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A little while back, my first post on this forum was to seek advice about buying an M1A rifle. I got lots of great suggestions, both on the forum and by PM. Ultimately, I found a rifle locally in Georgia, which had been assembled to "match" configuration by a gentleman who lives about an hour from me, named Gerald (Hook) Boutin. It is a nice rifle, with all GI and/or NM parts except the receiver, which is a Springfield, and the deal included two stocks: one GI, and one wider "match" version. Both stocks were bedded to the action on the rifle.

What was a lucky break for me was, Mr. Boutin had assembled the rifle for a guy who changed his mind and backed out on the deal. So, I ended up with it.

Before I put my money down, I thought I should go to school a little. So, I got and read through several books as some on this site suggested, including the Walk Kulek and Jerry Kuhnhausen manuals, which were some deep and serious analytical work. I also downloaded and read the various Tony Ben tutorials along with lots of other great info I found on this site.

Well, I have to tell you Hook Boutin is a great man in my own opinion. I got to spend about an hour with him at his shop in west Georgia. While I was there, he found a couple of details on the rifle he was not happy about, so he took it completely apart, even separating the barrel from the receiver, and worked his magic, including resetting the front sight, shimming out the gas cylinder lock, and drilling a very small hole in the gas plug to relieve pressure in the cylinder. Hook also showed me how to clean and lube the rifle (I have owned 03-A3s, M1s and Carbines, but this is my first M1A). And man, the stories he can tell, so many years in the service including THREE wars.

I also got some suggestions on ammunition. Mr. Boutin recommended 44 grains of Varget powder, in military brass, with either a 168 or 175 grain bullet. I can’t wait to try this out, which I will do as soon as I get a day off and some decent weather.

Here are some pictures.










The barrel is dated 1962.

The second "match" stock.
 

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Congrats on the new rifle Bajones238! Now the fun starts when you load up on ammo.
 

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I've read several threads mentioning "Hook" Boutin on the forum. It seems like your entry into the platform started near the top step. Congratulations on your new rifle.
 

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Congratulations on your new rifle! I have heard nothing but good things about Mr. Boutin, always good to meet and visit with fine men like him.
 

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Hook's load data of 44gr of Varget with a 168/175 is not safe in a military case for use in a M1a, if you load commercial cases your getting near the top end. If your going too load Varget in military cases 41.grs with a 168 and 41.5 with the 175.

Congrat's on the rifle, best of luck shooting it.
 

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Looks like a really nice rifle - nice choice!
 

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bajones, I was just over at Ol Hooks last week for a bedding job on my M700 Milspec. He has done his full accurizing job on all three of my M1As and four M1 Garands.
All the rifles are super accurate that he accurized and I love them.
He brought up that 44gr. Varget load as well, and as P McGrath states, do not shoot that in your M1A. I don't even load that hot for my bolt guns.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Phil McGrath and Silvertip: thanks for the warning on the Varget load. I'll probably at least use up my 400 rounds of DAG NATO surplus before I start worrying about anything more unusual.

As always, the expertise on this board is greatly appreciated.
 

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Interesting. I just loaded up a series of rounds using Hornady 168 BTHP in 1x-fired LC cases. 40.5, 41 and 41.5 grains of Varget. the 41.5 just about filled the case to max without compressing the powder. I don't think there's any way to get 44 grains of Varget into an LC case.GI3
 

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Phil is right - 44 gr is a hot load. In fact, I bent an oprod, prolly due to that. But I use that load a lot - and it is a winner on accuracy.

I hope to get up there and see Hook next summer ... he does fine work.
 

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Regarding the drilled gas plug and the '44 grain Varget load'.

I'm just guessing here, but did you tell Boutin that you want to shoot 1000 yards?
That load & gas plug might be 'designed' for true longrange shooting.
If the front sight was 'shortened' that is also an indication that the rifle is designed for longrange shooting.

For shorter distances you can use much lighter loads and get excellent results.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all the comments & input. Now I wish I'd taken more notes when I was out there on Wednesday.

I told Hook I planned to shoot mostly at 200 and 600 yards. He explained the reason for drilling the hole in the gas cylinder plug was that, after a lot of rounds were through the barrel and when the rifle got hot, there could be a buildup of gas pressure in the cylinder, and the hole in the gas plug would eliminate this potential problem. Especially, as I understood it, with the heavier (175 gr) bullet. At this point I only plan to use NATO surplus 147 grain DAG, at least until I have shot a few hundred rounds.

As I understood it, Hook's recommendation on the bullet weight and powder load was due to the fact that the NM barrel has a rate of twist (1:12) which is suited to this. At least, that's what I think I heard. This is my first M1A and I am nowhere near smart on these rifles, yet.

I don't think the front sight has been shortened, but I'll get out the spec book and measure it.

It's supposed to clear up tomorrow, so I hope to head out to the range for a test drive.
 

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Regarding the drilled gas plug and the '44 grain Varget load'.

I'm just guessing here, but did you tell Boutin that you want to shoot 1000 yards?
That load & gas plug might be 'designed' for true longrange shooting.
If the front sight was 'shortened' that is also an indication that the rifle is designed for longrange shooting.

For shorter distances you can use much lighter loads and get excellent results.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
That is in fact a 1000 yard load, and if you are the person that I think you could be, I've shot that in front of you at the National Matches, Long Range Phase many times. It's worked well in an M1A, rear lugged and and Armscorp M14, using Berger 175 VLD.

Danny
 
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