Are ISIS Militants Trading the AK-47 for the M-16?


Militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, may be trading their Russian-made AK-47 rifles for American-made M-16 rifles.

That’s according to video analyzed by Flashpoint Intelligence, a closely held company that focuses on monitoring illicit activity through use of the “Deep & Dark Web.” The video, posted below, appears to show a dozen or so militants training with and shooting M-16s, as first reported NBC News.

“It is noteworthy that the use of American rifles by Islamic State fighters is rare and is only seen in Iraq,” Flashpoint said in a research note obtained by “These rifles were likely left by U.S. forces or seized from Iraqi soldiers. Most jihadi fighters utilize Russian AK-47 rifles.”

Laith Alkhouri, director of Middle East and North Africa research and analysis for Flashpoint who authored the note, said the video was released by the Islamic State on Aug. 31 video and features footage from a training camp in the “Jazeera Province” — the group’s operational area in northern Iraq.

He said other videos and intelligence that surfaced over the past year depict ISIS militants in control of other American-made military equipment, including M198 howitzers artillery pieces, Humvee utility trucks, even M1 Abrams tanks — presumably seized as they overtook Iraqi military bases.

The U.S. Army has released photos showing Iraqi soldiers with M-16s as they undergo marksmanship training supervised by American troops.

Here are some other images pulled from the video, according to Flashpoint:



Here’s a link to the video that purports to show the militants wielding M-16s, according to the intelligence group:

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Lance

    They use M-16s since they can take ammo from dead or captured Iraqi army solders in battle. It doesn’t mean there prefer the M-16 they use them in Iaq for easy parts and ammo capture most ISIS in Syria still have AKs as shown on the news and in pictures in the news.

    • Bernard Iandoli

      You are right they dont prefer our stuff but they will use it because it there and they got it.. Really great to see where my tax dollar are going in Iraq. We should have never left.Once they learn how to handle our Eqiutment thing will be very tough for our troops if we have to go back in there and finish the job

    • Doubtom

      Anyone who served in Vietnam will readily attest to the superiority of the AK-47 over the M-16. It operates under much worse conditions that the M-16 without jamming. In fact our troops opted to use AK-47s in some cases.

  • What’s next….pizza and beer? I think they’re coming around. Firearms by Infidel.

  • guest

    They recognize the superiority of the M16.

    • Bob Jester

      you must be joking.

  • Beercamper

    I hope the M-16s jamb on them, during a critical firefight, like they so often did in Vietnam.

    • seans

      Curious where you in Vietnam?

      • Joshua

        No he wasn’t, but it’s the cool kid thing to do. Everyone rags on the M16 and uses secondhand internet information from Vietnam soldiers to do so.

    • guest

      Mine never jammed in VN.

    • 1970

      Mine didn’t jam 1970-71

    • Greg

      That would be the M4. An M16 hasn’t jammed in large numbers since the A2.


    Lol. Most of those rifles didn’t have sights.

    • sam hill

      me to!

    • Doubtom

      Sights? Who uses them anymore? They just point in the general direction and unload a whole clip, or havwn’t you watched these clowns in battle?

  • Pete Sheppard

    They use what they can get and find ammo for. There are many photos and videos of DAESH carrying both ARs and AKs.

  • Docduracoat

    Isis captured thousands of M4/ M 16’s in Mosul and Ramadi when those cities were abandoned by the Iraqi National Army
    Also lots of Humvees and Artillery. The U.S government has been trying to destroy a lot of it with air strikes.
    All sides prefer Soviet/Russian equiptment as it is requires far less maintenance.
    Photos show most fighters with AK and “Dragunov” type rifles.
    The M 4 requires almost daily lubrication and frequent cleaning.
    The Kurds have managed to recapture some of that from Isis as battlefield pick ups.

    • seans

      Curious where you get the M4 requires lots of cleaning and daily lubrication. That myth has been disproven a while ago. Kinda like how Russian equipment requires less maintenance than American equipment. I spent a lot of time doing FID, with foreign forces that had both AKs and ARs. When you start actually shooting the AKs as much as the ARs you start seeing the same issues.

  • FormerActionGuy

    I could care less what they use. A club is more fitting for them Neanderthals. No offense to any Neanderthals

    • Crom

      None taken

  • galloglas

    Only dropped once in the sand.
    These won’t last long with the care these clowns won’t give them.

  • bart ninja

    the CIA prefers to furnish them with M-16s.

  • DesertDude


    Daesh (aka in western media as “IS / ISIS / ISIL” et al) militants will use whatever weapons and ammo they capture until either [1] ammo is expended or [2] the weapons break down or malfunction due to lack of basic user maintenance (aka PMCS in “US Army-speak”). The US M16/M4 — while more accurate if one is looking for aimed fire, instead of a volume of “pray and spray when in the attack” area fire — is comparatively a “maintenance vampire” when compared to the AK/AKM series of assault rifles.

    All things considered, Daeshis revert to using AK/AKM etc. Soviet-made weapons because those older weapons are more familiar and easier to use, more rugged and the Iraqi and Syrian forces who abandoned their positions usually left behind massive stocks of ammunition and spare parts.

    One recent example is the large stashes of ammo (across a wide range of calibers & types), etc. left behind by Syrian Arab Army (SyAA) after the Daesh captured the Syrian town of al-Sukhna.

    The Daeshis’ habitual preferences for what is easiest to use and maintain, or replace, became sharply apparent during research and analysis for compilation of an illustrated “Know your Daesh OPFOR” recognition guide I developed on behalf of a US training simulations firm which supports the several Combat Training Centers (CTC) of the US Army and USMC.

  • Tigger

    So will we see them sporting Multicam as well?* That really would make for some OPFOR problems.

    *Meant sarcastically for those that missed it.

  • desertchaser

    i could care less about them acquiring the M4’s, we know the capabilities and weaknesses of the weapon system, what bothers me is not only did they get artillery pieces but the article states they obtained an ABRAMS … WTH why are we sharing out top weapon systems with other countries, if they can’t afford to develop their our tough! stop giving our tops systems to idiot countries who aren’t capable of holding on to them … heck stop all together .. give them a Sherman .. now we have to go fight one of our systems which we know a lot about and its going to kill a lot of our battle brothers and sisters before its taken out. Obama … jerk !

  • Slag

    Hmmm, wonder how they got those? The bazaar in Benghazi…

    • Greg

      No, Christmas present for Obama.

  • veej7485

    Captured equipment and ammo…stupid article. They probally have millions of M16 ammo from deserted captured Iraq weapon depots. Let them keep coming, let them continue to die in the meat grinder. Dont need US troops, let them fight each other.

  • Eric B.

    Yet another article about captured U.S. weapons.

    Has ANYONE ever wondered how ISIS and other militant groups can train up their troops in a matter of months to function so effectively and the U.S. cannot train troops or police without YEARS and billions of $$, troops who then flee at the first sight of a fight??

    Yeah, I know that the “good” Iraqi officers we trained were replaced by political hacks and that explains part of it. But wow, we can’t seem to train foreign troops worth a damn.

    When we were supposedly training Iraqi police we had several different PRIVATE contractors using several different standards and techniques and what we got was a hodgepodge of crappy training.

    WHEN will the U.S. military make a PERMANENT TRAINING CORPS for this task? As it now stands we have none for this very crucial task. Where the hell are our top generals and why don’t they see this need? Un tip then our tax dollars spent for this purpose go down a rat hole.

    U.S. training of foreign military units SUCKS!

    • Yellow Devil

      Technically, training of foreign military personnel and local fighters actually is part of the Green Beret’s missions, so we do technically have a permanent training corps so to speak.

      The Iraqi Army, particularly the top echelon, was systematically gutted by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during his term, particularly after the U.S. exited Iraq and cut off most political ties after the current administration effectively washed it’s hands of the matter. As a result, al-Maliki took it upon himself to replace various competent military leaders with his own political cronies, as a way of maintaining control and sidelining Sunni interests. The result are large part of what we see here. But the fact that the former PM also ignored the Sunni tribes, even the ones willing to back the Baghdad government, made the fight more difficult when ISIS assassinated and round up non-sympathetic Sunni tribal leaders.

      A few poorly trained Iraqi Soldiers can’t explain the disaster that we have seen in the past couple of years. It is more systematic then that.

    • mrboots721

      ISIS troops are probably way more motivated than Iraqi troops.

  • bbabbitt

    They were gifts left by the Iraqi army when they ran away, just like the Abrams and other weapons we gave ISIS through the Iraqis.

  • Nolan

    If they need m-16’s they should put a rec. in to the White House , they will send them anything they want in a round about way. Thank God they have no pilots or we would be sending planes too.

  • Bill

    The guy on the left looks like a big monkey and the guy in the middle looks like Chumlee from pawn stars.

    • RAAFie

      Creationists must hate ISIS because they provide evidence of the ‘Missing Link’ in human evolution.

  • TheTheifEliStoner

    M16 in the hands where they belong, in the hands of terrorist scum.

  • gerard fkaminski

    coming from a military family,many of my ancesters headstones are worn thin ,from them spinning out of control.bill and hilary sold us out and its only going to get that we have given the go ahead for nuk power,why worry about the small ,but best stuff

  • JohnD

    Like in Vietnam, ARVIN M-16s? Never fired, dropped only once! They must be running out of 7.62Imm ammo!

  • Paulo Romero

    Well the U.S. has finally come around to replacing the Russian Federation as the most prolific weapons supplier in the Middle East! Regardless of who get’s it , make sure it’s US made! That said why not supply them with doctored ammunition that will blow up in their faces , or better still blow up and through their asses?? MACV/SOG did that in Vietnam , they planted doctored ammo in large NVA caches rendering them useless for fear of fatal misfires. Conversely , that wouldn’t be great advertising for the military-industrial complex now , would it??

  • Zspoiler

    They got all those M-16`s from the Iraqis troops that ran way ,and left their weopons.

  • The guy on the left looks like a big monkey and the guy in the middle looks like Chumlee from pawn stars.

  • IronV

    A lot of myths being repeated here. The AK-47 and its variants are certainly simple, robust weapons. But the M-16/M-4 is superior in every regard. Yes, there were some teething troubles with the M-16 when first introduced (almost 50 years ago!) that have long since been resolved but have persisted as mythology ever since. And a very strong emphasis on weapon cleaning and maintenance has been a part of American battlefield doctrine for 100 years–regardless of the weapon type.

  • Jack

    Except for one all the M16’s have no rear sights. “Allah guide my aim!”

  • Though AK-47 is better for shooting range & target but it’s nothing to American’s M-16.