The civilian M14 is an excellent rifle and the M1A ain't bad either.
Get one with a 22" barrel and learn how to shoot with iron sights.
Whats the difference between the civillian M14 and the M1A?
The M1A is a product of Springfield Armory, Inc. It's built on a cast receiver and the old ones had some USGI parts.
The commercial M14s include LRB, SEI, Norinco & Poly Tech.
These 'premium' rifles usually include forged receivers and they are built with USGI, SEI or higher quality reproduction parts.
FWIW, the recoil of a full auto M14 or M1A can easily be tamed by adding SEI's USCG muzzle brake.