Like out of a Final Countdown style 1980’s time warp, I stumbled upon this classic vintage Colt M16 promo video a few days ago. Complete with retro woodland camo, steel helmets and manly mustaches, Colt used sweeping shots of their gold dome clad building in Hartford, Connecticut to pump the iconic assault rifle.
I know I am supposed to wax poetically about simpler times, the American industrial complex and the sound of fully automatic rifle fire, but I can’t help but think about the inconvenience of fixed stocks, 20 inch barrels and carry handles versus railed uppers for optics mounting. I did get a kick out of the Jeep rolling over a rifle in a sort of torture test – a trick I’d be unwilling to pull on my own AR15 rifles.
Not being an expert on all variations of the M16, I’d love to hear from our more educated readers about the models displayed in this high-res (sarc) video. I’ll take a 10.5″ commando model, especially if this promo was produced prior to May of 1986.
Vintage Colt M16 Promo Video
The development of the M16A2 rifle was originally requested by the United States Marine Corps as a result of the USMC’s combat experience in Vietnam with the XM16E1 and M16A1. It was officially adopted by US Department of Defense as the “US Rifle, 5.56mm, M16A2” in 1982. The Marines were the first branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to adopt the M16A2 in the early/mid-1980s, with the United States Army following suit in the late 1980s. Modifications to the M16A2 were extensive. In addition to the new rifling, the barrel was made with a greater thickness in front of the front sight post, to resist bending in the field and to allow a longer period of sustained fire without overheating.
The rest of the barrel was maintained at the original thickness to enable the M203 grenade launcher to be attached. A new adjustable rear sight was added, allowing the rear sight to be dialed in for specific range settings between 300 and 800 meters to take full advantage of the ballistic characteristics of the new SS109 rounds and to allow windage adjustments without the need of a tool or cartridge. The weapon’s reliability allowed it to be widely used around the United States Marine Corps special operations divisions as well. The flash suppressor was again modified, this time to be closed on the bottom so it would not kick up dirt or snow when being fired from the prone position, and acting as a recoil compensator.
The front grip was modified from the original triangular shape to a round one, which better fit smaller hands and could be fitted to older models of the M16. The new handguards were also symmetrical so that armories need not separate left and right spares. The handguard retention ring was tapered to make it easier to install and uninstall the handguards. A notch for the middle finger was added to the pistol grip, as well as more texture to enhance the grip. The buttstock was lengthened by 5⁄8 in (15.9 mm). The new buttstock became ten times stronger than the original due to advances in polymer technology since the early 1960s.
Original M16 stocks were made from fiberglass-impregnated resin; the newer stocks were engineered from DuPont Zytel glass-filled thermoset polymers. The new stock included a fully textured polymer buttplate for better grip on the shoulder, and retained a panel for accessing a small compartment inside the stock, often used for storing a basic cleaning kit. The heavier bullet reduces muzzle velocity from 3,200 feet per second (980 m/s), to about 3,050 feet per second (930 m/s). The A2 uses a faster twist rifling to allow the use of a trajectory-matched tracer round. It has a 1:7 twist rate. A spent case deflector was incorporated into the upper receiver immediately behind the ejection port to prevent cases from striking left-handed users.