The M14, the last battle rifle the US has fielded, the good old trusty hard hitting warrior. Made famous by the all sorts of warriors, fictional and real. It derrived from the M1 Garand, the original .30 WW2 rifle, the first semi automatic issued weapon of them all. As the WW2 war ended and later on the Korean war proved that firepower, as much as it was superior to any bolt action rifle, was still not adequate for the ever faster combat tactics that were employed, mainly due to the 8 round internal magazine, loaded via en block clip. So the military put out a tender for a replacement for the venerable M1 Garand. The specs were pretty straight forward as much as they were demanding on the designers. The specs dictated a a weapon chambered for a .30 caliber rifle round. But rather than sticking to the battle proven 30-06 Springfield that the M1 Garand used, they opted for the new NATO round, called 7.62mm NATO (7.62 x 51 mm military ball), which is basically a slightly modified .308 Winchester beefed up to military spec. The specs demanded a detachable box magazine of capacity no less than 20 round and the ability to fire in semi-automatic as well as in full-automatic modes. In addition to that, the gas trap of the M1 Garand was to be re-designed and modified into a gas piston, which is lighter to shoot, more easy on the maintenance as well as more reliable.
Springfield Armory’s contender won the tender, being a more or less a modified M1 Garand, where it retained the basics of the firing mechanism and all the controls, the receiver and the rear locking lugs and the basic contours of the stock. An effective flash hider was added, stock was modified so a barrel was covered by a non-wood cover and forward portion of the barrel is exposed. And the rest is pretty much history and a glorious one it is.
WE is the first one to offer a functioning, skirmishable gas blowback rifle in the M14 format. The M14 has long been a much sought after item, so the AEG version was warmly received to put it mildly. The replica comes packed in the usual cardboard box, unfortunately I’m unable to show you how the box looks like, since the local customs office has had some serious problems opening the box without carving it up completely.
The first impression I got, upon picking up the replica was one of weight, heavy weight to be exact. It’s a hefty piece, by anyones standards, the scale stops at 4.8Kg (10.45 lbs). It is built very sturdy, not like a tank, but close, as there is a lot of metal parts on this gun after all. The second thing you notice after picking it up, is the urge to cycle the action as is the standard with any GBBR, rest assured I did just that. The gratifying sound of a metal on metal, rotating bolt on the receiver, a heavy spring, the locking of the bolt to the rear, since the gun was empty, just pure perfection. Same goes for the safety catch, it’s quite hard, and if you’re used to airsoft replicas only, many will deem this as too hard. But trust me guys, almost the same as on a new M1A, before it’s broken in.
The fire selector can be found in the usual place, this one was somewhat finicky. I was assured by Mr. James Chan from WETTI that the fire selector should not “behave” like that and that this is rather an exemption that a rule. I contributed this to the customs office, since the replica arrived in a box that was anything but a box. Apparently playing around with a cool replica like this is not just one of my favorites waste of time, the customs office personnel likes to do this just as well. But, there is a difference if you know what and how things work and function or you just try to figure it out by yourself like these guys did.
OK enough on the competences of the customs office, their business is something completely else, not knowing firearms and replicas and their function and how they operate. The stock on the WE M14 is made of plastic, a high quality plastic that imitates wood, the seam on it is almost invisible and the plastic itself seems adequately thick so no breaking, squeeking or warping is to be feared nor found. I would have preferred for the stock to be in black or OD green since it’s made of plastic as it is much easier to mimic composites with plastic than it is wood, but it will do for now, I’m sure WE will come up with options, not to speak about the aftermarket manufacturers. The butt stock is a true copy of the real weapon, especially the butt-plate, it sports a rest plate for a proper
shooting position when shouldering your weapon as well as a gun cleaning kit port underneath it. The front and rear sling swivels are made of metal and are true copies, the rear one is fixed, while the front one is hinged. In front of the front sling swivel assembly, there is a hole in the stock. I assume this is for the mounting of a swivel stud that would enable the mounting of a Harris BiPod, which is a nice feature, so no drilling would be required fore that undertaking. The stock seems solid enough to mount the swivel stud without any fear of breaking or cracking the stock. For your reference, King Arms makes the sling swivel stud that should fit into that hole in the stock and enable you to mount a Harris type of a BiPod, they call it the M14 BiPod Adapter (KA-BA-03).
Seating the magazine takes some getting used to, especially if you are used to Armalites, perhaps the AK fanclub will be more adapted to it, but it still takes a bit to getting used to it. Once the magazine is seated it has virtually no play, no rattling, it sits firmly in the magwell. The gas charging port is on the bottom, so a bit of caution is to be taken into consideration, when using the replica in prone position so you don’t get dirt in the nozzle. The magazine holds 23 rounds, at least that’s how many I managed to squeeze in, it’s somewhat hard to load the magazine by hand, one bb at the time, but it can be done, and it certainly can be fun.
There is a speedloader for the magazine included in the package along with a spare magazine spring and an allen key for hopup adjustment. All these items are neatly packed into the butts tock, where the real steel version had it’s cleaning kit and oil stored, that is under the butt-plate, behind the small metal trap door.
The receiver unfortunately does not sport authentic Springfield markings, which certainly would be a nice touch, but I guess it’s more important to be present on the US market rather than push your luck with Springfield Armory and satisfy a few purists who demand the trades as a proof of authenticity OK, moving on…. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation with two side knobs, just like the real thing is, except it’s not as precise as the real weapon, however the clicks still work as advertised.
Just in front of the rear sight is the stripper clip guide, secured firmly by an allen screw, it’s sturdy, made of metal, does not move or wobble. If you want to remove it, just unscrew the allen screw and it will slide out of the slot. You will have to remove it if you intend to mount optics on the M14, as the scope mounts is mounted into the stripper clip slot.
The front sight is also adjustable, only for windage and is secured by an allen screw. The flash hider as well as the barrel, charging handle, receiver, trigger guard and mag catch are all metal. The only plastic parts I managed to find was in the gas blowback mechanism which is nicely tucked away under the metal rotating plate, that emulates the rotating bolt.
The replica dis-assembles just like the real weapon, and the trigger group can be removed in one piece. The weapon comes apart in three main components, the trigger assembly, stock and receiver with the barrel and the heat shield. Further dis-assembly is not required for regular maintenance.
Hop-Up is adjusted through the space between the charging handle and the stock. It takes an allen key and some practice, but once you’ve mastered it, you find out that the unit is superbly designed. The adjustments are click adjustable, clearly defined, crisp and sturdy, which means that once you’ve set it up according to the BB weight and type of gas, the setting will not come lose, so you should have some impressive consistency.
Firing the replica also takes some getting used to. Especially if you’re used to AEG’s. The report when pulling the trigger is quite loud and flinching with your eyes can be expected. The recoil is surprisingly strong and the gas consumption is quite good, depending on temperature and gas used. The replica digests everything you can throw at it as far as gas is concerned including CO2, once the CO2 magazines become available and knowing WE, they will soon be offering CO2 mags for the M14.
Once the barrel has been cleaned and the hopup is adjusted to the gas and BB weight you are using, the replica shoots remarkably consistent for a gas blowback rifle. You will always be able to fire all BB’s on one gas charge, on a decently warm day, even two. Like I mentioned before, the bolt locks to the rear once the BB’s have been spent. Once you have replaced the empty magazine with a full one you can either operate the bolt catch or simply pull the charging handle to the back in order to ready the weapon for another salvo of BB’s.
The replica clocked consistently at 375 FPS with 0.2g BB’s, we used Begadi PowerGas, the ambient temperature was 28 degrees celcius in the shade. Test firing was performed at Birchwood Casey Shoot’N C at a range of 25 meters. Once the replica was zeroed in, barrel cleaned and HopUp adjusted, we loaded the magazine with the very best BB’s we could get our hands on, the Maruzen APS Grand Master 0.29g. The results were quite impressive, a 13cm group with two fliers (…my fault as I did not do my part), but if we include the two strays, the group expands to 17cm. If we used heavier BB’s (0.36g) thre shot groups were well within 10cm, however inconsistent BB’s produced strays and fliers that changed the picture of things. All in all, as long as you keep the M14 well lubricated in all the right places (…same goes for pretty much everything right?) and your mag topped off with quality gas and BB’s, this gun is capable of some serious accuracy.
But keep in mind, that even if it has a mild recoil compared to any real weapon, this recoil will deteriorate accuracy due to the fact that the action is slamming into the receiver while the BB has not yet left the barrel. So, making sure you do your part will pretty much result in a hit. Goofing around as with an AEG, will produce results that will not coincide with the term accurate by anyones standards.
Firing the replica on full auto is nice, but I prefer semi auto as this weapon, while it did have full auto capability, was best used in a pinpoint, long range semi automatic fire, causing the most damage in skilled hands. Besides, 20 something bb’s is not that much, especially if you are shooting it on full auto. On fast semi auto firing or full-auto you notice some gas escaping through the bolt when it cycles to the back. The cooldown on the mags is hardly noticeable, well it is noticeable if you are only shooting one and the same mag all the time and the magazine does not really have time to warm up, but even than the M14 does not miss a beat.
The only potentially bad thing about the M14 is, the bolt catch only works if you insert a loaded magazine. So if you’re just goofing around with it, not really shooting it, you’ll need to remove the mag in order to cycle the action or buy some aftermarket parts that offer this function. Aftermarket parts are already available to cure this and WE is considering a re-design if the feedback they get will lead them to believe the airsoft community is looking for such a change.
As far as compatibility goes, the most important item that where the airsofters where will be looking for compatibility will surely be the scope mount. As it turns out, WE is in the process of making their own scope mount, but untill than G&P as well as G&G M14 scope mounts will do, since they are 100% compatible, whilst the G&G version supposedly has a better fit compared to the G&P version. I’m sure there will be other things folks will be looking into, such as flash hiders, but the one that’s on this one is just fine. But as we predicted before, the scope mount will be the one aftermarket piece to add right away, so one will be able to re-enact the BlackHawk Down, this time with some recoil.
The inner barrel is long, 519mm, 6.03mm, which makes it a tightbore. The hopup is stable, works like a charm, however all these are proprietary, meaning replacement or upgrade parts will have to be either original parts or aftermarket parts once they become available and they will, faster than you think. The magazines offer a good basis for other 7.62mm based GBBR weapons and WE has them in the works. The whole M14 is a well rounded package, the price is not too steep, and the performance is very good. I would recommend this GBBR to anyone who wants to use it as a skirmish gun and has a warm enough weather all year round. If not, it’s gonna be a warm months replica or a collectors item or a goofing around toy, but whichever is your reason to buy it, you will be quite pleased with is. However if the plain jane M14 is not your cup of tea, wait a bit and get the EBR that is coming out. When? Not sure, hopefully by the end of the year, hopefully sooner.
As you can see, no videos have been made of this particular GBBR, since there are a lot of them available online. The guys at AATV were kind enough to let us use their video as reference for a quality vide review, which can be found HERE.
Test item provided by WE Airsoft