Courtesy of Tactical Life

For more than half a century, some variation of the M16 has accompanied American military personnel on their missions around the globe. The original M16 was revolutionary in its use of polymer furniture, aluminum receivers and tiny but fast 5.56mm NATO cartridges. Military small arms haven’t been the same since.

In the world of combat weapons, it is frequently not the rifle itself that is the long pole in the tent when it comes to reliability. A gun is a mechanical contrivance and will only function at the rate and reliability of its weakest component. If a gun’s ammunition feeding system is flawed, then the whole system fails.

It was the Armalite AR-10 in 7.62mm NATO that eventually led to the M16. The AR-10 incorporated the direct- impingement operating system of the Swedish AG-42 Ljungman rifle along with materials science drawn from the post-war aircraft industry. Staatsbedrijf Artillerie-Inrichtingen in the Netherlands first produced AR-10 rifles in the early 1960s for use by Portuguese paratroopers in their colonial wars in Africa. Accurate, lightweight and reliable, the Portuguese generally gave the new space-age weapons gleaming marks. The magazines for these remarkable firearms were as cutting edge as the guns themselves.

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