M14 7.62mm Rifle
The M14 7.62mm rifle is a lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder weapon. It is designed primarily for semi-automatic fire. When employed as an automatic rifle, the selector and M2 bipod must be installed (weapons so configured were sometimes referred to as M14 Modifieds). The rifle's flash supressor is designed with a wide rib on the bottom to reduce muzzle climb and the amount of dust raised by muzzle blast. The lug on the rear of the flash suppressor is used to secure a bayonet, a grenade launcher, or a blank firing attachment. The spindle valve is located just forward of the front band between the barrel and gas cylinder. The valve's function is to control the gases used to operate the rifle. When the slot of the spindle valve is in the vertical or ON position, the valve is open and gases necessary for the functioning of the rifle pass into the gas cylinder. When the slot of the spindle valve is in the horizontal or OFF position, the valve is closed. When the valve is closed, it permits the fall pressure of the gas to be utilized to propel a rifle grenade and it also prevents the bypass of gas into the gas cylinder.
At one time the standard issued rifle for soldiers and marines, the M14 became primarily in the Competition in Arms program, or for drill and ceremonial purposes. The M16 replaced the M14 as the table of organization rifle for the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. The number of nations adopting the M14 never got beyond a sum that could be calculated by counting on both hands. Also, the M14 had the ignominious claim of having been the shortest lived standard infantry rifle in American history.
The development of the M14 rifle occurred because of a review of the program for the development of rifles in the years following World War II, which revealed 3 definite trends. The first reflected a decision to provide the infantryman with a rifle of reduced weight, but as accurate and as effective as standard weapons. The second was the development of an acceptable rifle with selective automatic and semiautomatic fire. The last was the simplification of logistical and training problems by developing a rifle to replace the 4 radically different designs of the Ml rifle, M2 carbine, M3Al submachine gun, and the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR).
The M1918 BAR, a comparatively heavy weapon, had proven itself to be both efficient and effective. The M1918 BAR, which was usually carried as a squad or section weapon, was gas-operated, air-cooled, and had a magazine capacity of 20 rounds. Its rate of fire was approximately 300 to 350 rounds per minute at a slow rate, with a "fast" rate from 500 to 600 rounds per minute. It was originally designed as a shoulder-operated weapon. However, many modifications increased its length and weight. In a similar manner, the standard shoulder arm, the M1 rifle, had also proven itself superior to any of the semiautomatic weapons used by either our allies or enemies. M1 rifle, however, weighed 9.75 pounds and was limited in magazine capacity to 8 rounds.
In the light of the above considerations, the Army Ground Forces stated in September 1944 that a requirement existed for a weapon that would be comparable in size, weight, and efficiency to the Ml rifle and capable of both automatic and semiautomalic fire. To meet this requirement, the Ordnance Department initiated, in October 1944, a project to modify the Ml rifle. The new rifle was to be equipped with a detachable bipod and, when fired from the bipod, was to be as effective as the standard M1918 BAR. The proposed weapon was also to include a 20 round magazine.
While development work to this end was being carried out at Springfield Armory during 1944 and the first 7 months of 1945, a light weight rifle development program was initiated at Office, Chief of Army Ordnance in March 1945. Ordnance Committee Minutes 29132, 20 September 1945, officially launched the study for a rifle weighing less than the Ml rifle. The requirement for a lightweight rifle weighing 7 pounds was stated in May 1946. The War Department Equipment Board further recommended that the new rifle replace not only the M1 rifle, but also the M1/M2 carbine and M3A1 submachine gun. With a heavy barrel, the new rifle would also replace the M1918A2 BAR.
Development of a shorter round of ammunition was also initiated by the Ordnance Corps in 1945. All new rifle development was, therefore, based upon this new cartridge, the T65, one-half inch shorter than the .30 caliber M1906 and M2 cartridges. As a result of the 1944 requirement to modify the Ml rifle, the Springfield Armory was instructed to change the original specifications on a weapon under development called the T20 rifle. A number of different weapons fitting the requirements were subsequently developed by Springfield Armory and private industry.
Ordnance Corps developments culminated in the T44 series. In October 1954, a new rifle with a lightweight barrel was designated as the T44E4 rifle. It was developed to eliminate the modified components used in the T44 model. In order to fire the 7.62mm NATO anmunition, the bolt, firing pin, connector, stock, and receiver of the rifle were designed with shortened dimensions. An improved bolt catch and magazine were also designed. The automatic pressure valve used in grenade launching was replaced with a manually operated valve. The rifle could be converted to either automatic or semiautomatic fire by removal of the selector lock and installation of a selector. The rifle was also equipped with a prong type flash suppressor. In June 1957, the T44E4 was classified standard as the M14 7.62mm rifle, replacing the Ml rifle, M2 carbine, and M3A1 submachinegun.
Broadly speaking, the M14 was a product improved M1 rifle, and performed well as a infantry rifle. The M14 had an effective range of 500 yards (460 meters). The M14 used a standard NATO 7.62mm cartridge in a 20-round magazine. The M14 was the standard Army infantry rifle, until replaced by the mass fielding of the M16 5.56mm rifle beginning in 1966. Some M14s were equipped with a bipod for use as a squad automatic weapons. However, the M14 displayed an erratic dispersion pattern, excessive recoil, and muzzle climb when fired as an automatic rifle.
Production of the M14 rifle was halted in 1964, by which time 1,380,874 had been manufactured. The M14 7.62mm rifle is a magazine-fed, gas operated shoulder weapon, designed primarily for semi-automatic fire. It was the standard service rifle until it began to be replaced with the M16A1 5.56mm rifle in the early 1960s.
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