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U.S. Rifle 7.62mm, M14

On 12 February 1957, after a development program that spanned 13 years, and an expenditure of over 100 million taxpayer dollars, the M14 rifle was presented to the press and public during a ceremony held at Aberdeen Proving Center. Almost immediately, criticisms were voiced over the "modern," "lightweight" infantry weapon, which looked remarkably like the Ml Garand rifle and weighed only slightly less. More criticism would be forthcoming due to numerous production problems that were later encountered with the new rifle.

The M14 rifle was formally adopted on 1 May 1957, to replace the Ml Garand rifle as the "Standard A" infantry weapon of the United States Armed Forces. The M14 that was similar to the Ml rifle evolved from a long series of experimental and prototype weapons. The developments that led to the adoption of the M14 began in 1944, with the T20 series of Ml rifles. The T20 rifles were Ml Garands modified for both semi-automatic and full-automatic operation. The M14 was chambered for a new cartridge designated as the 7.62mm NATO. The 7.62 round was approximately half an inch shorter in its overall length over the previous .30-caliber M2 (30'06) round used in the M1 rifle, with similar ballistics.

With its new "short" 7.62mm cartridge, the M14 was expected to replace the Browning Automatic Rifle, Ml rifle, Ml and M2 carbine, and the M3A1 submachine gun. Originally, there were to be special variations of the M14 produced to replace these weapons. The special heavy-barrel Ml5 was to supersede the BAR. A compact version of the M14 rifle with a folding stock was intended to replace the carbine and submachine gun. Due to limited budgets, the special-purpose M14 rifles never evolved past the prototype stage.

The M14 rifle and the newly adopted M60 7.62mm general-purpose machine gun were expected to fulfill all of the needs of the infantryman, while using one common cartridge. The M14 as originally configured weighed 10.7 pounds with a loaded 20-round magazine. The overall length with the early Ml-style buttplate was 44.14 inches. With the later flip-up buttplate, the length increased to 44.3 inches.

The Springfield Armory was not intended to be a large producer of the M14 rifle, as it had been with the Ml Garand, manufacturing millions of them during World War II and the Korean War. Instead, the armory was directed to work out a pilot production line and provide technical support to commercial contractors that would place bids on the job of manufacturing M14 rifles for the government. The manufacture of the M14 was bid on and won by several civilian contractors that included Winchester, which received four contracts, Harrington and Richardson, five contracts, and Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, Inc. (TRW), two contracts.

Harrington And Richardson, Inc.

At the time of its M14 contract award, Harrington & Richardson, Inc. was a well-established firearms manufacturer. H&R had previously manufactured weapons under contract for the U.S. government. The company had planned to manufacture the M14 rifle at low cost by utilizing much of the government-owned machinery and equipment it had being stored at its facility, which remained from the company's 1950s Ml rifle contract. The company also planned to use a large number of subcontractors to manufacture and supply parts. Parts produced at Harrington and Richardson Arms Company were generally marked "HRA" for manufacturer identification; subcontractor parts were usually marked "HR" with a letter suffix identifying the subcontractor. For example, in the marking "HRT," the letter T represented the Textile Machine Works.

Harrington and Richardson operated three factories located in Gardner, Worcester, and Rochdale, Massachusetts, and a fourth plant in ElmGrove, West Virginia. After H&R's 1968 M16A1 contract ended in 1971, all the plants were closed except the Gardner plant at 60 Industrial Rowe.

Phillips Metallurgical, Inc. was a subsidiary of Harrington and Richardson, located in Swanton, Vermont. The company was a foundry, which supplied H&R and other companies.

Five of the 11 M14 rifle contracts were awarded to Harrington and Richardson, Inc. for 537,500 M14 rifles and related services and equipment. Total amount awarded for the five contracts was $64,887,763.49.

Harrington and Richardson was the only known commercial contractor to make one-off variations of the M14 rifle in an attempt to generate more interest in the M14. However, the effort resulted in only a small number of each variation.

H&R 7.62mm Guerrilla Guns

The government wanted Harrington & Richardson Arms to develop a shorter, lighter version of the M14 rifle. The project was headed by Donald L. Hennan at H&R's Worcester, Massachusetts, factory. One of the primary objectives was to reduce the M14's weight. The barrel was shortened to 15.5 inches, and fitted with a cone-type flash suppressor-gas cylinder assembly. The exterior contour of the barrel chamber was reduced, and the receiver and trigger housing were machined to remove as much steel as possible. The Guerrilla gun was two pounds lighter and 5.5 inches shorter than a standard-issue M14 rifle.

According to H&R literature, the weapon was designed for jungle, counter-insurgency, paratrooper, and tank crew use. The Guerrilla guns had two-digit serial numbers with a letter X prefix. The model designation on the receiver heel was R-14. There were fixed- and folding-stock variations. There were 13 Guerrilla R14 rifles sold at H&R's asset-reduction sale in 1985.

The .22 Caliber M14 Trainer

Harrington and Richardson developed the M14 Simulator, a select-fire training rifle that had the feel and weight of the caliber 7.62mm M14. The selling point of the Simulator was reduced training cost for the military, stating that a 7.62mm cartridge cost about 10 cents, while .22 ammunition used by the Simulator cost only 1.6 cents. According to H&R literature, the trigger pull, weight, and configuration of the Simulator were the same as for the M14 rifle. The cost of training and improved marksmanship could be drastically reduced, and many of the small-bore indoor firing ranges could be used for year-round training.

H&R 7.62mm Reising

As a less-expensive alternative to the M14, H&R's Eugene Reising made a select-fire experimental rifle, with a few features that were similar to those used on his Model 50 submachine guns. Like the Reising submachine gun, the 7.62mm model used a tilting bolt to lock the bolt in battery. The gas system was a cut-off type with a piston, similar to that of the M14.

The End Of Harrington And Richardson, Inc.

On December 3, 1984, Harrington and Richardson of Gardner, Massachusetts, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws. In a press release, C. Edward Rowe Jr., company president, said the company was forced to seek reorganization because of declining business and a major product liability claim in Pennsylvania. In addition to the Pennsylvania claim, Mr. Rowe estimated there were 12 additional product liability cases pending against the company.

In November 1985, it was revealed that there were several parties interested in purchasing Harrington and Richardson and its subsidiary, Philips Metallurgical, Inc., a foundry located in Swanton, Vermont. During December, Harrington and Richardson was granted permission by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Worchester, Massachusetts, to continue operating under a current plan of asset reduction until a new hearing was scheduled. The asset-reduction plan was estimated to generate one million dollars. H&R's attorney, John Sigel, said the asset-reduction plan generated more funds than the company had expected.

In February 1986, Harrington and Richardson filed a proposed sales agreement to Chisholm Industries, Inc. of New Jersey, for 2.9 million dollars. The agreement from the sale of the company, along with liquidation of remaining assets and current accounts receivable, would be enough to pay all secured debt and priority debt, including back taxes, according to the company attorney. The sale was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on February 20, 1986. Chisholm Industries was formed specifically to buy H&R.

Chisholm backed out of the proposed $2.9 million purchase after a study revealed the presence of hazardous waste in the soil and groundwater samples taken from the factory property. Soil samples were found to contain evidence of industrial solvents, xylenes, and lead. The engineering firm doing the study said it was unable to find the source of the groundwater contamination.

By the fall of 1986, a new buyer was found for the Harrington and Richardson company, Vincent Sheil, Inc. Paul A. Senecal, an investor in Vincent Sheil, Inc., and former director of sales and marketing at Harrington and Richardson, said the new company would continue to manufacture firearms. A $1.5 million offer was made for H&R's assets, including equipment and machinery, and the assets of the Phillips Metallurgical, Inc. foundry. The new company was to operate under the name New England Arms. The agreement allowed the new firm to lease the 60 Industrial Rowe property, and operate the business without being held liable for cleaning up the industrial waste found there. A portion of the sales profits would be set aside for the Harrington and Richardson estate to clean up the waste. The new firm could then consider buying the property for an additional 1.5 million dollars, once the materials were removed.

On December 20, 1986, the sale was approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The sale of Harrington and Richardson to Vincent Sheil, Inc. saved jobs and kept the company's assets from being liquidated at auction and the factory sitting vacant.

This article was excerpted from the 2nd edition of the book The U.S. Ml4 The Last Steel Warrior, available soon from Chipotle Publishing, (

Caption: One of the weapons the M14 was to replace was the M3A1 submachine gun. The submachine gun is a compact weapon ideal for use in an armored vehicle or helicopter. The M14 would need to be made more compact to fill the submachine gun role.

Caption: Shortening the barrel resulted in excess muzzle flash. To solve the problem, H&R fitted the Guerrilla guns with a special flash suppressor.

Caption: In an attempt to fulfill the role of the submachine gun, Harrington & Richardson conceived a compact version of the M14 rifle they called the Guerrilla Gun.

Caption: A brochure describing the Guerilla Gun.

Caption: The underfolding Guerrilla Gun stocks were also fitted to standard production M14 rifles. The stock is a close copy of the WWII MP40, which was copied and used on the Soviet AK-47.

Caption: The Guerilla gun receivers were marked R14 in place of the M14 designation on standard rifles.

Caption: The Guerilla gun was also manufactured with a fixed stock.


This article was excerpted from the 2nd edition of the book The U.S. M14 The Last Steel Warrior, available soon from Chipotle Publishing, LLC.
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Author:Iannamico, Frank
Publication:Firearms News
Date:Jun 10, 2018
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