Linda Maye Adams

Soldier, Storyteller

What it’s like carrying an M16A1 rifle


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One of the things we had to carry around all the time during Desert Storm was the M16A1 rifle.  The only time we turned it in was when we stayed for a short time at a place called “Cabin Village.”  It was so named because it was made up of portable cabins brought in — and occupied — by the Air Force.  Our guns and gas masks made the Air Force nervous (hmm.  We were at war, and you were worried about the Army having guns?).  So we turned them into the Arms Room.

But everywhere else, the rifle was a constant presence.  At night, it stayed in the cot with me, so I would periodically wake up in the middle of the night and find that I’d rolled over it.  During the day, it came with me everywhere, from the Mess Hall to the Fuel Point to the latrine.

The rifle is three inches over three feet long and weighs about 7 1/2 pounds.  The rifle was black all over with metal and plastic parts.  A woven black sling fastened to the rifle so we could carry it:

First used during the Vietnam War, the M16 sling was meant to be used for the M16 assault rifle that was assigned to United States troops. The sling also attaches to the M4 carbine rifle. Unlike the M24 rifle sling, the M16 sling attaches to the top of the rifle so that the rifle can be slung in the upright position either along a soldier’s side, or while sling over the back for a simple carry position.

With the sling, the rifle could be hung over the shoulder. If we were in formation with the rifle, we always wore it on the right shoulder (bad for lefties!), but I often flipped it from shoulder to shoulder because it annoyed me after a while.

The butt of the rifle ended up below my knee, and it was constantly bumping against me when I walked. The soft desert sands (like when you go to the beach and walk on the dry sand there) made it worst because I was always having to do balance adjustments.

If we had to stop, the rifle had to be taken off and put somewhere. In the latrine, I propped the rifle up in the corner, where it wouldn’t fall over. In the mess hall, the only place might be to lay it on the floor or to prop it against the chair (and then it would fall over when you forgot it was there). At fuel point, the rifle was propped against the tire. In a truck, propped in the corner of the door. In the back of a truck, on the floor, or between the knees, or even propped up against the wooden seat. We could also stack them, which is called Stack, Arms (I did not know that until I did this blog.  We were always just told what to do and we did it.   There’s a picture of it courtesy of Phil Reman.

And yes, it got dropped a lot.

Next up will be “so Not ready — scariness on army guard duty” so tune in, same military channel, same military time tomorrow.

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