View Full Version : M-16 rifle by MattelŪ

04-15-2003, 06:21 PM
The UL that the M-16 rifle was made by Mattel (http://snopes.com/military/m16.htm) is well known. It was reenforced by a scene in The Green Berets where John Wayne smashes a rifle against a tree (http://us.imdb.com/Goofs?0063035), revealing the speaker in the buttstock of the toy rifle used as a prop. Early M-16 buttstocks were less robust than the ones used in the current M-16A2 model but were never made by Mattel. The M-16 is no M1 Garand as far as ruggedness goes but it's not as fragile as people think.

Anyhoo, a New York Times article by William L Hamilton, in todays's Phoenix Republic business section about war toys being influenced by real weapons had this statement by Pentagon spokesman Glenn FloodThe M-16 rifle is based on something Mattel did.The article goes on to say the Pentagon is looking at toys for prototypes such as "supersoaker" water guns for "quick loading assault weapons." We all know the hazards of Dihyrogen Monoxide (http://snopes.com/toxins/dhmo.htm) but its potential as a battlefield weapon is somewhat limited.

So... what's the deal with that? Is this guy just pulling something out of his ass or is there something to it? All the info I've seen says the Armalite AR-15 which became the M-16 was designed by Eugene Stoner, based on his earlier AR-10 rifle which had been around since the late fifties.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
04-15-2003, 07:49 PM
Attention K-Mart Shoppers---major pulling military small arms outta yer ass sale in progress!

04-15-2003, 07:56 PM
The 'Mattel' moniker was in reference to the M-16's toy-like appearance and feel when compared to main battle rifles, made of lots wood and steel, of the time. The m-16 was the first mass-produced firearm with large amounts of synthetics and aluminum. (Germans made some K98's with bakelite stocks, but not many)

04-15-2003, 08:21 PM
Originally posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
Attention K-Mart Shoppers---major pulling military small arms outta yer ass sale in progress!

The front sight base and bayonet lug have to hurt like a sumbitch coming out.

All I turned up in searches were several references to him actually being a Pentagon spokesman plus the original NYT article.

I know the original M-16/A/A1 models looked very cheap compared to earlier weapons but that's a far cry from the claim. The buttstock was partly hollow and was prone to cracking and the original barrels were so thin in the section under the hand guards that a bit of rainwater in the bore could cause them to burst when the weapon was fired.

I'm beginning to think someone was yanking his chain or that he doesn't realize the M-16 has been in service nearly forty years.

04-16-2003, 09:39 AM
This brings to mind something I heard sometime in the late 60s or early70s, during my late childhood or early teens: that the M-16 was designed the way it was with the conscious intent of making a weapon which would be easy to carry and fire even if the user was physically slight, and unable to deal with the weight and recoil of traditional shoulder weapons.

That is, the U.S. was looking for a weapon for military aid programs to combatants who were using children as troops.

It makes a sick sort of sense. Can anyone offer specifics which would tend to confirm or deny this?

04-16-2003, 09:50 AM
If they were trying to make the weapon lighter, it wouldn't have been to arm children. Maybe to arm women, but not children.

Also, every pound that the weapon is lighter means you can carry a pound more ammunition.

04-16-2003, 10:05 AM
What Ethilrist said.

Having used the M16 (well, technically, a C7A1) I can attest to the fact that A) it's a lot more durable than people give it credit for, and B) light = good.

M16s are light for the same reason ALL countries produce lighter and lighter personal weapons; light is good. Firearms have been getting lighter for 700 years. A lighter weapon is easier to carry and use. The soldier can walk further, fight longer, and aim more accurately with a light weapon than he can with a heavy weapon. Even taking 1-2 pounds off the weight of a weapon makes a huge, huge difference. March 10-15 miles in full kit and believe me, you know where every damned pound is.

The other advantage of the smaller weapon, of course, is smaller (but faster-moving) ammunition. You'll notice the bullets have been getting smaller over the years, too. Smaller rounds = more rounds carried per soldier = more firepower.

M-16 rifles give you a tremendously powerful automatic weapon in a very light package. It's ideal for any soldier. I thought it was an outstanding weapon.

Incidentally, the C7A1 version of the weapon is made by a company called Diemaco, not Mattel.

04-16-2003, 12:15 PM
Snopes says it's false.

04-16-2003, 12:25 PM
That's interesting. I know that US M16s are made by Colt (at least used to be) and F.N. in a US factory and the M4 carbine variant by Bushmaster/Quality parts. Say, I've been told the Canadians put the serial number on the upper reciever instead of the lower as is done in the US, is this true?

I think the design being made for children is B.S. but the original M16 was deemed a bit too petite and beefed up slightly in the A2 version with a sturdier buttstock almost an inch longer, heavier barrel, bigger and better insulated hand guards and some reenforcements in the lower reciever. Still it's pretty light compared to an M1 Garand which weighed nine and a half pounds empty and only held eight rounds in the internal magazine's en-block clips.

The M4 carbine is the real featherweight, even lighter than the orignal M16. It has the collapsable buttstock and from the CAR15/XM177, a beefed up version of the CAR-15's shorty hand guards and a 14.5" barrel instead of teh 20" barrel of the M16.

04-16-2003, 12:44 PM
Toadspittle I said in the OP that I'm well aware of the UL about Mattel making the M16 or parts and that it's false but I was asking about the statement that "The M-16 rifle is based on something Mattel did." Would like to find some kind of cite for that but consensus here and among other folks I've posed the question to are that the "spokesman" doesn't know the breech from the muzzle and probably just misstated the Mattel rumor. I suppose it's remotely possible that Gene Stoner took some design elements from the Rex Mars Atomic Discombobulator when sketching the AR-10 prototype but that looks pretty remote.

04-16-2003, 01:10 PM
To contribute something to this thread, here's the article in question:


Style Desk | March 30, 2003, Sunday

Toymakers Study Troops, And Vice Versa


... The relationship is not a handoff, in fact, but a trade.

"The M-16 rifle is based on something Mattel did," said Glenn Flood, a spokesman for the Pentagon, which is looking to toys and electronic games for parts, prototypes and ideas that can be developed effectively and inexpensively as battlefield tools. Inspiration has come from model airplanes (reconnaissance drones), "supersoaker" water guns (quick-loading assault weapons), cheap cellular phones for teenagers (video-capable walkie-talkies) and gaming control panels (for unmanned robotic vehicles). ...

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