Bob – Steve- and Guns a go go, please excuse my rant. Believe me I am certainly not an expert on sniper’s either, but rifles are my thing.
Both the Army and the Marine Corp. had formally trained snipers. I never met one, and never saw an assigned Army sniper, but then I never spent time with a regular infantry unit. I did how ever see a couple of Marine sniper’s near Hue not long before Tet of ’68. Those two were both using Winchester Mod. 70’s. The pre 1964 Model 70 was the gold standard for sniper rifles at that time and up through the late 1980’s for both military and police sniper rifles. The Remington 700’s have gained in popularity for that purpose over the years. I was speaking about regular infantry soldiers carrying the 14’s not officially designated snipers. LRRPs occasionally did some “sniping” but while I was there we never had any officially designated snipers. I think at that time both Army and Marine sniper’s were using 7.62 (also known as the .308 Winchester) match grade ammo, not .30-06 Springfield but I could certainly be wrong about that, the .30/30 Winchester is a US sporting rifle ctg not used in Vietnam and certainly not a sniper round.
The .30-06 which was used in US Springfield, Enfield, M1 Garand rifles, the BAR, as well as US 30 cal. machineguns, and the 7.62 NATO which was used in the M14, M60 machine gun, and VN era mini guns use the same .30 caliber bullet and both are readily available in match grade loadings.
M16s of the era were not effective at long ranges because of the light weight of the military issue ball projectiles and the weapons rifling which was not designed to stabilize bullets heavy enough to maintain their velocity and energy over long ranges. Basically the lighter a bullet is the faster it loses its velocity and energy, and the more it is affected by cross winds. After the war long range heavy bullet 5.56 loads and barrels designed to accommodate them have been introduced.
I don’t thing the 16s I saw with scopes were ever actually intended as sniper weapons, as far as I know they were carried by regular infantry soldiers but would certainly improve the odds of hitting your target out to a couple of hundred yards. The scopes were certainly not sniper or long range quality, they were made with long eye relief to be fast, light, and compact not necessarily precise. The reticule was a simple thick post more suited for rapid combat type shooting than for sniping or long range. They were made with a straight tube to allow the shooter to see his iron sights under the scope if needed. If I can figure out how to attach a photo I’ll send you a picture of one of the 16 scopes I was talking about. The one I have is not a Colt it’s a Chinese made replica but it is made to the same outward dimensions and appearance as the issue ones.
The M14s I was referring to were not sniper rifles they were just issue grade rifles either with a scope or with out, and we for the most part used standard issue military ball ammo.
The 14 I carried had a 4 power side mount scope, and a full auto selector switch. The side mount allowed you to also instantly switch to iron sight. I don’t know if 14’s were used as assigned sniper weapons by specifically trained personnel at the time but if they were I’m sure they would have been match grade rifles with match grade ammo. M14 based rifles are still being used as sniper weapons today. Current M14 scope mounts put the scope directly over bore.
“Better” is a relative term either the 7.62 or the 5.56 round has sufficient power to put a man out of action at any range the shooter can hit him. The problem with the 5.56 of that era was that neither they nor the rifles that fired them were capable of long range accuracy a miss with a .30 caliber or even a .50 caliber is no more effective than a miss with a 5.56, but a body hit with any of them will put a soldier out of commission.
Bob the whole time I was in I was never on a regular rifle range. I sighted my rifles in at the camp dump at relatively short ranges an M14 sighted in at 25 meters should be about 2” high at 100 and dead on at 200, at 400 it would be about 2’ low. 400 to 500 meter shots at standing men are relatively easy with such guns 200 meters would be a long shot for the 16s of the day. LRRP firefights were generally pretty short range affairs.
Bob when were you and Joe at Quantico? I spent about 3 months there in 1984.