01 June 2016

How Many Years

I kind of like reading about how the M16 has been in US Army service for 50 years.

Kinda-sorta, I guess.

The XM16E1 is made a "limited standard" in September 1963.

It becomes the "standard A" M16A1 in February 1967.

The design didn't stay static that whole time either.  Nor did the modifications stop once standard A was adopted.

The M16A2 is type standardized in September 1982 and made "standard A" in November 1983, so in a way the "M16" is only in service for just over 16 years.  Not that they threw all of the old rifles away or anything.

The XM4 starts development in February 1986 and is type standardized in April 1987.

The M4 is adopted in July 1994, and (with changes) is still in service today, but it doesn't become the standard infantry weapon until October 2015.

So...  52 years and change since initial adoption of the type; but not even a year with the newest version.

Of course, our 7 month old service weapon has been around for almost 22 years.  Go figure.

The list of changes from XM16E1 to just M16A1 is legion.  There's many changes to the M16A1 even.  The most static version in this parade is actually the M16A2.  The number of changes made to the M4 justifies a new 'A' number if you ask me.


  1. One must remember that the most of the early upgrades were introduced into production without any changes to the designation. A M16A1 produced on March 1, 1967 was effectively the same as a XM16E1 produced the day before, yet the latter incorporated many changes when compared to an original XM16E1 produced in early 1964. Major improvements like the chromed chambers, chromed bores, Sturtevant buffers, and birdcage flash hiders were all rolled into production models as they were approved. The introduction of these improvements was unrelated to the change in designation from XM16E1 to M16A1.

    1. Changing the forward assist from the large round to the small round and two changes to the extractor spring insert and springs for the M16A2 as well plus the teeny change of dumping the peel washers for crush washers.


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