A1, A2, A3, what?

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by BattleRifleG3, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. BattleRifleG3

    BattleRifleG3 G&G Evangelist

    I've seen the letters A1, A2, and A3 used in the M16 designation. Anyone know what they mean and what the differences are for each?
  2. tommy

    tommy G&G Enthusiast

    don't quote me but i always thought it had something to do with the sights and forward assist just a guess i would like to know what the real diference is myself. that is a real good question

  3. Klaus

    Klaus Guest

    Forward assist? Oh, you mean the built in jam clearing plunger with the mushroom head. It must have come as a shock to Stoner when the procurement bureaucrats went for such a bizarre and expensive modification rather than incorporating his improved short stroke piston, which PREVENTED the jams, rather than just making it easier to clear them.
  4. BattleRifleG3

    BattleRifleG3 G&G Evangelist

    I concurr. Gimme an AR-180 or an M17.
  5. Eric

    Eric Guest

    The A1 incorporated the FWSD assist and the bird cage flash-hider, The A2 Came with a heavy barrel and round handguards, new rear sights which allowed for the adjustment of elevation from the firing position (don't have to mess with the front sight. The A3 is the designation alot of manufacturers adopted for guns with the removeable carry handle. Good Shooting! Eric
  6. tommy

    tommy G&G Enthusiast

    geting back to the question about a1 a2 a3

    yes but what about the a1/a2/a3.what is the diference in the guns. cause if i want a gun for reliability i'll take my ak over an ar. the ar is a hell of alot more accurate than the ak. but the ak got the upper hand in the gun fireing without jamming even in the mud ect but any way do you know what the a1/a2/a3/means
  7. tommy

    tommy G&G Enthusiast

    sounds good to me eric
  8. Shaun

    Shaun G&G Evangelist

    If I remember the history right didn't the A1 have the standard Chamber and reciever - which caused all the jambs in the field costing a lot of lives, The A2 was the second generation with the chrome linings which became the military standard as it didn't jamb up as ofter. I did a paper on this in high school and remember that the lining was a big issue
  9. sadiehn

    sadiehn Guest

    Ok here is how it gose I was a armor in the corps and my armory had the great pains of changing 10,000 A2`s for a3`s

    A1 had forward assit but did not have the chrome lined barrel
    had the funny 3 prong flash suppreser

    A2 had chrome lined barrel
    "bird cage flash suppreser"
    fired full auto
    triangle hand gaurds
    need a bullet to ajust ELV.and Win.

    A3 fires 3 round burst (no full auto)
    fingers for Elv. and Win. (knobs)
    round hand gaurds
    chrome barrel

    that is the basics but if you ask me I will say they are junk didnt like them when I was in dont much care for them now they can be worked on but getting thing real nice is expensive
  10. Eric556

    Eric556 Guest

    Eic summed it up very succintly, so now I'll bore you guys with the long version:

    The AR-15 was introduced by ArmaLite in 1958.

    Colt acquired the patent rights from Armalite in 1959.

    The first USAF purchase and the test rifles sent to Vietnam were Colt AR-15's with the name "ArmaLite" on the lower receiver, c. 1962.

    Upon its official adoption by the military in 1964, the AR-15 became the M16.

    The M16 had no forward assist. It was the version adopted by the USAF.

    The XM16E1 was the version with the forward assist. It was first issued by the Army in 1964.

    The XM16E1 officially became the M16A1 in 1967.

    There were many, many, many changes and modifications to the design, having to do with buffers, barrel twist rates, chrome chambers and bores, flash suppressors, etc., etc., but the one and only bottom line feature that distinguishes the M16 from the M16A1 is the forward or bolt assist on the latter.

    The USMC and Colt collaborated to produce the M16A2 in 1982. It was officially adopted by the USMC in 1983 and the US Army in 1986 and has 12 distinctive features :

    1. Muzzle Brake Flash Suppressor

    2. Heavier barrel forward of handguards with new 1/7" twist rate

    3. Square front sight post

    4. Round, ribbed hanguards

    5. Canted delta ring

    6. Redesigned rear site allowing both windage and elevation adjustment (but elevation for zero is still done with the front sight)

    7. Round button forward assist

    8. New pistol grip material and shape

    9. New stock material and increased length

    10. New buttplate

    11. 3 round burst feature replaces full auto

    12. Integral brass deflector and stronger front pivot area on upper receiver.

    The new M4 Carbine (1994) also has the 3 round burst feature, whereas the M4A1 has full auto capability. Both fixed and removable carrying handle M4's were produced, but the newer ones all have the removable carrying handle.

    The M16A3 and the M16A4 are the same as the M16A2 except that they both have the removable carrying handle ("modular upper receiver"), and the M16A3 has full auto capability, while the M16A4 has the 3 round burst feature.

    With regards to civilian AR-15 type rifles, there are no official designations, but the following conventions seem to be recognized by most manufacturers/dealers:

    An "A1" upper receiver would have the old windage-only rear sight with a fixed carrying handle.

    An "A2" upper receiver would have the new more elaborate rear sight with a fixed carrying handle.

    An "A3" would have the new rear sight with a detachable carrying handle.

    All this being said, there is a great deal of variation with the rest of the features of an AR-15 type rifle. For example, I purchased a complete upper receiver & barrel assembly a couple years ago that was adverstised as an "A2" upper. But it had an HBAR, not an M16A2 profile barrel, a round A1 front sight post, and an A1 flash suppressor! Caveat Emptor.

    Hope this was helpful.

  11. tommy

    tommy G&G Enthusiast

    first of all i am never bored when it comes to learning about guns and second thanks for the very detailed reply now i know something else new :)
  12. mate

    mate Guest

    the m-16a1 is a 5.56 mm, magazine fed, gas operated, shoulder fired weapon. it is designed for either semi or automatic fire. the m-16a2 has several improvements. it is designed to shoot semi or 3 round burst. it weighs 7.78pounds (the a1 weighs 6.55) the a-2 is a little longer(1/2inch) the a-1 has a 1-12 twist a-2 1-7 twist. a-1(3250 fps) a-2(3100) fps
  13. m14nut

    m14nut Guest

    BRAVO Eric, well researched, eloquently stated!!!!!!!!!!!!!:cool:
  14. j schwindler

    j schwindler Guest

    Sadiehn, not to put too fine a point on it but, that sounds plain wrong.
    A2 fired 3 round bursts had a round handguard and birdcage.
    A3 is the designation given to the M16 with removable carry handle/picatinny rail. Some of them are 3 round and some are full auto.
    What you described as an A2 must have been some sort of transition gun similar to the early M4's many of which used A2 receivers simply because they were there.
  15. Armorer

    Armorer Guest

    Hey all you animals clean forgot about the A4!

    Tommy, My M1 will go anywhere yer AK will and pop you like a zit at twice your range!

    Who need close in fire surpresson these days?

    One shot, One kill.... & letem guess where it came from :)
  16. tommy

    tommy G&G Enthusiast

    yes but armorer where do you live i live in the exstreme south louisiana. and if it were down and dirty fightin. the longest shot you got around here is well under 50 yrds. and with the humidity and rain and mud i know when i point my ak and pull the triger it is goin to fire. i'm not puttin down your m1 it is a nice gun to. but location has a lot to do with the right gun
  17. Armorer

    Armorer Guest

    Liek they say, Location, Location, Location!!!!!!!!!

    I visited Ft. Puke a long time ago. Nice country.

    See that's whats funny about the internet. I live in a vast prairie that leads to the cascade mountains.

    So here I think of conventional warfare. You on the other hand, lean towards jungle warfare.

    We meet in the middle land... Cyber space!

    Live Large!
  18. SHvar

    SHvar Guest

    The original M-16 developed by Stoner and the DOD had problems jamming without being cleaned in the dirty wet nasty environment of the Vietnam jungles, and soldiers were never taught to clean them, nor were they given cleaning kits. Keep in mind, the South Vietnamese were given these rifles years before the army was, they loved them, but they most probably cleaned them, this was in fact where the deadly effects of the 5.56 round became legendary.
    The M-16A1 had a thin pencil barrel, with the first chrome lining (also the chamber) to combat problems caused by being dirty. As a secondary feature the hardened chrome lining was tougher than the steel the barrel was made from (to this day milspec requires chrome lined bore and chamber). The A1 incorperated the forward assist to help with the problem which was later discovered to be a mistake in the gunpowder, the jamming could have been prevented by using the correct powder from the start, but it helped to develop the rifle along. The A1 had the funny 3 prong flash suppressor, and triangular hand guards.
    The M16A2 came along with much improvements, it became the battle rifle from which all others were to be compared and judged, even today. It incorperated a much heavier barrel, 3 round burst to make the soldier a more deliberate, more accurate shooter. It came with a redesign in forward assist handle, and slight differences in gas return system. The A2 had the new sights which allowed for an easier more accurate zero, and a more accurate longer range to shoot at point and area targets (400 to 800 meters). The rifle fired fast (up to 900 rds per minute in burst mode), it was very very reliable, not too heavy, durable, and was made by Colt until Colt developed some problems with serious quality issues during the mid 80s or so, and FN took up making these fine rifles.
    Later the additions of scopes and hologram sights required the use of removable flattop upper receivers, so the M16A3 was made, it had full auto as the second option to semi-auto fire. Otherwise the M16A3 was an A2 with removable carrying handle/rear sight. The next step was the M-16A4, it was the same as the A3 with the 3 rd burst brought back to make better use of marksmanship and not waste ammo in uncontrolled bursts that were too long.
    The war on terror, and the common problems with more widespread urban warfare, and clearing houses all day caused an interest in a shorter overall range of accuracy needed, and a shorter barrel as well a telescopic stock to get through doors quicker and engage targets in smaller spaces. The M-4 was adopted by almost all combat forces in the Army and most of the Marines.
    The M-4 has a 14.5 inch barrel (M-16A2 type heavy barrel for better reliability) with a cutout for mounting the M203 grenade launcher. The gas return system was improved to adapt to a shorter gas tube. The feed ramps received deeper cutouts into the receiver besides the chamber to make use of heavier bullets (ie M-4 feed ramps). The overall accuracy improved at a shorter distance with the sights on the A3 style removable carry handle, they now had 1/2 minute of angle adjustments, not 1 minute of angle as the A1 and A2 had. The distance you could accurately engage targets with the M-4 was reduced from the M-16 to 300 meters point targets, 600 meters area targets, still far better than any AK family member could dream of.
    Next, gas piston designs are being tested, the Delta Force helped H&K design the 416, a gas piston driven, cold hammer forged barrel, deeper mag welled, fast firing, supremely accurate carbine that can fire muddy, sandy, wet, under water, and function like a spinning top. You can fire thousands of rds through the 416 and immediately take the bolt carrier out and hold it in your bare hand (never try that with a direct impingement rifle, severe burns will happen). The receiver and bolt stay clean, the spent powder operates a gas piston and never fouls the receiver.
    2007 was the 50th birthday for the M-16, the longest running rifle and or design in our countries military history, to this day it still works better than any other battle rifle design overall.
    I still remember the M-16 I carried around the world and into combat.
  19. Diatribes

    Diatribes G&G Newbie

    To you guys playing Esoldier:
    What are the chances youll shoot anything beyond paper and critters? Kind of seems like youre anticipating the act of shooting someone, which to me is kind of unsettling. I, myself would hate to have to shoot anyone and would only do so in a life or death situation. I highly doubt Ill find myself 'crawling through the mud' with a firearm looking for human prey. I have yet to need a firearm for any altercation with another individual in my 37 years on this planet and I dont think it will happen in the latter part of my life either. Id rather call the police and leave my guns in the safe.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2009
  20. For what it's worth, when I was in western Iraq, most Marines, Navy, and Air Force personnel were armed with M-16A2 service rifles and some M-16A4 and M4 rifles and carbines. The M-16A3 was a totally select fire version of the M-16A2 for Navy SEALS and Navy SOG support personnel. Almost all of the Army personnel were armed with new M-16A4 and M4 rifles and carbines and most of them were jazzed up with rail attachable components. Since I've been back home, the Marines announced that they are going entirely with the M-16A4 service rifle, with the M4 being for an as needed weapon only. Needless to say, all old M-16 and M-16A1 rifles are long out of service.