The M14 Is Surely the Worst Rifle the U.S. Military History
Bad experiences with the M14 aren’t exclusive to Americans. The U.S. Army gave 40,000 M14s to the Estonian Defense Forces following their regaining of independence in the 1990s. The Estonians have fielded their own “accurized” version of the M14, the M-14TP2. From soldier accounts, this rifle is not popular at all and is known as “täitsa pask” or “fully terrible.”
(This article originally appeared earlier this year.)
The M14 is the U.S. military’s worst service rifle. It served as the standard-issue rifle for just six years—by the most generous estimates, half that of the U.S. Army’s second shortest serving rifle, the Krag-Jørgensen. The design itself is fraught with problems.
The process of creating it was even worse and led to the dissolution of the U.S. Ordnance Corps and Springfield Armory, the largest producer of American military small arms in history. The modern company, also called Springfield Armory, has no relation to the former government armory and simply leverages the name for sales.
So why is the M14 itself terrible? After all, many soldiers are have said to prefer the M14 to the M16 during the Vietnam War, and the rifle has been described by other authors as a “phoenix” rising again and again when the U.S. military needed a rifle that could fire the larger 7.62mm NATO round.
Quite simply, the M14 has outdated ergonomics, is poorly designed, and is inaccurate. The rifle can be accurized but will not stay that way unless constant care and maintenance are performed on it.