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Old 12-11-2009, 01:26 PM
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Default The M14 rifle: A brief history

With renewed interest in the M14 due to its increasing employment in Afghanistan, I thought I'd post this information from a forthcoming article on the rifle that I authored. I first encountered the M14 in 1963 when I was in the service. I liked it then, and I still do. Hope you like the information contained here!

John



The U.S. M14 rifle, a product-improved select-fire development of John Garand’s famous M1 rifle, was designed to replace the M1, the M1 carbine, the M1918 Browning automatic rifle, and the M3 and M3A1 submachine guns. Adopted in 1957, it failed in its full-auto mode, proving virtually uncontrollable, but when fired semiautomatically, it showed itself to be as fine a full-power battle rifle as could be had. Although the M16 series of 5.56mm rifles and carbines have become standard in our service, existing stocks of 7.62mm M14s are still in demand by our military where decisive longer-range firepower is required. Many in our armed forces think the M14 should be resurrected and returned to standard front-line service where target distances are routinely in excess of 200 yards. Powerful, reliable, accurate and robust, the M14 is still a classic and useful battle rifle.

Towards the end of World War II, perceived deficiencies in the M1 rifle began to be addressed by the U.S. Army’s research and development department at the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. While the M1’s en-bloc clip holding 8 rounds worked reliably and ensured that the weight of the rifle could be kept within reasonable bounds, more ammunition capacity was seen as desirable. Winchester, Remington, and John Garand all offered conversion designs. A shorter, lighter version of the standard .30-06 cartridge was developed, originally based on the .300 Savage round. Dubbed the 7.62x51mm (civilian version .308 Winchester) cartridge, it permitted a 20-round detachable magazine to be employed, with ballistics comparable to the .30-06. Garand’s T(Test)20 design showed promise. A new gas system was developed from Earle Harvey’s T25 submission, which replaced the long operating rod/piston of the M1 with a gas expansion and cut-off design. It propelled a piston under the barrel a brief distance to strike and activate the much shorter operating rod. The melded designs resulted in the final T44 prototype. It retained the rotating bolt, trigger mechanism and sights of the M1, assuring easier transition to the new rifle by those used to the M1. A slotted flash suppressor was added to the lighter-weight barrel. A trip lever was actuated by the operating rod when in full-auto mode to release the hammer as the bolt closed as long as the trigger was depressed, and a selector switch was employed on the right rear of the receiver. The T44, after competition with other designs, including the T48 FN FAL, was adopted in 1957 as the U.S. Rifle, 7.62mm, M14. The 7.62x51mm cartridge was subsequently adopted by other Western nations and became designated as the 7.62mm NATO.

The new rifle was equipped with a hinged butt plate which was to give support in the prone position during full-auto fire. It also had a bayonet lug accepting a ringed M6 bayonet based on the Garand’s M5 and M5A1 bayonets. The gas bleed from the barrel incorporated a rotating gas cutoff valve which would allow rifle grenade launching. The first rifles in production used a solid wood handguard which proved unsatisfactory, as excessive heat from the barrel caused charring and smoking. A replacement slotted plastic handguard also gave problems, allowing heat waves to rise through the slots and interfere with sighting. The final design was a non-slotted plastic handguard which proved much better. Fiberglass stocks were issued late in production to replace the first walnut or birch types which tended to expand in the moisture-laden jungles of Vietnam. An M15 version was produced which was equipped with a heavy barrel and stock and a bipod in an attempt to control full-auto fire when used as a squad automatic rifle. As it turned out, the standard-barreled M14 could do as well in this role, and a somewhat modified version with a wood pistol grip stock, muzzle compensator and metal foregrip served as the M14A1. It too was virtually uncontrollable in full-auto fire. Most selector switches on standard issue weapons were replaced with unit-installed lockout knobs that would not allow full auto fire.

Although the M14 was standardized in 1957, it took a while for the new weapon to be issued to the armed services. The first rifles were delivered by Springfield Armory in July 1959. The 101st Airborne Division was the only unit in the Army that had a full complement of M14s, and that was at the end of 1961. The Fleet Marine Force finalized their changeover in late 1962. I personally recall that my Army unit was not issued M14s until sometime in 1963. Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge (TRW), Harrington and Richardson and Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation (Winchester-Western Division) also began producing the M14 for issue. National Match M14s were built for rifle competition. These proved to be exceptionally accurate arms. Records indicate that 1.38 million M14s were procured for an average unit cost of $104. Production ceased and Springfield Armory was ordered closed by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1968. Production equipment was sold to Taiwan, where the Type 57 rifle has been produced for the armed forces there. The 5.56mm M16 rifle began to be phased in as the “Standard A” rifle for our armed forces, relegating the M14 to limited standard status. The Army converted some M14s into the scoped M21 sniper rifle. These were our standard sniper weapons until 1988. Some are still in service in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they continue to be quite effective. Navy Seals used scoped M14s in a recent Somali pirate incident to take out the bad guys with precision shooting. Standard and scope-modified M14s continue to be used as designated marksman rifles by our combat arms. The U.S. Marine Corps has developed its Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR), an accuracy-modified M14, for use by security teams and scout snipers. The Marine rifle team uses M14s in competition.

The M14 acquitted itself well in Vietnam, where many servicemen remember it fondly and preferred it for its reliability and power over any other weapon. While a bit heavy and unwieldy in the brush, it had the power to penetrate foliage and inflict decisive damage on the enemy.

Civilian versions of the M14 made as semiauto only have been produced by many commercial manufacturers and are currently available. The rifle illustrated was made by AR Sales, an early provider of these rifles, as the Mark IV in 1969. Other than the receiver, it’s equipped with all GI parts including a match barrel and an issue fiberglass stock. The most notable producer in recent years has been the modern commercial Springfield Armory of Geneseo, Illinois. Their standard rifle is called the M1A, and it’s used prolifically in rifle matches across the U.S. China has also made semiauto M14 rifles, and a large number of these have been imported into the U.S. Reportedly, Philippine rebels are using many of these Chinese-made weapons.

Although the M16A2 rifle and the M4 carbine are now standard issue, existing stocks of M14 rifles are portioned out regularly by our armed services when power, accuracy and extended range are found desirable. Semiauto M14s are also hard to beat as civilian defense arms, and many thousands of them have been bought as collector’s items. A lot of Vietnam combat veterans still swear by the old ’14. As our last true full-power battle rifle, it’s an enduring classic that still finds useful employment in armed conflict, on rifle ranges, and in hunting fields.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:39 PM
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The gun store that took in my P2000 had 3 on hand...a Scout, socom and Loaded...I really want a Scout and it was 1600...a pretty good price...took all my might not to hand over my credit card after playing with it....
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:53 PM
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I trained on the M14 in Basic and at the Pre Airborne Infanty School at Ft. Gordon. Nice Gun.
I have three M1As now, a NM, Standard Loaded and Standard.
I also have a Smith Enterprise with Winchester Parts and a FO with TRW parts that I will either have a new Reciever put on by Fulton or Smith.

Good guns, even though reloading componets for them have gotten higher in price.

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Old 12-11-2009, 06:18 PM
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TRW actually produced the M14 ahead of their contract schedule rate and had fewer rejects than the other manufacturers of the M14. The reason: TRW was not a manufacturer of firearms, and didn't have the historical "know-how" for making firearms, or the older, traditional firearms manufacturing equipment. TRW was a manufacturer of auto parts, electronics, and aerospace equipment (giudance, rockets, and satellites) and TRW engineers put their engineering and manufacturing expertise together with efficient modern (for the 1960s) production methods and tooling for the manufacture of the Army's new rifle. To TRW, the M14 wasn't a firearm, it was a machine that happened to be a firearm. Their advanced methods of production included using early punched-paper-tape-programed CNC equipment for many operations.

The result? A higher production rate than Winchester or H&R, components made to consistently finer tolerances, and with far fewer rejects than the competition.

Noah
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:25 PM
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"This is my rifle...this is my gun".

Man, talk about bringing back old nightmares. I carried that damnable thing over many, many miles. Actually, I qualified expert with the thing, so, besides being heavy, I have to admit it was accurate.

Now that I think about it, thanks for the memories, it really was a dependable rifle.
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah Zark View Post
The result? A higher production rate than Winchester or H&R, components made to consistently finer tolerances, and with far fewer rejects than the competition.

Noah
Both Winchester and H&R had quality control issues. H&R accepted a lot of steel for the production of the bolt body. The steel was not to specification which required rifles that were issued to the Marine Corps to have the bolts replaced. I personally saw very few rifles manufactured by Winchester even thou I was issued one. As I understand it Winchester’s production methods and machinery were hopelessly antiquated.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:29 PM
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Interesting read!
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:37 PM
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Aren't the Winchester made M1's generally considered to be rougher in finish than the other makes? Nice that they put their best effort up for the military.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:49 PM
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I trained on the M14 in 1968, firing a perfect score with a TRW-made rifle that was so loose that when shaken it sounded like a bucket full of nickles thrown into a box car. My old drill sergeant just loved having a trainee who had fired a perfect score on the qualification range! He let me polish the marksmanship trophy in the day room every time my squad caught that detail.

While in Vietnam I was issued a M16 (made by General Motors Hydramatic Division), but I found a M14 in the possession of a Vietnamese Regional Forces unit. Our interpreter made the trade for me, and I don't remember all the details, but at day's end I had a real rifle again (and I'm sure the taxpayers only paid for it a couple of times).

I will always consider the M14 to be the finest combat rifle ever issued to US forces. The fact that these rifles are still deployed, after more than 40 years, bears this out.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:04 PM
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Mtscop-

Yes, you are right about the Winchester M-1s. My FFL has a beauty, appears to be all original WW2 Winchester, but, though it is in great shape, it is much rougher than, say, a Springfield or H&R. In fit and finish, that is.

He's out of his mind on the price-$2500.

The M14s were different, IMO. Just as nice and smooth as the other manufacturers.

But, as to accuracy, I always thought the H&Rs were the most accurate, though it may have just been my experience. I had two issued to me, a TRW and H&R.

M16s came later.

I shot several Winchesters, but didn't think they shot as well. I had one for a short time, like a day or two. I traded something for it-can't recall what at this time.

Bob
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:04 PM
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Like several others here, I had the pleasure of going thru Basic and AIT with the 14. The one in Basic was a TRW. I was much younger and my eyes were better, but we did well. I was not in combat in Vietnam, but carried a 16 from time to time. I did see 14's in Vietnam, but mostly 16's.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by straightshooter1 View Post
I shot several Winchesters, but didn't think they shot as well. I had one for a short time, like a day or two. I traded something for it-can't recall what at this time.

Bob
On the Parris Island I only qualified as a “Marksman”. The badge was referred to as the “Toilet Seat”. After my Vietnam experience I qualified “Expert” As for the accuracy of the rifle my issued Winchester that’s rather hard to gauge. All I know it functioned all the time no matter the conditions. You could smoke the stock thou with prolonged rapid fire. Five magazines were standard issue but I had (8).
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Old 12-12-2009, 12:13 AM
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RVN, 1968.

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Old 12-18-2010, 08:54 PM
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Trained with the M14 as a boot Marine in 1968 and carried one with grenade launcher for the first half of my tour. Was pissed when they took it away and gave me an M16. I still believe it was the best rifle ever issued.

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Old 12-18-2010, 09:34 PM
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Thanks for a great post.
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Old 12-18-2010, 10:17 PM
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I used a M14 as a Marine officer candidate on field problems. I don't remember the make, but it did have the full auto selector switch.
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:57 AM
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I took Army basic training in June, 1959. Used M1s...never saw an M14.

I was in the active reserves until 1962. Still never saw an M14. Was in an arty outfit and we used M1s and M1 carbines.

I completely missed out on it!
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Old 12-19-2010, 09:15 AM
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My use of the M14/M1A came thru the target side. I would have to say that it is my favorite rifle for several reasons. I am fortunate to have several in various configurations and always seem to want,"one more". I currently have an M1A in the EBR mode on loan from a good friend in the industry and I cannot tell you how impressed I am with that. The EBR is the current Army designated marksman's rifle in use across the pond and I can see why the men like it.

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Old 12-19-2010, 09:25 AM
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IMO , the best info on the great M-14 is the book , "M-14 , The Last Steel Warrior".
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Old 12-19-2010, 10:45 AM
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My brother in NY just plopped down 26 large for an LRB M1A...called me yesterday after shooting it for the first time....he said it was worth every penny.
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Old 12-19-2010, 11:03 AM
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Arguably one of the best battle rifles ever produced. I love it. I met my first one in 1968. They do perform admirably.

It is interesting that the US spent so much time and effort developing the M-14, while the rest of the free world simply adopted the FN FAL in one version or the other.

FAL or M-14?
I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite as long as we are talking metric FAL. With either, I'd feel adequately armed for any possibility.
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Old 12-19-2010, 11:06 AM
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Trained with both M1 and M14 in '64. I didn't know squat about
firearms, (still don't), but I could see that the M14 was a modified M1.
Of the two, I prefer the M14, as I shot better for me, and reload was
easier. I've never shot an iron-sighted rifle as well as the M14.
Way out of my league, pricewise, and the Corps won't let me back in
to shoot it, either!
The above article on this fine rifle is right up there, to your usual
high standards, thanks for reposting. TACC1
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Old 12-19-2010, 08:05 PM
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I trained on the M-14 in BCT, had to fight with the M-60 (yes!) and the M-16 (no!). As other noted there were some quality control problems and the notion of a 9 pound rifle taking the place of the M-1 AND the BAR..?
Let's just just say it looked good on paper. In Ezell's book he says the M-14 vs M-16 tests were weighted to heavily in favor of the M-14 which ledt to automatically assume that the M-16 perforce was better.
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Old 12-19-2010, 09:35 PM
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Had we had to invade Japan, the bulk of the counterinsurgency operations would probably have been fought with the .30-06 version and the .30-06 version of the MG42.
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Old 12-19-2010, 11:00 PM
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My last tour before I retired I was on the base rifle/pistol team. I was issued a match prepped Colt 1911A1 and a match prepped Winchester M14.

I loved those guns, and all of the ammo they gave me to shoot.

By far the finest set of guns ever used by the military (IMO).

bob
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Old 12-20-2010, 02:07 AM
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Great article and good luck on the story. Thanks for posting.

Qualified marksman, sharpshooter, and expert with the M14 from 1971 to 1975 each year. My most proud moment was in boot camp. I had never fired a center-fire rifle in my life. I bore down and worked hard at "snapping in" and dry firing. I shot expert on Pre-Qual day and sharpshooter on Qual day, missing expert by two points.

I should have bought an M1A as soon as I found out about them, but military rifles no longer interest me as to owning one.
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Old 01-14-2014, 08:36 PM
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I missed the old M1 and air cooled Browning Mc, when we had to box them up and send them back to the states.

The M14 and M60 were the new "Nato weapons" that we had to use.........
Those of us that had to fix, repair and clean them had a saying......
"Made by Mattel, they're swell" ..............

The wood stock was not as good as the M1 and the blue job was not to good. First thing to rust was the butt plate...
and we were kept busy with the "Star gauge" keeping that darn flash depressor on that rifle.

The fire selector was a slick idea though.............. and it did do well in the accuracy department. Only got to fire it one time on the range after asking the top Gunny several times.
100 to 500 yards with no "Maggies drawers" .......... Scored expert with a rifle I put together with a few "Selected" parts from the 400 plus that we had on hand.

It served well.

Never got to get to shoot the M16...........got my traveling papers.
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Old 01-14-2014, 09:41 PM
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I can tell you how heavy the M14 was.

One fine day our Drill Instructor, S/SGT J.A. Varela (yes, a Marine never forgets a D.I.)....one fine day he decided we needed indoors "recreation" for some offense now forgotten.

He had the entire platoon form ranks in the "squad bay" (the open area where you first walk into the barracks) its an area about the size of a double wide pickup truck or so.

We then were ordered to hold our M14s out at arms length with two hands. And to hold them there a LOOOONNG time. As we got tired and arms started to droop S/SGT Varela was in our face, yelling of course.

My buddy Gilberto Chavarria found out that HIS M14 was three times as heavy as everyone else's. This because S/SGT Varela ended up stacking 2 M14s onto his outstretched arms which held his original M14. And then yelled and punched on Gilberto to not drop his arms or the rifles.

What a bully......................

We all laughed about it later, even though Chavarria couldn't lift his arms for a while.................
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Old 01-14-2014, 10:49 PM
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"My FFL has a beauty, appears to be all original WW2 Winchester, but, though it is in great shape, it is much rougher than, say, a Springfield or H&R. In fit and finish, that is.

He's out of his mind on the price-$2500."


If it is indeed an all original Winchester M1 he is out of his mind. He should have it priced higher. Go back and grab it! And if it turns out to be a Win-13 you really have found a gem. After you get it home you can go back and tell the dealer. Then watch him cry.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:17 PM
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In the last century, I was a cadet at North Georgia College, one of the nation's six senior military colleges. Then, we had maybe 500 or so M14s in the Arms Room. I spent a lot of time at right shoulder arms with mine, and a lot of time walking through the mountains loaded with blanks. My M14 was a great, if heavy, rifle, but I never got to fire any live ammo from it.

Jump ahead a few years... I was back at the college as ROTC cadre, in fact as the advisor to the Combat Shooting Team. The school was down to a lot less M14s. They were replaced by M16A2s. I did get to take the old M14s out one day though. The Cadets, most of whom had not fired a 7.62 before, got to shoot about 1000 rounds of ball ammo. The ammo was on 5 round stripper clips. The inside of the crate was stamped 09/60. That stuff sat in an earthen bunker since the Eisenhower administration. I told the Cadets that it was built to shoot Russians in Germany.

We were shooting 50 year old rifles, with 50 year old ammo, and 50 year old magazines... 1000 rounds fired with no malfunctions. That is a tribute to the design.

After we shot up the 7.62, we went back to the M16s. They felt like pop guns after the M14s. I also started getting double and triple feeds. As an aside, most of those were magazine or maintenance related. ROTC is about dead last in priority for repair parts. I can certainly understand why the old timers held their M14s in such regard. They are both reliable and powerful.
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:34 PM
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John,

Thanks for sharing your article with all of us.

I was first issued mine at Parris Island in July 1965. Used it in Vietnam. It beat me to death on the old three mile physical fitness tests with full combat gear. Those iron sights are the best in the world, and the hit accuracy is right there with it. Many Marines, myself included, have wished that the M-14 was still the standard issue for their T/O weapon.

I bought a new Springfield Armory M-1A two years ago. Spent almost three months sanding and finishing that stock with Formbys, then with about six coats of satin finish poly. I'll never sell it!!

BTW-I copied your article and pasted it in to a Word document to keep with all of my documents that accompany this outstanding combat rifle!

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Old 01-14-2014, 11:56 PM
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The gun store that took in my P2000 had 3 on hand...a Scout, socom and Loaded...I really want a Scout and it was 1600...a pretty good price...took all my might not to hand over my credit card after playing with it....
I know what you mean, ive always wanted one as well--probably one of those National Match--or whatever they are properly called?
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Old 01-15-2014, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassamatic View Post
"This is my rifle...this is my gun".

Man, talk about bringing back old nightmares. I carried that damnable thing over many, many miles. Actually, I qualified expert with the thing, so, besides being heavy, I have to admit it was accurate.

Now that I think about it, thanks for the memories, it really was a dependable rifle.
We were set for a full gear hike, maybe a 15 clicks. And one of our squad had to run his trap to the DI, who was a Gunny, about how the M4 was going to get heavy.....

"Wait right here. No, better yet, you little truckers can march down to the armory, and we will fix your snitching."

We got there, and in a blink of an eye, we were trading in the M4 for M14's for the hike. Yeah, we had just double-timed it a mile or so in the wrong direction, and now we had rifles that weighed in at about 70% more weight.

As our DI put it: " You are going to do this like I did at Perris Island. You are going to do it like real men did it; like your grandfathers did it. If I had enough M1's to haul around, you'd be carrying those. Now ladies, you have made me an hour late for my lunch. So, get moving, you are also 1 mile off course, and you have not gotten a thing done all day. The Navy makes some worthless Marines, I tell you."

As I recall......... Steve was his name. Steve was not real happy about carrying the heavier rifle. And....... no one was friendly with Steve for several days after that.

The M14 is HEAVY.
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Old 01-15-2014, 01:32 AM
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The M14/M1A's iron sights are the principal reason that I regret aging eyes. We no sooner learn how to shoot well that we forget how to SEE.

I've fooled with some optics but the rifle isn't well adapted to them; and by the time you get the glass, a mount, a full mag and a leather sling on it you're bumping 13 pounds. But what lovely, lovely rifles!
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:00 AM
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Superlative post, John. Amazing how you've crowded so much information in such little space. GREAT article.

Geat gun, too: I only carried one for a couple of years and only qualified with it once: shot Expert.

Now I have a Springfield Armory M1A, NM version, circa 1970s. Also a great rifle and uncanny accurate. The 168 gr Sierra MatchKing bullet and some 4895 powder can't be beat. A French friend who has shot a lot of everything shot it and said it's better by far than the Dragunov.
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:56 AM
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Qualified Marksman in boot camp & then Expert in Okinawa with the M14. Carried it while in Chu Lai. Good rifle. Very accurate.
Nice post there Mr Paladin.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:18 AM
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I to was issued several M14 and wish I had one. I still remember my service number and my boot camp M14 serial number. I ran a lot of mile with it at port arms and a zillion up and on shoulders with it. Many people find it hard to believe that as part of qualification we fired them accurately at 500 YDS.

Nice article about a truly great RIFLE
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:18 AM
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1966 Basic Training, Fort Gordon GA

Qualified with the M14 and never seen another one while in the Army, the M16 became the new kid in town.

Yup, the DI would shoot the M14 with the butt between his legs, what a show off, but back then I wouldn't dare make any comments.
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:17 AM
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Only 13 pounds ????
I lifted one a few years ago at age 71, and I know it weighed at least 125 pounds !




Quote:
Originally Posted by Bat Guano View Post
The M14/M1A's iron sights are the principal reason that I regret aging eyes. We no sooner learn how to shoot well that we forget how to SEE.

I've fooled with some optics but the rifle isn't well adapted to them; and by the time you get the glass, a mount, a full mag and a leather sling on it you're bumping 13 pounds. But what lovely, lovely rifles!
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Galt View Post
"My FFL has a beauty, appears to be all original WW2 Winchester, but, though it is in great shape, it is much rougher than, say, a Springfield or H&R. In fit and finish, that is.

He's out of his mind on the price-$2500."


If it is indeed an all original Winchester M1 he is out of his mind. He should have it priced higher. Go back and grab it! And if it turns out to be a Win-13 you really have found a gem. After you get it home you can go back and tell the dealer. Then watch him cry.
One in my collection is a Win 13, however was arsenal overhauled (SA 1952 barrel, other parts mixed as usual). Even at that the "Winchester" name on the receiver makes for a premium price, and the serial number in the "Win 13" range ups the value again. I figure its market value at no less than 50% over other similar period pieces.

I don't think that $2500 is entirely out of line for an original and all correct Winchester M1, assuming condition is in the upper range of "good to very good". Frankly, I would be interested.
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Old 01-15-2014, 03:33 PM
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Like others here I trained with the M14. I forget the distance but we had to march to the rifle range with the rifle slung over our shoulder. It was a long march. Sometimes the XO would would make us march at double time with the weapon at port arms! Sadistic $%^&!!! But hell, I was 18 years old and could handle strain pretty easy. I didn't like it, but I could do it.
But boy, how I loved it when I got to the firing line. After sighting in we worked our way out to 300 meters. Then the sneaky dudes threw in 400 meter targets on qualification day.
The 14 had no trouble with that. Some guys said that they were hitting the ground in front of the targets and thrown gravel was knocking them over. I saw no evidence of that.
My favorite hi power rifle ever.
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Old 01-15-2014, 04:13 PM
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I got mine late, carried a Winchester in 2004 in Iraq. Yes it is heavy, along with some other complaints against it being true, difficult to add optics, wood stocks can compress and the actions fit loose, etc. However I loved it and was happy carrying it in the warm Iraqi weather. I did have a little background with them as my dept picked up some of them from the government in the '90's and I played with them some.
As I have used them from the '80's on, my experience has been that the AR15/M16/M4 platform isn't that bad, in fact it has a number of superior characteristics. I won't try to speak about the design prior to that as I simply don't know. Having said that, I still would prefer to be carrying an M14 if I found myself in Iraq or Afganistan.
If someone wants to use optics, give the long eye relief scout mount a try. It doesn't screw up the beautiful balance of the rifle as much as an over the receiver mount does.

Last edited by crows; 01-15-2014 at 04:16 PM.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:25 PM
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You might want to edit this: "The M14 acquitted itself well in Vietnam, where many servicemen remember it fondly and preferred it for its reliability and power over any other weapon." to read "over any other hand held weapon" since I trust that the M2 .50 was relatively as reliable and certainly more powerful.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:27 PM
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High School ROTC. First year we drilled with the M1. Second year they replaced them with M14s. Never got to shoot them. Heck they were just drill rifles and had no firing pins. But I did become very familar with both and gained a great appreciation for what fine weapons they were.
1972 and Uncle Sam handed me a M16A1. I soon came to hate the damned things. Yeah, they were accurate. When you could keep the piece of junk working. Still can't bring myself to trust one to this day.
I always wanted a M14 type rifle, but couldn't afford one when I was young. Then in the late 90s at a gun show I ran across a guy with a Federal Ordnance M14A at a price I could afford. Turns out its one of the good ones. Early four digit serial number, excellent reciever and the rest is all G.I. parts. First time I pulled the trigger I was in love!
The rifle had an aftermarket laminated target stock. It sure was pretty, but dadgum it was heavy! A couple of years ago I swapped it out for a Springfield composite stock. That took about 2 pounds off of it right there.
Sadly aging eyes and iron sights don't work real well together. So now it has a scope. But that old rifle will still shoot 1/2" or better at 100 yards.
My younger son spent his last two years in the National Guard as a Designated Marksman. So he's kind of adopted the old Fed Ord for himself. No problem. Last year I bought myself a Socom 16.



This pic is a little out of date. The Fed Ord now wears a 3X9 scope and the scout scope has moved to the Socom.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyrano View Post
Superlative post, John. Amazing how you've crowded so much information in such little space. GREAT article.

Geat gun, too: I only carried one for a couple of years and only qualified with it once: shot Expert.

Now I have a Springfield Armory M1A, NM version, circa 1970s. Also a great rifle and uncanny accurate. The 168 gr Sierra MatchKing bullet and some 4895 powder can't be beat. A French friend who has shot a lot of everything shot it and said it's better by far than the Dragunov.
In my opinion it is the best rifle for NRA high power competition. I wonder how your friend would compare it to the FN FAL?
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:54 PM
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My older brother served in Vietnam, shipping out in Nov. 1965 with 1st Infantry Div. and also trained at Fort Gordon Georgia. I have his graduation album. I also have a photo of him in Vietnam with his M14. Pretty cool. Unfortunately he passed away from liver cancer two years ago. We all miss him greatly. I have always liked the M14, it is a cool looking firearm.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:02 AM
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Basic training in SC at Fort Jackson 1963-64, tank hill {C-7-2}.Anyone there with me?
Trained on the M-14.
Have handled many rifles in and out of the Army, and I'll say that {IMHO} nothing will compare to the 14.
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Old 02-03-2014, 12:29 PM
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The only comment I can make is that you should include a little of the less than positive aspects about the rifle.

If it was that good, it wouldn't have ben one of the shortest serving weapons ever. There is plenty of public data from government testing in the 50's that are less than positive, as well as from users.

I'm not knocking the M14, but hardly ever is everything all roses. Of course, the company you publish for may not want that type of reporting.

The best comment from a 1950's or 1960's Gun Digest was from a tester who said the only reason he could figure why the FN FAL wasn't adopted was that it didn't cost enough - only slightly tongue in cheek.
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
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The only comment I can make is that you should include a little of the less than positive aspects about the rifle.

If it was that good, it wouldn't have ben one of the shortest serving weapons ever. There is plenty of public data from government testing in the 50's that are less than positive, as well as from users.

I'm not knocking the M14, but hardly ever is everything all roses. Of course, the company you publish for may not want that type of reporting.

The best comment from a 1950's or 1960's Gun Digest was from a tester who said the only reason he could figure why the FN FAL wasn't adopted was that it didn't cost enough - only slightly tongue in cheek.
I think we would have been well served with either the FAL or the M14 as a battle rifle. The M14 was heavy and over-powerful for the distances over which it would be used in Vietnam. Also, its action, open to the elements, was susceptible to the introduction of water, ice, mud and dust. This was a characteristic shared with the M1 rifle, but in spite of this, both rifles proved their mettle in unfavorable environments. The siege of Bastogne during WWII comes to mind when M1s were used in heavy winter snow. The AK-47 was showing the superiority of the true assault rifle concept, and so the AR-15/M16 series was thrown into the fray soon after the adoption of the M14. Still, the M14 can do things the M16s/M4 Carbines can't, and that has been proved out in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I like the FAL, and own one. Ergonomically it easily beats the M14, and has some useful features. I'm privileged to have handled and field stripped an original T-48 FAL which was in the non-display collection at Aberdeen Proving Ground. I was given a personal tour there by Dr. Bill Atwater, then the curator of the museum, on request by a friend of mine who was then serving as the civilian security director at Aberdeen. The T-48 was a bit clunkier than the the later FALs and had wooden stocks, but it was still an impressive rifle. I think the M14 was picked over the FAL because of "NIH" (Not Invented Here), and the fact that most of the M14 parts could be made on machinery formerly used for the M1 rifle. Also, those who had trained on the M1 could easily transition to the similar M14.

John
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Old 02-03-2014, 01:33 PM
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My only question is why did they come with that skinny little green canvas sling??? Carrying that thing all day on your shoulder was murder. A good sling would have been easy to come up with.
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