Down in the comments of this post, there’s some love for the M-14. Hey, I’m on board with that. I liked the M-16, particularly once I got my hands on the M-16A2.
But from the very first time I fired an M-14, I was in love.
Interestingly, it was here at NAS Whidbey that I first fired one. I was in high school Navy JROTC (yes, dear reader, your host was, and is, a dork). Our instructor managed to wrangle an invite for a select few of us to head out to the base’s small arms range and pop off a few rounds from various weapons.
As I recall, we fired the M-16A1, the M-14, the M1911A1 (that’s a .45 for you non-technical types) and an M-60 machine gun. To this day, I still think it was pretty cool that, as a high school student, I got to crank off some automatic weapons fire.
Later that year, a community organization asked if the NJROTC drill team could provide a firing party to fire a salute for a Memorial Day event. Well, we were more than willing, but us high school types weren’t really allowed real weapons. So our instructor finagled a deal with the base again. He borrowed seven M-14s (and a Master-at-Arms to keep an eye on them) and a little blank ammo. We had about 3 minutes of practice with them, and then did our thing. It went well. The only thing that annoyed me was that I was the commander, so I got to give orders, but I didn’t get to shoot one.
I think the trip to the range, and the Memorial Day salute were the only times in my life that I ever got to fire a weapon without having to clean it. Some poor sailor got that task. Thanks, anonymous guy.