View Full Version : A2 vs A3 Specification - Whats the difference

06-25-09, 16:08
Looking to buy for the first time and am trying to figure out what the difference is between the A2 and A3 designations.
Any recommendations on a great starter rifle?
I am looking at the Bushmaster 16" Heavy Bbl. A2/A3 Carbines or the Colt of the same specs.

06-25-09, 16:12
Typically it means flat top vs. standard carry handle receiver.

a3 being the removeable carry handle with a flat top receiver.

06-25-09, 18:01
Typically it means flat top vs. standard carry handle receiver.

a3 being the removeable carry handle with a flat top receiver.

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the orriginal A3 have a standard carry handle.

06-25-09, 18:27
It did, and the rifle was basically the full-auto version of the burst-capable M16A2.

Since the M16A3 didn't find wide acceptance, you'll find fewer references to the A3 to be in regard to the rifle than you will those in regard to the weapon component that holds the same designation suffix.

Just like AR refers to a family of weapons, but not all of them are actually designated "AR blah blah yadda."

06-25-09, 19:04
All irrelevant. He's talking about current day AR designations for a civi rifle purchase... not old mil designations.

06-25-09, 19:10
Sorta the direction I was going, but you just said it instead of flailing about wildly like I did.

06-25-09, 23:16
I appreciate hearing from you experts. I will hopefully be an owner working my way up the ladder soon. The thing is, so many damn companies and so many choices. I mean I look at Clint from Gunsite (love the guy) and he is wielding one that seems to have none of the modern mods - but what a shooter. I am just thinking, hell if I can only get one, which one do I get!?
I thought from some descriptions that it was the removable carry handle/picatinny vs the no picatinny under the removable carry handle. Then I saw stuff that made me think it was the distance capabilities of the iron sights. So I appreciate you guys weighing in.

06-26-09, 03:42
A3 in the civilian world refers to the flattop upper versus the A2 carry handle uppers.

The advantages of the A3 is the variety of optics and sights available to the user, if given the choice I would get the A3 anytime over the fixed A2.

The M16A3, is usually found used by the US Navy, with the M16A4 (20 in rifle, 3rd burst with flattop upper) being found in the USMC inventory.

there are several versions still in the invertory and the FM3-22.9 Rifle Marksmanship refers to all M16 versions, including the M4 carbine.

Robb Jensen
06-26-09, 07:36
M16A2 (fixed carry handle) selector settings (SAFE-SEMI-BURST)
M16A3 (fixed carry handle) selector settings (SAFE-SEMI-AUTO)
M16A4 (removable carry handle) selector settings (SAFE-SEMI-BURST)
M4 (early had fixed carry handles like the XM4, later switched to removable) selector settings (SAFE-SEMI-BURST)
M4A1 (removable carry handle) selector settings (SAFE-SEMI-AUTO)

All manufacturers A3 (removable carry handle)
Daniel Defense A4 (removable carry handle) with M4 feed ramps in upper receiver.

06-29-09, 16:29
If your are new to AR's, go to the comparison chart thread via Rob S on this sub forum. The light will come on, it did for me. It does not deal with your A2 issue, but is everything else you need in your Colt vs Bushmaster question.