Saturday, July 2, 2011

М16 controversy

The first M16 rifles, issued to US troops in Vietnam in the mid-60s, were loathed because men were killed or wounded when they jammed in combat. One of the major causes for these malfunctions was that the US Army replaced the originally specified Dupont IMR powder with standard ball powder, used in 7.62 x 51mm NATO ammunition. This produced much more fouling, which rapidly caused the actions of the M16 to jam unless the weapon was cleaned thoroughly. However, the initial M16 rifles had been promoted as "low maintenance", requiring no cleaning, and therefore no cleaning kits were issued and soldiers received no instructions in weapons cleaning.

In 1967-70 new 5.56mm ammunition was loaded using a different propellant. Cleaning kits were produced and issued to troops, and the M16 barrel,chamber and bolt were chrome-lined to enhance their resistance to corrosion. At first, the cleaning kits had to be carried separately from the rifle, but since 1970 a cavity was included in the buttstock of all M16A1 rifles to hold the kit, and 30-round magazines replaced the original 20-round magazines.
The M16 in use during the Vietnam War. It has gone through many stages of improvements and remains a general-issue rifle with the US armed forces.

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