Air Force EOD Adopt Mk14 EBR. 5.56mm Lacks Range.

The Air Force has borrowed Mk14 EBR rifles from the Navy to equip their Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams. They needed a rifle that was accurate at longer ranges than the M4/5.56mm was capable of. Air Force Times reports

Airmen with the 466th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, Operating Location Delta, operating in Helmand province, last month began carrying the Mk14 enhanced battle rifles with larger 7.62-millimeter rounds than the normal M4’s 5.56-millimeter round. The new rifles were necessary because the M4 carbines were not accurate enough to reach insurgents firing from a distance, according to an Air Force release.

“It’s simple math — the enemy was engaging us at distances from which we couldn’t effectively return fire,” said Capt. Brandon Goebel, the 466th executive officer, in the release.

It is incredible that the shortest-lived service rifle in US military history is still in such demand decades later. While the rest of the Western world (UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand etc.) are adopting modern 7.62x51mm rifles, the Army, Navy and Air Force have spent decades trying to build their own AR-10 rifle with little success. Both the SR-25 and M110 were expensive and unreliable. They are now trying to find a replacement for the M110. Meanwhile USSOCOM seem to be happy with their FN SCAR-H rifles.

Many thanks to Peter for the tip.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • I didn’t know the SR-25/M110 had reliability issues. Maybe they should look at how the Brits like their LMT L129A1s.

    • Esh325

      They did have reliability issues, was reported a few years ago. I imagine the problems are most likely fixed.

  • Esh325

    What’s very ironic is that the air force disliked the M14, and spear headed the adoption of the M16. Now it’s gone full circle.

    • sianmink

      Except that the usaf wanted the m16 to replace the thompsons it was using for base security, so, purposes change.

      • Pete Sheppard

        Actually, the Air Force was using M1/M2 carbines. This whole M4 ‘carbine’ thing is funny, since the AR15/M16 was itself originally conceived as a carbine to replace the M1/M2.

        • Kosme

          It’s not that i don’t trust you, I just like reading about this kindo of things.

          • Esh325
          • Pete Sheppard

            Thanks; I read about it years ago, but the source is long forgotten.

          • big daddy

            Thanks I think that sums it all up pretty good. In actual battle not on some science experiment the 5.56mm round fails in comparison to even the 7.62×39 through a quality rifle. The real Russian AKM is not a quality rifle, it’s very inaccurate.

            The way to go is with the 6.8mm SAMMI spec 2 in a piston driven AR type rifle with a slightly increased size to accommodate the round.

            How about a piston AR-10 that can fire the 6.8 and 7.62NATO with a change of bolt and barrel. And leave the M-4/16 for those air force security troops.

  • Esh325

    I imagine they are running the more specialized 7.62×51 ammo like MK 316 Mod 0. I don’t think regular M80 would suffice. It does create logistical problems having two different calibers like that. Would sniping 5.56×45 ammo combined with a long 24 inch barrel perhaps bring the round on par with the 7.62×51 in such applications?

    • Ajhengineer

      Yeah he did. Something about an issue with the dust cover if I remember right.

    • Raven

      According to what I’ve read, once you go past 20 inches in an AR barrel, you start losing velocity because the pressure starts to drop. Not very significantly, of course, and using a heavier bullet lower velocity is less of an issue, but it’s something.

      Going off a fairly scientific-looking test in the fall 2011 issue of Combat Tactics, using Lake City M855 ball, a 20-inch barrel pushes 2979fps with pressure .5 inches from the muzzle at 5717psi. The same barrel at 24 inches gets you 2964fps at 4800psi.

      • Esh325

        I’m not sure what to believe. A book I have with the muzzle velocities listed for the L85A2 and L86A2 show an increase in velocity. 3083 fps muzzle velocity for the L85A2 with a 20.41 inch barrel. And 3182 fps for the L86A2 with a 24.75 inch barrel.

      • Garrett

        This seems to agree with my understanding of the way the AR15 was developed as well. The .223 Rem cartridge was designed to burn completely in a 20 in barrel, explaining why there is a larger reported muzzle blast out of the M4, and why some people have to ‘tune’ their short barreled rifles (10.5 in barrel’d CQB-Rs and CAR-15s).

        Other cartridges like the 6x33mm (KAC PDW) and .300 Blackout, are designed to burn in shorter barrels (8-10 and 9 inches respectively), which is why they have less muzzle flash and also helps with efficient suppression.

        That being said, the M14 is outdated. It was developed during a time when the M1 Garand was ‘every man’s rifle’, so when they wanted to improve upon it, they increased the capacity, rechambered it for a different cartridge, retooled the gas system (at the time, drilling into the barrel for a gas port was taboo), but kept the conventional rifle layout. This is why the StG44, AK47, and M16 had a huge impact (M16 more so than the others) when they were introduced.

  • bbmg

    “The new rifles were necessary because the M4 carbines were not accurate
    enough to reach insurgents firing from a distance, according to an Air
    Force release.”

    According to this article, the 5.56mm round has a flatter trajectory and shorter time of flight out to 700 metres:

    Have there been official tests where soldiers were presented with long range targets and attempted to hit them with both 5.56 and 7.62?

    • Esh325

      I imagine they are comparing M885 to the 7.62×51 M80 in that article. The USA has partially moved the past old M80 which is basically unchanged from the 1950’s. They use newer incarnations of the 7.62×51 now. And the newer incarnations of the 7.62×51 quite clearly outperform the 5.56×45 ballistically.

      • bbmg

        Fair point, though I would still like to see a side-by-side comparison at the sort of ranges forces are being engaged in where the same targets are fired on by both 5.56 and 7.62 assault rifles. It would appear from my armchair perspective that it would make more sense to keep the M4s and equip selected soldiers with 300 win/338 lapua sniper rifles than to give everyone M14s…

        • Esh325

          I recall that back in the 60’s they did tests and found more M16 shooters scored expert compared to M14 shooters, a similar conclusion to the article you linked. I imagine a few detailed comparisons have existed for years, but they probably aren’t released to the public. A semi automatic rifle in .300 or .338 Lapua would probably require a very rugged action which would make it very heavy and therefore not practical. Yes, giving everybody M14’s would be a mistake. When everybody had M14’s back in Vietnam, they were not satisfied with them.

          • I was quite happy with my M-14 in Vietnam. I was not happy when they took it away from me and gave me an M-16 that didn’t work.

          • Esh325

            Individual soldiers might have a different opinion, but the military in general seem to have concluded that arming everybody with M14’s was not the best option.

          • Lance

            I agree most Vietnam vets I talked to loved the M-14 and hated the M-16 when it was forced on them by politicians. In a way the M-14 will live on some keep think of it as obsolete but its not its accurate reliable and is tough. We will never go back to 7.62mm for all troops but for specialist this a a god rifle and will solder on for many years to come. Fact is unlike its Euro competitors the FAL and G3 the M-4 evolved and the other died in the 80s and 90s.

          • They were heavy but most of the guys wanted to keep the M14

          • Esh325

            I can’t find the document, but If I remember correctly, they took a poll back in the 60’s and more soldiers prefered the M16.

        • 2wheels

          They aren’t giving everyone M14s (that’ll never happen), just one per team so one of their guys can basically act as a designated marksman.

  • vereceleritas

    Amazing. The last M14 came off the assembly line in the 1960’s and its still putting bodies on the deck. And if I remember correctly, didn’t Chris Kyle say he wasn’t happy with the M110/MK11 in his book?

  • noob

    how much cheaper is it to upgrade an m14 to a select fire ebr, as opposed to getting a new scar17?

    • A lot of difference. In fact none. They have to buy the new stocks but that’s about $600 for us. The M14’s are all semi autos. They are converted then restocked.

      • Anonymoose

        You are confusing the EBR with the SMUD. The SMUD is semi-auto, but the EBR is select-fire.

  • Maybe this is a sign that 5.56x45mm NATO is a worthless cartridge?

    • 2wheels

      No, merely a sign that the Air Force is discovering the value of having a designated marksman at the squad/platoon level, since they’re only issuing 1 per team.

    • No just a need for a longer ranged rifle for the right circumstances.

    • steveday72

      No, just a sign that it shoots best out of longer barrels (ie: the M16 that it was designed for). All of this craze to turn the 5.56mm round into a CQB weapon round is crippling the ammunition’s effectiveness.

      • Nmate

        Only if you’re using garbage rounds like the M855. The Mk 262, Mk 318, M855A1, and 70gr Barnes rounds are all very effective out of short barrels.

  • Why the hell not the Scar-H? The best and most modern battle rifle in the world by far.

    • Simple—money!

    • n0truscotsman

      because there are many, many M14s already sitting in storage and sequestration is in effect.

  • Copenhagen

    “…the Army, Navy and Air Force have spent decades trying to
    build their own AR-10 rifle with little success. Both the SR-25 and M110
    were expensive and unreliable. They are now trying to find a
    replacement for the M110. Meanwhile USSOCOM seem to be happy
    with their FN SCAR-H rifles.”

    Yet POF makes such a badass 7.62x51mm Battle Rifle.

  • orly?

    20 round magazine…

    • yes

      • orly?


        • 2wheels

          They’re using it as a designated marksmans rifle (1 per team), how many rounds in the mag do they need?

          • orly?

            Anything less than 30 rounds makes it impossible to fight back?

            That’s what I keep hearing.

  • Clodboy

    So out of curiosity, where are these M14s coming from? Is the US digging into their stockpiles of half-a-century old guns? Are they buying M1A’s to fill the demand? I understand the EBR package includes a new barrel (and stock, obviously), but what about the action? Does the US really have that many M14s in perfect condition lying around (comparing the number of M14s produced with the short time it served as the standard combat rifle of the US armed forces, they should have huge stockpiles with plenty of barely-used rifles, but usually armies destroy or sell off these stockpiles after a few decades when they get a new toy)

    • They are coming out of storage and reconditioned as well as converting to semi auto only.

      • Thatguy96

        The Mk 14 EBRs are essentially new build weapons. The only thing that comes from the old M14s that are sourced is the receiver, which is reconditioned as well. At least some of the EBRs for USAF came directly from Smith Enterprises, so even the receiver might have been new. The Mk 14 EBRs are NOT the same as the Army’s M14 EBRs (also known as EBR-RIs to differentiate them), which are just reconditioned M14 rifles dropped into a new chassis.

        Also, since when is this news? The USAF has had Mk 14 EBRs in inventory since 2004. Maybe just now getting down to EOD units that were ALREADY using M14s? Or had the old M14 SMUD rifles they used to have finally worn out? There are a lot of questions the reporter didn’t seem to know to ask.

        • H2O MAN

          Those MK14 SEI EBR builds are awesome, but all of the military issue MK14 SEIs were built on select fire USGI M14 receivers.

      • Clodboy

        I read about the Russians having designed a bullpup stock for the Mosin-Nagant action (the OTS 48K) about ten years ago to make use of the giant stockpiles of MN’s they got left over… some of which are probably around 80 years old. The weird thing is why a bolt-action bullpup? Why not a cheap alternative to the SV-98?

        • Anonymoose

          Because it’s still cheaper than buying SV-98s.

    • H2O MAN

      Tens of thousands of like new USGI M14 rifles are available for the M14EBR-RI and other M14 modernization programs.

  • KF

    Wasn’t sure if this was an April Fool’s post, but good for them.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this rifle, the heavy end helps manage recoil better. Extra range can make all the difference in the world.
    But it’s not a rifle for every man. Each man to his own mission.

  • Sid

    “They received training from an Air Force instructor and carry one of the rifles with each dismount team.”

    Back the truck up, fellas. This is STANDARD in theatre. Both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maybe it was a slow news cycle. Maybe the PAO did not vet the story with a doorkicker. I don’t know. But I do know that all of the “this just proves” and “7.62 should be standard issue” is over-hyped. Read further into the article. WIth only one rifle per team, it is enough to end a firefight.

    The problem with a STANDARD battle rifle is that there is no standard battle. For everyone who wants longer range there is a short urban battlefield. For everyone who wants bigger bullets with first round kills there are those who want more bullets for suppression.

    You cannot have ONE rifle that does everything. So, for the sake and sanity of the soldiers, knock it off. Your time with the Delta Para Scuba Rangers Team does not make you an authority on fielding a battle rifle for a standing military. There were issues with the M16 when initially fielded 48 YEARS AGO. There have been some changes to the M16/M4. The M14 has had some changes. Even the Russians went to a smaller bullet (5.45).
    To recap, reading comprehension and thoughful analysis are often needed.

    • Esh325

      What makes you an “authority”?

      • Sid

        Did not claim to be one.

        But I did point out a huge flaw in the wasted effort of which rifle and bullet is best for a standard battle rifle and a large oversight in the article. I have considerable military experience but comparing opinions based on service quickly becomes a peeing contest.

        • Esh325

          Fair enough.

    • n0truscotsman

      Youre 100% right. This article does anything but vindicate the M14 platform. It is still obsolete, heavy, difficult to maintain, and requires much modification to be relatively accurate and modular.

      It doesnt change the fact that 7.62 is superior to 5.56 at longer ranges and it is indeed standardized among military units in Afghanistan. The air force is finally catching up.

      • rammac

        What a moron. Since all the services are using it, it proves that the rifle isn’t obsolete. It’s no heavier than a SAW. It’s less difficult to maintain than an M4, bigger parts are less prone to being lost and they last longer between cleanings. How do you define accurate? As issued the rifle has the same effective range as the M4 and the longer sight radius makes it easier to hit consistently. People simply add all the techno junk to the rifle because they are under the misconception that they have improved the rifle. I own three of the civilian equivalents and one is still stock standard, it shoots just as well as the other two that are modified but the other two are more efficient for specific roles.

  • MOG

    US Military likes the big expensive hi tech toys. Ground forces use what they got, a 50 year old design of a hopped up .22 with lots of bells and whistles hung on it. A plain vanilla well made rifle with updated sights in 7.62 would be more effective. The 7.62 is a killer from 0 feet out, without having to shoot the same guy 5 times. The 5.56 will kill, eventually. We had the early M16s, not happy with them at all. Have talked with several soldiers back from the sand lots, their take on the 5.56 was they used them as enablers, to harass and herd the opposition into a situation for the big guns/air support to take out. Sharpshooters with 7.62 cal. racked up most take downs. That was their experience. The military 5.56 of today is a big improvement over those early M16s, but the effectiveness of the cal. is still suspect. Shooting for fun is one thing, shooting to survive is quite another. Sticking to a mediocre cal. is not a testimonial of it’s worth, just a sticking to mediocrity.

  • steveday72

    Of course, they overlooked the simple fact they were shooting the 5.56mm out of sub-optimal barrel lengths.

    It’s pointless to compare the effective range of an M14 EBR with 18″ barrel to an M4 with 10.3″ to 14.5″ barrel. (I know the Navy EOD use 10.3″).

    Both range and kinetic energy will be reduced on any 5.56mm barrel that is shorter than 18″. It’s the same reason why troops first entering Iraq found the 5.56 + M4 combo to be inneffective.

    They should have looked at the Mk12 SPR.

  • Lance

    The writer is misspoken. The Army is NOT replacing the M-110. All other NATO nations are going with the AR-10 platform not new things. The M-14 EBR will solder on for a long time its a good rifle and is very accurate. for a specialist rifle the M-14 is still very good.

  • JeffTD

    There is something wrong with the SR-25 and M110? Expensive I can understand that one, but any info on the unreliability? I’m kinda surprised, they dropped tons of money for those.

  • AR 308!!!

  • H2O MAN

    United States Rifle, 7.62 mm M14 Est. 1957.
    Modernized with the SAGE EBR chassis for duty in the year 2013 and beyond.