Friday, September 3, 2010

Vietnam...the other war. M16 vs AK47, winner is?

During the entire Vietnam Conflict, 2 legendary assault rifles made their marks on the battlefield.
The American GIs and the ARVN ( South Vietnamese troops) relied heavily on their standard issue M16 assault rifle.
The North Vietnamese and the Vietcong soldiers best weapon was the USSR supplied AK 47.

Both sides in the conflict had ample opportunity to test their gun under the most extreme fighting conditions imaginable...heat, humidity, the monsoon season, swampy and muddy conditions, grime and choking dust, dirt and blood...
And both sides also captured each other's guns and ammo.

[ This is a standard Russian made AK 47 ]

The AK 47
AK stands for Automatic Kalashnikov. 47 was the year it was first produced...1947.
The inventor was Mikhail Kalashnikov who was wounded in a battle towards the end of WW2. He was recuperating in a hospital in Russia and decided to tinker around with the earlier versions of the Russian gun. Soon as he recovered, he submitted his improved design in a contest
and the rest was as they say ..history.

The AK47 is designed for easy use and can be produced cheaply. It is rugged, battle-proven, easy to clean and maintain and can deliver a powerful impact in rapid-fire, sub-machine gun mode.
It uses the 7.56mm caliber ammo that is bigger and deadlier than the M16 bullet.

Unk Dicko is not an expert on firearms.
As mentioned in some of my earlier posts, I have read books about the Vietnam War and have my own collection at home too. In numerous accounts in different books written mainly by Americans and other westerners, many blamed the M16 rifle for jamming up in the heat of battle. That cost many lost lives! The gun was also said to malfunction or cannot even function once it is wet as after a river/swamp crossing. It breaks down when even a little dirt or mud gets into its working parts. Well, generally from my readings, there were more serious complaints about the M16 by their users than the AK 47.

M16 vs ak47?
I've checked many sources and most conclude as this WikiAnswers site shows below:
The answer is simple.
AK can break through concrete, M16 can't. Run over AK with Humvee, it still works, M16 will break to pieces. Bury an AK in dirt, still works fine. Bury an M16, doesn't work. Submerge an AK in water, works just great. Submerge an M16 in water, jams.

The M16 is more accurate that the AK47. It has a higher muzzle velocity. It has a much higher rate of fire. The weight of a soldier's supply of rounds is much less with the M16.
The AK has substantial impact at 300 - 600 meters. The M16 has very little impact at that range. This is because the AK uses 30 calibre (7.56 mm) bullets and the M16 uses 22 calibre (5.56 mm) bullets. The small diameter causes the bullet to slow from air resistance quite rapidly.
The M16 has a problem (as do all rapid-firing ultralight assault rifles) of overheating when firing long bursts. One method that some American instructors taught their soldiers to destroy weapons that had to be left behind was to fire a full 20 round clip and then push the barrel against the ground. The barrel will warp. The AK is much more resilient.

[ These are 4 versions of the M 16 with the oldest version at top]
[ The top one was the gun first issued to US soldiers in Vietnam in 1963]

The M16
The earlier version before the M16 was the AR 15. Apparently the strong point about this
assault rifle is its accuracy and less recoil problem.
But over longer distances, it lacks punch or killing it uses the smaller 5.56 mm
caliber ammo.
The gun has a good "feel" about it under normal conditions.

At the Cu Chi Tunnel complex, after all the crawling on all fours, we were able
to stand up straight again and many of us headed for the Souvenir/Refreshment/Shooting
Range Office.
For those who wanted to, here was a chance for us to use an M16 rifle with "live" rounds to shoot
at a target about 300 metres away.

Here I was taking aim before gently squeezing on the trigger. You must never "pull" on the trigger! The recoil from the shot is not as bad as the days I used to shoot from the British made 303 Mark 4 back in the late 60's till near 80's.
In those early days, we only had cotton wool stuffed into our ears and I was one of those who
suffered from a permanent partial hearing loss in one ear.

It was only several years later that I bought my own very advanced electronic ear plugs which helped a lot when I was at the Police Shooting Range ( at least 4 times a year ) and earning myself a "marksman" status with rifle and revolver. I needed those special ear plugs too because of my regular "Starter's "work in sports using the Starter's gun.

Ready ! Aim! Firing the M16 at Cu Chi Range.

The Vietcong was able to make most use of anything they could find.
These were the kind of sandals made entirely from old rubber tyres.

More unexploded American bombs and mines shown here.

It was extremely dangerous work to saw or prise open a "live"
bomb. Many have died doing just that.
Just 2 days ago, another live bomb exploded in Vietnam and killed
a poor farmer.

This tank was decimated in a VC ambush using an anti-tank mine in 1970.

I wonder what had happened to those who were once inside
the tank? Were they killed or captured?

They had mock-up VC models set up to show how the VC carried on
their daily life of hardship under war conditions.
Food was scarce during the Vietnam war and therfore the Vietnamese ate
anything that was edible and not poisonous.
Yes absolutely! Dogs and cats included. Either eat or starve to death!

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