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AR-15 May Replace M-14

June 22, 1963 - The AR-15 rifle (pictured) may ultimately replace the M-14 as the standard Army rifle before the M-14 itself ever becomes truly standard. The M-14, with its standardized 7.62 NATO caliber, has not yet completely replaced the M-1 (Garand) rifle. The latter was used in World War II and Korea. The AR-15, which has been used as a survival weapon by Air Force pilots forced down in jungles, by the South Vietnamese Army, and for test and development purposes by the U.S. Army, uses a .223-caliber cartridge. It has long been under development and has been both highly praised and strongly criticized. Critics describe the AR-15 as so inaccurate that “you can’t hit the side of a barn” even at short range. It is also regarded by some as subject to mechanical faults. The Army says this criticism is outdated — that the present AR-15 is a very different rifle than the original AR-10, a product of the Armalite Division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation. The AR-15 weighs about 6 pounds 10 ounces, the M-14 approximately 9 pounds. The former fires a 55-grain bullet with a muzzle velocity of 3,185 feet a second as compared to the M-14’s 150-grain bullet, which has a muzzle velocity of 2,750 feet a second. However, because of the greater weight of the bullet, the striking energy — or stopping power — of the M-14 round is about twice that of the AR-15 at the muzzle, and about 3 times as great at 300 yards. Jac Weller, a well-known small-arms expert, wrote recently that the AR-15 has the following advantages: “Light weight, the accuracy of its burst fire from a prone position, and the fact that it is as effective as any rifle up to 300 yards save under very unusual conditions.” The disadvantages, he said, are that it lacks power, is too long, and its present ammunition “is not stable at low temperatures.” “The AR-15 could be a breakthrough in infantry weapons,” he continued. “It abandons completely the old concepts of long-range rifle fire which goes back to the last years of the 19th century, when machine guns had not yet proven themselves. My personal opinion, based on conversations with young soldiers throughout NATO, is that the AR-15 would be more popular with both our own soldiers and our Allies than the M-14.”


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