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Improvised M14A1 sniper rifles in Vietnam era (1968 article)

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I decided to resurrect this topic regarding M14A1s in sniper rifle configuration as used in Vietnam era, as I now have a better understanding of this subject. Here's the M14A1 sniper rifle as it appears in Peter Senich's book, The Long-Range War (1996). It is listed as part of the West Point Collection. The stock was apparently glass-bedded. (Note: I think this is a birch stock, and I suspect it was pulled straight out of a crate of new E2 stocks, as they were shipped without the buttplate and front handle, and the armor for the 1st Calvary improvised by fitting a standard M14 buttplate and standard M14 front swivel to this rifle).



To begin, I was under the impression that the West Point museum M14A1 sniper rifle, as seen in Peter Senich’s book, with a birch E2 stock, AWC scope mount, and M84 scope, was likely just a ‘one-off’ or ‘ad hoc’ M14 sniper rifle used in Vietnam by an officer in the 1st Calvary (reportedly circa 1970-1971). However, I went back and re-reviewed a section in Lee Emerson’s excellent book, M14 Rifle History and Development (Vol 1, 2016 edition, pages 166-167), which noted: “Less than 100 M14 rifles were fitted with walnut M14E2 stocks for use as sniper rifles" in Vietnam. Emerson’s reference comes from a January 1968 article in American Rifleman, and I was recently able to obtain and read that article for myself. Long story short, I found the info in this old back issue both interesting and specific, so I decided to post an extended excerpt from the article for anyone interested.

Excerpt from article: “Snipers in Vietnam Also Need Firepower,” by Louis A. Garavaglia, American Rifleman, January 1968, pages 18-19:





“...During my Vietnam tour of duty as a first lieutenant with the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol Company of the 4th Division, U.S. Army, a sniper detachment was made an organic part of our unit. All who volunteered for this had firearms knowledge and experience before entering the Army.

The detachment was divided into 3-man teams which usually operated at considerable distances from conventional troop units. If spotted and attacked while moving to or from an objective, the team was on its own. Its survival dependent on being able to deliver ample firepower.

At first the sniper detachment had no standardized Table of Organization and Equipment and so we had plenty of latitude in our choice of weapons. This let us intensively range test the Winchester 70 and Remington Model 700, the scoped bolt actions used by Marine snipers, and compare them with the M14, M16A1, and 3 versions of the Russian AK-47 Assault Rifle. (My note: The author is pictured with a captured Czech Model 58 Assault rifle, so I suspect that may have been one of the three variants tested).

Our area of operations, the Central Highlands, ran the gamut from very dense to very sparse vegetation. The bolt actions would have been ideal for the 800-to 1000-meter shots the later areas afforded, but they couldn’t deliver the volume punch the 3-man teams needed to fight their way out of jungle ambushes.

The M16A1functioned well when kept cleaned and lubricated properly, and had the added advantage of light-weight ammunition; the AK-47s scored high in ruggedness and the capacity to function even with deteriorated ammunition. But we finally settled on a modified version of the M14.

The M14s, all made by Harrington & Richardson, were modified as follows:

1. Selector switches were installed, to provide volume firepower capability.
2. Straight-line stocks designed for the M14E2 were mounted. With no drop at the comb and an almost vertical pistol grip, these were more comfortable for use with a scope than the standard stock and gave better control of fully-automatic fire.
3. M84 2.2X scopes were attached by a single, heavy coin-slotted screw which engages the hole in the left side of the M14 receiver. The scope has a sliding sunshade and detachable rubber eyepiece. Its reticle is a tapering vertical post with horizontal crosshair. The scope showed a tendency to slip out of zero when first used, but we solved the problem by removing all lubricant from the contact points. Rust was preferable to inaccuracy.
4. Light clamp-on bipods designed for the M16A1 were substituted for the bipods originally made for the M14 because we felt the latter were unnecessarily heavy. The clamp-on bipod snaps neatly onto the M14 gas cylinder just in front of the spindle valve.

With M14s thus modified, seasoned marksmen, firing from the prone position at 700 meters, had no trouble hitting the Army “E” type silhouette targets, which correspond roughly to a man in kneeling position. And this range was far greater than most of those at which hits were later made.

On missions, M14-armed snipers carried nine 20-round magazines loaded 18 rounds to the magazine: 2 (mags) of the match-grade ammunition; the remaining 7 (mags) were loaded with the 7.62mm “duplex” round. In a fire fight, snipers would eject the match-grade, switch to “duplex” and flip the selector switch to full-automatic for volume fire.”
***
I found the details of that 1968 article interesting as it was written by an informed soldier who obviously knew first-hand the operational details and the specific configuration of the improvised M14 sniper rifles that were used by the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) Company of the 4th Division. (And when he wrote it, he wasn’t relying on distant memories from 3 or 4 decades prior – it was during the conflict – early 1968.) The second back-issue that I read was a September 2007 article, "The Specialized M14: Diehard Defender," by Chuck Karwan, American Rifleman (Note: Chuck Karwan is also a Vietnam Veteran, whose tour of duty was 1970-71):



“…The first serious effort to get M14 sniper rifles into the field in Vietnam involved 300 National Match M14 rifles fitted with World War II-vintage M84 scopes, shipped in Match 1967. The M84 had only 2.2X magnification, a 7/8” diameter tube and mediocre optics, but was better than nothing.

The M84 was mounted to the M14 with a two-piece base similar to that of the Griffin & Howe scope mount on the M1C. The lower base, which was developed by Army Weapons Command, was screwed to the integral M14 single-position receiver mount. The upper base was originally made for the M1C by G&H during World War II. It attached the scope to the lower base via a sliding dovetail secured with two locking levers. This system allowed the upper base and scope to be quickly removed or replaced with excellence retention of zero. Interestingly, my rifle for about five months of my tour in Vietnam was a customized, glass-bedded M14 fitted with that exact mount and scope system.”
…Two comments regarding that section. First, the M84 scope was designed in 1945 at the end of WWII, but was not exactly a “WWII vintage” scope as recall they were not actually made until the early 1950s, during the Korean War. Secondly, Peter Senich’s book states that 125 national match rifles with the AWC/M84 scope set-up were sent to Vietnam in March 1967, not the 300 that the author stated in the 2007 article. However, Senich also notes in the same paragraph that in addition to the 125 sniper rifles, 425 of the “prototype M14 mounts” (AWC mounts) and 356 M84 scopes were also sent to Vietnam that year, so I guess it is possible that 300 or more M14s were in fact outfitted with the AWC/M84 set-up once these detached optic systems arrived in Vietnam.

So, perhaps both authors are correct; maybe 125 NM prepared M14 sniper rifles with attached scopes were made “stateside” at Rock Island Arsenal and sent to Vietnam, and another 300 M14 rifles were converted “in country” with the loose AWC mounts and M84 scopes that were subsequently sent to Vietnam that same year. Regardless, the 2007 article has an interesting picture of an M14 with birch E2 stock and M84/AWC scope set-up, the same rifle seen in Peter Senich’s book, The Long-Range War. (Note: This rifle is noted as part of the West Point museum collection, and Chuck Karwan was a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam as a Company Commander of the 1st Calvary Division. It is not clear if this is the actual rifle that Karwan carried during his tour circa 1970-1971, or a replica of his M14A1 sniper rifle, as made by armors for the 1st Calvary.)


Caption from picture:
“A National Match M14 fitted with the 2.2X M84 with 7/8” tube developed for the M1D Garand was the first serious sniping M14 of the Vietnam era. The mount was a two-piece unit, with its top borrowed from the Griffin & Howe mount developed for the M1C Garand. In 1967, 300 such rigs were shipped to Vietnam. This rifle is fitted with an M14E2 pistol-grip stock. The author carried just such an M14 in combat in Vietnam.”
***
Bottomline: I initially thought the West Point museum M14A1 rifle as seen in Peter Senich’s book was probably just a ‘one-off’ or ’ad hoc’ M14 sniper rifle used in Vietnam. However, after reviewing articles written by these two Vietnam veterans who served in different Army Divisions, and whose tours of duty were roughly 4 years apart – it is clear that an M14A1 sniper rifle with the AWC/M84 optic system was not exactly a one-off variant. In retrospect, it appears that perhaps dozens of these improvised M14A1 sniper rifles were likely used in Vietnam beginning around 1967 by members of the Army’s 4th Division, and it is apparent that at least one such rifle was used as late as 1970-71 during Chuck Karwan’s tour of duty in the Army's 1st Calvary Division. In addition, Karwan’s article also notes that he was involved with troops equipped with the XM21 rifle, so both variants of these M14-based sniper rifles were being used concurrently. Summing up, Lee Emerson’s research noting that a limited number of M14A1 rifles were used as sniper rifles in Vietnam was apparently a more common variant than I had initially anticipated, even if vintage pictures of such rifles are unfortunately scarce.

Anyhow, there is no way of knowing exactly how many such rifles were used in this configuration by the 4th Division beginning in 1967, or any other Army or USMC combat units in the years thereafter, as it was a more or less an improvised configuration. Regardless, I thought these two articles add some interesting historical information to the forum’s ‘body of knowledge.’

As a side note, I think first lieutenant Garavaglia’s observations back in 1968 were correct concerning the ergonomics of the E2 stock and how it works fairly well with a scoped M14 rifle. Since I recently acquired an AWC mount and an M14E2 stock that has been glass bedded, I might as well try to make a tribute of an M14A1 sniper rifle to go along with my Vietnam era XM21 replica...so I guess that’s one more project to add to the list…
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Random: I purchased my first M1a in the early 2000s from a veteran who said he was an army sniper in country 68-69, it was in an E2 stock without a front handle, and had an early AWC mount with it. He said this was how he used it in country. He shared that the mount was his actual mount, but everything else was purchased in the late 70s. He did share that the front handle was removed from the E2 stock because it interfered with where he placed his hand. Interesting that the pics above do not have the front handle on the E2 stock. I have shared the reported use of E2 stocks by Army snipers in Vietnam with other collectors over the years, and I am told that was BS.......thanks for posting your research. Harry
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
HarryB, glad you liked the post. I wish you knew what division/unit that Vietnam veteran served in... I think the front handle is very useful to enhance controllability in full-auto mode, but in the sniper's role these are typically semi-autos with the selector lock installed, and removing the front handle might have made sense for prone use, etc.

Clearly the 1968 article discussing the LRRP use of 3-man teams preserved both options: sniper role with 2 mags of M118 match ammo - and 7 mags for suppressive/volume fire with duplex ammo. They probably retained the front handle based on the details outlined in the article.

I should note that the height of the Vietnam War was 1968-1969, and if the 4th Division was using M14A1 snipers for LRRP patrols back in 1967 when the AWC mounts first came into the country, my guess is that more such rifles were likely used after the January 1968 article - at least until the XM21s were available in sufficient numbers circa 1969. Indeed, if Chuck Karwan's sniper rifle was made as late as 1970, as reported by him, that to me suggests that M14A1s were indeed used even in the later stages of the Vietnam War as sniper rifles - apparently concurrently with the XM21s. Presumably the ergonomics of the E2 stock were in its favor.

Its too bad we don't have more vintage pictures of M14A1s in sniper rifle configuration, other than the famous West Point M14A1 sniper set-up. I suspect Lee Emerson contacted Garavaglia during his research, but I'll let him chime-in, if he see's this thread. Anyhow, I think its safe to say that at least two Army Divisions employed M14A1 rifles as improvised sniper rifles between 1967 and 1970-71.
 

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Good reading, excellent post. Thanks for sharing.

Interesting to compare to Iraq in the 2000's.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Interesting to compare to Iraq in the 2000's.
Yes, the McMillan M2A stock as adopted by the USMC in 2000 on their M14 DMR rifle appears somewhat based on the old M14E2 stock, with obvious improvements in material and features. The US Army M25 sniper rifle seen in the picture also used the M2A stock. Of course optics have also come a long way from the 1950s era M84 scope (only 2.2X magnification). However, you are correct that the Vietnam era M14A1 sniper rifle is sort-of the spiritual predecessor to the DMR and late M25 rifles regarding basic configuration.
 

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I recently put my JRA in a birch E2 stock without the rest of the E2 hardware, with a plan to add a modern optic in the future. And here I thought I had an original idea... Oh well, it's nice to know the Army thought it was a good idea long before I did.

Great information and research. Thanks for posting!
 

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As a side note, it's very interesting that the one article states that snipers carried duplex ammunition in the field for volume fire. I knew that the US tested duplex ammunition extensively as part of Project SALVO, before switching to the Small Caliber High Velocity concept. It was part of an effort to improve the firepower and hit probability of the infantryman. It worked, but did not increase hit probability enough to meet the Army's goals and was not officially adopted to my knowledge. I did not realize that duplex ammunition had ever been issued for field use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
As a side note, it's very interesting that the one article states that snipers carried duplex ammunition in the field for volume fire.
Yes, I thought that was very interesting as well. A full 7 mags of it were carried on their missions in Vietnam's highland areas.
BTW, I have only 5 rds of duplex, which is marked "WRA 64". (I need to find an affordable box of Duplex ammo for display purposes...).

 

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Yes, the McMillan M2A stock as adopted by the USMC in 2000 on their M14 DMR rifle appears somewhat based on the old M14E2 stock, with obvious improvements in material and features. The US Army M25 sniper rifle seen in the picture also used the M2A stock. Of course optics have also come a long way from the 1950s era M84 scope (only 2.2X magnification). However, you are correct that the Vietnam era M14A1 sniper rifle is sort-of the spiritual predecessor to the DMR and late M25 rifles regarding basic configuration.
Shamelessly copied, but relevant photo. A Marine and his rifle.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Resurrecting this old thread, as it stimulated my interest years ago in building a replica of something similar to what was used by a 1st Calvary Officer in the Vietnam war. Again, the initial inspiration:
456145

..and 3 yrs later, here's my retro replica. I obtained the figured E2 NOS stock this month, and the repo buttpad this week from a local buddy, and while I still need to fit a full-length faux connector rod, and do some other minor tweaks, like hunting down the correct swivel buttpad hardware, it's pretty close to complete. I hope to try it at the range this month, but in the meantime, thought I'd post a few pics of my latest project, an "M14A1 Improvised Sniper rifle" as used in Vietnam circa 1970-71.
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Scope mount is an old Army Weapons Command or 'AWC' unit that was first used in Vietnam in 1967, and some found their way onto a few dozen M14A1s with E2 stocks that year on US Army Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) rifles, per an article published in January 1968 in American Rifleman.
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I need to thank Ren for this repo muzzle stabilizer that I bought from him years ago. It's a nice part.
456143

I'll post a range report once I give this rifle a try. (Donor is 1980 SAI Supermatch, 14k serial range).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
...can you give me a swag on how effective that muzzle brake was and did it alter accuracy ?
I have not tested it with the muzzle stabilizer. They were developed to keep the M14A1 more controllable in select fire mode, but an old timer M14 gunsmith told me it "killed the accuracy."
I'll likely try it at some point just for grins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Historical footnote: Stith/Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4x scope & US Army evaluations re M1C & M14 rifles

While never adopted by the U.S. Army, it should be noted that the Stith/Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4x Telescope with crosshair reticle and the Pachmayr ‘Lo-Swing’ Telescope mount, was evaluated in 1953 and was formally recommended by the U.S. Army Infantry Board (USAIB) as the replacement for the M84 (2.2x magnification) scopes on the M1C sniper rifles of that era. As noted in R. Blake Steven’s book, U.S. Rifle M14: From John Garand to the M21, (1982), page 274:

Office, Chief of Army Field Forces approved the recommendation of the USAIB and recommended that the Stith Telescope and Pachmayr Mount be classified Standard Type (my note: STD A in Army terminology) and issued to replace the M84 telescope and M1C mount. However, no procurement action took place.

I don't know why the procurement didn't take place, but around that same time period circa 1953, the Army had decided to replace the M1C sniper rifles with the less complex, simpler to manufacture M1D rifles, and thus procuring new mounts and scopes for the soon-to-be obsolete M1C rifles may have been deemed as superfluous. Moreover, in July 1953 the Korean War ended in a more-or-less truce, and perhaps the demand for upgraded M1C sniper rifles dissipated after the cease fire.

(Note: By the early 1950s the USMC was also not satisfied with the M84 scope and its limited 2.2X magnification, and around 1952-53 they adopted a modified version of the Stith-Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4x scope that utilized large elevation & windage turrets with audible clicks. It was designated it as the ‘MC-1’ telescope. The Marines continued to use the M1C rifles with MC-1 scopes model until the early-1960s, when they designated their inventory of 30-06 caliber M1C rifles as obsolete).

Although not adopted in 1953, the military’s interest in using the Kollmorgen Bear Cub 4X scope apparently continued into the M14 program. Blake Steven’s book shows pictures of several experimental Pachmayr ‘Lo-Swing’ mounts that were tested on prototype M14 rifles at Fort Benning, GA circa 1958. Of the eight telescopes and experimental Lo-Swing mounts that were evaluated circa Nov 1958, one of them is listed as the “Hinged Scope Mount Assembly (SAD 40577) for Kollmorgen Bear Cub telescope.” (Source: Blake Stevens, U.S. Rifle M14: From John Garand to the M21, page 275.) Here's a T44E4 with the USMC version of the Kollmorgen 4x scope, the MC-1 scope, along with the early hinged mount circa 1958.
Air gun Trigger Shotgun Machine gun Line


Fast forward to 1966, in an effort to satisfy the urgent requirement in Southeast Asia (SEA) for a telescope-equipped sniper rifle, the U.S. Army Weapons Command tested a hinged version of an M14 scope mount with the M84 scope. The experimental hinged mount apparently had some deficiencies, and was not adopted. AWC subsequently developed a simpler, fixed scope mount for the M84 that was used in quantity in Vietnam, beginning in 1967. However, the U.S. Army’s 1966 report again determined that the M84 scope was the “least suitable element” of the proposed M14 sniper rifle system, and made a reference to the previous recommendation regarding the Bear Cub 4X scope:

“As a result of a test conducted by USAIB in 1953 (the last conducted by USAIB on sniper scopes), it was recommended that the Stith Bear Cub 4X Telescope and the Pachmayr Lo-Swing mount with minor modifications, be standardized and that they replace the M84 telescope and mount. The results of this current product improvement test led to no change in the USAIB’s previously stated conclusions regarding the M84 telescope…"
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"Conclusions: US Army Infantry Board concludes that: The hinged telescope mount for the M14 rifle will not be suitable for sniper rifle use in SEA until the deficiencies and as many of the shortcomings as feasible are corrected...The M84 telescope is unsuitable for use as a sniper rifle telescope, except under some low light-level conditions…A variable power telescope or one with a minimum of 4X magnification is needed in the sniper rifle role. Provision for adjustment of the telescope to obtain proper eye relief is also needed.”

So, with that history in mind, I recently installed my vintage Kollmorgen 4X Bear Cub scope on my M14A1 configurated rifle, given that it was formally recommended by the U.S. Army Infantry Board as the replacement for the M84 scope. I suspect that if it had been procured back in the 1950s, it may have been subsequently used on M14 sniper rifles in Vietnam – perhaps in a slightly modified form similar to the USMC MC-1 scope. Anyhow, just for grins, here's my M14A1 configured in what theoretically could have been used in the early stages of Vietnam - if the Army had adopted it - which it did not. (I have not yet tested this configuration at the range, but hope to do so next month):
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This is an old Bassett mount that I had Cerakoted, and the 30mm Leupold rings have 26mm reducers for the Kollmorgen scope since 1" rings won't work. So the scope is vintage late 1950s era along with original leather scope covers, but the mount and rings shown are contemporary parts.
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Apparently in 1967 some of the the Army's Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) units used the flimsy XM-3 bipod (for the M16) on their improvised M14A1 sniper rifles - as it was much lighter than the original M2 bipod. So I put one of this rifle, but it does look a little odd.
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Just a random post of a fictional but sort-of hypothetical configuration of an 'improvised M14A1 sniper rifle w/ 4x Kollmorgen scope'. Of course the XM21 was developed in 1968-69, and the adoption of the superior 3-9X Redfield-based AR TEL scope finally retired the little 2.2x M84 scope that the Army had been using up to that point of the war...and by then US military's interest in the 1950s era Stith Kollmorgen 4x Bear Cub telescope was relegated to a historical footnote at that point.

(BTW, the story of the Bear Cub scope doesn't quite end there, as Redfield purchased the rifle scope part of the Kollmorgen company in the early 1960s, and from there, they went on to provide the USMC with the 3-9x Redfield scopes in 1966-67 for their new M40 sniper rifles. One can see the similarities of the Bear Cub's rear ocular component with the later Redfield scopes of the 1960s era).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Update to this old thread. I recently purchased a well-used walnut E2 stock from Ted Brown, so it looks like I'll be able to do an early version of an improvised M14A1 sniper rifle. Still need some screws for the buttpad, a data plate for the M84 scope, and a donor M1A action, but it looks like I'll be able to build something similar to what is described in the January 1968 American Rifleman article from this thread's original post. I think this one will have a neat patina once it's finished.
Fixture Gun accessory Trigger Composite material Natural material

I got a good deal on the stock as it has an old arsenal repair/splice at the front end, and it lacked hardware. I think the original front handle assembly pulled out of the stock and it cracked it, so a large splice was installed as a repair. On the downside the walnut patch doesn't match as well as I'd like, and one or two of the holes they drilled was slightly off. I might ask M1Army to refinish and stain that area once he get's his workshop back up and running. Lots of character in this old stock, likely fielded in the 1960s, and it completes my small collection of wooden USGI M14 stocks.
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To mitigate this issue, SA developed a metal plate to fit in the barrel channel which reinforced the attachment of the handle. Fortunately I have one of those USGI kits for this stock, as seen here.
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Just an fyi post about a future project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Here's a quick update re my long-awaited early Vietnam era 'M14A1 improvised sniper'. The wood patch on the bottom of the forend has been stained to match the rest of the stock, and stock metal was added, so I mocked it up. (Note: this E2 stock will not be refinished any further, it's being left as-is, to preserve the original patina). I don't have an extra 5-line SAI receiver at the moment, so I am using the barreled action from my replica 1967 NM for the time being. I can thank Ted Brown for the vintage SA walnut E2 stock - it has tons of character and patina from its prior service life in the 1960s. In fact, it has 5(!) brass pins reinforcing the side of the stock at the selector lock and side wall areas - although there are no cracks, so it presumably was done as a preventative/strengthening measure.
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(Yes, I realize that the NM rear sights and 1967 NM barrel are not correct for this M14A1 sniper replica, but they are vintage USGI parts). These rifles retained their select fire switch per a Veteran whose unit used these in 1967, so I used a faux one for this project (courtesy of Hawk).
Air gun Machine gun Trigger Shotgun Gun barrel

Hard to see here, but the DAS stamp is present on the stock, so it was possibly one of the 8,350 M14A1 rifles delivered from SA to the US Army in late 1964. The scope mount is a vintage AWC mount circa 1967ish. If you look closely, one can see the two small round wood plugs used to repair the stock were the original M2 bipod dinged-up the forend. Surprisingly for such a well-used E2 stock, the trigger guard to stock lock-up is actually quite tight - it required a tap from a rubber mallet to close the trigger guard. That was a nice surprise.
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Lots of character on this stock. Here you can see where the original fore grip had presumably cracked the underside of the stock, and a wood splice was carefully installed to repair that area (possibly at SA). If you look closely, the there are also two small circular wood plugs were installed where the original M2 bipod had dinged-up the stock. I'm not going to install a grip on this stock, but after this picture was taken I swapped the position of the front swivel so the sling loop is towards the front.
Air gun Trigger Wood Machine gun Shotgun

Got lucky and found a loose original E2 buttplate for this stock (made by APEX). So stock has USGI parts - aside from the rubber buttpad, which is a reproduction part. Also acquired the original swivel and bushing for the rear sling attachment parts, so it works as intended.
Air gun Trigger Wood Gun barrel Shotgun

Anyhow, that's my replica of a "improvised M14A1 sniper rifle" as used by the US Army's 4th Division Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) soldiers back in 1967. I'll try it at the range this summer.

On edit: Here's my NOS figured birch E2 stock (made by Canadian Arsenal) compared to my issued/fielded walnut E2 stock (made by Springfield Armory). Bipods shown are the flimsy M16 bipods from the Vietnam era, which were reportedly used by by the LRRP soliders with M14A1s due to their lighter weight relative to the M2 bipod.
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If you look closely, one can see that the birch stock is somewhat thicker in profile compared to the early SA walnut stock. It's just a little bit dimensionally beefier in most areas.
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Just an random post regarding the odd-ball improvised M14A1 sniper rifle configuration.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here's the email I just got back from the author of that 1968 article. I had asked him if he remembered whether or not they used the unique muzzle stabilizer sometimes seen on M14A1s when used in the Squad Automatic role:

You've done a dandy job of re-creating the sniper rifles we used back in 1967---my compliments. Yours certainly LOOK like the ones we used. Never, though, did I ever see one of those muzzle stabilizers, and I believe I would have remembered such an item.

My only question would be about the front handgrip. I don't recall whether we left them on the rifles or removed them (or whether they were removed by some other authority). Unfortunately, I don't have any old pix that would address this question. Perhaps only continued research will tell the story.
He previously offered this little snippet of his service in Vietnam when I first contacted him:

I'll dig out the original full-length article and re-read it---maybe something else will come to mind. I do remember an incident in which one of my three-man teams had to shoot its way out of an engagement with a platoon-size North Vietnamese unit. I don't recall what weapons the team was using, but I'm copying one of them herewith, as he may recall the armament involved.

The question of weaponry at that time is a broad one---for example, at various times I carried an M3A1 grease gun, an AK-47, or an M1A1 Thompson.
....based on the article he wrote in early 1968, I suspect in that fight they were using an M14A1 and bunch of Duplex ammo...
 
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