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Best CA rifle?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by USMC Tanker, Apr 6, 2006.

  1. USMC Tanker

    USMC Tanker Well-Known Member

    I really need to fulfill my hunger for a good semi-automatic, CA legal rifle. It seems like my options consist of: M1 Garand, M1A series, M1 Carbine, SKSs', and the Ruger Mini-14.

    I'm not really looking to break my wallet right now, so the Garand and M1A are probably out of the question. The M1 Carbines aren't exactly cheap nowadays either.

    I'm not too partial to the Mini-14's because of questionable reliability, quality, etc. I've just heard way too many bad things about them in order for me to feel comfortable about investing in one.

    The SKS seems to be pretty well accepted as a good rifle for the buck. 7.62X39 is decently priced as well. The SKS may be the route for me, but again, I'm not sure.

    So my question is this, for all the CA gunners out there: What are your best options for a CA legal, semi-automatic rifle?
  2. Third_Rail

    Third_Rail Well-Known Member

    M1A, overall.

    On a budget? SKS.
  3. Black Majik

    Black Majik Well-Known Member

    How about an AR15 with an off-listed lower? Only catch is no detachable magazines, but its a real AR15.


    Best honestly, the only 2 rifles I'd even consider otherwise would be the M1 Garand and the M1A. Nothing else compares.
  4. cslinger

    cslinger Well-Known Member

    M1A by far. It is not only a good CA rifle it is a GREAT rifle period. I would go either M1A, or Garand.

    Now the SKS sure isn't a bad gun, very robust, cheap to feed, reliable, quick to load etc. but it simply isn't in the same class as above.

    Save your money and buy a good M1A and I think you will be very very happy.
  5. ArmedBear

    ArmedBear Well-Known Member

    Mini-14 reliability problems? BS.
    Accuracy issues? Yes.
    Quality? Ruger fixes stuff for free. Quality has never been an issue with Ruger.

    Check out a Kel-Tec SU-16CA. It's a practical little carbine, folds in half for transport and storage, and hold extra mags in the stock. Uses AR magazines. Much nicer IMO than the original version.


    Get an SKS anyway. They're cheap enough.
  6. ocabj

    ocabj Well-Known Member

    Besides an offlist AR lower my choices in order are:

    1. M1 Garand via the CMP. A gun collection without an authentic US M1 Garand is not a gun collection. Can be surprisingly accurate as-is. Can be made incredibly accurate with work. Great competition rifle and arguably the most significant battle rifle of all time.

    2. M14 clone via LRB Arms or used Springfield Armory Inc M1A. Great competition and battle rifle.

    3. M1 Carbine (WWII era, no commercial reproduction). Good for all shooters, young and old. Nowhere near as accurate as the M1 Garand or M14. Collectability value.

    I cannot comment on the Keltec SU-16 series since I have never handled one. But it gets decent word of mouth. All I know is I hate when someone shoots one next to me at the range. The ones I've been next to had the most irrirating muzzle brake and I never thought a gas operated .223 chambered rifle with a muzzle brake would be so annoying (gas blast).

    The Ruger Mini-14 is fine for what it does. Around 2MOA in a carbine style platform.

    I would rank the SKS dead last. I have one and it is the only firearm I have that I've run less than 100 rounds through and let collect dust. If you like to blast away with no avail, then it's a fine rifle. But I'm not that kind of shooter. If anything, I bought one just to have in the collection.
  7. USMC Tanker

    USMC Tanker Well-Known Member

    The only thing that bothers me about the CMP is the fact that it's really a toss up (even if you select Service Grade) how well of a condition you get your Garand. Also, the Garand doesn't eat commercial 30-06 that well, does it? I would hate to have to wait for a gun show to come to town for me to find some decent priced milsurp 30-06.
  8. ocabj

    ocabj Well-Known Member

    Get yourself a service grade and you'll be good to go.

    The 2 most common reasons I read about regarding the reluctance to purchase from the CMP is the (1) sight-unseen issue and (2) the requirements. People think the requirements are too much of a hassle, but it's really simple to fulfill them. The sight-unseen issue is overblown. If you get a service grade or better, you will get a fine rifle. Even field grades will be good. Lots of people will argue me here, but I think you'll be fine with a rack grade, but for a first time Garand owner, I'd shy away from the rack grade and get the service grade.

    The hesitation to go the CMP route will be regretted a couple years down the line when they CMP supply dries up.

    Of course, you can get a Garand second hand. I'm sure if you check the Jouster's for sale section you'll find someone selling a service grade style rifle with pictures and a solid description for a little more than the corresponding CMP pricing.

    Whatever you do, don't buy a Garand from the guy who I always see setup at the Crossroads of the West gun show in Costa Mesa (and I've seen his booth in Del Mar). Total rip off on his prices. He even quoted me $175 for the correct op-rod for my 2.51mil SA (which I found via the CMP trading board for $80).

    M2 surplus is available from the CMP for as low as $117 per 480 round shipped for Greek HXP M2 ball.

    Greek HXP M2 ball has been pretty accurate, so much so that I stopped reloading for the Garand and 03A3 right now and shoot the HXP exclusively. We were issued HXP at the CMP Western Games last November and I shot a 270 with it. The brass is good stuff, too. Light primer crimp that doesn't need to be swaged. I buy the HXP and stockpile the fired brass for later use.

    I wouldn't shoot commercial .30-06 in a Garand even if the published muzzle velocity matches M2 specifications. Why? You don't know what powder is used in the ammo. You can achieve a target muzzle velocity with a large range of powders, but the Garand system is unique and needs powders with in a certain burn rate. The powder used in that commerical Federal or Winchester ammo could be too fast or too slow. No way to know unless the ammo manufacturer told you what powder is in the stuff. You can always get the adjustable gas plug so you can shoot commercial ammo in a Garand without harming the oprod.

    But if you don't want to deal with all that, there's always the M14 clones. 7.62x51 NATO is readily available and the M14 clones can digest most commerical ammo safely.

    I don't want to sound like I'm trying to pressure you one way or the other. Just trying to give you as much info as possible.
  9. Creeping Incrementalism

    Creeping Incrementalism Well-Known Member

    My own Mini-14 has shot fine, but it took my friend's about 300-400 rounds before it started working reliably. I guess the rough edges had to be worn off, or something.

    It does? My Mini's manual expressedly says it ccomes with no warranty whatsoever!

    Duncan Long, who wrote the book on the Mini-14, gives a 3-5 MOA average. That's what every one I've ever shot does, and from what I hear, that's about average. You are seriously lucky if your stock Mini will shoot 2 MOA.

    The Mini is like an AK in terms of accuracy, except not as tough or reliable, and costing twice as much.

    My buddy bought an M1A. Biggest jam-a-matic I've ever seen, about every third round. Sent it back to Springfield for warranty service. Comes back, same damn thing. I'm not saying this is typical, but it's not the only story like this I've heard.

    You are stuck with a fixed 10-round mag, unless you use one of the lame methods to get around the pistol grip. It's easier to put a non-pistol grip on an un-listed AK receiver, since you don't have that buffer tube to get around.

    I've heard only good things about the Kel-Tec, but still, it seems so flimsy.
  10. ocabj

    ocabj Well-Known Member

    Not surprised. The M1A quality has gone downhill mainly due to the use of non-USGI parts that are out of spec.

    Definitely get another M14 clone besides the M1A. LRB Arms sells complete M14 clones with all UGSI parts. Or get a used M1A that was built before 2000, which should almost guarantee you good parts (just be sure to take the flash supressor off before you do the PPT; flash supressor on M14 clone = CA AW). Don't concern yourself with the M1A cast receiver. The cast vs forged isn't the cause of most M1A issues.
  11. colt.45

    colt.45 Well-Known Member

    a ruger mini-14 unreliable? i dont think so
    a m-14 unreliable? no way in hell. Creeping Incrementalism: the jamming was probably because your friend didn't use the adjustable gas system.

    if you can, get the m-1a and some instruction on how to use it and the gas system. as for the sks, i wouldnt get it as a first rifle. shooting bullets is its only function, the accuracy is rediculous in my book. although, it was designed to hand out to peasant's. you would probably be pretty happy with a kel-Tek rifle, theyre a 2moa gun and acording to alot of people, reliable as heck.
  12. colt.45

    colt.45 Well-Known Member

    and i almost forgot. the cmp garands are great. some are better than others but if you get a service grade you will not be dissapointed. as for comercial ammo, as long as you keep the bullet waights between 140 and 175, your golden. mine even shoots the crappy berdan primed russian stuff.
  13. roscoe

    roscoe Well-Known Member

    I think the SKS can be a hell of a rifle. Put a Tech-Sight on it for $50 to give you the GI aperture sight and it is a reasonably accurate semi-auto carbine that does all you want out to 250 yards. My Norinco SKS can put em in the 10-ring all day from 100 yards and it only cost $150. If you want to throw another $100 at the SKS you can get trigger work done by Kivaari and the firing pin spring installed by Murray's. Then you are really in deep - $300, and the rifle is still doing everything you need. Durable? Reliable? Handy? Easy recoil? Cheap practice ammo? Yep, all those things. Handsome? New and expensive? Tacticool? No.

    It depends on what you want.

    Rumor is that you can also get a Saiga in California, although that has yet to be proven legally. Mine in 223 is another sleeper, and it is also very accurate.
  14. tangodown

    tangodown Active Member

    M1A if your budget allows for it, keltec su16ca otherwise... I have both and a mini 14... the mini is a good gun for blasting away at a hillside or taking potshots at coyotes but thats about it. My m1a jamed alot with those shitty asian magazines, use USGI or quality aftermarket (probably have to go that route in CA). Keltecs are nice if you have a bunch of AR mags laying around after a trip to the sandbox, only reason I got it, and I am glad i did.
  15. High Planes Drifter

    High Planes Drifter Well-Known Member

    I own (and love) an M1A; but if I lived in Ca. I think I'd actualy go with an M1 in .308. Perhaps buy a CMP and have it rebareled. Alot less money than an M1A, and those 8rd. en-bloc clips are dirt cheap. The extra 2 rds.the M1A offers just wouldnt be worth the extra money. Both are absolutely fantastic firearms, my decision would be based on the economic factors.
  16. ocabj

    ocabj Well-Known Member

    Yes, the .308 Garand is an option. CMP rack grade + .308 barrel + new stock = less than $1000 (at least, it can be less that $1k; there's ways to spend a lot on a new barrel and stock to bump it over $1k for a project).
  17. ocabj

    ocabj Well-Known Member

    double submit
  18. thatguy

    thatguy Well-Known Member

    If you plan to be CA legal then you are limited to 10 rounds. In this case I see no reason to spend $1400 for an M1A. Or even $500 for Mini 14. The 7.62x39 is cheaper and more useful than the .30 Carbine so the choice bcomes obvious. Being on a budget only helps cement the case for the SKS.

    Sadly, due to the awful and clearly un-Constitutional laws imposed by the Commie lawmakers and judges (same thing) in the RPK the SKS is the best choice for a CA legal semi-auto rifle with anti-personnel capabilities.

  19. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    Price + capacity = M1 Garand.

    I've seen good M1 Garands on Gunbroker for within $100 of CMP. CMP is a great deal, and your money is going to a great organization. There are many threads here and elsewhere that will demystify the "hoops". And there is a great feeling seeing the FedEx truck pulling up to deliver your rifle. No wait necessary, no smug gun shop FFL holders doing transfers.

    Add a case of the commercial greek ammo, and you're good to go for way under $1000.

    I put a forward scope mount and long eye relief on one of my M1's and its a lot of fun.

    The capacity issue should be the last nail. This is the only choice that you can maximize capacity legally.

    And IMO can get a better prone position. And is more comfortable to carry like a hunting rifle.

    I've outshot a friend's M1A. And he was on the bench and I was offhand.

    I'm still shopping for an M1A, but at twice the price, there's really no comparison.

    I have a mini 14 too. I've hung the shroud and a flash hider off it, and had a trigger job. With TAP ammo, it shoots about 2" or less. Really. No matter what everyone else likes to bag on.

    The .223 and the .30 are very different. You should have one of each.
  20. USMC Tanker

    USMC Tanker Well-Known Member

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