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The M14, the official United States Rifle, is an American selective-fire automatic rifle and was the standard U.S. military rifle from 1959 to 1970 until it was replaced by the M16. Currently, the M14 is used as a ceremonial weapon by honor guards, color guards and drill teams.
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M14 General Specs
The M14 uses a gas-operating, rotating bolt system with a muzzle velocity of 850 m/s and an effective range of 460 m. The rifle is approximately 44.3 inches long (22 inch barrel length) and weighs 9.2 lbs. (10.7 lbs. when loaded) on average.
History of the M14
The M14 is the result of numerous attempts to improve the functional design of the M1 rifle, the most advanced infantry rifle of its time. Changes included adding full automatic firing capability and replacing the 8-round clips with 20-round box magazine. Manufacturers like Winchester and Remington had their hands in the evolution of the M14, but it was Springfield Armory that developed the T44, a service rifle designed on a budget using the gas cut-off system of the T47.
The T44 rifle participated in various military trials (even freezing conditions) against several competitors from 1952 to 1954, and outperformed the T47, and T48 because of its slightly lighter weight, self-compensating gas system, and the fact that the T44 could be manufactured on the existing machinery built for the original M1. In 1957, the U.S. formally adopted the T44 as the U.S. infantry service rifle, designated M14.
The first production contracts for the M14 were awarded to the Springfield Armory, Winchester and Harrington & Richardson.
Armed Forces Deployment of the M14
In July of 1959 Springfield Armory began delivering the first service rifles to the U.S. Army at about $104 per unit. However, production delays only allowed a single Airborne Division (101st) to be fully equipped with the rifle.
The M14 was deployed during a brief tour of duty in Vietnam and experienced several issues. The wood stock of the rifle would swell and expand in the heavy moisture of the jungle. The M14 adapted and fiberglass stocks were used. Also, because of the power of the ammo, the M14 was seemingly impossible to control when fired in fully-automatic mode. Originally, the M14 was deployed to replace four different weapons and ease the load on the infantryman. Over time, the M14 was seen as too strong to be a submachine gun and too light to replace the light machine gun of the time.
Nevertheless, The M14 remained the primary infantry weapon until it was replaced by the M16. Once the AR15 was determined a superior option, production of the M14 was halted. However, the U.S. Army converted M14s into the M21 sniper rifle, which remained standard issue until 1988.
Post-1970 Military Use
In the mid-1990s, the Marine Corps chose the DMR, a modified M14, for use by security teams and Marine Scout Snipers. The USMC Rifle Team uses the M14 in shooting competitions, and although the M14 was phased-out as standard issue, variants can be found throughout the armed forces. More recently, a number of M14s were distributed through U.S. Military in Iraq and Afghanistan with modifications including scopes, fiberglass stocks and other accessories. Why go back you ask? Most of the engagements in these wars took place beyond 300 meters, too far for the current issue rifle, but perfect for the M14.
The M14 is used by various military and law enforcement organizations including armed forces from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Israel, Argentina, The United States, and more.
Celebratory and Other Uses
The M14, with wooden stock, white sling and chromed bayonet, is still used in military funerals, parades and other ceremonies. It is also the drill and parade rifle of the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, The Citadel, Norwich University, Virginia Military Institute and North Georgia College and State University. U.S. Navy ships carry several M14s to shoot a large rubber projectile to another ship when underway to start the lines over for alongside refueling and replenishment.
Popular M14 Accessories
- M6 Bayonet
- M2 Bandolier
- Cleaning kit including a combo tool, ratchet chamber brush, plastic lubricant case, brass bore tooth, four cleaning rod sections, cleaning rod case, and a cleaning patch-holding tip.
- M5 winter trigger and winter safety
- M12 blank firing attachment and M3 breech shield
- Cartridge clip and magazine filler for charging magazines
- M1961 ammunition pouch
- M2 bipod
- M76 grenade launcher
- M15 grenade launcher sight
- Mk 87 Mod 0/1 line (rope) throwing kit
Popular M14 Variants
- M15 – A variant for use as a squad automatic weapon with a heavier barrel and stock, a hinged butt-plate, a selective-fire attachment, bipod and sling.
- M14E2/M14A1 – A selective fire version of the M14 and used as a squad automatic weapon.
- M14M – The M14M is a semi-automatic only version M14 for use as a civilian rifle. M14M rifles were simply converted M14s with the select-fire mechanism removed to prevent fully automatic firing.
- M14 SMUD – Essentially the M14 National March rifle with a scope, the "Stand-off Munition Disruption" variation is used to destroy unexploded ordinance.
- Mk 14 EBR – A more tactical version of the M14 with an 18 inch barrel with a retractable stock and multiple rails for more accessories.
- M14 Tactical – A modified M14 using the same stock as the Mk 14 but with a 22-inch barrel and a Smith Enterprise muzzle brake. The M14 Tactical is used by the coast guard.
- M89SR Model 89 Sniper Rifle – A M14 in a bullpup configuration produced by Sardius and Technical Equipment International.