Join Date: Aug 2005
My Ride: F30 328i M Sport
Here's some stuff to consider, depending on if this is applicable to you or not..
The AR platform is far more reliable than the M14/M1A platform, depending on the model purchased. Understand that the M1A is not all that durable overall. Situationally durable, yes. Overall durability, no. By situationally I mean that in short term incidents and usage, they generally don't have problems. The problems arise in longer use. Pat Rogers from EAG Tactical, Jeff Gonzalez from TRICON and others have all noted that M1As will not make it through their courses. They run multi-day courses with round counts ranging from 400-600rds per day, and M1A/Mk14/M14 rifles do not finish because they all inevitably go down with some major catastrophic malfunction. Keep in mind that these are guys who have a lot of military and SpecOps training experience, as well as being at the top of the training game for commercial, LE and MIL/FED training. They can't handle high round counts because the stress causes operating and gas related parts to fail. Pat Rogers has been conducting training with EAG Tactical for nearly 10 years, and while he has seen numerous M1As in his courses, he is very vocal about how one has never finished a course.
Precision instructors like Jacob Bynum and Frank Galli of Rifles Only, Bill Graves of GPS Defense, John "Shrek" McPhee (former SF), Jerod Johnson and Rob Pettorsson of STA Training Group, among others have noted that M1A/M14 family of rifles cannot function in their courses because they lack the accuracy necessary to make the accurate hits at long range. When you consider that the average M1A ranges from 1.5-3MOA for the match/service rifles, to 2-4MOA for the standard grade rifles like the Scout, this makes sense. And this is with magnified optics using match grade ammunition, mind you. At one point, I had an SA M1A Loaded ERC that I had dumped a total of about $3400 in upgrades and tuning, and the best I could do with that National Match stainless barrel was 1.5MOA with match ammo. With M80 BALL I was getting considerably worse. This was back before I understood the limitations of the platform. I then went on SnipersHide and found out that most other people have reported M1As to be giant money-pits and that trying to get consistent accuracy out of them is difficult. Without going into too much detail, it takes a lot of manipulation with the barrel, gas system, stock, trigger, mount, etc. Regardless of immediate accuracy, M1As are prone to heat deviation issues, and they lose accuracy as they heat up.
Contrast that to the SCAR-17S, which gets 0.75-1MOA consistently with match ammo. Most quality ARs are getting 0.5-1MOA with match ammo. All are more reliable and durable than the M1A
When you look at the following options, you have durability, reliability and accuracy:
LaRue OBR -- Has won the USAISC (Int'l Sniper Comp) the past 3 years
Knights Armament SR-25 -- Commercial versions are the same as those purchased by SOCOM and Crane NSWC groups, which is very accurate and more reliable than the USA issued M110.
LMT 308MWS -- Current issue heavy carbine for designated marksman use in the British military, designated as the L129A1. New Zealand just picked it up, and I believe the Aussies are/have as well.
FN SCAR-17S -- Currently in use as the Mk17 within the SOCOM realm and has been a very reliable and accurate heavy carbine for use in A-Stan.
S&W M&P10 -- New production rifle based on the SR25/LR308 pattern. This rifle is newer in production and I've seen several on shelves in guns shops. All have been going for around $1500-$1800. S&W is a reputable company.
If all you're going to do is pop off some rounds at the range, you're likely fine with the M1A. However, if you plan to get into precision or want to do some carbine or heavy carbine/battle rifle courses with "big name" training groups, you will find that the M1A is not going to cut it. The M1A is an antiquated weapon system that is based on an even older operating system- it just moved from a long stroke piston to a short stroke piston operating system and switched to a very awkward box magazine feeding system.
Parts are available, but only certain ones. The magazines are all in high demand, just like the ARs.
I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer- I'm just hoping to make sure you make an educated decision. If you feel the M1A is for you, by all means do what you want. I dumped my M1A because it was too expensive to keep running and it could never do what a rifle costing $1000 less could do (LE/MIL price for a SCAR-17S). As a previous M1A owner, I want you to know what the other side of the coin is that a lot of people don't know about, or don't make known.
To give a perspective, I have been doing some consulting for a training group and we're working with the idea of an outright ban on M1As and Mini-14/30 rifles for their training due to reliability issues. It doesn't sound like there will be an outright ban of the M1A for the heavy carbine course, but they are considering requiring the student to have a backup rifle just in case. They will likely not be allowing M1As in their precision rifle courses, however.
i know you said you don't want to deal with another AR, but what specifically about the AR pattern don't you like? What has been your experiences?
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Last edited by Reedo302; 03-19-2013 at 10:27 PM.