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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Alright guys, I am still very very new here but I already need some hands to hold. I am having a hard time on where to begin when it comes to working the M1a I just bought last Tuesday.. my dilemma is as follows:

When I bought my first bushmaster ar-15 style rifle (A2 20" barrel) back in 2010 (serial numbers dates the rifle to 2004) I took it out of the store, brought it home, cleaned it, loaded it and shot it. I made my iron sight adjustments and got the rifle zeroed in for me for 200 yards. I shot the m16a2 in the Marines and always shot expert while learning the AR system well so this was a fairly simple task to accomplish. DI2

Why the back story? Well it's because of the confusion I am experiencing with this rifle (the M1a) and through all of the forums I have been reading...

See I bought a standard no frills M1a, nothing fancy for 1100 used and yet I come on here to basically get an understanding that this rifle.. which was double the cost of the bushmaster, is only about half as good...

Why does all of this work need to be done to a weapon that has a reputation of being "the last great battle rifle"? Glass bedding, NM sights, piston replacement, spring replacement, trigger job, change the bolt, change the port, shim the port ect ect I just don't understand it all. Because of all of these things people do to these rifles to get them into a tolerance, I am overwhelmed right from the get go and wonder if I ever NEED to have any of this done?

I hate to come off as a whiner, I'm just very confused on how a superior rifle to the ar15 by many people's standards, needs hundreds of dollars worth of work just to get it the level of accuracy I had with an "inferior" weapon. I am looking at this the wrong way? If some changes need to be done to the rifle where do I even begin? How do I begin? Whose word do you trust but above all.. is it even necessary?

Thanks in advance, regardless of what advice is given. I trust the community as alot of people here seem very knowledgeable.
 

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You begin by shooting the rifle as is. Don't "fix" anything that isn't broken.

It is important to remember that a "battle rifle" isn't intended to shoot sub-moa groups. The M14 is designed to shoot around 3 moa, which can hit a person in the torso out to about 450 meters. Most shoot better. An issue rifle wouldn't be pulled out of service until it shot substantially worse.

The M14 is only superior to the M16 platform in two areas. 1). The short-stroke piston design is very reliable and keeps the filth away from the action. 2). It's a 30 caliber. RNGR2

Most of the jibberish we spout on this forum comes from either our pursuit of accuracy or some inane belief that commercial parts will blow up. RNGR1
 

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First welcome to the forum.

Second, you DON'T have to do any or all the things you listed to get the M1A into tolerance. If you have an older SAI rifle, there was a recall on cast SAI bolts, which SAI will still replace for free under warranty. I can't remember the exact marking on the bolt, but let us know what is, or post a pic. Others know.

Most guys that do those things that you listed shoot their M1A's competitively. AR's have to have quite a few upgrades to be competitive as well when shooting HP matches. There isn't an AR out there winning matches in CMP EIC or NRA HP matches that hasn't had a float tube installed, NM sights, a NM trigger job, heavy match barrel, etc. I will give you the AR is def. an easier platform to shoot with, than the M1A/14platform, but a lot of us have a nostalgic side and like to shoot the big gun as well.

Take your rifle to the range get it zeroed and have fun with it. Use decent ammo, ball M80 7.62 won't make you proud, but it is good to start with. After you get it zeroed with that get yourself some Fed. Gold Medal Match and then work on groups. HTH
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys I appreciate the feedback.

I do understand a lot of people modify for match shooting and that isn't my end goal by any means. KISS always seemed to work for me and the same goes for shooting. I really want to try the rifle at hunting and I have taken it out to shoot without any problems thus far.. I am just unable to get 100yrds of land to sight it in at the moment. The only thing I have done to this rifle is put my old green sling on it (I'd like to have the leather sling that matches it) and ordered an old wood stock for the gun as I like the look of the wood much better than synthetic.

I hope you guys are right because the biggest blow to confidence was the fear that I might have purchased a brick of a weapon and I have a lot of love for the M1a/M14 family.
 

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You don't need a 100 yd range to zero the rifle. The army used 25 meters, which if done correctly will give you a 250 meter Battle Sight Zero.

The m80 bullet should stike 4.6cm high at 25 meters. It is the upper X on the canadian bull target (the lower X is for the M16). You then calibrate your elevation drum to 250 meters.

It is usually about 12 clicks, give or take a few.

This was the standard issue target for zeroing. You put the front sight post under the bull, so that the little white square is visible.

http://www.superiorbarrels.com/Free Targets/25-meter target.pdf

As for stocks, the most accurate one out of the box is the SAI factory wood stock, currently made by Boyd's. It is slightly larger and stronger than the USGI stock, and is the same one used by SAI on their National Match rifles (with bedding).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You don't need a 100 yd range to zero the rifle. The army used 25 meters, which if done correctly will give you a 250 meter Battle Sight Zero.

The m80 bullet should stike 4.6cm high at 25 meters. It is the upper X on the canadian bull target (the lower X is for the M16). You then calibrate your elevation drum to 250 meters.

It is usually about 12 clicks, give or take a few.

This was the standard issue target for zeroing. You put the front sight post under the bull, so that the little white square is visible.

http://www.superiorbarrels.com/Free Targets/25-meter target.pdf

As for stocks, the most accurate one out of the box is the SAI factory wood stock, currently made by Boyd's. It is slightly larger and stronger than the USGI stock, and is the same one used by SAI on their National Match rifles (with bedding).

Hey Kurt thanks for the information! The reason I wanted to do 100 yrds was for hunting purposes. Where I hunt in Georgia, there is a lot of thick brush and LOS issues due to trees. Most shots are taken under 100yrds so I figured that is what I need to aim for and I remember the 25/250 oreal as we did 33 (or 30) meters (or yards) in the Marines to get a BZO for the 300 yard line.
 

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I'll bet the wood stock will help tighten your groups. The wood foreend is stiff unlike the plastic stock that some here have referred to as the "wet noodle" stock.

Shimming the gas system is easy (takes less than 10min with the proper tools) will help keep the gas cylinder and front band tight which will drastically improve your groups. Watch some tonyben vids on YouTube and you'll really get to know your new baby.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'll bet the wood stock will help tighten your groups. The wood foreend is stiff unlike the plastic stock that some here have referred to as the "wet noodle" stock.

Shimming the gas system is easy (takes less than 10min with the proper tools) will help keep the gas cylinder and front band tight which will drastically improve your groups. Watch some tonyben vids on YouTube and you'll really get to know your new baby.
I'm watching him right now which leads me to my first question... I see that the m1a needs a little special tool to remove the gas system. I am very new to this rifle so I guess I need to ask, what tools do I need to clean the rifle and where on the forums can I look to get this answer?
 

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... I come on here to basically get an understanding that this rifle.. which was double the cost of the bushmaster, is only about half as good...

Why does all of this work need to be done to a weapon that has a reputation of being "the last great battle rifle"? Glass bedding, NM sights, piston replacement, spring replacement, trigger job, change the bolt, change the port, shim the port etc etc I just don't understand it all. Because of all of these things people do to these rifles to get them into a tolerance, I am overwhelmed right from the get go and wonder if I ever NEED to have any of this done?

I hate to come off as a whiner, I'm just very confused on how a superior rifle to the ar15 by many people's standards, needs hundreds of dollars worth of work just to get it the level of accuracy I had with an "inferior" weapon. I am looking at this the wrong way?....
Yes, I think you are looking at it the wrong way.

First, "good" is a relative term, and it depends on what your goals are, which I didn't get from your post.

Accuracy is also a relative term, and not the only important criteria. Battle rifles are also well served by reliability and power. If power goes way up, and accuracy more than stays within acceptable battlefield limits, then you have a clearly superior battle rifle.

That said, there is a reason the M16 has dominated Service Rifle match competition that only requires holes in paper.

That said, you don't "need" to do anything to your rifle except start shooting it. My main rifle started as a Loaded model, so no bedding, and I have "downgraded" to standard sights, so there isn't much "match" about it. It is my go-to rifle that I can trust to do ANYTHING, and most of it quite well, even if it isn't the BEST in some areas. It stays legal for Service Rifle competition, which I do for my benefit, not medals. I have a pretty decent match AR for that, too.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'll bet the wood stock will help tighten your groups. The wood foreend is stiff unlike the plastic stock that some here have referred to as the "wet noodle" stock.

Shimming the gas system is easy (takes less than 10min with the proper tools) will help keep the gas cylinder and front band tight which will drastically improve your groups. Watch some tonyben vids on YouTube and you'll really get to know your new baby.
I'm watching him right now which leads me to my first question... I see that the m1a needs a little special tool to remove the gas system. I am very new to this rifle so I guess I need to ask, what tools do I need to clean the rifle and where on the forums can I look to get this answer?

Update... nevermind I found the answer lol
 

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Upgrades

As noted, unless you are planning on shooting your M1A in competition there is no need to do match grade modifications. They shoot quite well as is. You found that the AR15 shot as expected from your experience with the M16 in the Marines. The M16 and the AR15 in standard form shoot well , but match grade versions are available to make them competitive as a match rifle. Special barrels, float tubes, match sights and triggers to name a few. 80 grain match bullets will reach out to 600 yards with accuracy as good or better than the 7.62 mm (just not with as much punch). These are all good rifles used within their limits, but they can be enhanced for better accuracy. It just depends on what you feel you need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You all bring very good points to the thread and I appreciate honesty above anything else. The reason it worried me was it seemed like upgrading the rifle was just mandatory no questions asked. That is what lead me to believe I may have gotten jipped buying the thing.

I don't care for tight groups as stated earlier.. but I do care about that single shot I need to place when hunting to hit where I need it to and cause a clean kill whilst hunting. If leaving the rifle as is (other than replacing this stock with a wood one) will be fine, then I am just fine with it.

I would be shooting atm but storms decided to come to middle ga. Thanks again everyone and I will continue to turn to you guys for advice when needed.
 

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I'm watching him right now which leads me to my first question... I see that the m1a needs a little special tool to remove the gas system. I am very new to this rifle so I guess I need to ask, what tools do I need to clean the rifle and where on the forums can I look to get this answer?
I got the idea from one of Tony's videos, but build your own castle nut pliers. SUPER easy and CHEAP if you have something like a Harbor Freight near your. About 5min with a grinder and file turned a $2 pair of vise clamps into a handy tool. GI1 You could likely do the same for most of your needs. A 3/8 wrench for the gas plug as Im sure you've discovered. I bought a Sadlak gas cyl wrench....but still had to modify it slightly. Apparently my commercial gas cylinder was a tad oversize. Again...a few minutes with a file and sand paper. About the only other tool I really might by for myself....one of those GG&G tools for cleaning the chamber.
 

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Like everyone else is saying, don't do any mods to your rifle. Order yourself a can of Lubriplate or other recommended grease, keep some CLP on hand. Get a .30 cal boresnake or Otis system, a GP brush and a rag. I have a couple of proper M14 GI cleaning kits on hand just because they are cool. The specialized tools will find their way into your possesion eventually, they just make life easier.

Range time with your M1A will make your AR a safe queen. To shoot one, is to love one.

The webbing M1 sling is the easiest to use. The leather M1907 is nice looking but can be a pain sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well today is the day, it's finally good enough to shoot. I'm going to do some 3 round shots and post the results here once I am finished. I've shot the rifle at about 25 yards hitting little cans and stuff with no problems, but I want to put some range on it and see how she does. Wish me luck!
 

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We will wish you luck because what we all know is you most likely will become so enamored with your new rifle you will eat, drink sleep and dream with that rifle. We know after you shoot it much you will want to take it to bed with you. AR; whats that? You will one day say" Gee I only have one M1A and I really need another!" and you will believe it. Some day you will notice you have a dedicated M14 room and are thinking about making it larger…getting my drift. Do not say" it will not happen to me" because the majority of this forums members HAVE had it happen to them and they are smiling right now. We also know there is NO 12 step program for this. You have been warned Sir
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·


Second grouping above



First attempt at 100 yards... messy but as you can see from the first picture, I adjusted sights and I am alright with results.. I really didnt think I would get that close with a standard.
 
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