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  • The M14 rifle was a weapon designed in response to the massive firepower that could be wrought

  • upon by the Soviet's AK-47.

  • It also satisfied a desire by high level US commanders who wanted to replace the aging

  • World War Two era weapons still in service by US troops in the mid-1950s.

  • The M-14, though designed to be the standard infantry rifle for generations to come, was

  • soon overshadowed by developments in the M-16 rifle.

  • Despite this, it still saw extensive combat use throughout the Vietnam war but as US troops

  • would quickly find out, its unwieldy size and heavy, outdated design would make it difficult

  • to operate in the humid, dense, jungles of Vietnam was not one of them.

  • However, even after its eventual replacement by the M16, the M14 was not forgotten.

  • The rifle was still a favorite among some of the Vietnam War's top snipers such as

  • Carlos Hathcock and Chuck Mawhinney in addition to being used by the Navy and Coast Guard

  • riverine squadrons, Air Force security forces, and a reserve rifle with the Marines and Army

  • whenever shortages of M-16 rifles were felt.

  • Additionally, variants of the rifle made a comeback in the 1990's because of their

  • relatively long range, and impressive stopping power.

  • So what was the secret behind the M14s long lasting success even though it had a relatively

  • short career as the standard issue weapon of the United States military?

  • Let's find out.

  • The M14 was first conceived of in 1958.

  • At the time the government owned the Springfield Armory in Massachusetts where production of

  • the rifle began.

  • The original plan was for the M14 to take the place of several different firearms that

  • were being utilized by the United State military.

  • When the M14 was first proposed the United States was using the M1 Garand, M1903 Springfield,

  • M1 carbine, M3 submachine gun, M1928 Thompson, and M1918 Browning automatic rifle, also known

  • as the BAR.

  • The thought was that all of these guns could be replaced by one versatile rifle that could

  • switch between semi-automatic and automatic firing modes.

  • By doing this the United States could mass produce the weapon and ramp up production

  • in a way that was fast and cost effective.

  • Unfortunately, the manufacturing of the M14 was slow and tedious.

  • In the end there were many complaints from the soldiers who used it.

  • The M14 used a gas-operated firing system that was based off of the M1 and housed a

  • cleaning kit in the butt of the gun just like its predecessor.

  • The M14 was also designed so that an M2 bayonet or M76 rifle grenade launcher attachment could

  • be mounted to it.

  • The M14 could also be equipped with the M2 bipod, which was an important key feature

  • necessary to improve the accuracy of the gun.

  • The M14 was able to switch between semi-automatic and automatic firing modes.

  • This meant that the rifle was versatile and could be used in many different combat situations,

  • as long as it could be controlled.

  • This is one of the reasons for making sure the rifle could be mounted with the M2 bipod.

  • The M14 used 7.62 mm rounds that could also be armor-piercing or tracers.

  • The magazine of the rifle could hold 20 rounds, and the gun fired around 750 rounds per minute

  • on full auto.

  • The rifle's muzzle velocity was 850 meters per second and had an effective range of 460

  • meters.

  • This made the M14 one of the most accurate military rifles of the time at a distance,

  • which is one reason there was a resurgence of M14 variations in the 80's and 90's.

  • The gun itself weighed around 10.7 pounds when loaded, and for soldiers who opted for

  • the bipod an extra two pounds was added.

  • When it came off the production line the M14 was state of the art.

  • It was designed to be able to fight in city warfare in Europe and the wild terrain of

  • Russia.

  • Unfortunately for the M14—but luckily for all of humanitythe Cold War between the

  • United States and the Soviet Union never escalated into a direct conflict between the two nations.

  • Instead of finding themselves in cities and deciduous forests, U.S. soldiers were deployed

  • to the dense jungles of Vietnam, where long distance and city fighting was rare.

  • After fifteen years of development and production the M14 made its debut.

  • It was the standard issue rifle when Marines and Soldiers made their combat debut in Vietnam

  • in 1965 and would dominate the battlefield for the next several years..

  • However, because Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara opted to make the M16 the standard

  • infantry rifle of the United States, it began to be gradually phased out of frontline service

  • beginning with field test trials in 1967.

  • By 1969, most M-14 rifles had been replaced and after 1970 they were rarely issued save

  • for the exceptions noted earlier.

  • Due to delays and problems in production, the roll out of the M14 was slow.

  • The first and only unit in the United States Army to be completely equipped with the M14

  • was 101st Airborne Division in 1960.

  • The Fleet Marine Force eventually switched from their standard issue M1s to the M14s

  • the following year.

  • There were other problems with the M14 that eventually led to a halt of the gun's production

  • in the 1960's.

  • Many of the issues with the earlier M14s had to do with quality control.

  • The guns were being manufactured to be cost effective at the expense of reliable parts.

  • This led to components frequently jamming or breaking in the gun.

  • The United States fixed several of the problems by giving the gun more resilient receivers,

  • and having stricter quality controls on bolts and hardware used to construct the rifles.

  • Other problems did not have such an easy fix.

  • The accuracy of the M14 was not great during automatic firing.

  • The recoil was immense, causing the muzzle to move all over the place.

  • The bipod helped, but even when set up properly, the M14 was extremely difficult to control

  • when firing in an automatic mode.

  • In fact, the recoil was so bad when firing in automatic that troops in the field had

  • their own armorers make changes to the receiver to get the rifle to fire slower to make automatic

  • fire more accurate and sustained.

  • Later testing back in the United States showed that these modifications, though not as designed

  • but necessary for combat operations, proved that they could slow the firing rate by about

  • a third of what it had been designed for.

  • There were also modified M14s developed during the war to serve as a squad's main automatic

  • weapon for heavy firing.

  • One example of this was the M14A1, but its firepower proved disappointing, and the military

  • moved away from these designs for more reliable and powerful weapons.

  • The M14 only served as the primary weapon for United States infantry for 7 years before

  • it was replaced by assault rifles such as the M16.

  • The M14 would have been perfect for a war fought in European cities or in Russia, but

  • its large caliber and uncontrollable automatic fire was not optimal for the war in the Vietnam

  • jungle.

  • The M14 was just too long and unwieldy in the dense vegetation.

  • It's weight also severely slowed soldiers down.

  • The gun ran into more problems with the humidity of the jungle than anything else.

  • The wooden stock of the M14 expanded in the wet, humid, jungle, causing the weapon to

  • lose its accuracy and control when in fully automatic mode.

  • Aiming the M14 in these conditions became next to impossible.

  • Fiberglass stocks were eventually created for the M14, but at that point in the war,

  • it was too late since the gun was already being phased out of the United States' arsenal.

  • All these problems actually led to many soldiers ditching their M14 rifles for the enemy AK-47s

  • that performed much better in the Vietnam jungle.

  • Soldiers would literally take the enemy's guns and leave their standard issue rifles

  • on the battlefield.

  • It wasn't until the M16 became standard issue that the U.S. soldiers kept the gun

  • they were given by the military for combat in the jungle.

  • (Delete this VO paragraph entirely since as noted in my video notes this might have happened

  • on rare occasions but was definitely not the norm since US troops would not want to be

  • accidentally mistaken for the enemy as well as issues with supply in regards to ammunition,

  • spare parts, and such.)

  • Even though the M14 was almost completely replaced by the M16 during the Vietnam War,

  • the United States military was still fond of the rifle and decided to keep a limited

  • number in its inventory after the end of the war for future use in long range, marksmanship

  • rifles.

  • The basic M14 was modified to meet the needs of soldiers in combat situations outside of

  • the jungle.

  • Most of the variants were not utilized, but the evolution of the M14 over the years led

  • to certain weapons that are still being used in combat today.

  • Modification of the M14 began with the creation of the M15.

  • This rifle never made it out of initial production, but it led to weapons that would eventually

  • be used in combat.

  • The initial differences between the two guns was that the M15s were equipped with a heavier

  • barrel and stock than the M14s.

  • However, the military found that the M15 did not work any better than the original rifle,

  • and was therefore scrapped.

  • The initial tests of the M15 did lead to a redesign of the M14 which included an improved

  • selector switch, hinged buttplate, and bipod to create a better version of the rifle.

  • The next variation to the original M14 was the M14E2.

  • This version of the gun was given a full pistol-gripped in-line stock.

  • This was done to reduce recoil and make firing the weapon in automatic mode more manageable.

  • It helped, but only slightly.

  • The M14E2 also had a muzzle compensator and folding grip under the front stock.

  • All of these auditions made the firing of the M14 on full automatic better, but it was

  • still hard to control and overheated quickly.

  • Plus the limited magazine size of 20-rounds did not make it an efficient choice for a

  • fully automatic support gun.

  • As it became more and more clear that the M14 would not be the weapon of choice for

  • United States infantry soldiers, the military found ways to modify the gun for other purposes.

  • An example of this was the M14 SMUD ,which stands for Stand-off Munition Disruption.

  • This M14 model was used by soldiers specializing in the disposal of explosive ordinance.

  • They would use the M14 SMUD to safely destroy unexploded mines and bombs from a distance.

  • Basically this gun was the standard issue M14, but with a scope on it.

  • After the scope was mounted on the M14 more and more variations of the weapon started

  • to be designed.

  • The original concept for the gun was solid, and its larger bullets and longer range made

  • it more versatile for combat situations outside of the Vietnamese jungle.

  • Eventually as technology got better the design of the M14 was improved upon, and the components

  • that made up the rifle were swapped out for better state of the art parts.

  • This led to designs such as the Mk14 Enhanced Battle Rifle.

  • The Mk14 was designed specifically for tactical missions.

  • The rifle included an 18-inch barrel and retractable stock.

  • This version of the M14 also had more rails for accessories to allow soldiers to customize

  • their weapon.

  • The M14 Tactical built on the upgraded Mk14 EBM design.

  • It used the same stock as its predecessor, but was equipped with a 22-inch barrel and

  • a Smith Enterprise muzzle brake.

  • The rifle was adopted by the U.S. Coast Guard who found its range and fire power optimal

  • for their operations.

  • The M14 was continually modified, and parts of the gun were upgraded or incorporated into

  • other weapons, most often sniper rifles.

  • The M14 was an excellent starting point for the United States military to build off of.

  • Powerful rifles such as the M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle and M89SR Model 89 Sniper Rifle were

  • designed through heavily modifying the M14 in the 1980's.

  • The AWC G2A, M21, and M25 sniper rifles were constructed in the 90's and 2000's using

  • the M14 design as a base, and modifying it into several different variants.

  • Today the M14 is still in use by the United States military.

  • In fact, it can be found in all four main branches.

  • It is mostly used for training and non-combat situations, but the M14's successors are

  • sometimes used as sniper rifles in the field.

  • The M14 is commonly seen in ceremonies conducted by the honor guards, color guards, and drill

  • teams.

  • Even though the rifle was retired as the standard issue weapon for the armed forces before it

  • saw much combat, the M14 still had a solid design, which the military used for several

  • decades.

  • Now watchThe Evolution of the M16 Rifle.”

  • Or check outTop 10 Best Military Rifles Around the World.”

The M14 rifle was a weapon designed in response to the massive firepower that could be wrought

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The M14 Rifle Vietnam War Weapon - Explained

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/18
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