The M14 is one of the most interesting guns in the world, simply because it is considered America’s last great battle rifle for military distribution. This weapon was the military’s standard issue for about ten years (1959-1970) before the M16 replaced it.
Although it is no longer considered standard issue, it is still used for military personnel on occasion and is a vital part of many ceremonies and events related to the U.S. military. Serving as the inspiration for such sniper weapons as the M21/M25, the M14 is an amazing weapon that should be incorporated into any collectors’ repertoire.
Original Manufacturers and Designers
Coming from the original design of the M1, the M14 was a labor of love that took many years of trial and error in order to produce. Many of the additions and modifications that make the M14 different from the original M1 have to do with functionality and efficiency, although there are many that deal with appearance, bullet/firing capabilities, and more.
Over one million M14s were designed over the first five years of production, with several thousand more being produced during the next six years of production.
One of the biggest problems with the M14, in the eyes of the military, was that it is very difficult to control when it fully automatic mode. Control is critical in combat, which is why the military moved to finding a weapon that was more efficient and manageable in that type of situation.
The goal of the military, in creating the M14, was to replace four other then-existing weapons, but the overall consensus was that the M14 did not achieve this goal. While it was suitable for military use, and eventually served as the foundation for a standard issue sniper rifle model, it was eventually replaced by the M16 as the military’s go-to weapon. Twenty years after the rifle quit being used as standard issue, it began to be reserviced as useful for Marine Corps training purposes.
Operational Information and Weapon Legality
The M14 is a fully automatic weapon, meaning that there is little or no reason for the average Joe to own a fully operational one. When building an M14, be sure to follow all applicable local, state, and federal laws to avoid potential hefty monetary fines or even possible jail time. Also, be sure that it is legal for the gunsmith to own that type of weapon, or any weapon, prior to building it.
To operate a functional M14, begin the same way as with most weapons and disengage the safety by moving the toggle switch next to the trigger.
This weapon is ergonomically designed so that the operator’s trigger finger is always near the trigger even when engaging or disengaging the safety mechanism. Once the magazine release is depressed, forward-pivot the gun’s magazine and remove it. Push down the follower and perform cartridge insertion and continue loading until the magazine is fully loaded.
While pointing the M14 away from people or property that should not be damaged, put the magazine into the rifle’s magazine well, front first, then pivot the magazine into place and lock it in position. Take hold of the gun’s operating rod, pull back toward the receiver’s rear, and slam the bolt and operating rod forward. This strips the cartridge from the chamber and loads it, ensuring that the weapon is ready for firing.
Other Essential Information
The M14 rifle is not solely used by the American military by any means, and in fact military personnel from all over the world have employed it to some degree at different times. Nations from Israel to Haiti, much of South America, a few Asian nations, and a good portion of Latin America have each found uses for the M14 throughout the years. Many of them have been military- or war-related, but some have been for ceremonial purposes in those countries as well.
The M14 has a few upgrades and accessories available for collectors or gunsmiths, although they can be expensive or difficult to find these days. Some have to do with the firing mechanism, making it more efficient or effective, others deal with the sight or cartridges or magazines.
They can usually be ordered online but some take up to one year for delivery due to demand based on website postings. Many ammunition and accessory websites also state that demand is so high and supply is so low that customers should not expect delivery before at least six months on most items.
Building an M14 can be a great way to connect with the U.S. military’s rich history and have a great collector’s item. According to experts it is the best choice in many different combat situations, and a great option for a fully-automatic weapon due to its destructive capabilities.
These experts claim that owning one is a patriotic event, but warn that owning just one is nearly impossible. Once one has been purchased or built, more usually follow.