Reloading for a M1A


November 28, 2008, 02:54 PM
I am new to reloading and will be reloading for my m1a soon. Can someone give me a few recipes for this rifle. Preferably for a 168gr. bullet. Also, I read about these "slamfires", do I need to use some special primers or do normal commercial large primers work fine for this application. Thanks for any suggestions y'all might have.

PM me if you can. As I might forget to check the thread often.

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November 28, 2008, 04:44 PM
Check out the attached link... I think it will help answer a lot of your questions.

Also PM sent your way.

November 29, 2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks Galil. I will check it out this weekend.

November 29, 2008, 07:42 PM
I shot an M1A in competition for years, virtually all of it with a 168gr Sierra/Hornady/Nosler with 41.5gr IMR 4895, in a LC case. About 1990 I switched from Federal to Winchester, but only because of availability issues.

I've never seen a slamfire, except when there was a high primer. I have seen doubling on the M1 and M1A, but that was because of worn parts.

The Winchester primer was closest to Mil-Spec once upon a time. The CCI may be harder than the Winchester primer, but it is also a Magnum-strength primer.

November 29, 2008, 09:43 PM
My advice:

Set up your sizing dies with a Wilson type cartridge headspace gage. Size to gage minimum. You do not want any delay to bolt closure due to over long cases. This and primer sensitivity are very, very, important safety considerations.

I small base size. This is a risk reduction effort. You do not want overlong or too fat of cases for your 308 M1a. Anything that delays bolt closure only increase the chance of an out of battery slamfire. The only case lubes that work well with my small base dies are RCBS case lube or Imperial Wax. Everything else requires too much effort. .

Trim your cases to 2.000” (or less, but two inches is easy to remember) after sizing. I always trim my cases between each firing, but I have a Giraud trimmer. With this trimmer it takes less time to trim than to measure the cases.

I highly recommend reaming your pockets to depth. Prime your brass with a hand held tool and always check to see that the primer is below the case head. No high primers! This is a safety issue in semi auto’s.

I recommend CCI #34 primers. They are the least sensitive primers out there. You do not want to use any primer that is “more sensitive”. Do not use Federals. When friends have discussed their slamfires, and mine (!) federals were the primers involved in all of our slamfires in M1 Garands or M1a’s.

The M14 was designed with IMR 4895 as the propellant. I recommend IMR 4895, AA2495, or H4895. These powders shoot exceptionally well and give appropriate port pressures. If you have to have a ball powder, AA2520 used to be very popular with M1a match shooters.

I seat all bullets to less than 2.800”. Currently I am seating all my 168’s to LT. 2.750”. I did load up some 150 FMJ’s, and they shot well at 2.75”. Bullets vary in length, so make sure none are longer than 2.800” or you will have troubles getting some in the magazine.

My match ammo, out to 300 yards is a 168 SMK/Nosler/Hornady Match, 41.0 grains IMR 4895/AA2494/H4895 LC cases CCI#34. OAL LT 2.800"

At long range I will bump up the charge to 41.5 grains with a 168.

Maybe some super duper shooter can tell the difference on target between a Sierra Match king, a Nosler Match, or a Hornady match, but in my hands and my rifles, they all shoot very well. I buy what is cheapest.

For 150 grain bullets, keep your velocities just at 2700 fps. Do not try to load bullets to 2800 or 2900 fps. That will be too hot for your M1a. For 168 Match bullets, I like to be between 2550 and 2625 fps. For 174 SMK around 2550 fps is fine, I don’t go over 2600 fps.

I found that 43-43.5 grains AA2520 with a 150 Hornady FMJ to give good accuracy and acceptable velocities.

For 168 SMK , the standard match load was somewhere between 40.5 grains IMR 4895 and 41.5 grains IMR 4895. I am using 41.0 IMR 4895 out to 300 yards. If I am using the 168 at 600 yards, I will bump it up to 41.5 grains.

November 30, 2008, 01:39 AM
The only thing that is absolutely essential when loading for a semi-auto is full length resizing every time, watching the case lengths(all the same length to start with and chamfered and deburred. Max case length is 2.015", The trim-to length is 2.005". That's the minimum. The 5 thou won't matter. 2" is a good idea. Having the cases all the same length is more important.) and the OAL. Use either Small Base dies or a regular Full Length sizer die.
You don't need CCI #34 primers. They're a marketing gimmick for magnum primers. Properly seated regular large rifle primers work just fine. Improperly seated primers is the cause of slamfires, not the rifle.
"...a few recipes..." You'll have to work up the load for your rifle. No two will shoot the same ammo the same way. IMR4895, IMR4064 or Varget will do nicely for a 168 grain match bullet. (IMR4064 gives more consistent accuracy than IMR4895 though.) Mind you, 168's are best for distances up to 600 yards. 175 grain match bullets, with the same powders, past there. There are 150 grain match bullets too.
If you ever want to hunt with your rifle, work up a load with 165 grain hunting bullets using the same powders and primer. The .308 loves that bullet weight and it'll kill any game you care to hunt with no fuss.

December 10, 2008, 09:19 PM
Much abliged to all. It's always good to have as many viewpoints as possible. Y'all talk about using #34s; what's your take on using magnum primers such as wolf?

December 11, 2008, 03:12 PM
Y'all talk about using #34s; what's your take on using magnum primers such as wolf?

The CCI#34 is a magnum level primer. Still, if you use a Wolf magnum, you will need to start low and work up.

I have not used Wolf, as I bought a bunch of CCI#34's when they were $75.00 for 5000.

Some people call them a marketing gimmack, I would just love to buy more marketing gimmack primers at that price.

December 11, 2008, 06:10 PM
I've loaded a few thousand round of .308 using 168 BTHP, Sierra and Hornady. What is did learn about loading for my AR10B is not to go to max on powder. Slam fires are not an issue but buying new bolt parts is for me. The article listed above was ok for a general idea but keep in mind the guy had gunsmiths working on his guns. I don't have that kind of money.

I also use just about every brand of brass out there, all of it used at least once. I haven't bought any new .308 in a long time.

The first book I'd read is the "ABC's of Reloading". It helps clear up a lot of things, as well as letting you know what you're getting into.

Forgot to mention:
My loads are 40.3gn Varget, WLR primers, Hornady 168gn BTHP. cases are 14 different headstamps, all sorted and weighed.
I worked up the loads by each of the cases I'm using a couple of weeks ago, and found the load I listed above worked well in the AR. I do have a bunch of match cases but I didn't use those.

December 16, 2008, 12:27 AM
Thanks again folks. I almost have my equipment setup. Just collecting all the essentials, check by check. I appreciate all the input and will put it to good use.

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