Originally Posted by TranterUK
Lets talk yards.
Ok, Tranter, I can do that. Let me address them from mostly a competitive shooters standpoint. My real intimate knowledge of all of these rifles has come from competing on rifle teams in the Corps and from NRA highpower and long range competition as a civilian. I've also had the opportunity to compare the M16, M16A1 and M16A2, side by side, on the range but I've never really had the chance to work with the CAR15 or M4.
Let me first say again that I've never fired a shot in anger (though it's been close a couple of times) but I have had the occasion to fire, carry and teach the use of the M16, M16A1, M16A2 and M14. I've also followed the writings of Maj. Culver for almost a decade.
I've found the M16 to be less than satisfactory. I've never seen a failure to extract (using late 70's to early 80's ammunition) but many failures to feed; the real problem was in the magazines but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link (culling out inferior mags helped greatly).
The M16A1 was a definite improvement and fed much more reliably than the M16, even with most of the magazines that wouldn't work well in the M16, but still not really to my liking. The real maximum effective range of the M16/M16A1 with the 55 grain ball round was 400 to 450 yards, 500 on a good day.
The M16A2 is a good rifle. The adjustable sights, heavier barrel and improved ammunition allowed it to perform well out to 500 and even 600 yards. The 3-round burst, to me, was always unnecessary and the result of flawed logic, choosing gadgets over training. Of course the weight was increased so some of the original advantage of the M16 concept was then moot.
I must say that the M14 is an object of my affection. It's a rifleman's weapon; heavy, yes, but I've always seemed to be humping crew-served ordinance anyway as a young buck, either mine or someone else's, so the extra weight never seemed to bother me. The downside to the M14 is that it requires much more training to master as opposed to the M16 and of course more unwieldy in close quarters.
From an strictly accuracy point, 147 grain 7.62 N ball has virtually the same performance as the 55 grain 5.56 ball and the 62 grain 5.56 green tip ball is superior to both. 7.62 will of course carry further and retain much more energy, but you have to hit the target first and the low recoil of the 5.56 is a significant advantage. Now, throw 7.62 AP or Special Ball with into the mix and it's a whole new ballgame, but neither of those often issued to regular forces. (As a side note, if you look at the mirage trace of green-tip ball you'll see that steel core penetrator of about one in ten 62 grain bullets will be off center and the bullet will veer well away from the target.)
On the KD range, in competition where match grade service rifles are allowed, up till about 15 years ago the M14NM was king. Then, enter the 69 to 80 grain 5.56 match bullets and the M16/AR15 was suddenly equaling and then surpassing the M14 at 600 yards. Put that together with the lower recoil of the 5.56 in the 200 and 300 yard rapid fire stages and within a few years the black rifle is the dominate force. It was nearly heart breaking when I finally gave up my M1A NM for my match AR, but my scores went up over 30 points immediately and soon after my master classification card arrived.
So, if I had my choice of rifle to carry, probably the M14, but I wouldn't balk at using the M16A2. I do however have my eye on the AR10 in the M4 configuration; I'd love to give one a really good work out on the range and in the field.