Winchester Proto-M14 Rifle

If you are an M14 fan, raise your hand

In the aftermath of World War II, the United States spent 12 years looking for a successor to the M1 Garand rifle. The new standard infantry arm was expected to be select-fire, lightweight, accurate, controllable, and fire a heavy .30-caliber projectile. It would replace not just the M1, but also the BAR and perhaps the M1 Carbine as well – a true universal weapon. Of course, these requirements were complete fantasy, unachievable in the real world – but that did not prevent Remington, Springfield Arsenal, and Winchester from trying to meet them.

Winchester produced a proto M14 with select fire weapon complete with a removable bipod. It was extremely light and made from an ordinary Winchester M1 Garand Rifle with many modifications.

This rifle is a Winchester prototype, which has been substantially lightened from the M1 it began life as. A pistol grip has been added, along with a fire selector lever and a box magazine system. A detachable lightweight bipod allows it to be used for supporting fire.
It is chambered for the T65 or 7.62 NATO cartridge, which dates it as definitely post-WWII.

The mighty M14 rifle is a battle rifle that refuses to be shelved. It has been dusted off and implemented in the war against terror in current times.

Video Transcription

Hey guys, thanks for tuning in, another video on forgottenweapons.com, I’m Ian, I’m here today at the Cody Firearms Museum, part of the Buffalo Bill Cody Center of the West, and I am taking a look at a very interesting prototype Winchester Select-fire Magazine-fed version of an M1-Garrand. Now, this was obviously part of the development program process for the M14 rifle, where exactly it fits in that process, I really don’t know. There doesn’t appear to be much documentation on this. Unfortunately, while there are good references out there on the Springfield and the Remington corporate versions of the different rifles that ended up as part of the M14 project, there doesn’t seem to be much reference material out there on the Winchester guns, and this is one of those. The Cody museum has the Winchester firearms collection, which includes a lot of prototypes; some which we have looked at, some which we’ll look at in the future, and some like this one.

So, I can’t really tell you the where and the when and how this did under trials, but we will take a close look at it, and I can point out a whole bunch of very interesting features of this particular prototype example. Now the first thing I want to mention is that this gun is really light. You look at this and you expect it to weigh something like twelve or fourteen pounds, right? Because it’s got the big ‘ol bipod on the front, presumably it’s maybe heavy barrel, it has a selector switch -which you can’t see because it’s on this side of the gun-, magazine fed– in reality, this thing is at least two pounds lighter than an M1. I bet this is between seven and eight pounds; I don’t have a scale to weigh it on, but, what’s actually going on here, there’s a lot cut away on the inside that you’ll see. The bulk of this flash-hider bipod assembly is made of aluminum, the butt-plate is made of aluminum, there might be some magnesium parts in there somewhere, they’ve cut every ounce possible out of this gun. And it’s really an impressive gun to handle as the result! Now, let’s just go ahead and take a closer look at it, let me take the stock off and I’ll show you some of the internals.

Alright, so the first– the most obvious difference, is that a pistol grip has been added. This didn’t involve any actual modification to the trigger group, this is actually kind of like the Baretta BM59 Garand modifications where they’ve added a pistol grip to the stock. So, pretty simple there, we’ll take it apart in a moment. A magazine has been added, they put a magazine catch at the front, which is not a bad idea, this keeps it out of the way of all the trigger assembly stuff that’s already in there. This is a custom proprietary magazine, it’s designed for 308, this is a 308 NATO gun, which suggests that it was definitely post-WW2. Now what’s interesting here is they have actually used an M1 receiver. So this is a Winchester M1, it’s a 1.6,000,000 serial number gun, but you can see when I open it, there’s a block here in the back of the receiver, because it’s a 306-length receiver with a 308-length magazine.

That was an easy way to not have to re-do a whole bunch of tooling to make 308-caliber receivers for experimental guns. No, instead we just use a 306 receiver. The extra space actually kind of helps, The bolt has a little bit farther that it can travel, and during that time, the magazine has more time to feed a cartridge up into position.

The handguard here has been beefed up a little bit, we’ll take a look at that from the inside, but first let’s take a look at the bipod.

Alright, so the main body here is this big aluminum flash-hider conical deal, the legs are spring-loaded, so I can pull the leg down, snap it into place up here like that. This does– this rotates, but it has a limited arc of rotation. Now, to take this off, all I have to do is flip this latch down like that. This whole assembly is actually locked onto the bayonet lug, very much like one of the world-war-two grenade launchers. So with that undone, this whole assembly comes off. There you can see the inside of the flash-hider, just a big cone. It locks onto the back, there’s our locking tab, pretty simple. There we go. Bipod assembley, removes quickly and easily. Now I think I mentioned, this is -I think- thin hollow-tube steel and aluminum, this whole assembley is quite lightweight by itself.

Start by taking out the magazine, set that aside, then just like a regular M1, the trigger guard opens up, the trigger assembley comes out; because of magazine conversion this has the floor plate, magazine catch, the mag catch is built right into this, it’s pretty simple, just a spring and a catch. That catch locks in this notch in the front of the magazine.

Now, we can pull the stock off just like a typical M1 again. You can see the opening in the heavier wood down here on the front handguard. Obviously, it’s been cut away a bit for the detachable magazine, that’s about it. This is also a very light piece of wood. I’ve also mentioned the Aluminum buttplate, checkered back here, so it will stick to your shoulder a bit.

Now inside here is where we’ve got a lot of interesting stuff going on. So, first off, you’ll notice, the OP-rod is completely straight, it doesn’t have a dogleg in it. That’s one of the potential weakpoints on a standard M1, that OP-rod can bend at that dogleg end, and it was a somewhat complex manufacturing step, to get the tooling set up to bend just the right dogleg into those OP-rods. Well, they got rid of that on this winchester prototype, so it runs straight backwards. The recoil spring here has been reprofiled a bit to match.

Now, this is our selector lever, and it moves this guy just a little bit up and down. It does that through this pin, which obviously has a cam surface inside here. So, that’s going to engage or disengage an auto-sear in the fire-control group. What I’m more interested in, is there’s very little ‘stuff’ back here. The front arms that you would normally have on a standard clip-fed M1 are gone, we’ve taken a look at another magazine-fed M1 that had a box added to it here to support the magazine, that’s not there. Pretty dramatic change, the bottom of the barrel has been milled flat, that gives room for this straight OP-rod, and that cuts a significant amount of weight out of the gun. Presumably they found that that didn’t have a deleterious effect on the gun being able to withstand firing, but obviously by using a box magazine, they’ve been able to get rid of all of the mechanism in here that Garrond designed for the clip-feeding and ejecting process, that’s all gone. In fact, the cutout for the clip-release is also gone, there is no clip-release on the gun.

The upper hand-guard was widened to match the lower. Over here you can see it’s a very thin piece, you can see a bit of it’s cracked off, that’s probably too thin right there, but it is a prototype rifle, so.

The action, however, is still basic all-M1 Garrond.

Well thanks for watching, guys. I hope you enjoyed the video, I wish I knew more about exactly the backstory to this rifle and how it actually performed –I don’t, unfortunately– but who knows? Maybe with some video out there, someone will be able to find some of the records, and even if they don’t, it’s a really interesting look at some of the things that could be done and -were- done to the M1 Garrond in the attempt to make it into a light machine gun. Thanks for watching, I’d like to thank the Cody Firearms Museum for letting me take a look at this, and of course, tune in again to ForgottenWeapons.com.

Sources: Forgotten Weapons Youtube, Eric Nestor, Cody Firearms Museum, Wikipedia

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February 7th, 2017 by