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A Little More History On The M14E2

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ENGINEERING DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF RIFLE, 7.62MM, M14E2. (18 DECEMBER 1963)

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Scope

Current information is presented on the design characteristics of Rifle, 7.62mm, M14E2.

B. Engineering Development of Rifle, 7 .62mm, M14E2.

1. Rifle, 7.62mm, M14 and Rifle, 7.62mm, M15 were classified standard on 23 May 1957. The M15 Rifle was the heavy barrel model of the M14 Rifle intended to be used for automatic fire. Tests by the Army and the Marine Corps led to the adoption of the M14 Rifle ·with the M2 Bipod and to the obsolescence of the M15 Rifle on 17 December 1959.

2. The User [United States Army Infantry Board] was dissatisfied with the automatic fire accuracy of the M14 Rifle with the M2 Bipod and, in early 1962, the United States Army Infantry Board (USAIB), Fort Benning, Georgia, with the assistance of the Army Marksmanship Unit fabricated and tested a modified M14 Rifle which became known unofficially as the M14 (USAIB) Rifle.

3. The M14 (USAIB) Rifle demonstrated that the automatic fire accuracy requirements (i.e., 80 per cent of the shots must fall within a 40-inch diameter circle at a range of 200 meters when fired in 2- to 3-round bursts) could be met consistently with this configuration. More M14 (USAIB) Rifles were fabricated and tested extensively.

4. Headquarters, U. S. Army Weapons Command instructed [Springfield] Armory on 7 August 1963 to prepare a technical data package for manufacture of the M14 (USAIB) Rifle and to adhere to the original configuration to the greatest extent practicable. Since there were no drawings or design data for the M14 (USAIB) Rifle, the Armory analyzed the USAIB and prepared preliminary design data and sketches. These sketches and data provided the basis for the engineering of a comparable design which would meet not only the operational requirements but also the quantity production requirements. This technical data package was completed 1 October 1963.

5. On 2 October 1963, Headquarters, U.S. Army Weapons Command, instructed [Springfield] Armory to completely redesign the front handgrip so that it would fold to the rear, present a small silhouette in the closed position, and provide greater comfort when the weapon is carried at sling arms. The Armory was instructed that this handgrip should also be adjustable longitudinally to accommodate the gunner’s arm length. In addition, a butt swivel should be provided which would pivot to the left side of the stock to permit side slinging of the weapon. The Armory was also requested to fabricate four rifles for confirmation of design by testing.

6. The handgrip assembly, stock assembly, and sling were redesigned and product engineered and four rifles were fabricated and tested by the Armory. On 29 October 1963, the design was confirmed by higher authority, and four weapons were shipped to the test agencies on 4 November 1963.

7. The new weapon was designated Rifle, 7.62mm, M14E2 (photograph below)

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[TO BE CONTINUED]
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Thanks, one or two questions about the M2 bipod. The earlier bipod was part #7790833 (it lacked a front sling swivel), and the later bipod 7790688 had the front sling swivel installed. Do you know what years the earlier vs. later M2 bipods (or drawings) were completed? I ask b/c the two part numbers would appear to be "out of sequence" with the lower number supposedly the "later" version, and the higher part/drawing number being the "earlier" version. From Frank Iannamico’s book (page 144):
Font Machine Art Toy Wood


Thanks again for the info. Per Iannamico's book, "During 1966, after extensive testing in the field, the M14E2 was formally adopted as the U.S. Rifle M14A1, 7.62mm (the A1 suffix represents Alteration 1)."

So the nomenclature changed after about 2.5 yrs of testing, and today folks on this forum seem to refer to both "E2" vs "M14A1" interchangeably, although the reference to an "E2 stock" seems slightly more common than referring to an"M14A1 stock." Just a random observation.

BTW, if possible, can you also confirm if the “M14 M (modified)” was just a standard M14 but with the early M2 bipod?

As noted in Frank Iannamico's book; U.S. Rifle M14: The Last Steel Warrior, 2018 (page 145):
Historical Note: Durwood Dean Gosney, who had the original inspiration of what was to become the M14A1 rifle, never had the opportunity to see his idea for the inline M14 stock adopted by the Army. Captain Gosney was serving as a MACV Senior Advisor assigned to the 5th ARVN Division when he was killed after the UH-1 helicopter in which was was a passenger, was shot down in the Republic of Vietnam on 7 October 1964. Thirty-one year old Captain Gosney was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major.
 

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Thanks for the that info. So is there a date attached to drawing P/N 7790833 from 1959? I read in Iannamico's book "An Army Maintence Work Order was issued with instructions to refit the older model bipods by installing a sling swivel and longer yoke pin." I am wondering if the 7790833 might have a 1959-1960 drawing assembly date? Again turning to Frank's book, he alludes to the "M14 (M)" on pages 127-129, and the early M2 bipod without the sling swivel is clearly seen in an undated picture:
Helmet Military person Military uniform Squad Machine gun

This below diagram is also undated, but what is really interesting to me is that the relatively obscure “M14 modified” or “M14 M” is shown with a very early M14 with M1 Garand buttplate and wooden handguard (circa 1959-1960), and the “M14 modified for BAR role” is shown with the flipper buttplate, a ventilated handguard, and the early bipod that lacks a swivel…(price list also refers to an almost mythical aluminum magazine as well, perhaps a spin-off part from the T44E6 program). I just wish the date was shown, but my guess is 1959-60-61:
Trigger Air gun Gun barrel Machine gun Shotgun

…hence my belief that bipod p/n 7790833 is indeed a bit earlier design than the 1964 version of the M2 bipod, chronologically speaking. What can be inferred is that SA felt the flipper buttplate would be needed on the “M14 (M)” stock for enhanced controllability in full-auto. I guess shortly thereafter a decision was made to just install the new “flipper” buttplate on all M14s circa 1961, and the whole “M14 M/modified” concept was scrapped, with Captain Gosney instead developing a prototype “pistol grip” stock circa 1962 (aka M14 USAIB rifle).
 

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The assembly drawing for the Rifle, 7.62mm, M14A1, with a 7 Jan 1964 date, shows the Bipod, M2, P/N 7790668
Fwiw, the reason I am asking about drawing dates is that I just purchased this early version of the M2, and I am trying to date it. Hence the curiosity about this particular part number drawing date.
Wood Auto part Metal Hand tool Engineering

That pin may or may not be original, but the old DAS stamp is original.
Wood Material property Hand tool Metal Fashion accessory


Fwiw, there was a flaw with the design of the original E2 stock - the soldiers would often crack the forend of the stock when pulling down/back with the front foregrip. In 1968 a Work Order and update kit was made available to add much needed strength to that area - via a steel mounting plate for the folding grip.
Font Wood Rectangle Auto part Metal

My early SA vintage E2 stock that I got from Ted Brown had an arsenal repair/wood splice at the forend, presumably due to the tendency to crack from pressure of the foregrip. My theory is this stock was likely/possibly one of the original 8,350 M14A1s delivered to the US Army in late 1964, and this rifle was subsequently fielded, where it acquired a lot of patina/character - along with some arsenal-based repairs afterwards.
Wood Rectangle Electric blue Hardwood Fixture

...and here's the stock channel with the 1968 update kit that I added (steel mounting plate):
Musical instrument Vehicle Automotive exterior Bumper Auto part

Also, the M2 bipods have a tendency to ding-up the stock pretty good when in the folded position, and my old E2 stock has 4 wood plugs in the areas where the M2 bipod had dinged it up. Lastly, and perhaps most interesting, while it has no cracks or damage to this area of the stock - it has 5 brass pins to reinforce the sidewalls of the stock. There are 4 on top, and 1 from the bottom. I guess these rifles when used in full-auto were hard on the wood E2 stocks, and I presume this ad-hoc strengthening measure done when an armorer repaired the front forend of this old stock:
Wood Recreation Magenta Event Flooring

Just some random pics/observations to add to the M14A1/E2 history.
 

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I was exhibiting an E2 at a local gun show this last weekend. Of all the Vietnam veterans who looked at it, only one told me he actually carried an E2 during the Vietnam war. Most of the others had never seen one before, or maybe they just forgot.
Video from January 1966, Ho Bo woods, several M14A1s in use (by both left-handed and right handed US Army soldiers). I would consider the 1965-66 era as 'early Vietnam war' era, more or less. (Note: an M60 barrel change is shown at 2:30 into the video, it had become 'burned out')

One of the rare pics/videos of the M14A1 muzzle stabilizer used in Vietnam:
Product Jaw Organism Font Recipe

I have read reports about them being used some in 1967 as well. However, my guess is the M60 general purpose machine gun was seen as superior to the M14A1, despite weighing much more. (The quick change barrel capability in the field was a key benefit of the M60, and a 200-rd belt fed system, was simply a much better general purpose machine gun, even if it was a heavy "Pig"). Barrel changes mainly required an insulated glove:
Camouflage Squad Military camouflage Military uniform Military person

As for recollection of Vietnam vets, it should also be noted that the height of the Vietnam war from a US troop level was 1968-1969, and perhaps by 1968 many M14A1s had been replaced by the M60s w/ infantry units? If that assumption is true, that may explain why so few Vietnam vets recall seeing them. (SA made only 8350 M14A1s in 1964, so it's not a huge number to begin with, compared with other infantry rifles). Not sure how that compares with M60 production levels in the 1960s.

Lastly, the M14A1 was formally declared obsolete in November 1970, so it had a very short service life...it just doesn't do well as a squad automatic rifle with only 20 rd mags. In a fire fight I suspect 200 rds in a belt fed machine gun is a better system. Tons of pictures from the Vietnam era show troops with M60s walking through the rice paddies and elsewhere in that war.

"The M60 later served in the Vietnam War as a squad automatic weapon with many United States units. Every soldier in the rifle squad would carry an additional 200 linked rounds of ammunition for the M60, a spare barrel, or both."
 

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Lysander I have one more question, what are the dates of these reports? (Month and year). I assume 1960 or 1961, but was curious when the so-called M14 Modified was specifically tested and ultimately rejected. (I don’t have access to such reports and it’s not in my reference books, hence the question):

“There are a few reports, mostly from USAIB, that refer to an "M14 Modified for the BAR Role", or M14 (Modified), almost immediately followed by: "hereafter referred to as the Test Rifle . . ." or something similar. So, it would appear that the working designation for an M14 with some form of bipod (not necessarily and M2) being used and a replacement for the M15 was known as a "Modified M14" or an "M14 (Modified)".
Fwiw, last night I reviewed some of R. Blake Stevens excellent book on the M14, and figured out the chronology of the original M2 bipod. As you noted the design was likely finalized in late (Oct?) 1959, and was ordered for mass production in November 1959, and presumably manufactured during 1960 or so (here’s the overall chronology in Stevens book):
Font Publication Paper Paper product Document
 

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This passage, written in October of 1959, indicates that by October 1959, the slotted plastic handguards and the shoulder rest buttplate were in production, or at least were install on the six weapons tested.
Thanks, that's good information re the ‘M14 (M)’ - and it shows that it took quite a while before the flipper buttplates were introduced, reportedly late 1960. I think the slotted handguards appeared by the spring or summer of 1960. (I've read that the steel strike of 1959 might have postponed deliveries of steel material needed for certain M14 parts, including the flipper buttplate).

c. A need for maintenance equipment for the test rifle was determined during the evaluation and service test of the T4AE4 rifle (ref 2 and 3, Annex D). The test maintenance equipment was fabricated by Springfield Armory to satisfy this need.
Speaking of cleaning/maintenance equipment circa 1959, and the much later M14E2/M14A1 program, here's a random pic showing the two kits for those respective eras:

At the top is a black 'short' tube at top is the original issued M14 cleaning kit circa 1959-1960. Garden Valley (RIP) called this the early "short tube" (its about 6 3/4" long) and contains the little gas cylinder wrench. I think the "long tube" cleaning kit was introduced circa 1961, which had the much improved M3 multi-tool, and the tube was about 7 3/4 to 8" long to accommodate the new M3 tool, per Bert.

Lastly, since the M14E2/M14A1 lacked any storage compartment area in the buttstock, a special belt-mounted vinyl pouch was developed and issued with the M14A1s. My two cleaning kits have a 1970 contract date, and carry basically the same items used in the buttstock of a standard M14.
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Just random fyi pic for anyone interested.
 

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I think Hytekternek has the only original T44E4 trigger group that I have seen. Can’t recall the one pic I saw, but I think the hammer might have an odd ball drawing number. (On edit) I found the pic of his legit T44E4 trigger group - note the unique center channel milled into that hammer...that's definitely not an M1 hammer (part number is unclear):
Finger Wrist Auto part Bumper Fashion accessory

Here's the T44E4 housing drawing number, along with the unique safety profile.
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Old post by Ted Brown:
“drawing numbers for the parts in the trigger group are:
D7267023 - Guard, Trigger and Stop Assembly
D5546008 - Hammer (later changed to D7267963)”

….thats my guess…
 

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As noted in Lysander's posts #29 & 31, there was an obscure "M14 Modified" or "M14 (M)" prototype configuration that was tested as a replacement for the heavy-barreled M15 as a Squad Automatic Rifle (as the Browning BAR replacement). Note: The M15 platform was canceled in late 1959:

"COMFIRMATORY TEST OF PRODUCTION MODEL RIFLE, 7.62MM, M14," 23 October 1959, (USAIB). Excerpt:
"...a. Evaluation and service tests of a number of different type rifles including the Rifles, 7.62mm, T44E4, and T44E5 were conducted by this Board in 1956 (ref 2 and 3, Annex D). These tests revealed that in general the T44 rifle system was more suitable for Army use than the other types tested. In May 1957 the T44E4 and T44E5 rifles were adopted by DA as the standard, rifle and automatic rifle respectively. The T44 was standardized as the M14 and the T44E5 was standardized as the M15 rifle. The test rifle is the production model M14 rifle modified to correct previously reported deficiencies. In 1959 this Board determined that the M14 rifle with a hinged butt plate, slotted handguard, and detachable bipod was suitable as an automatic rifle and recommended that it replace the M15 rifle (ref 6, Annex D).

...and...

REPORT OF COMPARATIVE EVALUATION OF BIPODS FOR THE M14 RIFLE IN THE AUTOMATIC RIFLE ROLE,” 29 October 1959, (USAIB). Abstract- compares the Type II bipod (bayonet lug mounted, the best candidate from the first report) with the Type III bipod (gas cylinder mounted). It also tests the suitability of the plastic handguards and hinged buttplate, both modified to correct deficiencies identified in SERVICE TEST OF RIFLE, 7.62MM, M14 MODIFIED FOR THE BAR ROLE. The handguard, now stiffened by longitudinal and radial ribs, the aluminum buttplate with steel shoulder support flap, and the Type III bipod are all approved as suitable for Army use."
***

As far as I can tell from those test reports circa summer/autumn of 1959, these six "M14 Modified" test rifles were the very first rifles that used the initial aluminum+steel production hinged buttplate and a ventilated fiberglass handguard. (Those two items would later be incorporated into standard M14 rifles during the mid-to-late 1960 era, but I thought I'd do a replica of that rifle given the early M2 bipod that I recently acquired). Interesting diagram in Frank Iannamco's book; The U.S. M14 Rifle (2018), page 128. (My guess this is diagram is from late 1959 or early 1960):
Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Parallel Gun accessory

So, for the heck of it, I took my replica of an SA NM M14 and mocked-it up as one of the six "M14 (modified)" or 'M14 modified for BAR role" rifles tested back in 1959. Per Lysander posts # 29 & 31, they consisted of an M14 with the prototype 'hinged' or 'flapper' buttplate, the newly designed M2 bipod (without a front sling swivel), the prototype ventilated handguard, and of course a selector switch. Top is my replica of an 'M14 modified' and bottom is my replica of the T44E4, which is what the standard infantry M14s looked like circa 1959-1960 (M1 buttplate; wooden handguard, no bipod - and selector locks are already seen on some of the archival pictures, so by 1960 the standard infantry rifle was presumably to be configured as a semi-automatic rifle - and the 'M14 modified' version would be the select-fire, squad automatic version with the selector switch, along with the M2 bipod).
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The motivation for doing this quick mock-up was the early M2 bipod that I found on this forum. This design was apparently tested in the summer of 1959, with the drawing finalized in the autumn of that year, and entering mass production in either late 1959 and/or 1960. Unlike the two prototype M15 bipods that connected to the special M15 flash hider, the so-called "type 3" bipod connected to the standard M14 gas cylinder. (Later M2 bipod designed circa 1963 has the front sling swivel for the special M14A1 sling, and a slightly improved 'claw' attachment mechanism).
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...Well, as noted in Frank Iannamico's book, around 1960-62', it had been determined that the "M14 Modified for the BAR role" was simply not accurate or controllable in full-auto, and thus it was not issued. However, the desire remained for a more controllable squad automatic rifle based on the M14, which subsequently led to the development circa 1962-63 of a new 'straight-back' stock with a pistol grip, and a forend grip (aka, M14E2 stock); revised bipod, special sling, and a muzzle stabilizer to control muzzle rise.

Anyhow, here's one more pic of what was supposed to be the Squad Automatic weapon circa 1960 as a replacement for the Browning BAR (an older 30-06 weapon). However, only a few prototypes were tested and the US Army decided that a new stock was needed to control the M14 in full-auto mode (as outlined in this thread re the history of the M14E2/M14A1 platform).
Wood Air gun Gas Gun barrel Trigger

Just my random contribution for today of an obscure M14 variant that had a very short life.
 

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Thanks, I honestly don't know how rare the early versions of the M2 bipod are. I suspect some have been modified back in the 1960s to use the front sling swivel from the later bipod, but my example had not been updated. A WTB ad is probably the best way to find one. Thanks re my T44E4 project, but you have not one, but two awesome examples...

BTW, when the legs are folded up - the M2 bipod easily swivels from side-to-side on the rifle, and often leave dings on the stock and a mark or two in the side of the handguard as well...so I was extremely careful when I folded the legs up for these pictures. Thus, I carefully removed the bipod afterwards, as I don't want to damage my vintage SA stock - just an fyi since you have an extremely rare original T44E4 stock, and I would hate to see it get dinged up with these old bipods....
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