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Old 07-28-2010, 04:15 PM   #1
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My XM21 project

Yes; I'm still working on the M40 project in the other thread, but sometimes one has to jump at an opportunity when a rare one comes along, so...

I have had an SA M1A pre-ban all USGI for a little while now and have been trying to get it set up to resemble a Vietnam-era M14 rifle. But, as I have this thing about scoped sniper's rifles to begin with, I decided to go a slightly different route with it. Instead of the standard M14, I am instead going to build it as a replica of the XM21 from 1969. Of course, one of the first (and hardest) steps in this was to find an original AR TEL scope and mount for it. Well, lo and behold, I found one on Gunbroker and when it didn't sell at auction, I worked out a deal with the seller to give me enough time to sell my semi-auto MG-42 project and bought it instead.

So here's a couple of pictures of the rifle with the scope and mount on it. I still am waiting on the faux selector filler kit, and am now collecting all the various National Match parts I need to build the rifle up as a "correct" XM21 (only based off a legal semi-auto Springfield Armory, Inc. receiver) so it's not finished yet. But once it's done, it should make a great shooter and display really well along with the M40 build above the Mosin PU and the SVD'd TIGR Dragunov- might even try to set up a "Vietnam era sniping" display to go to the military collector's show with?



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Old 07-28-2010, 06:21 PM   #2
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Re: My XM21 project

Very, very cool!

I've been working on a "poor man's M21" myself. Polytech M14S with TRW bolt conversion, USGI walnut stock, Sadlak op rod guide, Chinese 2-point scope mount with (for the moment, anyway) a Bushnell 3x-9x from the spares box. I won't be getting (can't afford) the authentic scope for it but someday I might upgrade to something a little nicer (maybe a period-correct Redfield).

The rifle has given me accuracy problems from day one but I might have those sorted out now. I think maybe the gas system was contacting the stock. I relieved that area and last time I shot it it was going into an inch at 50 yards (before that, it wouldn't stay in three inches at 50); since then I relieved the stock a bit more and finally pinned down the clip guide half of the scope mount (this was loose before), so I'm hoping it will do even better now. After the way it was shooting, I'll be pants-wetting happy if it'll do a consistent 2MOA at 100 and even satisfied with 2.5. It's not as nice as yours, but then again I don't think I have $600 in it altogether. (I'm a poverty shooter.) I'll try to post a pic in the next day or two, if you're interested.
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Old 07-28-2010, 07:37 PM   #3
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Re: My XM21 project

Looking forward to seeing it!
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Old 07-29-2010, 08:45 AM   #4
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Re: My XM21 project

Okay, here's mine, as described above.



I have several stocks for it--the original Chinese misshapen balsa, a GI plastic, at least one birch (maybe two), and another GI walnut with a little chip in the butt (repairable) but I like this one best. I kinda like all the dents and dings in it and have no plans to refinish it. I didn't pay more than $20 for any of the stocks, bought in 2005-2006 just before all things M14 started skyrocketing in price.

Regardless of what stock it was in, the thing shot horrible. I'd get as much as five inches of horizontal dispersion at 50 yards and couldn't count on all shots to stay on a piece of typewriter paper at 100. Finally one day I noticed what looked like some rub marks inside the stock in the area of the gas cylinder. I removed all the wood (and even a little metal) in the area of the rub marks, and the next time we took it out, my kid (who'd never shot an M14 before) printed a nice @ 1" group at 50. Aha! Since then I took a Dremel sanding drum to that area of the stock and relieved it a little more (and more cleanly) but haven't shot it again since.

Here's the scope mount, which I paid $25 for at a gunshow (opened package). At first I just shot it with the front screw, because I couldn't get the Polytech clip guide out. Even with just the front screw, the mount seemed rock-solid with no play in any direction felt. I finally soaked the thing in Kroil and was able to bang the clip guide out, and then the mount block wouldn't go in the slot. Had to file that, and must have gone one stroke too far because it went from not going in at all to easily sliding all the way through. And then I lost the roll pin that holds it in place! The cheap mount came with a roll pin but it was too small and fell right through the receiver! So the last time we shot it (when it shot so well), that rear mount was loose in the groove, held in place only by the left-side mount screw. A few months later I was cleaning up and found the missing roll pin, and installed that, and it fit both the mount and the receiver very nicely and the rear mount is very solid now.

We found last time shooting that the front mount screw (the only one holding it on at the time, remember) would loosen up in as little as two to three shots, so we started tightening it after every shot. The knurling around the rim is very shallow, not much of a finger grip to be had there, so I was using the screwdriver on my Swiss Army knife. I can come up with some better arrangement for that. BTW, the gun has always shot the same with with scope or irons--either very badly or pretty well--so the scope mount doesn't seem to have been a factor in the bad accuracy, even with just one screw.

After seeing your genuine mount, Joker, I'm tempted to gut the front of my mount rail off, the forward notch or two, for a better appearance. That would also let me slide the scope back a little bit for a more comfortable hold.

The scope came out of my takeoff box. I used to buy cheap used full-size 3x-9x scopes at gun shows to use on my .22 rifles, and then I discovered what parallax was and how that screws with .22 optics, so have been replacing all those scopes on my .22s with proper AOs as my budget and interest allow. This old Bushnell came off of one of them. Maybe I'll see if I can turn up a reasonably priced period Redfield at some point.

So that's the story of my "poor man's M21" to date. I'm hoping to be able to take it out and shoot it sometime in the very near future (this year has been a real comedy of errors as regards my being able to shoot--so far I have not yet fired ONE SINGLE ROUND of any kind in 2010!).

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Old 07-30-2010, 05:43 AM   #5
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Re: My XM21 project

"-so far I have not yet fired ONE SINGLE ROUND of any kind in 2010!)."--Snake45

Your trigger finger must have one BAAAD itch!

Do you wake up at night with that finger twitching away??
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:30 AM   #6
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Re: My XM21 project

Quote:
Originally Posted by shep854
"-so far I have not yet fired ONE SINGLE ROUND of any kind in 2010!)."--Snake45

Your trigger finger must have one BAAAD itch!

Do you wake up at night with that finger twitching away??
At my age, I wake up at night with all kinds of things twitching.

At my age, I'm just glad to wake up at all.
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Old 07-31-2010, 07:14 AM   #7
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Re: My XM21 project

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvt. Joker
My XM21 project
Very nice!
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Old 08-04-2010, 07:50 PM   #8
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Re: My XM21 project

YEAH! I can log on and post again now!

Thank you, H2O man. I'm looking forward to getting all the rest of the parts and getting it together, to see how it shoots. For that matter, much like my friend Snake, I haven't made anything go "Bang!" this year either. Been too busy with too many different projects, and trying to get my shop going, fixing flood damage, etc. Seems like I *DO* recall these are supposed to do something really loud, though... What was it again?

Snake, good luck on chasing out gremlins. That's half the fun AND the headache of tinkering with these things; trying to constantly improve them, isn't it? Yours does have an advantage over mine- it has a forged receiver, compared to my cast SA. Don't know how much difference it makes in the short run, but I have always heard the forged is the better one to base a build off of. How'd you like the Sadlak op rod guide? I was thinking of using one of theirs as part of the NM build on mine. It's not USGI, but I understand they ARE a good quality part. That and their TiN gas piston...
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:01 PM   #9
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Re: My XM21 project

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pvt. Joker
How'd you like the Sadlak op rod guide? I was thinking of using one of theirs as part of the NM build on mine. It's not USGI, but I understand they ARE a good quality part.
I bought it because I was led to believe it would improve accuracy. Unfortunately, I don't think I shot the gun after I installed it before I did the stock relieving, so I don't know if it had any effect or not (maybe THAT fixed things!). The Chinese recoil spring was very tight on it, so I replaced that with a new USGI spring and that was a much better fit. It seems to be a VERY high quality part and I thought was reasonably priced (@ $35, IIRC).

I'm hoping to get out to shoot the thing within the next week. (My club's range is back up now, and the heat wave has to break sometime.) If it shoots well, I'll post pics either here or in a new thread.
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:04 AM   #10
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Re: My XM21 project

Good to hear it. I think I'll probably wind up getting one for mine. IF my SAK match barrel ever gets here, I need to send off the flash hider and gas system to get them upgraded to the NM specs (via the screw-and-glue unitizing method) and then bed the action properly, and then I'm looking forward to doing the same. Guess I'm just weird, but once I start on one of these projects, I just like to wait on shooting it until I get all the steps of it finished. I know it would make more sense to shoot it at each step and see what effect each stage has (if any) on the accuracy, but I just like having the finished project in hand first. Then, if need be, I can trouble-shoot it as needed, but IF it all works, then it all works all the way.

But like you; I REALLY do need to go shooting. It's been a while...
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:52 AM   #11
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Re: My XM21 project

Shot mine today. No pic-worthy groups, but I'll tell you how it went.

Set up at 50 yards just to make sure I was still in the ballpark after the scope mount rework. Good thing I did--the rifle was eight inches to the right with the first two shots (SA surplus), though those two were satisfactorily close.

Diddled with the scope until I thought I was more or less centered, and then moved the target to 100 yards. First few shots were high and left, so had to diddle with the scope adjustments some more. Wasn't able to get it where I wanted after 8 or 10 shots, so I decided to check the irons. I'd switched to Winchester White Box by this time.

First five shots with the irons were perfectly centered but about 6 inches low. I jacked in 6 up-clicks and put the next five shots into the 4 inch square I was aiming at. Usually for irons at 100 I like to shoot at a 6 inch or 8 inch square because I can hardly see a 4 inch square anymore; it pretty much vanishes on me. I'm pretty sure I could have shot a tighter group with a bigger target, and I'm given to understand that Winchester White Box is about the least accurate of the "generic" US-made .308, so I'm sure the rifle will do better. Still, this was the best group this rifle has shot to date at a full 100 yards. Before, I couldn't guarantee that five rounds would all stay on a sheet of typing paper at 100.

With the irons now properly zeroed, I went back to chasing the scope adjustments. Never did get it exactly where I wanted but I think I'm in the right neighborhood. I was checking the scope mounting knobs after almost every shot and the front one was staying tight. Near the end of the session, the rear one moved a little when I tried to turn it. I'm not sure the ancient Bushnell scope itself is holding adjustment, and/or I could be having some minor problems with that cheap mount. But the fact that I got a halfway decent, round-ish group with the irons (as opposed to the previous horizontal stringing) leads me to believe that the rifle itself is now shooting okay, or at least a LOT better than it was.

At least every shot I fired today was somewhere on the paper, which was not always the case before.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:49 PM   #12
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Re: My XM21 project

Oh, forgot to mention that I remembered that last time we shot the M14, and it shot so surprisingly well, we were shooting some M118 that my kid brought home. I believe that stuff is loaded with 168 or 175 grain bullets instead of the 147s of the generic surplus and common white box. Gonna try a couple more kinds of the 147s (I have some PMC, Federal and GI on hand) and then I might have to give up and start handloading 175s.

Oh well, that would give me an excuse to shoot up all the 147 grain stuff I've piled up to make brass.
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Old 08-22-2010, 05:06 AM   #13
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Re: My XM21 project

The M118LR cartridge has a 175 grain projectile. The M118 uses a 173 grain projectile and the M852 round has the 168 grain bullet. HTH
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