Bruce Canfield On the Winchester LMR, at American Rifleman

lightrifle

What if the Mini-14 had arrived over a decade earlier, and been a pound lighter? Would it have still played second-fiddle to the AR-15, or would US troops be using classically-lined rifles of wood and steel right up until today? Was there really an alternative to the “Buck Rogers” space-gun-like AR-15 in the late 1950s and early 1960s?

It turns out that such a gun did exist. The Winchester Lightweight Military Rifle has been a perennial favorite among commenters here at TFB ever since an evaluation of the rifle was featured in a 2014 Weekly DTIC article. Since then, I’ve been considering at some point writing an overview of the rifle’s short development history for our readers, but I no longer have to. The excellent Bruce Canfield, writing for American Rifleman, has gotten to the LMR before me, and written a better treatise on Winchester’s impressive SCHV rifle than I could have:

By the mid-1950s, it was proposed that the ideal rifle would be a selective-fire (capable of full- and semi-automatic fire) rifle weighing no more than 6 lbs. with a 20-round detachable-box magazine. The desired cartridge would be a high-velocity .22-cal. center-fire chambering capable of completely penetrating a military-style helmet at a range of 500 meters. The proposed cartridge was mandated to fire a 50-to-55-gr. bullet at a muzzle velocity of approximately 3,000 f.p.s.

Since there was not an infantry rifle in our small arms arsenal possessing the desired attributes for the proposed “infantry rifle of the future,” the U.S. Army Continental Command (CONARC) solicited proposals from several sources for such an arm. Two of the entities submitting proposals were the Armalite Division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corp. and the Winchester-Western Division of Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp. Although they were faced with the same design parameters, the companies tackled the project from different directions.

Winchester had already taken advantage of the talents of genius-psychopath David Marshall Williams to produce a series of fantastically light and sound weapons in everything from .30 M1 Carbine to .50 BMG caliber, although none were ultimately produced in quantity. It was this basic mechanism that set the foundation for the Lightweight Military Rifle:

On the other hand, rather than develop a totally new arm, as was the course taken by Fairchild and Stoner, Winchester based its design for the proposed new rifle on guns the company had already developed during World War II. During the war, Winchester had engaged the services of a talented, but sometimes volatile, gun designer named David Marshall Williams. Williams had previously designed the short-stroke gas piston that was used on the famous M1 carbine. Winchester also utilized the same basic gas system design on several prototypes it developed during the war, including the G30 series of rifles that the company hoped might supplant the M1 Garand rifle and the Winchester Automatic Rifle (WAR) that was intended to take the place of the BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) (Sept. 2015, p. 72). Only very limited numbers of the G30 or WAR were fabricated and tested, and none were adopted by the U.S. military. Nevertheless, both functioned reasonably well during the various World War II tests, so Winchester dusted off the blueprints for these guns in order to come up with an entrant to meet the new CONARC specifications. Since Williams was no longer actively employed by Winchester, the new “Light Rifle” project was headed by Ralph E. Clarkson, a member of the company’s design and engineering team. The company designated the new gun the “Winchester Light Weight Military Rifle” (WLWMR).

A Winchester employee fires a variant of the gun fitted with a sporter-type stock and a longer barrel. Note there is no front sight fitted.

The design philosophy for it was described by Winchester in a 1958 manual: “From the very beginning of the development work on the Winchester Light Rifle it was considered of utmost importance that reliability must not be sacrificed to obtain low weight. As a consequence, a policy decision was taken that the new Lightweight Rifle was to be designed on the basis of well-proven earlier guns whose field reliability had been established through extensive testing. As a result, the best elements were taken from the Winchester .30 Caliber Experimental Light Rifle, the G30R Semi-automatic Rifle, the WAR Automatic Rifle and the .50 Caliber Semi-automatic Anti Tank rifle, to serve as a basis for development of the Winchester Lightweight Rifle.

Both the G30M and William’s Carbine (Light Rifle) were fantastically light firearms, the former being a selfloading .30-06 rifle that weighed a mere 7.5 lbs unloaded, and the latter being a mere four pounds unloaded in the .30 M1 Carbine caliber. These weapons were – from a weight perspective – a fantastic basis for a new small-caliber, high velocity “light rifle”. However, the Armalite was an even more modern and sound design that, although it was not as light, showed the way for infantry small arms in the second half of the 20th Century:

“Winchester then found that the new generation of U.S. Army people were mostly the type that became enthralled with what old timers and ordnance people called ‘the Buck Rogers Armalite rifle.’ These people believed that the Armalite, despite its complex and unorthodox design, would prove superior to any military rifle yet developed. Winchester, a builder of conventional arms, believed competing [against] people who thought that way would not be productive.”

Given these considerations and other issues, Winchester decided against further development of its .224-cal. Light Weight Military Rifle. With the decision made to bow out of the Light Weight Rifle competition, Winchester accepted a contract to manufacture the newly adopted M14 rifle and subsequently produced 356,501 of them between 1959 and 1964. 

One wonders what the current American military rifle would look like today if Winchester had decided to pursue continued development of its .224 caliber Lightweight Military Rifle. It is probable that the M16 would still have been adopted, and Winchester would have wound up with a costly prototype on its hands that was of no interest to either the military or the commercial markets. Like the old adage goes, sometimes you have to “know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.”

In fact, the LMR could have been an excellent commercial offering, as the Ruger Mini-14 proved. Without the need to troubleshoot the design to the degree that it could pass rigorous military tests, Winchester could have focused on readying the tooling of the similar LMR for civilian sales. Instead – and as Canfield notes, not ill-advisedly, either – Winchester pursued a production contract for the new M14 rifle. It’s difficult to tell how successful a civilian LMR could have been, but the later Ruger Mini-14 has been estimated to have sold approximately a million units since its introduction in 1973. Against even that retrospective possibility, a contract for potentially millions of M14s, up front and for sure, must have seemed like the better choice.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • CTFish

    That’s a lot of M14s!

  • ExMachina1

    After watching Ian and Karl’s mud videos, I could never trust an open action gun like that ever again

    • TC

      Those mud videos are not scientifically valid, they are not consistent from rifle to rifle. M1’s and M1 carbines were carried in WWII and Korea, and always considered to be reliable weapons. A closed action design is more resistant to dirt entry though.

      • tts

        There is reliable for the time period and then there is actually reliable.

        Ian’s and Karl’s tests are perfectly valid and for some of the guns they tested (M14) you can find other videos where similar tests are performed and similar malfunctions are experienced.

        It’d be nice if you can link to something that shows the test that they do isn’t consistent from rifle to rifle. So far they’ve tested some of the guns multiple times (AR15 and M14) and the results have been the same.

        • mosinman

          i was surprised at how little dirt it takes for the Garand style action to choke up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcfqZFWpk9s

          • tts

            Yea it surprised me too because for a long time I’d hear stuff from people I thought more knowledgable than me about guns about how reliable it was. How it was designed to run without lube and therefore more reliable than the poodle shooter AR15, how it’d run full of dirt, all the extra weight in the action made it more reliable, etc.

            All that turned out to be a bunch of gun range hokum.

            Its a fun gun to shoot and mechanically interesting, and for its time, was a very good gun. But technology and mechanical engineering have advanced quite a bit since it was introduced and its not all the myths say it was.

          • mosinman

            i completely agree

          • Hedd Wyn John

            I’m not surprised by that, it was one the main reasons why the British Army didn’t adopt the Garand. They tested the Garand sometime in the 40s and found that it was inferior to the Lee-Enfield in muddy conditions.

          • The Marine Corps found the same thing in the 1940 tests, but felt that the semi-automatic firepower advantage was so overwhelming that they adopted it anyway.

      • TC, if you do a little more research on the subject, you will find that the M1 Garand and family are remarkably consistent performers in this regard, that is that they virtually always choke up and fail when exposed to debris.

        Look at the 1940 San Diego tests by the USMC, the 1950s tests for NATO rifle trials, and the 1960 AR-15 tests. All show Garands having the exact same problem. Add in the Guns & Ammo TV test, the InRange tests, the WWII-era “M1 condoms”, and other things, and a pretty clear picture emerges.

        • Paul White

          Yep. garands may have been the best main issue rifle of WWII, but the myth that it was absolutely without significant flaws and always ultra reliable needs to die.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Not all exposed actions are the same; ones with direct impingement gas systems, like the Ljungman Ag M/42 and MAS-49, are surprisingly reliable even in harsh conditions, and the FN-49 is also quite dependable when it’s properly calibrated. The M1/M14 designs are particularly vulnerable to debris due to the large number of unprotected working surfaces (bolt lugs, op rod, FCG, etc.), but it was head and shoulders above contemporary autoloaders or earlier designs in reduced complexity and overall reliability.

      • ExMachina1

        Check out Ian/Karl’s sand video with a MAS 49 (linked to above)

        • ostiariusalpha

          I saw it when it first came out. The MAS was able to run through its magazine without seizing up, and only a couple misfires.

        • UnrepentantLib

          I suspect it would do somewhat better than the M1/M1A. For one thing, it doesn’t have that big open slot on he side to let gunk in. It appears to be relatively well closed up, much like the MAS 49. The question is whether the muck would be flung off as the bolt moves back or whether it would cling and work down in to the locking lugs etc.

    • I wouldn’t expect it to be a major problem for a civilian rifle, if Winchester had pursued that market.

      • ExMachina1

        I was referring to the military context. You contrasted it with the AR, and the series was a better choice.

        • I agree with Bruce:

          “One wonders what the current American military rifle would look like today if Winchester had decided to pursue continued development of its .224 caliber Lightweight Military Rifle. It is probable that the M16 would still have been adopted, and Winchester would have wound up with a costly prototype on its hands that was of no interest to either the military or the commercial markets. Like the old adage goes, sometimes you have to “know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.””

          Although I do wonder how that rifle would have fared on the commercial market. The Mini-14 didn’t do too poorly, although maybe its timing was better.

          • ostiariusalpha

            On the basis of the Winchester name alone, sales might have been decent, if not not been stellar, at the beginning. If it could build perception as a lightweight, reliable firearm, the LMR would be well positioned though to take advantage of the reputation hit the AR-15/M16 took in Vietnam, fair or not.

          • Sure, but I’m not sure how receptive folks in the Sixties were to guns like that.

          • ostiariusalpha

            I don’t think sales would be all that explosive, but considering it’s conservative semi-grip outline and that the .223/5.56 was developed from an established civilian varmint round, there was probably a decent enough market for it to appeal enough to turn a profit till the 70’s, when intermediate cartridges became more mainstream in the shooting community’s perception.

          • marathag

            An autoloading Varminter, lighter than the Remington 740 series?

            I think there would have been a market for that

          • I think so too, but it looks like Winchester didn’t.

          • Paul White

            I feel like the mini 14 got a huge reprive with the Clinton era AWB. After it expired it seems like one still really cares about them

    • The_Champ

      I think the extreme mud tests done by Ian and Karl are fun, interesting, and educational. They do a good job busting some long held gun myths.

      But it cracks me up that some people get so hung up on a single extreme mud rest. So a firearm failed after being put through the most extreme mud test possible so it’s useless and untrustworthy now? Please. The M1/M14 series of rifles are still a sound design, still a functional and useful weapons, and in fact still found on the battlefield.

      I don’t know what your firearms background is, but you should ask yourself, of all the times you have carried/used a firearm, have you ever caked it in that much mud?

      Also, did you watch the mud test they did on the open action Mas 49/56? How did that stack up to the closed action AK-47? What other merits do open and closed actions have?

      • ExMachina1

        “But it cracks me up that some people get so hung up on a single extreme mud rest. So a firearm failed after being put through the most extreme mud test possible so it’s useless and untrustworthy now? Please.

        Well, the I was speaking as a hypothetical combat solder at the time, referring specifically to the article’s speculation as to the consequences had this (or any other M1 derivative) been adopted over the AR. As a combat rifle, the M1 series has some devastating weaknesses that were known tat the time but that get lost as we look wistfully through the rose color glasses of WW2 nostalgia.

        • The_Champ

          Yes the M1/M14 series does seem to have some obvious weakness compared to AR’s when it comes to resisting mud and dirt.

          Is it a ‘devastating’ weakness like you say? Can you no longer trust an open action firearm like the M14? I respectfully disagree and would suggest that it is still a viable weapon, and in fact is currently being fielded in combat in a DMR role in harsh environments.

          • You can’t trust them if it’s blowing sand or you fall in a mud puddle.

            As a civilian, sure, trust whatever you want, that’s a much more sterile environment.

            Champ, you may not realize it, but the point about it being fielded as a DMR is fairly circular. I’m oversimplifying, but it went something like this:

            1. M14 is adopted on the pressure of NIHers, gravelbellies, and drill sergeants.

            2. This results in the biggest scandal in US small arms history, and one of the largest ever in US defense history, and the SecDef publicly condemning the rifle and the M14 program.

            3. Following this is the cancellation of the M14 and the hasty and somewhat naive adoption of the AR-15.

            4. This results in the new biggest scandal in US small arms history, getting loads of people killed thanks to both the Army not being as competent as Ford Motor Company, and McNamara not understanding that the Army is not anywhere near as competent as Ford Motor Company.

            5. The M14 lobby has a huge “I told you so moment” that they never deserved to get.

            6. In the 1970s and 1980s, 5.56mm carbines are the hot new thing. M14 manufacturers need a way to market their obsolete rifles to the masses, so they invent the term “battle rifle” and the myth that the M14 is super accurate. This was probably born from the original AR-15 models prior to the M16A2, which had simpler sights that didn’t allow for the sort of Camp Perry type shooting the gravelbellies were used to. This myth is ironic, because the US Army Marksmanship Unit famously trounced the USMC after it started using the M16A2 in matches, and the Marines quickly followed suite.

            7. Before and during this period, the USMC accurizes M14s to become the M21 SWS, due to no other existing weapons of this type. It should be noted that the accurizing process and maintenance for the M21 was very labor-intensive, as the M14 was never designed to be a precision weapon and is poorly suited to it.

            8. With the GWOT, these myths intensify as controversy surrounding the M16A2/M4 increases, especially with the 507th MC/Jessica Lynch incident.

            9. SOCOM, in need of new 7.62x51mm DMRs and with few available options, creates the Mk. 14 EBR from existing M14s. Like the M21s, these were laboriously accurized. The Marine Corps also has the M39 as a parallel development, based on the M14 DMR.

            10. Army desk jockeys get the brilliant idea to bring old M14s out of storage and slapping Smith Enterprises chassis onto them without substantially accurizing them. As a result, the Army fields thousands of rifles that are essentially no more accurate than a stock M14, but hey, they look like EBRs so they must be good. Trials prove these rifles to be substantially less accurate than even basic M16s.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Some crafty obfuscation about the difference between a standard issue M14 and the receiver lugged National Match rifles could explain a lot about #6.

            “See! They use them at Camp Perry! Complete cluster f— moving to that Mattie Mattel poodle-shooter, when you have a man’s rifle already that can shoot a flea off a gnat’s ass.”

          • n0truscotsman

            Thats what burns my behind about arguments involving the M14. Sometimes people resort to comparing what I call ‘rack-grade’ M14s to optimal guns that have been ‘built’ to be very accurate. The two are night and day different, might as well be a different rifle.

            The work required to get them to that level of accuracy is money and time intensive, in contrast to the AR15, which can be made extremely accurate with far less labor involved. And after all of these measures are taken to make the M14 MOA accurate (or sub), the rifle’s are still more delicate than a more modern design. Dont drop it off a humvee 😉

          • iksnilol

            Especially considering you can’t really disassemble it after its been glass bedded.

          • Miguel Raton

            Please remember that to the military, man hours are largely “free,” and labor-intensive accurizing isn’t a VBD to them. Some of the posters on this topic have also confused the EBR chassis as being about accuracy, when it is about adapting a rifle with a wooden stock with fixed length-of-pull to modern ideas of ergonomics and battlefield adaptability, ie: modern body armor and pic-rails for hanging task-specific “stuff” off of it. The fact that the EBR chassis is humidity-stable and won’t require re-zeroing the rifle every time the barometer changes is the only “accuracy enhancement” ever claimed for it.

          • Yep, that’s true, but more to the point as you mentioned the EBR chassis does diddly squat for accuracy and the M14 EBR SDMR rifles in service with the Army have not been accurized pretty much at all.

          • CommonSense23

            Where are you getting man hours are free from? And wasting time accurizing a platform isn’t a very big deal from?

          • CommonSense23

            I think point 9 needs a little clarification. SOCOM especially NSW had been keeping the M14 alive for cold weather use. I know NSW used to issue one to every guy not for DMR purposes but cold weather purposes. But those days are gone.

          • Thanks, Common. Corrections are always welcome.

            Interesting that they requisitioned them for cold weather use, as that seems to be the strong point of the M14’s mechanism. In fact, the prototype T44’s performance in the 1953 Arctic tests were the whole reason the program didn’t die right there, which eventually led to the T44E4’s adoption over the T48 FAL.

          • CommonSense23

            No problem. As for the general accuracy and reliability part of carrying a 14 this day and age. People defending them do not realize how much a pain the guns are compared to anything made in the last couple decades.. We had major issues with our MK14s holding zeros. And anytime we used light vehicles(Polaris side by sides/4 wheelers). If I brought along a 14, I would have to wrap it in a trashbag to get it infil point, and carry a M4 just in case we were contacted on the way.

      • As evidenced by a recent article of mine, I don’t hold any animus towards the M1 Garand family of actions, but I recognize that they are more primitive and much less environmentally hardened than later designs like the AR-15.

        Interestingly, though, they appear to perform much more competitively in the cold.

        Calling the M14 a “useful” weapon… Truth be told, it’s obsolete, and has been since 1956. It should never have been adopted, and its continued use has been a mistake that highlights some of the rotten conduits of decision-making that exist in the Army. For a variety of reasons, many desk jockeys in the military were convinced that the M14 is a sniper weapon just waiting to be dusted off and utilized in the GWOT, but this proved virtually the opposite of the truth. The result of this was that many old inaccurate rifles were “accurized” by simply slapping expensive chassis onto them, which created very poor designated marksmen weapons that ended up being nearly as expensive as and far less effective than simply buying new rifles from LMT or elsewhere.

        Finally, it seems the Army is getting over this. The M14 is featuring less and less in Army presentations about current and future weapons configurations, although they are still in service. It looks like the wind is blowing the other way, and maybe this means the M14 will finally be sent back to the warehouse to make way for a superior weapon.

        • The_Champ

          I don’t think we really disagree. I learned long ago that just because the army adopted it, doesn’t mean it’s a great piece of kit. And certainly in 2016 there are better choices for a 7.62 DMR for military use then a slightly modified M14.

          However when the military found an urgent need for a .30 cal DMR to supplement the firepower of their squads, pulling M14s out of storage and scoping them was, I think, an effective and quick solution. Sometimes good enough is better than no solution at all. And while we all know now that the ‘legendary’ reliability of the M1/M14 is something of a myth, let’s not swing too far the other way and declare a completely unreliable piece of junk.

          • Maybe if they hadn’t got chassis fever, I would agree with you. However, they spent a bunch of money doing that and it didn’t really help the weapons’ accuracy, and they probably could have bought nearly as many LMT MWSes for that kind of money (a rifle proven effective in British and NZ service).

            Further, there’s something to be said for how atrocious the accuracy of a non-accurized surplus M14 tends to be. Speaking to fellows who conducted tests of the guns at Aberdeen show they often gave atrocious accuracy. At that point, one wonders whether it wouldn’t have been better to just live with the less powerful (but far more accurate) M16-derived DMRs.

          • Major Tom

            The big reason why M14 derivatives came back is range. Nothing in the M16 family not even the SDM-R/SAM-R could reach some of the ranges encountered in Afghanistan. What good was a 5.56mm DMR if you couldn’t reach the enemy who was firing from 800-900 meters away?

          • An 8 MOA M14 can’t really reach the enemy at those ranges either, though.

          • n0truscotsman

            Ill also add that the DMRs were also desired for the OIF theatre as well, where many M14s saw service again, so Afghanistan was only a partial driver for their re-issuing.

          • Major Tom

            An 8 MOA grouping is but 4 MOA deviation from the point of aim. Compensating for ballistics that means if you were aiming dead center on a man sized target at 800 meters your worst shot would deviate less than a meter (about 93cm to be precise) from where you aim.

            With that kind of deviation it’s reasonable to assume you can accurately hit something that far. Sure it might not be feasible to practical to try and smack a guy in the face but a round to center mass is doable. The main caveat is while might land a first shot, your second might not hit him or vice versa.

            That’s why the M14 came back. Even a beat up one firing cheap ammo with that accuracy is better than the best M-16 derivative that can’t reach that far to begin with. Of course the flipside to that is 900 meters is about as far as the M14 can do period. Anything further and you’re just pretty much bracketing the target in rounds praying for a hit. Even sniper versions like the M21 could really only be depended upon to about 900 meters.

          • Well, setting aside the fact that 5.56mm AR-15s are capable of (if not ideal for) shooting out to 800m, your argument does not address why the US Army invested in expensive M14 chassis instead of buying much more effective (and not that much more expensive) rifles like the LMT MWS as SDMRs.

            The answer, so far as I can tell, is that Army brass were convinced that the M14s that were lying around in storage were sniper-accurate weapons just waiting to be utilized, and this was absolutely not the case.

          • Major Tom

            At the time (2001) the LMT MWS did not exist. Neither did the HK-417 or the M39 EMR or the M110 SASS or just about any of the others barring the SR-25 and the SVD/SVU. At least for rifle caliber that could reach 800+ meters.

            Nowadays it’s probably the same logic that keeps around the M14 derivatives as why we still have M16s instead of anything better or newer. Sunk cost fallacy.

            The SDM-R/SAM-R wasn’t capable in the Afghan mountains. Even if you could somehow arc the shot to 800 meters old M855 green tip ammunition had no lethality compared to heavier calibers. It was a pinprick round that far away. Besides in 2001 it didn’t exist either.

          • You’re conflating the Mk. 14 EBR with the M14 EBR SDMR. These are two different rifles that use the same chassis. The M14 EBR program began in 2008, by which point the SR-25 and M110 and several other rifles were available and proven (M110 had in fact just won the SASS competition, and would have made a natural basis for an SDMR variant).

            The Army does not use M16s as a standard issue rifle, they use M4s and M4A1s, and the USMC is following suit. The reason these rifles stick around is that there’s nothing out there that is materially better, which is absolutely not the case for the M14.

            In my experience shooting at long ranges, 5.56mm has approximately the same trajectory to 800 meters as does 7.62mm NATO, even from shorter carbine barrel lengths. Yes, at 800 meters it strikes with considerably less energy, but even so it is capable of producing a lethal wound. Not ideal? Sure, but then neither is an M14 EBR.

            Here’s some enlightening material produced by Shawn of LooseRounds putting to bed the myth that 5.56mm doesn’t have enough gas to shoot beyond 500m:

            http://looserounds.com/2013/06/10/ar15-at-1000-yards-can-a-rack-grade-ar15-and-m855-make-1000-yard-hits/

            http://looserounds.com/2013/08/05/what-will-the-m4-do-at-1000-yards/

            http://looserounds.com/2013/09/30/more-1000-yard-shooting-m1903-m14-and-even-a-colt-commando/

          • CommonSense23

            My old issued MK12 could outshoot the MK14 all day at 800 to a 1000 yards.

          • marathag

            How about AR10 family?

          • Precisely. By 2010, it’s not really a choice between the M14 EBR and the AR-15, but the EBR and MWS and other 7.62 ARs.

          • Major Tom

            At the time the SR-25 had just come out so that’s a peculiarity. My guess says either an oversight or there were nowhere near enough SR-25s available to create the DMR role in 2001.

          • Georgiaboy61

            Re: “Further, there’s something to be said for how atrocious the accuracy of a non-accurized surplus M14 tends to be.”

            Benchrest accuracy and combat accuracy are not the same thing. The typical well-cared for M14/M1A is capable of 2-3 moa or better, provided it is fed decent ammunition. That is perfectly adequate for most DMR missions encountered by the Army and Marine Corps. Doctrinally, the Designated Rifleman is supposed to close the “gap” between typical infantry ranges of 300 meters and in, versus those distances encountered by purpose-trained scout-snipers, i.e., 600 meters plus. The DMR role is thus taken to be within 600 meters, with emphasis on the 300-600 meter gap.

            7.62×51 NATO (FMJ or BTHP) ammunition capable of at least 3 moa cones out to ~ 18 inches or so at 600 meters, roughly the diameter of a military silhouette target. Using an M14-type system tuned by a competent armorer or gunsmith, and using match-grade ammunition, the precision of the DM drops into the 1-1.5 moa range, or more than adequate to engage targets out to the limits of the practical range of the 7.62×51 round.

            Some of the top American snipers in the Vietnam conflict used the M14 extensively, including U.S. Army Sergeant Adelbert F. Waldron, and even though many precision marksmen preferred bolt-actions, both Marine and Army sniper teams often fielded with the spotter on an M14 to gain the benefits of the additional firepower afforded by that system as opposed to a turn-bolt alone. Yes, that conflict was a long time ago, and many advances have been made since then, but if the system wasn’t reliable and effective, these guys wouldn’t have humped it into the bush to being with.

            Re: “An 8 MOA M14 can’t really reach the enemy at those ranges either, though.”
            Sorry, Nathan, but I call B.S. No responsible armorer is going to send his teams into the field with a “precision” weapon capable of only 8 moa, and no professional scout-sniper team would knowingly field with such sub-standard gear.

          • Hi Georgiaboy, always appreciate it when you comment. Please don’t confuse the accuracy of unmodified surplus M14s with accurized M14s like the Mk. 14, M21, and M39. The M14 EBRs generally issued to the US Army are, with the exception of the new chassis, non-accurized and unmodified. There’s actually a helpful chart explaining this on Wikipedia, note that the Army M14 EBR has almost no modifications beyond the chassis.

            Colonel Glenn Dean had some things to say on this subject, but I want to ask him about whether I can repeat him, so gimme some time on this.

          • Georgiaboy61

            I’m not confusing anything. No competent armorer or precision shooting team would field with an 8-mao rifle, at least not willingly. Actually, any officer or NCO who sends his guys into the field with crap that substandard should be demoted, if not fired.

            I’m not denying that the M14 system has significant drawbacks as a modern precision weapons system. For example…

            It is difficult to mount a scope to the rifle (although not impossible), and even if one succeeds in mounting an optic, obtaining a decent cheek-weld isn’t easy due to the overall height of the scope above the bore. This necessitates the use of a cheek-rest or other system to bring the eye into alignment with the scope bore.

            The typical M14-type rifle has a pretty violent recoil impulse, and the ejection pattern often throws spent brass into the underside of the scope – never an optimal outcome. Hence, the Army and Marines have encountered a lot of difficulty over the years with their scoped M14s losing zero, having their mounts come loose, and so forth. These issues were eventually addressed successfully over the years by companies like Smith Enterprise and others, as well as the services themselves, but they did happen. Systems like the Sage EBR were invented in part to rectify these shortcomings.

            Like its M1 Garand predecessor, the M14 family was/is not easy to match-condition. Accurizing these rifles is a pain in the you-know-what; if you read Scott Duff and John Miller’s book on the rifle, that is pretty clear. However, after long and hard-won experience, the knowledge exists and is accessible to users. In fact, the military doesn’t even need its own armorers to do the work anymore; there are plenty of civilian vendors willing/able to do it – Fulton Armory, Springfield Armory, Smith Enterprise, etc.

            The M14 as designed has no provision for the accessories modern users demand, from laser target designators to night-vision and IR scopes and the like. These shortcomings have been made good by Sage and the other after-market chassis manufacturers, and some legacy manufacturers are also starting to offer 21st-century accessory rails and mounts.

            Legacy M14s are not adjustable for individual length of pull, comb height or other parameters important to precision shooters. These deficiencies are addressed by most after-market chassis systems. However, in purpose-designed modern systems, no retrofitting is needed – most come with all of the bells and whistles already.

            Having said the above, I completely understand if members of the armed forces precision-shooting community want to move on to something more modern and purpose-designed. Time marches on and all of that. However, the M14 system does still work for those who favor it – and it would not be surprising to see it retained in armories into the foreseeable future. The institutional knowledge base on how to use and maintain it already exists and the rifles on hand have already been paid for – which is always a factor when the bean-counters are involved. There are also parts and other spares already on hand and in the supply system – which makes the job of the logistics people easier.

          • Pretty much agree with you on all of that, however I will note that I am talking about standard issue US Army M14 EBR DMRs, which are dispensed by the standard Army armorers. I’m sure you’ve spoken with Army personnel before and have heard stories of soldiers going into battle with rifles missing bolt lugs, etc. In some units, at least, maintenance takes a waaaay back seat to bookkeeping.

            8 MOA from the bench is more likely than you think. The M14s in stock were often very inaccurate, being outdone many times over by competing rifles like the AR-15. This was actually a part of the M14 scandal of the early 1960s.

        • n0truscotsman

          More thin skinned people might find that very scathing, but as a owner of a semi-auto M14, I strongly agree 🙂

          The attention that thing needs to be kept reliable far surpasses a modern fighting rifle for sure. It was definitely the inferior choice compared to the FAL.

          And its not like there weren’t suitable rifles available during the beginning of GWOT, because there certainly was. How long has the SR25 been in service? I rest my case.

          And I have a lingering doubt that they really saved that much money by refurbishing and upgrading M14s. Unless somebody proves me otherwise.

        • Zapp Brannigan

          “As evidenced by a recent article of mine, I don’t hold any animus towards the M1 Garand family of actions, but I recognize that they are more primitive and much less environmentally hardened than later designs like the AR-15.”

          The Garand functioned very well through WW2 in the Pacific, where on many occasions the rifle couldn’t be cleaned on a daily basis in harsh conditions yet it kept functioning, like in the battle of Iwo Jima. It worked as expected under very difficult and real conditions; the garand action is up to the task of being a battle rifle.

          • The M1 rifle actually had considerable issues in the Pacific:

            Materials to clean and oil the small arms were much in demand. Cleaning and preserving (C&P) materials had been in short supply to begin with. Many of the M1 rifles had been issued without oil and thong cases. Often when the men had the cases they simply threw them away to lighten the load they were carrying. By 3 December the shortage of gun oil, small individual containers for oil, brushes, cleaning rods, and other C&P items was serious enough to effect operations. One combat officer, observing that the first thing the men stripped from the Japanese dead or wounded was the neat bakelite oil case they carried, reported that gun oil was ‘very precious and always short.’ Urgent messages characterized the condition of small arms at the front as ‘deplorable’ and ‘terrible.’

            – The Ordnance Department: On Beachhead and Battlefront

            The M1’s were going to ruin for lack of cleaning in the holes up front-the poor guys did not have anything to take care of them with, and often were not in a position to shoot them often enough to keep the barrels clear of corrosion (grass won’t grow on a busy street-regardless of the corroding primer compound, if a .30-06 barrel gets a bullet through it every six or eight hours it will stay in pretty good shape). As a result of the fouling of gas cylinders and pistons, a large percentage of our semi-automatics were becoming singleshots.

            – Ordnance Went Up Front

          • gunsandrockets

            Those quotes don’t support an issue of M1 specific semi-automatic rifle problems, instead it’s a complaint of inadequate logistics — the lack of cleaning supplies.

            In fact those quotes sound very much like reports from the fiasco of the Buna offensive.

          • The guns not working and “becoming singleshots” isn’t a problem specific to semiautomatic rifles?

            Uh, sure buddy.

          • gunsandrockets

            Sigh. Not specific to the M1. In that environment, using corrosive primer ammunition, without cleaning supplies, how long do you think an XM16E1 would hold up?

          • You’ve got a syntax error in your previous comment, as you lack a hyphen between “M1 and “specific”. Sounds like nitpicking, I agree, but I read it as “specific semiautomatic rifle problems” not “M1-specific problems”.

            Brannigan’s statement has a problem. I made a relative statement that is true: The M1 is a more primitive design with poorer harsh environment characteristics than the AR-15, mostly having to do with debris resistance. He responded with an absolute statement that the M1 works in harsh environments, e.g. the Pacific. The quotes I used in response help put the lie to the idea that the M1 performed especially well in the Pacific, in fact it was something of a maintenance queen.

            My original statement was well-characterized, but his response was pretty off-base, not really addressing the assertion I made in the first place (most likely resulting with the common generalization of “reliability” as a fixed one-dimensional quantity, and not a set of probabilities across every possible condition). So are you reinforcing his assertion? In which case, no, the M1 didn’t perform exceptionally well in the Pacific, it actually had quite a lot of problems, and the fact that the XM16E1 would suffer from some of those problems (but not others, because for example it has an aluminum receiver) is irrelevant. Or, are you trying to address my original argument? In which case, it’s very clear that the M1 suffers from a considerable suite of limitations with regards to its environmental hardness that have been addressed to the point of eyeball liquefaction here in the comments as well as in other posts of mine.

          • n0truscotsman

            Well, that leaves you with the M1 Carbine and M1 Garand; since the primary fighting rifle was the M1 Garand, its not hard to figure what those ‘single shot rifles’ predominantly were.

          • gunsandrockets

            ??

          • If I remember correctly, the first quote originated from the same time as the operations in Buna. The author of the second quote didn’t make it to the Pacific Theatre until later in the war.

            Of course, logistics improvements can only help so much if your green troops are chucking away what you have issued them. The same sort of shenanigans occurred with inexperienced units rushed to Korea in 1950.

        • Zebra Dun

          The M-14 like the M-1 were and are very good rifles, they are dated and obsolete.
          The newer AR style weapons are better.
          I’m sure at the start of world war two old Salts were complain about giving up their 1903 Springfield’s for M-1 Garands.
          I love the M-14 but I agree, it has no place as general issue in today’s military.
          Time has passed it by.

        • Old Vet

          I think what a lot of younger shooters don’t realize about the M-14 is that it was bulky for a reason. The military was just out of WWII and Korea where a lot of fighting was hand to hand. Would you rather swing plastic/aluminum weapon at an enemies head or one of weighted wood/steel?? It was still fighting battles like the Armies had after the Civil War and in to WWI. Static lines, mass frontal assaults, and horrible hand to hand combat. The AR came along at a time when that was no longer a prerequisite for the foot soldier. I was fortunate to have served with the M-14 and really liked it, so much so I bought the civilian version later. In my humble opinion, had the Mini-14 been adopted by the military, I would have loved it as much.

      • adverse

        We went thru just about everything imaginable with our M-14s in 18 months of jungle warfare training, (2nd 503 CBT/173rd Abn, Okinawa and other lovely spots) we never dumped mud in them. We did, on occasion, wrap the operating mechanism in rags to keep them clear during some of the more nasty excursions. We cleaned those things walking. The magazines could not be neglected either. Later, with the 101st in Vietnam, we wished more than a few times for our M-14s back. The early M-16s were fine when they worked. Contrary to some reports, we knew how to clean them and we did, our lives depended on them. The M-16 was ridiculously easy to clean, except for the bolt carrier. At that time, it could not be broken down in the field and cleaned. Once gunk worked it’s way in and gummed up the firing pin, the rifle was junk.

        • You said the carrier couldn’t be cleaned in the field at the time, was that a regulation thing (you’re not allowed to) or a design thing (you physically can’t). I wasn’t there, but I can’t think of an early M16 that didn’t have a strippable carrier.

          Thanks for your comment!

          • adverse

            The bolt carrier could not be cleaned in the field, it was a precision piece, it had to go back to the armorer. All we could do was wipe them down and clean the seams with a dental pick, or the point of a knife. That is not a thought, that is a fact. It was very tight clearances, the residue would work into it and eventually jam the firing pin. There were about 1800, 1st Brigade 101st, of us equipped with those rifles coming off the boat, I’m sure there are still a few rifles around, check it out. There were other problems, it is easier to blame the troops for not cleaning their rifles “properly”, but the bolt carrier was the absolute fatal flaw. This was in 1965 from Cam Ranh Bay to the Central Highlands. The official history will not get you there. Thank You.

          • Are you saying the carrier would freeze up and couldn’t be disassembled?

            Even with a very early XM16E1, the carrier should come apart with the removal of the cotter pin, unless the pin had become stuck:

            http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a72/leid/M16/d0373e91-84fc-4b6c-81d0-17c9c7dc0ffa_zpsd3be087a.jpg~original

          • adverse

            Yes. We did not have the tools or the training to field strip the carriers. Too many little parts to get lost besides that. The later versions do have user friendly carriers, ours did not. Remember, these rifles were touted as being maint. free as far as cleaning at the time, and they were much easier than the M-1/M-14, apparently no one saw any need of ever having to clean the bolt carrier in the field.

          • OK, that clears it up, thank you for your patience, hahah.

            Yes, the US Army really FUBAR’d the initial fielding of the M16, and I think we can lay a good hunk of that blame at the feet of McNamara, as well.

          • adverse

            Too many years to argue.

          • jcitizen

            I had a butt load of relatives in the Nam, and your report sounds spot on. It is too bad that the MacMamara way of leadership set in to the introduction of this rifle, as the bolt is actually easy to disassemble, it just requires familiarization. We broke them down blind folded when we got back to our units from basic training. I can see why they assumed the bolt was maintenance free, but they didn’t vet the powder very well, and it was dirty filthy, until the new ball powders came out. None the less, the piston chamber could get so bad you had to use the firing pin as a hammer to break the carbon out of it, to assure the piston rings would clear during operation. CLP didn’t help much, if at all, but hot water could do the trick – we used the break line air pumps in our trucks to blow them off.

      • Zebra Dun

        Yes, an M-14 while crawling through an Infiltration course at Camp Blanding Fla. circa 1971 and yes it failed to operate until washed completely out at the water bull along with everyone else who crawled through the course.
        Yes, An M-16A1 while doing JOTC Panama Canal zone circa 1973 in the training area during Jungle Ops training.
        That time they were flushed out with river water.
        USMC 1970-1974 Infantry MOS

    • Zebra Dun

      I want to see a lever action gun go through the mud test!

  • Major Tom

    The biggest problem in the 1950s and 1960s with such weapons was they would need modernized right off the bat. The M-14 is a good concept but it had flaws that needed modernized out immediately after adoption in ergonomics, weight, recoil management/mitigation and the need for accessories that were coming out right then or would be available shortly like M203 grenade launchers, bipods, assorted optics and more.

    Which when you think about it was something that actually happened on the other side of the Iron Curtain with the AK-47. It needed modernized (for similar reasons as well as production simplicity) right after adoption.

    • Evan

      Exactly right. It’s interesting though, to look at weapons like this, or say the Johnson rifle and machine gun, and think “what could have been?”

      For an example, you know how those 40 round PMAGS and 60 round Surefires are all the rage? And Russia is supposedly using a larger coffin style mag with their new AK-12s?
      Harrington and Richardson built licensed copies of the HK33, called the T223 for the XM16 program and they were trialled in Vietnam. They issued them with a 40 round box magazine, back then…

      After being acquired by Kidde corp in the ’60s it suffered a long, slow decline, bankrupting in 1986 and become the Freedom Group subsidiary it is today.

      • iksnilol

        40 rounders are some of the most common mags for the HK33.

        I’ve seen them many times in nooks and crannies.

    • The big might-have-been is the G30R, in my opinion. If Ordnance had picked up development of that rifle after the war, then they could have gotten the whole “Lightweight Rifle” nonsense out of their system and produced a service weapon before Studler’s retirement in 1953. If they’d taken the G30R, they could have ended up with a 7.5lb .30 Light Rifle weapon that – if misguided in concept – would have been very good in execution.

  • ostiariusalpha

    Ah, thank you, thank you, Mr.Canfield and good ol’ American Rifleman! And thanks much to you, Nate! Anyone who regularly reads the comments of Nate’s Light Rifle article series knows the Winchester LMR is a personal favorite of mine among the host of abandoned firearm designs out there. It just gob-smacks me that the Olin Winchester of the 60’s would have the insight to realize the LMR was no match for the AR-15 as a military small arm, yet completely fail to grasp that it would make a nicely profitable, competitive civilian semi-auto after they had already spent the money refining the design and had even created a sporter stock it. Winchester as a company that cultivated bold innovation just died after this and turned it’s attention to cost cutting measures on its established models instead, which lead to the whole pre-64/post-64 quality divide that collectors are well aware of. From there, it was just a long, slow slide to financial ruin, with Olin cutting out the firearm manufacturing division from Winchester and leaving it to die on its own.

    • gunsandrockets

      Even not taking into account the 1973- sales of the Mini-14, commercial sales of the M1 carbine to civilians went on for decades and numbered in the hundreds of thousands.

      • ostiariusalpha

        The A-Team could have been totally different. 😆

      • Budogunner

        They are selling like hotcakes from the CMP right now. One per customer per year, while they last.

        • gunsandrockets

          Last I heard, those newly announced CMP M1 carbines are already sold out!

          • Budogunner

            Well, then… O.o

            Nevermind.

          • They were sold out on day 1. :/

          • Budogunner

            Damn. Being a professional computer geek I’ve always wanted a firearm made by IBM. Looks like I missed my chance.

  • Gregory

    Mud will tie up any rifle. At least with an open action rifle you can pour water from your canteen (water bottle for the in-crowd) and quickly get it working. I cannot say the same for closed actions. You could even piss on the rifle to get it working. I hope I haven’t pissed anyone off with my comment.

    • I’ve flushed my Colt loads of times when it got sluggish, works great.

  • The designer’s name should be Ralph E. Clarkson, not Clark.

    Between 1961 and 1963, Springfield Armory contracted with Winchester to rechamber some of these rifles to fire the flechette ammunition being developed for the SPIW program, such as the Frankford Arsenal XM144 and the Winchester XM144-WE3 and XM144-WE4. This was separate from Winchester’s own efforts to develop a SPIW candidate. I suspect that this was done to provide a control platform for testing the flechette ammunition outside of single-shot barrels and the “Blue Sky” tech of the SPIW candidates.

    • The .224 Winchester E2 cartridge was hobbled from the start as it had to fit in Winchester’s existing prototype rifles. It was too late to redesign the rifle’s action for a longer cartridge, fabricate new prototypes, and still meet the delivery schedule for CONARC. While the .224 Winchester E2 cartridge could feed and fire in the ArmaLite AR-15, the longer .222 Special (.223 Remington) cartridge could only be single-loaded in the Winchester rifle. So a great deal of the US Army’s early comparison testing of the AR-15 was conducted with the .224 Win E2 cartridge, and not the .223 Remington. I often speculate that the .224 Win E2’s short-ogive, flat-base projectile masked the cold weather accuracy issues later seen with the AR-15’s original 1:14″ rifling twist and the long-ogive, boat-tail projectiles loaded by Remington.

      Another point of interest is that the throat dimensions of the .224 Win E2 chamber appear to be closer to the military’s 5.56mm specifications than the SAAMI specifications for the commercial .223 Remington.

  • Rimfire

    Oh what might have been. The Soviets and Chi-coms continued to use wood and steel while we were (our Army brass) enamored with Buck Rogers . No disrespect to the Armalite gun intended, but let’s just imagine if Winchester had pursued the competition and won. Offering the military and maybe a sporting gun model, that large contract may have floated Winchester’s fortunes in the 60’s and beyond. That cash flow could have avoided the dreaded 1964 cost reduction (read cheapening) of the product line and perhaps Winchester would have remained the market leader.
    When Olin bailed on them in 1981, the driving force was the continued labor issues, their union was making life miserable for management with shut-downs, walk-offs and strikes. John Olin’s company would only tolerate so much. Just maybe they also saw the changes in the New Haven, CT future too. The liberals had become the norm in that area by then and such industrial giants were too old school even then.
    Today the New Haven offices and plant have been absorbed into that lifestyle, and are school rooms and apartments.. From what I’ve read, very little evidence remains that this was once the home to thousands of workers making Winchester firearms, save for a street name and such. Winchester lives on today as the little sister to FN Browning now.

  • UnrepentantLib

    It’s a shame, from Winchester’s point of view, that no one in corporate had the foresight to say “In for a penny, in for a pound. We’ve spend money getting this thing where it is. It won’t cost that much more to get the final kinks out of it.” It’s obvious, with hindsight, that there would have been a market for it among law enforcement and paramilitary police, as well as civilians who liked the M1 carbine but wanted something with a little more punch. And the CIA might have been interested in using them to arm their assorted irregular forces. And heck, I’d love to get my hands on one.

    • Tassiebush

      It’s actually amazingly like colt in behaviour. Develop a cool thing then shelve it.

    • gunsandrockets

      Like the French paramilitary Mini-14.

  • Matthew Groom

    I believe that one reason Winchester went out of business was because they failed to adapt to the changing tastes of the American firearms community. They developed the M1 Carbine, but never sold a commercial variant. They built M1 Garands and M-14’s, and never sold a commercial variant of those. They built the LMR, for which Ruger saw an obvious market and decades of profits and success, and they refused to produce a commercial variant of that, either. Long after they started building Model 94’s in Japan with exorbinate price tags, they still refused to offer the American public a quality alternative to the AR-15, which now dominates all corners of the sporting rifle industry, and has even become a popular hunting rifle, supplanting what used to be Winchester’s market.

    • Budogunner

      Someone please photoshop an image of this rifle covered in keymod rails and tacticool cap so we can see what it might have been today.

      • El Duderino

        Pretty easy. Just Google “tacticool mini 14” and click “Images”.

  • Franco Eldorado

    The mini 14 would have done so much better if they had just beefed u on the barrel a bit for accuracy. Rumors of a 308 version keep people on the string for a while and they made the mini 30 instead.

    • mosinman

      the Mini 14 and other Garand style rifles have the same weakness, there are too many exposed bolt components to dirt. unless you were talking about civilian rifles,if then never mind me lol

      • Franco Eldorado

        I agree given today’s standards. It was hard to find a reliable AR 10 back in the day. I have a Aero Precision M5 now in 308 and it works quite well

    • Phil Hsueh

      But wouldn’t a .308 version of the Mini-14 be basically an M-1A? As I understand it, the Mini-14 is essentially a scaled down M-14, hence the name Mini-14, so scaling it up to .308 would effectively be the same as an M-14 which is what an M-1A is but in semi-auto.

      • Franco Eldorado

        True to some extent but this was back in the 90s and most were hoping for a light weight version of the M1A. M1As were hard to come by and expensive in those days. There are many better options today

  • Phil Hsueh

    What would happen if somebody decided to dust off any of these LMR plans, finished the R&D but chamber them for 5.56 and redesign the stocks/chassis to something more modern and could accept M-Lok or Keymod accessories? Price would obviously be an issue but if the price were right has enough AR fatigue set in yet that something priced below $1K and is different enough from an AR or an AK to be commercially viable?

    • ostiariusalpha

      You could certainly still sell them in ban states like Kalifornia, Not-So-Merryland, & Nyork.

  • gunsandrockets

    How’s this for a dream gun: an updated Winchester LMR, with a T25 type tilting-bolt breech, and sized to accommodate cartridges sized up to 7.62x39mm. My caliber favorites? 6.5mm Grendel and .204 Ruger.

    • The T25 used a tilting locking piece, with a stationary bolt.

      • gunsandrockets

        The pictures I could find of the T25/T47 are awfully poor in seeing important details.

        I presume the T25 locking piece locks onto the shoulder of the ejection port?

        • Correct. Here is Earle Harvey’s patent:

          https://www.google.com/patents/US2714334

          • gunsandrockets

            Interesting. Why did Harvey use that separate locking piece design instead of a one piece tilting bolt? Was there some engineering advantage? Or was it just to avoid a pre-existing patent?

          • Better headspace characteristics, off the top of my head.

      • gunsandrockets

        If the T25 bolt only moves linearly, does it lack primary extraction?

        • Hah! I have no idea!

          • gunsandrockets

            Well, than I amend my original suggestion. Instead of a T25 lockup, a one piece tilting bolt which locks on the rear of the ejection port.

            Ideally, such a rifle should be more ambidextrous too. Using the M1 rifle type safety, and a charging handle in a recess of the bottom of the forend.

          • What’s wrong with the T25’s locking block?

            The M1 safety is really not a very good kind (I’d rather have a pushbutton, to be honest), and experience with guns that have the charging handle where you want it (e.g., Reising) suggests that’s not a good feature, either.

            Honestly, right-side charging rifles are more lefty-friendly than they are righty-friendly, anyway.

          • iksnilol

            I like the STR 200 safety.

            It’s a button on the side of the rifle when pushed down the rifle is on safe. Then to take it off safe you just push your trigger finger up when it is on the trigger.

          • gunsandrockets

            What’s wrong with the locking block? Well it seems the T25 lacks primary extraction, so switching to a tilting bolt is advisable. Plus a two piece bolt is obviously more complicated than a one piece bolt.

            Ideally, a conventionally stocked shoulder arm would use a thumb operated tang safety for convenient ambidextrous use. But I figured that would be more complicated and expensive than simply copying the Garand type lockwork.

            Did the location of the charging handle have much to do with the failure of the Reising? I thought the Reising had all kinds of other problems.

            I suggested the forend location for an ambidextrous charging handle because it is easy to integrate and gets the handle out of the way of rifle optics.

          • Pretty much every semiautomatic rifle lacks primary extraction, so far as I can tell.

            I would advice against avoiding complexity to the detriment of the design itself. If making it more complex makes it work better, then do so. Example, the anti-rebound lever on the G3.

            The Reising did have all kinds of other problems, and one of them was that charging handle placement. Ask Alex about it.

            Really, the right-side Garand-style CH is pretty ambidextrous. I wouldn’t worry too much about.

  • gunsandrockets

    The Winchester LMR seems like a better design than the Ruger Mini-14.

  • Bob Jensen

    Thanks for this article and all of the comments too. Very enlightening. Enjoyed Bruce Canfields American Rifleman article and had never read about Winchester’s involvement and design. Wondered at the time if Bill Ruger and his talented staff knew about the Winchester development. But as has been said, if you don’t adapt, you lose regardless of the potential.

  • Zebra Dun

    No, the LMR was a rifle with a wooden stock. Vietnam war conditions saw the M-14 clad in a fiberglass stock that was not suitable nor appreciated by the men who used them. The LMR would have eventually received the same stock. The superior platform of the AR-15 style rifles made it a better weapon to shoot and hit with due to it’s in line stock characteristics. This made the AR-15 platform better during automatic and rapid semi automatic fire.
    The LMR was basically just an upgraded M-1 carbine, down graded M-14 and would have eventually been replaced with the AR-15 or an AK 47 style of platform.
    Had it come along before or during world war two it would have been an instant hit.

  • BigFED

    In 1984, Ruger announced the “XGI”, a .308 version of the Mini-14. It was never made available commercially and only some test/experimental units were made. Why it was never further developed is unknown, but the excuse was for some “technical problems”. But, what little info I have indicates that Mr. Ruger was less than enthused about developing and/or releasing a “military grade rifle” to the general public. As Ironic as it may seem, Mr. Ruger was the main reason that for many years the company did not produce 20 or 30 round magazines for the Mini-14. He even wrote a letter to congress advising that one way to limit “firepower” was to only allow magazines with a maximum capacity of 15 rounds!