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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
“…you go to war with the army you have---not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
- Donald Rumsfeld, 2004


DISCLAIMER: Professionals know the limits of the tools of their trade. The M16/M4 family of weapons and the M14 are each adequate for their respective applications. The following is a collection of first hand observations and opinions, which may not align with the reader’s view of reality.

In 2005, I deployed to Afghanistan. Our unit was sent to Oruzgan province about 80km north of Kandahar. The standard issued personal weapon was the M4 with CCO. We had one sniper, with his issued Remington and accoutrements. It didn’t take long to see the weaknesses of the M4 rifle in that combat environment. The vast majority of engagements occurred against enemy fighters that were very familiar with the effective range of our M4s. The enemy maintained a stand-off distance of at least 600yds. At that range, the 5.56 launched from the 14.5” barrel demonstrated lack luster terminal performance, and the CCO fell short on target acquisition because the red dot obscured the target and the area surrounding the target at that distance.

Searching for targets over 600 yds away. Even when targets were identified, it was difficult to engage with the weapon/ammo combination. Enemy was also out of range for the Randall Model 1.


We submitted multiple requests for more adequate weapons systems and optics. As we waited for some relief, each individual warrior improved their weapon systems as much as they could. Most spent a great amount of their own money for equipment. I chose to cannibalize the lower receiver from an M16A2 and attach my M4 upper. The fixed stock of the M16A2 was more durable and stable than the telescoping stock of the M4. I had a wife and 5 kids at home, so ordering an ACOG was out of the question. I mounted a Burris 3x9 with Ballistic Plex reticle on steel rings atop my Frankenrifle. While not tacti-cool, this system improved target acquisition and hit probability, but did nothing to improve the terminal ballistics - and only marginally extended the effective range.

Trophy pic standing next to a large marihuana plant. Note the Frankenrifle, unauthorized optic with fixed buttstock.



Eventually, Christmas arrived. Santa-in-a-Blackhawk brought us a crate… containing about 6 M14s in varying states of disrepair with assorted mis-matched accessories which included Leupold scopes, mounts, and magazines. Ammunition was a different story. Somehow, our sniper procured a limited supply M118LR but not enough for everybody. We de-linked ammo for the M240, which was in large supply.
We were excited to have something more appropriate for the current battlefield. (Remember the military’s conclusion during Vietnam that most infantry engagements happen under 300m and a greater number of smaller projectiles poorly aimed is better than a fewer number of larger projectiles well aimed). We unpacked the rifles and other gear. The M14s were regular issued infantry rifles of long past. No special accuracy work had been done. The full-auto selectors were locked. A couple had walnut stocks; the remaining had early synthetic stocks. The service grade rifles coupled with machinegun ammo promised to be entertaining in the least. We picked the ones that looked to be in the best shape, attached the scopes, and proceeded to the EOD pit to test-fire and zero. I found one of the wood stocked rifles to be a good shooter.

M14s were zeroed iron-sights first, then the optics. Various stock configurations were represented.


This wood-stocked M14 with this scope would shoot just over 2 MOA with the de-linked M240 ammo.


The EOD pit produced two good shooting guns, both with wood stocks. One rifle wore the Leupold for the rest of our tour. The other gun received a new coat of tan Krylon and shed the optic, in favor of the iron sights. The lack of a cheek-piece on the stock made use of the scope clumsy. We were successful in acquiring targets with binos and transitioning to the irons for applying the appropriate medicine. With only two rifles fit for duty, we took turns carrying them on missions, with individual duties determining who would carry what weapon system.
The M14s proved very reliable in the desert conditions. The scope mount would loosen often and had to be constantly checked for tightness. The sniper-observer team proved potent out to 800+ yards. This resulted in pushing enemy fighters even further away, beyond the effective range of their RPGs, which was comforting.

Sniper-observer team providing over watch on a cave entrance as others maneuvered to investigate the enemy position.


This sniper/observer had no trouble covering the cave entrance at that distance. The combination of precision fire and high-volume aimed fire proved effective.


The M14 was also used to mark distant targets for the M2 .50cal and MK19 40mm. This was particularly illustrated during a night mission on one occasion. Our hummers conducted a security halt along the top of a long finger. It was dark and everyone was scanning for targets along a taller mountain ridge on our left flank. Using the night vision scope, the sniper observed an RPG team on the mountain within 800m. The sniper put in a 20rd mag of tracers – for just such an occasion – and radioed to the trucks for the gunners to engage the area of his tracer impacts. He did, and they did, and the RPG team was obliterated.

The M14 handled the vast distances encountered on the Afghanistan battlefield better than the M4. While heavier than the M4, the weight did not inhibit the climbing of mountains to obtain over-watch positions – and the .30 recoil was comforting.


While I have an extreme bias towards .30 caliber infantry weapons, the M4 handled much better in CQB situations. Terminally speaking, the .30 is much better, especially at distance. Comparing the two side-by-side in the combat zone was enlightening. I now characterize the M4 as the M1 carbine of our time, and a far cry from an Infantryman’s Rifle.


Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
Psalm 144:1
 

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Thank you for the first person story with pictures to boot Scary. Well done.

GI5
 

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Great thread - I enjoyed the pics and narrative!

More importantly - Thank you for your service too!

M1Army
 

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Scary, heck of a write up, and great photos. Funny how those old girls, although dusty and worn, are able to outperform the new kid on the block (for typical Afghanistan engagements). Thank you for your service.
 

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Enjoyed the read and pics.
 

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Great write up Scary. Thanks for your first hand insight and your service. Things hadn't changed much in the five years to my deployment in 2011. If we didn't bring it, we didn't have it (small arms related). I need some, no all the M14s that were demilled.
 

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Very nice write up sir!

Being the fanboys of this platform we are, I'll be the first to ask.... Do you have specifics on the continually loosening scope mount you guys used?

Too bad you weren't able to post this during your tour, I'm sure you would've been donated a quality mount &/or anything else you needed just to help ensure you're safe (and effective)!

Thx for your service.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Very nice write up sir!

Being the fanboys of this platform we are, I'll be the first to ask.... Do you have specifics on the continually loosening scope mount you guys used?

Too bad you weren't able to post this during your tour, I'm sure you would've been donated a quality mount &/or anything else you needed just to help ensure you're safe (and effective)!

Thx for your service.
I'm sorry, I do not have specifics on the scope mount. I didn't know much about M14 mounts back then. I was intimately familiar with the iron sights from shooting them in competitions.

I'll browse for pics of it, maybe you can identify it...

Do these tell you anything?

Left side


Right side


Right rear
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Feel free to ask any questions. If I don't know the answer, I won't B$ about it. I say "I don't know" everyday. It doesn't sting anymore...GI2
 

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Great write up. Although I have no plans to ever use my M14 on a two way range it makes me glad I didn't choose an AR/M4 equivalent instead. And thank you for your service
 
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Scary,

This was an excellent read, and reflects well on the officers/NCOs that requested those "old fashioned rifles" be brought to you. GI's will always make the best with what is given them, but in this case, there was a niche the M4 was just plain not filling.

You might find this thread interesting...Why the M14 Sucks...

http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?t=382254

I find it funny how the keyboard "experts" opinions whither up and die in the cold morning dew of reality. I caught hell for my little comments in post 5, 9, 34 & 36 & on page 2. I figured a BAN was inevitable not long after that. It is what it is...LOL!

Did you know you are "old & stubborn" if you come to the defense of the M14?
There may be some truth to that statement, but the soldiers mentioned in this thread are anything but.
 
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