Throughout modern warfare, rifles have been used to quickly and efficiently neutralize an enemy threat. Antecedents of the M16 Rifle are limited by their poor use of ammunition and the process of powder loading taking a great amount of time. This changed greatly with the invention of automatic weapons such as the Browning BAR. Although earlier models are limited, by the turn of the 20th century the limits of rifles were evolving greatly from their origins. Rifles no longer needed to be reloaded in strenuous powder loading conditions. Automatic weapons began to dominate the landscape of defense weapons for long range and close quarters. Soldier’s could defend themselves in rapid succession, and the use of secondary weapons was not as crucial as they have been. Soldiers could now rely more on their rifle to get them through a combat situation.

The 18th and 19th century guns were slowly replaced by lighter and more effective rifles. The M16 comes from a long line of assault rifles discussed in more detail in the antecedents section. Being called the “Swiss Army Knife” of assault rifles, the M16 rifle is as versatile as any assault rifle created. [1] The M16 was the creation of the research done by Eugene Stoner, a  US soldier in World War II. Stoner invented the M16 as the next step past the already aging M14. More importantly, it needed to replace the archive weapons from the World War I, primarily the M-1 Garand pictured below. Although the M1 Garand rifle was well used in active duty, its firing system was out dated and would not meet the demands of a new generation of technological advancements.  The M16 rifle becomes the answer to the US Army’s need for next generation weaponry.

M1 Garand [3]



Often it is easy to overlook what came before an invention. To study the history of a particular object makes that abundantly apparent. Old rifles become replaced with the newer versions of themselves, similar to phones and other electronics getting replaced by the latest and greatest new generation. The M16 rifle is no different, having come from the M14. [2] The M14 had numerous issues; therefore Eugene Stoner invented the M16 in the year 1957. Based roughly on the AR-15 and more so on the M14, the M16 became ahead of its class. The main issue with the M16 rifle was that it had a slight tendency to jam. However, the M16 certainly out shined its antecedents through various physical aspects. The M16 rifle is lighter than the M14, and more advanced with the sight in the carrying case, making more ease of travel with the weapon across large distances.

The  US Army was desperately seeking a new replacement for its M1 Garand, which was developed by John Garand in the year 1918. The single Shot M1 took too long to reload in an ever evolving combat world. The M16 became an easy choice with its automatic firing capability and ease of travel ability. This was crucial to the US soldiers fighting in the jungles of Vietnam who needed a weapon an easily transportable, accurate weapon. Ultimately the US Army’s mission was a success as the M16 became a viable replacement for the next forty plus years. Finally the M16 became an antecedent in itself. Laying way in 2010, the M16 rifle was now being replaced by the more advanced and effective M4 Carbine.


[2] Joseph P. Avery, An Army Outgunned: Physics Demands a New Basic Combat Weapon,, pg2, (Accessed April 20, 2013).

[3] The Specialists Ltd, . M1 Garand. 1981. The Specialists Ltd, NYC,, (Accessed April 20, 2013).