View Full Version : VietNam era semi auto M16

January 23, 2010, 12:23 PM
Does any one know anything about this rifle? It looks just like the the one I carried with the 1st Infantry Division in Viet Nam. Depending on the cost andthe reliability of the gun, not to mention the sentimental value it would have for me sure would like to add it to my colection.


C15A1 Semi-Auto Sporter, Cal. .223 & 5.56×45mm

November 10th, 2009 by admin Leave a reply » .

Century International Arms, Inc. is introducing the C15A1 Semi-Auto Sporter which is manufactured from original Colt parts with a new U.S. made receiver and barrel. It is based on the M16A1 and has the triangular “Vietnam era” handguards with short and long range peep sights. The chamber and bore twist allow for the use of both .223 and 5.56×45mm ammunition. Comes with two original Colt 30 rd. mags. Barrel Length: 20″ with a 1:9″ twist, Overall Length: 39.5”, Weight: 8.6 lbs.

Century International Arms, Inc. is one of North America’s largest importer/exporter of newly manufactured and surplus firearms, ammunition and accessories for over 45 years. They also manufacture semi-auto firearms for collectors and sportsmen who enjoy quality firearms at excellent prices. Contact Century at 1.800.527.1252 or 561.265.4530. www.centuryarms.com.

Contact your local firearms distributor on how to obtain the C15A1 Semi-Auto Sporter.

January 23, 2010, 12:26 PM
I don't know anything about this particular rifle but I don't think much of Century Arms International. Also, I don't think we were using 1:9 twist barrels during the Vietnam conflict.

January 23, 2010, 01:26 PM

Stop right there.

You can find "Retro" ARs from better manufacturers. Other option is to build one.

Probably the closest thing you can get to an old school Viet Nam era AR would be a new receiver with this kit:

January 23, 2010, 03:22 PM
Can anyone name the manufactuers of Vietnam era m16's that are semi auto?

January 23, 2010, 03:31 PM
You could buy a used Colt SP1.

... or build your own.

M16A1 clone with surplus NOS M16 barrel, upper receiver, and furniture, DPMS lower receiver, RRA Bolt/carrier, and RRA NM trigger.

January 23, 2010, 04:26 PM
manufactuers of Vietnam era m16's that are semi auto

the only manufacturer of V-N era M-16s were Colt Industries...

they made semi-auto ARs, model SP1...

January 23, 2010, 04:45 PM
Read this thread for info about making a Retro AR15:


January 23, 2010, 04:58 PM
Head on over to ar15.com and play with the search button and you'll be an expert in a few days in what you need to do. My advice is to build it yourself.

January 23, 2010, 05:33 PM
Even though AR 15 rifles are easy to build, skip the Century built gun. I agree that you should do some research and build it yourself. Also, I'm not sure how important it is to you, but if you are looking for all or 95% Colt parts for your retro build, it will cost you a lot more money and time trying to find the parts.

I recommend using NoDak Spud receivers and the replica parts from manufacturers they linked to from their site. Everything is there for nearly all the retro AR rifles including the prototype models for you to get the 99% "correct" look.

One more thing, skip arf.com and go to m4carbine.net for your info, better people there.

January 24, 2010, 07:43 AM
Century was selling a parts kit that could be used to build a retro rifle. I don't think I would buy a complete rifle from them. It's easy to build a retro, buy a 20" HBAR and change the furniture.


January 24, 2010, 09:25 AM
You should check the retro forum on ar15.com and do a little reading.

January 24, 2010, 09:35 AM
Honestly,I wouldn't buy anything with their name on it.I got one of those sorry excuse for a AK74 they imported and modified.It is a total Pile of junk.Early on they used Hess junk AR recievers and would blow up.Fit and finish suck on the newest ones on the market.THey are only a step above Hesse/Vulcan/whatever new name they go by.

January 24, 2010, 10:59 AM
the only manufacturer of V-N era M-16s were Colt Industries...

Most M16A1s I saw in Vietnam and used after were made by General Dynamics (I think thats the correct spelling). Rumor had it that Lady Byrd Johnson owned a huge chunk of stock in Gen Dyn. Don't know if that was true or if it mattered.

I think if one wanted a civilian version of the M16A1 he should look for the Colt SP1.

The M16/M16A1s and SP1s had the 1-12 twist barrel. You see tons of internet stories about the A1 being unrelieable, because someone told someone, that his great uncle twice removed had nothing but jams etc etc.

Based on my experience that wasnst the case but I'm gonna gonna get into that.

Years ago, the National Guard had the CNGB (Chief of the National Guard Bureau postal match). We use the M16a1s with sub cal devices. Since the 22 rim fire and the 223 are a bit differant in actual caliber, I came up with the ideal of sleaving a M16 with a 22 rim fire sleave and making it more accurate. It did in my case. When I took over the AKNG marksmanship unit I didnt shoot the CNGB matches so I rebarreled the gun with a 1-9 barrel. It shot good but not as good as the 1-12, but we were only useing the 55 grn bullets back them.

Meaning what????................nothing, just a litte useless Sunday morning memories.

January 24, 2010, 11:33 AM
How much are you looking to spend?

My dad has one he has been thinking about getting rid of. Its a 77-80 era.

January 25, 2010, 01:48 PM
Saw a 1974 Colt SP-1 at a local gun show over the weekend. $1800 firm, because of its age. It probably didn't even have 100 rounds through it. Very nice and very clean. Change to the three prong flash suppressor and at a distance no one would know. The $ seemed a bit steep though.

January 25, 2010, 07:27 PM
For a retro AR the Retro Forum at AR.15.com (http://www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=3&f=123) is the best resources online; another valuable site in that regard is Retro Black Rifle (http://retroblackrifle.pullig.com/).

You really will do better putting one together yourself.

January 25, 2010, 08:42 PM
I've got one just like chuter just described. The only problem is you can't shoot anything heavier than 55s. Heavier bullets keyhole. Not enough twist. Still I like mine. Almost never shoot it. Just get it out and look at it.

June 25, 2010, 10:54 PM
I have one & LOVE it! Bought it for my 50th b-day
It's built for Milspec 5.56 & civilian .223 Remington
I've been using all different ammo mfgs & my own reloads.
55 & 60 grain bullets. XM193s work great.

Shoots like a dream.

For fun, varmints & sentimentality I highly recommend it.

Bought mine from J & G Sales in Prescott, AZ $699

The only negative is, it HATES tula ammo.
But then just about any 223 hates tula.
Jams on almost every round, either stovepipes, FTEs or just won't cycle the bolt.

June 26, 2010, 01:08 AM
I don't get how this is a good rifle if it created an infamous horrible reputation for jamming and ftf etc

What am I missing

June 26, 2010, 02:18 AM
I see alot of Century bashing going on here, but Eith the exception of a MAS 49/56 rifle and MAS 36 that were poorly converted by them to .308, I haven't had any problems with their products.

I have a Century AR that is 100% reliable and looks great too. I have 30+ firearms that they imported that are just fine and another 20 or so that they manufactured/assembled/modified that haven't given me any problem.

Century has had a huge impact on the firear,s industry iun this country and don't get the gredit they deserve for importing as many guns and modifying the designs to military weapons that allow them to come into the hands of civilians.

That being said, if I wanted to add another Vietnam configuration AR to my collection I'd be looking at this one real hard:

ITEM # AR15-C............................................$679.95

I'd question whether they have 1:9 barrels, it should be a 1:12 or even a 1:14 if they were very early barrels. 1:9 barrels only became common after the adoption of 62 gr ammo by NATO and were never nilitary spec or surplus.

June 26, 2010, 02:52 AM
The first Colt semi-auto versions I remember, the lower receiver would not match up to an M16 upper with out an adapter pin. Better off with an after market lower. There were a couple of weird manufacturers for the M-16. H&R and GM Hydromatic Division come to mind. We reworked thousands of them to M16-A1s.

June 26, 2010, 03:13 AM
I'm pretty sure they only started using the oddball pins in 1989 due to the first assault weapon legislation under H. W. Bush.

The problems with Vietnam Era M16s was primarily due to ammo. I still think that politicians should have gone to prison over the decision to change the specs on powder in order to use up old ball gun powder.

Secondary causes were:
1) They were designed to have chrome lined bores but were produced without them in order to save a couple dollars per rifle.

2) They were issued without cleaning kits.

3) They were described as "self cleaning and only required periodic maintenence

4) They had a full auto selecter and were issued to poorly trained draftees that too often relied on high volumes of suppressive fire.

Art Eatman
June 26, 2010, 09:15 AM
Just an FYI about powder (don't need thread drift): Stoner designed for a rate of fire of about 750 rounds/minute, and used IMR powder. The Olin Corporation successfully lobbied the Pentagon for ammo with ball powder. That raised the rate of fire to around 900 rounds/minute (I've no idea how/why; maybe more pressure at the port). I've heard, but don't know for sure, that the ball powder of that era was dirtier than the IMR, FWIW.

Back to your regularly scheduled program. :)

June 26, 2010, 09:15 AM
I don't get how this is a good rifle if it created an infamous horrible reputation for jamming and ftf etc

What am I missing

You are missing the fact that there is a differance between the M16 and the M16A1.

The M16A1 is a highly reliable firearm. Its just that internet warriors can't keep them seperated.

June 26, 2010, 10:18 AM
The only question I would have is who Century procured the uppers and lowers from. If its a in spec. quality receiver set up I would have no issue at all with having one of the things. Even a blind monkey can have a issue trying to mess up the head spacing on a AR receiver. I have a Century L1A1 I got years ago that works just great as it has a Imbel receiver not the Hess out of spec. junk they put out later.

Willie D
June 26, 2010, 11:40 AM
Anyone have a source for A1 length stocks?

Not interested in the whole kit but I think I would prefer the shorter fixed stock.

Does the A1 stock use the same buffer tube as the A2?

June 26, 2010, 11:41 AM
I believe Century is aseembling these from surplus parts kits with complete uppers...just a matter of putting together a lower and pinning it together.

I built my own retro M16a1 clone a couple years ago, when there were a lot of cheap surplus A1 uppers around. Mine is a Colt upper. I have put several hundred rounds though it, and it has worked perfectly...very accurate with M193 55gn ammo. I have fired heavier weight ammo, and did not get the keyholing the poster above mentioned.
I love the A1 configuration...you get a 20" barrel in a very light rifle. I find I prefer the A1 sights. An M16A1 was the first centerfire rifle I ever shot, at Camp Perry, so thats why I wanted one.
Here is a pic. Since I took this, I have replaced the A2 buttstock (came with the lower) with an A1, which fits me better.

June 26, 2010, 01:07 PM
If you are looking for a retro M-16/M-16A1 that is as close as you can get to the real deal without going Class III, there is only 1 true way to go and that is one of the surplus parts kits and a lower receiver from Nodak Spud. The lowers Century uses in these wannabe clones is an A2 lower that has a VERY different lower receiver than the A1 did by using additional reinforcing around the pivot pin and extension tube. I suppose the average Joe on the street wouldn't notice these things but for folks in the know, that stands out like a sore thumb when you know the geometry isn't correct for an A1 lower.
The parts kit and NDS lower is still far more correct than even an original Colt AR-15 ever was to the true M-16 design. When it comes to Colt, you can settle again for an A2 lower with odd sized pins which limits you to Colt only parts like hammers, triggers and disconnectors or you can go with an earlier Colt lower and use 2 screw drivers to remove the pivot pin. Even then you are still dealing with a slab side lower which is only correct (short of an Air Force mix-master clone) for a 601 or 602 series M-16 so again, that really stands out as incorrect for the original M-16 if you are trying to get as close as possible to the real thing.
No, to date I have 2 Nodak Spud lowers (an M-16A1 and a 601) and another couple on the way (this time 2 XM-16E1 lowers) and they are TOP NOTCH quality. In addition to the correct geometry, they are VERY high quality, fit together tight with no wiggle and are also finished in the earlier XM gray anodizing rather than again that modern black finish that everybody else is using (it also stands out as incorrect on an A1 and earlier design) I mean, have you ever seen any other manufacturer out there that drills the lower and includes the roll pin that was used in the early pre-A1 lowers to secure the buffer tube to the receiver? Nope, bet you haven't! This is one area where NDS does vary the design in that this hole is drilled slightly lower so to not really intersect the buffer tube and is only cosmetic but it's just another example of how Mike and Harlan go that extra distance to make things as close to the original as possible short of being Class III designs.

June 26, 2010, 02:35 PM
Anyone have a source for A1 length stocks?

Does the A1 stock use the same buffer tube as the A2?

I've done well with U.S. Collectors Ordnance (http://www.uscoreplicas.net/M16A1-parts.html) and Arfcom's Equipment Exchange (http://www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=7&f=119). The A1 stock uses the same buffer tube as the A2; the A2 uses a spacer that is not used with the A1.

June 26, 2010, 02:53 PM
I would think it would be 1 in 12 unless they put a new barrel on there.

I just finished my colt SP1 build. Love shooting it. Its so light.

June 26, 2010, 04:42 PM
I'd question whether they have 1:9 barrels, it should be a 1:12 or even a 1:14 if they were very early barrels. 1:9 barrels only became common after the adoption of 62 gr ammo by NATO and were never nilitary spec or surplus.

The listing for it says it's a brand new barrel.

From Century's literature:
The new U.S. barrel has a 1:9 twist. Barrel: 20"

June 26, 2010, 06:20 PM
yeah the as a former army enlisted infantrymen the m-16
has a distinctive 3 pronged flash suppressor also had no forward assist
now the m16a1 had a different flash suppressor as u see on modern m16 and m-4 also had a forward assist
both m-16 and m-16a1 models vietnam era were select fire semi and full auto
they were also issued with 20 round magizines and supposedly facts on the ground were that u were onley supposed to fill them with 16 rounds other wise it would cause malfunctions

June 26, 2010, 06:25 PM
From what I heard, the 16 rounds in a mag thing was a bunch of crap, but I guess everyone had different experiances.

June 26, 2010, 09:12 PM
From what I heard, the 16 rounds in a mag thing was a bunch of crap, but I guess everyone had different experiances.

It wasnt 16, it was 18 rounds. You fill the mags with 20 and slap them into the mag well, the first round would pop out often jamming the gun.

The same problem is with the 30 round, and even loading 20 rounds in the M-14 mag.

Always load two short of full and you didn't have any problems.

June 26, 2010, 10:13 PM
My favorite mags are 20rd Colts. I load them with 20 rds, and have no problem slapping them in, bolt open or closed, and never a jam. Same with the 30's.
As far as fully detailed historical recreations of M16A1's, that was never my intention. Mine is "close enough", and the A2 lower was product-improved for a reason. NoDak makes very nice receivers indeed. Since I built my retro clone, I have picked up a used Bushmaster "post ban" HBAR shorty upper. I have swapped it out on the same lower I used for my retro AR. In fact, I have everything to build a second AR except a lower and lower parts kit.
Perhaps I will get a NoDak lower and finish my retro fully.

June 26, 2010, 10:17 PM
Ill take your word for it on the 18 round thing. I wasnt alive nor was I there, and Ive never seen or used and vietnam era mags, so I have no ground to stand on, other than what I have heard.

June 26, 2010, 10:37 PM
Not really sure if the "product improvement" was all that necessary in the A2 lower. Now while it doesn't hurt anything to have that extra metal there and I'm sure the less milling would also reduce costs compared to the A1, have you ever seen or heard of first hand accounts of an A1 lower breaking either along the extension tube or pivot pin area? I see LOTS of old A1s, 604s and even 601 and 602 lowers that were modded to A2s with the kits that are still going strong even though the older lowers were in theory weaker than the newer A2 lowers. Actually, the biggest problem I've seen as far as broken lowers go are cracked from students dry firing the hammer before we can stop them when the upper is off during disassembly. Personally I've never seen a pre-A2 lower break in any way that an A2 would have held up any better. Again, good idea in theory, doesn't hurt anything and I'm sure it's cheaper but really a true improvement I'd have to question.

June 27, 2010, 12:05 AM
Good old memories.