Ages for handling a firearm (stamina etc, not law)?

Question:I'm writing a fictional piece involving hunting ans shooting and need some advice on ages for firearms (hence, I'm asking hypothetically, I'm not planning on doing this).

What would be the minimum age at which a boy with an average build could accurately use a late 1970s model M-16 for target shooting or hunting, and how long would it be before the strain of the recoil and weight on the shoulders caused enough discomfort to make them badly want a break?


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this is a seven-and-a-half pound weapon (empty, eight and change w/30 rounds), so if you're putting him in a standing shooting position, probably ten or twelve. However, if you've got the kid shooting off a rest, or prone, you could go as young five or six and they could shoot until they got bored, even on automatic fire.

As a demonstration of how little recoil the M-16 rifle has, when I was in Basic Training a drill intructor took a rifle with a 20 round magazine, held it with the rifle's butt firmly against the bridge of his nose and fired the full magazine in one long burst. He then reloaded and moved the weapon to his throat and did the same, and for the demo that everyone wanted placed the rifle firmly against his groin and burned the magazine. All were done with no ill effect (though with the weapon on his face he had no control at all, of course).

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It depends on how one uses the rifle. The smartest way to shoot a rifle is to rest it on something. Not only does this stablize the aiming, it also is less demanding on the arms. I've never liked standing up and holding the rifle while shooting. I would at least sit down and rest the rifle on my knee. If the person rested the rifle, I would say 5-8 years old would be possible.

The .223 that the M-16 shoots is loud enough to where a person should wear ear protection, but it doesn't kick. I would say a 5-8 year old that didn't get bored easy could put hundreds of rounds through the M-16 per day. Of course this isn't the three burst automatic fire the M-16 is capable of, but rapid fire is purely spray and pray and not useful at hunting. How useless? I saw a guy unable to hit a rabbit at 10 feet away with an automatic while standing up. I met one guy from the Korean war that was given a machine gun and he wouldn't even start firing till the enemy was 20 yards away because it was so inaccurate.

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I grew up immersed in fire arms, Its something of a family tradition past down from my grandfather. At about the age of seven I can recall my grandfathers favorite 1911 (the famous .45 military sidearm) going full auto (because of the years of use had worn down the sear and catch on the hammer) while I was fireing it off of a bench rest, needless to say the last couple rounds went through the gun clubs ceiling. I will never forget the day the sadistic SOB tricked me into fireing both barrels of a 12ga at the same time, that put my 8 yr old butt in the dirt and I missed the clay bird.

I'd say an 8-10 yr old would be able to handle that, as for strain of recoil. the M-16 (sold to the civilian market as the semi-auto AR-15) is chambered in .223 and really doesn't have much recoil as .223 really isn't that powerful of a round and the gas powered bolt absorbs a fair amount of the recoil.
ones finger would likely become tired and raw long before the recoil did anything to the shoulder, holding the rifle up is another matter, that would become tiring after a half hour or so with out a break, or about 200 rounds. That is assuming your intending for the boy to be fireing from a standing position or with out a rest of any kind.

I've seen a friends 10 and 12 yr old sons do this with my my ruger ranch rifle (mini-14) a semi-auto rifle chambered in the same .223 as the M-16/AR-15, which is something you might want to consider, the mini-14 is a little more commonly used (than the AR-15) for hunting in states that allow calibers that small to be used because its a lot cheaper and especially during the late 70's the mini was a lot more reliable (didn't jam or have feed problems when it got a little dirty like the AR and m-16 did) although the mini is not nearly as accurate at long range as the AR/M-16.

military model would be the m-16a1 or an early a2 in the late 70's both of which are semi-auto and 3 round burst selectable, the m-4 would the full-auto select fire rifle, the m-16 today sells for about $5000 for a good used one and the last m-4 I saw went for $13,000 and in order to purchase or own either one you must have a class 3 firearms license issued by the ATF. that being said I'd say 200 rounds of sustained full auto fire (or burst fire) would be enough to make a well trained and experinced (if there is such a thing) 12 year old want a break, that would take about 5min with 10 mag changes (assuming standerd 20rnd military magazines)

I Had to do some checking, m-16 was full auto up until the 80's when the A2 were issued with burst fire instead of auto, the M-4 remains full auto w/collapseable stock (basicly a small full auto m-16 but is a much later development).

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The late 70's model M-16 was a select fire weapon, capable of full automatic fire. It did not have the three shot burst capability. The .223 or 5.56mm is a low recoil round, especially in the gas operated M-16. Some of those old rifles came with a collapsible stock (M-16A1). So, a child of about 8 could easily handle such a weapon. And, with the proper coaching, do so accurately and efficiently.

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I was shooting my dad's AR-15 and Mini-14 at the age of 10. These weapons both have the gas opertated bolts and have very little recoil. As the other answerers of the question mentioned, the .223 is not a very powerful round, but you still can get sore after a while.You can shoot all day without taking a break. However, you need to know what you are doing with the rifle. If it was any rifle bigger than a .223, like a 7.62 x 39 (Russian), the recoil would be too much for a small boy. Likewise, if the round is a 7.62 x 51 (.308 NATO) the recoil would be immense. These weapons would also be far too heavy for a small boy to carry.

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