Shooting the M14: Full Auto Really Uncontrollable?

This M14 is being sold by Morphys on October 30, 2018.

Today we are out shooting the H&R M14 “Guerrilla Gun” prototype, but fitted with a standard M14 stock and barrel. With these parts, it handles and fires exactly like a standard M14 – so I can answer the most pertinent question:

Is the M14 really so uncontrollable in full auto?


  1. The vast majority of M14s were issued with selector locks, so most soldiers didn’t get to shoot full-auto either. The official description of the M14 says it is “…a semiautomatic or automatic shoulder weapon”, indicating its primary role was as a semiauto rifle.
    Hilariously, the M14 was also touted as a replacement for M1/2 carbines and M3 subguns!!

    • “Hilariously, the M14 was also touted as a replacement for M1/2 carbines and M3 subguns!!”
      Well, there existed weapon kin to M14, which was adopted as M15 and was supposed to replace BAR, according to
      Further development and tests lead to the slightly modified T44E4 and T44E5 (heavy barreled squad automatic weapon) prototypes, which were finally adopted by US Army as M14 and M15 rifles in the 1957. The M15, a heavy barreled weapon, however, was never brought into production.
      So original intent was apparently to have M14 mainly for semi-auto fire and M15 for full-auto.

  2. There was the specialized stock with pistol grip, bipod, vertical fore-grip, etc. in the misbegotten attempt to make it a B.A.R. replacement “automatic rifle.” Might be interesting to compare one set up that way to the B.A.R. and, say, the CSRG 1915 Chauchat?

    “U.S. Automatic Rifles retrospective” or something…

    Humorous video! “Myth!confirmed! It is no myth!”

  3. Due to the massively extreme price for any form (auto or semi)of the M14, I have never fired one, so forgive me if this is well known, but did we (the USA) ever put a bipod on the M14? From my experience with shooting an FAL (Austrian STG58) the full auto was much more useful from the bipod, which is why the Austrians had it on their FALs. I also once shot a full auto CETME with a bipod added to it, and it was very controllable in that setup.

    • Yes they did put a bipod on the M14, and called it the M14E2, and it was still not very controllable. The problem was (and is) is the fact that the M14 is muzzle light. Very little of the balance is forward of the magazine, causing the muzzle to rise with every round fired. I have seen a Grizzled old veteran shoot the M14 from the prone, with a bipod, and weight over the barrel, and it was a struggle to keep it from jumping all over the place. BUT still, I would trade a truck load of M16/M4’s for one good M14!

      • I have the M14 bipod, and it is a very heavy and robust piece of kit, unlike the typical flimsier bipods of other 7.62mm automatic rifles.

        • Same here. I have shot the M14 in FA mode, in probe, with a bipod and the hinged butplate open and locked into my shoulder. With a little practice it is not that bad. I enjoy my time on the range every tome I go out with it.

  4. As Dave says, there was a specialized ‘E2’ stock with pistol grip and hinged foregrip(and bipod) produced. Springfield Armory (the M1A maker) offered some for sale back in the ’90s, AS WELL AS the clamp on compensator designed for the automatic rifle (originally designated the M15, changed to M14E2)

  5. It is ‘shoulder-full’, indeed. I’d consider Ian’s physique definitely not subtle in any sense of the word, but this is convincing enough to me.

  6. A little speculation… after reading couple people’s observations based on their experience.

    When we look at FAL and the way its bolt locks, it appears that the prevalent force component is applied under slight angle downwards – into centre of stock. The M14 in contrast is locked ‘co-axially’ with barrel axis, thus directing main thrust in same direction – over shooter’s shoulder, augmented by (as someone already wrote) poor weight distribution. This combined with stock drop causes what we see in video.

  7. Wonderful video. I’m only wish I could have seen that M14 also fired from the position with the butt tucked back under the armpit.

  8. I doubt it was ever “a rumor” that they were uncontrollable. The first time it was ever fired full auto, everyone knew it for a fact. I don’t think any of the full auto capable main battle rifles were ever successful in that mode.

    • Hold on. What about Ian McCollums video on the FG42?
      He seemed to indicate that the FG42 was a very controllable
      full auto main battle rifle.

      • Mostly thanks to the inline design, the fact that it literally recoils a little into the stock to absorb some of the recoil and the massive muzzle compensator on it.

        Remove the compensator and the recoil buffer spring in the stock and it’ll likely buck around like an AR-10.

        • Vincent. Okay. Why not remove the stock as well? Then it would really buck. I don’t understand your reasoning. As designed and built it apparently functions very well.

  9. Weapon of Choice Scenario:

    Setting: A freight train heading across the Porcelain Plains.

    I love traveling, but now is a bad time to admire the landscape. We’re now on the way to Sax-Burg to deliver three thousand short tons of pure silver bullion (literally 6000000 British Pounds Sterling). In any case, it appears our HQ’s paper communications were intercepted, because we’ve got a whole gaggle of off-road pickup trucks coming over the plains. They’re full of unfriendly-looking gun-toting ski-masked goons. And just as bad, there are a bunch of shark-mouthed helicopters trying to land on our train! Thankfully the bandits aren’t trying to derail the train, because they want easy-to-unload-from-train money, not work-hard-and-dig-out-of-train-wreck money. Unless you’re in one of the armored fighting railway cars on this train, get a gun out of a locker and do something!

    Enemy information:

    20 pickup trucks full of AKM-toting bandits
    2 trucks with KPV heavy machine guns and RPG-7’s
    3 Bell 204’s turned into makeshift gunships (with PKM’s sticking out the doors)

    Allied information:

    1 DRB Class 52 locomotive (can’t we go any faster?)
    20 boxcars full of silver bullion (and guards with guns)
    6 Pullman cars with guard stations (and more guns) at the ends
    4 flat cars with 2 x Browning M1921 double mounts (per car)
    1 armored “caboose” with a Churchill Mk III turret and machine gun ports in the side


    1. Reach Sax-Burg safely
    2. Don’t those train robbers get aboard or escape with even one ounce of silver!
    3. Eliminate or arrest (yeah, right) all hostiles

    Guard weapons inside the Pullman cars:

    1. M2 Carbine
    2. Winchester Model 1907
    3. Stevens 520 Trench Gun
    4. Thompson M1921 with L drums
    5. Remington Model 8
    6. Beretta MAB-38A
    7. Benet-Mercie M1909 machine rifle

    Boxcar Guard weapons:

    1. Colt MG36 water-cooled machine guns
    2. M14 with 3-shot burst cam installed
    3. Beretta BM 59 Ital TA (mountaineer version with folding stock and pistol grip)
    4. Colt R75A
    5. MAS-49/56
    6. FG-42 (second variant)
    7. Or per the usual, screw the budget and add your favorite toys to the list.

    This activity is totally voluntary. You don’t have to shoot train robbers if you’d prefer not to do so. Please keep any and all criticism of this post humane and free of foul language.

    Thank you,


    • On bandit side, they always can damage the tracks to derail train :
      it will stop the train, and with a bit of luck few wagon will lay on the side, disabling a part of crew and fixed weaponry.

      If ambush goes as planned, RPG7 and KPV will be placed in a safe angle to pierce through walls.

      Alternative :
      the bad guys observe train structure and use RPG7 heads as IED to detach little by little wagons from the train. For the final fun, derail the locomotive. Fast trucks and helicopter will be used to prepare successive ambushes.

      For the good guys…
      Radar linked to computer assisted turrets will be a plus…

      • If the bandit helicopters are trying to land on the train in order to hijack it, the bandits clearly want to STOP the train without risking the cargo getting flung away by derailment (I think they watched way too many movies about train robberies gone wrong-where the train derails violently and all the cars are flung everywhere in a manner suggesting a hurricane or a superhero did it). They also don’t have RPG’s in the choppers (thank goodness they’re not too smart). RPG-7’s generally aren’t fired that accurately from the back of a moving truck (I did mention that they were driving OFF-ROAD), and especially not when someone’s shooting back with heavy machine guns. To use an RPG as an IED, you’d have to get ON the train first without getting shot (pickup trucks are easier to target with a QF six-pounder tank cannon than people).

    • “20 pickup trucks full of AKM-toting bandits
      2 trucks with KPV heavy machine guns and RPG-7’s
      3 Bell 204’s turned into makeshift gunships (with PKM’s sticking out the doors)
      Or per the usual, screw the budget and add your favorite toys to the list.”
      We need to out-range them.
      For first, rifle-caliber machine guns should suffice, but preferably heavy machine gun for knocking-out vehicles. This should suffice for RPG-7 too.
      Against KPV-armed we need just… bigger guns, 20 mm caliber or so.
      For 3 Bell 204 gunships maybe try Starstreak missiles or maybe MISTRAL MANPADS, if impossible get automatic AA cannons, which also solves previous problems, but in this case must be able to also engage aerial targets (High Angle mount) – for example M167 VADS, but older patterns also should work, like 20 mm M139 Gun, ZU-23-2 or Rh-202 by Rheinmetall.

    • By some miracle, I survived the last scenario what with the Großfuß rifles and nipolit and concrete grenades.

      After my convalescence, muttering “pocketa-pocketa-pocketa” from the flame-thrower memories, and reinforced by a double tot of vodka or grappa, I was detached from the Soviet armored train service–having redeemed with my blood the dishonored motherland–and seconded to the boullon/ specie train with my trusty quad-Model 1910 Maxim gun with anti-aircraft sights. While myopic, the hope is that I might be able to “lead” a technical or two from my position atop the train. For close in work, they took away my trusty M1 carbine, which was ever so easy to carry, and having read my post, and seeking to make me repent of my fixation for “fewest parts” made me tote a 16-ga. four barrel Hillberg liberator as my sidearm. Boy this thing is a b***h!

  10. Many moons ago when I was learning to pretend to work in the basement of State, my boss talked about his time in the Air Force in Vietnam. Apparently he somehow was issued an M-14 w/ the happy switch, and he duly went down to the range one day, I suppose to zero it.

    From sitting, he flipped the happy switch on to see what it would do, and pulled the trigger. He was promptly rolled onto his back, with some of his rounds leaving the barrel close to the vertical.

    • “From sitting, he flipped the happy switch on to see what it would do, and pulled the trigger. He was promptly rolled onto his back, with some of his rounds leaving the barrel close to the vertical.”
      So it looks to be made specially for situation which one US Marine officer during Korean War described as follow:
      We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies things.

    • Except for the fact that .280 British is usually considered to be an intermediate cartridge (albeit more powerful than the major extant intermediate cartridges, however e.g. the Czech 7.62×45mm was only slightly less powerful), so the EM-2 was actually an assault rifle by modern definition.

  11. If you change the caliber to 308 and use the NAVY muzzle break it shoots fine! It doesn’t move and is super controllable!! See if you can get your hands on one of those and have some real fun!

  12. Oh, where to begin. As apparently I’m the only ex-troop with any real experience with the object in question, I will now stand up on my hind legs and say, “you ain’t doin’t it right and you’re not understanding the intended useage.”
    Let’s backup three or four hundred years and examine swordplay a bit.
    Yeah, really.
    Back in the day, (the many) variations on the basic kit included a long blade and a short blade…also colloquially known as “flash, distract, block and guard with the long, Murder with the short…”
    Yeah, really.
    Fast forward to the 20th century, the sound and placemetnt of a full auto anything (M-60, switched M-14, Gatling, what ever has as a major function of channeling your cheerful opponents to the killing fields where the Claymores and air-strikes can do their intended work.
    And if, by intent or accident, an honorable happens to blunder before your dagger or muzzle, it was but meant to be.
    Ian , you’re pretty steady, really, with that M-14, enough to keep a bunker-dweller’s head down while the satchel charge guy is moving close…also known as the murderer. Point being, nothing happens in a vacuum and a largish handful of .308s launched from an M-14 or an M-60 or whatever supplanted by full-auto is largely guaranteed to calm the situation down some.
    (Pesky how those honorables tend to cover behind thick-and-heavy stuff, isn’t’ it?)
    And, by the way, I still have my dagger and rapier from the years gone by. You’d be surprised how useful the knowledge can occasionally be…

  13. The M14 isn’t that really uncontrollable, it just needed attachments, if i had one, my first thing I’m going to remove/change is the flash suppressor and then replace it with a muzzle brake, since it has a light barrel, i may disassemble the rifle and replace it’s standard barrel with a heavier barrel and lastly (if possible) ill add a pistol grip but i never fired this kind of idea but i’m quite sure that this rifle would be controllable, it’ll had a decent accuracy

  14. Ian’s video was a trip down memory lane to infantry AIT in 1967. Firing full magazines of blanks on full auto was entertaining. Full auto with live rounds from the hip was good too. Full auto from the shoulder was a bruser. In Vietnam we had the first gen M16 for a while. A POS, failure to extract, jammer. I was longing for the previously disliked M14 because it never jammed on me. Our replacement, next gen, 16s worked fine.

  15. I carried an auto M14 in Vietnam, USMC, when I left I removed the selector switch and still have it over 50 years later. I loved shooting that gun, I fell in love with it, it will always be part of me

  16. Howdy,
    Really appreciate your posts. If you haven’t already discovered it, the muzzle brake on the C308 by Century Arms is a real wonder. I’ve owned and used a factory HK-91 with the flash suppressor they install. I got my cheek bruised and it was a real piece of shit to shoot. The C-308 tames the 308 round to the level of shooting a .223. I would appreciate some professional conversation from time to time.
    Bruce Mergele, QMC, USNR-Retired
    Boerne, Texas

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