This is my rifle. There are many others like it, but this one is mine.Back to Cool Guns
—Sergeant Hartman, Full Metal Jacket.
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M14, M 21 and M 25
The M14 was designed as a modernised version of the venerable M1 Garand to meet new NATO requirements; the clip feed was replaced with a detachable magazine, and a new barrel added. Unfortunately, someone decided it needed to be select-fire, requiring every part of the rifle to be strengthened to handle the increased stress of firing the powerful 7.62x51mm NATO round on full-auto settings. The resulting weapon was regarded as rather clumsy and utterly impossible to control in full-auto; many were locked to semi-auto and this, among with other modifications, created a serviceable weapon. And even then, the thing was quite heavy, which unfortunately, didn't so much dampen its full auto recoil as cause for many soldiers to struggle with its weight. The M14 was the US Army's standard issue rifle for only a short time, serving from 1962 to 1966-67 when it was replaced by the M16; this is the shortest any weapon has served as the US army's standard, and the M14 would be last battle rifle issued to normal infantry by them. The M14 found its niche as a marksman's rifle like the Soviet SVD, fitted with a selection of scopes and with wood stocks being replaced with fiberglass and later all-synthetic furnishings.note It remains in use today as a ceremonial weapon, and modernized versions are still issued in small numbers as designated marksman's rifles. Its sniper variants are the M21 which saw much use in Vietnam, and the M25, which is used by US Army Special Forces and the Navy SEALs. A few select fire M14's have made it onto the U.S. civilian market, although they are very rare; it is more common for M14's in civilian hands to either be the very similar, but semiautomatic only M1A, or to have been converted to semiautomatic only when they left the service. Civilian versions (semi-auto only) are also available in most US states and they are very popular with the shooting public, and they are the gun of choice for Iron Man 3-gun competitions as well as other battle rifle competitions. The Chinese company Norinco has naturally made its own knockoffs, the M305 and the M14S, however they are not available in the U.S. due to a ban on Chinese firearm imports; they are only sold in Canada, Italy, and New Zealand. While the M21 was phased out in favour of the M24 SWS in 1988, similar weapons based on converted original production M14s are now being issued to marksmen in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are also issued to park rangers in the Organ Pipes National Park due to drug cartel activity. Note: Multiple live action productions from The Seventies and The Eighties supposedly featuring the M14 are actually using the Beretta BM59, an Italian weapon based on the very same idea, owing its existence to the fact the Italian Army didn't have many funds to replace their M1 Garands and Beretta had produced them under license. The only practical differences between the two weapons is that the BM59 has an integral folding bipod and a flash suppressor that can work to shoot rifle grenades.
Nicknamed "the right arm of the free world," the FAL ("Fusil Automatique Léger", French for "Light Automatic Rifle") was one of the three major battle rifles designed for the NATO 7.62x51 mm bullet (the other two were the M14 and H&K G3) and was undoubtedly the most successful of the three designs, having much lighter recoil and greater durability (equal to the AK-47's legendary durability). The FAL was designed by Dieudonne Saive, who is probably more famous for his work on the Browning Hi-Power. Originally, the FAL was meant to be an assault rifle, with prototypes chambered in intermediate rounds such as German 7.92x33mm and .280 British (7x43mm). However, when NATO standardized on 7.62x51mm at American insistence, FN beefed up the FAL to handle the more powerful round, and the rest was history. It was so popular that every Western and non-communist nation except the USA adopted it as their main rifle (even the US strongly considered adopting it, but decided not to on the basis of a combination of nationalism and false testimony to Congress claiming that the M14 could reuse the existing M1 Garand production lines; West Germany had initially adopted it too, but only for its border guards. When the Germans wanted to buy the license from FN to domestically produce the rifle themselves, they were turned down, probably in no small part due tothe fac that they had invaded Belgium twice in the previous forty years. This led to them ultimately working with Spain on its CETME 58, which ultimately became the G3. The FN FAL is considered the classic post-war battle rifle and the Western counterpart to the AK-47. Over one million FALs have been made; the most notable users include the UK and Australia, who made their own version called the L1A1 SLR (Self Loading Rifle). This version is easily recognizable due to its long barrel and slender profile, and is among the semi-automatic only variants of the FAL; versions capable of fully automatic fire also exist, but would often jam when actually fired in full-auto. Another highly recognizable FAL version is the Israeli FAL, with its distinctive and very cool half-wood, half-sheet metal◊ handguard. Parts of the L1A1 (built on an inch pattern) are not compatible with other "metric" FALs, leading to many headaches among collectors, especially when there is parts breakage on one of the much rarer inch FALs. Inch FALs can use both inch and metric pattern magazines (usually), which is lucky for inch FAL owners since metric mags are more common. The reverse is not true, though; metric FALs can only use metric mags. The FAL is available on the US civilian firearms market in most states, with lower end Century Arms (or worse, Enterprise or, God help you, Vulcan) models going for $550, although a FAL of reliably high quality will likely run $800 or more and top-of-the line FAL builds can run over $2000. The FAL and its variants were in production for a long time. In fact, some of the earlier variants look almost nothing like the later versions, owing to some 30 odd years of production, upgrades, and changes. The result is that early versions are made out of wood and steel while the later variants feature modern polymer furniture (though still steel; there have been experiments with aluminum receivers, but the 7.62x51mm round just exerts too much force for them to hold up). The gun is still in production and use by many countries from around the globe. In fact, an updated version has been created for use as a spotter's rifle. Note: if an Italian is referring to a FAL, chance is he's actually talking about the above Beretta BM59, designated as Fucile Automatico Leggero (again, it means "Light Automatic Rifle") by the military. As the BM59 was anything but light, the soldiers nicknamed it ''Fucile Automatico Pesante ("Heavy Automatic Rifle"), or, in an unintentional example of Fun with Acronyms (as very few Italians knew English at the time), FAP.
Heckler & Koch G 3
A German weapon developed from the Spanish CETME series of battle rifles, the G3 was the third major weapon chambered for the 7.62mm NATO round. It came about because the Belgians were wary of licensing the FAL to Germany, resulting in Germany looking to Spain and its CETME. A stamped steel battle rifle using a roller-delayed blowback system originally designed for the StG-45 prototype in World War II (appropriately enough)note , the G3 is more widely known for its derivatives than it is in itself, being not nearly as widely distributed as the FN FAL. Note that the G3 derivatives are simply scaled down versions of the rifle adapted to fire different rounds. Visually, the FAL and the G3 are very similar, with the most noticeable difference being that the FAL's charging handle is on the left side of the receiver while the G3's charging handle is up near the left of the muzzle of the gun. The action of the G3 has served as the basis for nearly every non-pistol weapon designed by Heckler & Koch until The Nineties, when the G36 series and its ambidextrous AR-18-inspired action took over; the MP5 is effectively a miniaturized G3 chambered in 9mm, the PSG1 and MSG90 are accurized versions for marksman use, the HK21 a general purpose machine gun version adapted for belted ammo, and so on. The G3 is known for being reliable, but shooters are often critical of rather violent action that tends to mangle ejected cartridges and throw them anything up to thirty feet away, and the ergonomics and weight of the rifle in general. Therefore, it is a good idea to never stand on the right side of a G3 shooter if you can avoid it, unless you want hot brass hitting you. Genuine G3's and HK firearms are rare in the United States civilian shooting market, with the ATF banning their importation because they could be quite easily converted into automatic weapons.note Also, HK is only minimally invested in the US civilian market, and even then, its main product is handguns. Genuine HK G3 clone imports are expensive, going for an average of at least $1700. Semiautomatic G3 clones are much more common and cheaper; the two main ones available on the market are the 7.62x51 C91 and the 5.56x45 C93. They come in at a normal price of at least $650. Though primarily used by small armies, it was also the standard rifle of the West German army due to Fabrique Nationale refusing to sell a license to H&K to manufacture FALs, and the Bundeswehr wanting a domestically-manufactured rifle. Up until the G3 was adopted, the BRD was supplied with FAL rifles that it bought from other countries, as well as with American weapons. The Belgians didn’t want to sell the Germans the rights to make their own weapons, considering what had recently transpired. Many Bundeswehr soldiers also took a liking to the CETME rifle provided for testing. Thus, the G3 was born. The G3 is still in service with many second and third world militaries around the globe and is still in production.
The NATO battle rifle that's not chambered in 7.62mm NATO.note Instead, France stuck with the 7.5x54mm round (despite the "7.5" designation, it's actually exactly the same diameter as the 7.62mm NATO) that they'd been using since 1930. While France was a founding member of the alliance, they resisted standardization for decades. The MAS-49 was the culmination of a nearly 50-year quest by the French Army to issue every soldier a semi-automatic weapon. With development slowed to a crawl by lack of funds and interrupted by the World Wars, it wasn't until the 1950s that the goal was achieved. By that point, having a standard-issue semi-auto was no longer revolutionary at all. The MAS-49 only saw limited production before being replaced by the shorter, rifle grenade capable MAS-49/56. It utilized a tilting bolt system similar to the FAL, and a direct impingement gas system like the later M16. Interestingly, while the M16 became infamous for needing to be cleaned constantly, the MAS-49/56 was beloved by French soldiers for its ability to go for weeks at a time with only the most rudimentary cleaning, even in the harshest desert and jungle conditions. It also uses the unique system of having the magazine catch on the magazine instead of on the rifle. No one else has ever used this odd system, but it works well enough.