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."
"Taking the rifle!"

The Assault Rifle in L4D or M-16 Assault Rifle in L4D2, is a Tier 2 replacement for the Submachine Gun and Silenced Submachine Gun offering a significant enhancement to the player's ability to hit targets and inflict damage; quite simply, it is a better overall weapon. 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 is unquestionably one of a player's best choices as a general-use firearm on account of its balanced accuracy, damage potential and adaptability.

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


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 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 two potential shortcomings, both of which can be minimized by skillful players:

  • It is easy to waste ammo if a careless player adopts the bad 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 self-inflicted 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.

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. 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.)


  • High accuracy, rate of fire, magazine size and reserve.
  • Extremely versatile.
  • Fast reload.
  • Extremely common.


  • Low damage.
  • Burns through ammo at a high rate.
  • Doesn't excel in any particular situation.
  • Hard to fire single-shots.

Left 4 Dead 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 rifles (the AK-47 and the Combat Rifle), it is the "middle of the road" assault rifle variant in terms of capacity along with balancing stopping power and damage with accuracy and range, making it good for almost any situation. Between all assault rifles in the game, it stands in the middle with regards to magazine capacity, has the highest rate of fire and reload speed, and lowest damage per shot.

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

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 modeled after the M16A2. However, instead of firing three-round bursts, the game's M16A2 incorrectly fires full auto like the M16 and M16A1.
  • In reality, the most common magazine type would hold 30 rounds, resembling its in-game model. The game uses a 50-round magazine, an existing but uncommon capacity due to high risks of double feed, which would jam the weapon. The weapon's ammo pool is not a multiple of its magazine capacity, meaning that previously, its magazine capacity was also 30 rounds.
  • The Assault Rifle was the standard issue assault rifle for the U.S Army during the Vietnam War, of which Bill is a veteran. This may explain 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; however, this is historically inaccurate, as the M16A2 was not introduced until the 1980s, twenty years after the Vietnam War. Bill may be referring to the AR15 family of assault rifles as a whole to which the M16 belongs (some of which were in the Vietnam War), or to the overall resemblance that the in-game M16A2 has to the original M16.
  • The Assault Rifle's real-life counterpart (at least the A2 variant) 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.
  • 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 Assault Rifle will look like an M4A1 with or without a scope. 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 another.
  • 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.
  • The Assault Rifle, along with the Submachine Gun, were capable of a glitch called a "Power Shot" in Left 4 Dead, resulting in the weapon firing the entire magazine in a single shot. 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 instantly instead of consecutively.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The firing sound for the Assault Rifle is re-used from Counter-Strike: Source's M4A1.
  • In Left 4 Dead 2, the Survivors will still call it an Assault Rifle and not M-16 or M-16 Assault Rifle despite it being called M-16 Assault Rifle in the game 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 also affected by this as well.

External Links[]


Primary Weapons
Tier 1 Chrome invert.png Chrome Shotgun / Pump invert.png Pump Shotgun / MP5 Invert.png MP5 / Mac10 invert.png Silenced Submachine Gun / Uzi invert.png Submachine Gun
Tier 2 Ak invert.png AK-47 / Icon weapon rifle desert inverted.png Combat Rifle / M16 invert.png M-16 Assault Rifle / SIG Invert.png SG 552 / Auto invert.png Auto Shotgun / Spas12 invert.png Combat Shotgun / AWSM Invert.png AWP / Hunting invert.png Hunting Rifle / Steyr Invert.png Scout / G3 invert.png Sniper Rifle
Special Tier Grenade launcher inverted.png Grenade Launcher / M60Icon.png M60 Machine Gun
Secondary Weapons
Sidearms Pistol inverted.png M1911 Pistol / Deagle invert.png Magnum Pistol / Pistol inverted.png P220 Pistol
Melee Weapons Bat invert.png Baseball Bat / Cricket invert.png Cricket Bat / Crowbar invert.png Crowbar / Axe invert.png Fireaxe / Pan invert.png Frying Pan / GolfClubIcon.png Golf Club / Guitar invert.png Guitar / Katana invert.png Katana / Knife Invert.png Knife / Machete invert.png Machete / Baton invert.png Nightstick / Icon pitchfork inverted.png Pitchfork / Icon shovel inverted.png Shovel
Special Tier Chainsaw invert.png Chainsaw
Other Weapons
Grenades Bile invert.png Bile Bomb / Molotov inverted.png Molotov Cocktail / Pipebomb invert.png Pipe Bomb
Upgrades L4D2 ammo explosive.png Explosive Ammunition / L4D2 ammo incendiary.png Incendiary Ammunition / Laser sight HUD invert.PNG Laser Sight
Fixed Weapons MMG Icon.png Heavy Machine Gun / Minigun icon.png Minigun
Usable Items Explosive Barrel HUD invert.png Explosive barrel / Fireworks icon.png Fireworks / Gas canister HUD invert.png Gas can / Oxytank icon.png Oxygen tank / Propane tank icon.png Propane tank
Special Items Cola.png Cola / Gnome icon.png Gnome Chompski
Featured in both games / L4D1-exclusive / L4D2-exclusive (Counter-Strike weapons / PC-exclusive)