The M-14 Service Rifle Page
When Then Secretary Of Defense Robert McNamera ordered 85,000 new and untested M-16 rifles for the troops then fighting in the jungles of Viet Nam.
(see the M-16 History page for the results...)
According to government records, approximately 1,400,000 M-14's were produced for the U.S. Military between 1957 & 1964, and are still being produced for the U.S. Military as "Special Issue" weapons today.
The M-14 was supposed to be an updated version of the M-1 Garand/M1A, and a replacement for the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and was envisioned to be the replacement for the SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon). That mistake was designated the M-15.
With upgrades like a detachable 20 round magazine, muzzle brake, recoil pad and full auto capability the M-14 had to live up to a lot of expectations, and failed them all in a spectacular manner.
When it was found to melt down it's own barrel when used in full auto mode, a heavy barrel was considered that would have driven the weight up another 3 to 5 pounds...
Even when equipped with a pistol grip, fold down front stock making a handle, and a by-pod making the rifle even heavier, the full auto could not be controlled.
Some versions were issued with a full auto switch lock out that could be removed if the rifle actually had to go to war.
Troops in the jungles of Viet Nam reported fouling that couldn't be chipped off with the point of a bayonet in places, and couldn't be reached with the cleaning kit in others.
(this was do to poor design, and the ball powder being used in the ammunition at the time)
Some troops used files and sandpaper to remove the buildup, and then sit helplessly by and watch the rifle rust before their eyes in the rain forrest.
The M-14 relied on expensive to manufacture machined parts, where newer offerings used cast or stamped parts.
These machined parts were expensive because a human manufactured, and often incorrect due to human error. A cost that had to be passed on to buyer.
THERE WERE SOME TRULY UNEXPECTED DUTIES THE M-14 DID AMAZINGLY WELL...
With had selected parts (remember that human error thing), Special sights, glass beded stocks, match grade ammunition, and gauged & lapped barrels these hand built rifles set new standards in accuracy in national service rifle shooting competitions.
Being a former 'HOG' myself, I found the M-21 an excellent tool for dispatching targets in a concise and reliable manner.
With a stright pull, glass beded stock, match grade barrel, 'tweaked' trigger, hand selected internal parts and custom machined recievers, the M-21's could live up to a long range marksman's expectations.
The M-21 Version of the Base M-14 was an excellent 'sniper' rifle for ranges out to 800 yards, and could be successfully applied at ranges up to 1,000 yards.
Some Marine Corps Viet Nam snipers had successful target engaugments at up to 1,500 yards, but I suspect these weren't repeatable in most cases, but I wouldn't stand 1,500 yards downrange of the likes of Carlos Hathcock just to test my theroy!
When fitted with the M-21 ART (a Leatherwood Auto Ranging Telescope) the heavy, underpowered rifle became a formidable tool for a trained soldier.
Some M-21's were issued with Sonics sound suppressor, which, as the name suggests, didn't silence the fast moving 7.62X51MM round, but suppressed the muzzle blast, making the marksman harder to detect.
Some Different Designations For M-14 Variants,
I'd like to see a version of the M-14 Chambered in .270 or .300 Winchester Short Magnum! The WSM would be perfectly suited to the heavy auto-loader
All content and site screw-ups are entirely mine.