Article and Review by Nick Jacobellis

As early as 1982 the U.S. Army requested the development of a carbine version of the

M16A1-A2. Even though the Colt CAR15 (carbine) was available in limited numbers during the

Vietnam War, it wasn’t until 2010 that the transition to replace the M16-A2 with the M4 Carbine was

largely completed by the U.S. Army. The U.S. Marine Corps made the transition to the M4 in 2016. I

suspect one reason for this, involved the Marine Corps appreciation of longer barreled combat rifles,

that aided marksman in delivering accurate shot placement at longer distances. Clearly, any M16

variant that is equipped with a 20 inch barrel will shine in this regard. This also means, that for a

number of years before and after The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), the U.S. Armed Forces were

using a mixture of M16-A2s, M4s and M4-A1s (starting in 2010). As far as applications are concerned,

the shorter carbine length M4/M4-A1 proved to be particularly well suited for use by U.S. and NATO

Coalition troops, when they executed record setting numbers of dynamic building entries, to search for

insurgents/wanted individuals.

If certain law enforcement applications and military combat operations before, during and after 

the GWOT taught us one thing, it was the need to posses a variety of reliable weapons, that can be

fielded when necessary, to serve in different applications. This can also be applied to the civilian

personal defense world as well.

The first time I fired a select fire M16 was when I was training to execute armed vessel 

boarding operations, while engaging targets at sea from a U.S. Customs Service interdiction vessel. I

later ended up being issued a more compact Colt CAR-15 with a 16 inch barrel. When I retired and I

started writing for various firearms related publications, I field tested a number of semi automatic and

select fire suppressed and un-suppressed AR15s. While evaluating these firearms, I saw the merits of

owning 5.56 NATO caliber rifles and carbines with different barrel lengths. Conducting these field tests

also enabled me to evaluate a variety of different sighting systems, including iron sights and a variety

of optics and other accessories. While doing so, I came to the conclusion that you need to define your

reason for being armed and select the equipment and the accessories that support that application.

                       SHOTS FIRED 

While field testing the Springfield Armory SA16-A2, I ventured out into the desert where I 

engaged targets at different distances from a standing unsupported position. As far as the sights go, the

carry handle on the SA16-A2 contains an integrated rear (two position) flip up iron peep sight that can

be adjusted for windage and elevation. Because I am no stranger to M16, CAR15 and AR15 variants

that are equipped with a fixed carry handle, I immediately flipped up the larger combat aperture and

started sending rounds down range. While firing the SA16-A2 I was reminded of days gone by, that

predated the large scale transition to AR15 and M4 style rifles and carbines with “flat top” upper

receivers, that are equipped with an optic of some kind for the primary sighting system. This same

sentiment was experienced by a friend of mine who assisted me in field testing the SA16-A2.

During testing, the SA16-A2 was consistently able to effectively engage two inch targets 

at a distance of 75 plus yards from a standing unsupported position. The SA16-A2 has excellent

ergonomics and produces a very manageable recoil impulse. Spent brass consistently landed within

a 1 foot circle some 6 feet away at the 4 o’clock position. My only complaint involved the very slight

amount of play exhibited by the two piece hand-guards. This slight amount of play was more prevalent

in the side to side movement than front to back. As a result, under firing conditions this issue was not a

major concern, but it must be noted.

Training with a rifle like the SA16-A2 can be a tremendous “confidence builder,” when you 

realize that you can effectively engage targets with precision, with a rifle equipped with fixed sights. In

other words, becoming proficient with a more basic design, that utilizes iron sights, can establish the

fundamentals of good marksmanship. It is equally important to remember, that a rifle like the retro

style SA16-A2 with a 20 inch barrel can deliver maximum bullet performance, especially at longer

ranges. I also find rifles like the SA16-A2 to be very easy to carry in the field by using the fixed carry

1: The SA16-A2 is chambered in 5.56×45 NATO/.223 caliber and is equipped with a fixed polymer stock that provides excellent ergonomics, comfort under operating conditions and excellent reach to the pistol grip and the trigger. The fixed stock is fitted with a built in trapdoor that can be used to secure a cleaning kit.

2: The Forend on the SA16-A2 consists of a round ribbed handguard that features integral aluminum heat shields that aid in comfortable operation under firing conditions and when the rifle is carried in the port arms position. Personally, I have always preferred round handguards on AR platforms. The Forend on the SA16-2 houses and protects the 20 inch chrome lined barrel with a 1:7 inch twist, the M4 feed ramp, a rifle length gas system and a Phosphate Finish to insure long term durability and protection for a lifetime of service.

  1. The SA16-A2 weighs 7 pounds 8 ounces unloaded. The upper receiver is Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum, Type III Hardcoat Anodized with a Forward Assist, M4 Feed Ramps. The Springfield Armory SA16-A2 utilizes the Accu-Tite Tensioning System that insures an exceptionally tight fit between the upper and lower receivers. The lower receiver also includes a Government Property marking, as well as a non operational Safe/Semi Auto and Burst markings and throw levers that emulates the 3 shot burst capability of the original M16A2.
  2. The SA16-A2 also features an enhanced M16 pattern 9310 Steel Bolt with a staked gas key for enhanced strength and performance. To insure durability and long term performance the SA16-A2 is High Pressure Tested and Magnetic Particle Inspected (HPT/MPI).
  3. The SA16-A2 also includes traditional sling mounts, an A2 Flash Hider, an A2 Front Sight Tower, a
    bayonet lug and a fixed carry handle that houses and protects the adjustable rear sight. The overall length of the SA16-A2 is 39.5 inches.
  4. The SA16-A2 is shipped in a very well made black nylon rifle case with one 30 round black colored metal magazine.
  5. The current retail price for the Springfield Armory SA-16-A2 is $1249.

About the author: Nick Jacobellis is a Medically Retired U.S. Customs Service Senior Special Agent and a former NY police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent. To date the author has published 243 magazine articles in various law enforcement, firearms, survival and military history magazines, as well as 14 action packed non-fiction, historical military and police procedural fiction books of the following titles: Tactical Survival 101, Controlled Delivery Book One and Book Two, The Front Line Fugitives Books I, II, III, and IV, Buck Banderas U.S. Marshal Books One, Two and Three, A Special Kind of Hero, The K9 Academy-The Second Edition and Guns South. A number of 5 Star reviews have been posted on (US) and (UK) as well as on The author’s 14th book is a Christmas story titled: Santa’s Christmas Tree Convoy. The author was born and raised in Flatbush section of Brooklyn New York and has an BS Degree in Police Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

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