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Take a look at this early 1980 M1A receiver. I've noted over the years that some SAI receivers are not properly heat treated and suffer from galling. They also exhibit excessive wear to sight detents. This one has had a lot of shooting, but should not have suffered the deformity shown. I noted that the bolt lock is also worn to the point is won't lock the bolt open. I had one in the shop several years ago in the 8000 serial number range that was so bad we sent it back to Springfield and they replaced it. This one is in the 12,000 range.
 

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I had an SAI I bought used in like 1986 or so. 1987, met Jack (Armscorp) at a local gun show. We chatted, I told him I had an SAI. He told me to bring it back the next day as he wanted to show me something. I did, he compared the "clicks" on the sight detent on the SAI to one of his receivers. You could hear the difference immediately. My SAI sounded soft. Sold that rifle and went on to fall in love with my 3 Armscorps.
 

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My view regarding SAI is that they have their lifetime warranty for this very reason. If a company can reduce their quality control cost to very little and in it's place implement a lifetime warranty, then they come out ahead. Around 1980 I purchased several SAI M1A receivers and one of them, even though it was fully finished, did not have the slot milled to accept the spline on the trigger housing. What does that say about QC? QC has been a problem with SAI for a long time. Just give a moment's thought to their fiasco with cast bolts and op rods ....
 

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Help& What to LOOK FOR

Ted,
With your experience in building on SAI receivers what would say would the serial number range be for a closer inspection. I have owned a few SAI's over the years, but when I started to build it was Only LRB for me. When one begins running the Rabbit Trails in the World of 14's its not for the faint of heart. Some of lessons learned were costly. Learn and pass on to others is the only way I see to keep the interest in this platform alive.
Pfc out
 

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During the 45 years that SAI has been producing M1A rifles, the receivers have gone thru numerous changes in both casting and machining. I wouldn't compare a 1956 Ford Thunderbird with the 2002 version.

I personally feel that the receiver dimensions matured around the 75,000 serial number. Some of the nicest ones I have seen, regarding fit and finish, are in the 100k serial numbers.

There are outstanding examples of both early and late rifles out there, but I keep my personal ones between 75k and 200k.
 

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I'm with PFC Thomas in that I'd be interested in knowing what serial number ranges should have an eye kept on them. My only SAI is a 209XX that I bought new in the early 1980s.
 

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These Notes were Once Published on Wikipedia...

Lee Emerson has made the following M1A Serial Number Comments[2] :

000001 to 003700 Texas era receivers tend to exhibit one or more dimensional flaws as identified by retired M14 gunsmith Art Luppino. Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas assembled about 2000 complete rifles using USGI parts before it was sold to Bob Reese (Geneseo, IL). An additional 120 rifles were built for Elmer Ballance by Glenn Nelson and Wayne Young before June 1974 using stripped or barreled receivers supplied by Elmer.

000001 to 063XXX Receivers machined by Valley Ordnance Co. were given a lot of hand grinding and polishing by Melvin Smith. Specifically, these areas were: 1) the exterior heel corners on the sides 2) the flat surface aft of the operating rod channel 3) the top surface of the left receiver wall from the cartridge clip guide to the barrel ring 4) the vertical surface on the right side behind the cartridge clip guide all the way back including the windage knob ear 5) the left side of the barrel ring forward of the horizontal scope mount groove 6) the magazine well aft of the feed lips and 7) the top surface of the barrel ring after all machining operations that located off the barrel ring had been done. This cosmetic detailing is evident as late as M1A serial number 062857 but was no longer being done by serial number 064922. Note that the hand polishing served to enhance the aesthetic appearance but did not add to the functional ability of the M1A receiver. As Melvin Smith moved to semi-retirement the receiver surfaces noted above were finished by machine. For example, the magazine well on M1A receivers was cut and broached by machine tool after Mr. Smith purchased Hillside Manufacturing.

000011 Receiver left side connector lock hole is present.

000049 Receiver left side connector lock hole is missing. Receiver heel rear end wall centerline thickness is ¼ “.

000377 Highest observed serial number with 7.62-MM marking on the receiver heel.

000440 Lowest observed serial number with 7.62-mm marking on the receiver heel.

000567 to 000708 Within this serial number range, Valley Ordnance Co. changed the receiver design. The rear end of the M1A receiver bolt right lug slot, located under the rear sight base cover, was extended 0.080 " to the rear to prevent possible damage to the bolt roller.

001XXX to 002XXX Gray-Syracuse, Inc. becomes the casting supplier of M1A receivers.

002010 Receiver left side connector lock hole is still missing.

002068 Receiver left side connector lock hole reappears for good.

002709 Lowest known serial number (stripped receiver) sold by SA, Inc. located in Geneseo, IL.

002877 Highest documented serial number (complete rifle) shipped from Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas.

002884 Receiver heel rear end wall centerline thickness is 5/16 “. Serial numbers after this have noticeably less steel cut away in the bolt raceways after of the cartridge clip guide.

002884 to 010048 At some point in this serial number range, the receiver design was changed to incorporate a hemispherical cut in the windage knob ear outboard side (commercial NM rear sight).

002903 Lowest documented serial number (complete rifle) shipped from Springfield Armory, Inc. in Illinois.

003306 Highest documented serial number (stripped receiver) shipped from Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas.

003700 Highest documented serial number for receiver production while Springfield Armory, Inc. was located in Texas. Valley Ordnance Co. resumed receiver production on September 21, 1974 at serial number 003701. Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas was sold around November 01, 1974 to Bob Reese in Illinois. During July and August 1974, Valley Ordnance was completing 75 receivers per week. Based on this output, the highest receiver serial number while Springfield Armory, Inc. was located in Texas is estimated at about 004075.

004357 to 004379 January 01, 1976: In this serial number range, a factory one year limited warranty is in force after the initial purchase of a rifle.

007XXX to 020XXX SOME receivers made from AISI 4140 alloy steel. The elevation serrations wear prematurely but can be repaired using an elevation disk. These receivers are serviceable, no other issues reported.

007XXX to 037XXX Springfield Armory, Inc. does not have USGI chromium plated barrels for assembly of complete rifles. Factory installed barrels in this serial number range will be commercial manufacture but machined by Hillside Manufacturing (Dallas, PA) using Wilson Arms blanks.

007041 A commercial unlined standard profile barrel and a commercial operating rod used to build standard model M1A.

0093XX A commercial unlined standard profile barrel, a commercial bolt and a commercial operating rod are used in the assembly of this standard model M1A. Hillside Manufacturing machined reproduction operating rods, trigger housings, flash suppressors, bolts, operating rod spring guides and barrels. No gas cylinders were made by Hillside Manufacturing or Valley Ordnance. It has not been confirmed but most likely the trigger housing and flash suppressor castings for M1A parts were also produced by Gray-Syracuse, Inc. since Mr. Smith was loyal to his suppliers. Valley Ordnance did the finish machining on cast semi-finished cartridge clip guides supplied to the firm. The reproduction bolts, operating rods and trigger housings were stamped at Valley Ordnance. The operating rod spring guides were made from plate steel using a punch press with progressive dies. The operating rods were supplied to Hillside Manufacturing already welded together. Hillside Manufacturing machined the operating rods to final dimension.

017XXX to 020XXX The 18 “ barreled M1A models first appear.

030061 Receiver heel rear end wall centerline thickness is 3/8 “.

0343XX Highest observed serial number with receiver bottom side right hand ridge.

038XXX About this time, large quantities of USGI M14 parts are imported into the United States and become available on the surplus market. Springfield Armory, Inc. and other firearms related businesses buy large quantities of these USGI parts.

038770 Highest observed factory built select fire model

040XXX Receiver was redesigned to move the barrel chamber slightly forward to increase bolt lock up time.

042201 Lowest observed serial number without the receiver bottom side right hand ridge. The bottom side ridge was removed from the design as part of the changes made for economic reasons. It meant two less machining cuts but it also had the benefit of a better fit with various makes of stocks.

042201 to 063000 This is the serial number range that I refer to as the Golden Age of the M1A. The receiver design had fully matured by this time. The receivers were hand finished by the original designer and master craftsman, Melvin Smith. Springfield Armory, Inc. was awash in USGI parts during this period. Thus, factory built standard model M1A rifles in this serial number range were built with a very high USGI parts count.

0630XX 7.62mm caliber marking is on the receiver heel.

063112 7.62mm caliber marking no longer appears on the receiver heel.

064872 Rear lugged receivers are now available from the factory.

070005 to 072074 January 01, 1993: In this serial number range, a lifetime limited warranty is now in effect for the original buyer of a factory built rifle.

07157X to 075XXX Factory shipping boxes change from green and white to blue and white.

072XXX to 073XXX By this serial number range, the operating rod rail dimensions have been narrowed for a tighter fit with the operating rod tab.

0748XX Late version SA, Inc. commercial manufacture operating rod now used to assemble complete rifles.

081004 Built at the factory with the following USGI parts: TRW trigger housing, HR-N hammer, TRW bolt, Winchester barrel, and WCE USGI rear sight elevation and windage knobs.

084000 Generally accepted highest “safe” serial number for pre-’94 AW ban rifles. Since about this serial number, no M1A rifles have been factory built with lugged flash suppressors.

097726 The last completed receiver from Valley Ordnance Co. is shipped to
Geneseo, IL.

098XXX The loaded standard model is debuted.

100042 Highest observed serial number with Gray-Syracuse, Inc. pour lot marking

102570 Change in pour lot markings indicates the change in casting supplier for receivers.

124XXX The factory is installing commercial manufacture forged bolts (F prefix series) in rifles.

136XXX to 165XXX Some receivers in this range have scope mount grooves too narrow for side three point scope mounts offered by other companies, e.g., Sadlak Industries, Smith Enterprise, etc.

139XXX Use of USGI parts in factory built rifles begins to noticeably drop.

161920 With rare exception after this serial number, commercial unlined barrels are installed on standard model M1A rifles. SA, Inc. machines the barrels from Wilson Arms supplied blanks.

162708 Lowest observed serial number for the M1A SOCOM series.

165XXX About 300 receivers in this serial number range have heels stamped AROMRY instead of ARMORY.

166761 Highest known serial number for a complete rifle built during the ten year federal Assault Weapons ban.

192260 Factory built standard model with all commercial parts except USGI fiberglass (with black crinkle) stock, operating rod spring guide, trigger housing and hammer.

218XXX About this serial number, M1A rifles may be assembled with new manufacture polymer stocks as the inventory of USGI fiberglass stocks (with black crinkle) have been used up.
 

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Thank You

Kurt thank for Posting the evolution of Commercial M1a receivers that Lee had compiled in his work. With Ted having first hand experience of working on True M14's as military Armour maybe there would be insights shared. As you pointed out the difference from 1956 to 2002 T bird model runs parallel with M14 vs M1a. Those of us on The Forum who have received no Formal Military Training with an MOS are trying and wanting to learn from those who have. There is more than a Fine Line of those who were Trained and those taught& learned a skill. I believe Ted's observation comes from years of experience of being on the bench and supporting a Team. A Team who members KNOW & BELIEVE they have the Best Wrench. I know for me to be trained by the likes of Gus Fisher,Hook or Fred Johnson would be something I would Proud of. To stand on the Firing Line with one of THEIR Sticks there would be NO DOUBT. In my minds eye there is a difference between an Armour and a Smith and M14 vs M1a. To add to the MIX those who ventured into manufacturing a receiver to be closer to the True M14 by forging, LRB,Bula along with GWLA. These are NOT TIMID SOULS. The World of 14's is not for Timid but seems Full of the Opinionated with Me Being in the Pack.
Pfc
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Please don't assume that the soft receiver shown is typical of all of Springfield's production. Soft receivers were limited to a small segment and not all receivers within that segment share similar traits. The receiver shown, which exhibits serious damage, had a lot of shooting according to the owner. It may have gone through 3 or 4 barrels and was a competition gun. Even so, it should not have suffered the damage it has. Government M14 receivers are known to gone through 400,000 to 450,000 rounds before becoming unserviceable and didn't exhibit this kind of damage. I posted this just to inform members of the forum that there are things one should be aware of. A little knowledge may save your bacon...

A note on my background: I shot and held several jobs on rifle teams during most of my 34 year military career, however, my primary AFSC was in Intelligence, not CATAM. Most of that time was served in the Air National Guard. My civilian occupation was in graphic arts and I didn't become a full time gun smith until about 1996, although I have been building M1 and M14 rifles since 1978. I'm 76 years old and will be retiring from smithing sooner or later. The wife would prefer that it be sooner, but I really enjoy it and have not set a specific date or age to fully retire. I may be like Art Lappino and keep working at it until I run out of steam (he hasn't and he has a few years on me).
 

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^^^ Very good news Ted!
 
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I don't bother or care for SAI receivers. No offense to ones who own them. I own only one early ARsmcorp from 80's receiver and it is hard. The rest of my rifles I built from Fulton receivers only...and they are hard. They ring like forged flywheels. And they do not gall at all them Fultons. The Armscorp I got has the serrations casted in looks like. Unlike the Fultons w/ fully machined serrations and slots.

Fulton have two features: the orange peel kind and the fully machined kind. I own both. To me..so long as they material is correct and the heat treating correct, i could care less what the sides look like.

SAI just never really impressed me in looks and peformance.
 
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