|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
A retooled weapon of the late 1950s, and the Korean
Conflict, is again in the hands of the U.S. military. The M14 Enhanced
Battle Rifle (EBR) has “opened fire” on Fort McCoy turf.
Spc. Geoff Hunt of the 118th
Engineer Company, a Utah Army National Guard unit, holds his M14
Enhanced Battle Rifle during a situational training exercise at
Some of the Soldiers from the 118th Engineer Company brought their
M14s from their Utah Army National Guard home station as they prepared
to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in August.
The M14 EBR is designed to keep up with modern engagement tactics,
techniques and procedures, according to Master Sgt. Daniel Sorenson.
Sorenson is the lanes team noncommissioned officer-in-charge at the 1st,
340th Training Support Battalion of the 181st Infantry Brigade. The
181st conducts the mobilization training at Fort McCoy.
“The M14 EBR supplements the capability and force-protection assets of
the Army,” Sorenson said. “The EBR version is more accurate because it
comes with a 10-power magnifying scope. Essentially, the EBR is utilized
to accurately outshoot the enemy.”
The EBR has the decades-old receiver and barrel, but a new lightweight
composite aircraft alloy stock replaces the wood stock of the previous
The new buttstock also is adjustable to best fit the individual shooter.
The cheek weld, where the shooter presses their cheek to sight the
rifle, also is adjustable to the individual shooter to provide faster
and more-accurate sight-in for the shooter.
Attachments to the barrel allow for the mounting of a variety of optics,
night-vision equipment and laser sights. A collapsible bipod is fitted
at the front of the stock.
The weapon uses the 7.62 mm NATO round of ammunition, significantly more
lethal than the 5.56 mm round of the M16/M4.
“Another way to describe the M14 EBR is that it bridges a gap between
the M16/M4 rifle and the 1,200-yard capable sniper rifle,” Sorenson
said. “The Army’s emphasis is that the M14 EBR is not a sniper rifle.
The M14 EBR will identify and engage a threat target at a longer range,
up to 800 yards, and more accuracy than the M16/M4 or the old standard
M14 that reached 500 yards. That also reduces collateral damage, an
important factor in today’s battle scene.”
Sorenson said Soldiers mobilizing at Fort McCoy still go through the
M16/M4 qualification, and those with the M14 EBR then also go through
that block of qualification. “We give them the additional classroom
instruction and live-fire range ‘trigger’ time to improve their overall
marksmanship.” One or more Soldiers in a squad- or platoon-sized element
may be assigned as a squad-designated marksman.
The EBR version was developed because of a request of the U.S. Navy
Seals in 2000 for creation of a more-compact battle rifle. The Seals
received the new version in 2004, followed by the Coast Guard, then the
“Sometimes it is easier and less expensive to modify an existing design
than to research and develop a completely new weapon,” Sorenson said.