The M16A5P is the standard-issue rifle of the United States Armed Forces. An updated form of the famous M16 rifle, the M16A5P is most notable for using an electronic firing system rather than the M16’s traditional hammer firing mechanism. The electronic “pulse” system is considered far more reliable than a traditional mechanical ignition group, as it contains no moving parts aside from the trigger and requires essentially no maintenance, as well as being more accurate because it has a precisely consistent trigger pull and no perceptible delay between the trigger being pulled and the cartridge being fired.
The M16A5P is chambered in a new high-velocity round that is more accurate and has significantly better terminal effects than the 5.56x45mm NATO round used by older M16 models.
The rifle was found to be so effective that it continued in service for over 150 years, although this was also partly due to the Future Weapons Development Ban passed in 2036. In addition, three variants, the M656P marksman rifle, the M950P heavy-barrel assault rifle, and the M933P carbine have also been developed from the M16A5P and serve alongside it.
|Weapon Designation:||Rifle, 6.2mm, Pulse-Fired, M16A5P|
|Place of Origin:||United States|
|Manufacturer:||Colt Arms Manufacturing|
|Weight:||6.5 lb (2.95 kg)|
|Length:||39.5 in (1,003 mm) (full stock with buttplate extended/collapsible stock extended)|
38.5 in (978 mm) (full stock with buttplate retracted)
35.5 in (901 mm) (collapsible stock retracted)
|Barrel Length:||20 in (508 mm)|
|Action:||Gas-operated direct impingement, electronically ignited cartridges|
|Rate of Fire:||700 rounds/min cyclic|
|Muzzle Velocity:||3,976 ft/s (1,212 m/s) with M658 round|
|Muzzle Energy:||2,036 ft/lbs (2,761 Joules) with M658 round|
|Effective Range:||800 m (875 yd)|
|Feed System:||30-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights:||Colt 3.5x scope, backup iron sights|
In 2026, Jonathan LaForce, a retired United States Marine Corps Colonel, began work on an experimental submachine gun he called the XM41. In late 2026, the Department of Defense became aware of his design and was so interested that not only did they encourage him to continue developing it, but even borrowed concepts from the weapon for a full-sized service rifle utilizing caseless, electronically-fired ammunition, commissioning Armat Battlefield Systems to develop the weapon alongside LaForce’s endeavor. However, the rifle, known as the XM37, proved to have only mediocre reliability and the fragility and susceptibility to contamination of the caseless ammunition led to the rifle being considered unacceptable for the harsh environments in which it would be used. Although the DOD lost interest in the XM37 and the concept of a standard-issue rifle firing caseless ammunition, they still wanted an electronically-fired rifle and because they planned to accept the M41 if it passed the trials, an opportunity was presented to introduce a new rifle design.
In the place of the XM37, it was decided to bring back the older M16 design in an attempt to improve it with the new electronic firing mechanism. The result was a combination of several features from the M16’s history, as well as some new features. It was officially adopted in 2030 and a large number of nations followed suit. With the passage of the Weapons Development Ban, part of the Cooperative Exploration Treaty, in 2036, weapons technology development became drastically limited, to the point that it was virtually impossible to design a more technologically-advanced firearm, and so the M16A5P continued on in its role for over 150 years.
The M16A5P’s upper and lower receivers are manufactured from titanium aluminide alloy, giving unprecedented strength and lightness for a weapon of its size. It was the first mass-produced full-sized rifle constructed from titanium aluminide. It can be used with either a fixed or collapsible stock. Both the fixed and collapsible stock have an adustable comb (cheek rest), while the fixed stock also has an adjustable buttplate. The M16A5P uses the older but simpler round handguard design of the M16A2 rather than the M16A4’s rail system, which was essentially rendered obsolete by new helmet designs that allow Marines to move their weapon-mounted accessories to their helmets instead. Any accessories that need to be attached to the weapon itself can be mounted by use of a special rail that is screwed to the upper or lower handguard through the vent holes. As the three-round burst mode of the M16A2 and M16A4 was found unsatisfactory, the electronic firing mechanism of the M16A5P is programmed for safe, single shot, and fully automatic fire, selected by a traditional rotating switch. It retains the bolt catch to lock the bolt back after the magazine is emptied but additionally has an auto-close feature that automatically closes the bolt and chambers a round when a fresh magazine is inserted. The upper receiver also lacks a forward assist, which was felt to be unnecessary and provide minimal functionality. In place of the forward assist is a small LED display that shows the remaining ammunition in the weapon’s magazine in red numbers. The display can be dimmed for night operations or even shut off entirely. Unlike the display on the M41, the M16A5P’s display is pointed backwards towards the operator so that it can be more easily viewed by right-handed users, and the display screen and numbers are much smaller. The battery that powers this screen and the electronic firing system is in the rifle’s pistol grip, and can easily be changed by sliding the bottom cover backwards off the grip, pulling out the battery, inserting a new one, and replacing the cover.
The 20-inch barrel is constructed of a proprietary steel-carbon-stellite alloy, making it exceptionally wear-resistant. The barrel profile measures 0.675 inches in diameter behind the front sight post and 0.75 inches from the front sight post forward. It has 1:9 right-hand six-groove rifling to adequately stabilize the 58-grain M658 round used by the rifle.
The M16A5P dispenses with the flattop receiver and detachable carrying handle of the M16A4, instead featuring the fixed carrying handle of the M16A2 and the associated iron sights. However, the iron sights are only intended to be a backup for the Colt 3.5x-magnification scope which is mounted on the carry handle. The conventional “high profile” sights were chosen over a low profile rail and flip-up iron sights due to being perceived as much more robust, while the adoption of stocks with an adjustable comb solved cheek weld issues. The Colt scope is almost identical in appearance and function to the 3x20mm Colt scope designed for the first M16s, but greatly modernized, with an illuminated mil-dot reticle.
Range, Accuracy, and Terminal Ballistics:
The M16A5P is widely regarded as an exceptionally accurate rifle, with its standard issue ammunition, the M658 round obtaining a 95% hit rate on an 8×8-target at 600 meters. When combined with the 3.5x scope, the M16A5P is officially listed as being accurate out to 800 meters, although many troops have reported making kills at or over 1,000 meters.
Terminal effects for the 6.2x45mm round are greatly improved over the 5.56x45mm NATO round. The 58-grain bullet used by the cartridge is a fluted design machined from copper with a steel core insert. The fluted design gives the bullet devastating effects in soft tissue while the steel core makes it capable of penetrating many types of body armor. The M16A5P and the M658 round are considered to be terminally effective out to the limit of their accurate range, 800 meters.
The M16A5P is meant for use with the M10 bayonet, which serves as a multi-purpose bayonet, fighting knife, and utility tool. It can also mount the M320A1 under-barrel grenade launcher and the M352 underbarrel shotgun.