Tag Archives: M1A

M14s and M1As: From Magazine Dreaming to Camp Perry Competiing

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Dreams can come true! Here’s a story of a lifetime of fascination that culminated in the pinnacle of competition. READ IT ALL

camp perry m1a

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Horsman

My first memories that took me down the path of firearms and shooting came in the 1970s. I remember looking at old gun magazines, specifically Guns and Ammo, all of the time. Most of those magazines were dated from the late 60s through the mid to late 70s. #CollectorItems

That was when my love affair with firearms and shooting started. I was a very young boy, not quite 10 years old. The Guns and Ammo magazines, for me, were just like the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog. I remember looking through both and daydreaming about all of the stuff that I wanted for Christmas. I would study the pictures and read the articles, as I was dreaming about the guns that I wished I had and the hunting adventures I wanted to be a part of.

Hard to believe that that was nearly 45 years ago. #LifeMovesFast

M14 DREAM
During my younger years, there were several firearms that I was attracted to; obviously for how they looked, but mostly because of their capabilities and the history that surrounded them. One of my favorite guns was the M14 rifle, and my admiration of this rifle has never waned, even after 4 decades. Again, the sweet appearance is was what first drew me to it. It had classic lines that resembled the M1 Garand, but it had the more modern box fed magazine. I just wasn’t a fan yet of the M16 / AR16 rifle of that time, as it looked, dare I say, “cheap” to me.

As I got older, the desire to own an M14 rifle only grew stronger. What I didn’t know at the time though was that many of the M14s I was drooling over were (most likely) Springfield Armory M1As. Never in a million rounds, would I have imagined I would one day be working for “the” gun company.

camp perry range

DISPOSABLE DINERO
Jump to the late 1990s when I was finally able to buy my first M1A! It was a brand new Springfield Armory “Loaded” M1A Model. I was in M1A heaven! It had everything I wanted, and I loved that rifle. I shot it in my first and only (as of this writing) High Power match, and once at the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun Match.

From the moment I got it, until the day a good friend talked me into selling it to him, it performed perfectly. If you’re like me, you know that it’s always hard to get rid of a gun — I had the original “Loaded” Model in my safe for over 10 years, and was always a proud owner. But in the end, I really wanted the flagship M1A Super Match.

As things often happen though, I bought not the Super Match, but the Springfield Armory Scout Squad model. Probably because every time I had the chance to shoot one of these guns, I started to like it more and more. At the time, it fit my needs for a battle rifle better than the Loaded Model did, and the Super Match was just a little out of reach dollar wise.

I still have that Scout rifle, and have “made it mine” by removing the Scout scope mount, and adding a wooden hand guard in place of the plastic one that comes stock on that model. That rifle is a tack driver and I can hit 10-inch steel plates at 500 yards all day long. #Gratifying

DREAM JOB
As life fast forwarded and my LE career was wrapping up, I was fortunate enough to become involved with Springfield Armory. (That little-boy-paging-through-gun-magazines’ dreams were definitely exceeded!)

I also found myself interested in shooting rifle events again. And, it just so happened that in January of 2015, my buddy Rob Leatham called and asked, “Do you want to go to Camp Perry and shoot the M1A Match with me?”

I immediately knew the answer, but wanted to play it cool. I called him back a few days later… or was it a few minutes later? And since Camp Perry was on my bucket list, and life moves really fast, and of course I wanted to go, I excitedly said, “OH YEAH! “ But then I tell Rob that the only M1A I have is my Scout, and I ask, “Can I use that?” He said I could, but also suggested that he had a few rifles that might be better; more accurate, and actually set up for High Power style rifle shooting.

Who am I to turn that kind of offer down?

Next thing I know, Rob and I are heading out to the range to begin zeroing his rifles so we can practice. Rob’s two rifles were basically Super Match set ups. He chose the really nice Camo Super Match and he loaned me the older wooden stock rifle. It was basically a predecessor to the current Springfield Super Match, and it was really accurate and shot awesome!

camp perry tower

After months of practice, we finally arrived at Camp Perry. I was humbled by the history of the place and duly impressed by the size of the ranges. I was told it is the largest shooting range in the country. It’s truly an amazing sight to experience!

Rob and I shot the match, and of course, he barely beats me! My guess is it had to be the rifle he shot, versus the rifle he “loaned” me to shoot! 🙂 #Setup

CAMP PERRY EFFECT
Thanks to Camp Perry, I was now really ready to get the M1A Super Match that I’ve always wanted, and upon my return, I promptly placed my order at Springfield. I got my rifle and, as advertised, it was awesome! I ordered the Camo fiberglass stock model and immediately took it to the range for zeroing. It shot every bit as well as I expected and anticipated — it was outstanding!

Fast forward to the Summer of 2018, and I make my way back to Camp Perry to participate again in the annual M1A event with MY Super Match. Needless to say, the Super Match shot great and I destroyed Rob’s score!* See, I told you he gave me the less-accurate rifle!

*Did I forget to mention that Rob didn’t actually shoot the match in 2018? 🙂

M1A MANIA
Joking aside, this year’s Springfield Armory M1A Match at Camp Perry had over 350 shooters — That firing line is another incredible sight to see! I spoke with so many other competitors while there, and they all said their love of the M1A rifle is the reason they shoot this match. Most stated too that they shoot their M1As at local High Power matches all throughout the year.

I also have several friends who currently shoot and have shot High Power rifle competition for many moons. In a nutshell, all of them have told me the same things about the beloved M1A:

It is extremely competitive.
It does very well in the high-power matches.
It holds its own against anything on the firing line.
Most prefer the lower recoil of the AR-pattern rifles — which is why they shoot them.

And without exception, whenever I go to the range and break out my M1As, I am asked by other shooters if they can look at my rifle. After they check it out, I usually get several questions, and most of them eventually tell me, “I’ve always wanted an M1A…

m1a

GUN NEWS: Springfield Armory Announces 6.5 Creedmoor M1A

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Not that anyone needs a reason to want a Springfield Armory M1A, but chambering it in 6.5 Creedmoor? Oh, yeah.

SOURCE: NRA American Rifleman Staff

Springfield Armory just announced that it is offering three variations of its M1A rifle in the powerful 6.5 Creedmoor caliber.

“Having a 6.5 Creedmoor caliber in the M1A lineup gives long-range shooters more choices with the precision and accuracy they require,” says Springfield Armory CEO Dennis Reese. “They can choose the round they prefer, and take advantage of the legendary accuracy of the M1A platform to make the most of their shooting prowess.”

The new M1A 6.5 Creedmoor is offered with a choice of a solid black composite stock or a precision-adjustable stock that lets shooters dial in individual fit and feel. A 10-round magazine comes with each rifle.

The M1A’s National Match Grade, 22-inch medium weight stainless steel barrel provides a long sight radius for optimal iron sight accuracy, with a 4-groove 1:8-inch right-hand twist and muzzle brake. The NM Grade 0.062 post front sight is paired with a NM Grade non-hooded 0.0520 aperture rear sight that’s ideal for distant targets and adjustable for 1/2 MOA windage and 1 MOA elevation. The two-stage trigger is National Match tuned to 4.5-5 lbs. Paired with a SA scope mount and the right optic, the new 6.5 Creedmoor M1A can be a “true 1000-yard rifle.”

M1A 6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Creedmoor with Flat Dark Earth Precision Stock MSRP: $2045

M1A 6.5 Creedmoor
6.5 Creedmoor with Black Precision Stock MSRP: $2045
M1A 6.5 Creedmoor CA
6.5 Creedmoor with Black Composite Stock MSRP: $1985. This model is also CA-Compliant.

For more, visit Springfield-Armory.com

RELOADERS CORNER: 5 Simple Steps To M1A Reloading Success

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The M14/M1A can be a cantankerous beast to reload for, so follow these suggestions to tame it down. Keep reading…

M14 match shooter

Glen Zediker

The “5 steps to success” are at the end of this article… First, read about why they will matter as much as they do!

A couple times back I decided that the best topic to write about might be the most current, and I defined that by the most recent questions I fielded on a topic. As the assumption goes: they can’t be the only ones with that question… So, over this weekend I had a series of questions from different people all on the topic of reloading for the M1A, the civilian version of the military M14.

Now. Since the M14 was the issue rifle of choice for a good number of years, and without a doubt the (previously at least) favored platform for the various-branch military shooting team efforts, it went through some serious modifications to best suit it to that very narrow-use objective: High Power Rifle competition. Although the M14 hadn’t been routinely issued to most troops for decades, it was still going strong in this venue. That changed in the mid-90s when Rules changes boosted the AR15 platform to prominence, and soon after, dominance.

Match conditioning an M14 involved modifications to virtually every system component, and resulted in a fine shooting rifle. Very fine. Amazingly fine. The one mod that prodded the impetus to write all this next was the barrel chambering specification changes. A while back I went on about what 7.62 NATO is compared to its fraternal twin .308 Winchester.

Match-spec M14 chambers are decidedly NOT NATO! They’re .308 Winchester, pretty much. I say “pretty much” because they’re on the minimum side, dimensionally, compared to SAAMI commercial guidelines for .308 Win. Lemmeesplain: the true “match” M14 chamber is short, in throat and in headspace. The reason is ammunition bound. I’ll explain that too: Lake City Match ammo was and is a universal competition cartridge. Military teams compete in, well, military team competitions. Some are open to civilians, some are not. All, however, used issued ammo across the board. You were given your boxes of Lake City Match, or Special Ball, or one of a couple other same-spec variants, prior to the show and that’s what you used for the event. Everyone used the same ammo. Civilian or Service. There were exceptions, like long-range specialty events, but what was said held true the vast majority of the time. That meant that everyone wanted the same well-proven chamber, civilians too.

Lake City Match ammo
Back in the day… Here’s what you got, which was the same as what everyone else got, for a DCM (now CMP Inc.) rifle tournament. “Here ya go son, and good luck…” and since we took as much luck out of the equation as possible, we all used a rifle chamber in our M14s and M1As that maximized Lake City Match ammo performance. And that’s why I’m writing all this…

Given this, that’s why a “match” M1A chamber is different than a SAAMI. It was built to maximize Lake City Match accuracy. That’s a short round. The headspace is a few thousandths under what’s common on a chamber based around commercial .308 brass. 1.630-inch cartridge headspace height is regarded as minimum for commercial.

Headspace reading Lake City Match
The true M14/M1A match chamber is a short chamber: headspace is very tight. That’s because Lake City Match ammo is short. Compare this to what you might want to use, and if you have a genuine match chamber, best make sure the ammo fits… Measure both the results of sizing operations and also any new ammo or brass before you fire it in one of these chambers! I have encountered commercial .308 Win. rounds that were too long out of the box (cartridge case headspace dimensions). Here’s a cartridge headspace read on a Lake City Match compared to a commercial Winchester match load (inset) I had on hand. Read taken with a zeroed Hornady LNL gage. And NEVER fire commercial ammo intended for hunting use; the component mix and round structure is almost certain to be wrong.

Check out  headspace gages  at Midsouth HERE

So sizing a case to fit a match M1A, especially if it’s a hard-skinned mil-spec case, takes some crunch. To compound difficulty, M1As and M14s unlock very (very) quickly during firing. The bolt is trying to unlock when the case is still expanded against the chamber walls. The little bit of space this creates results in a “false” headspace gage reading on the spent case. It’s going to measure a little longer than the chamber is actually cut. That can lead someone to do the usual math (comparing new case and spent case headspace reads) and end up with a “size-to” figure that’s too tall, that has the shoulder too high. For instance, let’s say the spent case measured 1.634 and the new case measured 1.627, indicating 0.006 expansion or growth. Given the usual advice (from me at least) to reduce fired case shoulder height by 0.004 (semi-autos) for safe and reliable reuse would net a size-to dimension of 1.630. But. There can easily be a “missed” 0.002-0.003 inches resultant from the additional expansion explained earlier. My advice for a match-chambered M1A is to reduce the fired case all the way back down to the new case dimension. That might sound like a lot, and it might sound excessive, and it might be — but, it’s the proven way to keep this gun running surely and safely. That, however, is not always an easy chore. Some mil-spec brass is reluctant to cooperate. And, by the way, don’t kid yourself about reducing case life. This gun eats brass; I put just three loads through a case before canning it.

M14 gas system
These rifles have an overactive gas system that tends to create premature bolt unlocking, and this leads to excessive case expansion. I recommend resetting the fired case headspace to match a new case reading for safety’s sake.

Two helps: one is to use petroleum-based case lube, like Forster Case Lube or Redding/Imperial Sizing Wax. And size each case twice! That’s right: run each one fully into the die twice. Double-sizing sure seems to result in more correct and more consistent after-sizing headspace readings.

A “small-base” sizing die (reduced case head diameter) is not necessary to refit match brass into a match chamber. It might help using brass that was first-fired in a chamber with more generous diameter, but sized diameter isn’t really the “small” part of the M1A match chamber. Again, the small part is the headspace.

Forster National Match dies
A Forster “National Match” die set is a guaranteed way to ensure adequate sizing for an M1A match chamber. This sizing die has additional shoulder “crunch” built in, and that’s the “National Match” part: it essentially replicates Lake City Match ammo dimensions.

Take a look at these dies HERE

So that’s the source the problem reloading for this rifle. And, again, “this rifle” is an M1A with a true mil-match armorer’s spec chamber. We best make sure that our sized cases are going to fit the chamber, plus a couple thousandths clearance for function and safety. And safety mostly. M1As are notorious for “slam-fires” which happen when the free-floating firing pin taps the primer on a chambering round delivering sufficient intrusion to detonate. Impressive explosions result. If the case shoulder is stopping against the chamber before the bolt can lock over, that can be all the pin needs to maximize the effect of its inertia.

Speaking of, there are three sources and fortunately the same number of cures for slam-fires. One, first, is the correct sizing on setting back the case shoulder so the shoulder doesn’t stop against its receptacle in the chamber. Next is making sure there are no “high” primers; each primer should be seated at least 0.005 inches under flush with the case head. Next, and very important: primer composition, which equates to primer brand. Do not use a “sensitive” primer, one with a thinner, softer skin. Although they are great performers, Federal 205 are too sensitive for this rifle. Better are WW, CCI 200.

My thoughts
I don’t like this chamber… I also used one because I competed in events with issued ammo. I don’t recommend a “true” M14 chamber because that’s a NATO. Plain old standard .308 Win. specs work better and allow more flexibility in ammo and component selection. Even though the true mil-spec match chambers are not common, the reason I’ve written as much as I have on this topic over the years is because a mistake can be disastrous. One of the folks who wrote me one question shared a story about a friend who blew up his match M1A firing improper commercially-loaded ammo through it. Whoa.

A CASE FOR THE M1A
This gun needs a stout case. They won’t last long no matter what but they might not last at all if they’re too soft. I’ve broken some new commercial cases on one firing. Thicker/thinner isn’t the issue: it’s the hardness of the alloy. Harder material better resists reaction to the additional stress of premature system operation. New-condition mil-spec cases are great, if you can get them. Next best is Lake City Match that was fired in a match-chambered rifle. Stay completely away from anything, and everything, fired through a NATO-spec chamber. It’s nigh on not possible to size them enough to suit. For me, WW is the only commercial case I will run through my M1A. They’re thin, but pretty hard.

308 components
Here’s a full component set I recommend, and use, for true match chambered M1As.

I did a whole chapter solely on reloading for the M14/M1A for my book Handloading for Competition that didn’t get printed into it for various reasons. However! I have the entire chapter available as a PDF download on my website. Get it HERE

And for even more info on reloading for the  M1A, order the new book Top-Grade Ammo, available here at Midsouth. For more information on this book, and others, plus articles and information for download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

 

M14 loading dos/donts

Faxon Firearms Introduces M1A Super Match Barrels

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M1A owners looking to wring more accuracy out of their rifles should know that Faxon Firearms has introduced its own match-quality barrel for this popular competition platform. MSRP, $299.

The M1A Super Match Barrel is to the true match-winning profile with heavy weight to the rear and a balanced profile towards the muzzle.
The M1A Super Match Barrel is to the true match-winning profile with heavy weight to the rear and a balanced profile towards the muzzle.

Faxon’s M1A Super Match Barrel has a competition profile, with weight to the rear and a balanced profile towards the muzzle. The barrels are button rifled, stress relieved, and have hand-polished .308 Winchester chambers. The M1A Super Match barrels feature 1/10 twist rifling versus the common 1/11, to create a barrel designed for the heaviest target loads. The surfaces are finished in a black-oxide coating.

Nathan Schueth, director of sales, marketing, and product development for the company, said, “We are thrilled to expand into a new platform. We applied our expertise from manufacturing thousands of general-purpose machine-gun and AR barrels to create match-ready barrels for the M1A.”

The installation-ready Super Match barrels are made of 4150 GBQ steel and measure 22 inches in length. They have standard M1A muzzle threads and fit all M1A / M14 Rifles (with timed threads). They weigh 3.3 pounds. An 11-degree target crown completes the muzzle end. The barrels are Magnetic Particle Inspected, fully stress relieved, and air-gauge tested.

The M1A Super Match Barrel is to the true match-winning profile with heavy weight to the rear and a balanced profile towards the muzzle.