M16 Vs M14

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by SmeeAgain, Feb 26, 2022.

  1. SmeeAgain

    SmeeAgain Member

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    I'm sure this has been debated to death and I'm not even sure if this is the correct area to bring it up... likely again... but here it goes.
    I've been an avid M16 fan since the first time I shot one. The M14 well... not so much.
    Of course like everyone else I heard the horror stories of the early M16 failures in Vietnam.
    Still I couldn't understand why so many "die-hards" preferred that ol' dinosaur M14 over the M16 until I read this article.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1981/06/m-16-a-bureaucratic-horror-story/545153/

    I was well aware that the M16 was sabotaged by our own and too many of our own died as a result, but I never knew the depth of it or why until now.
    By the time I got to Vietnam, the "issues" with the M16 were resolved.
    (I was issued the M16a1 WITH a cleaning kit, and it never skipped a beat.) Meaning those who created the problems were gone or forced to "knock off the BS."
    Stoner created a masterpiece. Had it been Browning with the exact same design, I doubt anyone would try discrediting him. But Stoner was the new kid on the block & not part of "the club".
    The story I heard & believed all these years was that there was a mountain of surplus powder available and "someone" decided to substitute it... which caused the problems.
    The substitute powder was indeed ONE of the unauthorized changes but the reason behind it, wasn't even close to what I thought.
    Please, follow the link & read it!
    NOW I finally understand why, to this day, some still prefer the M14. And it only took me over 50 years!
    One thing that truly amazes me is that Stoner designed the AR-15 around the cartridge AND specific powder.
    Because of the Army bearuocrats, they somehow stopped the manufacturing of the original IMR 4475? / 4495? powder. It remains unavailable to this day.
    Olin, who subsequently got the monopoly making the "ball powder" is gone too... and rightfully so! No tears from my eyes!
    The public apparently doesn't have access to the "secret powder" that "Lake City" now uses for military 5.56 ammo. Unless of course we buy surplus ammo.
    Of course I can't prove it but it looks like some were getting kickbacks / bribes from Olin. Too many of our own died as a result!
    Anyway, please read the article... see if you suspect the same thing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2022
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  2. Jerry M

    Jerry M Member

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    Seeing how the M-16 platform is the longest serving service rifle in USA history, pretty much answers your question...
     
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  3. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    The M14 was not without its tribulations--it took over 13 years to just be accepted. And it was a serious victim of "mission creep" through that decade. It was expected to replace four different weapons--M3 SMG, M1 (&M2) Carbine, M1 Garand, and the M1918 BAR--all at the same time. A tall order by any measure.

    The Atlantic, as is its wont (full disclosure, not a fan of its editorial style nor its political bias) glosses over vast rafts of history. Like how "the Army" never wanted the M-16. It was the Air Force that adopted it to replace its amalgam of Carmines and Garands for base security forces (USAF had, and has, a very unique need for light, fast, reaction forces for base and Operations protection). USAF fielded the M-16 in 1960, while the US Army still was equipping troops with the Garand. (M-14 started replacement, in Regimental lots in late 1961.)

    Fairchild Aviation's Armalite division was the one that allowed Gene Stoner to use modern aircraft metalurgy to offer up the AR-10 in the Army trials that, finally, resulted in the M-14. This later became the basis of the AR15, which would be the M-16 (the full auto BAR replacement M-14E3 was adopted, for one day only, as the M-15.)

    USAF "success" with the M16 in SEA, and it being far more suitable than Carbine or Garands for issue to VN irregulars, are what, finally, brought it to Ordnance Corps attention. The army is who stuck the "pointless pushbutton" on the receiver side (a fix to a problem created by the powder change--and not a smart fix either).

    Plenty of speculation that the Army wanted the M-16 to fail, so they'd be "proved" right for the time and effort in the M-14. But, it's hard to know what the real motivations were. Marine dedication to High Power style long distance known-range shooting is what gave us the HBAR and the A2 and a six pound rifle going to eight. Needs of the troops gave us the M4 Carbine. Brass-hat meddling is what gave us the three-round burst (another fix for something not broken--other than perhaps rifle training regimens).

    There is a fundamental good in the M-16, else it would not be in its sixth decade of issue (which has eclipsed the Garand in US service--1936 to 1962). The M-16 may well serve for a century. Only time will tell.
     
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  4. SmeeAgain

    SmeeAgain Member

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    I never heard of them until today.
    I was searching for the original and substitute powders and came up with this article.
    I don't want to repeat the mistake.
    If it's true, it's a real eye opener.
     
  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    The Atlantic article is not fully informed and follows the agenda of the writer to demonize the Army Ordnance Corp. I consider the article full of hindsight bias.
    Post WW2, marksmanship, volume of fire, accuracy, range, power are all hotly debated. The future was not clear, and neither were the lessons of the past.

    These are good books to read, that provide a much better, more adult picture of what was going on at the time:

    The Gun by Chiver’s.

    https://www.amazon.com/Gun-C-J-Chivers/dp/0743271734

    This book compares the AK47 development and impact to the M16 development. At times, I was so disgusted with the lies of Colt Corporation and its influencers that I wanted to throw the book across the room.

    Based on price, the next two are too expensive to buy, but you can get them from you local library on interlibrary loan:

    The Black Rifle: M16 Retrospective

    https://www.amazon.com/Black-Rifle-Retrospective-Modern-Military/dp/0889351155/ref=sr_1_1?crid=K6IA9PBEVRW8&keywords=the+black+rifle+a+retrospective&qid=1645923154&s=books&sprefix=the+black+rifle+a+retrospective,stripbooks,76&sr=1-1

    Ezell's book is the primary source of material for the Black Rifle:M16 retrospective.

    Great Rifle Controversy Hardcover – November 1, 1984

    by Edward Clinton Ezell

    https://www.amazon.com/Great-Rifle-Controversy-Edward-Clinton/dp/0811707091

    There have literally been volumes written on the procurement of the M16. In my opinion, the M16 was not ready for prime time, was introduced in the middle of a shooting war, and the problems of an immature rifle surfaced at the worst possible time. Just as today, the decision makers were never taken to task, the Corporations got to keep their profits, the politicians got their campaign contributions, and a lot of good American boys died to maximize the profits of the plutocrats. It cost the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the easy problems of the M16, what remains are intrinsic faults that cannot be designed out without a radical redesign, but could be ameliorated by user input. However, the rifle is not the best of the best. It is adequate given enough user training and enough user maintenance.

    Watch the videos of Stoner starting at Part 1

    The Eugene Stoner Tapes - Part 1: The Early Days of ArmaLite




    The Eugene Stoner Tapes - Part 2: The M16 in Vietnam and Comments on the M16A2





    The Eugene Stoner Tapes - Part 3: The Stoner 63



    I have a lot more respect for Eugene Stoner after watching the videos than before. And, if you have ever worked in a professional product development environment, some things pop out. Mr Stoner clearly states the M16 needed a "maturing" period. He understood it was not fully developed, but Colt sold it as an off the shelf fully developed weapon. Which it was not. And the Army bought the M16 as a fully mature weapon system. Which it was not. And both groups pretended the weapon was perfect and lied about its problems. Stoner also expects the Army to have technical expertise, on cartridge pressures, etc, that the Army did not have. What I see is an expectation that the Army is going to buy his designs, and then spend the money to surface the faults, something that Mr Stoner could not do, on his limited budget. Instead, the faults surfaced in combat, and got a lot of good American boys killed.

    And you see with the Stoner 63, once the Army had been snake bit, when the Army was given what had to be a better concept than the M16, the Army created all sorts of hoops for the weapon to jump, before declaring it satisfactory. And the Stoner 63, great idea it may have been, did not clear all the technical hurdles, and Stoner did not have the sustained money, sustained outside political influencers, nor the sustained inside influencers needed for adoption. Stoner calls it "timing".

    The American weapon system procurement is profoundly political. It takes vast amounts of Corporate money to push expensive systems through Congress and the Ordnance Bureau. And this is because, the military's primary purpose is not National Defense. Instead the primary purpose of the military is to maximize the profits of the industrial base. National Defense is simply the excuse that puts taxpayer money in the pockets of politicians and plutocrats.

    Since there was not a full and open competition of designs, that is the M16 against all rivals, what was put out in the field, is not the best design that could have been fielded. And what you see with all military systems, once the taxpayer money starts flowing to specific Corporations, that money buys Corporate and Political commitment and advocacy. That money ensures that alternatives will never have a chance, because alternatives would divert the money flow. The military industrial complex does not like change, not for technical reasons, but for financial. Empires and power centers are created and sustained by taxpayer money inside the Government, and in the Corporate world. And this is why the M16/M4, etc has stayed in inventory for as long as it has.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2022
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  6. JCooperfan1911

    JCooperfan1911 Member

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    The M16 platform is now one of the most mature and bestest systems there are. I really like them. Thanks
     
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  7. SmeeAgain

    SmeeAgain Member

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    Obviously I haven't read the books yet but spent almost 3 hours watching the videos.
    Again THANK YOU! There was some interesting info there.
    It really sucks that I missed the opportunity to meet the man. Imagine having a time machine & going back to meet Mr Browning!
     
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  8. SmeeAgain

    SmeeAgain Member

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    Speaking of Stoner & the original article, he pretty much confirmed the part of Army Ordinance fighting him every step of the way.
    Perhaps I'm naive but in my mind the top priority would be to provide the soldiers on the front lines with the best equipment available.
    Everything else is trivial.
     
  9. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Which is fascinating to consider, dispassionately. Stoner offered up exactly what Army (not necessarily what DoD, Ordnance, TraDoc, etc.) said they wanted. It was a BAR, a medium MG, a Rifle and a Carbine. Ok, it was going to be all on the Regimental Armorers to fit them out to TO&E, but nobody thought about that (no body ever thinks such things through).
    And, what do we see? Giving exactly what they claimed they wanted was not actually what they wanted at all.
     
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  10. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    It's not naive; but there are levels of complexity to the problem that are nuanced and not immediately obvious.

    For one, troopers are a dangerous bunch. They get bored and do unsupervised things, often the thing in the manuals written in bold with a black line box around them in a contrasting color with the words "do not" used repeatedly. Even with words like "may cause death or serious injury" too.

    To add to that, the rigors of peacetime are not the rigors of combat--witness the Ross, the Gewehr 98, and the SVT-40 among others.

    The role of McNamara and his Ford boys (same one who rolled out the Edsel) in both the M-14 and M-16 cannot be discounted, either.
     
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  11. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    E.G.:
    1110_n.jpg?_nc_cat=110&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=8bfeb9&_nc_ohc=0Kye-ve4tF8AX8NA7s2&_nc_ht=scontent-dfw5-1.jpg
     
  12. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I use the "the Army" all the time, treating the organization as if it were one solid thing. But it is not. All organizations are full of hostile tribes, suspicious of the organization down the hall, hating the one across the street. An Army Intelligence individual told me how the Navy had been leaking information to known North Vietnamese informants, to sabotage Army secret missions. And, it could have been true. All organizations are self centered, grandiose, and they have to be made to play nice with each other. They only walk in lock step when they are forced by higher headquarters. Even then, they hate the hand that holds the leash, and chafe when their collars are pulled.

    So, someone in the Army wanted something new, and wonderful, something that would equally serve coffee and shoot bullets. No doubt this was pitched up the line, and then once it became visible, PM Coffee Maker went on the warpath against the idea, and so did PM Bullet Shooting.

    You see in this video, Stoner has an advanced 35 mm cannon, and the company making the 20mm cannon wants nothing to do with it.

    The Eugene Stoner Tapes - Part 7: Large Caliber Cannons



    This paper, written by a Major, which means he has seen about 10 years of DoD behaviors, more or less describes the internal conflicts with small arms acquisition.

    THE INFLUENCE OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE ON THE ACQUISITION OF THE M16 RIFLE

    https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA460822.pdf

    this is another interesting document, more about the warring tribes

    Marksmanship, McNamara, and the M16 Rifle Organizations, Analysis, and Weapons Acquisition 1979, by Tom L. McNaugher

    https://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P6306.html

    This is a small arms forum, and the culture here is that small arms are the most important, most lethal weapons in history. Personal sidearms are the center of the universe. In terms of military budget, they are small potatoes. I am sure the money spent on one F35 fighter could fund a complete replacement of all the M16’s/M4’s ever made. Maybe for all side arms in issue, to include pistols, machine guns, and maybe cannons too! Someone made the claim that the funds for one F35 could provide newly built housing for all the homeless in America. This is why it takes an act of Congress to kill a dysfunctional major weapon acquisition. I remember reading about an NSA satellite program that wasted $10 billion dollars, but Congress finally canceled the thing.

    Within the Government, your importance in the hierarchy is based on your budget. Small arms are not very important, low budget, and so, the forcing function to replace an adequate small arm, with a slightly better one, is small. I think the Army at one time set a standard of 100% better weapon before they would consider replacing the M16. Given that the cartridge weapons are old, mature technologies, 100% better is an impossible standard.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2022
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  13. Terry G

    Terry G Member

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    I liked the M-14. Very accurate and reliable. For Viet Nam, no. I got the M16 A-1 and was happy with it. The M-14 wasn't suited for that type of warfare. Heavy, and to try to carry 20 loaded magazines as we did with the M-16 was asking too much. It also rusted a lot faster than an M-16 would, and fully automatic was impossible in the average GI's hands. It also was susceptible to mud and sand with the bolt exposed more than the M-16. I remember Engineers that were still issued M-14 and I saw them stomping on the operating handles of the M-14's to free up the bolts. The biggest issue with the M-16 was it wasn't given a couple of years to work out the new faults that arise with any new weapon. Remember the M-1 adopted in 1936 had five full years if testing and improvement's before WWII.
     
  14. SmeeAgain

    SmeeAgain Member

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    I loved the M1 Garrand except for it trying to bite my thumb off so I was looking forward to shooting the M14.
    Once I got my hands on one I was truly disappointed. I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with it! As for full auto, my performance was pathetic at best. Like having a tiger by the tail.
    My first impression of the M16a1 I was issued wasn't favorable until I put it to my shoulder. Then I thought... wow, this fits nice! As if I had a choice, I decided to give it a chance.
    Once I shot it, I was in love!
    That rifle never skipped a beat!
    In the last of the three videos posted previously, Stoner talked about the A1 & A2 sights. He was right! I NEVER adjusted the sights on my A1 and the battlefield is no place to do it either.
    I don't like the A2 forward grips either.
    I haven't had the opportunity to try the three round burst yet but that "sounds" like a good idea.
    Other than the thrill of full auto, it's pretty much a waste of ammo except under extremely rare circumstances. Especially in battle when you need all the ammo you can get.
    The heavier barrel of the A2 doesn't make sense to me either. Stoner went to lots of trouble to keep the weight down but over the years people keep piling on the extra pounds.
    The A1 was pretty much perfect as it was. So was the carbine of the same era.
    One obvious improvement that I haven't seen or heard of yet would be a 4 position selector. Safe, semi, burst & auto.
    Or... as some may say... "peace, get off my lawn, seriously... get off my lawn, and that's it! I warned you!"
     
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  15. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    The M14 vs M16 rivalry is something of a moot point right now. Both are in service in different varieties. The M16 is reincarnated as the M4 and the M14 lives on as the M14EBR.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. HowieG

    HowieG Member

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    Olin, contrary to claims made above, isn't gone. It is very much alive, and I own stock in the company (OLN on the NYSE). They do not, however, make powder anymore. They transferred that function to St. Marks. Olin still manufactures ammunition.
     
  17. Jimfern

    Jimfern Member

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    In business school, we studied a business case about this and the problems with group think. It's been very well documented, much further than that article.
     
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  18. HowieG

    HowieG Member

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    Take a bunch of people that can't think much and put them in a group and it gets much worse. Especially if you pay them.
     
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  19. Jimfern

    Jimfern Member

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    Are you saying you could have saved me 2 years of B school? :)
     
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  20. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Did you mean that one???
     
  21. HowieG

    HowieG Member

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    Well, you could have transferred into a 2 year tech program. We have too many so called thinkers and not enough work with your hands doers. And it's getting worse all the time. Mike Rowe is a good man. My opinion is from personal observation. My grandkids can't screw in a light bulb.
     
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  22. HowieG

    HowieG Member

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    I was trained for a 3 to 5 round burst. It wasn't hard and no multifunction switch required. Then the group of deep thinkers got together and decided that in a tense situation, the 3 to 5 training would go out the window. Duh. Yep. They never thought that in a tense situation, 3 to 5 might actually NEED to go out the window. What they really had in mind was logistics, not the soldier's life. FYI, despite all of the mechanical controls, we expended around 250,000 rounds for every dead insurgent in Iraq. Spend ammo like a millionaire and lives like a miser.
     
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  23. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Is it possible to like the M14 AND the M16?
     
  24. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Oops, no, was thinking of the Commission Rifle, which was less than a glorious success.

    It's possible, but, as we see above, "qualifiers" abound. M-16, M-16A1; A2; A3; A4; M4 and the various "flavors" of M-14, too.

    The DMR M-14 is a bit goofy to me--there are better ways to "disguise" the DMR (AR-10 leaps to mind--force the bad guys to need better optics). But, it works. Even the plain-Jane M-14 did what it said on the tin (if not what the DoD press said). And reasonably well, if for fewer years than even the 6mm Navy Lee.
     
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  25. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    Unfortunately, that's on you.

    I scored expert rifleman with it, hitting targets out to 600 meters. Of course, that was with 20 year old eyes back in 1967...
     
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