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Posted: 9/24/2004 2:04:19 PM EDT

ENERGIZER RIFLE: The M-14 Sniper Rifle

How has a rifle built in 1957 become the rifle of choice for Special Forces today? Say hello (again and again and again) to the M14, the amazing, darling successor to the M1 Garand and the father-savant to the glamorous M21s and M25s.

The Rifle That Never Quits: M14

M14 Sniper Rifle: The Skinny

M14 Sniper Rifle

Type of Equipment:
Sniper Rifle

Killer Features:
20-round detachable box magazine (largest of any sniper rifle)
Fires same match ammunition as bolt-action rifles
Capable of accurate, semi-automatic fire out to 500m

General George S. Patton considered the M1 Garand to be "…the greatest battle implement ever devised." He may have reconsidered his statement had he lived past 1945. Since 1957, the distinction of "greatest battle implement" has arguably been held by the M14.

The M14 claims the largest detachable box magazine of any sniper rifle, and it is capable of accurate, semi-automatic fire out to 500 yards.

Yet, what makes the M14 so amazing is that is has earned the respect of generations of servicemembers, including Special Forces units, from 1957 through today.

Not So Garand

Despite General Patton's accolades, the M1 Garand rifle always had its problems - three of them.

First of these problems was its 8-round internal magazine. Unlike other internal-magazine service rifles of the period -- which could be reloaded with rounds still in the magazine -- the M1's internal 8-round clip could not be reloaded until the 8th and final round was fired and the empty clip ejected. (The "ping" made as the clip was ejected was so distinctive that American soldiers took to carrying empty clips with them to throw on the ground so as to lure the enemy out of hiding.)

Second, the .30-06 cartridge required by the M1 hampered the rifle. Though accurate and possessing of enormous stopping power, the cartridge was too large for battlefield use. After all, its size reduced the number of bullets an infantryman could carry.

Third, the rifle itself was deemed too large. It was too massive for use in confined spaces - a.k.a. house fighting - and too heavy to be carried all day by infantry on patrol.

During World War II, the M1 Garand may have served its purpose, but by the early years of the Cold War, tests for a new rifle based on the M1 had already commenced.

During testing, a 20-round detachable magazine from the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle was incorporated. Then, the new experimental T65 7.62mm -- smaller but equal in power to the .30-06 cartridge -- was used.

By 1957, the service had the M14.

Never Ending Story

The M14 is essentially quite similar to the M1 Garand internally. It is a magazine fed, gas operated, semi-automatic rifle, initially capable of both semi-automatic, and fully automatic fire. The gas collection system, located under the barrel, is of a short stroke (1.5") design, and is equipped with the same gas-regulating system found on the M1, which prevents over-pressurizing the chamber. The rotating bolt is differentiated only in that it is connected to the operating rod through a roller rather than the lug system found on the M1. Moreover, the upper receiver incorporates magazine stripper clip guides, which allows for the magazine to be refilled from 10-round stripper clips removing the magazine.

Unfortunately, the Vietnam War grounded the M14 … for a brief moment. Though accurate (the M14 is effective out to 500 yards), it was deemed too heavy and unwieldy for the type of combat that American servicemembers were encountering in Vietnam. In Vietnam, accuracy was of less importance than was volume of fire and ease of use.

As a result, the M14 was phased-out beginning in 1964, to be replaced by the new 5.56mm CAR-15/M16. The M16 was seen as a true "assault" rifle, where it was expected to be used at ranges of well inside 300m and was much more controllable under fully automatic conditions than was the M14.

Though replaced, the M14 did not die.

Throughout American military history, snipers and sharpshooters were essentially an afterthought, a luxury which was generally viewed as not worth the investment required. During the Civil War sharpshooter units typically had to pay for their own custom built weapons out of pocket, while during the World Wars sniper rifles were essentially issue weapons (first the 1903 Springfield and later the M1 Garand) equipped with a scope.

The Vietnam War finally impressed upon the Army the need for a dedicated sniper rifle to provide battlefield interdiction (something the Russians and Germans learned at Stalingrad 20 years earlier). Though initially deployed as a standard issue rifle with a scope, the M14 was soon specifically selected by the Army's Marksmanship Unit to be converted into a dedicated, purpose-built sniper rifle.


The M21 is the semi-automatic sniper rifle adaptation of the popular M14 rifle.

Introduced in 1969 (type classified in 1975) as the M21 sniper rifle, the M21 is essentially a National Match (NM) grade Springfield Armory M14. It utilizes a heavier machined barrel, a modified trigger group for more consistent release, as well as a Redfield/Leatherwood variable power (3-9x) Automatic Ranging Telescope (ART) which incorporated a stadia rangefinder to allow the shooter to more accurately compensate for bullet drop.

Initial M21s were issued with wooden stocks but these were later replaced by synthetic stocks which were less subject to warping. Firing match grade M188 7.62mm ammunition, the M21 was accurate out to 800m.

A proven weapon in the Vietnam War, the M21 was soon to be replaced by an even more accurate pair of rifles, the Army's M24, and the Marine Corp's M40. Both rifles trace their roots to the Remington 700 bolt-action system, with the only significant difference being that the Army's rifle incorporates a "long" bolt, whereas the M40 uses a "short" bolt design.

The bolt-action design was adopted because it offered significant improvements over the semi-automatic M21 in accuracy at ranges beyond 500m. Once again, the M14/M21 was shown the door, replaced by a "better" weapon system.

Dawn of the Dead

Once again, however, the M14 did not die. Following combat experiences in both the Gulf War of 1991 and Somalia in 1993, it was determined that there was a need for a sniper rifle capable of accurate, semi-automatic fire out to 500m. Reincarnated for the third time, this time for the Navy SEALS as the M25, the M21 has once again made a comeback.

Though not as consistent as either of the current bolt action rifles, the M25 is nonetheless very accurate out to 500 yards and has the advantage of not only carrying 4 times the ammunition of either of the bolt-action rifles, but has much faster multiple shot times.

M14 variants are now in service across the board, ranging from straight M14s (now designated the M1A by Springfield Armory) equipped with 1x reflex sights, to the more exotic M21/M25 dedicated sniper rifles employed by the Navy SEALS. In all cases though, they are being employed to fill in the gaps between the short range use of the M16, and the long range M24/M40 sniper rifles (effective range 800-1000 yards).

With any luck, we'll keep it there. After all, the M14 is one of the greatest battle implements ever devised.

General Characteristics, M14 7.62mm Rifle

44.14 inches (112.12 centimeters)

Length of Barrel:
22 inches (55.88 centimeters)

Empty magazine: 8.7 pounds (3.95 kilograms)

Full magazine and sling: 11.0 pounds (5.0 kilograms)

Bore Diameter:

Maximum Effective Range:
1,509.26 feet (460 meters)

Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:07:22 PM EDT
Good info.

Always did like the M-14.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:10:52 PM EDT
Its also the shortest lived service Rifle.

Although, as stated above, it is still in use by some units. I do like the M14 alot as a semi-auto Sniper platform. In that role it excels quite well.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:14:44 PM EDT
Yes, an article in SOF about a bunch of M14's coming out of retirement and going back on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:21:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:28:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/24/2004 2:28:53 PM EDT by Minuteman419]
Good read.

I'm in love with my M1A for life.

Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:31:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Minuteman419:
Good read.

I'm in love with my M1A for life.


Ditto. The more I shoot it the more I love it. Just slapped a Leupold 3x9 on it.

I am getting the itch to buy a SOCOM or build one up.

I thought there was going to be a group buy by a dealer here on recievers???
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:56:38 PM EDT
Makes me want to hug mine
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 2:58:21 PM EDT
Love mine to death. Last rifle I'd get rid of.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:08:37 PM EDT
Yes, an excellent rifle. I'm proud to own a semi-auto clone. But, the Knight MK11 MOD 0 is a much better semi-auto DMR/sniper.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:12:45 PM EDT
I've had an M14-type rifle of one flavor or another for 17 years now. I currently have 2: one set up as a sort of "Squad Designated Marksman" weapon and the other a plain jane, no frills rifle.

I dunno, it's just something about them I love!

Excuse me, I think I'm going to have a moment alone with mine right now. Oooohhhh, a threesome!!!
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:19:06 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:25:07 PM EDT
Originally posted by Tactical_Jew

ENERGIZER RIFLE: The M-14 Sniper Rifle

I always wanted one. It is still high on my list of guns that I "need." Great info T_J.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:46:49 PM EDT
Originally posted by Lumpy196

Visit Differents M14 website:


Thanks for the great link Lumpy. Outstanding job on your site Different....

Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:49:09 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:49:39 PM EDT
the "Energizer" rifle is a rifle that bitches and complinas, and alienates everyone..... :)
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 3:54:00 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:00:55 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:03:32 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:30:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/24/2004 4:31:04 PM EDT by sgtstinger]

Originally Posted By Jeeper21:

Its also the shortest lived service Rifle.

If we hadn't fought a war in Viet Nam and had fought in Europe(or any other region where engagements at longer ranges would have been more common), the M14 most likely would have enjoyed a much longer life as the primary issue service rifle, IMHO.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:48:05 PM EDT
I'd trust my all G.I. M1A WAY before I'd trust any of my mouse rifles.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:54:11 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 4:58:46 PM EDT
I used an M14 in the Honor Guard as my ceremonial rifle, and also as my battle rifle. I had 2 different stocks to interchange. We painted our magazines glossy black, glossed up the buttplate, had chrome bayonets and white slings. The Drill team used them too and I don't know how they tossed that damn hunk of metal into the air for the last guy in ranks to catch it. Friggin unbelievable. If you ever get to DC in the summer, check out one of their shows cause they kick ass.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 5:26:33 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/24/2004 5:29:23 PM EDT by Lumpy196]
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 5:40:20 PM EDT
I have a standard M1A circa 1995. It is an excellent rifle.

NFS. "Not for sale."
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 5:55:45 PM EDT
Most of the problems I have heard about where due to armourer unfamiliarity, as they've rotated in guys knowledgeable armourers complaints dried up.
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 6:12:50 PM EDT
Lumpy, is that a selector I see on your M1A, ...errr ...or is it an M14?
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 6:15:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Troy:
And now... the REST of the story.
and they already had hundreds of thousands of them in storage

is this true? i thought all the surplus m14's were sold to other countries or otherwise disposed of (melted/ chopped, etc)

Link Posted: 9/24/2004 6:42:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/24/2004 6:44:26 PM EDT by Lumpy196]
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 6:50:55 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Jeepster:
Love mine to death. Last rifle I'd get rid of.

Link Posted: 9/24/2004 7:07:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/25/2004 7:49:59 PM EDT by SP10]
What a coincidence, just put a few rounds through my favorite rifle, a plainjane standard M1A, this afternoon Banging steel at long range with iron sights from field positions just puts a big ol' smile on my face

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=6&f=6&t=175433 168 fellow board members also apparently love their M1As (OK, 167 in addition to me!).

Gee, who deleted my thread?It was there last night
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 7:12:02 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HiramRanger:
Ed Sr. has one...

Another one joins the cult-er-my local M1A shooter's club! Penguin, resistance is futile

Bring your checkbook tomorrow. Rochester is usually a good M1A show
Link Posted: 9/24/2004 7:28:15 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/24/2004 7:30:20 PM EDT by LWilde]
In many infantry units now deployed, each platoon has at least one "designated marksman" who humps an M-14 with a very good optic and match ammo.

The SEALs use them a lot, as do Delta Operators.

I REALLY like my M1A. And yes...it is damn accurate out to over 500m with just open sights.

Link Posted: 9/25/2004 1:56:51 PM EDT
anyone know if there are surplus m14s? I had heard from several different sources that the US doesn't really have any m 14s in storage, of any significant number.

Link Posted: 9/25/2004 2:06:14 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 2:24:58 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Lumpy196:

Originally Posted By danonly:
anyone know if there are surplus m14s? I had heard from several different sources that the US doesn't really have any m 14s in storage, of any significant number.

Yes there are. They arent huge quantities, because Clinton gave a lot of them away to countries like Chad and Haiti.

They are being issued to units in the middle east in limited quantities.

They have enough. Various sources will say between 20K and 600K. How much they really have is anyone's guess. They are readily and quickly (the .MIL version of "quickly" equating to about 2-4 months) available to civilian LE in this country for about $20 each. I have one like that. Pretty nice, though I have yet to actually deploy it; the M4 sort of hogs all of the trigger time...
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 2:27:19 PM EDT
First two years of military service starting in 1965, used the M14.
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 2:46:30 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/25/2004 2:50:26 PM EDT by drfcolt]
Love mine (actually it's a Beretta BM-59 - selector is on opposite side than M14).

Also, has standard:
- bipod
- compensator
- winter trigger
- gernade launcher

Said to be closer to M1 Garand than M14.

Link Posted: 9/25/2004 2:48:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Troy:
And now... the REST of the story.

While I'm glad we have SOMETHING out there to do the job, don't mistake that for the fact that the M14 was a failure overall. It spent the shortest time as a frontline rifle in our military's history, had lots of production problems in the early 60s, and was adopted by NO other countries except a couple that we GAVE rifles to, and even those countries quickly replaced them.

The ONLY reason the M14 is used today is because of the CALIBER, not the rifle.


I think a huge reason this gun basically was "stillborn" was cost. Look at the G3...how much does it cost to make a stamped sheetmetal gun, as compared to a forged steel M14? I don't think many developing countries on our side during the Cold War could afford these without huge help from the US. While the M14 was for sure not the future of guns, and was very "old school" when it came out, it had a niche at least.

One could make a similar case about the M16 not being adopted by "that" many countries besides the US and the couuntries we gave it to.

I don't think adoption by number of countries should be the only, or main, indication of how good a battle/assault rifle is, or the FAL would be the best ever hands down. While the FAL is a great platform, I doubt most on here would say hands down the FAL is the best.
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 4:46:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Jeeper21:
Its also the shortest lived service Rifle.

The shortest lived service rifle is the 30/40 Krag.
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 5:04:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By JDemond:

Originally Posted By Jeeper21:
Its also the shortest lived service Rifle.

The shortest lived service rifle is the 30/40 Krag.

Thank you! That's exactly what I was thinking. It also has the smoothest action of any rifle I've ever fired. I would say the M14 is one of the longest lived service rifles since it is still being issued.
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 5:25:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By knightsar:
Yes, an article in SOF about a bunch of M14's coming out of retirement and going back on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I heard some of them old dusty ones are headed to some of the larger police forces.... I'm guessing a few were given to NYPD during that last scare.

- BG
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 5:42:39 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 6:25:44 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 6:43:31 PM EDT
What Katana16j said. Any rifle fielded by the Army or Marine Corps needs knowledgeable armory support. I'm no high speed low drag Special Forces guy but I've humped, slept with and shot my M1A rifles for more than 10,000 rounds through the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts. The only problem I had was about ten rounds of Indian crap ammo that failed to feed out of 500 rounds of Indian crap ammo. Other than that, all of my M1A rifles have performed flawlessly.

Thanks, Lump196 and ishoot2live for the endorsement. If you want the long, true story for FREE print off my online book M14 Rifle History and Development. This is the best freebie you will get on the M14 ever. I've had tons of help from the members of www.battlerifles.com, www.m14forum.com, and www.warrifles.com as well as doing research over the last two years. The webmaster of the site will post the 09/25/04 version any minute now, hopefully. Oh, you'll need 108 pages of blank sheets in your printer tray. And yes, I talk about the M14 problems too. Check it out at www.imageseek.com/m1a

Here's a picture of me trying to wear out the barrel in my select fire Springfield Armory, Inc. M1A in automatic mode.

Link Posted: 9/25/2004 7:56:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HiramRanger:
Yes folks, that is the ACTUAL rifle Ed got... somehow I think it might become a Fulton Armory ad...

i was going to say that looks like a poorly picked stock, look at the grain going through the wrist. But then i thought it was an ad gun, not ed's.

so ed, does you gun's grain run straight through the wrist? might want to refrain from to much butt stroking with that gun if so

Link Posted: 9/25/2004 8:42:45 PM EDT
Link Posted: 9/25/2004 9:42:55 PM EDT
Great post, thank you.
It'd be my choice if I needed a weapon.
Link Posted: 9/26/2004 4:11:51 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/27/2004 5:11:01 AM EDT by EdAvilaSr]
Link Posted: 9/28/2004 3:00:37 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/28/2004 3:07:05 PM EDT by RAMBOSKY]
Had to trade this in on the Mattel Toy, go figure?

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 3:10:54 PM EDT
i just love my m1a!!!! great to hunt with also......

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