The M14 was the last U.S. standard issue, select-fire infantry rifle chambered for a full-power .30 caliber class cartridge. Less than ten years after Uncle Sam issued the M14 to the troops, the M16 succeeded the “United States Rifle, 7.62 mm, M14.” And yet the M14 remains in service, for three reasons: durability, reliability and accuracy. Springfield Armory’s semi-automatic M1A is all that and a bag of chips and you don’t have to enlist to get our hands on one . . .

With its walnut stock and Parkerized metal, the Springfield M1A is a line-by-line clone of the as-issued M14, from its flash hider (or a muzzle break in AWB states) to its butt flapper. While the M1A is a semiautomatic-only rifle it’s close enough to the fully-automatic M14 to make the most grizzled Vietnam vet turn all dewy-eyed.

The Quest for (Select) Fire — and Back

Popular culture has decided that a submachine gun is any automatic rife. In fact, the term refers to a fully-automatic rifle that fires pistol-caliber cartridges. Throughout much of WW2, U.S. infantrymen used submachine guns to great effect. While soldiers could lay down a curtain of fire the guns proved to be underpowered (i.e., not lethal enough) in many circumstances.

The Browning BAR—designated “Rifle, Caliber .30, Automatic, Browning, M1918″—had plenty of power. It fulfilled the Army’s need for effective, full-power “walking fire.” Shot from a tripod or lightweight bipod, the M1918 (and subsequent variants) were effective light machine guns. When fired from the shoulder or hip, not so much.

What the War Department really wanted (and the boys in OD or khaki really needed): a lighter full-auto firearm that was handier that the BAR and yet more powerful than a submachine gun. The perfect replacement rifle would also have a manual of arms close to the M1 Garand so troops and armorers would need minimal retraining. In other words, our fighting forces needed a select fire M1 Garand.

The War Department turned to Springfield Armory and its top designer, John C. Garand, to create the new battle rifle. Designated T20E2, the rifle was developed by Springfield Armory and ordered into production in mid-1945. Hearing about the U.S. Army’s plan to equip a bazillion infantrymen with a select fire battle rifle, encouraged by two atomic bombs, the Japanese Emperor surrendered immediately.

As soon as the guys with the rising sun flag ran up a white one, the War Department cancelled the order for the T20E2 and abandoned the field. A Belgian arms manufacturer filled it with a rifle it called the Fusil Automatique Léger. We know that rifle today as the brilliant FN FAL. The world came to know it as The Right Arm of the Free World.

The Right Arm of the Free World could have been the M14. It should have been the M14. But there was no M14. It hadn’t really been shelved so much as back-burnered.

The American arms manufacturers had been dealt a setback, but there wasn’t a lot of quit in them. Development of the select fire Garand slowed, but didn’t cease during the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. After many fits and starts, SA devised the T44 series, which was to morph into the M14. Eventually.

While the Ordnance Department was resting on its laurels (that’s the fleshy part of the human anatomy just below the tailbone), FN was forging ahead. Guessing that adoption by the US would lead to a host of NATO contracts, FN wisely granted the US government the right to produce an Americanized version of the FAL domestically at the grand cost of exactly zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Which was actually less than what the DoD wanted to spend.

The Army held shoot-offs between Springfield Armory’s T44E4 and the T48 (the designation for the American FAL) in 1955 and 1956. And the winner was . . . nobody. The final test was deemed a tie. A year later, the US decided in favor of – surprise! — the T44E4 as the standard US service rifle M14.

With the aid of a calculator, I was able to determine that ten years had passed since the War Department had canceled its order for the T20E2, and $100m had been spent on the military’s bumbling quest for select fire. And yet, not a single rifle had been issued to the troops who needed them.

When the production M14s were finally issued, they weren’t all that wonderful. There were, uh, glitches. Most were fixed. By the time that the M14 was issued in significant numbers, the year was 1962 and the Cold War was getting warm in places like Cuba and Vietnam.

Initial Marine units dispatched to Vietnam in 1965 were carrying M14s.

While the soldiers and Marines loved their M14s, the rifle—like its FN FAL competitor—was overwhelmed in full auto mode by the power of the 7.62 NATO round. Uncle Sam issued many with their selectors pinned. In semi-auto mode, the rifle was deadly accurate and punched through the jungle flora with ease.

Still, such a big rifle was unhappy in tight spaces.  Thanks to the hot wet climate of Southeast Asia, the Army had to replace the M14’s wood stocks with composite. The additional cost factored into the Army’s decision to phase-out the M14, starting in 1966. It was replaced by a little black rifle that many of the troops believed was made by Mattel and many soldiers and Marines just plain despised.

Springfield Armory Inc. (unrelated to the Springfield Armory that closed in 1968) began to produce the semi-auto M1A around 1974 using surplus GI M14 parts. The M1A launched SA, Inc. as a top shelf firearms manufacturer. The rifle has been popular ever since.

First Impressions

From the moment I removed the tester from its factory box, I knew that I was holding a real rifle. I’ve had the same visceral reaction to battle rifles from World War II, also crafted from actual wood and blued or Parkerized metal. What all those rifles have in common is real firepower and real weight. The M1A has both of those in spades.

Based as it is on its military daddy, the M1A is built like the proverbial brick outhouse. The rifle’s wood is solid, denser than the fluffiest Playboy bunny. The metal is beefier than a Triple Meat Whataburger. Every component seems like it was made from 2” frontal armor salvaged from a decommissioned tank.

The M1A Standard could be made lighter by shaving metal here and there or using composite materials like the SOCOM II variant. But then it wouldn’t feel like an old-school battle rifle. Shake a typical AR and it sounds like something a baby might enjoy teething on. Shake the M1A and you’ll hear nothing except your tendons popping.

The M1A is also a big rifle. While not as long as, say, a Mosin Nagant, the M1A is over 44 inches in length. It will never be confused with a jungle carbine. While the M1A is no more designed for urban warfare than Donna Feldman, in open country the rifle’s 22” barrel creates a long sight radius, promising accuracy well beyond the 300-yard “theoretical” accuracy limit of the carbine-length M16.

The first M14 prototypes had wooden hand guards. WHich caught fire during rapid fire endurance testing. As the M14 wasn’t spec’d by the military as a secondary source of kindling for the troops, the Army replaced the wood by vented plastic. Alas, those plastic guards proved too flimsy for combat use, so they were in turn replaced by solid, ridged plastic hand guards like . . . the one on Springfield’s M1A.

The M1A is as muzzle heavy as an Irish Setter. A full ten round magazine moves the balance point slightly aft. With a loaded twenty round mag the M1A would probably be better balanced than Nik Wallenda. I couldn’t test my hypothesis; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts discourages the possession of large(r) capacity magazines through the imposition of custodial sentences.

 

Side view of the Springfield Armory M1A receiver

 

 

 

 

 

The M1A’s front sight is a straightforward military blade with protective ears. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation, but there’s only one aperture. The peep sight—barely 1/16th” in diameter—looks to be useless at close range but effective at distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yanking and releasing the M1A’s operating rod handle required no more force than charging my old man’s 1959 Johnson Sea Horse 10 HP outboard. Unlike dad’s old blender, the M1A starts on the first pull. Releasing the handle produces a sound that reminds me of a bear trap slamming shut, only without the bear. It’s loud, authoritative and intimidating. In fact, the rack of a twelve gauge pump sounds like a jingle bell compared to the metallic percussion of the M1A’s rotating bolt as it slams home.

OK, it’s built like a tank, or maybe from a tank. But how does it shoot?

The Yin

Due to some seriously crappy New England weather, I first shot the M1A at 25 yards, indoors. Short distance shooting isn’t much of a test for an old school battle rifle, but it gave me an opportunity to get familiar with the controls. While loading and firing M1A is mostly intuitive, deactivating the safety by placing your finger inside the trigger guard is about as unintuitive as it gets.

I was shooting offhand, since I had little desire to prone myself out or sit my booty down on a range floor covered with enough lead dust to block nuclear fallout. In this stance, the sling’s the thing. Someone ought to tell Springfield to include one with the rifle. [ED: mission accomplished.]

As expected, the M1A’s little peep sight was a problem. Between the tiny aperture and the rugged front blade (with its bat-shaped ears) most of the target was obscured at 25 yards. Keeping the barrel-heavy rifle’s muzzle steady and the sights on target was a challenge. Zeroing the M1A was, as they say, “a process.”

I enjoyed every minute of it. The flapper, designed to help retain the cleaning stuff stored in the buttstock, damped the recoil of the 7.62X51 cartridges. This rifle that dishes out the punishment on the muzzle end only.

Once the weather broke, I was able to tote the rifle out to the West Barnstable Town Range, where I fired off about six boxes of 7.62 NATO happiness before the sky opened up and another dose of Massachusetts Liquid Sunshine closed out my session. As expected, the rifle proved to be very accurate. But that’s the least interesting part of the story.

Return to Ia Drang

Before I even had a chance to load, I noticed someone nearby who looked ready to take a trip down memory lane. My cohort was peppering a target at fifty yards with his Ruger M1911, shooting from a sandbag rest. While I was busy uncasing the M1A on the hundred yard line, the pistol shooter saw the rifle and I saw that he saw. I knew that look. I motioned for him over.

I recognized his walk. I’d seen it before on a hundred guys who’d spent their time in the rice paddies and forests over there and in the woods over here. It was a walk that wouldn’t snap a twig or trip a hidden wire.

“Bob” fired off a few very accurate shots and smiled. “It’s like meeting an old friend.” He carried an M14 back in the day, before the military transitioned to the M16. He loved his M14, claiming it was a thousand yard gun. While I don’t believe that anyone should actually love an inanimate object, I guess it’s alright when the object saves your life.

Bob’s son, who’d been shooting a heavy-barreled 10/22 Target Model to good effect, took a few shots with the M1A. So did the son’s friend who’d been plinking away with a Marlin .22. The father said, “It’s a man’s gun.” We all nodded. Bob went back to his spot on the fifty yard line smiling. When he left 45 minutes later, he still was. So was I.

The Yang

The M1A was born to shoot at distance. The further away the target, the better the small peep sight works. Of course, if offhand shooting is tough at 25 yards, it’s really tough at 100 or more. So, I brought out my handy little WinMart sandbags for a bit of nonverbal support.

I’d zeroed it at 25 yards, so I was a little high with my first three slow-fire shots at 100. I’d forgotten to bring a spotting scope, so I had no idea if I was even on paper until I took the walk downrange. Once I realized that my shots were pretty well centered but up there, I made the necessary corrections. Thereafter, I had no trouble depositing the next two shots centered and less than an inch apart.

It soon became apparent that if I kept up the protocol of walking out to my target to check my shots every time, I’d shortly trample out my own personal game trail and piss off the other shooters at the line at the same time. I needed instant feedback, so I lined up about 20 discarded shot shells that I found scattered about. The M1A proved to be a shot shell killer supreme, launching one after another into near earth orbit with ease at the slightest provocation.

Rapid fire accuracy at 100 yards proved to be very good as well.

This group of five shots – four in the black — was fired as quickly as I could manage to acquire the target and pull the trigger. The rifle isn’t punishing to shoot and there’s no muzzle blast. But muzzle rise is pronounced and it does take a microsecond or two to get the gun back on target. Here’s a viddy of our friend and TTAG commenter Greg from Allston shooting the M1A, from a tripod rest. You can see the obvious hop.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfzn4SgqB3M

Warts and all (and there are damn few warts), I enjoyed this rifle more than anything else that I’ve shot in many years. While its accuracy is excellent and the build quality very robust, what I liked most about it was the sense of holding history in my hands. What I liked least: I’d have to send this rifle back to SA when the testing was through. Fortunately, that’s a correctable situation.

Conclusion

The odds of me having to tote a rifle in battle are about the same as snagging a long weekend on the French Riviera with Salma Hayek. But if I did — go into battle, that is — I’d feel secure with an M1A. In the Commonwealth we can’t use rifles to shoot Bambi. The only feral pigs around here are in the General Assembly. But if I could hunt with the M1A, I would.

As a vicious and enthusiastic destroyer of paper and other targets, I’m confident blazing away with the M1A at distances further than I can see. In fact, there’s not much that I want to do with a rifle that I can’t do with Springfield Armory’s classic M1A.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model:                                  Springfield Armory Model MA9102 Standard M1A
Caliber:                                7.62 X 51 NATO
Magazine capacity:       10 rounds
Materials:                          Parkerized barrel and magazine, walnut stock
Weight empty:                 9.3 pounds
Barrel Length:                 22″
Overall length:                 44.33″
Sights:                                  Blade front, adjustable aperture rear
Action:                                 Semi-automatic, gas operated, piston driven
Price:                                    MSRP $1739 ($1409 at Bud’s Gun Shop when in stock) 

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * * *
75 year old styling never looked so modern. If you like the looks of the M1 Garand, you’ll love the looks of the M1A. It’s sleeker than the pot-bellied Garand and the muzzle device of your choice really dresses it up. The wood has a bit of figure, too. It’s not AAA Grade Fancy, but it’s still decent stuff.

Accuracy  * * * * *
I never shot much better than 1.25″ groups with the iron sights and basic milspec ammo. I did not fire this rifle with optics, but I expect that it would shoot 1 MOA or better out of the box with a good scope and good target ammo.

Ergonomics * * * *
Compared to the M16 that replaced the M14, the M1A is too heavy and too long. Compared to the M1 Garand that was replaced by the M14, the rifle is lighter by about two pounds and far, far easier to load because of its external magazine. It comes to shoulder naturally and seems to become part of the shooter’s body.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * * *
The safety works as it’s supposed to, but I didn’t enjoy having to put my finger inside the trigger guard to deactivate it. The cheek weld is great, and aligning the sights is virtually automatic. Shooters who prefer a single stage trigger will be disappointed in the box-stock trigger. Those who prefer a two-stage military style trigger will love this one as much as I did. It’s totally free of creep and breaks cleanly at around 5 pounds after 3/16th  inch of feathery takeup. There’s muzzle rise to be sure, but recoil is well damped. The short LOP worked fine for me, but shooters with the wingspan of a California condor will need a butt pad. For the rifle, that is.

Reliability * * * * *
A half dozen shooters pumped two hundred rounds of Federal XM80C through the M1A in three range sessions, firing the gun dirty, with zero issues. Despite the archaic feed system, there were no misfeeds, no stoppages, nothing bad at all. Sometimes archaic is good. I can’t imagine this rifle ever letting me down.

Customize This * * *
It’s more customizable than one would think. The flash hider can be swapped out for a muzzle brake and there’s scope mounts available from a few manufacturers. Variants of the M1A are offered by SA including “tactical” models, and there are many aftermarket goo-gahs, stocks and unnecessary accoutrements awaiting purchase by those with more money than taste. But please, shooters, if you buy a Standard model, just keep it standard. Okay?

OVERALL RATING * * * * *
It’s a truly classic rifle. The only way it could be any better would be to restore that functional selector switch.

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169 Responses to Gun Review: Springfield Armory M1A

  1. Best weapon ever!. Shot one since I was in my High School years and love them. Better than a AR in fire power and even long range accuracy. Only down side is Springfield makes them too expensive for most to buy. However they are worth the money.

    • Quality costs money. I’ve been thinking about selling my M1A National Match (a true NM, not a Loaded) with scope, mount, and extra mags for $1,999. Is that asking too much?

      • That depends on how many mags and what kind of scope. I just bought a new NM for $1850. If you have a high quality piece of glass on your NM then that’s a decent deal.

        • If you don’t mind me asking, where did you pick up a M1A nm for such a good price? I am curious because I just recently purchased mine in Fort Worth, Texas which I figured would be competitive price wise to most of the nation. I ended up spending a few hundred more on mine. Thanks, it would be nice to know where deals like that are, so I wont get burned on my next purchase.

          Thanks a lot,
          Chris

        • I did a search on Gun Genie and found a low offered price less than 50 miles from me. The dealer is a retired gentleman who I really liked and I ended buying from him again.

    • Experience has again demonstrated that the M1-A is an excellent rural defense weapon. A few years ago one was used to lethal effect on two, armed drug smugglers Thecrossing my ranch down here in extreme southern ( 400 yards from the Mexican border.) Arizona. Over a period of time coyotes scattered the evidence. Keep in mind all six of these smugglers were armed with AK’s. “”Don’t cry for me Argentina”…
      ” This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine….”

    • The MiA is a fine .30 main battle rifle, I own one and several others and I must say that my Armalite AR-10 is a slightly more accurate rifle and the pistol grip is much more comfortable than the M1A, still the M1A is what the M1 Garand should have been, funny that no one in the Ordnance Corps (again) suggested a 10 rd detachable magazne for the M1 Garand. The US Ordnanace Corps in the area of small arms development and selection have had the worst group of officers ever in the history of the US Army.

    • Only *tempted?* I usually do. “AK, M16, bla bla bla. M14. You get better accuracy than the M16, comparable reliability to the AK, and the effective range of them BOTH laid end to end in a cartridge that will make your enemy DEAD instead of just wounded.”

      • I carried them both in the Army.

        We had 4 assigned to one of my battalions as ‘designated marksman’ weapons. Coming from the M16, the manual of arms was a transition. But not a hard one. It felt like coming home to what Dad had.

        You may be surprised, but we were curious about how the weight compared to our M16A2’s & A4’s. It was two ounces heavier unloaded. The weight you often hear about is all in the ammo.

        I can’t comment on reliability, because I never had an issue. They would go to the field for weeks at a time with minimal cleaning and thousands of rounds. I didn’t have issues. The others I designated to carry them had no issues. ‘No issues’… If that is an archaic feed system, then maybe we could all use one.

        Having ‘grown up’ in the Army with M16’s M16A1’s & A2’s the reliability is like night and day. Remember all the little tricks you learn to keep the M16/M4 running? (heavy oil on the bolt carrier… no! no! bone dry! no, no light coat! Clean the locking mechanism with a dental tool! Take a few packs of cotton swabs and cotton balls with you to the field. dunk it in water, then let it air dry for a couple hours to get all the forest, dirt and vegitation debris out of it.. etc, etc.)

        When I started working with the M14 that all just went away like a bad dream. It doesn’t dump dirty combustion gas into the firing mechanism. That’s a lot of gunk that never goes where you have to clean it to keep it running. And you don’t have a gear-like intricate locking mechanism that can be prevented from closing by a single grain of coarse sand. It never seemed to mind field conditions much.

        Then there’s field maintenance. Soldiers & Marines, do you remember taking an extra soft cap to the field just so you’d have a relatively clean place to put all the M16’s teeny, tiny parts without losing or dirtying them? Forget about it! All the parts for field stripping are the size of a stubby pencil or bigger.

        But the kicker is if you’ve been in the Army in the last 30 years, you’ve probably got a few deployments under your belt. 5.56 is not lethal. I hope no one is shocked. It will ruin your day, but it is a wounding round and long shots are…well…LONG SHOTS.

        With a .30 cal bullet ‘One shot. One kill.’ does not just mean you hit on the first try.

        • I was fortunate to shoot in an intrabase competition at Camp Lejeune in 1967, firing the M14. Our top,distance at Parris Island was 500 yards (prone). At Lejeune we shot at 600 yards top,distance. (2nd Mar Div team vs Force Troops team) . With 4 days to sight in , our five Marine team won first team rifle, and those M14 s performed flawlessly. That was the last time I fired that weapon as a Marine. Heading to Vietnam, I was introduced to the M16. But my heart belonged to that heavy beast that could accurately put a round down range with power and accuracy. About thirty years later, I got the urge and bought a loaded M1A with a stainless barell and I love heading to the range with it. And a I get those looks too from the guys sighting their scoped hunting rifles, or M16s-ARs. Still a rush to squeeze off each round.

    • Do not compare a main battle rifle like the Mia/M14 to the AK or AR series, these are different firearms and meant for different purposes. Bothn AR and AKs are meant to be both aimed and spray weapons, while the M1A/M1/M14/FN FAL/G3 are meant for aimed fire. On the modern battlefield where one’s enemy is seldon clearly seen and if they are it’s only for a scant second, aimed fire for one shot, one kill is now left to the sniper. Instead multiple shots are used to kill one of the enmy and that is fine too.

  2. Great fun review from an obvious enthusiast, but with just a couple little problems…. As much fun as M14 vs M16 rivalries are, it is possible to poke fun without crossing the line into “inaccuracy”.

    “well beyond the 300 yard “theoretical” accuracy limit of the carbine-length M16.”

    That line bothered me a bit…. The M4’s peep site STARTS at 300 meters and adjusts to 600, while the M16’s site goes to 800. The M14 has a ton more power at distance, but making them accurate and keeping them accurate is a real trick.

    • Reason why the M-14 DMR and M-14 EBR are BIG now bays. M-4s and M-16s are the best 5.56mm weapons on the market BUT 5.56mm has many limitations.

    • The M16A2’s accuracy was 416 yards against point targets, IIRC. You’re faced with the limitations of the barrel length and bullet weight. Just because the site goes to 800 doesn’t mean it’s really accurate at that distance. And just because the M1A’s sites stop at 600 doesn’t mean it can’t shoot further.

      Slap a scope on either and tell me which one you would rather have somebody shoot at you.

      • USMC TM 05538C-10/1A USA TM9-1005–319-10 dated 1986 with updates thru 1994, states on page 3 “FACTS ABOUT YOUR RIFLE” says the following:

        Max effective range:
        550 meters (individual/point targets)
        800 meters (area targets)

        But I never knew anyone who could regularly hit a fleeting target (say, like a deer, or a pig, or a man) beyond about 300. Out that far things can make 5.56 stray. Things like, oh, grass (seriously…can make round tumble_, twigs (…shatter the jacketed round into fragments, etc.) Standoff range with 5.5.6 is not your friend.

        • You have OBVIOUSLY never met a Marine, then. 300 yards? I don’t remember ever missing with the ‘Black Barbie Rifle’ even after 20-years of firing it at ranges out to 500-meters. Obviously, it is only meant to get the enemy’s attention for incoming artillery barrages, but if you think most Marines can’t hit a walking, even a running target at 500-yards…well, just don’t be the one on the receiving end of that dare. I took an elk in Wyoming years ago at over 900-yards with my 308-Browning BAR, and don’t really see him walking as a mechanism of me having otherwise missed that shot, either.

          I shoot prairie dogs with open peep sights at 300 yards on an AR. Seriously, if you can’t shoot long range, you most certainly shouldn’t.

    • Good luck with anyone other than a trained sniper hitting a man sized target, moving, crouching traget beyond 400 yards with an assault rifle, ‘yes’ it can be done but not often unless there a volume of fire produced. Most people are good at shooting stationary targets that are not shooting back or crouched up, most likely moving laterally about. So adjusting for a person’s movement let alone wind, make a one shot, one kill not very likely.

  3. The first rifle I qualified in the Navy with was a M14. I’ve been a fan ever since. My last ship still had 2 onboard but they were only used to shoot line to another ship during replenishments.

  4. “Shake a typical AR and it sounds like something a baby might enjoy teething on. Shake the M1A and you’ll hear nothing except your tendons popping.”

    Nice one, Ralph! Great review.

    • Yey!!! I got a brand new M1A NM today even without read this review. I cannot wait to shoot it. It well worth the $2k price in today’s market;)

  5. When I first saw this review, I cheered, because despite having never fired one, they seem awesome, and more info is always good.

    Then it disappeared. Sad Gyu.

    But now it’s back, and with functioning pictures, too! Yay!

    • I also saw the review, and the author, and looked forward to reading, only to get “Page not found” when I clicked through. I was quite happy to see it show up again.

      Thanks Ralph for the writeup, and Nick for the save.

  6. I favor full power paramilitary (clone) rifles chambered for the 7.62×51 NATO cartridge, which I believe to be the finest general purpose cartidge ever devised by the mind of man, and have three of them so far: an M1A, a DSA SA58 Para, and an Armalite AR10B.

    These rifles are as different as night and day but all excellent. The M1A, obviously, has the classic looks and U.S. military lineage that endears it to all, and is also the softest shooting of the three. A real creampuff. It will shoot 1.5 MOA groups with iron sights and ball ammo.

    The DSA SA58 Para is the most narrowly focused with its short barrel and folding stock, but oddly enough is the most accurate. It’s a genuine 1 MOA rifle with open sights and NATO spec ball ammo. A little magic went into the building of this gun. It also has the worst ergonomics by far and an incredible report.

    The AR10B is, in my opinion, the best looker with its green furniture and space gun looks. After all these years the AR style still looks futuristic to me. I’ve only managed 2 MOA groups, but I can’t believe that’s the best the rifle will do. Maybe it doesn’t like ball ammo. It also kicks the hardest of the three (still not too hard).

    It’s hard to say which one I like most. Doesn’t really matter. All I know is I want more rifles of this type, such as a G3 variant, and a SCAR17S. Can’t wait!

        • G3s are fine.

          They kick like a mule and if you are masochistic then perhaps youll equip yours with a collapsable buttstock. a sensible person with nerve endings wont XD

          but the roller-delayed blowback operation is terribly simple and utterly reliable. theyll operate in conditions that will make a M14 and FAL choke. hell ive seen weapons caches buried in iraqs lovely fine sand with only the occasionally encountered G3 come out functioning (out of a collection of AKs, PKMs, RPDs, and other weapons).

        • I always scoff when men complain about the pain with the G3’s collapsible buttstock (aka, the meat tenderizer). Have you actually shot the G3 with the collapsible stock? Or are you just citing other sources?

          After reading all of the warnings, I was bracing for pain when I first shot my PTR with the collapsible stock and after the fact was like ??? What’s all the complaining about? Seriously?

          T-shirt and/or tank top, didn’t bother the shoulder one bit. I thought the cheek weld against metal might bust a tooth loose during recoil but alas, no pain on the face at all either. Ok, so I had a little bit of redness on the shoulder after a bunch of rounds but come on – it’s a battle rifle, not a tactical pillow.

          I wouldn’t equip my G3 with anything but the collapsible stock. Love the looks, and the fact that it fits in the safe (where it’s too long with the standard stock).

        • “I always scoff when men complain about the pain with the G3′s collapsible buttstock (aka, the meat tenderizer). Have you actually shot the G3 with the collapsible stock? Or are you just citing other sources?”

          i always scoff when somebody recommends a FOLDABLE buttstock.

          actually firing more than 100 rounds in a day will make you notice a difference. have you actually trained with it or was this just during the typical semi-annual range session?

          folding buttstocks suck. they beat the ever living shit out of your shoulder and your cheek. and its not just limited to the G3 either.

          Usually when there is a general consensus within a population, that should tell you something.

        • Actually I didn’t recommend anything…I was only saying that MY preference for my PTR91 (given what I use it for) is the collapsible buttstock. Also, who is talking about training with it? That’s what my AR15 and AR10’s are for.

          After break in, I put about 350-400 rounds through it in a single session…prone position, kneeling, standing. I think that was a pretty good sampling of the scary “masochistic” effects of the beast.

          I have an issue with the improper weight balance of the PTR 91 target platform, not the “painful” collapsible buttstock.

          Lastly, I wouldn’t say I saw any general consensus within a population…only a few sissies complaining about nothing. 😉

        • I had a chance to shoot a G3 at a H&K event in Birmingham AL about 5 years ago, and not only was it equipped with the collapsible stock, it was the military select fire version. I love automatic weaponry as much as anybody, but that rifle was just unpleasant to shoot in full auto. A couple of 20 round magazines, and I was done. The G-36, or even better, UMP 45 was a lot more fun. We were supposed to have belt fed as well, but apparently these was a shortage of belted ammo at the time, due to some party in a sand box somewhere….

    • The forums generally say the opposite of your observation regarding the accuracy of these rifles with the AR-10 being more accurate followed by the M1a, then the FAL. Durability and reliability go to the FAL which (barely) gets the nod over the M1a (a virtual tie, really) followed distantly by the Ar-10. At close range in a gunfight I would favor a short barreled FAL (especially in full auto) and would choose an AR-10 for the shooting range.
      But if I had to choose just one, it would be the M1a (ALL THE WAY)…and I did. I chose a standard over the loaded for many reasons. You can use the rear sight way easier in the woods for game and it is 1/2 a pound lighter than the medium barrel loaded which also has the smaller apeture (better for range only work) though one can get a trigger job and other touch ups to make the gun more accurate later as you shoot the thing. The standard hunting rifle stock with the superb trigger make its feel so intuitive and natural that one cannot help but conclude it would be ideal as a SHTF gun (for two and four legged critters).
      The history and nostalgia dont hurt either.

        • If your into shor barreled .308s its fine isnt much of a upgrade with long barrels over AR-10 and M1A.

        • I would favor longer barrels as well for the 308. 16″ is really best for specific tactical needs (turning cover into concealment at close range while still having some ability at distance.

    • For the AR10B get a 16 ounce heavy buffer, I did this and the AR10B now shoots like a 5.56 AR15. A suppressor will take away even more of the recoil.

  7. Very nice review Ralph. Thanks.

    Mentioning the “happy switch” reminded me of a story my neighbor relayed to me several months back. His brother frequents a gun shop somewhere in Missouri (I can’t recall the town at the moment) and happened to be there when a widow brought in a true M-14 that her late husband had “appropriated” from the military during his service. The M-14 she brought in happened to be one of the few that made it out of there with the happy switch intact. I wish I knew what the ending of the story was but damn what a rare find.

  8. Nice review

    If you want to see sub MOA accuracy and have 2K to spend, the national/super match versions can do that. There is someone at my club who can make one ragged hole at 200yrds with the national match version. He is also a CMP master but these are very accurate rifles.

  9. Nice review. Having just received a CMP Garand a few months ago, the similarities are more than I realized. Too bad they are so spendy. I think I’d prefer to get 2 CMP Service Grade Garands for the same price as a new M1A. Maybe I can find a used one…..

  10. Ahh, someday …

    An M1A is on my permanent list. It’s good to know one will be waiting for me when I’m ready, so I moved my Special Grade M1 Garand from the CMP to the top of the list first.

    … But please, shooters, if you buy a Standard model, just keep it standard. Okay?

    I like the Scout Squad, in hardwood, of course. But if you’re into customization, check out some Oleg Volk’s recent handiwork. The rifle holds up well with a little modernization after more than half a century.
    http://olegvolk.net/blog/2012/11/14/rogue-bullpup/

  11. I carried an M14 in 2006-7 in Afghanistan as a Designated Marksman. I never fired it in anger, but you wouldn’t know it from all the stares it got. It almost commands respect. I own a preban M1A to commemorate my service rifle. Wish I could afford the Leupold Mk 4 I had on the M14 but a Leupold Rifleman 4-12x does fine work on the gongs at my gun club. My M4 was a tool, my M14 was my rifle. If you know what I mean… 🙂

  12. After qualifying on the M14 and then the M-16, I loved them both, but for different reasons. It took me 40 years to finally purchase my first AR, the M1A will be the next rifle I buy (someday), and then the circle will be complete!

  13. Lovely weapon. Fired it for the first time when I was 13 years old in the early 70’s. My dad taught ROTC at an East Texas university, and the M14 happened to be what they had in their armory.

  14. I was issued the M14 in basic training when I enlisted in the Army in January 1968. We continued to use it in when I was stationed in Germany, as all the M16s were being sent to Southeast Asia. One would be hard pressed to find a better battle rifle…or pig popper or deer rifle for that matter. I’ve been wanting one for many years, and your story of the old soldier will now cost me some money.

    Excellent article…the best yet on TTAG.

  15. For quite some time I have been toying with the idea of getting an AR. After reading this review: no more. This is the rifle I am going to get.

  16. The M1A – the rifle that has eluded my collection for the last decade, even though I’m thinking of it all the time. The only issue I have is it’s limited functionality for me, being it’s so long/heavy. My AR-15 and AR-10 platforms do everything I need rifles for (I also have a nice PTR91 and bolt action .308). I probably should have spent the money on an M1A instead of the PTR. I feel like a “bad American” to have bought an HK clone over the M1A. 😉 I still aspire to own an M1A someday. Likely the scout version. The M1A is truly a wonderful and iconic battle rifle.

  17. Nice article Ralph. I have to say the M1A is like a treasure to be held and pampered like a child, your child.. Ok we are all fan boys, and it is hard to be harsh at something that is loved so much by so many.

  18. The Springfield M1As are okay, but not the best civilian M14 you can find. Expect to pay far higher than the 1500 threshold for a actual quality one.

    • You are right about the other makers guns, though they rape you with over a grand markup for a negligible increase in performance. Some people freak over milspec this or 50 year old forged over cast that. The Springfield receiver (though cast) was actually made thicker in the back where the most force occurs so the fear of these beasts breaking is unreasonable. That, and Springfield has a lifetime warranty. I would not mind being given a rifle from one of those other brands though, as they are quite nice….but a a tough to swallow price.

      • You will pay a pretty penny for a Armscorp, Smith Mfg, or Fulton Armory thats for sure. Counting all of the proper maintenance tools, magazines, and rifle, my M14 cost over 2700. and she is a beauty!

        I personally think the price is well worth it. You will get very consistent accuracy and machining.

        That is what has always pissed me off about Springfield M1As. Some guns of the same model are very accurate (the reviewer sounds like he got a good Springfield), though the one I had a couple of years ago was 3-4 MOA accurate at its finest and the machining in the receiver was out of alignment, which made my scope mount and scope useless. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I never went back.

        • I too have heard of variations in quality, not so much a gem or a lemon, but some rifles having a little less accuracy then the rest. Did you try making it more accurate on your own or send it back to Springfield to have them do work on it? I think the price you pay for the Springfields is a little excessive in the first place and wish that they all came from the factory with the same accuracy. I wish the Springfields were around $9oo and the customs were $1,400 or so……man they pump up the prices when you consider that I just got a Remington 700 varmint for $349 at Dicks during black friday.
          But if you appreciate the M1A/M14 platform (yes, I purchased an M1a as well) than what can you do (and I know that you know what I mean having purchased a beautiful custom specimen yourself).

        • “Did you try making it more accurate on your own or send it back to Springfield to have them do work on it?”

          At the time, i was still at fort bragg, so i left it to my brother to take care of. i just had him sell it because at the time i didn’t have the time or energy to accurize it. By the time i went home with a bone to pick with my battle rifle collection, i found a Smith Manufacturing M14 for sale (M1A is apparently springfield trademarked :/ and Match Armscorp and never went back.

          “I think the price you pay for the Springfields is a little excessive in the first place and wish that they all came from the factory with the same accuracy.”

          thats why ill never buy one but in their defense, most folks seem pretty content with the accuracy of theirs. Im not because im a dick 😉

          “But if you appreciate the M1A/M14 platform (yes, I purchased an M1a as well) than what can you do (and I know that you know what I mean having purchased a beautiful custom specimen yourself).”

          Ill tell you what, the battle rifle game is not for the faint of heart, the incompetent mechanically, and the light of wallet. Despite my criticisms of the M14, I own more than one for a reason: they are damned neat and fun to shoot, despite owning other 308 platforms.

        • I am far from an expert on the subject but think its a matter of interest and price point. At present, the long barreled Scar is the one I desire but at nearly 3K it seems alot for what I intend (or at least want to intend) to use it for (SHTF, hunting, self defense against gangbangers using cars to smash into garages, rouge BG’s with light to moderate body armor, simply having it and dreaming about it at night…sick huh, gently stroking the barrel up and down with grease….very sick, etc). The fact is that most people who buy these things dont use them much…except for the dreaming and stroking part, anyway….so I got something that could do virtually the same thing at a price point ($1,300) that I would not feel guilty about (even though I do have abundant economic means…cash…to get whatever, but value bang for the buck). The history and beauty of the m-14/M1A dont hurt either. Was considering a RR or similar AR-10 but thought the Springfield more versatile at roughly the same price point. I think you really have to go DSA (around 1,800 or so)to get the desired quality FAL. The super match springfields and expensive tuned AR’s and whatnot are not what I wanted (more sensitive range guns) which brings me to the Scar and the bundle of cabbage for it (Its lighter yet recoils less than the others while still being accurate and… I think…reliable and durable). Maybe the price will go down and other comparable brands will hit the market while I start really running my M1A. Meanwhile, the stroking continues.

        • that seems like a typical number for the SCAR 17.

          I bought a lightly used one for 2400 and would encourage anybody to go that route.

          you have to also consider the cost of the rifle, magazines (i have 10), and any accessories.

  19. “The Right Arm of the Free World could have been the M14. It should have been the M14.”

    Respectfully disagree. The FAL is a superior general issue rifle in a few ways: it breaks down and field strips ridiculously easily (like a break action shotgun), you can adjust the gas system to account for a dirty gun or variances in ammo by pushing down a detent and turning the gas plug with your fingers, and finally the ergonomics are much better than the M14’s.

    America should’ve adopted the FAL like most NATO countries did. I imagine domestic political pressure was the main reason why we didn’t.

    While Garand 2.0 is a fine rifle, if I had to choose between the M14 and the FAL I would choose the FAL.

    • Wrong the m-14 is more accurate, more modular now days and is more comfortable to shoot. M-14s live today in service while most nations retired FALs to newer weapons. The M-14 EBR shows the design crossed generations of firearms.

      • Many nations used the FAL well into the 80s and 90s as their primary infantry rifle while the same cannot be said of the M14.

        I’ll give you the fact that in general, yeah, they’re more accurate. But the FAL is accurate enough and the STG-58s (Austrian FALs) with Steyr barrels are nothing to scoff at.

        The only reason we are still using the M14 is because a semi-auto 7.62 NATO rifle can reach out and touch someone with a lot more force at longer ranges than 5.56 can. We already had some, so why not? Perfect rifle for longer range desert engagements.

        • The only reason we are still using the M14 EBR is because M14s were in inventory. All future procurement is to be M110s and their AR10 pattern brothers. M14 was fine in its time, as was the garand, but technology has advanced since then.

        • Not saying there inaccurate BUT DSA and other tried to make DMR and sniper version of the FAL and could not make them shoot accurately enough to e a DMR or Sniper rifle. Not really FALs in use in the 90s some 3rd world nations hand them in the 80s BUT the British replaced them in mid 80s Austria and Belgium in the late 70s and that makes the FAL out of NATO service by 85. M-14s are used by many nation still Taiwan Korea Lithuania Estonia and Columbia to name a few Navies seem to use them the most. The G-3 and CENTME too in Spanish and German use.

        • @ Andio

          yes the Army is figuring out what to do for a squad DMR. The M-110 is good but many vets I talked too said its too prone to jamming in desert conditions so there going to be argument for years on what to do a new M-110 or goto XM-2010s for DMRs too. and so the M-14 solders on. The reason M-14s where in US inventory in 02 was that the Navy uses them alot.

        • @Lance

          Note that the FAL stayed in NATO service well into the ’90s with the Greek Army Special Forces.

        • @Ydneas

          A few nations Spec Ops kept FALs as a rifle in service like the SEALs did with the M-14s in the 90s most where replaced like in GB by AR-10 based weapons. Overall the FAL had its hay day but was never or was going to be adopted by US and other allied Asian forces with the US.

      • Lance, youre trying to compare a 1950s FAL to a modernized M14 DMR.

        That is a faulty comparison. Compare a 1950s FAL to a 1950s M14 and the FAL was the superior weapon by far.

        and the reason why the M14 is more popular than the FAL now is because during the rise of 5.56 NATO weapons, many of those FALs were sold or destroyed (especially in the case of the UK and commonwealth) while the M14s were kept in storage.

        The Smith Enterprises upgrade M14 is nothing like its predicessor. It is far superior. Ando was correct; the M14 is a “victor” simply because it was the only battle rifle in large stocks following the transition to 5.56 weapons.

        • No WLCE Im comparing 60s versions. The FAL is a good weapon but its NOT better than the M-14. The M-14 is more accurate and durable than the FAL was. Both were good weapons but M-14 survives today FAL retired you can get made but only in the Alternate universe will you find people going with your point of view.

        • you cannot be comparing 60s versions because the M14 EBR wasn’t around in the 60s.

          You are trying to compare a EBR with a cold war FAL. faulty comparison, therefore, irrelevant.

          “The FAL is a good weapon but its NOT better than the M-14.”

          During the Cold War, it was better overall. It was lighter, easier to manufacture, more reliable, ergonomically superior, and was used by far more nations. They both have comparable accuracy (3-4 MOA realistically, with the M14 having a very slight edge) but the FAL was a far more groundbreaking design.

          “The M-14 is more accurate and durable than the FAL was.”

          More accurate? only very slightly (not to make a difference on the battlefield). Durable? I strongly disagree. The M14 is characteristically more violent in its action than the FAL is, leading to increase wear and tear. Also, the FAL is far more forgiving of lack of maintenance than the M14 is; without certain parts properly greased and cleaned, the M14 will not be reliable and it will wear out faster. Also, M14s had a secret little barrel stretching problem that was really not addressed until recently (see Smith Enterprises).

          “Both were good weapons but M-14 survives today FAL retired you can get made but only in the Alternate universe will you find people going with your point of view”

          The FAL was largely phased out of service because of the adoption of 5.56 and the US is more understanding of stock piling older weapons than european nations are. M14s were available. FALs were not. Also, many countries are adopting other platforms for designated marksman rifles (HK 417, LMT 308)…certainly not the obsolete M14.

        • I was not comparing the EBR to a 60s FAL. I was stating that the M-14 was upgraded and evolves the FAL was anc could not. DSA and other tried to make a sniper and DMR version of the FAL but it failed in accuracy and ergonomics so it was dropped. The M-14 action in your opinion may be more violent but its use of rollers and harder metals makes it last longer and Ive read and shot in real dusty conditions where a M-14 is fine a FAL is not.

          I bet your a BIG FN fan and FN can do no wrong. BUT this is the US and while we bought into the M-240 FNMAG I doubt we will go full FN for every gun in the nation as you hope.

        • “I was not comparing the EBR to a 60s FAL.”
          Lets go back to your original comment,
          “Wrong the m-14 is more accurate, more modular now days and is more comfortable to shoot.”

          you are comparing to a original FAL, which is a faulty comparison.

          “DSA and other tried to make a sniper and DMR version of the FAL but it failed in accuracy and ergonomics so it was dropped”

          i dont know what youre smoking, but i want some. the reason why the FAL wasn’t adopted is because new rifles would have to be ordered, procured, etc, etc when M14s were already in storage, experienced personnel were still around, and much development accrued over the past forty years (in contrast to the FAL which was largely in Commonwealth and NATO countries rather than the US). The M14 won because it was available and the only expense would be additional items for the rifle and reburbishment.

          “The M-14 action in your opinion may be more violent but its use of rollers and harder metals makes it last longer and Ive read and shot in real dusty conditions where a M-14 is fine a FAL is not.”

          Im not talking about my opinion. Im talking about the mechanical theory of operation. The M1 Garand and M14 is a violent action that was originally intended for the pedersen intermediate cartridge but was upscaled due to our military’s previous fetish with 30 caliber bullets.

          Mechanically more violent actions due break down faster and a emphasis is placed even stronger on maintenance and tuning for accuracy. That is why M14s are great when they work but they do require a lot of work to keep running.

          And in fine sand environments, the M14s open action is a liability rather than a merit. Besides that point, even the finest weapons choke on afghan moon dust. Anybody who has been there knows such trivial little facts.

          “I bet your a BIG FN fan and FN can do no wrong. ”

          so rather than address my points you conclude im a FN fan. LOL. your village must be blessed to have such a wise man in their ranks.

          “BUT this is the US and while we bought into the M-240 FNMAG I doubt we will go full FN for every gun in the nation as you hope.”

          Ill stop liking FN as soon as our companies get their shit together and start producing. Also, you forgot about the M16A4s, M249s, and other weapon systems produced by FN.

          the M14 is a great rifle. but anybody with any real world experience with any weapon knows the limitations of the platforms they work with.

        • I have always heard through various information forums over the years that the two guns were virtually equal (M14 won out in controversial testing competition for various reasons to numerous to get into). Neither was far superior though each did certain things a little better than the other. The M14 wants to be a hunting rifle while the FAL wants to be an AK type assault rifle (Neither made such goals as they were perfectly wonderful Battle Rifles). So many people make the mistake of trying to turn these battle rifles into Super expensive to create and maintain sniper rifles that dont do the job of a bolt gun I paid $349 for at Dicks during black friday sale.
          Springfields are great but on the spendy side and DSA’s are even more so pushing 2K vs 13-15 hundred for the M1A.

        • “I have always heard through various information forums over the years that the two guns were virtually equal (M14 won out in controversial testing competition for various reasons to numerous to get into).”

          that is absolutely correct, for all essential purposes. they both fire the same cartridge, have the same size of magazine, have similar sight types, and similar max effective ranges.

          “Neither was far superior though each did certain things a little better than the other. The M14 wants to be a hunting rifle while the FAL wants to be an AK type assault rifle (Neither made such goals as they were perfectly wonderful Battle Rifles).”

          If you look at the M14, the army tried to adopt a universal platform that was supposed to fulfill roles that the m1 garand and BAR previously held. It failed in the IAR role and only a select fire rifle came out of the deal. It was the damned 308 cartridge that limited its versatility (again army, you done fucked up; should have adopted 276 pedersen).

          I think of the M14 as a carry over from the 1930s, being just a rechambered, select fire, magazine fed garand. The FAL? it was designed as a dedicated infantry combat rifle from experience gained in world war 2. it and the 280, though half a century ahead of their time, were not destined to be US military material since that organization was so reluctant to field anything not made out of wood and with a pistol grip.

          “So many people make the mistake of trying to turn these battle rifles into Super expensive to create and maintain sniper rifles that dont do the job of a bolt gun I paid $349 for at Dicks during black friday sale.”

          *standing ovation

          thank you. im glad im not the only one shouting like a nutjob from the rooftop about this. The M14, like any other battle rifle, is not a fucking sniper rifle. they are battle rifles. everybody on the internet talks about their 1-2 MOA accuracy, but if you shoot 5 or 10 round groups from a prone supported position (no fancy gun rest), then realistically, 2-3 MOA (3-4 MOA back in the 60s) results.

          “Springfields are great but on the spendy side and DSA’s are even more so pushing 2K vs 13-15 hundred for the M1A.”

          yes springfields are the less expensive of the battle rifles available (unless you count the Vepr). theyre okay and certainly not something to balk at.

        • If FAL was only allowed to stay with the original caliber, the assault rifle world could have been quite different today. As battle rifles, they are still quite nice.

        • In this subthread, Pat said: “The M14 wants to be a hunting rifle while the FAL wants to be an AK type assault rifle (Neither made such goals as they were perfectly wonderful Battle Rifles).” Well put, but there’s a precedent, often said: in the Great War (before we knew enough to number them), the Mauser 98 was said to be a hunting rifle, the Springfield 03 a target rifle but the battle rifle was the .303 Brit Enfield SMLE (not I think because of the cartridge, the three are functionally interchangeable, but the SMLE’s mid-bolt locking lugs, detachable magazine (more I think for cleaning than loading) and capacity and better ability to keep the rifle on the shoulder and work the bolt and maintain a higher rate of aimed fire than the other two).

    • FN indicated it would allow former WW2 countries to prodluce the FAL design with no licensing or royalty costs as a gift to the allies for the liberation of Belgium. Springfield was not allowed to sell the more expensive M14 to anyone, which gave the FAL its 90 country ability.
      Without the automatic firing capability, most would choose the M1a, though the DSA guns are quite nice.

    • “America should’ve adopted the FAL like most NATO countries did. I imagine domestic political pressure was the main reason why we didn’t. ”

      You would be correct. It was politics, plain and simple.
      The FAL was a superior weapon system.

      It was even stupid for the FAL to be chambered in 308. It was originally intended to be in 280 and what a wonderful rifle that would have been! dicks *looks at americans

      • No im happy the USA stayed with the M-1 system and went to the M-14 since the M-14 still solders on today because of its higher marks over the FAL. As I said the UK and others and as well as commercial DSA tried to evolve the FAL it failed. The M-14 did just how history happens.

        Ohh your wrong the first FAL prototypes where chambered in 7.92×33 Kurtz and it did well but failed due to the NATO round we can agree NATO round blows that’s why we still use 5.56mm and will for years to come over a better round like 6.5 Grendel.

        • “No im happy the USA stayed with the M-1 system and went to the M-14 since the M-14 still solders on today because of its higher marks over the FAL”

          only because we stored rather than destroyed them. its about numbers. not technical merit.

          so youre happy that we ditched the FAL, a superior weapon system, and 280, a superior cartridge that is well known to be the middle ground between 556 and 762, just because the M14 looks cool?

          logical…real logical *facepalm

          The M14 was a variation of the M1 Garand, which is based on 1930s technology. Its receiver and other parts were material costly and expensive to manufacture. The action is open to the elements, giving mud, sand, water, and ice a lofty invitation. Its stock swells in the jungle heat. The violence of the operating system makes automatic fire pretty much ineffective. Finally, the M14 always had a problem with barrel stretching that was never solved until the 21st century…long into the rifle’s obsolescence.

          “As I said the UK and others and as well as commercial DSA tried to evolve the FAL it failed. The M-14 did just how history happens.”

          You are incorrect. They did not “fail”. There were simply more M14s than FALs. Plenty of experience and plenty of spare parts and tools.

          You falsely believe the M14 remains in service because of its superior technical merits. this is untrue. The LMT 308 is already better than the M14. The SCAR platform will shoot circles around the M14.

          “Ohh your wrong the first FAL prototypes where chambered in 7.92×33 Kurtz and it did well but failed due to the NATO round”

          yes i know this already. However, the FAL was meant to be chambered in 280. Not 308. Not 7.92 kurtz. The idiocy of the US Army and our belief that were the center of the world was the reason why 308 was NATO standardized…and then we moved to 5.56 by the time those other nations adopted and standardized 308 weapons. Not too bright america. not too bright. This defeats the purpose of STANAG to begin with.

          “we can agree NATO round blows that’s why we still use 5.56mm and will for years to come over a better round like 6.5 Grendel.”

          Yes, a intermediate, 260-280 sized cartridge should have been adopted and NATO standardized. I strongly agree. In defense of 556, its capabilities have pretty much caught up with its bigger cousins due to the fielding of OTM ammunition.

          Not to delve into the “this vs this” debate, but there are many points that nobody seems to address about the M14 platform simply because any advantages of the platform are blown way out of proportion and the rifle is placed on a godly pedestal. Before you draw to the wrong idea that I hate M14s, I have over 20 years of experience with the platform and love the design.

      • If the FAL could function in full auto with the 280 round then there would be no arguement with you because that would play into the assets that the FAL enjoys over the M1A. The M1A is great for a SHTF hunting rifle (what it kind of wants to be as it is the synthesis of over 400 years of the American rifleman). The FAL would turn into a FANTASTIC assault rifle (which it always wanted to be anyway by design) and there is no doubt that if they had chosen the 280 (which the FAL would have been able to shoot full auto with because its design is more in line with doing so than M14) it could have changed the firearm world as we know it (no 556 and a phase out of AK even with Soviet AK type FAL’s)! Boy, that could have been cool!
        The M1A would still be a niche plateform, doing what it does so well….as a full powered Battle Rifle.

  20. The standard GI magazine for the M14/M1A is 20 rounds.

    These rifles can be made quite accurate – for a fair wad of Bennies. The best starting point would be to bed the action/barrel and work on the trigger, then put on NM sights. Unlike the AR series of rifles, the triggers in a M1A/Garand can be made very, very good without replacement.

    The canonical accuracy ammo for the M1A would be the Federal 168gr Match.

    • I would just use a scoped bolt gun to get the hyper accuracy if so desired. Dicks sporting is offering a remington 700 varmint for $349. You are so right that it costs to make the thing not what it was intended to be…an accurate,reliable, and durable battle rifle that can get game and turn cover into consealment in SHTF and hunting situations.

  21. I have say, despite the fact that M14 / M1A has an almost deity-like status amongst American shooters (esp the OFWG crowd), I’m not a big fan of the M14 or M1A as a GP military small arm. In my opinion, it is far too heavy, slow, and unwieldy to be a good all-purpose battle rifle. Its weight would be a tolerable tradeoff in an environment such as Afghanistan, where long range accuracy is needed. But in many environments (esp. jungle or in MOUT operations) it would be a downright nuisance. And, truth be told, most soldiers can’t shoot well enough to really utilize all of the inherent accuracy of the design.

    • Never fired one, no military experience. Full disclosure out of the way…

      I figure that weight and length is why it’s issued as a DMR these days. But that DMR-ness also lines up with the American ideal of everyone a marksman. I think that is at least part of why it gets the attention it does. The fact that what replaced it for general issue caused such a cluster fuck also probably enhanced the “good ol’ days” factor for some.

    • It really is a niche gun for our troops (squad designated marksman) but can be used to great affect turning cover into consealment or against dudes wearing bulletproof clothing. A carbine 223 is tough to beat at close to medium range. It is a great battle rifle……not so great assault rifle.

  22. Watch your fingers/thumb with the bolt open while cleaning. Twice I nearly lost a digit and it hurt like hell. You would have thought once would have been enough. Truly a great gun, but boy is it heavy when compared to a basic AR.

    • Retract bolt and lock back, now stick an empty stripper clip into the guide to hold back bolt during cleaning. Solves problem of bolt flying forward and prevents jags and brushes from contacting bolt face..

    • That’s because it actually has a proper spring driving the bolt home to lock up, unlike the M16 POS. Anyone who’s ever had,or almost had, “M-1 thumb” knows what I mean, and the M14 is a big improvement over that. But really, how can anyone take seriously as a rifle the M-16 where in addition to the expected and usual charging handle, it needed a ‘slammer’ so you can be sure the damn thing has gone into battery and will fire when meant to. The M-14, M-1 and Ruger Mini never needed anything like that.

  23. Basic Training, Fort Polk, Lousiana, November 1968 – M14 first rifle I ever shot. Issued M16 at Fort Polk for AIT qualifications. I was better with the M14.
    Great review!

  24. Nice review Ralph and thanks for the totally surprising cameo.

    Much like the “Caliber Wars”, the “Best Gun Evah” wars will always and endlessly be fought on many fronts. Still, one could do a lot worse than the M14 for the title of the best all-around gun. Designed over three generations ago, this rifle will still run with the best of them; past, present and for the foreseeable future. Is it perfect? No, not by any means. Is it great? Yes, absolutely. Reliable, rugged, accurate and potent; just about sums it up don’t you think? Strictly my opinion mind you but if I could only have one center-fire rifle, it would be the M14, without a doubt.

    Put a well broken in M1907 sling on it and an M6 bayonet, this gun screams “open for business”, like few other rifles ever made have. It’s a manly man’s gun. Classic walnut and steel, in a timelessly iconic design much like the Thompson or the M1911A1. Good, old Yankee know-how. It beautifully blends form, function and materials into something truly transcendent.

      • Amen. It is a synthesis of over 400 years of the American Rifleman and a great SHTF tool. It should not be monkeyed with and turned into something it is not (a super high priced sniper rifle that is an expensive bitch to maintain and comes up short to a bolt at a fraction of the price).

  25. The M1a vs FAL vs AR-10 is like the AR15 vs AK47 or the 45 vs 40 vs 9. Its fun to debate while learning something…..but can get silly at some level.

  26. I spent 10 years indoor gun rang work as guy clean all rental guns. Frist off all rental guns at indoor gun rang get abuse meaning there not clean well there being shot reload crapy or cheap ammo daily seven days week. It real good test of what kind of firearms hold up to that kind of abuse. The place I work rent Ar 15 and M1A springfield . When came reliable durable it seem the M1A could take more punishment than Ar 15 kept send back get repair all the time. M1a was less picky on ammo you could shoot in Ar 15 at are rang would have jam issues with case expand in thight throat barrel when cheap reload ammo case expand got stuck in throat barrel. Which happens alot when you shoot cheap crappy dirty ammo or reload ammo in Ar 15. M1a was trooper seem work well reliable so with crapy ammo gun rang was useing selling. M1a all version was out lasting ever Ar 15 gun rang put up for rent . I have great repsect for Springfield Armory M1a.

    • Yes, the design of the M1A just lends itself to being less affected by debris. The direct impingement system basically makes the AR ‘poop where it sleeps….or eats….or…you get the picture’. You have to run the AR ‘wetter’ (keep it cleaned and lubed more than the M1A). M1A runs better in dusty and sandy places as well, or so I have heard (another reason its going strong….along with long range ability, in the war theater).

      • I have had different experiences in iraq and afghanistan.

        The M14 was just as tempermental as the M4 or M16 because of the characteristics of its more open action. They did have longer effective ranges, but to say they didnt have issues is a bit of wishful thinking. Realistically, they were a pain in the ass.

        Most units did not adequately train their soldiers to properly maintain the M14. They were using CLP or LAW (lubricant automatic weapons arctic), when they should have been using grease, which led to cycling issues and increased wear on the weapon.

        The M14, or in a civilian’s case, the M1A, requires a set of tools so you can properly disassemble, clean, and lubricate the weapon system. Many M14s and M1As dont have complete kits, which can be very expensive but they are essential…and a lot of units and civilian owners do not have them.

        and that is not even getting into the M110 (which i can write a whole pamphlet when it comes to that platform’s problems).

        The most trouble free and reliable 7.62 battle rifle is the SCAR H. Many complain about the 2700-3000 price range but in order for a M14/M1A to have the same features (ergonomics, etc), it will cost the same amount.

        • The SCAR H isnt perfect at all crappy plastic butstock which brakes and lack of mags which no one else uses makes it less than perfect. Overall the H is used by SOCOM and a compact SBRed assault rifle not a battle rifle like the M-14 is. And SEALs still have M-14s too in inventory for certain environments which other guns are not made for arctic comes to mind. The M-110 is good in principal but I also talked to GIs who said it in the sand box has serious jamming problems. Hence M-14 EBR still popular in combat. Overall a upgrade like the M-4 is going threw will correct the M-110 faults question is with no money can we afford one???

        • “The SCAR H isnt perfect at all crappy plastic butstock which brakes and lack of mags which no one else uses makes it less than perfect.”

          and where have i said it was perfect, idjit??? I didnt.

          Oh. a new rifle has a comparatively weak buttstock. (youre actually wrong there. its the buttstock latch thats the problem. easy, cheap fix). big deal!

          Magazines? our men and women in uniform have access to magazines and that is all that matters to me. as soon as military orders are satisfied, then ill bitch about the lack of magazines. FYI, you can find magazines easily. They’re not 10 dollar cheap ones but theyre nevertheless available.

          “Overall the H is used by SOCOM and a compact SBRed assault rifle not a battle rifle like the M-14 is.”

          The SCAR is not limited to the CQB variant with a short barrel idjit. There are the longer barrels and the Precision Rifle and Mk 20 variants.

          Nevertheless, a SCAR 17 with a 16″ barrel will shoot the guts out of a Springfield SOCOM 16. They are terribly accurate.

          “And SEALs still have M-14s too in inventory for certain environments which other guns are not made for arctic comes to mind”

          i really dont care what SEALs have in inventory. The SCAR series is a SOCOM rifle plain and simple. They exist because the M14 is aged. Have you ever done any work on the M14 rifle? After dealing with the SCAR, you realize how big of a pain in the ass that old wonderful rifle is.

          “The M-110 is good in principal but I also talked to GIs who said it in the sand box has serious jamming problems.”

          Yes they do. For some reason, somebody thought it wouldnt need a forward assist. Foolish idiocy. The M110 is a pain in the ass too. That is why the Mk 20 is gaining traction with SOCOM.

          “Hence M-14 EBR still popular in combat”

          Not because of the M110. The M14 EBR is not a semi-automatic sniper system. it is a designated marksman rifle. The M14 is popular because the army decided to relearn 60 year old lessons and reintroduce battle rifles into infantry squads after getting their dickbeaters smacked. The M14 EBR was a good bandaid to cover up the army’s incompetence and still claim battlefield competency.

          “Overall a upgrade like the M-4 is going threw will correct the M-110 faults question is with no money can we afford one???”

          grammer. i dont understand.

        • OK??????? WLCE go on hate the M-14 but I say you dont show my points are wrong you just arguing and argue over history went the way I said. You can goto your bizzaro world and dream of FALs for every one.

          Anyway stop arguing its better if we can agree to disagree.

          Plus I still see SOCOM ops use M-14s so your SCAR may not be used for everything like you said. SOCOM ditched the L anyway.

        • lance, seriously stop trolling.

          this is getting sad.

          somebody call the village and tell them theyre missing their idiot.

        • Your the trolling anything I ay you have to attack take a chill pill man. Leave it we agree to disagree the Military and I think the M-14 was better you dont. Its ok free country. Be best not to post to each others post here and leave it at that.

        • I will agree with you that the super tuned M14’s used in the war theaters were different than the original M14 Battle Rifles and as such, had lower reliability because of the tighter tolerances and whatnot (as they were turned into something they are not…sniper rifles, though many did do the job they were called upon to do…..nice old warhorses that they are). A long barreled Scar is the way to go to get close to these applications. A $1,300 M1A aint bad for us at home as long as you dont go crazy and change its nature which is a Battle Rifle that is accurate, though not designed for super sniper ninja shootin’.

        • ill tell you what, my buddy loves the hell out of his Springfield SOCOM 16 and i think he paid about 1300 for it.

          He put a more fine front sight on it and a vortex flash hider and he’s happier than a pig in shit. As a rancher, i could understand the need for something like that.

        • Thats the thing to do. Apreciate it for what it is, rather than putting a fortune into it to make it an inferior sniper rifle just to get it to shoot a 1/4″ tighter at whatever. Just shoot the hog in the head and not be so bummed it was not between the eyes…unless you want to creep up a few more yards before taking the shot. Semiauto battle rifles are fun and you can pop alot of shots of quickly if there is a need (charging multiple wild Boars), and they are plenty accurate as well (use a bolt if you are such an accuracy snob).
          I like the Scout even more than the Socom because of the nature of the 308, and I like the Standard even more…for many reasons, but it sure sounds like your friend is squared away with his pleasure tool….thats what they are….pleasure tools.

        • ill tell you what, a super match is good for killing pesky new age nickels that arent worth the metal theyre stamped into.

          Realistically, most people dont buy rifles like that because it is counterproductive if your marksmanship cannot match it. If youre in the ODBWG (old, dumb, blind white guy) crowd like me, then your days of nickel killing are limited.

        • Heck, there are many ‘sniper ninjas’ out there who would poo poo the nickel killing machines as not adequate. I mean, to be REEEEAAALLLY affective at ‘taking out’ your imaginary high target enemy, you must liquidate the DIMES….cuz if ya cant, the gun is just not accurate…….enough.

        • Try to find mags for a SCAR Heavy…Haha! Shouldve gone with M25 mags or FAL mags.

  27. My first experience with an M1A came in the early ’80’s at an IPSC match where there was also a side match for battle rifles. I didn’t own one, but the match director offered to loan me his M1A if I wanted to shoot. I picked it up without having fired it (although I’d shot an M1), and won the damn match! Would own one in a heartbeat, but sadly, $$$ is, as usual, the mitigating factor.

    I was running reviews of several MBR’s for a shooting publication and had an M1A (same one I won the match with), a Beretta BM62 (think Tanker Garand with an M14 box magazine), and an FN-LAR. Loved shooting all of them, but the accuracy winner of the bunch was the FN. Using standard sights at 200 yards with the gas adjusted so that the brass kicked into a pile on the bench just to the right of the rifle, I fired several groups in the 2-3 inch range. Loved that rifle. Frankly though, that little Beretta was the neatest one of the group.

  28. A few years back I picked up a Polytech M-14 (couldn’t bear the freight on a S.A.). Not as nicely finished and the stock is some dark mystery wood but it is still a remarkable rifle that is totally enjoyable to shoot. Off a sandbag with poor eyesight and stock peep sights it easily puts 5 rounds under 2″ at 100 yards and the reason it doesn’t do better lies with the operator. I just wish feeding it wasn’t so expensive so I could shoot more.

  29. Sure you can love an inanimate object. Ever owned and ridden an original Indian Motocycle? (That’s the correct spelling BTW) Knucklehead H-Ds are right in there too. And they love you back.

  30. Excellent article, I loved every letter of it. Specifically the history detail and description of this beautiful rifle. I read this article like I read Car & Driver when the Lamborghini Countach was first released…devoured would be a better word.

  31. I termed the FAL “brilliant” for a reason — it’s a great rifle. However, had the Army not canceled the contract for the M14 in 1945 and continued to develop the rifle, it would have had a tremendous marketing advantage over the Belgian product. The War Department was very short-sighted.

    The design of the M14 was highly derivitive. As one commenter noted, it was Garand 2.0. The FAL was of a newer design. In an environment where new is sometimes feared, the tried and true tech of the M14 might have carried the day. Alas, it was not to be.

    • The FAL really is better than the others in full auto at close range with the handguard. As the battlerifle is used today, it is the M1A that is best. Why, because it is the synthesis of hundreds of years of evolution of the American rifleman (which is why it looks like a rifle and not an AK type machine gun). Those super expensive AR-10 type guns are probably the future….Sigh.

  32. At one time the M1A was the king of NRA Highpower competition, espeicially at 600 yards. That is, until we figured out the 1:7 twist to shoot the 77gr and 80gr .223 bullets. Also, the negligible recoil of the AR platform gives it a huge advantage, especially in the rapid-fire stages.

    I you really want to test the weapon: Try the beast in the NRA HP course of fire, 10 rounds per stage except 600: 200 yards standing, single load, 200 yards rapid fire sitting, one required reload, 300 yard prone, one required reload, and 20 shots at 600 yard prone, single load. Fifty rounds total, 500 points possible.

    Then you will really see the capabilities of the weapon. Outstanding.

    The black bulls-eye grows as the yardages increase so the sight picture is the same. Try a 6 o’clock hold on a bullseye target. Gives you a better reference for movement and sight alignment.
    My $0.02
    7.62mm

    • And at those longer distances……when two legged terrorists are hit…..they tend to stay down MUCH better than AR hit Islamist varmints.

  33. Very enjoyable review. This was the rifle I was issued during my active duty days 1970-72. Many good posts on the M1A/M14 vs. FAL vs. AR have already been made, but I’ll add my $.02.

    First, I’m too old to do much good with iron sights anymore, so all comments are on scoped rifles.

    I owned two versions of the FAL, the Springfield/Imbel SAR 4800 and the DSA SA58. Both were totally reliable with any ammo I used and both were realistically 2-2.5 MOA rifles with commercial ammo and my handloads. I liked many things about the FAL but ultimately wound up selling both of them because I liked the AR and M1A platforms better. Nothing against the FAL, just personal preference.

    My AR platform is the Rock River Arms LAR 8 with the 26″ bull barrel. It is a legitimate consistently sub-MOA rifle with handloads. Functions reliably with the exception of occasionally not locking the bolt open on the last round of a magazine. This is a heavy mother, but it is very accurate.

    My M1A is the Springfield “Loaded”. This rifle is a 1-2 MOA shooter with my handloads. 100% reliable and really fun to shoot.

    Past history gives me an admitted bias, but the M1A just has a special place in my heart as it was my duty rifle. That doesn’t make it the best of the three, just the one that is my favorite.

    Thanks again for the review.

  34. Very well written piece! Had I read this before buying my M1A National Match, it would have cemented my decision even more solidly. It’s amazing that we can still purchase such a classic weapon brand new with a lifetime warranty. Three cheers for the Second Amendment! I hope my daughter has children someday as I look forward to teaching them to shoot the M1A after having taught her. It will be around long after I’m gone, but I’m certainly anticipating a wonderful little love affair until we part ways. Thanks so much.

  35. Nice read. Just a few remarks. The hinged butplate was desined for better control during full auto fire in the prone position, not to keep the cleaning kit from falling out. 2.” loading the magazine into the rifle was an improvment in speed over the M1″ The M1 just takes some getting used to, I was issued an M1 during Marine Corps boot camp. To get used to it I carried it during most of the day, I slept with it for 5 nights for dropping it and I got my thumb caught in it Once like everyone else . However anyone that catches their thumb in the action more than once has a mential disorder. Once you realy get to know the M1 grand very well , it can be about the fastest to reload rifle in history. one you don’t have to remove the empty magazine and 2 you are loading strait down into the top of the rifle. no magazine release, no turning the rifle sideways, no external magazine to get damaged In 1962 I was issued a brand new M14, in 1966 I carriedea M14 in vietnam. In 1980 to 1988 I competed In the Oregon national gaurd with a M14.

    They were both wonderful rifles

  36. I wish TTAG could just use plain English instead of trying to use one or two cutesy metaphors in every sentence. This was so difficult to read that I almost gave up, despite being extremely interested in the subject matter. Cutesy, precious writing is not the same as good writing.

  37. M1A has always been on my bucket list. Just sold off an FAL that would only print 4″-6″ groups with match ammo. My Remy R25 will shoot sub moa with match ammo and a good scope. Most folks will never know what kind of accuracy a rifle is capable of because they don’t use match grade ammo, 20 to 36X scope or a mechanical rest. These take as much human error out of the equation as possible and let the rifle do it’s best.

  38. Is this Ammo OK for my M1A?

    308 Win (7.62x51mm) NATO 149gr FMJBT Federal XM80 120 Rds Load out Packs

    Lake City NATO Stamped Brass, Non-Corrosive, Boxer primed reloadable brass case, Bulk Packed in Load out Pack/120rds. The XM80 is a 2012 contract product. 120 Rounds of new .308 ammo, This ammo is the Good Stuff, BRASS CASE/BOXER PRIMED, Fully Reloadable Ammunition.

    SPECIFICATIONS:
    •NATO XM80 FMJBT Ball Ammunition 149gr,
    •NON-CORROSIVE. BRASS CASE/BOXER PRIMED
    •Brand new US Military GI surplus ammo. 120 RD packed with date 2012 headstamps.

  39. Well, for once we in New Zealand can afford to0 crow a little over something! We can go to our gun store, and buy a Norinco M1A copy with synthetic stock, for $NZ599.00, sometimes $NZ499.00 on special. That’s about $US400.00! You could fly out here for a hunting holiday, buy the Norinco M1A. shoot some wild pig or deer, and go home for the cost of a Springfield M1A. You can thank Bill Clinton and his American ban on Norinco firearms for that. I went for a 16″ barrel SKS, due to the lower cost of ammo. Plus you can disassemble it with the tip of a bullet. That was only $US400.00 as well. I also have a Norinco JW25 Mauser copy in .22, great fun at the range. My pal’s JW25 is not too good but mine gets bulls eyes every now and then. The guts are the same as my CZ 452. We have a free trade agreement with the Chinese and this is one of the many benefits. The M1A is a very impressive firearm. “Reach out and touch someone”, indeed!

  40. After re-reading this review, I know I have to get my M-1A back. For reasons I won’t go into I had to, regretfully, sell it, with other weapons I owned in 1990. While I will replace some of my previous acquisitions, I probably will never reacquire them all.

    The M-1A will be replaced. As with all things, money is the deciding factor.

    I do have a question. Since I don’t foresee me doing “battle” in open countryside, I live in Jacksonville, Fl, and with recent events, I can see me needing to protect my family and property in case we get a damaging hurricane. Urban warfare.

    I do own a 1976 mini-14 (1st replacement), my first AR-15, 1911A1 (replacement) and various other 45LC, 45acp, 9mm in semi and revolvers. The majority of my collection are .22LR’s. I want to stay with technology I already know, keeping the learning curve minimal. Beginning to regret buying the AR.

    A little about myself. Retired Navy, hence my fondness for the M-1A. 60 yrs old and definitely not in shape (overweight). Last week fell off a ladder and dislocated my left shoulder.

    With these physical limitations, and other medical issues ( read missing body parts) I don’t know if I’ll be able to “shoulder” a std rifle. Any recommendations as to which variant would you recommend?

    Would love to get in touch with anyone in Jacksonville to talk about this.

    Thanks for listening.

  41. OK, I agree, but I don’t like it, WHY? because I’m not getting younger and now I have to have one! My goal to gun collecting? Having one of each! This means I’ll have to put off painting the house till next year, hopefully the wife will understand.

    • I do see the M-14 going any wear as for Wally1s thoughts id say get one they’re a good all purpose rifle and accurate and reliable. And alot softer on recoil than a G-3.

  42. Actually there is another Garand 2.0 around: the Italian BM59.
    The Italians took the nice Garands provided by the USA after the war and fiddled with them a bit.
    A detachable magazine was added, a selective fire device and the Spaghetti M14 was born.
    While they were at it they re chambered the thing in 7.62 NATO.
    The BM59 remained in service well until the nineties. A pity there are tens of thousands of them earmarked for destruction, even if it would be feasible to disable automatic fire and sell them on the civilian market.

  43. I had an m-14 with auto selector and bipod, 45 auto , and a shotgun In sicily on guard in 1973. Never saw anyone who could hold it down on auto but if you turned it sideways and grabed the bipod one legged it was a thing of beauty. Better yet 3 to 5 rnd bursts

  44. Vietnam marine 1965-1966 Loved my M-14. Pinned down in rice paddy, rifle under water, lift rifle out of water, work the bolt and rifle would fire no problem at all. We also had Marines with us that were testing the Stoner model rifle.

  45. I finally went and bought a M1A and havent shot it yet but I bought SCAR 17 last year and love the power of it. I think if I want to reach out with power ill stick with a .308 and if im in close quarters ill stick with a .223.

  46. To think, the MEN of colonial Massachusetts chased the cream of the British Army 26 miles from Concord to Boston and kept up harrassing fire with use of personal arms and todays asshats gave up their hard won rights to become European style peasants all over again without so much as a whimper makes me slightly sick to my stomach. Spent a few years living in Boston back on the 80’s times have changed “may your chains rest lightly on your shoulders and may posterity forget that you were our brothers.”

  47. I have wanted one since the day I was leaving the firing line and a Lance Corporal was entering the range walking proudly with his M14. My M16A1 was great but, well. 30 years later I have finally decided to own one. Saving up.

  48. IS the M1a a M1 grand chambered for 7.65 M.M. N.A.T.O. with a detachable magazine or is it a M 14 have shot the M 1 for years love it most accurate rifle ever shot need a replacement weapon very worn. Live in the Spartanburg South Carolina area near the old Camp Croft In years past had access to much 3006 ammo. Have seen M14 fail due to hunting ammo or hot rounds the bolt is lighter than the earlier M1 but the 14 is lighter if lightly loaded for hunting [ not much ]
    In short love the older M1, bandoliers are required and limit you to eight rounds but only two shots will be required hunting White Tail deer at up to 300 yards the weapon is use full farther than can shoot using 180 gran bullets and open sights .
    In short is the M1A the same action as the M1 Grand or is it a M14 ? Please Advise a dummy Redneck hunter in upstate South Carolina
    Please Advise
    Robert Walker

    • While physically similar to the M1 Garand the M14/M1A is actually a totally revamped design. There was a rifle that was basically a Garand modified to use a box magazine, the Italian BM59. The M1A is actually a semi-auto only version of the M14. They were originally manufactured using surplus military parts mounted on a new receiver.

      The key to keeping your M1A happy is to use the proper ammo. 7.62x51mm NATO and .308 Winchester are not identical. The military round uses slightly thicker brass in the case and the chambers on the rifles are a bit larger than their commercial counterparts and have a bit longer throat to allow for variances in ammo. The powders used in commercial rounds aren’t always chosen with semi-auto rifles in mind. The M14/M1A is more forgiving of powder choice than the Garand but can still have trouble digesting commercial ammo for that reason. There are some ammo makers who do load with semis in mind so all is not lost. Just be careful because commercial primers can be a bit more sensitive to impact than military primers are. If you’ve ever chambered a round in your Garand then extracted it without firing you may have noticed a small dimple in the primer where the firing pin tapped it when the bolt slammed closed. The M14/M1A does the same thing.

      Get yourself an M1A. You’ll love it as much as your Garand once you get used to it.

  49. Read reviews like 30 caliber and have used M1 grand for years needs replacing gonna try a M1A prefer 30-06 hope do not need two shots [ white tail ] wonder if the M1-A can be re-chambered for 30-06 this may be the Quintessential Rifle.
    Robert G. Walker

    • Don’t need to reconfig. the M1a to .30-’06 [which is impossible, btw] since the 7.62NATO is a shorter analogue to the hoary old classic made possible by powder chemistry advancements. And unlike the Garand, you don’t need to fit a special gas plug to fire 180gr bobos due to the White’s gas-expansion system used by the M14/M1a vs. the Garand’s direct impingement gas handling.

  50. Have used M1 Grand for years needs replacing going to try M1-A wonder if it can be re-chambered for 30-06 Guess not much difference in 308 but like 180 grain ballistic bullets .
    Will commit later on results.

    Robert Walker

  51. Please Santa, let my M1a come with a muzzle *BRAKE*. I don’t want to shoot a rifle with a broken barrel like all those other poor saps out there who’ve put muzzle breaks on their guns.

    PS – Thanks for the link to Donna Feldman. She may not be built for urban assault but she’s definitely configured for CQB [Close Quarter Bumping. ;)] Never heard of her before [seems she doesn’t do much modeling for gun or motorcycle rags], but she’s a long cool drink isn’t she?

  52. I’ve owned both the M1 Garand and M1A and loved both. Primarily I was a competitive shooter and they were both used for NRA High Power Service Rifle matches. Both had their strengths and I’d be hard pressed to name one my favorite at the exclusion of the other. Sadly both had to be sold when I needed money.

    My brother had the misfortune of owning a Norinco clone of the M1A. It never shot well (4MOA at best) and suffered from some serious defects. One I recall in particular was the day we were at the range and his rifle stopped cycling because the end of the operating rod had blown through. It was also extremely picky about magazines where my M1A would happily work with any mags you could get your hands on.

    Someday I hope to replace both of those rifles.

  53. I carried a “M14” that was accurized into a M21 befor the M16A2 entered the field. I carried many weapons in the Army but the M21 was my favorite followed by the 1911, the M60 and the 90mm Recoiless Rifle.
    If you could hit what you were aiming at you didn’t have much more trouble. If you did you went for the head, drugs and all.

  54. What can I say about the SA M1A that hasn’t been said already…nothing! By far this is my favorite rifle in my collection, in fact I love them SO much I own two of them! One is a National Match with a Leupold Mark 4 4-15x mil-dot scope, bipod and all the fixins.. Reach out and touch something at 700 yards? No problem! The other is a SA “Loaded” with just iron sights which is my go-to rifle for having fun and blowing up water jugs, concrete blocks ect..
    Every time I’ve taken either one of these gems to a local range the range master on two occasions (different range master) said to me “You have the finest firearm out here” to which I just smile and say “I love this thing”. Every range trip also results with at least one or two fellow shooters to stop by and ask about it, admire it and generally drool over my shoulder. M1A Bring Enough Gun!

  55. A few yrs ago when I had mentioned to a co worker that I used an M1a for deer hunting, he promptly started running me down for using an” assault ” rifle and a high capacity magazine to hunt deer. I was taken a back by his out burst and then ask him politely ask him what the difference was between the m1a with a 4×12 scope and a 5 rd magazine ( legal in this state ) and a Remington 7400, 30-06 with a 3×9 scope and 4 rd magazine ( which I used a week later ), other than one has a dull finish and the other has a bright finish. What was the difference between the two? I told him if one was an ” assault ” rifle then so was the other one. but with him being an expert and me being a dumb sort of a guy, what do you expect.

  56. Well I just finished reading about 3 dozen comments and basically everyone likes the M14 in one way or another , No one dislikes it and that should tell you something. I was issued an M14 during the good old days , but they took it back and gave me some little plastic black thing , when I came home in 1972 I did not buy a rifle for 10 yrs only handguns , and when I did it was not an AR15 , finally after 43 yrs , last week I purchased an M1A and I can’t explain how I feel except to say I feel warm almost to the point of crying , I had a SSGT , Force Recon , punch me in the face once for leaving my weapon unattended , I have had a weapon with me ever since , and now finally its my old M14 with a twist.

  57. I have a NEW M1 Garand that came from the CMP in Alabama. It is beautiful and very accurate with the peep. I do have a M1A that is very accurate with the hood sight and I enjoy shooting very much. The add in a rebuilt 1903 A4 a new stock, Criterion barrel, with the 8 power Marine scope I find all three a lot of fun to shoot. Each rifle shoots a modest load from a manual in the 30.06 and the .308 for the M1A. I have shot the M1A in competition and had a blast but did not win. The other two are shot very little but for the fun of hitting the steel plates hanging at distance. For competition in known distance I use the AR 15’s for service and Match Rifle competition. I love the wood guns.

  58. Great article. Dig the author’s sense of humor. The M1A is a fine rifle and I’ll never forget the first time I got to shoot one. An old-timer at a local range let me squeeze of a few rounds using iron sights. I was a high-power scope fan, and I simply had no idea a rifle could be so accurate with just iron sights. I nailed a 300 yard gong repeatedly, and then bought an M1A of my own the following month.

  59. My standard model sports a lighter black composite stock, a CASM scope mount and a Leupold Mark 4 scope. I plan to pick up a new sling for her and more magazines, that’s all she needs.

  60. I am a Viet Nam veteran I went to Viey Nam in 1965. I carried the m14 for the first few months, then I carried a thompson with four ammo pouches , each with five thirty round clips. I was at the battle of Duc Whoa when 3,800 Viet Cong tried to over run our base camp. There were about 60 or 80 americans and some very brave arvn soldiers who didn’t back up one inch.l got a small scratch; no other american was hurt.

  61. M14 selector 1967 fort benning fort Eustis 68 queen yuwn m1a wife surprise me 4 years ago love it locking at 700xcr

  62. In the summer of 1967, was a Marine at Parris Island…At 500 yards open sights, prone position, my M14 rifle shot 9 out of ten bulls eyes. The Marine Corps at that time, taught proper marksmanship skills. After acquiring point blank range on our M14, everything else depended on your skills…..An M1a will do everything more of its trained shooter….Awesome weapon. Well worth the money and reliability!

  63. EXCELLENT article..!
    I’m retired under military disability, and have been shooting C.M.P. and High Power competitions off and on for a few years now. I first started C.M.P. with the local club’s M1 Garand, and LOVED it. I first shot a Garand, and a 1903 Springfield with my grandfather at a young age. Although I never understood his fascination with them, he was teaching me, and I was so caught up in the fact that I was out with “the men” learning what they all had learned at my age, that my excitement got the better of my mind, and I forgot everything if I didn’t hear it more than 3 times in a row (EVERY safety command).
    I digress, I’m purchasing a brand new, “loaded”, National Match, M1A In January. I know my scores will be irrelevant and not count, but the adjust-ability of the stock is what I need the most as my neck and left arm go numb after only a few minutes. I have wanted an M1 since grandpa passed away and the rifle that was to be mine, went a different route. I know the stock is not traditional in it’s “plastic fantastic”, pistol grip, modern form, but I think it’s an incredibly affordable alternative to my full on custom, dream build, and it’s all M1 underneath.
    I thank Springfield for bringing those memories back, and making it possible for me to get back to C.M.P., and High Power next summer.

  64. I own and operate an M1 Garand, and i can honastly say that i am very good with it, i can hit targets at 900 yards with ease. The down side to it is the 8 round clip, the ping is fun but the capacity is to low for me, the other real downer is paying over a dollar per round, I don’t want to ruin history by changeing it from 30-06 to .308/7.62NATO. With the similer sight picture of the M1A along with 20rd Mags and cheaper ammo, it seems like a good alternative. The issue for me is the cost, i know that money buys quality and that it will almost certainly be worth it but right now i am saveing for a NM M1 Garand so i can participate in competitions. Maybe ill pick up an M1A in a year or two.

  65. I have been trying to decide whether to buy one of these and after doing much research and reading lots of articles, I am getting a national match version tomorrow……one of the biggest thing that stands out is, of all the information I have read, no one has anything bad to say about an M1A (well some complain of the weight). I am looking forward to shooting and owning apiece of “history”

  66. The M-14 was the first weapon given me at Fort Bragg. Then another at Fort Leonard Wood. I qualified with it at both places. At Fort Benning, the gave me a M-16A1. I qualified Expert and the badge is in my dresser after 40 years. I purchased an M1A several years ago with a supply of 20 round magazines. That was before Maryland told me I couldn’t own one. It sits proudly next to my Garand and three ARs. They are all deadly accurate and a great deal of fun. Every time the Middle East heats up and ISIS is in the news, my “anti-gun” neighbors want to know where they can buy a gun and if I will teach them how to use it. Background-Checks? No problem. I’ve got nothing to hide. But if the subject of gun-bans comes up……What guns? I got rid of them years ago!

  67. “Laurels” are those little leafy things the greeks and romans would have around their heads, and they signified certain achievements. To rest on one’s laurels is to rest on previous achievements rather than pursue further achievements. It has nothing to do with one’s anatomy.

  68. […] Gun Review: Springfield Armory M1A | The Truth About Guns – The M14 was the last U.S. standard issue, select-fire infantry rifle chambered for a full-power .30 caliber class cartridge. Less than ten years after Uncle Sam … […]

  69. […] Gun Review: Springfield Armory M1A | The Truth About Guns – The M14 was the last U.S. standard issue, select-fire infantry rifle chambered for a full-power .30 caliber class cartridge. Less than ten years after Uncle Sam … […]

  70. I agree with every one the M1A is a great rifle. I have all ways wanted one since the 70’s and 40+ years later i got one a model MA 9226. But i had a little bad luck with mine i fired two rounds and i noticed the bolt not closing all the way on the 3rd round. So i pulled back on the bolt and it was stiff so i took it home and broke it down and noticed the roller on the bolt was jammed up they didn’t get the snap ring on it right and it broke the ring. I called S.A. told them about it and said i think everything is ok it just needs the roller put back on the bolt and would it be ok to just send the bolt to them instead of the whole rifle they said yes. After about the 2nd week and not hearing anything i emailed and didn’t get any response i emailed so more but got a little angry with the last email. The 3 rd week they called and said they need the whole rifle that the bolt was cracked. I mailed them the rifle the next day. Same thing again after 3 weeks of hearing nothing i started emailing them but NO REPLY again they never told me anything until UPS drove up on the 4 th week with my rifle finally. The rifle is extremely accurate, very light recoil and after a couple of thousand rounds has not missed a lick. I love the rifle it is my favorite rifle to shoot but i didn’t like Springfield Armory way of keeping me in the dark and the time it took for them to repair the rifle. I had a Ruger SR 1911 that the barrel lock up wasn’t right so i sent it back and in less than 10 days i was shooting it with the barrel lock up was perfect and they kept me informed also. If i had it all to do over again I would not be buying from Springfield Armory not because its not a good rifle it is a well made firearm but because of the SORRY CUSTOMER RELATION THEY HAVE, i will never buy any thing else they have because of this. Just thought i would let some of you know that might be thinking about buying from this company. Surely they don’t treat everyone like that are they would go out of business but they did me and for that if i ever do i have a problem with it again and they do me like that again I will sell it and buy me one from someone else I came close to doing this any way but it shoots so nice i backed out for now. I HAVE TO SAY THE M1A IS A GREAT RIFLE I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT, and i have a lot of different type rifles in 308~7.62 x 39 ~ 223 FAL-HK 91 & 93 Mini-14 & 30 AR-10 & 15 Galia – AK’s – M1’s I have heard alot about the SCAR and its all good it may be a better rifle i don’t know, i have heard they feel awkward to some and it does look awkward the M1A was made for me fits like a glove I guess because i was used to my Ruger Mini’s and M1 Garand.. With my M1A if i can see it i can put a round on it most every time with open sights unless its getting dark i can’t see anything with the NM sights i can use one of the other rifles and still pick out a target in low light but not the M!A this could be a problem NO IT IS A PROBLEM IN LOW LIGHT, does any one have this problem with there M1A ? All i can do is change the sights i guess but i hate too because it is a tack driver in good light.

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