One last time – again!
M-Sixteen: Assault Rifle*!
AR-Fifteen – NOT!
One is for warriors, by Troops!
The othe ris for squirrels!
- (By nomenclature, the Armalite Rifle called in the military when first brought forward The M-16 to supercede the M-14 and its pappy, The M-1, all may be termed assault rifles if not accurately since the M-1 is a semi-automatic and the M-14 is a semi-automatic equipped with a “selector” switch to turn it into a full automatic 20-round magazine-fed replacement for the venerable and in some places still wished-for Browning Automatic Rifle, an air-cooled heavy caliber .30-’06 round coming from magazines. The M-16, sometimes and in some iterations called the CAR-15 is a carbine which has a selector switch from semi-automatic to fully automatic fire in a much smaller round, instead of the .308 caliber M-14 round called in NATO terms – North Atlantic Treaty Organization – 7.62 millimeter it fires the .223 caliber 5.56 millimeter round. The M-16 round – and the resultant AR-15 round, also .223/5.56, has a particular tendency because of the way the munition was designed and manufactured. In short, when the round – the metal thingee that comes out of the rifle’s barrel – hits an obstruction, twig, brick, treelimb or person, it “tumbles” and may cause devastating wounds. And that is good – in a military sense. A wounded enemy, in theory, takes upwards of four others to treat and carry off the field of battle; a dead comrade requires none. Hence, the wounding power of an M-16 is much to be desired during battle, according to highly-paid military theorists. The M-14 round – and the M-1 round, much heavier, with greater range and “knock down” ability was viewed as something of a detriment by military thinkers and manufacturers when compared with the M-16. The rifle is smaller – and lighter! – and the rounds are the same when compared with the heavier WWII and Korea-era M-1s and M-14s and thus a troopie can carry more rounds and the weight of the rifle will not be a great big burden. So much for theory. The M-16 was designed for urban warfare, not jungle fighting. The Japanese in WWII proved the efficacy of the somewhat smaller caliber rifle in such combat. Their leading rifle was .25 caliber as opposed to the .30 caliber Garand M-1. But that is not the point here: the M-16’s introduction to Air Force security troops prior to its introduction even to US Army troops came at a time when few Military Thinkers considered the possibility of jungle warfare: they were more concerned with getting off as many rounds as possible in a built-up environment. The Army acquiesced, since from the time of The Grand Army of The Potomac massed units of fire were give precedence over accuracy of fire as envisioned, evoked, practiced and preached by American Men At Arms since Queen Anne’s War onward through The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and beyond. Only a few rifle enthusiasts in the Army and The United States Marine Corps preached accuracy of fire rather than rate. But the M-1 was so accurate it supplanted easily and after Guadalcanal in WWII, its adoption was considered divine cant even among Marine infantry troops. But during the middle stages of The Vietnam War when Marines finally got the M-16 did a brouhaha of massive proportions erupt. During Tet of 1968 and a little ways before Marines were killed by enemy troops handling the Kalashnikov AK-45, a true assault rifle firing 7.62mm rounds (though diminished in power by a 39mm length as opposed to the United States’ 7.62×54(? possibly 51)mm dimensions. Those dead Marines were clearing jams in their new Matty-Mattel M-16 which were issued without requisite cleaning gear, so rushed was Army procurement to get the rifles into the hands of skeptical Marines that many were issued to troops in the field sans bore- and chamber-brushes, cleaning rods and tips and toolkit wrench). The scandal that ensued was pretty much pushed down into the muck by greater scandals. I was in Infantry Training Regiment in November-December-January of 1967-68 with a non-infantry training company so much of the first two months were spent on mess and maintenance duty but I worked in Mess Hall Supply and returning troopies assigned there were happy to share the horror stories of the then-newly issued M-16. The infantry training company just ahead of us from our collective Parris Island, South Carolina home, was sent to Panama to train (and later evaluate by technicians) the use of the new smokeless powder then being introduced to replace the powder in the bullets that fouled chambers and barrels unbelievably in the first iteration of the M-16. The rate of fire was reduced from something like 650 rounds per minute to 550, the chamber was chromed and other modifications were made to make the M-16, finally, a worthy addition to the USMC combat arms arsenal. Except that in almost every squad – and in every platoon – there was one if not more M-14s still around: the rifles fired the same rounds as the M-60 machine guns issued to every platoon and most squads – the venerable Pig, as the “Sixty” was called, was a direct descendant of the German Army WWII machine gun. The M-16 continued its evolution and now is a well-made, well-accepted rifle called the M-4. It has three notches on its selector switch: fully automatic, 3-round (or seven?) bursts and semi-automatic fire (single shots).
- The AR-15 does not have the internal trigger housing group’s adaptation to fire automatically – though modification is possible. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle. It is a self-protection single-shot, single-trigger pull rifle that serves admirably as a small game and varmint hunting rifle. The round still tumbles, I believe but have neither researched nor needed to research such a profile. I do not own nor will I expect to own an AR-15. I prefer higher calibers.
- But the hysteria over the AR-15 is manufactured and worshiped as cant by people who know little or naught of what they speak.