Yes, he was open today.
I’ve spent the last hour, even though I should be sleeping, trying to deduce the arcane field stripping procedure. It took me 30 minutes to get the trigger group out, and I still can’t figure out the incantation for the oprod. Maybe I’m just a retard.
Oh well, it is still a beautiful piece of weaponry. A throwback, an end of an era. A demarcation line between doctrines, when infantry stopped becoming the primary instrument for the destruction of the enemy, and was reduced to a mere finder of the enemy.
Historically, the M14 was a mere footnote. Only the Krag served as our front line rifle for a shorter period of time. No other armies bought or licensed the M14 until the tooling was being given away at fire-sale prices.
The M14 embodies both bureaucratic bungling and industrial excellence. While the British and the rest of NATO were advocating we walk down the intermediate cartridge path trod by the StG44, the traditionalists at the Pentagon forced everyone to adopt a ‘intermediate’ cartridge that was damn near as powerful as the one it replaced. This left an opening for McNamara‘s pinhead squad (none of whom had ever fought in a war) to force an even weaker cartridge onto the infantry than the one the Europeans were trying to sell.
The M14 was also harder to manufacture than its contemporaries. The G3 probably wins the prize for ease of production (even the Pakis could turn out decent copies), and the FAL, despite having an almost as difficult to machine receiver, was adopted in staggering numbers and used successfully by illiterate conscripts all over the world. It took TRW to solve the M14 production puzzle, and right when they had it down to an art, the mighty rifle was unceremoniously dumped for a plastic and aluminum carbine.
Objectively, the G3 and FAL are probably just as good, if not better, overall rifles than the M14. Neither are as finicky in maintenance, and already come equipped with collapsible stocks and pistol grips, avoiding the development of increasingly bizarre kludges. Mounting an optic is a tedious and frustrating process. The safety is probably in the least safe place possible. However, it is capable of marvelous accuracy, and has the best trigger action on any issue rifle (save its immediate predecessor).
Subjectively, the design is a work of art. It is composed of large, sturdy pieces and operates like lubricated glass sliding on ice. The sights in particular are probably the most brilliant comprimise between precision and durability ever mounted on an issue rifle. Unlike the insulting Kalashnikov design, which practically shouts to its bearers that they are mere cannon fodder not expected to live long enough to change a magazine, the M14 is a rifle of The West in every way. It is difficult to completely master, but even the lowliest conscript was expected to — and considered worth the effort! When the wielder is trained to use the complete potential of the M14, he embodies the saying of the rifleman commanding all that he surveys. Nothing within a whole kilometer is outside his reach.
While untold forests of trees have been killed over the wounding potential debate, it is indisputable that the 7.62 NATO turns cover into concealment in a way the 5.56 NATO cannot, no matter what bullet you put on it. It also retains velocity and lethality at ranges where the 60% smaller bullet has slowed to .22LR velocities. There is nothing worth shooting at 300+ yards with a 5.56 NATO.
If I am reading the runes correctly, my copy is a 1995 production by Springfield Inc, which dates from the era when they were still drawing on a large reserve of used USGI components. And the bolt and trigger components all appear to be USGI, with a commercial oprod. Apart from shooting it, I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it. I really had no plan to acquire one before the opportunity came up. I did have some desire to shoot NRA high power a few years ago, but it just seems too ossified and staid in comparison to more practical shooting. The package did come with a very nice Springfield Inc range finding optic and a couple of mounts, so I’ll probably have a go at scoping it, even though there’s no place to shoot around here more than 100 yards.
* (yes, yes, I know it’s sold as an “M1A”. Even the receiver says so. But screw that. It’s parts compatible with an M14 from head to toes. I’m damn well calling it an M14.)