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
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.
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.