Author and Vietnam veteran Bob Orkand discusses what he calls the “tragic failure” of the M16 rifle in Vietnam, a story captured in his book, Misfire.

The M16 rifle in the Vietnam War was marred by a series of critical problems that severely undermined its effectiveness and tarnished its reputation among soldiers. Initially introduced as a replacement for the M14, the M16 faced immediate challenges in the harsh and demanding conditions of the Vietnamese jungles.

One of the primary issues stemmed from insufficient training and maintenance procedures. Soldiers were often ill-prepared to properly care for the M16, with some even being misled into believing that the rifle was “self-cleaning.”

Lack of cleaning supplies and instructions further compounded this problem, leading to increased vulnerability in combat situations.

The intricate components of the rifle required meticulous maintenance, a task many soldiers found themselves untrained for.