Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Survival Carbine

Just as Jeff Cooper introduced the Scout Rifle concept decades ago, shooters should look seriously at  another concept, the survival carbine.  This concept would not introduce or highlight new "gotta have" hardware, but would instead focus on existing carbines and accessories and how to tailor them for self defense. The type of scenarios and situations an armed civilian would encounter.   This seems counterintuitive, but in reality our best known trainers recommend weapons best suited for special operations, high risk contractors, or 3 gun competitions.  In the race for the latest and greatest, the fundamental use of the carbine, self defense, is lost. 

Here are some starting questions. What should a survival carbine have as essential characteristics?  How powerful should it be? Does it have to be semi automatic? How should it be accessorized? What if any optics are useful? How would its defensive role differ from the shot gun? 

Defining the requirements of the survival carbine will be the subject of further posts in this blog.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Continued testing of the Mosin 91/30 Sniper

We've continued low temperature testing  of the Soviet Mosin-Nagant 91/30 sniper, 1944 vintage.  The rifle and scope are an impressive combination of engineering and simplicity. Hits on small gongs at 200 and 300 yards are routine for a decent marksman and longer range testing is in the plan.  In cold (0 to 30F) the 300 yard testing distance was used to simulate most winter visibility conditions.  The rifle and surplus ball ammunition (not the match grade 7N ammunition) are performing better than expected, giving 1 to 2 inch, 3 shot groups at 100 yards.  The rifle remains remarkably cool during extended firing at these temperatures, this seems to aid in keeping groups tight and also in consistent groups fired in series. The biggest surprise if the robust 3 power scope and the clarity of the optics.  I was expecting some difficulty with the clunky reticle but it has proven surprisingly easy to use. This is an excellent rifle scope combination. While not my first choice as a DMR, its easy to see how the 91/30 sniper has remained in use during almost every conflict of the late 20th and early 21st century.  The importers still have a few of these left, get one while you can.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kalishnikov is gone.

With the passing of Mikhail Kalishnikov, I hope the world will finally recognize the heavy influence the German STG 44 had on the AK-47.  The AK is not a copy but its design barrowed heavily from STG 44.  I have never bought the "independent parallel development" of the AK or its 7.62 x 39 cartridge.  The Soviets saw and copied.  However, it does not diminish the design work and refinement of the military AK-47 into one of the best assault rifles of all time.
Mikhail Kalashnikov in his later years with his signature vodka.

The AK 47 was one of two weapons which evolved from lessons on the Eastern Front in World War II. The other is the German post war G-3 assault rifle. Although the G-3 was handicapped by using the too powerful 7.62 NATO instead of the more sensible 7.92 x 33, the simplicity of the G-3 and its incredible durability and reliability match the AK-47. This is not a coincidence, it was a lesson learned the hard way during intense combat. It's interesting to note that neither rifle has a bolt hold open device and each one works with mass produced lower quality steel cased ammunition. They are remarkable rifles born from a unique and remarkable experience.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Wish list

Here are some "Christmas wishes" by myself and shooters I know.
  1. More gun choices in 50 GI. Some lower cost choices in 1911 pistols and a S&W 5 shot revolver.  The revolver could introduce the 50 S&W Auto Rim.
  2. Lower cost center fire pistol ammo for 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP.
  3. Removal of sound suppressors from the National Firearms Act.
  4. Better politicians.
  5. More affordable American made tactical optics.
  6. More Zoot Shooting Clubs.
  7. Better quality shooting oriented television shows.
  8. More developed ranges and clubs.
We'll see what the new year brings.

Monday, December 23, 2013

More Musings

The Affordable Care Act is not affordable, provides less care to the population, encourages doctors to leave medicine, and just makes everything worse.  This is why politicians cannot  be allowed to institute "gun control" legislation.

The shortage of 22 long rifle ammunition persists.  Manufacturers, for the sake of younger/new shooters, please correct this situation.

Mayor Bloomberg was recently on Saturday Night Live, it is where he belongs, among the other bad and stupid jokes.

The competition for Air Jordan shoes has resulted in fights, beatings, and thefts nationwide. The high price and shortage of these shoes are to blame. Notice this did not happen with the AR-15 and ammunition shortages last year.  "An armed society is a polite society".

M. Kalishnikov is dead, may he rest in peace. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Another National Disgrace!

Major General Anthony Cucolo (pronounced cookolo), U.S. Army, Commander of the Army War College is considering removing the portraits of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.  Apparently one of his staff considers them as enemy soldiers and thus unworthy of study or admiration.   Of course these idiots have disregarded several pieces of LEGISLATION passed by Congress between 1904 and 1958 which confers rights and legal status to Confederate Soldiers. The Confederate Soldier is considered an American Soldier and of equal status to any other U.S. Soldier.  Sorry General, thats the law.  Even in the PC tainted world of today, the Honor, Integrity, and Bravery of the Confederate Soldier is legally recognized.   How could the War College be so ignorant?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Terminator 5 and classic guns.

There are rumors that one of the plot lines in the upcoming Terminator 5 move concerns Arnold Schwarzenegger as Sarah Connor’s grandfather fighting the first generation of Terminators who traveled back into time to the late 1940s or 1950s. Supposedly, as a result of his fighting skills, Sarah’s grandfather’s image   (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was used in the improved Terminator sent back to 1983.


The speculation on what sort of weapons Sarah Connor’s grandfather would use is interesting.  Of course World War II weapons, M1 Garand, 1903 Springfield, various modes of the Thompson SMG, and of course a brace of Colt 1911A1 pistols may be present. 
 Heavier weapons could include the Lewis gun, the Browning Automatic Rifle, the 1919 and M2 Browning machineguns.  Explosives could include the Bazooka, the German Panzerfaust, or the British PIAT anti-tank weapons.

I hope this plot line is a major part of the movie, but I doubt it. Audiences want to see younger actors in the reboot of this movie franchise. Still, one can hope.     

Monday, December 16, 2013

Joan Fontaine 1917-2013

Joan Fontaine 1917-2013
(born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland )
Actress Joan Fontaine has passed. I don't think she ever really handled any guns in her movies. However, she did epitomize class, grace, and poise. Even her lesser know and lower budget movies, are excellent performances.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

Best Gun Handling Celebrities: Leif Erickson

Leif Ericson firing a Winchester model 1892 modified to look like an 1860 Henry rifle.

Leif Erickson (1911-1986) was a tall and handsome actor with a powerful booming voice.  Leif had many memorable performances in film. He is best known as the tough determined rancher John Cannon in the western series “High Chaparral”. 
 The High Chaparral may be the best western TV series ever made. It features a variety of characters, innovative writing, and consistently good acting. Leif and the other cast member routinely handled firearms against Apaches and various bandits. In a credible attempt to replicate henry rifles, Winchester 92s with hand guards removed, are used to portray the earlier rifles.  In several non-shooting scenes, actual Henry’s are used.
Of course, almost every character carries or uses a single action pistol, the most memorable is a nickel plated 1875 Remington carried by John Cannon’s brother in law. Leif is believable with his weapon handling. He may have learned about weapons during his World War II service. Leif was a Navy combat photographer and was wounded twice.  Sadly, The High Chaparral was cancelled after four seasons.  The western was on it way out and even the shows high ratings could not save it.           

Sunday, December 8, 2013

National Disgrace!

The magazine of the USS Shaw Exploding on December 7th, 1941
Our country largely ignored the 72nd anniversary of the unprovoked sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. The nation was just not concerned.  It was the same with the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, and the sesquicentennial of the War for Southern Independence as well. No attention paid by our national leaders.  Ignore history at your peril. There is a foolish, dimwitted, and short sighted view of history which professes the idea any history before the civil rights movement of the 1960s is irrelevant. This is stupid, inaccurate, and dangerous in the extreme.    I suppose, like so many other things, our leaders and education system are to blame. If you don’t understand history, you can’t understand and appreciate America and Freedom.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gun Musings: Opinions and Observations of a Lifelong Shooter.

Good news! Today’s gun owners and shooting community is well funded, well organized. Victories against tyrants in Colorado and the defeat of anti-freedom gun legislation in the last year are a welcome contrast to the bleak days after the oppressive 1994 gun ban. 

Bad news! The war on freedom continues. The Obama administration is blocking the return of American M1 rifles from South Korea. I hope the importers can wait another three years, until our inevitable regime change in 2016, when hopefully adults may again be in charge of our government. 

Youtube Madness! I’ve seen a number of videos “testing guns to destruction”. I don’t find them interesting. Firearms should be treasured and respected. To simply abuse them until they break for video sensationalism seems foolish and disturbing.

Open Carry?  Is it a good idea? As a boy, growing up on a cattle ranch, we open carried all the time, in the pastures and woods.  We often had firearms with us in ranch trucks and tractors while using county roads. We used mostly rifles, but there were revolvers occasionally present. This would be open carry by today’s standards, and a good idea.  Walking around a large or small city with a rifle or openly holstered sidearm, seems like a very bad idea.   

Ammunition is once again widely available for every caliber except .22 Long Rifle cartridges. I hope that situation improves soon. The shortages over the last year were sheer frustration for many shooters. I hoped manufacturers learned a few lessons. 

Pearl Harbor Day

72 years ago today our forces at Pearl Harbor were the victims of a sneak attack. This lead to four years of total war which spilled onto or around every inhabited continent. Remember our heroes on this day, including a personal hero of this blog named Commander Howard R. Healy whose heroic efforts saved 2700 men on the stricken U.S.S. Lexington (CV-2) during the early 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea.  DD 672 the U.S.S. Healy was named in his honor.
45 Caliber 1911 Transition model salvaged from the USS Shaw after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shooting the Mosin Nagant M91-30 Sniper Rifle

The Nosin Nagant may be the most storied rifle of all time.  Adopted in 1891 by the Imperial Russian Army and used in the Boxer Rebellion, the Russo Japanese War, the First World War (by Russia and Germany), the Finnish Civil War, the Spanish Civil War, the Winter War, the Second World War, the Chinese Civil War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and in limited use in numerous Middle East wars to the present day. There may be several conflicts I’ve forgotten. The rifle has gone through several minor modifications from the original model 1891. These included barrel length and sights and several telescopic sight models for sniping use.

Most countries have divested their supplies of M91/30s to the surplus rifle market.    This has included the latest model of Mosin sniper rifle, the Model 91/30 equipped with a 3.5 power PU telescopic sight.  The 91/30 sniper was replaced in Soviet service by the SVD rifle starting in 1963, however it still serves irregular forces. It was certainly used by insurgents in Iraq and perhaps in Afghanistan also.

The 91/30 sniper is a pleasure to shoot, the recoil is manageable and the scope offer clarity and a decent field of view. The scope is very old school and quite simple with a simple bullet drop compensator.  The scope must be matched to the rifle. And excellent explanation and instructions are here on How to Sight a Mosin Nagant Sniper.  The excellent shooting qualities of Mosin 91/30 are well known to military rifle collectors and shooters.  The rifle performed above expectations in World War II and in subsequent conflicts.   In truth, in the modern rifle era, the M91/30 is labeled a designated marksman’s rifle.  It’s technical performance is bested by most civilian hunting rifles.  However, riflemen can appreciate the good accuracy and other shooting qualities of the 91/30 Sniper.
This target was fired in the prone unsupported position at 100 yards.

The targets shown here were fired at 100 yards in in sub-freezing weather with the wind chill in the single digits.         
This target was fired from the prone supported position, more steady than the target above.
The ammunition used was 174 gr COMBLOC surplus. This case cracked during the firing session. It was the only one out of 60 rounds total.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

AR-15 Gets the Blame

NOV 22, 1963. President John F. Kennedy is shot and killed during a motorcade movement in Dallas Texas.  Movies, Books, and endless television documentaries, debunk or support the Warren Commission Report. There are a lot of strange facts about the assassination.  These have fed dozens of different conspiracy theories over the years.  One, which cannot possible be true, blames a Secret Service agent for accidently shooting the President with an AR-15 from the automobile directly behind the presidential limousine. Presumably, this would be the third or fourth shot, depending on how many Oswald actually fired.
The lower rifle is a Carcano similar to the one used by Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and recovered in the school book depository.

This theory, although interesting, is bunk. The firing signature of the AR-15 at that range is significantly different than the Carcano rifle Oswald used. A shot from the trailing car would have been seen and heard (as something different) by hundreds of people who witnessed the assassination.  
Early model AR-15 similar to the one used by the Secret Service in Dallas

The AR-15 is one of the most wrongly vilified weapons of all time. It was used to protect the President Kennedy, not kill him.             

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Magnificent Browning GP-35 High Power

The GP-35 was the last design created by John Browning.  Many experts state the GP-35 is the zenith of Browning’s Pistol designs. Of course Dieudonne Saive, the great Belgian arms designer, deserves a lot of credit for the final design. Largely ignored in today’s polymer frame world, the cognoscenti, still regard the GP-35 as the best fighting pistol ever designed. Simple, reliable, and accurate, the high power has quietly ridden in holsters around the world since its introduction before the Second World War. It was used by the Allies and the Axis, manufactured on two continents, and used from France to China. 
In the post war era, the high power became closer to a free world standard than anything else.  It could be found on every continent in police and military service. In its final form, the high power is quietly being used today. Although in many countries the polymer pistols have replaced it, the high power soldiers on. That makes a service life of almost 79 years and counting.        

Friday, October 25, 2013

James Yeager introduces Ammonation

James Yeager is gathering support for a proposed miniseries "Ammonation". It is an in depth look at the gun culture through the unvarnished and sometimes R rated view of James Yeager.
You can get more information here. I wish James the best of luck in this endeavor.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

James Yeager

I don’t know James Yeager or have any connection with his company Tactical Response or participated in any of his training.  But I can tell you he is a good guy and a patriot.  His now infamous video of early January 2013 received national attention and much criticism.  Mr. Yeager apologized for his remarks and began to weather the storm of personal criticism and character assignation which followed. 

The media and their stooges call James Yeager a coward for his actions during a vehicle ambush in Iraq. James is no coward, as an unfortunate veteran of two IED blasts in Iraq, I can definitively say, his actions in the ambush were reasonable and prudent.

James’s controversial video was full of direct unvarnished colorful language, I guess that is who he is.  I personally have no problem with that. This country need more people who speak like General Patton, and less people who speak like Nancy Pelosi.  The second thing is, how many of us have said or thought the same thing? The answer is, all of us. I don’t think its O.K. for the gun hating liberals to threaten us, and we can’t respond in kind. The gun haters always state they’ll “go house to house” to confiscate firearms.  That is a direct threat, since the implication of the use of force is made. The gun haters are never challenged on this. Yet, we are roundly criticized when we state we will not tolerate this.

I will stand with people who express themselves with candor and courage, like James Yeager.  Someday, in the foreseeable future, after a few issues are settled, I’ll take a class at his facility. Over the years he has taught over 25,000 people essential skills needed to survive a lethal confrontation.  His company Tactical Response, is known for honesty and integrity. That means a lot to me.  His videos are on YouTube and more information is on his web site www.tacticalresponse.com     

Scincere Flattery!

I noticed the last episode of Guns & Ammo TV was lording the praises of the M16A1 assault rifle. Had they bothered to read this blog they could have had much better information. What they presented was just an incomplete blurb which sounded like it came from Wikipedia. I should not be surprised, as G&A really only presents a surface examination of each gun they present.  I wish they would have some in depth reviews of some interesting firearms and shooting sports.   

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why the U.S. Military has never understood the Assault Rifle. Part VII

A U.S. Marine fires an M16A4 rifle. 
The M16A4. This rifle is used by the Army as a designated marksman rifle (DMR) and as a general issue rifle by the Marines. It really represents an M16A2 type rifle with M4 Carbine modularity.  This is a logical move for both the Army and Marines.  Infantry squads need a sniper or advanced marksman capability. This was proven during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the excellence of the M4 Carbine as an assault rifle is not diminished by the adoption of DMRs.

At combat ranges up to 300 meters, and even at longer ranges, the M4 Carbine out performs every other assault rifle including the legendary AK-47 type rifles. The M4 is far more controllable in burst and full auto fire. It can handle a wide variety of accessories.  Later versions of the M4 Carbine restore the full auto capability which was abandoned after the adoption of the M16A2.  America now produces the best assault rifle in the world, the M4 Carbine.  Trials for replacement rifles such as the H&K XM8 and the FN SCAR, have failed to produce a weapon superior in performance to the M4.   If the U.S. Military dumps the M4 for a match rifle type weapon such as the M16A4, many of the advantages of the true assault rifle will again be lost.

The decision to product improve the M1 Garand into the M14 which is the best battle rifle in the world, damaged the effort to develop the assault rifle concept after WWII.  The U.S. insistence on standardization of the 7.62x51 NATO cartridge seriously delayed the introduction of assault rifles by Western European military establishments. In terms of assault rifle performance, the old WWII German STG 44 was a superior performer to the new Western European and American 7.62x51 NATO battle rifles.  On the other hand the Soviets learned the lessons of World War II and applied them to the development of their assault rifle, the AK-47.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why the U.S. Military has never understood the Assault Rifle. Part VI


The M4 Carbine.  In the 1990s the Special Operations community was finally fed up with the M16A2. After using compact weapons like the H&K MP5 9mm SMG, the wisdom of having an intermediate cartridge compact assault rifle became obvious. The AK-47 fit the size and performance envelope much better than the M16A2.  Colt developed the M4 Carbine in response to this requirement.  This design was a not entirely new.  Carbine versions of the M16A1 had existed since the 1960s. 
Colt CAR-15 Rifle c.1978
 The weapon was quite popular in Vietnam and a civilian semi auto version was marketed in the late 1970s.  To those “in the know” the CAR-15 was an excellent weapon, very compact and powerful. The shorter barrel made the CAR-15 very maneuverable.  The collapsible stock and short barrels, anywhere from 10 to 16 inches, were the major changes from the M16A1.  The M4 looks very much like the old CAR-15, the M4 does have a removable carry handle with A2 type sights, a 14.5 inch barrel. 
M16A4 and M4 Carbine in Iraq
The adjustable butt stock has six positions, which greatly help fit the M4 to individual soldiers, especially while wearing body armor.  The Army and Marines quickly adopted the M4 for general issue in the early 2000s.  The M4 established an outstanding record of success in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Law enforcement quickly followed suit and the popularity of the M4 skyrocketed.  The ability to configure the M4 for specialized missions and the wide variety of sights and accessories makes it the most versatile assault rifle available.    
M4 Carbines in Iraq
The M4 Carbine is the signature weapon of the Global War on Terror.  It seemed the services were content with the performance of the M4, however the old arguments of weapon range resurfaced.  The environment in the Middle East provided the opportunity to engage enemy targets at longer ranges. While the M4 performed these acceptably well.  There was a requirement to provide long range firepower. At first, upgraded M14 rifles were used in the designated marksman role.  Gradually, a M16 based rifle with the modularity of the M4 Carbine was designed and fielded.          

Monday, September 30, 2013

Why the U.S. Military has never understood the Assault Rifle. Part V

Top: M16A1 Bottom: M16A2

The M16A2.  After two decades of service, the M16A2 replaced the M16A1. The differences between the two weapons effectively converted the M16A2 into a more traditional military rifle.  This fit the Marine Corps vision of a general issue rifle.  In a nutshell, the M16A2 had an increased rifle twist for a new 5.56 NATO cartridge, a lengthened butt stock, finger grove pistol grip, three shot burst control replacing the full auto capability, a redesigned rear sight which increased the range graduations to 800 meters, an improved flash suppressor, and a heavier barrel which gave the rifle improved balance in the offhand shooting position. 
M16A2 fired offhand
While these “improvements” were great for target shooters, a lot of the handling characteristics of the assault rifle were lost.  The Army was warned about the M16A2 and its 5.56 caliber Ball M855 ammunition by a report prepared by the Army Research Institute Field unit located at Fort Benning, Georgia.   The M16A2 rifle was now longer and heavier, well suited for the National Match Course and other target shooting competitions.  Its sighting system was redesigned to provide settings for distances up to 800 meters. The intent of the assault rifle, the ability to reliably hit enemy soldiers at ranges of 300 meters and less, was lost.     The 3 shot burst was in response to the old full auto, and presumably soldiers, waste ammunition argument.

M16A2 fired with an incorrect stock weld with MILES
Another unhappy coincidence was the widespread use of kevlar body armor by U.S. troops in the late 1990s.  While in the vests, many smaller stature soldiers could not effectively sight their longer stocked M16A2 rifles. The M16A2 is outstandingly accurate, very reliable, and provided good service to U.S. troops in Panama, Desert Storm, and in the early stages of the Global War on Terror.  In the end, it really turned out to be a heavy, intermediate cartridge, battle rifle, designed to hit targets well beyond the effective range of its “improved” cartridge.   

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Why the U.S. Military has never understood the Assault Rifle. Part IV

The M16A1.  The development of the M16A1 is too long to recount here. The basics of the story are the AR-15/M16 was privately developed by the original Armalite and sold to Colt.  The M16 favorably impressed the Air Force and the Army in early trials.  The disappointing handling and performance characteristics of the M14 in the jungle environment of Vietnam, as well as internal Department of Defense politics hastened the adoption of the M16A1.  The Marines, with very conservative views on long arms, were understandably skeptical about the M16A1. The M14 was a perfect fit with the Marines views on rifles. The M16A1 was too different and did not lend itself to match or known distance range firing at which the Marines were masters.  

In the urgency to deploy the weapon to Vietnam, several disastrous mistakes were made. The first mistake was a lack of training and understanding of the M16A1 and its usefulness as an assault rifle.  The second mistake was selling the rifle as self-cleaning and maintenance free.  The third mistake was not chrome lining the chamber and bore, this was later corrected. The fourth mistake was a change in powder which increased the carbon residue in the action of the rifle. 
 These mistakes led to a wave of criticism and even a Senate investigation.  The M16A1’s reputation was seriously damaged, even though these faults were quickly corrected.  The M16A1 may have been the best assault rifle in the world, but U.S. Soldiers and Marines never had real confidence it the rifle. 
 Negative impressions about the M16A1 were reinforced in the post-Vietnam period by several peacetime practices. First, the blank cartridges used in the rifle during training exercises created a mess in the chamber and action, this build up caused the weapon to jam. Second, the blank cartridges were not designed well and would hang up on the feed ramps, also causing a jam. Third, the weapon was usually poorly lubricated, many rifles were taken to the range dry and could occasionally jam. Fourth, Army and Marine policy required the weapon to be spotless for inspections and storage in the unit arms room. This high standard required many hours of weapons cleaning, which did not endear it to its users. All of these reasons helped grievously damage  the M16A1’s reputation among U.S. troops and the public. For the rest of its service life the M16A1 and the assault rifle concept was derided by rifle traditionalists in and out of the military.

The M16A1 was an excellent assault rifle, the ground breaking 5.56 NATO eventually became a world standard. Its performance was copied by the Soviets in their 5.45x39 cartridge. The M16A1 was accurate enough to hit man sized targets at 500 meters. Both the rifle and the ammunition were light weight and reduced the infantry soldier’s burden.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Why the U.S. Military has never understood the Assault Rifle. Part III

U.S. M1 Rifle
The M1 “Garand” Rifle. The M1 Garand rifle was the best semi auto rifle of World War II.  It completely outclassed the rifles of the Axis. The magnificent performance of the M1 rifle on the battlefield must have pleasingly surprised the rifle’s enthusiastic supporters.  It fulfilled every expectation of the Army and Marine Corps.  Powerful, accurate, robust, durable, and was available in vast quantities. The M1 would soldier on through Korea and into the early phases of Vietnam.  In the hands of the National Guard, The M1 served until the early 1970s. A few M1D sniper rifles even deployed to Desert Storm in 1991. As a match rifle, the M1 ruled the ranges until the middle 1990s.

The positive attributes which made the M1 successful, hindered the U.S. Military’s understanding of the assault rifle.  The U.S. Military thought the answer in future rifle development would follow the path of the successful M1, which would lead to an improved M1 style rifle with a new more efficient 30 caliber cartridge, familiar ergonomics, and with the addition of a 20 round magazine and an improved gas system.     
German STG 44

The first assault rifles. The U.S. Army faced a true assault rifle in battle during 1944-45 in Europe. The German STG 44 was a truly revolutionary weapon. It fired the first true intermediate cartridge the 7.92 x 33 and used 30 round magazines, which could be quickly changed.  The Army did not fully grasp the impact of this weapon for a number of reasons. First, the M1 rifle performed so well in combat it had the complete confidence of Army leaders. Second, the STG 44 was seen as a carbine, something in the class of the Army’s M1 Carbine, and not a universal or standard rifle. Third, the STG 44 was not encountered in large numbers, where its advantages would be seen and understood. Thus the STG 44 was dismissed as a major advancement in small arms until it was almost too late.  
Soviet AK-47
The Soviet Army experienced the effectiveness of the STG 44 where it was used against them in large numbers. They quickly started developing their own version of this rifle and its intermediate cartridge.  Many believe the Soviets were on a parallel development course with the Germans, other opinions are the design of the STG44 and the 7.92x33 cartridge were essentially copied by the Soviets.    
The U.S. M14 Rifle
The M14. The U.S. Army knew of the STG 44 and captured numerous examples.  This weapon was largely ignored by the Army and Marine Corps. Instead the next rifle for the U.S. Military would be an improved magazine fed M1 Garand type of weapon, chambered for a new cartridge, shorter than the 30-06 but comparable in performance. After 0ver a decade of development, the M14 emerged.  I may be the finest battle rifle ever produced, powerful, accurate, robust, and reliable. Unfortunately it is not an assault rifle, or even close. The M14 did have a provision for fully automatic fire, which was impossible for the average soldier to control. The heavy barrel squad automatic M14, known as an M15, was an abject failure. Heavy recoil and overheating were problems which could not be solved. In addition, the M14 was supposed to replace the M3 Grease gun, and M1 Carbine, the M14 was not able to do so, as it could not perform in these roles as well as the weapons it was supposed to replace. 

The M14 was the embodiment of the virtues the U.S. Military wanted in a rifle.  It graced the National Matches at Camp Perry and was lauded by military target shooters.  The U.S. Marines, with a long tradition of marksmanship excellence enthusiastically embraced the new rifle, unlike the M1 20 years earlier.  One consequence of the development and adoption of the M14, was the T65 cartridge, later known as the 7.62x51 NATO. As the designation infers, the cartridge was adopted by NATO, at the insistence of the United States. This caused the western Europeans to redesign or abandon their post war weapons designs. The power of the 7.62x51 NATO prevented the Belgian FN FAL, or the German G-3 from attaining assault rifle performance in fully automatic fire.  Those rifles were as uncontrollable as the M14 for the individual soldier. In a quick turn of fate, even the Europeans who created the original assault rifle, would not have one for over three decades.

German G-3 Rifle
The M14 remains an excellent weapon and many uses today as sniper weapons in U.S. service in the War on terror.