M14 Forum banner
1 - 20 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all.

I have read many of the posts on M14's/M1A's on this forum since I first joined and have watched several instructional videos online researching and understanding the M14 rifle. I am now looking to purchase my first, and likely only, M14-style rifle and was hoping to get some guidance.

I am a hobbyist shooter, and an armed citizen. I won’t be shooting thousands of rounds through this rifle every year. I'm not a precision shooter, and I likely wouldn't use this rifle for self-defense. I'm basically looking for a rifle that I'm passionate about that has nostalgia and soul that I can enjoy shooting at my range regularly. I am also more of a shooter than a tinkerer. Because of that, I typically plan out my purchase and make it happen, rather than building things up one part at a time.

I do not require MOA accuracy. So translating this into the M14 world, perhaps something in the 1.5-2 MOA range would be perfect. I should emphasize that the majority of the shooting this rifle will see will be 100 yards or less, but the ability to reach further out to 200-500 yards would be nice. I hope that makes sense and characterizes my goal with this rifle.

Some specifics:
  • Reliable and made with quality parts that will last a lifetime, yet does not have to be period-correct or all USGI parts. The emphasis is on quality and reliability.
  • Traditional 22” barrel, medium weight
  • .308 caliber
  • Cast receiver is fine, forged is fine, whichever
  • Solid, tight-fitting stock, but no need to bed it. I want to be able to take the stock off for maintenance and not worry about damaging the bedding.
  • 2-stage trigger, the SAI Loaded-style trigger is perfectly fine to me, 4.5-5 lbs. with a clean break is fine
  • A lightweight, traditional/military-looking stock, open to wood or perhaps USGI fiberglass with full-auto cutout filled in, and finished in subdued camo (think in honor of Randy Shughart)
  • Traditional solid USGI handguard
  • Some common-sense reliability and accuracy upgrades
  • Standard iron sights, as I plan to shoot the irons as well as use a scope
  • Solid and reliable scope mounting solution, as I do plan to mount a scope down the road (e.g. 1-6x/1-8x LPVO or 2-10x range)
  • Perhaps a few spare parts I'll need over the years.
  • A rifle that is built right with care and respect.
I think that's about everything I can think of, but I'm sure you all know of several other things to consider so I wanted to get your feedback and recommendations. I know you'll likely want to ask me a budget. I'm honestly not exactly sure. For the criteria I listed, what are my realistic options?

I’ve examined various manufacturers online (e.g., Springfield, LRB, Fulton, Bula, etc.). I have heard that new Springfield M1A's can be decent, but also a crap shoot quality-wise and they use parts that are not the best quality. That's why I was also considering working with a builder directly on a rifle that will be a reliable, great shooter but again nothing fancy. I’m also open to purchasing a used rifle, or a turn-key barreled action that’s ready to go and install it into a finished stock of my choice. I’m definitely open to going the used route since I know the .308 has a relatively-long barrel life. I just would like to be sure I’m not inheriting someone else’s mistake or poor maintenance.

Thanks for your time. I look forward to your replies.

Chris
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,225 Posts
Check the PX , always good used Rifles for sale & just wait till you see something that sparks your interest . As far as SAI having quality parts , well they seem to sell & make the most M14 type rifles on the market & mine seems to have all the parts working with out issue , I guess it's up to the individuals perspective . It's also hard to ignore a life time warranty , but thats up to the individual also .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
370 Posts
I really quite like my Loaded it came with what I thought to be sensical upgrades at similar cost point to a standard rifle. Mine is a Stainless barreled model but regardless you get a Air gauged medium weight barrel and NM sights of the non-hooded variety and a NM trigger. Mine came from the original owner in a walnut stock. From a member here I picked up a USGI fiberglass stock that was painted OD Green and textured and fits up tighter on my rifle then the walnut did mine has not had the cut outs filled in. I wanted a scope so I started researching mounts. I looked into a Sadlak and liked what I was reading but a member here at the time had Smith enterprises mounts at a good price and I jumped on one.

I then added a Nikon scope I had setting around with some QD Leopold rings. Since then on the PX I’ve picked up a few parts. Wanting a better scope I found a used MkIV and added a set of smith enterprises low rings.
 

·
Premium Member
Honorary Forum Lifer
Joined
·
17,942 Posts
I'd look for an older SAI, you can find good deals on good hardly used rifles if you hunt around, sometimes they just show up. Remember, you can swap stocks later. I have 2 of them from the early 2000s and they have been great rifles.
m14brian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,100 Posts
  • A rifle that is built right with care and respect.
There are more than a few on this forum with good references. My suggestion is to collect the names, maybe even examples of work they've done for members, notes on what they like about the rifles, and then decide what you want based on having some conversations involving what you think you might want, how you want to use it, and feedback on that.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
1,071 Posts
If I were going to buy only one M14 rifle (good luck only buying one), It would be a toss-up between an early (sub 100k serial) springfield, and LRB. I love the other brands as well, and am glad to own them, but I love those two just a tad bit more. Fulton has never steered me wrong.....

I personally would stick with a 22” standard contour barrel and a nice trigger job.

As for a scope Mount, I’ve had them all, and I like bassett low mounts. Easy to remove and change out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
780 Posts
Your wish list pretty much describes either the Springfield Armory M1A Loaded or their National Match. The Loaded is a standard rifle with a few enhancements. The National Match is a target rifle with a lot of accuracy upgrades. Springfield has a lifetime warranty, and nearly everyone who needs work done has a good experience with them. They may not be the highest quality out of the gate, but you can find plenty of posts on these forums about how they turned a malfunctioning rifle into a working one. It's a lifetime warranty, so it's a good deal for somebody who doesn't want to tinker or repair their rifle themselves. Lots of people send them back years after they left the factory and get issues corrected. Overall the M1A is a solid M14 clone that will give you good service. They have some initial quality problems, but almost no M14 clone maker is free of issues.

If you want a higher end rifle, then I suggest LRB or Bula. Both make nice forged receivers and good rifles. Various build options are available. Both have warranties and will stand behind the initial build.

Scope mount choice depends on how you want the rifle set up. The Sadlak and ARMS 18 are used by the US military, and are my first choice. Some people like the Basset Mount because it can be quickly attached or removed with minimal zero shift. I personally prefer the ARMS 18 because it sits the lowest. You can take the optic off and use the iron sights with the ARMS 18 in place. A scoped M14 with a traditional stock will need a cheek riser to make good use of the scope. If you are intent on scoping it and want to use the Sadlak or ARMS 18, you might lean toward LRB or Bula. Springfield Armory receivers are not always 100% dimensionally faithful to the USGI M14 receiver, and can have problems mounting the military spec scope mounts. Generally Sadlak or ARMS will work with you to get a fit, but there are limits to what can be done. Some M1A owners have had to sell their Sadlak or ARMS 18 because they could not get it to fit. In general, the Sadlak and ARMS mounts play well with LRB and Bula receivers. So I would suggest that you select a scope mount and factor that into your choice of rifle / receiver, if scoping is important to you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,202 Posts
I agree with others that what you are describing is basically an SAI M1A loaded, which is typically available on gunbroker 7 days a week.

I’ve examined various manufacturers online (e.g., Springfield, LRB, Fulton, Bula, etc.). I have heard that new Springfield M1A's can be decent, but also a crap shoot quality-wise and they use parts that are not the best quality. That's why I was also considering working with a builder directly on a rifle that will be a reliable, great shooter but again nothing fancy.
Don't believe the online hype. There are a few folks who always pooh-pooh SAI M1As as their standard online modus operandi, but I never understood this small group of mostly nay-sayers and their motivations. In the real world with quasi-empirical endurance testing, this recent article should help end the silly debate about SAI's parts quality:
Good luck whatever you chose. It sounds like you have done your homework.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you, everyone, for all of the feedback. It's appreciated. I guess I just need to decide which of 2 ways I want to go:

1. Buy a Springfield M1A Loaded, learn the rifle, work on it, and upgrade parts as I see fit or...
2. Buy a rifle from what's typically considered a "higher tier" manufacturer which will essentially allow me to start where I'd ultimately want to be.

Springfield Armory receivers are not always 100% dimensionally faithful to the USGI M14 receiver, and can have problems mounting the military spec scope mounts. Generally Sadlak or ARMS will work with you to get a fit, but there are limits to what can be done. Some M1A owners have had to sell their Sadlak or ARMS 18 because they could not get it to fit.
This is my only major concern with a Springfield M1A, the possibility that a Sadlak or ARMS scope mount will not be able to be mounted properly. And I doubt there's anything that Springfield could do for that. If that occurs, what options does one have?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,830 Posts
The main concern with the ARMS mount on any rifle is the ejection pattern. Because it is so low, the ARMS works best with rifles that eject to around 3 o'clock. If your rifle ejects to the 1-2 o'clock position, you may get an occasional jam.

This is something you are not going to know until you fire your rifle, with your chosen brand of ammunition.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
780 Posts
Thank you, everyone, for all of the feedback. It's appreciated. I guess I just need to decide which of 2 ways I want to go:

1. Buy a Springfield M1A Loaded, learn the rifle, work on it, and upgrade parts as I see fit or...
2. Buy a rifle from what's typically considered a "higher tier" manufacturer which will essentially allow me to start where I'd ultimately want to be.



This is my only major concern with a Springfield M1A, the possibility that a Sadlak or ARMS scope mount will not be able to be mounted properly. And I doubt there's anything that Springfield could do for that. If that occurs, what options does one have?
Check the ARMS and Sadlak websites. Both offer some help with fitting, but I don't remember the details. As I said, even with their help, it isn't 100% guaranteed to work. You might search for threads on the topic here. I have a Bula receiver and had no problems installing my ARMS 18, so I am not an expert on this subject.

Regarding potential ejection problems with the ARMS mount, you can generally resolve it by trimming your ejector spring to adjust the ejection pattern.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Take a real hard look at LRB M-25, top quality, no scope mount problems,..............buy once, cry once ............ but have a super huge grin permanently applied to your face!!!!!!

Redraider
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
370 Posts
This is my only major concern with a Springfield M1A, the possibility that a Sadlak or ARMS scope mount will not be able to be mounted properly. And I doubt there's anything that Springfield could do for that. If that occurs, what options does one have?
My Smith enterprises mount had issues with fitment. Called Smith and they modified the mount to work on my Springfield it’s been several years I’m not sure of the cost if any. I’m sure Sadlak will do the same if necessary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
774 Posts
I went w/ Fulton receivers when I built mine lot of M14 civilians. I saw many SAI receivers and was not really impressed w/ them. I am sure many love their SAI rifles and nothing wrong w/ that.

The Fultons are a very fine rifle/s. Costs are all competitive and relative -depends what you want. The only civilian parts in my battle rifles are the Fulton receivers. All else in them rifles are true USGI parts. My super-match builds have aftermarket stocks and Barnett barrels.

I love the Fulton receivers - never had one issue headspacing even w/ used USGI barrels.

Whatever you decide - the M14 rifle is one fine rifle. Enjoy and welcome.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,100 Posts
I agree with others that what you are describing is basically an SAI M1A loaded, which is typically available on gunbroker 7 days a week.

Don't believe the online hype. There are a few folks who always pooh-pooh SAI M1As as their standard online modus operandi, but I never understood this small group of mostly nay-sayers and their motivations. In the real world with quasi-empirical endurance testing, this recent article should help end the silly debate about SAI's parts quality:
Good luck whatever you chose. It sounds like you have done your homework.
I only have a sample of one, but my loaded was mostly fine, but I wouldn't say put together with care and respect. I think it's a fine value, and a great base to build on, and if you're fortunate, you might be done right there. But mine had some minor fitment issues, and the 'National Match' trigger was kind of meh, and if you pulled it slow enough, could hang up on the knee right before the break. It always functioned in the basic sense of going 'bang' and feeding another round, which is something good, and also something that doesn't always happen, even with rifles built by suppliers of 'higher-end' rifles. I would never poo-poo SAI. I think on the whole, for the money spent, you get the most function for your money, hands down. You get the advantage of cost-effective mass production, which nobody else does on that platform. But you also get what comes with that, rough edges and little imperfections that would require more time and examination (and build cost) to catch and correct), which is inevitable. To be fair, holding them up to the standard of a rifle built by Ted, or Tony, or anybody who has a compulsive need to go over the rifle meticulously as it's being built, is... completely unfair. Apples versus Filet Mignon.

If the 'Loaded' has everything you want, and you're willing to roll the dice, or learn your rifle and address whatever, or have it sent to someone later to address whatever, I think it is a great option. J.D. at wolfe, for whatever it is worth, said that I got lucky on my SAI receiver, and it was dimensionally terrific. He did a little fitting on the operating rod where it was peening because of an irregular surface, which is nice, but not critical. The bolt lug surface contact was deemed adequate, but wasn't exactly the spectacular lapped 70-80% you see suggested in the 'Assembly Guide', though even on that, experts disagree, and my best-shooting M14 type has pretty lousy, 'adequate' contact on one lug because the receiver/lug geometry, despite reputation of fantastic tolerances, was not to fantastic, but it works great, so... I shut up and shoot it.

IF I was looking for exclusively optic-driven, I would buy a Bula XM-21 receiver through either Ted or Tony, (and I specify them because i've dealt with both, and I believe they both can still buy from Bula, not because I consider anybody else particularly unqualified) which has the rail built-into the receiver, which not only saves money and weight on the rear sight assembly, stripper clip guide, and is about as low as low can get, but has zero potential to shift short of damage sufficient to destroy the entire rifle. Every external mount design that passes through regular discussion has strong and weak points, in use, compatibility, and attachment. The integrated rail's only issue I can see is that you give up iron sight use.

If I wanted to build my own, particularly a first build, Fulton receiver and USGI parts, maybe even a couple or few sets of USGI parts, so as to be able to pick for best fit, and then resell what I didn't use. Requiring more fitting effort doesn't necessarily make a receiver bad, but even if everything is compatible and goes together easy, a first build especially requires some patience learning new processes and function checks. A lot of thought went into designing the shapes and dimensions that went into the rifle, so much that it's kind of amazing to realize that every curve on every part has a purpose, and you need to check that those curves, and the spaces that place them, line up. Fulton receivers, even if cast seem to excel in geometry where it matters. When using USGI parts, inspected to guarantee against over-use, because they're mostly used, unless you paid a lot for NOS, they've already fit something, and while you won't likely get the tightest, most precision rifle, your odds of getting something that works all the time are highly improved.

If I wanted a more precise rifle, I wouldn't build it myself, I'd have an experienced expert do it, in part because they know more, and also because I don't have the means or skills to do the 'nice' touches, be it to bed the rifle, unitize the gas cylinder in a way optimized for the bedded rifle, or machine the shoulder of the barrel so that it times in the tension 'sweet spot'. The ones I've built all by myself work just fine, and are accurate enough to be on the better side of 'service rifle' accuracy, but the better-shooting of the groups are those where a real expert installed the barrel and fit a bolt for me. Coincidence? Probably not.

I really don't think there's a bad decision on the table. I think if the OP just does an exploration of options, follows a path that feels good and fits reasonable budget and time table, it all comes around to the same direction, most of the time, "Just one more."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Many more expertise from people on here but I like anything M14 platform. I’ve had good luck with 4 current mfg SAI so far. About to get a Bula, then an LRB possibly. Currently rebedding my standard model SAI for local CMP matches.
IMO, nothing balances better for offhand shooting. Only thing that comes close is of course the Garand.
A 5 liner is definitely on my bucket list as well.
 
1 - 20 of 32 Posts
Top