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Old 07-13-2017, 10:03 PM
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Default Retro M16A1 or M16A2

I've had an idea to buy a retro looking AR15, something that looks like the M16A1 Vietnam style (triangle fore grip) or maybe an M16A2. What I wanted was a non-tactical rifle length gun with the carry handle top.

The problem I discovered was that there really isn't much out there. The current rage is flat top tactical uppers for mounting a half dozen doo-dads, so handle uppers are rare. A few companies make a handle upper but with a 1:9 twist; I prefer a 1:7 for shooting heavier bullets.

So I looked at building but even the parts are harder to find, and since they're now 'rare' they're overpriced.

Yesterday I opened yet another email from CDNN and was scrolling to the bottom to see what magazines were on sale, and saw a handle top AR? OK, it must be a detachable handle, they always are. Click in and it's a Colt HBar, used in 'very good to excellent' condition. 1:7 barrel...check.

Two in stock?! Yikes, so I'm humping through the order process and it says there are no FFLs within 100 miles of my zip code? Ugh! C'mon....the map finally populates and I pick out my garage FFL friend and submit. So far it looks like I scored one!

Very happy!

EDIT to add: Link to the gun
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Retro M16A1 or M16A2-rifle-jpg   Retro M16A1 or M16A2-lt-jpg   Retro M16A1 or M16A2-rt-jpg  

Last edited by Mainsail; 07-13-2017 at 10:05 PM. Reason: add link
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:47 PM
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Over the years I have had 0 interest in any AR/AK type rifles. I
have always been into classic type sporting and target rifles. I
decided I might pick up a AR in the old GI style we were issued
in RVn. I have herd Colt is bringing one out to sell to VN Vets.
I saw a picture of it, but the price is $2k+. Going to be another
Colt flop. They have lousy business plan. They could sell a lot of
these to Vets, but the price will put me off. The market is glutted
with AR rifles at $500 range. Not many guys going to go 4+ the
price for this gun. I'm not interested in a parts gun so I will buy
another old Winchester instead.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:22 PM
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What you want is a Colt SP-1....A1 upper(No forward assist/rear sight windage only with a bullet tip/triangular handguards/A1 full circle vented flash arrestor/elevation on front sight with bullet tip)......got one(from 1977) but don't have pic handy..........
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:32 PM
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Very, very cool. The M16 is a good looking gun in "classic" form. Reminds me of the rusty, trusty M16A2 I shot in basic.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:35 PM
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I too wish it was easier to find a "non flat top" USGI style M16 clone with NO rails or tacticool nonsense for a good price. I don't understand why nobody makes one that's affordable?? They're such a simple gun, how are the ones decked out with rails and adjustable stocks LESS expensive?? I'd love to have an M16A2 style one.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:19 AM
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they could call it "the steaming heap retro" as far as I am concerned. Maybe put a grim reaper decal on the stock to signify the lives it cost. JMV.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:22 AM
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The Colt SP1 fits the bill in my opinion, although the barrel may be an issue as they were all 1:12 if I recall. Someone more knowledgeable may correct me....
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:53 AM
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An M16A1 has quite a few differences from the M16A2.
There were also several transitional changes during the civilian AR15 evolution.

Here is a link to another thread discussing it
New Colt M16A1 Reissue

Please excuse the missing pics as Photobucket has decided to block 3rd party sharing unless they shake you down for $500...
need to transfer all my gun pics to Imageshack
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:29 AM
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I have an A1 clone put together years ago from Colt parts but as stated finding An A2 upper receiver is really hard ,been looking for awhile with no luck except for way overpriced parts. The 1 in 12 barrel shoots 55 grain really well for me.
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:44 AM
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My 20" is a fixed carry handle A2 upper. I know that it isn't "correct" but I put triangle handguards on mine. Mine is a Delton upper on an older Bushmaster lower.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayFramer View Post
I too wish it was easier to find a "non flat top" USGI style M16 clone with NO rails or tacticool nonsense for a good price. I don't understand why nobody makes one that's affordable?? They're such a simple gun, how are the ones decked out with rails and adjustable stocks LESS expensive?? I'd love to have an M16A2 style one.
Production volume of parts...everyone makes the tacticool doodads, hardly anyone the old style uppers, handguards, etc.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:08 AM
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Fixed carry handle AR's in A1 or A2 form have gotten a tad scarce these days with the popularity of the flat top M4 clones. DPMS makes a 20" A2 style rifle

A2 CLASSIC

I thought that Bushmaster still made one but only see a 16" fixed carry handle on their site.

I found the next best thing to a military surplus M16A2 and that is an ex California Highway Patrol Colt Dissapator AR-15 LE carbine, fixed carry handle, A2 configuration, made in 2002



A1 uppers have gotten scarce and pricey. You can get all the parts and make an A1 clone, or get a Colt SP1. I had one of those from 1980-2011 and they are a fine rifle, not exactly an A1 clone but close enough.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:36 AM
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SP1s have gotten very pricey lately. And if all you want is the A1look but do want the faster twist barrel, the stocks and handguards are an easy swap. My fave AR site is AR15.com, and they have a pretty active retro forum for questions or advice.
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Old 07-14-2017, 08:48 AM
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I built an M16 clone with a SP 101 police take off upper and a retro lower from Nodak Spud and put my vintage Colt scope on it. I also built an M16A1 clone with a police take off M16A1 upper, and another Nodak Spud retro lower.

Both uppers were purchased when the department went with M4 uppers to create shorter patrol carbines.

Sadly, it's harder to build an M16A1 clone now as the glut of surplus parts such as A1 uppers,barrels and furniture has pretty much dried up.


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Old 07-14-2017, 11:10 AM
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If you want a shooter rather than a collector, and don't mind doing a build, Brownells has brand new stripped A2 (fixed sight) uppers in stock for $99.
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:03 PM
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I was one of the first kids on the block to have an AR-15, back around 1967. The one directly below was upgraded with an M16A1 upper in 1969 so as to have a forward assist and birdcage flash suppressor.

Then came an HBAR in the '80s, and a Colt Carbine was upgraded to approximate M4 status around the recent turn of the century.

I love 'em all.

John






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Old 07-14-2017, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyo View Post
If you want a shooter rather than a collector, and don't mind doing a build, Brownells has brand new stripped A2 (fixed sight) uppers in stock for $99.
The one on the left looks just like the one I humped in Nam with out the scope.I wish I had one just like it.
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Old 07-14-2017, 02:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amazingflapjack View Post
they could call it "the steaming heap retro" as far as I am concerned. Maybe put a grim reaper decal on the stock to signify the lives it cost. JMV.
Well to be fair the time the M16A1 and especially M16A2 came out, the guns were largely fixed. I will agree I wouldn't have much use for a first gen M16 repro, talk about a dud!
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Old 07-14-2017, 03:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayFramer View Post
Well to be fair the time the M16A1 and especially M16A2 came out, the guns were largely fixed. I will agree I wouldn't have much use for a first gen M16 repro, talk about a dud!
While the career bureaucrats at Springfield were lying to Congress about being able to build the M14 cheaper with much of their existing M1 tooling they were telling troops that the M16 was "self cleaning."

It is hard to decide if it was stupidity or sabotage, but a lot of things happened to undermine the testing and fielding of the M16. Maybe I am just too cynical, but I suspect that a cabal of civilians were more concerned keeping Union jobs in Massachusetts than the survival of soldiers in rice paddies.

Imagine for a moment what might have been if back in the 1950s the FAL chambered in .280 British had been chosen instead of the M14 in 7.62x51.

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Old 07-14-2017, 05:03 PM
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The only 2 ARs that I have owned new, I took on trade from a
LGS that I was always trading "collector stuff"to them for guns
that I had use for at the time. I took 2 new ones, they were green. I think they were about $159 NRT at the time. He said
he couldn't sell them because of bad rep. of M16s at the time.
I never took them out of box and had them a good while before
I was able to off them. This was back in the day a new Colt 1911
was $100 and you would be lucky if a LGS would take a GI 1911
on trade. Shortly after this I got drafted and ended up in RVn.
By this time they had bugs out of M16 and ammo. It was a
dependable and accurate rifle, I just never got was interested
in quasi military rifles. They have no class or soul, give me a
old pre64 Win and I'm happy.
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Old 07-14-2017, 05:24 PM
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Some follow-up to the original post; I was worried after ordering because after I submitted my order I refreshed the web page and it still showed two in stock. I refreshed the page a dozen more times over the course of 20 minutes or so and only after that much time did it change- to none in stock.

So I wasn't sure if I had gotten caught up in the delay and had ordered a phantom that was no longer in stock. But today I got the shipment email so it'll be at my FFL on Thursday. If he can pick it up after work the same day, I should have it by Thursday or Friday evening.
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Old 07-14-2017, 07:27 PM
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I would like a M16A-2 if Colt would make one at a reasonable price. $2,500 is not a reasonable price. At one time I had a A2 style Bushmaster, but I sold it for a insane profit during the panic in 2013. I wasn't shooting it much, I prefer bolt actions and M-1 Carbines. The main reason I would buy a Colt repro is nostalgia, I learned to shoot a rifle at Parris Island with a Colt M16A-2. I still remember the serial number (#6531473).
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:21 PM
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I have a love-hate relationship with the A2. Like 31FordA, it was what I humped in the Corps but the relationship started off bad in boot camp. Shortly after rifle issue, for some unknown reason a handful of fellow recruits and myself were ordered back to the armory to exchange our well-worn models for brand new out-of-the-crate models whereupon the armorers told us, with a smile, how lucky we were to be getting brand new rifles. Now that I think back, I suspect they were knowingly sneering about what was to come for us.

The problem with a brand new rifle in a boot camp scenario is that it isn't broken-in at all. Old rifles that have been through countless recruit cycles, torn down and put back together perhaps tens of thousands of times, practically field strip and reassemble themselves after awhile. Every part just slaps or slides into place effortlessly. A new rifle, however, takes a lot more work. It's really fun doing this under the watchful eyes of DIs counting down seconds three or ten at a time.

Even more fun with a new rifle is to be had on the drill field when after 5 minutes or so your hands become a bloody mess, as if you've been juggling razor blades, due to all the tiny sharp edges on the handguards, front sight area, etc. as you're practicing manual of arms and the DIs demand to know why you're bleeding on their parade deck. It's kind of ridiculous having to shout, "Sir, this recruit's rifle is brand new and has sharp edges everywhere on it, sir!" They grab it wondering what you're talking about, examine it and a look of "no sh*t" surprise comes over their faces as they hand it back. It's probably something they don't see very often. You just keep on trucking with it, your hands will toughen up. Anyway, that was my introduction to the A2.

On the other hand, I shot high expert with it multiple times. I loved that rifle then. For a long time, as a civilian, I wanted a retro AR and thought really hard about an A2 but when the time came I built an A1 clone. The A1 is just a much better-looking rifle and it's got the whole Vietnam thing going for it. Although on paper the difference isn't great, the A1 feels a lot lighter, faster and handier than the A2, also. I foolishly sold the A1 but plan to build another someday. Maybe once I do that I'll get an A2 and have both.
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Old 07-14-2017, 09:45 PM
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I have a lot of history with the M16A2. Was issued one from '97 up until 2003 when the war created a boom in the firearms industry and we went through multiple upgraded models in just a few years.

Hope that you love it. I shot a few matches with my issued one when I was a young buck. Don't be fooled with just having iron sights, those things are freakishly accurate in the hands of a skilled marksman.

Good luck!
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:19 PM
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I agree that a SP1 would be your best bet to get a nice retro AR. It will not be cheap but trying to put together a retro build is not cheap either. These are more of a "labor of love" kind of thing where cost is not the first priority.

The last of my AR's that I would sell would be my two retro builds. The first is a M16A1 clone. Back about 15 years ago CDNN was selling new old stock M16A1 uppers minus the bolt carrier group and charging handle. They came with a NOS A1 grip and buttstock assy. I found a used Colt M16 bolt carrier group in good shape and bought a lower and charging handle from Rock River Arms. I sent the RRA parts to Norrels and had them refinished in Colt gray.







My second started out as a SP1 minus receiver that I bought about 10 years ago off the main AR forum out there. It spent years as basically a truck gun with a STAG lower receiver and a set of old Lone Star handguards on it. I finally broke down and spent the money on a Nodak Spud 601 lower receiver to get it close to what it originally looked like.



Before





After


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Old 07-14-2017, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -db- View Post
...The A1 is just a much better-looking rifle and it's got the whole Vietnam thing going for it. Although on paper the difference isn't great, the A1 feels a lot lighter, faster and handier than the A2...
Other attributes of the A1 include the triangular handguards. A rifle where the line of sight is significantly above the line of bore canting the rifle causes real problems. The flat bottom is better for quick off hand shooting. The A2's round handguards mostly just make the supply sergeant's life simpler.

Admittedly the sight on the A2 made it easier to shoot past 300 meters, it wasn't THAT big a deal. Most infantrymen would be much better served to use the PTT switch on the radio instead. If that 300 meter target hasn't seen you yet, why let him know you are there (beyond all doubt) when your buddy, the FO, can have 155mm HE delivered and ol' Haj will have no clue where it came from?
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:40 PM
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An A1 would be nice, but I seriously doubt I could find or build one for $800. I was wanting a handle-top 20" barrel rifle, and this was the best deal I could find. Although building one can be cathartic, this way is a lot easier.
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:50 PM
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I am currently building a retro M16A1 rifle. Brownells is offering an reproduction M16A1 upper and lower receiver. I also found the triangular handguards and pistol grip from the site: Combat Disable Veterans Surplus. Norwich, aka Gun Parts Corporation, has also been helpful in obtaining authentic surplus parts. Unfortunately I was unable to locate an A1 style barrel, so a surplus A2 was used. Anyway, its been a fun build.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:05 PM
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Forgot to add.........The A1 stock is about 1" shorter than a standard A2 stock..........Or least it is on my SP1.....
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:37 PM
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My retro AR when you run out of bullets you use the blade:



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Old 07-15-2017, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by mac6150 View Post
I am currently building a retro M16A1 rifle. Brownells is offering an reproduction M16A1 upper and lower receiver.
I looked at those. There was a big blow-up among the purists about the color being wrong and the SAFE - SEMI markings on the right side. There are ways around both issues, if they're even important, but Brownells is selling them as blems because of it.

There's also some cool factor to having the name Colt and "Restricted - Mil/Gov/LE Use Only" on the gun that pushed me in the direction I went.
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JayFramer View Post
Well to be fair the time the M16A1 and especially M16A2 came out, the guns were largely fixed. I will agree I wouldn't have much use for a first gen M16 repro, talk about a dud!
The introduction of the M16 had a number of problems - more so than the M-16 having problems.

1) Remington used the wrong bullet

Stoner designed the cartridge to meet a 500 yard penetration requirement, and to accomplish it used a 55 gr bullet with a 7 caliber secant ogive and a 9 degree boat tail. The initial rifling twist specified by the US Army was 1-14, which was intended to optimize the wound ballistics caused by tumbling and fragmentation. However, it left this longer bullet only marginally stable and when Remington was tasked with producing the XM-193 round they noted the problem and substituted a shorter bullet. The US Army discovered the stability problem in spades in cold weather testing in Alaska and specified a 1-12 twist.

Thus, all the velocity and chamber pressure and propellent problems that followed probably could have been avoided if Remington had just told the US Army the bullet twist was too slow to start with. However, the shorter bullet became standard in the M193 ammunition. Unfortunately this shorter bullet with it's 5 caliber ogive had a much lower BC and shed velocity much faster. That meant it needed to be launched about 200 fps faster to meet the 500 yard penetration requirement (a steel pot, simulated by 10 gauge steel plate). Stoner stepped up and essentially said, "Hey stupid it's the bullet" and testing by the US Army confirmed this, but none the less they stayed with the shorter, blunter, "Type A" bullet for M193 production.

2) They screwed up the propellant.

The resulting need for more velocity led to increased chamber pressure and major problems in finding a propellant that would produce the required velocity, even within the increased maximum average pressure specification, and the propellent needed to be cheap and easy to produce.

The increased pressure and variation in propellent caused cyclic rate issues and the colonial ball powder eventually selected (WC844) had about 8 times more calcium carbonate than was actually needed to stabilize the powder and this caused problems with the M16's gas tube. Both these issues contributed to initial reliability problems. Colloidal ball powders were cheap, easy and quick to produce and could use surplus cannon powder left over from WWII. But the acids used in the process had to be neutralized, and they used way more then necessary just to stay on the conservative side - not considering the effects on the M16's direct impingement gas system.

3) The whiz kids in charge decided that it didn't need any cleaning in the field.

This may have been an honest misunderstanding or it may have been an effort to cut acquisition costs by not contracting for cleaning equipment - or both. The end result is that the initial batches of M16s underwent testing in combat with inadequate cleaning and maintenance in the field.

The propellent issues, cyclic rate issues and cleaning issues combined to create some serious reliability issues. All of those were eventually resolved, but the reputation stuck.

Ironically a generation later when folks were headed downrange to another war, there were those who advocated running the M16 and the M4 almost dry, on the theory that running them that way resulted in less dust being caught inside the rifle and would produce better reliability. Those folks had reliability problems and then of course blamed the rifle. They failed to consider that the "run it dry" logic was complete and total BS. The M16/M4 has laws run better when well lubricated. The general rule, "If it's shiny, oil it" works well on the M16/M4 series.

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Originally Posted by MCorps0311 View Post
The one on the left looks just like the one I humped in Nam with out the scope.I wish I had one just like it.
I was issued an M16A1 just as the M16A2 was beginning to enter service. I had very low expectations as I my dad and several uncles had all served in WWII and were fans of the M1 and the later M-14. That was reinforced by older cousins who swore by the M-14 as well as by the bad press and bad reputation the M16 carried forward ever since those initial combat trials. Finally, I'd shot the M-14 in service rifle competition in college and I both liked it and greatly respected it's capabilities, particularly at long range.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the M16A1 to be very reliable and capable of accuracy in the 1.5-2.0 MOA range. It was very effective on torso sized targets out to 350 meters and the flat trajectory and the L shaped sight made it very fast and effective in engaging targets from 25 meters to 350 meters.

I also found it was very well balanced, easy to carry in the field and very agile in shorter range engagements. In short, I liked it a lot.

The M16A2 left me unimpressed. The heavier barrel profile in front of the hand guards, and the larger round hand guards probably made it harder for some moron to bend a barrel by using it to pry open crate (during my service I encountered a number of M16A1s that ran out of windage adjustment due to a bent barrel), but the heavy barrel and larger hand guards had detrimental effects on the handling traits. It lost the balance and feel of there A1, and the larger hand guards, while interchangeable and eliminating a part number, were not as comfortable to hold and did not help level the rifle when shooting off hand or from a "foxhole prone" position.

The A2 rear sight was nice, but I never saw a need to shoot past 350 meters in any reasonable scenario. More often than not the sight just got left on a battle sight zero that actually made it a bit slower compared to the M16A1 when it came to transitioning from 50-300 meter targets to 350 meter targets.

The 1-7 twist was also an unfortunate choice, as M855 was optimum in a 1-9 twist and the 1-7 was adopted solely to support M856 tracer rounds, that were seldom used. What it did do was prevent the use of M193 rounds, which in some ways were superior to the M855.

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Old 07-24-2017, 11:46 PM
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Picked it up- here's a few pictures.

The ad said it would come with one mag, and there was one new one in a bag included with the gun. I ignored it at first thinking it was a no-name special, but surprised later when I saw it was a Colt. It's the one on the bottom of the stack; the other two are a couple 20 round mags I have.
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