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Buildsheet: M16A4 OIF Edition

It’s no secret the firearms market has softened since Trump took office. Prices are lower than they’ve ever been, so we’re seeing a lot of interest interest in just-for-fun guns, and clone builds in particular. With a nod to the OIF vets among you, we’re looking at an M16A4 clone; specifically, a clone from Operation Iraqi Freedom, mostly from the author’s service rifle, circa 2004.
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Shortly after the initial invasion of Iraq, the USMC began replacing wellworn M16A2 rifles with the M16A4. Though it still sported a fixed stock and a 20-inch barrel (the better to do rifle drill with), it had a flat-top upper receiver that simplified the mounting of optics and a Knight’s Armament M5 Rail Adapter System (RAS) to hold lights and other accessories.
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The clone’s complete upper comes from Aero Precision. It’s made for their M16A4 Special Edition Rifle. The handguard is a P&S Products M5 RAS, an acceptable-and-issued substitution for the original Knight’s Armament handguard, which is harder to find. There’s nothing special about the lower receiver, A2 stock, and internals. We plucked these parts from the RECOIL workshop’s spare parts bins.
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The first Trijicon ACOGs issued with these rifles were the TA31F variety, later to be replaced with the TA31RCOA4 with LaRue mounts. Shown is a TA31F with a LaRue QD LT100 mount and TA91 Tenebrex killflash complete with the Trijicon objective flip cap.

It’s the small things that make this rifle just right. It’s also the small things that make this rifle look a bit ridiculous. Take the carry handle attached to the rail, for instance. It’s unclear whether it was kept on the rifle as a backup sighting system or to keep the part from getting lost. The author still has no idea, and he did this on his own issued rifle.

The buttstock magazine pouch was in common use in Iraq. While on a forward operating base and not outside the wire, weapons were carried empty or, in Marine parlance, kept in “Condition 4.” The buttstock pouch was an easy way to keep a magazine with the rifle without it being loaded. The buttstock magazine pouch also provided a sling location that was actually worth a damn.

Rifle slings were in a state of flux at the time this rifle was in service. The complicated three-point sling was the original issued item with the M16A4. Many Marines either found more useful two-point alternatives, or modified the complex three-points. In later years, Viking Tactics VTAC slings as you see here, were standard.
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Both the SureFire M962 (seen in the lower-right photo), as well as the twocell SureFire M951 (shown with a body extension converting it into a three-cell in top photo) are period correct. Back in the days when 65-lumen lights were the standard, 200 lumen lights like these (even with a 20-minute run time) may as well have been the light of God.
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Other items like the magazine coupler and worn-as-hell USGI mags, hideous in hindsight, came directly from a seabag that sat untouched in the author’s garage for more than a decade.
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[The author on a fun street in Fallujah in November 2004]

Though this rifle won’t be humped through the streets or foreign hovels, it will still ping steel at 600 yards. Holding the A4 resurrected from the author’s OIF service had him falling in love all over again.
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