The United States M14 rifle, considered one of the top military rifles, was an automatic rifle using 7.62 x 51m NATO ammunition. Production began on the M14 in 1959 at which time it became the standard issued infantry rifle of the US military. The US Army and US Marine Corps each used this weapon up until 1970 in both their basic and advanced training courses. Though its use is limited, some branches of US military continue to use the M14 in the frontline even today.
Step back in time as you step into the Firearms and Ordnance Gallery at the Armed Forces History Museum. Marvel at the extensive collection of weapons from around the world, including an M14 rifle. The oldest piece on display is a very rare bayonet from the Revolutionary War.
Design and Development
The design of the M14 rifle is derived from a long line of weapons which emulated the M1 Garand, one of the most advanced infantry rifles of the 1930s. Despite its reputation, the M1 did have flaws, which designers began addressing just about the time WWII was beginning to escalate. Several prototypes from various manufacturers began to emerge throughout the next 20 years. Finally, in June of 1954, available funding made it possible to manufacture the T44 prototype, which had been designed for the shorter %65 cartridge. That one modification eliminated a pound of overall weight to the T44 compared to the M1 Garand. After extensive testing at Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA, the T44 was chosen over the T48/FAL due to its lighter weight, fewer parts and self-compensating gas system. A study by the Department of Defense in 1958 however, reported the M14 as being completely inferior to the M1 Garand or any of the weapons it replaced.
Despite this report, production began on the M14. In all, over 1.5 million of these weapons were produced. This rifle was used as both a battle rifle and sniper rifle. It was 44 inches long with a barrel length of 22 inches. The M14 had a 7.62x52mm NATO cartridge and a gas-operated, rotating bolt action. It could fire anywhere from 700 to 750 rounds per minute and had a muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second. Even without optics, M14 had an effective range of 500 yards. With the use of optics, the effective range for this rifle increase to over 875 yards.
A number of variants have emerged based on the M14s initial design and are currently utilized in over 20 different nations around the world. The United States’ M14 is considered the last American ‘battle rifle’ (referring to weapons which fire full-power rifle ammo) issued to US military in any type of quantity.