You ever get confused about AR15 name lingo? M4, M16, A1, A2, A3, and A4? What’s the difference?! Welcome to the world of AR15 rifle intricacies. The AR15 is an iconic piece of American firepower with a rich history just like that of an M1 Garand. However, deciphering the complexities of the AR15 platform can leave even the most seasoned gun owner feeling bewildered. Fear not, for our comprehensive guide is here to demystify the differences between the M4, AR15, and legendary M16, complete with their distinctive A1, A2, A3, or A4 enhancements. Stick with us; we will equip you with the knowledge to navigate the AR15 landscape with confidence!

Brief AR15 History Lesson

To understand the different AR15 types, you first need to start with a little AR15 history. In 1955 Eugene Stoner, the Chief Engineer at Armalite produced the first prototype AR-10 Rifles. By today’s standards, these first AR-10 rifles were not terribly different but they had a sort of steampunk look to them with the brown plastics, vent slots, and the charging handle hidden under the carry handle. It very much still had an old-world vibe.

For more information on the AR-10 rifles make sure to check out our series!

Only two years later the AR-10 would be scaled-down and chambered for the then-popular varmint cartridge .223 Remington. The AR-15 was born! The first ones were no more than simple scaled-down versions of the AR-10 but would eventually come to take precedence over all else. So much so that it caught the eye of the US military and eventually Colt took up the mantle as Armalite could no longer financially dive into the further development of the AR-15.

A very early AR15 variant. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

M16 vs AR15 vs M4 – What Are Their Differences?

In the mid-1960s, the US military began the use of an AR-15 variant known as the M16 rifle. This rifle became standard equipment for the US Army beginning in the Vietnam War (they were still phasing out other standard-issue weapons). The rifle has gone through several generations of improvements since the original variants.

It should be mentioned that Colt gave their AR-15/M16 rifles their own model designations. Early Colt M16s like this copycat retro-clone would be called the Colt 602. The Colt 602 was basically the second iteration of the Colt M16. The one before this one, the Colt 601, was very similar to this one but had a “Type 1” duckbill style flash hider, was accompanied by a waffle pattern 20-round magazine, and had green painted fiberglass furniture.

Not long after the 602 would be the 603 and so on which also brought about their military designations which get complicated in their own right. Most would consider this rifle an M16A1.

Early M16 variants like the 602 lacked the forward assist and brass deflector that now comes standard.

In the 1980s, Colt began work on a new platform based on the M16 rifle, which was eventually known as the M4 Carbine. The M4, which features a shorter barrel, collapsible stock, and other modifications, has become standard equipment for close-quarters combat throughout the US Military.

This is an approximation of what an M4 could look like minus the shorter barrel. Early models had fixed or detachable “A2” carry handles and lacked quad rails.

The US military still uses the M16 for some infantry applications. The current standard issue rifle the M4 offers distinct advantages in portability and maneuverability through its lighter weight and smaller dimensions. In early 2022 the Sig Sauer MCX Spear was selected to replace the M4 and M249 in their respective roles. This however will probably take a long time to be implemented much like the lineage of the M16A1 worked its way to being the M4 over 40 years.

M16 Variants – M16A1, A2, A3 and A4

You’ll often hear people refer to the different M16 types as A1, A2, A3, or A4. These terms actually refer to the different generations of the M16 rifle, and they are often used incorrectly when referring to AR15s. So, what are the differences between these different types of M16s?

The carry handle is a big difference between models and is a good place to start off from.

The A1A2, and A3 have a permanently-attached carry handle and the A4 does not. Although the A4 has a removable carry handle option, it does not look anything like the previous versions. The A1 carry handle also featured the rear sight which had a tool-adjusted windage selector (a bullet tip could also be used to make the adjustments, and that’s what most soldiers would do).

Note the lack of a easily adjustable windage knob on the M16A1

The A2 design featured several improvements over the A1, including a spent case deflector immediately behind the ejection port to prevent cases from striking left-handed users, a heavier barrel, and the modified action that replaced the fully automatic setting with a three-round burst setting.

If your upper receiver has a brass deflector it will be just behind the ejection port and be in the shape of a distorted pyramid

One feature that is similar to all these models is the forward assist. It is a standard feature these days and is equipped in all four types of M16, the A1, A2, A3, and A4. The forward assist was non-existent in the original incarnation of the M16 but is a necessary option in harsher environments to make sure that the bolt is fully forward and locked.

If you have any concerns about installing a forward assist, make sure to consult this FREE Army Service Manual!

The A2 and A3 went further on the idea and incorporated easy-to-adjust windage and elevation selectors on their carry handle rear sight. These are all nonexistent features in the A4 with the carry handle having been removed from its design.

This is a detachable “A2” style carry handle. The easily adjustable rear sight is the giveaway.

The A3 is so similar to the A2 that they are almost twins. The A2 is a three-round burst rifle. The main difference between them is the fire-select feature (capable of full auto fire) on the A3, other than that they are the same weapon.

AR15 receivers will often have the full auto stop or printed “Auto” but more for looks rather than use.

The A4 may be referred to as the flat-top version of the M16 variants because of the removal of the carry handle and it distinguishes itself as the only one in the group ready to be equipped with an optic. Very much unlike the A1, A2, or A3 which require an adapter to fit an optic on top of the handle.

The Trijicon ACOG is a common optic on most modern military M4 or M16 variants

Main M16 Types – Quick Breakdown

Looking to build your first AR15 or would love to upgrade? It’s easy and affordable with AT3 Tactical’s AR15 Parts and Accessories!

Main M16 VariantsSpecs
M16A1– Fixed Carry Handle
– Windage Adjustable Rear Sight
– Fixed Stock – No Trapdoor
– Select Fire (Safe, Semi, Full Auto)
Pistol Grip – No Finger Groove
– “Tear Drop” Forward Assist
– No Brass Deflector
– Triangular Handguard
– Three Prong or Bird Cage Flash Hider
M16A2Fixed Carry Handle
– Windage & Elevation Adjustable Rear Sight
– Fixed Stock – Trapdoor
– Select Fire (Safe, Semi, Three Round Burst)
– Pistol Grip – Finger Groove
– Round Forward Assist
– Brass Deflector
– Round Handguard
– Bird Cage Flash Hider
M16A3Fixed Carry Handle
– Windage & Elevation Adjustable Rear Sight
– Fixed Stock – Trapdoor
– Select Fire (Safe, Semi, Full Auto)
– Pistol Grip – Finger Groove
– Round Forward Assist
– Brass Deflector
– Round Handguard
– Bird Cage Flash Hider
M16A4– Removable Carry Handle – Optics Ready
– Windage & Elevation Adjustable Rear Sight
– Fixed Stock – Trapdoor
– Select Fire (Safe, Semi, Three Round Burst)
– Pistol Grip – Finger Groove
– Round Forward Assist
– Brass Deflector
– Round Handguard
– Bird Cage Flash Hider
The most integral differences would be changes in the rear sights, carry handles, and fire control group.

What is The Best Type of AR15?

The search for the best AR-15 is subjective, but key factors include reliability, accuracy, durability, and customization options. It ultimately depends on individual preferences and shooting style. The AR platform has changed over the years, and the US Military has driven many improvements on the original AR15 platform. While all of these different changes can get a little confusing, the result has been improved tools for both military and civilian use.

FAQs

Who invented the AR15?

Eugene Stoner. He was the Chief Engineer at Armalite which was a firearms company that came about as a division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation. During his time in the 1950s, he was responsible for many notable early “AR” designs, most notably the AR-10 and AR-15.

What caliber does the M16 use?

The M16 is .22 caliber but uses a cartridge called 5.56x45mm Nato. It is commonly referred to as 556, 5.56, 5.56 Nato, etc. Early AR-15 rifles were chambered in .223 Remington (very similar to the 5.56) and would continue to be on and off until the early 2000s when 5.56 became the more accepted chambering since it can fire both .223 Rem and 5.56 Nato with little issue.

Is an M4 better than an AR-15?

It greatly depends on its intended use. If you have an AR15 built for hunting it will outperform the M4 all day long. The big thing that the M4 has going for it is that it is select fire.

Can civilians own an M16?

Sort of. Besides state regulations, if it is a semiautomatic M16, anyone who can legally own a firearm can have an M16. If it is one of the select fire (capable of burst or full auto) M16 variants it would fall under the NFA and would have restrictions and limitations therein. Some NFA items are fully transferable to civilians, some only to dealers, etc.

What does the M stand for in M4?

It simply means “Model” or “Standard Model”. Things labeled “XM” for example mean that they are not standard, are experimental, or do not fall within the parameters of the “standard model”.

One Last Tip

If there’s anyone that knows the AR-15 platform, it’s the US military. As a special offer for our readers, you can get the Official US Army Manual for AR-15/M4/M16 right now – for free. Click here to snag a copy.

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69 thoughts on “M4 vs AR15 vs M16 – The Ultimate Guide to AR15 Types [2023] Plus A1, A2, A3, A4 M16 Variants

  1. the early air force m-16 had a 1 in14 twist rate.that is what made it real good in knock down power.then it went to 1 in 12 twist rate to help with tracers an in the cold.that wasnt to bad either.in nam most firefights were close an personal.the slower twist was really good.now with the stupid 1 in 9, 1 in 7 twist rate the up close stopping power is all gone.long range fire is very good ,but up close it is of little use in stopping power.you have to double tap or more.talk to nam vets, then talk to those that are using them now.stay safe out there.an welcome home all nam vets.i serve in nam class of 1968-1969.

  2. No, never used it but I want it, mainly because I had one on my A1 in the Army… Yes I am kinda OLD

  3. I spent a lovely 2 years, 6 months and 28 days in Vietnam (Cambodia and Thailand), flying UH-C Gunships in the USAF, last 7 months aboard hand-me-down AH-1D’s the Army didn’t want. When my replacement squadron arrived in September of 1970 we were issued M-16A1’s aboard our UH-1’s in case we were downed for any reason for self-defense, also surplus WWII and Korean War vintage 1911A1’s that were in barely acceptable condition. Least to say, at the urging of other previous squadron crews, we left the M16A1’s behind in the lockers and commandeered captured new Russian made Ak-47’s and cases of 7.62 ammo to carry on our gunships. I had brought with me a nice new S&W model 60 stainless steel .357 Mag my father bought me (he was USAAC in Burma thru China the whole WWII flying P-40’s, P-51’s and P-38’s at the end, he knew better what I needed with me. The vast majority of our missions were ground support, attack (NVA and Cong supply routes) and taking “Spooks” into covert behind the lines missions. BU armament was crutial and we did not trust the M16 reliability or knock-down power. I stayed in the USAF and Reserves for 20 years, mostly teaching combat flying. I grew fond of the later models of the M16, and especially the M4. I have “a few” and I shot match and long range competition with them (and my 1982 FN FNC 17.7″ Battle Rifle)

  4. “…A3 have a permanently-attached carry handle and the A4 does not.”
    False. I own an A3 and it has a detachable carry handle. The A3 and A4 both are a flat top upper receiver and both are very similar in their design and construction. The main difference between the A3 and A4 is that the latter includes M4-style feed ramps, which serve the purpose of complementing the feed ramps found on an M4 barrel.

  5. Thanks for sharing this awesome blog with us.

  6. Enjoyed this article..and the manual. Manual has lot’s of details.

  7. Old post but a small correction. In regards to the forward assist, the USAF M16s prior to the adoption of the A2 in the 90s didn’t have a forward assist or a shell deflector. To confirm this just Google USAF M16 604.

    1. The USAF has usually been slow to conform…

  8. I have an AR that says on the lower receiver 5.56 M4 Carbine and is from Aero Precision. It has a 20 inch barrel which I do not understand. I thought the word Carbine meant a shorter barrel. The rifle did not have a carry handle, I bought one from Palmetto State and added it.. I called Aero Precision and they said that someone probably used an Aero Precision lower and put on a 20 inch barrel for the upper. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?.
    Thank you.

    Richard

    1. Carbine gas tube? Hell I don’t know. A collapsible stock used to to be the mark of a carbine in the early CAR days. Back then, we thought we needed a 20” barrel for velocity and accuracy. I owned a CAR before the kayak accident.

    2. Frankenstein gun most likely. Buy a carbine upper and replace the rifle barrel if it bothers you .

  9. Hi Folks, I saw a sign the other day, It’s damn funny! “If Guns Kill People, Cars Drive Drunk, and Spoons Make People Fat” I laughed for a long time!

  10. American Rifle is what AR stands for now days

  11. What is all this political crap? I’m just trying to find out if I can use an M16A2 trigger in an AR15 lower??

    1. The atf says “once a machine gun always a machine gun”. The fire group can always be called into question in court. However if it’s just a trigger no serial no question. It’s your choice is a m16 trigger worth life in prison? If it were me and I needed parts I would throw it in and never look back

  12. Ok, serious question… Which of these weapons mimics a machine gun style? I am interested in facts only, not the where, when, and who came up with names.
    Thank you 🙂

  13. Ok, serious question… Which of these weapons mimics a machine style? I am interested in facts only, not the where, when, and who came up with names.
    Thank you 🙂

  14. In the photo of the 4 firearms, it appears that number 3 from the top is an SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) in relation to the other three firearms. Someone (Non-Military or non-LEO) owns that one without proper interaction with the ATF and paying tax stamp in in trouble. Then when you get right down to it, the other three are actually carbines, just to be picky. Has anyone but myself noted that any carbine length barrelled firearms seem to lose their effectiveness and accuracy right about 200 yds and beyond?

    1. The M16 millitary variant M4 issue rifle used by the millitary uses a 14.5 inch barrel and it’s civialian AR15 counterpart uses a 16 inch barrel.

    2. WRONG, the 3rd rifle is legal.. its a pistol.. barrel shorter than 16 inches, and has the paddle/fin style stock with the strap inserted which allows for single handed firing… EDUCATE YOURSELF PLEASE!

      1. And where is the paddle/fin stock? Behind the retractable one? Stop insulting people because sometimes you make a ass out of yourself.

      2. Sorry Ron you’re wrong the third rifle is an SBR you’re wrong about the stock that is not a paddle and with the vertical front grip you have to apply for a tax stamp please educate yourself about the pistol version where you’re not allowed to have a front grip in that configuration which turns it into an SBR small Barrel rifle and it requires a tax stamp

      3. Wrong yourself. That is a collapsible stock on a short barreled rifle. License required for civilian use, not the military, Also the vertical fore grip is prohibited on a pistol. A pistol is defined as designed for one handed operation.

      4. The 3rd rifle has a stock and not a fin, blade or anything else you want to call it! Put your glasses on and look glasses ? All 4 have legitimate stocks.

      5. You need to take your own advice. A legal pistol is not allowed to have a vertical grip. So, if it’s not a legal SBR, it’s illegal.

        1. I could be wrong but the shortest barrel I see looks like 16″ with a carbine length gas system, I believe the other three are 18″ or 20″ with rifle length gas systems. I do believe all these firearms are legal.

    3. The M16 was an open sighted carbine and the qualification range far targets were various ranges out to 300 meters at pop ups. It was designed as a weapon of war that was simple for soldiers to learn and repair to some degree in the field if necessary, and I agree the accuracy falls off, but made up for by the rapid fire nature of the weapon. I’ve built heavy barreled 5.56 AR rifles that performed outstandingly. But If I’m shooting long range for accuracy I’ll take a 7.62 bolt action any day.
      I know you are talking about AR15’s but they are basically all the same animals. I used to teach small arms readiness training for the US Army and run the range.

  15. So I just recently bought a dt sport lite 556.. what do I have to do so switch it to the the 1-8 m4 barrel .. just looking for help someone message me

  16. I’ve read elsewhere the forward assist was used to silently charge the bolt.

    1. Yes. It worked for me once 51 years ago. Sometimes you had to be real quiet.

    2. I was 10 years old during the war, hated marxists almost as much as I do now, prayed for our guys while my mom cried at the kitchen table over letters home. I followed it all carefully. It was my life. I fought liberal POS kids after school standing up for our guys over there. Most libs were pussies, and they’re still pussies. I remember the “new” forward bolt assist very well. I defer to the guys that were there, but I remember our guys hating “the little black gun” as the VC and NVA called it. It was getting guys killed. So when they added the forward assist, it was a big thing. I remember when our guys needed it, they needed it, and they used it. Each knew the consequences as each knew his weapon. As far as quietly closing the bolt, I’ve never heard historical evidence of that. When they needed the FBA, I remember noise being the least of their worries unless they were GB’s. Ive always pressed my thumb hard into the indent on the bolt for better control closing it quietly. If I used the FBA at the same time, it didnt end well—applied more force than necessary—and the buffer spring slammed it home Ka’ching! But if you were there and you say you did, defer to you. As far as democrats and guns, I honestly have never understood that one. We’ve all seen the success of Marxist incrementalism over the last 60 years finally bring marxism into the WH today. If you voted democrat in the past (before 2008), you just voted democrat. If you vote D today, you are voting for marxism. Do not fool yourselves. Because 1. none of the dem politicians have the balls to stand against it, or 2. they really believe that bull sh*t. I’m 61 now, and I’ve seen Marxist Incrementalist creep in the disguise of “simple liberal politics” for over 50 years. I remember “oh, that’s so stupid to believe giving a liberal inch will result in a Marxist mile.” But it does, doesn’t it? Look at the WH now. A demented commie puppet and his commie whore side kick living as head of the free world and cramming CRT down our soldiers throats. For whoever said “not all republicans are racist” —f*ck you, *ss hole. That assumes some R’s are. And f*ck you up the *ss for saying that. Yes, MF, I’ll meet you anywhere, just like I did 50 years ago—you f*cking marxist *ss lick. I hate ya all. Go patriots. See ya at your revolution libs. You’ll take the Marxists side—you already have. You like guns and you vote democrat? What are you? F*cking stupid? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course you are..

      1. Thank you for pointing out that the Dems are historically, factually, the documented party of racism. Always the first to conceal their origins and accuse others of what they do.

      2. Amen brother , well said

  17. Mark is correct about forward assist is not necessary. When M16 was put in service during the Vietnam war, the ammo (powder used) provided had very low quality and it created so much dirt inside the receiver which causes the M16 to jam frequently. The purpose of the forward assist is to jam the BCG into proper battery position. Today’s ammo is much more cleaner and burns much better. As a result, the forward assist is not necessary or required in an AR rifle flatform in todays modern AR.

    1. I shoot in the desert. Without a forward assist blowing sand and dirt create the need for the forward assist, as in Vietnam when in foxholes. I’ve shot a lot of Vietnam era 5.56 on the range and never had a problem with dirty powder. Dirt and sand in the boot is why the dust cover was added. I still carry a big bottle of LSA in the field.
      I’ve seen a lot of expensive AR platforms jam or go down with failures owing to dirt in the upper.

  18. The forward assist is not necessary and Stoner never wanted it. If you have to use your forward assist then something is wrong with your rifle and jamming a cartridge in the chamber is not the proper thing to do! There is a reason the SR-25 doesn’t have a forward assist. The only reason we have the forward assist is because of public demand. Have any of you ever used it? No, didin’t think so.

    1. I have. I had to use it a few times while training in Ft. Bliss back in the 70s. Keeping the sand out of my rifle was near impossible while crawling on my belly.

    2. Shut up dick weed in a fire fight your not going to be analyzing all the aspects of the ammo or the weapon ! save up for a brain !!!

    3. Absolutely correct Mark. All the forward assist does is assist you in making a jammed round even more difficult to extract by pushing it farther into the chamber. Not a fan.

      1. Racking the charge handle seems to me a better solution…

    4. The forward assist was added after the US Military experience with jammed M16s in Vietnam. The original M16 had no forward assist and Jammed frequently from the sand and dirt under foxhole fighting conditions.
      The original also had a brittle stock that our Drill Sergeant warned us was made by the Matel toy company and it would shatter if one fell on it too hard when grabbing earth. The M16 was extremely unpopular among soldiers in Vietnam for those and several other reasons.
      We were issued those little comic books that reinforced the need to constantly clean the weapon in the field.
      That’s why the forward assist was added.

      1. Sonny, the assist was not as necessary, when they changed from the black bolt 2 the new Crome bolt. The black bolt collected burnt powder residue, also dirt & crud ( mud, sand, bark, grass, etc.). Crome bolt finish was smooth, didn’t accumulate as much dirt. When needed it was a God send, open bolt u r SOL! Clean rifle is very necessary 4 proper cycling, & function. I used both, assist was a life changer when needed, like “toilet paper”.

    5. I built my very first AR sitting in my living room. The first time I went to fire it, the bolt did not quite push the cartridge into battery. I gave it a loving nudge with the FA, and it locked right in.

      Since then, I’ve never had to use the FA on that weapon or any of the several I’ve built since. I have seen people suggest using the FA to “ease a round home” when trying to stay quiet, so the clacking of the action doesn’t alert a bad guy to your presence or intentions.

      When seconds count, I’d prefer to be able to bang something into position and fire off a round, even if there’s a problem and it’s the last round that weapon will ever fire.

  19. Dumb dumb, He did not infer liberals created it. You created that from nothing. Ignorant or not knowing people tied AR to assault rifle because in their ignorance they thought ar acronym refered to assault rifle. Analogy or not, It became alive. Armalite Rifle is dead in ref. to ar, and anything resembling it is scary.

  20. It would be a lot more helpful if the picture of the rifles were in respective order of a1, a2, a3, & a4…..or there was an explanation of model order. It goes a1, a2, a4, a3?

  21. The term “assault rifle” was first used to identify the StG 44. The term invented by liberals to scare the uninformed is “assault weapon” which is really meaningless. Assault is an action. Using their “logic” a Swingline 747 stapler would be an “assault stapler” when someone used it attack someone.

    1. Words mean things: As TDS has evolved over the last 3 years, we need to distinguish between the classic Liberal and today’s Leftist – folks demonizing “assault weapons” and “assault rifles” in 2020 are properly termed Leftists or Leftistas.

      1. Yes, but these voting Blue today must be Lefistas, given how they are voting for the fascist party infringing not only on 2a, but now the 1st & 4th with the spying on citizens they employ. The term created and most often used by these Lefistas is Assault Weapon, but often mis-stated as Assault Rifle as well.

  22. @Joel Reisner – please leave the politics at the door or at least get your facts straight. “Liberals” did not invent the term assault rifle. Its a translation of a the German word “Sturmgewehr” as applied to the Sturmgewehr 44; generally recognized as the first modern assault rifle.

    1. Joel Reisner was referring to the AR-15 being erroneously called an assault rifle! He was NOT referring to the origin of the term assault rifle which was adopted from the Germans in WWII.

    2. Correct and thank you for making that point. Some of us “liberals” build and love our guns too. Even 3d print or mill out our very own ghost guns, lumping all people of liberal mind sets into a monoblock of homogenous politics is not accurate or fair.

      1. Thank you for bringing this up. I am what many people in the gun world would call a liberal if I were not talking about or holding my gun. Democrats and moderates own guns and support the second amendment. Call all Democrats liberals is like saying all republicans are racists!!! It’s all just not true. Every individual is different and has different thoughts and political opinions. Lumping everyone into liberal and conservative is just, in my opinion, wrong and ignorant.

        1. Amen, I vote blue, well because I don’t care for Fascism in American Democracy. Anybody support that supported America during WWII, spoiler, you’re Anti-Facist. Also it’s a FREE COUNTRY. Not Red or Blue. You can actually have a little bit of both ideologies, and believe it or not. Your head will not implode from open mindedness.

          1. Anybody that Supported*

          2. How can you say you don’t care for fascism yet you vote for the people who want to remove your ability to protect yourself from fascism and who literally are fascists?

        2. Being as the democrat party owns the legacy of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, lynching, Eugenics, the KKK, Gun Control and other race based atrocities it would take a history illiterate to assume they have a podium to call The Party of Lincoln, “racist.”

          1. Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy of the Dem party, they are always so quick to conceal their origins

        3. Haha… How about now? Are you still Democrat? Are you going to wait until they bang your doors down and take your guns to realize who they really are? Its True many good people Still think they are Democrat simply because they believe the Lies and utter Hypocracy of this Communist Regime who pretends to be everybodys friends..

        4. What’s ignorant is being Democrap enough to start childish name calling when your feelings hurt enough to BE ignorant!

    3. Guess it’s a good thing that he didn’t say that, you boomer moron. But please, do tell me about how the NRA is the pinnacle of our 2nd ammendment

    4. Guess it’s a good thing that he didn’t say that, Elmer Fudd. But please, do tell me about how the NRA is the pinnacle of our 2nd ammendment

    5. Everything about guns is political today, and with very few exceptions, only one party is making waves. So it’s worth reminding others of that fact as November approaches.

  23. cool

  24. I believe it’s worth noting that the term AR10 and AR15 meant Armalite Rifles, models 10 and 15. AR was not short for Assault Rifle — that was a term introduced years later in liberal political circles. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Armalite_rifles if interested.

    1. Daniel Rimmer, He actually stated it this way :
      “was a term introduced years later in liberal political circles.”

      Never said :
      “Liberals” invented the term assault rifle.

      However, the point is well understood; “Liberals” do regularly use the term
      for purely political reasons !!

  25. Point of clarification: the M4 absolutely did have a carry handle that came with the weapon. As correctly stated in paragraph 8, it was a removable carry handle that fit onto rail system. It was very similar in appearance to the A2 and A3 carry handle, though I believe the adjustments were finer. Finally, the A4 include the Knight’s Armaments rail system that allowed one of four panels to be field removable so that you could attach accessories. Also, the twist in the barrel was taken from the 1/12 considered optimal for the US M193 5.56mm cartridge to the 1/7 twist for NATO SS109 standard cartridges. There were also a LOT of changes to manufacturing methods that helped with reliability and operation in the field.

    Would have loved to have included some mention of the CAR-15. The dramatic changes from the M16A2 to the M4A1 seen in pictures above are largely due to the militarized version of the CAR-15, designated the GUU-5P. The Army Special Operations community was still using these into the mid 1990’s, and they were employed by Delta Force (technically “Operational Detachment Delta”) operators during the Battle of Mogadishu.

  26. I believe the M4 has had the feed ramps re-configured to make feeding more positive. I have an AR15 A2 that I bought in 1980 about 12 years after returning from Viet Nam. I also have an M4. You can’t tell the difference by looking but take them both to the range and you can see the difference. If you run the A2 wet it functions well but the M4 runs wet, dry, or full of dirt and it will usually function. I built the M4 myself and I made sure all the tolerances were correct.

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