The 5.56 X 45mm “Timeline” – 1968

A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters


WECOM issues “Rifle 5.56mm M16: Selection Process for NATO Standard.”

Twin Cities AAP issues the memo “Small Caliber Ammunition Modernization Program (Outline & Description) 5.56mm Cartridge Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant.”

Colt switches from 6061 T6 aluminum forgings to 7075 T6 aluminum forgings upon suggestion by Gene Stoner. The earlier forging were found to be prone to intergranular exfoliation in the humid climate of Vietnam. Thin areas of the receiver, such as the area around the front pivot pin hole, could completely corrode apart within as little as three months.

The US provides a military assistance grant of 3,265 M16A1 and 52 XM148 to South Vietnam.

The US provides a military assistance grant of 1,400 M16A1 to Laos.

Singapore voices interest in making a private arrangement with Colt to develop a domestic M16 production facility.

Frankford Arsenal discovers that some cartridges shipped to South Vietnam have unusually soft cases.

Frankford Arsenal begins experiments with the Low Noise Duplex Cartridge (LNDC). The earliest cartridges are loaded with a pair of 110gr tungsten core slugs. The initial projectiles use a blunt round-nose profile, but later efforts consist of a semi-spitzer shape.

Nosler continues to test its solid steel projectiles, now loading them in a .22-250.

FN experiments with a heavily tapered version of the 5.56x45mm case. The case taper resembles that of the Soviet 7.62x39mm.

L. James Sullivan leaves Ruger for Hughes Advanced Armament.

The SEALs discover a serious quirk with their Stoners: the “spin-back” jam. When in the belt-fed configuration, the Stoner ejects to the left. However, the 63A also feeds the belt from the left side. Occasionally, an ejected case will hit the drum or belt, and “spin-back” into the ejection port, causing a malfunction. On a positive note, Cadillac Gage introduces several enhancements, the most popular a short LMG barrel. This removes 6.25″ in length and drops 1.56 pounds from the standard LMG barrel. Equipped with the new barrel, the LMG becomes known as the “Commando” model.

Beretta and SIG part ways on the 5.56mm rifle project over SIG Director Rudolf Amsler’s insistence on using roller locking. SIG goes on to produce their SG530-1, a gas operated, roller locked design. At Beretta, Giuseppe Mazzetti, Leandro Zerneri, and Vittorio Valle set to work on a more conventional gas operated, rotary bolt design. The resulting design becomes the AR70. Both rifles still bear a fairly similar profile.

RWS and gunmaker Friedrick W. Heym introduce the 5.6x50mmR Magnum. It is essentially a lengthened and rimmed .222 Remington Magnum.

The US Navy begins research on sound suppressors for the M16/M16A1 for use by UDT and SEALs. Part of the Swimmer Weapons System Program, the project is assigned to the Mechanical Systems Materiel Division of the Underwater Mechanical Engineering Department of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory.

New Zealand begins limited issue of the XM148 to troops issued the M16A1.

After receiving final approval from General Johnson, ACSFOR LTG Collins creates the Army Small Arms Program (ARSAP) to handle all Army small arms projects. Nearly fifty projects are sorted into four major time spans: Continuing, Immediate (up to five years), Mid-term (up to 1980), and Long-term (up to 1990). Among the short term projects are product improvement tasks including M16A1 weapon system components such as a muzzle brake compensator and two-round burst control device, grenade launcher attachment development, alternative methods of launching grenades, advanced development of a 40mm disposable barrel cartridge area target ammunition (DBCATA), and development of a family of 40mm cartridges. Experiments, evaluations, and simulations will address analysis of the tactical value of machine guns in squads and platoons equipped with automatic rifles, the effectiveness and utility of the SPIW and automatic rifles, and the effectiveness and utility of the SPIW and automatic 40mm grenade launching systems. Among the mid-range projects are development projects appropriately designated the “Future Rifle Program” (FRP). This includes projects such as the SPIW, now renamed the Serial Fléchette Rifle (SFR), the micro-caliber Serial Bullet Rifle (SBR), and other experimental cartridge concepts such as multiple fléchette loadings and caseless ammunition. Long range objectives will be covered by the Army Small Arms Requirements Study (ASARS). ASARS I will establish measures of effectiveness, and the importance of small arms relative to supporting weapons in casualty production, and will identify types of weapon mixes applicable to the Army in 1985. A follow-on study, ASARS II, will relate data on the contribution of small arms weapon characteristics to overall combat effectiveness.

The M16 Rifle Review Panel travels to Hawaii to review the files and records at Headquarters, US Army Pacific and CINCPAC. Upon completion of this review, the panel continues on to Vietnam and conducts a field survey to determine the current status of M16 reliability, training, supply, maintenance and overall effectiveness.

McNamara instructs Secretary Resor to obtain maximum production of the M16 from Colt. It is estimated that a progressive build-up to 40,000 rifles per month could be achieved by June 1969.

WECOM‘s AMSWE-QA releases “M16A1 Rifle Quality Assessment Report.”

The Commander, DCASD-Hartford, writes to Colt President Benke, regarding the existence of quality control problems at the contractor’s facility. In response, Benke takes exception to many of the deficiencies cited in the letter. However, he does admit:

“the only apparent deficiency in our quality control program appears to be the documentation of our quality investigations and the documentation of the follow-up to insure that corrective action has been implemented. This condition has been discussed with several qualified government quality assurance representatives. It is agreed that improvements can be made by the contractor in this area. At the present time, we are conducting a complete quality audit of all Colt vendors to insure that they are complying with contractual requirements. A report of this audit and the corrective action taken will be submitted to the government by 23 February 1968.”

Colt performs a survey of twenty-eight vendors, and all are reported to have adequate quality history. Seventeen of them have inadequate inspection records, and 18 have inadequate gauge control systems. In the latter two categories, 16 vendors had both inadequate inspection records and gauge control systems.

WSEG testing begins at Fort Sherman in Panama. 522 Marines test M16A1 rifles using new buffers and a mix of chromed and unchromed chambers with a mix of ammo from ball and IMR-loaded lots. M14 rifles are used as control. Ironically, M193 ball ammunition loaded with IMR 8208M exhibits the highest malfunction rates.

Based on the preliminary results of the WSEG tests, McNamara directs that until further notice, no M193 ammunition loaded with IMR 8208M is to be manufactured, or shipped to Vietnam. IMR-loaded lots of M193 are suspended for use except for CONUS training. IMR‘s use in M196 tracer rounds is allowed to continue. The lot numbers of the effected ammunition are ordered to be compiled and forwarded to USARV immediately. Frankford Arsenal subsequently distributes the requested lot numbers.

A QALI is issued to DCASR-St. Louis regarding inspections related to Olin-Winchester’s production of M196 Tracer ammunition.

Another field survey of troops armed with the M16 rifle is begun. It is part of a review of the M16 program presently being prepared by the Office of the Chief of Staff of the US Army. The purpose of the survey is to evaluate measures already undertaken to improve M16 reliability, to identify any current rifle problems, and to determine the general performance and acceptability of the system under combat conditions. All major Army units in USARV and one Marine Division are included in the survey sample. Two means are used to collect data: personal interviews and a questionnaire.

TECOM concludes comparison testing of old and new-style buffers.

The Exterior Ballistics Laboratory (EBL) of the BRL initiates testing of the XM177E2. Earlier, the PMR, at the request of General Besson, had requested an effectiveness study and evaluation comparing the XM177/XM177E1 with the M16/M16A1 rifle. By this point, the XM177E2 have already replaced the earlier models, so testing progresses with the newer model. Interestingly, the XM177E2 is in such demand that only a spare barrel and blast suppressor are available. Since the testing relates to ballistics and not functioning, the spare barrel is fitted to a M16A1 on hand at Aberdeen. It quickly becomes clear that the suppressor has a significant influence on the flight behavior of both the M193 and M196 projectiles. To investigate this phenomenon further, two additional suppressors are obtained from D&PS. The three suppressors are used to signify various phases in the life of the weapon. The suppressors had approximately 1,000, 3,100, and 9,200 rounds of ammunition fired through them prior to the EBL tests.

Rock Island Arsenal issues the report “Commercial Weapons Lubricants.” It concludes that 90 to 95 percent of the evaluated products are not suitable weapons lubricants based on poor corrosion protection.

The BRL publishes “Limitations on the Performance of Hand-Held Automatic Rifles Equipped with Muzzle-Brake Compensators.”

Aberdeen’s D&PS releases “Product Improvement Test of Redesigned Buffer for M16A1 Rifle.”

Colt’s Foster Sturtevant receives US Patent #3,366,011 titled “Buffer Assembly Having a Plurality of Inertial Masses Acting in Delayed Sequence to Oppose Bolt Rebound.”

The first 120 “Noise Suppressor HEL M4” arrive in Vietnam. These require the installation of a special bolt carrier and an add-on gas deflector.

General Johnson writes a letter to the new Marine Corps Commandant, General Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., titled “Stoner Weapon System Evaluation.” The Army agrees to cooperate in a continued evaluation of the Stoner 63A LMG.

FN submits a CAL prototype to the Belgian military for testing.

AAI publishes the report “5.56 MM Caseless Rifle Study.” The objective of the program has been the development of a concept for an individual shoulder fired weapon capable of firing 5.56mm molded caseless propellant cartridges. The weapon concept shall be lightweight, gas-operated, and possess a selective semi and full automatic fire capability. The six month program consisted of a detailed engineering design and theoretical analysis; and the fabrication and testing of an experimental firing fixture. This program has demonstrated the feasibility of using the firing pin actuated mechanism as a simple and effective means of firing caseless ammunition.

Olin-Winchester’s Joseph A. Badali and James H. Johnson receive US Patent #3,365,828 titled “Grenade Launcher for Attachment to a Rifle.”

McNamara leaves the post of Secretary of Defense at the end of the month.

ACSFOR LTG Collins announces that the First Small Arms Conference will be held at Fort Benning later in the month. This meeting is the first in the series of semi-annual conferences, called for by the ARSAP for the purpose of providing coordination of Army small arms activities. The specific purposes of the meeting are to review and refine task descriptions and funding requirements. The revised ARSAP includes:

“Conduct feasibility studies of a 5.56mm, or smaller, successor for the M60 machine gun. Employ new concepts to eliminate sensitivity to variables inherent in normal ammunition production. Explore appropriateness of 5.56mm destructive potential, including possible use of heavier projectiles, in comparison with lethality required for Light Machine Gun successor.”

While no money will be programmed for this effort in the FY 1968-71 time period, two sub-tasks involving feasibility studies of a 7.62mm successor to the M60 machine gun will be funded. The BRL, however, have a small program in the preliminary stages directed in part toward the use of heavier 5.56mm projectiles to obtain greater effectiveness range.

Among the five grenade launcher tasks, the highest priority is accorded the GLAD program, with completion scheduled for the fourth quarter of FY 1970. Related to the GLAD program is the advanced production engineering for the DBCATA. Product improvement of existing systems and development of a family of 40mm cartridges is a continuous effort. Granted a second priority, with no funds scheduled until FY 1970 and with a projected completion date of the fourth quarter of FY 1971, is the investigation of alternative methods for launching grenades.

The AMC M16 Executive Committee is established by COL Isaacs to improve communication between commands associated with M16 development and further integrate rifle and system management. Chaired by COL Isaacs, the committee includes senior technical representatives from WECOM, MUCOM, TECOM, and the BRL. Responsibility is assigned for overall programs to optimize the weapon system’s performance.

The PMR sends a new investigation team to South Vietnam.

MACV recommends distributing 268,000 M16A1 to South Vietnam Regional and Popular Forces (RF/PF).

The full conversion from the M14 to the M16A1 rifle in Army training is approved subject to the gradual availability of weapons following priority shipment to Vietnam.

Representatives of the different QA elements familiar with the various quality assurance activities pertinent to M16A1 rifle are appointed to the AMC/DCAS M16/M16A1 Rifle Quality Assurance Committee to assist in the integrated control over the numerous efforts being made to insure that Colt’s production output meets desired quality levels. As a result, coordination on all quality assurance matters relative to contractor performance will be accomplished with the contractor, DCAS, DCASR-Boston, DCASD-Hartford, MUCOM, PMR, WECOM elements, and AMC.

A Task Group is established to review the final examination and performance requirements as specified in SAPD 253B to determine the adequacy of these requirements and revise them, as necessary, to assure that desired performance and quality levels are being met. The reliability analysis and specification review are then conducted concurrently. As a result of the above, revisions are made to SAPD 253B. These revisions are reviewed by the AMC/DCAS QA Committee and are discussed with the QAR at Colt. These changes include: a revised table of allowable malfunctions and unserviceable parts, improvement to the sampling plan for cyclic rate of fire testing, addition of a mission performance test, addition of an interplant interchangeability test, addition of cleaning and lubrication criteria for testing, addition of inspection and tests for packaging, and revised criteria for inspection lot size. The format is made consistent with standardization procedures for Military Specifications.

Another Task Group of inspection engineering personnel is established and will be located in-house at Colt for the purpose of reviewing inspection equipment designs to determine their adequacy and compatibility with the product drawings. This action is considered essential to correct deficiencies in the criteria for assuring that current hardware conforms to product drawing and to further assure that uniform criteria is furnished to other sources of production. The changes generated by this Task Group’s review will be implemented into the contracts of the other sources of production as well as Colt. Inspection Instruction Sheets are updated, as necessary, for consistency with such changes to the inspection equipment designs determined necessary by the Task Group.

Work begins on a revised Plant Quality Assurance Program (PQAP) for the QAR at Colt by an experienced QAR from the Quality Operations Branch, DCASD-Hartford.

A feedback channel for transmittal of data generated through tests of ammunition is established to provide information on parts mortality, performance and durability of slave weapons (M16A1 rifles) and magazines used in ammunition tests. Rifle performance and replacement data, as well as dimensional measurements recorded prior to and after firing tests, will be used by product assessment activities in the development of reliability and performance requirements for acceptance of product on future contracts.

A representative of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Installations & Logistics) – ASD(I&L) visits Colt and, among other things, is critical of the requirements placed upon Colt to perform vendor surveys. This results in a study by the AMC/DCAS M16 Committee of the specification and contractual requirements for vendor control.

The DOD‘s Institute for Defense Analysis publishes “Study of the M16 Rifle System.”

DDR&E Foster publishes a rebuttal to the Ichord report: “Appraisal of the M16 Rifle Program.”

On contract to the US Army, Comprehensive Designers, Inc. (CDI) studies the tolerance relationships in Colt’s TDP for the M16/XM177. 140 areas of potential interference are found and reported to Colt along with the bidders for the second source contracts.

Frankford Arsenal releases the report “Special Tests of 5.56mm Ammunition.” It is comprised of the results from ten tests using 150 new M16A1 rifles and 420,000 rounds of ammunition. Before testing, the chamber dimensions of all 150 rifles are checked in seven areas. Depending on the exact point of measurement, up to 77.5 percent of the rifle chambers were out of spec.

Operational Reliability Test M16A1 Rifle System, WSEG Report 124” on the Panamanian trials is classified and sealed by the OSD. This is suspected to be result of WC846’s superior showing over IMR 8208M, which directly contradicted the allegations of the Ichord report.

Aberdeen’s D&PS releases the reports “Final Report on Special Study of High Temperature Bore Fouling of 5.56-MM, M196 Tracer Cartridge in M16A1 Rifle” and “Initial Production Test of Chrome-Plated Chambers for 5.56-MM, M16A1 Rifles.”

Frankford Arsenal publishes “Interim Quality Assurance Report of 5.56 Fouling Test conducted at Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.”

The field survey of troops armed with the M16 rifle in Vietnam ends.

Aberdeen’s BRL releases the report “SPIW Modes of Fire.” The study investigates the most effective mode of aimed fire to engage linear and point targets with the rifle portion of the SPIW system. Basic test data were generated by a group of riflemen firing a total of approximately 23,000 rounds at different types of simulated targets. A supplementary phase of the report discusses the applicability to the SPIW of doctrine evolved for full automatic fire from other rifle systems. The report recommends that while the AAI’s high cyclic rate burst mechanism might give a higher percentage of hits over its much lower cyclic rate in full-automatic mode, the rifle would probably gain in reliability by removing the burst mechanism and tuning the weapon for a single “optimum” rate of full-auto fire.

Arthur Miller receives US Patent #3,369,316 titled “Apparatus for Mounting and Locking a Folding Stock on a Rifle.”

The USAIB begins a Military Potential Test of the HEL M4 sound suppressor.

Clark M. Clifford takes over as Secretary of Defense.

At the beginning of the month, an analysis of M16 requirements and assets shows the following:

Command Gross Requirement (Excluding replacement of M1 rifles) On Hand Remainder to be filled Needed Urgently for use in Vietnam
PACOM 1,568,318 534,706 1,033,612 376,796
Other 943,639 170,559 773,080 0
Total 2,511,957 705,365 1,806,692 376,796

The urgent requirement will be distributed as follows: 91,258 for USARV for Combat Service Support troops and maintenance float, 61,938 for ARVN to complete their equipping, 72,000 for potential Army deployments, 36,600 for potential Marine deployments, and 115,000 for South Vietnamese RF/PF.

Deputy Secretary Nitze sends a memo to Thomas D. Morris, ASD(I&L), requesting analysis of how M16 production can be increased.

In a reply to Deputy Secretary Nitze titled “Expanded M16 Rifle Production,” ASD(I&L) Morris proposes adoption of two different actions: 1) Move Colt to a three-shift, seven day a week schedule as suggested; and 2) Award two additional contracts for M16 production, not just one as proposed.

JCS Chairman General Wheeler sends a memo to Secretary Clifford titled “Increased Production of the M16 Rifle.” Wheeler recommends that the Department of the Army be provided with sufficient funding and authority to increase current production at Colt, start production at a second source as soon as possible, and explore possibilities of adding additional sources of production.

A Quality Assurance Comparison Test of M16A1 rifles is conducted by an independent Government test agency in accordance with a coordinated test plan.

Colt’s contract is amended to require that Colt abide by its own updated TDP, the same version that was previously sold to the US Government.

Aberdeen’s BRL releases the memorandum report “Accuracy of Rifle Fire: SPIW, M16A1, M14.” These include the results of full automatic and burst mode accuracy testing at Fort Benning between the M16A1, M14, and AAI SPIW prototypes. Of note is the performance of the test M16A1 rifles, equipped with two round burst mechanisms. These are found to improve the hit probability over controlled automatic fire in the same weapon. The M16A1 also allows for the highest number of target engagements. Not surprisingly, the SPIW is found to be the easiest to control in automatic fire, and this produces the highest hit probability per target engaged. The M14, combined with either the standard M80 Ball or M198 Duplex, is found to give a higher hit probability per target engaged than the M16A1. With the M198 Duplex, the M14 is considered to be competitive with the SPIW, at least per target engagement.

CINCPAC Admiral Sharp proposes the FY 1968 MAP Augmentation Plan for South Korea. Included is $2.4 million for 10,000 M16 for the ROK Army and Marines. Secretary of Defense Clifford approves the plan; however, he adds the condition that no M16 are to be delivered to Korea until all MACV requirements are filled.

On behalf of ARPA‘s Office of Advanced Engineering, the Battelle Memorial Institute begins a study of the analysis of test and selection procedures for small arms lubricants.

D&PS issues the report “Final Report on Special Study of High Temperature Bore Fouling of 5.56-MM, M196 Tracer Cartridge in M16A1 Rifle.”

TECOM releases the report “Comparison Test for Cyclic Rate Comparison of Ball Cartridges in WSEG Weapons.”

General Electric submits a proposal to continue development of Springfield’s orphaned SPIW. (GE’s Armament Division was already renting portions of the Springfield Armory facility.)

The USAIB concludes testing of the HEL-M4 sound suppressor.

The ARSAP is revised again. This includes a task resume for evaluation of contender 5.56mm machine guns. The assumption is that the primary mode of employment will be with the rifle squad as a supporting weapon to the M16A1 rifle. The 5.56mm machine gun is not expected to replace the 7.62mm M60 machine gun at conventional machine gun ranges. $1,000,000 is listed as required in FY 1969, but no money is programmed until FY 1970.

The Office of the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Army publishes “Impact of the Abolishment of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance on the M16 Rifle Program.” The authors conclude “There is no substantial evidence from which to conclude that the problems experienced with the M16 rifle would not have existed or would have been fewer had there been a Chief of Ordnance.” The Vice Chief of Staff adds the comment: “I am convinced that the problems related to the M16 would have been more severe had there been a Chief of Ordnance with his traditional bias against any item which was not Ordnance developed. The attached record on the M14 development engenders little confidence in the old Chief of Ordnance management system.” The study is passed on to General Johnson for approval, whereupon he sends it on to DDR&E Foster.

The DOD budget decision approves procurement of 658 million rounds at a cost of $57 million.

An updated version of the M16/M16A1’s performance specifications (SAPD 253C) is drafted.

As a result of the monthly quality audits, additional mandatory inspections at Colt are found necessary, and DCASD-Hartford is advised by an amendment to their QALI.

Colt’s deficient vendors are resurveyed, and all but one are found to be satisfactory. The deficient vendor agrees to improve.

In a memorandum to Chief of Staff General Johnson, ASA(I&L) Dr. Brooks recommends that a task force be established to perform the following functions:

    1. Conduct analyses of all available and pertinent test data to provide a good understanding of the current quality of M16 Rifles, ammunition, and magazines;
    1. Prepare a critique of the procedures, specifications, and contractual provisions which constitute the current quality assurance program; and
  1. Prepare a set of suggested revisions to the appropriate elements of the quality assurance program.

Dr. Brooks further indicates that this project would serve to broaden the application of appropriate statistical analyses and techniques to the Army’s Small Arms Program and other programs.

ASD(I&L) Morris, in discussion with the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army (Operations Research), also raises certain questions regarding the Army’s quality assurance program in general, and as applied to the M16 Rifle program. Specific areas addressed are:

    1. Army implementation of DOD procurement policies outlined in Section XIV of the Armed Services Procurement Regulations (ASPR);
    1. Army application of statistical methodology in development of contract specifications;
    1. AMC/DCAS system interface; and
  1. Relationship between the QAR and PMR.

DCSLOG LTG Engler requests that AMC establish a task force and on a priority basis accomplish the objectives cited above.

A memorandum titled “Review of Production Quality Control of M16 Rifle” from ASD(I&L) Morris to ASA(I&L) Dr. Brooks encloses a list of questions originally developed for an OSD study of the M16 Rifle. An understanding is reached that the Army study, as a minimum, will investigate the elements identified in Phases I and II of the memorandum.

Springfield Armory is officially closed at the end of the month. Of 480 employees, less than 20 members of the staff agree to transfer to Rock Island Arsenal. The remainder quit. (Richard Colby, designer of the Springfield SPIW, is hired by GE’s Springfield office.)

Letter contracts are awarded to H&R (DAAF03-68-C-0045) and GM-Hydramatic (DAAF03-68-C-0048) for 240,000 M16A1 rifles apiece. In response to grumbling by the other bidders, Maremont and Cadillac Gage, the Ichord Subcommittee is reestablished and the Senate Preparedness Subcommittee establishes its own “Special M16 Rifle Subcommittee” chaired by Senator Howard Cannon (D-NV).

The Weapon Systems Analysis Directorate issues the report “An Annotated Bibliography of M16A1 Rifle System Tests.”

Aberdeen concludes product improvement testing of the XM177E2.

The JCS sends a memo to Secretary of Defense Clifford discussing the accelerated expansion of the South Vietnamese Armed Forces (RVNAF). The JCS requests permission to equip the RVNAF, including RF/PF, with M16 rifles.

The US Army Arctic Test Center publishes “Service Test of Lubricants for M14 and M16A1 Rifles Under Arctic Winter Conditions.” The purpose of the test was to evaluate LSA and an experimental lubricant. After approval of the test plan, another objective was added to the test, comparison of the performance of the M16A1 rifle when using IMR and ball powder ammunition under arctic winter conditions.

General Electric’s Robert E. Chiabrandy receives US Patents #3,380,341 titled “Safing Means for High Rate of Fire Multi-Barrel Automatic Weapon,” #3,380,342 titled “Clearing Mechanism for High Rate of Fire Multi-Barrel Automatic Weapon,” and #3,380,343 titled “Firing Mechanism for High Rate of Fire Multi-Barrel Automatic Weapon.”

The USAIB publishes the report “Military Potential Test of Noise Suppressor, HEL, M4, for M16A1 Rifle.” The purpose of the test was to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the HEL-M4 in realistic operational exercises characteristic of Vietnam. Factors such as position disclosing effects, system functioning, durability, reliability, and maintenance were considered. Fifteen M16A1 rifles with HEL-M4 attached were used to conduct this test, with fifteen standard M16A1 rifles used for control purposes. There were no deficiencies found; however, three shortcomings were noted. The gas deflector failed to deflect all of the escaping gases from the firer’s eyes; the ejection pattern of the M16A1 rifle with the HEL-M4 attached caused the expended cartridge to strike the cheek of left-handed firers; and the malfunction rate of the test weapon was unusually high (primarily double feeding). It is concluded that the HEL-M4 has military potential and accomplishes the purpose for which it was designed, i.e., to deceive observers located forward of the test weapon as to the location of the weapon when it is fired. It is recommended that the HEL-M4 be considered as having military potential, and further development be directed toward correction of the shortcomings.

Arthur Miller, Charles Dorchester, and George Sullivan receive US Patent #3,380,183 titled “Upper Handguard Fixedly Mounted on Barrel Assembly by Breechblock Guide Rods.”

The report “M16 Rifle Survey in the Republic of Vietnam” is published. The survey indicates that the M16 rifle system is suitable for the war in Vietnam. Particularly desirable qualities are its high rate of fire and its light weight. However, failures to extract were still occurring with enough frequency to undermine confidence in the M16. Although troops generally preferred to carry the M16 in combat, some misgivings were entertained about its reliability. Introduction of the chromed chamber appears to have reduced the number of failures to extract, but this development has not been fielded long enough to permit adequate evaluation. The authors conclude that continued product improvement and user efforts will be required to improve reliability.

The survey also notes the following:

    1. Approximately 23 percent of the personnel are lubricating their ammunition, which is contrary to all published directives.
    1. The buffer retrofit program has not been completed. 16 percent of the personnel questioned report no new buffers.
    1. Approximately 28 percent of the over 2,000 personnel questioned have not received M16 training after arrival in Vietnam and 24 percent report receiving no M16 training before arrival in Vietnam.
    1. Approximately 10 percent of the personnel have never zeroed their weapon and another 33 percent have not zeroed within the previous three months.
    1. 18 percent of the personnel report that their units did not test fire weapons.
    1. Although the rifles are cleaned almost daily, the magazines and ammunition are cleaned on the average only once a week.
  1. Adequate supplies of cleaning materials are available in theater; however, shortages do exist at unit level from time to time because of distribution problems.

Representatives from Frankford Arsenal and WECOM meet at Colt to agree upon chamber drawing changes that will eliminate the possibility of a reverse taper in the neck area after chrome plating.

QALI are issued to the applicable DCAS Regions (DCASR) for the new sources of M16A1 procurement: H&R and GM-Hydramatic.

Quality assurance personnel associated with 5.56mm ammunition and the M16A1 visit an ammunition test site to investigate reported magazine failures. This visit results in several modifications of test procedures. In addition, reporting procedures are modified to assure that usable data is provided for on rifle QA program.

Rock Island Arsenal and Winchester/Western conduct testing on alternative gas systems for the M16 rifle.

CDCEC publishes “Weapons Basic Infantry Element Experiment Report.” This is a supplement to the IRUS-75 Phase I study.

MACV commander General Westmoreland advises CINCPAC Admiral Sharp the increased issue of M16 rifles to ARVN and RF/PF will also require an increased allocation of 5.56mm ammunition. In messages to the JCS and Department of the Army, Admiral Sharp supports General Westmoreland’s request and recommends an increase in 5.56mm ammunition production.

South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) representatives meet with OSD staff and broach the topic of establishing a small arms manufacturing plant in Korea. Minister of National Defense Choi indicates a preference for the M16. Deputy Secretary Nitze and Ambassador Brown endorse the proposal

Sound suppressors are submitted for evaluation for the ENSURE #77 requirement.

AAI and Philco-Ford deliver their grenade launcher prototypes. Aberdeen’s Materiel Testing Directorate begins testing the GLAD prototypes alongside the AAI DBCATA. The testing consists of velocity, accuracy, reliability, adverse conditions, ruggedness, and lubricant compatibility tests.

FN‘s Ernest Vervier files an US patent application for the design of the CAL’s removable three-round burst mechanism.

Contract DAAF03-69-0021 is let to Colt for 740,803 M16A1 and 1,000 M16 rifles. 135,001 of the ordered M16A1 are later requested to be manufactured as M16 instead. Colt also contracts to produce 1,000 30 round magazines for initial production testing. This contract also includes the Technical Data Package for their manufacture. Delivery is projected in 6.5 months.

In testimony to the Ichord Subcommittee, a GAO spokesman renders the GAO‘s conclusion the Army’s followed legal procedures in its awards to GM-Hydramatic and H&R. Ichord will later comment that a minimum of $40 million has been squandered on the M16. In both HASC and open House debates over the defense appropriations bill, Ichord fights to reduce the Army’s R&D spending by $20 million as punishment for not accepting the lowest bids in its second source contracts for the M16A1.

Aberdeen’s D&PS releases the report “Final Report on Product Improvement of Submachine Gun, 5.56-MM XM177E2.” The primary purpose of this test was to evaluate the product improvements introduced for the Colt Commando/XM177-series since the SAWS trials of 1965-66, and was not intended to serve as an engineering test leading to type classification. The product improved components of the test weapons were: chrome-plated chambers, new buffer, 1-1/2 inch increased barrel length, Delrin charging handle latch, handguard slip ring, cadmium-plated slip ring spring, shot-peened upper and lower receivers, nylon coated buttstock and release lever, and grenade launcher spacer (for attaching an XM148 grenade launcher). With the exception of the Delrin charging handle latch, the durability of all the product improvements was satisfactory throughout the test. The Delrin charging handle latch experienced structural failure at -65F. Moreover, no difference could be detected between the delrin charging-handle latch and the metal latch with respect to receiver wear. No advantages in corrosion resistance were demonstrated for the shot-peened receivers, nylon-coated buttstock and release lever, and cadmium-plated slip ring spring. The chrome-plated chambers demonstrated improvement over nonplated chambers in reducing failures to extract, and the new angled handguard slip ring offers advantages over the previous design in ease of assembly and disassembly of handguards. Kinematics studies showed that the energy absorbing characteristics of the urethane end cap on the buffer are subject to change under repetitive impacts, causing undesirably large variations in cyclic rate within a burst. Progressive buildup of fouling in the flash/sound suppressor during firing tends to increase muzzle flash and sound level, and apparently has an adverse effect on bullet stability and flight. M193 Ball projectiles were found to yaw up to 10 to 20 degrees on occasion, and M196 Tracer projectiles were even worse in this regard. Both M193 and M196 projectiles exhibited more yawing with WC846-loaded ammunition than with IMR 8208M-loaded ammunition. M196 projectiles were also prone to breakup regardless of the powder used in the cartridges. Both the XM77E1 and XM177E2 weapons gave unsatisfactorily high malfunction rates in the low temperature fouling test, and both weapons demonstrated more severe fouling in the operating mechanism with WC846-loaded cartridges than IMR 8208M. It is recommended that further development of the XM177E2 submachine gun buffer and noise/flash suppressor be accomplished, that the Delrin charging handle latch be considered unacceptable, and that the remaining product improvements under test be considered suitable for use on the XM177E2 submachine gun and, as appropriate, the M16A1 rifle.

The OCSA‘s Weapons Systems Analysis Directorate publishes the 12 volume report “Report of the M16 Rifle Review Panel.” The individual titles are as follows:

    • History of the M16 Weapon System
    • Small Arms Test Policies and Procedures
    • Audit Trail and Analysis of M16A1 Weapon and Ammunition System Tests
    • Review and Analysis of M16 Rifle Training
    • Ammunition Development Program
    • Procurement Production and Distribution History of the AR-15-M16-M16A1 Weapon System
    • Review and Analysis of M16 System Reliability
    • M16 Surveys in the Republic of Vietnam
    • Review and Analysis of the Army Organizational Structure and Management Practices
    • Audit Trail of Chief of Staff – Army Actions and Decisions Concerning the M16
    • The Army Small Arms Program
  • M16 Product Improvement Modifications

After receiving delivery of 6,000 AR-15, further shipments to Singapore are suspended by the OSD due to higher priority commitments.

Secretary of State Rusk and Secretary of Defense Clifford issue a joint message questioning whether South Korean production of the M16 is in the best interest of the US or Korea. They request the Commander of US Forces in Korea (COMUSKOREA), CINCPAC Admiral Sharp, and the JCS assess the optimum future shoulder weapon for the Korean military. In particular, they should weigh the possibility of surplus M14 becoming available within the next few years.

Battelle Memorial Institute submits the report “Analysis of Test and Selection Procedures for Small Arms Lubricants.” It covers the history of the M16 and its recommended lubricants. It also details the results of combat experimentation with other non-standard lubricants.

An 18-pound test fixture for the CMG-2 mechanism is completed.

Colt’s Robert Roy receives US Patent #3,386,336 titled “Convertible Machine Gun for Right- and Left-Hand Cartridge Feed and Operation.”

Aberdeen’s BRL publishes the report “BRL Survey of the Army Caseless Ammunition Program.” An in-depth review of the Small Arms Caseless Ammunition Program was conducted. The results of the review, determined from interviews with contractors and Government personnel, and from reviews of progress reports prepared by contractors show the current status of the Caseless Ammunition Program. The results of this study show that the Caseless Ammunition Program has not reached the concept formulation phase.

Mid 1968:
The Philippine Government and Colt enter negotiations for the establishment of a domestic M16 production plant. It is envisioned that 10 percent of the production will be SMG, 3.9 percent as HBAR, and the rest as standard M16. US Government permission has not yet been negotiated.

All regular ARVN infantry maneuver battalions have received M16A1.

Due to Japanese export restrictions on Howa-made AR-18, ArmaLite establishes their own production line for the AR-18 at their facility in Costa Mesa, CA.

Secretary Clifford visits South Vietnam. While there, he promises to speed up deliveries of M16 rifles to the ARVN, even at the expense of US units.

The new MACV commander General Creighton Abrams informs CINCPAC Admiral Sharp that the recent changes in the distribution plan for the M16 will eliminate a previous requirement of 20,000 M2 carbines, and request the cancellation of the shipment. Admiral Sharp passes on the information to the JCS who cancels the carbine shipment.

COMUSKOREA informs Admiral Sharp that the South Korean Government has publicly expressed its intent to build a modern domestic small arms plant, and they have suggested this can be achieved without cost to the MAP. The South Koreans favor either the M16 or AR-18. COMUSKOREA suggests other alternatives for reequipping the South Koreans with a new rifle, and recommends that he be authorized to develop with the Koreans a detailed five-year program for rifle modernization.

Aberdeen publishes the report “M16 Rifle System Reliability and Quality Assurance Evaluation.” A comprehensive study of the reliability of the M16 Rifle was undertaken. The report contains an extensive analysis of statistical and engineering data to estimate the reliability characteristics of the M16 Rifle system, analyze factors affecting the reliability of the system (propellants, projectiles, ammunition lots, cyclic rate, cycle time, chrome chambering, cleaning, lubricating, mode of fire, magazines and environments), and to establish a sound technical base for other parts of the study indicated below. The report also includes an analysis of the pertinent specifications for the rifles, magazines and ammunition, with particular emphasis on the validity of the parameters, the tests, the standards, the statistical sampling plans, the criteria, and their compatibility with the requirements for a reliable rifle system. Basically, the M16 Rifle is deemed a reliable system. Although the M16 Rifle and the M14 Rifle are not comparable in design, weight, ballistic parameters, operating features and effectiveness, their reliability characteristics are approximately similar. The M16 Rifle is more reliable than the M14 Rifle during its initial life, but it is slightly more sensitive to environmental effects and maintenance. Although the M16 Rifle currently is reliable, the study indicates that there is appreciable potential for improvement.

The HEL publishes “Accuracy and Rate of Fire for Single Shot and Semi-Automatic Grenade Launchers.”

CDCEC publishes “Operational Hit and Kill Probabilities XM148 Grenade Launcher System.”

Olin-Winchester’s Joseph A. Badali and James H. Johnson receive US Patent #3,390,475 titled “Magazine Having a Movable Door Hinged Thereto.”

The USAIB conducts testing of the HEL-M4, the improved HEL-M4A, Frankford Arsenal’s FA-CM and FA-XM, and the Sionics MAW-A1, MAW-A2, and MAW-A3. The Sionics suppressor requires no modification other than the removal of the flash hider. During safety testing, a Teflon bushing melts only after the can temperature reached 1,000 degrees. In contrast, one of the Frankford FA-CM bursts during automatic fire due to erosion of its porous aluminum.

The AR-15/M16 Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) is disbanded. The new Army Chief of Staff General Westmoreland creates the US Army Small Arms Systems Agency (USASASA) at Aberdeen to manage research and development efforts related to individual and crew-served weapons up to .60 caliber. This includes the Army Small Arms Program (ARSAP), but not the PMR‘s office. Other responsibilities included infantry grenade launchers (but not the GLAD project), sight and fire control systems (but not electronic night sights and GLAD sights), and all related ammunition programs (except for 40mm grenades and those cartridges controlled by the PMR.)

The South Korean MND informs COMUSKOREA that they consider the domestic establishment of a M16 manufacturing plant in their best interest. The South Korean Government will bear the cost of personnel and operating expenses, but they desire the US to provide the plant construction equipment, raw materials, and technical assistance under the MAP. In reply, COMUSKOREA emphasizes the limitations of MAP funds, but points out that credit financing may be available through the DOD or private enterprise. He adds that a DOD specialist team has been requested to assist in the development of the technical, administrative, and legal aspects of the proposal.

The new CINCPAC Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. writes the JCS listing the key advantages and disadvantages of the M14 and M16. He states that the M14 would excel at the long ranges found in Korea, but also notes that the M16 is an effective weapon for internal defense operations. With this in mind, McCain suggests that there is a strong argument to arm the Koreans with a mix of weapons. The relative costs of the weapons and accessories will be a major factor in any final decision. McCain concurs with COMUSKOREA‘s recommendations with the understanding that the US Government is not pre-committed to any resulting program. He estimates the study could be complete in four months. The JCS approves the proposed study and assigns McCain with recommending the optimum rifle upon completion of the study.

In a message to COMUSKOREA, Admiral McCain points out that rearming South Korean support personnel is not a priority. Immediate rearming of the rest of the Korean forces with the M16 may not be a financially sound decision given the possibility of surplus M14 becoming available in coming years. In future discussions, the Koreans need to be reminded that the US is not committed to the construction of a M16 plant.

Admiral McCain recommends to the JCS that the DOD specialist team be dispatched to South Korea for handling the co-production proposal. However, the initial attitude to the request is negative, perceiving it as premature.

At Frankford Arsenal, Laurence F. Moore files the report “Gas Tube Fouling Characteristics of M193 Ball Cartridges in M16A1 Rifle.”

At Colt, work begins on an actual CMG-2 prototype.

Aberdeen’s Materiel Testing Directorate ends testing of the 40mm grenade launchers.

A letter contract is awarded to AAI for their grenade launcher design. It is unanimously selected based on its performance and cost.

An Engineering Design Test for the AAI launcher begins at Aberdeen and Fort Benning.

Major Francis B. Conway, Commanding Officer of the US Army’s Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU), supervises accuracy testing of the Sionics and HEL suppressors. The Sionics equipped rifle actually improves in 100m and 300m accuracy over the same rifle equipped with the standard flash suppressor. The HEL-M4 suppressor does well at 100m but falls back at 300m.

The Senate’s Special M16 Rifle Subcommittee concludes that the Army is spending millions of dollars more in its contracts to GM-Hydramatic and H&R because it did not take costs into consideration. The Army’s contract award process is declared to be “a most inept performance.”

On the House side, the Ichord Subcommittee publishes its latest report calling the awards to GM-Hydramatic and H&R “an exercise of extremely poor judgment.”

The GAO publishes its audit of Colt’s M16 contracts as requested by the Ichord Subcommittee a year earlier. The report concludes that Colt had overcharged by $506,500.

The JCS finally approves the request to send the DOD specialist team to South Korea, but only after Admiral McCain reemphasizes the strong feelings of the South Korean Government and Deputy Secretary Nitze’s commitment to the issue.

Due to its long lead time, supply action for the M16 in the FY 1968 South Korean MAP Augmentation is suspended until the Congress approves the FY 1969 MAP. The argument is that if the FY 1969 Korean MAP is drastically cut, the inclusion of the FY 1968 MAP Augmentation is also in danger.

The JCS instructs Admiral McCain to advise the South Koreans that establishing a M16 plant in Korea may not be wise for the following reasons:

    1. Current US M16 production will soon be large enough to meet any additional requirements;
    1. MAP and other economic aid is likely to be reduced in the future; and
  1. The cost of establishing the production facility will cut into the funds needed for other Korean modernization projects.

The BRL publishes “Computer Simulation of 5.56mm Propellants.”

Aberdeen’s BRL publishes the report “Launch Characteristics of the M193 (Ball) and M196 (Tracer) Projectiles from the XM177E2 Submachine Gun. The data indicate that the XM177E2’s blast suppressor decreases accuracy over no muzzle device, and that accuracy decreases even further as the suppressor sees continued use.”

The USAIB publishes the report “Military Potential Test of Noise Suppressors for M16A1 Rifle.” The purpose of this test was to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the seven sound suppressor designs with respect to such factors as: accuracy; position disclosing effects; system functioning; durability, reliability, and maintenance; and to select a device suitable for a Vietnam field evaluation and/or further development. As a result of the testing, the decision is made to manufacture and field the HEL-M4A.

100 HEL-M4A suppressors are shipped to Vietnam.

On behalf of the US Army, Warren W. Wells files a patent application for a metal reinforced, plastic M16 magazine.

Colt’s John Jorczak and David Behrendt file a patent application for an auxiliary cartridge case extractor.

Colt produces its one millionth M16.

Secretary of Defense Clifford approves Phase I of MACV‘s RVNAF Improvement and Moderization Plan with the proviso that M16 are not be provided to Vietnamese logistic troops.

Admiral McCain passes along the JCS‘ instructions to COMUSKOREA. In reply, COMUSKOREA notes that the DOD specialist team needs to be supplemented with experts on the financial and legal aspects of a co-production plan. McCain passes the recommendation along to the JCS, who denies the request. The OSD position is that discussing financial and legal aspects is premature, and might imply US commitment to the Koreans’ plan.

When Admiral McCain visits South Korea, COMUSKOREA submits a joint proposal for the M16 plant. The plan is to produce 600,000 rifles and accessories. In addition, the Korean arsenal will be expanded in order to meet all of the Korean military’s training ammunition requirements for 5.56mm, .30’06, .30 carbine, and .50 caliber. Basic load and war reserve supplies of 5.56mm ammunition could be met by expanding the arsenal’s hours of operation. McCain also meets with South Korean President Park who expresses his interest in the project.

After a three week visit, the DOD specialist team concludes that South Korean production of the M16 and 5.56mm ammunition is technically feasible and that it might be cheaper for the Koreans to build the rifles than to supply them from US production.

Philippine President Marcos questions US Ambassador G. Mennen Williams as to the reasons behind the US Government’s delay in approving a domestic M16 production plant. Ambassador Williams requests that Secretary of State Rusk provide a status report on Colt’s application. Williams voices his approval of the proposal.

Aberdeen’s BRL publishes “Comparison of the Exterior Ballistics of the M193 Projectile when Launched from 1:12 In. and 1:14 In. Twist M16A1 Rifles.” Two rifles with 1-in-12″ twist barrels and two with 1-in-14″ twists were tested at five temperatures: 125, 70, 0, -30, and -65F. The 1-in-14″ twist barrels were in new condition and had very few rounds fired from them (estimated as less than 100). The 1-in-14″ twist barrels had been prerated, on the basis of Colt testing, with one as having “average” dispersion (7.5″ maximum spread at 100 yards) and the other as having good dispersion (4.0″ maximum spread at 100 yards). The 1-in-12″ twist barrels used in the tests were in good condition but much older, and no record was available on how many rounds had previously been fired from them. Projectiles fired from the 1-in-14″ twist barrels showed greater yaw in flight out to 70 meters, with the initial yaw increasing dramatically as the temperature decreased. The initial in flight yaw for projectiles fired from the two barrel twists were about equal at 125F, around 8 degrees of yaw. However, at -65F, the average maximum in flight yaw was 36 degrees for projectiles fired from the 1-in-14″ twist barrels, while there was barely any increase from the 1-12″ twist barrels. Out to 70 meters at -65F, the projectiles from the 1-in-14″ twist barrels were averaging greater yaw than even the 1-in-12″ twist barrels did at the muzzle at the same temperature. Projectiles from the 1-in-12″ twist barrels had stabilized to an average maximum yaw of around 3 degrees at 70 meters regardless of the temperature. As a result of their greater instability, the projectiles fired from the 1-in-14″ twist barrels were found to lose velocity faster than their counterparts fired from the 1-in-12″ twist barrels. While dispersion was worse across all temperatures for the the 1-in-14″ twist barrels, it held close to the 1-in-12″ twist barrels down to around 40F. By -65F, dispersion for the the 1-in-14″ twist barrels was around four times greater than the 1-in-12″ twist barrels.

Naval Weapons Center-China Lake modifies a limited number of M16A1 with side-mounted “jungle slings” and integral cleaning kits. The latter is contained within a modified pistol grip and buttstock.

Production of 960 additional HEL-M4A suppressors is transferred to Edgewood Arsenal.

Aberdeen’s Materiel Testing Directorate releases the report “Engineer Design Test of 40-mm Grenade Launcher Attachments for M16A1 Rifle (GLAD).” The report concludes that the performance of the AAI pump-action launcher is superior to that of the AAI DBCATA and Philco-Ford launchers. Additionally, it was found that the test launchers, irrespective of type, are detrimental to the functioning performance of the rifle to which they are attached. The firing of the launcher causes the operating parts of the rifle to recoil out of position, resulting in failures to fire and failures of the hammer to remain seated. On two occasions, the latter condition caused inadvertent firing of the rifle when an attached Philco-Ford launcher was fired.

AAI is awarded a letter contract for development of a Serial Fléchette Rifle (SFR). (SFR is the new name for the rifle component of the SPIW.)

AC Electronics-Defense Research Labs publishes the report “Study to Increase Gun Barrel Life by Plating the Bore with Tungsten.” During testing contracted by the US Army, a 0.004 inch oversized .220 cal rifled gun barrel was plated with 0.002 inches of tungsten, restoring its original bore size. The plated barrel and an unplated standard barrel were test fired with 1500 rounds of .220 Swift. Less erosion was experienced over a shorter barrel length in the tungsten plated barrel than in the unplated barrel.

The USASASA begins limited operations.

Admiral McCain requests data on the availability and cost of the M14 for equipping the South Korean military. The Department of the Army replies that there is a study underway to determine whether the Army should retain both the M14 and M16, or standardize solely on the M16. They cannot provide the availability and cost data until this decision is made.

Given an increase in the number of border incidents and infiltrations, COMUSKOREA and the Commanding General of the US Eighth Army request expedited delivery of the 10,000 M16 and accessories budgeted in the FY 1968 Korea MAP Supplemental. CINCUSARPAC concurs in the recommendation and requests that Admiral McCain consider an increase in rifle production to allow for early distribution of the M16 to the ROK Army and the US Eighth Army, as well as meeting RVNAF modernization requirements. The Department of the Army provides the AMC with the data necessary to make a partial shipment of 2,500 rifle immediately, with preparations for 3,000 each from November and January production.

Admiral McCain contacts COMUSKOREA with alternative plans for South Korean rifle modernization. Among the alternatives are the issue of the M14 or a mix of the M14 and M16. He requests clarification as to what weapons COMUSKOREA had recommended to the Koreans and justification for upgrading support troops. The rifle modernization plan also needs to be prioritized against other Korean requirement. In addition, McCain requests the size of the loan desired for the modernization plan.

CINCUSARPAC expresses concern that US Army units in South Korea are not being prioritized in receipt of the M16 versus ROK Army and Marines.

In a message to the JCS, Admiral McCain concurs with the plans of expedited shipments of the first 8,500 of 10,000 M16 for the South Koreans, but recommends that the remaining 1,500 be provided from other than PACOM allocations.

COMUSKOREA replies to Admiral McCain that he still recommends construction of a M16 plant in South Korea; however, the choice of the M16 was solely the Koreans’. COMUSKOREA argues that: 1) The M16’s design was inspired by the US’ previous combat experience in Korea; 2) The South Koreans already have combat experience with the M16 in Vietnam; 3) It would give the South Koreans parity with the North Korean’s AK-47; 4) South Korean forces would suffer a loss in morale if issued an older, less capable surplus weapon; and 5) The M16 will most likely be standardized by the US Army, and South Korean adoption of the M16 will simplify logistics between the two nations. COMUSKOREA also recommends the arsenal expansion to meet the Koreans’ ammunition needs. He estimates it will cost $70 to $75 million for construction of the M16 plant, manufacture of the 600,000 rifles, expansion of the arsenal, and manufacture of a five year supply of training, basic load, and war reserve ammunition

The US Country Team for the Philippines recommends to Secretary of State Rusk that Colt be allowed to license production of the M16. This will satisfy the political needs of President Marcos, provide standardization with the US and its Asian allies, add to US export sales, ease pressure of the MAP budget, and save the possible embarrassment of the Philippines pursuing a licensing agreement with another country.

The Chief of the US Military Equipment Delivery Team-Burma advises Admiral McCain that officials of the Burmese Ministry of Defense have requested 10 M16 and 33,000 rounds of ammunition for test and evaluation. The Burmese Defense Forces are interested in their suitability for counterinsurgency mission. McCain contacts CINCUSARPAC for the availability of the items requested, who passes along the request to the Department of the Army. McCain also advises the MEDT Chief that if the Burmese tests result in a larger order, follow-on deliveries will not be available until FY 1971 due to the current heavy demand for M16.

End-user comments indicate that Colt’s modified “noise and flash suppressor” for the XM177E2 is prone to rapid fouling, reducing the efficiency of the sound suppression. It is also found that the M193 ball projectile is prone to excessive yaw once this fouling had progressed far enough. The effect on the XM196 tracer is even worse, occasionally leading to in-air breakup of the projectile. Most troubling is that cyclic rate problems caused by ball powder in the parent M16 rifle are even worse in the XM177 family. Colt estimates that a complete ballistic/kinematics study of the XM177E2 will take 6 months at a cost of $400,000. In response, the US Army suggests an in-house, 29 month, $635,000 R&D study. However, this proves to be straw that breaks the camel’s back in regards to additional procurement.

The Human Resources Research Organization releases “Training Implications, Extended Field Test, Infantry Rifle Unit Study, IRUS – 75 (IRUS IIBX).”

The AAI grenade launcher is type-classified under the designation XM203.

The report “Noise Suppressor Assembly HEL E4A” is published.

Olin-Winchester’s James H. Johnson and Julius E. Brooks receive US Patent #3,410,175 titled “Recoil Assembly for Firearm.”

GM-Hydramatic delivers its first 100 rifles two weeks ahead of H&R. Two of the H&R rifles fail 6,000 round endurance testing, one to a cracked bolt and the other due to excessive failures to chamber.

The Department of the Army indicates that there no M16 available for purchase to meet the Burmese request. Admiral McCain questions CINCUSARPAC as to whether there were enough rifles available so that they could loan the 10 rifles and ammunition to Burma. CINCUSARPAC replies that the rifles could be loaned but that the Burmese would need to purchase the ammunition.

CINCUSARPAC advises Admiral McCain that the introduction of additional M16 rifles to USARV will not generate any surplus M14 as these rifles are will be needed for CONUS training units.

Secretary of State Rusk informs Admiral McCain and the US Embassy in Singapore that the US Government has given approval to Colt to negotiate a license agreement with Singapore for a domestic M16 manufacturing facility. However, any license agreement will still require US review prior to approval. Rusk emphasizes that there will be no US financial support for the venture and Singapore will not be able to export the rifles without US approval.

The US military transfers 10,000 M16 rifles to the South Korean Army. These are intended for use in defense against North Korea, not for ROK troops stationed in Vietnam.

The DOD specialist team submits their final report to Admiral McCain regarding South Korean M16 co-production. Their final report differs only slightly from their interim report: estimated material costs for 5.56mm ammunition is higher while costs for expanding the ROK arsenal is smaller. The new overall cost estimate ranges from $78 to $83 million versus COMUSKOREA‘s earlier estimate of $70 to 75 million. Admiral McCain adds cost estimates for royalties and follow-on spares to settle upon a final figure of ~$97 million.

Admiral McCain writes the JCS requesting that the Department of the Army accelerate their determination of whether the US Army will retain a mix of M14 and M16, or standardize solely on the M16. Whether or not surplus M14 will become available will help decide which rifle to provide the South Korean military. As long as no extra funds are required from the MAP budget, McCain recommends that the US should support the Koreans’ small arms modernization plans.

The US State Department informs the US Embassy in Manila that the US has approved Colt’s request to negotiate a license agreement with the Philippines for a domestic M16 manufacturing facility. However, any license agreement will still require US review prior to approval. There will be no US financial support for the venture, and the Philippines will not be able to export the rifles without US approval. Approval is given only for the manufacture of M16 rifles. Embassy officials are to emphasize that the US does not endorse the project as they believe it to be uneconomical.

In communication with the JCS and the Chief of JUSMAG-PHIL, Admiral McCain states that he agrees with the view that Philippine M16 co-production is not justified economically nor militarily. McCain believes that the Philippine military has higher priority requirements which could use the funding that will be spent in establishing a manufacturing plant.

Construction of a Philippine ammunition factory is tentatively approved.

Frankford Arsenal publishes the report “Investigation of 5.56mm, Cartridge Lot LC-12387 in Standard 5.56mm, M16A1 Rifles.”

Authorization is given for 600 XM203 to be assembled and sent to Vietnam for extended testing.

On behalf of the US Army, Harvey H. Friend files a patent application for a combined extractor/ejector for the Winchester/Springfield semi-auto grenade launcher attachment.

(Next: 5.56mm 1969)

by Daniel E. Watters, Small Arms Historian
Post questions or comments at The 5.56mm Timeline’s Facebook page.

Document History
Publication: 12/10/1998
Last Revised: 05/17/2009
Author’s Note
This article was originally published at The Gun Zone — The Gunperson’s Authoritative Internet Information Resource. My friend and mentor Dean Speir has graciously hosted my articles at TGZ for nearly 16 years. These articles would likely have never appeared online without his constant encouragement and assistance.With TGZ’s closure in early 2017, Dean encouraged me to find a new home for my scholarship so it wouldn’t be lost in the dustbin of the Internet. Loose Rounds has welcomed me with open arms. In the future, I intend to expand my legacy TGZ articles and add new contributions here at Loose Rounds.

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