While the old M1 served with distinction in World War II, there was a need for a battle rifle that held more rounds and was easier to reload. The designers came up with the M14 rifle, which had a 20-round, removable magazine. The round was designed as the 7.62 x 51 Nato cartridge and was shorter than the older 30.06, but still had the same power as the older round. The civilian version was listed as the 3.08, which became a popular round for sport shooting and hunting. The M14 was designed in 1954 and became the rifle for the military in 1959-70. It was produced from 1959-64, with 1.5 million being produced. The rifle weighed 9.8 pounds empty, and the ammo was heavy to carry. This is when talk of finding a replacement for a lighter infantry rifle began.
The weapon that was to replace the M14 was the M16 service rifle. The design of this new weapon was seen at the as extremely radical. It was made of a lot of plastic parts that replaced the wood. This new weapon was to use a much smaller round that looked, frankly, like a toy. The rifle soon picked up the nickname “Mattel Toy” and “poodle shooter.”
The new M16 had many problems, mainly jamming. The rifles would frequently stop working during combat, mainly due to dirty weapons. There were many new design changes during the life of the M16 rifle to make it more reliable. Today, the M16 is still being used by our military in many different shapes and design changes. It is commonly referred to as the M4. The biggest design change probably was the addition of the rail system that has been added to the rifle. This system allows the soldier to change out many different items on the rifle, in a manner of seconds. The rifle has come a long way since being introduced to the military in 1966 when it replaced the M14. There is a wealth of information on this weapon that can be found on the Internet. This rifle can also be purchased legally by civilians in the semi-auto version. Those civilians with the proper federal license can also own the full auto version.
The M14 can also be purchased legally by you and me. I have noticed that those civilians who served their country in the military sometimes desire to own the rifle that they were trained with. I have purchased my own M14, which is being built by Springfield Armory. I look forward to getting it out and putting some rounds down range. If you would like to own your old battle rifle, check with your local gun dealer for assistance. By the way, the new designation for this civilian version is called an M1A.
I have come to the conclusion that every one of the weapons that have been furnished to our fighting soldiers has been a success. There has been considerable bad press on all of the weapons at one time or another. I believe it comes down to the mission that the soldier is on and a weapon designed for that particular assignment. This reminds me of different guns for different times. The old saying of “one size fits all” is simply not the case.
Shoot straight and stay safe. What is the first thing in gun safety? Always point the barrel in a safe direction.
Roger Sherrill lives in Ringgold. He can be reached at email@example.com.