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In my seemingly never-ending quest to acquire long range rifles, I initially skipped over the .308. My first real distance rifle was my .300 Win Mag project. More recently, I had the opportunity to pick up a .338 Lapua. The problem is that shooting the .300 Win Mag isn’t a cheap proposition, and the .338 is even worse. I decided that I wanted to get something that was a bit cheaper to shoot, but I didn’t really want another bolt action gun. And my interest in military rifles eventually brought me around to the M14, or more specifically, the semi-auto version of the M14, which Springfield Armory was only too happy to provide (in exchange for a fair amount of cash) in the form of an M1A . . .

In some ways, the venerable M14 is a bit like the odd child in the otherwise happy family of mainline military weapons. It had a rather short lifetime as the main service rifle of U.S. forces, serving in that capacity for only eleven years (1958-1970). It missed the Korean War by four years and while it saw service during the first part of the Vietnam War, by the mid 1960’s it was being phased out in favor of the new M16 for front line infantrymen.

One of the reasons for its abbreviated service was that it had been designed to fight an earlier kind of war. It shared a number of design similarities with its precursors, the M1 Garand and the M1/M2 Carbine. In many ways, it attempted to bridge the gap between the hard hitting, but slow to reload Garand and the fast to reload, full auto capable, lower powered cartridge of the M1/M2 Carbine. Unfortunately, pairing a full power .308 cartridge with select fire capability turned the M14 into a not-so-accurate bullet hose with the giggle switch turned on.

Besides its inaccurate full auto capability, three things bedeviled the M14 in the jungle warfare environment of Vietnam. First of all, in creating the M14, it seems that the weapons designers forgot some of the lessons they learned using the Garand in the jungle warfare environments. Lugging a rifle that big and heavy (44 inches and 11 lb.) through the undergrowth isn’t a lot of fun. Second, the wooden stock had a tendency to warp in the humid Southeast Asia climate, impacting accuracy. Finally, the full size 7.62 x 51 ammo used by the M14 was fairly heavy in quantity which meant that a soldier could carry fewer rounds in his standard loadout.

In 1948, the Army organized its Operations Research Office. They charged it with reviewing battlefield reports from World War II and developing some conclusions and recommendations. Over the next few years, the office reviewed over three million such reports.

One of their conclusions was that in war, most combat takes place at relatively short range. Troops would often encounter each other by surprise and the guys with the greater firepower tended to win the day. The ideal, therefore, was full auto capability and a lot of bullets that could be hosed in the general vicinity of your enemy. These conclusions didn’t help the M14’s case.

The M14’s replacement, the M16 seemed the perfect solution to many of these problems.  Its composite furniture made it more resistant to humidity. At 8.79 lbs. loaded and an overall length of 39.5″, it proved to be a much more mobile platform. Finally, since 5.56 mm ammunition was much lighter, soldiers could carry a lot more rounds in their loadout.

Of course, things that look good on paper don’t always transfer to real life and the M16 was no different and the M16 proved to have its own set of shortcomings. One being notably less lethality, due to the weaker 5.56 round and a substantially reduced effective range.

The funny thing about all of this was that the M14 wasn’t a bad rifle – it was just the wrong tool for the job it was being used for. Switch it to semi-auto, put some decent glass and a good barrel on it, and you have yourself a semi-automatic sniper rifle capable of engaging targets out to 800 yards (or more).

The M14 became the basis of the Army’s M21 sniper rifle as well as the M25 variant developed jointly by U.S. Army Special Forces and the Navy SEALs and it’s still popular with certain areas of the armed forces. This is due in large part to the change that is happening in sniper doctrine.

While the bulk of military sniping work is still performed by bolt action rifles, in his book, The 21st Century Sniper: A Complete Practical Guide, former SEAL Sniper (and developer of the current SEAL Sniper Training Program), Brandon Webb makes the point that in the urban combat environment in which more battles are being fought, the ability of a sniper to acquire and engage multiple targets in rapid succession can mean the difference between life and death for the men in his unit. With this in mind, his contention is that military sniper doctrine is changing with respect to the weapons used, moving from the traditional bolt action to semi-automatic platforms such as the M14 and the FN SCAR Heavy.

While there are excellent new semi-automatic sniper rifles being developed (the aforementioned SCAR for example), the U.S. Military still has a fair number of M14 variants in its arsenal. Rather than undertaking the multi-year labyrinthine procurement process for a new line of  weapons, many in the military are turning to their aging M14 platform system and looking for ways to bring it into the modern era. It’s not as easy as it sounds, however.

One problem is that the stock M14 doesn’t have any built-in provisions for mounting today’s modern battle accessories. It was designed at a time when rifle accessories were largely limited to iron sights, the occasional scope, and a bayonet. A scope mount can be retrofitted to the receiver and a bipod attached to one of the sling mounts, but that’s about it. Compare that to today’s multi-rail beasts that can support lasers and inline night vision devices and you quickly see that something needed to be done.

Fortunately, something has been done. While the core of the M14 is sound, what it really needs is the replacement of a World War II era stock design with something that supports today’s modern rifle accessories. In the last few years a number of manufacturers have come to market with total conversion systems that take the guts of the M14 and bring it into the modern era of battle rifles. These replacement stock systems run the gamut from the relatively inexpensive $300 Promag Archangel to pricier precision stock systems that cost north of $1,000. As usual you tend to get what you pay for which is something to keep in mind if you decide to go down this road.

Sage International is probably one of the most popular manufacturers of  military grade stock replacements for the M14. Their EBR (Enhanced Battle Rifle) stock is favored by many military operators. In fact, as of this moment, Sage is currently working its way through a military procurement contract, so clearly they’re on to something.

Sage offers a number of different configurations of the EBR depending on mission, but they all follow the basic design of a forward rail set with an open top near the ejection port. The major differences are material choice, color, and butt stock selection.  The EBR replaces the standard M14 wooden stock and includes a Picatinny rail that runs along the top of the gun, a couple of shorter rails along the bottom and both sides, and a collapsible stock.

While the EBR is a great replacement for the standard M14 stock, it falls a bit short in one area — optics mounting. On one hand, the Sage EBR doesn’t require the removal of either front or rear sight meaning that they can remain as backups.

On the other, the distance between the shooter’s eye and the end of the top rail means that absent some sort of jig, the only scope that you could realistically mount on this gun would be a scout type with extremely long eye relief. Sage acknowledges this concern and offers an accessory cantilever sight base that mounts to the front Picatinny rail and extends a sight mount over the receiver to enable proper placement of a scope for long range work.

As I started to investigate my stock replacement options, I looked at the EBR. The main thing that slowed me down, though, was lead time. When I spoke to the good folks over at Desert Warrior Products, a major dealer for the Sage and other replacement stocks back at the end of September, I was told that while there was a good chance of getting a Sage in time for Christmas, any earlier was a crapshoot.  Today, the delivery time horizon is more than three months.

Fortunately, Desert Warrior Products has other M14 stock replacement options. I spent some time on the phone with Chris from DWP discussing what I wanted to do with my rifle. Chris is a Vietnam Vet and spent a fair amount of time humping an M14 around the country, so it’s fair to assume that he knows a thing or two about the rifle. He suggested checking out the Troy M14 MCS system.  Like Sage, Troy makes a number of different configurations, but these tend to be much more mission specific. You can buy a basic system, a Designated Marksman rig, or what I ended up with, the Semi-Auto Sniper System (SASS).

The only problem – it wasn’t cheap. As in north of $1,000, but the basic Sage plus the cantilever sight base would have put me in the same neighborhood. Then again, last time I checked, SCARs in .308 were running close to $3,000, so it’s a relatively cheap upgrade.  I’m in the process of testing the Troy rig out now and will be reviewing it shortly.

Besides the stocks I’ve mentioned, there are a couple of others upgrades worth considering. If you’re fond of the bullpup design, for ten Benjamins Juggernaut Tactical makes a replacement stock for your M14 that will turn your gun into a CQB wonder (as in “I wonder why the hell you’d want to turn an M14 into a bullpup).

Vltor also makes a decent looking stock that for under $500 converts your M14 into something more closely resembling current model “assault pattern” weapons. Keep in mind, though, that if you are using a full sized M14/M1A (not one of Springfield Armory’s shorter SOCOM rigs), you’re going to have a 22″ barrel on that “assault pattern” weapon.

Besides the stock replacement, there are several other options to consider when bringing your M14/M1A into the 21st century. One of the biggest aggravations I have with my M1A is the thread pattern on the barrel. When the M14 was designed, it was fitted with a unique flash suppressor/front sight base that was sturdy enough to mount a bayonet.  Unfortunately, the thread pattern it uses is very fine and matches no other thread pattern  found in nature.

This can be a problem if, like me, you purchased a .30 suppressor and want to mount it on your M14. Fortunately, the good people over at DeltaPDesign have a solution for you.  They make a handy adapter that converts those proprietary M14 threads to an industry standard 5/8-24 pattern. The thread adapter mounts onto the M14 using the existing castle nut and locking screw. You’ll need the proper wrench to remove the castle nut on the M14. Fortunately, one came with the Springfield Armory muzzle compensator I bought last year.

There are also some relatively inexpensive upgrades for the recoil system, all of which are available from DWP (as well as some other places).  These include a replacement piston that is designed to national match tolerances and a replacement recoil spring guide, both from Sadlak Industries. I’m also in the process of testing out a recoil buffer from Buffer Technologies designed to reduce the pounding the op rod takes from each shot. Reviews on this product seem to be mixed, but it was worth a $15 shot.

The M14 pattern rifle is, at its core, an excellent weapon system. And with the range of upgrades available today, you can bring it into the 21st century.

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  1. Meh…just get a tnvc stock cheek riser, sadlak scope mount and a nice scope. Everything else could just go to ammo or another gun.

    • That’s exactly what I did with mine. I tried the Troy system but ended up sending it back. Not a big fan of the gap between the trigger guard and pistol grip on the Troy.

      • Exactly! honestly the wood stock looks bad azz with the tnvc multi cam riser. guys in the sandbox are mostly using beat up wood stocks. sure you could be more accurate but i figure if i can hit center mass vs. getting a bullet to go through the same hole i am happy and the gun did its job. besides I used my money to snag 15 – 25 round cmi mags for only 27 bucks before everything went nutz in december. I Have a 2.5-10 scope but may upgrade to 3.5-21 w/horus reticle. What are u running for optics if u dont mind me asking?

        • Leupold Mark 4, 3.5-10×40 M3, Illuminated TMR. I’m pretty happy with it. It does the job well. My M1A is a loaded one with a stainless match barrel. It’s such an iconic rifle, that I had to have one.

      • The article got a couple of things wrong. The original M16s and M16A1s that replaced the M14s in front line service weighed about 7 lbs,… loaded. Big difference from the M14. It was the later M16A2 that changed to a heavy barrel that weighed 8.8 lbs. Early 55 grain ammo was plenty lethal. It was the later 62gr. ammo introduced in the 80’s that lost lethality in exchange for some armor penetrating ability. This article is long enough to spend the time to get the small things right…..
        The article also forgot to mention a couple of things. All of these stocks add a massive a mount of weight to an already hefty rifle. I don’t particularly care for 14 lb battle rifles. The perfect stock already exists… the original synthetic GI stock. No wood to warp, cheap, strong, light. Why not even mention that?

        • Original synthetic GI stock for what? The original stock issued on an M14 is a wood stock. The M16 was the first US service rifle issued standard with a synthetic stock. The Vltor stock show above is trying to replicate that for the M14/M1A.

        • I’m not sure when, but thousands of brown fiberglass m14 stocks were produced. Iirc, they were produced and used by the navy after they inherited stockpiles of m14s when the m16 was phased in.
          You can buy these surplus GI fiberglass stocks from a lot of places.

        • They were in the process of phasing out the wood for synthetic on the M14 when the m16’s started to replace the M14 (many people received the synthetic M14 stocks in Nam).

    • The classic lines of the M14/M1A are the most aesthetically pleasing among all guns to me. It looks sleek in your hands and like it is leaning forward and reaching for the target when shouldered.

      • I agree. Anything but a wood stock on an M14 / M1A is just short of Blasphemy . The M14 is just plain Sexy as it is.

  2. The M-14 got canned because poor performance as a select fire rifle but the Army found out that spray and pray even at short ranges turned out to be bust and now soldiers seldom use automatic fire. So it looks like replacing the M-14 with a varmint rifle wasn’t such a good idea after all. The Army’s real mistake was selecting the M-14 over the AR-10. The M-14 was the best 1944 rifle in the world. It just took until 1957 to field. I have toyed with getting an M-1A for a long time but I am just not a fan of modern semiautomatic rifles. If I ever buy one it will be the original Garand.

    • The AR-10 came way to late to be a NATO rifle in the 50s. Early AR-10s had barrel rupturing problems well. But the M-14 proved modular and its Euro cousins the FAL and G-3 did not. Reason SAS while having a few L1A1s are now using LMT AR-10s now. Germany is going with the HK piston AR-10 replacing G-3s.

      The reason the Army went back to M-14s is not only they had stockpiles left but also they found out AR-10 based platforms in Afghanistan jammed too easily M-14s the SEALs used did not. Overall the M-14 will solder on a reminder of John Garand’s legacy.

      • Lance,

        The L1A1 was gone by 1994 or so. The Hereford Hooligans had a few G3s for some occasions, no L1A1s – they were worn out by then, still reliable but accuracy was down to ~2-3MOA.

        We bought a batch of LMT rifles to use as the L129A1 (not just for SAS) as an urgent operational requirement for Afghanistan, where we needed accurate semi-automatic fire in that annoying band where 5.56mm runs out of stopping power and a PKMG can still drop rounds on you (brassing off the area with a GPMG had collateral issues which the Bad Guys quickly tried to exploit). A few of the “old and bold” asked why we didn’t reissue SLRs – the reason is the last handful of working examples were gifted to Sierra Leone in 2000 or thereabouts.

        • Still proves the FAL and G-3 have not evolved and are not in use by any real world power. M-14 solders on.

        • When you remove the need for ‘full auto…20lb BAR style’ you get a real sweet semiauto platform in the M14/M1A. Its a great Designated Marksman Rifle as long as you dont go crazy and try to turn it into a bolt gun super sniper.

      • The Army went for the M16 for a number of reasons. Some of the most powerful, were political and controversial – as in politicians swapping favors with financial supporters. I will stay out of that part and highlight the Army’s internal perspective.

        Before the M14 you had a BAR, an M1, and an M1 carbine or grease gun in infantry squads. They wanted to turn them all into one gun. At the same time there were post WWII studies stating engagement ranges were typically shorter than most infantrymen reported. Additionally, NATO was pushing for a smaller ammunition. They claimed the 30-06 was wasteful in terms of money and material – again citing the ‘short engagement norm’.

        The Army wanted to keep the heavier ammunition and put the contract out for M1 replacement following Korea.

        Springfield Armory produced the M14 based on a two-development-generation descendant of John Garand’s T20 upgrade to the M1. FNFAL and another M1 descendant also competed.

        The other M1 descendant used no roller on the bolt, and dropped out of competition in the early stages. The FNFAL scored higher until the arctic competition, where its tighter tolerances rendered it unable to continue.

        In unifying the BAR, M1, and M1 carbine (or in some units the ‘grease gun’) into the M14 the Army expected full auto. But the fact is 7.62 is nearly uncontrollable on full auto in a sub-10 pound gun. Despite this, the M14 was reliable, powerful, and very popular with infantrymen in Vietnam.

        NATO still wanted a less expensive ammunition and continued to press for it (there were exceptions among the NATO countries who preferred 7.62). Stoner’s AR-10 was the original offering having been designed in the 1950s contemporary with the M14, then down-sized to 5.56 in the AR-15.

        In the AR-15 the Army believed it could again unify all three functions, Rifle, Squad automatic weapon, and Carbine. Early issues were with the ammunition. The gas operated system of the AR-15 was (and is) much more sensitive to powder quality. Additionally, the rifling on the original AR-15 was such that beyond 250 meters the bullet tumbled, creating great inaccuracy. This was by design – again citing the post WWII study. But tumbling rounds did produce wild stories of fantastic wounding capability.

        Reports from Vietnam caused the rifling turn rate on the A1 to be increased as engagement ranges, even in the jungle, were actually greater than the WWII study specified for open terrain. Even with improved quality powder in the ammunition post 1968, M16s’ gas operated design and lock design caused many feed failures leading to the addition of a forward assist in the A2.

        And, the suppressive fire doctrine of automatic fire ‘in the general area’ of targets was also disproven in favor of more accurate ‘grazing’ fire. These led to the development of the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in the mid 1970’s, fielded in the 1980s.

        And finally, increased focus on CQB led the Army to develop the M4 in the 1980s, because the 39-inch M16 was cumbersome in that role.

        Ironically, the M14 is now the longest serving rifle ever fielded to the US Army. We still had them in my units in the 1980s and 1990s – typically as either a ‘Scout-Platoon Sniper’ weapon or as a ‘Designated Marksman’ weapon. Special Forces units in the Army and USMC also retained the M14 as the m21 and M25.

        I was assigned each at various units. Preference is a matter of preference and not particularly enlightening – so I’ll try to avoid that. Also, since more are familiar with the M16/AR platform, I’ll focus on how the M14 relates

        Compared to any AR variant the M14 suffers less from gas-induced carbon fouling. The locking mechanism in the M14 is less intricate than the AR-series and less prone to feed and extraction failures due to debris/sand/etc. The weight of the M14s we had, compared to M16A2’s was 2 ounces heavier + or – while unloaded. The loaded M14 is significantly heavier.

        Basic Rifle Marksmanship training of recruits or general soldiery using the M16 yielded slightly lower scores than returned with M14 equipped BRM trainees, historically. Personal experience training personnel around the world bears this out, but I have no explanation. Theoretically the alignment of the AR//M16 series is better. Also, compared to the AR/M16 series field stripping and maintenance the M14 has fewer bigger parts compared to the M16’s more smaller parts.

        M14, at 48 or so inches is very cumbersome to use in vehicles, or while exiting, or entering compared to a 39″ M16 or 30″ in an M4. Ditto for CQB and MOUT. Additionally, the 7.62 on the M14 has very significant greater risks of over penetration in those environments. Obviously, the M14 takes a lot more muscle to carry all day. Carrying an entire basic load on the M14 is even more demanding. The trade off with the ammunition is that it has much longer legs and delivers significantly more energy to target at all ranges relative to 5.56, but especially at longer ranges.

        As for the Wood Stock vs the variants on the M16/AR/M4’s… opinions vary with individuals.

        • Cant help but comment on your note referring to the “7.62 being uncontrollable fully auto” ,not accurate sir.I spent some time in the military , toted a m60 ,put her down on the bipod and she was fine ,

    • Did you know there were some early design efforts to make Garand’s concept carry a box magazine? The idea was scotched because the powers-that-be in the army thought an expensive (at the time) box magazine would be too easy for ignoramus soldiers to lose on the battlefield and a protruding magazine would get in the way of hand movements for current weapons drills.

      Imagine American soldiers going into 1942 with twenty-round semiauto rifles.

      • Yes I did, it was the original design. You got it right about Army conservatism. Garand also proposed a smaller bore, something like a 270 but the CoS Douglas MacArthur vetoed it as an economy move because of the huge inventories of 30-06 remaining after WWI.

    • The AR10 would have been a far better rifle.

      Its barrel rupture problem (on testing) was due to stupidity rather than a design limitation.

      For today, the SCAR H beats them all in terms of reduced recoil, accuracy, reliability, modularity, and cost.

      • Not really the M-14 EBR is far more durable than the SCAR H and has no crappy all plastic stock. Accuracy is same since EBR upgrade. We can argue on modularity. Recoil is smoother for the M-14 than the SCAR due to its bolt rollers.

        • How do you know which is more “durable”? the SCAR has only been out since 2007. I do know that the M14 EBR is pretty durable although the more modular stocks are more prone to breakage than the old walnut one.

          Accuracy is the same, although the SCAR can hold its zero far, far easier and retain its accuracy even when abused. try abusing a M14 EBR and tell me how accurate it is then…

          I call BS on the M14 having smoother recoil. The SCAR H has recoil slightly heavier than the 5.56, but far less than the M14. the M14s weight mitigates the recoil, not the action.

          I love the M14, dont get me wrong, but comparing the big three (G3, FAL, M14), the SCAR trumps every one in every category.

        • No the M-14 got high praise as unbreakable in Afghanistan while the SCAR and its plastic body can break easily. The M-14 is like its bolt roller gives it a smooth recoil over the snappy SCAR. As for accuracy read both can kill Taliban bad guys past a M-4s range but the M-14 can do the same job as the SCAR and dont forget only a small number of SOCOM units have them. Most Solders have a M-14 or M-110.

        • “No the M-14 got high praise as unbreakable in Afghanistan while the SCAR and its plastic body can break easily.”

          I havent seen a SCAR break and saw one folding stock button break.

          M14s are NOT unbreakable. drop a EBR off of a M-ATV and tell me if it is still 1 MOA accurate LOL.

          “The M-14 is like its bolt roller gives it a smooth recoil over the snappy SCAR.”

          Everybody knows the SCAR has less recoil. This is because the tappet-style gas system and mass density of the bolt carrier group allow the gas to expand and the proper momentum to dissipate even with the heavy recoil of the 308.

          In the M14, you have a operating rod that slams the bolt back at a violent speed and impulse. No room or gas expansion whatsoever. Any perceived “lower recoil” with the M14 is due to the weight of the platform.

          “As for accuracy read both can kill Taliban bad guys past a M-4s range but the M-14 can do the same job as the SCAR and dont forget only a small number of SOCOM units have them. Most Solders have a M-14 or M-110.”

          The M14 is a 3-4 MOA rifle. Thats it. In order for it to obtain equivalent accuracy to the SCAR (1-2 MOA), there needs to be modifications. Ask any gunsmith about what goes into modifying a M14 to be 1 MOA accurate. Its not as simple as having a out of the factory, free float SCAR H barrel.

          No the M14 doesnt have the same features. It doesnt have a folding stock, cannot change barrels, cannot mount accessories easy, and is not as light. Its entirely different. A fine default DMR, but for a 21st century battle rifle? it leaves much to be desired.

        • Sorry your wrong. Many test experts and even possible SOCOM personnel showed the SCAR stock breaks too easily its cheap plastic stock is crap. the design is being updated by none FN companies to counter this but no SOCOM adoption of improvements yet. I seen M-14s drop but still fire more than accurately. The EBR upgrade makes the M-14 have a free floating barrel so the Army fixed your FF Barrel need. Barrel change is a feature less used than advertised. Most operative dont change barrels at base little lone in the middle of combat thats weak sauce on arguments.

          Overall I know your a SCAR lover and hate all American guns that you think threatens its diveity in guns. Face it your SCAR isnt going anywhere.

        • I feel like I am having deja vu all over again with this discussion. I think you guys were saying almost the same thing or something. I think lapping, a trigger job, good ammo, and a few other cheap things are all that should be done to an M1A to get it to 1 1/2 to 2 MOA (especially if you have a good one with a good barrel) and that anything more to try to get it to be an inferior bolt would only hurt its reliability (in other words, remove it from a good DMR battle rifle role into a frankenstein’s monster sissy sniper). If one were handed to me, I would really take the SCAR (though, I aint to crazy about that knob going back and forth with each shot….but I guess I could get used to it).

        • “Many test experts and even possible SOCOM personnel showed the SCAR stock breaks too easily its cheap plastic stock is crap.”

          Where have i said otherwise? If you discount a rifle as faulty because of its stock, then you need to completely bin the AR15. Such logic is well…illogical.

          ” the design is being updated by none FN companies to counter this but no SOCOM adoption of improvements yet.”


          need I say more?

          “I seen M-14s drop but still fire more than accurately. ”

          Take a finely tuned M14 and drop it. I promise it will be less accurate than it was before. You will most likely get a shift in POI. Bad stuff. Dont ask me how I know.

          “The EBR upgrade makes the M-14 have a free floating barrel so the Army fixed your FF Barrel need.”

          Its as free floating as a M14 platform can get, ill agree there.

          “Barrel change is a feature less used than advertised. Most operative dont change barrels at base little lone in the middle of combat thats weak sauce on arguments.”

          You are attacking a strawman. Nowhere did i imply that they change barrels in the middle of combat.

          Barrel changes are useful for maintenance or theatre specific load outs. Try changing a M14 barrel and tell me how enjoyable that experience is. Try cleaning a EBR sometime with a mounted scope. Let me know how enjoyable that is also.

          “Overall I know your a SCAR lover and hate all American guns that you think threatens its diveity in guns. Face it your SCAR isnt going anywhere.”

          I wish a American manufacturer would design a weapon like the SCAR. They better put up or I wont buy. simple as that.

          As far as “it isn’t going anywhere” that is bullshit and you know it. The “H” variant is a very versatile battle rifle and the Mk 20 has enormous potential among SOCOM as a more reliable and superior alternative to the M110.

          Pat, I dont like the reciprocating charging handle either. I try to think of it like the AKs or M14s charging handle. It is particularly meddlesome when you have mounted optics, but there is a solution to that from tangodown.

        • Not true those are NOT FN upgrades but aftermarket addons which most in SOCOM cannot get. Overall the SCAR was a interesting idea but unneeded. Fact two is Im talking about regular army/ USMC not SOCOM no regular military units use SCARs period and wont M-110 and M-14 in use and probably now scrapped planes to upgrade M-110 last year.

        • I think (it appears) that SCAR rec. charging handle can get in the way of gripping the gun in certain places so you have to watch out a little bit (unlike the M14).

  3. My dad and I have been debating whether we should get an M1A or a SCAR 17s for the first family rifle. While the SCAR is really cool, breaks down easy, and reduces recoil in comparison to the M1A; it costs around $3000 or more, and to make it CA-compliant we would have to install a bullet button on it unlike the M1A. Is there anyone with experience between the two rifles who would like to share their opinion? Is the SCAR really worth twice the price of an M1A? Thank you.

      • you’re not giving up that much by folding your stock. Scar is hair over 8lbs, which is much lighter than M1A. If you had to buy just one 308 battle rifle, IMO that’d be it.

    • Not really the M-1A has better recoil more accurate and with upgrades just a modular. And its alot cheaper than your other pic.

    • I’d go with an AR-10. SCARs have been reported as being too flimsy, and a decent AR-10 can be had for far less cash than it would take to properly upgrade a M1A. More leftover dough= more magazines/ ammo.

      But between the SCAR and M1A, I’ll take the Springfield. I prefer guns that can double as hammers should the need arise.

      • SCAR, M1A, AR10 (though I suppose you would have a choice as to which one). I think the AR10 (though maybe a little more accurate) is best used as a range gun. I guess you would have to decide its mission. I love my M1A…all the way.

  4. Essentially, take a remington 870 sling plate, cut a usgi synthetic m14 stock at 15 degrees, jb weld the sling plate on it, mount a coupling nut onto it, then use any remington 870 tactical stock adapters you want.

      • AR-10 has more inherent accuracy than either. FAL is nice but sort of the Hi-Power to the M14’s 1911, at least in ‘Murica. Of course I would love a Hi-Power almost as much as I would love a Para FAL (if that is ambiguous I mean I would love it a lot, like, so much. I love FALs, and Hi-powers).

        That being said, or all the battle rifles, including the Scar 17 and Sig 716, a straight up walnut stock M14 is easily the first choice.

        To me, a proper battle rifle should get the maximum potential velocity out of the cartridge (rules out the M4 and SOCOM 16) and be solid enough to properly whack a sucker upside his head (rules out the AR-10 and SCAR). A walnut M1A/M14 fits the bill, especially as regards sucker head whacking. It gives up a little bit to the AR 10 in accuracy, but arguably makes up for it in AKish reliability-with quality mags.

        • “It gives up a little bit to the AR 10 in accuracy, but arguably makes up for it in AKish reliability-with quality mags.”

          People go on and on about how reliable their AKs are in any temperature and any environment – and that they’ll give up accuracy to have that – as if it were the first rifle in the world to do that. I just look at them and go “Dude: Garand”. Dead, stone-cold reliability from south pacific jungles to north-african deserts to corpse-freezing korean winter. The Garand action, which the M14 inherited just keeps running.

        • M1 Grands arent as foolproof reliable as people think and certainly not more than AKs.

          The harsh conditions in World War II, where soldiers were often in the fight for extended periods without adequate time allocated for proper cleaning and lubrication, essentially turned many into single shot weapons. This was also true in Korea. The truth is that World War II demonstrated that even the finest weapons (like your BARs and M1 Garands) will inevitably fail in harsh conditions.

          Given that modern AKs are 2-4 MOA accurate, which is equal to a military specification M4/AR15, that platform is hard to beat and will run any competitor into the dirt. The Russians know a thing or two about operating weapons in harsh conditions.

    • Identical M1A rifles, one in the Sage – the other in a Blackfeather.
      The Blackfeather is typically 2 lbs. lighter than the Sage, and it can easily be equipped with a folding butt stock. Add the optional HBA & LSP to your Blackfeather and you end up with the same sight plane as an AR, and the already tame recoil impulse feels even smoother. The Blackfeather RS is the premier aluminum chassis stock made for the M1A rifle.

  5. Y’know, unless the S hits the F, I’m apply with my bolt action infantry rifle.

    Oh, wait – while somewhat jungle-like, northeastern Kansas ain’t southeast Asia; my wooden gun’ll be plenty good even if the S DOES hit the F.

    I likes wood, I does.

  6. I considered the synthetics, but ended up with an M21 instead. I didn’t buy an M14 pattern rifle just to slap a bunch of plastic and aluminum all over it. Still haven’t settled on a scope mount though. Sadlak, SEI and McCann I guess are the choice if you want to keep your rear irons.

    • Check Fulton Armory. Not sure about the others but as long as the objective lens of your optic is not too big it works as far as letting you use the BUIS.

      Of course co-witness is a non-starter with the platform.


      I didn’t scroll down far enough, check Stilicho for the scoop on the Fulton.

  7. No disrespect to the author of this post….matter of fact you got my juices flowing. I always have to laugh at these analyses of 30-06…woops…308 vs the 223. The Garand vs direct system like the AR. Just an FYI…there are about 20 MILLION or so Japanese and German soldiers who really wished we didn’t have a Garand. It was fine for removing dug in Japs from Tarawa, Germans from buildings across Europe and the recoil of the 30-06 (the REAL .30 cal cartridge) didn’t seem to impede the continual demise of bad guys Merrills Marauders encountered.

    The scuttle butt I got from the older brother in VietNam was when the AR failed time and again in its early years GIs begged for M14s. When the rubber met the road the M14 did its job. As for weight, well I am reminded of another story of the VN era. Guy assigned to hump gas on his back for the flame thrower always bitched. That is until the VC attempted to over run his firebase. Never complained again. The VC failed. Heard same thing about the BAR from WWII dad. Effectiveness trumps weight in spades. Soldiers realize this after first contact.

    Good on you though for loving on the M14. Check out LRB while your at it. Heck maybe someday we’ll go back to the 30-06 too.

    • They tried to make a M-14 fire 5.56mm in test in the late 60s but Colt bought McNamara out so it worked but it didn’t go any wear. This is using the M-14 action not a mini-14 crappy action.

    • The premature push of the AR into frontline service is indeed a well documented (and tragic) aspect of its birth. I bought a Colt a few months back and its not in the same league as those first AR’s (and the ammo and cleaning instructions….gulp).

    • Agree 100% about Garands. My Dad was an 82nd Trooper, junped Sicily, Salarno, Normandy and Holland. He said you can shoot M1 one handed when you are scared shitless. His never acted up, even in the ice and cold of Belgum. Because of him I ended up with three of them,all match barrels, glass bedded etc. Got me to Master in Service Rifle, but when I switched to the AR in my first match I shot fifty points above my average. Mouse gun does not rock your point of aim like Garand does. I have an M1a but the Garand just lays more naturally for me.

  8. A .308 isn’t in the cards for a loooong time, but I’ve been debating with myself between an M1A, a SCAR 17s, and an FNAR. The SCAR is definitely the “even further in the future” possibility, but I wonder if anybody else wants to throw in their two cents.

    • I picked up an FNAR and it’s fantastic! FN guarantees 1 moa
      out of the box and they deliver. I put in some match grade
      reloads and was averaging around .6 moa. I have an M1A
      and love it but I find the FNAR far more ergonomic and
      easier to shoot. FN includes several different size combs.
      You’d probably need to buy one if you put a scope on a M1A.
      The grip is very aggressive, some like it others don’t. I think
      the grip works well especially when it’s wet and icy out.
      The FNAR may not be battle proven like the M1A, but the
      BAR, which it’s based on, does have an excellent track record.
      The magazines are a bit heavy but built like tanks. Seriously
      you could pound nails with them.

      Downsides are no iron sights. If you want them you have to
      take it to a gunsmith. The another downside is there are almost
      no magazines (though everything is out of stock lately). The
      rifle is also new enough so there’s no after market magazines or
      stocks. I gather that the stock from a BAR fits with little to no
      modification. The barrel isn’t threaded, so if you wanted a
      suppressor you’d need to get it done. It’s also piston driven
      recoil so if you do put on a suppressor you’ll need it calibrated.

      A M1A is also a good choice. I’d lean more toward one with a
      national match barrel. If you have enough for a Super match
      you might as well get a SCAR.

      Prices range about the same for the FNAR and M1A $1-2K.
      SCAR nets about $3K. Personally, I’d get either an FNAR or
      M1A and dump the rest into a scope, ammo and mags.

      • Just a quibble: The FNAR has an action similar to what FN/Browning is currently selling as their Browning Automatic Rifle – but that is a different action from the WWI/WWII era BAR mechanism. A telltale giveaway is the lack of the little humpback the BAR has right behind the ejection port.

        It’s a fine action, and the guns are quite accurate as you say, but FN/Browning is trading on the BAR name without it being the old BAR mechanism.

    • you should have bought a SCAR last fall, when you could pick up a used one for 2800.

      Theyre 4-5k now. Not a good situation.

      • Last fall, I was taking my first steps into the firearms world. My timing sucks. Just going to have to be patient and wait for prices to go down… and my income to go up.

  9. Not a single mention of the JAE-100? While the troy system may be a little cheaper if you’re sure to scope the rifle (JAE doesn’t include integral scope rails) it seems to be to be more accurate and better known. Anyone with experience with both the JAE-100 and the Troy? Or maybe even the el-cheapo Archangel? Thanks for posting, timing is perfect – have a loaded M1A awaiting a similar SASS fate!

    • I was surprised myself. I know its out of most peoples price range, but its definitely worth he mention.

  10. Fulton Armory makes the best scope mount I’ve seen and it’s a peep through so you can still use your standard iron sights with the scope mounted. Have to use a pad of some sort to raise the cheek weld though since the scope mounts relatively high. FA also has some excellent customized options on the M1A…just about any configuration you could want (except that bullpup above…first time I’ve seen that).

    • Looking forward to it. I actually prefer D.G.’s writing to any of the staff of TTAG. No insult intended, but he’s educational about guns with every comment.

      • Didja know you can use Nick’s new search feature to look for “dyspeptic”, set the filter from “relevance” to “date”, and keep up with all of Dyspeptic Gunsmith’s comments?

      • I keep refreshing to see if it’s posted yet. Guess I’ll just have to suck it up and wait until morning.

  11. Fred’s sells some really nice used USGI fiberglass stocks for $100-$200. I did a camo job on mine and it looks great. It you bed the action, and do a trigger job, you can greatly improve the accuracy. I have an M1A Scout that is very accurate for a “battle” rifle (consistent 1 MOA). Sadlak and Fulton both have nice upgrades at reasonable prices (scope mounts, NM piston, Pic rails). While the AR platform is lighter and more maneuverable, there is nothing like having a mag full of 7.62 x 51. They also lack many of the “evil” features that are looked down upon by the anti-2A folks…

  12. My old man carried the M14 all through USMC boot camp and for a good portion of his tour and a half in Vietnam. He simply loves the firearm, the .308 round and would rave about it all the time. A few years ago he decided that despite the cost it was time to acquire the rifle that he was trained on and fought with overseas, sans fully auto switch. When he bought the M1A there were no woodstock rifles available, only the plastic versions, he bought it anyway. I could tell that he really wanted the wood stock and it wasn’t the same rifle for him without that furniture. I managed to talk a guy at gunshow to sell us his wood stock off his M14 for $100, the old man was very happy when the new pants were put on. I will admit, the wood stock makes the gun beautiful, the plastic just doesn’t fit the firearm.

    I will admit that I was surprised how much the rifle weighed with a 20 round mag loaded, she is a beast! I thought about humping that thing around all day long and my arms and shoulders started hurting just at the thought. What also struck me is that never once did my father ever tell me or complain to me about the weight of the in all the years he spoke about the rifle. I guess one of the other posters said it best that the effectiveness trumped the weight for my father, he knew it was a battle ready rifle that he could put his life on.

    • When you start getting below 8 lbs in a rifle firing a “full-powered” cartridge (.308 or .30-06 class, with a 150 to 180 grain bullet), many people can tolerate the recoil… for a few rounds. After more than two or three dozen rounds, many people start to develop a flinch. Anyone can develop a flinch if you beat on them hard enough, long enough. I developed a flinch one weekend by shooting over 80 rounds of .338 WinMag off a bench, trying to diagnose a problem that turned out (in the end) to be a loose scope. After that, it took me two years of shooting to regain my ability to shoot high powered rifles without a flinch – and I’m hard to beat up with recoil. The .338 in a light stainless/synthetic hunting rifle tho — it’s generating at least 30+ ft-lbs of recoil, and the factory Winchester synthetic stocks are horrible. Shoot it for 10 rounds, and you’ll probably be OK. After about 20 rounds, most people are begging for mercy – and some of these people are shooting much heavier loads out of things like a .375 H&H – but in a heavier rifle. Too light a rifle can result in a vicious recoil impulse.

      The Garand, at about 9.5 lbs, was indeed a heavy rifle. With the .30-06 cartridge, it gives a fair kick, but because it’s a semi-auto and heavy, it soaks up quite a bit of that energy and makes it more tolerable – at between 12 and 13 ft-lbs of energy in recoil. The Springfield ’03, at about 8.6 lbs (give or take) was good for about 16 ft-lbs of recoil, and about the max you could give to the common man and expect him to “man up” and just take the recoil over dozens to hundreds of rounds.

      Now put that M2 ball ammo in a rifle that weighs, oh, 7 lbs. Now we’re up to about 17+ ft-lbs of recoil, which is where many people (by my observation) start to develop a flinch after shooting more than a few rounds.

      But now let’s get smart: Let’s start talking about a better cartridge for a battle rifle… let’s think smart like the Swedes with their 6.5×55, but based on a .308. How about something like a high-Bc 140+gr .264 pill – Bc’s over 0.5, so you’ve got high sectional density and good penetration as well as excellent long range characteristics, in a .260 case? Let’s launch it at, oh, 2750 fps out of a 7lb rifle. Now we’re down to 14 ft-lb of recoil (or possibly less), and we have superior exterior ballistics to a .308, and vastly superior to a 5.56, even if we compare them to the latest 77gr M262 rounds.

      Now we’re getting somewhere… but that makes too much sense to be adopted by the US military, so we’re going to continue to argue .30 cal vs. prairie-dog rounds…

      • Good lord, I’ve been thinking exactly that for the last several years.

        Every now and then I think about taking one of the modern 7.62×51 semiauto rifles and converting it to .260 Remington since it’s got the same parent case. But I think to get the full power out of the cartridge with a 140 gr projectile you need more overall length than the original dimensions of a 7.62 NATO allows you. Then the modifications get too complicated in my head and I drop the idea until someone mentions 6.5 mm again.

        • Just FYI for the youngsters that don’t remember: “Springfield Armory, Inc. offered M1A rifles chambered in .243 Winchester from at least 1978 until 1994 and in .358 Winchester from 1978 to 1980. Barrel blanks in .22, 6 mm, .25, .270, 7 mm, .30 and .35 caliber were offered from 1978 through 1980. Springfield Armory, Inc. would install one of their barrels into a M1A rifle during this period for a nominal charge, $10.00 to $14.00. From 1990 and later, the M1A was available in 7mm-08. These M1A rifles were sold in the United States and in countries where civilians were prohibited from owning military compatible ammunition, e.g., France. For example, Super Match M1A serial number 088619 was custom built in 1995 by Springfield Armory, Inc. It had a Hart 7mm-08 heavyweight barrel and the receiver was rear lugged. M1A rifles exported to Spain are chambered for .307 Winchester.”

      • Better ammo exists or could be designed, but who exactly is going to pay the millions to re-tool Lake City to make it? Even in flush times, that was a non-starter.

      • “so we’re going to continue to argue .30 cal vs. prairie-dog rounds”

        The US Military already had opportunities to adopt “smarter” cartridges than both of those choices, but idiocy prevailed. 276 Pedersen, 6mm SAW, 280 British. So much potential, so much problems that we would encounter in the 21st century that could have been solved back in the 30s. F^ckhattery :,(

        Im with ya though. There is a smart way to overcome the non productive dualism of 5.56 vs 7.62 NATO and create a cartridge thats better than both.

      • Well, there was a candidate for the new NATO cartridge that would throw a .276″, 139gr bullet at 2,550fps – pretty much right on the money for a rifle that’s accurate to 300-400 yards yet can still go full-auto in a crisis – not bad for 1948.

        Unfortunately, the Knights who say “NIH!” were too powerful for it… then the US declared that the .223″ was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and all must follow it… and now we’re back to where we were sixty-five years ago, older but seemingly no wiser.

        • + infinity for the monty python reference.

          every attempt to introduce a new, practical cartridge into the US arsenal is countered by the Army’s persistence that it cannot do wrong and that every decision it makes is the good lord’s golden word.

          want a new cartridge to overcome the limitations of existing ones? NO! because NONE SHALL PASS!


          you prove the army wrong? they’re still right because TIS BUT A SCRATCH.

          anyways im done ranting. 😉

      • With the M1 in the snow, wind and rain all traveling about 50 miles an hour from all sides, on a Georgia firing range in 1962, recoil was not the problem. Low crawling back up to the firing line thru the mud was a little tiring.

    • Check Mate Industries (C.M.I.) is the new production USGI magazine, and they are plentiful. .308 & 7.62 NATO ammunition is a commodity that one must shop around to get the best deal.

      With the lone exception of the Springfield M1903 rifle, the M14 rifle remains the longest serving rifle used by units of U.S. Armed forces.

      Accuracy: The accuracy acceptance criteria for the M14EBR-RI was a maximum of 1.5 MOA with the result averaging 0.89 MOA for the first 5,000 built.

  13. Gotta love an m14. Makes you wonder if it will be the first true hybrid to take on the positions of a CQB rifle and a DMR at the same time with that bull-pup configuration.

  14. I purchased my first SAGE chassis in 2004 and I’ve tried just about every ‘other’ modern M14 stock on the market. The SAGE EBR chassis system is rock solid and there are a few proven methods of mounting traditional optics including a Smith Enterprise mount (specific top rail required), the M14DCSB from SAGE (TACOM M14EBR-RI), a cantilever optic rail from LaRue Tactical (CRANE MK14 Mod 1) and EBR rings from Badger Ordnance (CRANE MK14 Mod 0). My personal favorite is the M14ALCS/PMRI with Badger Ordnance EBR rings. A new chassis system not yet mentioned is the Blackfeather “RS” imported from Canada. This chassis is supper light and it offers users a few different methods to mount optics. I have a CQB-16 type SEI in a Blackfeather “RS”.

  15. I trained on the M-1 (“Garand”) in Basic, then was issued an M-14 when I arrived at my TO&E unit in Germany.
    Nobody ever said the M-14 was too heavy (“HOO-ah!”) and nobody complained about the recoil. It was a fine rifle (I didn’t like it as quite as much as the M-1). Ever wonder what happened to “M-15”? That was supposed to be the infantry squad BAR replacement. It was basically an M-14 with selector switch for FA option, a heavier barrel, and a bipod. They told us to expect them, but they never arrived.
    When we heard about the M-16 starting to come on line they told us it was a lightweight .22 designed for distribution to soldiers of… slighter build… in some Allied Nation in Southeast Asia. We all thought it was a joke–a .22 made from…plastic?? Well, it might’ve been OK in the SE Asian jungles, but 20 years later it was out of its element in Camel Country where the combat ranges can be much greater than what the .223 was made for.
    Now, 50 years after I was issued that first M-14, I’ve got another one. I’m in the process of refinishing an original 1960s USGI stock for it. Wow. Good times.
    .308 too expensive for plinking? I’m getting Norinco 7.62×51 “NATO” (non-corrosive) in 550 round cans for pretty cheap. Works just fine.
    Hey, what’s with all this “tactical” stuff? Tactical? Really?

  16. so ive shot a scar-h and a m1a nm both were semi it equates to the scar is lighter it has more kick the m1a nm at 14.9 lbs loaded and a scope has next to no kick both guns were loaded with atomic 162gn match grade ammo

  17. With the lone exception of the Springfield M1903 rifle, the M14 rifle remains the longest serving rifle used by units of the U.S. Armed forces.

  18. What a bunch of girls.M1a is a grate rifle .12lbs my toolbox is more than 50lbs and I carry that thing every dam day for 30yrs.Before that it was A2 and base plate for 60mm mortar.Man up lady’s .M1a best ever.

  19. I loved all the comments. Some of the technical stuff was over my head, as I am Neophyte to the m1/m-14 world. But by far the best was Little D’s comment “man up ladies” . Too funny. My father in law is a D day survivor, battle field commissioned on D day. Never heard him bitch about his m1 garand being too heavy. Right tool the for right job.

  20. My dad was in Nam from 68-69 with the “Big Red One in the 2nd Corp Area at Lai Khe, He took basic with a M-14 and loved it! Said when he got to the Nam they issued him a M-16A1, and he hated that mattel plastic gun. He went with a M-79 and never looked back at the M-16. Said most guys in his platoon( dad was a platoon sergeat E-6) hated the M-16 and carried M-14s or AK-47s, and even Thompson Sub Machine Guns. Dad claimed some nitwit in Washington (McNamara) bosted the 16 didnt need cleaning it was a self cleaning weapon, and never issued cleaning kits, saw many G.I.s with jammed weapons and was wounded or killed because of it. Why he said troops loved AK-47s and M-14, Dad claims you could kick the bolt shut and it would fire all day, not so with the M-16. Politicians never go to war so what do they know, ask the troops its them in harms way. And yes both my Granddads in WW2 carried Garands, maybe we are softer today.

  21. The light weight Blackfeather “RS” chassis stock & multiple optic mounting solutions offers the shooter accuracy that is enhanced, and ergonomic flexibility that is virtually unmatched in the industry. The shooter sets up the chassis to suit his, or her individual needs. Blackfeather optic mounting solutions work with GI profile stocks including the E2…

  22. There were stories that the SCAR H is hard on optics. Any comments on this? I have a SCAR 16 in 5.56, it wasn’t all that accurate until I tried 77 gr ammo which was better than 55 & 62 gr. Suprised no one mentioned the M1 carbine of which over 5 million were built. Many were shipped to Korea and Vietnam as there were plenty of them and were thought to be more suited to the smaller asians. Although a low power cartridge I was told that some GI’s preferred them to an AR-15 in the jungle.

  23. Back in the 60s, we did not accessorize our rifles. We had the M-14/early M-16, our ears, our sense of smell, our eyes, day or night, the hairs on the back of our necks, sphincter pucker factor as sensors. Our communications were crude by today’s standards. We did not have body armor, moving fast was of paramount importance. We traveled as light as we could, every second we were in the kill zone life expectancy became shorter. We went where trucks, APCs, tanks and planes never saw the light of day, artillery was a distant hope. As a civilian, I’ll take an M-14 with composite furniture and iron sights over anything today’s wunderkind might be issued. No bells and whistles, and still be just as deadly if it comes to a fight.

  24. I an a proud owner of an M1A Scout Squad and I love the rifle, it prints at about 1.5 moa with cheap 150 grain fmj, I wish I could have carried one during my tour in ramadi. Recoil is negligible with the comp and rubber buttpad and even scoped and loaded the weight doesn’t bother me, besides most of my time outside the wide was spent in a hmmwv so weight wasn’t a serious factor. A co. 1-9 inf. Keep up the fire.

  25. When it comes to the semi-auto only M14 and M1A chassis stocks, the best of the best is the lightweight Blackfeather RS. The addition of an M14 EBR trigger shoe makes it that much better.


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