Ask Ian: What Rifles Were the M2-M13?

From Dennis on Patreon:
“What rifles were between the M1 Garand and the M14? I went through Basic with an M14 and I know the M15 was supposed to be a BAR replacement. Google doesn’t really find anything on the M2 – M13 rifles.”

The Army had rifle for much more than just standard infantry use. They also adopted rifles for marksmanship practice, sub caliber firing of artillery, pilot survival (as the Army Air Force), and spotting. Here are the M2 through M13:

M2 – Springfield .22LR training rifle (updated from the M1922) (
M3 – Not used
M4 – Harrington & Richardson pilot survival rifle; bolt action .22 Hornet
M5 – Subcaliber .22LR adapter for 37mm guns
M6 – Ithaca pilot survival combination gun; .22 Hornet over .410 shotgun (
M7 – Subcaliber .30-06 adapter for the 75mm recoilless rifle
M8 – Spotting rifle for the 106mm recoilless rifle (
M9 – Subcaliber .30-06 adapter for the 106mm recoilless rifle
M10 – Not used
M11 – Not used
M12 – Harrington & Richardson .22LR training rifle
M13 – Remington .22LR training rifle


  1. Is any information available on the Johnson rifles and light machine guns. I also heard that Johnson had a carbine the looked like the light machine gun but was a semi and used a BAR magazine?

  2. The M-3 was the “grease gun.
    The M-8 was mounted on the 106 recoil less rifle. The operator used to set beside the gun and use the traversing/elevation wheels, looking through a prism optic. When he was on target, he would pull the knob (trigger) and fire the spotting rifle with it’s white phosphorus bullet. If it hit where he wanted, he simply pushed the knob(trigger) and the main gin would fire to the spot that the white phosphorus round hit. Ocassionally, the M-8 would misdeed with disastrous results. The phosphorus round would detonate right in front of the operator inflicting severe burns or death. I inspected several of them afterwards. Definitely not your best day if you were the operator.

    • The Grease Gun was the submachine gun, M3. The carbines were Carbine M-1, M-1A1, M2, M3, M4, & M4A1.

      We’re talking rifles – so Rifle, M1, M-14, XM-16E1, M-16A1, M16A2, M16A3, M16A4.

  3. A couola comments Ian. First, the M series was intended to be a DOD classification system, but broke down first when the Navy converted its M1’s and M1919A4’s to 7.62mm and called the results the Mark2 Mod1 and M1rk 21 Mod 0 (they could have been M1A1 – no relation to the civilian M1A – and M1919A7 (the A5 was a A4 adapted for use as a tank’s coax by replacing the manual trigger with a solenoid operated one and the A6 was the notorious “light” machinegun. Then Naval Special ops started naming their shiny new toys as “Mark Whatever. The USAF joined the party when they started designating small arms used by them as GAU series, as in the GAU-5/A Submachine Gun, GAU standing for “Gun, Airrcaft, Unit”, which usually applies to things like 20mm Vulcans, although it also applies to the 105mm howitzer for AC-130’s. The result? Everybody calls firearms by whatever they please. 2)In a prior life I was the proud owner of eight 106mm Recoilless Rifles as my battalion’s Antitank Platoon leader. You are correct the M8C Spotting Rifle does not fire .50 cal BMG ammunition. However, the round is more than just a tracer round – when it hits the target, it exploded with a bright flash of light (IIRC from ppwder aluminum mixed with explosive) and give out a large puff of smoke. One word of warning to anyone who encounters one – IT IS NOT BORE OR DROP SAFE. If you drop it or otherwise mishandle it, it will explode as it does not need a fuze – impact alone is enough to cause the round to detonate. 3) Some details about the M9 subcaliber device. We had a supply of them secured down in the company arms room 4) I was on my school’s Army ROTC Rifle Team and we shot 22LR, bolt action weapons of several different designs. I either never knew or have forgotten the nomenclature of what we shot, but it may well have been M2’s, M12’s or M13’s. Anyway, it looks like the M12’s and M13’s were a mixed bag, and maybe only had an inconspicuous “US” to mark them as bring military weapons.

    “M12: This model designation was assigned to three .22LR caliber bolt action training rifles: 1) Winchester Model 52 Heavy Barrel 2) Remington Model 40X-S1 3) Harrington & Richardson M12. Remington Model 40X-S1 M12 rifles were in the inventory of Marine Corps Junior ROTC units in the 1970s for smallbore rifle marksmanship training and competition. The Harrington & Richardson M12 was a single shot heavy barrel heavy wood stock rifle fitted with Redfield globe front sight and Palma rear sight. It weighed about 13 pounds. The Civilian Marksmanship Program sold this rifle to civilians as late as March 2005.

    M13: Likewise, this model number was given to two .22LR caliber training rifles, the Remington Model 513T Targetmaster and the Winchester Model 75 Target. Remington Model 513T Targetmaster M13 rifles were also in the inventory of Marine Corps Junior ROTC units in the 1970s.”

  4. The DoD decision to refer to the present iteration of the M16 series as the M4 has always seemed a little strange. I heard that it was to avoid calling it the M16A5, which is technically what it actually is. (I’m disregarding the one-off “M16A5” that spawned all the civilian knockoffs, here.)

    As for the M3 version of the carbine, which was an M2 with an associated (and bulky and clumsy) IR night sight, in development it was designated the T3, and somehow that became “M3” when approved for issue. Which probably caused some head-scratching among quartermasters, as of course we already had the M3 .45 SMG.

    Of course later we had the M60 7.62mm GPMG, the M60 main battle tank, and the M60 submersible pump all at the same time, too.



    • It’s not a rifle. It’s a carbine, thus it is actually the successor to the M1 Carbine, M2 Carbine, and M3 Carbine nomenclatural lineage.

      Doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense, when you get down to it, but there ya go.

  5. Stupid question: Supposing I designed a “military-grade” semi-auto rifle in 7.62×51 NATO and called the design “Rifle, 7.62mm, M3” as a joke, would the Pentagon attempt to have me assassinated?

    • Before anyone answers, know that “intellectual property thieves” and patent trolls have been jailed or “conveniently vanished into nowhere” for a matter of less than two dollars in the past. I could be wrong.

      • Back in the 1940s, Iliff D. Richardson marketed a version of the “Paliuntod” shotgun he helped concoct in the Philippines as the “M4 Guerrilla Gun” at a time when our standard tank was the M4 Sherman.

        From all indications nobody in any position of power cared.

        As far as U.S. designations go, Colt lost a trademark fight in court over trying to claim that the term “M4” was their exclusive intellectual property because they manufacture the M4 version of the M16A3 for the DoD. The court ruled that since “M4” was in fact a U.S. government designation, it was in the public domain due to being originally paid for by the taxpayers. Just like Ford naming a certain set of concept cars then a sport coupe the Mustang back in the early 1960s, after the North American P-51 fighter of the same name vintage 1941. Yes, the court told Colt to go pound sand.

        In short, you can basically stick an “M” with a number behind it on just about anything, and even if the U.S. government has or had something with that designation, there’s not much that anybody can do about it legally.



        Granted, it didn’t amount to much

        • Well, we had the M3 light and M3 medium tank (and the M3 105mm howitzer), the 76mm gun M1, M1 155 Howitzer, M1 4.5 inch gun, M1 155mm gun, M1 8inch howitzer, 8inch gun M1 and 240mm howitzer M1 – all in WW2. All the artilerly pieces were renamed post-war.

          • Don’t forget the M1 and M3 3-inch towed anti-tank guns. Basically the old 3-inch AA gun tube on an M1 105mm howitzer recoil system and carriage. Strangely, there never seems to have been an “M2” in that family.



          • “(…)had the M3 light and M3 medium tank (and the M3 105mm howitzer)(…)”
            Apparently M3 was also sometimes applied to White Scout Car

  6. FWIW, I was once told by an ancient Warrant Officer that the M10 and M11 were supposed to be 7.62mm NATO bolt-action training rifles, but the program never took off when they decided that they were unnecessary.

    If I remember what he was telling me, one of them was supposed to be a militarized Winchester Model 70, and the other was supposed to be an equally militarized Remington 700.

    M3, he had no idea about. He did think it was another deal where they assigned a number in anticipation of there being a program to produce a weapon, and that got nixed before actually being built or even really designed.

    Accuracy of said lore? Unknown. Pure word-of-mouth from an ancient and authoritative Warrant Officer who used to spend a lot of time BS’ing with anyone interested in guns whenever they crossed his path. Haven’t ever run into anything he was wrong about, but that could be my memory playing me false.

      • LOL… You can always trust a Warrant Officer. What you can trust him for, however…?

        Another question entirely.

        I ran into a bunch of Warrants who were sadly prone to doing things for their own amusement. “Sure, young Lieutenant… Go ahead, do that…”

        Which invariably led to me cleaning up after a lieutenant making a mess of things.

        “But… But… The Chief said it’d work…”

        “No, sir… The Chief said you could do it that way. He never said it would work…”

        With a Warrant Officer, ya gotta pay attention to the spaces in between what they say, and the things they don’t say.

        Sometimes more carefully than you listen to what they say.

        Only thing more dangerous than a bored private or an LT who just left a training course is a bored and jaded WO3 or WO4. Those guys just love starting sh*t solely for the entertainment value of it all. Put two or three of them together, and you reach critical mass of “old and cranky bastard”, which ain’t good for anyone.

      • I was a Sp5 before I ever ran into a WO and he was great. He was a WO3. No one knew how to treat him, so they basically left him alone. He was A Vietnamese veteran and he spent a lot of time in my Small Arms shop. By that time I was pretty fed up with the Army so wasn’t interested in re-upping.

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