Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!
Being something of a rifleman and an adherent to the school of “You Can Shoot Little Stuff With A Big Gun, but You Can’t Shoot Big Stuff With A Little Gun,” I’ve always wondered why the U.S. Army adopted the M-16 platform as a primary weapon instead of the jungle carbine it was more suited to be. There is still a true Main Battle Rifle (MBR) in U.S. inventories, that being the M-14.
Nowadays it seems my thoughts on rifles are gathering some steam in the U.S. military. Excerpt:
The M-14 was the U.S. military’s last battle rifle. It appeared in 1959—the contemporary of the Pentagon’s first jet fighters and ICBMs. With its heavy steel parts and walnut stock, the M-14 looked positively archaic.
It was hardly a Space Age weapon. And it only endured as America’s battle rifle until 1970, when the M-16 completely superseded it—the shortest service record of any U.S. military rifle in the 20th century.
Yet, the M-14 has come and gone and come back again. Its accuracy and power—it fires the 7.62 x 51 millimeter NATO round—have given it a new lease on life as a weapon for snipers and designated marksmen.
The M-14 refuses to surrender.
“The M-14 has re-appeared in recent years in the hands of U.S. troops,” Alan Archambault, former supervisory curator for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, tells War Is Boring. “The sniper version is designated the M-25 and has proven to be very effective in Iraq and especially Afghanistan.”
“I believe the M-14 was a better weapon for combat where accuracy and range are more important than volume of fire,” says Archambault, an Army veteran. “This is why some troops in Afghanistan have used the M-14.”
The M-14 is, of course, the modernized, select-fire version of the venerable M1 Garand. But it remains today something I think the U.S. military needs, a full-power Main Battle Rifle, far better suited to open-country mechanized warfare than the M-16/M4 platform.
I see that the reissued M-14s have been modernized with synthetic stocks and optical sights. While I remain skeptical of the value of an optical sight in direct combat, as long as they are backed up by stout iron sights and the troops are trained in the use of those iron sights, that’s not much of an issue. Getting troops to the range more often will count for a lot more than any particular kind of sighting equipment.
I’ve long thought about buying a Springfield Armory M1A, the semi-auto civilian version of the M-14. In National Match trim the M1A runs about two grand, not an insignificant investment even in a hobby not known for being economical. One of these days, maybe.