M14 Rifle History and Development By Lee Emerson Preface



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Taiwan

A Memorandum of Understanding between Taiwan and the United States from the Vietnam War era grants license to the Government of Taiwan to produce M14 rifles known as the Type 57. The January 23, 1967 memorandum states that Taiwan will purchase tools, components, material, documentation, technical assistance and assemblies from Fiscal Year 1967 through Fiscal Year 1969. As agreed to in the Memorandum of Understanding, the U. S. Government sold some of the M14 rifle production machinery used by Harrington & Richardson to Taiwan in 1968. The Memorandum of Understanding also required that the Taiwanese M14 items produced would be interchangeable logistically with USGI M14 items. The State Arsenal of the Republic of China (Taiwan) made approximately 1,000,000 Type 57 rifles from 1969 to the late 1980s. There are two models of Type 57 rifles. Both the first and second model receiver heels are marked in Chinese with the exception that the serial numbers use Arabic numerals. First model Type 57 rifles were assembled with many USGI parts including stocks, flash suppressors and magazines. The Taiwanese government did not receive the tooling to make flash suppressors and magazines when it received the H&R production machinery. Thus, the Taiwanese government had to make the tooling to manufacture these parts to continue production. The first models had serial numbers 000001 to 048655. The second model began with serial number 048666. The Taiwanese developed a simplified rear sight for the second model Type 57 rifle and the receiver heel information was rearranged. There has not been any collaboration whatsoever of any kind between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan on M14 type rifle design or manufacture.

Destruction and Export of USGI M14 Rifles

M14 rifles have been given or sold to foreign governments under U. S. military aid programs since the early 1970s. As of 1996, at least 450,000 M14 rifles had been transferred to foreign armies while another 750,000 were destroyed by the United States. The Naval Surface Warfare Center (Crane, IN) and Anniston Army Depot (Anniston, AL) were two facilities used to demilitarize M14 rifles in the 1990s. After each rifle is destroyed a certificate is signed, dated and kept indefinitely. Destroyed M14 receiver halves have been sold to collectors and those who work on M14 stocks.

A partial list of foreign governments that have received M14 rifles from the United States includes Argentina, Belize, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Greece, Haiti, Israel, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey. Some examples of such transfers are as follows:

Nation

Amount

Year(s)

Transfer Method

Cost
If Available

Belize

15

1995

EDA

$828.00

Chile

12

1995

EDA

$662.00

Colombia

10,000

1990-92

FMS




Estonia

40,500

1998

EDA

Free

Israel

35,000

1973




Free

Latvia

10,000

1996

EDA

Free

Lithuania

40,000

1998

EDA

Free

Philippines

3,638

1994

EDA

$200,817.60

Taiwan

30,450

1995

EDA

$1,680,840.00

Turkey

200

1995

EDA

Free

EDA = Excess Defense Articles program
FMS = Foreign Military Sales program
MAP = Military Assistance Program


124,815 M14 rifles were exported under the EDA program between 1995 and 1998. Some were given at no cost under the EDA and MAP programs while other M14 rifles were sold under the FMS program. The Excess Defense Articles program is authorized under the Federal Assistance Act of 1961. Other M14 rifles were transferred to foreign nations under Military Assistance Programs. A Total Army Assets database query performed during the first half of 2001 found a total U. S. Army inventory of 120,021 M14 rifles. This included M14 rifles in each classification of readiness condition. This query did not account for M14A1, M14M (Modified) and M14 NM (National Match) rifles in the possession of the U. S. Army or any M14 rifles in the inventory of the U. S. Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force. As of mid-2003, the U. S. Army inventory was approximately 96,000 M14 rifles in Condition A readiness.

The reader may be puzzled regarding why M14 rifles (and other small arms) should be destroyed or exported by the United States. The discussion below provides some interesting background.

The destruction of M14 rifles began as early as 1970. Rock Island Arsenal personnel replaced the 250 M14 rifles in inventory at the Loyola University (Chicago, IL) Army ROTC program with 250 M16 rifles. The M16 rifles were fitted with devices to inhibit automatic fire. Prior to leaving the university campus, Rock Island Arsenal personnel disassembled and destroyed all 250 M14 rifles. These 250 M14 rifles were cut through the barrels and the receiver barrel rings and the parts discarded as trash.

During the Cold War, the US military inventoried a huge stockpile of weapons that would enable it to fight two wars simultaneously. From the World War II to the late 1980s, this roughly equated to 2.3 small arms for each member of the Armed Forces. The shift during the 1990s towards flexible, high-tech rapid-reaction forces meant that a large reserve of small arms was no longer required.

Initially, the US Armed Forces destroyed large quantities of these newly surplus weapons, including 479,367 M14 rifles in 1993 and 1994 and roughly 350,000 M16A1 rifles in 1996. But under increasing pressure from gun advocates in Congress, an amendment was passed to the Defense Authorization Act in 1996 to prohibit the Army from destroying further collectable guns. The amendment has been passed every year since. This has created a growing stockpile of surplus weapons that gun advocates hoped would be made available for sale at a later date.

In a change of tack in 1995, the Army began to transfer its surplus stocks to foreign governments. Between 1995 and early 1998, 321,905 surplus arms were exported to foreign militaries under the Excess Defense Articles program. The main recipients were the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Israel, Philippines and Taiwan.

>From the perspective of the U. S. government, this policy of exporting surplus stocks to friendly governments has the twin benefit of strengthening vulnerable allies while simultaneously reducing the surplus stockpile. The blanket prohibition on the re-transfer of U. S. military equipment without prior approval from Washington is also said to prevent the weapons from being diverted to third countries.

Foreign Sales of USGI M14 Rifles

Israel has exported USGI M14 rifles to New Zealand and Canada for commercial sale and to Italy for government use. A www.BattleRifles.com member and resident of Isle of Jersey, United Kingdom has been the owner of a USGI Winchester M14 rifle since about 1989. A gentleman living in Barbados legally owns a Harrington & Richardson USGI M14 rifle. A small number of M14 rifles remain in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. At least one M14 and one M14A1 are on display at the War Remnants Museum 28 Vo Van Tan District 3 Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). Some M14 rifles have been exported from Viet Nam to the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, and Norway. M14 rifles are available for sale to private individuals in those countries. For example, Mr. van Veen of Amsterdam imported M14 (and M1 Garand and Carbine) rifles into the Netherlands during the 1980s.

Countries that allow the commercial importation of USGI M14 rifles do not allow the owners to have automatic fire capability so the rifles and / or parts are regulated to prohibit select fire. For example, M14 rifles are legal for civilians to own in Germany but the selector lug is milled off and the USGI flash suppressor is replaced with a faux suppressor. In the Netherlands, it is illegal for all of the select fire parts to be installed on civilian owned M14 rifles.

M14E1

In 1962, Springfield Armory developed five versions of a folding stock designated as the M14E1. This was done at the request of the Army. Such a rifle was to be carried by paratroopers, tank crews and vehicle drivers. The designs included both under-folding and side-folding stocks for the M14 rifle as follows:

M14E1 Type I - no information available, tool room model

M14E1 Type II – under folding style with left side mounted front and rear sling swivels

M14E1 Type III – under folding Soviet AKM style with left side mounted front and rear sling swivels

M14E1 Type IV – under folding style with folding front and rear pistol grips and hinged butt plate

M14E1 Type V – left side folding with folding front and rear pistol grips and hinged butt plate

The M14E1 Type IV was outfitted with a clip on muzzle stabilizer that was also capable of mounting a bayonet. One M14E1 Type V rifle was made in January, 1963. The Type V stock had an aluminum bar stock arm, aluminum butt plate and swivel bracket. However, the difficulties encountered in producing forged aluminum stock arms were not resolved due to a lack of funding. The M14E1 Type V was shown to the Army and Marines at Fort Belvoir, Fort Knox, Fort Campbell, Fort Benning and Quantico by representatives of Springfield Armory during the first six months of 1963. Fort Benning recommended that the Type V stock be changed to a right side folder and that the front pistol grip fold to the rear instead of to the front. The Marines Test Center recommended acceptance of the M14E1 but it was not meant to be.

M14E2 and M14A1

The M14 rifle assigned to the automatic rifleman had an M14E2 stock and sling, stabilizer assembly and M2 bipod. His rifle would have a selector switch and selector shaft spring installed in place of the selector lock. In this configuration, the rifle was designated as the M14E2 in 1963. Captain Durward Gasney of the U.S. Army Infantry Board is credited with the M14E2 design. Between July and December, 1964, 8,350 M14 rifles were converted to M14E2 rifles and delivered to the military. Originally, TRW and Winchester were tasked with the M14E2 conversions but the supplier was late in delivering the rubber coated metal fore grips. When the fore grips were finally delivered, Springfield Armory did the conversions in order to speed delivery of the M14E2 to military units. By April, 1966, the M14E2 had been designated as the M14A1 (NSN 1005-00-072-5011).

The M14E2 as a Sniper Rifle - Less than 100 M14 rifles were fitted with walnut M14E2 stocks for use as sniper rifles. These rifles could also fire M198 duplex ammunition in automatic if need be. This work was performed at Anniston Army Depot and Rock Island Arsenal. An example of these M14E2 sniper rifles is discussed in the article entitled "Snipers in Vietnam Also Need Firepower" by Army Lieutenant Louis A. Garavaglia in the January, 1968 American Rifleman. Prior to 1968, a sniper detachment was created within the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Company of the U. S. Army 4th Division in Viet Nam. The LRRP Company sniper detachment tested the following rifles for use as a sniper weapon: Winchester 70, Remington 700, M14, M16A1 and three versions of the AK47. The M14 was chosen because it was reliable, capable of long distance shots and could deliver volume of fire if needed. These M14E2 sniping rifles were used in the Central Highlands of South Viet Nam and configured as follows: 1) all Harrington & Richardson models 2) equipped with M14E2 stocks 3) equipped with M84 2.2 X scopes 4) lighter M16A1 bipods mounted on the gas cylinders just forward of the spindle valves and 5) the selector switches were installed. The M14E2 proved sufficiently accurate for sniping use. It was found that experienced shooters could easily hit Army E type silhouette targets at 700 meters from the prone position. This was equivalent to shooting a man that was kneeling at 700 meters. Snipers equipped with these M14E2 rifles took nine magazines of ammunition with them. The nine magazines were loaded to eighteen rounds each. Two magazines contained M118 match grade cartridges and the other seven magazines held M198 duplex rounds. Should the three man sniper team get into a firefight, snipers would remove the match ammunition, insert a magazine of duplex rounds and switch to automatic for suppressive fire.

M14 Grenadier

Until it was replaced by the M79 around 1965, the grenadier's rifle was equipped with the M15 grenade launcher sight and the M76 grenade launcher. M14 rifles equipped as such did see combat service in Viet Nam until as late as June, 1966 with the U. S. Marine Corps. The grenadier prepared the M14 rifle by turning the spindle valve, loading a grenade blank into the magazine and placing a grenade on the M76 grenade launcher. The grenadier could propel a one and one-half pound grenade out to a distance of 250 meters depending on the angle at which he held the rifle and the launcher position to which the grenade was placed. Grenade types included smoke, signaling, anti-tank, white phosphorous and training.

M14 M

A very few M14 rifles were permanently rendered semi-automatic. This was accomplished by welding the selector shaft lock, selector lock pin, selector shaft, sear release and the receiver. This prevented removal of the selector lock and installation of the selector switch. Otherwise, the M14 M (Modified) rifle was a rack grade M14. This modification was officially announced in the Director of Civilian Marksmanship’s 1963 Rifle National Matches bulletin. The Army also announced it in Army Regulation 920-25 dated 8 February 1965. The U. S. Army intended to issue M14 M rifles to civilian shooting clubs and to sell them to the public through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship (DCM) program but this failed to occur. The Gun Control Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 22, 1968 and it went into effect on December 16, 1968. This law, among other things, prevented distribution of the M14 rifle to the public. The M14 M rifle was identified by stamping the letter M to the right of M14 on the receiver heel. Springfield Armory had converted 1009 rifles to M14 M by June 30, 1963.

M14 NM

A development program to turn the M14 into a competition match rifle was begun at Springfield Armory in 1959. Springfield Armory and TRW made such rifles from scratch. The competition match M14 rifle was designated M14 NM. Additionally, Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal converted some M14 rifles to M14 NM models. M14 NM rifles received the same welding operation as the M14 M rifles. At least one M14 NM, a TRW model, was issued in 2004 to a U. S. Army soldier on active duty in Iraq as a rack grade rifle.

M14 NM Production – At least 18,325 M14 NM rifles were produced from 1962 to 1967 with 6,500 of them produced in 1962 and 1963 by Springfield Armory. 3 Springfield Armory was tasked to deliver 3,000 M14 National Match rifles by August 01, 1962 and it reportedly delivered 3,550 new National Match rifles the following year. 4 This makes one accounting of Springfield Armory production number fifty more rifles than another accounting for 1962 and 1963. A third source states 7200 M14 NM rifles were manufactured in 1962 and 1963 at Springfield Armory. 5 Additionally, the National Rifle Association reported 4,874 M14 NM rifles made by TRW. 6 However, TRW reported production of 7,609 M14 NM rifles. 7 Using the smallest numbers available, the minimum number produced was 18,325. 8 The maximum number produced would be 21,760 (7200 built for ’62 and ’63 + 7,609 built for ’64 + 6,951 rebuilt for ’65, ’66 and ’67).

M14 NM Distinctive Features - The receiver heels were stamped M14 NM. The NM stamping appears just to the right of M14 or on the flat surface next to the rear sight. The major differences between the M14 NM and the M14 were: 1) NM barrel is held to half the tolerances of the rack grade barrel and is not chromium plated 2) NM rifle receiver is glass bedded to the stock 3) specific parts are hand fitted and assembled 4) NM rear sight is adjustable in ½ MOA increments through finer threads in the sight base and windage knob, and through half-turn rotation of a hooded eccentric rear sight aperture and 5) select fire parts are welded to prevent operation. The M14 NM rear sight is the same as what is used on National Match modified M1 Garand rifles. Both walnut and birch stocks have been used to build M14 NM rifles.

M14 NM Issue – Shooters were introduced to the M14 NM rifle at the 1963 National Rifle Matches. M14 NM rifles were a regular issue item at the 1964 and 1965 Matches. The M14 type rifle was popular in competition shooting until the early 1990s. The M14 was used by the U. S. Marine Corps at Camp Perry as late as 1996. However, U. S. DCM shooting clubs such as the Alabama State Service Rifle Team still had M14 NM rifles in its inventory in 2004.

Civilian Ownership of the M14 NM - The 1980 court case, U. S. v. One U. S. (TRW) 7.62mm M-14 National Match Rifle, Serial No. 1453711, is worthy of mention. This federal court case was not appealed, and is not “controlling legal authority” for other situations, even within the Southern District of Ohio. Though this case applies only to this particular M14 NM rifle, it does establish that one court has determined that the M14 NM rifle as manufactured by TRW and Springfield Armory is not capable of and is not designed for automatic fire. The rifle in question was originally manufactured as a National Match model, in contrast to rack grade M14 rifles converted into M14 NM configuration.

Robert Sauerman purchased the TRW M14 NM rifle serial number 1453711 in 1973 or 1974. It was not registered as a National Firearms Act machine gun. In order to set the question of the rifle’s legal status to rest, Mr. Sauerman informed the BATF that he was in possession of the TRW M14 NM. This TRW M14 NM was confiscated from the owner, Robert Sauerman, by the BATF on September 27, 1977 at his gun shop near Dayton, Ohio. The trial court made findings of fact that included a ruling that this TRW M14 NM was not a machine gun under the National Firearms Act, and ordered to be returned to Mr. Sauerman. The TRW M14 NM serial number 1453711 was sold by Mr. Sauerman around 1986 or 1987 to the current owner. Later, Robert Sauerman met an untimely death when a drunk driver crossed lanes and hit him head on at a stoplight. The current owner of TRW M14 NM serial number 1453711 also possesses the court case documents and a Springfield Armory M14 NM.

M15

From 1955 to 1959, the M15 (T44E5) rifle was developed as a heavier version of the M14 (T44E4). The M15 (T44E5) weighed 13.5 pounds and had a cyclic rate of 750 rounds per minute. The M15 (T44E5) had a bipod, butt plate, heavy non-plated barrel and wood hand guard. These developmental rifles were stamped T44E5 on the receiver. A rate reducer for the M15 was eliminated since tests showed comparable accuracy at both rates of fire in automatic. The butt plate and bipod ideas were borrowed from the M15 design and added to the M14. During this period, the decision was made to chromium plate standard contour M14 barrels. A number of T44E4 rifles were converted to T44E5 rifles and the receivers marked as such. Mathewson Tool Co. produced three samples of the T44E5. Additionally, a number of T44E4 rifles in the serial number range 1001 to 1500 were converted to T44E5 by Springfield Armory. The T44E5 tested by the U. S. Marine Corps in 1958. Nonetheless, the M15 was declared obsolete in December, 1959 without any USGI rifles ever stamped M15. The M15 (T44E5) had the following parts that differed from the M14: flash suppressor, barrel, gas cylinder, gas cylinder lock, front band, heavier wood stock with a different liner, heavier and triangular front sling swivel base, bipod, and a M1 Garand butt plate with a BAR hinge carefully inletted and secured with welds.

One commercial M15 rifle was made. Prior to May, 1986, a doctor in Ohio custom ordered a select fire M1A receiver from Springfield Armory, Inc. The doctor had Springfield Armory, Inc. stamp the receiver M15. To this receiver he added M14 and T44E5 parts he had accumulated to create the only known M15 rifle ever built.

XM21 and M21

Essentially, the XM21 and M21 rifles are M14 NM rifles equipped with optics. The M14 rifle was used for sniping duty as early as 1965. The U. S. Army 11th Air Assault Division had M14 rifles equipped with M84 scopes on aluminum mounts made by the United States Army Marksmanship Training Unit (USAMTU). The following year, the Army Weapons Command at Rock Island Arsenal developed a hinged mount for the M84 scope to be used on the M14 rifle. In March, 1967, the Army Weapons Command shipped the first 125 M84 scoped M14 NM rifles to the Republic of Viet Nam for use by Army snipers. M14 NM rifles equipped with M84 scopes were in use in Viet Nam even after the XM21 with the ART scope was fielded.

At the request of Army Major General Julian Ewell, commander of the 9th Infantry Division, fifty-four auto-ranging variable power scoped M14 MTU-NM rifles were delivered to the division's sniper school in Viet Nam on October 03, 1968. The Army Weapons Command provided an additional seventy-four M14 NM rifles equipped with the M84 2.2 X scope to the same sniper school.

The auto-ranging variable power scoped M14 MTU-NM was designated the XM21 by the U. S. Army Weapons Command at Rock Island Arsenal by no later than November, 1969. This designation remained until 1972 when it became the M21. The XM21 and M21 were both equipped with an auto-ranging variable power telescope (ART) and National Match iron sights. By no later than May, 1967, M14 NM rifles were being rebuilt by Rock Island Arsenal for sniping duty. XM21 rifles are either stamped or etched XM21 on the flat surface just behind the rear sight. Conversion to XM21 configuration included accurizing and installation of a standard contour National Match barrel and marking the scope mount with the last four digits of the receiver serial number by use of a Hermes engravograph. These gunsmithing procedures were codified by Colonel Conway when he wrote the original late 1968 edition of the USAMTU Accurized National Match M14 Rifle "M14 (MTU-NM)." This manual became the build manual for the XM21. Colonel Conway was the Ordnance Officer for the USAMTU at Fort Benning, GA from 1966 to 1970. The USAMTU performed final acceptance tests on the XM21 rifles. The XM21 rifles that had passed testing were sent to Anniston Army Depot for packing and shipment to Army units in the Republic of Viet Nam. A few of the XM21 rifle stocks were camouflaged after arrival in Viet Nam.

Scoped M14 NM and XM21 rifles were used by snipers from the 1st Cavalry Division, 9th Infantry Division, 23rd Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division, 101st Airborne Division and other Army units. The XM21 rifles were supplied with 172 grain M118 match grade ammunition. Instructors trained at Fort Benning, GA by the USAMTU were sent to the Republic of Viet Nam to run division sniper schools. For example, the 9th Infantry Division sniper school was at Dong Tam, the 23rd Infantry Division school was at Chu Lai and the 25th Infantry Division school was located at Cu Chi. At the request of the U. S. Navy, the Army MTU built and shipped forty accurized and scoped M14 rifles to the Republic of Viet Nam in 1969 for use by sailors on river patrol boats. However, these forty M14 rifles were furnished with conventional fixed magnification scopes and not the ART scopes.

The variable 3X to 9X scope system used on the XM21 rifles was conceived by Army Lieutenant (later Captain) James Leatherwood and developed by the Army Limited Warfare Laboratory. The Limited Warfare Laboratory at Fort Benning, GA modified Redfield Gunsight Company Accu-Range scopes for the first and second versions. The third version of the original ART scope was wholly manufactured by Redfield and with the mount made by Frankford Arsenal. The third version became known as the ART TEL or ART I. The ART I scopes were manufactured some time between March and October, 1969. Frankford Arsenal completed manufacture of the ART I scope mounts in October, 1969.

James Leatherwood's design improvement consisted of using a cam connected to the scope’s variable power ring to adjust the elevation, as the user increased or decreased magnification until vertical stadia bracketed a known distance. This created an automatic bullet drop compensator. The Viet Nam era Leatherwood scopes were cammed for the M80 and M118 cartridges. Early scope mounts used a single mounting screw developed by the Army MTU and the Limited Warfare Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground. The 9th Infantry Sniper School students were each issued a starlight scope with their XM21 rifles. The AN/PVS-2 starlight scope replaced the AN/PVS-1 for night shooting by 1969. By April, 1970 more than 1300 XM21 rifles were in Viet Nam.

After 1970 USGI National Match barrels were no longer available. Consequently, the U. S. Army Weapons Command purchased match grade barrels for the XM21 and M21 from commercial barrel manufacturers Douglas, Shilen and Hart. XM21 and early M21 rifles had a bedded and epoxy impregnated wood stock. XM21 rifles did not have receiver lugs. Later M21 rifles were issued with a fiberglass stock.

The Leatherwood Bros. ART II scope was developed by 1978. Various cams were available for the ART II scope according to the ammunition in use. Mounts for the ART II scope had a second mounting screw secured to the stripper clip guide. The Redfield / ART I scopes were mostly replaced in 1981 and later by Leatherwood Bros. ART II scopes. Rock Island Arsenal has rebuilt ART scopes as needed. A few ART I and ART II scopes still remain in the inventory of the U. S. Army. U. S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg, GA in November, 2004 shipped ART I and ART II scopes to U. S. soldiers in Iraq.

Some M21 rifles in the late 1980s were built with a rear lug under and extending behind the receiver heel. The gas piston for the M21 has a groove cut on the top of cylindrical portion, according to drawing number 9352724. This groove equalizes the gas pressure inside the cylinder resulting in gentler stroking of the operating rod. The M21 remained the Army's sniper rifle until 1988 when it was replaced by the M24 bolt action rifle.

M14 Product Improved Rifle

The U. S. Army Material Command in the early 1970s funded a project at Rock Island Arsenal to further improve the M14 rifle. Robert E. Snodgrass headed the project. Three prototype rifles were produced. These rifles had 24 ” stainless steel barrels, improved gas systems and no select fire components. These rifles grouped less than two minutes of angle at 100 yards with M118 ammunition. This was about a 100 % improvement over the acceptance standard of the M14 NM rifle specifications in 1975. By 1975 the funding for this project was stopped.

XM25 and M25

The M25 rifle is an improved version of the M21. It serves admirably as the spotter's rifle in a military sniper team. The concept began with Master Sergeants Amelung and Kapp of the U. S. Army 10th Special Forces Group while at Fort Devens, MA. With the assistance of owner Mitch Mateiko at Brookfield Precision Tool (BPT), the 10th Special Forces Group developed the XM25 rifle between 1986 and 1988. In 1991, the U. S. Army designated it the M25. The XM25 / M25 saw combat service in Panama and the 1990-1991 Gulf War. The XM25 design specification required the rifle to have a medium weight match grade barrel, Harris bipod and the following Brookfield Precision Tool parts: stock liner, operating rod spring guide, scope mount, and titanium nitride coated gas piston. The advantages of a titanium nitride coated gas piston are as follows:

1) Anti-galling and anti-seizing properties – Titanium nitride coating is harder than stainless steel. This causes it to act as a slicker surface than the non-coated gas piston. Consequently, there is less gunpowder and primer residue buildup. Gunpowder and primer residue buildup does cause a very minute amount of galling between the gas cylinder and gas piston. The titanium nitride coating on the gas piston is only 0.0001 ” thick. This does not cause accelerated wear of the gas cylinder.

2) Corrosion protection – Titanium nitride coating has better pitting corrosion resistance than stainless steel.

3) Thermal protection – Titanium nitride has better resistance to heat than stainless steel. Higher resistance to heat extends the service life of the gas piston much like titanium nitride coated cutting tools last longer than those that are not coated.

4) Better compression – Titanium nitride coating extends the life of the piston grooves. A sharper groove edge will provide compression for a longer amount of time plus it removes more of the gunpowder and primer residue from the cylinder wall than a non-coated piston.

5) Easier cleaning – Cleaning the piston is made easier since the gunpowder and primer residue does not adhere as well as on non-coated gas pistons.

The XM25 rifle had a steel liner placed inside the stock to allow removal of the stock without loss of scope zero. The M25 rifle typically sports a McMillan M2A bedded stock without the steel liner and a heavyweight match grade Krieger barrel. The M25 rifle does not have a rear receiver lug.

Brookfield Precision Tool made two different titanium nitride coated gas pistons. Both have drawing number 7267047. The Revision 1 gas piston has the standard diameter gas inlet. The Revision 2 has a smaller diameter gas inlet. Only a relatively few 7267047 Revision 2 gas pistons were made. The Revision 2 gas pistons were designed for use in sound suppressed M14 type rifles. The U. S. Navy purchased 7267047 Revision 2 gas pistons but the U. S. Army and U. S. Marine Corps did not. Optics on the M25 varies according to unit preferences. The Army Special Forces favor the Leupold & Stevens, Inc. M3A 10X scope while the Navy SEALs prefer the Bausch & Lomb Tactical 10X scope. Brookfield Precision Tool also produced an adapter for its scope mount to accommodate the AN/PVS-4 night scope. A scope mount designed by Atlantic Research Marketing Systems (ARMS) was tested by the 82nd Airborne Division and the 10th Special Forces Group but the Army settled on the Brookfield Precision Tool design. The BPT scope mount utilizes three points to secure the mount to the receiver, the mounting area on the left side, the stripper clip guide and the barrel ring.

M14 DMR

During the mid-1990s the concept of a Designated Marksman was discussed and adopted within the ranks of the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The U. S. Marine Corps chose the M14 rifle to become its Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR). The M14 DMR is classified as a precision grade, semi-automatic 7.62 mm NATO caliber rifle. The DMR enables the shooter to deliver accurate semi-automatic fire against multiple targets at greater distances and with greater lethality than with the M16A2. A manual specific to the M14 DMR was published by the Department of the Navy in July, 2000.

In August, 1998 the U. S. Marine Corps Systems Command negotiated three sole source commercial item contracts for scope mounts and rings, barrels and stocks. McMillan Fiberglass Stocks (Phoenix, AZ) supplied 253 M2A stocks for the M14 DMR. To each M14 DMR stock, a Harris bipod was mounted under the forearm. GG&G (Tucson, AZ) provided 253 M1A1 scope mounts and 253 pairs of Sniper Grade Medium 30 mm scope rings.

Cooper Precision Manufacturing (Oak Ridge, TN) was owned by Accuracy International (United Kingdom). Cooper Precision Manufacturing sold 278 barrels for the M14 DMR in 1998 to the U. S. Government. Reportedly, the Cooper Precision Manufacturing barrels were found to not meet the external dimensional specifications so they were not used. Cooper Precision Manufacturing struggled financially and was finally closed down by the parent company. The remaining material stock was sold to two individuals who now produce quality match grade barrels. Mike Rock, in late 1996 and 1997, and Krieger Barrels, Inc. have supplied match grade barrels to the U. S. Marine Corps for M14 DMR rifles.

The M14 DMR has sported Unertl and Leupold & Stevens, Inc. Mk4 10 X scopes. The initial ammunition issued for these rifles was the M118 round but that was later replaced with the 175 grain M118LR cartridge. The M118LR round makes the M14 DMR effective to a greater distance. Some M14 DMR rifles have been equipped with OPS, Inc. combination sound suppressor and muzzle brake attachments. M14 DMR rifles are built at the Precision Weapons Shop, Weapons Training Battalion, Combat Development Command at Marine Corps Base Quantico (VA). Every M14 DMR is required to proof fired with one pressure test round and thirty M118 rounds of ammunition. The accuracy test for every M14 DMR consists of a check list of items which includes grouping no more than a 3 ” by 3 ”square at 300 meters. The successful proof firing is indicated on the exterior of the barrel right hand rear end. The barrel is stamped with 1/16 ” size letters in the following manner: PWS – P on the top line and the month and year below that. PWS denotes Precision Weapons Section and P means the barrel was proof fired.

The M14 DMR (NSN 1005-01-458-6235) has seen use in combat with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit during 2001 and 2002 in the vicinity of Kandahar, Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the U. S. Marines had M14 DMR rifles with OPS, Inc. sound suppressor and muzzle brake attachments and AN/PVS-10 day / night scopes. Currently, the M14 DMR is assigned to Fleet Antiterror Security Teams of the Security Force Battalion within the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. The M14 DMR is also used by USMC Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Military Police units.

M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle

Mike Rock started Mike Rock Rifle Barrels, Inc. in 1978. He made National Match and DMR barrels for the U. S. Marine Corps in the 1990s. After some financial struggles and losing his business, Malcolm Cooper hired Mike Rock to make barrels. Mr. Cooper passed away later on. Subsequently, engineers Jim Ribordy and Mike Rock teamed up as RD Systems (South Beloit, IL). In 2000, Rock Creek Barrels (Albany, WI) was formed. Rock Creek Barrels, Inc. is owned and operated by Mike Rock and Kim Theiler. Mike Rock produces single point cut rifle barrels. Kim Theiler manufactures pull button rifle barrels. To date, Mike Rock has personally fired over 1,000,000 rounds through firearms. He holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and an honorary Doctorate in Metallurgical Engineering.

About 2001, Mike Rock was asked by U. S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Gus Taylor at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, IN to participate in the SOPMOD Conference at Fort Benning, GA. SOPMOD is a military acronym for Special Operations Peculiar Modification. This term is used to denote that a weapon system has been modified for use by the U. S. Special Operations Command. Mike Rock was the sole barrel maker invited to this conference. Colonel Taylor asked Mike Rock to design a shortened M14 rifle. A contract was signed with NSWC Crane and the project began. As part of the project, Mike Rock was given ten M14 rifles to be used to develop the SOPMOD M14. Mr. Rock thought about the M14 design and how to improve upon it. He came up with the idea to reorient the gas system so that it was in line with the bolt roller. He made a wood mock up at first. It showed to be very promising so further development work was done. Malcolm Cooper and Mike Rock sketched out a “V” block two half stock for an Accuracy International bolt action rifle. This is where the concept of the two half synthetic stock originated. Mike Rock then measured and machined a prototype two half stock that a wooden fore end with an aluminum channel. After this, Colonel Taylor informed Mike Rock that a collapsing stock was desired for the SOPMOD M14.

Mike Rock then created an aluminum stock body with steel telescoping rails. It allowed the barrel and gas system to float freely. The redesigned SOPMOD M14 gas system pushed directly in line with the bolt roller and reduces barrel whip. This gas system has been patented by Mike Rock under RD Systems. The original USGI M14 barrel was replaced with a 1:11.27 twist five radial groove heavy pull button barrel. Barrel twist rate is defined as how far the bullet must travel down the barrel before it has spun one revolution, e.g., 1:10 means a bullet will turn one revolution for every 10 ” of barrel length. A faster twist rate is generally used to stabilize heavier and longer bullets in flight.

It was found through testing that acceptable accuracy could be maintained with as short a barrel as 11 ” with this design but the noise level was excessive. All of this work was done by Mike Rock and Jim Ribordy working together at RD Systems. Jim Ribordy hand delivered the prototype SOPMOD M14 to Colonel Taylor at NSWC Crane, IN. Mike Rock’s SOPMOD M14 was tested at Fort Campbell, KY by a U. S. Army 5th Special Forces Group soldier. It was also test fired by Colonel Taylor. The results were impressive. Initially, OPS, Inc. designed sound suppressors were used in concert with the SOPMOD M14. These SOPMOD M14 sound suppressors were manufactured by RD Systems. For whatever reasons, this design was not adopted for military use by NSWC Crane but it is available in the commercial market (see Troy Industries, Inc.).

In 2003, Smith Enterprise first built its prototype M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR) for consideration by the U. S. Navy. It was favorably received. By no later than August, 2003, NSWC Crane had decided on a design specification for the M14 EBR. The M14 EBR is built on a USGI M14 receiver with enhancements including, but not limited to, a fully adjustable stock, a 17 5/8 " medium weight National Match molybdenum-chromium alloy barrel and Smith Enterprise combination gas cylinder lock front sight, direct connect flash hider and extended bolt stop. The M14 EBR weighed 11 pounds 10 ounces with a 22 ” barrel but no optics or fore grip when evaluated by Armed Forces Journal at its 2004 Shoot-out. The M14 EBR tested by Armed Forces Journal was equipped with the first telescoping version of the Sage International M14 EBR stock.

As of October, 2004, NSWC Crane is expected to eventually build approximately 3,000 M14 EBR rifles over a five year period for the U. S. Navy SEALs and select U. S. Marine Corps units. Smith Enterprise is supplying parts to the NSWC Crane, IN as requested in support of the M14 EBR project. David Armstrong (NSWC Crane, IN) designed and patented the M14 EBR stock. He developed the M14 EBR stock by starting with the telescoping mechanism sold by Sage International, Ltd. to NSWC Crane for use on Remington pump shotguns. The M14 EBR issued to the U. S. Navy SEALs is dressed in the lightweight gray color version of the Sage International EBR stock (see Folding and Telescoping Commercial Stocks). Sage International, Ltd. produces the fully adjustable black color M14 EBR stock for the U. S. military and civilian sales.

Semi-automatic Only USGI M14 Rifles

Three semi-automatic only M14 receivers were manufactured at the Springfield Armory in 1962. Two of the receivers were assembled into complete rifles. These semi-automatic only rifles differed from the standard M14 in the following manner: 1) no selector lug or operating rod rail cuts for the connector 2) M1 Garand design operating rod dismount notch 3) no stock selector cutout 4) M1 Garand butt plate on the stock 5) no spindle valve in the gas cylinder 6) no connector-tripping notch in the operating rod 6) M1 Garand sear installed in the trigger group 7) ten round magazine in lieu of a twenty round magazine. These semi-automatic M14 receivers were numbered X500, X501 and X502. X500 remained at Springfield Armory as a bare receiver. Receivers X501 and X502 were assembled into complete rifles. These two rifles were examined by the Chief of Army Field Forces, the Director of Civilian Marksmanship and the Department of Treasury. The Department of Treasury concluded that these rifles were suitable for sales to civilians. Major General Nelson M. Lynde, Chief of Army Field Forces, decided that these modifications deviated too far from the original design. These semi-automatic M14 rifles could not be converted back to the issue rifle in the event of a national emergency. Thus, the project was abandoned. Disposition of these three receivers is unknown.

Hahn Machine Company M14 Rifles

In the 1990s Hahn Machine Company (St. Charles, MO) legally manufactured semi-automatic only M14 rifles by cutting and welding pieces from scrapped USGI M14 receivers. This was done according to a letter of approval signed by then BATF Chief, Firearms Technology Branch, Edward M. Owen, Jr. dated June 8, 1994. The letter was addressed to Mr. Lloyd Hahn of the Hahn Machine Company in St. Charles, Missouri. It was the BATF response to Mr. Hahn's May 11, 1994 submission of a modified USGI TRW M14 receiver for a BATF ruling on the assembly of a semi-automatic only USGI M14 receiver. The approval letter granted permission to manufacture semi-automatic only M14 receivers from "properly destroyed" USGI M14 receivers. The destruction procedure first required a specific torch cut procedure on the receiver followed by removal of the selector lug and weld fill in of the operating rod rail cuts. After these steps were completed, the pieces of receiver scrap could be welded into one piece. The letter also required Hahn Machine Company to permanently engrave the company name, city and state on the receiver. A second letter from the BATF dated March 22, 1995 and signed by Technical Section ATF Specialist Naomi L. Rubarts was the cover document for an approved Application for Registration for Tax-Free Transactions as a manufacturer.

The receivers were heat treated after all welding operations had been completed. The quality of the welding on Hahn Machine receivers is reputed to be very good. The number of Hahn Machine welded semi-automatic M14 receivers is unknown but is thought to be in the hundreds. Among the number of M14 rifles reconstructed by Hahn Machine Company are some of the receivers destroyed by Rock Island Arsenal in 1970 at Loyola University. A very few of these receivers had been marked by the military as XM21 and at least one was a T44 receiver.

U. S. Civilian Ownership of Select Fire M14 Type Rifles

There are between seventy-five and one hundred National Firearms Act (NFA) registered USGI M14 rifles (including legally welded USGI receivers) in the United States according to an ATF Agent who conducted an audit of the NFA Registry. The Agent conducted the audit with the specific purpose of determining the number of USGI M14 rifles in the Registry.

In March, 1986 Harrington & Richardson registered a group of twenty-five to thirty, possibly more, Harrington & Richardson M14 rifles and a handful of the Harrington & Richardson .22 LR caliber M14 Simulator rifles with the BATF. These M14 rifles had never left the factory and were registered in time to become legal for civilian possession before the 1986 McClure-Volkmer Firearms Owner Protection Act ended any further legal registration of automatic capable firearms for civilian purchase. They were auctioned off when Harrington & Richardson went out of business. Robert J. Perry later purchased these H&R M14 rifles from the winning bidder of the Harrington & Richardson auction. Subsequent to the passing of Mr. Perry, these have been sold to other individuals.

Most of the Harrington & Richardson M14 rifles were test models, experimental Guerilla Gun M14 models or machined receivers that had never been heat treated. Some had no scope mount on the left hand side while others were barreled actions or only partially assembled. A few were standard issue M14 rifles with production serial numbers but most had hand stamped experimental or test model serial numbers, e.g., R14, R75, etc. A number of these M14 rifles were assembled with T44E6 parts and some had the rear sight pocket knob holes milled off while others lacked the U S RIFLE M14 marking on the heel. The Harrington & Richardson M14 rifles that required it were heat treated at FPM Heat Treating (Chicago, IL). This collection of Harrington & Richardson M14 rifles were then phosphate coated and assembled into new M14 rifles with standard USGI M14 parts. Parts were cannibalized from all of the .22 LR caliber select fire rifles to create three complete .22 LR caliber M14 Simulator models. The phosphate coating and rebuilding of the Harrington & Richardson rifles was done under the supervision of Robert J. Perry and an associate.

The U. S. Department of Energy obtained some USGI M14 rifles prior to May, 1986. These USGI M14 rifles were later released for sale to the public by the U. S. Department of Energy. These USGI M14 rifles were obtained and subsequently sold by Class 3 SOT / FFL Charlie Logan (see Firearms Laws in The United States). The number of DOE M14 rifles released for sale has been reported as fifteen by a very credible source. Many of these DOE M14 rifles have the symbol # and a number etched on the left side of the receiver above the stock line. A second very credible source has observed one DOE M14 rifle etched with # 29. Another four of these DOE M14 rifles are etched with the following: # 8, # 19, # 21 and # 34. At least one of these DOE M14 rifles is not etched with a number on the receiver.

Specialty Arms (Springfield, OH) and Federal Firearms License holders Bill Fleming (Collinsville, OK) and Neal Smith (Smith Firearms in Mentor, OH) legally welded pieces of scrap to create USGI receivers and registered them in time to remain transferable. An H&R Gun Co. M14 type rifle serial number 0556 is a select fire USGI M14 receiver rifle. It was originally registered with the BATF by an approved NFA Form 1 prior to the May, 1986 ban. On March 31, 2003 this rifle sported a USGI birch stock, USGI M2 bipod, 18 ” barrel and lugless flash suppressor. It was quickly sold by Elite Firearms (Boaz, KY). A small number of Chinese Norinco select fire M14 rifles were imported after 1986 into the United States as post-'86 dealer samples for sale to law enforcement agencies. Serial numbers for three NFA registered post-'86 ban dealer sample Norinco select fire M14 rifles are as follows: 620035XX, 620401XX and 640026XX.

Ignore the Petition to Sell the M14!

Ignore any petition regarding public sales of M14 rifles. Orest Michaels, Chief Operating Officer for the U. S. Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), stated in a June 17, 2003 e-mail message to a member of the Internet discussion board www.battlerifles.com: that 1) the U. S. Army has no surplus M14 rifles to sell 2) no M14 rifles are being destroyed and none have been destroyed for almost ten years 3) CMP may not want to or may not be allowed to get involved if such a program existed anyway because the M14 is considered a machine gun. A petition to this effect occasionally surfaces in various e-mail messages and Internet discussion groups, but is filled with outdated information.

The 1996 Fiscal Year National Defense Authorization Act changed the legal status of the Civilian Marksmanship Program and the Office of Director of Civilian Marksmanship. On October 01, 1996, these entities were given non-profit corporate status by statute, and ceased to be a part of the U. S. Government. Until then, the CMP was a part of the U. S. Government Department of the Army.

Select Fire M14 Rifle Rate of Fire Modification

During the Viet Nam War, American soldiers experimented with different means of changing the rate of fire of a M14 rifle in automatic. Soldiers in Viet Nam developed modifications which could make the M14 fire at either rate of 550 or 1100 rounds per minute. By milling a 0.060 " wide and deep channel along the top of the cylindrical portion of the gas piston the rate of fire was slowed to 550 rounds per minute. The rate of fire in a select fire M14 can be further reduced to about 500 rounds per minute by drilling a hole in the center of the gas cylinder. The drill bit size used for this is 0.0400 ".



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