M14 Rifle History and Development By Lee Emerson Preface

Parts Interchangeability with the M1 Garand Rifle

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Parts Interchangeability with the M1 Garand Rifle

The following parts are interchangeable between the M1 Garand and the M14 type rifle: butt swivel, lower butt plate screw, rear sight aperture, elevation knob and pinion (note that the M14 elevation knob is calibrated in meters, while the M1 Garand elevation knob is calibrated in yards), rear sight base, sight cover, trigger (although the sear requires slight modification of the M14 sear for use in the M1 Garand rifle), hammer, hammer spring, hammer spring plunger, hammer spring housing, safety, hammer pin, trigger pin, extractor, extractor spring, extractor spring plunger, hand guard clip (as long as it has not been deformed during removal from the M14 rifle hand guard or the M1 Garand rifle rear hand guard), and butt plates on certain M14 stocks.

The following operator level items are interchangeable: web sling, cleaning rod section carry case, cleaning rod sections, cleaning rod patch tip, short oiler bottle, plastic spacer for bore brush and patch tip, 7.62 mm chamber brush for 7.62 mm M1 Garands only, .30 Caliber bore brush (although the drawing during the 1960s shortened the brush slightly to prevent it from hitting the inside of the butt plate), and either grease was authorized for use on both rifles.

M1 Garand Parts on M14 Type Rifles

As part of the Marshall Plan after World War II, Italy was given Winchester's M1 machine tools and dies for producing M1 rifles and M1 parts for our European allies which had adopted the M1 Garand. Beretta was given the machinery for making the M1 Garand but two other Italian companies made M1 rifle parts as well. Italian parts quality is as good as USGI M1 Garand parts.

Springfield Armory, Inc., Reese Surplus, AIM Surplus and a few other American and Canadian companies have imported many M1 parts kits from Italy. Springfield Armory, Inc. has used some of these Italian parts in its assembly of M1A rifles. Except for very small parts the Italians marked M1 Garand rifle parts with one of three markings: 1) PB for Pietro Beretta 2) BMR for Breda Meccanica Romana Italia and 3) BMB for Breda Meccanica Bresciana.

USGI Parts Packaging

Spare M14 parts were packaged in the following manner:

Barrel - one per black cardboard tube

Bayonet - one per cardboard box inside sealed plastic bag

Blank Firing Attachment - one per cardboard box

Bolt - individually wrapped with vapor barrier paper or packed five to a vapor barrier pack

Bolt Stop - one per heat-sealed pack

Chamber Brush - ten per cardboard box with each inside a cardboard sleeve

Combination Tool - one per heat-sealed pack or black cardboard tube

Connector Assembly - one per sealed clear plastic pack

Firing Pin - two per heat-sealed pack

Flash Suppressor - black cardboard tube or heat sealable wrap

Flash Suppressor Nut - ten per black cardboard tube

Front Band - one per heat sealed pack

Gas Cylinder - two per black cardboard tube

Gas Cylinder Lock - one per heat sealed pack

Gas Cylinder Plug - five per heat-sealed pack with cardboard sleeve around the threads

Gas Piston - one per heat-sealed pack

M151 Vehicle Mounting Kit – one per cardboard box

M76 Grenade Launcher - one per cardboard tube

Magazine - one or four per heat-sealed pack or two per cardboard sleeve

Operating Rod - two per black cardboard tube

Operating Rod Guide - one per heat-sealed pack

Operating Rod Spring - two per heat-sealed pack

Operating Rod Spring Guide - one per heat-sealed pack

Rear Sight Cover - twenty per black cardboard can

Safety Spring - one per heat-sealed pack or 100 per box

Spindle Valve - ten per heat-sealed pack

Stripper Clip Guide - one per heat-sealed pack

Trigger Assembly - two per heat-sealed pack

Trigger Guard - one per heat-sealed pack

Trigger Housing (with magazine catch, spring and pin) - one per heat sealed pack

Some parts such as firing pins and magazines were opened, inspected and repacked by Anniston Army Depot, Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center and other supply depots. USGI M14 parts that are coated with a white powdery substance are coated with vapor corrosion inhibitor.

Commercial and Chinese Parts

Commercial manufacture and Chinese M14 parts are available in much smaller quantities than what USGI parts were back in the 1960s and early 1970s. While certain commercial and Chinese parts are available at the time of this writing that may not be the case in the future.

Springfield Armory, Inc. - Springfield Armory, Inc. began making parts in the late 1970s as the supply of USGI M14 parts became limited. A standard model M1A with serial number 0093XX left the factory in 1979 with a commercial non-plated standard contour barrel, commercial operating rod and commercial bolt. Springfield Armory, Inc. commercial reproduction operating rods are made from two pieces of steel welded together. From 1978 to 1986 Springfield Armory, Inc. was short on USGI M14 barrels so it installed non-plated standard contour barrels made by Wilson Arms. Springfield Armory, Inc. offers an adjustable trigger group for sale. The trigger pull can be adjusted from 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 pounds by using an adjustment screw not visible from outside the stock. It was designed by Dale Rader at Springfield Armory, Inc.

Wayne Machine, Inc. - Since the mid-1980s, Wayne Machine, Inc. of Taipei, Taiwan has made and supplied reproduction M14 parts to Springfield Armory, Inc., Sarco, Inc. and Numrich Gun Parts Corporation. These reproduction parts usually function in a satisfactory manner when fitted and assembled correctly. In 1997, Numrich Gun Parts Corporation received a shipment of cast reproduction operating rods from Taiwan. They had Winchester markings. Apparently, Wayne Machine, Inc. had been sent a Winchester M14 operating rod as a sample. Most commercial M14 type rifle parts are cast. Commercial manufacture M14 bolts have been cast, machined from bar stock and forged.

Smith Enterprise, Inc. - Smith Enterprise has made or presently does make and sell the following M14 parts: flash suppressors, muzzle brakes, gas cylinder locks, stock ferrules, extended bolt stops, gas cylinder lock front sights and National Match (front and rear) sight parts. There are four versions of the Smith Enterprise combination gas cylinder lock front sight. Smith Enterprise offers a hooded non-adjustable post type sight and a traditional dovetail type sight, but both of these types are made for use with Sage International, Ltd. M14 EBR stocks and then for all other stock designs. Installation of a Sage International, Ltd. M14 stock locks the stock and barrel together at a third point through the proprietary operating rod guide (the other two contact points are the stock ferrule to barrel front band and the receiver-to-trigger group interface). This fastening of the barrel improves accuracy but causes the non-Sage stock combination gas cylinder lock front sight to have a point of impact markedly lower than what it would otherwise. Smith Enterprise, Inc. offers both non-adjustable post and traditional dovetail type gas cylinder lock front sights specifically for the Sage International, Ltd. M14 EBR stock. Additionally, a very few of the Smith Enterprise M14 EBR combination gas cylinder dovetail type front sights have metal removed from under the front half of the dovetail. This particular modification was done to allow for installation of a Smith Enterprise direct connect flash hider on a 17 5/8 ” barrel.

Smith Enterprise gas cylinder lock front sights, extended bolt stops and both versions of the flash hiders are made of carburized and hardened AISI 8620 steel. The gas cylinder lock front sights come in two styles, hooded non-adjustable and dovetail adjustable. Both styles of gas cylinder lock front sights are available for use with the Sage International, Ltd. M14 EBR stock and for all other stocks. Its M14 National Match front and rear sight parts are machined from AISI 4140 alloy steel bar stock using the wire EDM method. The rear sight aperture is the hooded type. Smith Enterprise plans to produce the standard rear sight aperture in the future. Amherst Arms will be the distributor for Smith Enterprise, Inc. front and rear sight parts. Smith Enterprise expects to have Superior Shooting Systems, Inc. (Canadian, TX) supply it with chromium silicon alloy M14 operating rod and hammer springs in the near future. Superior Shooting Systems, Inc. operating rod and hammer springs for the M14 type rifle are rated for 500,000 cycles. Smith Enterprise, Inc. also cuts and polishes barrel chambers using Douglas medium weight and heavyweight blanks. Due to growing scarcity of quality M14 parts Smith Enterprise may well manufacture other parts in the future. The company is selective in which parts it manufactures, but when they make parts they are of high quality.

Smith Enterprise offers a safe and reliable adjustable M14 trigger group to the public. This adjustable trigger group is an optional accessory for the M14SE semi-automatic sniper system. A member of the U. S. Army 5th Special Forces Group was testing it in Iraq in 2004 and into 2005. To make this unit, a USGI trigger group is modified by adding parts hidden inside the stock. The rifle stock requires only about 1/8 ” of inletting to accommodate the adjustable trigger group. The trigger pull can be simply and easily adjusted anywhere from two to five pounds. It remains a two stage trigger even at a two pound pull. An M14 rifle equipped with the Smith Enterprise, Inc. adjustable trigger can be quickly restored to a standard trigger group in the field.

Sadlak Industries, LLC – Sadlak Industries, LLC develops, markets, and sells various rifle parts, industrial components and tooling. It is the distribution agent of Sadlak Innovative Design Company. Sadlak Innovative Design Company is a manufacturing job shop and machine design company that was founded in 1989. Mike Sadlak is the President of Sadlak Industries, LLC. He was introduced to the M14 by competition shooter and gunsmith David Ferrante. In 2002, Mike Sadlak asked David Ferrante what parts could be made from a stock of certified titanium on hand. This titanium billet was production contract over run made for Pratt & Whitney jet engine manufacturing. Mr. Ferrante suggested M14 scope mounts and Sadlak Industries agreed. Sadlak Industries produces high quality scope mounts for the M14 type rifle (see discussion in section on Side Three Point Scope Mounts).

Sadlak Industries (Coventry, CT) makes National Match operating rod spring guides out of AISI 8620 alloy steel. These spring guides are case hardened to between 40 and 45 HRC. Four flats are milled into the shaft body to reduce weight and friction. A limited number of the operating rod spring guides have a hollow shaft with the rest using a solid shaft.

Sadlak Industries also manufactures National Match gas pistons from AISI 420 stainless steel. One version has the cylindrical portion highly polished. The other version is coated with titanium nitride by the physical vapor deposition method. Sadlak Industries, LLC consulted a large firm specializing in metal coatings. Mike Sadlak met with the technical experts at this metal coating firm, showed them the M14 gas system parts and explained to them the nature of the application for a coated gas piston. The gas piston moving forward and aft inside the gas cylinder subjects it to heat and abrasiveness. The coating firm analyzed the situation and selected a specific ingredient mixture of titanium nitride for the M14 gas piston. This specific titanium nitride coating is approximately 0.0001 ” thick but it results in high anti-galling and anti-seizing properties. Depending on the ingredient composition, the color of titanium nitride coatings can be any of several hues of brown or gold. The benefit to the M14 type rifle owner is smoother gas system operation and improved gas cylinder and gas piston service life (see section on the XM25 and M25).

Sadlak Industries can machine the National Match / M21 groove into the gas piston per the USGI drawing number 9352724 at the customer’s request. Sadlak Industries also offers very slightly oversized gas pistons to fit worn customer supplied gas cylinders. These custom order gas pistons are typically 0.0002 ” or two ten-thousandths of an inch wider than the USGI outside diameter specification. In late 2004, Sadklak Industries was testing a coated gas cylinder designed for longer service life. Sadlak operating rod spring guides and gas pistons are marked SADLAK INDUSTRIES LLC.

Sadlak Industries, LLC is also testing chromium plated M14 gas cylinders in late 2004. A very thin (0.0001 ” or one ten-thousandth of an inch thick) but uniform and consistent layer of dense chromium is applied to the interior surface of the gas cylinder. This creates a smooth surface that is less subject to wear. This is expected to be an affordable method of extending gas cylinder life.

Rooster 33 – Laszlo Klementis doing business as Rooster33 (Chilliwack, BC) produces a M14 type operating rod spring guide and a M14 bolt stop. Its operating rod spring guide is CNC machined from a single piece of 410 stainless steel bar stock.

Other Commercial Parts Suppliers - Gerald Drasen, who did business as Nesard and Sendra (Chicago, IL), went into the firearms parts business in the early 1970s. He produced reproduction M14 items such as the flash suppressor nut wrench, bolt assembly tool, front band, gas cylinder, magazine catch, rear sight cover, safety and trigger housing in the 1980s. His business continued to sell reproduction M14 items until at least 2002. Brookfield Precision Tool made match grade operating rod spring guides and titanium-nitride coated gas pistons from 1988 to 1996. Badger Ordnance offers a fluted National Match operating rod spring guide designed to minimize spring binding and drag. Fulton Armory also sells a National Match operating rod spring guide. Both Badger Ordnance and Fulton Armory operating rod spring guides are made from a single piece of AISI 4142 molybdenum-chromium alloy steel. DPMS, Inc. sells a lugged flash suppressor manufactured in South Korea.

Chinese Parts - USGI and commercial manufacture parts are theoretically interchangeable but occasionally the fit is too tight or too loose between such parts. Most USGI and commercially manufactured parts are generally interchangeable with their Chinese counterparts but there are some exceptions. Chinese and American rear sight knobs and bases and gas cylinder plugs are not interchangeable because the Chinese sight parts have metric threads. Chinese gas cylinders and gas cylinder plugs are made of molybdenum-chromium alloy steel and gas pistons are chromium plated. The Chinese gas piston outside diameter and the gas cylinder inside diameter are slightly larger than USGI gas piston and gas cylinder drawing specifications. A USGI gas piston may be too narrow to function properly inside a Chinese gas cylinder. Chinese butt plates, flash suppressors, and trigger housings are castings. USGI stocks require some work to fit properly with Chinese rifles. Chinese hammers and triggers are sometimes a little soft, but this can be corrected with appropriate nitrocarburizing treatment.

Three kinds of Chinese operating rods have been identified. One kind has no notch at all for the connector assembly. Another has an almost straight angle cut to the notch, which does not closely match the USGI connector’s contours. The third version of Chinese operating rod has a connector notch very similar to the USGI model, but with a more circular shape. In all other important dimensions, the three types of Chinese operating rods are the same. Chinese operating rods are forged and are as hard as USGI operating rods.

Chinese barrels have U. S. compatible barrel shank threads, but metric gas cylinder lock and suppressor nut threads. Chinese barrels will therefore thread into American made receivers. Barrel installation and headspacing should be performed by a reputable M14 gunsmith. Neither a USGI gas cylinder lock nor a USGI flash suppressor nut will fit on a Chinese barrel because of the differing thread sizes, and those two Chinese parts will similarly not fit on a USGI or U. S. commercial manufacture M14 type barrel.

For reasons unknown to Smith Enterprise or anyone else the author has contacted, the Chinese did not use equivalent AISI 8620 steel for their bolts as per the USGI specification for their bolts but elected to make them out of equivalent AISI 4135 steel. Chinese bolts have a surface hardness of 40 HRC which is too soft. This applies to Chinese bolts exported to the United States prior to September 13, 1994. If the bolts are heat treated to improve the hardness, the hardness increases all the way through the bolt instead of just at the surface. Hardening a Chinese bolt will add only a little more service life to the bolt to the item. In the long term, however, hardening a Chinese bolt is still not desirable. This is because increasing the core hardness of the bolt decreases the core toughness. Another significant problem plagues Chinese bolts. Besides not being made of a material suitable for long term use, the locking lugs are too narrow. Thus, American and Chinese bolts are not interchangeable. Converting a U. S. imported Chinese M14 type rifle to accept an American made bolt should be performed by an experienced M14 gunsmith.

These problems continue to affect Chinese M14 bolts which were more recently exported. Fore example, three Norinco M305 rifle bolts shipped to Canada in 2003 were tested for surface hardness. The results ranged from a minimum of 45 HRC to 48.5 HRC, with the average at 47 HRC. More detailed information on the bolt material or the core hardness of these 2003 vintage bolts is presently unavailable information.

Chinese Parts Identification

Chinese M14 parts differ in their markings from U. S. parts as follows:

Barrel - no markings

Bolt - may have numbers electro penciled on the top or bottom

Hammer - no markings

Operating Rod - no markings and the connector notch shape is different from USGI

Trigger Housing - five or six digit number

Windage Knob - counterfeit W C E

Commercial Parts Identification

Barrels - Springfield Armory, Inc. in its Illinois operations marked GENESEO ILL or GENESO, IL 308 on its USGI and commercial manufacture barrels. Chromium plated standard contour barrels supplied by Criterion Barrels, Inc. to Fulton Armory are stamped C.B.F.A. 7790190 followed by the month and year of manufacture. A photograph of a Wilson Arms chromium plated standard contour barrel sold by LRB Arms shows the following markings: LRB 7790190 5/04 WA. Smith Enterprise, Inc. installed a Douglas 1:10 twist four groove heavyweight barrel on a M1A rifle in January, 2003. The barrel is stamped with the following markings:

First line - 1 10 308 WIN 1 03

Second line - 4 35T SEI

Bottom at rear end just forward of the op rod spring guide slot - 1

Bolt - Springfield Armory, Inc. bolts are typically marked 7790186-SA on the first line and B00048 or F00059 or a similar number on the second line. They may have markings such as D and M3 on the rear end and A9 or B1 on the bottom surface. The letter B prefix for the number under 7790186-SA means the bolt was machined from bar stock. The letter F prefix for the number under 7790186-SA means the bolt is forged. See the section on the 1987 M1A bolt recall for additional markings. M1A bolts are not made by metal injection molding. Around receiver serial number 165XXX, Springfield Armory, Inc. factory installed bolts have letters and numerals with a taller and thinner font than the style found on USGI M14 bolts.

Operating Rod - On Springfield Armory, Inc. operating rods, look for either: 1) 7267064 on the first line and SA centered below it or 2) 7267064-2 on the first line and SA centered below it. The first example is the earlier of the two markings. Springfield Armory, Inc. operating rods may or may not have a notch under the handle like USGI operating rods. Before 1996, Springfield Armory, Inc. operating rods did not have a notch under the handle. Sometime between 1996 and 2001, the notch under the handle was added to its operating rods. For clarity, USGI Springfield Armory operating rods are marked 7267064 SA all on one line.

Rear Sight Base - A rear sight base marked NM/2A on the right hand side and BST2 on the bottom is most likely a commercial reproduction. 3 A part marked NM/2A with no other markings may be a commercial reproduction.

Trigger Group Housing - For commercial Springfield Armory, Inc. trigger group housings, look for part numbers 7267030-G or 7267030-H or 7267030-I or 7267030-S.

USGI Magazines

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty and thirty round magazines have been made for the M14 type rifle. A seven round magazine was produced by the U. S. Army AMTU for use with the XM21 in Viet Nam. The seven round magazine was small enough to allow the sniper to assume a lower position with the rifle yet long enough to allow the magazine to be removed quickly. The National Stock Number (NSN) for twenty round M14 magazines is 1005-00-628-9048. The NSN for five round M14 magazines is 1005-00-052-4336. The five round M14 magazines are supplied by Springfield Armory, Inc. The U.S. Department of Defense contracted with several companies to make ten and twenty round M14 magazines. Check-Mate Industries, Inc. made ten round magazines for the U. S. Army Marksmanship Training Unit.

Usually, the U. S. manufacturer initials were marked on the rear side of USGI M14 magazines. Quantico Arms purchased a batch of 12,000 New-In-Wrap USGI twenty round M14 magazines in 2004. Quantico Arms found that about 20 % of these magazines either have no manufacturer marking or the initials are very faint. Some magazine followers were marked as well. Magazine contractors included Winchester, Borg-Warner, Killeen Machine & Tool, Springfield Armory, TRW, Check-Mate Industries, Harrington & Richardson, and Union Hardware Company. Winchester (Olin Corporation) produced its last batches of M14 magazines in February, 1971 and March, 1972. Both batches of these magazines were marked with the letter W, 1/16 ” in height, on the rear side about 1 ¼ ” above the floor plate. Other Winchester magazines had the letter W stamped at 3/4 " or 2 " above the floor plate. The last government contract for M14 magazines was fulfilled in 1996 by Check-Mate Industries. M14 magazine replacement parts are available in the civilian market from companies such as Elite Firearms and Sarco, Inc. The USGI magazines are generally regarded as the best made. Note that assembly of a complete twenty round M14 magazine from spare parts may be a violation of applicable local or state law in the United States, or may violate Canadian law.

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