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I have 2 older SA rifles made back in 89 & 90. One has an unmarked Op Rod the orther HR GI marked. The HR fits perfect in the older receiver the unmarked it way too tight. I tried them in the newer receiver and the HR is very loose yet the unmarked fits perfect.

I might be wrong but is this SA way of covering their butts for an out of spec receiver.....
 

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I wonder the same thing. I recently got a unfired 1990 standard model that has a USGI Winchester op-rod that has the top of the tab ground down about .015 . When I attemped to put a USGI TRW op-rod with a perfect tab in, it required quite a bit of force to get it to move forward or backward. Had to stick with the Winchester rod.
 

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The tab on the op rod is the key to how tight it fits. My guess is that the HR rod has more wear on the tab than the unmarked one. Go to this link for specific dimensions and photos http://m14tfl.com/upload/showthread.php?t=48402&highlight=tab+dimensions

The bottom line is that if the tab has sharp, square corners then it will fit tighter than one with rounded corners.
 

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My M1A came with a Saco Defense Op rod that fit tighter than a clam with lock jaw. I had a Winchester that i tried that was loose to me, and noted that it had more of a rounded tab.
 

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This comes down to manufacturing, when they had worn GI rods the track in the receiver is machined thinner for these thin tabed rods so they fit better. A op rod is not a drop in part. The tab may need fitting and it still needs to pass the tilt test. Remember the early M1A was built with surplus parts and commercial receiver due to are silly machine gun laws.
 
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