The M16A1 is the original M16, the similar rifle the American military in Vietnam used that paved the way for the rest of the AR platform. It’s a classic weapon that is still very versatile to this day.
If you are looking to build a new M16A1 from the ground up or improve your existing one, then having a quality parts kit will be necessary.
We’ll dive into the history of the M16A1, the components included in a parts kit, the top qualities to look for in a kit, and then our choices for the best M16A1 parts kits for 2022.
|Palmetto State Armory LPK-E-1591|| ||$300 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Colt Lower Receiver Parts Kit|| ||$130 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Aero Precision AR-15 Upper Parts Kit|| ||$21 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Brownells AR-15/ M16 Small Parts Kit|| ||$20 Shop NowClick to read my review|
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
Quick History of the M16A1
The M16A1 is well-known as the original AR-15. The rifle formally replaced the M14 rifle issued to American servicemen in Vietnam.
Eugene Stoner reworked his earlier AR-10 rifle design to create the AR-15, originally produced by Colt in 5.56x45mm NATO. As a result, it was awarded the model number M16A1.
The M16A1 was selected because the M14 was found to be too huge and heavy for the typical American infantryman. The M14 was little more than a reworked M1 Garand from World War II. The M14 proved to be an excellent rifle during the early years of the Vietnam War, but it was too long and heavy to be employed in the deep jungles of Vietnam. Additionally, the 7.62x51mm NATO ammo it fired was too huge and hard to kick for most men fighting in close quarters.
In comparison to the M14 rifle, the M16A1 had several benefits. It was more maneuverable due to its smaller size and lighter weight than the M14. The 5.56 round that it fired was also less recoiling, making it easier to operate the weapon.
These early M16A1 rifles may still be identified by their triangular handguard and three-pronged flash suppressors. The 30-round magazines will fit well in the original M16A1s, which came with 20-round STANAG magazines. Only a few years after the Vietnam War ended, the military itself updated from twenty to thirty round magazines.
Since its debut, there have been various evolutions of the M16A1 since its debut, notably the M16A2 and the M16A3. The M16 rifle series is no longer used in frontline combat in favor of the M4 series’ more compact design.
M16A1 Rifles Today
American people have grown to love AR-15 rifles, making them the most widely available centerfire weapon. The AR-15 is popular for several reasons, including its excellent ergonomics, dependability, accuracy, and customizability.
Today, the M16A1 AR-15 type has undergone a minor but significant revival in American hands. Brownells, for example, has developed “M16A1 retro rifles,” which are current AR-15 rifles with the look of the M16A1 rifle (such as the three-pronged flash hider and the triangular handguard).
If you’re looking for an M16A1, you don’t necessarily have to buy one outright. As an alternative, you may purchase all of the components you need to build your M16A1 from scratch. Because there is such a severe lack of weapons, the second option may actually be more practical. An M16A1 rifle parts kit is essential if you want to construct one from scratch or otherwise enhance an existing one.
What is a Parts Kit?
An AR-15 or M16A1 parts kit is what its name implies: a basic collection of parts needed to help construct your weapon. However, the contents of a components kit may vary from one to another.
The two primary categories of component kits are the upper receiver and lower receiver. It’s quite uncommon for a parts kit to have both upper and lower receiver components in the same purchase.
Even more complicated is that you may not get all you need in an upper or lower receiver parts kit to finish your project. Your lower receiver components package may not include everything you need to complete a stripped lower.
So it’s up to you to do your homework and find out the exact components included in your parts kit. Every component except the trigger guard and the pistol grip is often included in lower receiver kits, which are widespread in today’s market. They usually include backup components except for the front assist and ejection port cover in many upper receivers, which is a similar tale.
Why Buy a Parts Kit?
There are two main reasons to consider buying a parts kit. The first reason is to assemble a new rifle from scratch. Purchasing a parts kit will not be necessary for this scenario if you buy a complete lower or upper because you won’t need additional parts to complete the rifle.
However, stripped uppers or lowers will require more components installed to get them functioning. While you can purchase all of these components separately, buying a parts kit increases the chances of getting the pieces you need for less money.
The other reason to buy a parts kit is to have additional parts on hand for repairs or replacements. This isn’t a particularly bad idea, especially when you consider a major shortage of firearms and firearm-related accessories going on as of the time of this writing
If your M16A1 or AR-15 suffers damage and needs new components, it may not be so easy to buy the components you need. By purchasing a parts kit and then setting it aside in storage, you’ll ensure that you have the required parts in the event of future needed repairs.
Buyer’s Guide to the Best M16A1 Parts Kits
You should be able to install the parts on your rifle. Parts kits don’t require the aid or services to install in your M16A1’s upper or lower receivers. If the parts kit is labeled a drop-in design, no gunsmith or spare tools are required to install the pieces.
Go for a Combat Trigger
If your parts kit comes with a trigger, you’ll want to ensure that it’s a military trigger. A two-stage combat trigger is considered to be the gold standard. Alternatively, you can go with a match-grade trigger, which will be much lighter and crisper at greater expense.
The components of an AR-15, particularly in the upper and lower receivers, are usually built out of both steel and aluminum parts. Avoid the use of polymer for the internal components for your M16A1.
Read the product description and do some research to know the parts included in the kit before making a purchase. Remember that while some parts kits will come with everything you need to complete either your lower or upper receiver respectively, most part kits will lack a few components.
The Best M16A1 Parts Kits for Your Rifle
Palmetto State Armory LPK-E-1591: Best complete M16A1 parts kit.
The Palmetto State Armory LPK-E Parts Kit has everything you need to complete your M16A1 lower receiver, including the trigger and the pistol grip. The trigger is a real standout. It’s a Geissele Semi-Automatic Enhanced Trigger–the same combat trigger utilized by the United States SOCOM units.
The pistol grip in this kit features a standard A2 grip used on military M16 and M4 rifles. All components are built out of high-quality aircraft grade 7075 aluminum and made to mil-spec standards, so you’re guaranteed that it’ll last you a long time. You can install the components without the services of a gunsmith.
- Comes with acombat two-stage Geissele trigger
- Mil-spec standard components
- 7075 aluminum build
- No gunsmith services required
- Includes all parts needed to complete the lower receiver
Colt Lower Receiver Parts Kit: Best M16A1 lower receiver parts kit.
The Colt Lower Receiver Parts kit is one of the best lower receiver parts kits on the market. Built to mil-spec tolerances from the Colt factory, this kit comes with everything that you need other than the pistol grip and trigger group. An accu-wedge is also included to reduce wobble between the lower and upper receivers and increase accuracy out of your rifle.
Considering that Colt was the original manufacturer of the M16A1 as issued to American soldiers in Vietnam, using the parts in this kit you can replicate the original M16A1 more closely.
There is no trigger, trigger group, or pistol grip included in this lower receiver parts kit, so you will need to purchase those items separately. However, all other parts you need to complete your lower receiver are included. Each part is packed separately to ensure that it will be kept secure and unharmed during shipment.
Another piece included in this kit is the Accu-Wedge, a rubberized insert that goes beneath the rear takedown pin. Many owners of the AR-15 argue that this piece will effectively prevent movement between the lower and upper receiver, which will aid accuracy.
- All parts are straight from Colt factory
- Each part comes packed separately
- Built to mil-spec standards
- Includes an accu-wedge
- No trigger group or pistol grip included
Aero Precision AR-15 Upper Parts Kit: Best M16A1 upper parts kit.
The Aero Precision AR-15 Upper Parts Kit includes specific components such as the forward assist assembly, forward assist spring, forward assist roll pin, ejection port cover spring, ejection port cover rod, and the port cover door.
All parts are built out of high-quality aircraft grade 7075 aluminum with a matte black finish. The components are also all built to mil-spec specifications that you can install without the aid of a gunsmith.
- Comes with all components you need to build an AR-15 upper receiver
- Built to mil-spec tolerances
- Does not require the services of a gunsmith to install
- Built out of 7075 aluminum
- Matte finish is not the most appealing
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
Brownells AR-15/ M16 Small Parts Kit: Best affordable M16A1 parts kit.
If you need spare components, the Brownells small parts kit is a great option. It has everything you need to keep your AR or M16 functioning well. All of the components in this kit are original, so you can be confident that your AR will function properly after using any of them.
It’s also reasonably priced, making it easy to keep your gun in peak condition. The kit includes bolt gas rings, buffer retention springs, firing pin retainer pins, ejector retainer pins, and a host of additional components.
- Includes basic components needed for replacement
- Contains original parts
- Only includes small parts like springs
You’re bound to have a lot of fun with your new M16A1 AR-15. If you want an AR-15 built as close as possible to the original Colt M16A1, only buy the highest quality components.
The parts kits that we have covered in this guide can be used to either upgrade your existing M16A1 or otherwise help you build a new M16A1 from scratch. Using the parts kits that we have covered here together will be to your biggest advantage, or alternatively, you can look for more parts kits based on the buyer’s guide section that we covered before.