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This is a discussion on Looking for XM-21 Expert within the The M14 forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; Originally Posted by Random Guy It is really hard to see, but the receiver has the M14 milled out, and the heel is lightly stamped ...


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Old April 11th, 2020, 04:09 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Random Guy View Post
It is really hard to see, but the receiver has the M14 milled out, and the heel is lightly stamped "XM-21" behind the rear sight, per the museum data card shown below:







...just an fyi.
This is the rifle at West Point, not Benning though. Just to clarify.

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Old April 11th, 2020, 04:41 PM   #17
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If somebody could help me and write up a detailed report about these two rifles, it would be greatly appreciated. I am looking for information about production dates, proof marks, information about the optic, mounts, etc. I want everything you guys can tell me. Thank you all for your time.
Regarding historical chronology, the best book on this subject is probably Peter Senich's reference book, "The Long-Range War: Sniping in Vietnam" (1994). Regarding proof marks, the only ones would be the "P" or proof mark on the barrel, on the stock's pistol grip, and the DAS stamp on the left side of the stock.

With respect to production dates, the first 54 accurized M14 rifles using the new 3-9x ART telescope reached the 9th Division Sniper School in Vietnam circa October 1968. They used the early mount that had subtle differences from the later production mount. Per Senich's book, the field reports from late 1968-early 1969 were very positive, so a large order was made by the US Army in the spring of 1969 to make the M14 sniper rifle in quantity. (Beginning in the spring of 1967 the US Army had been using a simple, fixed AMU designed scope mount with the old M84 (2.2x) scopes, but these were always considered an interim or temporary solution for an M14 sniper rifle).

The order for Frankford Arsenal to make AR-TEL scope mounts with AR TEL scopes was ENSURE #240. It was dated March 1969. The rifle was designated as the XM-21 in September 1969. Production at Frankford was completed in October 1969 of the optic system. I think Rock Island Arsenal made the actual accurized XM21 rifles based on the 1968 US Army AMU M14 National Match rifle build procedures. It appears the vast majority were built from mid-to-late 1969 to late 1970. Unconfirmed reports are that 1400 XM21s were in Vetnam as of late 1971/early 1972.

The US Army Technical Manual on the XM21 was dated October 1969 (See attached pics). I will note that picture #2 outlines the basic configuration of the XM-21 rifle. I will also note that the rifle(s) in the manual are all camoflaged in a pattern similar to what is seen on the West Point XM-21, so I think Rock Island Arsenal sent them to Vietnam already painted with camo, but of course soldier's/sniper's would also paint them 'in country' as needed to match the terrain.

I have read that ENSURE #240 allowed up to 1600 systems to be made, but the actual number of XM-21s is not known, but somewhere around 1500 is the ball park given the observed serial numbers of the AR TEL scopes. It is not clear when the initial production from Ensure #240 was completed, but I would guess at some point in late 1970.

The automatic ranging variable power scoped M14 MTU-NM was designated the XM21 by the U. S. Army Weapons Command at Rock Island Arsenal on September 18, 1969. This designation remained until 1972 when it became the M21. I will also note that the scope mount of the West Point XM-21 rifle has the matching last 4 digits to the rifle's serial #, so it definitely original to the rifle.

As for the 2nd rifle from Ft. Benning, with the fiberglass stock, I don't think that is an original XM21 as built by the AMU or Rock Island Arsenal during the Vietnam War. The issue of the fiberglass stock suggests a unit-level build as the AMU manual was specific about glass bedding the action in a wood stock, etc. It could have been an M21 built in the 1970s at Ft Benning, but the configuration does not appear to be the typical Vietnam era XM-21 with a wood stock.

Last attached pic is my personal replica of an XM-21 built on an SAI receiver. The scope's serial # is 1296, so its one of the later ones that I presume was made in late 1969. The scope mount was a NOS unit that came out of an RIA auction a long time ago, and as such it lacks the last 4 digits of the rifle as often seen on take-off AR TEL scope mounts. For the barrel I used an August 1969 dated SACO-Lowell NM barrel, but I'd guess that many XM-21 barrels were dated a little earlier. Both walnut and birch stocks are seen on Vietnam era XM21 rifles. Reportedly birch warped a little less than walnut in the tropical climate. TC 23-14 refers to both a web sling and a leather sling, so I think both was used. (The rifles were supposed to be used with M118 match ammo, but the manual also lists standard M80 ball as acceptable, and it was also acceptable for certain missions to use Armor Piercing or Tracer rounds as well). I hope all brief history helps.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_4352.jpg (2.02 MB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4353.jpg (3.19 MB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4354.jpg (2.22 MB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_4355.jpg (2.11 MB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg XM21 lt side.jpg (579.2 KB, 18 views)


Last edited by Random Guy; April 13th, 2020 at 03:58 AM.
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Old April 11th, 2020, 05:09 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by PILTDOWNHOAX View Post
Do you know if the rifle at Benning is stamped XM 21 on the heel of the receiver? I would be very interested to see a picture of the stampings on the heel of the receiver. XM 21 was stamped on the flat just behind the rear sight and is somewhat hidden by the ARTEL scope.
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Old April 11th, 2020, 06:08 PM   #19
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You would think the Army would know how too put a sling on a rifle.....

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Old April 11th, 2020, 06:23 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Phil "Murphy" McGrath View Post
You would think the Army would know how too put a sling on a rifle.....
The display glass sends back a "M1907 Reverse Sling Image" when taking a picture - it must be the case....??

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Old April 11th, 2020, 06:42 PM   #21
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Receiver heel
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File Type: jpeg 79D14377-87C6-441A-8924-75B0E40594FE.jpeg (1.66 MB, 25 views)

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Old April 11th, 2020, 06:52 PM   #22
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If you can come up with a M21 ART scope I can build you the rifle. Check out my web site. I just completed one a couple of months ago for a forum member. I'm working on an M21 with an ART II now. The ART II is much easier to get and doesn't cost as much.

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Old April 11th, 2020, 06:59 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Random Guy View Post
Regarding historical chronology, the best book on this subject is probably Peter Senich's reference book, "The Long-Range War: Sniping in Vietnam" (1994). Regarding proof marks, the only ones would be the "P" or proof mark on the barrel, on the stock's pistol grip, and the DAS stamp on the left side of the stock.

With respect to production dates, the first 54 accurized M14 rifles using the new 3-9x ART telescope reached the 9th Division Sniper School in Vietnam circa October 1968. They used the early mount that had subtle differences from the later production mount. Per Senich's book, the field reports from late 1968-early 1969 were very positive, so a large order was made by the US Army in the spring of 1969 to make the M14 sniper rifle in quantity. (Beginning in the spring of 1967 the US Army had been using a simple, fixed AMU designed scope mount with the old M84 (2.2x) scopes, but these were always considered an interim or temporary solution for an M14 sniper rifle).

The order for Frankford Arsenal to make AR-TEL scope mounts with AR TEL scopes was ENSURE #240. It was dated March 1969. The rifle was designated as the XM-21 in September 1969. Production at Frankford was completed in October 1969 of the optic system. I think Rock Island Arsenal made the actual accurized XM21 rifles based on the 1968 US Army AMU M14 National Match rifle build procedures. It appears the vast majority were built from mid-to-late 1969 to late 1970. Unconfirmed reports are that 1400 XM21s were in Vetnam as of late 1971/early 1972.

The US Army Technical Manual on the XM21 was dated October 1969 (See attached pics). I will not that picture #2 outlines the basic configuration of the XM-21 rifle. I will also note that the rifle(s) in the manual are all camoflaged in a pattern similar to what is seen on the West Point XM-21, so I think Rock Island Arsenal sent them to Vietnam already painted with camo, but of course soldier's/sniper's would also paint them 'in country' as needed to match the terrain.

I have read that ENSURE #240 allowed up to 1600 systems to be made, but the actual number of XM-21s is not known, but somewhere around 1400 to 1500 is the ball park given the observed serial numbers of the AR TEL scopes. It is not clear when the initial production from Ensure #240 was completed, but I would guess at some point in late 1970.

The automatic ranging variable power scoped M14 MTU-NM was designated the XM21 by the U. S. Army Weapons Command at Rock Island Arsenal on September 18, 1969. This designation remained until 1972 when it became the M21. I will also note that the scope mount of the West Point XM-21 rifle has the matching last 4 digits to the rifle's serial #, so it definitely original to the rifle.

As for the 2nd rifle from Ft. Benning, with the fiberglass stock, I don't think that is an original XM21 as built by the AMU or Rock Island Arsenal during the Vietnam War. The issue of the fiberglass stock suggests a unit-level build as the AMU manual was specific about glass bedding the action in a wood stock, etc. It could have been an M21 built in the 1970s at Ft Benning, but the configuration does not appear to be the typical Vietnam era XM-21 with a wood stock.

Last attached pic is my personal replica of an XM-21 built on an SAI receiver. The scope's serial # is 1296, so its one of the later ones that I presume was made in late 1969. The scope mount was a NOS unit that came out of an RIA auction a long time ago, and as such it lacks the last 4 digits of the rifle as often seen on take-off AR TEL scope mounts. For the barrel I used an August 1969 dated SACO-Lowell NM barrel, but I'd guess that many XM-21 barrels were dated a little earlier. Both walnut and birch stocks are seen on Vietnam era XM21 rifles. Reportedly birch warped a little less than walnut in the tropical climate. TC 23-14 refers to both use of both a web sling or leather sling, so I think both was used. (The rifles were supposed to be used with M118 match ammo, but the manual also lists standard M80 ball as acceptable, and it was also acceptable for certain missions to use Armor Piercing or Tracer rounds as well). I hope all brief history helps.
Sir,

Forgive my ignorance. Could you possibly provide details/specifics regarding each rifle. I do not know what specific proofs/markings, etc mean. Really, I do not know what I do not know... Anything that can be provided to the museum to better understand the specifics of that exact rifle would be appreciated. I.e. approximate date of production, conversion, etc... Thank you all for the help!

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Old April 11th, 2020, 07:00 PM   #24
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SheepDog:

I live in Colorado Springs and plugged into many things at Carson.

Hit me up when you PCS. I have access to private ranges and clubs in El Paso County.

There is an excellent shop right outside Gate 20 with a former all Guard team member as the owner.

Competitive shooting is in abundance around Carson.

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Old April 11th, 2020, 07:07 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Brown View Post
If you can come up with a M21 ART scope I can build you the rifle. Check out my web site. I just completed one a couple of months ago for a forum member. I'm working on an M21 with an ART II now. The ART II is much easier to get and doesn't cost as much.
If you are wanting an XM21 built, Ted is the man to get it done right! I just wish he weren't so far away.

REN

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Old April 11th, 2020, 07:42 PM   #26
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If you are wanting an XM21 built, Ted is the man to get it done right! I just wish he weren't so far away.

REN
I agree Ren!

I worked with Ted Brown and I had him build my XM21 Replica Project. This was the first rifle I had professionally built after I procured all of the parts. The main objective was to complete the build as close as possible to the required standards for the XM21 which was accomplished. I did all of the stock work on the orginal Springfield Armory Heavy Walnut stock to emulate what a Sniper may have done in country after the rifle was issued with supplies he was able to find.

AmericanSheepDog - I have some documents I will dig up that may be good for your project. I will try to find them quickly.

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Old April 11th, 2020, 07:55 PM   #27
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The rifle at Ft Benning is TRW serial number 580102. I believe it was made in 1961.

The TRW National Match barrel is dated February, 1965. The fiberglass stock would also be from the same time period.

The bolt is TRW with a heat lot indicating it is probably original. The oprod is Winchester. The trigger housing is Nichols, for Harrington Richardson. The hammer is TRW. The safety might be HRA.

Note that the magazine latch is missing. The rear sight aperture and knobs are standard, not National Math.

The scope is an AR-Tel.

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Old April 12th, 2020, 03:56 AM   #28
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Quote:
Forgive my ignorance. Could you possibly provide details/specifics regarding each rifle. I do not know what specific proofs/markings, etc mean. Really, I do not know what I do not know... Anything that can be provided to the museum to better understand the specifics of that exact rifle would be appreciated. I.e. approximate date of production, conversion, etc... Thank you all for the help!
Okay, I should have noted that all M14s were made b/t 1959 to 1964. Initially by Springfield Armory, followed by the 3 commercial entities: Harrington & Richardson, Winchester and TRW. These rifles were being re-built as early as 1961 or 62', and parts were exchanged and replaced as needed. By the time the XM-21 program was launched in 1969, the M14 rifle had been out of production for 5 years, and thus the sniper rifles were likely built/converted from rack grade rifles that may have already been re-built once before, so they were 'mix-master' rifles and will have parts from various contractors and subcontractors. As noted by Kurt with respect to the FT. Benning rifle - its definitely a "mixmaster", which is pretty common.


Quote:
The rifle at Ft Benning is TRW serial number 580102. I believe it was made in 1961.

The TRW National Match barrel is dated February, 1965. The fiberglass stock would also be from the same time period.

The bolt is TRW with a heat lot indicating it is probably original. The oprod is Winchester. The trigger housing is Nichols, for Harrington Richardson. The hammer is TRW. The safety might be HRA.

Note that the magazine latch is missing. The rear sight aperture and knobs are standard, not National Math.

The scope is an AR-Tel.
...The XM21 became the M21 in 1972 and was used for another decade until the later ART II scopes were delivered in December 1981, and replaced the AR-TELs. M21 rifles were re-barreled and re-bedded/re-furbished as needed during the 1970s-80s. The only thing that we can be sure of regarding dates is that all of the AR-TEL scopes were probably made by late 1969. When the rifles were made is not really knowable with the exception of the West Point rifle that still has it's distinct, original camo paint job on it, or a rifle that has specific documentation associated with it, like Chuck Karwan's improvised M14 sniper at the West Point museum (circa 1970). Pretty sure the West Point XM21 is in its original configuration as made at RIA in 1969 or 1970, but hard to determine with any further specificity.

The Fort Benning rifle with fiberglass stock could have been made in the late 1970s from various parts, or even the early 1980s. It lacks the “M14” nomenclature being grinded out on the heel, so it looks like a standard M14 with just a NM barrel and an AR-TEL scope, but not built to the US AMU M21 build process standards. The fact that it does not have NM sights, and the serial # on the mount ("0003") doesn't' match the rifle's serial #, also suggests it was just a 'standard' M14 and not a formal M-21 sniper made by RIA or the AMU. Sorry I can't be more specific on that one, it just doesn't look like a typical M21. The AMU build manual specifies bedding it in a wood stock, which is typically stronger than a USGI fiberglass stock. (If the gas cylinder was not unitized, then I'd be 100% sure is wasn't built as an M21). The scope's serial # is 1529, which might be the highest I recall seeing.

ON EDIT: There is sometimes one detail occasionally seen that will reveal when an M21 was made, and that would be if the Army armorer hand inscribed the install date on the barrel, typically somewhere on the shank. My M21 replica has a 1983 dated General Dynamics/USGI medium weight that has a small hand inscription '28Feb86', which indicated the barrel was installed on Feb 28, 1986, suggesting it was used on a somewhat "late" M21 - or possibly it was installed on a NM competition M14 and not an M21. Its impossible to say since it was a take-off barrel. (see attached pics).

So, if the handguard of the Ft. Benning rifle can be carefully removed, one could look for any evidence of an install date. Again, this type of detail is somewhat unusual, but that's about all I know...and unfortunately I don't know what more can be provided to Ft Benning museum re that particular rifle. Its configuration is not what is typically seen on an M21.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_2348.jpg (506.3 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg M21_Gen_Dyn_1983_medim_barrel_500pxls.jpg (57.5 KB, 18 views)
File Type: jpg M21_1982.JPG (86.1 KB, 32 views)


Last edited by Random Guy; April 13th, 2020 at 04:01 AM.
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Old April 12th, 2020, 07:04 AM   #29
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Sir,
Thank you. The info helps tremendously. As was stated by M1sniper in the earlier thread, I was unable to separate the barreled action from the stock when I was trying to disassemble the rifle. It simply would not budge, and being that I am not an M-14 expert, I let it be for fear of damaging what I now see is a very historic and important firearm for this forum. I do recall that the weapon appeared to be quite dirty on the inside. I believe it still had gunpowder caked in there, but I forget. (BTW, I do know how to disassemble the M-14. I would guess I was probably in a group of about 10 cadets amongst all 4,000 that actually disassembled our parade rifles before In-Ranks inspections.) Pics below of an EBR (I think) that I held my Plebe (Freshman) 1st semester. Second pic is of my rifle during my tenure at the Academy.

As Rob has proposed to me in the past, I think Les Jensen at the West Point Museum would be more than happy to allow some “experts” to come in and examine/clean the thing... Let me get the report done and I could probably set it up. I know Rob lives decently close (assuming he is not too busy) .

EDIT: No idea why the images show sideways, but they are upright when I click on them. Hopefully that works for everybody lol.

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Old April 12th, 2020, 07:29 AM   #30
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Sir,


As Rob has proposed to me in the past, I think Les Jensen at the West Point Museum would be more than happy to allow some “experts” to come in and examine/clean the thing...
An "expert" is only a man who doesn't have his wife next to him to tell him he's wrong. Currently I am an "expert" but as of 1600 hours I will no longer be one! Welcome aboard!

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