By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)December 5, 2013
Anniston Army Depot, Ala. -- Scott Woody and Stephen Reed look forward to coming to work each day in the depot's Small Arms Repair Facility.
For them, overhauling the weapons used to protect and defend the nation's warfighters is not a job, it is a passion.
So, when the installation was tasked to overhaul M14 Enhanced Battle Rifles as they were returned from overseas, the duo jumped at the opportunity.
Both men had long followed the history of the M14 and the rifle held an important place in their personal gun collections.
They had even used them in marksmanship competitions.
According to Woody and Reed, the youngest M14 among those being overhauled by the installation is older than any M16, meaning each of them is at least 50 years old.
"In 1960, the M14 was the battle rifle generally assigned to the troops. That lasted until 1964," said Reed. "It was one of the shortest-lived battle rifles."
Fortunately, thanks to the gun's durability and long-range accuracy, the M14 found new life as a sniper rifle and went back to the battlefield.
That accuracy also brought it back to use as a squad weapon in the 1990s when war in the Middle East again reinvigorated the need for a long-range weapon.
It helped that the M14 is very hardy in desert landscapes.
"It handles sandy environments very well," said Reed.
"It was actually developed for those environments," added Woody.
With the change of centuries came a change in the weapon. A new stock, which held the barrel in several places, increasing the stability of the weapon and, therefore, its accuracy further.
This version, the M14 Enhanced Battle Rifle, is the variant currently being overhauled at the depot.
Here, each weapon is completely disassembled and each part inspected and checked against specifications. If necessary, the parts are sent to metal finishing where they are built up to requirements and machined as necessary.
Mandatory,replacement parts, such as new springs, are combined with the overhauled weapon during assembly and the better-than-new M14 is test-fired for targeting and accuracy.
"The rifles have to meet an accuracy requirement of one and a half inchs at 100 meters for a three-shot grouping," said Woody. "Three fourths of the weapons we produce are accurate to one inch or less."
After passing final testing, each weapon is packaged for the Soldier in a kit containing the proper tools to maintain and clean the weapon.
Since the pilot overhaul program in October 2010, the depot has overhauled more than 300 M14 EBRs.