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I rerun this from time to time as the question of how to properly maintain the rifle comes up often. This includes zeroing information:


Proper maintenance of your M1 or M14 rifle is essential to insure readiness and performance for any competition that you may enter. Proper maintenance is also necessary to insure optimum accuracy.

Here is a basic list of essential items required to clean and maintain your rifle:
1. Bore Cleaner
2. Bore brushes (30 cal.)
3. Cleaning patches
4. Lubricating grease
5. Crocus cloth
6. Wiping rag
7. Chamber brush
8. Cleaning rod
9. Tooth brush or equivalent
10. Combination tool or 3/8 inch box wrench
11. 5/16 inch and #14 drill bits
12. Small set of Allen wrenches
13. Screw driver and slip joint pliers
14. Gun oil and gun grease

This list includes items for both M1 and M14 rifles. Some additional items will be mentioned in the text that are optional. Items mentioned by brand name are my personal preferences. I have to say that because I can't officially endorse trade marked products without getting sued by someone who may not agree with my opinions on any given product.
That said, now I can get on with the procedures.

A. Daily cleaning:
1. After shooting is completed for the day (you didn't think I meant cleaning your rifle every day did you?) use a cleaning rod and patch to wet the bore with bore cleaner. Do not pull the dirty patch back through the bore as it will bring with it carbon and metal particles that may scratch the bore. There are many excellent bore cleaners on the market that all work very well. I find that plain old Hoppe's no. 9 works as good as anything and it has a great smell. Anyway, using a wet bore brush, swab the bore 10 times or until you can feel the brush going through the bore smooth instead of rough. Do not reverse the bore brush within the bore unless you like scratches in you bore... It is best to clean your rifle barrel with the rifle in the upside down position (sights down) to avoid getting solvent in the gas system.

2. Wet a chamber brush, insert it in the camber and give it 6 or 8 turns; remove the brush leaving the chamber and bore soaking at this time. I'll get back to them later.

3. Using a toothbrush and rag, clean the sights of all dirt and sight blacking. Sights should be cleaned after each use to insure that a build up of sight blacking does not cause a zero change. It also will prevent rust from forming under the sight blacking.

4. Using a wiping rag, remove all firm grip from the stock. A new coat of firm grip should be applied each day for best results. Old firm grip becomes hard and slick whereas a new coat of firm grip is soft and sticky. Don't apply firm grip to sights or moving parts of the rifle least they become sticky also. Clean all dirt, grease, etc. from the exterior of the rifle. A note on firm grip: firm grip is used to keep the rifle from slipping out of place during rapid fire events. I find it best to apply it to the butt plate and the palm of my shooting mitt rather than the forearm of the rifle. The stuff seems to transfer from my glove to the rifle anyway and it is easier to clean up. The rubber on some gloves doesn't require the use of firm grip. Some shooters spray it everywhere, but in fact, it's use should be kept to a minimum.

5. With a .45 cal bore brush, clean the inside of the M14 flash suppressor. This will prevent a build up of carbon or rust and allow rain to drain out easier from a reamed flash suppressor.

6. Clean the gas cylinder. M1 gas cylinders only require occasional cleaning to remove carbon build up. They are essentially self cleaning and rarely cause functioning problems. On the other hand, M14 gas systems are complex and require cleaning on a regular basis, specially prior to a major match. Remove the gas plug and piston using the combination tool or a 3/8 inch box wrench. The correct way to clean a piston is by using the #14 drill bit to ream carbon out of the small end of the expansion chamber and a 5/16 inch drill bit to remove carbon from the large end. Be careful to not remove any metal from the inside of the piston.

Do this operation by hand, not with a power drill. Special drill bits with handles are available from several manufactures. Use fine crocus cloth to clean the outside of the piston, being careful to not remove any metal from the surface.

Use a .45 cal bore brush to clean the inside of the gas cylinder. Be careful and don't scratch the cylinder walls. Clean the threads with a small brush so the gas plug will screw in by hand. The gas plug can be cleaned with a 5/16 inch bit to remove carbon build up inside the plug.
After all parts are clean, reassemble the gas system and tighten the plug to the same position as before disassembly. The gas system is designed to operate dry. Do not leave any solvent in the gas system. Recommended cleaning is every 350 to 450 rounds. If your piston sticks after only a few rounds, there may be a problem that requires a gunsmiths attention.

7. Clean the bolt face. Clean daily to remove brass fouling and primer compound build up that may have accumulated during the days firing. A heavy build up can change head space and cause inaccuracy. A dirty bolt can also cause a failure to lock up malfunction.

8. Finish cleaning the bore and chamber. Run a patch through the bore to remove the dirty bore cleaner we left in earlier. Brush the bore again 8 to 10 stokes with a wet bore brush followed by a dry patch. Run a wet patch through followed by a dry patch. Repeat until the patches come out clean.
I recommend cleaning every 300 to 400 rounds with a good non- abrasive copper solvent like Sweet's 7.62. This is done in addition to other cleaning to remove bullet jacket fouling that is a cause of inaccuracy.
Go through the chamber again using a cleaning patch wrapped around a chamber brush to get the last of the grimy stuff out.
If you leave the bore wet over night be sure to run a dry patch through before firing. A wet bore will cause the first shot to go high.
It is your responsibility to know the characteristics of your rifle barrel and when it needs to be cleaned. Some barrels need to be cleaned after 30 to 50 rounds, others may go 100 rounds before it requires cleaning to maintain accuracy. Generally, barrels will shoot better clean than dirty.

B. Lubricating the rifle.
All old grease should be wiped off and the rifle wiped clean before an application of new grease is applied. Use a light coat of grease and spread thin. Grease should be applied to:

1. Right side of receiver in operating rod rails.

2. Left inside of receiver in the bolt rails.

3. Bolt roller and roller recess in operating rod.

4. Operating rod inside stock channel.

5. Upper inside of receiver behind bolt

6. Note: do not over lubricate, it will cause a slow down in the action and may result in a malfunction. I use plastic-lube as it will not wash out in rain or thin out in hot weather. Do not use heavy grease like axle or bearing grease.

7. If rust appears on any exterior parts such as the barrel, flash suppressor, gas cylinder, etc., a light coat of oil should be massaged into the metal. Do not leave a heavy running coat as it may get into the system an gum up the works.

8. Never use oil or aerosol spray can around receiver, it will run between the receiver and stock bedding compound and cause looseness between the two resulting in inaccuracy.

C. Daily maintenance check.

1. Check Allen screw in front sight for tightness to insure front sight does not move.

2. Check flash suppressor Allen screw and lock nut.

3. Check gas cylinder plug for proper tightness. Proper tightness is when you use a combination tool or 3/8 inch box wrench and tighten until the plug is tight enough that you cannot unscrew it by hand. A stake mark or painted mark is a good indicator to mark plug so it can always return to the same position.

4. Check screw on rear sight elevating knob. If this screw is loose it will not move the sight up or down when you turn the knob. To tighten, run the aperture all the way down, hold the knob with slip joint pliers, and tighten with a skew driver. Now run the sight up to 300 yard zero and apply light thumb pressure to sight forward of hood (never apply pressure to hood) and check to see if sight does not move or fall to 0 clicks. If it does you probably should visit your gunsmith.

5. Check butt plate screws for tightness.

6. Check magazines for cleanliness and serviceability. Depress follower and spring to insure magazine will hold the desired number of rounds and work smoothly.

A few last thoughts on options. I recommend a one piece cleaning rod 24 to 25 inches long. Jointed rods tend to damage the rifling at the crown. A cleaning rod guide should also be used to keep the cleaning rod in proper alignment with the bore. Use a gas cylinder wrench to hold the gas cylinder when removing or tightening the gas cylinder plug. Gas cylinders can easily be damaged if placed in a vice or wedged with a screwdriver.

Proper cleaning and maintenance will allow you to get the best performance from your M1 or M14 rifle.

Aiming, Sight Adjustments & Zeroing
Your New M1, M1A/M14 Rifle

One of the most important aspects of competition shooting is for the shooter to have absolute confidence in his rifles ability to hit the target where he or she points the rifle. This must be true of the very first shot out of a cold barrel as well as the last shot of the match. For the shooter to do his part, good zeros have to be established. This instruction is designed to help the shooter aim, adjust sights, and establish zeros which will do just that. This information is mostly “borrowed” from the ALL NATIONAL GUARD HIGH POWER RIFLE SQUAD COACHES SCHOOL.

AIMING is the first fundamental of marksmanship taught to new shooters. There are four aspects to proper aiming: a. the relationship between the eye and the rear sight; b. Sight alignment; c. Sight picture; d. Breathing and aiming.

The shooter must place his eye in a consistent position behind the sight. This is done by using a spot weld where the cheek contacts the same spot on the stock for each shot, placing the eye about three inches from the sight.

The eye can focus instantly from one distance to another, but cannot focus at more than one distance at a time. To avoid distortion, shooters must look straight out the middle of the eye and not out the top corner of the eye. Try to keep your eye and head in a natural position to eliminate eye strain and involuntary eye movement. The eye will focus best in it’s natural position, looking straight out of the center of the eye.

Correct sighting is to look through the rear sight and focus on the front sight, then on sight picture and back to the front sight. Do not fix vision on the sight picture for more than several seconds. When you look at an image for to long you burn the image into the area of perception. This image may be mistaken for a true sight picture and will damage performance.

SIGHT ALIGNMENT is thee relationship between the front and rear sight with respect to the eye. This is the most important part of aiming because any error in sight alignment is multiplied by range. The farther you shoot, the greater the error will be.

Correct sight alignment is to center the top of the front sight, horizontally and vertically in the rear aperture. The human eye has a natural tendency to center objects and you will shoot more consistently with this method.

SIGHT PICTURE is simply adding the target to sight alignment. Place the target at the top of the front sight with the blade just touching the bottom of the bulls eye. This is known as the “6 o’clock hold”. It creates a distinctive aiming point that looks something like a lollypop. The 6 o’clock hold gives the most consistent results in shot placement.

BREATHING is very important with respect to the aiming process. Lets face it, we all have to breath. It is difficult to hit the target with your lips turning blue. However, breathing has to be controlled in order to avoid high and low shots that result from your chest expanding and contracting when you breath. Proper breath control requires the shooter to breath normally, let the breath out and stop at the moment you have your sight picture, then you start your trigger squeeze. A respiratory cycle lasts for four or five seconds. Between each cycle there is a pause of two or three seconds and this is the time you should fire the shot. If your sight picture is not right or you have not settled down during this pause, stop and start the sequence over again.

In rapid fire you must exhale and lock your breath when you have the sight picture, squeeze off the round, recoil, come back on target, inhale and repeat the process for each shot.

SIGHT ADJUSTMENTS must be made when your shot or shot group is not centered. Each click of elevation will move the point of impact one inch at 100 yards. Each click of windage will move the point of impact one inch at one hundred yards with standard sights or one half inch with National Match sights. The hooded aperture on NM sights can be rotated to change elevation one half inch at 100 yards. The rule is: move the rear sight the same direction you want to move the point of impact of the bullet. In order to hit the target in the first place, you must determine your rifles zero.

The ZERO of the rifle is the sight setting in elevation and windage to hit the center of the target at a given range on a day when no wind is blowing. To obtain this setting, you must first create a mechanical zero that will insure a first round hit in the ten ring with the sight set for distance and no windage.

To set the mechanical zero, first adjust the rear sight to index on the center line on the back of the receiver. Raise the aperture to the known distance you are going to shoot and fire a three shot group on the target. At two hundred yards you should be centered with not more than eight clicks or less than four clicks. If your sight is below four clicks you will need a taller front sight. If you are above eight clicks you can file down the front sight blade. A change of .008” (eight thousands) of an inch will change the point of impact about one inch at 100 yards. Be careful to maintain the angle at the top of the sight blade and keep it square on top.

To change the windage, with the index mark centered, move the front sight the opposite direction that you want to move the impact of the bullet. Another words, if you want to move the impact left, you must move the front sight to the right, etc. Remember that this must be done on a day with no wind blowing. Once the mechanical zero is set, mark the top of the windage knob with a spot of paint so it will be easy to tell how many clicks out of index you are at any point when shooting.

Disregard the numbers on the elevation knob. They are calibrated in meters and it is more accurate to count clicks up from the bottom setting when adjusting the rear sight.

Setting the mechanical zero will help eliminate errors and keep you on target. The NO WIND ZERO may not be the same as your mechanical zero. This must be established when shooting in position and can be verified by checking the mark you have put on the windage knob. Always keep a record of sight settings used at different ranges and wind conditions.
The change in elevation from 200 to 300 yards is up three clicks and from 300 to 600 yards is up eleven clicks. This may vary with different shooters. It is up twenty-one click from 600 yards to 1000 yards.

The effects of wind are more complicated and will not be discussed here.

Remember, there are three distinct zeros for your rifle. The mechanical zero, the no wind zero, and the zero required for you to place your shot on the center of the target under the existing conditions.

Is there a printer friendly version of this somewhere?
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