In Vietnam Ak or M16

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Dr.Mall Ninja, Jan 12, 2010.

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  1. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I have been to talke to a few vets, but more telling is the number of accounts of M16 failures in Vietnam Veterns reminisces.

    If you were issued a M16 you such as heck did not pick up an AK47. Depending on the unit, some guys were able to get Grease Guns, M14's, etc. However Official Dum made it difficult for low level GI's to swap weapons.

    Danny Boy, a shooting bud of mine, Green Beret, he told me of a road being graded over. Under the mud they found a fully equipped NVA. Danny Boy told me that the NVA had been under the mud for three months. I don't know how he knew that. Anyway, Danny Boy picked up the guy's AK, racked the bolt, and it fired. Danny was impressed.

    Danny Boy did tell me he picked up a SKS in a firefire, after he lost his weapon. He was not very specific about how he came to be without his weapon. Or what happened afterward, I guess it was just a real bad day.

    This is one of Danny Boy's knives.

    da086694.jpg
     
  2. elderberry

    elderberry Member

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    I guess this thread is as good a spot as any for my 1st post. My military "career" ran from 1967 through 1973 so I well remember the early M-16's. If you want to learn more about the early rifles, here is the best 1st hand account I've ever read. It is from legendary USMC Maj. Dick Culver who just happened to take the 1st experimental XM-16 rifles to Nam. It is a fascinating story but fair warning -- this site can eat up a LOT of your time. http://www.bobrohrer.com/sea_stories/saga_of_the_m16_part_1.pdf right under the picture of the horse "Saga of the M-16 in Viet Nam".... Enjoy....

    ps.. I would comfortably trust my life to my Rock River Arms A4... It ain't your father's oldsmobile anymore...
     
  3. MutinousDoug

    MutinousDoug Member

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    I served with the 1st Cav (5th/7th) in 1970 in RVN. I carried 3 different M16's due to loss or casualty, none of which were anything like new rifles when I got them. I fired all three in combat and had NO issues with any of them. Of course I had a chance to zero each and check their function before I took them to the field.
    Years ago I worked with a former Marine (grunt) who served sometime before me, I think in 1967 or 68. He told me his unit was marched out of the field, where they turned in their M-14s, got a new set of fatigues, were issued new M-16s, new magazines and stripper clipped ammunition then marched back out to their post on the same day. They received all the training on M-16s they ever got on that one afternoon. They were not instructed to load only 19 rounds in their "20" round magazines. They experienced numerous failures with their new issue (unrelated to arms cleanliness). It was his opinion that lack of training and the hubris of his superiors resulted in most of these failures.
    It's my understanding that ammunition related reliability issues had been remedied by 1968 or so. Robert McNamara should have been criminally prosecuted for his meddling in military procurement/deployment for political gain (F-111 was another fiasco of his that cost American lives).
    I personally liked the fact that my basic load consisted of over 300 rounds of ammunition in loaded magazines compared to the Dink basic load of 90 rounds in magazines and maybe a few dozen more in a baggie.
    We were forbidden to use the AK or SKS in the field but we could shoot them up when we were back on the firebase, so that was fun.
    When the Dinks had the opportunity, they picked up any discarded M-16s they found on the field.
     
  4. The_Pretender

    The_Pretender Member

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    "The gun don't make the man, the man makes the gun."

    I've heard this many times over the years from my father.

    Both of these topic weapons were utilized in Vietnam. Both sides had many casualties due to the other. Yes, the M16's were lethal, yet had issues. Yes, the AK was vicious, and is not considered accurate.

    Many will probably agree that the M16 was rushed into deployment. But over time it has proven itself. It is effective, capable, and does what is asked of it. If it can't do the job at hand, other weapons are available.

    The AK utilizes a cartridge designed for under 300 meters. 300 is the max range. Not a suggestion. Most firefights occur well short of that, especially in a dense jungle region such as Vietnam. It wasn't made to drive nails, it was made to kill men. That's it. It will do this VERY well.

    Why does this type of topic happen? Not in this particular thread, but in general you do see many posts, our moderators included, that go on and on and on about how wonderful the AR platform is in accuracy, versatility, reliability, ergonomics (which really kills me. Bullets whizzing by your head and you're gonna complain about the grip?) That's great. I mean really, if you're happy with it, that's a great thing. You can do a lot of cool things with them. However, many of these people degrade the AK. Which is foolish.

    AR's are great, but the AK47 continues to be the gold standard that everything is compared to. Whether we like it or not. Yes, it hasn't changed much over the years. It doesn't need to. You're talking about a 60 year old design. Most of the world has moved on, but the damn thing keeps chugging along. Don't hate on it. Appreciate it. Respect it. Remember where we've come from. It isn't hype, propaganda or lack of military funding for it's longevity. It's because you can count on it to do the job. And it has. Time and time and time again.

    It is not a question of one being better than the other. If you have a personal preference, more power to you, but do not try and force it on everyone else. Would you try to convince the world that Coke is better than Pepsi? And feel that strongly about it as we see on these boards?

    If you have ZERO combat experience, you do not know. You can read all you want, watch all you want, listen to all you want, but you will not have the full understanding until it's YOUR ass on the line.

    I'm sure most of us sit around and ponder what weapon we want for a bad situation. And we pick a certain ammo, have a setup we prefer, do our homework, and then that's it. Honestly, we have better chances of getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery than ever needing a gun. And that is a GOOD thing. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. I've experienced it twice myself. Sitting around hyping ourselves up on chat boards and among friends about how tough we will be in a given situation is absurd, ridiculous, and shows a bit of immaturity. Especially when we put so much of that faith in the tool. (How big of a man do you feel without the gun?)

    As for these ballistic comparisons, stand down range and let someone shoot you in the chest with each. Then tell us which one killed you better.

    I hate seeing one side degrade the other. And this is going to continue on and on regardless. Why? Because this is what people do. They have daydreams about war and glory. But you don't know the truth until you have been. We see things glorified in television and movies. It's a sense of heroism and bravery. If you feel that strong about it, enlist. Don't dress up and go to the range and then mouth off on these boards.

    And to our veterans: Thank you for your service. And thank you for your input. You have had experiences most of us will never see.

    If a man were so inclined, he could be very lethal and efficient with a 22 mag or 22 LR.

    Shoot what you want, have a blast and be safe while doing it, and stop worrying about what the hell everyone else uses/wants/prefers.

    The gun don't make the man, the man makes the gun.
     
  5. navyretired 1

    navyretired 1 Member

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    Special ops guy's nearly alway's used some AKMs as their sound is so unique it didn't tip VC that they were in indian country. Both AR and AK's have very distinctive sound and different color tracers. They also used M63 stoner weapon system in SAW version and anything else they liked and wanted. I didn't see many SEALs use ARs till the XM-177 short version came along.
    I can't answer for regular troops, but I never saw any AK's be carried and think it was not allowed. But when TSHF you use what shoots.
    The powder has been mentioned but not how it happened. The ammo manufacturer was having problems with the correct powder (I think bridging but not sure) so without anybodies permission they changed to a ball powder with too much Potasium Same as .762X51 ( If I remember right) but the point is the residue when fired was like concrete and as the gas system wasn't accessable for cleaning (gas tube) the tube would clog solid and turned AR into single shot. I never saw a AR jam they just fail to cycle with bolt key stuck on gas tube. I've still got 2 clogged tubes given me by unit armourer. Because of him I change tube evertime I put a few mags through.
    As to down loading mags to 19 rounds, down loading mags has been used since m-1 carbine 30 round mags came along.
    The weapon which should have caused someone jail time was the M-60, when it wasn't jamming it was breaking or having parts fall off.
    Later the SEALs had their Stoners taken away and M-60E2 was forced on them.
    some of these details might be slightly off (45 years ago) but not that much. The M-16s we origanally weren't call M16s. They were called AR-16 model 24_ ?.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  6. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    Weight, primarily of magazines and ammo. Assuming Vietnamese AKM's and magazines weighed about the same as my SAR-1 and Romanian magazines, then a loaded AK-47 and four spare 30-round steel magazines would weigh around eighteen pounds. That's fricking heavy.

    A single loaded AK magazine weighs almost 2 pounds (1 lb 15 oz, IIRC). I don't have figures for the M16/AR-15 but I know it's much less than that.

    The result would be that folks carrying 7.62x39mm AK's would be more weighed down and less mobile with the same amount of ammunition, or would carry less ammunition, than folks carrying M16's, all else being equal.

    Not the case, actually.

    NewBeryl41.jpg

    I believe that's a Polish soldier. The rifle is probably 5.56x45mm or 5.45x39mm, and that round and polymer-bodied mags are WAY lighter than the 7.62x39mm and steel mags from the Vietnam era. And optics and lights offer the same advantages to the AK platform as they do to the M16/M4 platform.
     
  7. SharpsDressedMan

    SharpsDressedMan member

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    Thanks to God I didn't have to serve in Viet Nam (great respect for those that did), but I did serve from 1971-1977, and got what I thought to be superior maintenance training in the Army AFTER many bad things in VN with the M16. They taught us to clean it, and clean it WELL, and WHY to clean it, and how OFTEN to clean it. Many problems were corrected concerning heavily fouling ammo, tight tolerances, chroming bores, etc. The rifles worked better. Concerning your question, I believe the AK was a superior weapon in the jungles of Viet Nam over the M16 at the time, in the overall.
     
  8. 61chalk

    61chalk Member

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    My brother served near the DMZ in 1969....he trained with the M14, then went to
    Nam an was issued the M16....even as a FO he said he wanted his M14 back, when
    he had a chance he got a 12 ga. with 00 buckshot, said something like he'd rather put 9 big holes in a guy than one little one. He shot my AR in 1980, an never again, just handed
    it back. I guess its what you have faith in, an if you had good or bad experience's with a weapon.
     
  9. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

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    A then-AR vs. AK ===> no question, AK.

    A now-AR vs. AK ===> closer call, but still probably AK, if for no other reason than heavier bullets punching through 2-3 inch branches in the jungle and carrying on their way to the enemy. But then there's carrying more ammo in 5.56x45, so tough call.
     
  10. Shadow Man

    Shadow Man Member

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    I'm interested: what is the benefit of being able to carry more rounds of a certain ammo type if it takes more rounds of that ammunition to get the job done?

    Just playing devil's advocate, is all. :evil:
     
  11. Byron

    Byron Member

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    I was an 11B with the 4th Inf Div 68-69.I stayed most of my tour in the field.My 16 was kept clean and never failed me. The M193 round was devistating on the NVA. We carried a lot of ammunition as we were deep in the Central Highlands and resupply was not always good. A lot of rounds are expended in any war.The 16 being full auto caused a lot of men to fire it that way expending too much ammunition. We had an incredible CO who was SF. He taught us fire discipline.The powder had been switched back to Dupont powder when I was in the field. I can only speak of my experiences when part of D Co,3/8th Inf,4th Inf Div.
    Byron
     
  12. RedLion

    RedLion Member

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    And I vaguely remember the Afghans who faced it calling it the "poison" round or something like that...seems like a funny name since the Afghans were using the "superior" 7.62x39.... also i don't think bullets are really a "fashion statement" that rival powers try to copy.

    And if there was no testing... how come the Soviets went through so much trouble to manufacture a hollow cavity in the tip in a FMJ bullet? They specifically designed that bullet to tumble causing traumatic wounds, which can't really be done without some thought before-hand.

    Aside from you're rather low-road comment about 1.3 billion people, its seems a little strange that they would decide to copy us 40 years later, but design a new gun to shoot it out of. Did they just get into the EBR craze like every American civilian?? Plus you might want to crack a history book if you think all the chinese have ever done is copy.

    And this is quite strange... Israel manufactures its own tanks, the Merkava, it made the Galil, and now the Tavor, and their own nuclear program, but doesn't possess the manufacturing ability to make bullets??? Really? No, they do manufacture their own 5.56 ammo. Also I'm pretty sure that "whoever" buys ammo for Israel was in their military, and their kids, neighbors, friends are too, so it would be quite hard for them to force ineffective ammo onto them. And it seems to be working fine for the combat they see over there.


    Again, its easy to make up reasons as to why one country or another switched to a certain bullet, but I doubt you could really come up with everything. Why would France use the 5.56 when they weren't in NATO when the adopted the FAMAS.. and why would Ireland use the 5.56 when they aren't in NATO either... what about Australia or Singapore? and why would South Africa use the 5.56 when we had an embargo on them? What about Brazil? Japan? Venezuela? I think its a little arrogant to believe that the U.S. has enough power to dictate what the vast majority of countries use on the battlefield, especially when more and more countries seem to be abandoning the 7.62x39.

    And if we were the "big lion" why did we adopt the 9mm in 86?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  13. iiibdsiil

    iiibdsiil Member

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    So this is bad when it comes to rifles but good when it comes to handguns (1911)? ;)

    Just busting the 1911 guys chops, as it's the handgun version of this topic.
     
  14. Kalashnikovkid

    Kalashnikovkid Member

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    +1 ^
     
  15. nathan

    nathan Member

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    AK round s goes thru dense underbrush with bigger authority than the 5.56.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  16. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    the AK47 continues to be the gold standard that everything is compared to.

    Really?

    That's an unsubstantiated claim typical of internet mythology. The AK is durable, yes. It is simply made and inexpensive. It is the product of third world engineering and a tactical scenario that did not lend much priority to accuracy or a soldier's longevity on the battlefield.

    But if short sight radius, maximum 300 yard range, difficult safety manipulation, and lack of integrating optics makes it a gold standard, no thank you. I have a Winchester .30-30 just as good.

    The AK is a product of the '40's, and has major design features that impede improvements modern users require. Modern democratic nations that have a choice in firearms for their soldiers generally shun the weapon. Nations in servitude to the remnants of the Iron Curtain are required to use it, regardless of what other designs may be superior after 52 years of continuing progress in firearms.

    I'm surprised at the number of modern enthusiasts of the weapon who won't carry through the same logic that an antiquated curio is the gold standard in other parts of their life. Oh, wait, some do - automatic wind watches like Rolex are still sold, regardless of the inherent inaccuracy compared to quartz. And yes, non transistorized superheterodyne transceivers are avidly sought out by radio enthusiasts, despite digital practically owning the market. And some people still use Kodachrome. Too bad the last photo lab in America no longer processes it.

    Frankly, the "AK as Gold Standard" runs afoul of a lot of superior weapons, including the FN FAL, G3, and yes, the AR 15 family. But the criteria that determines the "Gold Standard" probably has a lot less to do with actual field performance and more with protecting a point of view however uninformed.

    Maybe when you're getting shot at what shape the grip is makes little difference, but when you're shooting back, you'd like a safety you can flip off without removing your hand from the grip, or a magazine that inserts easily and bolt stop that held it back you can press with the off hand.

    If ergonomics mean nothing, why not use a lever action? What point semi auto? Even pistons get dirty.

    Really - if the AK is durable, how much more the lever action? All the reasons the AK fan can list can be easily said about the Winchester or Marlin. The ballistics are extremely similar, the reputations as venerated, the reliability about the same, optics equally difficult to mount, finishes oiled rusty steel and obscure dark wood. The weight is the same, the bullets almost interchangeable, and ammo equally cheap. Each could be claimed a tool that helped subjugate indigenous peoples.

    Heady stuff. What better a carbine that you can force a round into the chamber regardless of the amount of gas pressure the round didn't generate. And every shot allows you to practice clearing a stoppage, because it's not gonna load itself no matter what. How could a lever gunner not be tactically superior?

    AK the Gold Standard? Not hardly. A saddle ring carbine does the job just as well, and gives you a great tactical one point sling attachment.

    I declare the Winchester and Marlin lever actions the Gold Standard. AK's are just awkward semi autos for the wannabes who can't handle the real thing.
     
  17. Roo

    Roo Member

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    I was not alive at the time, so my words don't carry the weight that a vets do. I'm also an aussie, so even if I was there, I would have been partnered with an FN FAL, and therefore probably quite uninterested in the M16 or AK.

    Though, I don't mind making a theoretical choice. On the pure merit of the weapons themselves (that is, ignoring sides, politics, or logistical issues), I would choose the AK47. I simply can't imagine the kind of stress a stoppage must cause under fire, It scares me and I was not even there. So I choose the 47 because it is less likely to fail. Plus getting tagged in the chest with a 7.62x39 must be the worst day ever. Bad enough, I imagine, that the BG isn't getting back up again, and if he does, he will not be doing anything useful. The increased firepower that multiple smaller calibre bullets generate helps nobody if the rifle that shoots them is jammed and the enemy opposite you has a working weapon. Decision made.
     
  18. Bugflipper

    Bugflipper Member

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    The OP states in Vietnam. That means the M16A1 vs AK. The M16a1 as issued in Vietnam was a piece of trash. Over 45 years later they have most of the bugs worked out. Still not a champ in sand though. A few months back was a story of a camp over run in Afghanistan. Some of our guys died with jammed rifles. They were over run from a vantage point. Funny thing looks like WWII and Vietnam would have taught our military of the high ground advantage.

    The AK, yes it is not that accurate. To the guy above bragging of a 12"x12", that is not that accurate. And most likely you are not using a true AK. You are using a variant of a newer version such as an akm more likely than not. Just like an M4 today compared to an M16A1. BTW a good marksman could hit a 4"x4" 5 times with an M4 at 200 off of irons. 12x12 is pretty well saying you have a rifle capable of hitting a man in the chest at 200. The Marines did that at 500 for years with irons. Only in the last few years have they had magnified optics added to their weapons.
     
  19. RockyMtnTactical

    RockyMtnTactical Member

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    That is foolish thinking. The 5.56 and 5.45 are both better than the 7.62x39.
     
  20. CZguy

    CZguy Member

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    Well, the Marlin is anyway.......................sorry I just couldn't help myself. :D
     
  21. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    Right on Grizz. Regular grunts did not carry Ak's pick up's. If someone tells you he did, he's a lying arse. Good way to get shot by your own guys. You fired toward the sound of AK's you didn't look to see who was on the trigger. Spec-ops had different rules and would carry Ak's as to not attract attention.
     
  22. navyretired 1

    navyretired 1 Member

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    The brush busting thing is a myth, several modern tests have shown that even 444 Marlin, 45-70 slow movers and 375 HH and 458 Win mag fast movers are deflected by even very small twigs or leaves. Look it up it's docuemented.
    The first M16s in Nam were Not Garbage, many people knew and performed proper maintenance on their weapons, and they were quite dependable.
    I know AK 47 wiith forge receivers were there but I never saw or captured one. All I saw was stamped AKMs. Either was Heavy and ammo was limited because of weight. 500 rounds and more of .556 was easy to carry and I knew a Chief Petty Officer who carried an XM 177, 30 mags, a cut down duck bill Rem. 870 and 50 rounds for it. He also carried S&W model 39 Hush Puppy with six mags. That doesn't include Claymores, Granades, Knive and food and water 4-5 liters for 1-2 days. Figure out that load out weight and replace AR with AK and you start to understanding military thinking. BTW I love the M-14 but it's even heavier and mags to.
    When TSHF fire discipline is very important. That Picture always shown on military channel of grunts holding helmet down and AR over paddy dyke and emptying their mags and then repeating. That explains 3 rd burst selector for everyone but Special ops and experianced non-coms.
    These arguements have been going for 45 years and most quote incorrect reasons for AR problems.
    My nightmares are allways about running out of ammo, but I never did and never had a AR fail too function. Fired at daily from river banks.
     
  23. iyaoyas98

    iyaoyas98 Member

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    There's an 8-point buck running around in Southern KY that will vouch for very small twigs throwing a 30-30 round WAY outta wack. :banghead:
     
  24. xtriggerman

    xtriggerman Member

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    I don't want to beat this to death as it may have been cover earlier but as a Gunsmith with a uncontrolable imagination, I gotta say Kaleshnikov could have done better. If he had copyed the SKS gas system and tuned up "that" piston drive, the whole AK accuracy problem would have very nearly been a moot point! I used to sell Daewoo rifles as a dealer 20 some odd years ago and unfortunately those 5.56 guns also shared the hi off the barrel AK gas piston system and could never compete with the AR's accuracy. Many new piston drive ARs are coming onto the market that would go back wards in the accuracy dept. compared to DI systems. If you never saw this AR vs AK vidio, watch the AK barrel wip around like your dogs tail when you get home from work! The guy in the vid gets it wrong on why the AK is not that accurate. The higher the piston in the gas block, the greater the gas block torques the barrel in a downward movement , then the barrel must "spring" back up as the gasses are relieved of the initial pressure surge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6BpI3xD6h0 For a piston system to maintain maximum accuracy, it needs to be low on a beafy "stiff" barrel. Im just glad the com block didn't see it this way with the older system, we would have had a tuffer time with em out in the open....
    falsksar002.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2010
  25. navyretired 1

    navyretired 1 Member

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    xtriggerman
    Hey that FAL/SKS looks cool how about some more info, is it Photoshop or real taleented gunsmith shop. I've alway's loved FAL's and SKS's. Everybody wants to know about AK in NAM but there was 10 times as many SKS's and some looked like they'd gone through hell and still functioned and fired flawlessly.
    If you built that I tip my hat, you're good.
     
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