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Old June 30, 2008, 07:38 PM   #1
KChen986
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M1A: Adequate hunting rifle?

Been looking to get a M1A for quite some time now, the look of the rifle, the heritage, and the potential for eventually tuning it to make 1,000 yard shots make it an appealing rifle for me.

However, the least expensive (new) M1A that I've found seems to be Springfield's M1As--In addition I've heard reports that they shoot more than 1 MOA, which would make it a somewhat shakey hunting rifle (right?). Eitherway, could someone enlighten me with their opinion, and suggest a good starting brand of M1As?
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Old June 30, 2008, 08:00 PM   #2
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Depends on what you intend to hunt with it. It won't do for really small animals but is great for medium to large game.

Deer require a rifle and shooter to be able to shoot about 3 MOA for a maximum range of around 330 yds. In other words you need to be able to keep your rounds inside a 10 inch circle/vital zone in order to get a clean kill. If you had a rifle in .308 Win that you could shoot 2 MOA consistently it would be good for 500 yds. on deer. You also need to have about 1000 ft. lbs of energy at the targets distance to get that clean kill. The .308 Win. will do this with the proper bullet at 500 yds, so long as you do your part. The M1A is a decent hunting rifle.
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Old June 30, 2008, 11:28 PM   #3
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I shoot typically 1.5 MOA with SA surplus out to 200 yds. with my loaded model from Springfield. Haven't got into loading my own yet, and can't afford good 168 gr. loads . If you are serious about getting a quality M14 type rifle, don't forget to look at Fulton Armory - requires spending a little more of your disposable income but from what I've read it's money well spent.

Last edited by trwtech; June 30, 2008 at 11:29 PM. Reason: I can't spell!
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Old June 30, 2008, 11:39 PM   #4
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It be an okay rifle. One thing to take into account that the loaded and match rifles that will give you the accuracy in the rifle will cost you far more money. A standard M1A can be from 4-2 MOA, depending on ammunition choice. For the money you are going to spend, there are better choices for hunting. Then you are going to have to find a mounting system for a scope too. It's a doable rifle but I would probably pick something else.
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Old July 1, 2008, 09:15 AM   #5
Art Eatman
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If deer hunting is what's in mind, the M1A will definitely hold minute-of-supper. Two MOA will get you to 300 yards on Bambi...
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Old July 1, 2008, 08:37 PM   #6
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"...would make it a somewhat shakey hunting rifle (right?)..." Nope. You don't need 1 MOA for deer. 2" to 3" at 100, consistently, is sufficient for deer hunting.
"...a good starting brand of M1As?..." There's only one 'brand of M1A', Springfield Armory Inc. Everything else is a semi-auto copy of the M14. Mind you, so is the M1A, but 'M1A' is a registered trade mark owned by SA Inc.
"...have to find a mounting system for a scope..." Lots of 'em. Some better than others and none of 'em exactly cheap.
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Old July 1, 2008, 08:46 PM   #7
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Other than being "kinda" heavy, it will do just fine.
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Old July 1, 2008, 09:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
KChen986 Been looking to get a M1A for quite some time now, the look of the rifle, the heritage,
and the potential for eventually tuning it to make 1,000 yard shots make it an appealing rifle for me.
With 1000 yard shots potentially in your future I suggest you find a nice, slightly used, all original Poly Tech or Norinco M14 for less
than $850.00. These rifles come standard with many desirable USGI M14 type features like chrome lined barrels and forged receivers.

It should make a fine hunting rifle as is. It will respond well to basic national
match accuracy mods and it's forged receiver, forged 1-piece op rod & trigger
group will come in handy when you build it out for 1000 yard sub moa accuracy.

Smith Enterprise, Inc. made this M21A5, it was tested at Ft. Benning in March of 2008.
The rifle fired groups under 1 MOA at 1000 yards with M118LR ammo.




SEI built two M21A5s for me on Poly Tech receivers and he can build one for you.




I don't use traditional optics, but you will and SEI can set you up.
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Old July 2, 2008, 01:08 AM   #9
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Much as I love the M1A...

I would not choose it for hunting (deer) unless I was using handloads tailored to the gun. And it is not the rifle, it is the ammo. The rifles are certainly powerful enough, and accurate enough.

But the M14/M1A is an improved Garand design, and is intended to run on GI ammo. GI 7.62 Nato (.308 Win) is loaded to the same velocity as the old GI .30-06 load, a 150gr @ 2750+/-fps. And it is loaded to fall within the correct pressure curve for the rifle. The rifles also do well with the heavier (172gr) target bullets at appropriate velocity.

The problem is that commercial .308 Winchester is loaded hotter. Sometimes nearly 200fps hotter than GI ammo. And that can put a strain on the rifle. Also the pressure curve may not be optimum. If far enough out of the range the rifle uses, it can cause damage to the gun. The odds are high that the M1A will stand the slight overstrain without damage, but why risk it?

Heavy loads, or loads at the wrong end of the pressure curve are know to have bent operating rods in M1 Garands, and have the potential to do the same to the M1A.

If hunting with the M1A, I would load ammo to GI specs, except substituting a soft point hunting bullet for the military FMJ. Or, if limited to commercial ammo, just turn the spindle valve off, making the gun a stright pull bolt action with spring closure. This simple step will avoid any risk to the gun from ammo with an out of range pressure curve.

I have also heard (but cannot verify) that some 180gr RN bullets have been known to have some lead shaved from the nose during the feeding cycle, which can build up causing jams. Something to be aware of if you use this bullet weight and nose profile. I have never used it in my M1A, so I cannot say if it is true or not, only that the rumor exists.

Using tailored ammo, or used as a manual repeater, I would not hesitate to use the M1A for big game hunting with a magazine size that meets game laws (usually less than 10 rnds for hunting). 5 rnd mags are available and generally work fine, except they are a bit awkward to remove because there isn't much sticking out to grab hold of.

if the M1A was the only rifle I had, I would use it, under the above noted conditions. Otherwise I would use a lighter rifle, one purpose built for hunting, to save weight.
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Old July 2, 2008, 08:43 AM   #10
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adequate? yes of course. Optimum? hardly.

my lightest M1A tops the scales at around 10 pounds. The iron sights suck for hunting. Add glass and mounts, and you are pushing 12 pounds, and thats with a barrel length that is very unhandy.
You also have to be careful about the ammunition. The M1A is head spaced for military spec 7.62 NATO, not SAMMI spec .308 Winchester.
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Old July 2, 2008, 03:37 PM   #11
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For a hunting M1A, especially if you are going to be humping it a lot and/or hunting in thick brushy areas you might consider the shorter and lighter SOCOM 16 or Scout Rifle.

I had a SOCOM 16 (16" ported bbl) and it was very quick and light - - and probably would have made an ideal rifle for hunting Florida's swamps and tree farms. The Springfield Armory "scout rifle" has an 18" bbl topped with a combo brake and flash hider. These shorter bbl's make for lighter, quicker handling rifles that should make great hunters, but it is a trade off, because it make those long range shots that much more difficult.
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Old July 2, 2008, 07:10 PM   #12
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I have an older Bush model (18" barrel) that I put a forward rail/scope on. Yeah, it's a little on the heavy side, but it carries well and is quick to to the eye. I've only bagged two deer with this setup, but I wouldn't hesitate to take it out again.



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Old July 2, 2008, 07:27 PM   #13
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Of the 25 or so rifles in my safe, the m1a is the last one I'd grab during deer season. Not because I don't love the thing, but because it isn't designed for hunting. If you're looking for a do-it-all gun, join the club! And after this many (though 25 rifles is not many in these forums), I must admit that I still haven't found it. Instead, I stumbled into an addiction for walnut dressed steel tubes.

As for the 1000 yard shots, all I can say is good luck.
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Old July 3, 2008, 04:54 PM   #14
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The standard M1A rifle produced by Springfield Armory can be brought up to sub-MOA accuracy if you’re willing to invest the time and money, mostly time. Or of course you can send it out then it’s mostly money.

Any sub-MOA 308 is a more than adequate hunting rifle. Maybe a little heavy. In fact if you can get it down to 1.5 MOA I would have no qualms about hunting with it. If you live in Southeast Texas brush and thicket then any “right out of the box” M1A will due just fine for a hunting rifle because you will never see that 200 - 300 yrd shot. In Southeast Texas 3 inches at 100 yrds will work all day long.

As for caliber. let’s face it, people send their little girls out with 223s to hunt deer and they work. Any 308 cartridge is going to be just fine as long as you can be assured of a good shot.

I would heed the advice about proper loadings for the M1A though. The M1A should have no problems with any quality 165 gr. commercial cartridge. Also the quality of the ammo is going to have a direct effect on the accuracy of the rifle. And poor quality ammo risk things like improperly seated primers or inconsistencies in the powder loads which can be dangerous in an M1A, particularly the primer issue.
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Old July 3, 2008, 05:46 PM   #15
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I have a Springfield Armory M1A Scout (wood) which is a fine gun. Nice thing about SA is they are USA made and you can find them to buy.
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Old July 3, 2008, 06:54 PM   #16
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I have done some hog hunting with my SOCOM. Its still heavy, well over 9 pounds, and chunky. In no way does it handle like a Marlin carbine.
Still, with the Federal 150 grain Classic SP, its effective. I find that I take it more often if I am going to be stand hunting in low light.
As I said earlier, it will work as a hunting rifle, but its certainly not made for it.

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Old July 3, 2008, 08:05 PM   #17
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I have 4 M-14s, use them for hunting deer and I love them. Mine are quite acurate with the rack grades doing 1.5 to 2 MOA groups and my green meanie (my DMR clone) will do 1/2" on a good day and 3/4" MOA groups easy. Are they heavy? I guess when you compare them to a typical hunting rifle they are but you just need to get stronger is all. Hey, I was a machine gunner in my day so even the weight of my DMR clone is still lighter than my old '60E3 and I humped that pig for many many miles so really it's all in what you're used to. I have no complaints about using one.
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Old July 3, 2008, 08:57 PM   #18
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Any .308 is adequate for deer. So why shouldn't the M1A be?
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Old July 5, 2008, 01:00 AM   #19
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Can't use commercial hunting ammo? Then why does springfield list the spec's on the M1a as Caliber: 7.62 NATO (.308 Winchester)? And the manual, under Ammunition reccomends SAAMI spec ammo, which would include the commercial hunting stuff. It does note that non military ammo may have a softer primer, leaving it more prone to slam-fire, but that is the only warning I see. Hey I'm not calling anyone out, as I've only owned mine for about a week, so there's a ton I don't know, but I sure would appreciate some more folks chiming in on that subject.

As for hunting, sure Ive got a bunch of rifles that are "better" deer rifles ie scoped .270 and .243's that are lighter and sub moa accruate. But my M1a is going to get some use too for deer and pigs this season just 'cause I like it and it's different, and as far as I know I'll be using the Winchester power point in .308 Win.
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Old July 5, 2008, 08:41 AM   #20
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If you shoot bullets that are over 165gr you need to tweak the gas system. Sadlak offers a grooved piston for this. You need to check headspace to be sure you are safe for both 7.62 and .308.
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Old July 5, 2008, 10:42 AM   #21
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The head space is only an issue when firing 7.62 ammunition in a rifle chambered for 308. The 7.62 is a slightly longer cartridge, like maybe a couple of thousandths of an inch. Which BTW is about the thickness of a human hair.

Firing a 308 cartridge in a rifle chambered for 7.62 will stretch the case on the .308 ammo there by effecting its usefulness for reloading.
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Old July 5, 2008, 12:01 PM   #22
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Quote:
madcratebuilder If you shoot bullets that are over 165gr you need to tweak the gas system.
This has not been my experience. I have shot 175s and 180 sub sonic without issue.
Standard gas cylinder, plug and piston. I have no need for a grooved piston.
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Old September 23, 2009, 11:46 AM   #23
Mike 0351
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commercial ammo for hunting with the M1A ?

Sir,

Greetings and thank you for a well written informative article on
hunting / ammo and the M1A.

Question: If there is a problem, as you stated, with using commercial ammo for hunting with the M1A, what ammo is used by National match shooters?
Are they using commercial ammo? Is it putting the same stress on the M1A?

thank you
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Old September 23, 2009, 12:37 PM   #24
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Quote:
Heavy loads, or loads at the wrong end of the pressure curve are know to have bent operating rods in M1 Garands, and have the potential to do the same to the M1A.

As far as I know the m1a does not have this same issue as the M1 garand. There is a gas bleed off valve at the end of the piston to release any excess pressure. The Garand and the M1a may look similar, but its the piston in the m1a that drives the op rod and not the op rod that drives itself. Once the piston gets driven down all the way the pressure bleeds off through the valve. I have never heard of anyone that has bent a m1a op rod. Thats not to say that it wont happen, but I doubt that there are any commercial loads that will hurt your rifle. I handload my own but I would not hesitate shooting store bought stuff through mine if I didn't care about the accuracy. My Loaded shoots about 1/2" with my home made m118LR rounds. I have taken mine out hunting here in Idaho, and I will tell you that it was heavy but any rifle is heavy when you are literally climbing up and down mountains.

Quote:
If you shoot bullets that are over 165gr you need to tweak the gas system. Sadlak offers a grooved piston for this. You need to check headspace to be sure you are safe for both 7.62 and .308.
This may be true with the socom rifle as it wont shoot the 175 grain bullets that I shoot from my Loaded. But my loaded shoots them wonderfully!
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Old September 23, 2009, 12:49 PM   #25
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Heavy, but I like it better than my BAR in .308. The big problem is that they are finicky with bullets over 150 grain.
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