This memo’s been around as a scanned, non-OCR’d .pdf for a long time. We’ve OCR’d the PDF, and double-checked the numbers against the original data. The PDF is here:M16 Serial Number List OCR[.pdf].
he complete text is below this editorial comment. We would add the following remarks:
- The first few Colt serial numbers (001-100) were toolroom prototypes and mules, and numbers were reused, and some were built on unnumbered receivers. Most of these were destroyed.
- The first ~15,000 guns were, as the memo notes, marked as “Armalite AR-15″ and these weapons went to the USAF for Security Police use and for testing by the services, including the Project AGILE tests and Vietnam tests by USSF.
- The Model 03 Army Rifle was rollmarked XM16E1 until the rifle was type standardized as M16A1 on 28 Feb 1967. (The nature of mass production being what it is, this rollmark change took place over a period of months, and is uncorrelated with any physical change to the rifle).
- The Model 04 Air Force Rifle is rollmarked M16.
- The 10,000 guns in the 900k range are believed to include most experimental GX guns and all XM177/E1/E2 guns. We have observed GX’s outside this range. GX’s are tool-room prototypes with a four digit number which is reportedly their master drawing. We believe that there are multiple GXs with the same number. There are also GXs that also have a serial number as well as the GX number. A lot of the GXs have serial numbers in the 14xxx range. Prior to 1969 some mil experimentals were made with no serial numbers, and there are duplicate serial numbers in this area as well.
- The British contract guns were originally intended for special operations forces including the SAS and SBS.
- The number that Mr Northrop did not calculate, total military Colt AR-15s and M16splus AR-15 SP1 Sporters to the date of whenever his data cutoff was, comes to 2,778,586.