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Sad realization about M1A's...

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by rockstar.esq, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. rockstar.esq

    rockstar.esq Participating Member

    Dec 9, 2004
    So I've just read Scott A. Duff's book on the M1A. There are a few things I've learned about them that lead me to be very dissapointed with it as a whole. Please note that I am drawing the following from that singular reference.

    1) The gun wasn't designed to prevent slamfires. (The SKS has similar problems but it's a MUCH older design, the US military knew about the problem and didn't try to fix it)

    2) The gun wasn't designed to contain slamfires to a closed bolt position. (Potentially fatal to shooter)

    3) The gas system is not adjustable to accomodate different powder charges and bullet weights. (batters the gun to death with commercial ammo)

    4) The bedding material is only rated to last for 1000 rounds maximum. (1 year for average match shooter)

    5) The barrel must be cleaned from the muzzle. (Much harder than it needs to be)

    6) Bore solvents supposedly deteriorate the bedding. (Seriously stupid)

    7) The ejection system batters brass so hard that reloads aren't realistic. (Annoying but common enough among all military semiauto rifles)

    8) One MOA is considered the pinnacle of accuracy from this platform. (Depressing considering the folklore about how amazing it is)

    9) Well bedded rifles require a hammer and a brass drift punch to field strip. (Again, annoying but "match" stuff is generally a PITA to disassemble)

    10) 211+ quality assurance testing fixtures, 400+ manufacturing steps, all based on M1 fixtures and jigs, to produce a rifle design that was/is flawed from the beginning.

    After my reading I've come to identify the two main reasons for the record of accuracy associated with the M1A. The first is the sights. Without a doubt the iron sights on the M1A are superb. The second is the ammunition. The 7.62x51 was/is loaded to a much higher level of quality and consistency than the 30-06 was for non match ammo. The powder advances no doubt play a huge role here. If I'm wrong about my conclusions I'd love to hear arguements against them. I'd really like to believe that the M1A was/is the finest rifle the US military has ever fielded but I need to see some evidence to disprove my earlier contentions.
  2. plexreticle

    plexreticle Participating Member

    Oct 8, 2006
    It's an old design not originally intended to be a match rifle.
  3. rockstar.esq

    rockstar.esq Participating Member

    Dec 9, 2004
    The intention as laid out by the military was to render a product improved M1 Garand. The Garand already had a long and storied past of being accurate and reliable.
  4. zinj

    zinj Active Member

    Oct 29, 2006
    Early SKSs did have a firing pin return spring to prevent slamfires, but it was deleted as a cost cutting measure.

    EDIT: And to add, I became a bit disillusioned with the M1a when I began hearing all of the maintanence and tinkering owners had to do to the rifle. Additionally there seem to be an abnormally high number cost-saving measures and outright manufacturing defects. I mean, SA recycling GI stocks, and then the paint coating chipping off? That is absurd in a $1500+ rifle.
  5. Neo-Luddite

    Neo-Luddite Senior Member

    Sep 13, 2006
    Northwest IL--the other 'Downstate'
    Hey, you wake up after a few years and realize all the nasty habits and shortcommings of your spouse---you don't have to get divorced. It's much the same with prized weapons you once thought were the cream of the crop and above reproach. None of them are perfect.

    I've talked to guys that were in when the switch from M-1 to M-14 took place and many felt betrayed. I've read accounts that soldiers resisted giving up the m1903 for the Garand. I'm sure if you went back far enough, someone would fiercly argue that flint ignition still beats cap and nipple any day.

    Point being, it's all relative and depends on training, preference and mission needs. Most of the negatives about the m-14 you cite are (at least in part) true. The slamfire issue is there because the design is based off the M-1 (which predates the Simonov of course) and the risk is very low (UNLESS the weapon is frozen and filthy dirty). The bolt chews brass up.

    My biggest beef is what SA wants for one of theirs. They are just out of the ballpark.
  6. Zullo74

    Zullo74 member

    Jun 28, 2005
    Northeast Florida

    With so much about an M1A that you don't like, you SHOULD NOT get one......E-V-E-R !!!! :mad:
  7. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    Feb 16, 2003
    Ft. Worth
    You are right, they are teh suck, don't ever get one.

    And don't buy any surplus ammo either, it's all garbage.

    When you find a rifle that's in the same category but better please let us know though.

    I'm not sure what you are really looking for however.

    What does bedding stocks and brass beat so bad you can't reload them have to do with a good battle rifle?

    In fact, your items 3 through 10 have nothing to do with a military battle rifle either so I'm not sure what you were looking for.
  8. 30Cal

    30Cal Senior Member

    Feb 11, 2004
    Albany, NY
    The receiver safety bridge retracts firing pin as the bolt closes. Same as on the M1.

    The spur on the hammer forces the bolt fully closed if it's not already there. The hammer can't contact the firing pin until the bolt is closed.

    Military firearm. Not meant to digest commercial ammo. Being as how .308Win didn't exist when it was designed...:rolleyes:

    Big deal. Learn to skim glass. I've got a rear lugged rifle and get about 8000rds between repairs. That's the nature of shooting the Man-Gun.

    Just like rust attacking metal, it's easily preventable, not seriously stupid.


    Pretty much true. The only two perfect scores fired on the National Match course were done with an M14. Go figure. Seems that even the hardest of holders have a tough time staying inside 2 MoA all day long.

    Glass bedding wasn't part of the design.

    You'd think they could have anticipated CNC technology and still have managed to design the rifle within 30 days. :rolleyes:
  9. Jacka L Ope

    Jacka L Ope Member

    Feb 13, 2007
    Washington State
    People seem to forget that the M1 rifle and follow-on models took more than 20 years to develop into what is otherwise known as a superbly designed and well tested COMBAT rifle.

    If there were any, the M1s only real deficiencies were that the operating rod could seize under sustained fire in heavy rain, a difficulty in loading partially empty en-bloc clips. Other than that, the M1/M14 and M1As still don't float. :p

    People seem oblivious to the fact that the M1, including the M14 and M1A, was designed to fire only standardized military ammunition that was NEVER intended to be reloaded, negating any need or someones desire for an adjustable gas system or less robust ejection. Whip out your SA M1A owner manual and read page 4:

    The M1A is designed and built to specifications to shoot standard factory military 7.62 NATO ammunition. The specifications for standard military ammunition include harder primers to withstand the slight indentation from the firing pin when the bolt chambers a cartridge. This slight indentation is normal. The use of civilian ammunition with more sensitive primers or hand loads with commercial primers and/or improperly seated primers increase the risk of primer detonation when the bolt slams forward. This unexpected "slam fire" can occur even if the trigger is not being pulled and if the safety is on. Use of military specification ammunition will help avoid this. Every shooter should use extreme caution when loading this or any other firearm. See page 15 for instructions on proper loading to help avoid a "slam fire". Also see enclosed article on “Slam Fire” written by Wayne Faatz.

    Regarding out-of-battery and slam fires, these are very rare and largely attributed to none other than the owners themselves and their improperly hand loaded ammunition or stuck forward firing pin tips - a condition resultant of poor maintenance by the none other than, you guessed it - the owner.

    Returning to battery, what we have here is a list of "deficiencies" that, in reality, do not exist. Some seem more than ready to forget, the M1s are well-designed and superb COMBAT rifles. That said, if a body does not like the design, they shouldn't own it.

    Cheers! [​IMG]
  10. RecoilRob

    RecoilRob Participating Member

    Sep 30, 2003
    Not very impressed with Mr. Duffs' knowledge of the M1A.
    Point by point: 1 & 2. The M1A very much is designed to prevent slam firing. The firing pin is restrained by a large and substantial web of metal until the bolt has turned enough to engage the locking lugs. If the firing pin and this mechanism is working properly, any slamfiring because of the unsprung firing pin will be non-eventful...should it happen. The rifle will not come apart and worst you have is a round downrange. Now, high primers are another case altogether....and not the rifles fault.

    3. The rifle was designed for Nato spec ammo. So, it will not run on hotter stuff...big deal. That is like complaining that your diesel will not run well on gasoline. Wasn't designed or intended for it...not the rifles fault.

    4 & 6. Bedding on stock battle rifles is wood and metal. Lasts really well. Not affected by solvent. Good design. The complaints are of a custom bedded 'target' rifle and do NOT reflect badly on the M1A design. A rifle modified for 'gaming' is NOT a battle rifle. As a battle rifle, the M1A does pretty well for what it is.

    5. Cleaning from the muzzle is not that big of a deal, is it? The factory flash supressor prevents excessive crown wear from careless rod use...but that is only on the battle rifle. Again, a modified target rifle without supressor cannot be a strike against the design.

    7. Funny. My rifle (a pre-ban all GI except for the receiver) doesn't hurt the brass at all on ejection. If you are running HOT ammo, well, I guess it could do some damage...but again, we are dissing the design when the problem is ammo compatibility or some individual mechanical problem. Not the rifles fault.

    8. My rifle in my hands will produce one MOA (or darn close to it) with good ammo. Iron sights (great that they are) aren't as precise as good glass so I am not discounting the rifles ability to shoot. It is better than the man holding it in most cases. Again, comparing a modified 'match' rifle against purpose built target rifles isn't fair. A modified Camaro may be fast, but a purpose built race car will be no match. It is all relative...

    The M1A (and M1 Garand) are fantastic rifles for what they were designed to do. Asking them for more is placing the blame on the modifier, not the original design. And, I have read of the problems with keeping them running over in the SandBox....but that is more to do with them being old, rebuilt, repaired (perhaps badly) and not understood well by the persons running them. Just my opinion...

    Edit: WoW!! Several replies saying the same things whilst I was typing my rant....great work guys!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 21, 2007
  11. SoCalShooter

    SoCalShooter Senior Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    That's for me to know and not you!
    My friends m1a has several thousand rounds through it without a problem, match weapons are very tempermental and you dont clean them very often if you dont have to, you also only SHOOT them for practice and matches especially when bedded. If you want a plinker get a lower end m1a, they are awesome rifles.

    The brass damage? I have not seen it damage any brass.
  12. Gordon

    Gordon Mentor

    Dec 26, 2002
    central Kali.
    I've 40 years of experience with M-14, 10 of which I seriously competed with one and the writer's comments are almost pure horse pucky. :banghead:
  13. DMK

    DMK Mentor

    Dec 24, 2002
    Over the hills and far, far away
    There's one answer to all those issues: It wasn't designed to be a commercial match rifle.

    It's been 'modded' to do the things it does. When you modify a machine from the original intent, there are usually tradeoffs.

    It was never designed for commercial ammo. Adjustments to the original design were made to allow for that.

    It was never designed to be bedded. Adjustments to the original design were made to allow for that.

    It was intended to be used with a certain spec ammo, all the time. Gas adjustment was largely unnecessary.

    Most military rifle designs would have the same issues.
  14. Gator

    Gator Senior Member

    Jul 23, 2003
    Stuck in Crook Co., IL
    I almost swallowed my Skoal reading that first post. Thanks to all who answered much more eloquently than I could have.

    Perhaps Scott Duff was speaking of the M1As shortcomings as a match rifle when compared to an AR15? The book is about match M1As, after all. Match rifles are a whole different animal than the battle rifles they are derived from. Kind of like comparing a NASCAR car with the one sitting in your driveway............
  15. AK103K

    AK103K Mentor

    Dec 27, 2002
    While the M1 and M14/M1A do have the "web", slam fires are still possible and can be catastrophic. I was lucky enough to come through one with a GI Springfield M1 from the DCM about 20 years ago using LC 69 issue ammo. The rifle held together for the most part, but did fire out of battery on loading a single round in slow fire. If it had been in a rapid fire string, I most likely would not be typing this right now. The rear of the receiver from just aft of the serial number was blown off and the stock cracked with a big chunk blown out of it. The bolt was jammed into the back of the receiver and would not come forward. The op rod handle ripped the palm of my hand open, and you could read the head stamp of the case in reverse on my palm. The recovered empty case was about an inch long. Never did find the rear of the receiver. The DCM took the rifle back and never did tell me what they determined went wrong. They replaced it with a brand new, and I mean, brand new, never issued H&R.

    If you shoot either the M1 or M14, I would highly suggest you either use a SLED with the M1 or load single rounds from the mag on the M1A. Reloads should use the harder primers, like CCI, and I check mine with a seating gage.

    There is nothing wrong with reloading for them, and I always have had the best results with good, commercial brass over the military. Its easier to work with, and lasts longer. The military brass usually fails first, and I always lost more to case necks getting beat up on concrete floors and walls than from case head separation failures.
  16. bofe954

    bofe954 Active Member

    Feb 1, 2004
    I think most people agree that for a NRA highpower or other target type match gun you are better off with an AR. 5.56 is so much cheaper to shoot that ammo cost alone is reason enough.

    So, don't buy an M1A for that.

    I have a M1A from the '80's. With 168gr HPBT handloads I can get 2 inch groups off of a bag at 100 yards (iron sights).

    So far it has had no slam fires. Once I was having some failure to feed issues. These were solved with a new recoil spring. For all I know the one in it may have been 20 years old.

    It isn't bedded and never will be. The milsurp and handloads I use in it are made to be used in it. Why would I want to use anything else?

    A lot of the "problems" with a lot of firearms are more of problems in books and on the web than in real life. Quit reading so much and shoot more. The bedding problems with M1A's, the AR gas system problems, glock kaboom problems, sig bore axis problems and 1911 unreliablilty problems become a rarity and stop being the norm out in the world. This is if you take halfway decent care of your stuff.
  17. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Mentor

    Jul 13, 2006
    Anchorage, AK
    The level of unethical practices and corruption demonstrated by Ordnance back at the time the M14 and M60 machinegun were being worked up is just appalling. The M14 was not a product of the best technology and theory that the post-WW2 years had to offer, it was basically an attempt to stave off obsolescence for the M1 Garand (a fine battlefield weapon in its historical context).

    Which ain't to say the M14 is not a decent enough weapon, but I've never really understood the religious levels of enthusiasm some people have for it.
  18. AndyC

    AndyC Senior Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    DFW, TX
    I'll still take one.
  19. 1911JMB

    1911JMB Active Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Fear not my friends. I have a solution:neener:

  20. Jacka L Ope

    Jacka L Ope Member

    Feb 13, 2007
    Washington State
    Almost bought one of those once. Opted for the HK-91 instead. :p

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