Over the past month or so we’ve seen an increasing number of photographs of M14s appearing in Ukraine. Developed in the 1950s and chambered in the brand new 7.62x51mm cartridge the M14 rifle entered US service in early 1960. They’ve since seen service around the world, and now, most recently in Ukraine.
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While the US Department of Defense has confirmed the transfer of 7,000 assorted small arms so far, these rifles are largely thought to have originated from the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia which have been extremely supportive of Ukraine since the weeks preceding the Russian invasion in February. We can’t be certain from which country or countries the rifles originated from. The Baltic states received large numbers of the rifles from the US via Security Assistance packages when they began to work towards compliance with NATO standards in the 1990s. The transfers were reportedly made under the Excess Defense Articles program. All three of the countries eventually joined NATO in March 2004.
Latvia received its first batch of 10,000 M14s in 1996 with a larger second batch of 30,500 arriving in 1999. Latvia’s National Guard continues to use M14s in a designated marksman role with an interesting new railed forend for optics and accessory mounting. No M14s in this configuration have been seen in Ukraine.
Lithuania reportedly received 40,000 from the US in the late 1990s and continues to retain the rifle in its inventory, updating substantial numbers to their M14 L1 spec, with scopes. Other elements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces also use the MK14 EBR. In 2019, it was reported that the US had transferred a further 400 rifles fitted with scopes and bipods. The M14 is also in use with the Lithuanian National Defence Volunteer Forces.
Estonia also received a considerable number of the rifles in the 1990s, with estimates suggesting that 40,500 were transferred in 1998. Estonia is in the process of a major small arms modernisation programme and may have transferred surplus rifles to Ukraine. Estonian troops used scoped M14s in Afghanistan and at least two accurised versions of the rifle have been developed, the M14 TP in 2000 and the M14 TP2 in 2008. The M14 TP2 utilises a Knight’s Armament RAS-14 rail mount and a Schmidt & Bender 3-12×50 mil dot reticle day scope.
Check out the video that accompanies this article for some clips of the rifle in use in Ukraine:
The M14s seen in Ukraine have some variation. There has been a mix of both wooden stocked and fibreglass stocked rifles, some have been fitted with optics, and others have only standard iron sights. The first sightings of M14s came in with both wooden and fibreglass stocked rifles seen. The rifles first began to appear in mid-March.
On June 3, the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s social media shared a series of photographs heavily featuring a member of the southern department of the Territorial Defence Force with a scoped, wooden stocked M14 rifle.