It's time to engage...

The following tasks are examples of basic NATO STANAG 6001: level 1, new vocabulary and the Present Simple tense form when understanding how to clear and make safe a Colt M16A2 rifle.

*English Training Lounge are not a registered firearms trainer or supplier, the following tasks are simply designed to clarify the English language used when operating this rifle.

*ETL understands that there are a number of variations of this particular firearm, however the following tasks concentrate on the Colt manufactured M16A2 rifle. We fully understand that this particular version of the M16 has a number of changes that do not fully reflect other M16 versions such as the original 1964 rifle and the A3 and A4.

If you have any further questions or concerns regarding the SML&CT programmes, please contact ETL directly.


An ETL Military English Language Course can offer you:

  • A clearer and more confident ability to give your message, order or input in clear English
  • Up-to-date key military English terminology and jargon focusing on pronunciation and meanings
  • A broader vocabulary for discussing military and peacekeeping duties
  • A clearer understanding and more effective use of diplomatic language, including: local customs, cultures and religious norms and conventions. (The client's specific needs could/will determine the exact training requirements and outcomes)

Basic Military English

The Colt M16A2 Rifle

USN, US Army, USMC, USAF & various other NATO & GCC armed forces
6.36 lbs
33 in (stock extended)
14.5 in
5.56x45 mm
gas-operated, direct impingement
950 rpm
2,900 ft/s
600 m

Present Simple - Colt M16A2 Operation Instructions

(Example Task: Using the Present Simple tense form and new key vocabulary when explaining the clearing of an M4 Carbine Assault Rifle.)


Understanding and using the Present Simple tense form when clearing the M16A2 Rifle before use.


The Simple Present is used to show that an action is repeated or fact. The action can be a habit, a hobby, a daily event, instruction, a scheduled event or something that often happens. It can also be something a person often forgets or usually does not do.

The Present Simple, (Active) follows this pattern: Subject + verb + object or verb + object - Example: 'Men, ready your rifles' or 'Load and make safe.'



Clear / Clearing your weapon - (Meaning) Removing all ammunition from the weapon's breach and removing the magazine/clip.

Cock(Meaning) Pulling back the hammer/charging handle so that a weapon is ready to fire.

Lever(Meaning) a switch or bar resting on a pivot, which can be moved to different positions.

Performing(Meaning) Carrying our or doing an action.

Prevent - (Meaning) Stopping something from happening.







When clearing your rifle of live ammunition or checking to see if the weapon is loaded, always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direct when performing the following steps. Even if you are told the weapon is unloaded, always handle and treat the rifle as if it is loaded.

  1. Move the Safety Selector Lever to the “SAFE” position as shown in fig.1. REMEMBER, if the rifle is not cocked, the Safety Lever Selector cannot be moved to the “SAFE” position. Please keep in mind that the AR15 has 2 Safety Lever Selector positions, (SAFE & FIRE) whereas the M4 Carbine has 3 Safety Lever Selector positions, (SAFE, SEMI & AUTO).  Proceed to step 2.
  2. Press the Magazine Release Button and pull the magazine downwards and out of the rifle. See fig.2.
  3. Lock the rifle’s bolt open by pulling the Charging Handle fully backwards. Press the bottom of the Bolt Catch and slowly release the Charging Handle until it catches the Bolt Catch as shown in fig.3. If you did not put the Safety Selection Level to “SAFE” in step 1, do so now.

Always check the rifle to make sure there is no excess oil inside the bore, the inside of the barrel. Excess oil in the bore can cause too much pressure to build when a round is fires, this can damage the barrel and could cause a back fire.


Safety Selector Lever


Magazine Release Button


Charging Handle

The Selector Lever is located on the left side of the Lower Receiver of the M4 AR15 rifle and has two positions, FIRE and SAFE, see fig.4. The Safety Selector Lever position is also visible on the right side of the Lower Receiver, the position is made visible with a red indicator. See fig.5. In this position a cam presses down on the trigger blocking and locking the movement so that the hammer cannot be released and stopping the weapon from being firing.


SAFE position

m4-ar15-fig-5Right-side Safety Lever Position Marker in Red  



The rifle is now unloaded and set to SAFE. The weapon is now clear for inspection and / or cleaning.


REMEMBER: Even though the rifle is safe and clear of any ammunition, always treat and handle the weapon as if it was loaded!



Gap Fill

Complete the sentences with the present simple verbs in the box.


 locks  is  shows  pull  check  cock  blocks  has  open  move


a. To prevent accidental discharges, ____ the Safety Selector Lever to SAFE.

b. If you do not  ____ the rifle first, you will not be able to move the Safety  Selector Lever to SAFE.

c. Press the Magazine Release Button and ____ the magazine down and out of the weapon.

d. Lock the rifles bolt ____ by moving the Charging Handle fully backwards.

e. Always ____ the rifle for excess oil inside the bore.

f. The Safety Selector Lever _____ on the left side of the Lower Receiver and ____ two positions.

g. The right side Safety Selector Level ____ a red indicator when in the SAFE position.

h. In the SAFE position a cam ____ and ____ the hammer so that the trigger cannot be pulled preventing the weapon from firing.



True or False 

Using the information in the description above, mark the sentence T = True or F = False.

a. The M4 AR15's Safety Selector Lever is on the right of the weapon. __

b. The rifle must be cocked to move the Safety Selector Lever to SAFE. __

c. Pull the Magazine Release Button and pull the Magazine downwards to release it from the rifle. __

d. Lock the rifle's bolt open by pushing the Charging Handle forwards. __

e. Excess oil in the bore improves the barrel of the rifle. __

f. The Safety Selector Lever has 2 settings. __

g. The SAFE cam blocks and locks the rifle's hammer so that the weapon cannot be fired. __

h. Once the rifle is cleared of all ammunition, you can point it at other people. __