Survival Directory

M16A2 rifle

The M16A2 5.56mm rifle is a lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder- or hip-fired weapon designed for either automatic fire (3-round bursts) or semiautomatic fire (single shot) through the use of a selector lever. The weapon has a fully adjustable rear sight. The bottom of the trigger guard opens to provide access to the trigger while wearing winter mittens. The upper receiver/barrel assembly has a fully adjustable rear sight and a compensator which helps keep the muzzle down during firing. The steel bolt group and barrel extension are designed with locking lugs which lock the bolt group to the barrel extension allowing the rifle to have a lightweight aluminum receiver.

The M16A2 rifle is an improvement of the M16A1 rifle. The improvements provided by the M16A2 are:

  • The M16A2 features a heavier and stiffer barrel than the M16A1
  • A redesigned handguard, which is built from two identical halves, and has a round contour which is sturdier and provides a better grip when holding the rifle
  • The buttstock and pistol grip of the M16A2 are made of a tougher injection moldable plastic that provides much greater resistance to breakage
  • The M16A2 has an improved rear sight which can be easily adjusted for windage and range
  • The upper receiver design of the M16A2 was modified to deflect ejected cartridges, and preclude the possibility of the ejected cartridges hitting the face of a left-handed firer
  • The M16A2 is equipped with a burst control device, that limits the number of rounds fired in the automatic mode to three per trigger pull, which increases accuracy while reducing ammunition expenditure
  • A muzzle compensator, designed to reduce position disclosure and improve controllability and accuracy in both burst and rapid semi-automatic fire
  • A heavier barrel with a 1 in 7 twist to fire NATO standard SS 109 type (M855) ammunition which is also fired from the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). This further increases the effective range and penetration of the rifle cartridge. The M16A2 will also shoot the older M193 ammunition designed for a 1 in 12 twist

M16A2 Specifications

Primary Function

Infantry weapon


Colt Manufacturing and Fabrique Nationale Manufacturing Inc.


39.63 inches (100.66 centimeters)

Weight (with 30 round magazine)

8.79 pounds (3.99 kilograms)

Bore Diameter

5.56mm (.233 inches)

Maximum Effective Range

Area target: 2,624.8 feet (800 meters)


Point target: 1,804.5 feet (550 meters)

Muzzle Velocity

2,800 feet (853 meters) per second

Rate of Fire

Cyclic: 800 rounds per minute


Sustained: 12-15 rounds per minute


Semiautomatic: 45 rounds per minute


Burst: 90 rounds per minute

Magazine Capacity

30 rounds

Articles on the M16A2

M16A2 Manuals

071-311-2025: Maintain an M16-Series Rifle

An interactive multimedia presentation.

Colt M16 Rifle Operation and Field Maintenance Handbook

U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)


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