The XM21 was a sniper rifle developed from the M14 during the VietNam war. It was what seems to be the first "true" sniper rifle fielded by the US Army, ie: it was a rifle developed/assembled specifically as a snipers rifle rather than an expediant of mounting a scope on a standard production rifle. The rifle shown is a replica, based on a pre-ban Springfield Armory M1A national Match rifle. It is a work in progress & will be updated as it progesses. The AR TEL scope was developed from the Redfield 3x9 commercial scope w/mods done by the Army, early scopes were actually commercial production modified scopes, once the standard had been set Redfield produced the actual military contract AR TEL scopes which are the scopes used in Viet Nam. There are pics of the rifle w/an original AR TEL set & also pics of the commercial Redfields in 2 variations, 1 mkd Redfield 3x9, the other mkd Redfield 1" tube, both versions were modified & used early in developement, the 2 commercial redfields shown are NOT modified to AR TEL standards I got them early in the build as a "cosmetic" match to the VN era before I acquired the original set.
Album by willyp. Photos by willyp. 1 - 78 of 78 Total. 17013 Visits.
Right, w/original VN era AR TEL scope set Rifle w/an original Viet Nam era AR TEL scope/mount set. The XM21 was an M14 built to National Match standards (w/a few further mods at the time that have since become standard NM mods), they had the selector switch replaced w/a lock to allow semi-auto only fire. Reportedly some had the selector replaced in the field to allow full-auto operation.
Right action scope/mount detail Action pic shows scope/mount detail, the AR TEL scopes were mfg by Redfield for the US Army, approximately 2000 were made. This is the finalized production variant made for the military utilizing a ballistic cam matched to the M118 Match cartridge which actually lifted the rear of the scope up from the mount to adjust for range. The lens covers shown are the correct original black plastic covers originally supplied w/the scopes which were usually lost in the field & are very rare to find at this time.
Closeup view of cam on scope A detail view of the ballistic cam, when turned to adjust range the cam would ride on the "pin" at the tail of the mount & raise/lower the rear of the scope which was attached in front w/a pin & was spring loaded to the mount. The early scopes were standard commercial Redfields which were modified by the Army w/the M118 ballistic cam attached to the original adjuster & had the reticle modified w/stadia lines added to estimate range thru the lens.
AR TEL military reticule This is a view through the AR TEL scope of the military reticule showing the horizontal & vertical stadia markings added to the crosshairs to assist in range determination.
Commercial Redfield 3x9 reticule Here for comparison is the original commercial Redfield 3x9 scope reticule showing the original crosshairs w/o the added stadia lines.
Left side view Left view showing detail of the original AR TEL mount, one problem that did arise w/this system was the "single point" mounting, the large thumbscrew was the single mount point, backed up by the horizontal & vertical grooves on the rear of the mount fitting into dovetails cut into the receiver. Looseness/movement of the screw/mount could result in wear to the groove/dovetail joints which caused zero problems, this was later addressed in the M21/M25 rifles by changing to a 2 point mount for more rigidity.
Left view of AR TEL & mount The AR TEL shown is the Viet Nam era scope system used w/the XM21, it is a Redfield scope not a Leatherwood, it is the AR TEL system not the ART (or ART I). The ART, Leatherwood scopes/systems were the next step in evolution, the early Leatherwood scope was developed late in the VN war but was not an issue item.
Closeup of cam & pin Here you can see the lock screw for the cam & the pin on the rear of the mount that the cam "rides" on. The ART scope (from what I can find) came into being around the end of the VN war, were mfg by Realistic & used Leatherwoods design, these early Realistic scopes on the Leatherwood principle would actually the be the ART I scope. The ARTII which is a further refinement was mfg by leatherwood & used a 2 point mount as a further improvement.
Left view National Match "standards" that the XM21 was built to included a NM barrel which gauged to a very "tight" tolerance scale, NM sights, unitized gas cylinder where the cylinder/bandmount are one piece & screwed together, 'bedded" stock, special Op spring guide etc. The rifle shown, an early NM Springfield M1A has all these features although it uses a commercial version of the M14 stock w/no cutout or provision for the "hardware" for the selector/lock. The rifle will eventually be fitted w/an original M14 military stock which will be fitted to the rifle via the standards called for by the military in 1969 & will have a "dummy" selector lock fitted.
Redfield 3x9 scopes/mounts In the time of working on this replica I had acquired 2 period Redfield 3x9 scopes, w/2 different mkg variations, along w/a commercial Springfield Armory MKIV mount to use as a "facsimile" for the original AR TEL, the original AR TEL is very rare, often ARTII sets are offered & described as Viet Nam sets but this is not correct, the ARTI & ARTII are actually post VN, the AR TEL is the correct VN era set for a wartime XM21. The 3rd scope shown, original redfield commercial is fitted to an original AR TEL military mount. The commercial Redfields were the original scopes used for the AR TEL sets, BUT they were modified w/the cam & reticle, the commercial variants shown would be a fairly close "cosmetic" representation but would not provide the range/camming ability of the military versions.
ART & Redfield scopes/mounts Top- original VietNam era AR TEL scope/mount Center- early commercial redfield 3x9 on original AR TEL mount (note cam pin at rear of mount) Bottom- later commercial Redfield 3x9 on Springfield Armory Inc MKIV (commercial) mount. For a replica/facsimile XM21 the commercial Redfields "look right" on either the original mount (which is almost as hard to find as the original scopes) or the MKIV. Either would actually be closer (cosmetically again) to a Viet Nam era gun than using an ART set. The Redfield based systems were known as AR TEL, the later Leatherwood based systems were ART.
Top view of scopes Bttm- Original AR TEL Centr- Early scope original mount top- Later scope SA inc MKIV mount The military M118 cam on the AR TEL scope can be clearly seen here w/it's external locking screw, also note the matte finish of the AR TEL, the military modified commercial Redfields used early reportedly were in the commercial blued finish.
Front view of scopes/mounts Left- AR TEL Mddl- Early scope original mount Right-Late scope SA Inc MKIV mount Again the difference in the cam vs the standard adjuster on the commercial scopes can be seen, also the thumbsrew on the military mount is thinner than on the SA INC mount.
View of inside of mount Left- ART TEL Cntr- Early scope/original mount Left- Late scope/MKIV mount
Eyepieces & cam/adjuster view
View from rear
Turrets & Mount right side Here you can see the mounts & turrets, the AR TEL on left is mkd AR TEL srxxxx, early scope/original mount center mkd Refield 3x9 in center, later scope/MKIV mount turret marked Redfield 1" tube on right
L-Art Tel C-Art Red1 R-IV Red2
L-Art Tel C-Art Red1 R-IV Red2 Cams
R-IV Red2 C-Art Red1 R-Art Tel R Front
Mounts Left-Original AR TEL, note pin in front, spring in bottom & cam pin at rear Right-SA Inc MKIV commercial mount
Inner plate of mounts
Cam pin on AR TEL mount Left-Original AR TEL mount, note the cam pin at bottom which raised the rear of the scope up when the cam was turned. Right-SA Inc MKIV commercial mount, no cam adjuster & gloss black finish. Also note the difference in the scope rings, the original AR TEL has a "squared" angle & uses 4 screws on each ring, the commercial mount uses a "rounded" atyle w/2 screws in each ring.
Rear view of the mounts
Mounts T-Art B-IV Bottoms
Mounts T-Art B-IV R Inner
Mounts T-Art B-IV Top
Mounts T-IV B-Art L
Mounts T-IV B-Art R Front
Rifle w/late scope & MKIV mount Here's the rifle (earlier in the reproduction) w/the late commercial Redfield scope & the commercial SA Inc MKIV mount. It's actually very similiar looking to the original AR TEL set except it sits just a bit higher than the original set, this would be in the mount as the dimensions of the real AR TEL & commercial Redfield 3x9's are the same.
Action view right Again w/the redfield scope & commercial MKIV mount. This is a pretty accurate representation (cosmetically) of an XM21, much closer than using an ARTII, for someone who wants to do an XM21 clone but hasn't found an original scope set.
Scope & MKIV mount Closer view of same
Left view of action This is, again, the commercial redfield on the SDA INC MKIV mount, compare the pics of this setup w/the pics above of the same rifle w/the original AR TEL setup.
Closeup of scope
Left view, Redfield scope MKIV mount
AN-PAS4 IR case The following pics show some of the NV equipment used w/the M14/XM21 during the VN war. The AN/PAS4 infrared scope set was developed in the late 50's for use w/the M1 Garand from the earlier M1 carbine T3 set. It's main use was early in VN w/the M14 & XM21 rifles. It was an "active" NV device & used a battery pack to power the IR emittor, this is the sealed storage/transport cases they were issued in.
AN-PAS4 case contents The case open showing the contents & layout of items, upper left rectangular cutout is for the battery pack & wire, the "pack" shown is not an original battery, it's a 12v-6v converter, upper right is the lg IR emiittor, venter is the NV mount for the M14/XM21 & allen wrench for the mount screw, round holes are for the batteries for the electronic scope (in this case 1 C battery is shown), bottom is the electronic scope, this had it's own battery (C works), the emittor mounts on top of this & is wired to the battery pack, carried on the belt.
AN-PAS4 assembled Here the emittor is mounted on the scope, this assembly would mount to the rifle using the dovetail on bottom w/2 locking turnscrews, there is also another style of mount shown below. Also note the electronic "bayonet" fitting for the wire for the battery pack just under & behind the emittor assembly.
AN-PAS4 battery cable connection The connector is a quick attach/detach "bayonet" type, push/turn to install, turn/pull to remove.
XM21 & AN/PAS4 active IR scope An AN/PAS4 set mounted on a replica of the XM21 sniper rifle.
XM21 & AN/PAS4 action detail A closer view of the scope mounted to the rifle, these IR (active) scopes were used early, although at least one was issued as late as 1971! They were fairly effective but the "active" IR emitter could be easily detected w/simple countermeasures, the Soviet SVD Dragunov rifle had a built in IR detector in it's standard day time optic!, these scopes were mostly replaced in the field (as weapons sights)by the AN/PVS series starlight scopes (passive NV) by 67-68.
AN-PAS4 2 different mounting styles The scope on top has the "standard" mounting which slides onto the M14 NV sight mount on the rifle & locks w/the 2 turnscrews, the one on the bottom has the M14 NV mount bolted to the scope set & attaches as a unit to the M14 w/the NV mounts screw.
An/Pas4 main components The 2 main parts of the AN/PAS4 are shown here, the round IR emitter on top, the scope section on bottom, a fairly lg battery pack was required that could be carried on the back/belt etc that plugged into the left side of the emitter supplying power. (the battery pack & cord are not shown).
AN/PAS4 assembled Here the 2 main components are assembled, note the small thumbscrew that locks the emitter onto the scope permitting quick takedown & easy replacement of either component. Also you can see the mount which attached the set to the rifle, the mount is a seperate component & attaches to the XM21/M14 the same way the standard AR TEL mount does only it uses a small "allen head" screw instead of a thumbscrew. This same mount was also used w/the later starlight scopes.
AN/PAS4 data plate
Left view of assembled components Here you can see the other side of the mount, on the AN/PAS4 scopes that scope attached to the mount using allen head screws (opposed to thumblocks on the starlights) so the mount, although a seperate componenet was usually always attached to the scope set.
AN/PAS4 mounted left view When mounted it was quite a bulky, heavy setup, the mount caused it (& the later starlight scopes) to be offset to the left.
Forward view w/AN/PAS4 Here you get a bit of the offset, when using this system or the starlight it was actually quite comfortable to use a regular cheek weld & utilize the left eye to sight!, of course it's kind of an unorthodox method & required the operator to have the rifle sighted in for that manner.
Left side view w/AN/PAS4 IR set
Xm21 w/NV mount Here is the rifle w/the mount to utilize NV equipment (either IR or starlight, it attached using 1 screw & the "groove" system, the rail stood out to the left, the scope would be slid on from the rear & locked w/thumblocks (in the case of the starlight), same method for the IR although it used allen screws to secure it to the mount & they weren't usually kept seperately.
Detail view w/NV rail Here you can see the allen head screw in front, used to secure mount to rifle, the small brass "stop" pin to fix the scope in position on the rail & the locking grooves which the screws or thumblocks fit into to lock the scope to the rail.
Upper view of NV rail mounted on recvr Another view of the mounted rail showing the left hand offset.
Rear side view of NV rail
Left side view of the NV mount seperately
Right, or inner side of NV rail Here you can see the mount screw (which is fixed to the rail so it can't fall out in the field) & the horizontal & vertical "rails" on the mount that fit into corresponding grooves in the receiver to line up & hold the mount in place. Tip for anyone assembling an XM21 replica, check the M1A receiver you're using, not all the commercial receivers have the rails machined mil-spec, which is necessary to use original military scopes.
Xm21 & AN/PVS2 starlight (passive) NV The later NV set is shown here, this is an AN/PVS2 starlight, passive scope, the basic difference between the earlier AN/PAS4 IR (active) scope & the AN/PVS (1-3) (passive) scopes are: Active IR NV devices produce (emit) their own light source which can be easily detected by electronics countermeasures, the AN/PVS series starlight scopes (these are termed 1st generation scopes & there was the AN/PVS1, 2, 2B &3) do not emit a light source, they use an electronic devise in the scope body to amplify what available light there is, the more light, usually moon or starlight (hence the term starlight scope) the better they work, on a moonless, very dark night they're very ineffective, the good point of course is they're not detectable w/countermeasures (at least at the time of the VN war, I don't know much about the later, 2nd gen & newer sets)
Action/detail view w/AN/PVS2 fitted The original starlight was the AN/PVS1, the scope shown is an improved model, the AN/PVS2 which was a bit smaller & lighter but still a lg, heavy setup but it did away w/the need for a seperate battery pack & long cable that the AN/PAS4 IR set required (remember these are 1st generation items, & they're almost 40yrs old!) so it was a definite improvement, especially the part about being undetectable!
Rear view of set mounted Here you can get an idea of the left hand offset mount. Note the lg round "cap" on top/rear of the high point of the set, this is the battery compartment.
Front view w/starlight mounted Here you can see the large front lens daytime light filter, these systems were very sensitive to light, a bright light source (daylight) could "fry" the intensifier, they were fitted w/the filter on the front which had to be kept on when used in daytime, it was attached to the scope itself by a simple rubber ring & when night operation ensued you just took the filter off the scope body & it remained attached but out of the way.
AN/PVS2 Instruction Plate With a warning not to expose the unfiltered scope to bright light!
AN/PVS2 w-Day filter removed Here's a view of the front lens w/the daytime light filter removed as the scope would be used in darkness.
Storage/transit case for AN/PVS This is the case the starlight scopes were kept in & transported in, they're metal, 2 seperate parts, 6 lock/hasps & have a very tight seal w/a "pressurization" capability via a small screw in the front of the case. The interior is uses a tight fitting foam type liner which is cut out for the scope, batteries, mount, tool for the screw etc. These are generally not field issue, they're used for transport & storage, when carried in the field the scopes were kept in a soft carry case which could attach to the belt, pack or simply be stored in the ruck.
AN-PVS2 Carry case Open Here's a pic of the case open showing the scope & accs in their "pockets", the green case in the lid is the field carry bag, it doesn't fit into the steel case & is just shown there for the pic. Also note the batteries in the case, these are not original military batteries, they're 4pk doubleA sets which work well in the scope. Also note the strap/sling on the scope, simple sling type that makes it MUCH easier to handle the scope when dismounted, there actually is an MSN part number for the carry strap for the AN/PSV scopes but in the field just about anything could be used, the strap shown is simply a black m16 web sling.
AN-PVS2 In Case Closer view of previous pic
AN-PVS2 Field case Better view of the field carry case for the AN/PVS scopes
Left side view w/AN/PVS2
AN/PVS2 mount detail Here you can see the lockscrews on the scope that lock the set to the NV rail, you can also see the offset of the mount.
XM21 & AN/PVS2 left side The XM21 was also used w/a sound suppressor during the Viet Nam war in conjuction w/the Starlight scopes, when used the sound suppressor replaced the original flash suppressor/lug/front sight assembley which was unscrewed/dismounted & the sound suppressor screwed on.
M2 Bipod M2 bipod for the M14, this is an original USGI M2 bipod. The M2 was developed for use w/the M14E2 mainly & saw limited use w/the XM21's. Early M2's, TypeI had no swivel at the front, the later model (shown here) TypeII had a swivel added for use w/the M14E2, many TypeI's were altered to take this swivel also.
M2 Bipod gas cylinder clamps The M2 mounted onto the gas cylinder w/these jaws/clamps, in this pic you can see the swivel on the front of the M2 type2. Spring loaded buttons at left/right were depressed to allow the legs to swivel vertically, another set were used to extend/retract the legs to fit the terrain.
M2 Bipod markings This is a view of the front of the bipod clamp area showing the markings, original USGI M2's will be stamped (in the metal) w/US bipod rifle M2 & a part# 7790833 (TypeI), or 7790688 (TypeII), the yellow paint mkg at the left is the remains of the US DoD stamp. Repro M2's pretty much duplicate these markings but some will be found stamped WMI.
M2 Bipod bottom clamp A view of the bottom clamp area, the hex head w/screw slot was used w/the combo tool in the cleaning kit to adjust the fit to the rifle, this is the original USGI setup, a lot of the repros will have an allen wrench fitting in the adjuster. Another item to look for is "yellow" tint along the join lines, original USGI M2's were brazed along the joints, the repros were welded & won't show this coloring.
M2 Bipod bottom In this view you can see the buttons used to adjust the bipod leg length. You must be careful when purchasing an M2 as the repros are close cosmetically, most are made in China & may be advertised as "GI", some actually have been used by the Govt since the M14 has been called back to service currently but are NOT original USGI mfg.
Op Manual AR TEL scope set Following are a few good manuals to get for anyone interested in the history of the XM21 or wanting to do a replica. Military operation manual for the AR TEL scope, dated Sept 1968, interesting to note the manual is listed as the ART scope, another possible contributor to the confusion today, the original Redfield AR TEL scopes are marked as such right on the scope itself not ART. Note this manual is very hard to find, this is an exc copy provided by & avaialble from: www.nicolausassociates.com
Op Manual XM21 Operators manual for the XM21/AR TEL combination system, again an exc copy form Nicholas Assoc, this has no date on it but is a Viet Nam era pub as all the illustrations reference the rifle as the XM21, after 1972 it was officially designated M21.
Tech manual NM M14 AMTU Another manual required to do a replica XM21, it's a detailed description of all the mods bringin the M14 up to National Match standards as required by the Army Markmanship Training Unit (AMTU), again this is a reprint of another very rare booklet by Nicholas Assoc.
Tech Manual AN-PVS1 This is a US Army Tech manual for the original AN/PVS1 starlight scope (this is the model before the one shown in the preceeding pics which is the AN/PVS2), this manual is dated Dec, 1971 & is an original.
Op Manual AN-PVS2 This is an Operators manual which came with the AN/PVS2 scope set when I acquired it, it's a later printing, April 1976 & of course contains updates to the Viet Nam era manual, it's pocket sized & believe it's a copy w/stapled pages.