Don't forget to take a good look at the new Colt MT6700 (or a version by any number of other good manufacturers)
- 20" barrel
- long sight radius
- std peep / post sights
- removable carry handle / option to mount optics to the flat top
As much as I like the M14 / M1A, the one above will be terribly enjoyable, cheaper to feed and give less recoil.
Ex - Navy, Persian Gulf Veteran. Loved shooting the M14, 1911, M60, M2