Sunday, December 14, 2008

M14 - WSHTF Rifle

OK. We have gone over the M14's development, the 7.62's performance, and briefly wandered through the various parts that make up a M14 rifle...Now for the reason all of that was important at all....When Sh*t Hits The Fan, I think that the M14 is, if not the best, one of the best firearms you can have in your arsenal (and more importantly in your hands).

The M14, with iron sights and a Rifleman behind them, can engage man sized targets out to 500 yards. At 500 yards, the 7.62x51mm FMJ round fired from a 22" barrel has more energy (*foot / pounds*) than a 5.56 (AR round, remember?) does at 100 yards... more than a 7.62x39 (AK round) does at 150 yards...That's a long range punch over both of the calibers you will likely see.

The idea here is that you can inflict casualties on your enemy farther out than he can on you. Not that I'm telling you to run out and form up shoulder to shoulder and fire on your enemies as they advance; what I am telling you is that you can hurt them before they can hurt you, as long as you see them first, and act upon it.

Penetration is another virtue of the 7.62x51mm FMJ round. Accuracy, another. The rifle itself is a sturdy piece of equipment - buttstroke a bad guy, and he breaks, not your rifle.

None of this is worth a hill of beans, though, if you have a defective or malfunctioning rifle. Hence the last two posts about quality of parts. A Chicom rifle for SHTF? Great, as long as you have had the necessary upgrades performed by a reputable gunsmith. SAI rifle that needs warranty work at SHTF +1 day ? Good luck getting your rifle to Illinois and back.

So what is my recommendation? Well there are a couple:

A) Pony up the cash, and get a LRB - either assembled at LRB or by one of a few gunsmiths. All USGI or better parts (as far as I am concerned, nothing SAI makes is better than USGI, ditto Chicom). A 22" chromelined barrel, FG stock, and (if you need it) a low power scope (1-2x).

B) Pony up the cash, and have your Chicom receiver inspected, and heat treated as necessary and then built by one of a few gunsmiths.

C) Get an early SAI, those had almost all USGI parts anyway, and if you are worried about it, send it to one of those gunsmiths and have them inspect it.

D) With any of these choice, I recommend getting a second bolt headspaced to the rifle. It's a dollop of insurance. Small parts that I recommend upgrading to: Smith Enterprise bolt stop (works like an AR bolt stop), Sadlak Mag release (bigger = better), Sadlak Op Rod Spring Guide (smooths the action and increases inherent accuracy in the rifle), Wolff Op Rod Spring (ditto that last), and try out a Sadlak TiN piston (This gas piston does not get as cruddy as quickly as USGI ones do, but it can impact your accuracy, depending on the diameter of your gas cylinder to the gas piston)

Some general recomendations: Buy lots of magazines (this would have been easier a couple months ago...). Buy lots of ammo (7.62 surplus. And ditto the timeframe). Shoot the rifle - everyone makes mistakes, and your builder can too. Shooting will help you find any bugs that do exist in your rifle. Practice with your rifle, mag changes aren't like those with an AR, cheek weld isn't what it is on your .30/30 deer rifle, and to be sure the trigger is not the same as your Remington bolt action. Practice shooting away from the bench.

Ok, now extra credit - some of you are asking "Well why not my XXX - it's in 7.62x51mm, and it is / was a lot cheaper than your $2500.00 M14!?!" My answer is that the M14 is more expensive for the same reason that a Colt pistol costs more than a HiPoint pistol - quality costs. An off the shelf or slightly used newer SAI will set you back around 13-1700 dollars. FALs, G3s, CETMEs, Galils, AR-10s all are cheaper - I am a firm believer in the "motorcycle helmet analogy". If you have a head worth only $50, by all means, please purchase a $50 motorcycle helmet. However, if you value your head at more than $50, by all means, purchase a better helmet. As we discussed before, the M14 is still in the service of the best funded military in the world...

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed. For any links or information you might be looking for, I will recommend one place to go - The M14 Firing Line Forum. Or, feel free to ask me :)

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