Shooting Sports USA - April 2018 - 32
FEATURE | M14
for the M14. The highest score in the NTI with
an M14 was Greg Strom's 495-22X in 1984.
The current high score with the current M16
design is a 497-22X, fired by Marine Staff
Sergeant Jason Benedict in 2007.
It was only natural for civilian competitors
to envy the M14, and from the popularity
of Service Rifle competition came the
impetus to create a civilian version of the
M14. While all civilian versions of the M14
rifle are commonly called M1As, the only
real M1As are receivers and guns built by
Springfield Armory, who owns the copyright
for that designation. There are conflicts
in the story of just who built the very first
civilian versions of the M14, but there are no
arguments about who the original players
were; Elmer Balance and Melvin Smith
came up with an early version in Devine,
TX, at about the same time as Carl Maunz
was working on his version from El Monte,
CA. As a result, both early versions were
developed at about the same time.
While the M1A has gained popularity as
a multipurpose recreational rifle, it was
The AR Sales rifle with a period 1974 MRT sling and
some of the author's medals.
APRIL 2018 | SSUSA.ORG
competition that fueled its conception.
Everyone involved with the early
development of a civilian version of the M14
was involved in Service Rifle Competition.
From the time of its first availability until the
rise of the M16/AR15 as a match rifle in the
early 1990s, the M14, M1A and other civilian
versions completely dominated service rifle
competition. When Bob Reese acquired the
M1A in 1974 and formed Springfield Armory
in Geneseo, IL, he recognized there was a
market for civilian versions of the basic M14
rifle, and the company has been supplying
receivers and building M1As for competition,
recreation and hunting use ever since.
My experience with the M14/M1A has
been a long and pleasant love affair. After
beginning my High Power career with an M1,
shooting just enough to qualify for a DCM
M1 for $121.50 in 1983, I drew an M14 from
the North Carolina State Team and entered
the North Carolina State Championship.
At that first match, early in 1984, I won the
Marksman class with an Expert score and
fell in love with the M14. Eventually, I got my
Distinguished Rifleman badge and earned
four Dogs of War medals for the National
Trophy Team Matches with M14s and M1As.
I began with a standard weight National
Match M14 and finished up with an Alan
Hurt-built M1A with a Hart barrel. I continued
to shoot the M1A for years after getting
distinguished and never felt under gunned.
The accuracy potential of the M14/M1A is
unquestionable. During their reign as service
rifles, they produced multiple perfect 200
scores at 600 and 1000 yards in the hands
of top shooters. This is a difficult feat with
a modern scoped magnum caliber rifle and