Thursday, August 1, 2013

The M14 Rifle - Part One

The M-14 Rifle
For my money, the greatest rifle ever created.

Caliber: 7.62x51 mm NATO (.308 Winchester)
Weight: 9.2 lb (empty), 10.7 lb (with loaded magazine)
Feed system: 20-round detachable box magazine
Magazine: 20 rounds, detachable box
Rate of fire: 700 -750 rounds per minute
Length: 44.3 inches
Barrel length: 22 inches
Action:  Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Muzzle velocity: 2,800 fps
Maxium Effective Range: 460 m (500 yd)
Sights Aperture rear sight, "barleycorn" front sight

Yes, for my money, the M14 is the greatest battle rifle ever created! So do I have a bias when it comes to this rifle? Absolutely!

You see after enlisting in the Marine Corps at the age of 17, over 40 years ago, I went to Boot Camp at MCRD in San Diego, California. Once there, among other issued items was my first M14 rifle.

Was the M14 the only rifle ever issued to me in my years in the Corps? No it wasn't.

I went through Boot Camp with it, then Infantry Training School with both the M14 and the M16A1, then to Sea School with the M14, and was issued an M14 when part of Marine Detachment USS Hancock. After that when with 1st Battalion/1st Marines, I was issued an M16A1 rifle. Years later in the Marine Reserves, I was issued an M16A2.

And while I have used the M14, the M16A1 and the M16A2, after using all of these and other weapons, in my humble opinion no infantry weapon is better than the M14 rifle. It is just that good.

Officially known as the "United States Rifle, 7.62 mm, M14," to the U.S. Army, is an American selective fire automatic rifle that fires 7.62×51mm NATO (.308 Winchester) ammunition. It was the standard issue U.S. rifle for the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1970, and the standard issue rifle for U.S. Marines even further until 1974. Some Marine units never stopped using the M14, such as Marines aboard ship in Detachments.

The M14 was used for U.S. Army and Marine Corps basic training and advanced individual training, and was the standard issue infantry rifle for U.S. military personnel in the United States, Europe, and South Korea, until it was replaced by the M16 rifle, in the 1970s. Today, the M14 is also used as a ceremonial weapon by honor guards, color guards, drill teams, ceremonial guards, and the like.

The M14 rifle was the last American "battle rifle" - a weapon that fires full-power rifle ammunition, such as the 7.62×51mm - issued in quantity to U.S. military personnel. The M14 also serves as the basis for the M21 and M25 sniper rifles.

So was that the end of its story? Did it all end in 1974? Not for the United States Marine Corps.

While the M14 remains in limited front line service within all branches of the U.S. military, the Marine Corps returned the M14 to service during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. The reason, the anemic 5.56mm round of the M16 couldn't get the job done.


The United States Marine Corps used the M14 to create the DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) which is more formally the "United States Rifle, 7.62 mm, M14."

The DMR (aka the M14) is a semi-automatic, gas-operated rifle chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge. It is simply a modified version of the M14 rifle built and utilized by the United States Marine Corps.

The big difference between the M14s that I was issued in the Corps and the DMR being issued is with all of it's modification and match-grade M118LR 175-grain Long Range ammunition.

The "basic" DMR, without secondary sight, magazine, sling, basic issue items, cleaning gear, suppressor and bipod, weighs 11 pounds or less. The DMR design facilitates repairing or replacing of the sight mount, barrel, bolt, and other key assemblies at the third echelon maintenance level.

The USMC Precision Weapons Section at Marine Corps Base Quantico built all DMRs. The Marine Corps replaced the DMR with the M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle and the Mk 11 Mod 0 on a one-for-one basis.

There are several notable differences between the basic M14 and the DMR:

  • Barrel: 22 inches, stainless steel, match-grade barrel by Krieger Barrels, Inc.
  • Stock: McMillan Tactical M2A fiberglass stock. This particular stock features a pistol grip and a buttstock with adjustable saddle cheekpiece.
  • Optics: An over-action MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail sourced from either GG&G Armament Arizona or Smith Enterprise, Inc. allows for the use of any optic compatible with the rail; this includes a rather large variety of military scopes and imaging devices.

The most common scope used on the USMC DMR are TS-30.xx series Leupold Mark 4 day scopes, AN/PVS-10 or AN/PVS-17 night vision scopes, and Unert M40 10× fixed power scopes.

  • Muzzle device: Most DMRs utilize the traditional M14 muzzle device, although since deployment in 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan, some DMRs are now equipped with the OPS, Inc. 2-port muzzle brake, which is threaded and collared to accept an OPS-Inc. 12th Model sound suppressor.
  • Bipod: A Harris S-L bipod is used on the USMC DMR.

For the Marine Corps, a grunt operating as the Designated Marksman (DM) using a DMR is an intregal part of Squad Tactics. The Marine DM's role fills the gap between a regular infantryman and a sniper typically being deployed at ranges of 250–500 metres or 270–550 yards and DMRs have been developed with this middle ground in mind.

These rifles have to be effective, in terms of accuracy and terminal ballistics, at ranges exceeding those of ordinary assault rifles and battle rifles typically 250 m or 270 yd or less, and up to 500 m or 550 yd, respectively, but do not require the extended range of a dedicated sniper rifle which is typically employed for targets at ranges from 500–2,000 m or 550–2,200 yd.

DMRs, however, often share some basic characteristics with sniper rifles in difference to the weapons carried by others in the DMs unit. DMRs may have an attached telescopic sight, quickly deployed stabilizing bipod to allow optimized accuracy and low-recoil in temporarily fixed situations or an adjustable stock.

They will, though, generally retain semi-automatic firing capability, to be more rapid than bolt-action sniper rifles, and a larger magazine capacity of 10, 20, or 30 rounds depending on the firearm in question.

 A designated marksman primarily uses DMRs for enhanced accuracy and range.
The DMR fills the need for a lightweight, accurate weapon system utilizing a cartridge more powerful than the M16A4's standard 5.56x45mm NATO—the 7.62x51mm NATO.

Most DMRs are a battle rifle, semi-automatic or full-automatic, that fires 7.62mm NATO or similar full-power rounds - and not under-powered rounds of assault rifles such as that of an M16.

Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal Teams, Scout Snipers and sniper spotters also used DMRs when the mission requires rapid, accurate fire at long range.


The Marine Corps is replacing the DMR with the M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle and the Mk 11 Mod 0 on a one-for-one basis. Where the DMR looked like an up to date modernized tricked out M14, the M39 EMR looks like the M14 on steroids!

The M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle (EMR) or more formally the Rifle, 7.62 MM, M39 Enhanced Marksman Rifle (EMR)) is a semi-automatic, gas-operated designated marksman rifle chambered for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge.

It is a modified and accurized version of the M14 rifle and is based on the current United States Marine Corps Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR), which it is replacing. The rifle is currently issued with match-grade M118LR 175-grain Long Range ammunition.

The "basic" EMR  - that without telescopic sight, magazine, sling, basic issue items, cleaning gear, suppressor and bipod -- weighs 13 pounds or less. The EMR is primarily used by a Designated Marksman, to provide precision fire for units that do not rate a Scout Sniper.

As a replacement for the DMR, the EMR fills the need for a lightweight, accurate weapon system utilizing a cartridge more powerful than the M16A4's standard 5.56x45mm NATO—the 7.62x51mm NATO.

The EMR is also used by Marine Scout Snipers when the mission requires rapid accurate fire and by Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams. While the EMR stays in service with Marines in the field as its Designated Marksman weapon, in early 2012, the Marine Corps started replacing the M39 with the M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System for its snipers.


The Mk 14 Enhanced Battle Rifle (EBR) is a variant of the M14. It was built for use with units of the United States Special Operations Command. The EBR is being made with the intention of carrying out both designated marksman and CQB roles in combat. The weapon takes the standard M14 action and replaces the standard 22.0" barrel with an 18.0" barrel. 

The barreled action is then bolted into a telescoping chassis stock system, with a pistol grip, a different front sight, Harris bipod, four Picatinny accessory rails (which surround the barrel), and a more effective flash hider in place of the standard lugged USGI flash suppressor. A paddle-type bolt stop similar to that of the M4 carbine is used on the rifle. 

The EBR chassis system stock is made up entirely of lightweight aircraft alloy.

A Kydex hand guard and M68 CCO are also added as standard external accessories, though they are almost always replaced with a vertical fore-grip and magnifying scope for better handling and for use in a designated marksman role. A Wind Talker suppressor can be mounted on the DC Vortex flash hider, though the U.S. military did not adopt one to active service.
No, the M14 EBR isn't anything like the M14 that I trained with in Boot Camp or carried overseas. But, it is certainly its great-grandson on steroids with a 7.62 attitude. And yes, this is very close to the sort of M14 that my father-in-law would build -- but that's a story for another day.

One other thing that is really important to note. Because the M14 is so reliable and powerful, it is often favored by users for high lethality at longed ranges with great penetration. Those are features much appreciated by US troops in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places around the world.

Since the start of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, many M14s have been employed as Designated Marksman and Semi-Auto Sniper Rifles.

These are original production M14s with common very easy modifications including scopes, fiberglass stocks, and other accessories.

In 2009, a study conducted by the U.S. Army claimed that more than half of the all enemy engagements in Afghanistan occurred from beyond 300 meters (330 yards).

The study claimed that America’s 5.56x45 mm NATO service rifles, the M16 and M4, are ineffective at these ranges. Yes, now they had a report that told them what troops already knew. That report prompted the reissue of thousands of M14s to our troops.

So now, can you see why for my money the M14 is greatest battle rifle ever created? And really, can you see why I have a bias when it comes to this rifle? It is just that good.

And yes, that's just way I see it.
Tom Correa

1 comment:

  1. Great article Tom, and I am looking forward to - part two.

    Check out for additional information on today's modernized M14.

    Regards, H2O


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