The 5 Best M16A1 Parts Kits 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Why should you buy an M16A1 parts kit? Retro builds are one of the hottest new trends in the AR-15 world. Designed to mimic Vietnam War-era carbines and rifles and early experimental models, these historical treasures scratch an itch for nostalgia. Also, vintage-looking weapons that cannot otherwise be fulfilled due to the original firearms’ full auto capability.

We have reviewed five great M16A1 parts kits and will cover all the main elements needed to build a realistic, retro M16A1 style rifle that will be perfect for static display, reenactment, or good old fashioned fun at the range.

Top M16a1 Parts Kits in 2018

Product Image
Best Feature
Grade
Price
Trumpeter AR15/M16/M4 Family M16A1 Machine Guns (6-Pack), Scale 1/35
Light and easy to assemble, great value for money, ships fast
A
Brownells AR-15/M16 A! Rifle Buffer Tube Assembly
A wide variety of spare parts, top quality
A
AR15 M16 A1 Upper Receiver
Durable, light, adjustable
A
DPMS AR 15 Lower Parts Kit
Countless spare parts, US-made, robust
A-
Brownells Military Barrels AR 14 20” A1 Rifle Barrel
Material and design
A-

1. Trumpeter AR15/M16/M4 Family M16A1 Machine Guns (6-Pack), Scale 1/35

This is a great 1/35th scale early M16 containing six M-16A1 rifles. It is sold with a 20 round box magazine in the well and three spare box magazines on three sprues for each rifle, molded in a black and dark green plastic and one sprue of brass, which is a weapons sling. Check the directions on the back of the package to see how to attach the slings to the weapon.

This company has several 1/35th scale M-16/AR-15 weapon families. It guarantees you’re getting the right weapon for your figures. Please check that you get the right set to cover the timeframe that you need. This set offers the early M-16A1 rifle used in Vietnam.

Trumpeter make sets that replicate the current issued M-16 versions used in most armies today and the elite units currently being used all over the world. These come with photo etched brass slings as well. The company has an entire line of exotic modern weapons, some of which are made in the US. If you are looking to arm your 1/35th scale modern assault teams with realistic-looking and detailed arms, look no further than Trumpeter’s line. The item is 6 x 3 x 1 inches in size and weighs 2.2 pounds.

Pros

  • Comes with a 20-round box magazine and 3 spares
  • Realistic, vintage-looking
  • Light and easy to assemble
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Not eligible for international shipping

2. Brownells AR-15/M16 A! Rifle Buffer Tube Assembly

This kit comes in real handy if you don’t have all the parts you need to install a new buttstock. It is very convenient and equipped with the right components to mount your buttstock of choice. A lot of users find it perfect for stock conversions, particularly if they are using a collapsible carbine stock. Now you know which parts you need to get started!

There’s no need to worry about the quality if you choose this kit. The manufacturer makes all parts from only the best quality of materials. This is because they take into account that these parts will be used on a gun and must always perform on par. The parts are easy to fit, made with strict dimensional tolerance in mind.

The kit is sold together with a number of parts, including the recoil bugger, the receiver extension tube, recoil buffer spring, and buttstock cap screw.

Pros

  • Top quality
  • Easy to fit
  • Comes with a lot of spares

Cons

  • Expensive

3. AR15 M16 A1 Upper Receiver

The upper of any AR is crucial, being the centerpiece of a rifle. You might have problems with the rifle often if the upper is in poor condition. This is where this type of upper receiver comes into play. The kit is developed and sold by a top brand that ensures you’re always getting the right part.

The best part about this kit is that it mirrors the profile of the original part. In a few words, this means that you will have the opportunity to enjoy swapping the original out. A lot of people use it very often because it fits like a glove.

The model comes with a sturdy aluminum forging. Such a structure is needed if you want an upper that is very durable. The aluminum design also makes it lightweight. It is further constructed to mil-spec dimensions, which means fitting will not be a problem. You also receive it in a matte gray or matte black finish. One advantage of the matte finish is that it eliminates glare from the upper.

Pros

  • Quality brand
  • Good value for money
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible

Cons

  • Customer service issues

4. DPMS AR 15 Lower Parts Kit

Many people take a lot of time to spruce their AR up to make sure it is always in pristine condition. The DPMS AR 15 lower parts kits can make that happen by giving you some of the best low receiver parts, including hammer spring, screws and washers, magazine catch, a trigger, and many more. There are too many parts to list here, so suffice it to say that you will not regret getting this kit. You’ll end up with a rifle that shoots more accurately and performs better as well.

The price can be a big factor in the decision to purchase any parts kit, so you’ll be happy to know this one doesn’t come expensive at all. It’s actually great value for money. You don’t need to go over your budget just to get the best parts. Another advantage of this parts kit is that it is made in the USA. This is a factor one can consider if they support the domestic economy and American producers. It is also a guarantee that the highest quality standards are always met.

Pros

  • Meets the highest manufacturing standards worldwide
  • Safe to use
  • Practically endless parts list

Cons

  • No assembly instructions

5. Military Barrels AR 14 20” A1 Rifle Barrel 1-12 Assembly

There is no doubt that your rifle would need a good barrel assembly. All the parts must be in good working condition in order for the weapon to work property. This is why one decides to buy a parts kit to begin with.

The Military Barrels AR kit features all the parts needed to upgrade your barrel with simplicity and ease. The rifle is relatively quick to assemble since the parts are machined to the right dimensions. Users confirm that it takes only a few minutes to assemble a weapon.

The structure and design are truly astonishing – the entire kit is made of 4150 chrome steel. This strong steel structure is one reason the kit is so popular, as performance is always affected by the design, in this case quite favorably. If you decide to go for this kit, you’ll have everything you need to create a retro barrel.

Among the parts that come with this kit are a front sight base, detent, sight post, spring, river, sling swivel, and more. You’ll have access to lots of parts if you buy this kit. It is also easy and safe to store.

Pros

  • High quality
  • Wide variety of parts
  • Excellent material and design

Cons

  • It may be over your budget

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing an M16a1 Parts Kit

Apart from the kits reviewed here, there are many others on the market. The selection is truly vast. What goes into a good kit? Read on to find out.

Proper-Looking Lower and Upper

Of course, it is possible to deliver a passably fake retro build by using some original or reproduction furniture on a gun, but a true master knows you need a proper looking A1 lower and upper. Ideally, these two crucial parts should be made from customized forgings and machined to very exact standards. Since there are some substantial design differences between the M16A1 and the M16A2, and later guns, it is of paramount importance to start with correct castings that replicate these period parts.

Check the Legality

Using some M-16 Parts to replace AR-15 parts does not render your rifle a fully automatic one. It will be illegal if you replace AR-15 parts with M-16 parts unless you have the necessary paperwork. We advise speaking with an ATF representative on how to obtain the respective legal documentation to be able to own a fully automatic firearm.

Differences Between Weapon Platforms

The major construction and cosmetic differences between later A2 platforms and the old M16A1 carry forward to modern AR-15 receivers. The A1 pattern lowers have no structural reinforcement that is otherwise needed to prevent failure when used with grenade launchers, and also to hinder cracking around the pivot pin area. The absence of a brass deflector is the most notable difference between an A1 and A2 upper.

There are some other, less major differences between the various uppers and lowers. While quite a few gun owners might miss upper and lower receiver differences, it is impossible to mistake M16A1 outfitting. The classic triangular hand guard clearly indicates retro styling and identifies the rifle immediately. Another notable, evident difference is the teardrop-shaped forward assist, which is dramatically different from the modern forward assist design.

We also recommend getting a 20 round AR-15 magazine because there was a mix of 20 and 30 round magazines around after the A1 variant of the M16 was adopted. Original Colt magazines can be found, but they are becoming more and more expensive. There are lots of authentic replicas on the market. While you are looking for a period magazine, you should shop around for a period sling as well. Fortunately, these are rather affordable.

Putting an M16A1 Together

It’s not difficult to assemble an M16A1 replica. The assembly is pretty much the same as that of a modern AR-15. There are no major differences in key parts, just minor cosmetic, design, and structural issues. You’ll be prepared for what needs to be done if you’ve ever put an AR-15 together from scratch. On the other hand, it is easy enough to find a local gunsmith or even another gun owner who can help you out with this for a reasonable fee if you are not comfortable assembling a rifle from M16A1 parts kits.

The standard M16A1 barrel is a 1:12 twist, 20” chrome lined barrel with a rifle-length gas system, an A1 flash hider, and front sight tower. A replica is ready for an A1 flash hider and a gas tube. It is possible to combine all these parts to create a period-correct gun barrel that will be precise and accurate with standard 55-grain ammo. After all, precision may be more important than having a correct rifle. Ideally, you would need both.

We suggest adding an M-7 bayonet while you’re at the barrel. You can buy new production M7s, but you can also get good, original bayonets with a very rich history behind them. They not only add a nice touch to your rifle, but also really take you back to the Vietnam War with your retro build.

Our Final Take

All kits now require a signature confirmation to be shipped. Please leave a note in the customer comment section while placing your online order if you know you are going to be out of town or unable to receive the package on a certain day or during a certain week.

It was a pleasure writing this review – putting together an M16A1 replica is a tribute to the warriors who carried this weapon in Vietnam and later wars and armed conflicts. It is an iconic, practically cult-status weapon that defined an era and a generation and is an important part of America’s heritage. The M16A1 holds a special place in the hearts and memories of many.

Which is your favorite parts kit for this iconic weapon? Share your answer with us in the comment section below!

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