The M16 rifle, officially designated Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16, is a family of military rifles adapted from the ArmaLite AR-15 rifle for the United States military. The original M16 rifle was a 5.56mm automatic rifle with a 20-round magazine.
In 1964, the M16 entered US military service and the following year was deployed for jungle warfare operations during the Vietnam War. In 1969, the M16A1 replaced the M14 rifle to become the US military’s standard service rifle. The M16A1 improvements include a bolt-assist, chrome-plated bore and a 30-round magazine.
In 1983, the US Marine Corps adopted the M16A2 rifle and the US Army adopted it in 1986. The M16A2 fires the improved 5.56×45mm NATO (M855/SS109) cartridge and has a newer adjustable rear sight, case deflector, heavy barrel, improved handguard, pistol grip and buttstock, as well as a semi-auto and three-round burst fire selector. Adopted in July 1997, the M16A4 is the fourth generation of the M16 series. It is equipped with a removable carrying handle and Picatinny rail for mounting optics and other ancillary devices.
The M16 has also been widely adopted by other armed forces around the world. Total worldwide production of M16s is approximately 8 million, making it the most-produced firearm of its 5.56 mm caliber. The US military has largely replaced the M16 in frontline combat units with a shorter and lighter version, the M4 carbine.