The generous guys at Scalarworks (scalarworks.com) were kind enough to send me one of their 1/3 Low Drag Mounts (LDM) for Aimpoint Micro’s to review. I have been following the LDM development for a while and was very interested in the mount. It’s lightweight, skeleton construction seamed perfect for a lightweight fast carbine. I wanted to get my quick, initial thoughts out and post some pictures.
I have to say, after opening the packaging and getting my hands on the LDM, I was extremely happy. This thing is light. It felt like it weighed less than the small cardboard box it came in. I immediately mounted it up on a Colt AR6720 and was very pleased. I really like the scalloped thumbwheel construction, used to mount the LDM. Also, the LDM just looks badass.
Construction and mounting the LDM is rock solid, lightweight and low profile. I have several of the popular / well built / reliable micro mounts, and on initial inspection of the Scalarworks LDM, I can say it does not disappoint.
The Aimpoint Micro seems to be floating in the air over the receiver with this mount. I am eagerly waiting getting on the range with the LDM. Some very minor modifications have been made to the LDM mounts, due to user feedback and I think the LDM is looking like a rock solid piece of gear. As soon as I get some rounds down range, I will report back with an in-depth review.
Some more of our pictures of the LDM/micro mount can bee seen here: Scalarwoks-LDM/micro-Mount Pictures
You can see more pictures of the LDM mount at Scalarworks Facebook page (Scalarworks Facebook).
A long title to be sure, but I don’t have any better idea on how to title this piece. Originally intended to be a post of the length I typically write, it turned out to be longer. Since there is too much useful information to be mined form this long forgotten DOD study, this post will be at least two parts and maybe more. It is interesting enough to justify more than one post.
I have been reading a US Army study on infantry weapons and us in combat during the Korean war. The study gathered its data in the manner used by S.L.A. Marshall for the most part as well as other methods. While it presented info and opinions of the users long known among small arms students, it also has some surprising information that does not always jibe with long held beliefs of the family of weapons in early years after WW2.
The best part of the study is the immediate reaction of the users as soon after an operation as the interviewers could get to them.
“After a given company or command had been interviewed concerning a specific action, and its detail had be encomposed, all concerned were then asked to evaluate their firepower, as to what addi-tional weapons would help or what weapons were either superfluous or for any reason not worth their weight under the conditions of the fighting. Officers and men took to this actively and in utter honesty of spirit.”
“But their general reaction to the weapons family was almost universally to the point that what they have is good and adequate to the tactical need.The vehemence with which they expressed this view was the more surprising because,in the greater number of the actions, they had undergone local defeat.”
I think most people familiar with the weapons of the time hold the view that the average Korean “GI Joe” was well served by the weapons provided for them. That is, the M1 being loved, the M1 Carbine being hated and so on. This has gone on to be some thing “everyone knows.” When facts and opinion gets to the point of “everyone knows” I have always felt the so called fact is ready for a hard look. And in that personal ethic, I wanted to take a look at something everyone knows. How the Infantrymen felt about their weapons during the bleak years of the Korea War 50-51 as captured by a US Army study and infantry weapons and the men who used them.
The M1 Carbine has a very mixed reputation, some love it and some hate it. I have always found that its bad rap seems to have started in earnest during the Korean war. One unit, the 38th regiment seemed to love the little carbine, but the study reports the unit to be very unique.
“In all other units, bad experience in battle had made troops shy of this weapon, so that in the main those who continued to carry it of their own choice were either the lazy, the new arrivals, the few who had “pet” carbines that had worked perfectly all along, or the individuals whose tasks did not permit them physically to carry the M1. In all save one company after-action critique, malfunctioning of the carbine was prominent in the detail of weapons performance during engagement.”
Having nothing else to go on, it seems you can make a few assumptions with this statement. If one was willing to make excuses to try to explain away the dislike for the M1 Carbine. Being lazy, but still carrying it, I could imagine the same time of guy would not ever bother to clean it unless was made to. New arrivals who did not have the training on the weapon and the ability to keep it running. While those with so called “pet” carbines liked it. Perhaps it was a pet carbine and worked because they gave it proper care? Certainly a devils advocate has some wiggle room to go on. But the next paragraph shoots that out of the water with crack units explaining that the weapon was something you could not count on.
“It is impossible to give exact percentages because of the scrambled nature of the fighting; some men would report having two or three carbines fail within one action.Others could remember picking up a weapon in a moment of emergency, only to have it misfire, but could not say for certain that it was a carbine.However, in each critique, as carbine failures were reported incidental to the fighting, the men were asked for a showing of hands on this question: “How many of you who have used carbines at any time in Korea have experienced a misfire during some part of the fighting?” The lowest showing in any company was 30 percent. In some companies of the 27th and 35th Regiments -two extremely efficient and battle-wise organizations -the figures rose to 80 and 85 percent.This reaction should be weighed against the background of troops’ satisfaction with their other fighting tools. Even if the percentages are exaggerated -and that possibility is admitted -the fact that they feel that way about it implies that they have lost confidence in the weapon. Pending an obvious correction, that of itself makes the weapon a liability in terms of both morale and fire power.”
Going on the report mentions the use of small arms used against the enemy when artillery could no longer be used. The ranges the small arms of the time were used the with the most effect described.
“The beating-down of a closely engaged enemy must be done mainly by weapons within the infantry battalion. Recognition of the enemy, as he comes forward, is most likely to occur at some distance between 15 and 150yards from the infantry MLR -too close and too late for practical and successful artillery intervention.”
These distances of 15 to 150 yards are one of the many reasons the Army started with the later marksmanship training methods. In these after action reports, one can see the start of the realization that the days of a battle rifle knocking down commies and nazis at 800 yards with large full power 30 caliber bullets, were about over. Indeed, this is cold hard evidence the M14 was obsolete the day the first STG44 was handed to the first German rifleman.
“The average effective infantry fire with weapons lighter than the machine gun was consistently less than 200 yards. In no instance was it established, in the operations brought under survey, that any significant move by enemy forces had been stopped and turned by rifle and carbine fire alone at ranges in excess of that figure.This, perforce, limits the significance of the evaluation. It rarely happens in the Korean fighting or elsewhere that a tactical situation of large order arises which tests the effectiveness of the rifle alone as a stopping and killing agent. By the nature of engagement, the infantry contest between opposing groups of riflemen is pretty much confined to strong patrol actions, fire exchanges between small groups within a larger skirmish, or last-ditch stands by companies which have emptied the ammunition from heavier weapons in the earlier stages of the fight. In the latter situation, the contending sides almost invariably close to within less than 150 yards before the climax is reached in which the position is held or lost according to rifle effectiveness.”
Here again we see the common use of the rifle. The power and range of the M1 Garand made little difference in the vastly common engagement distances. The M14 would certainly not have changed this outcome and the ranges of Europe certainly could not justify the need for a longer range battle rifle when shots in Korea would have been just as far or further. With the NK and Chinese forces using PPSH and other type of weapons, the full power battle rifles certainly did not give the fighters any edge over them.
Even the famous rifle prowess of the USMC had little effect on enemy soldiers at distance.
“The Marines who were under siege at Koto-ri through the early days of December told of their effort to pick off Chinese riflemen who in broad daylight would stroll to within 300-350 yards of the armed camp or walk in the open to a stream bed to draw water. They found the targets far more elusive than they had expected.”
Of course none of this is to say the rifle was inaccurate or the men unskilled. In fact, the report even made certain to point this out.
“What is said here is meant to reflect in no degree whatever on the accuracy of the standard rifle; the men who use it in battle swear by it. Junior officers frequently said that they had seen it do decisive work in excess of 250 yards range.”
I think it does indicate that while it is important to have the skill to hit a man at the potential of the weapon, it does point out that the idea of full power “battle rifle” is just not needed and the vast majority of the time, would not be used by the average user.
“Rifle practice at the longer ranges is still desirable. But the rifleman needs about five times the amount of practice now given him with live ammunition if the weapon’s potential is to be fully exploited in combat.”
I could not agree more with this last statement, regardless of rifle or service round used, everyone should constantly strive to keep their long range skill equal to their CQB to mid range skill. It has always been out opinion that a modern rifleman, is not just a a CGB shooter or the guy who lays prone with his precision bolt gun, but the whole package. Like any skill., often it takes a long time to master. A Japanese friend once told me that he saw shooting, as the USA’s Martial Art., I had often thought this, but is statement was on an even deeper level. I think it certainly deserves life long dedication.
Part 2 of this post will be up next week, with more info on the individual weapons of the Korean war as well as their effect and the opinions of the users along with further comments.
Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch posted up a video comparing the overall length of a shouldered shotgun to a pistol held at arms length.
I like Clint Smith’s teachings and while this is a valid point, I still prefer the pistol. Why?
The pistol can be fired from compressed shooting positions, something not so much possible with a shotgun.
I can better employ a pistol one handed then I could a shotgun. Try calling the police while holding a shotgun, opening doors, or carrying an infant.
Longarms have many advantages over handguns but they have their own downsides. You really need to pick the one that best fit your needs.
Last weeks post on the M14 and its variety of shortcomings certainly stirred up the ire of its faithful followers. Link to offending article below.
Indeed we had to sleep under the bed with a gun in our hand in fear of The Old M14 Boys Club coming to take us away. Surprising to the guns fans, many spoke up with their actual real world experience with the piece confirming the point of the article.
Most recent is a sand test video from In Range TV, testing the M14 against an AR15 and a MAS. While I have been told for years and against my own experience the M14 would laugh at a little sand, the video and reality seems to indicate different.
The boys tested the same guns earlier in the mud. The M14 performing exactly as expected for those who know them well.
My personal favorite gun blog, that is not this one, had a few words to add to the heated debate 24 hours after the festivities started with my post. Over on weaponsman.com, a lively discussion is still on going with more than a handful of real world military users speaking up.
If you are not familiar with weaponsman.com. It is superb and is highly recommended daily reading. Description of the blogs writer and mission statement. “WeaponsMan is a blog about weapons. Primarily ground combat weapons, primarily small arms and man-portable crew-served weapons. The site owner is a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified.”
Some more discussion and viewpoint comes from a fine blog. Everydaymarksman.com. which has as a focus the owners personal quest to becoming a true rifleman and the experiences and epiphanies he has along the way.
Following some of the shrill screaming, rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth has shown many missed the point, or became so angry they did not give any consideration to the post. Most often seen is the claim the point of the article was to talk up the AR10 or AR15, when that was obviously not the goal to anyone who can comprehend English. Nor was it an attempt to get anyone to hate the gun. It was a discussion of its shortcomings and the honest assessment that it is far from perfect all powerful or even a decent DMR weapon, and the caliber of the gun was not even discussed. That being the other claim, that some how we were ragging on the 308, though no mention of the effectiveness was even hinted at.
While many love the rifle, nothing will change our minds from the simple truth of it. While it is better than a tamato stake. it is far from what its blind followers would like to think.
Lastly, I am re sharing the link to some informal shooting of a custom M14 from over a year ago. While not intended to be conclusive proof of anything, it was a fun comparison of some of the classic infantry weapons of yesteryear including the M1903, M1 Garand of course the much beloved( though undeserved ) M14
I recently picked up a 14.5″ AR upper and, as I wanted to be able to run it on one of my non SBR lowers, I had to have an extended flash hider pinned/welded on to meet minimum barrel length laws.
After picking it up from the from the smith and placing the two flash hiders next to each other, the absurdity of it all struck me.
That this tiny bit of difference would make all the difference between being completely legal or getting to spend time in a federal “pound me in the ass” prison, to quote the cinema classic Office Space.
But hey, if you can’t count on the government for arbitrary regulation, who can you count on??
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.“