HELP - What are the best M14 variants?


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Bill_Rights
February 22, 2011, 11:59 PM
I am finally maybe in the market for a high quality M14 in, of course, 308Win/NATO7.62x51. I am overwhelmed, however, by the tremendous variety of M14s going all the way back to just after the Korean War all the way forward to modern sniper rifles and SOCOM variants. Then there are the civilian variants.

Could someone run down the history and types of M14-based rifles? And what is this thing called the M1A-M14?

Maybe there is a web site you could refer me to? Trust me, as a long-time High Road member, I DID DO A SEARCH of the THR archives for almost an hour and did not find what I was looking for in one place. I realize that there are specialty M14 web sites, for High Power competitions for example, but I think these do not cover the whole range of M14 types.

To narrow it down a little bit, I am only interested in buying M14s within the following constraints:
- Must have the legendary reliability and dirt-eating tolerance of the best military models
- Must have some legitimate pedigree to USA military M14s (NOT interested in Norinco or PolyTech Chinese knock-offs)
- Must be made in USA or "authorized" foreign maker of exceptional quality
- Would like an M14 that can mount a scope or reflex sight, even if aftermarket mounting hardware must be purchased, as long as this hardware is available in highest quality
- Must be able to use the native iron sights by removal of scope/optics
- I would consider either/both long-barreled sniper-like variants or close-quarters combat (CQB) short-barreled variants
- I like both "vintage" units as well as recent-manufacture units, as long as the other requirements above are met

Am I asking too much? Please fill in what you can. If I get enough response, I will compile the results into one organized post.

Thanks!

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JGPena
February 23, 2011, 12:11 AM
you're gonna pay big bucks for high quality USGI M14 rifle or build.
You can go the "cheaper" route and get a very nice accurate/reliable Springfield M1A or variant; http://www.springfield-armory.com/armory.php?clicktype=rifles
or try this M14 forum; www.m14tfl.com
good luck

ElToro
February 23, 2011, 01:11 AM
how deep is your wallet ? an off the shelf springfield Loaded is a very good rifle. and will give you all the sevice you need for 1500. their supermatch is a great rifle for about 3k or so. a LRB or Smith or Fulton is also very good. i have 3 springers ( socom, Bush, and standard) im very happy with all 3, but given a choice of only having 1 ? id probly have to go bush/scout

depends what your doing with it, long range super accurate shooting with a scope or < 100 yards and only need irons.

sorry to send you back with more homework, but you need to decide if you want a cqb/patrol style rifle or a 1000 yard camp perry rifle. also how much you really want to spend. i do know this buy as many mags as you can afford from www.44mag.com

General Disarray
February 23, 2011, 01:19 AM
I've been doing this same research recently, and the website M14tfl.com that JGPena linked to is the best source for all things M14. Here's what little I can offer at this point:

Springfield Arms was making M1a's from 1974 to 1994 with mostly USGI parts until the supply ran out. Since then Springfield uses cast parts, as opposed to the Mil-spec forged heated treated.

Companies that do us forged parts are Smith Enterprises (only filling Military contracts at the moment), Armscorp, LRB, and 7.62 Firearms Co.

As far as I can tell, most guys into these high-end m14's are assembling them from putting USGI (mil-spec) parts like the bolt, trigger, and op-rod, onto hammer forged heat-treated receivers and barrel from companies like LRB or Smith. On both Armscorp and 7.62 Firearms websites they have assembled rifles that meet these standards ready to order; you can also have either company build to spec if time isn't a factor.

It is also possible to come into a decent Springfield from pre-1994 that had one of their better receivers and assembled with trigger, bolt, and oprods from one of the three factories that produced USGI parts: TRW, H&R, and Winchester.

I have a Springfield Bush rifle from 1994 with a TRW bolt, TRW trigger, and H&R op-rod. They're out there, but nothing post 1994 from Springfield has any USGI parts on them.

JGPena
February 23, 2011, 01:29 AM
yeah good call; minus the "high quality" phrase from my last post.

skipbo32
February 23, 2011, 02:08 AM
you cant go wrong with a springfield armory m1a. they are the best value. they are quality and have a life time warranty. i have four and love them all.

madcratebuilder
February 23, 2011, 07:46 AM
I wouldn't main adding a Jamesriver rifle to my two SA collection.

http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=F1JRM14&groupid=11

General Disarray
February 23, 2011, 11:45 AM
I wouldn't main adding a Jamesriver rifle to my two SA collection.

http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=F1JRM14&groupid=11
Yup; but they're sold out. I doubt now that they're manufacturing the parts from scratch if we'll see them at that price again.

BTW, I don't have a anything bad to say about Springfiled; I own one. BUT, the OP had a criteria of "Must have some legitimate pedigree to USA military M14s". The Springifield Armory we have today in Illinois is NOT the same Springfield Arms that was making M1 Garands and M14's for the military in WWII and Korea. That plant shut down in the 60's and is the one we have today is only the same in name only. The military doesn't not contract anything from todays Springfield Armory. They don't make one part on their current production models to Mil-spec, and so I don't believe they should be compared to ones that do as they like trying to compare Hondas to Jaguars.

Bill_Rights
February 24, 2011, 12:49 AM
Thanks Pena, Toro, General and Skipbo,

USGI = U.S. Government Issue, I think. Never ran across this acronym before...

I also get the idea of the (sold out) Jamestown F1JRM14 -http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=F1JRM14&groupid=11
James River .308 (7.62x51) Rifle. * This is the closest production Semi Auto Civilian M14 to the USGI M14 ever produced. * Receiver is Forged and fully machined in Cleveland using original TRW prints and with the assistance of a retired TRW production manager who manufactured the original M14’s in the early 1960’s. * Criterion Chrome lined barrel. There is no better made or higher quality standard GI contour barrel made. The Best! * New production forged bolt. * All other parts are excellent condition, refinished USGI. When these run out we are setting up manufacture in the US for the needed components. No Shortcuts! * Professionally refinished excellent condition USGI walnut or heavy birch stock. These look new. * Dummy selector lock to fill the stock “hole” customer can epoxy into stock. Gives “GI” appearance to rifle. Includes 20rd magazine, and hard carry case. While supplies last.

As OP I guess I soften my position somewhat on "official" USGI or similar pedigree. Two reasons. 1) I am not at all a collector and only specified USGI-like maufacture as a short-cut to guarantee reliability, ruggedness, etc. 2) I do think that modern metallurgy and manufacturing techniques can produce equal or better parts cheaper in many, many cases. I would rather have better and cheaper space-age components than collector's originals with wear-and-tear on 50 year-old technology. (Problem is, new stuff won't be battle-proven.)

My budget is more like $2000 than $4000, Toro. I need to consider the present-day Springfields, even if non-USGI and non-USGI methods of manufacture.

If you had a present-day Springfield and you could get USCG-spec or better aftermarket parts, what are the first two or three components you'd replace?

HorseSoldier
February 24, 2011, 12:54 AM
- Must have the legendary reliability and dirt-eating tolerance of the best military models

Maybe the M14 isn't the right weapon for you, then. They haven't done real well where the "dirt" is Middle Eastern and Afghan sand.

General Disarray
February 24, 2011, 02:58 AM
Maybe the M14 isn't the right weapon for you, then. They haven't done real well where the "dirt" is Middle Eastern and Afghan sand.
I don't know if that's entirely fair sentiment. The M14 isn't the only rifle that has issues in the sandbox, and some argue that it stands above them all in the .308 platform. The Israeli's had function problems with their FAL's, right? And the only other Major Battle Rifle (MBR) that is used in theaters today is the S.A.S.S. ((AR platform), and its the most finicky of them all to the elements. Every Squad Designated Marksmen in either Theater is carrying a M14, which by all accounts is testimony to there validity in service.

Bill Rights, you could probably stand to do some more research on these details. It's hard to sum up what you're asking about in one reply. While I agree with your sentiments in theory, in reality there are no "space aged" type m14 components being produced that are superior to the ancient 50 year old technology of Mil-spec rifles. What this comes down to is a quality issue, not a "collectability" issue. You can get rifles built to Mil-spec with newly produced parts from several companies for a range of prices from $1800-$3000. Basically what it comes down to is Springfield Armory's rifles are a "good value" because they cut corners and are producing parts for their rifles that are cast (poured into molds), instead of being hammer forged and heat treated. A brand new Mil-spec rifle from Armscorp ($2500) or 7.62 Firearms ($2200) will be good to go for up to 75K rounds. Anyone who shoots alot with a Springfield Arms rifle will readily admit that they had to swap the barrel at 6-8K rounds, and that the bolt and op-rod were each toast at 10K rounds. This is because SAI casts all their parts. You'd be well served to look deeper into these matters than you have so that you're well informed when you make your decisions. Again here's a good place to start: www.m14tfl.com

HorseSoldier
February 24, 2011, 03:43 AM
Every Squad Designated Marksmen in either Theater is carrying a M14, which by all accounts is testimony to there validity in service.

Not every SDM uses an M14 by any stretch of the imagination, and their use reflects the fact that they were available for free and had a lot of mythology associated with them, so people requested them. After a mediocre service record in theater they're only still there because they're cheap/free. People with the wherewithal to request good kit for the mission went with SR-25s a long time ago, now augmented by Mk 17s.

General Disarray
February 24, 2011, 03:58 AM
Not every SDM uses an M14 by any stretch of the imagination, and their use reflects the fact that they were available for free and had a lot of mythology associated with them, so people requested them. After a mediocre service record in theater they're only still there because they're cheap/free. People with the wherewithal to request good kit for the mission went with SR-25s a long time ago, now augmented by Mk 17s.

I'm sure our servicemen carrying M14's will appreciate you pointing out for them how shortsighted and misinformed their choices have been. If only they had consulted you first. :rolleyes:

So we could easily derail the actual discussion taking place with semantics and rhetoric about what platform would better serve the OP, but since he asked about M14's I've chosen to stay on topic and give what little advice I can offer. Best of luck in all your pursuits.

HorseSoldier
February 24, 2011, 04:05 AM
I'm sure our servicemen carrying M14's will appreciate you pointing out for them how shortsighted and misinformed their choices have been.

:confused:

Do you actually think the guys on the ground issued M14s had any role in the decision to drag the things out of storage?

General Disarray
February 24, 2011, 04:08 AM
:confused:

Do you actually think the guys on the ground issued M14s had any role in the decision to drag the things out of storage?

Do you actually think anything you've contributed to this conversation has been on-topic?

The only thing I know for sure is that I don't know anything. Regards.

NWCP
February 24, 2011, 04:57 AM
I have an M1A Supermatch that was made in '93. If you can afford it the Supermatch is a nice rifle. Mine is more accurate than I am. You can get mounts and scope the M1A. I just happen to like shooting mine with the iron sights. I wouldn't play in the sand, dirt, mud, or gravel with my rifle, but then I'm not in combat with one either. I was trained on the M14 back in my military days and still have a soft spot for the platform. That's why I own a Springfield M1A. So far it's been accurate and reliable. That's all I can ask of any rifle. Hope you enjoy whatever you get.

madcratebuilder
February 24, 2011, 06:57 AM
My budget is more like $2000 than $4000, Toro. I need to consider the present-day Springfields, even if non-USGI and non-USGI methods of manufacture.

Don't get hung up on the USGI kick. The commercial parts that SA use are fine. I have two M1A's, one is all TRW usgi and the other is all SA commercial. The commercial rifle is more accurate and just as reliable. The GI parts is just bragging rights for the most part.

The SA loaded model gives you a NM barrel and SA's version of NM sights, good base for a quality rifle. Screw and glue the gas cylinder, ream the flash hider, add a NM spring guide and fit the stock you have a excellent rifle.

General Disarray
February 24, 2011, 12:38 PM
The GI parts is just bragging rights for the most part..

I agree with most of this, in a general way; Springfields are fine for the casual shooter who shoots a couple of boxes every outing. I don't really know a lot of people who spent the extra money on USGI parts so they could brag about it. I think the appeal has to do with a quality issue; USGI parts will outlast Springfield's cast parts by about a 5-fold. USGI=75K rounds before replacement needed. Springfield's cast parts=10K-15K rounds at best before replacement needed. In this light Springfield's are actually more expensive in the long run. Anyone who's going to do a significant amount of shooting will pay more for their rifle in the long run with an SAI; it just plain math.

God Guns American Cars
February 24, 2011, 01:05 PM
So there are no decent M1A's/M14's available anymore that aren't discontinued or sold out... what a shame. 10-15k rounds of use just isn't worth the Springfield price... unless nothing else is available I guess

HorseSoldier
February 24, 2011, 01:11 PM
Almost all M1As sold in this country are just range toys that will likely never see 15,000 rounds run through them anyway. At current ammo prices that's about the cost of four M1As, which 99% of shooters just won't ever put through their weapons. Probably won't ever put anywhere near that through their weapons.

General Disarray
February 24, 2011, 02:19 PM
So there are no decent M1A's/M14's available anymore that aren't discontinued or sold out... what a shame. 10-15k rounds of use just isn't worth the Springfield price... unless nothing else is available I guess

Have you looked around? They're out there:

http://www.762mmfirearms.com/8620hammerforgedcompleterifle.aspx

http://www.762mmfirearms.com/completesemiautom14rifles.aspx

skipbo32
February 25, 2011, 02:57 AM
to the OP:

given your wants and knowledge of the m14 platform i highly recommend the M1A by Springfield INC. you will pay over twice as much for a high end GI spec M14 and they will not appear to be any more quality to the average noobie. GI parts are becoming scarce, being the reason the prices are high. if you have 2,600 bucks to spend on a LRB then i suggest buying two M1As instead. they will both have a life time warranty and spare parts will be cheaper and easier to get. Springfield will take care of you.

gun collectors all want "the real deal", so GI parts are high in price more due to their rarity rather than quality. i would rather have bran spankin new cast parts than old worn out GI surplus parts. i understand you can still get new old stock GI parts.....but a bolt and trigger group will be $300 a piece if not more. then, you have to pay a M14 gun smith to assemble and head space everything. unless you are interested in bragging rights, then i can tell you that there is nothing a LRB or Crazy Horse M14 will do that a M1A cant.

and to Horsesoldier:

i have never....i mean never heard of someone turning down a M14 platform because of its reliability. the only semi auto more reliable than a M14 is an AK. if i was in vast sandy dirty terrain there is no choice other than the M14 for me. the perfect balance between accuracy and reliability. maybe i am missing something here but i would like to hear what battle rifle will be more reliable than a M14 and still be accurate out to 800 yds.:scrutiny:

ElToro
February 26, 2011, 11:51 AM
15k rounds ? 75k rounds ? if my rifles ( 2 commercial and one gi parts) last 75k rounds, i will be duly impressed and buy a new one. by the time i can afford to shoot 75k rounds for as often as i shoot maybe every few months or so for a couple rounds spread over 3 m1a's i will be an old man.

but i see teh point your making

mshootnit
February 26, 2011, 12:40 PM
I also would like a James River or Fulton Armory or Smith or 7.62 but where the price of admission for even a Springfield is so high I did end up going with Springfield. I bought a national match rifle and it exceeds my expectations in every respect. I then bought a Standard synthetic version and ordered a USGI contour new walnut stock, with liner, screws, buttplate assembly, and brown plastic handguard from Fulton Armory. I hand finished the stock and when the package was assembled I was able to shoot a 2.5" four shot group at 200 meters. It is a beautiful rifle. I have been very pleased with both of my Springfield Armory rifles. Some have said I will need a new USGI extractor at some point. We will see.

ridefun2
February 26, 2011, 04:41 PM
I also recommend www.m14tfl.com. I'm a member there as well, and have found the amount of knowledge of the m14/M1A and their willingness to share it unmatched. For your price range (~$2000), I would recommend SAI as well.

jonc
February 26, 2011, 07:08 PM
well if a springfield part wears out they will fix it free of charge. Usgi-75 k sai- infinite haha

Bill_Rights
March 3, 2011, 12:03 AM
Thank you all for the education. I will go and do my homework, but now, at least, I know a lot more to start with.

I checked out the M14 Firing Line Forum (http://m14tfl.com/). A lot to process through there!

I am pretty sure I will go with a modern, new-built SA model, then see how or if to improve from there. Better to walk before running, when you don't know where you're going.

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