gas to movement of the rifle's parts. The back part of the bolt forms a piston head and the cavity in the bolt carrier is the piston sleeve. It is more correct to call it an "internal piston" system."[69]

This design is much lighter and more compact than a gas-piston design. However, this design requires that combustion byproducts from the discharged cartridge be blown into the receiver as well. This accumulating carbon and vaporized metal build-up within the receiver and bolt-carrier negatively affects reliability and necessitates more intensive maintenance on the part of the individual soldier. The channeling of gasses into the bolt carrier during operation increases the amount of heat that is deposited in the receiver while firing the M16 and causes essential lubricant to be "burned off". This requires frequent and generous applications of appropriate lubricant.[18] Lack of proper lubrication is the most common source of weapon stoppages or jams.[18]

The original M16 fared poorly in the jungles of Vietnam and was infamous for reliability problems in the harsh environment. As a result, it became the target of a Congressional investigation.[70] The investigation found that:[1]

  • The M16 was billed as self-cleaning (when no weapon is or ever has been).[citation needed]
  • The M16 was issued to troops without cleaning kits or instruction on how to clean the rifle.[1]
  • The M16 and 5.56×45mm cartridge was tested and approved with the use of a DuPont IMR8208M extruded powder, that was switched to Olin Mathieson WC846 ball powder which produced much more fouling, that quickly jammed the action of the M16 (unless the gun was cleaned well and often).[1]
  • The M16 lacked a forward assist (rendering the rifle inoperable when it failed to go fully forward).[1]
  • The M16 lacked a chrome-plated chamber, which allowed corrosion problems and contributed to case extraction failures (which was considered the most severe problem and required extreme measures to clear, such as inserting the cleaning-rod down the barrel and knocking the spent cartridge out).[1]
When these issues were addressed and corrected by the M16A1, the reliability problems decreased greatly.[9] According to a 1968 Department of Army report, the M16A1 rifle achieved widespread acceptance by U.S. troops in Vietnam.[47] "Most men armed with the M16 in Vietnam rated this rifle's performance high, however, many men entertained some misgivings about the M16's reliability. When asked what weapon they preferred to carry in combat, 85 percent indicated that they wanted either the M16 or its [smaller]carbine-length version, the XM177E2." Also "the M14 was preferred by 15 percent, while less than one percent wished to carry either the Stoner rifle, the AK-47, the carbine or a pistol."[47] In March 1970, the "President's Blue Ribbon Defense Panel" concluded that the issuance of the M16 saved the lives of 20,000 U.S. servicemen during the Vietnam War, who would have otherwise died had the M14 remained in service.[71] However, the M16 rifle's reputation continues to suffer.[9][72]
 

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Aussie Diggers were very happy with the SLR and most didn't want anything to do with the M16 as there were too many problems with it stopping in the middle of a contact where as the SLR gave good service and solid knock down power in the scrub.
 

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Clothing Military uniform Military person Soldier Face


I was a Machine Gunner by MOS. But when I got to my 12-man team in the bush half of the team were Riflemen and the other half were Machine Gunners; and we only had one M60- machine gun.

So...we rotated between the one M60, the two M79s and the two PRC 25 tactical radios. And everybody--including the Corpsman--who wasn't carrying either the machine gun or one of the grenade launchers, carried an M16.

I never had an issue, a jam, or a malfunction with my M16; nor do I recall any other member of my team having an issue with the rifle. It was reliable and dependable and we saw many contacts.

(And those are M26 frag grenade rings in my bush hat ;))
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
View attachment 230908

I was a Machine Gunner by MOS. But when I got to my 12-man team in the bush half of the team were Riflemen and the other half were Machine Gunners; and we only had one M60- machine gun.

So...we rotated between the one M60, the two M79s and the two PRC 25 tactical radios. And everybody--including the Corpsman--who wasn't carrying either the machine gun or one of the grenade launchers, carried an M16.

I never had an issue, a jam, or a malfunction with my M16; nor do I recall any other member of my team having an issue with the rifle. It was reliable and dependable and we saw many contacts.

(And those are M26 frag grenade rings in my bush hat ;))
Bada55! Vietnam is the war I’m the most interested in, thank you for sharing the pic.... THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE
 

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7.62- looking at the picture of that handsome youngster, the rifle seems to have a forward assist. The original 16s did not- and did not have a chromed chamber- and those were the ones we had.... issues with.

I used a grenade ring as a key ring for years. :p
 

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From what i had seen reported on a documentary years ago, McNamara & his bean counters pushed for the ball powder because it was cheaper. And a cleaning kit was an extra unneccesary expense on this new self-cleaning wonder gun. They also believed X many soldiers with Y many rounds should kill Z many enemy.

I had talked a bit with a Vietnam vet a few years ago & asked him about the M16. He must've got one of the early ones because he gave me a cold stare & shook his head. His dislike of the M16 has spilled over to all AR platform guns & he told me he couldn't understand why anybody would even want one much less pay money for one. I decided it might not be smart to tell him i had an AR-15.
 

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7.62- looking at the picture of that handsome youngster, the rifle seems to have a forward assist. The original 16s did not- and did not have a chromed chamber- and those were the ones we had.... issues with.

I used a grenade ring as a key ring for years. :p

That's true.

We had a few of the older M16s, the ones with the three-pronged flash suppressors...which were useful snapping the wire off cases of C-rations.
 

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From what i had seen reported on a documentary years ago, McNamara & his bean counters pushed for the ball powder because it was cheaper. And a cleaning kit was an extra unneccesary expense on this new self-cleaning wonder gun. They also believed X many soldiers with Y many rounds should kill Z many enemy.

I had talked a bit with a Vietnam vet a few years ago & asked him about the M16. He must've got one of the early ones because he gave me a cold stare & shook his head. His dislike of the M16 has spilled over to all AR platform guns & he told me he couldn't understand why anybody would even want one much less pay money for one. I decided it might not be smart to tell him i had an AR-15.

Well, guys were getting killed because their 16s jammed during firefights...and the scuttlebutt (rumor mill) after these incidents just fueled the distrust.

I qualified with the M14 and loved it...and honestly when I got issued my first M16 in infantry training, I thought it was cheap and stupid-looking. The 14 was a "real" rifle to me...the 16 we called Matty Mattel (after the Mattel Toy Company.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Well, guys were getting killed because their 16s jammed during firefights...and the scuttlebutt (rumor mill) after these incidents just fueled the distrust.

I qualified with the M14 and loved it...and honestly when I got issued my first M16 in infantry training, I thought it was cheap and stupid-looking. The 14 was a "real" rifle to me...the 16 we called Matty Mattel (after the Mattel Toy Company.)

But it worked fine when I needed it. We carried about 24 twenty-round mags with us in bandoliers. Heres a pic of my teammates at LZ Baldy with full combat load: RJ, the guy on the left, has crossed bandoliers each one containing a fully-loaded M16 mag, 19 rounds, every third or fifth round a tracer. The guy on the right, Frenchy, has the 79 and two det-bags full of 40mm HE.

View attachment 230926
Very cool, you see pics in documentaries but it’s nice to tie the person to the pic, awesome
 

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C-3 EXCELLENT POST!

Rifling Stoner wanted to Chrome Line the Rifle from the beginning. But to cut cost the military did not think the extra cost was necessary. But once they finally made the improvements the rifles we much more reliable.
Just sharing I was so upset when the Army took my beloved M-14 away from me and issued what we called at the time Matty Mattel.
And I look at 7point62's pictures. And yeas most of us were 19-20 years old at the time.

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C-3 EXCELLENT POST!

Rifling Stoner wanted to Chrome Line the Rifle from the beginning. But to cut cost the military did not think the extra cost was necessary. But once they finally made the improvements the rifles we much more reliable.
Just sharing I was so upset when the Army took my beloved M-14 away from me and issued what we called at the time Matty Mattel.
In the book I’m reading it’s pretty pro AK-47, and the author so far gives the M-16 no credit, almost like this went on throughout the whole war which I have done research on the development of the M-16 so I was aware of the problems it had early on.... I think the combination of no chrome lining and wrong powder was the main cause
 

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There is some misconception concerning the designer of the A-15/M16 rifle. Stoner designed the AR-10 rifle. L. James Sullivan designed the gas system of the AR-15 rifle and scaled down the AR-10.

Sullivan also designed the Ruger Mini-14 rifle and the Ruger model 77 bolt action rifle. Sullivan still lives, he has recently has designed some improvements for the M4 and M4A1 rifles.

http://smallarmsoftheworld.com/display.article.cfm?idarticles=110

The change to ball powder increased gas port pressure from 10,000 psi to 12,500 psi. That caused cartridge case extraction problems.
 

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Just my opinion- but we should have adopted the FAL or an intermediate cartridge variant of the FAL, just like every other capitalist nation did at the time. In my opinion, it’s just a much better rifle, and to me it’s way cooler. I wish we lived in a universe where the prices of ARs and FALs were swapped. If I’d bought an FAL of the same quality as my AR- I think I’d faint at the price it would be in this universe.
 

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Just my opinion- but we should have adopted the FAL or an intermediate cartridge variant of the FAL, just like every other capitalist nation did at the time. In my opinion, it’s just a much better rifle, and to me it’s way cooler. I wish we lived in a universe where the prices of ARs and FALs were swapped. If I’d bought an FAL of the same quality as my AR- I think I’d faint at the price it would be in this universe.
I can second that, when comparing the M-14 to the FAL I don’t see why the FAL didn’t win the battle rifle trials.
 
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