When I was in the Army I was issued an M16 rifle. To the best of my recollection I never had a jam with live ammo. I did with blanks, but I don’t recall ever with live ammo. We did practice jam recovery (slap – tap – rack – bang), but with many tens of thousands of rounds down range, some with barrels almost bending from heat, no jams.
Those rifles were old, many dated to Vietnam, and they were loose, sloppy and inaccurate. But they ran fine.
I was worried when issued the gun, because I was old enough, and interested in guns enough, to know about the controversy that the M16 caused when first introduced. It jammed… a LOT. This turned out to be due to the Army using the wrong ammo, and also to a buffer spring issue.
I now have a decedent of the M16A1 introduced in Vietnam. It is of the M4 variant and is tuned for competition shooting. It has a compensator to minimize recoil by venting gas backwards. It has a lightened bolt driven backwards with just enough gas to cycle the rounds, but hit the back of the receiver too hard.
It doesn’t jam either.
Given that history, you might find this history, of the M16’s introduction into service interesting.
He got the facts basically right, which is refreshing for a journalist – especially one Esquire would hire. Read it. The author also wrote the popular book “The Gun”, which is a history of the AK-47.