Photo above is the M14 with its Technical Data Package. Shared from Daniel Watters.
Go on to any gun forum, and it won’t take you long to find people willing to tell you how great the M14 is. How accurate,like a laser, tough as tool steel with no need to baby it or clean it. Powerful as a bolt of lightening, and how well loved it was by those early users who refused the M16 because they wanted a “real” weapon made of wood and steel…. .. But, is all that really true? Maybe it is a triumph of nostalgia over common sense and reality. One truth is, it was never really liked as much as people think they remember.
The M14 was having major problems even before ARPA’s Project AGILE and a Defense comptroller reported the AR15 superior to the M14. The famous Hitch Report stating the AR15 , the M1 and the AK47 superior.
The study indicates that the AR15 is decidedly superior in many of the factors considered. In none of them is the M14 superior. the report, therefore, concludes that in combat the AR15 is the superior weapon. Furthermore, the available cost data indicate that is also a cheaper weapon. -ARAPA
Although analyzed less thoroughly, the M14 also appears some what inferior to the M1 rifle of WW2 and decidedly inferior to the Soviet combat rifle. the AK47.-Hitch Report
“Report on Tests for Ad Hoc Committee on Accuracy and Testing of 7.62mm Ammunition and M14 Rifles.” Seven rifles each from batches accepted from H&R, Winchester, and Springfield Armory had been shipped to Aberdeen for testing to find and cure the causes of the M14’s inability to meet its accuracy requirements. Examination and testing of the 21 rifles uncovered the following:
All of the rifles from Winchester and H&R exhibited excessive headspace.
All of the rifles had loose handguards.
95% of the rifles had loose stock bands.
90% of the rifles had loose gas cylinders.
75% of the rifles had misaligned op rods and gas pistons.
50% of the rifles had loose op rod guides.
50% of the rifles had op rods that rubbed the stock.
Three rifles had barrels that exceed the maximum bore dimensions.
Only three rifles had an average bore diameter that fell below the accepted mean diameter.
One rifle was found to have a broken safety while another had a misassembled safety spring.
One rifle had a misassembled flash suppressor, which was actually contacting bullets during live fire tests.
A barrel from each manufacturer was sectioned for examination of the bore and chrome lining. The chrome lining was out of tolerance (uneven and on average too thin) in all three barrels. The H&R barrel also failed the surface-finish requirements. During accuracy testing, the M14 rifles produced greater group dispersion and variation in the center of impact than the control rifles (two T35 and two AR10). NATO testing was quoted indicating that the Canadian C1 (FN FAL) and German G3 were less sensitive to variations within and among ammo lots. Shutting off the gas port in the M14 rifles resulted in an average 20% reduction in extreme spread compared to those groups fired with the gas port open. This also reduced the variation in the center of impact. The design of the flash suppressor was singled out as a cause of inaccuracy.
A M14 Rifle Cost Analysis report that gave rounds used and over haul schedules from rounds fired states M14 annual usage is 3,500 rounds to overhaul and 599rds MBTF. Does not sound much like a hard use fighting gun…
Full PDF of the honest technical Report that does not paint the M14 in a rose colored light, can be found here. http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/677383.pdf Take note of Page 32.
Production of the M14 was long and troubled. The cost of the weapon rose beyond claims of being able to produce it cheaper and with the same machinery used to make the M1. The story of the long tax money gobbling nightmare of the M14 is known to those who study the deep history of military weapons, and I encourage anyone interested to look into themselves but I am not going to go into that this time. For this post I will be talking about the current niche the M14 is still hanging on to.
After the M14’s near complete death of cutting edge combat use, the Army still wanted it as their sniper rifle. Of course many systems where tested by the Army during the Vietnam war, including the USMC M40 sniper weapon, For debatable reasons. the Army decided the M14 was the way for them. This is where the rifle begins to show.
The USAMTU had been working with the M14 for years for use in competition and sniping. Indeed the AMU knew that the Army would need a sniping weapon even before the Officers in charge did. So they had been working on the national Match M14 for a while.
The procedure to turn a M14 rifle into the M21 or the National Match service rifle is so long and complicated I have little desire to try to repeat it here. See- The Complete Book of US Sniping by Peter Senich if you want all the details. I will say the process was time consuming and expensive, that is not even starting to discuss the search for an optic system to go on the XM21. It produced a rifle capable of 800 yard kills and useable accuracy. For a while at least.
Over the next several years, the Army spent millions trying to perfect the system while it was used as the service rifle in high power. Between those two pursuits, some interesting things were learned about the accurized M14. It turned out it was not as rough and tough as some think. To keep a M14 made to NM spec accurate, it requires careful tuning and extensive PM. If you doubt this, go to your local range and find a high power shooter who still uses one. Ask them if you may look at the rifle and grab it by the top hand guard and watch the fellow go from deathly white to red with rage and horror of what you just did. It needs to be carefully babied. And the Army spent millions and years relearning that lesson over and over with the M21 until finally dumping it for the M24 in the later 80s.
Though people who have many believed the Military and the end users long for the return of this big heavy beast, this is not really all that true. this is best illustrated during the time period in the late 80s to the late 90s of the USMC’s DMR program when so many tried to bring it back as the DM rifle or the Sniper teams spotters weapon.
Around, during or a little before this time, the Army Rifle team commander decided since the Army’s standard issue service rifle was the M16, than that is what the Army service rifle team needed to be, and should be using. The AMTU armorers put their heads together, took some tips from civilian highpower shooter who had already woken up and got by the absurd notion that service rifle meant “wood and steel” , and soon after the Army was beating the USMC rifle teams at Camp Perry by a long shot. Not long long after, the Marines found themselves going to the M16 for service rifle to keep up. Few people, who want to stay competitive have looked back. Especially after the development of the 77 and 80 grain HPBT match bullets.
But, the DMR program is where the trouble of the M14 as a precision combat rifle really became clear.
T o quote Lt Colonel Chandler owner of Iron Brigade Armory and former Officer in Charge of many USMC marksmanship and sniping programs.
“Remember that the US Army struggled for more than twenty years to transform the M14 into a sniper type weapon. The Army finally abandoned all attempts to salvage the M14 rifle. Continued use of the M14 as anything other than a drill rifle is better described as DISASTER. ( emphasis Chandler’s). The M14 is old, and has never been more than a modified M1 Garand. “
“Unfortunately the M14 rifle is costly to modify and modification requires many man hours of skilled labor. In the field the m14 cannot maintain accuracy. The Army refused to admit that they could not solve the M14’s accuracy problems and wasted two decades attempting to make a silk purse from an old infantry rifle. Milspec spare parts are no longer made and those that can be found are often inferior, and ill fitting. “
“The M14 requires constant ( continual ) maintenance. Maintenance on an M14 progress geometrically. That means if you double an M14 rifle’s use, you quadruple its maintenance. “
“The world has moved beyond the M14. The weapon remains a standard piece only because it is used ( though less and less) in service rifle competition marksmanship, which is very different from field use. If anyone recommends it, run them through.”
“It is ironic that some of the USMC rifle competitors whose accurized M14s have been consistently waxed by the Army’s M16 s are supporting the use of the M14 as accurate rifles.”
“As we discuss the costs of bringing scoped M14s onto line in large quantities, allow me another digression. The M14 is a bitch to keep in tune, and a untuned M14, no matter who did the accurizing is about as accurate as a thrown rock . Unless the M14 is continually babied it will not retain accuracy. ( this is an important note from LT Col Chandler for those who fire 100 rounds a year and tell you the M14/M1A is wonderful). Imagine the hardships and brutalities a scoped M14 will experience as a DM weapon in combat. ( one recalls the story of Carlos Hathcock walking back the shoot house and starting to pass out, another Marine grabbed the accurized M14 and let The Ultimate Sniper fall face first into the asphalt. Letting a weakened man fall to keep the pathetic NM M14 accurate). No M14 ever built will stay accurately zeroed and tight group shooting , (meaning close to MOA) under field conditions. ”
Chandler goes on to point out the requirements in specially qualified armorers who know how and can keep a M14 accurate and how even in the early 2000s those men are almost extinct in the USMC accuracy and Sniping world.
“To create accuraized M14s with their special mounts and scopes and stocks, chasis etc. will cost more than twice as much as modifying M16s. Worse. while maintenance on M16s/AR15s remain routine, the M14s require more than six times the labor and dozens of times more replacement parts to maintain. Anyone who claims that going to the M14s is economically comparable to adopting the M16s is utterly ill informed or is simply parroting the party line.”
“Allow us to remind again that the US Army , which has far more research, repair , and maintenance capability than the Corps, tried for twenty two years to make the M14 into a accurate rifle. “
Compelling stuff from a man who spent most of his career working around the best weapons and men in the world when it comes to accuracy, sniping and the marksmanship community. But he goes on.
“So how on earth does this bizarre situation develop?” ( the idea the M14 is still some wonder rifle fit for serious use for anything beyond the parade ground of the nostalgia of the thing)
“How an idea germinates is difficult to determine. Perhaps a shooter who liked the M14 dreamed it all up. You know-==” A great old piece. let’s put it back to work!” the M14 concept has been allowed to develop into a full blown program because individuals involved were sometimes not weapons experts, possibly not infantry experienced at all and almost never sniper trained. The fact is line NCOs are not marksmanship literate . The M14 DM program is driven by those type of NCOs. NOT SNIPERS. “
“The M14 in all its forms has been a pain in the ass to its users, and when Marines speak candidly they do not proclaim their M14s to be ” the finest DM rifle in the world “. They refer instead to inability to stay zeroed and almost as often, to frustration in keeping their weapons in service due to the unending , never easing , repair requirements.”
Chandler went on to talk about how, after retiring from the USMC and starting Iron Brigade Armory, one the best makers of combat hardened ,nearly bomb proof sniper rifles in the world and the makers of the legendary DARPA XM-3 sniper rifle system. He gathered and employed the worlds best retired USMC 2112s that he could find and attempted to make a tough super accurate M14s . Making money no object in the pursuit in an attempt to see if it could be done.
” We, who have no bottom line, to worry about who can and do use the ultimate materials and the finest skills known can not expect our M14s to maintain accuracy under combat conditions. We do not believe the M14 design allows accurizing that is combat condition durable ”
Chandler’s quotes and feelings on the M14 as well as his belief the M16 with optic is the idea Sniper’s Spotters weapon as well as DMR can be found in Death From Afar Vol. 1-IV as well as The One Shot Brotherhood and various other technical publications such as Precision Shooting magazine as well as Technical papers spread internally in the USMC.
The M14 remains popular in the civilian world and not just from service rifle shooters. It still has a life among collectors, plinkers and even serious shooters. The new variants trying to breathe life into it as well as pictures on the news of M14s forced into use in the first half of the GWOT. Some still get caught up in its legend and its lore . The romance of the piece has lulled many away from the fact it is not a fully capable modern fighting tool. Many of its fans over look its many drawbacks. The safety needing a finger inside the trigger guard and to push forward to deactivate. The limited capacity and reload time that is slow (which when compared to a practiced user of an M1 Garand is actually slower to reload than a M1).
The maintenance, as Chandler said above is a nightmare if the gun is used often. Every time it comes apart, the bedding gets worse and worse. It may seem like no big deal for a combat weapon, but it is. The gun is heavy in all its forms and is as slow as a monkey doing Chinese algebra compared to the faster more natural manipulations and ergonomics of better designs. The oft used excuse of ” I will pick them off at 500 yards before they get close enough to worry about” is absurd. The last 15 years have shown very few cases of infantrymen laying prone and picking off enemy soldiers at 500. It is laughable to consider using the M14/M1A on your lonesome in an urban or CQB role. Sure, some SOF have done it, but they have some one covering them.
While the ergonomics of the M14 are already not wonderful for modern TTPs, the use of some of the newer stocks, like the Sage exaggerates the difficulty for anyone other than a giant who drags his knuckles when walking Never mind the astounding increase in weight, let alone the cost of such an “upgrade”.
Howard, fellow looserounds writer, co-owner with me of this website, friend, and USMC rifleman, and Iraq war vet gives his opinion and experience with the rifle as well as what he observed of it in Iraq.
“My experiences with the M14 type rifle lead me to have little interest in it. I owned a Springfield Armory Bush rifle that had various issues. I sold it to a guy who liked M14s. Later I received a SOCOM II in trade and found it overly heavy and was not a gun I would want for longer distance shooting or for close quarters.
While I was in the military, I did see a couple of M14s in or near Abu Ghraib prison. Guys liked the idea of the rifle, but didn’t want to carry them. They were often left in vehicles or in guard towers. Issues included lack of support gear(mags, mag pouches, etc), and that the majority of the soldiers and Marines didn’t know how to use or maintain the M14 rifles.”
Lt. Col. Chandler would feel a sense of deja vu I have no doubt. Maybe even frustration that so many refuse to see the evidence from many decades.
Other opinions, from a man who was more or less my mentor in the olden days. A SF vet from Vietnam who used the M14 in training and in his early days of combat. He went on to be a ballistic reconstruction expert. Tested federal 22 long rifle match ammo to be used in that years Olympics and T&Ed guns for Ruger and Hi Standard. In addition he is an accomplished BR and service rifle shooter as well as bulls eye small bore and pistol.
“When I first got to Vietnam, I was scared to death of the M16. I feared a jamming M16 would get me killed, poison snakes, spiders and a jammed M16 was such a worry to me I opted to carry an M60 on my first LRRP patrol. Later I learned to love it. I hated the M14, it proved not as reliable and was heavier and I could not carry near enough of its ammo. When it comes to combat I would walk over 100 of the best M14s ever made for one good M16.”
My own Father had this to say. Dad was in Vietnam from 67-68 in the 4th Infantry Division.
“I liked the M14 in basic, It was the first semi auto I had ever fired. It got old carrying all that weight fast running every where all day and night. I qualified expert with it. Once I was issued an M16 right before we over seas, I never looked back.”
For every person who has told me how great the thing is, I have found two who had nothing but misery and bad experiences from it. I myself among them.
Among the other myriad issues of using the M14 as a match rifle and DMR as well as anything else required by it in combat, more recent problems popped up. Since most users trumpet the excellent accuracy of the M14 and its use in combat as a hard hitting accurate battle rifle, this means military grade match ammo to take advantage of its legendary long range man killing accuracy.
Quotes below from.
“With the start of the Gulf War II in 2003 the high temperatures encountered in Iraq (in excess of 115 degrees F) began to produce some M14 op-rod failures due to excessive pressure at the gas port. Both the Army and Marines found the range marking on their scopes to be off of calibration with the higher velocity M118LR loads in such desert conditions. The result was a decision to reduce the load to a more moderate level.”
“Although this cartridge remains the current M118LR standard, it apparently still suffers from excessive velocity variation as the temperature changes and less accuracy than might be desired for truly precise shots at mid-range to long-range distances. The specification for M118LR requires 14 shots in less than 8 inches at 600 yards.”
The military did get the bugs worked out on the ammo eventually so that is one less thing to worry about if you are in a fight and can get your hands on the good stuff.
“The MK316 ammunition is essentially the finest possible mass produced match ammunition, comparable to the hand loads utilized by the various service MTUs. The cost is higher than M118LR, with a government cost of 78 cents per round for the MK 316 Mod 0 rather than 55 cents for the M118LR (2009 prices).”
The question is, why waste such ammunition in a M14 when 7.62 pattern AR type rifles are now easy to get, more accurate, more familiar vastly cheaper and much easier to work on. Not to mention being familiar with the vast majority of military and civilian users.
The M14/M1a will be around for as long as people will continue to buy them. Certainly there is nothing wrong with owning them liking them and using them. By no means is it useless or ineffective. But its legendary reputation is something that needs to be taken with a grain of salt and careful study of the system if you intend to have one for a use your like may depend on.
If you are curious posts on shooting rack M14s and custom service rifle M14s with Lilja barrels fired at 1,000 yards can be found here on Looseorunds using the search bar. There you can read of the M14/M1A compared against the M1 Garand and M1903.
Thanks to Daniel Watters for additional information, sources and help. You can read Daniel’s excellent indispensable resource ” A 5.56×45 Timeline at the following link if you are a serious student of US weapons development history. http://www.thegunzone.com/556dw.html
In practice, the Designated Marksman concept revolves around additional training more so than additional equipment. Sure the different branches have “accurized” versions of DMR style rifles such as the SAM-R, Mark 12 SPR, and the SDM-R, but they all accomplish the same goal: enable an individual soldier with additional marksmanship training to better engage targets at intermediate ranges. So how does this apply to the prepared civilian? Can any rifle function as a DMR? Can a civilian shooter ever take advantage of a long shot? The first part of this series will define the gun. Hint: It’s not that special.
Defining The Gun
Let’s start off with this: anyone with an AR15 which sports a 1/8 or 1/7 twist barrel where the gun is capable of shooting at least 2 MOA has a weapon that can function in the role of a designated marksman. All the sexy shots of DMR rifles are nothing more than eye candy, and anyone with a decent rifle in the safe can set up their weapon to quickly take advantage of the inherent accuracy of the AR15 platform. You would benefit from three things:
- Free Float System
In all likelihood, your weapon may already be free-floated. Manufacturers want to increase profit margins through perceived value of accessories such as the rail you have equipped now. I am firm in my belief that you don’t need a free-float rail inside of 300-600 yards depending on your goals and experience.
I have shot to 600 with and without a free-floating barrel, and Shawn makes me look bad when he shoots to 1000 with rack grade Colts. It can be done, but when we set our goal to deliver accurate and consistent fire upon a target at intermediate distances, the advantages of the free float system become apparent.
Glass is an essential and modern tool. Many more people have woken up to the advantages of glass, and the old timers with “irons only” attitudes are fading away. Quality glass unlocks the inherent accuracy of your weapon by giving you better target resolution and precise cross-hair alignment. Don’t skip it. Instead skip the next rifle purchase and equip the weapons you already have with quality optics.
Ammo is the final tool you need. 55 grain isn’t going to cut it. At our intermediate distances, we should feed our weapon quality ammo that matches our BDC. I use 69 grain ammo since it translates well for my TA31F, but if I had to do it over again, I would have gone with a .308 BDC ACOG shooting 77 grain ammunition. Here too, out to 500-600-700 yards one could shoot the lighter stuff, but that would lead to frustration and inconsistency.
The above chart is from a military power-point presentation discussing the advantages of proper ammunition selection and upgraded optics. As you can see, a typical M4A1 when equipped with glass and better ammunition (in this case 77 grain MK262) greatly reduces group size on target. The M16A2 *as is* is simply outclassed. This picture makes a valid argument against anyone who still wants to rock the irons or who claims they don’t need glass. No, you don’t *need* it, but you would benefit from it!
So wrapping up, we can see that any AR15 in your home with a barrel capable of 2MOA or better will be well suited for a DMR type role when equipped with quality glass, better ammunition, and a free float system. A true testament to the AR15’s design.
With the next post, we will discuss the shooter, and how, when, or if he (or she) will ever have to use such skills as a civilian. – The New Rifleman
Colt has shown a surprise to most this year at SHOT. Many will recognize the Colt hammerless. Now self respecting gentleman from early last century would leave the house without this sleek shoot in his suit pocket.
Phots courtesy of Dave, good friend to Looserounds who helps us out during SHOT and many other times.
“Price not set. Limited. Some blue some parkerized. Some will be matching numbers to the original guns and come with a letter saying which officers carried them. Super cool.“
Colt has announced they are bringing back a service they were once very well known for. Anyone who knows their gun history knows Sam Colt was fond of special addition and presentation models of his revolvers. The practice certainly still exists and Colt does still make special runs, but usually from a third party like Talo. Now, you can can order up something special for your group of friends, co workers or sewing circle. The thing that really stuck out, is now you can have a special M4 ( 6920) made up.
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (January 12, 2015) – Colt’s Manufacturing Company, one of the world’s leading designers, developers and manufacturers of firearms, is proud to announce the launch of its new Commemorative Program. The Colt Commemorative Program allows civic groups, law enforcement units, military personnel and other government agencies to order heirloom-quality, customized Colt firearms.
“The Colt Commemorative Program is an excellent way for a group of close-knit individuals to honor the special bond they share,” said Joyce Rubino, Vice President of Marketing for Colt’s Manufacturing Company. “This program is a completely new offering to civic groups, and we look forward to sharing in their expressions of pride through a custom Colt firearm.”
Commemorative firearms in this program typically include the Colt 1911 (model O1091) or the LE6920 rifle. However, other models may be available depending on the specific project request. A minimum of 25 firearms is required per Commemorative Program order.
To submit a request to Colt’s Commemorative Program, please complete the online contact form on Colt’s website under the Customer Services section.
I doubt the level of customization seen above is the type most can expect, but having seen examples of special runs I have seen in the past 15 years, you could have a fairly large variety of choices. I have always liked the idea of this kind of thing, and I hope to see it come back. With a requirement of 25 pieces at a minimum, it would seem few groups other than wasteful government agencies will have benefit of such programs. Who wouldn’t want to have a special handgun to remember the time the president’s security detail enjoyed Brazilian prostitutes !
Often at the range I have had to explain to people what Minute of Angle (MOA), and Milradians mean. Today I was reading about the Nemo .300 Win Mag ARs and I found they had a nice explaination of the two in their rifle’s manual.
Quoting from the Nemo manual:
Mils and MOA differ from an inch because they are angular, not linear, measurements. An inch equals an inch no matter how far away it is.
What is MOA? MOA stands for minute of angle. There are 360 degrees in a circle and each degree is divided into 60 minutes. If we round to the nearest 1⁄100 of an inch, at 100 yards 1 degree measures 62.83 inches. One MOA, 1⁄60 of that, measures 1.047 inches. While 1 MOA at 100 yards equals 1.047 inches, at 200 yards it equals 2.094 inches (2 x 1.047). To calculate MOA at any distance, multiply 1.047 by the distance in yards and divide by 100.
What is a MIL? MILS (milliradians) is another angular measurement. There are 6.2832 (π x 2) radians per circle. There are 1,000 mils per radian so, there are 6,283.2 mils in a circle. There are 21,600 MOA in a circle, so a little quick division determines there are 3.4377 MOA per mil. At 100 yards, 3.4377 MOA equals 3.599 inches (3.4377 x 1.047). Rounded up, one mil equals 3.6 inches at 100 yards. A mil is so large, it’s broken into tenths in order to make precise adjustments. If you have a riflescope with mil adjustments, each click equals 1⁄10 mil. A tenth of a mil equals .36 inch or .9144 centimeter at 100 yards. Since 1⁄10 of a mil is an angular measurement, it will be slightly larger at 100 meters than at 100 yards because 100 meters equals 109.361 yards. At 100 meters, 1⁄10 of a mil equals .9999 centimeter. Practically speaking, 1⁄10 of a mil equals 1 centimeter at 100 meters. Because mil, like MOA, is an angular measure, the length it represents increases with distance. For example, 1 mil at 100 yards equals 3.6 inches and 7.2 inches at 200 yards. To calculate how many inches are in a mil at any distance, multiply 3.6 times the distance in yards and divide by 100.
Their manual does an excellent job of summing up what the two are. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining this to new shooters.
Then question then arises, “Which is better?” Neither, they are two options with various pros and cons. If you shoot paper targets at known distances, MOA is usually preferred. You can measure or see how many inches of adjustment you need on paper, convert number of inches to minutes, then convert adjustment that to clicks. Mil adjustments are usually 1/10 mil per click, making the math similar to when you use SI units(metric system).
Both systems work well, the only main suggestion I have is don’t use a scope that mixes the two. It used to be common to have scopes with a Mildot reticle, and MOA turrets. This can make the math a pain.
If I am shooting at 565 yards, and I am using a MOA scope and I see I am impacting a foot low I know that.
1 foot = 12 inches.
1 MOA at 565 yards is about 5.6 inchs.
So 2 minutes of adjustment would be about 11.2 inchs, so I would want to come up about 2 and 1/4 MOA.
If I am using a Mildot reticle and a 1/10 mil turret, I can use my Mildot to measure the angular distance from my point of aim to my impact. So if I see its 1.2 mils low, I dial up 12 clicks.
But when I used a mixture of the two, I usually have to break out my calculator.
So once again I am shooting 565 yards, and I see I am impacting 1.5 mils low. I have to convert that mil measurement into MOA. So if I am in a hurry I would times 1.5 by 3.5(rounding) which is a little over 5 minutes. 5 and 1/4 MOA to be exact. Then I would dial that 5 1/4 MOA into the turrets of my scope. The math conversions can quickly get annoying. This is why I got rid of the Super Sniper 10x scope I had, and something I find irritating when I use my Leupold TS30-A2.
It doesn’t really matter if you use MOA or mils, but which ever you use, train to be competent and confident with them.
I think it is possible that there are people in the world you can hate so much that it is impossible to find a word for the intensity of that hate. It is like the heat of a million exploding suns. No stranger to hating people myself, I can not think of anyone I hate more than my ex wife or osama bin laden ., except for this thing. Certainly, if you read this website, you are the kind of person already familiar with it. obama better watch out, he has a strong competitor easing up on his position.
If you have a twitter account, I would suggest twitting your thoughts to this twit.
We here at Loose Rounds recently came to be in possession of a PTR Industries PTR Classic Wood Legacy Model for review. PTR Industries, formerly JLD Enterprises, produces a line of American made Heckler & Koch G3 style clones in a variety of configurations.
Our particular model featured wood furniture, an 18” barrel PTR Ind describes as match grade with an HK tapered profile, and a polymer grip/trigger group housing. Weight is listed as 9.5lbs and overall length as 40.5”.
I have to admit I wasn’t exactly pumped when I heard we had a PTR in to test. Nothing against PTR, I’ve just been leery of US made clones of foreign combat rifles since being greatly disappointed by an Ohio Rapid Fire built Galil that was the definition of half assed. I was pleasantly surprised upon first handling the PTR as it came off as well put together with quality parts.
After handling the PTR a few things stood out. Its weight is listed at 9.5lbs but it feels lighter in the hands. The polymer grip/trigger group housing detracts from the “classic” feel they’re going for with the wood stock/handguards. I also did not care for the feel of the grip, I found it too narrow side to side and too long front to back.
The ergonomics of the controls suck ass. No one this side of an NBA court can manipulate the mag release button and the safety selector lever without altering the firing hand grip.
I did like the slim profile of the wood handguard as it allows for an aggressive grip on the front of the gun, good for controlling .308 recoil.
The charging handle operated smoothly and without an undue amount of force to pull back. It also allows for the patented HK slap to charge move if you’re feeling Hollywood.
At the range the PTR ran well and was 100% reliable. Recoil was about what you would expect from a semi auto .308. Not punishing, but far more than your average 5.56, though controllable with technique. I’m sorry to say we did not shoot for groups. Our particular PTR had no provision for mounting a scope, and to be honest it was too damn cold for us to feel like proning out on the ground. Yeah I know, we suck.( see bottom update for accuracy results)
Shawn demonstrating proper 80’s action hero firing stance.
I did run into an issue with the rear sight but it may just be me. When using the rear sight on the “1” V notch setting the V was so low to the receiver that I had a hard time getting my head low enough on the stock to be able to use it effectively.
The PTR lacks a bolt hold open after the last round so a click lets you know you’re empty. Mags on the PTR rock in so it takes a little bit of practice to become smooth with the motion.
I actually liked the PTR more than I thought I would though it’s not without its issues. It looks cool, seems well made, was 100% reliable in our testing, and more fun to shoot than I expected it to be. However its funky ergonomics, lack of a bolt hold open, and inability to easily add lights, optics, etc. relegate it to range toy status.
To be fair PTR Industries does offer other models that feature receiver rails with which to mount optics and railed handguards to mount accessories but you’re still going to be dealing with poor ergonomics, no bolt hold open, and rock in mags. Plus the weight of all that added to a rifle on the heavier side to begin with.
I liked the PTR and think it would make a good addition to an HK design collection or guns of the Cold War collection, but would pick something else for a fighting rifle.
After the weather warmed up, I did shoot the PTR for accuracy using ( wasting ) Federal Gold medal Match ammo. It was disappointing to be kind. At 100 yards, It was constantly 4-5 MOA. I am not a stranger to iron sights, so I can confidently say , that is is not that great of a shooter. It is however, good enough for combat use to a limit. Obviously ball ammo just made the accuracy worse. I for one, have no idea why they call it a “match ” rifle. It certainly is not. it is sturdy and well made, if you can live with the polymer lower on a clone, and reliable but do not expect much for accuracy. —Shawn
Let’s take a quick look at two new offerings from Colt in the LE6920-OEM1 and LE6020-OEM2 models. Several places have these listed and they are in the Colt 2015 catalog, but no one currently has them in stock. They should be available and hitting the market after Shot Show. The OEM’s come without a stock, handguards, trigger guard and BUIS. Now, you might be thinking, what is the big deal with the OEM models? If you are new to the AR15 platform they might not be for you, but if you already have a few ARs you can see the benefits.
#1) It’s a Colt, you know what you are getting, (proven reliability), enough said. #2) I currently have several stocks, handguards , grips, rail systems and BUIS laying around. Most of us do as we are constantly getting new accessory products to try out. #3) The MRSP is just under 800 dollars. That means you will probably be able to get an OEM1 or OEM2 in the mid 600 dollar range once they start hitting the street. Slap on the extra parts you have laying around and you have a new standard configuration Colt LE6920 for under 700 dollars with the OEM1.
The LE6920-OEM2 is the real winner here, with the factory pinned FSB / Gas System that has been milled down to a low profile gas block. The delta ring has not been added, leaving just the barrel nut and no handguard cap behind the FSB. The OEM2 is screaming for you to slap on an extended Free Float (FF) rail system of your choice. If you choose a rail system designed to mount directly to the mil-spec barrel nut, (i.e. Centurion C4, Fortis or Midwest), you simply put it directly on. No removal of the flash hider or FSB is needed. This saves you time and money, while keeping the reliability of factory gas system in place. If you choose a propriety barrel nut FF rail system, you still get the benefit of the factory gas system, you save money not having to replace it with an unpinned low profile gas block or have the FSB milled down.
Hopefully the OEM’s will be available soon. I think these will be one of the best “Bang for the Buck” items, especially when most of us strip off the factory accessories anyway. The LE6920-OEM2 is on my list of next purchases.
A few days after we posted this article, Larry Vickers did a quick video of the Colt LE6920-OEM1 and OEM2 offerings at Shot Show 2015. Check out the video bellow.
The BATFE has released an open letter posted here.
OPEN LETTER ON THE REDESIGN OF “STABILIZING BRACES”
The Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has received inquiries from the public concerning the proper use
of devices recently marketed as “stabilizing braces.” These devices are described as “a shooter’s aid that is designed to improve the single-handed shooting performance of buffer tube equipped pistols.” The device claims to enhance accuracy and reduce felt recoil when using an AR-style pistol.
These items are intended to improve accuracy by using the operator’s forearm to provide stable support for the AR-type pistol. ATF has previously determined that attaching the brace to a firearm does not alter the classification of the firearm or subject the firearm to National Firearms Act (NFA) control. However, this classification is based upon the use of the device as designed. When the device is redesigned for use as a shoulder stock on a handgun with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length, the firearm is properly classified as a firearm under the NFA.
The NFA, 26 USCS § 5845, defines “firearm,” in relevant part, as “a shotgun having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length” and “a rifle having a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length.” That section defines both “rifle” and “shotgun” as “a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder….” (Emphasis added).
Pursuant to the plain language of the statute, ATF and its predecessor agency have long held that a pistol with a barrel less than 16 inches in length and an attached shoulder stock is a NFA “firearm.” For example, in Revenue Ruling 61-45, Luger and Mauser pistols “having a barrel of less than 16 inches in length with an attachable shoulder stock affixed” were each classified as a “short barrel rifle…within the purview of the National Firearms Act.”
In classifying the originally submitted design, ATF considered the objective design of the item as well as the stated purpose of the item. In submitting this device for classification, the designer noted that
The intent of the buffer tube forearm brace is to facilitate one handed firing of the AR15 pistol for those with limited strength or mobility due to a handicap. It also performs the function of sufficiently padding the buffer tube in order to reduce bruising to the forearm while firing with one hand. Sliding and securing the brace onto ones forearm and latching the Velcro straps, distributes the weight of the weapon evenly and assures a snug fit. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to dangerously “muscle” this large pistol during the one handed aiming process, and recoil is dispersed significantly, resulting in more accurate shooting without compromising safety or comfort.
In the classification letter of November 26, 2012, ATF noted that a “shooter would insert his or her forearm into the device while gripping the pistol’s handgrip-then tighten the Velcro straps for additional support and retention. Thus configured, the device provides the shooter with additional support of a firearm while it is still held and operated with one hand.” When strapped to the wrist and used as designed, it is clear the device does not allow the firearm to be fired from the shoulder. Therefore, ATF concluded that, pursuant to the information provided, “the device -2- is not designed or intended to fire a weapon from the shoulder.” In making the classificationATF determined that the objective design characteristics of the stabilizing brace supported the
ATF hereby confirms that if used as designed—to assist shooters in stabilizing a handgun while shooting with a single hand—the device is not considered a shoulder stock and therefore may be attached to a handgun without making a NFA firearm. However, ATF has received numerous inquiries regarding alternate uses for this device, including use as a shoulder stock. Because the NFA defines both rifle and shotgun to include any “weapon designed or redesigned, made or
remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder,” any person who redesigns a stabilizing brace for use as a shoulder stock makes a NFA firearm when attached to a pistol with a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a handgun with a smooth bore under 18 inches in length.
The GCA does not define the term “redesign” and therefore ATF applies the common meaning. “Redesign” is defined as “to alter the appearance or function of.” See e.g. Webster’s II New College Dictionary, Third Ed. (2005). This is not a novel interpretation. For example ATF has previously advised that an individual possesses a destructive device when possessing antipersonnel ammunition with an otherwise unregulated 37/38mm flare launcher. See ATF Ruling 95-3. Further, ATF has advised that even use of an unregulated flare and flare launcher as a
weapon results in the making of a NFA weapon. Similarly, ATF has advised that, although otherwise unregulated, the use of certain nail guns as weapons may result in classification as an “any other weapon.”
The pistol stabilizing brace was neither “designed” nor approved to be used as a shoulder stock, and therefore use as a shoulder stock constitutes a “redesign” of the device because a possessor has changed the very function of the item. Any individual letters stating otherwise are contrary
to the plain language of the NFA, misapply Federal law, and are hereby revoked.
Any person who intends to use a handgun stabilizing brace as a shoulder stock on a pistol (having a rifled barrel under 16 inches in length or a smooth bore firearm with a barrel under 18 inches in length) must first file an ATF Form 1 and pay the applicable tax because the resulting firearm will be subject to all provisions of the NFA.
If you have any questions about the issues addressed in this letter, you may contact the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division at email@example.com or by phone at (304) 616-4300.
Max M. Kingery
Firearms Technology Criminal Branch
Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division