A SEAL operator with an M14 rifle fitted with an optical sight and a forward grip, participating in maritime interdiction enforcement during Operation Desert Storm.
Navy seal operator with an M14 EBR
The M14 rifle, formally the United States Rifle, 7.62 mm, M14, is an American selective fire automatic rifle firing 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester) ammunition. It was the standard issue U.S. rifle from 1959 to 1970. The M14 was used for U.S. Army and Marine Corps basic and advanced individual training, and was the standard issue infantry rifle in CONUS, Europe, and South Korea, until replaced by the M16 rifle in 1970. It remains in limited front line service with the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, and remains in use as a ceremonial weapon. It was the last so-called "battle rifle", a term applied to weapons firing full-power rifle ammunition, issued in quantity to U.S. troops. The M14 also provides the basis for the M21 and M25 sniper rifles.
The M14 was developed from a long line of experimental weapons based upon the M1 rifle. Although the M1 was among the most advanced infantry rifles of the 1940s, it was not a perfect weapon. Modifications were beginning to be made to the basic M1 rifle's design since the twilight of World War II. Changes included adding fully automatic firing capability and replacing the 8-round "en bloc" clips with a detachable box magazine holding 20 rounds. Winchester, Remington, and Springfield Armory's own John Garand offered different conversions. Garand's design, the T20, was the most popular, and T20 prototypes served as the basis for a number of Springfield test rifles from 1945 through the early 1950s.
Earle Harvey of Springfield Armory designed a completely different rifle, the T25, for the new .30 Light Rifle cartridge. The latter was based upon .30-06 cartridge case cut down to the length of the .300 Savage case. The .30 Light Rifle eventually evolved into the 7.62x51mm NATO and the commercial .308 Winchester round. Although shorter than the .30-06, the 7.62x51mm NATO round retained the same power due to the use of modern propellants.In the background, Lloyd Corbett was tasked with developing .30 Light Rifle conversions for the M1 rifle and later the T20 prototypes. After a series of prototype designs, the T44 surfaced. The earliest T44 prototypes used the T20 receivers re-barreled for 7.62mm NATO, and replaced the long operating rod/piston of the M1 with the T25's shorter "gas expansion and cut-off" system. Later T44 prototypes used newly fabricated receivers shorter than either the M1 or T20; the new action's length was matched to the shorter 7.62mm NATO round instead of the longer .
The T44 competed successfully against the T47 (a modified T25) and the FN FAL (T48). This led to the T44's adoption by the U.S. military as the M14 in 1957. Springfield Armory began tooling a new production line in 1958 and delivered the first service rifles to the U.S. Army in July 1959. However, long production delays resulted in the 101st Airborne Division being the only unit in the Army fully equipped with the M14 by the end of 1961. The Fleet Marine Force finally completed the change from M1 to M14 in late 1962. Springfield Armory records reflect that M14 manufacture ended as TRW, fulfilling its second contract, delivered its final production increment in Fiscal Year 1965 (1 July '64 - 30 June '65). The Springfield archive also indicates the 1.38 million rifles were acquired for just over $143 million, for a unit cost of about $104.
The rifle served adequately during its brief tour of duty in Vietnam. Though it was unwieldy in the thick brush due to its length and weight, the power of the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge allowed it to penetrate cover quite well and reach out to extended range, developing 2,470 ft·lbf (3,350 J) of muzzle energy. However, there were several drawbacks to the M14. The traditional wood stock of the rifle had a tendency to swell and expand in the heavy moisture of the jungle, adversely affecting accuracy. Fiberglass stocks were produced to resolve this problem, but the rifle was discontinued before very many could be distributed for field use. Also, because of the M14's powerful 7.62x51 mm cartridge, the weapon was virtually uncontrollable in fully automatic mode, so much so that most M14s were permanently set to semi-automatic fire only so as to avoid useless waste of ammunition in combat.
The M14 was developed as a means of taking the place of four different weapons systems—the M1 rifle, the M1 Carbine, the M3 "Grease Gun" and the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). It was thought that in this manner the M14 could simplify the logistical requirements of the troops if it took the place of four weapons. It proved to be an impossible task to replace all four, and the weapon was even deemed "completely inferior" to the World War II M1 in a September 1962 report by the comptroller of the Department of Defense. The cartridge was too powerful for the submachine gun role and the weapon was simply too light to serve as a light machine gun replacement for the BAR. (The M60 machine gun better served this specific task.)
The M14 remained the primary infantry weapon in Vietnam until it was replaced by the M16 in 1966–1967. Further procurement of the M14 was abruptly halted in late 1963 due to the above mentioned Department of Defense report which had also stated that the AR-15 (soon to be M16) was superior to the M14 (DOD did not cancel FY 1963 orders not yet delivered). After the report, a series of tests and reports by the United States Department of the Army followed that resulted in the decision to cancel the M14. The M16 was then ordered as a replacement for the M14 by direction of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1964, over the objection of those Army officers who had backed the M14 (other factions within the Army research and development community had opposed the M14 and the 7.62x51 mm round from the start). Though production of the M14 was officially discontinued, some disgruntled troops still managed to hang on to them while deriding the M16 as a frail and underpowered "Mattel toy" or "poodle shooter". In January 1968 the U.S. Army designated the M16 as the "Standard A" rifle, and the M14 became a "Limited Standard" weapon. The M14 rifle remained the standard rifle for U.S. Army Basic Training and troops stationed in Europe until 1970.
The U.S. Army also converted several M14s into the M21 sniper rifle, which remained standard issue for this purpose until the adoption of the M24 SWS in 1988.
Although the M14 was phased out as the standard-issue rifle by 1970, M14 variants are still used by various branches of the U.S. Military as well as other armed forces, especially as a sniper rifle and as a designated marksman rifle, due to its excellent accuracy and effectiveness at long range. Special active units such as the OPFOR units of the Joint Readiness Training Center use M14s. Few M14s were in use in the Army until the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Since the start of these conflicts, many M14s have been employed as designated marksman and sniper rifles. These are not M21 rifles, but original production M14s. Common modifications include scopes, fiberglass stocks, and other accessories. In the mid-1990s, the USMC chose a new rifle for DM use, an M14 modified by the Precision Weapons Shop in Marine Corps Base Quantico called the Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR). It is intended for use by security teams (SRTs, FAST companies), and USMC Scout Snipers in the cases where a semi-automatic rifle would be more appropriate than the standard bolt-action M40A1/A3 rifle. The USMC Rifle Team uses the M14 in shooting competitions.
The 1st Battalion of the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") in the Military District of Washington is the sole remaining regular United States Army combat field unit where the M14 is still issued as the standard rifle, along with a chromed bayonet and an extra wooden stock with white sling for military funerals, parades, and other ceremonies. The United States Air Force Honor Guard uses a version of the M14 specially modified by the USAF Gunsmith that prevents semi-automatic fire; members have to manually cycle a new round by pulling on the charging handle every time they fire. The United States Navy Ceremonial Guard and Base Honor Guards also use the M14 for 3-volley salutes in military funerals. It is also the drill and parade rifle of the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy, The Citadel, Norwich University, Virginia Military Institute, and North Georgia College and State University. Various sniper variants have been used by the SEALs, often mistaken with M21 in the overt literature, only one of them has received a standard name in the U.S. military designations system: the M25, developed by the Special Forces. These sniper variants have probably been replaced by the Mk 11 Mod 0, selected in 2000. SEALs also use the Mk 14 Mod 0 EBR (Enhanced Battle Rifle) for close-quarters battle and in a designated marksman role.
U.S. Navy ships carry several M14s in their armories. They are issued to sailors going on watch out on deck in port, and to Backup Alert Forces. The M14 is also used to shoot a large rubber projectile to another ship when underway to start the lines over for alongside refueling and replenishment.
"Delta Force" units are known to have used M14 sniper variants. According to Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, the well-known account of the Battle of Mogadishu, at least one of the "D-Boys", Sergeant First Class Randy Shughart, used an M14 for sniping from helicopters to provide support fire to ground troops. His M14 was possibly fitted with an Aimpoint 3000 sight.
The U.S. Army Special Forces ("Green Berets") have made some use of the M25 "spotter rifle". The M25 was developed in the late 1980s within the 10th Special Forces Group, which was charged to support Special Forces sniper weapons as well as the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC). The M25 was first planned as a replacement for the old M21, but after the Army adoption of the M24 SWS as its standard sniper rifle, the M25 was intended to be used by spotters of the sniper teams, while the snipers would use the bolt-action M24. Tests had shown that the M24 and M25 have the same precision when using the same M118 ammunition.
Though the M14 has remained in service longer than any U.S. infantry rifle with the exception of the Springfield M1903 rifle, it also holds the distinction of serving as the standard infantry rifle of the U.S. Army for a shorter span of time than almost any other service rifle, staying as standard issue 2 years longer than the Springfield Model 1892-99.
The commercial, semi-automatic-only version available to the general public is sold by Springfield Armory, Inc. of Geneseo, IL and other manufacturers as the M1A, M14S, and other model names. In civilian use it has seen heavy modification including synthetic and pistol-grip stocks, optical sight mounts and picatinny rails for mounting accessories, and carbine versions with barrels as short as 16 inches.
The Philippine government issues M14 rifles, as well as M1 carbines, M1 rifles and M16 rifles, to their civilian defense forces and to various cadet corps in their service academies. The Greek Navy also uses the M14.
M14 production tooling was sold in 1967 to the Republic of China (Taiwan), who in 1968 began producing their Type 57 Rifle. The State Arsenal of the Republic of China produced over 1 million of these rifles from 1969 to the present under model numbers of M305 and M14S.
In China, Norinco and Poly Technologies have produced M14 variants in the past for export, which were sold in the United States prior to the enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. They are currently being sold in Canada and New Zealand only. They have been marketed under the M14S and M305 names.
Standard service rifles were produced from 1959 to 1964.
* Springfield Armory, Springfield, MA
* Harrington & Richardson Arms Co., Worcester, MA
* Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp. (Winchester-Western Div.), New Haven, CT
* Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge Inc. (TRW), Cleveland, OH (considered the highest-quality variant, TRW marked parts often command a premium when they come up for sale)
The purpose-built National Match version was produced in 1962 and 1963 by Springfield Armory, and in 1964 by TRW. Springfield Armory upgraded a number of service-grade rifles in 1965 and 1966 to National Match specifications. Upgrading was also carried out in 1967 at the Rock Island Arsenal. These M14 variants are to this day capable of extreme long-range accuracy.
Springfield and TRW delivered more than 11,000 National Match rifles in the 1962–1964 period. Roughly 8,000 service rifles were modified to NM standards during 1965–1967.
The M15 was a modified M14 developed as a replacement for the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle for use as a squad automatic weapon. It added a heavier barrel and stock, a hinged buttplate, a selector switch for fully-automatic fire, and a bipod. Like the M14, it was chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO.
Firing tests showed that the M14, when equipped with the selector switch, hinged buttplate and bipod, performed as well as the M15. As a result, the M15 was dropped and the modified M14 became the squad automatic weapon. Accuracy and control problems with this variant led to the addition of a pistol grip, a folding metal foregrip and a muzzle stabilizer. The final design was designated as the M14A1.
The M14E1 was tested with a variety of folding stocks to provide better maneuverability and the like for armored infantry, paratroopers and others. No variant was standardized.
Selective fire version of the standard M14 used as a squad automatic weapon. Successor to the short-lived M15 rifle. The developmental model was known as the M14E2. First designated as M14E2 when it was issued in 1963 and redesignated as M14A1 in 1966.
The M14M is a semi-automatic only version of the standard M14 and was developed for use in civilian rifle marksmanship activities such as the Civilian Marksmanship Program. M14M rifles were converted from existing M14 rifles by welding the select-fire mechanism to prevent full-automatic firing. The M14NM (National Match) is an M14M rifle built to National Match accuracy standards.
The M14M and M14NM rifles are described in a (now-obsolete) Army regulation, AR 920-25, "Rifles, M14M and M14NM, For Civilian Marksmanship Use," dated 8 February 1965. Paragraph 2, among other things, stated that the Director of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division, Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury (predecessor to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) had ruled that M14M and M14NM rifles so modified would not be subject to the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA) and, as such, could be sold or issued to civilians. However, with the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, the NFA was amended to prohibit sales of previously modified automatic weapons such as the M14M and M14NM to civilians.
 M14 SMUD
Soldier using an M14 Mod 0 EBR equipped with a Sage M14ALCS chassis stock provides security in Iraq, 2006.
Stand-off Munition Disruption, used by Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel to destroy unexploded ordnance. Essentially an M14 National Match rifle with scope.
 Mk 14 Mod 0 EBR
Main article: United States Navy Mark 14 Mod 0 Enhanced Battle Rifle
Shorter, more tactical version of the M14, with a retractable stock and multiple rails for more accessories.
 M14 Tactical
Modified M14 using the same stock as the Mk 14 but with a 22 inch barrel and a Smith Enterprise muzzle brake, used by the USCG.
 M14 Designated Marksman Rifle
Main article: United States Marine Corps Designated Marksman Rifle
Modified designated marksman version of the M14, used by the USMC.
Modified M14 DMR fitted with the same stock as Mk 14, used by the USMC.
An M14 in bullpup configuration first introduced by Sardius in the 1980s. Later produced by Technical Equipment International (TEI) for the IDF
 AWC G2A Sniper Rifle
Main article: AWC G2
Modified M14 with bullpup stock designed by Lynn McWilliams and Gale McMillian in the late 1990s. Produced and delivered for testing at the Fort Bragg sniper school.
 M21, M25 sniper rifles
The M21 and M25 are accurized sniper rifle versions, built to closer tolerances than the standard M14. These are the more standard sniper rifle variants of the M14.
Variant designed and built by Master Weaponsmith Timothy F. LaFrance of La France Specialties of San Diego, California, most using forged receivers produced by Smith Enterprise of Tempe, Arizona. This rifle has a custom-made short barrel with a custom-made flash suppressor, shortened operating rod, and employs a unique gas tube system. Fully automatic versions have a removable flash suppressor. Semi-automatic versions (of which very few were made) have a silver-brazed flash hider to comply with the requirement that Title I firearms have a 16" barrel. Most M14Ks employ the M60 gas tube system. Some late-model M14Ks employ a custom-designed and manufactured gas system. Both are intended to control the rate of fire in fully-automatic mode. The rear sight is a custom-made National Match type aperture, and the front sight is a custom-made narrow blade, wing-protected sight to take advantage of the additional accuracy afforded by the special barrel.
The stocks and handguards on M14Ks are shortened versions of the GI birch or walnut stock, but make use of the original front ferrule. The front sling mount is relocated slightly to rear, to accommodate the shortened stock. Most handguards are of the solid, fiberglass variety (albeit shortened), but a limited number were made with shortened wood handguards. The steel buttplate was deleted in favor of a rubber recoil paid, that greatly reduces perceived recoil. A limited number of M14Ks were manufactured with the BM-59 Alpine / Para folding stock. These too had the shortened stocks and handguards, making for an extremely compact package especially suited to vehicular and airborne operations. A couple of M14Ks were built for SEAL Team members using the tubular folding stock assembly on a cut-down M14E2 stock found on some of the Team's full-size M14s prior to adoption of the Sage International EBR stock for M14 applications. These are by far one of the rarest variants of the M14K.
Civilian versions manufactured by Springfield Armory, Inc. The M1A series is the basic M14 rifle with no included accessories except for the Loaded package which comes equipped with railed handguards, a bipod and a scope. The SOCOM series and the Scout Squad are based on the short-barreled version of the M14. The SOCOM 16 comes with provisions to mount a red dot sight and the SOCOM II adds railed handguards to the package. The M21 tactical is a civilian version of the M21 Sniper Weapon System currently in use by the U.S. military.
Stamped into receiver heel:
* U.S. Rifle
* 7.62-MM M14
* Springfield Armory (or commercial contractor name)
* Serial number
The M14 rifle was first furnished with a walnut stock, then with birch and finally with a synthetic stock. Original equipment walnut and birch stocks carry the Department of Defense acceptance stamp or cartouche (an arc of three stars above a spread-winged eagle). These stocks also carried a proof stamp, a P within a circle, applied after successful test-firing.
Rifles manufactured through late 1960 were provided with walnut handguards. Thereafter synthetic, slotted (ventilated) hand guards were furnished but proved too fragile for military use. These were replaced by the solid synthetic part still in use, usually in dark brown, black or a camouflage pattern.
Although M14 rifle production ended in 1964, the limited standard status of the weapon resulted in the continued manufacture of accessories and spare parts into the late 1960s and beyond.
* M6 bayonet with M8A1 sheath
* M2 Bandolier
* Sling [one-piece cotton or nylon webbing or M1907 (two-piece leather)]
* Cleaning kit (butt-trap) included a combination tool, ratchet chamber brush, plastic lubricant case, brass bore brush, four cleaning rod sections, cleaning rod case, and a cleaning rod patch-holding tip.
* M5 winter trigger and winter safety
* M12 blank firing attachment and M3 breech shield
* Cartridge clip (five cartridges) and magazine filler for charging magazines
* M1961 ammunition magazine pouch
* M2 bipod
* M76 grenade launcher
* M15 grenade launcher sight
* Mk 87 Mod 0/1 line (rope) throwing kit
* Rear peep, front blade, metric
* Rear National Match peep with hood, front National Match blade, metric
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