Sunday, September 03, 2006

Revolver Grips - Surprising


In December of 1959, Colt acquired manufacturing and marketing rights to the AR-15. In 1962 Colt was able to get the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) to test 1,000 weapons in its Vietnam-oriented Project Agile. An enthusiastic report led to more studies from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army, and despite strong Army opposition, Defense Secretary McNamara ordered 85,000 M16's for Vietnam, and 19,000 for the Air Force.

However, early reports showed that the M16 was not living up to expectations. These reports, presented to McNamara by the Ordnance Department, showed the M16 having reliability as well as accuracy problems. These reports in turn praised the Ordnance Department's own M14. While the M14 performed well, it was too heavy for the hot jungles of Southeast Asia, and its ammunition also would not allow more than 50-100 rounds to be carried on patrols, severely limiting its capabilities as an automatic weapon.

Further evaluation of the M14 and M16 was done by an independent agency. It concluded that M14 was not as bad as had been suggested by some, that the AR15 itself was not as good as its proponents had represented it to be. However, they did note that the " AR-15" had greater capability for improvement, and that its small size and weight made it a handier weapon in Vietnam.

The M16 was issued w/o proper training and inadequate cleaning supplies. Combined with the humid jungle of Southeast Asia, this caused problems and the rifle gained a bad reputation. Because tolerances were tighter than in previous military arms, the M16 had to be kept extremely clean. War correspondents filed reports where the M16 was jamming, and many were shown on the evening news. It was reported that our soldiers were being killed by a faulty rifle.

This led to Congressional investigations which turned up two related problems. First, the cleaning issue. As training was provided, supplies issued, and some redesign, M16 performed more reliably. The second issue dealt with the use of ball propellants instead of IMR propellants. Remington had developed the 5.56mm round using one type of powder, but the specification was changed during military contract production to allow an alternate. This powder caused more fouling and increased the rate of fire.


Go Vols.


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