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I Can Has M14!*

Yes, he was open today.

phew.

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.)

{ 10 } Comments

  1. Unix-Jedi | January 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Congrats!

    Now you get to learn what a “roll pin” is when you try and put the scope mount on. :)

  2. mdmnm | January 18, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I shot NRA Highpower for a few years. Might be ossified, but few things are as satisfying as shooting a possible in rapid fire at 2 or 300. M14 is still my favorite rifle to shoot offhand, the magazine makes a lovely palm rest.

    To get the op rod off, after you take out the trigger group, take the barrel & action out of the stock (hole the rifle upside down, then whack the butt up with the palm of your hand, it’ll sort of pivot off), remove the return spring and its guide (they come off together), then pull the op rod back. There is a rail cut in the side of the receiver that a lug is riding in, that rail has a cut in the top toward the rear of the receiver. You just sort of jiggle the lug out through that. Some of the Springfield Armory guns had pretty tight cuts back in the 80′s, you might have to work at it a bit. Also, a decent dab of grease, not oil, along that rail is a good thing.

    Oh, and- best accessory- a National Match leather sling. Don’t oil or grease it, just use it until it softens.

  3. AughtSix | January 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Let me second the sling–and learning how to shoot with it. Oh, and don’t get one of the $25 cheapo ones, (I’ve got one of them–they’re the same shape, but don’t work near as well) you want the $50 Turner/Les Tam ones. Learn to shoot prone/sitting with a sling, and the world is your bench. :)

  4. Brad | January 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    PDB, check your email, you can haz manyewal.

  5. alex. | January 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Good deal! Every serious shooter needs a good battle rifle. I went with a DSA STG 58 (Austrian FAL) and have been very pleased, though my Danish M1 is still my favorite rifle. Anyway, now is a good time to stock up on GI M14 magazines. I’d get a bunch (20)of them while they’re available. Keep in mind that the upcoming election could very well break very, very bad for us gunowners. Plan accordingly, and stock up on 7.62×51 also. Enjoy!

  6. Tam | January 19, 2008 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    That “increasingly bizarre kludge” is the first M14 to get me all hot and bothered in years. :o

  7. pdb | January 20, 2008 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    That “increasingly bizarre kludge” is the first M14 to get me all hot and bothered in years.

    I dunno, there’s a couple places where they could put some more rails.

  8. Roughedge | January 20, 2008 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    For some reason that Fulton Armory stock system reminds me of the body kits they used on Mini-14′s in Starship Troopers the horrible movie.

  9. Tam | January 20, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    See, I actually use the rails on my guns for stuff I need, though, and then cover the ones I’m not using.

    (Although I love VLTOR’s CASV-EL rail for the AR, since all the rail bits are modular and attach to the basic forearm where you need them, so in order to hang a light on the right side of the gun, I don’t need to have a whole rail farm on both sides of the forearm…)

  10. Cowboy Blob | January 22, 2008 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    That’s a thing of beauty! I wish I could get my SOCOM-1 to work perfectly!

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  1. pdb : Beretta 1201FP Recap | January 16, 2013 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    [...] with my Remington 1100 riot gun, my M14 and a smattering of miscellaneous .22LRs, the Beretta was sold in pdb’s Great Rationalizing [...]