Book Review: The US Rifle M14 – The Last Steel Warrior

The M14 rifle is a rather controversial arm in American military service. As Frank Iannamico’s title says, it was the last steel-and-wood infantry rifle to be adopted by the US military, and it has a great many very loyal and dedicated fans. At the same time, it had the shortest production span of any US infantry rifle, and one that was plagued by problems. And yet, as a marksman’s rifle it was used by the USMC until 2012.

A worthy successor to Blake Steven’s book of the same primary title, Frank Iannamico’s second edition of “The US Rifle M14: The Last Steel Warrior” is an excellent reference for those who wish to more fully understand the M14, both its triumphs and warts. The book covers the experimental iterations of the M1 Garand that led to the M14, as well as the trials between the T48 (FAL) and the T44 (to become the M14) as well as the other US-made competitors in those trials. It covers the government and commercial contract production of the M14, and also the semiautomatic versions later created for the civilian market. Where Blake Stevens’ book was published in 1983, Iannamico is able to follow the M14 story all the way to its end in US military service, covering the M25, M39, and Mk14 iterations put into use from the 1980s to 2010s.

Available from the publisher, Chipotle, or from Amazon:


  1. My M-14 story. I was company commander for 8 months of an Army armored cav unit in Viet Nam in I-Corps. I inherited an off-the-books obviously stolen Marine Corps M-14 A1 from the prior commander when I took over in spring 1968. We carried it on the command track. It had the bipod, pistol grip stock, full auto selector switch and starlight scope mount on it. The barrel was hack sawed off just above the gas cylinder plug. We had a wooden large ammo box full of magazines for it. The only source for ammo was to break down M-60 belt ammo. I would loan it out every night after we sat up in a RON to which ever ambush patrol was tagged to go out first. It would put a 5 round burst in large pear can at 100 meters on full auto in prone position using the starlight. It was an awesome piece of firepower. I hung it on the side of the ACAV TC copola with the bipod extended when we were running highway one road security. I have often wondered what happened to it after I passed it on. The only member of the unit who didn’t like it was my driver who had to break down the M-60 belt ammo and refill the mags 🙂

  2. Thanks Ian. I have the Collector Grade book, and I really appreciate that you took the time to contrast the two, and outline why this book is different. Already having the Collector Grade book, I would have passed this one by, expecting it to cover the same ground in less detail, if not for your review.

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