Pat's Product Reviews: Bassett Machine M1A/M14 Scope Mounts

Monday, Oct 24, 2011

When I entered Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, in August 1969, we were issued M14 rifles. I was a wimpy 17-year old weighing 135 pounds. I found the M14 was extremely heavy for me to carry, but I learned to love that rifle, and I still do! The M14 fires the 7.62 NATO round - it's akin to the civilian .308 Winchester round. It's a great all around caliber for (most) big game hunting, as well as defending your home or retreat. When I left Basic Training, and went on to my Infantry school at Fort Lewis, Washington, I bid farewell to the M14, and was issued an M16A1 - which weighed three pounds less than the M14.
During Basic Training, I earned my Expert badge when I qualified with the M14 - one of the few in my unit to get Expert, and no one in my unit could field strip or reassemble an M14 faster than I could. Strange thing is, when I fired that M16A1 for qualification, I only earned my Marksman's badge. I told my Drill Instructor from the get-go, that there was something "wrong" with my M16A1, but he wouldn't listen. It just didn't make sense that I could fire the bigger, and harder-kicking M14 and get an Expert's badge, and only get a Marksmanship badge with the M16A1. I still believe to this day, that the M16A1 I had fired for qualification had a shot out barrel. While the M16A1 was a delight to carry compared to the M14, it just didn't instill a lot of confidence.
I've owned several Springfield Armory M1A rifles over the years. The M1A is a semi-auto only version of the M14, and the be sure, when the M14 was fired on full-auto, it was a handful, and after the second or third shot, you were completely off target due to the recoil on full-auto. When I was on the Illinois State Rifle & Pistol Team, we were issued match-grade M14s to shoot in competition, and they were sure sweet-shooting rifles, and I rarely walked away without taking first place in the matches and categories I competed in.
Sad to say, I presently don't own a Springfield Armory M1A, but I'm waiting for one to come into my local gun shop, at which time, I'll snap it up in a trade of some sort. However, I do own a Chinese clone, which is stamped "M14/S" on the receiver - even though it's only a semi-auto version, with no provision for full-auto fire. This is a Chinese PolyTech clone of the M1A, and I've owned several of these over the years, and all were really good shooters. One complaint I've had with the Chinese clones is that, their stocks are overly bulky and thick. It's an easy fix to replace those stocks with a US military surplus M14 stock, that only takes a little bit of fitting, and filling in the hole in the stock where the full-auto selector switch goes, and you don't even have to fill that hole in, if you don't want to.
In the past, I've tried several imported M1A scope mounts, and I wasn't satisfied with any of them. Some of these mounts didn't even look good when I received them - they were poorly made - and some were returned. The cheap mounts I did try were just junk and several of 'em even broke under recoil when placed on an M1A or clone, plus, they wouldn't hold their zero for long - some only held a zero for a mag full of ammo - not acceptable. I've also tried some of the better M1A mounts, and while they were much better than the pricey mounts were, I soon abandoned them as well, 'cause they wouldn't hold a zero after being removed and replaced on the gun. [JWR Adds: The PolyTech is not a true clone of an M1A, since they had some dimensional differences on some parts. The PolyTech M14/S rifles also had notoriously soft bolts. Retrofitting the bolt with a USGI bolt will solve that problem, but to be done right, the receiver geometry must be corrected to match the bolt. Fulton Army does that work.]
Enter Bill Bassett and his company, Bassett Machine, and his answer to the M1A/M14 scope mounts. I was contacted by Bill, asking me if I'd like to test his mounts, claiming they are the best in the business. Needless to say, I had to accept his challenge, and in short order, Bill sent me several different models and configurations of mounts suitable for use on the M1A/M14 line of rifles and the clones. At present, Bassett Machine, is producing four types of mounts. One is the Standard High scope mount, another is the Standard Low scope mount, and we have the Picatinny Rail scope mount and the Picatinny low scope mount. I received the Standard High, Standard Low and one of the Picatinny Rail mounts - though I'm not sure if I received the standard or the low mount.
All the Bassett Machine mounts are expertly machined out of Aluminum, with zero flaws - so, upon first inspection, I was pretty impressed with the product samples I was sent. Bassett also includes a torque wrench with each mount, with specific instructions on how to torque down the mounts, and this is something I haven't run across before. Bill says that you shouldn't torque your mount down any more than 22-inch pounds, and I thought this seemed to be a bit light. In the past, I torqued down M1A scope mounts a lot tighter than that. So, I expected the mounts to work themselves loose under recoil, in short order - didn't happen!
I experimented with all three of the mounts I was sent, over a period of several weeks. Yeah, I wanted to give these hummers a good work out to see if they lived up to the claims they made. There are numerous comments on the Bassett Machine web site, from very satisfied customers, all praising the mounts. The mounts fit my Chinese M14 clone perfectly, just a great fit, and they are so easy to remove and re-mount, even a young child can do it, following the instructions for getting the torque just perfect. the torque wrench also has a new feature, and that's a bolt greaser built into it - those of you who own an M1A know what I'm talking about - handy little device for keeping the bolt properly greased on your rifle.
My Poly Tech M14 clone is scary accurate, so I was expecting some good test results from the Bassett Machine mounts. I only mounted an el cheapo 3X9 Simmons scope on the rifle for this test and evaluation period - for serious work, I'd permanently mount something much better on the rifle. Over the course of several weeks, I used all three of the mounts Bill Bassett sent me, moving the scope from one mount to another and back and forth. I honestly lost count of how many times this scope was moved from mount-to-mount, and how many times, I removed the mounts, fired the rifle without the scope and mount, and then placed the scope and mount back on the rifle rifle - safe to say, it was dozens and dozens and dozens of times. It was work!
I found that the mounts pretty much held their zero after being removed and placed back on the PolyTech. Most of the time, the point of impact only changed about half an inch, if that. Now, that's confidence in your mount if you ask me. And, as many times as I took that scope off of one mount, and placed it on another mount for testing, the scope was pretty much dead-on, from one mount to another - other than a slight change in elevation due to the differing heights of the Bassett mounts - but nothing worth writing home about.
You might also find of great interest, the testing that was done using the Bassett Mounts down at Ft. Hood, Texas for the Advanced Marksmanship Unit. Using a single Weaver T-10 Scope, and the Bassett Standard scope mount unit to test 160, M14 rifles, for accuracy, three times a year, for two years- this lone Bassett Mount never failed - that's 19,200 rounds fired through the various guns, using the same scope and Bassett Mount. The Bassett Mount was found to be the most useful tool in testing the rifle's accuracy!
Quite frankly, I gave these mounts more of a workout than I had ever given any mounts. Bill Bassett claims he makes the best M1A/M14 mounts in the business and I have no doubts about this claim. I had a favorite mount, that is the Standard High scope mount, that allows you to continue to use the iron sights, should your scope fail you.
Now, as to pricing on the mounts, as I've said over the years, quality never comes cheap. However, if you buy quality, you don't have to buy it again...whereas, with cheap products, you have to keep replacing 'em over and over again. The Standard High mount is $97.50 as is the Standard Low mount. the Picatinny Rail mount is $149.50, and the LOW Picatinny rail mount is $159.50. Now, that might seem a bit high, but you only need to purchase any of these mounts once - they will last you as long as you own them, of that, I have no doubt. And, should you have a problem, Bill Bassett will be there to make it right with you.
When I received the mounts, I got a short letter from Bill, with his cell phone number, house phone, his daughter's cell and his wife's cell phone numbers - and, or course, the business number - should I have any questions or problems - Bill wanted to be available to be there for me. I've never had anyone make themselves so available to me, should a problem or question arise. I didn't have a need to call any of the numbers.
I could get into the technical aspects of Bill's M1A/M14 mounts, but it would probably bore you. If you want to know more about these outstanding mounts, be sure to go to the Bassett Machine web site, and you'll probably find out all you need to know. As for me, my extensive and almost exhaustive testing answered all my questions. Bassett Machine is busying turning out these mounts as fast as they can - when you place your order, you can expect to get your mounts in 2-to-4 weeks.
If you're in the market for an M1A or M14 scope mount, that won't fail you, then give Bill Bassett your business. Even though I've never met Bill or talked to him, I can tell he is one of the Good Guys, and deserves our business. He made a claim to me, that he makes the best M1A/M14 scope mounts in the business and I took him up on his challenge. He was right!

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