(Courtesy of Tactical Life)
Always controversial, in recent years we’ve seen more than a few references to the M16’s ability to handle hot climates and dusty environments, and, by extension, its cousin, the AR-15. Considering the battlefield’s gone from the jungles of Vietnam, which generated controversy on how well the platform held up to heat and rain, to the deserts of the Middle East, where the discussions now center around heat and fine sand particles, this isn’t surprising.
During the various wars and skirmishes the M16’s dealt with over the past 50 or so years, the humidity level has varied, but heat seems to be a fairly constant factor. Hot environments are relatively easy to keep the guns running in when it comes to lubes, accessories and gear. Environmental heat itself isn’t a major factor as long as it’s not too scorching for the rifle’s operator to function.
But what about sub-zero temperatures? In past scuffles, the bolt-action M1903 Springfield wasn’t complicated to maintain in the frozen trenches of World War I, but the M1 Garand clearly demonstrated in the frigid mountains of Korea that any semi-auto rifle action, no matter how good, is likely to get balky in the field as the temperature drops—and balky can quickly morph into what’s technically referred to as a frozen club. As semi- and full-auto battle rifles became the norm, the military had to look for various lubes for cold-weather operations, and by the time I was carrying an M16 for a living in the 1970s, we had LAW in our inventories to replace the more commonly used LSA for severe cold applications.
While the majority of us civilians today don’t need to trundle up Mount Everest with an AR-15, the fact remains that not all of us live in Florida, and some of us actually do work or hunt in climates that can easily drop into single-digit temperatures on either side of zero during certain seasons.
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