Misfire : The Tragic Failure of the M16 In Vietnam
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Thread: Misfire : The Tragic Failure of the M16 In Vietnam

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    Misfire : The Tragic Failure of the M16 In Vietnam

    I just finished reading "Misfire : The Tragic Failure of the M16 In Vietnam". This is a new book for 2019 and unrelated to an earlier book on US martial rifles with a similar title.

    The first two thirds of the book discusses the origins of how the M16 came to replace the M14, problems that arose with the change from IMR to ball powder, the lack of a chromed bore, and the absence of maintenance training and cleaning rods. This was all interesting at first but very quickly becomes repetative. It's almost like the authors took an extended break in between writing chapters and forgot what they had already written.

    Then in the last third it really goes off on a tangent. There's a chapter on the deficiencies of Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, a chapter on the failure of the USAF/USN F-111/TFX fighter program, and finally a mini bio of General Creighton Abrams. I think that they were trying to parallel the decisions that led to the initial problems with the M16 and other programs to the same flawed decisions by Johnson, McNamara, and Westmoreland that led to our eventual failure in Vietnam.

    They only mention in passing some of the problems going on at Colt during this time period like labor unrest and poor quality contol. I would have liked the authors to have gone more in depth on these subjects but both were frontline combat soldiers in Vietnam so I do understand why they tended to concentrate on the areas that they did. This may be a worthwhile subject of further research.

    I wouldn't recommend this book for someone with only a casual interest in the AR15/M16.


    Here are the details :

    Misfire : The Tragic Failure of the M16 In Vietnam
    Bob Orkand and Lyman Duryea
    Stackpole Books, 2019, hardcover, 241 pages, b&w illus.
    ISBN 978-0-8117-3796-8
    $29.95
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    I remember reading a lot in the gun press and print news media about the jams with the M16 during the Vn. war, wrong powder used in the production of rounds etc, leading to disaster for our troops, made me GD angry and always wondered what was true about the whole sad affair.




    I checked out the book- you can get it from some online vendors fro about $15.00 looks interesting,
    Last edited by Ugly; 09-01-2019 at 03:19 AM.
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    When handed an M-16 I shook my head and mumbled, "It's gonna be a long @*&%@'n year..." Then we got M-16 A-1's and things looked brighter at least in the imagination of things. I still got an early A-1 upper around here somewhere.
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    Why would one use correct powder for a different round, chrome line chambers, or clean used rifles?
    That's as unreasonable and non-cost effective, as expecting a cannon , turning capability, and missiles that work, in a fighter jet.
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    They used that powder because they had tons of it for the 7.62 NATO stuff, and figured 'powder was powder' - we paid for it, some with our lives - but they worked like demons to correct the problems - adding butt traps and cleaning rods, and chroming.

    They also really emphasized cleaning procedures - hammering it into new troops.

    Late war, the M16A1 was effective - it wasn't an M14, but it did work, and the basic ammunition load was significant by comparison to the M14.

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    Interesting review! On a related note, for those who may not already be aware of it, "The Great Rifle Controversy" by Edward Ezell is another, though older, book which covers the M16's issues and more. There's a nice, but brief, review of it on the Forgotten Weapons website (https://www.forgottenweapons.com/boo...e-controversy/). I highly recommend reading it, and was fortunate to be able to borrow a copy through my state's library lending network (MeLCat in Michigan).
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    "The Black Rifle" has a good chronologic order account of the whole AR15/M16 development/adoption/implementation, up to the early M16A2 timeframe..
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    The Rifle and the Myth

    Here is a very in depth article on the M16's early record in Vietnam. Includes testament from Eugene Stoner from Congressional hearings etc.

    "M16 The Rifle And The Myth"
    - By Larry Hadzima-

    The Rifle and the Myth
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    The early M16 didn't have a chrome plated barrel and chamber because the technology to do so wasn't available. Colt also had to subcontract to Winchester for early barrels as Colt wasn't set up yet to do so. When the ability to chrome plate was available the chambers were done first and the bores once they were able.

    It was essentially a rifle design not fully developed and mature for military duty...add into that some stupid decisions by the military hierarchy by ignoring warnings from designers and rushing the rifle into combat in a hot, humid jungle environment and you had a disaster in the making.
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    The technology to hard chrome plate bores and chambers was available, just no one thought it was necessary.

    The Soviets plated the bores and chambers of most of their weapons, including the super cheap submachine guns they used in WWII.
    The US was certainly able to do barrel plating, since it was heavily used in the aircraft industry.
    The US was a world leader in plating of bores because in WWII it was necessary to develop a process to nickel plate the inside of tubes and pipes for use in the uranium enrichment process at Oak Ridge.

    Nickel is one of the very few materials that uranium hexafloride will not destroy. The Manhattan Project needed nickel to use in the process but the amount of solid nickel tube and pipe needed exceeded the worlds supply of nickel.
    So they had to develop a method of plating the bores of the tubes and pipes with a PERFECT plating of nickel.
    The plating of steel barrels was easy by comparison and the technology was used in the manufacture of aircraft components.

    For various reasons detailed in the books about the early M16, no one thought the bore and chamber would need plating.
    No other US issue rifle had needed it so they assumed the M16 didn't either.


 
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