M-16’s and LSA (lubricant small arms)
The M-16 is a gas operated rotating bolt rifle with direct impingement, shooting a 5.56 shell, weighing in at 7.2 or 7.8 lbs. empty, 8.8 lbs. loaded, is 40-inches long and can fire up to 950 rounds per minute in full automatic. The rights were sold by the inventor ArmaLite to Colt in 1959, and the M-16 was deployed as the Army’s standard rifle in 1964, replacing the M-14. It has a sustained rate of fire of 12 to 15 rpm, 45 to 60 rpm on semi automatic and 700 to 950 rpm in full automatic. The bullet exits the muzzle at 3,100 feet-per-second and has an effective range in excess of 500 meters.
1960’s urban legends were that it jammed frequently, that jams were almost impossible to clear (that was true), and that the bullets tumbled in flight and therefore the M-16 was inaccurate. Bullets did not tumble in normal flight. LSA is a semi-solid lubricant that prevented jams if used liberally. Our 1968 M-16’s (360 degree flash suppressors) did not jam, if cleaned often and doused with LSA more often. I cleaned mine more than once each day depending on conditions. In 1968, I could take one apart, clean it, and reassemble the parts in my sleep and I think I still could today. My M-16 was close to me, with a 15 round clip inserted, every minute of the day.
I protected it from water and dirt as best I could and dried my ammo. Ammunition had a short shelf life in the Vietnamese humidity. On occasion we had a mad minute and used this older ammo to fire full automatic. Mud, water and dust worked 24-hours-per-day to disable the M-16s, even in a bunker. LSA kept moisture off gun surfaces but could trap dust and sand so you made your best guess as to how heavy to apply it. If the grime trapped the brass shell casing inside the chamber it was not easy to remove quickly. You were screwed! An LSA plastic squeeze bottle is strapped to the helmets of grunts in many Vietnam pictures. I kept LSA there and another in a pant pocket because that steel pot was hot and heavy; I removed it whenever I could. My pants were always on and the LSA close at hand in a pocket. LSA had its own distinct smell, somewhat like grease but lighter, more like 3-in-1 oil.
The AK-47 was said to shoot under all conditions and not jam. AK’s were made in many countries and their quality differed greatly; many sounded like a childs rattle when shaken because they were so loosely machined. The M-16 was machined with close tolerances and no loose parts rattled when it was shaken.
Doug Teel, my friend since 1949, asked that I write about LSA and the M-16, I hope this is close to what he wanted. Doug played with many versions of the largest toy available in the US military, the Air Force C-5; he described his work as strapping a very large airplane to his butt. He piloted various planes for the Air Force and taught other pilots, but he scared the hell out of me in a little bitty one. Thanks buddy! I love you even after that but payback is always around the corner. Save me some lobsters!