Tell me about the M1A


January 3, 2007, 11:05 PM
I'm looking for a 308 semi-auto rifle. I really like the looks of the M1A Scout and it has a good reputation for accuracy. However, I also like the PTR-91, especially the cheap magazines. They cost about the same so that is a push. What about weight, reliablility, accuracy, customer service, available parts, ect.
What advantages would the M1A in Scout or Socom configuration have over the PTR-91?

Please don't make this a flame war and stick with the rifles mentioned.

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January 3, 2007, 11:28 PM
I own a DSA StG58A that is my go-to rifle and an M1A Loaded that is scary accurate. I have owned a HK G3 and sold it. Here's my impressions based on my own experiences (yes I'm breaking from your "stick to the rifles mentioned" but they are all in the same class):

FAL wins on the following:

FAL has overall superior ergonomics for me (subjective but I like pistol grips better). M1A comes in second.
I like the selector location (with the L1A1 selector) better on the FAL...just never got used to the Garand/M14 push-it-forward-with-your-trigger-finger safety. The G3 selector can't be reached for people like me with smallish hands/short thumbs.
FAL charging handle is better placed for me...I'm a righty and like manipulate it with my left hand. M1A is a close second. What moron decided it was a good idea to put the charging handle on the G3 all the way out by the muzzle?
FAL breaks down/easier to clean and maintain MUCH easier than M14. No cleaning from the breech is a big downside of M14 IMO. I can have the bolt out of an FAL and be cleaning it by the time you get the trigger pack out of the M14. G3 is a close second to the FAL as it is two pins and a sharp tug on the buttstock.
FAL has more simple bolt locking mechanism than either of the other two but G3 is a close second.
FAL has adjustable gas system (but I personally don't see that as a big deal)
Operating system -- I think the internal gas piston system of the FAL and G3 are better than the big, external op rod system of the M1A. Personal opinion.
M14 mags are overpriced (T57s from Taiwan help but you still can't beat $4-10 FAL mags in good shape). G3 mags are awesome price...FAL are a close second.
Cost -- you can get a good, service grade FAL for $700-1000. Same for G3. Base model M14 will cost $200-500 more. Top of the line rifles about equal.

Here's where M14 wins:

M14 is "prettier" than either of the other two (subjective)
M14 Feels slightly more balanced/handy (subjective)
Sights are MUCH better...US weapons designers seem to understand that good sights and battle-worthy sights are not mutually exclusive
Accuracy potential -- service grade rifles are about equal between M14 and FAL. M14 can be made much more accurate but these aren't rifles you'd want to blast away with. Tend to be finicky YMMV. G3 is about in the middle of the two.
Scope mounting -- even with the requirement to mount on the side of the receiver, the mounts for the M14 tend to be more solid, probably as a result of development as a sniper/DMR system. But they are expensive! Claw mounts for the G3 are good.
Trigger -- stock M14 trigger is usually as good as a tuned FAL or G3 trigger.


Bolt hold open and mag release -- equal
Weight -- about the same
Reliabilty -- same
Mag design -- both good and rugged
Recoil -- same
Aftermarket goodies -- same

My preference is FAL, then M1A then G3. In the end, this is like a 1911 vs. Glock will do well with any good solid battle rifle.

January 4, 2007, 09:11 AM
I own three M1A rifles, one of them is a Bush rifle which is a Scout rifle without the tricky handguard located scope platform. All of them have been hand built by me.
I also own a PTR-91.

The M1A, when assembled correctly, is a precision shooting rifle.
Even the Bush rifle is more than capable of sub minute of angle accuracy at ranges to three hundred meters.
All M14 type rifles are also quirky in their own individual ways and they require more maintenance and care than any other semi automatic .308 caliber rifle I have ever worked with.
The reward is accuracy on par with most off the shelf bolt action rifles being offered on the market.
With proper care and regular maintenance and rebuild, and provided the cast receiver does not fail, this is a million round rifle design that shoots with precision accuracy.

The PTR-91, and any well assembled G3 variation for that matter, is a full power battle rifle caliber version of the Kalashnikov.
These rifles work well in all environments and shoot with more than sufficient accuracy for any type of general purpose use.
They are really basic designs, forget fancy stuff like last round bolt hold opens and repeatable, precision sights.
Even the 4X and 6X Hensolt(sic?) telescopes designed for these rifles are rugged but nothing really dramatic or precise as far as optical sighting aids.
Unless you are willing to spent scadloads of money for a hand built precision shooting version of this rifle style, the basic rifle design will not win the money pot in formal match shooting.
What this rifle does is work and work well, without extensive maintenance and tender care, and if you have access to rebuild facilities the weapons will last over fifty years of solid day to day use if they are rebuilt every 20,000 to 30,000 rounds.
With regular rebuilds and provided the receiver does not fail, this is a million round rifle design that works without a hiccup when needed.

Now you know the difference.

January 4, 2007, 09:39 AM
that PTR-91 (model F) is very tastey. Never shot one, but love to.

January 4, 2007, 09:44 AM
Onmilo, what are your thoughts on the Chinese M14 clones? I have heard about the potential soft bolt problem. Do you feel they are a viable platform to build upon? I frequent some M14 forums upon occasion and there is much talk about upgrading recent SA M1As with GI parts. This seems it could get expensive in a hurry considering the base price of the rifle and the cost of GI parts. Have you had any issues with SA produced parts, and if so, which ones?


El Tejon
January 4, 2007, 10:13 AM
jagd, understand what you read on the M14 forums is posted by dedicated devotees. The committed will send the necessary denek to get what they want.

Buy a standard M1A. Shoot the wheels off it. Go to class, an Appleseed session would be great. Shoot some more, read, talk to buddies, see what works for you and what does not. Go to more classes. Rifles are like dogs, you have to put in time and love.

As your knowledge and education level improves (your software), you can start to select your gear (your hardware). It seems to me that whatever platform gun nuts discuss, everyone goes right to the hardware.

While a man loves a good gun, it is the man behind the rifle that counts. Improve that and you have something to reckon with.:)

January 4, 2007, 10:45 AM
Thanks for the reply El T. I've been shooting and collecting for a good while. However, the one thing I've been lacking is a 7.62 MBR. I'm leaning towards a DSA STG58C. However, at some point I want to add an M14-type and a PTR91 as well. Its hard to save up the money because I always seem to end up adopting milsurp orphans! At least my Garands fulfill this role to a large degree. I would love to attend an Appleseed shoot. Have you been to one?


El Tejon
January 4, 2007, 10:56 AM
DSA makes a soild weapon. Nothing wrong with that either. As far as money goes, I would forget about the milsurps as the weapons you desire will be targeted by the Democrats this spring.

I have not yet been to an Appleseed. My cousins were at the Evansville shoot and raved about it. My bro and I plan to attend the one in Bloomington, Illinois.

January 4, 2007, 11:11 AM
I hear you there, El T. I'm on a strict EBR, parts kit, mag and receiver diet right now. Much better safe than sorry with an uncertain future.


January 4, 2007, 11:13 AM
Rifles are like dogs, you have to put in time and love.

I love it, truer words wave never been spoken.

El Tejon
January 4, 2007, 11:35 AM
Attribute that to my Uncle Sonny in Martinsville, Indiana.:)

January 5, 2007, 09:05 AM
My view on the Chinese M14 copies are that if they are heat treated properly they are better receivers than the Springfield.
Smith Enterprise will do an excellent re-heat treat that produces a receiver on par with a Mil-Spec USGI receiver if they still have the time to do stuff like this.
Chinese parts and barrels aren't any better or worse than the coimmercial parts Springfield Inc. is now using.
Norinco marked rifles are better than Poly-Tech marked rifles.

We gave the Chinese the tooling, they just didn't follow the specifications on the build plan like they should have.

Even today Chinese metallurgy isn't anywhere near the quality of American and European technology.
Why do you think they are buying so much steel?
They are trying to reverse engineer it like they do everything else.

January 5, 2007, 09:13 AM
Thanks for the feedback, Onmilo. What makes the Norincos superior to the Polys?


January 5, 2007, 06:41 PM
M1A Scout Squad vs PTR-91, side by side review:

Some thoughts on this thread:

IMO, Onmillo's comments, regarding sub moa accuracy and requiring more maintenance etc are in reference to the match accurized type of M-14.

If you want to keep the super accuracy, the match m-14s are cranky, whiney things, and their essential status as "battle rifle" becomes debateable, if not outright dubious.

The essence of a battle rifle is to provide a low maintenance, high reliability under adverse conditions shooting platform that gives the shooter reasonable, minute of enemy accuracy standards.

A "normal" m-14 will shoot 2-4 MOA, as will just about any competently built "EBR" class .308.

You can also drag it through the mud, open the action, rinse it out with your canteen, and get back into the fight.

I'd also point out that if the G3 family, shares any common design heritage with Kalshnikov, it's pretty much accidental.

January 6, 2007, 11:37 AM
Norinco marked rifles had sawed off flashiders and really junky stocks but the parts are better quality than the Polytech rifles.
Norinco receivers are better overall quality than the Polytech and seem to better heat treated.

I agree with the last post about the M14 being not too tempermental in its original form.
They do require regular maintenence or they will fail just as quickly as the infamous early M16s or the most modern M4 wundercarbine.
Unfortunately the reproduction rifles being offered today just do not compare with the original rifle and require even more diligence to keep them operating in harsh conditions.

The G-3 has absolutely no design similarities with the Kalashnikov other than the fact the rifle works in all sorts of incliment conditions.
I actually prefer a G-3 over any and all Kalashnikov rifle designs, it is just as reliable, more accurate, just as durable, and I can rest assured I will reliably hit targets at 600 meters with a G-3.
Anybody want to honestly claim that for the Kalashnikov?

The Guy
January 6, 2007, 05:03 PM
El Tejon, see ya in Bloomington.

Onmilo, hope you can make it too.

Mike, the M1A is a stud. Keep it greased and it will serve you well. DSA makes great FAL types. Get Boston's Gun Bible to see a great comparison on the 3 MBR's that you were asking about. If you go with a M-14/M1A type, Fulton Armory makes great rifles. They also have a very good assembly guide for sale, recomended for all M-14 type owners. LBR makes FORGED recivers, and may be the current "Cadilac" of M-14 type builds.

January 6, 2007, 06:26 PM
People buy one G3/PTK91, people buy 3 or 6 or 10 M14's.

The M14's are addictive.

1. M14
2. FAL
3. M14 or FAL
#7 PTR91/G3

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