The M-16 was first used by US armed forces in the mid-1960s, and has since become the light infantry weapon of choice1 for many Western armies. The different versions of the M-16 weigh approximately 3kg (just under 7lbs). The standard M-16 is 99cm long (about 38in). A standard ammo clip holds 30 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition, with smaller clips of 20 and 6 rounds also available. The M-16 has a safe mode, a semi-automatic mode, and an automatic mode.
There are three main variants of the M-16:
The standard assault rifle version, while long and somewhat bulky, is extremely accurate at a range of up to 100 meters.
The light automatic rifle, or LAR, version has a buttstock with four positions that allows for an easier-to-carry weapon but, when opened to the relevant position, also allows for effective aiming and firing.
Last is the heavier version of the M-16, which is used primarily as a sniper weapon. This version, much like the standard M-16, lacks the collapsible sliding buttstock, and is therefore bulky.
Probably the most convenient version of the M-16 is the LAR. While not as accurate2, its folding buttstock is an incredible advantage. The LAR is sometimes adapted to use a barrel with a 7:1 ratio of aspersions rather than the standard 12:1. This allows it to fire bullets with greater velocity, and allows it to use the 'Type-B' ammo made with more gunpowder.
This Researcher first encountered the M-16 in IDF (Israeli Defense Force) basic training. As the Israeli infantry divisions all use the M-16, the more convenient LARs are allocated to actual combat units, so, in basic training, troops use the standard version of the M-16. It has been observed, on many occasions, that the standard M-16 is also known as the 'sorry' weapon. Walking in a crowded environment, like a bus, sounds much like this: 'Sorry, pardon, sorry, whoops, didn't mean to hit you with that sir.' However, despite being bulky, the standard M-16 is very accurate, easy to fire, and easy to care for.
Weapons in general, and rifles especially, need constant attention. They have a tendency to break down a lot because of the heat, pressure, and other factors involved. While the M-16 requires constant cleaning in a combat environment, one can be safely stored for several months and not require cleaning before it is used. This makes the M-16 effective as a stand-by weapon, as well as lightening the load on troops. This is especially notable in basic training; if you hadn't been in the firing range that day, you could get away with not cleaning your weapon.
While it is slowly being replaced as the preferred choice for light infantry by newer rifles, the M-16 is still an effective weapon; one worthy of a place in military history. All in all, it is perhaps best described as 'mostly harmful'.