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Effective Range of the M14/M21/M25 Rifle ?'s

This is a discussion on Effective Range of the M14/M21/M25 Rifle ?'s within the The M14 forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; I have been discussing the merits of the M14 style rifle as compared to that of the M16 style rifle. I know that this topic ...


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Old September 8th, 2008, 12:09 AM   #1
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Effective Range of the M14/M21/M25 Rifle ?'s

I have been discussing the merits of the M14 style rifle as compared to that of the M16 style rifle. I know that this topic has been hashed over and over again with no final victor, and I don't intend to start it over again. Yet our little discussion has raised a question about the effective range of the M14 style rifle and the 7.62x51 round. My friend is currently in the Marine Corps. and has access to all sorts of fun field manuals. In the manuals which he has checked and other resources it lists the effective range of the M14 as being 460 meters, around 340 meters less than the 800 meters of the M16.

From most of what I have read on here and from other sources the 7.62x51 round has much more stopper power at greater distances than the 5.56x45. My question is why is the effective range of the M14 so low compared to that of the M16? I would have thought that the more powerful 7.62x51 round the M14 would have a greater effective range.

I did a some searching to try and find my answer. I found this thread: http://m14tfl.com/upload/showthread....ffective+range Posts 5 & 6 are of interest. The effective range for the M14/M21/M25 are different. Is this solely because of the different grade of ammunition associated with each rifle? M80 vs. M118? Would this mean that a M25 loaded with M80 only has an effective range of 460 meters? Or that a M14 with M118 would have an effective range of 900 meters?

Thanks in advance for your insight.

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Old September 8th, 2008, 03:05 AM   #2
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While we can't, don't, discuss the various differences, I would venture to say that anyone that believes the 5.56 Nato round is
more dangerous than the 7.62 NATO should see a shrink. If you like, have your friend go shoot a 12'' tree (trash tree) with a
5.56 Nato and then with a 7.62 Nato and see which one goes through the tree. I already know the answer.

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Old September 8th, 2008, 03:19 AM   #3
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I'll tell you what my friend, and I am in absolutely NO WAY being a smarty here, but, tell you what, you stand about 800 or so meters downrange in front of me and my issue M21, and you hold the nice pretty bullseye target, centered mind you, about mouth level, and see if you can capture my speeding M118 match round right smack on between your pearly white teeth.

Again, not trying to make fun of your Marine buddy, but if he hasn't had the pleasure of testing, in the field, an M21 rifle, better tell him to forget what the manual says. Any M21, if it's in proper shape, clean, lubed and with the proper trigger puller behind it, is capable of FAR better accuracy than any manual will EVER tell you.

Again, I am in no way making fun of you or poking fun at you. But your current intel on the capabilities of an M21 isn't quite accurate. And I dare say, my hand built XM21 clone just might do as good as, or even better than, an issue M21 right now!

Trust me on this!!
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Old September 8th, 2008, 04:39 AM   #4
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I remember 460 meters being the maximun effective range of the M16, and 1100 meters for the M60 machine gun, which is 7.62 NATO....I believe you and your friend have your facts turned around. Anyone can make a mistake.

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Old September 8th, 2008, 05:12 AM   #5
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Here is a small sampling of Maximum Range. THIS should not be confused with Effective Range. Under either description I don't want to be downrange.

.22 Long Rifle (40 gr RN)
Muzzle Velocity 1255 ft/s
Maximum Range 2000 yard, 1.14 mile
Impact Velocity 300 ft/s

.223 Remington (55 gr SP BT)
Muzzle Velocity 3240 ft/s
Maximum Range 3875 yard, 2.20 mile
Impact Velocity 545 ft/s

30-06 Springfield (180 gr SP BT)
Muzzle Velocity 2700 ft/s
Maximum Range 5675 yard, 3.22 mile
Impact Velocity 800 ft/s

9mm Luger (Parabellum) (124 gr RN)
Muzzle Velocity 1120 ft/s
Maximum Range 2400 yard, 1.36 mile
Impact Velocity 350 ft/s

45 ACP (230 gr RN)
Muzzle Velocity 850 ft/s
Maximum Range 1800 yard, 1.02 mile
Maximum Range, Impact Velocity 330 ft/s

44 Magnum (240 gr FP)
Muzzle Velocity 1760 ft/s
Maximum Range 2500 yard, 1.42 mile
Impact Velocity 350 ft/s


Now here is a tid bit from the Internet:
"The US Army defines the maximum effective range of a .308 as 800 meters. The US Marine Corps defines the effective range as 1000 meters. There will be variances due to things like bullet weight, barrel length, etc. Generally speaking, bullets are no longer effective once they become subsonic, which happens at around 1000 meters with a .308. "

I do not want to bet my Life on a US Sniper not being able to take me out at over a mile away..okay maybe not the first shot, BUT Heck, I will never hear it coming!

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Old September 8th, 2008, 05:44 AM   #6
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Lots of old grunts here ... most of us living in the dark ages
Heavy bang to hump .... but when reaching out to touch someone I know which one most would want to be sending downrange

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Old September 8th, 2008, 06:24 AM   #7
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experamented on this theory yesterday

my findings ARE biased in favor of my favorite rifle. The 5.56mm is a really fun to shoot,M1a shoots harder.The stumps we shot yesterday preferred to be shot with the ar. when Bertha boomed,they fell to pieces.M14 gets my vote

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Old September 8th, 2008, 07:53 AM   #8
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One of the best articles on the M16 is by Dick Culver a Marine Corp officer with extensive experience with smalll arms and ballistics who wrote about the M16s debut in Vietnam problems with the Marines not accepting any negative findings . Great article on www.jouster.com. Look under artticles and scroll down and you will get the dope on the M16 by those who used it in combat and in testing it. He tells a goood story of down range shooting with M14s and M16s where the 5.56 was failing to penetrate a thick pad of targets that had built up at long range where the 7.62 and 30-06 would penetrate trees etc. The 7.62/54a hundred year old cartridge is still in use in Iraq with great efficency putting the 5.56 at a real disadvantage.

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Old September 8th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #9
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Max effective range: The maximum range at which an average trained rifleman can be expected to make 50% first round hits. (This is the most recent and most common definition I have seen in the pubs. The 1965 version of FM 23-8 says "may be expected to fire accurately to inflict casualties or damage.")

Has nothing to do with wound ballistics or "knockdown power," only hits on enemy combatants...

It does have to do with the accuracy of the weapon and ammo, trajectory, the ease of use/ ergonomics, and other factors.

Max effective ranges:

M14/M14E2 rifle: 460 meters (w/o bipod), 700 meters (semiauto w/ bipod), 460 meters (automatic, w/ bipod) (FM 23-8) (M80 ball ammo... or possibly the first tests were done with M59 ball?)

M16A1 rifle: 460 meters (TM 9-1005-249-10) (M193 55 gr ball ammo)

M16A2 rifle: 550 meters (point/individual targets) 800 meters (area targets)
M4 carbine: 500 meters (point/individual targets) 800 meters (area targets)
M4A1 carbine: 500 meters (point/individual targets) 600 meters (area targets)
(TM 9-1005-319-10) (Probably done with FN SS109 62 gr ball ammo, since M855 production took a while to get off the ground.)

"Area target" means you don't expect to hit an individual target, just to rain down bullets in their general area, as in suppressive fire.


Last edited by 2336USMC; September 8th, 2008 at 12:26 PM.
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Old September 8th, 2008, 09:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynapar View Post
I have been discussing the merits of the M14 style rifle as compared to that of the M16 style rifle. I know that this topic has been hashed over and over again with no final victor, and I don't intend to start it over again. Yet our little discussion has raised a question about the effective range of the M14 style rifle and the 7.62x51 round. My friend is currently in the Marine Corps. and has access to all sorts of fun field manuals. In the manuals which he has checked and other resources it lists the effective range of the M14 as being 460 meters, around 340 meters less than the 800 meters of the M16.

From most of what I have read on here and from other sources the 7.62x51 round has much more stopper power at greater distances than the 5.56x45. My question is why is the effective range of the M14 so low compared to that of the M16? I would have thought that the more powerful 7.62x51 round the M14 would have a greater effective range.

I did a some searching to try and find my answer. I found this thread: http://m14tfl.com/upload/showthread....ffective+range Posts 5 & 6 are of interest. The effective range for the M14/M21/M25 are different. Is this solely because of the different grade of ammunition associated with each rifle? M80 vs. M118? Would this mean that a M25 loaded with M80 only has an effective range of 460 meters? Or that a M14 with M118 would have an effective range of 900 meters?

Thanks in advance for your insight.
While I won't even TRY to say that I am an authority on the effective and maximum range(s) of the M14 rifles, please keep this in mind.
Usually, for military purposes, an 'advertised' quantity will be less than 'actual' specs.

For example: The SR-71 Blackbird was 'advertised' as being capable of Mach 3.
Way back in history, the information 'slipped' that the airframe was rated for Mach 4+.
What do ya think that the Blackbird would actually do?
(Mach 5, maybe!)

Me. . . I'll just say that my M1A is capable of shooting to 200 yds.

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Old September 8th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #11
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M21/M25...

Sniper rifles, intended to be used with sniper ammunition, and shot by snipers not "average riflemen."

M21- I have seen the max effective range quoted as 900 meters as mentioned by Larry Gibson, but I can't find that number in an official DOD manual. I suspect that number comes from the 900 meter max setting on the scope. I'd like to see Larry's source for that number.

If you shoot M80 ball in an M21/M25 the max effective range would be less because the ammo is less accurate. You don't see the number published because they were not intended to be used this way.

If you shoot M118 Match or Long Range in an issue M14, the max effective range may be increased slightly because the ammo may or may not be more accurate in the untuned rifle and has a little less wind drift... But again, you don't see this number published because it's not intended to be used that way.

More background... The max effective range is usually calculated by actual field firing. It probably went something like this: Grab 100 grunts. Give them a class on the new rifle. Issue them the new rifle and ammo, and put them on the firing line. Let them shoot for a while to get used to the weapon, then start shooting for score at various distances. Count the hits. Give the scores to some statistician in the Pentagon who crunches the numbers and comes up with an average. That number gets published as the max effective range.

Historical perspective- the max effective range tests for the M14 would have been conducted in the late 50's by riflemen trained on the M1 Garand.

The tests on the M16A1 would have been conducted in the early/mid 60's by riflemen trained on the M14 and possibly the M1 Garand.

The tests on the M16A2 would have been conducted in the early 80's, twenty years later, by riflemen trained on the M16A1. It is possible that the testing methods and statistical analysis changed during those 20 years and had an effect on the published number. Also notable, the M16A2 was developed, tested and fielded by the Marine Corps and the original manuals were written by the Marine Corps. When the Army adopted the M16A2 years later I believe they just adopted the pubs written by the Marine Corps. So the "max effective range" numbers were developed by a different agency, supporting the idea that the methods used to get the number may have been different.

Another edit: I wasn't personally present during the initial field testing of the M16A2, but I know the Marine Corps, and I had some exposure to the group of folks that would have done the testing. I'll bet a dollar that the max effective range numbers were generated slung up in prone. I'll also bet a dollar that the max effective range numbers for the M14 were not tested with a target sling.


Last edited by 2336USMC; September 8th, 2008 at 01:28 PM.
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Old September 8th, 2008, 12:24 PM   #12
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Thanks for all of the input.

2336USMC: I think you nailed the question right on the head with those posts. That was the information I was looking for. Knowledge on how the effective range is determined gives key insight into this topic.

It makes me curious what the numbers would be if the tests were re-done. Such as if the M14 was tested with a target sling, or if the M21/M25 were tested with a optic which was adjustable past 900m.

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Old September 8th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #13
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I'd like to thank all the posters here. A really good thread!

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Old September 8th, 2008, 06:14 PM   #14
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2336USMC, An acquaintance of mine, a former head coach of the Marine Corp Rifle Team, did some of the testing on the A2 with M855 ammo at Quantico. He told me they put the old steel helmets out at 600yds and the rounds would routinely penetrate both sides with no problem. I believe penetration of the M1 helmet at 600 meters (not yards) was one of the adoption criteria of the then new M16A2/M855 package.

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Old September 12th, 2008, 07:15 AM   #15
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I do it like this, " which one is bigger". I'm old school.







Last edited by bellyscraper; September 12th, 2008 at 08:01 AM.
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