M16 vs AK47

Was the AK47 better than the M16?

  • Yes

    Votes: 32 64.0%
  • No

    Votes: 18 36.0%

  • Total voters
    50

Earl_of_Rochester

Ad Honoris
Feb 2011
13,609
Perambulating in St James' Park
I'm just reading 'Magnificent Bastards' about the 2/4 USMC in Vietnam and it seems that in most of the battles the M16 jams, at one point an entire company had its guns jammed and couldn't fire at all. Some of the soldiers even ditch their M16 in favour of the AK.


A few extracts from the book:





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[ame="http://www.amazon.com/The-Magnificent-Bastards-Army-Marine-Defense/dp/089141861X"]Amazon.com: The Magnificent Bastards: The Joint Army-Marine Defense of Dong Ha, 1968 (9780891418610): Keith Nolan: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51--%2BaaMdtL.@@AMEPARAM@@51--%2BaaMdtL[/ame]

Was the M16 really that bad and was the AK really that superior in the Vietnam war?

Is the AK still superior to the M16 and its upgrades?
 

Thegn Ansgar

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
5,638
Canada
No, the M16 wasn't really that bad. The problem was what it was claimed to be; a self-cleaning rifle, which it wasn't, and that lead to the numerous issues with it in Vietnam. Once such a thing was realized, and the cleaning kits were issued, it ceased to have such problems.

The AK is not exactly "superior" to the M16. Both rifles serve their purpose, but do so in very different ways. The M16, and any other AR platform rifle are extremely accurate, can tolerate most realistic dirt tests if they're maintained properly (i.e. properly lubricated and cleaned), and has great range.

AKs can be made relatively easily, have looser tolerances (though that's not to say that it can't be made with very precise and tight tolerances), fire a powerful round, can engage targets at respectable distances, and can go through realistic dirt tests and other situations where the weapon is not kept in ideal maintenance rather easily, as well as tolerating extreme torture tests.

Both guns will however have a hard time firing if dirt gets into the action of the rifle, though the AK is more likely to continue working because of it. But it's still not a good thing to let happen.
 

Wenge

Ad Honoris
Apr 2011
10,429
Virginia
I'm just reading 'Magnificent Bastards' about the 2/4 USMC in Vietnam and it seems that in most of the battles the M16 jams, at one point an entire company had its guns jammed and couldn't fire at all. Some of the soldiers even ditch their M16 in favour of the AK.


A few extracts from the book:






---



---



---


Amazon.com: The Magnificent Bastards: The Joint Army-Marine Defense of Dong Ha, 1968 (9780891418610): Keith Nolan: Books

Was the M16 really that bad and was the AK really that superior in the Vietnam war?

Is the AK still superior to the M16 and its upgrades?
The early m 16s had their problems but the fact is it is a real rifle while the AK is just a spray shooter. If I want marksmanship and the ability to accurately shoot what I'm aiming for I'll take the second or 3rd generation M 16 every day of the week.
 

Earl_of_Rochester

Ad Honoris
Feb 2011
13,609
Perambulating in St James' Park
Has anyone ever shot both rifles? I suppose that would be the fairest assessment. As a Brit the only thing I ever got to fire was the SA80.

As Historum seems to have a large NATO country membership it's a pity we don't have a few members from the Russian Army/WARSAW PACT to debate the technical details with.
 
Mar 2013
3,909
Texas, USA
Actual Russian AKs are usually pretty good. The originally M16 wasn't. They didnt chrome the chamber or barrel, they replaced the recommended powder with something hotter and dirtier, which increased cyclic rate, they didn't properly support it with cleaning equipment, and they didn't really train the handlers on it. Basically what would happen is all pre Vietnam and raining was conducted with M14s and then you'd be issued a M16 in country.

All issues were fixed by 1967 with the release of the M16A1, which had a forward assist to assist with chambering rounds, and a chromed barrel and chamber.

The M16 was lighter that the AK, more controllable in full auto and more ammo could be carried (smaller and lighter cartridge, aluminum mags vs. AKs steel mags).

I've owned or been issued both. I prefer the M16A1, its simple and has wonderful sights. Keep it lubed and it will shoot forever.
 

Nostromo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,504
Queens
The early m 16s had their problems but the fact is it is a real rifle while the AK is just a spray shooter. If I want marksmanship and the ability to accurately shoot what I'm aiming for I'll take the second or 3rd generation M 16 every day of the week.
I shot an AK at a shooting range (single shots, no auto), and I was pretty accurate even without any military training. Not sure if it was a real Russian AK or a copy though.
 

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,659
USA
The problem with the XM16E1 in Vietnam was
-Soldiers didn't clean it, Pentagon called it a "self cleaning rifle"
-The powder
-The lack of a chrome line barrel

Once these problems were fixed and upgraded into the M16A1, it became a formidable weapon in Vietnam, feared by the Vietnamese. They said "beware of the black rifle". However the didn't want to pick it up due to the maintence. US Special Forces were willing to pick up AK to mask the enemy on long range patrols. M16 was quite popular with ARVN troops as they called it the "meat axe" for its devastating wounds and stopping power. Still the AK had the advantage in penetration of jungle foilage and reliability. Shorter M16 variants like the XM177 had problems in stopping powers due to the reduced velocity.

The Russians in the 1970s copied the Americas and switched to the 5.45x39mm for the AK-74 about the same peformance as the American M16 5.56 bullet. The Americans switched to the more penetrative M855 for their M16A2s, CAR-15s and M4 Carbines. The M855 did poorly with the shorter barelled weapons due to velocity as shown in Iraq and Afghanistan and wasn't really fixed till 2010 with the introduction of the M855A1. US special forces using the CAR-15 however compensated by using the more powerful 77 grain Mk262 rounds. The M16/M4 jamming issues were not really an issue as long as you cleaned it.

I fired both the M4 carbine and the AK-74. I prefer the AK-74. It has less recoil, about the same accuracy, same weight, much more reliable, and about the same power. However I prefer the M4 or M16 over the older AKM/AK-47 used by 3rd world nations.
 
Mar 2013
3,909
Texas, USA
The time period the battle in question happened, the Marines would have probably been issued not only M16A1s but also cleaning kits. The use of lubrication was well known at that point, and fully issued out. I find it surprising that 2/4 suffered such issues with their M16s. It each man was firing thousands of rounds over the course of a single day, that might have been the issue. From what I know of that battle, it was heavy firing, the individuals went through many combat loads. In cases like that, the M16 would at least need to have its bolt wiped and relubricated.

Also, if the unit was not good on performing maintenance on the weapons, to include parts replacement (such as the extractor spring), then over time the weapons could have failed more often.

All the way up to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was still an argument within the military about not only how much to lubricate the M16, but whether to do it at all. For instance, when I was in the Marine Corps, I was told no lube, or very light lube. I know better know. If people followed the technical manuals from the beginning, they would have known better then too.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EerniQ-FrUA"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EerniQ-FrUA[/ame]
 

Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,135
Navan, Ireland
If I have a well trained soldier then the M-16 would be a wise choice.

If I would go for the AK-47 I can not shoot strait (or afford much ammunition to practice) that the AK-47 inaccuracy will make little difference, I have minimal knowledge how to clean a weapon.

One is the weapon for 'regular' forces the other for 'irregular' ones.
 
Mar 2013
3,909
Texas, USA
If I have a well trained soldier then the M-16 would be a wise choice.

If I would go for the AK-47 I can not shoot strait (or afford much ammunition to practice) that the AK-47 inaccuracy will make little difference, I have minimal knowledge how to clean a weapon.

One is the weapon for 'regular' forces the other for 'irregular' ones.
The AK still needs to be cleaned, just not as much. And they aren't that inaccurate, it really depends on the rifle. If you get a quality Russian one with quality ammo, its actually pretty accurate. Though the sights are pretty terrible.

The M16 is doing pretty good in the hands of Iraqis and Afghans. They seem to like them and I haven't heard much in complaining about them.