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Smith Enterprise vs. Clint Fowler National Match Rifles

7563 Views 18 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  win308
I was at a local gun store tonight and found two National Match built M1A’s. I would like to get opinions on these rifles. What rifle do you think is a better rifle? The Clint Fowler rifle is priced $300.00 higher then the Smith Enterprise.

The first is a Smith Enterprise serial number 1798. This is a rear lugged national match with a Krieger barrel. I don’t think that it is a forged receiver, because I did not see it marked “Forged” anywhere on the receiver. It has a synthetic stock that is painted black over a camo pattern. It kind of looks like a McMillan, but it has holes for a stock liner in the side. The stock liner was removed when it was bedded.

The second rifle is a Clint Fowler built National Match Rifle. This rifle is Springfield Armory serial number 036588 and is a double lug rifle. The synthetic stock has different shape in the grip area then what I have seen before and is painted black.

I compete in service rifle matches with an AR-15, but have always wanted a National Match M1A. I am considering selling my LRB with all GI parts to be able to buy one of these rifles even though I told myself I would never sell my LRB.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have been collecting parts to build a National Match M1A. The total cost build my own National Match rifle would probably be in excess of $3,000. Then when I was looking at these rifles I realized how much cheaper it will be to buy a complete rifle. The advantage to the Clint Fowler is that it is a double lug rifle. However, I don’t know anything about his reputation as a builder. The Smith Enterprise looks like a nice rifle, and it would be neat to have a Smith Enterprise rifle. Unfortunately I can’t get both, and would probably have to sell my LRB to buy either one at this time. My LRB is not a match rifle; but is built with all GI parts.
 

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The only Clint Fowler rifle I've ever worked on was a double lug - The craftsmanship in general was poor.... the front lug was roughly made, both lugs were Mig welded instead of Tig & the welding job was extremely sloppy.... on a positive note the rifle was accurate

IMHO unless you can pull the action out of the stock for an inspection i would stay away from the Fowler rifle
 

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Are you sure either one is "legal" as-is for Service Rifle? I'd start there. Can't answer the rest without seeing/handling them. I wouldn't assume either of them shoots better across-the-course than the one you own.
 

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http://m14forum.com/px/93719-comple...lrb-receiver-ted-brown-match-barrel-more.html

I don't know if this is still available, but it looks like the quality of what you are looking for. Big plus for this is the seller says Ted Brown built it. You could call Ted and ask him about it.

For the money you're talking about I would want some type of inspection period so that you could have the thing inspected by someone you trust. Both of the builders you mentioned have both good and bad things said about them daily. Plus you don't really know what has been done after it left thier respective shops.
 

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How well does your LRB shoot? If it is a standard reciever without the integral scope mount there is no reason not to shoot that in matches or practice. It is a simple matter to upgrade that into a match rifle when your skills in shooting make a more accurate rifle desirable. I just started shooting in matches this year and most of the M14 shooters I have seen cannot 'outshoot' a standard rifle.

John
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The LRB is one of my favorite rifles, but it was not built to be a competition rifle. I have a few LEG points and would like to become Distinguished with the AR-15 before I start really playing with a match grade M1A.
 

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The LRB is one of my favorite rifles, but it was not built to be a competition rifle. I have a few LEG points and would like to become Distinguished with the AR-15 before I start really playing with a match grade M1A.
Then perhaps the best thing to do is save your money as you pursue getting your DB and have your LRB rifle built into a NM rifle.
 

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You really haven't given us anywhere near enough information to judge between the SEInc. and Clint Fowler built rifles, and I have to note we can only do the best recommendation if we can actually inspect both rifles.

What kind of barrels are in the rifles? How many rounds fired or at least what are the muzzle wear and TE readings? What kinds of stocks are on the rifles? What kind of glass bedding was used and how old or worn is the glass bedding? How many G.I. parts are in each rifle? Who built the SEInc. rifle? IOW, was it built by one of the Smith folks or was it built by someone else? The SEInc receiver is worth more than an SAinc. receiver, BTW.

Let me also say this. If I were choosing a brand new built NM semi auto M14 between SEInc and C. Fowler and both rifles had EXACTLY the same features, there is no doubt in my mind I would go for the SEinc. built rifle.

Something else to consider. Clint Fowler has retired from even working on the rifles he built himself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
After thinking about it, and reading your responses, I don’t plan to buy either of these rifles. The gun shop doesn’t know much about the rifles and I don’t know enough to evaluate both rifles. I think Gus is right about saving my money and perusing the Distinguished Badge then building my own NM rifle.

The SEInc has a krieger 1:10 barrel with an unknown round count. All of the parts look to be USGI including the National match sights. I would say that the stock is a McMillan except that it has holes for a stock liner. There is no information on who built this rifle. They are asking $1,700.00 for this rifle. This is the rifle that really tempted me. The parts alone are probably worth the asking price assuming the barrel is not shot out.

The C. Fowler rifle has a barrel that is stamped Clint Fowler 1:10. On the rear receiver you can see a little discoloration where the rear lug was welded. This stock is fatter and has less shape in the grip area and a seam can be seen where the two halves of the stock were fused together. All of the parts appear to be USGI. They are asking $2,000.00 for this rifle.

I did list my LRB for sale in the PX and if it does not sell then I will be happy to keep it. I am going to keep focusing on my shooting and there will be plenty of time in the future to get the National Match Rifle that I really want.

Thanks for your help.
 

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I had Clint build me a gun some years ago...double lugged, etc. Paid a boat load for it, but it did shoot very good scores. Glen Nelson advised I "glue in" one of the guns he had built for me and see which gun shot better. They shot the same. I kept the "glue in" and got my money back out of the Fowler gun when I sold it to another shooter who didn't want to wait 8 months to get one of Clint's guns. The "glue in" has only been out of the stock one time since then for a barrel change.....a little heat from a torch and Glen popped the M-1A action right out of the stock to change out the barrel. After checking function was 100% I re-glued it with Elmers epoxy and it has stayed perfectly bedded all these years. I guess if I ever need to bust it out of the stock again, a propane torch will loosen the Elmers enough to release the action from the Bisonite.

So my opinion....once an M-1A is properly bedded/glassed, a five dollar tube of cheap glue will do the same thing as the expensive lugs. I can take every part of my "glue in" gun apart except dismount the op-rod.... and a long Q-tip keeps that greased up pretty well so no service is needed there. (Others will disagree...I'm just sharing what has worked for me).
 
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