M14 Rifle History and Development By Lee Emerson Preface

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Rock Island Armory, Inc.

Rock Island Armory, Inc. was a sister company of Springfield Armory, Inc. It mostly performed work for foreign military customers. However, Rock Island Armory did perform select fire conversions on semi-automatic Springfield Armory, Inc. M1A rifles. These conversions are stamped with the letters R I A on top of the receiver heel on the flat surface just to the rear of the rear sight base. This company had no connection with the U. S. Government Rock Island Arsenal also located in Illinois and which is still in opearation. Rock Island Armory, Inc. was in business until the mid-1990s.

Karl Maunz, H&R Gun Co., and Smith, Ltd.

Karl Maunz began shooting competitively at the age of nine. He started shooting at the Camp Perry matches at fifteen years old. He loved the sport so much that he joined the U. S. Army at the age of seventeen and was an armorer at eighteen. He was on active duty from 1957 until 1960 and in the Army Reserve from 1960 to 1964. During his time in the Army Reserve, he was a member of the U. S. Army shooting team. Members of the U. S. Army Reserve were only allowed to possess a M14 rifle while at Camp Perry. Unquestionably, this put them at a competitive disadvantage with active duty military shooters. So, he ground two M1 Garand receiver halves and Melvin Smith welded them back together with a shorter overall length to replicate most of an M14 receiver’s dimensions. While he was on the Army shooting team, Mr. Maunz would practice with this M1 Garand rifle converted to accept an M14 magazine. This is the first known 7.62 x 51 mm magazine fed M1 Garand rifle. At the same time, others had ground out and machined whole M1 Garand receivers to accept M14 magazines. Disclaimer: This must not be done unless one has the proper knowledge, training, equipment and licensing to do so. Metal working operations alter the mechanical properties of steel and can compromise the strength of the finished product.

Mr. Maunz went on to shoot Distinguished Rifleman using the M1 Garand rifle. He received his Lifetime Master designation from the NRA Competitions Division in 1966. The DCM belatedly awarded Karl Maunz his Distinguished Rifleman award in 1971.

About 1967, Karl Maunz made a prototype commercial M14 fiberglass stock and sent it to Reinhart Fajen. Reinhart Fajen, Inc. made a wood M14 stock from this prototype. Mr. Maunz added lightweight synthetic resin foam material to the butt stock in his fiberglass stocks beginning in 1977 to enhance hearing protection for the shooter. In the early 1970s, Karl Maunz built M14 type rifles using Springfield Armory, Inc. M1A receivers. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he converted about 100 M1 Garand rifles to a number of experimental calibers such as 6.5 mm, 7 mm, .45 ACP and “wildcat” calibers .451 through .459. The 6.5 mm bullet was mated to a .308 Winchester case. It proved to be an exceptionally flat shooter at 600 yards. He obtained the barrels for these conversions from Jack Krieger and Boots Obermeyer.

Maunz Mfg. and Maunz Match – Karl Maunz had a semi-auto M14 receiver master die made in Ohio. Under his license and supervision, his associates cast, machined and stamped Maunz Mfg. and Maunz Match receivers were cast, machined and stamped. Most of these rifles were stamped Maunz Mfg. This occurred between 1976 and 1985.

Mr. Maunz built his Maunz Mfg. and Maunz Match M14 rifles using USGI and National Match parts. At least two rifles (serial numbers 0002 and 0041) are stamped MODEL 77 on the receiver heel along with the other Maunz markings. Another model number of M14 type rifle built by Karl Maunz housed all of the gas system, including the gas cylinder, inside an oversized stock.

Mr. Maunz built them while living in the Toledo, OH area. He used match grade barrels from Karl Walther, Boots Obermeyer, Jack Krieger and Hart. Obermeyer barrels were only used a few Maunz M14 rifles. Mr. Maunz only sold them to match shooters who had earned an NRA Master or higher classification. One such competitor was the late retired USMC CWO4 David I. “D.I.” Boyd, II. CWO4 Boyd’s Maunz Mfg. rifle serial number was USMC 1. CWO4 Boyd passed away in 2000. Mr. Maunz built and sold his last Maunz Match rifle to a Master shooter in 1987. The original stocks on these rifles have a Maunz Master badge embedded in the stock. This 1 ¼ “ x 2 “ badge includes an eagle, crossed flags and the words In God We Trust.

At least two Maunz rifles have been observed with the stamping Toledo Ohio on the scope mount (left) side of the receiver. The stock of one Maunz Mfg. rifle (serial number 3XX) is stamped USMC Camp Perry. At least one Maunz Mfg. receiver has been found to lack the scope mount bolt hole on the left side of the receiver. Mr. Maunz does not favor welding a rear lug on to the M14 type receiver and never did so. He has bolted a lug to a M14 type receiver though. The quality of Maunz rifles is reported as very good or better.

H & R Gun Co. – Mr. Maunz sold his M14 business to Smith Manufacturing in Toledo, OH. The semi-automatic M14 receiver master die was transferred to them as part of the sale. Smith Manufacturing (Toledo, OH) produced semi-automatic investment cast receivers and assembled them into H&R Gun Co. rifles with Harrington & Richardson M14 parts imported by Jack Friese of Armscorp USA around 1985 or 1986. The highest serial number observed for an H&R Gun Co. M14 is 1126.

Smith, Ltd. – Smith Manufacturing (Toledo, OH) also produced Smith, Ltd. investment cast semi-automatic M14 type receivers. Smith, Ltd. receivers were made in the late 1980s for a year or two and sold at Camp Perry shooting matches as complete rifles or receivers. The receiver quality is good and parts fit if using USGI and/or National Match parts is excellent, based on examination of Smith, Ltd. rifles serial numbered 0210, 0225, 0236 and 0237. A commercial manufacture bolt and commercial manufacture operating rod were found to be too thick to slide smoothly inside Smith, Ltd. serial number 0237.


During the 1980s, there were four businesses or individuals with the name of Smith involved with commercial M14 rifles as manufacturers. Neal Smith of Smith Firearms (Mentor, OH) performed NFA registered select fire conversions of already-manufactured Springfield Armory, Inc. M1A rifles. Richard Smith and Ron Smith of Smith Enterprise (then Mesa, AZ) produced semi-automatic and select fire M14 rifles stamped Smith Ent. Melvin Smith of Valley Ordnance (Wilkes-Barre, PA) machined raw castings into M1A receivers for Springfield Armory, Inc. in Geneseo, IL. Smith Manufacturing (Toledo, OH) produced H&R Gun Co. and Smith, Ltd. semi-automatic M14 rifles and receivers. None of these entities ever did any work for the others.

Hesse and Sarco, Inc.

Hesse has made two batches of M14 receivers, the first in 2000 and the second in 2003. No further information has been found on Hesse receivers. A production time frame for Sarco, Inc. M21 receivers has not been confirmed but its receivers were available for sale in 2002. Sarco receivers were reportedly made by a company in California. Sarco, Inc. receiver quality has been reported as good.

Armscorp USA, Inc.

Production and Services – Armscorp was formed as an American company about 1981 by Jack Friese. It began selling semi-automatic M14 receivers and rifles in the early 1980s. Karl Maunz supplied some raw receiver castings to Armscorp in the 1980s. Smith Enterprise sold some billet machined receivers to Armscorp USA but none were stamped Armscorp. Smith Enterprise sold some casting equipment and tooling to Armscorp USA between 1986 and 1990. By 1990, Armscorp USA was manufacturing investment cast receivers. An Armscorp USA receiver with serial number A00326X has been identified as billet machined. An Armscorp USA receiver with serial number A0039XX is investment cast. Armscorp USA manufactures standard, rear lug and double lugged receivers. It was the first commercial manufacturer to offer lugged receivers. Armscorp USA heat treats the receivers to 56 to 58 HRC to a case depth of 0.012 " to 0.018 " per the USGI receiver drawing. Armscorp USA also provides M14 gunsmithing services such as rifle assembly, barrel installation, stock bedding, NM trigger and flash suppressor, modification, and clean and lube.

Receiver Markings - Some of the Armscorp receivers are stamped M21 instead of M14 NM or M14 to allow for sale in New Jersey, USA. New Jersey, curiously, has banned new sales of some firearms by name rather than by operating characteristics or features. The USGI M14 receiver drawing numbers 7790189 and 7790189 F have been found on Armscorp receivers under the stock line on the right hand side. The Armscorp USA operating rod rail is 1/16 " wider than the military dimension. The operating rod rail is also machined differently from USGI specification to prevent the bolt roller from slamming back. Current production Armscorp USA receiver operating rod rail channels are deliberately undersized to accept operating rods with worn tabs, because new USGI operating rods ones are scarce. Stampings on Armscorp receiver operating rod channels have varied. Until at least serial number A003XXX, the Armscorp receivers are stamped SILVER SPRING MD. The next operating rod rail stamping is ARMSCORP OF AMERICA BALTIMORE MARYLAND. This information is stamped on a receiver with a serial number as low as A0039XX. The third operating rod rail marking is ARMSCORP USA BALTIMORE MARYLAND as found on receiver serial number 1072X. The fourth variety is ARMSCORP BALTIMORE MD as shown on receiver serial number 11XXX.

M36 and M89

The Israeli firearms designer Dr. Nehemiah Sirkis designed the bullpup conversion of the M14 type rifle known as the M36. The M36 appeared in Israel in the mid-1980s as the Sardius M36 SWS. Armscorp USA made approximately ten units of the M36 in the mid-1980s as well. The M36 has high profile flip up iron sights. The Israel Defense Forces placed an order for 1300 M36 rifles, but Sardius only delivered fifty. Sardius went out of business in the early 1990s. Sardius was bought out by a company called Technical Consulting International (TCI) in Israel. TCI obtained a license to produce the M36. Using surplus U. S. M14 rifles, TCI upgraded the M36 design, including installation of a carbon fiber stock. TCI then reintroduced the rifle as the M89. There are two models, the M89AR with iron sights and the M89SR with a Leupold & Stevens, Inc. or Zeiss scope and no iron sights. The suppressed model is designated M89SR-SP. The overall length for the M89 is approximately 33.5 ” for standard models or 40.5 ” with the sound suppressor. The M89 has a 22 ” fully floated barrel. Fully loaded with a twenty round magazine, the M89 weighs 13.8 pounds, while the M89SR-SP weighs 15.5 pounds with its sound suppressor mounted. The Israelis fitted its M89 series rifles with Harris bipods. The M89SR-SP was used as a sniper weapon system for units concerned with concealment. It was issued mostly to two IDF Special Forces undercover units, Sayeret Duvedevan and Sayeret Shimshon. Sayeret Shimshon operated in the Gaza Strip until it was disbanded in 1994. The M36 and M89 rifles are fast handling and compact.

Fulton Armory

Fulton Armory was established by Clint McKee in 1987 in Fulton, MD. The business was moved to its present location in Savage, MD several years later. Before starting Fulton Armory, Clint McKee worked with Jack Friese at Armscorp USA. Their relationship remains cordial. Beginning in 2003, Fulton Armory began selling rifles and barreled actions with its own receivers. Fulton Armory receivers are cast from AISI 8620 steel and machined by a subcontractor with extensive service rifle manufacturing experience. The subcontractor is Armscorp USA (Baltimore, MD). Armscorp USA made many changes to its tooling for production of Fulton Armory receivers. Armscorp USA also made significant improvements in receiver dimensional geometries as specifically requested by Fulton Armory. This includes a wider than USGI specification operating rod rail. The Fulton Armory receiver is custom designed and uniquely manufactured. A sample Fulton Armory receiver heel is marked as follows from top to bottom: U. S. RIFLE 7.62 MM M14 FULTON ARMORY FA00106. The model number may be M14, M14 NM, M21 or XM25. The vertical surface of the operating rod rail is stamped SAVAGE, MD.

Fulton Armory XM25 serial number FA 00500 is a rear lugged model. Customers have a choice of standard or rear lugged receivers. Fulton Armory offers a host of M14 type rifle gunsmithing services. Its services include technical inspection, clean and lube, barrel installation and headspacing, phosphate coating of parts, trigger group tuning, complete rifle assembly, and match conditioning.

Western Ordnance/Smith Enterprise, Inc.

Western Ordnance, which became Smith Enterprise, has designed and manufactured excellent quality firearm parts and built outstanding quality firearms for American and foreign governments and the civilian market. Its rifles and parts are too numerous to list in this work. For the sake of brevity, only its experience with the M14 type rifle will be discussed at length.

Ron Smith and Sonja Sommers own and operate Smith Enterprise, Inc. Smith Enterprise, Inc. is classified by the U. S. government as a veteran owned and operated contractor. Its CAGE Code is 3A5E1. Ron Smith shot competitively for the Arizona Army National Guard and California Army National Guard. He is a 1986 graduate of the Israeli Defense Force Sniper School. Ron Smith is a fourth generation career professional in the ordnance industry. He has been licensed as a Class 2 SOT / FFL since 1984. He apprenticed under his dad, Richard Smith, and was actively involved in all projects undertaken. This included, but was not limited to, research, development and production of its M14 receivers and the M14K, research and development of Polytech Industries M14 rifles, making parts for the AR15/M16, and select fire conversions on Browning Hi-Power 9 mm pistols before the May, 1986 ban. When Richard Smith retired in 1992, he passed the torch to his son, Ron.

Without question, Smith Enterprise has much more knowledge of and experience with testing and working on Chinese M14 type rifles than anyone outside China. It has offered nitrocarburizing treatment of receivers and parts since 1985. Smith Enterprise is a Leupold & Stevens, Inc. optics factory authorized distributor to government and law enforcement agencies as well as a Sage International M14 EBR stock authorized distributor. Among countless customer requests fulfilled, Ron Smith surveyed the Jordan government M14 rifle inventory at the request of King Abdullah in 1999. In late 2004, the Government of Jordan had requested further assistance from Ron Smith on its M14 rifle program.

Smith Enterprise Receiver Design Manufacture and Testing

All Smith Enterprise receivers ever made have been out of certified AISI 8620 alloy steel. About 1985, Smith Enterprise began producing M14 receivers after several months of planning and evaluation. This included generating its own blueprints and engineering sketches. Smith Enterprise M14 receivers incorporate a number of innovative features that improve upon the USGI design. The receiver locking lugs are adjusted forward to reduce the headspace about 0.003 ” to 0.005 ”. The receiver bridge is adjusted a little aft (to the rear) to retract the firing pin faster in order to better prevent slam fire. The receiver barrel ring thread starting quadrant was changed to reduce barrel torque to about 50 ft-lb which is sufficient. Typically, Smith Enterprise M14 rifles headspace at 1.633 ”.

Smith Enterprise made its very first receivers were made by the precision investment casting method. The raw castings left a large amount of metal that had to be machined away to obtain the final form. All Smith Enterprise investment cast receivers have been made with virgin bar stock AISI 8620 alloy steel certified by the supplier and verified by Smith Enterprise. The Smith Enterprise “forged” billet machined receivers are made of fine grade Hart AISI 8620 alloy steel certified by the supplier and verified by Smith Enterprise. Manufacturing of receivers starting with billet allowed even more control over the receiver form. Billet was plasma cut into the starting shape. All heat treatment of all Smith Enterprise receivers has been certified by the vendor and verified by Smith Enterprise. All of its receivers have been examined by magnetic particle inspection and some were X-rayed. All receiver barrel ring threads were inspected using a USGI thread timing gauge. Post-heat treat receiver surface and core hardness was examined by spectrum analysis using test mounts (receiver specimens) every 100 rounds fired for a time then every 200 rounds for awhile and then randomly after that. The specimens for the test mounts were cut at various points on the receivers. These test mounts show the case depth of Smith Enterprise receivers is 0.012 ” to 0.015 ” and the core hardness is 35 to 40 HRC in accordance with the USGI M14 receiver drawing 7790189. Smith Enterprise also required spectrum analysis of the receiver when its heat treat vendor changed personnel. Such testing and resultant analysis led to a standard operating procedure for heat treatment. All of this inspection and non-destructive examination was part of the Smith Enterprise quality control program.

Note that the reader MUST NOT perform the testing described herein. Personal injury or death may result. Ron Smith personally test fired the very first receiver without it having been heat treated. He shot it for twenty rounds to prove the material’s integrity. The headspace had set back 0.010 ” by the twentieth round. Smith Enterprise had Thunderbird Cartridge Company (Laveen, AZ) make up two hand load lots of proof test ammunition for them. One batch of proof test rounds was loaded to 65,000 psi and the other was loaded to 76,000 psi. Thunderbird Cartridge used nickel plated Federal cases and M118 bullets. The bottoms of the 76,000 psi cases were colored purple. Next, a second receiver with no heat treatment was shot twice with 65,000 psi proof test rounds. The headspace had set back 0.010 ”. After this, ten receivers were selected out of the first lot of 100 finished receivers. Each of these ten receivers was fired with one round of 65,000 psi proof test ammunition.

Then one finished receiver was selected for destructive testing. Scott Medisha was a witness to this destructive testing. First, ten rounds of 65,000 psi proof test ammunition were fired. Next, 76,000 psi proof test rounds were fired. After four rounds of 76,000 psi proof test ammunition, there were some signs of problems but the receiver had not failed. The cases were seizing in the chamber. Therefore, Scott Medisha went home and loaded up one round of ammunition. Ron Smith states this cartridge was loaded with a large charge of Hercules (now Alliant Techsystems) Unique pistol powder and a 175 grain bullet. Taking suitable precautions, the destruction cartridge was loaded into the rifle chamber and fired. Scott Medisha achieved the desired result. The receiver failed with a dull, muffled boom. The cartridge case vaporized, the barrel blew out about two feet in front of the stock, and the bottom forward one inch of the bolt blew apart, the magazine blew out of the action and all magazine spot welds gave out. The back of the receiver gently rolled off to one side. The receiver on both sides behind the locking lugs cracked. However, the locking lugs on the receiver and the bolt held! The M14 enthusiast should not turn his nose up at a well-made investment cast receiver. Smith Enterprise also made a single batch of billet machined select fire receivers before the May 19, 1986 civilian machine gun ban.

There is a pronounced difference in the shape of the receiver heel between the Smith Enterprise (and Armscorp USA) billet machined and Smith Enterprise investment cast receivers. The billet machined receivers have almost square heel corners whereas the investment cast receiver heel corners are rounded. A 1985 manufacture Smith Enterprise receiver with serial number 1985 is billet machined. A Smith Enterprise receiver made no later than 1988 with serial number 2099 is investment cast. Another Smith Enterprise owner reports that his Smith Enterprise receiver serial number 21XX is investment cast while he has examined another with serial number 23XX that is stamped FORGED USA. Billet machined Smith Enterprise receivers are marked FORGED USA because the company believed it was a simple, but not exaggerated, way to state the receiver quality.

Smith Enterprise, Inc. Receiver Identification

Examination of several rifles reveals distinctive markings on Smith Enterprise receivers. Smith Enterprise did stamp some receivers with customer requested serial numbers. Examples of these are serial numbers of the owner’s initials and birth date or USGI M14 serial numbers issued to the customer during military service. Note that 7790189 is the USGI drawing number for the M14 receiver. Smith Enterprise, Inc. receivers are marked as follows:

Pre-'86 ban select fire - 1) M-14 on the heel 2) serial number starts with the letters FA followed by five digits 3) MESA, AZ on the vertical surface of the operating rod rail 4) 7790189 on the right hand side near the connector lock with no other marking below the stock line or 90189 and an eagle, arrow, and stars cartouche below the stock line on the right hand side near the connector lock

Pre-'94 ban billet machined - 1) M-14 or M-14 NM on the heel 2) MESA, AZ on the vertical surface of the operating rod rail at the forward end 3) FORGED USA on the vertical surface of the operating rod rail at the rear end 4) 7790189 below the stock line on the right hand side near the connector lock 5) ordnance eagle and three stars symbol below the stock line on the right hand side near the connector lock

Pre-'94 ban precision investment cast - 1) M-14 NM on the heel 2) MESA, AZ on the vertical surface of the operating rod rail at the forward end 3) 7790189 below the stock line on the right hand side near the connector lock

Post-'94 ban precision investment cast - 1) M-14 NM on the heel 2) serial number is a four digit number beginning with the numeral 5 3) TEMPE, AZ on the vertical surface of the operating rod rail at the forward end

Examination of two Smith Enterprise M-14 select fire receivers reveal the following characteristics: 1) there is a rear dismount notch 2) the drawing number, 90189 or 7790189, is stamped at the same location as the USGI receiver 3) there is no fixture hole in the right receiver leg 4) the selector lug is a homogeneous portion of the receiver rather than welded on 5) MESA AZ is marked on the operating rod channel vertical surface at the forward end of the receiver and 6) there is an eagle, arrow and stars cartouche on the right hand side below the stock line.

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