By Lars Dalseide | March 31 2014 15:41

Springfield Armory rifle presented to the National Rifle Association by Army Chief of Staff

Close up on General Lyman L. Lemnitzer's M14 rifle

Fairfax, Virginia - Curator's Corner is a weekly look into the vast collection of the National Firearms Museum. And when we're lucky it's more than what's on display at the museum; it's what's in the vault.

Secured in the basement of NRA Headquarters, the vault holds almost as many guns as those that are on display. Ancient matchlocks, preserved pistols and sacred shotguns line the walls in this "denizens of a dungeon" just waiting for a chance to bask in the glorious sunlight above. For this week's segment, Senior Curator Philip Schreier decided to go with a presentation rifle — Lemnitzer's M14.

"It's a really special gun," said Schreier. "A beautiful Springfield Armory presentation grade M14."

Presentation grade can mean a few different things for a few different people, but for this one, we're talking about the quality of the finish and the plaque mounted on the buttstock that reads:

Plaque on General Lemnitzer's M14 presentation rifle to the NRA

Presented to the National Rifle Association of America at the Association’s Annual Convention 12 March 1960 By General Lyman L. Lemnitzer Chief of Staff, United States Army In recognition of the National Rifle Association’s outstanding and sustained contribution to the promotion of American marksmanship
Here's the story.

Since the early 1950s, the NRA had made a practice of presenting the guest speaker at our Annual Meetings with a handcrafted long rifle. These heirloom quality guns were made by Mr. Cecil Brooks of Ohio at the time. In 1960, General Lemnitzer flipped the script and presented a gun to the NRA.

Those of you familiar with the history of the M14 know that this particular brand of battle rifle first went into production in 1959. Then how, you might ask, how could it be that Serial number 6 on Lemnitzer's M14 presentation rifle General Lemnitzer was handing over a rifle bearing the serial number 0006?

"This was one of the first guns produced for the United States Military that was put together by committee," Schreier explained. "Congressmen, Senators, all sorts of chairmen and bigwigs were involved with the rifle's development back in the mid 1950s. There were about 50 different types before settling on what we now know as the M14.

"Because of this, everyone wanted the serial number 1 gun so they could claim that they were the father of the M14. So manufactures produced serial number 1, serial number 01, serial number 001 and so on up to 0001DDE that went to General Eisenhower. This was gun number six. Six for two reasons."

The most obvious reason being that this was actually the sixth M14 to roll off the production line. The other reason, well, we're going to save that for the broadcast.

So if you want to know why this presentation grade M14 ended up with serial number six, or you just want to see it up close, tune in this evening around 6:40pm eastern time as NRA News brings you another edition of Curator's Corner on Sportsman Channel.

Philip Schreier with General Lyman L. Lemnitzer's M14 rifle in the NRA Museum

See all of the guns in the NRA National Firearms Museum at
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