Tag Archives: M16A1

Then I Guess I’ll see You In Hell

With the temperatures hovering around 100 already and another three months of summer to go, I needed a bit of chill in my life.

Maybe not as much as this poor guy, though, busy putting the “cold” back in the Cold War.

A U.S. Army soldier stands guard in the snow armed with an M16A1 rifle at an undisclosed location, 17 September 1985. NARA DA-ST-85-12838

If you ask me, the Joe is certainly rocking a similar vibe to one certain scruffy nerf herder of the same era

The upper upgrade game is strong

Dallas, Georgia-based DRD Tactical has announced they have been awarded a fixed quantity-fixed price contract for M4 uppers to a U.S. allied country in Asia. According to DRD, the undisclosed end user is upgrading their older M16 rifles with the company’s billet uppers, M-LOK compatible handguards, 14-inch M4 barrel, front and rear flip up sights, and carbine stock assembly kits.

If you ask me, they are likely headed to a country that rhymes with “Ilippines,” who has some 150,000~ 1970s-80s vintage M16A1s on hand and a serious issue with both local insurgents and curious neighbors looking to expand.

Weapons of Philippine Army Rangers during a rest in the 2017 Marawi, anti-ISIS campaign, including domestically made M16A1s and M14 given as U.S. aid

More in my column at Guns.com.

Turkey Day, 50 years back

(John Olson/Stars and Stripes)

(John Olson/Stars and Stripes)

South Vietnam, November 1967: Staff Sgt. Raymond Scherz of Addison, Ill., has a passenger, but the gobbler’s ride shapes up as a one-way trip to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division’s Thanksgiving dinner at the nearby Bear Cat base camp. The turkey was one of 57,000 sent in to provide as many as possible of the half-million U.S. servicemembers in Vietnam with a traditional holiday feast.

Also rolling through the supply chain for the 1967 meal was 225 tons of boneless turkey meat, 28 tons of cranberry sauce, 15 tons of mixed nuts, eight tons of candy, 11 tons of olives and 33 tons of fruitcake.

However, you couldn’t be too careful with Charlie.

Specialist Fred Gutierrez “interrogates” a turkey for it’s supposed links to the North Vietnamese Army as it sits in the rucksack of Staff Sgt. Raymond Scherz near Bearcat Base, Dong Nai Vietnam, Thanksgiving 1967.

You get a bloop gun, you get a bloop gun, you get a bloop gun

3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, “the Golden Brigade,” arriving for their time in Vietnam in early 1968. Note everybody taking advantage of “smoke em if you got em,” as well as the camo M1 covers, M16A1s, several 173rd ABN Brigade combat patches, and heavy distribution of M79 bloop guns.

U.S Army photo. Typically held back as part of the U.S. Army’s very slim strategic reserve during the war, the 3,650 paratroopers of the Golden Brigade was rushed was to Vietnam in February 1968 as an emergency measure in response to the Tet Offensive.

Reminds me of this passage from a book that I was pleased to see on my son’s reading list, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried,

In addition to the three standard weapons–the M-60, M-16, and M-79–they carried whatever presented itself, or whatever seemed appropriate as a means of killing or staying alive. They carried catch-as-catch-can. At various times, in various situations, they carried M-14s and CAR-15s and Swedish Ks and grease guns and captured AK-47s and Chi-Coms and RPGs and Simonov carbines and black market Uzis and .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handguns and 66 mm LAWs and shotguns and silencers and blackjacks and bayonets and C4 plastic explosives.

Lee Strunk carried a slingshot; a weapon of last resort, he called it. Mitchell Sanders carried brass knuckles. Kiowa carried his grandfather’s feathered hatchet. Every third or fourth man carried a Claymore antipersonnel mine–3.5 pounds with its firing device. They all carried fragmentation grenades–14 ounces each. They all carried at least one M-18 colored smoke grenade–24 ounces. Some carried CS or tear gas grenades. Some carried white phosphorus grenades. They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.”

Being underwhelmed at SHOT Show

So Colt came out with a reissue of their classic SP-1 style AR-15 (which they call a M16A1 reissue even though it is not select-fire) as part of their new line for 2017, shown off at SHOT. That’s cool, as it’s a vintage design and it seems like everyone is doing “old-school” A1 builds these days.


The new deal…(Photo: Chris Eger)

The semi-auto 5.56mm has the finger grooved triangular handguards, a 20-inch 1/12RH twist barrel, and factory 20-round mags.

However, the price is way off mark, MSRP’d at $2499.

Come on, Colt!

This factor was not lost on some in the collectible rifle market, who note real SP-1s are actually trending cheaper. The below from Rock Island Auctions:

“With Colt’s release of a $2500 commemorative M16A1, let us mention that there are several early, original Colt ARs and SP1s in our February Auction with much lower price estimates.”


The real deal…(Photo: Rock Island)

Eugene Stoner may have been on to something

There are hundreds of firearms blogs out there and most of them are crap. One of the really good ones is (wait for it) The Firearms Blog. Of course I am partial to them because they have re-posted a few of my articles, which likely reduced their web traffic for those days due to the influx of shit quality work, but hey.

Anyway, this week over at TFB they have been flooded with vintage-but-still-works M16s that are in hard field service even though they are pushing a half-century.

These include a late 1960s General Motors made M16 that was restamped from an M16A1 to an A2 and still used in the U.S. Army today:


…and a mid-1960s era XEM16E1 in use with the Israeli Nahal infantry battalion

m16 XEM16E1 in use with the Israeli Nahal infantry battalion 2015
But my favorite was a Cambodian XM16E1 that is a half century old and still clicking. It was run upon by Steve Lee, the Aussie “I Like Guns” mate

The rifle is a mixmaster. It’s unknown if the upper is original (off-color upper receivers are common, as anodizing is difficult to match between parts ); the barrel assembly is clearly an alteration of some sort, and the handguard appears to be a local fabrication. What is clear is the full fence lower, and XM16E1 markings make the rifle at least 48 years old. It’s commonly repeated that the full fence lower was introduced with the “M16A1″ designation, but they were two separate developments. In fact, the “M16A1″ designation did not carry with it any design changes at all, and was simply a formalization of the Army’s adoption of the rifle. Incremental improvements were being made during this period, however, which is how we can date this rifle to a period of about nine months in the first half of the Vietnam War.

Which reminds me of this image below of a Philippines Special Police commando with a gently used M16A1 taken last year. It looks clean as a whistle which, in a 101% humidity area like the PI, is a testament to good maintenance.

phillipines special police with m16a1 in 2015 m-16

It seems, despite what you hear in the gun rags about how all the old 1960s and 70s gas impingement military contract M16s are just horrible weapons, they still get some love even 40-50 years later.

Karen weapons, a living arms museum at work


Photo by Jason Florio http://www.floriophoto.com/#/portraits/blackout%20portraits%20-%20burma/1/

Photo by Jason Florio. By the way is that an RPG-2 (made in the PRC of course) or an RPG-7?

Jason Florio, perhaps one of the most talented photojournalists in the business, has traveled the globe in recent years to places like Silafando, Mogadishu, and Makasutu. On a trip to Burma he took a series of amazing portraits of Karen National Liberation Army  freedom fighters.

Photo by Jason Florio http://www.floriophoto.com/#/portraits/blackout%20portraits%20-%20burma/1/  The old M16A1 is great.

Photo by Jason Florio  The old “in the white” M16A1 is great as is the 20-round mag on the AK overfolder.

For those who don’t know, the Karens have been fighting the Burmese government since 1949 pretty much non-stop. Located in the Golden Triangle, their equipment runs the gamut from captured French Lebels left over from Colonial Indochina, to Japanese WWII equipment, 1960s era U.S. gear left over from Vietnam, and (slightly) more modern Chinese kit.

Photo by Jason Florio http://www.floriophoto.com/#/portraits/blackout%20portraits%20-%20burma/1/ Can you dig the Karen Bloop gunner? What is the shelf-life of a 40mm fuse stored at 99% humidity in the jungle?

Photo by Jason Florio  Can you dig the Karen Bloop gunner? What is the shelf-life of a 40mm fuse stored at 99% humidity in the jungle? What that TD though.