Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
I told you I would review the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle as soon as it came in. Well, the package arrived last week and today I’ll begin my report.
This M14 is able to fire both BBs and pellets from its 16-shot magazine. The mag is a long stick with an 8-shot rotating clip on either end. After 8 shots have been fired, the magazine has to be removed and inverted to position the next 8 shots.
The rifle is powered by two 12-gram CO2 cartridges that fit in an assembly that also holds the stick magazine. This entire assembly fits into a fixed box “magazine” that extends down from the bottom of the action and cannot be removed. The bottom of the gas assembly matches the fixed box and lengthens the overall magazine look. A hole in the bottom of the assembly allows the stick mag to be removed when it need to be inverted, and a small button in the fixed box releases just the stick mag.
This photo shows the stick mag protruding from the bottom of the gas assembly and the gas assembly coming out of the bottom of the fixed box that’s attached to the rifle. To remove the charged gas assembly, both a lever and a second button (located below the primary lever) must be pushed. The gas assembly comes out of the gun under pressure, so don’t do this unless it’s necessary!
The fact that the rifle uses two CO2 cartridges concerns me because they’re costly — more so than the pellets. Given the muzzle velocity of an advertised 700 f.p.s., I would expect to get 45-50 shots from a single cartridge, so I’m hoping to see at least 90 shots from this rifle before it’s time to replace the cartridges.
It’s a rifle!
I will cover loading the mag and charging the gun in Part 2. Right now, I want to continue to describe the rifle. First of all — it is, indeed, a rifle. It has a rifled steel barrel that can also tolerate steel BBs, so either ammunition can be safely used. When I do accuracy testing, I’ll test one type of ammo at a time. I don’t want to rush this test because so many readers have indicated an interest.
Lots of plastic
When I first took the rifle from its box, the term “plastic-y” immediately came to mind. Without the gas/magazine assembly installed, the rifle is very lightweight due to a hollow plastic stock and external parts made of mostly plastic. The pull length seems about right, at 13-1/8 inches. And the shape and size of the stock seem the same as the M14 I remember — though I’m remembering something from 43 years ago.
In my opinion, the shape and realism of the airgun trumps the light weight and overly plastic nature. I learned to love the Crosman 1077, once it showed me accuracy that topped many premium European spring rifles. That’s what this Winchester has to do, too.
For those readers who are only familiar with the AR-style of rifle, this M14 has a far more conventional feel when you shoulder it. The AR pistol grip that’s too close to the trigger for almost every shooter is replaced with a more conventional pistol grip and reach to the trigger blade. And your cheek will find a nice resting spot on the broad buttstock instead of on some spindly tube. This is a feel I personally prefer.
The action and trigger
The box says this is a “semiautomatic.” And this time they’re right — it really is! Instead of a double-action revolver mechanism in disguise, this M14 really does operate semi-automatically. I don’t know how they managed it, but they put a pretty nice military trigger-pull into this rifle, too. Those two things plus the sights will put it over the top if it’s accurate.
The safety is exactly like the one on an M14, only almost everyone will be able to work this one with their trigger finger! It’s smooth and positive, yet requires very little pressure to move in either direction.
The sights are very correct, and if you’ve never experienced a Garand or M14/M1A, this air rifle provides a cheap way of seeing the same thing. And the rear peep sight is adjustable in both directions, exactly the same as military sights, with one exception. The windage knob on my test rifle is very stiff, and sometimes I have to help it by pushing the sight carrier to the right to free it for an adjustment. I think this will wear in. My fear is that it may also wear out, because all I can see and touch is plastic. I sure hope the detents inside the sight are steel.
Anyone who has ever owned a Garand will love the ease with which the elevation on this Winchester adjusts. Once the sight is where you want it, though, it stays put.
There’s currently no possibility of mounting a scope on this rifle. And don’t try to equate it to a genuine M14 or Garand that can be scoped, because those guns have steel receivers to accept scope base screws. This rifle’s receiver is plastic, so there’s nothing to drill into to mount the base.
Don’t let that bother you, however, because this type of sight was one of the reasons the Garand was celebrated as the finest battle rifle of World War II. It’s easy to use and very precise. If this rifle is accurate, the sights will do nothing but compliment it.
The rifle comes with sling swivels, and I am glad that no sling was provided. I say that because the type of sling that would have been selected is a cheap black nylon strap with toy-like thinness. If you want a sling, get a real one! The sling swivels appear to be well-anchored and look like they will even tolerate a hasty sling hold. Former military will know what that means. The rest of you should look it up on the internet.
The bottom line
Many of you reacted to the realistic look of this gun and asked me to review it. I now have one in my hands and I’ve told you how it feels and looks in person. In spite of the toy-like feel of the gun, the M14 genes carry through strongly, and I can’t wait to shoot it. If it proves as accurate as it looks and feels, this will be a rifle that doesn’t go back to Pyramyd Air!