BROWNELLS VIET­NAM-ERA RETRO AR

A VIET­NAM VET FINDS IT A WEL­COME BLAST FROM THE PAST.

Gun World - - Contents - By Chuck Tay­lor

There’s only one way to test Brownells’ BRN-16A1, a faith­ful re­pro­duc­tion of the Viet­nam-era M-16A1: put it in the hands of our res­i­dent Viet­nam vet­eran, a sol­dier who lived by the orig­i­nal.

The C-130 Her­cules tipped vi­o­lently and be­gan its steep fi­nal de­scent into Quang Tri. The load­mas­ter, a griz­zled and un­flap­pable mas­ter sergeant, yelled, “Stand by, boys! The field is un­der at­tack, and we’re go­ing in steep and fast! As soon as we reach the end of the run­way, get off the air­craft as quick as you can … there are 122mm rock­ets and RPGs com­ing in from the east and south.”

We’d al­ready “got­ten the word” about the at­tack be­fore the eva­sive air ma­neu­vers had be­gun. We had quickly bro­ken down the two lashed-down pal­lets at the rear of the air­craft that con­tained our bat­tle gear and ammo and “loaded up.” We were set, ready—and scared silly.

WITH ONLY THE TWO MI­NOR EX­CEP­TIONS ... IT’S A DEAD-RINGER FOR THE LEG­ENDARY M-16A1 AND WILL, NO DOUBT, FIND MUCH FA­VOR WITH ANY SE­RI­OUS RI­FLE­MAN OR COL­LEC­TOR.

Damn, I thought. We aren’t even on the ground yet, and they’re shoot­ing at us! Is this how it’s go­ing to be for the whole year I’m go­ing to be here?

The Herc touched down hard and hot, its four-bladed props quickly re­vers­ing pitch to be­gin the brak­ing process. Al­most im­me­di­ately, the rear ramp be­gan to come down. Peer­ing out of the port-side win­dow, I saw the plane in front of us veer­ing left from the run­way onto the grass. It was burn­ing—the re­sult of a chance hit by an in­com­ing 122mm rocket. Its rear ramp was down, and GIs were pour­ing out at a run, weapons at the ready.

Photo: Robb Man­ning

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