Why Is the M14 Series of Rifles Hard to Find?

The Firearm Owners' Protection Act prohibits the sale to civilians of any automatic- or selective-fire gun manufactured after 1986, including the M14. Fewer than 50 automatic M14 rifles meet the legal requirements for civilian possession or sale in the United States.

Although the U.S. military purchased nearly 1.4 million M14 rifles between 1959 and 1963, very few of these weapons became available to civilians at the end of the weapon's service life. In addition, the 1968 Gun Control Act restricted the importation of military surplus weaponry into the United States, further reducing the number of M14 rifles available to the civilian market. Unable to sell unnecessary weapons, the military destroyed M14 rifles following the 1966 adoption of the M16. Before 1986, some manufacturers produced automatic M14 rifles for the civilian market by welding the receivers of destroyed rifles back together. These welded receivers account for many of the legal civilian M14s.

While a number of semi-automatic variants of the M14 exist, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives does not allow these weapons to carry the M14 name to avoid confusion with the automatic-capable versions. As of 2015, Springfield Armory produces the M1A, a semi-automatic version of the M14 that is legal for civilian ownership. Springfield Armory was one of the M14's original manufacturers, and many M1A rifles are composed of surplus M14 parts.