Letter Re: Options to Buying an M1A Rifle

Monday, Dec 17, 2012

Hey James,
I just read your comments on the Springfield Armory M1A and found it super interesting, I've been an avid hunter and shooter all my life and am very used to shooting rifles both long and short range/ scoped and unscoped. I've primarily owned and heavily customized both bolt action and AR platform guns and have been super happy with their accuracy and performance, however I've always wanted an M14 or M1A. Seeing the specifications on the "Loaded" model, match grade 22 inch - 1-11" twist barrel, I suspect it will be quite accurate. I am a young guy with not a ton of money to throw around so I want to make a good purchase. Will the Springfield let me down if I want to shoot it scoped at sub-MOA to accurately hit man-sized targets out to 1,000 yards? I'm planning on shooting my custom hand loads through it, 178 Hornady A-Max HPBT. Thanks for your time I'm a big fan of your blog, BTW. - Jason L.

Jason:
I've owned a half dozen M1As over the years, but I eventually sold all of them, during the 1994-2004 ban. I replaced them with several L1A1s, later supplemented by some HK91 clones.

The "Loaded" M1A is a decent choice, but you must consider that it is an expensive rifle ($2,022, retail) and spare U.S.G.I. M14 magazines and spare parts are very expensive!  And you probably won't get sub-MOA accuracy unless you fiberglas bed the rifle. I recommend only buying original USGI magazines. many of the aftermarket magazines cannot be trusted to function reliably. (See my M14 / M1A Magazine FAQ, for details.)

For the same money as a "Loaded" M1A with one magazine and no scope, you could buy a PTR91-GI rifle (a HK91 clone), AND 100 spare alloy G3 magazines (under $3 each!), AND a Savage Model 10 .308 bolt action that is sub-MOA, right out the box.

For comparison, 100 spare original M14 magazines would cost you around $2,600. And just a spare USGI M14 operating rod ("op rod") now costs around $250. You should dispassionately consider not just the initial cost of the rifle, but rather the full lifetime cost, including magazines and and a supply of repair parts.

If you buy a PTR91, make sure that it is the PTR91-GI variant that has chamber flutes that allow you to shoot the widest variety of ammo.

And if you feel that you must buy an M1A, then see this recent article: The Rise, Fall and Rise of the M14.


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