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Balanced system....

Posted By: Dan Shea
Date: 7/7/20 02:42

In Response To: Vltor A5 buffer and ROF (Gunner)

Gene Stoner, L. James Sullivan and Art Miller all told me that they learned about the problems with the M16 in Vietnam by reading about it in the news in 1967. No one came to them. Gene said that "I gave them a balanced system- I designed the ammunition, then the firearm around that ammunition- 20 inch barrel, twist rate of 1:14, gas was taken off 13 inches down the barrel, with 7 inches of travel after the port. The ammunition had a 55 grain projectile, and IMR powder (Improved modified rifle, a stick propellant) with a muzzle velocity of 3250 FPS and chamber pressure of 52,000 psi. They changed the powder which started the extraction cycle faster, and experienced problems, never spoke with me, and they started fixing symptoms. They have been doing that ever since." That's paraphrased due to my memory, I had that conversation in the 1980s with Gene and Tom Nelson in Michigan. I had "fixed" thousands of shorty M16s by bending the auto-sear forward 5 degrees then heat treating it, retarding the timing when the bolt carrier strikes it. I thought I was clever. Turns out I was "Fixing the symptom" as Gene said.

My point? We are so far removed from the original design, that we are all on our own. You want a reliable M16, go to the original specs. After that, we're all spit-balling. I don't have an exact answer for you, I thought the above story might help some of the guys and gals understand that we're so far downhill from the changes that many times it's luck of the draw.

Another interesting tidbit- Gene said the natural harmonic of the M16 was 435 rpm. When I say "Harmonic" I mean the rate of fire where the system is in balance and you can count on it staying pretty steady when firing- accuracy in full auto. I asked him why he didn't stay with that, he said the gov guys demanded 650-750, which puts the rifle way out of it's harmonic, and requires all kinds of fixes- muzzle brakes etc, to keep on target. I tuned one to 435 rpm and you could dump a mag, one-handed, and drill holes.

And, another time we were discussing the old combat dude lore that there are two things you don't want to do when under arms- take your control hand off of the fire control, and remove your line of sight off of the sights. I pointed out that most people do both with the M16- turn their head away, take their hand off of the pistol grip and retract the charging handle. We always did. It's a training issue, but because of the rearward path of the charging handle you have to move your head. He pointed out the AR-10 and first model ARs had the charging handle in the carry handle space and thus were ambidextrous. I countered that the charging handle still had a long retraction path requiring moving your head. When you talk with a genius like Gene was, the guy is six steps ahead of you all the time, but he was patient and kept explaining. That's where the end users wanted it. (It left that location because when the AR-10 gas port going into the bolt carrier was moved from the side to the top, dumping the gases made the charging handle uncomfortably hot. Gene was a WWII Combat vet, he knew the right way, the gov kept pushing him off it.

So downhill, we have all these really cool left hand or ambi charging handles. I had a friend who went up to the chop shop in Da Nang and cut a slot in the left side of his upper, put a bolt into the bolt carrier as a handle and he could do it right- eyes on sights, right hand on fire control, and left hand charge or clear. It traveled with the bolt carrier and I asked him "What if someone else has to use your rifle?" and he said "Then it ain't my problem anymore." Sin Loi MF I guess.

Just some stuff to think about when you're tinkering. Personally, I want a lower rate of fire, keep my rounds to either semi automatic rapid fire, or 2-3 round bursts. I can clean the targets off of a range at high speed in semi auto. I did that out to 900 yards at Ft AP Hill one year with my AN-94 in 2-shot burst (2000 rpm) and man, that was smokin!

Hope y'all have a good holiday, and maybe I've added something to think about. and yes, I have a lot of extravagant AR type rifles with cool stuff on them. Just because I talk about keeping it simple doesn't mean I'm not a gun guy... Oh... Loook! a sparkly!!!! But when I'm serious about shooting, the gun is basic.

Phoenix Defence

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