Left 4 Dead Wiki

This article is about the M-16 Assault Rifle. For other Assault Rifles, see AK-47 or Combat Rifle.

"An assault rifle; This shit's gettin' more like 'Nam every second."
"Man, I wanted this rifle since I was nine."

The Assault Rifle in Left 4 Dead or M-16 Assault Rifle in Left 4 Dead 2, is a Tier 2 automatic rifle. It features a 50-round magazine with 360 rounds in reserve. The Assault Rifle's damage fall off is it loses 3% damage per 500 units and after 1500 units it suffers significantly greater damage fall off. It has a max range of 3000 units.

In summary, the Assault Rifle offers a balanced accuracy, fast reload, and general adaptability compared to other rifles in its tier.

The M16 is used by Bill, Louis, Nick, and Rochelle (as well as Zoey in the Xbox 360 version of Left 4 Dead 2).


M16v 1

Bill holding the assault rifle

In Left 4 Dead, the Assault Rifle is the most flexible and capable weapon available. Whether it is clearing a room, mopping up, engaging a Horde or sniping a distant Special Infected, the Assault Rifle will carry it off. It does have some shortcomings, but these are relatively minor and do not affect gameplay very much.

However, in Left 4 Dead 2, the standard Assault Rifle faces strong direct competition from alternative weapons (e.g. the AK-47, and even the tier 1 Silenced SMG) and players need to make their choices with a finer understanding of each weapon's pros and cons.

The Assault Rifle has five main advantages:

  • Its projectile is capable of penetrating multiple targets (which is a maximum of two Common Infected, also the same for the Combat Rifle, AK-47, Dual Pistols and Desert Eagle)
  • It has a high rate of fire which, together with its longer range relative to the shotgun family, make it a very potent weapon against Tanks.
  • It has the ability to fire on full auto (by holding down the fire control button) and to let off fast double-taps and short bursts (by applying light pressure to the fire controller).
  • It has a large magazine backed up by a generous reserve ammo allowance.
  • It has a tight cone of fire (limited shot dispersion) meaning that it is safer to use than a shotgun when firing near other Survivors.

On the downside, the Assault Rifle has a few potential shortcomings:

  • It is easy to waste ammo if a player adopts the habit of firing on full auto at all times. In co-op play this can be risky since a full-auto team member can become a liability, due to that person's repeated ammo shortages.
  • On higher difficulties, the Assault Rifle's killing power is diluted relative to other weapons so that it requires at least three hits to take down a Common Infected.
  • The overall damage that the Assault Rifle is capable of doing is drastically lower compared to other weapons in its tier, and even extends to being inferior compared to tier 1 weapons like the silenced SMG in terms of sheer total damage dealing potential over time, due to a much lower damage per bullet compared to weapons in its same tier, and a much lower ammo pool compared to the tier 1 submachine gun-type weapons.

Tactically, since the Assault Rifle normally only needs two or three shots to do its job and the recoil generated by full-auto firing degrades accuracy at mid to long ranges, burst firing or "headhunting" is highly recommended. Players using the M16 will face ammo conservation concerns more often compared to other weapons, both in general, and particularly following tank fights, due to the higher amount of bullets required for general purpose fighting compared to other weapons. The secret of firing short bursts (or even single shots) is to apply only a very quick and light pressure on the fire control button. If the player has trouble conserving ammunition, try to use a secondary weapon against Common infected, and use Assault Rifle against Special Infected, Hordes and the Tank.

Burst firing involves firing a short two- to five-round burst at individual targets before shifting aim and repeating the treatment. This is excellent when shooting at medium and long ranges (e.g. sniping a Smoker's head just above a distant roof line) and is effective on most difficulty settings except for Expert (wherein targets are more resilient). With burst firing, a player knows that after firing five or six bursts the magazine is about half-empty and is getting due for reload, something that is hard to gauge firing on full-auto.

"Headhunting" with the Assault Rifle takes advantage of its accuracy and the fact that Common Infected all have the same physical height. Firing at the heads of a Horde decimates their ranks quickly. (A variation, "Leg Chopping" works in much the same way: a crouching player aims low for their legs.)

With a team of four player-controlled Survivors in a finale, it is a good idea to have two players with Auto Shotguns and Assault Rifles respectively. Position the team in a closet or facing a choke point. The two shotgunners crouch in front while the two with Assault Rifles stand behind them and fire over their heads. When the Tank arrives, the team breaks up to engage and reform once it is dispatched. (Note that this tactic is less effective in Left 4 Dead 2, as the Director may spawn a Spitter (or a Charger in choke points like a hallway) to prevent Survivors from staying in one place for too long.)

Pros & cons[]


  • High accuracy, rate of fire, magazine size and reserve.
  • Extremely versatile.
  • Fast reload of 2.2 seconds, being the fastest-reloading primary weapon in the game.
  • Extremely common.


  • Low damage, both per bullet and for overall total damage possible without resupplying.
  • Doesn't excel in any particular situation.
  • Burns through ammo at a high rate.
  • Hard to fire single-shots.
  • Struggles at higher difficulties; takes three or more shots to kill Common Infected at Advanced and above, which also further amplifies its existing ammo consumption problems.

Left 4 Dead 2[]

M16 2

Rochelle holding the Assault Rifle

The Assault Rifle returns in Left 4 Dead 2, but has some new animations along with a new name: the "M-16 Assault Rifle". Compared with the other two base rifles (the AK-47 and the Combat Rifle), it is the "middle of the road" assault rifle variant in terms of capacity, with the highest rate of fire and reload speed, and the lowest damage per shot. This makes it very versatile and effective for both mid-long range headhunting or full-auto room clearing.

Behind the Scenes[]


Early screenshot showing the Assault Rifle without text on its left side

Early screenshots show that the Assault Rifle lacked text on its left side at one time.

When the Assault Rifle was drawn in early versions of the game, the character would pull the charging handle as soon as they took the gun out. The sound for this animation is still played when the Assault Rifle is drawn out in the final version of the game.

The Assault Rifle was based on Counter-Strike's M4A1 assault rifle. Its "price" in the gun's weapon file is the same as the M4A1's, and it references the M4A1 in its "animation" listing. Its firing sounds are slightly modified versions of the sounds used for the M4A1. This is because in real life, the M4A1 is essentially a shorter M16.

It had a different reload animation as well. After replacing the magazine, the player would both pull the charging handle and hit the bolt catch.



The M16A2

Assault Rifle Cocking Animation

The Assault Rifle's removed cocking animation

  • The Assault Rifle or M-16 Assault Rifle in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 is most likely modeled after the M16A2. However, instead of firing three-round bursts or in semi-auto, it fires in full-auto, suggesting it is actually a M16A3, which is a official modification of the M16A2, therefore meaning the exterior would look the complete same.
  • In reality, the most common and official military magazine type holds 30 rounds, resembling its in-game model. The game uses an unofficial, aftermarket 50-round magazine, an existing but uncommon capacity due to high risks of malfunctions, jamming and doublefeeds. The weapon's ammo pool isn't divisible with its magazine capacity, meaning you will oddly have 10 rounds left after running out of reserve ammo.
  • The M16A1 was the standard issue assault rifle variant (following the M14) for the U.S Army during the Vietnam War, of which Bill is a veteran. Most Vietnam war M16s were converted to M16A2s after 2001, possibly explaining why his AI chooses this gun whenever given the opportunity in Left 4 Dead, and why he will sometimes remark "Damn, now this takes me back!" upon doing so as if it was the M16A1. Bill may also be referring to the AR15 family of assault rifles as a whole or to the overall resemblance that the in-game M16A2 has to the original M16.
  • The Assault Rifle's real-life model inspiration actually behaves like the Combat Rifle that is found in Left 4 Dead 2―it shoots three-round bursts and isn't fully automatic due to the amount of ammunition wasted during fully automatic fire. However, it was made fully automatic because Counter-Strike's original weapon was an M4A1 (the original M4 is still safe-semi-burst), a gun designed in the 1990s to be a carbine version of the M16. It was likely changed to the M16A3 to complement Bill's character, the B-movie nature of Left 4 Dead or developer oversight.
  • The Assault Rifle's HUD icon does not show the flashlight mounted on the gun.
  • On the left side of the Assault Rifle in Left 4 Dead 2, is the text "AR2", a reference to the internal name of the Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle in Half-Life 2.
  • In some campaign posters, the Survivors appear to be armed with scoped and/or unscoped M4A1-style rifles instead of the M16 Assault Rifle that physically appears in-game. Examples of this are "The Passing", "Dark Carnival", "Swamp Fever" and "Death Toll".
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the Assault Rifle's charging handle will be pulled every time it is taken out. In real life, it should only be done in order to pull the bolt to rear in case of a failure to fire (stoppage) or to chamber a round. Working the action with a round chambered would eject the round and chamber the next in the magazine. This is common with all of the Left 4 Dead 2 deploy animations.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2's The Passing, Bill's dead body is found with an Assault Rifle in his hands. The rifle acts like a spawn point and can be used normally.
    • Since the Last Stand Community update for the PC version, his Assault Rifle has received a unique model with a number of blood stains, aptly named.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the reload animation of the Assault Rifle will include hitting the bolt-catch on the side of the rifle to chamber the first round, whereas the Left 4 Dead reload animation is just putting the magazine in and being able to immediately fire again without hitting the bolt-catch even when emptied. Older Beta animations feature odd reloads where both the charging handle gets pulled and the bolt catch gets hit.
  • The Assault Rifle, along with the Submachine Gun, was capable of a glitch called a "Power Shot" in Left 4 Dead, resulting in the weapon firing its entire magazine in a single shot while dealing heavy damage. This was patched on September 22nd, 2009.
    • This was quite similar to the FAMAS in earlier CS games developed by Valve, which also fires three rounds at once instantly instead of aconsecutive burst.
  • In Left 4 Dead, when Louis finishes reloading the Assault Rifle (in third person), the magazine is out of place.
  • In Left 4 Dead, sometimes after throwing a Pipe Bomb or a Molotov Cocktail, if a player immediately switches to the Assault Rifle and shoves a couple of Infected, a cut animation will play where the character pulls back the charging handle and adjusts their hold on the weapon.
  • Prior to the PC-exclusive September 2020 update, this weapon, the Submachine Gun and the Hunting Rifle were the only weapons that had reloading animations in which the magazine is actually removed from the weapon when seen from the third-person view in Left 4 Dead 2. Weapons introduced in Left 4 Dead 2 had the magazine remain attached to the weapons if their reloading animations were played in third person.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the default reloading animation erroneously shows the magazine being "rocked" into the magazine well to lock it in place, much like an AK would be reloaded. In real life, the M16's magazine well is designed to allow a magazine to be inserted straight in, locking it automatically, and be easily dropped out with the mag-release button once emptied. The Desert Rifle features a similar magazine "rock" in its reload. This also causes the magazine to clip with the front of the mag well in an odd fashion.
  • In the early versions of Left 4 Dead 2, doing a shove while holding a fully-loaded Assault Rifle would cause a clicking sound. However, this would not happen with a partially-loaded Assault Rifle.
  • There appears to be an animation glitch of some sort in Left 4 Dead 2 involving Francis, from the viewpoint of other players; the magazine of his assault rifle will occasionally disappear while firing.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the Survivors will still call it an Assault Rifle and not by its M16 designation despite it being named as such in onscreen texts.
  • Prior to The Last Stand Update, when shooting up or down, the M16 would return back to the center position, the AK-47 was affected by this as well.

External Links[]


Primary Weapons
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Tier 2 Ak invert AK-47 / Scar invert Combat Rifle / M16 invert M-16 Assault Rifle / SIG Invert SG 552 / Auto invert Auto Shotgun / Spas12 invert Combat Shotgun / AWSM Invert AWP / Hunting invert Hunting Rifle / Steyr Invert Scout / G3 invert Sniper Rifle
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