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Vietnam War Airsoft > Technical > How to make a Airsoft XM16E1 Guide

Title: How to make a Airsoft XM16E1 Guide

DiGilio - December 18, 2007 01:53 AM (GMT)
First of all I am horrible at writing guides but this will give you a good idea on how to change a M16VN into a XM16E1.

The XM16E1 rifle was the Armys expiremental version of the M16. It was used by soldiers from 1965 to 1967 (the M16A1 was adopted in 1967).

A little while after the Air Force adopted the M16 in 1964, the Army adopted the XM16E1 as an expiremental M16, with a expiremental tear drop forward assist. The Air Forces M16 did not have a forward assist. The XM16E1 was very unreliable. It did not have a chrome chamber and used ball powder. These problems were fixed in the M16A1 but the bad reputation stayed.

Anyway, there is no XM16E1 airsoft replias. The Armys M16 always had a forward assist so airsoft M16VNs are not accurate. XM16E1s were mainly used by army Airmobile and Airborne troops early in the war. Most army infantry divisions still used M14s very early on.

Real XM16E1 from

Because I made my XM16E1 a while ago I dont have pictures of it while it was being changed so the guide may be a bit confusing.

Step 1 Start out with a M16VN: You can also start with a M16A1 but you also have to first change the flash hider to a 3-prong and the lower reciver to a VN.

Step 2 Add partial fencing under dust cover: The XM16E1 did have some partial fencing under the dust cover on the lower reciever ( ). But airsoft M16VN lower recievers dont have any fencing at all ( ). What I did was buy a wood rods about the size of the fencing and file one side down untill it was flat. Then I glued it on the M16VN lower reciver and painted it black. I guess you could do it with a metal rod but it would be lots of work for something thats usually covered by the dust cover.

Step 3 Add Forward Assist: This step is very easy. All you need to do is buy a M16A1 upper reciver (which has a forward assist) and replace you M16VN (which does not have a forward assist) one with it. I like G&Ps metal M16 recievers best.

Step 4 Sling Swivel:
The XM16E1 used a different rear sling swivel than the M16A1. The XM16E1 sling swivel had a round base and was moveable, while the later M16A1 rear swivel was fixed and had a oval-ish base. XM16E1 rear sling swivels are hard to find (airsoft M16VNs use M16A1 swivels) so most people have to keep their M16A1 rear swivel and deal with the inaccuracy. If you do have a XM16E1 rear sling swivel, you have to make the sling hole in the M16VN or M16A1 airsoft stock a circle, then drill a small hole through the stock for the XM16E1 rear sling swivels pin, which holds the swivel in place.

I mainly use a real XM16E1 stock on my airsoft replica though. Since the stocks rear pad does not come off, the only batteries I can use in it are minis because they are small enough to fit through the buffer tube hole with some filing. I dug some foam out of the stock for the mini battery and glued the plastic stock ring on so doesnt wobble.

Real XM16E1 stock with mini battery

Finished rifle with real XM16E1 stock:
user posted image
user posted image

dookieboy - December 18, 2007 03:40 AM (GMT)
Nice write and somehow I sense your from arnies... :blink:

Guinness - December 18, 2007 04:27 AM (GMT)
Of course he is- all the cool people will be here in sunny Vietnam eventually!

Great guide M14! er uh I mean DiGilio! I need to get one of those rear swivels for my 607


dookieboy - December 18, 2007 06:15 AM (GMT)
So it is Joe! We did ya get sent to the nam? They throw ya in here too? :lol:

2011k - December 22, 2007 10:15 AM (GMT)
Great job. You've got a nice rifle. I only believe in 20".

You can improve your XM16E1 with small details :
- no marking on the right side (SAFE/SEMI/AUTO).
- the selector pin has a hole in the center and doesn't have the "arrow".

Do you have a picture with the left side markings of the XM16E1? I couldn't find any.

I modified my XM177E1, but instead of adding the partial fencing to the AR15 body, I used an M16A1 body and removed the lower fencing with a dremel. It's harder but the final result is aluminium. I still have a refinished plastic stock.

user posted image

For my AR15, I used RS stock and front handguard with hurricane or guarder spring tube for perfect fit. I painted the pistol grip for a shinny finish. I don't use it for airsoft, gearbox is "empty". Pistol grip is empty as well, no motor or trap.

user posted image

DiGilio - December 22, 2007 11:43 PM (GMT)
I know about those small problems but I cant think of any way to modify the airsoft replica without making it look obvious. I figure I will just keep it that way instead of making it start to look odd. I may try to put something, like glue in the indented "safe, semi, auto" and painting black over it but it will look pretty obvious. As for the hole in the fire selector switch, I may cut out a small hole for it or something but its a airsoft replica. At some point you just have to realize it will never be perfect.

I was also thinking about filing down the fencing on a M16A1 reciever and having the detent housing be aluminum, when I started my XM16E1 project, but I couldnt figure out a way to deal with the obvious "M16A1" markings on the left side. I dont like to put artificial wear on my replicas (which could hide some things) and would rather have a hard wood detent housing (thats usually covered by the dust cover) than have a aluminum one and the obvious M16A1 markings.

If by "arrow" on the fire selector, you mean the triangle thing on the opposite side of the long switch, XM16E1s did have that. The fire selector was the same design as the later ones but had the hole in the middle.

That Army info video on the XM16E1 is where I got most of my external reseach from. If you click "view thumbnails" and go down to the bottom one of the pictures clearly shows the fire selector.

2011k - December 23, 2007 01:00 AM (GMT)
I made some research tonite, in internet. I found a website with great informations. I don't know if you went there already.
It has the markings of the XM16E1

DiGilio - December 23, 2007 01:09 AM (GMT)
Thanks for that link!

I have not been able to find many good (modern high quality) pictures of any XM16E1s. That website helps a lot.

That website says that XM16E1 fire selector switches do not have the hole in the center, but the earlier M16 models do. I cant find enough evidence to decide which is more correct. Because of the grainy cameras used back then it is hard to tell what is shadows and what is the hole. Im leaning toward the hole in the center being used on the XM16E1s, but both switches could of been used, maybe at different times though (the hole switch probably being earlier).

2011k - December 23, 2007 10:10 AM (GMT)
Yes, holes seen in models 601, 602, 604 "flat side" AR-15.

The XM16E1 can be seen with early/late options and the M16A1 is the finished version :
- Hollow stock with a trap and fixed sling mount
- Birdcage
- Full fence
- no more "AR-15" markings
- manganese phosphate finish bolt carrier group.
- no marking on the right side SAFE/SEMI/AUTO (G&P fucked up)

DiGilio - December 23, 2007 05:29 PM (GMT)
The M16A1 used the same stocks as the XM16E1 (and same rear sling swivel as XM16E1) untill 1970. Thats when the stocks with the trap door for the cleaning kit were first produced. All the companies (especially CA) that make these airsoft replicas should accually research what they are making a replica of. There are many wrong things in all of them. My favorite is the M16VN (which was never used by infantryman in Vietnam).

vanhalen213tx - December 24, 2007 12:02 AM (GMT)
Nice article, thanks for the guide!

DiGilio - December 24, 2007 10:11 PM (GMT)
I just added the hole in the fire selector switch and covered up the right side markings. Adding the hole was easy. Just take a hammer and small screwdriver, take the selector off, put the screwdirver in the hole in the switch for the screw (because its in the center) and just hit the screwdriver with the hammer untill it goes pushes through the metal. I am still mad about the Colt Model 602 markings on the lower reciever but figure changing it to XM16E1 markings will be hard and look like shit in the end and be obvious.

user posted image
user posted image

2011k - December 25, 2007 12:10 AM (GMT)
Great job. I don't know how good it is in real but photos shows a great job. Congratulations.
Maybe you should do something about the fake pins. Later bodies of G&P had fake pins with small grey metal discs. On my AR15, I removed the paint on the fake pins. It's not too bad but not good enough. One day I'll try to glue something there. Maybe the heads of small cloves. Anyway...

Perfection would mean to remove the markings too. Gunsmiths can write on metal. They can write your name, etc... so I guess you could change "CAL.223" to "XM 16 E1" and change "MODEL 02" to "CAL. 5.56 MM.". I know you want to do it, so try to find a way. You would have the only XM16E1 airsoft gun in the world. I'm glad you made those improvements already.

I decided to modify my Colts too. I already filled the middle holes in my XM177E1 stock tube. Now, it's a 2 positions stock. Small and useless improvement but I'm happy.

DiGilio - December 25, 2007 03:43 AM (GMT)
And I would also have to change the COLT'S PATENT FIREARMS MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A. markings above the selector switch. I cant tell exactly what the XM16E1s markings say in that spot but I can tell its different.

I cant see a way for a gunsmith or machinist to change the markings with it still looking original. Your never going to match the color on the rest of the body (becuase you would have to cover up, or sand down, which is would be pretty deep, the Model 602 markings first) and it will probably look like 2 big spots around the new XM16E1 markings, unless you refinish the whole body, which would cost even more. I know they can add markings but Ive never heard of anyone doing an excelent job replacing markings. And for the money they will probably charge I dont think its worth it. I think Im just going to change the "Model 02" to XM16E1 by myself and leave the rest. I think that will be good enough for now.

Taking the paint off the pin area is a good idea. I might have something laying around in my spare parts box or garage that I could glue on. But if I dont I will just remove the pait like you did untill I find something.

taylor - January 5, 2008 09:06 PM (GMT)

I have a G&P M16VN and also want to make a XM16E1.
Is it possible to buy the upper recever or do I have to buy a complete M16A1 body and how do you instal the new body tho the barrel?

Taylor out

[I]The only easy day was yesterday![I]

DiGilio - January 5, 2008 10:53 PM (GMT)
I dont think any company or anyone would be willing to just sell the upper reciever from a new body set. If you e-mail G&P directly they might sell just a M16A1 upper reciever but some companies will not ship outside thier country or to a normal person (only to a buiseness). If someone is selling a used M16A1 reciever, they might sell the upper and lower reciever seperatly. I ended up buying a G&P M16A1 metal body kit and sold the G&P M16A1 lower reciever (I only do early vietnam impressions so I did not need it) and G&P M16VN upper reciever as a mismatched set.

To remove a barrel from a reciever, first you have to take the handguard off by pulling the delta ring down (there is a spring under it), then you have to spin a barrel nut off that is under the delta ring. There is a special tool you can buy but it is also possible to do it without the tool. Attaching the barrel to the reciever is pretty easy to figure out after you took one off.

You said you own a G&P M16VN so you wont need the following info but some people will.

G&P upper recievers have a different thread on them for the barrel nut. Only a G&P barrel nut with fit a G&P rifle. CA or TM barrel nuts are different threads and wont fit. I am not sure if G&P sells just G&P barrel nuts (they sell them with a complete G&P M16VN or A1 outer barrel set for around $100) but I forced a CA barrel nut onto a G&P body. It wont come off easy but it was easier than finding and buying a G&P barrel nut.

taylor - January 5, 2008 11:33 PM (GMT)
Hey DiGilio,

Thanks for the info.
Now I can remove the barrel without doing something wrong :) .
Hoo ya !!!

Taylor out

The only easy day was yesterday!

2011k - January 6, 2008 12:03 AM (GMT)
Note that it's easier to detach a barrel than to attach it.
DiGilio forgot to tell you will need to remove the gas tube to remove the barrel nut.
To remove the gas tube :
Description : the "gas block" is the front sight metal part.

1 - remove the two identical pins inside the gas block that locks the barrel & gas block (below the barrel)
2 - remove the small screw under the front sling attach ring
3 - remove the pin that locks the gas tube inside the gas block
4 - you can move the gas block forward
5 - you can remove the gas tube from the body
user posted image

It's pain in the ass to reattach the barrel to the upper receiver because you need to allow the gas tube to go through the barrel nut and the body. It has to be in line. You'll see when you'll do it. PAIN IN THE ASS. Sometimes it's tightened too much, sometimes not enough. That's why it's better to have the gunsmith tool to tighten the barrel nut to the upper receiver.

DiGilio - January 6, 2008 12:12 AM (GMT)
Thanks 2011k. I forgot about all that. You dont have to remove the gas tube from the front sight though. Its easier to just pull the gas tube out of the reciever and barrel nut with the front sight still attached to it.

And if worse comes to worse you can alway file down part of the barrel nut for the gas tube if you cant get it all lined up perfectly.

2011k - January 6, 2008 09:36 AM (GMT)
You can keep the pin #3 that's true. No need to remove that one. The whole front sight+gas tube can move together toward the flash hidder.

I like when the metal body and barrel nuts are perfectly lined up. The gas tube will prevent the barrel nut to unfasten but you can fill the barrel nut down, that's true.

zajicmikeforce - January 7, 2008 10:37 AM (GMT)
interesting DiGilio

now i am working on M601 model

iŽll send in-progress pics, i am on beginning

taylor - January 8, 2008 06:30 AM (GMT)
Hey guys,

I think it will not be easy to remove the barrel :blink: and getting it back together without not breaking any parts. <_<

Thanks for the info guys :D :D :D
Taylor out

The only easy day was yesterday!

2011k - January 8, 2008 08:06 PM (GMT)
It's not easy to remove the barrel but with the appropriate tool it can be done quite easily.
EASY BUT LONG. It's like dismantling your first AR15 gearbox.
You just need a special tool. I bought one and I have used it many many times.
(photo is an example, there are many other like this one. You can buy it at any honk kong shop, just type "wrench" in the search engine of WGC or UNCompany...)

You can even built something that blocks the lower receiver while you unscrew the barrel nut with the wrench. It needs some strength but is done quite easily. The longer part is to reassemble every thing because of the gas tube thing.

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