A Comparison Between AR-15 and M16. Which is Better?

It can sometimes be confusing to understand the difference between certain model names of guns that look alike. Take “AR-15” and “M16” as an example; many gun specialists and enthusiasts often use their names interchangeably in different contexts. However, you should know the differences between the two, or you may end up buying one that is not according to your requirements.

80percentarms.com carries lowers for AR-15 and M16 for hobbyists looking to self-assemble either AR-15 or M16. Both these guns can be studied in accordance with their destinations since one is for civilians and the other is for the military. To find out which is better to own as civilians, study their use and features below:

AR15 History


AR-15 is the most popular assault rifle in the USA today. Its lineage goes back to 1956. It came first in 1947, and ten years later, M16 was introduced. In 1956, Eugene Stoner designed AR-15 for the company ArmaLite. They introduced it as a semi-automatic gas-operated rifle. The rifle was constructed with polymer and aluminum materials. The rifle was a revolutionary design as it was lightweight.

However, ArmaLite couldn’t succeed in selling the guns to the military. Later, the company sold the right of the rifle to Colt. Colt adopted the design of the AR-15 rifle and made the new rifle M16. Quickly M16 became the standard rifle for the military.

AR-15 is a civilian gun and a counterpart to the military M16. AR-15 has more than ten million sales till now and is also known as America’s Rifle. It is suitable for every man and aligns perfectly with civilian needs. For a new user, it is hard to distinguish between AR15 and M16 since both have a magazine capacity of 30 rounds and look pretty similar. In addition, they are both semiautomatic guns.

M16 History


M16 is a military rifle, and it was first used in 1964 when it was shipped to American troops in Vietnam. Initially, it had some magazine issues and had an un-chromed chamber. Today, it is the most iconic military weapon that suits the needs of war fights overseas. A new variation, named M16A4, has the ability for soldiers to attach accessories like optics on the top and hand guard. These adaptations make rifles more fit for fighting zones. In addition, it has different variations from semi to full automatic and semi burst. However, the magazine size today is still the same- 20 barrels.

Comparison between AR-15 and M16

The difference between the two guns is really hard to notice for a person who has limited knowledge about guns. To understand the difference between the two guns, it is necessary to know about the different parts of the guns.

Parts Differences in AR-15 and M16

The build of both guns is almost similar with some minor differences. Some parts of one gun will not fit the other. This makes the guns differ from each other. The different parts of the guns are:

  • The Lower Parts Kits
  • The Lower Receiver
  • The Bolt

The Lower Parts Kits have various components such as a trigger, safety selector lever, hammer, and disconnector. Both AR-15 and M16 have different lower parts kits. Mainly because M16 is a fully automatic rifle and AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle. The lower part kits of M16 allow the gun to burst shot or to go fully automatic.

The Lower Receiver is a critical part of the gun. The lower receiver completes the gun. It has become a trend to buy 80 lowers and build a gun, instead of buying one. Gun enthusiasts love to build their own rifles. The lower of both guns are different. The internal dimensions of the lower for AR-15 are different from M16. M16 cannot accept the lower of AR-15 because of these dimension differences.

The Bolt is another difference between these guns. This difference is made, to enable the M16 to be fully automatic. The mass of the rear end of the bolt is more. It is made in that way to lower the recoil effect when switched to fully automatic mode.

The Common Parts


The above mentioned are the difference found between an AR-15 and M16. But Remember Colt adopted the design of AR-15 to design M16. So naturally, both guns have some similarities. The following gun parts are designed in the same way for both guns:

  • Barrel
  • Gas Block
  • Gas tube
  • Charging Handle
  • Firing Pin
  • Buttstock
  • Buffer Tube
  • Recoil Spring
  • Pistol Grip

These parts are the same in both guns since it doesn’t change the originality of the guns. The critical difference made in the guns is to allow the M16 to be a fully automatic gun. To do that, the changes in the parts were necessary.

AR15 vs. M16 – Which is Better?

It can be said that every M16 is an AR15, but not all AR15 are M16s. Most people will say that AR15 is semiautomatic and only M16 is automatic; however, the reverse has also been the case. AR15 was earlier fully automatic before it got a military designation. Similarly, there have also been semiautomatic M16s tested by the military. The significant difference is that AR15 does not have a third trigger pin hole. The receiver is on top in the AR15 lower, while in the M16 lower is on the bottom. If there is a third hole in AR15, it will turn into an illegal machine gun.

AR15 and M16 have been classified according to their build-up to specific designations. One can own an M16 if one’s state laws permit it. They are costly and only available to the military rather than civilians. One is allowed to keep AR15 since it has a civilian designation. They are found easily and can be bought at a reasonable price. It is just as effective as the M16 for fighting.

Talk to a gun specialist before choosing a gun. Knowing about the gun is essential before choosing a rifle that will fulfill your needs. A gun specialist can guide you and help you in choosing a rifle that will suit you the best.

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