The M14, Not Much For Fighting ( A Case Against The M14 Legend ) 2015/01/30 Shawn

An interesting, recent article I once would have thought as heresy…

Photo above is the M14 with its Technical Data Package. Shared from Daniel Watters.

Go on to any gun forum, and it won’t take you long to find people willing to tell you how great the M14 is. How accurate,like a laser, tough as tool steel with no need to baby it or clean it. Powerful as a bolt of lightening, and how well loved it was by those early users who refused the M16 because they wanted a “real” weapon made of wood and steel…. … But, is all that really true? Maybe it is a triumph of nostalgia over common sense and reality. One truth is, it was never really liked as much as people think they remember.

The M14 was having major problems even before ARPA’s Project AGILE and a Defense comptroller reported the AR15 superior to the M14. The famous Hitch Report stating the AR15 , the M1 and the AK47 superior.

The study indicates that the AR15 is decidedly superior in many of the factors considered. In none of them is the M14 superior. the report, therefore, concludes that in combat the AR15 is the superior weapon. Furthermore, the available cost data indicate that is also a cheaper weapon. -ARAPA

Although analyzed less thoroughly, the M14 also appears some what inferior to the M1 rifle of WW2 and decidedly inferior to the Soviet combat rifle. the AK47.-Hitch Report

“Report on Tests for Ad Hoc Committee on Accuracy and Testing of 7.62mm Ammunition and M14 Rifles.” Seven rifles each from batches accepted from H&R, Winchester, and Springfield Armory had been shipped to Aberdeen for testing to find and cure the causes of the M14’s inability to meet its accuracy requirements. Examination and testing of the 21 rifles uncovered the following:

All of the rifles from Winchester and H&R exhibited excessive headspace.

All of the rifles had loose handguards.

95% of the rifles had loose stock bands.

90% of the rifles had loose gas cylinders.

75% of the rifles had misaligned op rods and gas pistons.

50% of the rifles had loose op rod guides.

50% of the rifles had op rods that rubbed the stock.

Three rifles had barrels that exceed the maximum bore dimensions.

Only three rifles had an average bore diameter that fell below the accepted mean diameter.

One rifle was found to have a broken safety while another had a misassembled safety spring.

One rifle had a misassembled flash suppressor, which was actually contacting bullets during live fire tests.

A barrel from each manufacturer was sectioned for examination of the bore and chrome lining. The chrome lining was out of tolerance (uneven and on average too thin) in all three barrels. The H&R barrel also failed the surface-finish requirements. During accuracy testing, the M14 rifles produced greater group dispersion and variation in the center of impact than the control rifles (two T35 and two AR10). NATO testing was quoted indicating that the Canadian C1 (FN FAL) and German G3 were less sensitive to variations within and among ammo lots. Shutting off the gas port in the M14 rifles resulted in an average 20% reduction in extreme spread compared to those groups fired with the gas port open. This also reduced the variation in the center of impact. The design of the flash suppressor was singled out as a cause of inaccuracy.

A M14 Rifle Cost Analysis report that gave rounds used and over haul schedules from rounds fired states M14 annual usage is 3,500 rounds to overhaul and 599rds MBTF. Does not sound much like a hard use fighting gun…

Full PDF of the honest technical Report that does not paint the M14 in a rose colored light, can be found here. Take note of Page 32.

Production of the M14 was long and troubled. The cost of the weapon rose beyond claims of being able to produce it cheaper and with the same machinery used to make the M1. The story of the long tax money gobbling nightmare of the M14 is known to those who study the deep history of military weapons, and I encourage anyone interested to look into themselves but I am not going to go into that this time. For this post I will be talking about the current niche the M14 is still hanging on to.

After the M14’s near complete death of cutting edge combat use, the Army still wanted it as their sniper rifle. Of course many systems where tested by the Army during the Vietnam war, including the USMC M40 sniper weapon, For debatable reasons. the Army decided the M14 was the way for them. This is where the rifle begins to show.

The USAMTU had been working with the M14 for years for use in competition and sniping. Indeed the AMU knew that the Army would need a sniping weapon even before the Officers in charge did. So they had been working on the national Match M14 for a while.

The procedure to turn a M14 rifle into the M21 or the National Match service rifle is so long and complicated I have little desire to try to repeat it here. See- The Complete Book of US Sniping by Peter Senich if you want all the details. I will say the process was time consuming and expensive, that is not even starting to discuss the search for an optic system to go on the XM21. It produced a rifle capable of 800 yard kills and useable accuracy. For a while at least.

Over the next several years, the Army spent millions trying to perfect the system while it was used as the service rifle in high power. Between those two pursuits, some interesting things were learned about the accurized M14. It turned out it was not as rough and tough as some think. To keep a M14 made to NM spec accurate, it requires careful tuning and extensive PM. If you doubt this, go to your local range and find a high power shooter who still uses one. Ask them if you may look at the rifle and grab it by the top hand guard and watch the fellow go from deathly white to red with rage and horror of what you just did. It needs to be carefully babied. And the Army spent millions and years relearning that lesson over and over with the M21 until finally dumping it for the M24 in the later 80s.

Though people who have many believed the Military and the end users long for the return of this big heavy beast, this is not really all that true. this is best illustrated during the time period in the late 80s to the late 90s of the USMC’s DMR program when so many tried to bring it back as the DM rifle or the Sniper teams spotters weapon.

Around, during or a little before this time, the Army Rifle team commander decided since the Army’s standard issue service rifle was the M16, than that is what the Army service rifle team needed to be, and should be using. The AMTU armorers put their heads together, took some tips from civilian highpower shooter who had already woken up and got by the absurd notion that service rifle meant “wood and steel” , and soon after the Army was beating the USMC rifle teams at Camp Perry by a long shot. Not long long after, the Marines found themselves going to the M16 for service rifle to keep up. Few people, who want to stay competitive have looked back. Especially after the development of the 77 and 80 grain HPBT match bullets.

But, the DMR program is where the trouble of the M14 as a precision combat rifle really became clear.


To quote Lt Colonel Chandler owner of Iron Brigade Armory and former Officer in Charge of many USMC marksmanship and sniping programs.

“Remember that the US Army struggled for more than twenty years to transform the M14 into a sniper type weapon. The Army finally abandoned all attempts to salvage the M14 rifle. Continued use of the M14 as anything other than a drill rifle is better described as DISASTER. ( emphasis Chandler’s). The M14 is old, and has never been more than a modified M1 Garand. “

“Unfortunately the M14 rifle is costly to modify and modification requires many man hours of skilled labor. In the field the m14 cannot maintain accuracy. The Army refused to admit that they could not solve the M14’s accuracy problems and wasted two decades attempting to make a silk purse from an old infantry rifle. Milspec spare parts are no longer made and those that can be found are often inferior, and ill fitting. “

“The M14 requires constant ( continual ) maintenance. Maintenance on an M14 progress geometrically. That means if you double an M14 rifle’s use, you quadruple its maintenance. “

“The world has moved beyond the M14. The weapon remains a standard piece only because it is used ( though less and less) in service rifle competition marksmanship, which is very different from field use. If anyone recommends it, run them through.”

“It is ironic that some of the USMC rifle competitors whose accurized M14s have been consistently waxed by the Army’s M16 s are supporting the use of the M14 as accurate rifles.”

“As we discuss the costs of bringing scoped M14s onto line in large quantities, allow me another digression. The M14 is a bitch to keep in tune, and a untuned M14, no matter who did the accurizing is about as accurate as a thrown rock . Unless the M14 is continually babied it will not retain accuracy. ( this is an important note from LT Col Chandler for those who fire 100 rounds a year and tell you the M14/M1A is wonderful). Imagine the hardships and brutalities a scoped M14 will experience as a DM weapon in combat. ( one recalls the story of Carlos Hathcock walking back the shoot house and starting to pass out, another Marine grabbed the accurized M14 and let The Ultimate Sniper fall face first into the asphalt. Letting a weakened man fall to keep the pathetic NM M14 accurate). No M14 ever built will stay accurately zeroed and tight group shooting , (meaning close to MOA) under field conditions. ”

Chandler goes on to point out the requirements in specially qualified armorers who know how and can keep a M14 accurate and how even in the early 2000s those men are almost extinct in the USMC accuracy and Sniping world.

“To create accuraized M14s with their special mounts and scopes and stocks, chasis etc. will cost more than twice as much as modifying M16s. Worse. while maintenance on M16s/AR15s remain routine, the M14s require more than six times the labor and dozens of times more replacement parts to maintain. Anyone who claims that going to the M14s is economically comparable to adopting the M16s is utterly ill informed or is simply parroting the party line.”

“Allow us to remind again that the US Army , which has far more research, repair , and maintenance capability than the Corps, tried for twenty two years to make the M14 into a accurate rifle. “

Compelling stuff from a man who spent most of his career working around the best weapons and men in the world when it comes to accuracy, sniping and the marksmanship community. But he goes on.

“So how on earth does this bizarre situation develop?” ( the idea the M14 is still some wonder rifle fit for serious use for anything beyond the parade ground of the nostalgia of the thing)

“How an idea germinates is difficult to determine. Perhaps a shooter who liked the M14 dreamed it all up. You know-==” A great old piece. let’s put it back to work!” the M14 concept has been allowed to develop into a full blown program because individuals involved were sometimes not weapons experts, possibly not infantry experienced at all and almost never sniper trained. The fact is line NCOs are not marksmanship literate . The M14 DM program is driven by those type of NCOs. NOT SNIPERS. “

“The M14 in all its forms has been a pain in the *** to its users, and when Marines speak candidly they do not proclaim their M14s to be ” the finest DM rifle in the world “. They refer instead to inability to stay zeroed and almost as often, to frustration in keeping their weapons in service due to the unending , never easing , repair requirements.”

Chandler went on to talk about how, after retiring from the USMC and starting Iron Brigade Armory, one the best makers of combat hardened ,nearly bomb proof sniper rifles in the world and the makers of the legendary DARPA XM-3 sniper rifle system. He gathered and employed the worlds best retired USMC 2112s that he could find and attempted to make a tough super accurate M14s . Making money no object in the pursuit in an attempt to see if it could be done.

” We, who have no bottom line, to worry about who can and do use the ultimate materials and the finest skills known can not expect our M14s to maintain accuracy under combat conditions. We do not believe the M14 design allows accurizing that is combat condition durable ”

Chandler’s quotes and feelings on the M14 as well as his belief the M16 with optic is the idea Sniper’s Spotters weapon as well as DMR can be found in Death From Afar Vol. 1-IV as well as The One Shot Brotherhood and various other technical publications such as Precision Shooting magazine as well as Technical papers spread internally in the USMC.

The M14 remains popular in the civilian world and not just from service rifle shooters. It still has a life among collectors, plinkers and even serious shooters. The new variants trying to breathe life into it as well as pictures on the news of M14s forced into use in the first half of the GWOT. Some still get caught up in its legend and its lore . The romance of the piece has lulled many away from the fact it is not a fully capable modern fighting tool. Many of its fans over look its many drawbacks. The safety needing a finger inside the trigger guard and to push forward to deactivate. The limited capacity and reload time that is slow (which when compared to a practiced user of an M1 Garand is actually slower to reload than a M1).

The maintenance, as Chandler said above is a nightmare if the gun is used often. Every time it comes apart, the bedding gets worse and worse. It may seem like no big deal for a combat weapon, but it is. The gun is heavy in all its forms and is as slow as a monkey doing Chinese algebra compared to the faster more natural manipulations and ergonomics of better designs. The oft used excuse of ” I will pick them off at 500 yards before they get close enough to worry about” is absurd. The last 15 years have shown very few cases of infantrymen laying prone and picking off enemy soldiers at 500. It is laughable to consider using the M14/M1A on your lonesome in an urban or CQB role. Sure, some SOF have done it, but they have some one covering them.

While the ergonomics of the M14 are already not wonderful for modern TTPs, the use of some of the newer stocks, like the Sage exaggerates the difficulty for anyone other than a giant who drags his knuckles when walking Never mind the astounding increase in weight, let alone the cost of such an “upgrade”.

Howard, fellow looserounds writer, co-owner with me of this website, friend, and USMC rifleman, and Iraq war vet gives his opinion and experience with the rifle as well as what he observed of it in Iraq.

“My experiences with the M14 type rifle lead me to have little interest in it. I owned a Springfield Armory Bush rifle that had various issues. I sold it to a guy who liked M14s. Later I received a SOCOM II in trade and found it overly heavy and was not a gun I would want for longer distance shooting or for close quarters.

While I was in the military, I did see a couple of M14s in or near Abu Ghraib prison. Guys liked the idea of the rifle, but didn’t want to carry them. They were often left in vehicles or in guard towers. Issues included lack of support gear(mags, mag pouches, etc), and that the majority of the soldiers and Marines didn’t know how to use or maintain the M14 rifles.”

Lt. Col. Chandler would feel a sense of deja vu I have no doubt. Maybe even frustration that so many refuse to see the evidence from many decades.


Other opinions, from a man who was more or less my mentor in the olden days. A SF vet from Vietnam who used the M14 in training and in his early days of combat. He went on to be a ballistic reconstruction expert. Tested federal 22 long rifle match ammo to be used in that years Olympics and T&Ed guns for Ruger and Hi Standard. In addition he is an accomplished BR and service rifle shooter as well as bulls eye small bore and pistol.

“When I first got to Vietnam, I was scared to death of the M16. I feared a jamming M16 would get me killed, poison snakes, spiders and a jammed M16 was such a worry to me I opted to carry an M60 on my first LRRP patrol. Later I learned to love it. I hated the M14, it proved not as reliable and was heavier and I could not carry near enough of its ammo. When it comes to combat I would walk over 100 of the best M14s ever made for one good M16.”

My own Father had this to say. Dad was in Vietnam from 67-68 in the 4th Infantry Division.

“I liked the M14 in basic, It was the first semi auto I had ever fired. It got old carrying all that weight fast running every where all day and night. I qualified expert with it. Once I was issued an M16 right before we over seas, I never looked back.”

For every person who has told me how great the thing is, I have found two who had nothing but misery and bad experiences from it. I myself among them.

Among the other myriad issues of using the M14 as a match rifle and DMR as well as anything else required by it in combat, more recent problems popped up. Since most users trumpet the excellent accuracy of the M14 and its use in combat as a hard hitting accurate battle rifle, this means military grade match ammo to take advantage of its legendary long range man killing accuracy.

Quotes below from.
7.62 NATO Long Range Match Cartridges
By Frederick Salberta

“With the start of the Gulf War II in 2003 the high temperatures encountered in Iraq (in excess of 115 degrees F) began to produce some M14 op-rod failures due to excessive pressure at the gas port. Both the Army and Marines found the range marking on their scopes to be off of calibration with the higher velocity M118LR loads in such desert conditions. The result was a decision to reduce the load to a more moderate level.”
“Although this cartridge remains the current M118LR standard, it apparently still suffers from excessive velocity variation as the temperature changes and less accuracy than might be desired for truly precise shots at mid-range to long-range distances. The specification for M118LR requires 14 shots in less than 8 inches at 600 yards.”

The military did get the bugs worked out on the ammo eventually so that is one less thing to worry about if you are in a fight and can get your hands on the good stuff.

“The MK316 ammunition is essentially the finest possible mass produced match ammunition, comparable to the hand loads utilized by the various service MTUs. The cost is higher than M118LR, with a government cost of 78 cents per round for the MK 316 Mod 0 rather than 55 cents for the M118LR (2009 prices).”

The question is, why waste such ammunition in a M14 when 7.62 pattern AR type rifles are now easy to get, more accurate, more familiar vastly cheaper and much easier to work on. Not to mention being familiar with the vast majority of military and civilian users.

The M14/M1a will be around for as long as people will continue to buy them. Certainly there is nothing wrong with owning them liking them and using them. By no means is it useless or ineffective. But its legendary reputation is something that needs to be taken with a grain of salt and careful study of the system if you intend to have one for a use your like may depend on.

If you are curious posts on shooting rack M14s and custom service rifle M14s with Lilja barrels fired at 1,000 yards can be found here on Looseorunds using the search bar. There you can read of the M14/M1A compared against the M1 Garand and M1903.

From: Loose Rounds Blog

Thanks to Daniel Watters for additional information, sources and help. You can read Daniel’s excellent indispensable resource ” A 5.56×45 Timeline at the following link if you are a serious student of US weapons development history.

A very interesting article Nick, of those I knew who had the M-14 while in service, about half would have preferred to retain them for reasons of the larger bullet used . The others cited weight of the Rifle, and limited ammunition carry capacity as their motivation. My Service experience was with the M-16-A1 though only through Basic, after which I saw one only for qualification each year. Tankers were issued the wonderful 1911-A1 .45 as their basic weapon, and each Tank had two M-3 submachine guns.
I do have some little experience with the M-14 while a firearms dealer back in the 80’s-90’s but nothing more than occasional range time during which they functioned very well. I agree that they were overly complicated, with too many external parts which could be easily damaged in a fight. In jungle climates they would over heat quickly, and need to rest for too long using normal ammunition not designed for the heat. (for those not familiar, many Militaries issued ammunition loaded for the climate it was to be used in. ie. Desert, or arctic) gas operated rifles would heat severely in the in the gas block area where the rod was located, a lot of pressure trying to get through a small aperture. The design was old, and just an update of the Garand as stated, so should have been replaced years before they were. The proposed replacement AR-10, a somewhat larger version of the M-16 firing the same 7.62x51 cartridge as the 14 was an utter disaster unless kept in semi mode. It would climb so quickly that only the first round did any useful work, the others would be well over head. Even burst control didn’t help.

It was a bit surprising as I did not know the M-14 was maligned by official reports rendering it less effective than the venerable M-1 and AK. I do recall reading somewhere that there were concerns of some U.S. infantry and Marines losing small unit actions to VC/NVA armed with AK’s because they simply had less firepower than the Vietnamese using reduced cartridge assault rifles.

Fascinating thread. On the question of why this weapon was retained - indeed, with considerable effort invested in its development - in spite of internal expressions of doubt as to its effectiveness in combat conditions - it is worth bearing in mind that the critics represented only one side in the bureaucratic/political “debate” that, no doubt, swirled around this issue. Much of this will, I guarantee, not be evidenced in writing. It seems probable that some very powerful decision-makers within the system had invested a heap of their credibility in supporting this weapon and - as any bureaucrat will know - the question of whether retention or change in any program managed by a bureaucracy will tend on the presence or absence of a sufficiently powerful “change sponsor” or, alternatively, “retention sponsor”. This relates as much to management initiatives, marketing, civilian product development and so on as it does to weapons. Examples abound.

As to the rifle itself, I am obviously no expert. I do recall seeing one appraisal suggesting that, while the M-14 had a clear advantage over the AK-47 in accuracy, it was a relatively “delicate” and problematic weapon, requiring a level of care and servicing in the field that was often not practical. By contrast, the AK was a tough piece of kit, durable, filth-resistant, relatively easy to maintain, hard-hitting and eminently suitable for use by relatively poorly trained soldiers and guerillas. Seems to be a point that comes out of this. Best regards, JR.

Hi JR*. One of the concerns at the time was the fact that the M-14 was becoming expensive and difficult to produce, and that the cheaper M-16 could more easily arm the armed forces. Even in the late 60’s to early 70’s, many secondary U.S. Army formations such as the National Guard were still armed with the M-1 and Carbines. The debate turned into a fractious internal battle between conservative officers that favored full power rifles and the accuracy they had at longer ranges many officers that had been junior commanders during the Korean War that had noticed Chinese PLA “Volunteer” units sometimes completely wiped out small infantry formations armed with M-1’s and Carbines because they were all armed with Soviet made “Burp Guns” (PPsh-41) in mostly night engagements, and that while rifles were preferable for ordinary soldiers, a firepower deficit could be rather devastating in close-in, short range engagements where infantry units stumbled into one another.

I believe the proponents of the M-14 went so far as to damage the sites of M-16 rifles undergoing arctic testing in Alaska and the rifles designer was incensed and nearly came to blows with a U.S. Army general who accused him of trying to get troops killed…

I don’t think there’s much polite to say about the whole saga that left you with the M-14 in the first place. The UK had a superb intermediate cartridge in the form of the .280 British which we adopted after the war, but NIH syndrome led to you guys adopting a shorter .30-06 in the form of 7.62mm NATO. Worse was to follow when the trials between the FAL, EM-2 and M-14 for the new standard rifle took place - they were heavily rigged in favour of the M-14 but even then the FAL came out ahead.

The U.S. has always had issues with weapons not of our making, licensing rights for the Armalite rifle was quite a stretch for the military. (though in the past 20 yrs they seem to be getting used to the idea)

I find this interesting as I carried an M-14 E2 equipped with a BAR type bipod, front fold down hand grip and pistol grip. When we were given KAR 15’s to replace our 14s, most of us stuck the KARs in a corner of the hooch and kept using our 14s. (something about opening a box and seeing Matty Mattel’s face on the stock of something that your life depended on was a little unnerving!) The KARs were early models with the “beer can opener” muzzle brake and no forward assist. Get into a firefight in the mud (Yes I got a close look at plenty of mud during 3 tours in Vietnam) and if you were lucky, it wouldn’t jam until the third round or so. My 14 never missed a beat and a few times I know that barrel had mud in it when the recoil about took off my shoulder. It would kick like a mule to clear itself and then fire normally. From what I understand, doing the same with an M-16 blows the action out the back of the receiver.

The arrival of the M-16 was touted as an evolution in rifles, but the real story came out years later that it was actually a Colt contract due to some serious lobbying. The selling points were that it was lighter and easier to handle. Less recoil and troops could carry more ammo. They failed to mention that the 5.56mm would “explode” when it hit a twig and they were expecting us to use them in the jungle!!! The 7.62mm on the other hand would penetrate twigs (and small trees) with no trouble. The recoil (especially shoulder fired on “Rock and Roll”, as full auto was known!) caused some very nasty muzzle climb. By round 3, most were shooting into the tree tops. Firing on semi-auto made it controllable. The way it worked on “Rock and Roll” was as a hip fired automatic weapon. You could “John Wayne” the mags. (tape 3 together with the outer ones facing up and the center one facing down) I used an M-60 sling so that I could carry it lower on my body. Rest it on an ammo pouch (on your web gear at waist level) as you face the enemy, turn it on its side, (bolt to the right) pull the trigger on “Rock and Roll” and let it turn you from left to right. After your 20 rounds from mag 1, swing back to your left as you flip the combo mag over, release the bolt and repeat! Do it a third time and you’ve put 60 rounds down range in a matter of seconds. If anyone is still shooting back, it’s time to hide!!! It also made our “pig” gunners very happy as Charlie didn’t know who had the MG! The 5.56mm on the other hand, jammed if you loaded a mag to 20 rd capacity past 18 rounds (30 rd mags didn’t come out until much later) and they would jam if you John Wayned" them. It also had a completely different sound than the 7.62, so everyone knew who had the MG and he became the primary target.

The Army was determined to get our 14s, but we resisted and an SF “B” Team has more say in their equipment than a regular leg outfit. They stopped sending cases of loaded mags. (That’s how some of our ammo came at that time, as they figured no one would be hanging around to police up empty mags during a fire fight!) Then they stopped sending cases of bandoliers of 7.62mm ammo so that we’d have to stop using them. We simply ordered many extra cases of M-60 ammo and had “delinking” parties. It also gave an interesting secondary benefit. We would keep mags loaded with tracers from the belts. If someone wanted to know where exactly on the wire we had "visitors. a tracer or two was sufficient to bring the world down on them!

The rifle may have been bad overall, but I only heard that years after the fact. All I can say is I never saw any problems with it in 3 combat tours and I would love to have one today in my collection. I literally owe my life to it many times over!

KAR 15? I like to consider myself well versed on military firearms, but I seem to have missed hearing about that particular model. And 3 tours in Vietnam? Yeah right.

I guess you need a slight refresher in firearms and I need a refresher in spell checking. KAR is a brain fade on my part. It was supposed to be CAR-15, (CAR for carbine) which was the shorty version of the M-16, issued to Special Forces. My 7.62 long range gun of today is based on the KAR 98, Mauser bolt action with a 7.26x51mm. (interchangeable with .308 Win) chambered barrel and so my brain didn’t notice the mistyping. Maybe this link will help:

Next do a little research BEFORE you start throwing insults around that prove your lack of knowledge and you’ll find that 3 tours was very common among SF. Actually worked out to 3 years, 4 months and 15 days in country.

There was indeed a Car-15, it was a Bullpup and the back of the weapon sat in the crook of the elbow. IIRC. I saw relatively few of them, though sadly, I turned down a chance to purchase one back in the 80’s. At one time, they were being considered as a replacement for the M-3 sub-guns for Tank Crews.

CAR-15 or more often AR-15/Armalite in UK was a term often used for any of the AR-15/M16 family in Northern Ireland along with the slogan - Armalite and the Ballot Box

As far as I recall it was not just a bullpup weapon but reffered to a whole family based on the AR type platform - just produced by Colt and not Armalite and mainly for the civilian market.

Okay. it’s the “CAR” 15. One would think that a combat veteran would know his weapon nomenclature.

It’s a very minor point, not really warranting such commotion.

Leccy: There were more than a single version of the Car-15 over the years, with the later versions looking very like todays’ M-4, and in those early days we just called them “Shorties” They had (for the civilian market) a very short barrel, which required a permanently affixed flash hider in order to reach the Federally required 16+ inch length (to avoid being classed as a short barreled rifle , that needs some paperwork to obtain legally)

There are lot’s of folks these days who misrepresent their military service and the poster could be one of those. A few red flags are men who like to talk about their combat experience and don’t know their CAR’s from their KAR’s. Most of those who actually were at the sharp end of the stick rarely talk about it, so that is why I brought it up relating to this particular individual. Don’t be fooled.

We’ll see.

I have very limited experience with the platform myself, a few in NI and a few that were issued for jungle warfare training when we still had the old SLR (a mix of various AR15/M16 models).

The similar AR 18 is a little different as it was the basis for the SA80 - heavily modified of course.

I assume the 16+ inch rule was why i have seen a few Stirling SMG’s in the US with a barrel that is long enough to poke the eye out of anyone you are effectively shooting at. The reputation of the stopping power of the 9mm was pretty poor with us at any distance past 5m - although actual practical experience proved the reputation wrong it still was the percieved ‘wisdon’ of the masses.

There was a shortened version of the SA80 made (L22) and issued to tank and some air crews, for a while at least, although I had never seen it when I left.

National Firearms Act firearms are those that fall outside the usual sporting classes(though some have been specifically excepted and put on the exemption list.) Any firearm with a shoulder stock of any kind is a Rifle (or Long Gun) and these must have a minimum barrel length of 16 inches. Most makers add a bit to that just to avoid accidental violations, so 16.5 is usually the mark. This is measured with the bolt, or block or whatever it uses in the closed, and locked position, and measured to the muzzle. This same method is applied to shotguns, though the minimum length for them is 18 inches, regardless of the shoulder stock being present.
In order to get firearms with barrels shorter than the standards allow, one has to go through the BATFE and via a Form 1, or Form 4, do the paperwork for an N.F.A. Firearm,in this case SBR, or SBS (short barreled whichever) providing mug shots, fingerprints, and a Tax of $200 and waiting for several Months for the paperwork to make it’s way through the mill.
As far as rifles of any sort were concerned, in the Army after Basic training, I never saw a Rifle excepting for yearly qualification. We had an Arms Room full of them, but never much used them. The M-60 Tank being our primary weapon, and the 1911-A1 .45 pistol our primary side arm. We did have M-3 sub Machine guns, but never fired them in the years I was there. These were also the primary weapon for the Bomb Squad work we occasionally did.
The M-14 was much talked about, many would have preferred them if for nothing more than the larger bullet. Those among us who were in the Jungles however, were happy with the M-16’s . These days, although I enjoyed shooting the M1A, and a few M-14’s, they are truthfully too Rube Goldberg for serious work .