A Yank's questions on living with the 7.62x51mm Rifle

Discussion in 'Weapons, Equipment & Rations' started by warmonger82, Apr 4, 2013.

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  1. I've decided to pickup a civilian version of the M14 here in Oregon (the Springfield Armory Inc M1A standard model) Springfield Armory

    On reflection of picking up a 7.62 caliber weapon, I had a few questions for those of you infantry and armorer types senior enough to have served with or worked on an SLR while on active service. I'm asking Brits and Commonwealth types because while we Yanks strong armed NATO into adopting the full power 7.62x51mm cartridge in the 50's we changed our minds and ended up ditching our M14 after less than 10 years later and cajoling NATO to adopt the 5.56 round. Whereas the Commonwealth stuck with the SLR for what? 35 years or so?

    #1 Currently in the USA many people are rabid about getting their rifles to one minute of angle accuracy or better (MOA meaning holding a shot group to less than 1 inch at 100 yards). Considering the SLR's lack of fully adjustable rear sights, what were the average run of the mill, SLRs really capable under ideal training conditions?

    #2 How accurate were the rifles during actual combat conditions? How well were squaddies actually able to connect lead to squishy tissue when the SHTF? How much training was necessary to attain basic competency with the rifle? Did the SUSAT scope help or hinder in this endeavor?

    #3 As the rifles in Commonwealth stocks aged in the 1980s, how well did the ol' boom sticks function in decade numero tres? Were the bores chrome lined? Did the magazines start to give out? Parts failures in the receiver or bolts? Any significant degradation in accuracy/reliability?

    As always, thanks for giving my post the once over, and imparting your $ .02 (or 2d.)
  2. Personally speaking in my opinion the move to SUSAT was worse as it gave a poorer sight picture. Splash was easier to see with the iron sights and SLR, partly because of the better sight picture and because of the larger round. Apart from experiencing several muzzle flash suppressor failures I can't comment much on the SLR's reliability in the 90s which you ask for, however overall as a rifle the balance was better and felt more reliable for the job than it's successor.

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  3. I could hit a head at 300m, and a body at 500....However, once the SUSAT (well, the SUIT actually) was thrust upon me, I struggled with accuracy.
    With the iron sight, it was posible to keep a good periferal view of the wider area. So, I preferred iron sights.
    As for reliability, appart from the very occasional gas stoppage, I never managed to 'break' mind.
  4. Badger,

    I understand there are ALOT of threads waxing poetic about the SLR being a REAL rifle carried by REAL men, or about how shitty the SA-80 is in comparison to its illustrious fore-barer. I'm emphatically NOT trying to rehash those treads. What I do want to know is how accurate the piece was both on the range and under active service conditions, and how well the SLR held up after 30+ years of service. I'm asking this because the US's own m14 didn't have such a long term of continuous service.
  5. I started shooting the SLR again, after a long hiatus, in the late '80s. By that time, many of them were in very poor condition - essentially worn out but kept in service as a stopgap until the new 'small arms for the '80s' weapons could finally be dragged into service - late and full of faults as always.

    I have recalled elsewhere on these august pages how I saw the upper of one SLR moving relative to the lower as I took the firat pressure - hardly conducive to good shooting when the rear sight was on the lower and the foresight on the upper.

    My recollection is a little vague, but ISTR that the required standard for grouping at 25 metres was 4 inches with each of four five round groups, each fired from the prone supported position but after having stood up and lain down again. The MPI was then derived from the overall 20 round group. So, while the thing itself may have been capable of one or two moa when brand new, in practical terms, for the average shot, by 1990 it was an area weapon.

    I'm glad to say that I never had to use it in anger.
  6. As ever, Your Mileage May Vary...

    I'm a target shooter; I can hold a 1" group at 100m quite happily. In the mid-to-late 1980s, I found that 3" to 4" was about the limit I could achieve with my issued SLR. However - we had a batch of rifles rebarrelled (I've got a vague recollection of the armourer mentioning a buy of Australian barrels) and for the first and only time, I managed to hold just under a 2" group.

    The problem, as ever, is that it's not a free-floating barrel - and to save weight, it's quite thin. If you exert any force with your forward hand, the group will shift as the barrel bends.

    Many people never managed "basic competency" with the rifle; the annual personal weapon test of the time set a low standard, and even then many soldiers only scraped a pass. The primary reason was poor instruction - not every skill-at-arms instructor had the time or the ability to coach firers away from gunshyness, and many units didn't fire enough to maintain the level of skill gained in basic training. It wasn't anything to do with physique, just instruction; we had a slim 5'2" lass in our shooting team who was top-third with the SLR in the rankings at our Divisional Skill-at-Arms meeting.

    Rubbish attitudes in some units towards weapon "ownership" caused many of the problems; an SNCO running the Arms Kote decides that he's going to reallocate all of the butt numbers so that they're in a nice alphabetical order, but Private Numbnuts may not realize the significance of being moved from a (correctly fitted) size long butt, to an (incorrectly fitted) medium or small butt rifle. Butt length was not user-adjustable; it required a special tool, and a replacement part... a rearsight to the cheekbone is not an incentive to good marksmanship.

    In my opinion, the SUIT helped - I liked it. It was nowhere near as fragile as urban legend had it, but it wasn't a permanent issue to most firers - even infantry units would normally only see them for NI training and deployment. This led to a lack of widespread experience with the SUIT sight and reduced people's confidence in it (the "pointer coming down from above" sight picture was also a mistake IMHO).

    Accuracy degraded slowly, but they remained reliable and "accurate within specification" until the end. The part that failed for me was the flash eliminator - one of the prongs broke (outwards, thankfully). Our unit armourer much preferred the later design of three-thick-prongs to the earlier five-thin-prongs flash eliminator.

    Magazine feed lip damage could be a problem for the SLR if the magazine was struck on the bottom while fitted to the rifle (our unit shooting team had a firer who would rest the magazine on the ground; he was forever having to replace / repair magazines, compared to those of us who didn't). This particular problem reduced with the introduction of the SA80, I'm guessing through better design of the magazine housing. Note that SLR magazines were steel, and the initial SA80 magazines were thin aluminium...

    Run properly, the SLR didn't stop (mind you, I found the same thing for L85A1, so maybe I just take care of my kit). The only stoppage I had when training on the ranges was a day after we'd fired about 600 rounds each. The ejected cases were falling closer and closer, and eventually I had a stovepiped case. Knock clear, gas regulator down two notches, carry on firing...

    Mmmmm double-leaf rearsight, plastic furniture, extra-long butt...
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Eh? Oh, you mean "splash when zeroing at 100m". Fair cop, but I found it easier to see through a SUSAT than with my bare eyeball. Watching splash with a SUIT wasn't going to happen, as the correct zeroing point at 100m was underneath the sight pointer (four inches above point of aim? I remember that gridded A4-size paper target for use in barrack, indoor, and tube ranges that had all of the CZPs marked up).

    If I was coaching a firer who was having problems zeroing (perhaps the nice man from PRE had loosened everything and not tightened it again), I could usually zero very quickly by firing individual shots, while aiming at a mark on the sand to the side of the target. All of the problems we removed by getting rid of the "foresight in the centre of the rearsight" problem, seemed to be replaced by the "I didn't tighten the SUSAT back on the rifle / didn't have it at the correct length / didn't tighten the windage adjustment screws, just the locking nuts".

    I was amused by the discovery that they'd calculated the CZP wrongly for the first few years of the SA80 service life - and that it wasn't helped by all the nice range wardens who turned 300yd firing points into 300m firing points by the simple act of rewriting the signs...

  8. I don't have a single full bore rifle which won't achieve that and the oldest was made in 1932!

    From my experience of American weapons two things always seem let them down w.r.to accuracy. These are:

    1: The woodwork/stock/furniture doesn't allow the barrel to free float / resonate freely.

    2: The bog standard issue triggers are a right load of ******* crap!

    It doesn't seem to matter how much you invest, these features, perhaps because they eat skilled manhours, are studiously ignored by American manufacturers.

    American sporting rifles offered for sale here, (excluding the cowboy style howdy partner toys) are always reworked on these points before sale because German's will, in line with their rights, return a shit gun to the shop!

    I used to have a single shot Ruger No 1 falling block rifle in .458 Win mag to grid, reworked by Eduard Kettner with a European wallnut stock and a new trigger, it was a very accurate and reliable rifle used for elk hunting in Scandinavia and on one trip to Namibia. Not wanting to be hassled with shipping rifles around the world when living for a time in Canada I bought it's plywood stocked cousin, imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a bag of shit to shoot, you couldn't hit a New York double gulp coke bucket with the ******* thing never mind barn doors.

    On the SLR accuracy front, I was once on a Belgian range designed for medium to heavy MGs. With my trusty, or was it rusty, SLR and iron sights I was able to drop flemish figure 12 sized metal falling plates reliably with single shots at 700 meters. With the SUIT sight fitted it was mustard. The sizes are in centimeters:

  9. Gravelbelly's post is spot on. I regularly grouped 1" at 100x. The SLR was a decent weapon, robust, reasonably accurate, with great stopping power. Used it on operations in most conditions, initially with the iron sight then trilux and later on with SUIT.

    My Dept in the USA was issued with the M14 before the shift to the M16, although I never fired it 'in anger' I found it to be a decent rifle, easy to zero and reasonably accurate - I regularly grouped to 1" at 100x. Can't comment on its robustness in comparison to the SLR as, fortunately, we never subjected it to extreme conditions.
  10. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    slr/fal rear sights could be adjusted but not on the fly, they were a battle rifle so were meant to be set up and left alone.

    few buggers outside the shooting teams had the range time to set them up properly though. it was neglected which was a shame but probably a deliberate attempt to make us love its unworthy replacement.

    I'd learnt to shoot good FALs before joining up and was disappointed in what I was given but a few beers to the armourers worked wonders in bring them back from decrepitude.

    using the slr with an early red dot scope was a good move IMO but scrounging the top cover wasn't easy

    someone does make a better rear sight for the fals being remade in the states now.