G'day from Down Under.
In you post on the TEOTWAWKI rifles, you mentioned .303s. While the rifles are plentiful, robust and inexpensive, the ammo is becoming very hard to find and expensive. Example, Winchester 303 SP is $ 48 AUD per box of 20 here. Good ex-military ball is about $80 to $100 per 100 (if you can find it) and will be at least 30 years old.
The Ishapore Mk.2s are a much better bet, cost about the same, and take 7.62 [mm NATO]. Or perhaps, one of the ex-Israeli [K98] Mausers [chambered] in .308?
However, I personally feel that the best rifle would be one of those Savage Model 24s, preferably the 24C. The choice of a shotgun or rifle barrel with the flick of a switch. Or any reliable .22 LR or .22 Winchester Magnum rimfire. This is not intended to fight with, more a foraging tool, to put food in the pot. Think about it: If you had to walk (worst case scenario) to your retreat, what would you take? Grab a brick of 22 LR. Weigh it. Now grab 500 rds of .223 or 7.62mm NATO. weigh that. I used to be able to walk miles with a MAG-58 [belt-fed 7.62mm NATO MMG] and 800 rds, plus the other 50 or so KGs, but I was a lot younger and fitter then. Now the lack of a good self loader in .223, and the rest of the platoon for back-up, has lead me to think that maybe a good 22 Mag or LR, and trying to avoid trouble, might be the way to go. JMHO, YMMV. Merry Christmas. Cheers, - Dave.
Can you please address your preference of the L1A1 over the more common metric FALs? I settled on the metric version mainly because it is generally more common, has better parts availability, cheaper and easier to find magazines, overall less expensive and just as reliable. I do add a FSE oversize mag release and a Israeli forward assist (FA) charging handle along with necessary bolt carrier modification to all my metric FALs. What am I missing by not going with the L1A1? Thanks, - C.W.
JWR Replies: I believe that there are several distinct advantages to having an "inch pattern" (L1A1) instead of one of the metric measurement FN-FALs. These advantages include:
1.) The ability to use inch OR metric magazines. If you have a metric FAL, you are limited to using only metric magazines. But if you have an inch receiver rifle you can use both inch and metric mags. (The latter wobble a bit when used in an L1A1, but they still feed reliably.)
2.) Inch magazines are sturdier than metric magazines, because they are heavier gauge steel. And if they ever do get dented, L1A1 magazines can be repaired with a mandrel block, but metric mags cannot. (If you lay an inch mag and a metric mag side by side, you will notice that the floorplate retaining tabs on a metric magazine are turned inward, whereas they are turned outward on an inch mag. Hence there is no way for a metric magazine to accept a dent-removing mandrel.)
3.) A larger safety selector switch that you can't miss with your thumb.
4.) A larger, ambidextrous magazine release. (Unlike the tiny mag release on the metric FAL, which is designed for the convenience of right handers.)
5.) A sturdy folding charging handle is standard. If you've ever tripped and fallen while carrying a metric FAL, you'll appreciate this feature. There is nothing quite like taking a blow from metric charging handle to the solar plexus!
6.) Sturdier and less reflective stock furniture. The British Maranyl pebble grain black plastic furniture is practically bomb proof.
7.) Buttplates that come in a wide range of thicknesses, to accommodate shooters of various heights. Proper stock length usually means more accurate shooting.
8.) Better rear sights. OBTW, the inch pattern "Hythe" dual-aperture variant is a great sight with the versatility needed for long range shooting, close quarters combat, and night shooting. I have Hythe sights on four of the five L1A1s at the Rawles Ranch. (The fifth rifle is a metric Para Model (folding stock) FAL "L1A1 wannabe" on which I had the receiver re-cut by Rich Saunders at Century Gun Works to accept inch magazines.)
9.) An integral winter trigger arrangement that is always stowed and available in the pistol grip. (One downside is that L1A1s don't have the "in the grip" miniature cleaning kit found on metric FALs.)
10.) A slightly more efficient flash hider. (I've viewed a video of a nighttime test that was filmed by a SurvivalBlog reader, using identical ammo, and the difference was apparent.)
11.) Specially-designed "Sand Cut" bolts and bolt carriers, designed to operate more reliably in grungy environments.
In summary: Yes, the parts and magazines for inch pattern L1As are slightly more expensive, but the advantages that I just related more than compensate for the greater expense.
For those of you that presently own metric FALs, I suggest that you keep them and just improve them a bit: For example, I recommend retrofitting them with inch pattern magazine releases and selector switches. And unless you have one of the excellent Israeli-style forward assist charging handles, you should also consider retrofitting with an inch-style folding charging handle.
All of the aforementioned parts are available from The FALFiles Marketplace. (See: http://www.falfiles.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=11 )