The American M16 and Soviet AK-47 assault rifles remain two of the most prolific rifle designs of the modern battlefield as each can claim their fair share of copies (both licensed and unlicensed) and variants spanning the world over. Both series remain in use in one form of another, having stood the test of time. In the 1980s, a modification kit brought about by La France Specialties created a new M16 form known as the "M16K" - the "K" signifying the German word "Kurz" translating to "short". The weapon was developed along the lines of a compact, submachine gun suitable for close-quarters actions regarding special forces elements or vehicle crews. The M16K debuted in production during 1982.
As with the M16, the M16K was chambered for the 5.56x45mm NATO intermediate rifle cartridge and featured much of the earlier rifle's design lines (as well as the upper receiver of the AR-15, the rifle the M16 is based on). One key difference lay internally where a blowback system of operation with a closed-bolt function replaced the original's direct impingement gas operation system. The weapon weighed a handy 5.25 lb and had an overall length of 26.5 inches. A collapsible stock offered a reduced overall length of 23.5 inches. Couple this with a barrel measuring just 8-and-3/8" long and one could appreciate the value of such a compact, repeat-fire system. Feeding was by way of a 30-round detachable box magazine and rate-of-fire reached 650 rounds-per-minute.
The resulting weapon was one showcasing a stubby appearance. A short handguard was featured over the barrel assembly and the stock was collapsible. The over-receiver carrying handle remained from the M16's design as did the rearward-cranked pistol grip unit. The magazine feed was ahead of the trigger group as in the original M16. In practice, the weapon proved to be accurate thanks to its inline layout and adjustable gas system.
In the 1990s, La France teamed with NAIT to help sales but the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 hampered growth of the product within the lucrative American civilian gun marketplace. La France was itself taken over by Surefire LLC in 2004 who have since kept the product line alive.
The only related variant to the M16K became the M16K-45 which was chambered for the .45 ACP pistol cartridge, fed from a 20- or 30-round Thompson M1-style magazine, and held a cyclic rate-of-fire of 625 rounds-per-minute.
Both versions supported a 12" long barrel suppressor for clandestine work.