Something is wrong with my M1A

pmclaine

Gunny Sergeant
PX Member
Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    When I first bought it everyone was telling me "You have to buy X".

    X ranged from "Coast Guard Compensators", Unitized gas cylinders "Make sure its the USMC style", National Match piston, National Match sights, "Make sure you do a tilt test, it will never shoot if anything is rubbing".

    I kind of just wanted a standard issue GI representation gun. My hopes were it would hold 4 MOA as a field grade M1A.

    Somethings is decidedly wrong with my rifle.

    P1019201.JPG

    P1019202.JPG

    P1019203.JPG

    I think its doing what everyone told me it would not do without certain things.....

    P1019204.JPG

    1 - 9 and 3 -10s before I adjusted dope Down 1 MOA, Right 1 MOA. Than it shot 4 more 10s and 12 X.

    Should I get the unitized gas cylinder? Will the Coast Guard compensator help?
     

    Defender3

    Online Training Member
    Hessian
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Mar 8, 2010
    621
    662
    Behind Enemy Lines
    Nice!

    I always thought an M1A was a 2MOA rifle, 1.5 MOA with good ammo and 1MOA with good ammo, a properly fitted stock a NM flash hider, etc.
     

    Gunfighter14e2

    Rusty Nail
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Jul 9, 2002
    7,926
    10,761
    Alabama
    eHam.net
    Long ago when my son was 12 he an I went to the local range in Dade City Fla. He had been shooting for about 2 years. We arrived to find a M14 expert shooting prone at 100yds getting ready for a match. When the son put my 14 in the rack he came over an started to talk to him an preceeded to tell him everything that was wrong with it. Long short the son fired 20 rds the group was centered on target with a 1.5" group. All the while I was watching an listening. Once the range was cold we all walked down to the targets, bullet holes don't know how to lie. I just said, you know if I knew your better, I'd let you shoot this rack gun at your match this weekend, or the boy here could just enter under your name. His groups (3) were in the 2.5-2.75" range, but he was the expert with his home built match gun,... Could be a match M1A was not up to a rack Winchester M14 that day, don't know,...
     

    Harleystoo

    Sergeant of the Hide
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Feb 11, 2020
    146
    93
    So, are we being facetious?
    If you're really looking for "expert" advice, talk to an AR owner.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Eddystone

    rth1800

    Two Star General
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Sep 16, 2009
    7,837
    3,697
    OK, You forced my hand. Breaking out the '14 this week and shooting a few groups!
    Lovely rifle and clearly a great shooter. BTW, That old LC match ammo won't do either. You need Berger bullets, Lapua brass, neck dies. Simply won't do at all.
     

    Random Guy

    Private
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    May 16, 2012
    519
    784
    50
    Here's how one can confirm that one has middle-aged eyesight that has kind-of been going south for the past couple of years:

    100 yard target with replica NM M1A, match handloads and a 8" 'Dirty Bird' target. Shoot a 99-5X with a horizontal spread of 2.0" and vertical spread about 3.7" (or 2.7" if you subtract the flyer at 6 o'clock)

    24Replica 1967_NM_Target_Oct_2019.jpg

    ...Then take the same rifle, same target, very similar handload, but using a well-used cheap 1967ish Tasco 3-9x scope with an old Basset mount. Shoot a 100-6x with 9 out of the 10 rds showing a nice 1.3" cluster (or 1.7" extreme spread with flyer at 3 o'clock)

    25Replica1967_NM_target2.jpg

    ...not sure what to do about that outside of Lasik eye surgery, but there you have it: Diagnosis is middle-aged eyesight that now requires tri-focal glasses...but I'm still having fun at the range and esp when I use optics, so that's what counts.

    FWIW, here's the retro/replica build of a 1967 NM M14 using a circa 1977 SAI M1A. (The 1967 dated M118 ammo is for display purposes).

    14Replica1967_NM_rt_ang.jpg
     
    Last edited:

    pmclaine

    Gunny Sergeant
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    Here's how one can confirm that one has middle-aged eyesight that has kind-of been south for the past couple of years:

    100 yard target with replica NM M1A, match handloads and a 8" 'Dirty Bird' target. Shoot a 99-5X with a horizontal spread of 2.0" and vertical spread about 3.7" (or 2.7" if you subtract the flyer at 6 o'clock)

    View attachment 7263372

    ...Then take the same rifle, same target, very similar handload, but using a well-used cheap 1967ish Tasco 3-9x scope with an old Basset mount. Shoot a 100-6x with 9 out of the 10 rds showing a nice 1.3" cluster (or 1.7" extreme spread with flyer at 3 o'clock)

    View attachment 7263373

    ...not sure what to do about that outside of Lasik eye surgery, but there you have it: Diagnosis is middle-aged eyesight that now requires tri-focal glasses...but I'm still having fun at the range and esp when I use optics, so that's what counts.

    FWIW, here's the retro/replica build of a 1967 NM M14 using a circa 1977 SAI M1A. (The 1967 dated M118 ammo is for display purposes).

    View attachment 7263390

    I need to get a good dominant eye prescription lens in these...

    image.jpg

    My street lenses are not perfect for front sight clarity.
     

    pmclaine

    Gunny Sergeant
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    OK, You forced my hand. Breaking out the '14 this week and shooting a few groups!
    Lovely rifle and clearly a great shooter. BTW, That old LC match ammo won't do either. You need Berger bullets, Lapua brass, neck dies. Simply won't do at all.

    Holding you to posting some pics of some fine M1A......
     
    • Like
    Reactions: deltawiskey

    pmclaine

    Gunny Sergeant
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    That is a very good shooting rifle for sure, but let’s not discount the shooter. Great job!
    I cheat my ass off.

    Look at all the bags.

    That rifle should be shot standing like a man not squatting like.......well whatever.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: lash and jbell

    sandwarrior

    Sergeant
    Hessian
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Apr 21, 2007
    6,249
    1,559
    in yooperland
    When I first bought it everyone was telling me "You have to buy X".

    X ranged from "Coast Guard Compensators", Unitized gas cylinders "Make sure its the USMC style", National Match piston, National Match sights, "Make sure you do a tilt test, it will never shoot if anything is rubbing".

    I kind of just wanted a standard issue GI representation gun. My hopes were it would hold 4 MOA as a field grade M1A.

    Somethings is decidedly wrong with my rifle.

    View attachment 7261716

    View attachment 7261717

    View attachment 7261718

    I think its doing what everyone told me it would not do without certain things.....

    View attachment 7261719

    1 - 9 and 3 -10s before I adjusted dope Down 1 MOA, Right 1 MOA. Than it shot 4 more 10s and 12 X.

    Should I get the unitized gas cylinder? Will the Coast Guard compensator help?
    I'm pretty sure you need to send it to me and we can get those flyers fixed up for ya! ? ?

    I might be going your way quite possibly this summer and perform surgery on your rifle at your home range?:cool: We'll get her all fixed up for ya. It might take a few hundred rounds.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: lash and pmclaine

    Greg Langelius *

    Resident Elder Fart
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Aug 10, 2001
    8,645
    4,577
    74
    Arizona, good place for me...
    BTDT, exactly. The only thing I did to my 1996 'Loaded" M1a with stainless midweight (likely Douglas) barrel was to glassbed the stock according to an interpretation of the NRA Garand Reprint, and feed it 175SMK at 2.815" OAL, Fed Match Brass, Fed Gold Medal Primer, and 42.2gr of IMR-4064.

    It performed to National Match spec.

    You are a Fortunate Dood.

    Greg
     
    • Like
    Reactions: pmclaine

    NukeMMC

    Damn Bubblehead
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Online Training Access
    Mar 3, 2009
    1,239
    578
    Harrisburg, PA
    Went Distinguished with the M14 in 1993. Shot it at 1000 at Interservice at Quantico in 1991 and Perry in 1994. Shot single lugged M14 DMRs in 1993-1995 for Security. 2 of the 5 DMRs we had were wood-stocked, no-lug early versions with ART2 scopes and SAK medium weight barrels. They would shoot the LC-84 and WRA-60 M80 ball ammo we used for practice and rough zeros into 2" groups at 300 yds off sandbags. Always will have a soft spot in an old cold Chief's heart for the M14. First SSBN I was on had M14s for issue rifles in late 80s. 2 of which had operable selectors. They could hit a 5gal milk carton in the water most of the time at 100-ish yds with M80 ball from the sail of a sub on the surface (cork in a bathtub) once sighted in.
     

    Random Guy

    Private
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    May 16, 2012
    519
    784
    50
    Shot single lugged M14 DMRs in 1993-1995 for Security. 2 of the 5 DMRs we had were wood-stocked, no-lug early versions with ART2 scopes and SAK medium weight barrels.
    Welcome back. I tried my best to build replicas of both of those rifles (top and bottom in the pic). Top rifle has a 1993 dated USN marked heavy Barnett barrel, and rear lugged receiver. Although the wood stocked M21 has a 1983 dated General Dynamics medium weight barrel and not a SAK, but I like it nonetheless. (Middle rifle is an US Army XM25 replica).

    M21_XM25_PSSG_1_v2.jpg

    Thanks again for chiming in on your first person experience, much appreciated(!).
     

    Lug Nut

    Private
    Minuteman
    Mar 20, 2020
    31
    21
    Long ago when my son was 12 he an I went to the local range in Dade City Fla. He had been shooting for about 2 years. We arrived to find a M14 expert shooting prone at 100yds getting ready for a match. When the son put my 14 in the rack he came over an started to talk to him an preceeded to tell him everything that was wrong with it. Long short the son fired 20 rds the group was centered on target with a 1.5" group. All the while I was watching an listening. Once the range was cold we all walked down to the targets, bullet holes don't know how to lie. I just said, you know if I knew your better, I'd let you shoot this rack gun at your match this weekend, or the boy here could just enter under your name. His groups (3) were in the 2.5-2.75" range, but he was the expert with his home built match gun,... Could be a match M1A was not up to a rack Winchester M14 that day, don't know,...
    Indeed.

    My 80’s vintage, Winchester barreled, rack grade M1A, shoots like the OP’s.

    Amazing, the barrel has some good size rust pits between the gas port and muzzle and still shoots really well.

    I’ll never “tune” it.
     

    sirhrmechanic

    Command Sgt. Major
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    You NEED a State of the Art Plastic stock. It will make you shoot better...(PS send me that left over piece of firewood:sneaky:)
    I put a plastic stock on mine and it would not fire three shots without jamming...

    Went back to wood stock... shot like a typewriter... never jammed since.

    State of the art... right!
     
    • Like
    Reactions: sandwarrior

    eastexsteve

    Sergeant of the Hide
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Nov 18, 2018
    329
    220
    NE Texas
    Should I get the unitized gas cylinder? Will the Coast Guard compensator help?
    The unitized gas cylinder will help accuracy immensely. Also, make sure your gas cylinder doesn't need to be shimmed. So will a good stock bedding job. NM sights will help once you really learn how to shoot those peeps. They can be tricky in different lighting conditions. Even just putting on a NM front sight blade will help. For now, start playing with different ammo. Start with the inexpensive M80 and go from there. The best shooting M80 in either of my guns is the PMC X-TAC. This ammo advertises as "no steel." But, one of my guns is a SA National Match, and it doesn't shoot M80 much better than 2 MOA. But, it shoots M118LR like a laser beam. There is a reason a NM model costs more. There is a difference, and it's all about the accuracy. But, that doesn't mean you can't do a few things to yours to tighten it up.
     
    Last edited:

    pmclaine

    Gunny Sergeant
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    The unitized gas cylinder will help accuracy immensely. Also, make sure your gas cylinder doesn't need to be shimmed. So will a good stock bedding job. NM sights will help once you really learn how to shoot those peeps. They can be tricky in different lighting conditions. Even just putting on a NM front sight blade will help. For now, start playing with different ammo. Start with the inexpensive M80 and go from there. The best shooting M80 in either of my guns is the PMC X-TAC. This ammo advertises as "no steel." But, one of my guns is a SA National Match, and it doesn't shoot M80 much better than 2 MOA. But, it shoots M118LR like a laser beam. There is a reason a NM model costs more. There is a difference, and it's all about the accuracy. But, that doesn't mean you can't do a few things to yours to tighten it up.

    I'll get right on it.
     
    • Haha
    Reactions: sandwarrior

    Son of Dorn

    Castellan
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Jul 27, 2019
    1,565
    1,531
    Personally I think you OUGHT to get something to fill in the selector notch in the stock.

    But that's just an aesthetics thing.
     

    AManWearingAHat

    Sergeant of the Hide
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Oct 10, 2019
    180
    185
    Something is definitely wrong with that rifle, send it my way for evaluation so you can get it off your hands.

    Great shooting friend. Id love to add one to my safe one day. A shooting coat, an M1A and a pile of .308 makes for a very fun day.
     

    pmclaine

    Gunny Sergeant
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    Personally I think you OUGHT to get something to fill in the selector notch in the stock.

    But that's just an aesthetics thing.
    Bought one of the Hawks selector kits.

    Didnt seem to fit right.

    Only spent a short time working on it, possible my receiver is one of those with a little more beef so as to prevent the lip edges from fitting correctly.

    I may look at it again some day but again its only aesthetic.......manscaping for the man rifle.
     

    BEJ762

    Sergeant of the Hide
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Feb 18, 2014
    275
    267
    Bay Area, CA
    Bought one of the Hawks selector kits.

    Didnt seem to fit right.

    Only spent a short time working on it, possible my receiver is one of those with a little more beef so as to prevent the lip edges from fitting correctly.

    I may look at it again some day but again its only aesthetic.......manscaping for the man rifle.
    You might need to take a file to the front area of the selector bar. The area that connects to the charging handle. They do require you to fit them.
     

    pmclaine

    Gunny Sergeant
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    You might need to take a file to the front area of the selector bar. The area that connects to the charging handle. They do require you to fit them.
    I filed the "locator" nubby off, had to relieve an angle at the rear to ensure no interference, sat in the wood good but something was off when I lowered the receiver.

    Almost seemed like I need to "thin" the length of the connector bar.

    A pass with the mill I dont own and a trip to someplace that parkerizes seems like too much effort for looks.

    What I need to do though is change out my sight cover spring for a NOS I got from Amherst and zero up my sights, maybe add some paint marks.

    Sight loosened up on me last shoot trying to get a 300 zero.

    Functional stuff.

    And more linseed oil, never enough wood rubbin'
     
    • Like
    Reactions: BEJ762

    smoothy8500

    Private
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Online Training Access
    Oct 10, 2012
    539
    276
    South Orange County, CA
    Almost seemed like I need to "thin" the length of the connector bar.
    The connector and mounting bracket need to be moved "outboard" a bit more. It may require relieving the bracket or inside the stock to get it to clear the side rail of the receiver. Sometimes it needs clearance where the connector is at the front of the receiver. The M1A has a wider side rail than the original M14 receiver to support the op-rod.
    M1A selector.jpg
     

    Random Guy

    Private
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    May 16, 2012
    519
    784
    50
    I filed the "locator" nubby off, had to relieve an angle at the rear to ensure no interference, sat in the wood good but something was off when I lowered the receiver.

    Almost seemed like I need to "thin" the length of the connector bar.

    A pass with the mill I dont own and a trip to someplace that parkerizes seems like too much effort for looks.
    They can be a pain to fit and install, all depends on frame rail width and stock dimensions. Since you have the parts, there is one more option that you might consider if you want to fill just the area at the selector switch cut-out: Cutting the connector rod just in front of the selector lock parts. Attached is what I am considering using on my pending M14 EBR build as my SAI frame rail is already flush up against the edge of the SAGE chassis and I don't think installing the full connector rod will be easy or look right given it will be hanging off the chassis for the full width of the rod. (and I don't want to machine the frame rail down to USGI width).

    Pictures explain it better. First picture shows the shortened/"stubby" USGI connector arm that was re-parked after shortening. Last 2 pics show how much thicker a commercial M1A frame rail is relative to a de-milled USGI M14 heel - there is real estate w/ the M14 heel to allow the connector rod to fit more flush against the chassis. Same kind of issue applies with some wood stocks, depending on how thick or thin they are in that area. On a fat McMillan M1A stock there is plenty of room for the faux connector rod set-up.

    Note: If you cut your connector rod down to the "stubby" version it will still fill the hole in the stock, but you'll need a 1/2" long thin finishing nail or similar to attach the "stubby" connector arm to the wood stock. You could re-park the stub, or maybe just get away with cold-bluing the exposed metal where the arm was cut-off. Anyhow, you have a nice rifle and thought I'd mention this option, since I'm trying to fit one of these to my SAGE chassis.
     

    Attachments

    Last edited:
    • Like
    Reactions: lash

    Son of Dorn

    Castellan
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Jul 27, 2019
    1,565
    1,531
    Bought one of the Hawks selector kits.

    Didnt seem to fit right.

    Only spent a short time working on it, possible my receiver is one of those with a little more beef so as to prevent the lip edges from fitting correctly.

    I may look at it again some day but again its only aesthetic.......manscaping for the man rifle.
    I have a Fulton dummy switch on mine. No connector bar, so I didn't have to deal with that. Kinda wish I'd found that one before I got the Fulton but I don't think there's any changing it now. Still looks good.
     

    pmclaine

    Gunny Sergeant
    PX Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 6, 2011
    21,054
    30,949
    52
    MA
    They can be a pain to fit and install, all depends on frame rail width and stock dimensions. Since you have the parts, there is one more option that you might consider if you want to fill just the area at the selector switch cut-out: Cutting the connector rod just in front of the selector lock parts. Attached is what I am considering using on my pending M14 EBR build as my SAI frame rail is already flush up against the edge of the SAGE chassis and I don't think installing the full connector rod will be easy or look right given it will be hanging off the chassis for the full width of the rod.

    Pictures explain it better. First picture shows the shortened/"stubby" USGI connector arm that was re-parked after shortening. (Last 2 pics show how much thicker a commercial M1A frame rail is relative to a de-milled USGI M14 heel - there is real estate w/ the M14 heel to allow the connector rod to fit more flush against the chassis. Same kind of issue applies with some wood stocks, depending on how thick or thin they are in that area. (On a fat McMillan M1A stock there is plenty of room for the faux connector rod set-up).

    Note: If you cut your connector rod down to the "stubby" version it will still fill the hole in the stock, but you'll need a 1/2" long thin finishing nail or similar to attach the "stubby" connector arm to the wood stock. You could re-park the stub, or maybe just get away with cold-bluing the exposed metal where the arm was cut-off. Anyhow, you have a nice rifle and thought I'd mention this option, since I'm trying to fit one of these to my SAGE chassis.
    You Sir, are a man of experience and exceptional taste.
     
    • Like
    Reactions: Random Guy

    Son of Dorn

    Castellan
    PX Member
    Minuteman
    Jul 27, 2019
    1,565
    1,531
    They can be a pain to fit and install, all depends on frame rail width and stock dimensions. Since you have the parts, there is one more option that you might consider if you want to fill just the area at the selector switch cut-out: Cutting the connector rod just in front of the selector lock parts. Attached is what I am considering using on my pending M14 EBR build as my SAI frame rail is already flush up against the edge of the SAGE chassis and I don't think installing the full connector rod will be easy or look right given it will be hanging off the chassis for the full width of the rod.

    Pictures explain it better. First picture shows the shortened/"stubby" USGI connector arm that was re-parked after shortening. (Last 2 pics show how much thicker a commercial M1A frame rail is relative to a de-milled USGI M14 heel - there is real estate w/ the M14 heel to allow the connector rod to fit more flush against the chassis. Same kind of issue applies with some wood stocks, depending on how thick or thin they are in that area. (On a fat McMillan M1A stock there is plenty of room for the faux connector rod set-up).

    Note: If you cut your connector rod down to the "stubby" version it will still fill the hole in the stock, but you'll need a 1/2" long thin finishing nail or similar to attach the "stubby" connector arm to the wood stock. You could re-park the stub, or maybe just get away with cold-bluing the exposed metal where the arm was cut-off. Anyhow, you have a nice rifle and thought I'd mention this option, since I'm trying to fit one of these to my SAGE chassis.
    I've been wondering how the faux switches would work with an EBR chassis for a while. I'm curious to see how it all works out for you.