Enjoyed the read..
***“...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.”
…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.“…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.”
***“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.”