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M14

Automatic rifle

M14

The M14 was the last American battle rifle, chambered for a full-power rifle ammunition

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 1959
Caliber 7.62x51 mm
Weight (empty) 4.1 kg
Weight (loaded) 5.2 kg
Length 1 126 mm
Barrel length 559 mm
Muzzle velocity 850 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 700 - 750 rpm
Practical rate of fire 30 - 80 rpm
Magazine capacity 20 rounds
Sighting range 800 m
Range of effective fire 460 m
Range of effective fire (with optics) 800+ m

 

   In the late 1930s the M1 Garand was one of the most advanced infantry rifles. However during the World War II attempts were made to improve its overall performance. Since the mid 1940s a number of experimental weapons, based on the M1 Garand were developed in the United States. Eventually these developments resulted in the M14 battle rifle. Its prototype competed against a locally-produced version of the Belgian FN FAL. Both weapons scored well during trials, but the US design was selected as a winner. The M14 was adopted in 1959 and gradually replaced the M1 Garand in the US Army, US Marine Corps, and US Navy service. Until 1964 it was a standard-issue service rifle. It was the primary infantry rifle in Vietnam.

   The M14 was the last American battle rifle, chambered for a full-power rifle ammunition. Last orders were made in 1963 and production finally stopped in 1964. Nearly 1.4 million of these battle rifles were produced by Springfield Armory, Winchester, Harrington & Richardson, and later by Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge. By 1970 the M14 was replaced by the newer M16 assault rifle, chambered for intermediate 5.56x45 mm ammunition. The M14 remains in limited use in all branches of the US military as a ceremonial weapon. Its improved and upgraded versions are used as designated marksman rifles.

   Some sources report that during the recent US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the M14 rifles were re-issued to the troops from warehouses in order to improve range and lethality of the infantry squads. Some M14 rifles were issued in their original condition. Other were fitted with optical sights and other accessories to serve as designated marksman rifles.

   In 1969 tooling for this battle rifle was sold to Taiwan. Since the early 1970s many of these battle rifles were given to several nations under various military aid programs. A small number of M14s remain in service worldwide as ceremonial weapons. Many were converted into designated marksmen rifles.

   The M14 is a gas-operated weapon. It is chambered for a standard NATO 7.62x51 mm ammunition. This ammunition is commercially known as .308 Winchester. Internally it shared many similarities with the M1 Garand, it was based on.

   The M14 was an accurate weapon. It had long range and superior penetration due to its powerful ammunition. It could penetrate cover quite well. Though there were several drawbacks of this battle rifle, including its length and weight. However the M14 recommended itself as a reliable and lethal weapon and was favored by its shooters.

   The M14 has a fire mode selector switch with settings for "semi-auto" and "full-auto" firing modes. However this weapon was poorly controllable in fully automatic mode due to violent recoil. Its muzzle climbed excessively. The M14 was simply too light for the powerful ammunition it fired. So most M14s were permanently set to semi-automatic only mode to avoid wasting of ammunition in combat.

   The safety switch is located at the front of the triggerguard. It is similar to that of the M1 Garand.

   The M14 is fed from detachable 20-round magazines. The weapon has strip clip guides, so the magazine could be refilled while in place by using standard stripper clips. However heavy ammunition of the M16 limited the number of rounds carried by the solider. Eventually it was one of the reasons why it was replaced by the M16.

   This battle rifle has got wooden furniture. A single-piece wooden stock has a semi-pistol grip. During the Vietnam War this wooden stock had a tendency to swell and expand in the heavy moisture, thus adversely affecting accuracy. Fiberglas stocks were produced to resolve this problem. However the M14 was retired before these fiberglass stocks could be distributed for field use.

   The baseline weapon has got iron sights with adjustable rear diopter. Range of effective fire is 460 meters. Newer versions could be fitted with optics. Once fitted with optics and bipod, the M14 is accurate to a range of more than 800 meters.

   Overall the M14 was a controversial weapon. It has a significant advantage of accuracy, range and penetration. Also it was a reliable and lethal weapon. However it was too long, too heavy and performed poorly in fully automatic mode. As soon as drawbacks of the M14 became obvious to the US Army Command, they started to search for a new weapon, and finally settled on the Armalite AR-15, which was adopted as the M16.

 

Variants

 

   M14A1 is a squad automatic weapon, fitted with different stock with a separate pistol grip and folding forward grip. It also had a detachable bipod. The M14A1 evolved from the M14E2 prototype. It was first issued to troops in 1963 as a replacement for the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). However it proved to be not suitable for its role. The weapon was too light for the powerful ammunition that it fired. Also 20-round magazine capacity limited its fire support capabilities. The M14A1 was a selective fire weapon and could fire in "semi-auto" and "full-auto" modes. Loaded M14A1 had a weight of 6.6 kg.

   M21 semi-automatic sniper rifle, based on the M14. Several thousands M14 automatic rifles were converted by Springfield Armory to the M21 sniper rifles. The M21 was a standard issue sniper rifle, until adoption of the M24 in 1988.

   M25 semi-automatic sniper rifle, based on the M14. It was developed for the US Army special forces and US Navy SEALs. It has been used since the Gulf War and is still in service with the US military.

   M14 Designated Marksman Rife, is a version for the US Marine Corps. It is fitted with an optical sight, bipod and cheek pad. This weapon can be fitted with a quick-detachable silencer. It was eventually replaced by the M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle, which is similar to the Mk.14 Enahnced Battle Rifle.

   Mk.14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR). It is a designated marksmen rifle. It based on the M14, but heavily modified. This weapon was developed in 2000 to meet a US Navy SEAL requirement for a more compact version of the M14. It was adopted in 2004 and was used by the SEALs, Delta Force, and other special forces units. Since 2010 this weapon is used by the US Army.

   M1A is a civilian version of the M14, developed by Springfield Armory in 1974.

   M14K is another civilian version. However this one is heavily modified.

   A number of countries developed their designated marksman variants, based on the M14, by simply fitting a bipod and various optical sights.

   Type 57 is a Taiwanese license-produced version. Tooling for this battle rifle was sold to Taiwan in 1969.

   Polytech M14 is a Chinese direct copy of the M14.

 

 
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