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Showcase cover image for Replica 1967 National Match M14 (also early Vietnam War era M14 sniper w/ AWC mount & M84 scope)

General Information

The goal of this project was to replicate an early National Match M14 rifle circa 1963-1967. I received a lot of assistance from various forum members for this project. It all started with a 1967 Canadian Arsenal National Match barrel that I bought from PFC Thomas, which I was originally going to put on my XM21 replica. However, in 2018 I acquired an early 4-digit, stripped M1A receiver from Forceman (SAI receiver was made in 1977), and I bought an early SA National Match M14 stock that I got from prc148 - so I decided to just build a replica of a 1967 NM M14.

M1Army expertly restored the stock in 2018, and I think all the parts are basically correct for a 1967 NM M14 with the exception of the ventilated handguard, and the NM reamed flash hider. The early handguard was used for personal aesthetics, and the flash hider was substituted for accuracy purposes. Other than the commercial receiver, I am pretty sure all other parts on this tribute rifle are vintage USGI, including the sling, which came out a 1966 dated bag. (thanks HarryB!)

As an added bonus, a while back I found an vintage Army Weapons Command (AWC) M14 scope mount, and a nice M84 scope - so if I add this optic set-up to this rifle, it is then configured like a 'pre-XM21' sniper rifle used in Vietnam. Per Peter Senich's book, The Long-Range War (1994), Rock Island Arsenal sent 125 "match-grade" M14s with the AWC/M84 set-up to Vietnam in March 1967 to meet an urgent need for US Army sniper rifles. In addition, the 101st Airborne also got 226 National Match M14s with the AWC/M84 optic in January 1969. My build attempts to replicate these early M14 sniper rifles.

Anyhow, I was only able to piece this retro-project together with the help from several forum members, and when I do my part, it actually shoots pretty well too. (See last 2 pics for test targets).

Pictures and build details

Archival picture below of probably one of the first National Match M14s circa 1962, along with a 10-rd magazine. The serial number in my early NM stock is #551225, which likely corresponds to a 1963 NM rifle. The very early NM stocks like the one in this picture had a standard or 'skinny' profile. Later NM stocks had a heavier profile.
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The goal of this retro-project was to build a replica of an early National Match M14 that mimics the configuration of the original NM M14s circa 1963-1967. The boxes of vintage Match M118 ammo are dated 1966 and 1967. (Source for poster: M14 Info, Blueprints, Posters, Mouse Pads, Coffee Mugs )
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Early '5-line' SAI M1A receiver from 1977. I can thank Forceman for this receiver.
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Project parts before assembly, and I would like to thank the following forum members:
Forceman (SAI 7k receiver)
PFC Thomas (vintage NM barrel)
Orlando (bolt internals)
HarryB (vintage 1966 sling)
PRC148 (vintage early ‘skinny’ NM stock)
M1Army (restoring and refinishing this NM stock, and the nice slotted handguard)
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Canadian Arsenal (CA) standard weight NM barrel. (Arrow points to the date of manufacture: "5 67" or May 1967). The barrel head-spaced at 1.631" with the HRT bolt. Throat erosion is a 1, so its low mileage.
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Early 'Hysol'-based bedding as seen in the original M1 Garand NM rifles circa 1960-1963, and the original M14 NM rifles from 1963-1967. Neither the stock liner nor the original stock ferrule have been modified, as I think those mods started in 1968, per the AMU's then-new NM build procedures.
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Replica 1967 NM M14 w/ some accessories that could have been used at Camp Perry back in the day. (i.e., re-print of the 1967 Camp Perry National Match Rifles booklet, leather shooting glove, M49 Observation Scope, vintage M118 ammo, Champion Rifle score book for M14s, clipboard for sighter shots, etc.)
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Project w/ an SR-42 200 yard target, M14 cleaning kit, and perhaps a set of M13A1 field binoculars, etc.
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USGI NM rear sights and one of Hawk's faux selector lock kits. (One final detail I would like to do is a small spot-weld at the selector lock pin, as that was done on the original NM M14s back in the 1960s to preclude the select-fire switch from being installed. Hopefully have that final detail done in 2021).
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The ventilated handguard is probably not correct for a NM M14 of this era, but M1Army picked out a nice one for this vintage build and it nicely matches the stock, so I prefer it aesthetically on this retro build.
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USGI NM front sight and USGI flash hider reamed to NM specs. Based on the 1967 National Match Rifles booklet that outlined the match modifications for both NM M1 and M14 rifles - it doesn't appear that flash hiders were reamed in 1967. So along with the ventilated handguard, this is the other part that is probably not technically correct - but I used it anyhow for accuracy purposes. (The reamed flash hider likely became standard in the 1968 season based on Army's then-new AMU build guide).
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AMU-style untizied gas cylinder with a lightly polished gas piston (USGI parts).
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Vintage 1967 M118 Match ammo for display purposes with this retro build. (Ammo can is later vintage)
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Vintage TRW match trigger group used on this project has an old yellow tape strip around the trigger guard to validate that the trigger pull was tested and measured at least 4.5 lbs. This was done at the National Matches and other sanctioned competitions. Group has "2656" lightly etched on the top of the trigger housing, which was the last 4 digits of the original match M14 that was it was once paired with. Tuned trigger pull is a 4 lbs 11 ozs. Note the highly polished hammer. The USGI sling is unmarked but it came out of of package with a July 1966 packing label, so its correct for this replica.
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Source: 'The Long-Range War: Sniping in Vietnam' (1994), by Peter Senich, page 16. He shows the AWC /G&H mount with M84 scope, as 125 match-grade sniper rifles were sent to Vietnam in this configuration circa 1967. (A shipment of 226 of these M14 sniper rifles were also sent in early 1969). Sometimes referred to as "pre-XM21" sniper rifles.
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This picture was taken in Vietnam in early 1969, showing a 101st Airborne sniper with a new National Match M14 with AWC/M84 optic set-up. This veteran stated the following about his then-new M14 sniper rifle:

"We received brand new, right out of the box National Match M-14s at the 101st Sniper School at Camp Eagle, Vietnam in January of '69. And we had that all powerful M84 Scope that usually had so much condensation it was useless."


....the monsoon climate in Vietnam was indeed hard on scopes of that era, but there was an urgent need for an optic-equipped M14 sniper rifle at the time, so the old 2.2x M84 scopes were pressed into service. (The XM21s were not officially adopted until Sept 1969).
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Vintage AWC/G&H/M84 optics set-up mounted on the NM M14 replica, along with the M65 canvas scope carrying case (left side). It was a primitive set-up with a scope designed in 1945 and a G&H scope bracket designed in the 1930s and used in the M1C Garand snipers, but the scopes and mounts were available in the supply system and thus shipped to Vietnam in 1967.
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Regarding accuracy, here's my 100-yard 'Dirty Bird' entry using this rifle back in Oct 2019. My middle-age eyesight with iron sights is a limiting factor now, but sometimes I'll do okay. Scored a 99-5X with this replica NM M14 that day - which was good enough for me, all things considered.
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Last but not least, here’s my 100-yard grouping with the same ‘Dirty Bird’ target - but with a well-used 1960s era Tasco 3-9X scope and Basset scope mount. A score of 100-6x is indicative of the rifle’s accuracy potential when not constrained by my suboptimal eye sight with iron sights. Group size was 1.7” inches for all 10-rounds, but minus the flyer at 3 o’clock - 9-shots went into a uniform 1.3” cluster, so it’s probably a ~1.5 MOA rifle with match handloads. Anyhow, it was a fun retro-build and I’m happy with how well it turned out.
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Below are the parts used for this replica of a 1967 National Match M14 rifle

• USGI flash hider reamed to NM specs
• USGI NM front sight (marked “NM 0.62”)
• NM/Unitized gas cylinder (AMU “drill and tap" method)
• Barrel – Vintage Canadian Arsenal standard weight NM barrel w/ May 1967 date (TE= ~1)(Thanks PFC Thomas)
• USGI gas piston (lightly polished)
• NM spring guide (USGI/AMU style fabricated two piece ‘drill rod’)
• Recoil spring – New silicon spring (Treeline Associates)
• Rear handguard (slotted version used for aesthetic purposes on this build, thanks M1 Army)
• USGI (HRT) bolt w/ USGI internals
• USGI (HRA) op-rod HRA
• USGI trigger group with USGI parts – (match trigger job, “2699” stenciled on side)
• Springfield Armory Inc. receiver (7k serial block circa 1977, non-lugged)(Thanks Forceman)
• Rear sight – USGI ‘NM’ base w/ ‘M’ pinion & hooded NM rear aperture
• USGI Springfield Armory early M14 National Match stock form 1963-64 era with original minimal bedding job. (Small area near buttplate repaired and stock professional refinished).
• USGI M14 selector lock w/ related faux parts from Hawk
• Sling – USGI 1907, unmarked, spare sling (packing paper in bag with sling is dated July 1966, thanks HarryB)
• USGI M14 cleaning kit installed in buttstock
OPTIONAL: AWC scope mount w/ vintage M84 scope converts it into an early Vietnam era M14 sniper rifle.

Thanks again to the various m14 forum members who helped me with the retro project. Its much appreciated.

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