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Oct 14, 2021
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I will bury my gun: the US says goodbye to the M16

I will bury my gun: the US says goodbye to the M16

Photo: ZumaTACC

In the United States, they decided to abandon the M16 automatic rifle, of which more than 8 million have been produced since 1962 in various modifications, and the M4 machine gun, created on the basis of the M16A2 rifle. The choice was tilted in favor of the NGSW line of weapons, the models being created will have a caliber of 6.8 mm. Total sales is coming – American soldiers will have new “toys”, but what to do with the old ones? Ukraine will be trampled underfoot!

The fact that by next summer a new generation weapon from the NGSW-R (Next Generation Squad Weapon Rifle) and NGSW-AR series, designed to replace the M16 and M4, will be finally selected, said the American Major General Anthony Potts, who is the program manager for the US Army soldiers. Previously, he served as Deputy Commander of the United States Army for Research and Development and Senior Commander of the Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts.

This Center, we note, is engaged in the development and testing of food rations (dry rations), personal protective equipment, entrenching tools, uniforms and equipment of the United States Armed Forces, mainly for personal use. Well, God bless him, these dry rations and sapper blades, now Potts has been entrusted with voicing a promising topic with a new American weapon. The general noted that in the future it will become the base for the soldiers of the US Army, since it has higher accuracy, stability and lethality, it is also planned to equip it with a modern targeting mechanism. Potts also mentioned that weapons from the NGSW series can penetrate any body armor – here he is a great connoisseur of American body armor.

The Russian army is also changing automatic weapons – now the grandson of the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, the new AK-12 will become the main assault rifle in the Ground Forces of the RF Armed Forces. Since 2019, it has been supplied to the army in small batches, and on August 24 of this year, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract with the Kalashnikov concern to purchase a large batch of AK-12 assault rifles chambered for 5.45 mm and AK-15 chambered for 7.62 mm. We will not give the performance characteristics of the new Russian machines, we will only note that they received a number of tangible advantages over their predecessors. In this case, we are interested in the American M16, which they are preparing to retire.

The Kalashnikov assault rifle has always been considered one of the best in the world, which can be judged even by its mass production. The M16 automatic rifle with the “Made in USA” marking, actively opposed to it, is also used in the armies of many countries, but its popularity is highly questionable. Its operation in combat conditions requires special care, which deprives the M16 of its reliability and reliability status.

The American M16 automatic rifle, which was produced in the early 60s of the last century, was operated in 84 countries, but it was especially used in the United States itself. The rest of the operators of this type of small arms either paid tribute to fashion (if American – then the best), or obeyed NATO standards, which were dictated by the same States. The M16 never became the main type of automatic weapon in service in any country that continues to use it.

It is known that the M16 first became famous during the Vietnam War, where it replaced the equally well-known and, incidentally, the M14 rifle that has not yet been removed from service. It was distinguished by a higher rate of fire, firing accuracy at a distance of 300-400 meters, the possibility of a higher wearable ammunition (BC). In the jungles of Vietnam, or during the Indonesian-Malaysian confrontation of 1962-1966, its use turned out to be effective precisely because of close combat, when, figuratively speaking, shooting was carried out from palm to palm, almost point-blank. Here, serious shortcomings of the M-16 were revealed, associated with unreliability and failures during firing. Due to pollution, the weapon jammed during the battle – the spent cartridge case got stuck in the chamber and it took not only time to eliminate this interference, but also comfortable conditions that no one could imagine in the jungle.

Communicating in due time with our legendary weapon designer Kalashnikov, it was impossible to do without the question of comparing his well-known AKM and AK with the product Eugene Stounera and James Sullivan, originally known as the AR15, is the prototype of all subsequent M16 models. Mikhail Timofeevich always expressed rather flattering comments about the American automatic rifle, which was in his collection in Izhevsk, and which he not only “fired” on, but also disassembled to the smallest details.

“This is not our option,” said Mikhail Kalashnikov. – It is more suitable for shooting on a range than on the battlefield. In itself, the engineering idea with a bolt carrier in the form of a cylindrical part tightly fitted to the walls of the bolt box is quite interesting. But the operation of the entire mechanism is capable of destroying even the slightest contamination that cannot be removed mechanically. We compared AKM and M16 in equal conditions on bench tests – they used it hard, with sand, water, in the cold. The American was losing in all these positions. At the same time, it was distinguished by greater accuracy at short distances, accuracy of firing single shots, cutoffs for firing three rounds, the possibility of replacing the store with the subsequent continuation of firing without cocking the shutter. I liked a lot about it, but all the subsequent domestic developments of our enterprise did not use anything from the American experience. Precisely because of the loss of reliability in combat conditions. “

By the way, in the US itself, the military initially perceived the M16 very ambiguously. Moreover, the Ministry of Defense openly sabotaged its acceptance into service and during the tests of this rifle created deliberately difficult conditions that the new small arms could not withstand. However, the Colt arms company, patented Samuel Colt back in the middle of the 19th century and initially famous for its revolvers, it was able to “push through” the supply of M16 to the army. Initially, it was adopted by the US Air Force as a weapon for the protection of military airfields. And the full-fledged combat use of this automatic rifle began in 1965 in Vietnam. Here her extremely unreliable qualities came to light precisely because of refusals during the battle. The deaths of American soldiers trying to repair the malfunctioning of weapons during fire contact with the enemy even led to an investigation by the US Congress. The servicemen themselves preferred the old, but more reliable M14 rifles during hostilities. Nevertheless, the M16 automatic rifle became the main small arms of the US Army for many years.

– Among the trophies during the war in Afghanistan, we got, among other things, weapons and American M16s, – says Franz Klintsevich, who served as deputy commander of the 345th Airborne Regiment in Bagram… – It was a curiosity that aroused a certain interest, like any other weapon of the enemy. But its further use did not work out – not only because of the limited ammunition of 5.65 caliber, which was not in service with our army, but also because of its combat capabilities. Everything was limited only to trial shots. The preference was given to the AKM of 7.62 caliber, although even then the AK-74 of the 5.45 caliber was our main submachine gun. A characteristic detail is that our then opponents, the Afghan mujahideen, also preferred Kalashnikov assault rifles, and the American M16s, supplied through Pakistan, were stored in warehouses in caves and practically never used. In mountainous and desert conditions, this automatic rifle was absolutely useless.

The M16 is not in demand in today’s Afghanistan either, where Kalashnikov assault rifles are still in price. M16 did not take root in Vietnam either, which were captured by the army of the “northerners” in 1975 as trophies in large numbers. They were used (before the coronavirus pandemic) except in the Kuchi Tunnels Museum for shooting at a shooting range with weapons from the Vietnam War.

– The Americans have been thinking about changing their main automatic small arms for a long time, – considers military expert Boris Dzherelievsky… – M-16 is no longer just outdated, but also does not possess the proper “lethal” qualities. Rather, it is now a police weapon, not combat use. The current requirements for machine guns and automatic rifles are the ability to hit a target at a distance of at least five hundred meters, with a high accuracy of fire with automatic bursts. The Americans are now looking closely at some higher quality analogs in the form of the Belgian and German rifles. By the way, they are very closely following Russian weapons developments, including the Izhevsk AK-12 assault rifle. Now, apparently, the topic of replacing the M16 and M4 in the US Army with new promising models has become especially relevant.

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