27 June 2021


I've set myself to learning how the 7.8 lb.(loaded with a 30-round magazine) M16A1 morphed into the 11.3 lb. M16A4 (loaded with optics and light).

The entire point of the AR-15 was to make a lightweight rifle.

The M16A4, and accouterments, is heavier than the 10.9 lb. M14!


  1. Hey Angus;

    I can only say that they wanted to make a better "mousetrap". The optics and lights were endemic of the modern battlefield and the modular design of the AR allowed for the additions.

  2. Design by committee? One made up of people who will never be humping that gear in the field?

  3. I think it starts with the government contour barrel and snowballs from there. I'm sure you have all the component weights recorded so a simple table showing weights of A1 and A4 parts and the difference shows where the weight was gained

    1. The what got heavier and when it was added are easier questions to answer than the why were they adopted.

      I think it's a one straw at a time creep. Tanks and aircraft do this too.

      Every time you add a feature, you tend to increase the weight. Then its replacement comes along with those features integrated and it's often smaller and lighter... until feature creep sets in again.

      Of note: The M16A4 with a BUIS and round handguards weighs exactly the same as an M16A2; 8.7 lb. loaded with sling. That means that all of the weight gain is in bolt-on add-ons. A pound for the optic, half a pound for the light, half a pound to a pound for the RAS (depending on the panels and grips installed)...

      The same mass creep has hit the M4 carbine. Changing to the SOCOM weight barrel and RAS system have added weight there too.

  4. How about an M-14 with all the accoutrements? If you can't carry it, you can't be in.the.suck. Heh.

    1. 11.3 lb. with cotton M1 sling. 11.2 lb. with either version of the nylon M1 sling.

      We can further delve into the web gear and armor which doesn't make the case for making an M16 heavier because the armor and LBE of today is a lot heavier than 'Nam.

  5. More (smaller) boolits per pound.

    1. The M16A4 actually has fewer bullets per pound than the M16A1. :)

      I know we got sidetracked my mentioning that the A4 is heavier than an M14, but this is about the porking of the M16 series.

  6. Big Green has this compulsion about winning at Camp Perry. After the M16 proved superior to the M14, the powers that be had to have a rifle that could compete in service rifle. And then the fear of Russian body armor brought in the 62grn M8555 garbage.

    Yuck. As Kirk likes to say no one came out of Vietnam wanting the M-16A1 to be longer and heavier.


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