Want an M1 or M1A. Opinions?


August 30, 2004, 06:54 PM
Hey all, I am wanting a "full-power" rifle. I am a huge fan of the AR-series, but the M1/M1A is calling me.

What would be better? A CMP Service-Grade Garand cleaned up and restored to like-new? Or a older M1A? I say older because the newer M1As use crappy cast parts and receivers. I only want an older one with forged USGI parts and a forged receiver.

The Garand would be cheaper, but ammo would cost more and it is ammo sensitive. The en-bloc clips are cheap though and they can be stored loaded indefinitely

The M1A would cost more at the outset, but ammo is cheaper. It has a 20-round mag compared to the 8-round en bloc clip. On the other hand, I'll never actually KNOW if it's really a forged one or has forged USGI parts unless I REALLY get it checked out.

What's the going rate on good, forged M1As?

$$$$$$$ is the problem. Fulton-Armory seems to be EXTREMELY proud of their stuff, I've found.

I was hoping for finding a nice used rifle for less than $1000. I know CMP Garands are 500 bucks and can be made like-new for a couple-hundred more, still less than $1000. I am leaning toward the Garand on price alone. There is the historical thing as well.

What about building a kit M1A? Is it cheaper?

Call me cheap, but I won't pay Fulton-Armory prices for a gun I'm going to use like a soldier would: hard. This gun will not be a safe queen.

FWIW, I DO like the rear-lugged Fulton receivers. Do these make a difference in Accuracy or toughness?

So which way would you go? M1 or M1A?

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AZ Jeff
August 30, 2004, 07:34 PM
Boy you sure raised a bunch of issues. Here are some thoughts-----

1. Forged versus cast parts: There is nothing inherently wrong with a cast part, provided it was done properly. In fact, some parts on late M1 Garands and some parts of M14's were made via casting processes. The problem comes in when quality control slips and/or is non-existant. Springfield Armory, Inc., the prime commercial maker of M14 clones under the M1A brand name, has had some issues with quality on occasion, as have just about every other maker of M14 pattern commercial rifles. Some persons have tied these quality issues to the extensive use of cast parts by these commercial makers. This correlation between cast parts and quality is NOT necessarily accurate, as some of the parts having problems are not even manufactured by the casting process. It's not how the part was made, but what quality standards were used in it's manufacture and inspection that determine it's overall suitability.

2. Receivers: All M1 Garand recieves made for the US mil. had forged receivers. Their workmanship and quality is legendary. As you probably know, you cannot buy a "real" M14 reciever, so you must choose a commercial M14-type (M1A semi-auto only) receiver. All M1A receivers, with the exception of the following, are cast: Norinco/Polytech (Chinese), Smith Enterprises and LRB. Most cast receivers are of acceptable quality, but obviously, clunkers do get out on occasion, mostly due to spotty quality control procedures. (See item 1 above.) I think only ONE commercial vendor is currently making forged M14 pattern receivers. (No new Chinese guns are coming in, and Smith is not currently making receivers.)

3. Parts in general: rifle parts made for the US military are generally of superior quality to anything made commercially. Yes, there will be times when commercial stuff will come equal, but it's pretty hard to have a QC system in place commercially that was more in-depth than the one the DOD employed. Then again, the taxpayer was footing the bill for this quality system, so profitability was not a concern!!! If you buy an M1, you can be pretty sure it's all GI parts, especially if it's from DCM/CMP. An M14 type rifle will be more of a crap shoot, as the amount of GI parts in one varies according to manufacturer (and previous owner!) Sometimes, even with careful examination, one cannot ID a carefully faked GI part without the use of expensive measuring equipment on an M14 type rifle.

4. Price: Finding a used rifle for under $1K should not be a problem, but it's going to limit your search to some extent. Chances are, you will NOT find an M14-pattern rifle in this price range, but PLENTY of really nice M1 Garands can be had for that price.

5. Building a rifle: If you choose to build a rifle, study up on what's required to assemble one safely. The M1/M14/M1A type rifles don't "bolt together" like an AR-15 type rifle does. It requires some skilled effort and tools to construct one properly (especially headspacing). You may want to enlist someone to do some of the key assembly for you, and then finish it yourself. If you do go the "build it" route, buy Kuhnhausen's shop manual on US Service Rifles. It will save you lots of grief.

6. Rear Lugged Receivers: This added feature is done ONLY on match rifles, and is intended to help the rifle stay stationary in it's glass bedded stock. Unless you are a match shooter in HP matches, you will never see the benefits of such a feature. (Then again, if you were a match shooter, you would not be looking at an M14 pattern rifle, as it's obsolete compared to the Black Rifle nowadays in HP matches.)

August 30, 2004, 07:36 PM
Order you a rack grade M1 and have it rebarreled in .308, you can get a decent barrel for around $150.00. My gunsmith charged me $40.00 to
install and headspace mine it was the best thing i ever did.

August 30, 2004, 07:40 PM
Ok heres the deal. Both rifles are like a e-mail virus. When you open it it spreads. That said, I have both, the Garands are great, I have more than one. The M1A type are great too. I do only have one of those. The Springfields are good rifles, justr try to find one with USGI parts, bolt barrel and TH/ Op rod. Mine has all that and was under $1000. Ya just gotta look around. You could get 2 M1s. I'd space them out about a month though to ease your way into th eaddiction.:D

I really lik ethem both and you will probably in the long run get both. If I were you ,or you were like me....I'd get the M1a first cause it's hard for me to get that kind of money. After that you could get a Greek RG for $295. Its just easier for me to get the money for a Garand. Whatever you get they will both be great.

August 30, 2004, 07:50 PM
Hm...Good info.

The better overall quality is why I am leaning toward the M1. Even if they're older or more beat, they can be restored to "milspec" because there are LOTS of surplus parts out there.

I really want an M1, and only considered the M1A because my dad is always relating stories about the M14 he had in ROTC and then the Army. He thinks the M14/M1A is the finest battle rifle ever. I can't get his endorsement out of my head, even though I've never shot an M1A. I may end up getting both, but we'll see. There's Machine Guns I would get first.

If (When) I get an M1, are there any companies who offer restoration services like Orion used to? I remember their website had things like the "Private", "Corporal", "Sergeant" and "Lieutenant" packages which were varying degrees of M1 Restoration. They no longer offer these services. Has anyone taken up the slack?

If I get an M1, it'll stay in .30-06. A .308 Garand is like a neon-green Corvette with Gold rims. Not necessarily BAD, but just WRONG to me.

August 30, 2004, 07:52 PM
Keep checking the ad boards on gun sites. I've seen M1As for $1,000 and under on them. I was tempted by one for $975, but spent the gun $ on another .41 Magnum instead.

The CMP will sell you a returned Greek M1 Garand for around $300 with shipping. Some are more worn than others, I hear, but that's the best deal on M1s right now.

I have both the M1 and the M1A and a clone of the AR15. I much prefer shooting the .30 cal rifles.

August 30, 2004, 09:29 PM
A .308 Garand is like a neon-green Corvette with Gold rims.

Hmmmmmmmm. These didn't strike me that way, but to each their own...



Guess I'll have to keep them in the safe to avoid public humiliation...

P5 Guy
August 30, 2004, 10:03 PM
Buy a rack grade Greek M1 for $295 plus shipping and have it rebuilt by one of the M1 gunsmithes everyone raves about on the military rifle gunboards. Just a suggestion.

August 30, 2004, 10:52 PM
varoadking -

A .308 Garand is like a neon-green Corvette with Gold rims.

He was probably refering to M1s like mine. :)


August 30, 2004, 11:28 PM
Those are some FINE rifles!!

What I meant was that while the rifle (or corvette) may perform just fine, it's just not "right". the M1 was chambered in .30-06, so MacArthur said, so shall it be. :D

Those are some nice rifles though.

I apologize if my metaphor was a bit too obtuse.

August 30, 2004, 11:46 PM
What I meant was that while the rifle (or corvette) may perform just fine, it's just not "right". the M1 was chambered in .30-06, so MacArthur said, so shall it be.

Don't worry, I know exactly what you mean. I just have a taste for odd rifles. :)

August 31, 2004, 06:59 AM
What he said ^. Just havin' some fun with ya...:)

August 31, 2004, 07:26 AM
I admit to a full-blown bias. I'd recommend an M1A if restricted to two choices. The best description of an M1 I ever heard was, "Nostalgia keeps this gun marketable, because it shoots half as good as it should after a competent 'smith has gone through it. If this was a commercial rifle, it'd have gone the way of the dodo bird."

I agree completely, but the M1 holds no sentimental value to me whatsoever. Sure, my father and father-in-law used one, but I like better accuracy than the standard 3-4 inch "military accuracy" out of a rack grade M1. Ammo is getting pricey, too.

I've got an M1A that I bought used (history "unknown")--it shot ~1 1/2" groups. After a visit to a 'smith and a big chunk of cash, it'll hold .4 MOA prone out to 300yd.

You haven't said what kind of shooting for which you'd use it "hard". If accuracy is any concern, I'd rekindle that passing thought you had about the AR, and in order of price vs. accuracy, list them this way--AR, M1A, and M1. If you're just gonna blast gallon milk jugs at 100yd, the cheapest, used rifle will do, and in that case only, I'd say okay, M1.

August 31, 2004, 09:06 AM
Get a US Service Grade M-1 from the CMP. If it's not accurate enough for you, there are still plenty of smiths that work on the M-1. Go to www.jouster.com and read there M-1 message board and you can get some reccomendations there.

Btw, Springfield Armory, Inc. never made the M-1A with a forged receiver. They have always used cast receivers. There are a few companies that made or are making forged receivers for M-14 clones, but they are pricey.

M-14 kits are pretty much gone. Parts have dried up and it is not cheaper to build one up from parts anymore.

One last thought on cast vs. forged. Casting may be an acceptable process for parts that are DESIGNED to be cast from the outset, but it can cause problems when you cast a part that was originally designed to be forged. It's hard to maintain the critical geometry and strength requirements when redesigning a part to be cast instead of forged.

Steve Smith
August 31, 2004, 09:17 AM
Neon green Vette with gold rims? No, try practical.

August 31, 2004, 12:42 PM
Why don't you give us some idea of what you are going to do with the rifle ?
On the one hand, you want one that is going to be used "hard" and not babied, yet you want to restore one to new condition. Personally, I have never done anything that really beat up my guns. I have gotten a blemish or two on the stock but nothing that would stand out. But, if for some reason I expected to really beat up a rifle (:confused: ), I wouldn't waste the money to get one restored.
Based on what you have said so far, I don't see the problem with buying a service grade rifle from the CMP and not doing anything to it. They run fine, shoot as good as an issue M1 and may have already been used "hard". You also might be surprised what you get from the CMP. I got a Greek service grade rifle and it had obviously been used "hard". The stock has dings all over it and the metal is getting shiny around the edges. I got another USGI service grade rifle and the stock is in great condition with the exception of a couple dings on the right side of the stock: it isn't like new, but is very good.
I don't really have enough experience to comment much on accuracy. I own several M1 rifles and one Springfield M1A. They all shoot good enough for my present needs. I have shot the M1s a lot more and am pretty impressed with their practical accuracy. I shoot my rifles (at present) in matches where we shoot steel plates out to 800 yards. If I miss, it is my fault and not the rifle. None of my rifles have had any work done to them at all. In the last match I even went five for five at 700 yards with one of my M1s from prone.

I am not sure how much of this Springfield M1A stuff is internet hype. I KNOW that there have been problems. But every manufacturer of firearms that I know of has had some problems that have been reported on the internet. It seems to me that there have been a lot of M1A rifles sold over the years and most of them seem to work fine. Again, I am not saying there has never been a problem, there has, but I don't know how widespread the problem is. I haven't shot my M1A enough to make any kind of judgement based on my own experience. If you go to the boards that specialize in M1A type rifles, you will find plenty of people shooting them and enjoying them with a few people talking trash about them as well (just like any board and any subject).

I think you will find that very few M1s or M1A rifles would be considered "accurate" in the varmint rifle or bench rest rifle sense. They are battle rifles that were designed to be accurate enough to hit a man at a reasonable range. If you start looking at the custom gunsmiths that specialize in these rifles, you have to spend a whole lot of money to get one that is guarenteed to shoot 1 MOA. How much realistic accuracy you need depends on what you want to do with the rifle and how well you can shoot. Of course everyone wants a rifle that shoots one hole groups at 1000 yards, but that isn't always easy to obtain. I might even go so far as to say that if you want a super accurate rifle that these arn't the rifles for you. Since we brought up cars it is kind of like saying: I want a car that will do 150 mph while also getting 30 miles to the gallon and be big enough to haul around the whole little league team.

August 31, 2004, 01:44 PM
When I think of people who "baby" rifles, I think of guys who keep the rifle in a velvet-lined padded case, wear white gloves when handling it, only shoot it off of a adjustable rest, so they only touch the trigger and the butt.

I mean to use it. Not run though a field and hit the prone, using the rifle as a 3rd point of contact, but shoot the piss out of it. Target plinking up to 600 yards. Minute-Of-Torso battle rifle accuracy is fine. I don't need a 1 MOA rifle. For that, I got my AR.

Assuming the mechanicals checks out to the point of "excellent", I would go with it. I would "restore" it cosmetically to the point of nice wood and reparkerizing. If the wood is serviceable, fine, I'll go with it, but there's nothing that bugs me more than bare-steel on an M1. Basically, I want the rifle to look and act like I was the first one she was issued to.

August 31, 2004, 01:53 PM
Gotcha. That is about the same for me.
Check out this website. I have seen this guy come highly recommended on several sites that deal primarily with M1s: http://www.dgrguns.com/index.html I am thinking of sending him my USGI Service Grade and get the package that only does the wood and the metal: no new barrel. I want the standard wood finish (similar to an issue rifle; oil finish). I would send this rifle because I think mechanically, it is fine. . At some point I might spring for a more expensive package for my Greek service grade. It is much more worn and loose.

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