Feeding problems with M1A


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uneasy_rider
December 18, 2007, 11:21 PM
I can hand cycle rounds through my M1A with no problem. However, I am having trouble when shooting. Sometimes, the spent cartridge is not ejected from the rifle at all. I don't think the bolt even opens when that happens, but its hard to tell. Sometimes, the spent case is ejected, but a new round is not fed into the chamber. I can't tell if the bolt is going back far enough to pick up a new round. I think it might be short stroking. About 20% of the time, it will eject a spent case, and pick up a fresh round like its supposed to.

This was the first time I have shot this rifle in over a year. I have never cleaned the gas system, but have field stripped the rifle and cleaned it when I put it up last year. It has about 500 rounds max through it, and has never had a cycling problem til now. I am using USGI magazines.

What is my problem?

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Andrewsky
December 18, 2007, 11:31 PM
What ammo are you shooting?

Do you have a scope mount?

What make is your extractor?

Is your gas valve completely in the open position?

Clean your gas system.

What kind of lubrication are you using?

uneasy_rider
December 18, 2007, 11:36 PM
I am shooting reloads that work fine through my FALs. They are 150g FMJ's loaded over 43.5g of Winchester 748, to give a chronographed velocity of 2600 fps.

I know people poo poo reloads here, but these are well made and I do not believe are part of the problem. I plan on trying some Winchester 7.62x51 NATO surplus over the weekend, but don't expect it to make any difference.

My extractor is whatever Springfield Armory puts on their M1A's.

I am not sure what position my gas valve is in. The gun worked flawlessly the last time I used it, which was over a year ago. How do I tell what position it is in ?

I lubed it when I put it up a year ago, using Lubriplate.

Andrewsky
December 18, 2007, 11:51 PM
The valve should be straight up and down; perpendicular to the barrel.

Try out that NATO stuff.

Springfield extractors are notoriously bad. You might have to replace yours with a Fulton extractor. They're $35 but Fulton is having a 12% off sale right now. You can use the M14 combo tool to take the bolt apart. Degrease the gun and apply tetra grease.

And clean your gas piston, but do not lubricate it. Make sure you have the appropriate tools for disassembling the gas system so you don't put any torque on the barrel, etc.

uneasy_rider
December 18, 2007, 11:53 PM
What tools do i need to disassemble the gas system?

I have heard lubriplate is what the military uses to lube the M14. Do you think Tetra is better?

Slugless
December 18, 2007, 11:56 PM
I suspect it's your gas system.

Pick up the rifle, hold it in the vertical position muzzle up. Now flip it over so the muzzle faces down.

Does the gas piston move freely? If it doesn't move it badly needs cleaning.

That said, I have a similar problem with my M1A. With Lithuanian ammo, it ejects fine but seems to be short stroking - either failure to feed or failure to go into battery.

I cleaned the piece and cleaned the gas system well (even though the piston moved) with q-tips and scotchbrite. Also I tightened up the gas plug real well, it wasn't torqued properly. This reduced the FTFeed to 5% from 20%.

I then ordered gas system cleaning materials from Sadlak Industries. Nice kit.

I've not shot it since because of the deer season rush at the rifle range. Lots of yahoos & distractions. I plan to shoot it over the holidays.

For me it seems to be a combination of ammo + dirty gas system. My rifle also had sat around for a couple years & when I brought it out it seemed over lubed.

There's some other things to look at, too but first:

*clean the rifle
*use lubriplate only on the parts of the rifle where it is specified
*clean the gas system thoroughly w/drill bits, don't lube it at all
*check the gas valve - the slot in it should line up in the same direction of the gas flow
*check the gas port in the barrel for obstructions
*try some different ammo
*search on M14-forums (http://www.m-14forum.com/upload/) for similar problems (you'll probably find my post)

Let us know what happens.

*Edit - whoops, other posts in the meantime. Tetra is excellent, I highly recommend it. I use Tetra, not lubriplate. Use the combo tool on your gas system.

uneasy_rider
December 19, 2007, 12:00 AM
I can hear the piston moving when I have the bolt locked back, but not when the bolt is forward. Is that normal?

Where can I get detailed instructions on how to clean the gas system?

Slugless
December 19, 2007, 12:06 AM
{deleted. that was so stupid I'm embarrassed. RTFM.}

Send me a PM for some cleaning instructions.

GunTech
December 19, 2007, 12:24 AM
The piston should move with the bolt back, and bolt when the bolt is forward. Perfectly normal. When the bolt is forward, the op rod is resting against the piston.

GunTech
December 19, 2007, 12:27 AM
To disassemble the gas system, you need a combo tool or a 7/16 wrench. Just unbolt the gas plus and the piston should fall right out. I use a set of Sadlak drills to get to crud out.

http://www.sadlak.com/si_tools.html

GunTech
December 19, 2007, 12:32 AM
I am shooting reloads that work fine through my FALs. They are 150g FMJ's loaded over 43.5g of Winchester 748, to give a chronographed velocity of 2600 fps.

Are you using commercial or military brass? In military brass, 43.5 should give about 2740 fps (LC). In commercial brass like WW, you need to kick it up a couple of grains.

Try this: Insert one round in an empty magazine and fire. Does the bolt lock open?

W.E.G.
December 19, 2007, 12:33 AM
Where can I get detailed instructions on how to clean the gas system?

http://www.zediker.com/articles/m14_1.1.pdf
and
http://www.zediker.com/articles/m14_2.1.pdf
and
http://www.zediker.com/articles/m14_3.1.pdf
and
http://www.jarheadtop.com/article_m14.html
and
http://www.creedmoorsports.com/store/product.php?productid=16368

Z71
December 19, 2007, 12:34 AM
When the bolt is foward in battery on an M14/M1A rifle, the op-rod is forward against the gas piston. Have to lock the bolt back to hear the gas piston clunk back and forth when checking for a stuck piston.

I've had my Polytech M14S rifles work fine with the gas piston stuck enough that it wouldn't move under it's own weight.

Almost sounds like a blocked or mis-aligned gas port. Better check out the gas valve setting, and possibly the assembly of the gas piston housing and retainer parts.

Slugless
December 19, 2007, 12:47 AM
Here's some advice I received:

Gas cylinder alignment would be the first culprit. You can use a small (#43?)drill bit as well to check alignment. With the shank inserted from the bottom of the GC, it should travel unimpeded into the barrel.

Does anyone know the best drill bit size? Or another method/alignment gauge?

Wild Deuce
December 19, 2007, 12:48 AM
I found this book to be worth the money ... The M14 Complete Assembly Guide (http://www.fulton-armory.com/Books.htm#m14).

uneasy_rider
December 19, 2007, 01:04 AM
Are you using commercial or military brass?

I am using once fired Lake City military brass bought from GI Brass and sized with RCBS small base dies. I get an average of 2600 fps from both the M1A and the FAL. I am loading to an OAL of 2.800", which is about maximum length that will fit in the magazines.

Do you think 2600 fps is too slow to cycle the M1A mechanism?

GunTech
December 19, 2007, 01:50 AM
That load should run. Do you have the same issue with all magazines? Have you tried milsurp ammo?

Andrewsky
December 19, 2007, 02:20 AM
Make sure that when you take your gas piston out you don't drop it on a hard surface.

Winger Ed.
December 19, 2007, 03:00 AM
Darn, that's frustrating.
I thought the gas piston thing would have gotten ya fixed up.
If ya can hear it sliding back & forth- with the bolt open- its fine;
and I wouldn't take it apart if it was mine.

You're doing everything right,
and your ammo is plenty hot enough to make it cycle.

The only other 'shot in the dark' I can think of is your magazine
just 'doesn't fit'.

Can ya get, and/or try- a real, genuine, un-damaged, clean, black, USGI magazine for it,,
and not just another after market one?

(I've had the gray or silver aftermarket M14 magazines just give me fits--
Right up until I put them up on top of the target board and shot them with
a .50BMG----several times)

If the feed lips on top of the mag. are screwed up:
they'll present the next round improperly to be fed into the chamber,
and maybe even drag on the bottom of the bolt.

.

Chris Orndorff
December 19, 2007, 03:33 AM
I had a similar problem with my M1A; failure to extract. My rifle was clean, properly lubricated and the gas system was clean and dry. I had a GI extractor in the bolt. I finally sent the rifle back to SAI and they replaced the bolt with a forged item. It's run perfectly since then.

Andrewsky
December 19, 2007, 03:53 AM
You might want to grease your bolt roller as well.

Your op rod probably isn't bent...hmmm, I'm just trying to think of everything...

Maybe go to 44mag.com and buy a CMI mag and tell us if that helps. These are current issue USGI mags. I've got 11 of them they're good stuff.

wayne in boca
December 19, 2007, 06:38 AM
If your gas piston and gas plug have encrusted carbon inside them,They are effectively smaller than they should be,and thus have less volume for gas.This will cause exactly what you describe,short cycling.Get the Sadlak drills and gas cylinder wrench and clean them out.Then grease the rifle and try her again.

uneasy_rider
December 19, 2007, 09:00 AM
Maybe go to 44mag.com and buy a CMI mag and tell us if that helps.

Why would a mag cause a complete failure to extract?

Slugless
December 19, 2007, 09:18 AM
uneasy,

I think the mag advice is more about the failure to feed symptom. GunTech's advice about 1 round in a mag is good.

FWIW, I drilled out my piston & found carbon inside. Not a lot but it seemed to collect in a couple rings inside the piston. A carbon ring could act as a restriction and affect the piston movement more than just the volume of carbon itself.

I suspect Wayne is right but I think it's weird that two of us w/500 round rifles put up for a year have nearly identical symptoms. I figured the M1A was more rugged than that. A GI with an M14 doesn't exactly have mail order access to Sadlak on the battlefield.

Hopefully it's not a misaligned gas port. I'd like to know how to check the alignment. A pipe cleaner goes into it fine, so did a very small diameter allen wrench. But that's just testing for gross blockage, not a restriction due to a little misalignment.

SlamFire1
December 19, 2007, 10:31 AM
Do you think 2600 fps is too slow to cycle the M1A mechanism?

No, that is an excellent velocity to be at for your M1a. The rifle will cycle at even lower velocities.


I am using once fired Lake City military brass bought from GI Brass and sized with RCBS small base dies. I get an average of 2600 fps from both the M1A and the FAL. I am loading to an OAL of 2.800", which is about maximum length that will fit in the magazines.

Sounds like you are doing everything right.


I suspect you have a gas system problem or an extractor problem. As others have said clean out your gas piston. I do not recommend removing the gas cylinder because each time you do, it gets loose on the splines. You can clean out the cylinder with bore cleaner on patches.

Don't forget to put "antiseize" on the threads of the the gas lock screw. You can get that at an auto store. http://www.permatex.com/images/DisplayImage.asp?210|/images/ProductPhotos/80071.jpg

If you have never cleaned your gas piston then it is entirely possible that your rifle is cycling too fast to pick up a round.

Just buy an extra extractor and ejector spring. I would recommend disassembling the bolt and cleaning those out, just to make sure.

30Cal
December 19, 2007, 01:02 PM
Gas cylinder alignment would be the first culprit. You can use a small (#43?)drill bit as well to check alignment. With the shank inserted from the bottom of the GC, it should travel unimpeded into the barrel.

Does anyone know the best drill bit size? Or another method/alignment gauge?

Use one that fits--1/16" or so. It's pretty simple. The ports into the gas system are larger than the matching port drilled in the barrel.


You should either shoot some good surplus ammo or check your handloads with a case gage. Otherwise, your ammo is questionable because we don't know whether it's sized correctly.

Or...

Verify that your sized brass will fit into the chamber and that your stripped bolt** will close with no effort. I still recommend getting a gage as the gage will tell how much you're sizing instead of this way, which tells you only if you're sizing enough.

**To strip the bolt, close it against a fired 30-06 case. Run a punch up through the bottom of the mag well and pop out the extractor while compressing the bolt springs against the case. Reassemble the same way--compress the springs against a fired 30-06 case and simply press the extractor back in.

Make sure you've cleaned the chamber with a GI bore brush. When you clean the gas system, make sure you clean out the smaller semi-round portion as well.

The type of grease doesn't matter. Remove all the old grease, put on new grease. Cycle the action a half dozen times, then wipe off most of it.


If you're going to put the rifle up for a long time without cleaning the gas system, I recommend you put one or two drops of Hoppes or Kroil in the gas system via the bleed hole. 500rds isn't all that much, but you will get a decent amount of carbon out.

30Cal
December 19, 2007, 01:21 PM
Lube the following places w/ grease
1. Bolt Roller
2. The tracks on the receiver where the oprod and bolt ride
3. The side of the barrel where the oprod rubs
4. Near the rear sight where the oprod rubs
5. The spur on the hammer
6. Shiny spots on the bolt

When you tear the gas system open, note whether the gas plug was tight or not. Loose plug=short cycling. The gas cyl lock should be threaded fully down, then, if it doesn't stop very close to 6 o'clock, it should be backed off till the gas plug goes in. Check this before you go any further. Look closely for cracks on all gas system parts, and check your gas port alignment when you reassemble.

uneasy_rider
December 19, 2007, 03:26 PM
I retested my rifle with some Georgia Arms, Winchester, and surplus British 308. The rifle runs perfectly NORMAL with these.

The problem has to be my reloads...

I have been discussing this problem in the Reloading forum also. Now that I know it is my reloads, lets move further discussion to this thread:

http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=324124


30 cal, I am particularly interested in hearing from you over in the other thread regarding brass sizing issues...

Winger Ed.
December 20, 2007, 01:31 AM
Slugless,
You're right, the beast is tough.
I bought mine in 1990, have fired about 3,000 rounds in it.
A lot of FMJ stuff, both surplus and reloads with (I think 748), and at least couple thousand cast bullets with a very reduced load of something along the lines of a .30-30.

I keep it clean, but have never taken the gas plug off.
I hear the piston sliding around in there, so I figured it's fine.
And it's never jamed or had a feed/extraction failure.

.

Kurosaki
January 27, 2008, 02:59 AM
New member here...and just got an M1A (hand-me-down from dad) and am having the same problem. Re-loads did'nt eject, and consistent jamming. I'm pretty sure my father never took the gun apart to the extent it may have needed to fix the problem. I think it could be a combination of the re-loads, and the lack of a good deep cleaning.

My list of things to locate so far is:

*get Tetra gun grease
*solvent and oil (hoppe's?)
* get the combo tool / brush
*and locate some instructions
*test NATO rounds (have a couple boxes)

I wanted to make a post to see if anyone here had any other ideas or things I should be thinking about to help this wonderful gun out. I'd love to know if someone may have posted pictures of the disassembly/cleaning...I think all the years of model making help me understand those better than written instructions only. You're input is greatly appreciated!

stubbicatt
January 27, 2008, 11:37 AM
When I used to shoot M14 in "Highpower" matches, I was what most call a "dirty gun shooter." I would swab the bore and use a chamber brush, and wipe the bolt face and grease it all up. The gas system was unitized and all tricked out and did not get cleaned until the rifle hiccuped. Then it would be disassembled and cleaned. I never removed the barreled action from the glass bedding.

Rifle was good to me. :)

SlamFire1
January 27, 2008, 01:32 PM
When I used to shoot M14 in "Highpower" matches, I was what most call a "dirty gun shooter." I would swab the bore and use a chamber brush, and wipe the bolt face and grease it all up. The gas system was unitized and all tricked out and did not get cleaned until the rifle hiccuped. Then it would be disassembled and cleaned. I never removed the barreled action from the glass bedding.

With the exception of cleaning the gas system, your maintenance is close to mine. But I believe in cleaning the insides of that cylinder and piston. I leave the cylinder on the barrel.

I forgot which year it was, but I was in my Hut during the Nationals and in comes a bud from a boarding state team. Bud was having malfunctions in the line, his State M14 was having bolt overrides and failures relating to feed and extraction.

I asked him if he had cleaned the gas system, he said “No”, he had been told to never clean the gas system. I took off the gas cylinder lock screw and removed the gas piston. The entire external surface of the gas piston was covered in deep pits. Looked like sculpted Swiss cheese!. I turned the gas piston up sides down and carbon residue just poured out of the piston. And then stopped. Looking inside, the lower part of the gas piston was full of impacted carbon, and the fouling extended up into the big chamber. It took a fair amount of work with my gas piston cleaning tool to scrap out all the carbon fouling.

Once reassembled, the rifle functioned fine.

Rifles are mechanical mechanisms and should be kept clean and lubricated for optimum functioning. What is amazing is the level of reliability that good service rifle mechanisms still provide after deliberate neglect.

glockman19
January 27, 2008, 01:49 PM
I was what most call a "dirty gun shooter." I would swab the bore and use a chamber brush, and wipe the bolt face and grease it all up. The gas system was unitized and all tricked out and did not get cleaned until the rifle hiccuped. Then it would be disassembled and cleaned. I never removed the barreled action from the glass bedding.

Me too.

I shoot Winchester 147 grain NATO stamped ammo along with Federal Vital Shok & REmington UMC. I have had no problems in over a year of shooting around 1,300 rounds. All I've had to do is tighten the gas cylinder lock screw. I too will clean when it shows signs of failure. Otherwis I've had absolutely NO issues with my SA M1A.

Since it is under lifetime warranty I'd sent it back to Springfield. The customer service is excellent. I sent mine back for a new stock because of a hairline crack above the trigger where the "fun" switch had been epoxied over. Turnaround was less than a week. I also had them install a QD stud to accept the harris bipod.

Slugless
January 27, 2008, 02:27 PM
Kurosaki,

Welcome to THR!

Peruse http://www.m-14forum.com/upload/ for instructions & possible pics.

I'm pretty sure the problem I was having was inadequate lubrication. You mention Tetra grease? The instructions on the tube state:

Grease is effective on surface of metal even when grease layer is not visible

Wiping off most all the grease is okay per the instructions but, I believe, lead to inadequate lubrication for an M1-A. Follow 30cal's good advices on cleaning, lube, checking the gas port, etc.

Sadlak's gas system wrench, drills, etc. are very nice, you can get a combo tool et. al. from Mr. Sadlack as well.

H2O MAN
January 27, 2008, 02:47 PM
This link: http://www.rifle-company.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=137 should help.

P-32
January 27, 2008, 08:28 PM
OK now that you have figured out it's your reloads.....which is the only way I can afford to shoot service rifles...I had a simular problem with my match tuned 308 M-1. I figured out I was not sizing my brass enough. I know you said you used a small base die, I do not, but you will need to set your die in the press far enough down so you are tight against the shell holder when you are sizing the brass.

Kurosaki
January 27, 2008, 08:33 PM
Great, thanks for all the comments and advice...especially the pages of detailed disassembly. It wont be too bad for a college student, really the main thing I'm missing is the combo tool. I'll round up some of the cleaning equipment and let you know what happens.

How do you all feel about scope mounts?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=320210609341&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=011

Do they hamper the brass ejection?

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