The M21 is essentially a modified M14 National Match rifle. The earlier versions (XM21) had a specially selected walnut stock, but this changed with the M21 to a fiberglass stock, often camouflaged. The XM21 began to be fielded in the second half of 1969 and remained the U.S. Army’s primary Sniper Weapon System until it began to be replaced by the M24 SWS in 1988. Some National Guard units and even a few active duty units (The OPFOR at JRTC for example) still use the M21. The M21 is a very practical sniper weapon maintaining acceptable accuracy out to about 700 meters. Besides the problem that it is semi-auto and sends brass flying, the M21 was, and still is, a very capable military sniper rifle. The 10th SFG, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy SEALs has developed an improved version of the M21 known as the M25. The M25 was designed out of a need for a semi auto sniper rifle, and it was the weapon of choice for SEAL snipers during Desert Storm. The M21 holds a dear spot in many U.S. Army snipers hearts (me included), and rightfully so.


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Loren Rogers

We had these in 1/75 Infantry (Ranger) back in the day (mid to late 1970’s). I did not carry one, but I remember them.

Storm Stone

I love the M21. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’ve got one myself.

Carl Dodd

I used a XM-21 sniper rifle for my last 7 months in Viet Nam. I loved that rifle. It was reliable and accurate in spite of the lousy conditions of that war. We snipers used our rifles in ways that we were never taught to use them because we just HAD to be inventive. I can remember before a full moon zeroing my day scope for targets out at 450 meters in a direction in which I knew that the targets would be coming at me, head on, with the moon’s light hitting them in the face. It was almost as good as them being pop-up targets that night. Nailed 4 of them and the rest ran away.

Keith Cunningham

I served with G Coy 75th Rangers – Recon Team Miami. I used the M-21 and still have the serial number. Any ideas as to if I could ever find out what happened to that rifle?

Mel Ewing

If it survived, chances are it is crated away in some storage facility as the rifles have not been surplussed or destroyed (that I know of). I’m not sure how to start the process of tracking it down.

Thomas Thorne

There isn’t any way that I know of to get a definitive answer for a particular serial number, you could always post the question along with the manufacturer and the serial number over on the M14 forum (, someone there might be able to tell you for sure.

There were about 100,000 M14 rifles destroyed in the 90’s under the Clinton administration, and several thousand were surplussed out to the Philippines, Honduras (I believe), and a handful of other countries. I been told of M1 and M14 rifles that were battle lossed out during Vietnam that showed up during fighting in Afghanistan, so you never know what really happened to them.


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