Tag Archives: Lebanon

Welcome (back), M16A4

The humble original M16 was originally Armalite’s AR-15, and was first ordered for military service with a contract issued to Colt Firearms in May 1962 for the purchase of early Model 01 rifles to be used by Air Force Security Police.

Note, these guns had waffle-pattern 20-round mags, no forward assist, a thin 1:14 twist barrel, and the early three-prong flash hider.

Fast forward to the XM16E1, which became the M16A1 in 1967, and you started to come closer to the standard Army/Marine rifle used in Vietnam and throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. It used a forward assist and a 1:12 twist barrel.

By 1983, the M16A2 came about, it had a thicker barrel in front of the front sight, a modified flash suppressor (closed on bottom), a new polymer buttstock (lighter and stronger), faster barrel twist (from 1:12 to 1:7), and a spent case deflector for left-hand users. Considered downright vintage by the Army and Marines, the Navy still sports them these days.

M16A2- check
M9 in drop leg holster- check
Body armor- um, about that……

By 1998, the M16A4 was in play, primarily for the Marines, which had a removable carry handle, a Picatinny top rail to allow for optics, short rails on the handguard for accessories, and a 20-inch barrel with a 1:7 RH twist rate.

Note the size difference between the compact M4 Carbine, top, and the full-length M16A4 rifle, bottom. (Photos: Department of Defense)

Since the GWOT kicked off in 2002, the big shift over the years has been to move from the full-length M16 family to the more compact M4/M4A1 carbine, with its collapsible rear stock and stubby 14-inch barrel, leaving the increasingly old-school style rifle as something of a relic today. Heck, the Army for the past couple years has been very actively working on replacing their 5.56 NATO rifles and SAWs with a new 6.8mm weapon. 

Now jump to 2020, and the M16A4 is now apparently the Army’s designated rifle for Foreign Military Sales to equip overseas allies in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Nepal.

Colt and FN are competing in a contract to supply as much as $383 million smackers worth of M16A4s by 2025.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Meanwhile, 36 years later

While Commandant Paul X. Kelley was visiting an intensive care ward at Frankfurt, Germany on 25 October, he observed Jeffrey Nashton "with more tubes going in and out of his body than I (Gen. Kelley) have ever seen. When he heard me say who I was, he grabbed my camouflaged coat, went up to the collar and counted the stars. He squeezed my hand, and then he wrote...'Semper Fi'," Gen. Kelley explained. The Commandant later recalled, "When I left the hospital, I realized I had met a great human being, and I took off those stars because at the time I felt they belonged more to him that to me."     From the Paul X. Kelley Collection (COLL/3348) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division     OFFICIAL USMC PHOTOGRAPH

While Commandant Paul X. Kelley was visiting an intensive care ward at Frankfurt, Germany on 25 October 1983, he observed Jeffrey Nashton “with more tubes going in and out of his body than I (Gen. Kelley) have ever seen. When he heard me say who I was, he grabbed my camouflaged coat, went up to the collar and counted the stars. He squeezed my hand, and then he wrote…’Semper Fi’,” Gen. Kelley explained. The Commandant later recalled, “When I left the hospital, I realized I had met a great human being, and I took off those stars because at the time I felt they belonged more to him than to me.” From the Paul X. Kelley Collection (COLL/3348) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division OFFICIAL USMC PHOTOGRAPH

In the U.S. House, H.Res.515 has recently been introduced “Expressing support for the designation of October 23, 2019, as a national day of remembrance of the tragic 1983 terrorist bombing of the United States Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.”