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M1A: FTE diagnosis and "how to clear" drill?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Buckskinner, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    Took the M1A to the range for the first time.
    Went through about 100 rounds testing mags and POI.
    Several times I had a "stove pipe" type failure to eject.
    So, live round in the chamber, with the bolt closed on the empty brass, mouth up. How does that happen?

    What is the immediate action drill for this malfunction?

    There's a Sadlak scope mount in place.
    I was shooting FNM-60 or something like that. Old but in great and shiny shape.
    There was a bit of gunk around the gas cylinder lock and cylinder. Is that normal?

    My instinct says clean the ejector, and delube the gas cylinder/piston...

    What say ye?
  2. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Well-Known Member

    If you have room with the scope mounted I'd sweep my strong hand over the empty brass and knock it loose. Then I'd palm strike the charging handle to confirm the bolt if all the way forward.

    M14s are typically run with no lube in the gas piston. If you have corrosion problems try very light oil.

    Does the ejector move freely when you compress it with a tool?

  3. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    The ejector moves after some initial difficulty. It seems stiff and gunky to me.
    I'll strip it and clean it all out. Oil the spring and inside the channel?
  4. longdayjake

    longdayjake Well-Known Member

    what grain bullets are they and what length barrel you shooting?

    The socoms wont cycle 175 grainers at all and they struggle with 168 grainers too but can usually do okay.
  5. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    Well, the ammo was W.German surplus w/NATO cross. 147 gr?
    Barrel is standard 22".
    What does the bolt face supposed to look like? The ejector angle is at a different angle to the middle of the bolt face.
    Can the ejector be put in the wrong way?
  6. lipadj46

    lipadj46 Well-Known Member

    So as I understand this is what happening?

    The gun goes bang the round is extracted as the bolt goes back, the spent case gets spun out, the next round is fed up and as the bolt goes forward to feed the next round the spent shell gets caught in the bolt?

    Is this correct? When you say mouth up you mean the rim end is caught in the bolt or open end gets caught in the bolt? Or is it geting caught between the bolt and the scope mount?

    How far is the brass being ejected normally?

    Is this new or used? If used have you cleaned out your gas vent? Is your gas valve open all the way? Is the gas cylinder plug tight (sometimes they loosen up while shooting)? Make sure it is cleaned and lubed, M14s need grease.

    The ejector is usually pretty stiff but you can take the bolt apart and see if it is gunked up. Just a helpful hint get yourself a spent 30.06 shell or a bolt dissasembly tool from LRBarms.com (they sell a good steel version). The 30.06 shell allows the bolt stay open so you can remove/install the exctractor without the ejector flying across the room.

    No but bolts can be fun to get back together.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2009
  7. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    No kidding.

    If you want to try to take the bolt apart go ahead and buy the tool for that, it makes it immensely easier.

    Ask me how I know...... :banghead:
  8. Polar Express

    Polar Express Well-Known Member

    I haven't shot mine yet, but I'm looking forward to learning about it. Thanks for starting this thread.

    TexasRifleman & Lipadj46: What tool are you referring to, and where can I find it? Is that the one from LRBarms.com? If you were to make a list of all the books and tools that would be a good 'starter kit' for a new M1A owner, what would you put on that list? Mine is a standard, so it came with NOTHING.

  9. lipadj46

    lipadj46 Well-Known Member


    Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

    - A combo tool is nice for the wrench and little pry bar to open the trigger guard plus it fits in the butt stock.
    - A set of punches with a 3/32" punch
    - 2 drill bits (forget the exact size) and some sort of handle to clean out your gas vents. Sadlak makes 2 nice but overpriced tools to do this.
    - A spent 30.06 case to change out bolt guts.
    - The army field manual that comes with the M1A is about all you need (along with internet forums and youtube)

    That's about it. Maybe also a brass hammer or big brass punch. The M14 is a nice simple design and the fact that you only need a wrench to disassemble it 85% of the way speaks volumes of the designer.
  10. Polar Express

    Polar Express Well-Known Member

    Thanks! I scrolled to the bottom, and saw the bolt tool. is the little multi-wrench thinggy in that cleaning kit?
  11. pgeleven

    pgeleven Well-Known Member

    i would recommend watching someone else do it first, unlike my dumba$$ who went solo and watched parts go flying, then spent a good hour busting my knuckle trying to get it back together. i even made up a few new swear words while doing this and im mad i didnt write them down
  12. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    The rifle is new to me. Its a 69xxx SAI, with all USGI parts.
    Its spent some time at SEI before I got it, and it should be running like a top.
    I cleaned the gas system, the piston was shiny clean. I gave it a wipe with CLP.
    I didn't torque the gas cylinder plug, but I did find marks from the previous owner. I didn't check the alignment of the gas tube to barrel.
    It really shot fine except for these malfs, but having traded an HK for it, which never ever malfed, I'm concerned that this is a bit high strung. I don't want to believe that...
    While the scope mount is installed, there is no scope mounted.
    Normally the brass goes forward and slightly to the right of my "shooting lane" about 6'.
    The ones that get stuck are held by the rim between the bolt and front of ejection port.
    And yep, somehow its loading one from the mag into the chamber before the brass gets caught and holds the bolt open.

    Are you saying that with the bolt closed on the '06 case, you can drive the pin up from the bottom of the bolt, then retract the bolt from the closed position, and be able to manage the disassembly just like that?
  13. lipadj46

    lipadj46 Well-Known Member

    Yes, you can just use a wrench and a screwdriver to pry the trigger guard but the combo tool is a nice to have. If you can find an Otis 7.62 sniper rifle cleaning kit for $50 or under it is nice compact cleaning kit, you will not need another.
  14. lipadj46

    lipadj46 Well-Known Member

    Pretty much the 30.06 shell is long enough to hold the bolt back enough that you can use a screw driver to pry out the extractor (you use a screw driver to pry not to drive it out from the bottom). The shell obviously holds in the ejector that is under tension and would normally go PING and fly across the room and it will also hold the ejector in while you put the extractor back in. It can be done with a vise and some patience but that ejector can shoot like 20 ft and gets very frustrating.

    Just keep shooting it and see if it loosens up. It can't hurt to swap out the ejector and spring. They are cheap and I believe numrich has them in stock. Also if you have not grease the bolt roller with a spent .45 case and put a very thin layer of grease on all the metal to metal "sliding" points like the little channel where the op rod runs and where the bolt runs. Also put a thin layer of grease on the op rod spring. Sounds like a nice rifle and if it was at SEI then it should be good.
  15. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    Most stovepipes occur due to your gun not liking that particular type of ammo. Often with softer loads that don't vigorously drive the action to the rear. I'd venture to say your older ammo wasn't going "boom" as well as it should, and the gun was short stroking on it.
  16. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    I see what you mean now.
    I dug up a combo tool that came with the rifle. Duh.
    No apparent issues with any parts.

    If the bolt, gas, and magazine systems are functioning properly then this is probably caused by at least one, if not both of the following factors:

    • Older ammo?
    • Scope mount interfering
    with ejection,

    By the way, it shot like a frickin' dream besides this. I absolutely love this rifle...Not sure if it will replace my M1...now that I've shot them both, I will have to go back to the M1 and compare a bit. That box mag thing takes a lot away from the sweet lines of the M1.
  17. lipadj46

    lipadj46 Well-Known Member

    Most of the newer mounts of that type have been tweeked not to affect ejection. I have the Smith weaver mount and have not had problems. I have heard a few issues with the german ammo but they have been around thin brass and corrosion in battle packs due to acidic paper. I would buy some Prvi Partizan match ammo and see if the problem continues to happen.
  18. Buckskinner

    Buckskinner Well-Known Member

    Short stroking

    'Wolf, I think you're right on the money too.

    To cock the hammer, the bolt must go all the way aft in the receiver?
    So, when I cleared the stovepiped brass and drove the op rod forward, the trigger wasn't set.
    When applying immediate action to the op rod, the extractor hadn't grabbed the rim, so it would've became a double feed, had I let fly.

    So, I dropped the mag, pulled the op rod back and shook out one round. Then without letting the op rod "fly", close it, and whack it to get the extractor over the rim.

    I'll have to check it across the other surplus.
    By the way this was either "LOS MS 37-63" or "FNM 80-64".

    Thanks for info guys. I didn't know this was a possibility with older ammo, and I'll keep a much closer eye on it.

    Looks like I'll keep the "Go" mags filled with the Aussie...
  19. lipadj46

    lipadj46 Well-Known Member

    It could be a number of different things but with M14s it usually comes down to bad ammo, bad mags or a dirty bore (usually from ammo with a tar sealant).
  20. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    Well, the bolt doesn't necessarily need to go all the way aft to cock it; different actions cock at different points in the stroke. However, for proper ejection it needs to vigorously drive it to the rear. Ever pulled a bolt slowly on a rifle? Chances are the spent case just barely rolls out of the action, or doesn't eject very far. Pull it fast, though, and it ejects properly. This is because the ejector needs to hit the case fast and hard to properly eject it. Slowly pulling the bolt results in the extractor not hitting the case hard enough or in the right place to eject it. The stovepiping combined with the failure to recock confirms it, though. It's definitely short stroking. Change your ammo, and you'll be fine.

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