The M16 is an American-made assault rifle chambered for the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge. M16 variants have been the US military's standard issue assault rifle since the Vietnam War, although it is currently being replaced by the more compact M4 carbine. A wide range of variants have been derived from the M16 during its lifetime, from compact carbine assault rifles to sub-machine guns and even machine pistols.


The M16 initially proved unpopular with American military personnel; while the weapon was far lighter in weight than the standard issue rifles used previously, early versions suffered from internal corrosion and extraction jams. However, problems were quickly corrected and over time the rifle's reputation dramatically improved. Over the years since, numerous variant models of the weapon have been produced, including several carbine variants.

Notably, the M16's STANAG 30-round magazine was adopted as standard across the majority of NATO nations, with all new standard issue rifles being designed to accept it. This allowed units in the field to exchange ammunition and magazines quickly and effortlessly at the individual soldier level, regardless of which nation's service they belonged to. The M1913 Picatinny rail accessory mounting system, pioneered on the M4 carbine, was later similarly adopted by NATO members on their own weapons.

Notable Users

M16A1s were used by Dutch and Billy during the mercenary team's mission to Guatemala; Dutch's weapon was fitted with an M203 grenade launcher, while Billy's featured an underslung Mossberg 500 pump-action shotgun and A2 hand guards.

LAPD officers were equipped with M16A1s during the gang warfare of 1997.

Behind the Scenes

In Aliens, M16A1s were used as set dressing in the armory aboard the USS Sulaco, seen stored on racks in the background, along with compact Colt Commandos. Parts from the M16 were also used as the basis for the M240 Incinerator Unit, most notably the receiver and carry handle.[1]


  • Several of the M16s seen in Predator, including those carried by Dutch and Billy, are not actually M16s, but rather civilian-legal semi-automatic-only AR-15 Sporter-1 (SP1) rifles that have been dressed up with M16A2 furniture and converted to fully-automatic. These weapons were used extensively in action movies of the 80s and 90s as it was easier to acquire and convert an SP1 than it was to obtain a real, military-issue M16. The same rifle used by Dutch in Predator was used in the 1983 film Scarface by Al Pacino's character Tony Montana.
  • In Aliens: Colonial Marines the Sulaco appears to have been raided as the M16A1s and L85A1s seen in Aliens are notably absent. However this could likely just be a graphical oversight.




  1. Gale Anne Hurd, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Stan Winston, John RichardsonSuperior Firepower: Making Aliens (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
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