M14 Rifle History and Development By Lee Emerson Preface


Smith Enterprise M14 Services



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Smith Enterprise M14 Services

Smith Enterprise, Inc. offers a host of services for the M14 type rifle. It has performed gunsmithing work for many years and continues to do so for the U. S. Army, U. S. Marine Corps and federal government agencies. Smith Enterprise M14 services include match tuning, assembly, receiver heat treatment, barrel or complete rifle cryogenic treatment, Chinese rifle bolt conversion to USGI bolt, bush barrel conversion and gas piston heat treatment and hard chromium plating. The Chinese rifle bolt conversion includes reworking the receiver to accept a USGI bolt and headspacing the barrel. Smith Enterprise has offered this service since 1994. The bush barrel conversion includes finish reaming, installing and headspacing a 17 5/8 " air gauged medium weight Douglas match barrel to the receiver. Smith Enterprise will also install rear or rear and front lugs to the receiver upon customer request. Its rear lugs are designed with an innovative three degree release angle on all four sides. This feature reduces wear on the precision bedding material during routine maintenance, and has been adopted by the U. S. Marine Corps.

M14K

Smith Enterprise, Inc. and LaFrance Specialties have collaborated on various projects through the years. One such venture was the M14K, a very interesting and innovative development of the M14 type rifle. The origin was a desire on the part of Richard Smith and Tim LaFrance in the 1980s to make the M14 more compact and controllable without generating excessive muzzle blast and recoil. Richard Smith and his son, Ron Smith, did all of the research and development for the M14K. After some experimentation, they found that the M60 machine gun gas system provided great promise in reducing the muzzle blast and recoil of the M14. So, Ron Smith further improved and perfected the M60 type gas system for the M14K. All M14K rifles were built by Smith Enterprise themselves. This included the woodworking necessary for the stocks.

The conversion to an M14K consists of installing the improved M60 type gas system, adding a unique combination muzzle brake and flash hider, shortening the operating rod and wood stock fore end and installing National Match front and rear sights. The fore end of the wood stock was shortened to accommodate the new gas system. The M14K barrel length is 13 1/2 ". M14K models purchased by civilians had either 1:10 twist four groove match barrels or 1:12 twist chromium plated barrels. Semi-automatic only M14K rifles had to be registered as short-barrel rifles under the National Firearms Act. The match grade barrels proved to be markedly more accurate than the chromium plated barrels in the M14K. The M14K cyclic rate is about 600 rounds per minute and the muzzle velocity 2560 feet per second using M80 ball ammunition. Smith Enterprise has made the M14K in semi-automatic and select fire models.

During the Reagan Presidency, Smith Enterprise converted some M14 rifles to M14K models for the Columbian government. The M14K was very effective in the hands of the Colombian Army. In fact, it was so effective that the drug cartel FARC threatened bodily harm on the Smith family. Because the Reagan Administration was not able to guarantee around the clock protection, Smith Enterprise decided to cease the conversion work for the Colombian government. In 1988, the M14K was marketed by Tim LaFrance at the Soldier of Fortune Show.

Smith Enterprise plans to reintroduce the M14K in the future. Boyds’ will supply the stocks. These M14K rifles will have Wilson Arms 16 ” four groove barrels with 1:10 twist for semi-automatic models and 1:12 twist for NFA registered select fire models. Semi-automatic only M14K rifles will require registration as short-barrel rifles under the National Firearms Act. Smith Enterprise will make all the gas system components. A turnaround time of two weeks will be the goal.

A. R. Sales and Federal Ordnance

A. R. Sales was owned by Jack Karnes. Jack, his wife Elia, and their children ran the company. A. R. Sales had a brief production run beginning in October, 1971. A. R. Sales receivers are of decent quality. 2 The company was sold off shortly thereafter. When Federal Ordnance was started up by the owner, Bob Brenner, Jack Karnes went to work for Federal Ordnance. Federal Ordnance began production of its M14 type rifles in 1988 and ended around 1992. Karl Maunz supplied some raw receiver castings to Federal Ordnance. Federal Ordnance receivers machined while Jack Karnes was on board were of good quality. 3 The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a Federal Ordnance M14SA in 1988 was $629.00. The rifles were sold with a one year parts and labor warranty.

Federal Ordnance built two types of M14 rifles, one with USGI parts and one with Chinese parts. USGI parts were used extensively in Federal Ordnance rifles through at least S/N 008877. Through at least serial number 3058 the USGI parts were taken off USGI M14 rifles imported from Israel. By serial number 205XX, if not earlier, Chinese and Taiwanese reproduction parts were used to assemble its rifles. Federal Ordnance sold complete rifles as well as stripped receivers. Century Arms International (St. Albans, VT) assembled some of these Federal Ordnance receivers with Chinese parts and sold them to the commercial market. The Federal Ordnance marking may be located on the right receiver leg instead of the receiver heel for Century Arms International assembled rifles. Some Federal Ordnance M14SA receivers have serial numbers with the letter C prefix followed by a hyphen then four digits, e.g., C-0116. These letter C prefix serial number receivers were sold as stripped receivers to Century Arms International in 1989 or 1990 for assembly into complete rifles. Century Arms International assembled very few M14 type rifles with Federal Ordnance receivers and Chinese parts, as compared to the number of Chinese rifles it later sold.

AWC Systems Technology

Beginning in 1991, AWC Systems Technology (Phoenix, AZ) converted some M14 type rifles into a bullpup rifle design. Three models were made, G2, G2A and G2FA. The overall length is approximately 33 ". G2 series rifles were outfitted with a special McMillan stock and muzzle brake. The trigger was moved forward of the magazine well. The G2 was the first version. It had a standard contour barrel and a scope mount. The G2A features a heavy barrel, modified gas cylinder and a redesigned scope mount. The G2FA is the select fire model. All three models place the scope directly over the barrel. Reportedly, less than 100 G2 and G2A models and less than a dozen G2FA models were produced. At least one unit has been sound suppressed. The G2FA and suppressed models require National Firearms Act registration in the United States.

Entreprise Arms

Beginning in 1996, Entreprise Arms (Irwindale, CA) began offering M14 type receivers for sale. Its standard receiver is available with rear and double lugged receivers as special order items. The receivers are CNC machined from twelve-pound billets of AISI 8620 alloy steel. Entreprise Arms receivers are heat treated to a surface hardness of 52 to 56 HRC and a core hardness of 34 to 38 HRC. Entreprise Arms receivers are given a black oxide finish rather than a phosphate coating. Receivers are sold with an unconditional lifetime guarantee. Its receivers have the stamping ABNI. It is the marking of a subcontractor who previously did some manufacturing for Entreprise Arms. Earlier Entreprise Arms receivers have the serial number stamped on the left side near the rear sight. Later receivers have a wider than USGI specification operating rod rail than earlier receivers and the serial number is on the receiver heel. Entreprise Arms also provides M14 gunsmithing services such as rifle assembly, barrel installation, phosphate coating of parts, NM trigger modification, and clean and lube.

Troy Industries, Inc.

The M14 type rifle was further refined for civilians in 2002. Mike Rock and Jim Ribordy developed the Rock SOPMOD M14 for the U. S. Navy but the public is aware of it through the efforts of Steve Troy at Troy Industries, Inc. RD Systems (South Beloit, IL) builds and Troy Industries, Inc. (Lee, MA) markets and sells the Rock SOPMOD M14 conversion. This Close Quarter Battle (CQB) carbine conversion is available to civilians as long as all federal, state and local laws are complied with.

Steve Troy was introduced to Mike Rock and the Rock SOPMOD M14 by a mutual business acquaintance. Steve Troy saw the potential in the commercial market for the Rock SOPMOD M14. Consequently, Troy Industries has promoted the Rock SOPMOD M14 through printed literature at the annual SHOT Show beginning in 2003, the company web site and Internet discussion boards.

As previously discussed, the Rock SOPMOD M14 carbine had been designed and developed under contract for the U. S Naval Surface Warfare Center (Crane, IN) for the M14 EBR project. At that time, neither Mike Rock nor Steve Troy knew of the involvement Sage International had with the M14 EBR project. Personnel from NSWC at Crane, IN informed them that the Rock SOPMOD M14 was still too heavy. Both Mr. Rock and Mr. Troy thought a contract was pending so they took steps to reduce the weight of the carbine. Ironically, the M14 EBR design adopted by the U. S. Navy weighs more than the commercial Rock SOPMOD M14 carbine.

The performance of the first commercial production conversions was puzzling since they were not performing as well as the models built for the U. S. Navy. Steve Troy made several trips to RD Systems to help troubleshoot the loss of accuracy. No further conversions were shipped and all those that had been shipped were returned to RD Systems at no expense to the customer. The loss of accuracy was mostly due to changes in materials used in the conversion to reduce weight to comply with the requirements of the unrealized U. S. Navy contract. Additionally, the varying dimensions of commercial M14 type receivers were responsible for complicating the installation of the receiver front lug that is bolted to the metal stock.

The original design of the Rock SOPMOD M14 featured an aluminum stock and steel telescoping rails. Steve Troy has added his input to create the commercial version of the Rock SOPMOD M14. As a result, the Rock SOPMOD M14 is now made with a lighter and stronger magnesium alloy stock with titanium telescoping rails. Steve Troy made further design enhancements such as the operating rod protector, sling swivels, the three-way front lug, the CQB muzzle compensator and textured coatings.

The pull button 16.5 ” long 1:11.27 five radial groove rifle barrels are supplied by Rock Creek Barrels, Inc. The new stock and accessory rail system include four military standard M1913 Picatinny accessory rails. The USGI flash suppressor and front sight are replaced with the combination flash suppressor and muzzle compensator that is threaded to accept the optional Troy Industries sound suppressor. An M203 grenade launcher will attach to the Rock SOPMOD M14 stock at the six o'clock rail. The grenade launcher is removed by disengaging a quick release device.

The rifle weighs 9.5 pounds and the overall length is 29 " with the stock collapsed and 35 " with the stock fully extended. Using the Rock SOPMOD M14 and bipod, a twenty round magazine can be emptied into a 5 ” group on paper at 100 yards in automatic. The Rock SOPMOD M14 can consistently group 3 ” at 500 yards in semi-automatic. In either mode, felt recoil is negligible as compared to the standard M14 rifle.

In 2003, Troy Industries introduced the Rock SOPMOD M14 Calimando. This conversion can be performed on California resident M14 type receivers to comply with that state’s laws governing semiautomatic firearms. The conversion includes a 16.5 " barrel and traditional style butt stock without a pistol grip. Overall length for the Rock SOPMOD M14 Calimando is 35 ".

Both Rock SOPMOD M14 Carbine and Calimando models use the stripper clip guide as an attachment point for the accessory rails. The Rock SOPMOD M14 models have the visible portion of the operating rod marked with all the Troy Industries model information. Several optional items are available for the Rock SOPMOD M14 models including single point CQB sling, soft or hard case, muzzle brake, suppressor, and bipod. Standard surface finish for the stocks and pistol grips is textured black.

Troy Industries, Inc. introduced the Rock SOPMOD M14 to the firearms industry at the 2003 SHOT Show. At the 2004 SHOT Show there were several Rock SOPMOD M14 carbines were displayed at the Troy Industries booth. One of these models was dressed in a medium brown color Rock SOPMOD M14 stock. The receiver, rear sight assembly, all rails, the trigger group parts, and the operating rod were all nickel-boron plated. The benefit of nickel-boron plating is wear resistance superior to that of chromium. The nickel-boron plated parts had a color darker than gold but lighter than bronze. That model was a special order item. Nickel-boron plating is no longer available.

LRB of Long Island, Inc.

In 2003, LRB of Long Island, Inc. began selling semi-automatic M14 type rifle receivers. The manufacturing of LRB Arms M14SA receivers is briefly described here. Bourdon Forge Company, Inc. (Middletown, CT) cuts extruded AISI 8620 alloy steel bar stock into ingots, heats them and then drop forges them into shape. Bourdon Forge Company has manufactured high quality forgings since 1969. It uses Computer Aided Design, Computer Aided Manufacturing and Computer Aided Design for Impact Forging software to develop highly specialized forgings.

The raw forgings are then CNC machined. All LRB Arms receivers are machined at J V Precision Company (Seymour, CT) using U. S. government Rock Island Arsenal blueprints for part number 7790189 Revision February, 1975. Dimensional tolerances are held to within one thousandth of an inch. Next, its receivers are heat treated to a core hardness of 28 to 42 HRC and a surface hardness of 52 to 55 HRC with a case depth of 0.012 " to 0.018 ". The final step is a phosphate coating that duplicates the color and finish of the original M14 receivers. The LRB of Long Island, Inc. M14 type rifle receiver design was approved by the BATFE in January, 2003.

To understand the M14SA receiver numbering sequence the following background is given. In 2002, Mike Kelly Specialties (Grafton, WV), also known as MKS, was marketing the sale of newly manufactured semi-automatic receivers. According to the company's web site at the time, the receivers were forged in Taiwan and machined in the United States. LRB was the distributor for the MKS newly manufactured M-14 receivers. These raw MKS receiver forgings were in a machine shop in lots of various stages of the machining process. Then one day, the then BATF made a visit and seized a number of the receivers. The semi-finished MKS receivers that were seized had features such as a lug on the rear right bottom side, an operating rod center notch and a groove on the forward bottom side of the operating rod rail. After the BATF left the building the machine shop was left with some of the MKS forgings in various stages of machining. The receivers the BATF left behind had none of the select fire features mentioned above. Some had a little machining completed and some were almost finished. In 2003, the LRB contractor, J V Precision, was able to finish the machining operations on the former MKS forgings. LRB of Long Island, Inc. sold the receivers with the markings LRB Arms M14SA. Based on how many receivers were in each stage of the machining process, they were divided into groups for numbering, i.e., ten in the first group, four in the second group, forty-nine in the third group, and eight in the fourth group.

The first ten LRB receivers sold had the least amount of machining needed for completion. These are marked as X00101 through X00110. The next five M14SA receivers needed a little more machining to complete than the first ten and are marked as 00101 to 00104. These needed a little more machining to complete than the first ten. The third group of M14SA receivers, forty-nine of them, starts at serial number 01001. These required more machining than the first two sets. The fourth group of M14SA receivers which began as MKS units starts at serial number 01101 and ends at 01108. These required even more machining than the first three sets.

Subsequent M14SA receiver serial numbers start at 01201. These receivers are forgings made after the machine shop had used up all the forgings previously made for MKS. Receivers starting with serial number 01201 are forged at Bourdon Forge Company. Between receivers numbered 01212 and 01245, the serial number marking was changed from a dot matrix to a roll die stamping.

At the 2004 SHOT Show, LRB displayed two prototype M14SA receivers each with two integral M1913 Picatinny rail pads. The receiver rail pads are located on top of the barrel ring and at the stripper clip guide dovetail mount. The first batch of these M1913 integrated rail M14SA receivers was forged in October, 2004. Estimated availability of these M1913 integrated rail M14SA receivers is early 2005. In December, 2004, LRB Arms began selling complete M14SA rifles in limited quantities. The M14SA rifles are assembled with all USGI parts except for Criterion or Wilson Arms National Match grade standard contour barrels.

Origin of Chinese M14 Rifles

A persistent rumor states that M14 rifles produced by the People's Republic of China were reverse engineered from enemy captured M14 rifles in Viet Nam. 4 China North Industries Corporation, known as Norinco, is reported to have produced M14 rifles by the early 1970s. 5 The story continues that 100,000 Chinese M14 rifles were produced for an armed revolution in the Philippines. 6 In preparing for this work, the author interviewed a very reliable source with extensive firsthand knowledge of Chinese and Taiwanese production and export of small arms was interviewed for this work. This gentleman wishes not to be identified. He is referred to as Other Source # 12.

It was policy of the Chinese government until 1978 to export Marxist revolution to the world’s masses, much like the former Soviet Union tried to do during its reign in eastern Europe into western Asia. This policy changed dramatically in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping assumed leadership in China. After 1978, the Chinese government pursued economic development and trade for the country, whereas before they promoted and supported communist dissident movements around the globe. In the late 1960s, the Chinese government reverse engineered the design for the U. S. Rifle M14 from weapons captured in Viet Nam. 100,000 M14 rifles and the necessary magazines and ammunition were produced by the Chinese for export to arm rebels in other countries. These Chinese select fire M14 rifles were made to look just like captured American M14 rifles including even the serial numbers. The Chinese government went so far as to produce 7.62x51 mm NATO ammunition identical to British issue ammunition, though with corrosive primers. This 7.62x51 mm NATO faux British-headstamped Chinese made ammunition was exported to the United States and sold on the commercial market in the 1980s. The rifles and ammunition were manufactured with U. S. and British markings so as to avoid any connection to the People's Republic of China, and possibly to serve a role in disinformation (propaganda) campaigns for the planned uprising.

The Communist Chinese government made two attempts to ship its select fire M14 rifles to the Philippines. The first attempt was largely unsuccessful and the second was a total failure. In 1971, Jose Maria Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, chose Ricardo S. Malay, then a columnist for the Manila Chronicle, to arrange the delivery of weapons from China to the New People's Army in anticipation of an armed uprising against Ferdinand Marcos. Malay and his family therefore made their way to China in July, 1971. Malay and his family were later joined in China by Sison's closest colleague, Ibara Tubianosa, and four other individuals. Certain arrangements were made to package 1,200 of the rifles with magazines, a quantity of ammunition, and other military items. The cargo was soon thereafter loaded onto the ship MV Karagatan. The ship and its cargo sailed from the Chinese naval base at Swatoy headed for Digoyo Bay, Isabela Province, Philippines. However, the Philippine armed forces intercepted the shipment. The New People’s Army fighters, led by Victor Corpus, were waiting for the delivery. A firefight ensued between the New People's Army fighters, led by Victor Corpus, who were waiting for the delivery and the Philippine troops. The NPA was only able to salvage only 200 of the 1,200 M14 rifles and little of the other military equipment Mao Zedong had approved as aid to the Philippine revolution.

In 1973, Sison tasked Malay to attempt another delivery of M14 rifles from China to the Philippines. He proposed that the Chinese prepare a shipment of M14 rifles in watertight packages to be dropped off the Pangasinan coast for recovery by scuba divers. Months later in December, 1973, Malay and Tubianosa flew to Sanya, Hainan. Hainan is the southernmost island of China. Sanya is the capital of Hainan as well as the location of a Chinese naval base. When Malay and Tubianosa arrived at Sanya, they were briefed by a Chinese military officer regarding the packaging of the M14 rifles. The rifles were vacuum packed inside reinforced plastic bags with three rifles to a sack. Each sack also contained ammunition. The Chinese military officer had a team that had previously tested the packaging to make sure it would hold in the ocean environment. Malay and Tubianosa flew to Beijing the next day. The ship MV Andrea, with four crewmembers, was assigned to transport the M14 rifles and eight New People’s Army fighters to the Philippine Pangasinan coast. Enroute to Sanya, the ship struck a reef somewhere in the Pratas Islands of the South China Sea. The twelve men aboard (four crewmembers and the eight New Peoples Army fighters) the stranded vessel were picked up and taken to Hong Kong by a passing Hong Kong salvage ship, the Oriental Falcon. In exchange for passage to Hong Kong, the Oriental Falcon was allowed to keep the MV Andrea for scrap. After a stay in a Hong Kong jail, the Filipino New Peoples Army fighters were released due to intervention of the Chinese Red Cross and the ship's Chinese crew was quickly moved to the Chinese mainland.

In the early 1980s, Other Source # 12 traveled to China. He was shown the remainder of the approximately 100,000 Chinese manufacture select fire M14 rifles. The Chinese M14 rifles were packed in crates in one warehouse while the British-marked, Chinese produced 7.62x51 mm NATO ammunition was stored in a separate warehouse. Some time after this, the select fire M14 rifles were disassembled and only the receivers were destroyed. Since there were no furnaces or ovens in the local vicinity for melting steel, the receivers were mixed with concrete to make concrete blocks for building projects. The parts from the select fire M14 rifles were later exported to the United States as M14 parts kits for use by Federal Ordnance and other companies to build rifles with American made receivers. The ammunition was exported as well to the United States for commercial sale.

Norinco and Polytech Industries

M14 type rifles exported to the United States from China have been stamped as two brands, Polytech Industries and Norinco. Polytech Industries is a subsidiary of the People’s Liberation Army. Reportedly, Norinco is a Ministry of Ordnance Industries entity consisting of 150 individual factories associated together for marketing purposes. 7 Norinco is a government owned conglomerate of factories producing many kinds of military ordnance. 8 However, Other Source # 12 explained what Norinco is in another way. Norinco was set up as a committee decades ago to supply war materials to prosecute the war in Viet Nam against the United States. Viet Nam was heavily dependent upon China during the war. After the change in government policy in 1978, there was no military need for Norinco. So, Norinco was turned into an export corporation since Chinese arms factories cannot sell directly to anyone but the Chinese government. Thus, Norinco has exported small arms and ammunition for sale in the commercial market of various countries since the 1980s.

Production of Chinese M14 Type Rifles

All Chinese semi-automatic M14 rifle receivers and new (post-1978) production parts for them have been manufactured at State Arsenal 356 in Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China. Yunnan Province is in southwest China and borders the nations of Laos and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. All Chinese M14 type receivers are drop forged. Norinco has made select fire and semi-automatic only M14 type rifles. Norinco also produced a semi-automatic M14 known as the M305. There were two versions of the M305. Type I was assembled with a standard stock and flash suppressor and Type II featured a pistol grip stock and a stabilizer similar to the M14E2. Chinese semi-automatic M14 rifles have been exported to Canada, New Zealand, Norway and the United States for sale to private owners. The Chinese rifles exported to New Zealand are stamped M14 on the receiver heel and have had the selector lug cut off. Rifles marked M305 have been exported to Canada and Norway. A small number of Norinco select fire M14 rifles are available for sale in the United States as post-'86 ban dealer samples.

Chinese M14 Type Rifle Export to the United States

There have been three importers of Chinese M14 type rifles into the United States: 1) Keng's Firearms (Stone Mountain, GA) 2) Century Arms International (St. Albans, VT) and 3) CJA (Southfield, MI). The Chinese M14 type rifles were imported from 1988 until September, 1994. As shown on an ATF Form 6 related to one of these export shipments, the cost of a Polytech Industries M14S was $225.00 in 1989.

Keng's Firearms

Keng's Firearms (Stone Mountain, GA) imported Polytech Industries M14 type rifles. Keng’s Firearms was the only company that imported Chinese M14 type rifles (Polytech Industries M14/S models) into the United States before the March 14, 1989 ban on importing military-lookalike semi-automatic rifles. This event is commonly referred to as the “1989 import ban.” The Chinese M14 (Polytech Industries M14/S) rifles first appeared in the United States as part of the Keng’s Firearms exhibit at the January, 1988 SHOT Show.

Tim LaFrance noted that he had a concern with the Chinese bolts after examining the Polytech Industries rifles at the 1988 SHOT Show. He suggested to Keng’s Firearms that these rifles be evaluated because of his concern with the bolts. Consequently, Polytech Industries representatives from the People’s Republic of China contacted Smith Enterprise, Inc. shortly thereafter to discuss the manufacturing of M14 rifles. Representatives from Polytech Industries met for five days with Smith Enterprise personnel, with David Keng of Keng’s Firearms acting as translator. The Polytech Industries representatives were supplied with a set of USGI drawings for the M14.

After this first meeting, Polytech Industries sent raw forgings and assembled M14 rifles (Polytech serial numbers 00001 through 00005) to Smith Enterprise for evaluation and testing. Ron Smith personally test fired these first five Polytech Industries M14 type rifles. Smith Enterprise thoroughly examined and tested the Polytech Industries receivers and rifles. The receivers were found through spectrum analysis to be made of the Chinese equivalent of AISI 8620 alloy steel, the proper material for M14 receivers. The bolts, however, were not made of the correct steel alloy.

The testing included hardness testing of the Polytech Industries receiver core by cutting it apart. One Polytech Industries receiver was tested to destruction by loading ammunition to create excessively high chamber pressure. The reader MUST NOT exceed powder charges as listed in reputable reloading manuals if hand loaded ammunition is used. Personal injury or death may occur if done so. The very first Polytech Industries receivers were very hard, harder than a file, which left them without the toughness provided by the relatively soft core of receivers made according to USGI specifications. The Chinese quickly corrected this by strictly adhering to the receiver heat treatment procedure.

After Smith Enterprise completed the evaluation, a second meeting of the parties involved was held. Even after this second meeting, Polytech Industries did not correct all the concerns of Smith Enterprise and Keng’s Firearms had regarding the Chinese bolt. Specifically, 1) the bolt locking lugs were too narrow 2) the carburizing and hardness remained unsatisfactory because State Arsenal 356 did not change the material to equivalent AISI 8620 steel but continued to use steel equivalent to AISI 4135. This was in spite of the fact that Keng’s Firearms offered to supply USGI M14 bolts until Polytech Industries could manufacture its own bolts according to USGI specifications. Polytech Industries refused this offer from Keng’s Firearms. The Chinese never changed the bolt material for M14 type rifles exported to the United States.

Century Arms International

Century Arms International (St. Albans, VT) imported both completed Polytech Industries rifles and Norinco M14 type rifles and receivers. Norinco rifles imported by Century Arms International had the least aesthetic appeal of all the Chinese M14 type rifles imported into the United States. Typically, the chu wood stocks are serviceable but not pleasing to the eye. The flash suppressors were cut just forward of the front sight to comply with the March 14, 1989 ban. The Polytech Industries rifles had better looking chu wood stocks and finish. Some, if not all, Polytech Industries M14S and Norinco M14 Sporter rifles imported by Century Arms International have serial numbers with a letter C followed by a hyphen and four digits, e.g., C-0640. Some of the Chinese receivers sold by Century Arms International were stamped at State Arsenal 356 in Yunnan Province and the rest were stamped by Century Arms International. Century Arms International imported the Chinese rifles some time after 1990.

CJA

The third importer, CJA (Southfield, MI) imported Chinese rifles for a short time just prior to September 13, 1994. The stamping CJA SLFD MICH appears on some Norinco rifles and the marking IDE USA SLFD MICH appears on some Polytech Industries receivers. CJA imported the best looking Chinese M14 rifles into the United States. Representatives from CJA traveled to State Arsenal 356 in China to discuss the assembly process of the M14 type rifles it wished to import. These rifles were assembled with walnut stocks and new production parts with a very good finish.

Chinese M14 Type Rifle Export to Canada

Marstar (Vankleek Hill, Ontario) at present imports Norinco M305 rifles into Canada. The Norinco M305 rifles imported by Marstar have the slotted flash suppressor and scope mount recoil lug. The fit and finish of Norinco M305 rifles entering Canada today are judged to be better than that found on the 1980s and 1990s rifles exported to the United States. Reportedly, USGI bolts fit properly in these post-‘00 production Norinco M305 rifles. The bolt hardness is also higher than bolts exported to the United States before 1994.

Chinese Receivers

There is no substantial difference between Norinco and Polytech Industries receivers although Smith Enterprise found the surface hardness to vary from 41 to 60 HRC without regard to marking. Smith Enterprise, Inc. has done extensive inspection, and non-destructive testing, and destructive examination of Chinese receivers. These inspections and tests have verified that Chinese M14 receivers are made of AISI 8620 equivalent alloy steel. Chinese receivers are drop forged into forms of larger bulk and less definition than the USGI receivers were. Then, like the American manufacturers, machine tools cut away at the metal from the raw forging to create the final desired shape before carburizing and heat treatment.

Chinese receivers are not made of high carbon alloy steel such as AISI 52100 or other such high chromium alloy steel. Equivalent AISI 5100 series steel is high carbon (1.0 to 1.1 %) alloy steel that is much too hard for a rifle receiver. Because it is a high carbon steel that is thorough hardened it lacks toughness and ductility needed for the M14 type rifle. AISI 52100 alloy steel is the most commonly used steel for bearings. The machinability rating is 40 % when in the spheroidized annealed and cold drawn condition as compared to 100 % for AISI 1112 steel. It is difficult to machine and must be quenched below room temperature to form martensite. Smith Enterprise did some surface hardness testing of Chinese receivers in 1999. The results varied from 41 to 60 HRC. Soft receivers can be brought up to USGI specification by nitrocarburizing treatment.

Chinese receivers have a threaded hole for a setscrew in the barrel ring. The Chinese rifles are built with a setscrew threaded far enough through the barrel ring to contact the barrel. The barrel setscrew is unnecessary for securing the barrel in the receiver. However, the Chinese manufactured their receivers this way because it is their psychological mindset. 9

Markings of Exported Chinese M14 Type Rifles

Early U. S. import Polytech Industries and Norinco manufacturer and model markings are marked on the receiver heel. Heel markings have been observed on Polytech Industries M14/S rifles with serial numbers as high as 028XX. Serial numbers of Chinese M14 rifles are usually stamped above the stock line on the scope mount side, below and slightly behind the rear sight elevation knob. A typical Chinese export M14 is Norinco serial number 9914. The serial number is stamped on the left hand side of the receiver and electro penciled on the left receiver leg. There are no other markings on the receiver. The importer markings, Century Arms in this case, are stamped on the barrel. A very few Norinco rifles imported into the United States have no manufacturer stamping whatsoever. Norinco M14 type rifle model numbers are M-14, M14 Sporter and M305. Some Norinco M14 type rifles have the marking CJA SFLD MICH on the side of the receiver. This marking has been found on Norinco M14 type rifles imported into both the United States and Canada. The Polytech Industries model number is denoted M14S or M14/S. Polytech Industries rifles have a better reputation for receiver surface machining and finish as compared to the Norinco stamped rifles.

The following serial numbers have been observed on Norinco and Polytech Industries M14 type rifles in the United States:

Norinco M-14, M14 Sporter - 00006 to 960XX for Century Arms International imports with some receivers having a letter C prefix, e.g., C08610.

Polytech Industries M14/S, M14S - 00001 to 25XXX for KFS and CJA/IDE imports and C-1245 for Century Arms International imports

United States Firearms Laws

The following discussion of firearms laws is not legal advice. It is presented as background information since firearms laws do affect the sale, transfer and possession of the M14 type rifle. United States law separates firearms into two categories, Title 1 and Title 2. Title 2 firearms are those regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). These include machine guns, short barrel rifles, short barrel shotguns, sound suppressors, destructive devices and a special class of firearm known as Any Other Weapon (AOW). An example of an AOW is a pen gun. Destructive devices include items such as grenade launchers, mortars and High Explosive rounds. Under United States law, a select fire M14 type rifle is a machine gun. Title 1 firearms are all other post-1899 design firearms with some exceptions (paintball guns, flare launchers, flame throwers, BB guns, etc.). Title 1 firearms are regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). A M14 type rifle designed as semi-automatic only is a Title 1 firearm. State and local laws place additional restrictions on the sale, transfer, possession and use of firearms in the United States.

In the United States, a Federal Firearms License (FFL) is granted to an individual by the Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). There are several types of Federal Firearms Licenses. The type of FFL held by the dealer legally dictates what kinds of firearms he can buy or sell. A myriad of state and local laws also affect FFL holders. The license types are as follows:

1 – Title 1 firearm dealer or gunsmith

2 – Title 1 firearm dealer who is a pawnbroker

3 – Curio & Relic firearm collector

6 – Manufacturer of non-armor piercing ammunition and reloading components

7 – Manufacturer of Title 1 firearms and non-armor piercing ammunition and reloading components

8 – Importer of Title 1 firearms and ammunition

9 – Title 1 and Title 2 destructive devices dealer

10 – Manufacturer of Title 1 firearms, Title 2 destructive devices and non-armor piercing ammunition and reloading components

11 – Importer of Title 1 firearms, Title 2 destructive devices and ammunition

The type of FFL, among other requirements, also determines if the dealer can pay a Special Occupational Tax to the BATFE to import, manufacture or deal in National Firearm Act firearms (Classes 1, 2 and 3 respectively).

U. S. Law and the Chinese M14 Rifle

The U. S. Department of Treasury import ban of March 14, 1989 affected the Chinese M14 rifles then being brought into the United States. After the import ban, Chinese M14 type rifles entered the US market with a rubber recoil pad instead of the M14 style hinged butt plate, the bayonet lug ground off, the flash suppressor castle nut welded on and the flash suppressor either removed or installed without the open slots which made the item suppress muzzle flash. But until November 30, 1990 one could install imported parts that would restore the Chinese M14 type rifle to a configuration prohibited from import after March 14, 1989. On November 30, 1990 the assembly of imported rifles using imported parts to circumvent the import ban became illegal by federal regulation, which has the force of law. The BATF on that date published regulations to enforce 18 U. S. C. section 922 (r). These regulations prohibit the assembly of a semi-automatic rifle (or shotgun) using more than ten specified imported parts if that firearm was banned from importation after March 14, 1989. So, after November 29, 1990 the importer or owner of a Chinese M14 type rifle could have replaced a sufficient number of Chinese parts with USGI parts to “domesticate” the rifle (create the legal equivalent of a non-import rifle by making it comprise no more than ten specified import parts), thereby allowing the installation of a slotted flash suppressor with bayonet lug, and pistol grip stock or folding stock. This was legal under federal law until September 13, 1994.

On September 13, 1994 the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act went into effect. Effective September 13, 1994, all semi-automatic M14 type rifles were allowed only one specified feature if assembled on or after that date. Typically, manufacturers chose the lugless slotted flash suppressor for the one feature. If a sufficient number of specified Chinese parts were replaced with USGI parts on a Chinese M14 type rifle after September 13, 1994 so that no more than ten specified imported parts were in the rifle, a lugless slotted flash suppressor was permissible under federal law. Effective September 13, 2004, the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act regarding features on semi-automatic centerfire rifles was automatically repealed by the sunset provision. Thus, the federal laws regarding features and imported parts on Chinese and American semi-automatic M14 type rifles revert back to what existed on September 12, 1994. Some states restrict features of magazine fed semi-automatic centerfire rifles, e.g., California and Connecticut. Consult federal, state and local laws before replacing any parts on any firearm.

After the March 14, 1989 import ban and prior to September 13, 1994, Armscorp USA, Federal Ordnance and Century Arms International assembled M14 type rifles using American made receivers and Chinese parts sets. Polytech Industries M14 type rifles in the United States are generally regarded as having been imported and assembled prior to September 13, 1994. Reportedly, some Norinco M14 type rifles were sold prior to September 13, 1994 and some were warehoused by Century Arms International and then assembled and sold after September 13, 1994.

On April 06, 1998, U. S. Secretary of Treasury Robert E. Rubin issued an official press release declaring a ban on any further importation of semiautomatic rifles that could accept a magazine capable of holding more than ten cartridges and designed for a military assault rifle. Under this current interpretation of the “sporting purposes” language of the 1968 Gun Control Act, Chinese M14 rifles are still not eligible for importation into the United States.

1994 Assault Weapons Ban

On September, 13, 1994 President William J. Clinton signed bill H. R. 3355 known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (hereafter referred to as the 1994 AW Ban), into law. This law created new legal categories of semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic pistols called “semi-automatic assault weapons” (AW or AWs). Title XI of the 1994 AW Ban prohibited any future manufacture, transfer to or possession by civilians of certain semi-automatic rifles and pistols made after that date, and also outlawed any future transfer to or possession by civilians of newly-manufacutured ammunition feeding devices (commonly called magazines) with a capacity exceeding ten cartridges. This law was written with a ten year sunset provision, wherein the law by its own terms would expire on September 13, 2004 if Congress took no action to renew or extend the 1994 AW Ban.

Before this federal law expired, a number of states enacted their own permanent bans on certain semi-automatic firearms (by name and/or physical features). Some states also prohibited civilian possession of ammunition feeding devices capable of containing a specified number of cartridges, either in connection with their own versions of an AW ban or without affecting civilian ownership of semi-automatic firearms. Most states’ laws of this sort did not apply to firearms and/or magazines already in possession, while other states required citizens owning the affected items to either surrender them to law enforcement officials, sell them out of state (or to a licensed firearms dealer who could then sell the newly-declared contraband only to law enforcement or military users), or store them out of state. Such states included California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. As it related to the M14 type rifle, the 1994 AW Ban limited the number of specified features it could possess. The applicable sections of this expired federal law are set forth below:

TITLE XI--FIREARMS SUBTITLE A--ASSAULT WEAPONS

SEC. 110102. RESTRICTION ON MANUFACTURE, TRANSFER, AND POSSESSION OF CERTAIN SEMIAUTOMATIC ASSAULT WEAPONS.

(a) RESTRICTION- Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection: `(v)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon.

(b) DEFINITION OF SEMIAUTOMATIC ASSAULT WEAPON- Section 921(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph: `(30) The term `semiautomatic assault weapon' means-- `(B) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of-- `(i) a folding or telescoping stock; `(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; `(iii) a bayonet mount; `(iv) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and `(v) a grenade launcher;

Consequently, manufacturers and gunsmiths in the United States almost always assembled M14 type rifles with a fixed stock and lugless flash suppressor or muzzle brake while the 1994 AW Ban was in effect. Springfield Armory, Inc. sold the M1A rifle with a ten round magazine during the period of the 1994 AW Ban. The reader is encouraged to research state and local laws regarding magazine feeding devices and semi-automatic firearms to avoid violating any law. Nothing in this work is to be interpreted as offering legal advice, and the author encourages anyone with legal questions to consult with an attorney, or an attorney with a government authority responsible for enforcing the relevant law(s) and who is assigned responsibilities relating to enforcement of those laws.



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