View Full Version : Keep the M-14

07-10-03, 06:00 AM

A Key Iraqi ‘Lesson Learned’ – Keep the M-14

By Roger Moore

A key “lesson learned” from Operation Iraqi Freedom and chronicled in the DefenseWatch Special Report: “Small Arms and Individual Equipment Lessons Learned”, has been about firepower.

The decades-old argument over the ineffectiveness of the “Mighty Mattel,” as the M-16 was once known – because of its composite plastic and aluminum handgrip stamped with the “Mattel” logo when the rifles were first introduced – has dramatically resurfaced almost 30 years after its introduction.

The M-16 was designed as a result of Army studies from World Wars I and II, and Korea, where battlefield statistics showed that most kills occurred at 300 yards or less. Surprisingly perhaps, there have been conflicting reports from Army and Marine units in Iraq regarding the effectiveness of the M-16A2 and the 62 grain 5.56x45mm NATO round, but both services agree on the need for a more effective killing round.

Iraq, as we have all seen, has a tremendous amount of wide-open space. Until you can close with the enemy and engage them at 500 meters or less, the M-16 and its related weapons systems are ineffective. The M-14 offers an increased firepower capability to engage enemy troops well over 500 meters and give our warriors another tool to lessen casualties.

Despite the obvious value of the M-14, the Pentagon in its corporate wisdom is about to get rid of its remaining stock of 300,000 M-14s.

A WorldNetDaily article from June 15, 2003, revealed that the Pentagon is about to do away with the venerable old workhorse. The civilian marksmanship community is circulating a petition to have the weapons “civilianized” and sold under a program called the DCM (Director of Civilian Marksmanship) Program as a way to help pay for the Iraqi war.

Estimates from the online petition to civilianize the M-14 say that the government can recoup $300-600 million from sales of the rifles while “curbing government waste.”

Variants of the M-14 still exist in the U.S. arsenal. The M-21 and M-25 sniper rifles are refined versions of the M-14. The 26th MEU (SOC) used the M-14DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) designed at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, Va., as a result of lessons learned from Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

The M-14DMR has a maximum effective range of 1,000 meters and will still operate with the 20-round box magazine. That range is generally reserved for indirect fire weapons and unless you happen to have an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, mortar section or artillery battery close by or within radio range, you’re out of luck.

Marine Sgt. Dalton P. Baker quoted in an internal news article on Marine Link, said “A commercially equivalent [sniper rifle] would cost somewhere between twenty-eight and thirty-two thousand dollars apiece.” By converting an M-14, he noted, “We can build this rifle in two days, mostly because it takes 24 hours for the [fiberglass] epoxy to dry, and it only costs a little more than six hundred dollars in materials.”

Units from the 101st Airborne Division deployed at the squad level with M-14s in order to engage the enemy across large expanses of open terrain. It was a lesson the 82nd Airborne Division failed to pick up on prior to deployment.

What about the research and development costs to field a squad “stand-off” weapon? Ongoing efforts fall short of the M-14’s existing capabilities.

The M-16A2 SAMR (Squad Advanced Marksmanship Rifle) is an obvious acknowledgement of the need for a “stand-off” weapon with greater killing distance than a regular M-16A2 or M-4 carbine. But even with the upgrades of the SAMR, a stock or upgraded M-14 still gives a squad an extra 100-400 meters of killing area.

An unidentified Marine in a January 2003 Popular Mechanics cover story summed it up succinctly. “Carefully adjusting the variable scope on top of the new sniper rifle, a unit marksman squinted toward the far end of the training site where a fellow Marine was removing his chemical protection mask. ‘This is sweet,’ he chuckled. ‘I can look down his ear canal with this thing.’ The next person whose ear comes in the crosshairs of the enhanced Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) will get more than an impromptu earwax inspection.”

Although not directly related to the M-14, the comments in the Iraqi “lessons learned” report from the Scout/Sniper teams employing the XM-107 Barrett .50 cal. sniper rifle can be applied to the need for providing an increased killing area. As the report found:

“XM-107: The Barrett .50 cal. Sniper Rifle may have been the most useful piece of equipment for the urban fight – especially for our light fighters. The XM-107 was used to engage both vehicular and personnel targets out to 1400 meters. Soldiers not only appreciated the range and accuracy but also the target effect. Leaders and scouts viewed the effect of the .50 cal. round as a combat multiplier due to the psychological impact on other combatants that viewed the destruction of the target.”

One sniper interviewed for the report said:

“My spotter positively identified a target at 1400 meters carrying an RPG on a water tower. I engaged the target. The top half of the torso fell forward out of the tower and the lower portion remained in the tower.”

The bottom line in modern combat remains: Rounds on target – especially at extended ranges.

So before DoD turns all of those M-14s out to pasture, officials need to seriously consider the present and foreseeable future areas of conflict and the consequences of giving up a known, proven combat asset with the ability to “reach out and touch someone” at a range of over 500 meters.

The Pentagon should keep the M-14 and allow units to employ at least one per squad and exponentially multiply the psychological and combat effectiveness of knowing that every squad in a U.S. combat division has the organic capability to “reach out and touch someone.”

Roger Moore is a Contributing Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at rmoore_dw@yahoo.com.


Small Arms and Individual Equipment Lessons Learned

Popular Mechanics Article.....



07-10-03, 07:37 AM
First. I admit I am commenting out of total ignorance. And I am not speaking from a history of combat experience using the different weapons.

I liked the M-1 and was sorry to see it go.

I accepted the M-14 as its replacement.

I am aware of the initial problems with the M-16, and was thankful I was never called upon to rely on it.

That said, my question and my observation is this; If the necessity for the M-14 is proven, I guarantee that if only one is available per squad, it will be in the wrong place whenever it is needed.

I know it doesn't fit, but I just visualized scenes from a typical WWII movie. "Flames up!" "Demolitions up!" "Bazookas up!" "Call the Mortars and tell them to lay it on!" "Call Arty and tell them to fire for effect!" "Now, where the hell is that M-14?"

I can just picture that going down in history as a famous Marine Corps quote. "Where in hell is that M-14?"

"Why isn't your squad continuing the attack, Sgt?" "Well Sir, our M-14 man had to go to the latrine."

"....battlefield statistics showed that most kills occurred at 300 yards or less."

If memory serves me correctly, both the M-1 and the M-14 had adjustable sights where you would click on or off elevation depending upon the distance to the target. Without adusting, but knowing the sight setting, you would either aim center mass or at 6 o'clock depending upon the setting and the distance to the target.

Yes, sniper teams and other "specialists" require special consideration, but let's not go looking for an M-14 specialist in an infantry squad.

The Pentagon has 300,000 M-14s. Reserving only one per infantry squad tells me they are in a hurry to have a garage sale on the rest of them.

07-10-03, 09:52 AM
Just butting in a bit, on 1stSgtmike's side.

If memory (history in my case) serves, was'nt the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) relied upon in the fire team or squad size unit, to augment the M1?

We all know the M1 was awsome, the M14 was great, AND the need for an Automatic fire capability introduced the M14-A2.

I was instructed that one major factor for going to the M16 was the weight of ammo. You can carry more of the smaller, lighter rounds.


If you are more LETHAL with a larger, longer range round, WHY do you need to carry MORE??


Cross train ALL Marines in the M14 AND M16. Logistics and Command should be able to decide which should be the PRIMARY weapon of issue for a specific objective, or arena of conflict.

300 yards or less, in 'Nam or related invironments without a doubt. But we operate in "EVERY CLIME' AND PLACE", and DESERVE the ability to adapt to the various needs.

If the M16 was SO GOOD, why was the AK47 preferred by our on troops, when they were available?


Sgt Sostand
07-10-03, 12:45 PM
Estimates from the online petition to civilianize the M-14 say that the government can recoup $300-600 million from sales of the rifles while “curbing government waste

i shure would buy one or two

07-10-03, 05:12 PM
I have to agree with everyone, you have said all that needs to be said! I do remember thats all I ever heard about when I was in the Corps!

07-10-03, 09:48 PM
If I remember correctly, the M-16 was a result of a request by the Air Force to have a rifle that would have the following traits.
1. Low recoil---for those not used to fireing a rifle.
2. A short stock for smaller MPs. ie. women. (Just stateing fact.)
3. Light weight to carry.

M-16---.223 (5.56mm) A varmit round.
M-14---308 Win. better.
M-1 ---30-06, Best!
BAR ---30-06, The rate of fire is music. Reach out and touch!

I have questioned the choice of the "standard" rifle if we had to fight in the open country. Re-issue the M-14 to the troops is my judgement on this.

07-10-03, 10:40 PM
$28,000-$32,000 to obtain a commercially available sniper gun. doesn't that sound a little high?

07-10-03, 11:05 PM
Interesting article but not surprising. The conclusion that I drew from all of that is that we need a heavier rifle caliber. The M-14 perhaps can help fill the gap until the military can develope and produce a combat rifle with better bullet weight and range.

However the next firefight in an urban setting will extol the virtues of a shorter rifle ( read M-16) .

07-10-03, 11:39 PM
I'm for keeping (?bringing back?) the M14 in semi-auto only. I well remember in WW II when we turned in our bolt action Springfield 1903s and were issued M1s. I thought that was the greatest rifle I had ever seen! The M14 was just an upgrade of the M1 with a detachable box magazine.

I hav an M1A that I shoot nearly every week - to remind me of that.

Yes, I definitely think we should go back to the M1A for a combat weapon. That's what I would want if I were going back into combat.

:cool: :)

07-11-03, 12:11 AM
The decades-old argument over the ineffectiveness of the “Mighty Mattel,” as the M-16 was once known – because of its composite plastic and aluminum handgrip stamped with the “Mattel” logo when the rifles were first introduced – has dramatically resurfaced almost 30 years after its introduction

I never saw an M-16 with a mattel logo. Urban legend??????


07-11-03, 12:22 AM
A big factor on the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company, when Pfc Jessica Lynch US Army was captured.
Was that they were only armed with the M16A2.
They only had 200 some odd rounds per rifle and many of them jammed.
Dued to them using the wrong lubrication.
A father of slain American soldier stated that they were armed too light.
To responce to the fire directed at them.
A few M-14's might have been the difference in that ambush.
But the bottom dollar will be the ditterming factor.
So the M-14 will be scrapped.
Sorry to see it go.
The Navy Seals see a need for this rifle.
As a sniper rifle.
Everything says keep the M-14, but those making the decisions say it has to go.
So it will go.

Semper Fidelis

07-11-03, 09:36 AM
Originally posted by greybeard

I never saw an M-16 with a mattel logo. Urban legend??????

Had one in Boot Camp that was made by:


Wouldn't fire AUTO.... go figure :banana: :lick:

07-11-03, 10:00 PM
You have to understand,that those that want to take it out and destroy it, never had to put thier life on the line,as for the argument that you could carry more ammo (223) never saw me in the Nam,I know for a fact, I carred more 308 at all times, than Ive ever seen anyone eles carry of the 223,and its not just a distance factor, its also penatration,and knockdown power,and the heaver bullet (308) carries better in a wind. I was Rifle Coach at 29 Palms we shot the M-14 at a 1000 yds,our rifle team used to hold yearly shoots,inviting the local civis to shoot against us,they were allowed any weapon,caliber,and sights,scope or other,we used the M-14,with normal sights, we always outshot them at the 1000 yd range,If its my butt on the line, give me the M-14.

07-12-03, 11:30 AM
I agree that it is time to come up with a better service rifle for our troops, in my opinion it should be chambered in .308 cal. for accuracy, and penetration at long distances the report of the .308 over the .223 at close range is enough to change the tide of a firefight. the average Marine is capable of aquiring and hitting targets at ranges of at least 500 meters with the 223/M16A2, the problem is at a range of 500 meters the 223 round has little KILL power against an enemy soldier wearing any type of flak jacket /body armour where as the 308 WILL penetrate any type of body armour at 1000 meters. Now I will have to disagree with using the M-14 in its factory state only because it uses a wood stock With todays technology in composite materials the M-14's we have in storage could be refitted with a composite stock making it virtually indestructive and deadly accurate at ranges out to 1000 meters in any Climate or exteme weather with having to lose any accuracy due to the swelling and shrinking of the wood stock or having it break when delivering a solid buttstroke to the had of the enemy at CLOSE RANGE.