M14 Forum banner

My Sino-American Retro Nostalgia Project

4121 Views 30 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Sporting Lad
(NOTE: This post is a pre-ramble to the thread about my M-14 Project Gun-- If you don't want to read all the introductory Forrest Gump stuff, just jump ahead to "Part 2" (upcoming in subsequent post).

It was the spring of 1962 in the USA. John F. Kennedy was President, and my peers and I were all paraphrasing JFK's immortal words, "What can we do for our Country?"
There were hints on the news about a 'trouble spot' somewhere in SE Asia that would have to be seen to, but the crisis at hand was in Berlin where the Soviets had just put up some kind of wall. I was about to graduate high school with no clear direction in mind, but I needed to make a decision. I wasn't ready for college and four more years of academics. My big brother was already a captain in the 101st at 26, but there was something about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane that just seemed wrong to me. No, I was a tank junkie for as far back as I could remember. During a family visit to Ft. Campbell, KY in 1961, he arranged for me to test drive one of their M-41 'Walker Bulldog' tanks, and from that moment I was totally hooked--all the firepower I could want, in an armored vehicle with gobs more hp than my Hot-rod Ford!

I enlisted in the U.S. Army as a 'Regular Army' soldier in January of 1963. Six months after graduation day I found myself at Ft. Dix, NJ in the dead of winter, with a Drill Sgt scaring the piss out of me. GI8 DISHOUT Wow, the first two weeks of Basic really sucked. Everybody want to go home. The thing that saved me from becoming a 'recycle' or worse, was the day I was issued my M-1 Garand. Oh, man, it was like,
"Baby, where have you been all my life?"
We spent the next six weeks of Basic living with and learning about the M-1 rifle. On the final day of our "Trainfire" qualification, I was two rounds away from a perfect score when a target rose up at 300 yards. I took my time and punched it.
It went down just as all the others had before it, but the 'Cadre Corporal' holding my score card wouldn't let me have it--"Heh-heh, it was on the way down before you fired, troop." What a prick! When the final target of the test came up at 350 yards, I took a snapshot and nailed in (dead center, I'm sureGI2). He had to score that one as a hit and I ended up with the company's highest score.

Next stop was Ft. Knox Armor School and eight weeks of some really fun training in more relaxed surroundings. Yeah, our NCOs were not all psychotic killers! It was all tanks and .45 ACP.

Fast forward to a TO&E unit 'somewhere in Germany' where I'm low man in the crew of an M-48 tank. Wow, I didn't
care that I was treated like a general dogsbody, cos I had a whole new array of weapons to play with! GI2

It was there I was issued my first M-14. It was not 'love at first sight' in the same way as it was with the M-1. I wasn't sure if I liked that long, skinny barrel sticking way out in front like that, and the box magazine looked cool, but it was getting in the way all the time.
Thankfully, we didn't have to stow them on board the tanks--when we were in the tanks, the M-14s were sleeping in the arms room.
We got them out for cleaning, pulling guard duty, qualifications, parades, and field maneuvers not involving our armor. Sometime I'll tell you the story of the CO who insisted that the M-14s must be carried on-board the tanksGI5

Time went on, as did the formative years of transition from late adolescence to early adulthood. Over the following years we got a new M-60A1 tank, and I eventually got moved up to tank commander.
I thought I had found my place in life.

But Kennedy had gotten murdered, the war in Vietnam was really heating up, and the times were a-changin'...

OK, enough stories of army life, let's get to my project gun! GI2
1 - 20 of 31 Posts

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
My Sino-American Retro Nostalgia Project (Part 2)

After I got out of the Army, I met a northern girl and ended up moving to the west coast of Canada. Because I didn't want to be getting hassled at the border, I left my entire gun collection at home. Incidentally, I was just talking to a guy who came up same time I did, but he did bring his guns! Ach, but that was many years ago...

When I started looking for surplus M-1s in Canada I was shocked and disappointed to learn that they were very rare and hard to buy here. I was told that many M-1s were cut in half with a torch on government orders to avoid having them fall into civilian hands. And M-14s were just 'unobtainium', so I just put that idea out of my head.
I got caught up in the Canadian lifestyle and lots of different things.

~~~~~~~~~~~~(Insert time lapse footage here.)~~~~~~~~~~~

It was just last winter (several guns later) and I was not even thinking about milsurps anymore, when I found my old gun license in a drawer. It was expired. In the process of renewing it I found myself spending more time at our 'Mom&Pop' "fishing shop". That's where I saw my first "made in China" NORINCO M-14S. I could hardly believe it--here was something that looked like an exact copy of a USGI M-14. Actually, it's not a "copy", per se--I'm told that the Chinese government bought not only the licensing rights, but also all the old M-14 tooling from the US (clever people, these Chinese). With a synthetic stock, it was priced (brand new) at under $500! It took me another month to pull myself together and decide that I had to have one. When I went back in, the first gun I'd looked at earlier was gone, but in its place stood a shorter version, a... carbine variant of the old M-14. How cool is that??


· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
My Sino-American Retro Nostalgia Project (Part 3)

OK, I liked this rifle a lot, but I was still going for the look of my original, so that black synthetic stock would have to be replaced by a true walnut USGI one.
I did manage to find one here in Canada--it's definitely the real deal as it has a gaping hole for the selector switch. There was that attempt to turn many of these rifles used in the early days of the Vietnam war into light machine gun replacement for the BAR. Well, not really. But it was a good try!
The previous owner told me this stock had been in Vietnam, and that's certainly possible due to it having that selector hole (the M-14s we had in Germany were semi-auto only). The stock was priced right, but man, did it ever look like a beater--it was so dirty and greasy it was almost black.
Here it is alongside of the (black) synthetic Chinese stock.

And here's the gaping hole c/w some sort of epoxy somebody used to close a split in the wood.

There are two smaller patches, one on the left side, and the other on the ventral gas vent.

Here you can see what appear to be deep scratches, a dent or two, and even some old paint.

I wasn't holding out much hope for this bit of antique furniture, but I dropped my barreled action into it for a day out at the range. At the 50 yd sight-in it shot a nice tight little group at six o'clock, just at the bottom of a 6" dot. That was all I had time for, but it was enough to tell me that spending some time in restoration might be worthwhile.

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My Sino-American Retro Nostalgia Project (Part 4)

I started by stripping off all that nasty dirt and oil with "Heirloom Heavy Body Paint & Varnish Remover". Goop on the gel, wait 20 minutes, wipe off the resulting guk with a rag.
I was finding the guk difficult to remove with the rag, so I used some mineral spirits to make it flow more easily. 'Meh'...I gave it another treatment, this time leaving the stripper on for 45 min. It seemed to work, so I wiped it off, set it aside and went to bed.
The following day I looked at the stock and was a little disappointed--where I had expected 'clean', it really didn't look very different. I had an old can of "Poly-Strippa" on the shelf and, following directions, I painted it on, waited 30 minutes, then scrubbed it off with hot, soapy water, rinsed it well and 'Set aside to dry'. The following day the stock was looking better.
Now I think that the mistake I made on day 1 was using the mineral spirits to wipe off the guk--it seemed to just thin it and spread it out, then put it back into the wood. ROOL1
Oh, well, what's done is done. I could always go back and repeat the process w/o the spirits...

At that point I decided to see what the stock would look like after a light sanding with 150 grit.

I avoided sanding the stamped mark or rounding off any angles worse than they already were.


Then it was time to perform "The Popsickle Stick Trick", as required of Norinco owners in order to prevent the operating rod spring keeper from coming adrift.
You can see little brass pins have been driven in at some places to help hold things together. It's pretty obvious that I'm not the first person to have worked on this old thing...

I used "Gorilla Snot" to hold the stick in place. So far, so good.

· Registered
6,658 Posts
Cool. Nice rifle... have you removed the gas plug/piston yet?

I've actually modified a couple of chicom stocks to fit american actions... so the reverse of what you're doing.

Looking forward to the final shots of your stock.
  • Like
Reactions: Sporting Lad

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, I have removed my gas plug and piston a number of times.
Why do you ask?

Actually, one of my projects on the go is to fit my M-6 bayonet to this rifle. I think it's going to require trimming about 1/16" off this gas plug, if that's even possible. Otherwise I'll need to get a correctly sized one made.
I'm going to get a replacement plug before I start fooling with this one, tho--in case I wreck it while I'm fixing it. GI5

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Er, where was I? Oh, ja, I left you just after the sanding stage. At that point I was trying to decide what to do next. I had a lot of choices. Boiled Linseed Oil? I'd finished a Mosin-Nagant this past summer by applying multiple coats of "BLO" rubbed in one at a time, then three coats of furniture wax.

I was very happy with the way that turned out, but that's not 'the look' I wanted on my M-14.

How about "Minwax Tung Oil Finish" (TOF)? The CMP boys seem to feel it's a viable alternative that goes on and seals everything pretty good. I actually have an unopened can right here on my bench, so applying some of this stuff was very tempting, especially since I was unable to locate a store that carried my Holy Grail, "Pure Tung Oil" (PTO).

The day before I was to begin the Minwax TOF two things happened:

1) Reading further into the extensive CMP essay I discovered that, because the TOF seals the stock so well, PTO or BLO or much of anything else could not successfully be applied over top of the TOF--those oils will not soak into wood that has been sealed. That made me a little nervous. On the plus side, the ToF seemed like a low maintenance way to finish a stock and have a nice 'military look' that would stay looking good for a long time. On the other hand, it seemed too much like a 'finish of no return', ie if I didn't like the result, I'd have to go back and ...strip it all off. I don't like having to wage chemical warfare against thirsty old wood. If only I had some of this elusive PURE TUNG OIL I could rub some of that in, then apply the TOF to seal it...

2) Later that day, in a fit of desperation, I went out with little hope of success, to our little Mom & Pop hardware store and...I could hardly believe it--they had a tin of the PTO! Pop reached up on the top shelf and placed it gently on the counter. "We don't get much call for this stuff anymore. Nowadays everybody wants a quick and easy way...." I was out of the store before he'd finished talking. This was good. This was very, very good.

That evening I went over the stock with 0000 steel wool and wiped it down with a tack cloth. That was supposed to be 'it' until morning, but I couldn't resist. 'I'll just rub a drop or two onto some spot on the stock that's not too noticeable,' I mused. 'Rub it in real good, just to get a glimpse of what it might look like if I did the whole thing'. Hey, it looked good and it was bringing out some grain where I hadn't noticed it before.
Half an hour later the entire first coat was on and wiped down.

Here's what it looked like the next morning:

My plan for the handguard was to do a rattle can job of mid-Hershy Bar brown (satin) to mimic the original version, but first I took some of that 0000 steel wool to it. The more I rubbed, the more the flat black finish began to take on more of a 'blued steel' look.

So I'm undecided now whether to give it the paint job or to leave it in this state.

Wow, I was surprised and pretty darned pleased with my result. It seemed too easy.
If that's what it looked like with just ONE coat of the PTO, I wondered-- What would two (or more) coats look like? (to be continued)... GI2

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here's the genuine. But who's that kid??

I found this 3x5 at the bottom of a footlocker yesterday. It's one of only a few pics left from my Army days, and the only one where I'm holding my M-14.
It was taken 50 years ago! GI3

It was 1963 in Germany's "Fulda Gap". I was 19.

I'd been out riding around in a jeep, delivering documents to the border posts. There was this PR guy from the Regimental newspaper
wanting some pics for their next edition. He had me pose for this.
It was captioned "DEFENDER of the FREE WORLD" GI6
(I hope the Soviets didn't read our papers--I don't think this pic would've worried them very much!)

We hated those hats--made us look like 'The Foreign Legion'.
They gave me those dorky 'USGI' glasses in Basic!
I'm considering using this as the first half of a "then and now" pic... GI2

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Selector switch

Here's the faux selector switch I got from Brownells. It's a quality bit that will fill that gaping hole effectively while adding to the retro look.

It's a nice, sanitary installation that affixes to the stock, not the receiver. I drilled two holes, slightly undersize, and put a dab of Gorilla Snot into the holes. The screw then gets screwed and that roll pin gets tap-tap-tapped down. I seated it with a centre punch. If you add one to your rifle watch the vertical alignment off your bore holes or you may need to tap the switch to one side or the other after it's on.

To operate the "switch" you push in and turn.

I've yet to blend that epoxy patch around the hole...

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Insight on sights:

I've just ordered an M-1 Garand rear site. It's not likely to improved the fuzzy view I'm getting of the blade, but it will help me accomplish two things that the Norc peep will not:

1) The clicks will be 1 MOA consistent. No more guesswork vis. "Was that really one click or 1-1/2?", and if it's like the sight on my old M-1, it will stay where I set it and not go off zero after ~20 rounds.

2) It may allow me to install an aftermarket aperture compatible with the M-1 pinion gear:

http://www.shootingsight.com/rectangular ap - for m1.html



IDK whether the apertures designated as "National Match" will work with the USGI pinion gear. They may be "1/2 MOA" (?). I'll need to research that today, unless anyone out there in the peanut gallery can tell me...

I'm trying to stay trad with this rifle (within the limits of my visual acuity) so I don't want to scope it unless I have to.
I'm working with an eye doc on a pair of 'shooting glasses' that I'm hoping will give me a sharp picture of the front sight as seen thru the aperture.

Should the only way I can get optimal accuracy is with a scope, then this is the only scope mount I am considering:

'Til next time:

· Registered
38 Posts
Unless I'm way off I believe the only difference between the NM sights and standard ones is that the peep sight itself rotates 180 degrees and that rotation moves it up and down .5 moa. the knob on the side is always 1 moa so you adjust to within .5 moa with the knob then adjust the peep then last .5

· Registered
136 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·

Now that you mention it, I do recall reading that someplace just a few weeks ago. If that's the case, then I ought to be GTG when the M-1 sight arrives in the post. I'll have to look into it further.
Thanks for that reminder!
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.