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The M16A2 5.56mm rifle is a lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder- or hip-fired weapon designed for either automatic fire (3-round bursts) or semiautomatic fire (single shot) through the use of a selector lever. The weapon has a fully adjustable rear sight. The bottom of the trigger guard opens to provide access to the trigger while wearing winter mittens. The upper receiver/barrel assembly has a fully adjustable rear sight and a compensator which helps keep the muzzle down during firing. The steel bolt group and barrel extension are designed with locking lugs which lock the bolt group to the barrel extension allowing the rifle to have a lightweight aluminum receiver.

The M16A2 rifle is an improvement of the M16A1 rifle. The improvements provided by the M16A2 are:

  • The M16A2 features a heavier and stiffer barrel than the M16A1
  • A redesigned handguard, which is built from two identical halves, and has a round contour which is sturdier and provides a better grip when holding the rifle
  • The buttstock and pistol grip of the M16A2 are made of a tougher injection moldable plastic that provides much greater resistance to breakage
  • The M16A2 has an improved rear sight which can be easily adjusted for windage and range
  • The upper receiver design of the M16A2 was modified to deflect ejected cartridges, and preclude the possibility of the ejected cartridges hitting the face of a left-handed firer
  • The M16A2 is equipped with a burst control device, that limits the number of rounds fired in the automatic mode to three per trigger pull, which increases accuracy while reducing ammunition expenditure
  • A muzzle compensator, designed to reduce position disclosure and improve controllability and accuracy in both burst and rapid semi-automatic fire
  • A heavier barrel with a 1 in 7 twist to fire NATO standard SS 109 type (M855) ammunition which is also fired from the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). This further increases the effective range and penetration of the rifle cartridge. The M16A2 will also shoot the older M193 ammunition designed for a 1 in 12 twist

M16A2 Specifications

Primary Function Infantry weapon
Manufacturer Colt Manufacturing and Fabrique Nationale Manufacturing Inc.
Length 39.63 inches (100.66 centimeters)
Weight (with 30 round magazine) 8.79 pounds (3.99 kilograms)
Bore Diameter 5.56mm (.233 inches)
Maximum Effective Range Area target: 2,624.8 feet (800 meters)
  Point target: 1,804.5 feet (550 meters)
Muzzle Velocity 2,800 feet (853 meters) per second
Rate of Fire Cyclic: 800 rounds per minute
  Sustained: 12-15 rounds per minute
  Semiautomatic: 45 rounds per minute
  Burst: 90 rounds per minute
Magazine Capacity 30 rounds

Articles on the M16A2

M16A2 Manuals

FM 3-22.9

Rifle Marksmanship M16A1, M16A2/3, M16A4 and M4 Carbine

TM 9-1005-249-10

Operator’s Manual for Rifle, 5.56-MM, M16 (1005-00-856-6885) and Rifle,5.56-MM, M16A1 (1005-00-073-9421)

071-311-2025: Maintain an M16-Series Rifle

An interactive multimedia presentation.

Colt M16 Rifle Operation and Field Maintenance Handbook

U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Books on the M16A2 and Related Firearms

The M16
The M16

In 1965 when the US intervened in San Domingo military observers noted that the para’s of the 82nd Airborne were armed with a completely new gun made of light alloy and plastic.

This was the M16, a weapon developed by an aeronautical engineer based on the design of Eugene Stoner. It was subsequently used in Vietnam and it was there that it became world renowned. With a number of adaptations more than ten million M16’s have been produced and it is in service in at least 80 countries.

Jean Huon tells the fascinating story of this weapon. Packed with more than 200 full color images and 200 black and white photos, The M16 is a comprehensive historyof the development of this key weapon. The book shows every conceivable version , variant, and accessory of the weapon. It even includes versions made under license by othe manucturers.

The M16 will be of enormous interest to collectors and gun enthusiasts and to historians of the Vietnam and Post Vietnam eras.

Complete AR-15/M16 Sourcebook: What Every Shooter Needs to Know
Complete AR-15/M16 Sourcebook: What Every Shooter Needs to Know

This carefully researched revised and updated edition of The AR-15/M16 Sourcebook offers fresh insight into why the AR-15/M16 rifle remains a favorite of soldiers, law enforcement officials, civilian shooters and self-defense experts. In it, Duncan Long takes another look at the history of the “black-rifle” from the bureaucratic blunders and military infighting that ruined its reliability during the Vietnam War to the modifications that transformed it into the most reliable weapon in the world. He also examines the many military and custom spinoffs of the firearm, including an invaluable listing of its various models, supplemented by an impressive collection of photos and illustrations. In addition, he covers grenade launchers, SAW versions, and experimental weapons systems and even gives a detailed assessment of the OICW and other firearms now being tested as replacements for the U.S. military’s M16 and M4 carbine. An entire section of the book is devoted to the very newest accessories for the AR-15, with a hard look at which ones will enhance its capabilities-and which could get the shooter killed. In addition to offering advice on improving an AR-15 rifle, picking the best ammunition for it, and ensuring its reliability, Long presents simple techniques for creating a one-of-a-kind exotic weapon built around this rifle through the selection of parts and accessories now on the market (and where to get them). Finally, the book provides complete instructions on how to field-strip, detail strip, troubleshoot, and assemble an AR-15. Whether you want a weapon you can rely on to get you out of a tight spot or wish to build a super accurate target version of the AR-15, this is the most complete and up-to-date resource available on what many consider to be the best rifle ever made.

AR-15/M16: A Practical Guide
AR-15/M16: A Practical Guide

Here is the definitive book on the rifle that has been the inspiration for so many modern assault rifle designs. Invaluable to the M16 owner, it includes info on grenade launchers, assembly/disassembly, conversion kits and modifications, troubleshooting, ballistics and ammunition, combat use, testing, cleaning and lubrication. Also includes detailed step-by-step instructions and materials lists for the do-it-yourselfer.

The M16/AR15 Rifle (A Shooter's and Collector's Guide)
The M16/AR15 Rifle (A Shooter’s and Collector’s Guide)

In The M16/AR15 Rifle, Joe Poyer has traced the development of American military tactics from the late 1700s to the present day to show how Eugene Stoner’s concept of a small caliber, high velocity. Large magazine capacity military rifle was required by the modern battlefield.

And, since so much interest today in the M16 and its civilian counterpart, the AR15, has to do with military and civilian target shooting, he commissioned three rifles from a custom gunsmith during the writing of the book to show the true accuracy potential of the rifle. They were a 1,000 yard match rifle (aka spacegun because of its futuristic appearance), a match rifle meeting all requirements for the National Service Matches and a .22 rimfire version which is legal in most states that ban high capacity magazine rifles, termed “assault rifles” by media-hungry politicians and antigun groups.

Virtually every model of the AR15 manufactured today by any American company is described in the book. The author also shows the best way to commission a custom-built rifle, starting with how to pick the right gun smith and work with him to define the rifle at the start and thus keep costs down to how to break-in, sight-in and shoot the rifle to the best advantage. Also, tips on match and physical conditioning, ammunition selection and care and maintenance are included. A very complete book on owning and using the AR15.

AR-15/M16 Super Systems
AR-15/M16 Super Systems

AR-15/M16 Super Systems shows you how to customize this reliable firearm into a super system suited to your needs. Whether you want to modify your AR-15 or just want an inside look at experimental weapons that may be on tomorrow’s rifle range and battlefield, this is a book for you.

Black Magic: The Ultra Accurate AR-15
Black Magic: The Ultra Accurate AR-15

Offers a wealth of advice on AR-15 loads, modifications and accessories for everything from highpower to benchrest and varmints.

The Competitive AR15; The Mouse That Roared
The Competitive AR15; The Mouse That Roared

Glen Zediker is a High Master shooter and did it with the AR15. As the book’s title says, it is strongly competition oriented; particularly Service Rifle or “Camp Perry” shooting as it is sometimes mistakenly called. He’s a proud member of the yellow glass club and it comes through in this book. It is HEAVY with details, too many to list here.

He covers building, shooting, and maintaining a Service Rifle from the ground up. There are chapters on magazines, handloading, and ancillary gear. All of it is written in Glen’s easy to read style that has been featured in shooting magazines ranging from American Rifleman to Precision Shooting.

This book is the real deal when it comes to laying out information for the serious Service Rifle shooter and there is plenty of data that also applies to stock AR15s.

If you’re a fan of 10-shot one hole groups and you fancy the AR this is your book. In case you didn’t notice Glen publishes this book, along with a few others, by himself and he only writes (and prints) what he knows. This book goes far beyond a vanity printing and approaches the level of epigraph.

The Gun Digest Book Of The AR-15
The Gun Digest Book Of The AR-15

Hunters, military enthusiasts, self-defense experts and target-shooting competitors alike will find favor with a reference devoted to a firearm touted as one of the best small-caliber rifles ever invented. The Gun Digest Book of the AR-15 delivers details about the evolution of the rifle from its introduction to military action in the 1960s to its popularity at today’s competitions and training centers.

This book provides 500+ photos, details on function, barrel options, caliber, weight for various models, and an explanation of AR versus AK. In addition, tips on cleaning and maintenance, information about myths surrounding the AR-15, key legal information and results of product tests from today’s major manufacturers are covered.

Workbench AR-15 Project : A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Legal AR-15 Without Paperwork
Workbench AR-15 Project : A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Legal AR-15 Without Paperwork

Build your own multipurpose AR-15 suitable for plinking, hunting, collecting or home defense. By following the simple plans in this book to finish a commercial lower receiver, you can have a rifle that will accept a variety of upper receivers – from .22 LR to .50 BMG – and does not require government registration.

The AR-15 Complete Owner's Guide
The AR-15 Complete Owner’s Guide

Provides the prospective, new or experienced AR-15 owner with the in-depth knowledge he or she needs to configure select, operate, maintain and troubleshoot his or her rifle. The Guide covers the history, applications, details of components and subassemblies, operating, cleaning, maintenance and future of perhaps the most versatile rifle system ever produced. Photos and illustrations.

The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide
The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide

This is the second volume in the “AR-15 Guide” series. Detailed b/w photos show step-by-step how to assemble every part of this rifle. Tips, tricks and pitfalls are noted throughout.

How To Shoot Your M16/AR-15 In Training And Combat
How To Shoot Your M16/AR-15 In Training And Combat

Here is the U.S. Army’s progressive training program for the M16 rifle, used to prepare soldiers for combat-type exercises. After a briefing on the weapon’s operational characteristics, it covers firing positions, zeroing, rapid semiauto and full-auto shooting, suppressive and “quick fire” techniques, engaging moving targets, principles of night firing and more.