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Anonymous asked in SportsOutdoor RecreationHunting · 8 years ago

How to modify an AR-15?

I don't know much about firearms aside from safety, firing, and cleaning so please bear with me. I previously asked a question about deciding which rifle to purchase, and I decided to go with the AR-15.

In a few weeks, I will go out to local sports department stores and see which one I will purchase.

However, here is my question: how do I modify an AR-15 to resemble an M16?

I've read and heard that the AR-15 is the "civilian version" of the M16.

This is probably a dumb question but is this true? Because looking at them I feel like the AR looks more like the M4 rather than the M16. And if so, is there a civilian version of the M4?

Anyway, how should I go about modifying my future AR? I want it to resemble specifically the M16A2 of Vietnam.

Thank you.


Like this M16A2 pictured here. NOT THE FIRST ONE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. The second one.

5 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'll take your questions in order.

    "However, here is my question: how do I modify an AR-15 to resemble an M16?"

    Considering the AR-15 IS the civilian version of the M16, you don't. It already is.

    "This is probably a dumb question but is this true?"

    Yes, it is. The difference between the AR-15 and the M16 is merely the fact that the AR-15 is not capable of fully automatic fire. Period. Only difference. It is a functional one, not a cosmetic one.

    "And if so, is there a civilian version of the M4?"

    Yes. NOW you're asking the question I can answer.

    Basically, The M4 is merely a short-barrelled carbine made off the M16 platform. It uses the same upper and lower receiver, can use the same buttstocks, etc. The only difference is the barrel length. Since the barrel length of a real M4 is 14.5 inches, the civilian versions are 16 inches for legal reasons having to do with the National Firearms Act. Honestly, most folks can't tell by eyeballing anyway. I can, but I build AR's as a hobby.

    "Anyway, how should I go about modifying my future AR?"

    You can probably purchase exactly what you want without modification if you know where to look. The AR is a modular weapon. It can theoretically have a barrel length as short as 7" or as long as 26", it can have a collapsible buttstock or a fixed one, it can have a hogue pistol grip or an A1 pistol grip...the parts which make it an AR are the upper and lower receivers as a set. That's it. Everything else is erector-set add-ons.


    What it sounds like is that you're looking for an AR-15 in the A2 configuration, with 20-inch "government profile" barrel, A2 stock, A2 handguard, A2 pistol grip.

    That's it. That's an A2 for civilians, and it is indistinguishable from the M16A2 at a glance unless you can see and recognize the autosear pin directly above the word "fire" stamped on the reciever above the safety selector. If it has the pin, it's an M16. If it doesn't have the pin, it's not. Period.

    (Yes, I know there are other mods to convert, but they're not factory, so hush.)

    "I want it to resemble specifically the M16A2 of Vietnam."

    You have your time frames screwed up, sparky. We got out of Vietnam in 1975 (The only reason I know is because I have friends and family who were there and that's when they came home). The primary M16 of Vietnam was the M16A1, not A2.

    The A2 was what was issued to ME in Basic. The A2 was adopted in around 1985 for our branch and is still issued to recruits today (probably the same damn rifles...grumble, grumble)

    By the picture, you indeed want an A2. If you look for an AR-15, look for "A2 configuration" and you may find exactly what you're looking for without having to modify it at all.

    Just remember, it ain't gonna be full auto unless you're willing to shell out about 14,000 bucks nowadays.

    To recap, the A2 Configuration is thus:

    1) 20-inch government profile barrel (get chrome lined if you can)

    2) A2 handguards (round, not triangle)

    3) A2 buttstock (Currently the most common available)

    4) A2 pistol grip (again, currently the most common available)

    5) A2 closed-bottom "birdcage" flash hider. A2 configuration rifle.


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  • 8 years ago

    an ar-15 is basically a m16 if you get it with a 20 inch barrel a m4 if you get it with a 16 inch barrel the only major difference between them and a ar-15 is the AR cant go full auto so you can find AR's that reassemble the m16a2 but cant make it go full auto unless you buy it from a class 3 dealer and in some states there not allowed

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  • Mr.357
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    It sounds like you want a 20" barrel, carry handle, and a fixed butt stock. Just about every manufacturer makes several. Without getting an SBR tax stamp, you can get AR-15s with barrels from 16 to 24". Butt stock come in fixed or collapsible. Upper receiver come either with a fixed carry handle or a flat top. Ones with fixed carry handles make it hard to put a scope on it. Flat tops can have a removable carry handle attached to it. Removable carry handles cost $50-$80.

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  • 8 years ago

    AR15 rifles come in several forms..... Yes - many do look like M4 rifle.....

    On the other hand many do look like M16 rifles......

    I happen to have this Rock River Arms AR15 and it closely resembles a current new model M16.....

    Right here....

    Source(s): Here is an AR15 in the style of a Vietnam era M16 at Gunbroker........
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  • strech
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    The M16A2 wasn't adopted until the 1980's, AFTER Vietnam.

    The M16A1 was used in Nam.

    It had a different rear sight, flash suppressor, and handguards.

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