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Discovering the Distinctive Features of M16 and AR-15 Rifles - Which One Should You Choose?

Discovering the Distinctive Features of M16 and AR-15 Rifles - Which One Should You Choose?

Posted by Thomas Jennings on May 12th 2023

We have all heard on the news such crazy notions uttered about the AR-15, its platform, and its link to military style rifles in history and in the modern day. And while the media claims to cover this as news, it is really just fuel for the fire of fear. Misconceptions come around though from not only the media, but gaming as well. Popular games like call of duty don’t do a good job of making the distinction between what is real and what is fake. And all too often it seems that what is not so true is what is more widely accepted among the masses.

The AR-15 is not a military rifle. It is a civilian rifle carbine bearing some similarities to its predecessor, the M-16, which was made after the AR-15 was designed by Eugene Stoner. The AR-15 was made to be a civilian carbine with a varmint round in it.

What Is An AR-15?

The AR-15, again, is a semi automatic rifle carbine that shoots a varmint caliber, the .223/5.56. It was developed by Eugene Stoner, in what would become one of the biggest revolutions to modern firearms in history. If you have ever purchased an AR style rifle, you know exactly why. It’s because the design of the AR platform is nearly flawless. It is constructed of light metal and polymer, a stark difference from the more archaic seeming wood and steel construction that has been the form of pretty much every gun since before the 1950s. What we are looking at with the AR-15 when it comes to the civilian market is a rifle that has a good, cheap caliber, and a design that can be fitted to many different purposes.

The platform is able to accept a variety of calibers with which its owners can delve into the many different kinds of shooting out there. Every piece of the frame to its internals can be modified making it the most popular match rifle to date, because competitors can adjust based on physical data of the parts they are using and the ballistics quality of the rounds they are shooting. 

Can You Hunt With An AR-15?

Hunting is and is not possible with the AR-15. That is to say, the AR-15 itself shoots a standard cartridge that is more of a varmint cartridge. It is essentially a .22lr with 45mm of powder stuck behind it. So while it produces a high muzzle velocity, its weight and speed cannot hold up long enough to give a clean shot on bigger game, especially in America.

However, with advancement to the platform like the AR-10, bigger game hunting is possible because the platform is now able to withstand a greater deal of pressure, and accept bigger rounds with ease. The AR is generally known as a soft shooter. That is because of the gas system, which is based off of a weighted buffer and spring which eat up a lot of the energy. So you will not have to worry about taking a larger than life caliber out hunting because the recoil might be too much.

The .308 win is the standard cartridge in both the Armalite and DPMS versions of the platform and is able to take other rounds like the popular 6.5 cm and 6.5 Grendel.

What Is An M-16?

The M-16 is the rifle carbine used in the Vietnam War by the US infantry after the M-14 rifle that preceded it. The M-14 was a big gun. Its full-auto capability was rendered useless in the face of the .30-06 cartridge, a legendary cartridge, used since the days of the Springfield 1903. Because it was a big gun, and fired an equally large round out at a super high rate of fire, you can imagine there might have been some issues with recoil, in the sense that the second shot would always go over the enemies head. The soldiers were forced to use the semi auto function which defeated the purpose of having a rifle designed to be fully automatic. Enter Colt with their newly purchased M-16 which they bought from Armalite a few years before and the US has a new rifle, a self cleaning rifle that shoots a much smaller round, with a full auto function that can also be used.

The rifle did not do so well in its first days on the battlefield because the rifles were not issued with cleaning kits, something that soldiers would soon find out that they needed.

The M-16 would be used in many other conflicts by other countries who are members of NATO, the standardized round of the M-16 being the 5.56×45 NATO. It is almost identical to the AR-15’s .223 rem, but has a bit more pressure, so is not as interchangeable unless you have a .223 wylde bore barrel.

Advancement to the M-16 would later come in the form of the M4-A1 which is capable of chamber .300blk, a caliber that can be made subsonic. The M4 is a carbine SBR with a much more attuned gas system for suppressed firing, making it one of the ideal choices in recon situations.

Also Read: The AR-15 Pistol : Why Bother?

What Are The Similarities Of The AR-15 And The M-16?

The M-16 and the Ar-15 are essentially the same platform, one is made for the military and one is made for civilians. The AR-15 has no full auto capabilities and it is illegal for a civilian to modify it in such a way that it would be able to fire fully automatic. The M-16 has a semi auto and a full auto option and both of them come with a safety selector. They are constructed of the same materials, although the AR-15 has gone through many more metamorphoses due to the overwhelming innovation of the aftermarket. Advancements in composite materials like polymer have begun to usher in a new age of construction for the AR-15. The relatively small ballistics of the AR platform has also made it much easier to fashion completely polymer lowers, as much of the pressure from firing does not reach the lower portion of the receiver itself.

The core differences between the AR-15 and the M-16 lay in their purpose. One is a battle rifle, and the other has become a staple of American Ingenuity and craftsmanship, the likes of which have paved a new path for civilian gunsmithing and building.