CLAIM: On March 20, 2023, the Texas Tribune claimed the AR-15 was the U.S. infantry rifle used by soldiers during the Vietnam War.
VERDICT: False. The U.S. infantry rifle was an M-16, a rifle with a select fire switch and automatic fire capability.
The M-16 looks like an AR-15, and they shoot the same caliber, but the similarities do not go much deeper than that.
For example, an AR-15 is a semiautomatic, civilian rifle. It shoots one round per trigger pull, period. Its semiautomatic action is driven by the recoil of a bullet being fired and the action uses that recoil to load the next bullet into the chamber, but that new round is not fired until the trigger is squeezed again.
An M-16, on the other hand, has a select fire switch on the receiver that allows the gun to be fired as a semiautomatic or fully automatic. When the switch is on semiautomatic the M-16 fires one round and one round only with a single pull of the trigger. When the select fire switch is on full auto, the M-16 will fire every round in the magazine — at a high rate of fire — with a single pull of the trigger. (The M-16A2 followed with a select fire switch that included three-round bursts.)
History.com notes, “Standard issue for infantrymen in Vietnam was the M-16, a gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle that could fire 5.56 mm-caliber bullets accurately over several hundred yards at 700-900 rounds per minute on its automatic setting; it could also be used as a semi-automatic. Its ammunition came in magazines of 20-30 rounds, making it relatively easy to reload.”
Again, the M-16 is a battlefield rifle with fully automatic capability, and the AR-15 is a semiautomatic civilian rifle.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. AWR Hawkins holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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