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Old October 20, 2008, 08:01 PM   #1
P99AS9
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M16 full auto or not?

I was bored on the computer today and I stumbled across this website:

http://www.marines.com/main/index/wi..._equipment/m16

This is actually this official site of the US Marines. Something here that struck me as strange is it says the M16 is capable of firing 3-round bursts or semi-auto. I though the M16 was full-auto

Can somebody clarify this for me?
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Old October 20, 2008, 08:05 PM   #2
sevensixtytwo
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I don't know if the m16 has ever been full auto, maybe back in the vietnam days. But 3round burst is more controllable (you can put the bullets where you want them easier) That and I imagine they were spending too much on ammo
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Old October 20, 2008, 08:10 PM   #3
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The M16A1 has a full-auto selector setting. The M16A2 is 3-round burst only. The M16A3 also has regular full-auto, but only the Navy uses it as far as I know.
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Old October 20, 2008, 08:33 PM   #4
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the m16A4 is the currant correct. whats the selection on that?

If im wrong and the a4 doesn't exist sorry for my mess up, im not too familiar with military weapons.

sorry for a bit of thread jacking.

T
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Old October 20, 2008, 09:20 PM   #5
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The 3 round burst was put in after Vietnam so conscripts, who didn't want to be wherever they were, would only waste 3-rounds per trigger pull instead of 30. Once we went to a 100% voluntary military and troops were properly trained on trigger control, it's need was reduced, but kept anyway.

The burst feature seems kinda worthless to me. It's more of a way to compensate for poor training than anything else IMHO. IIRC it was more mechanically complex than a regular FA trigger group and had it's own set of issues. Someone want to correct me on this?

Never mind the issue that SA fire is the more effective mode most of the time anyway.
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Old October 20, 2008, 09:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
The 3 round burst was put in after Vietnam so conscripts, who didn't want to be wherever they were, would only waste 3-rounds per trigger pull instead of 30. Once we went to a 100% voluntary military and troops were properly trained on trigger control, it's need was reduced, but kept anyway.
Uhhhhhh no...draftees have absolutley zilch to do with why they went to 3 rnd burst. The troops who were drafted got the exact same training as troops who volunteered, before, during and after the Vietnam war.

But you are partially correct. The reason for the 3rnd vs full auto has to do with accuracy. Your just not going to be as accurate with a light rifle firing at full auto, and in the process troops were wasting a lot of ammo "spraying and praying". The military found that the troops were more accurate and "eliminated" more threats when firing on semi auto. The 3rnd burst was a compromise of sorts for those that balked at the idea of a semi auto only rifle.

When i was in boot camp, we were only allowed to put the switch in one of two positions..."safe" and "semi". We never once fired in 3rnd burst.
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Old October 20, 2008, 10:53 PM   #7
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Darren007 writes:

Quote:
The troops who were drafted got the exact same training as troops who volunteered, before, during and after the Vietnam war.
Not true! During Vietnam and before the training was the same. It was after Vietnam that the training became more relaxed due to many factors. One of which being gender. In the all volunteer military, one thing that I learned when I visited my old company was that "stress cards" were issued to each trainee. The example that was given me by a DI (Drill Instructor) was that if a trainee could not do the exercises, you would present the "stress card", have it checked, and be excused from the exercise. I don't know how many times a "stress card" could be used, but during Vietnam and before, they never existed. If you failed basic training, you had to do it again. It is my belief that the training has been softened, so that big, small, fat, skinny, male, female, or in between, could pass the physical training and move on to AIT.
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Old October 21, 2008, 12:38 AM   #8
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It was also an attempt to get enough lead on target to be useful, in a method that still kept some sort of fire discipline.

It was decided that with aimed fire, only the first three rounds had a good chance of hitting the target. So this was incorporated mechanically instead of proper training.

When it was shown that single round hits from a .223/5.56 were not having the effects wanted in combat, troops began firing bursts more often to compensate for an inadequate round. (flame suit on)

While argued a lot, the fact that too many targets needed too many hits to stop fights is no longer up for argument.
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Old October 21, 2008, 01:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Not true! During Vietnam and before the training was the same. It was after Vietnam that the training became more relaxed due to many factors. One of which being gender. In the all volunteer military, one thing that I learned when I visited my old company was that "stress cards" were issued to each trainee. The example that was given me by a DI (Drill Instructor) was that if a trainee could not do the exercises, you would present the "stress card", have it checked, and be excused from the exercise. I don't know how many times a "stress card" could be used, but during Vietnam and before, they never existed. If you failed basic training, you had to do it again. It is my belief that the training has been softened, so that big, small, fat, skinny, male, female, or in between, could pass the physical training and move on to AIT.
I too have heard of the so called "stress cards". I also heard you can use it one time and one time only....after that you were gone from boot camp. Do they actually exist??? I dunno...I havent met anyone who has ever actually been given one. We didnt have them when I went through basic in 1996. Never heard of them until after.

Regardless, that would have next to nothing to do with markmanship and the training given to achieve it in regards to the M-16.

Last edited by Darren007; October 21, 2008 at 02:09 AM.
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Old October 21, 2008, 01:53 AM   #10
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I went through boot camp at FT Knox starting in August of 1978. We were issued M16A1's. They had full selective fire. Auto, Semi and Safe. We were also trained from the start to concentrate on a 3 round burst because a concentrated prolonged burst caused the muzzle to rise off target. Incidently there was no such thing as a stress card at Ft Knox. If you did not pass every phase of basic training you failed and went right away to remedial basic training. If you got through remedial you were very buff indeed.

I spent 2 1/2 years then in Germany through 79,80 & 81. There I also had an M16A1. (fine rifle...dead accurate at any range) I never saw an A2, I think they were deployed in the early to middle 80's. But the auto 3 rnd burst would be a very good ammo and accuracy saver.

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Old October 21, 2008, 02:05 AM   #11
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Stress card?

Are you serious? I went through boot camp at U.S.M.C M.C.R.D in the very recent year of 1993 and have never heard of such a thing (though I would've gladly accepted one!). The M-16A2 does not have "full auto" because it is a silly waste of ammo... One shot one kill... So the saying goes. We were instructed that the three round burst option was for a charching mega-battaion of Chinese or what have you
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Old October 21, 2008, 02:33 AM   #12
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Hey Kamtec, I was in FT Knox from 95-98, did my basic and AIT there but they didn't called it AIT. It was OUSET or something. One site unit training something. I was issued a M-16 A2 with the 3 round burst. It had a very heavy trigger more than the M-16A1. Were told only use the burst mode if the enemy was withing 25 yards and charging. Since then I've shot a lot of full auto guns. I my experience, full auto rifles are hard to hit with past 25 yards. Heavier 9mm subguns are easier to control and you can get a few rounds on target out to 50 yards. I think full auto fire is very usefull on the battle field. Get 6-8 guys firing full auto any person within a 100 yards and there is no way he's going to be able to return effective fire. This gives you guys time to advance, flank, retreat or set up for massive fire power. Everyone thinks because they shoot well on the range or can kill a deer with one shot that their gonna be some one shot one kill dude on the battle field. Not likely when the enemy runs, moves, hides, ducks, it nightime or early morning and MOST DAMN IMPORTANT THEY SHOOTS BACK!

Oh yeah, they did have a stress card. They were informing new recruits about their "rights" when I had already finished boot camp. Something like they could call a time out if the drill Sgt was being too rough on them. I had heard one recruit using it and the DS just ripped it up in front of him. Im sure that training is tougher now that we at war.
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Old October 21, 2008, 02:38 AM   #13
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stress cards - urban legend

No stress cards.. Check snopes. When I'm at home, I live next to FT Jackson, if anyplace was going to have stress cards, it would be Jackson - and there were no stress cards.

The M16 when it was an A1 had full auto, when it went A2, powers that be wanted to retain some sort of burst capacity. Recommendation was for semi-auto only, recommendation was not adopted, 3 round burst was in.

Frankly (IMHO), unless your in full scale house to house fighting or breaking contact (ambush), full auto is vastly over rated and wasteful.
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Old October 21, 2008, 02:55 AM   #14
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grazing fire

Full auto is (rightfully) reserved for open bolt belt fed machine guns, the M16Aanything is not open bolt or belt fed. It does not have the capacity to produce effective grazing fire. This job is reserved for an area weapon i.e .50 cal. down to S.A.W. Rifles are not machine guns & vice versa.
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Old October 21, 2008, 06:50 AM   #15
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Since we've drifted into utility: A buddy of mine since back in the mid-1960s did a tour in Vietnam around the time of Tet. USMC Lt, line outfit. Patrols and ambushes and all that. He didn't sign up for a second tour because, in his words, "It's not mentally healthy to enjoy ambushes so much."

His procedure when on patrol was to have everybody on semi except the point man and the next one or two near the point. In the event of an ambush by Charley or the NVA, the front guys blasted away while the rest did the usual anti-ambush maneuvers.

In his own ambushes, the position of any shooter determined whether to use semi- or full-auto. Those in an enfilade position used full-auto. Alongside a road or trail, semi. However, fire discipline was not a problem in his platoon, due to training and experience.

FWIW, in his mind the primary weapon was the radio. Secure the position, call in air and artillery. On one occasion, the only radio contact he could get provided him with 16" "artillery"--which was truly impressive...
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Old October 21, 2008, 10:43 AM   #16
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The original A1 military model was full auto/semi.

The current A2 version is semi/3 round burst.

But If I recall, the A3 versions (basically just an A2) is semi/full auto.

Does that help?
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Old October 21, 2008, 12:19 PM   #17
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Old October 21, 2008, 12:26 PM   #18
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the m16 is not full auto..it was at one point around the vietnam era, but they switched to 3round burst to conserve ammo and for better accuracy
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Old October 21, 2008, 12:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
I went through boot camp at FT Knox starting in August of 1978. We were issued M16A1's. They had full selective fire. Auto, Semi and Safe.
I attended basic training at Ft. Knox also, only in the winter of '81. We used the M-16A1 and I remember one night, live fire exercise we went on where we fired A1s off of bipods full auto, as if we were repelling an enemy attack. They would fire illumination flares and we would open up full auto on the silhouette targets that were I believe at 25, 50, 75 and 100 meters. You have to really concentrate on keeping your fire down on target or you will be shooting up in the air. As noted by others the M-16A1 does not make a very good light machine gun, even on a bipod.

Quote:
the m16 is not full auto..it was at one point around the vietnam era
Actually I believe the 3 round burst M16A2 did not come along until the mid 80s.
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Old October 21, 2008, 12:45 PM   #20
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I didn't see it mentioned again. The M4 retains 3-round burst.

I have handled a few built on older lowers, so the actual markings vary. However, the selector is usually labeled: "Safe-Semi-Auto" or "Safe-Semi-Burst".

The M4A1 is a fully automatic variant issued to Special Operations forces. I can tell you from personal experience, the M4A1 suffers badly for controllability. It is far too light for a FA weapon.
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Old October 21, 2008, 12:51 PM   #21
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Just so we're not talking in circles . . .
I also went to MCRD (back in 1976), and we were issued M16A1 rifles, which had a 3-position switch (safe, semi, auto). While there, we were only allowed to use the "hose" button a few times. As my career progressed, I got to play with a variety of destructive devices, some designed for sustained fire, others not. Then, through a series of poor choices, I wound up in a Recon batallion, then a Force Recon detachment. While I was there, there was a tremendous amount of emphasis on marksmanship, as you can probably imagine, and automatic fire was supposed to be limited to 3-round bursts. Under stress, people tend to do silly things (like forget to let go of the go button), but there were consequences for doing so. Funny thing I noticed was that even the M16A2 rifles they started issuing in 1985 had the same selector switch (safe, semi, auto). I said all that to say this: automatic fire is firing more than one round with a single pull of the trigger, so "full auto" (sustained automatic fire) and "3-round bursts" are both fully automatic fire.

Also, the M16, the M16A1, and the newer M16A3 have no burst capability, while the M16A2 does.
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Old October 21, 2008, 12:57 PM   #22
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A friend of mine just purchased a cherry M16. It set him back $15K. I don't think he's goning to let me shoot it though . He's packing it away. He'll get a better return than my 401K probably.
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Old October 21, 2008, 01:26 PM   #23
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M16 A1 Full Auto (i have it)
M16 A2 3rd Burst (i have it)
M16 A3 Full Auto (fired but dont have it)
M16 A4 Full Auto (dont have it)

M4 3rd Burst (i have it)
M4A1 Full Auto (i have it)

What really is usefull would be a four way switch. Safe Semi 2burst Auto.

2 burst like in AN94 is more effective if you want to double tap and almost hit the same spot since the recoil will be surpassed by the rate of fire. Tripple burst usually has 2 round almost at the same spot while 3rd deviates a bit.
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Old October 21, 2008, 01:47 PM   #24
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Uhhhhhh no...draftees have absolutley zilch to do with why they went to 3 rnd burst. The troops who were drafted got the exact same training as troops who volunteered, before, during and after the Vietnam war
Actually, the idea that the three round burst setting was a response to experiences in Vietnam is 100% correct. There was a perception among the powers that be that troops in Vietnam were zipping off 20 or 30 round bursts any time they even thought they were engaging a bad guy.

From hearing what veterans have to say, reading first hand accounts, etc., I would say that things varied a lot. Some units at some times were much better with fire discipline than other units/other years during the conflict. But in some cases it was probably a pretty accurate description of events.

Regardless, +1 on the previous posters who've noted that the three round burst setting is an attempt at a technical fix for a training issue. And the problem having been "fixed" by technical means, I guess it was sort of supposed to have gone away entirely -- my recollection of pre-9/11 Big Army training was almost zero training on burst with the A2. I did a decent amount of training with auto on the M4A1 when assigned to a USASOC unit after that, but the emphasis for most engagements and scenarios is on semi with the rifle/carbine in Big Army or SOF. (And ranges rated for fully automatic fire can be harder to get than those for semi small arms training, on a bureaucratic note . . .)
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Old October 21, 2008, 02:19 PM   #25
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Alright I'm going to purposely throw my thread off-topic here:

What about the M4 carbines? Are those F/A or are they 3-round burst also?
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