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U.S. Army/Navy/USMC M14-based sniper and DMR/SDM rifles circa late-1960s to late 201Xs

Random Guy

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Decided to take some groups pics of M1A replicas earlier this month. These are basically replicas of US Army M14 sniper and DMR/SDM rifles, beginning in 1967 and used until 1988 when the M21 rifles were officially designated as obsolete - but despite Big Army's decision - a few M14s were quietly developed as 'M21 Product Improved' versions by the 10th Special Forces Group in the late 1980s/early 1990s...

...and fast forward to the early-to-mid 200Xs, when an urgent operational need resulted in thousands of basically rack-grade M14s being quickly pulled from storage and resurrected as DMR or Squad Designated Marksman rifles, along with a wide variety of ad hoc/improvised optics and mounts. My replica from that era represents a somewhat more official variant that was purpose-built and accurized by Smith Enterprise Inc for the U.S. Army, initially called an M14SE "Crazy Horse" rifle, and later designated the M21A5. I’m not sure when the M21A5s were withdrawn by the 2nd Infantry Division and 101st Airborne, but my guess is early 201Xs, when the M14 EBR-RIs were rolled out as the Army's standard 7.62 SDM rifle.

Lastly, the M14 EBR-RI (Enhanced Battle Rifle - Rock Island Arsenal) with a black SAGE chassis system was the last stop for U.S. Army combat M14 SDMs, service life was circa 2009 to approximately 2018. (My replica of this variant is a work in progress).

Top: U.S. Army M21A5 Squad Designated Marksman (SDM) rifle (aka 'M14SE Crazy Horse' rifle) w/ Leupold 3.5-10x scope, circa mid-200Xs to early 201Xs.
2nd from top: U.S. Army 'late' M21 sniper rifle w/ 3-9x ART II scope, circa early 1980s to early 1990s.
3rd from top: U.S. Army XM21/'early' M21 sniper rifle w/ 3-9x AR-TEL scope, circa 1969 to early 1980s.
Bottom: U.S. Army 'Improvised National Match M14 sniper rifle' w/ 2.2x M84 scope and Army Weapons Command (AWC) scope mount, circa 1967 to the end of the Vietnam War. (NSN: 1005-937-8777, 'M14 NM Rifle with M84 scope')

Right side:
anJGEvn.jpg


Left side:
ntsZGez.jpg


Left side optics: The below pic shows 40-years of advancement regarding M14 optic systems and scope mounts. From the bottom mount circa 1967 with the little M84 (2.2x), 7/8" diameter scope with a condensation-prone tube and a not very stable single attachment-point mount, to the variable 3-9X AR TEL & ART II scopes w/ improved scope mounts used from roughly 1969 to the early 1990s - to the tan-colored optic at the top, circa 2007, a Leupold 3.5-10x Tactical scope w/ illuminated TMR reticle, 30mm nitrogen gas-filled tube, adjustable parallax, and a solid 3-point scope attachment system.

SFHiawe.jpg


Not shown in the above group picture, but below is a replica of a unique "post-M21 Product Improved" variant used by the U.S. Army Special Forces that was internally designated as an XM25 (or M25) sniper rifle. These were not an official 'Program of Record' and were sort-of unofficially developed in the late 1980s/early 1990s at Ft Devens by the 10th Special Force's Group. They used various commercial parts, such as McMillan fiberglass stocks; some of which were bedded with a BPT steel stock liner, along with medium or heavy profile commercial 1:10 or 1:11 twist match barrels, BPT scope mounts, and typically either Leupold or B&L fixed 10x scopes. Their service history is not well documented, one source noted that only 200 at most were built, but they were reportedly first used in Panama circa December 1989, followed by Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Some were equipped w/ sound suppressors and AN/PVS-4 night vision scopes, and a few might have been used in Afghanistan circa 2002, but again, that SOCOM/SF-based history is based on anecdotals. (The Naval Surface Warfare Center at Crane subsequently took over responsibility for building precision M14s for the SOCOM community).

7qXYrzc.jpg


The last combat-deployed M14 rifles used by the U.S. Army were the M14 EBR-RI rifles. Approximately 6200 EBR-RIs were made at Rock Island Arsenal during 2009-2011, and they were in service from 2009 to approximately 2018 as the 7.62 NATO Squad Designated Marksman (SDM) rifle, but I think all of them have now been withdrawn. (Some have apparently been sold to U.S. allies via the Foreign Military Sales program). I hope to complete my EBR-RI replica in 2021 with what I suspect is a take-off EBR scope (dated 2009), but unlike the originals, my replica EBR will have a medium weight barrel instead of a standard weight USGI barrel; and an early 'Pat Pending' SAGE chassis, so it won't be completely 'correct' but pretty close. The parts still need to be zinc-parkerized before the build, but it's coming along...

SoTElGt.jpg


In essence, these 6 replicas try to provide reasonable representations of official and quasi-official varieties of precision, optic-equipped M14s used by the U.S. Army, on-and-off, over a roughly 50-year period (circa late 1960s to late 201Xs). It’s an old-school platform, but I still like the old M1s and M1As.

Happy Holidays, and stay safe.
 
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Random Guy

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I decided to add a few more variants to this thread. Below are replicas of US Navy M14 sniper/DMR rifles used from the 1970s thru ~ 2010/11, along with a replica of the iconic USMC DMR rifle that was used concurrently with Navy SSR rifle from around 2000 until ~ 2008-2010.

Top: Navy Sniper Security Rifle (SSR) w/ 10x Leupold scope, circa 1996 to 2000 for NSW/SEALS, and then used from ~2000 to ~2011 by the NECC (Naval Expeditionary Combat Command).
2nd from top: USMC M14 Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) rifle w/ Leupold 10x scope, circa ~2000 to 2008/2010.
3rd from top: Navy Physical Security Sniper Rifle (PSSR) w/ 10x B&L Tactical scope, circa ~1989 to mid-1990s.
Bottom: M21 w/ 3-9x ART II scope, circa early 1980s to early 1990s (same rifle used by U.S. Army, and seen above).

Right side:
AsURn2g.jpg


Left side:
ZZ8PYuA.jpg


(The USMC M39 is missing from that group picture. If I had the funds and the proper S&B or Premier Heritage scope, I might consider building an M39 replica, since it was the M14 that replaced the DMR and would sort-of complete the chronology, but for now I have more than enough projects...and space is limited in the safe.)

Military optics on these 'M21 Product Improved' rifles over the 20 year period beginning in 1989 until the late 200Xs were somewhat standardized around a fixed 10x scope with Mil-Dot reticle. (That began to change around 2008 when the USMC M39 adopted a variable 3-12x or 3-15x scope, and circa 2011 the Navy started using a variable 3.5-15x scope on the Mk 14 Mod 2).

GNSI0dZ.jpg


The last precision DMR-type M14 rifle made at Crane for the U.S. military is the Navy Mk 14 Mod 2 rifle, of which 250 were reportedly made in 2011. I recently heard that some are apparently still in use by NECC personnel conducting EDM courses. The formal name is kind-of long: MK 14 MOD 2 EBR-EDMV (Enhanced Battle Rifle - Expeditionary Designated Marksman Variant). I have collected many of the requisite parts, and hope to build a replica of one of these in 2021-22 to finish up my collection of M1A replicas...assuming I can get the proper SAGE chassis parts.

apfmfra.jpg


It took me many years to piece these together, and I hope others might find this random post interesting re vintage M14 sniper/DMR/SDM rifles.

Happy Holidays.
 
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dtma42

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This is awesome beyond words. Thanks for taking the time for the write-up and sharing your collection. I'm gonna crawl back up and drool over the pics again.
 
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alibi

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I thought I had it bad having a Springfield and a polytech.

I need to step up my game.
 

pmclaine

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    Random Guy

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    What didn't you like? It's always interesting hearing about likes and dislikes from people who actually used them in combat.

    ...I asked Huskydriver the same question via a PM. I hope he doesn't mind, but here's the lightly edited description of his experience with the M14 EBR-RI...

    The design of the sage set up was terrible... millions of places to clean...There was no way to get the bolt out without removing the scope rail and then having to re-zero and with as bad as that leupy scope was, you def needed to confirm zero...cleaning those stupid camming roller bearing on the bolt everyday because of the fine dust that would cake up everything....if you didn't clean that sucker out everyday you were asking for a failure mid-firefight...had it happen twice but it was probably from CLP.....why you ask??? The M14 family is supposed to be lubed lightly in a few places with grease. The army never issued it so yea we did our best.

    My ebr would barely group 1-1.5" with m118lr on a great day... My m4 with an acog could do .75 with m855

    ...It should be noted that both of the old M1 Garand and M14 rifle need grease on the bolt lugs/operating rod camming area - not oil - but grease. From WWII to Korea to Vietnam - both the M1 and M14 were issued with a small plastic container of grease (Lubriplate) that was stored in the buttstock storage compartment.

    Apparently the US Army circa 201Xs didn't issue any grease with the M14 EBR-RI - and thus CLP oil was used in those areas since that comes with M4s - and that oil attracted a lot of grit on the Huskydriver’s M14’s roller bolt. The SAGE chassis also has various openings/holes on the forend, so I can also see why a lot of dirt could get into the action in that environment as well.

    I would agree that re-moving the bolt all the time due to the accumulation of oil-based grit and grime would require re-moving the scope mount and thus re-zeroing the scope as well. All of that sounds like a PITA, and it sort-of appears due to lack of grease being issued with the EBR for proper maintenance.

    I should note that the Navy has always issued high-quality grease in a syringe with all their precision M14 rifles going back to the late 1980s with the Physical Security Sniper Rifle (PSSR, followed by the SSR, and the Mk 14 Mod 2 (EBR format) was also issued with grease (see attached SSR items I collected. Too bad Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) overlooked this with the EBR...
     

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    ODCMP

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    I built an EBR on a Sage stock back in 2009. I actually set it up for a friend and he finished it off with the accessories. Later he needed money so I bought it from him. Unfortunately I sold it later because I thought it was too heavy and most of my other M14 clones were more accurate for me. I wish I had kept it, the stock would probably be worth more than it brought then.

    Here are a few pics:
    DSC03757e.jpg
    DSC03760e.jpg
    DSC03762e.jpg
     

    0812guns

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    ...I asked Huskydriver the same question via a PM. I hope he doesn't mind, but here's the lightly edited description of his experience with the M14 EBR-RI...



    ...It should be noted that both of the old M1 Garand and M14 rifle need grease on the bolt lugs/operating rod camming area - not oil - but grease. From WWII to Korea to Vietnam - both the M1 and M14 were issued with a small plastic container of grease (Lubriplate) that was stored in the buttstock storage compartment.

    Apparently the US Army circa 201Xs didn't issue any grease with the M14 EBR-RI - and thus CLP oil was used in those areas since that comes with M4s - and that oil attracted a lot of grit on the Huskydriver’s M14’s roller bolt. The SAGE chassis also has various openings/holes on the forend, so I can also see why a lot of dirt could get into the action in that environment as well.

    I would agree that re-moving the bolt all the time due to the accumulation of oil-based grit and grime would require re-moving the scope mount and thus re-zeroing the scope as well. All of that sounds like a PITA, and it sort-of appears due to lack of grease being issued with the EBR for proper maintenance.

    I should note that the Navy has always issued high-quality grease in a syringe with all their precision M14 rifles going back to the late 1980s with the Physical Security Sniper Rifle (PSSR, followed by the SSR, and the Mk 14 Mod 2 (EBR format) was also issued with grease (see attached SSR items I collected. Too bad Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) overlooked this with the EBR...
    Might want to re-write your condition code tag. "NECC" is a not a unit of issue. Unit of issue on a tag for a rifle would be written as "EA" for "each."
     

    Random Guy

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    S&B Short Dot or something similar on a DMR? And a MIRS rail on the M40A3......

    I guess. Looks like some non-standard optic systems in that pic, so perhaps some sort of T&E going on at that time? (SOCOM?).

    Might want to re-write your condition code tag... Unit of issue on a tag for a rifle would be written as "EA" for "each."

    Opps, thanks for that catch, will change to "EA". (as seen on attached)
     

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    Chingon

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    More than likely a MARSOC unit. SF gets to use whatever they want. I know there's another variant of the M40a3 with if I recall is a MIRS, so it's highly plausible they played with Short Dots at one point.

    I guess. Looks like some non-standard optic systems in that pic, so perhaps some sort of T&E going on at that time?.



    Opps, thanks for that catch, will change to "EA". (as seen on attached)
     

    R Moran

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    Back in the late 80s/early 90, the 82nd, or at least 1/325AIR scouts had M21s with the Leupold 10x in ARMS mounts, prior to receiving the M24.
    They wanted to hold on to them as long as they could, to use as spotters rifles when the M24s came in.

    They used A/C safety wire(like on the M60 gas system) on the ARMS rings to keep them from falling off.
    Can not remember if they lasted to Desert Storm or not.
     

    LRRPF52

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    In my first 2 Scout Platoons (both had full Sniper Sections separate from the Recon Teams), we had M21s or NM M14s and M24s. M24s were the primary long guns, since there was limited support for the M21. US Army Sniper School in the late 1980s/early 1990s was still using M21s for the stalk lanes, while the shooting blocks were with the M24/M3A.

    1st Scout Platoon had M21s with broken ART II scopes in 1994-1996. They already had M24s when I got there as well, which was a relatively new system, complete with the hard case, soft cases, M3A kit box, torque wrench, all kinds of extras.

    2nd Scout Platoon was on the DMZ in Korea. We had M24s and the NM M-14s that were in plastic before we opened them, looked like new/unissued condition. I didn’t even know we had them until later. We had no support for them, nobody that was trained how to work on them.

    We had only a few mags per rifle, no scope mounts that I ever saw. Maybe there were some ART-IIs stuffed away somewhere, but I never saw them. This was in 1/506th Infantry at Camp Greaves in Korea.

    1-506thINFKorea1996Scouts_0003_zps63bd0094.jpg


    We ran a DM Course for select riflemen in the line companies. My PL was a prior service E-6, B4 and SOTIC qualified, Panama Vet, and convinced LTC Milley to bless-off on the DM program.

    My 3rd Scout Platoon in 1st BDE, 25th ID only had M24s for long guns.

    Many years and 5 units later, we got this kid in my Battalion in the 82nd who I hit it off with. I kinda took him under my wing and helped him out, gave him my SOTIC and FM 23-10 manuals, built his Ghillie base for him on one of my machines. He went to our Scout Platoon and got put on a gun for OIF1. He got PCS’d to Korea after OIF1 with 82nd, and they were 2 weeks from deploying to OIF so he did 2 OIFs back-to-back, the second deployment in Ramadi. Here he is on that Ramadi deployment. He said it was a 2-way Sniper war most of the deployment, tons of foreign insurgents coming in and ruining life for people in different neighborhoods, totally different experience than the initial push in 2003.

    He acquired a Reese BM-59-type folding stock in PA, had his gunsmith bed it for an M1A they had, and his issue NM M-14 dropped right into it snugly. He used a scope with ARMS QD rings kept in his Blackhawk M60 gunners rig or his assault pack.

    He got an EBR stock later in the deployment, suppressed. I think he had one of the Crazy Horse M14s in that, with Smith Enterprises muzzle device and suppressor of some sort.

    4MrwiththeM-14foldingstock.jpg


    12TheUltimateM-14withSuppressor.jpg
     

    LRRPF52

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    I look at the M21/M14 DM/Sniper variants from a generational classification standpoint.

    1st Generation
    Experimental years of M84 scopes rigged to M14s with different methods in the mid-1960s.
    US Army AMTU and 9th Infantry Division XM-21 1968-1972
    This includes the early rifles, as well as SIONICS suppressed options

    iu


    Post-Vietnam Dark years
    Type-classified as M21 after that, post-Vietnam saw a cavitation in Army Sniping skill set continuity, outside of the AMTU, with a few unit-level programs. 10th SFG was the primary organization that maintained any type of sniper training and rifles in the inventory, while the rifles in line units were still kept in arms rooms. AMTU instructors did their best to train on the rifle and compete with NM M-14s.

    A big factor in unit-level support for actual sniper training was personality-based from what I understand. Battalion and Brigade Commanders who knew the value of Snipers supported it, while the careerist types who still saw sniping as unfair, ungentlemanly, or in negative light couldn’t be bothered with supporting it. Meanwhile, the USMC had a small group of guys who were willing to sacrifice their careers to build a permanent USMC School and get a type-classified rifle for the Corps.

    Some of the M21s were used in the Grenada invasion in October of 1983.

    The 2 Ranger Battalions employed M21s during these years, as did 82nd and other Light/Airmobile/Airborne units.

    iu


    Formalized School Era 1980s-1990s
    US Army Special Forces established the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC) at Fort Bragg, sometime between 1984 and 1986 IIRC. Sinister or @buffalowinter can remember better.

    US Army Sniper School was finally made a TRADOC School in 1987 at Fort Benning, run by the US Army Infantry Center. The M21 was the primary system being used at the time, but troubles with getting the rifles to stay zeroed and hold groups had plagued the M21 when taken through weeks of shooting each course cycle, so the Army was looking for a new rifle that would be less problematic.

    iu


    There was a split in philosophies/practical application of what the US Army Sniper Weapon System should be at that time. One school of thought was that a semi-auto system was still needed, as it allowed a sniper to still fight, engage multiple targets quickly, and maneuver with other soldiers around him. This camp favored improving the M21 with better scope mounts, McMillan stock, Leupold optics, and tweaks to the barrel/receiver/stock interface.

    The other school of thought was that due to the problems with keeping M21s shooting consistently, a bolt gun was needed to reduce the complexity of mechanical parts, loss of zero, and the various issues with the M21 that were affecting students in the middle of range week in the course. Enough instructors who had exposure to USMC and 10th SFG bolt action sniper systems knew that the bolt guns went through courses with ease, no real troubles, as long as they were 7.62 NATO heavy barrels, free-floated, good triggers, solid scope bases and rings, fed M118.

    The Remington M24 SWS was awarded the new Army SWS, but it was kind of a strange bird in that they went with a long action and a less-than-ideal adjustable stock from HS Precision. From what I gathered, multiple organizational inputs into the rifle meant that SF wanted the long action to be able to re-barrel for .300 Win Mag, and 82nd wanted the significant LOP adjustment for being able to fit in the M1950 Jumper’s Weapons Case. Not sure who wanted the Palma sights, but it got those too.

    US Army Sniper School started out as a 3-week course. Once the M24 Sniper Weapons System was adopted, M21s still remained for stalk lanes while M24s were used for KD/UKD range live fire training and record fire.

    Some units still had M21s in their Arms rooms, but the ART-II scopes and mounts had all but become unserviceable while the M24/M3A was extremely robust and simple, with all the tools to maintain and service most of the rifle’s needs as an end-user.

    Some units had acquired various types of mounts for the M21s, and even started taking M3As and mounting them. As the M24 was issued out to all the Infantry Divisions, M21s started to be extras on property books, its days numbered. They were rarely seen in the late 1990s.

    GWOT
    Once the US invasion of Afghanistan was underway and the Pentagon wanted to get in on the action before SOF units made them look irrelevant, Infantry units immediately realized they needed a semi-auto sniper system and/or DM rifle.

    iu


    Thousands of NM M14s in inventory and even acquired back from FMS transfers were put into service with 82nd, 101st, 25th, 10th Mountain, and other units in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s.

    While the Army solicited a Semi-Automatic Sniper System replacement for the M24, units used variants of the M21 and M14 with different stock, barrel length, optics/mounts, and suppressed configurations to provide semi-auto intermediate range TGT interdiction and DM supporting fires for dismounted maneuver elements.

    iu


    This period saw the most wide variations of M14-based rifles.
     

    Random Guy

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    Thanks for that nice consolidated history and interesting pictures.

    One additional item I might mention. Regarding the late 1980s/early 1990s era, while there was "a lot of love" for the new M24 system given that it worked very well, and was much more rugged than the old M21, but apparently the 10th SFG still wanted to retain the ability for a suppressed sniper rifle. The M24 had no capability for a sound suppressor in the late 1980s/1990s, and thus my understanding is that the 10 SFG (and subsequently Crane) made the XM25/M25/PSSR to retain the capability for a suppressed semi-automatic 7.62 NATO rifle for SOCOM missions.

    This suppressor capability was not a "Big Army" requirement, but worth mentioning in the context of the M24 and M14 rifle at that time. This picture was taken in Feb 1991 at Ft Devens, MA (10th SFG at the time), and shows a Navy/Crane small arms engineer testing a suppressed XM25 rifle as part of their evaluations for a light sniper rifle.

    Testing_Ft_Deven_XM25_1991_smlv2.jpg

    In addition, Brookfield Precision Tool (BPT) made some special 'REV 2' gas pistons with a very small gas port hole that allowed the rifle to cycle correctly with a sound suppressor. (I think the customer's were the 10 SFG and reportedly Crane). See tiny hole diameter of top piston. (Source: Lee Emerson, M14 Rifle History and Development, Vol 1 (2019)
    BPT gas pistons_Rev1&2.jpg


    GWOT
    Once the US invasion of Afghanistan was underway and the Pentagon wanted to get in on the action before SOF units made them look irrelevant, Infantry units immediately realized they needed a semi-auto sniper system and/or DM rifle.

    Yes, to elaborate slightly. A 2009 US Army report asserted that 50 percent of engagements in Afghanistan had occurred with the enemy attacking at 300 meters (328 yards) or beyond, while more than 80 percent of soldiers in an infantry company are equipped with weapons that can't touch the enemy beyond that range. To quote from the report: "The enemy tactics are to engage U.S. forces from high ground with medium and heavy weapons, often including mortars, knowing that we are restricted by our equipment limitations and the inability of our overburdened solider to maneuver at elevations exceeding 6,000 feet. Current equipment, training, and doctrine are optimized for engagement under 300 meters on a level terrain." (Earhart, 2009: 24)

    So a few thousand rack-grade M14s were pulled out of storage, and units issued them with a wide variety of ad hoc scopes and mounts, and the various Mk 12/SPR rifles were also used as well with Mk 262 ammo when possible, to allow the infantry units to have an effective 600 meter semi-auto rifle. My understanding from Doug Carlstrom’s recollection from Iraq in 2004 and 2006 was all those ad hoc US Army DMR/SDM M14s were not easy to service/maintain, and to standardize the M14 SDM weapons, Rock Island Arsenal subsequently got funding and approval to make 6200 M14 EMR-RI rifles circa 2009-2011. Good article on EBR-RI history: https://www.gunsandammo.com/editorial/how-the-u-s-army-builds-the-m14-ebr-ri/247604

    Anyhow, thanks again for the concise history.
     
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    Victory

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    Wish I had some pics from the years of the multiple versions we utilized but my hard drive crashed. In 2004, Iraq, we had three man sniper teams at each of our companies. We had a M24, and spotter was using a M14. In 2010, in Astan, we got issued the 2010’s conus, so we showed up with our m107s, M24s, M2010s, and M110’s. Also had access to some EBRs. Once in country, our TPE conex had some M14’s that we ended up utilizing as well, but threw red dots on them. EBRs weren’t used a lot, because they were so heavy. Went one mission without the 107s, and then they came on every mission. On 4 man SKTs, a 110, 2010, m14 with red dot, and MK48 with Elcan would be carried. 107 would be split up between two guys. AO dictated the need for the longer ranges and the m14 helped provide that.
     

    ODCMP

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    I look at the M21/M14 DM/Sniper variants from a generational classification standpoint.

    1st Generation
    Experimental years of M84 scopes rigged to M14s with different methods in the mid-1960s.
    US Army AMTU and 9th Infantry Division XM-21 1968-1972
    This includes the early rifles, as well as SIONICS suppressed options

    iu


    Post-Vietnam Dark years
    Type-classified as M21 after that, post-Vietnam saw a cavitation in Army Sniping skill set continuity, outside of the AMTU, with a few unit-level programs. 10th SFG was the primary organization that maintained any type of sniper training and rifles in the inventory, while the rifles in line units were still kept in arms rooms. AMTU instructors did their best to train on the rifle and compete with NM M-14s.

    A big factor in unit-level support for actual sniper training was personality-based from what I understand. Battalion and Brigade Commanders who knew the value of Snipers supported it, while the careerist types who still saw sniping as unfair, ungentlemanly, or in negative light couldn’t be bothered with supporting it. Meanwhile, the USMC had a small group of guys who were willing to sacrifice their careers to build a permanent USMC School and get a type-classified rifle for the Corps.

    Some of the M21s were used in the Grenada invasion in October of 1983.

    The 2 Ranger Battalions employed M21s during these years, as did 82nd and other Light/Airmobile/Airborne units.

    iu


    Formalized School Era 1980s-1990s
    US Army Special Forces established the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (SOTIC) at Fort Bragg, sometime between 1984 and 1986 IIRC. Sinister or @buffalowinter can remember better.

    US Army Sniper School was finally made a TRADOC School in 1987 at Fort Benning, run by the US Army Infantry Center. The M21 was the primary system being used at the time, but troubles with getting the rifles to stay zeroed and hold groups had plagued the M21 when taken through weeks of shooting each course cycle, so the Army was looking for a new rifle that would be less problematic.

    iu


    There was a split in philosophies/practical application of what the US Army Sniper Weapon System should be at that time. One school of thought was that a semi-auto system was still needed, as it allowed a sniper to still fight, engage multiple targets quickly, and maneuver with other soldiers around him. This camp favored improving the M21 with better scope mounts, McMillan stock, Leupold optics, and tweaks to the barrel/receiver/stock interface.

    The other school of thought was that due to the problems with keeping M21s shooting consistently, a bolt gun was needed to reduce the complexity of mechanical parts, loss of zero, and the various issues with the M21 that were affecting students in the middle of range week in the course. Enough instructors who had exposure to USMC and 10th SFG bolt action sniper systems knew that the bolt guns went through courses with ease, no real troubles, as long as they were 7.62 NATO heavy barrels, free-floated, good triggers, solid scope bases and rings, fed M118.

    The Remington M24 SWS was awarded the new Army SWS, but it was kind of a strange bird in that they went with a long action and a less-than-ideal adjustable stock from HS Precision. From what I gathered, multiple organizational inputs into the rifle meant that SF wanted the long action to be able to re-barrel for .300 Win Mag, and 82nd wanted the significant LOP adjustment for being able to fit in the M1950 Jumper’s Weapons Case. Not sure who wanted the Palma sights, but it got those too.

    US Army Sniper School started out as a 3-week course. Once the M24 Sniper Weapons System was adopted, M21s still remained for stalk lanes while M24s were used for KD/UKD range live fire training and record fire.

    Some units still had M21s in their Arms rooms, but the ART-II scopes and mounts had all but become unserviceable while the M24/M3A was extremely robust and simple, with all the tools to maintain and service most of the rifle’s needs as an end-user.

    Some units had acquired various types of mounts for the M21s, and even started taking M3As and mounting them. As the M24 was issued out to all the Infantry Divisions, M21s started to be extras on property books, its days numbered. They were rarely seen in the late 1990s.

    GWOT
    Once the US invasion of Afghanistan was underway and the Pentagon wanted to get in on the action before SOF units made them look irrelevant, Infantry units immediately realized they needed a semi-auto sniper system and/or DM rifle.

    iu


    Thousands of NM M14s in inventory and even acquired back from FMS transfers were put into service with 82nd, 101st, 25th, 10th Mountain, and other units in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s.

    While the Army solicited a Semi-Automatic Sniper System replacement for the M24, units used variants of the M21 and M14 with different stock, barrel length, optics/mounts, and suppressed configurations to provide semi-auto intermediate range TGT interdiction and DM supporting fires for dismounted maneuver elements.

    iu


    This period saw the most wide variations of M14-based rifles.


    Those last two pictures are a nice configuration, lighter and faster to me.
     

    LRRPF52

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    Thanks for that nice consolidated history and interesting pictures.

    One additional item I might mention. Regarding the late 1980s/early 1990s era, while there was "a lot of love" for the new M24 system given that it worked very well, and was much more rugged than the old M21, but apparently the 10th SFG still wanted to retain the ability for a suppressed sniper rifle. The M24 had no capability for a sound suppressor in the late 1980s/1990s, and thus my understanding is that the 10 SFG (and subsequently Crane) made the XM25/M25/PSSR to retain the capability for a suppressed semi-automatic 7.62 NATO rifle for SOCOM missions.

    This suppressor capability was not a "Big Army" requirement, but worth mentioning in the context of the M24 and M14 rifle at that time. This picture was taken in Feb 1991 at Ft Devens, MA (10th SFG at the time), and shows a Navy/Crane small arms engineer testing a suppressed XM25 rifle as part of their evaluations for a light sniper rifle.

    View attachment 7518600
    In addition, Brookfield Precision Tool (BPT) make some special 'REV 2' gas pistons with a very small gas port hole that allowed the rifle to cycle correctly with a sound suppressor. (I think the customer's were the 10 SFG and reportedly Crane). See tiny hole diameter of top piston. (Source: Lee Emerson, M14 Rifle History and Development, Vol 1 (2019)
    View attachment 7518606



    Yes, to elaborate slightly. A 2009 US Army report asserted that 50 percent of engagements in Afghanistan had occurred with the enemy attacking at 300 meters (328 yards) or beyond, while more than 80 percent of soldiers in an infantry company are equipped with weapons that can't touch the enemy beyond that range. To quote from the report: "The enemy tactics are to engage U.S. forces from high ground with medium and heavy weapons, often including mortars, knowing that we are restricted by our equipment limitations and the inability of our overburdened solider to maneuver at elevations exceeding 6,000 feet. Current equipment, training, and doctrine are optimized for engagement under 300 meters on a level terrain." (Earhart, 2009: 24)

    So a few thousand rack-grade M14s were pulled out of storage, and units issued them with a wide variety of ad hoc scopes and mounts, and the various Mk 12/SPR rifles were also used as well with Mk 262 ammo when possible, to allow the infantry units to have an effective 600 meter semi-auto rifle. My understanding from Doug Carlstrom’s recollection from Iraq in 2004 and 2006 was all those ad hoc US Army DMR/SDM M14s were not easy to service/maintain, and to standardize the M14 SDM weapons, Rock Island Arsenal subsequently got funding and approval to make 6200 M14 EMR-RI rifles circa 2009-2011. Good article on EBR-RI history: https://www.gunsandammo.com/editorial/how-the-u-s-army-builds-the-m14-ebr-ri/247604

    Anyhow, thanks again for the concise history.
    That period and developments interest me the most, and did at the time as well.

    I was always in the gas gun camp of thought, after reading as much as I could about the different experiences from guys in SEA, Grenada, and Panama. There was an SOF issue that had an 82nd Sniper in Panama with a really blonde wood stock on his M21. I threw out all my SOF back-issues decades ago but wished I had kept that one. I think he was shooting PDF snipers in a counter-sniper role.

    Panama is probably the last conflict where you’ll find samples of M21s with ART-IIs in the wild. I think these are 7th ID Lightfighters.

    iu


    There were gun rag articles about it at the time discussing the Army’s solicitation for a new system in the late 1980s, and which way would they go. Reed Knight II introduced the SR-25 right after the M24 was selected and contracted with Remington.

    SPRINGFIELD ARMORY eventually made a commercial M25 "White Feather" edition for civilian sales that was basically the XM25 developed by SF.

    iu
     
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    Random Guy

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    Thanks for those pics and info. I might suggest that Springfield's M25 White Feather was based a little more on the Navy SSR rifle including the unique scope mount rather than the earlier XM25 rifles, but you are correct that it's design certainly had military origins.
    SSR_cover_1996.jpg


    Panama is probably the last conflict where you’ll find samples of M21s with ART-IIs in the wild.

    That's what one would think given the M21 was declared end of life in 1988, but I read that M21s with ART IIs were used in Operation Desert Storm circa 1991, however, I have not seen pictures. On the other hand, the Feb 27th, 1991 issue of USA Today had a picture of a Crane-built M14 'Physical Security Sniper Rifle' (PSSR), but some folks call them "M25s" even though that nomenclature was never adopted by the Navy.

    USA_Today_Feb_1991_Desert_Storm_Navy_M14&M88.jpg


    There was a really interesting thread from March 2018 on a proposed sniper locker initiative by the 1st SFG (circa 1994) that was based on the 10th SFG program. The proposal was not approved, but it is interesting reading, and the section of the "M21 rifle status" is quite a read. They were pretty much beat to death by that point and not at all well maintained:

    I've read that the M21s were being withdrawn in earnest beginning in 1992, per the research in Lee Emerson's excellent book on the M14s. If you were curious about the disposition of the old AR TEL and ART II scopes, you can read my comments on post #45 (DCM/CMP sold them off in 1995-96).

    That period and developments interest me the most, and did at the time as well

    Since you mentioned the XM25, here's my replica of one, as you seen interested in the late 1980s/early 1990s era re precision M14s:

    ...and this long thread outlines my layman's understanding of the "post-M21" era with respect to precision M14s:

    Thanks again and I hope you find some of those older threads interesting.
     
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    LRRPF52

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    Thanks for those links. I know and have worked with several of the people named in them associated with 1st Group’s Sniping Community.

    Chief “Rico” Blue brought a split ODA up to Camp Greaves in the summer of 1996 and ran an MTT Sniper Course for 8 or 9 us from the Scout/Sniper Platoon. Our PL was prior service E-6/B4/SOTIC qualified, so we had a really good Sniper Sustainment program that kicked-off with the MTT from 1st Group right after Lt. Vaughn took over.

    1st Group’s Level II SOTIC at Lewis soon achieved a reputation across the Army as a premier course that rivaled SOTIC at Bragg. 1st Group Sniper Teams started winning the SF Sniper Competition every year, and it got the attention of Special Warfare Training Group at Bragg/Range 37 SOTIC, who sent some of their senior instructors to Lewis to figure out what was in the sauce.

    There was a personality that almost ruined that exchange, but I believe there was some positive cross-pollination that went back to the Level I course. By that time, SR-25s had really started to move into place as the go-to Semi-Auto Sniper System.

    2/75 sent Snipers to 1st Group’s SOTIC Course frequently, and the general feedback was that students had a much better experience at 1st Group’s course than Bragg. The 1st Group course would culminate with rotary wing infil at night, long-distance movement, infiltration into and establishment of a hide site outside of the Reagansburg MOUT site, where the teams were required to put a live round through an HVT TGT given to them in a TGT package during isolation. They would even walk the HVT profile given in the package, then hunker down for the students to engage steel with their final record shot.

    I’ve known Gene and helped him run precision rifle clinics up in ID several times over the past 10 years. Gene has zero tolerance for BS, cuts straight to the point, and instead of focusing on the problems or blame, presents very practical solutions to fix the problems immediately. When he was cleaning out his library, he asked if I wanted a bunch of his manuals, TMs, 10th Group SOTIC course syllabi, and other things we tend to get rid of in moves. I’ll have to find them and see if there is anything particular to the M21.

    Through him, I met and worked with Hubbard as well. Hubbard is really big into M-14 wizardry and is a wealth of knowledge on the rifle. He deployed with a NG unit and employed accurized M-14s in OIF.

    He’d be a great resource for more pics for sure, of variants many have not seen. He has multiple binders full of log books, rifle records, groups, ammo lot #s, to the extent that his truck was a mobile library/armory at courses.
     

    Random Guy

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    When he was cleaning out his library, he asked if I wanted a bunch of his manuals, TMs, 10th Group SOTIC course syllabi, and other things we tend to get rid of in moves. I’ll have to find them and see if there is anything particular to the M21.

    Thanks, much appreciated. I'm always trying to learn more, esp if you dig up any references to the XM25 or M25, given that history is not well documented and its an enigma of sorts...

    Hubbard's on the west coast and I'm on the east, but I have seen a pic on the web of one of the 36 or so DMRs he built for deployment (probably 2004 picture, but might be a little later as well). I like how he painted the handguard's to match the camo pattern on the stock:
    M25_Iraq.jpg

    I understand this is him electro-stenciling the serial number on the mount to match the M14 rifle after he built them.
    MSG_John_Hubbard_at_Work_M25.jpg


    A forum member in his neck of the woods is in the process of getting an replica built of that rifle.
    My USMC DMR will have to suffice re this niche, as I still have a few other M1A projects underway.
     

    LRRPF52

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    That looks like a younger him, and those are the same configuration he had when we were running a Precision Rifle Clinic I think in 2016. He’s a Yoda of sorts with the M14/M21.
     
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    Random Guy

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    I previously saw this picture, and zoomed in on the M14 that SGT Davis (RIP) is using, and I noted that the Leupold scope's fresh looking tan and brown camo job exactly matched the fresh camo job on that M24. My guess is the M24's daytime optic (10x Leupold M3A or Mk 4) was removed and put on the M14 for that mission in Iraq, while the M24 got the AN/PVS-10 optic. At least that is what my eyes tell me.

    .
     

    Victory

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    Yeah it’s a pretty common picture that went around back in the day. It was a combat camera kid that took the picture, which is why I was able to dig it up. And that is exactly what it was. The lack of optics are what pushed this setup. It has the M24’s Leupold on it.
     

    Forgetful Coyote

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    @Random Guy whose medium contour barrel you using on the EBR? I know Criterion, Bula, and Wolfe have some good ones..
    Also, the 6200 EBR’s from RIA, did those use brand new, or pre existing receivers?
     

    BGE541

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    I previously saw this picture, and zoomed in on the M14 that SGT Davis (RIP) is using, and I noted that the Leupold scope's fresh looking tan and brown camo job exactly matched the fresh camo job on that M24. My guess is the M24's daytime optic (10x Leupold M3A or Mk 4) was removed and put on the M14 for that mission in Iraq, while the M24 got the AN/PVS-10 optic. At least that is what my eyes tell me.

    .

    We had the Leupold 10x Mk4... loved the simplicity but man they were hit an miss. Even had a few Bushnell marked 10x when we first got them.
     

    sandwarrior

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    Hated mine with a passion but she got me through a couple hard days....early 2011
    View attachment 7511447
    So, I gotta ask, what were your likes and dislikes about the weapon? I only carried a plain 'ol M14 a little bit. Some in Ranger School, and some with the Rangers. But, not much. As I've noted in the past our snipers carried the M21, but not me. I wasn't a sniper.
     

    Random Guy

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    whose medium contour barrel you using on the EBR? I know Criterion, Bula, and Wolfe have some good ones..
    Also, the 6200 EBR’s from RIA, did those use brand new, or pre existing receivers?

    I am using a Criterion mainly b/c I got it for nice price a few years ago from LRB, and it's a chrome-lined 1/11 twist. Should outlast me.

    Not sure I understand the question about RIA using "brand-new vs pre-existing" receivers since the last USGI M14 receiver was made in 1964...(all 1.38 million USGI M14s receivers were made from 1959 to 1964 by SA, H&R, WRA and finally TRW - in that order, but none since...). What RIA did have access to was many thousands of M14s in storage that were rebuilt back in 1983-84 at Anniston, AL into "Condition A" rifles and then placed in long term storage. I think the barrels on those M14s are generally dated from that era, and they apparently used zinc-based phosphate/parkerizing back in 1983-84, as all EBR-RIs have that distinct light-gray finish. All the original parts were used except the op rod guide, wood or fiberglass stock, and M14 handguard.

    So, I gotta ask, what were your likes and dislikes about the weapon?
    Please see my post #14 for issues with EBR-RI. I asked him the same question...sounds like RIA forgot to provide grease with the EBR-RIs. Opps.
     
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    Huskydriver

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    I am using a Criterion mainly b/c I got it for nice price a few years ago from LRB, and it's a chrome-lined 1/11 twist. Should outlast me.

    Not sure I understand the question about RIA using "brand-new vs pre-existing" receivers since the last USGI M14 receiver was made in 1964...(all 1.38 million USGI M14s receivers were made from 1959 to 1964 by SA, H&R, WRA and finally TRW - in that order, but none since...). What RIA did have access to was many thousands of M14s in storage hat were rebuilt back in 1983-84 at Anniston, AL into "Condition A" and then placed in long term storage. I think the barrels on those M14s are generally dated from that era, and they apparently used zinc-based phosphate/parkerizing back in 1983-84, as all EBR-RIs have that distinct light-gray finish. All the original parts were used except the op rod guide, wood or fiberglass stock, and M14 handguard.


    Please see my post #14 for issues with EBR-RI. I asked him the same question...sounds like RIA forgot to provide grease with the EBR-RIs. Opps.

    That and having to remove to scope to get the bolt out to clean is football bat retarded. Gotta rezero every time you did this
     
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    sirhrmechanic

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    Love the M-14. Below is my IDF sniper.
    View attachment 7511023

    View attachment 7511026

    View attachment 7511028

    View attachment 7511029

    Here is my M25. I was a Team Leader in 10th SFG while this was being developed. Almost solely the work of SFC Kapp who left my team to work on this project.

    View attachment 7511030

    View attachment 7511031

    View attachment 7511032

    View attachment 7511038
    I especially like your Nov '86 Terrorist tear sheet from 10th Group...

    Very nice!

    Sirhr
     

    Strykervet

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    We tried like hell to get M14's for our SDM's but they just wouldn't sign the damn things out. Acted like they personally owned 'em or some shit. So they went with M4's and ACOG's. This was 2003ish.
     

    NukeMMC

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    That's what one would think given the M21 was declared end of life in 1988, but I read that M21s with ART IIs were used in Operation Desert Storm circa 1991, however, I have not seen pictures. On the other hand, the Feb 26th, 1991 issue of USA Today had a picture of a Crane-built M14 'Physical Security Sniper Rifle' (PSSR), but some folks call them "M25s" even though that nomenclature was never adopted by the Navy.

    View attachment 7519606
    Based on the McMillan 50 and the fact that the front scope ring has a SIMRAD mount, I would bet these are NSW rifles. Probably not NSW shooters as they tended to be camera-shy back then. The bipod on that M14 DMR looks familiar to one in a picture I sent you a while back. ;)
     

    Random Guy

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    I would bet these are NSW rifles. Probably not NSW shooters as they tended to be camera-shy back then

    They are indeed NSW rifles, on the left is the big M88 (50BMG) with 16X Leupold scope, and on the right is the Navy M14 Physical Security Sniper Rifle (PSSR) with 10X B&L Tactical scope. I think these are NSW shooters as well, even if they are camera-shy. (This is the only picture I have seen with an PSSR being using in combat). Attached are some pics from Peter Sencich's book, The Long-Range War. Based on the first picture taken in the arms room of the 3rd/5th Special Forces Group, its possible/likely that these Crane-made M14 sniper rifles were also used by US Special Forces in Desert Storm. I think the 2nd is an artist drawing that might be based on a picture, but I have never seen the actual picture.

    You are right about those tallish Harris bipods used back then... Fwiw, after I had my replica PSSR built, a buddy found me an original Navy PSSR take-off stock. It's a bit rough, and interestingly it had an ad hoc bipod stud mounted way back behind the front swivel. I can't determine if it was for an old Parker-Hale bipod or a Harris bipod, but its an interesting conversation piece (stock came off a double lugged rifle, see serial # in pic #4).
     

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    sandwarrior

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    1610496565367.png

    The guy on the right definitely looks like Robert O. from 1st Plt. B Co. 1/175th. The guy on the right looks like either Dave M. from 3rd Plt. or or Brian D. from 2nd. Plt. They are definitely Rangers as the uniform worn by Robert was only worn by the Rangers at that time and the patrol cap is definitely Ranger as well.

    Robert was the guy who shot a Cuban off the gun right after SPECTRE gave up to go get more ammo. Took him about ten shots with that rifle. The shot was about 930m.

    I forgot to mention these two were the ones that went through the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School in the summer of 1983, whilst I was achieving fame at SFUWO. Robert got high shooter in that class.
     
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