|Country of origin||Germany|
|Number produced||2 million|
|Users||United States Marine Corps |
United States Army
United States Air Force (M7B)
Republican Army (Indochina)
|Cost||250 USD (1964 M7A2) |
400 ICR (1970 M7A1)
|Weight||7 pounds empty, 7.25 pounds loaded|
|Action||Gas-operated, rotating bolt, direct impingement|
|Cartridge||5.56 x 45 mm NATO|
|Effective range||500 meters |
750 meters (M7A2)
|Muzzel velocity||850 m/s|
|Overall length||30 in |
45 in (M7A2)
|Barrel length||14 in |
25 in (M7A2)
|Feed system||Internal magazine|
The M7 rifle was the standard U.S. rifle from 1962 - 1967, and the Indochinese service rifle from 1963 - 1989.
The M7 is a gas-operated, semi-automatic rifle designed for combat in humid conditions. Largely designed around the M1 Garand, it utilizes a direct impingement system of operation. The internal magazine of the M7 is, largely, the same as that of the M1 Garand, although expanded to accept the larger 15-round en-bloc clips used by the M7. The stock, originally, was a solid stock that also served as a rear pistol-grip, with a thumb-hole cut into the stock. Later, to save on weight, the stock was made into a skeleton stock, with large portions cut out. The handguard was created of plastic instead of wood, again to save on weight; the actual design of the handguard, however, was mostly the same, the only difference being the slats cut into the handguard so as not to melt with consistent fire. The sights are a rear notch and a forward blade, for simplicity.
The M7A2 and M7B utilize 25-round detachable magazines; these variants were the preferred of the United States Marine Corps during the Indo-China war. However the internal magazine was more reliable on average compared to the detachable magazines, as the detachable magazines gave the rifle more chances for dirt to enter and mess with the internals. The M7S, the sniper variant, featured an elongated barrel, an internal magazine of 10, 7.62 mm NATO rounds, and a fixed scope. It was limited to semi-automatic fire only.
The M7 was first put into service in 1960 by the Southern Indochinese forces, who had been running low on weapons for their soldiers. The Indochinese leadership initially signed a contract for several hundred M7A1 rifles, to be evaluated for service. Although not as reliable as some Chinese and Northern weapons, the M7A1 was more accessible, and cheaper to buy and produce. Under license, the Southern Indochinese dubbed home-made M7A1 rifles "K1"s. The K1s, near clones of the M7s, were made more watertight, to improve reliability in the jungle.
The K1, though dubbed the M7A1 by U.S. forces, was used by the U.S. infantry in the jungle combat alongside the M14 and some experimental weapons like the less-favored M16A1 and M18 rifles. It performed well in the humid conditions, and became renowned for its reliability and accuracy in spite of the water and muck.