M-16 Chatter

327 Infantry Veterans

M-16 Chatter


Click here for The Saga of the M16 in Vietnam by Dick Culver (part 1 & part 2)

This site was sent to us by our Marine friend, Ironman, and it seems to have brought many memories of the M-16 to the front. So much in fact, we decided to capture as many memories as possible and publish them for you to read. We will post all we have. If you want your memory posted send them to the Comments below.

Interesting read, but from July 66- June 67, I had a total of ONE malfunction with my m-16. Believe that to be prior to time period of this article. From June 67 through Feb 68, I was a semi “remf” so my firing of the 16 was limited, but still no problems. Who knows, maybe I was just lucky.
Claude A. Frisbie

I never had a malfunction with the M-16. This piece covers the time frame when the Marines were first issued what was called the XM-16. Someone in the Pentagon got the bright idea to change the powder in the cartridge to ball powder instead of the stick powder the original specs called for. This produced considerable fowling. The M-16A1 is the weapon we used. It had the stick powder in the cartridge, and a chrome bore with a small number other improvements. I also remember reading somewhere that somehow the initial issue of the XM-16 didn’t include cleaning rods. You may recall that we bored a hole in the end of the fore stock and slipped the cleaning rod in securing it to the butt stock with a steel pot cammie cover band. Another footnote at the same time that some units of Marines were issued the sixteen others were issued the Stoner rifle. The Stoner was discussed here a few years back.
Yankee Jim

While walking rear security for a company sized operation near Hill 88 one night, I had three dicks walk up on me. To make a long story short, I fired them up as they turned and ran. Once they disappeared in the darkness, I flipped to rock and roll. It fired one round before the trigger froze. They responded with an RPG right over my head. I walked the remainder of the night with a grenade in my hand. First light I took the trigger mechanism apart. There’s a little chrome pin that holds it together. It had slipped out of the hole on one side rendering the piece of shit useless. Nah, I’ll take my M-14 anytime!
No Slack!

Most of us trained with the 14 in Basic and I’m sure those Marines with the first issue 16 wished they had theirs. Many of the weapons including my 60 in 2nd Plt were worn out requiring much maintenance and field repairs. Meanwhile the PFs were being armed with brand new weapons.

While I never had any real trouble with the 16, I witnessed a few, at the wrong time. Ya hadda keep it clean, or try to. Course wear was a big factor (don’t think the “Mattel Toy Makers” figured on the kinda use we gave’em), especially when you fliped the switch to rock ‘n roll – then there was the mad minutes! Also, if you taped your mags together, you had to leave a round out, or chance a jam. Anyhow, when one of the old E-6 platoon sgts left in July ’66, I inherited his 14, which I felt alot more confident with. That sucker would fire even if you dropped it in the mud.
Walt Towers

I had a few different sixteens while they were all well used none let me down. I had a H&R made one that was a tack driver. Lost it when I was Medivaced in July of 70 but after that I never fired my weapon again except for target practice. I kind of recall that my last 16 was a Colt. Since I drew it fro HHQ it was in much better condition then others I had, but like I said I never needed it. I had a 14 that was the previous platoon sniper’s issue. When he was KIA some one Cowboyed the scope. It was another well-used firearm, but a tack driver with iron sights and very reliable. I think with the event of Kevlar body armor I would pick a 14 over the 16, the extra
weight would be worth the range and knockdown power.
Yankee Jim

My M-16 never failed under combat, an excellent weapon, I carried the Car-15 also for a brief period with no malfunctions. Only two complaints, not enough hittin’ power compared to the AK and insufficient rounds with the 20 round clip.
Ted McCormick

Though not a combatant, I kept an M-16 handy just in case. It was an earlier model that someone had “thrown away.” In late 67 I had it reconditioned and a new recoil spring installed. It did not jam on the firing range. There is a good article in “Nam, the Vietnam Experience 1965-75,” by Tim Page, p.231.
Chaplain Burnham

“Anyone care to remark about the original -over and under- m16…for the short few times that I carried a full M16, I had three stoppages ; happily I had taken the advice of team members and bored a hole on the left-side plastic hand-guard and maitained a fully assembled (and “lubed”) cleaning rod at the ready. The rifle had a wonderfuf “kick-start”er that really worked; “ran” into a firefight one day ( A Co, getting creamed as usual) opened up from the ground with full automatic, got off maybe 8 rounds, jammed; rolled on my back, grabbed the front-sight barrel group, “kick-start”ed bolt assist and recovered. but have always prefered the “thump-gun”
Smight; bco 2/327 – aco 3/506

I trained on the M-14, which was an accurate and deadly weapon. I never saw an M-16 till arriving in-country. After slight adjustments and getting to know it, I never had a problem except the darn thing kept running out of ammo! I found it to be an exceptionally good tool for the job description when kept clean.

Hey y’all,
My first M16 would jam repeatedly after 3 or 4 rounds. I finally got a chance to have the armorer check it and found out that the ejector pin was worn. He replaced the bolt and I never had another problem with it. I was meticulous about keeping that baby clean. When I turned in my gear to come home, the armorer told me that he had never seen an M16 that clean.

All weapons needed cleaning. You know the drill clean your weapon, shave then eat breakfast…

Not sure if this is relevant to your conversation but have any of you guys ever seen an AR10?


Armalite AR-10

The AR-10 was chambered for the .308 cal. You can still buy one!
Mike Davis

We used the original purchase 16s. As per the rather thick book, Small Arms of the World, at my local library, MaNamera purchased 50,000 or so 16s without consulting the Army brass which didn’t make them any too happy. They in turn, didn’t bother to buy much in the way of cleaning equipment. Some guys had family send them 22 cal. cleaning rods.

The 16 was developed using sport powder which required a lighter buffer mass. Using military spec. powder with this light buffer mass increased the cyclic rate causing several jamming problems. The original purchase 16s also did not have chrome bores.

We had one guy in the company killed by his own weapon because of the floating firing pin. As you know, there is a cotter pin in the bolt carrier to keep the firing pin from going too far back and fowling the hammer, but there is nothing to keep it from traveling too far forward. Using the rifle as a walking stick up and down hills can result in multiple impacts to the primer until such time that it detonates. The guy I mentioned was struck in the forehead region. I always wanted to see if the spring from a ball point pen would cure this, but never acquired one. I understand the present 16s are pretty good weapons.
Mike Clancy

I owned an AR-15 after Nam and fired thousands of round thru it. I did replace the bolt and bolt carrier because I had the opportunity to buy a military spec one. You could see a visible difference in quality. The AR was fitted with the new style grips and a heavier barrel, making it all the better a weapon. Again I was just target shooting but I rocked the weapon without the pleasure of having Roll capability. The newest generation of 16 I saw at Ft Campbell looks real familiar. No Rock-N-Roll it fires 3 shot bursts. But they got the gear and the troopers are motivated. You can sleep well with these Brothers watching the perimeter.
Yankee Jim

The M-16 came out of project “Salvo”. After Korea all causalty reports were examined for all wars that such records were kept. It was found that a very large percentage of causaltys were not from aimed rifle fire,on all sides. Special rounds were tried for the M1 garand which had three projectiles,etc.These were not real successfull, so it was decided to work on smaller cal. weapons that would put out more shots and therfore produce more casualtys.This weapon would be lighter and enable the infantryman to carry more ammo so he could expend more rounds.
The M-14 was a stop gap weapon.We needed a nato round weapon that fired the same ammo as our Nato allies. It was a fine weapon.I qualified expert with it in basic or Inf. AIT, I forget which.I had a M1a for many years.It was very accuate but prone to jamming with untried mags and or ammo combos.
Anyhow the M-14 did have major draw backs. The magazine was poorly supported,so on hitting the ground hard enough it would bend and cause a major jam and render the mag useless. Not good when it was time to reload them. The bolt had no cover so if you dropped it in mud,etc., it would load up and jam. The gas system, while inproved over the m1 garand’s, mainly due to gas port location was to complicated and easily damaged due to the exterior operating rod. And of course it was heavy as were the mag’s and ammo. It was very accurate, more so than the m1 garand, due a lot to the gas port location. Also it could be loaded directly with stipper clips. However they were only 5 rounds giving the m1 garand a advantage with its 8 round enbloc clip. That enbloc clip was a real inovation as far as supply. Magazines must be loaded. Anyone who has loaded his fully empty M-16 mags under fire can appreciate the beauty of modern weapons with prepacked ammo.And if you were not burned by hot brass, either your own or the m-60s, you cannot fully appreciate caseless ammo.
Anyhow back on track here.The M-1 garand was not fully apreciated by users of the Springfield. Change is hard to accept.
The M-16’s problems were with it’s mags and the high 1200rpm cycic rate of the earlier ones.
In 1/327th we were only allowed to put 18 rounds in the 20 round mag, due to dependability considerations. We didn’t get 30 rounders until the REMF’s got done testing them in 71 and then only got one apiece. I personally have shot all 21 [the basic load in the 1/327th], 18 round mags with no problem on full rock and roll in 10+ round bursts. I used LSA and sht paper on the bolt every once in a while.
Sgt. Mike Howard ex-golden knight told me that when they were first issued back in 64 to Abrn. units they were told that the M-16 was self cleaning, which is true as far as dirt, etc around the bolt.The gas will blow anything out that gets under the dust cover on the first shot as the gas tube dump is directly above the bolt.So they didn’t clean them and they basicly locked up from lack of oil and carbon build up as any high speed piston or bolt would.
The M-16 was a fine weapon.
The M-14 wasn’t as liked as everyone now days thinks.
The loaded mags were twice as heavy. The rifle was nearly twice as heavy. Almost all had the selector lock in place as they kicked and jammed so bad on rock n’ roll. For most of you who weren’t trained on the M-14 that means it was semi-auto like the M-1 Garand.
George Long

In September 1965 the 101st Airborne Division was issued the M-16 rifle because we were designated “Strack-One”, having won the war games against the 82d that year. It was September when I had to sign for mine. I remember we called it a Mattel toy. Later that year I was reassigned to Ft Benning to a brand new company that would go to Vietnam as the Army’s new Airmobile Unit’s. What were we issued? The old M14! I thought we were taking a step back in time. Turned out the M14 was a better weapon in sand and as a sniper rifle. Now I have a shotgun. Sapper Bill
YJ, I guess I have CRS, it was 1964, not 65 that we got the M-16s. Bill

For this day until the ending of the world, we in it shall be remembered…we band of brothers.
BILL HAUPT, President, Sunshine State Chapter, 101st ABN Div Assn

Only had one malfunction with the 16. After rejoining my unit after as stint in CRB hospital, I was issued a weapon five minutes before boarding the chopper for a heliborne. When we hit the do-do, my weapon jammed after 2-3 rounds. After clearing it with the cleaning rod, (I kept one tied to my ruck frame) I reloaded and the damned thing jammed again! Eventually, I took a wounded man’s weapon and finished up the fight (June 8, ’67) with it. After the fight I disassembled the weapon, and found it had the old style bolt without the notches for the forward assist. Turns out some REMF had given me a cannibalized weapon, mismatched numbers and all. For the most part, I loved the 16. Straight shooter, beaucoups firepower but a bit light as a stopper unless you hit bone or a vital.
Rex Andrea
Oh yeah, Gotta cosign YJ. Clean was a must! 2-3X daily (or more)

Didn’t know any 16 bolt carriers didn’t have bolt assist notches. What probably happened was somebody put an original Armalite AR 15 bolt carrier in. The Air Force used the original Armalite AR 15s over there. As far as I know, the bolt assist was an innovation added when Colt took over manufacture.
Mike Clancy

The bolt assist was an add on feature. You might be right about an original Armalite bolt getting into the mix. It sure made REX uncomfortable.
Yankee Jim

I’ve been reading all the info about the M-16 with interest. Everyone has stressed the fact that the M-16 needed to be kept clean. That is true regardless for the rifle as it is with any rifle. But what surprises me is that I haven’t heard anyone talk about keeping the magazines and bullets clean. After settling in the NDP, the rifle was field stripped and cleaned as I’m sure most everyone did. But each night I would also break down one magazine, wipe it down and reassemble it. I would then inspect each round for dings or dirt, wipe them down and reload them into the cleaned magazine. As my combat load was 32 magazines, each magazine was cleaned about once a month. This process also placed a fresh, clean round in the chamber of my M-16 each day.

TM 9-1005-249-24&p Nov 83. Bolt carriers without notches were for the original AR15 M16 without forward assist no forward assist M16 with forward assist M16A1 the biggest problem with failure to extract was with the ammo the ammo companies did not use Eugene stoners original recipe for the .223 so it took them a while to get it straight a great book is the AR15 complete owners guide by Walt Kuleck with Scott duff. It has all the history of how the M16 came about. Also The AR10 was their first rifle the tried to sell it with limited production in the Netherlands only a few thousand made than it was back to the small caliber high velocity trials which caused the M14 to be the shortest lived service rifle America used.

We were on a resupply Chinook headed back out to the bush in Sept 67. Before we got back to a 2/327th’s position we started taking ground fire through the chopper. The guy next to me got hit in the wrist and I started patching him up. There were two Chaplains onboard and they grabbed my 16 and the other’s guys 16 started shooting out the back doors just like one of us grunts would.. The Chinook lost an oil line to the rear rotor so we had to set it down fast.. Luckily we made it to an RVN airfield…. Poor guy that got it in the wrist was just coming back from the hospital from another WIA he had.
Charlie Cato

I was gonna just let the issue of when we got the M-16 go by. However, since it is out in the open, I will say that yes, we did get the M16 in “64”. In fact we had done extensive training with them before we took them over on the boat. There was a few modifications made back at Campbell. Stock, etc.
Troopers didn’t complain a lot at the time, because we got out of dismounted drill. They don’t do “right and left shoulder arms” too well. {-:)
We were the first to introduce them to Nam. Don’t remember having any big problems during the earliest of times in Nam. Of course, as I like to say: During my time, we were just getting Charles Pissed off for you guys to come later and kick butt.

Let me retract that email about about the 16 being issued early 65. It had to be late summer of 64 as stated. I was 3rd. Brigade HHC Armorer before being transferred to B 1/327 in May of 65. I remember I had to move my bunk into the arms room to provide security for the new M-16s until the post engineers could modify the rifle racks that held our M-14s for the new M-16s. Spent about 4 nights in my “own room” in the barracks until the racks came back.
John 2

Like I said earlier, the 101st won the war games in California in late summer of 64 and we were issued the M16’s in September. They were no war games in 65 because we were in the process of loading the 1st Brigade (Sep) to go to Nam. I missed the next levy also (1st Cav), but the third one got me and I was ordered back to Ft Benning to form a “brand new” helicopter company. That’s were I was issued an M14 again. In Nam I also had a .45 cal Colt hand gun, an M79 grenade launcher, an M60 machine gun, claymores, hand grenades and in Pleiku (the summer of 66) I had a “Hooch Maid” to clean them. I didn’t become a “Sapper” until 75, (12B4P) and didn’t know that term until I met Bob Griffin in Orlando at the Snowbird. In 75 my unit bridged the Rhine River in 59 hours and 45 minutes. After that I was the PSNCO (S-1)and then took over Legal until I departed for a new career as a “Field Recruiting Officer” in San Diego CA. Presently I am a Field Recruiting Officer for my Chapter and the 101st Airborne Division Association.
BILL HAUPT, President, Sunshine State Chapter, 101st ABN Div Assn

I had two 16’s in my 19 month tour and the only problems I ever had with either one of them was keeping them full of ammo and try to carry enough ammo for them. I have heard the M-16 horror stories for years but I can you that I can’t remember anyone in the best of my recollection whose 16 let them down when it really counted. I remember one thing for sure that some of the guys had a problem with and that was cleaning their weapon every day no matter what. I was a fanatic about cleaning my weapon simply because it performed better when it was clean and my squad leader said he would shoot my ass if i didn’t. For real! M-14 was and is a grand rifle but you just can’t pack enough ammo for the sweetheart to satsfy this boonierats needs while humping and looking for Mr. Charley.
No Slack
Joe Berry

I know you have been following all the response I have had about the 16. I think most including myself had a positive experience with the weapon. Considering the “combat’ conditions we were in I think after the initial problems were resolved the effectiveness of the 16 spoke for itself. I carried fifty mags as my basic load and on two occasions came close to using them all without a hitch (maybe some superficial burns on my hands). If you think about the millions of rounds fired thru 16s during the course of the war the percentage of failures while costly were small. I think that any weapon fielded would reflect the same percentage. The sixteen has passed the test of time.
No Slack!
Yankee Jim

I saw AR-10’s in Mozambique[sp] Cuban trained terrorists were attempting to fire them at us, to late as it were, for them.
7.62mm NATO weapon used by the Portugese originaly. Now available from Armalite in semi-auto.Limited 20 round mags thanks to Taco Bill.
George Long

In 1964 the 82d was looking for volunteers. So I did. When we arrived in Africa we were told the mission. It was to capture Che Guevar, or kill him. Hell, I had never seen an M-16 in my life. One thing I can tell you, the SOP team was great. All I can tell you, you will never find anything in my records. We captured 159 Cubans and 79 Rusk’s. That’s where I lost my fs. wife. We were replaced by the USMC. The Gen. said, “if you want to stay, just go and tell my NCO.”
We never had any malfunctions with the M-16.

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