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Old December 23, 2013, 06:11 PM   #1
PVL
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M1A Sporter?

I'm thinking of sporting up my M1A Scout Squad. I have found a source for five round clips, and am working on a Walnut replacement for my black composite stock.

I've noticed that the gun is not so heavy until you load up a 20 round magazine. - I think that a five round clip and slimming down the stock should lighten it significantly.

I borrowed the 2x scope from my .22 pistol and it worked out well, mounted scout style. - I may try a 2-7 variable LER scope, or a 4x fixed scope. The 2x scope is OK for 50 yards, but at 100 yards it needs more magnification.

One thing that worked well was when I replaced the rubber kick-pad on the composite stock with a milsurp steel folding buttplate. That cut 1/2" off of the LOP and generally made the gun a lot handier.

Any build suggestions or product suggestions are appreciated.

Last edited by PVL; December 24, 2013 at 03:31 PM.
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Old December 23, 2013, 07:34 PM   #2
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Good choice, the Scout was my very 1st M14 type rifle.

The 10 round magazines are easier to rock in & out of the mag well.
44MAG.com is an excellent source for C.M.I. mags.

LAW483.com can probably make a lightweight Walnut stock for you,
and a rubber recoil pad is quite a bit lighter than all of that metal.

Iron sights or even a good 1 or 2 MOA red dot should be perfect @ 100 yards.
Scout scopes are great, but I would replace the M1A Scout mount with the
SHG from M14.ca. It allows you to position your optic very low and you normally
do not need to add a cheek riser. You can also co-witness your irons through
most Aimpoint RDS that are mounted low.

You can shorten the rifle 1/2" by replacing the current muzzle device & front
sight with a GLFS (H or D) and DC Vortex flash hider from Smith Enterprise.


Both of these are 18.0" barrels

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Old December 24, 2013, 08:11 AM   #3
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I've thought about putting a flash hider on it, but I decided to stick with the muzzle brake which appears to be very effective. Even with the steel butt plate, recoil is very soft for a .308 and this will become more important as I lighten up the gun.

The walnut stock I have is oversized in all dimensions and will require extensive whittling and sanding to get it down to a reasonable size. The forearm in particular looks way too big so I'm hoping for a good deal of weight reduction as I shape the stock. Right now I'm getting it fitted to the action as a first step before I start slimming it down.

I'll try out a five round magazine and if it doesn't work out, I'll alter a ten round magazine to hold five. One thought that I had was to use the five round magazine and just leave it in the gun, feeding it with a stripper clip instead of removing it from the gun to reload. I think that the smaller magazine will go far in improving the gun's handling qualities, there will be one less thing sticking out to snag on things and get in the way.

Modifying a stripper clip for five rounds looks easy, but I haven't tried to do it yet, so it's hard to say... If nothing else, I can always just put five rounds into a ten round stripper clip.

Looking at slings and carrying straps, I'm drawn toward the single-point slings that dangle the gun off of your belly when you need to have your hands free, but will allow freedom of movement when you decide to pick it up and address a target.

Then again, I've never tried carrying a gun for an extended time with a single-point sling, so I have no idea about the comfort factor there.

The hunting here requires you to traipse all over the mountains and desert, avoiding the cactus and loose soil as you try to get within shooting distance of a critter when there is no cover, to speak of. Your 'cover' is several hundred yards of distance, from what I understand so one has to be ready for a long hike over rough, uneven ground in order to take a long shot at particularly tough game.

If I were hunting for white-tails out of a stand, no modification would be necessary but I'll be hunting mule deer instead, up in the mountains of the high Chihuahuan desert of west Texas. The gun will have to be very accurate, and I'll need at least 4x magnification on the scope.
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Old December 24, 2013, 09:14 AM   #4
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OK, I understand the 5 round mag, but I would top it off with a USGI 5 round stripper clip, not a 10 round clip.

Maybe a Vortex Viper PST 1-4x24 mounted low on an A.R.M.S. #18 mount will work for you.

If your weight loss program makes the existing muzzle device less effective, you can upgrade to
the extremely effective Good Iron M14 US Coast Guard / Navy Muzzle Brake from SEI. << VIDEO





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Last edited by SR420; December 24, 2013 at 09:32 AM.
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Old December 24, 2013, 12:00 PM   #5
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I have had a "rack grade" M1A since the mid 80s, truly a good gun.

The 5rnd mags fit almost flush with the GI stock (and likely everything else), and are very difficult to remove (because there's nothing sticking out to hold on to), and virtually impossible to remove if wearing gloves.

You may find it easiest to reach through the action to push the mag out from the top.

The 10rnd size is very good, allowing the rifle to be shot low prone, and still giving a decent amount of mag to grip, so mag swaps are as easy as the standard 20rnders.
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Old December 24, 2013, 03:26 PM   #6
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I'll have to look into it and see if have been obeying an obsolete law, but the impression I have is that if the game warden catches you with a rifle that holds more than five rounds, you get into some kind of trouble here in Texas.

Obsolete laws are something to watch out for, here. - It was just a month or so ago that I learned that switchblade knives are legal now... When I was younger, a cop wanting to mess with me would look at me significantly and ask, "You are not carrying one of those SWITCHBLADE KNIVES, are you?"

"No officer, That's a Swiss army knife."

When I was a kid we used to laugh because there was still a law in the books here in Texas that required night drivers to arrange for a man with a lantern to walk in front of the vehicle after dark.

The five round stripper clip is interesting, I'll look for those. - If the stripper clip system for the M1A works well, I won't have much occasion to remove the five-round magazine. - In any case, I'm more of a plinker than a hoser, and like to let the barrel cool down between shots if I have the chance.

If a fatal problem arises with using the five round magazine and the stripper clips, I can always alter a ten round magazine to just hold five rounds.

The 1-4x24 scope sounds about right. If I can find a good 2-7 that will sit down low, that would be ideal.

Right now, out of the box the gun shoots the Russian steel cased polyformance rounds into 2 inches for five shots at 50 yards. I'll have to try to improve on that, maybe through handloading. - It is necessary to get under 2 inches at 100 yards - and hopefully better.

Brownells sells a combination muzzle brake and barrel tuner that would help tighten the groups, and cut down on the recoil as well. It's made to mount with a collet system, but I think I can get around that and mount it directly onto a 1" or maybe 3/4" long steel barrel extension tube.

Autoloaders like the Browning BAR and the M1A are naturals for barrel tuners, as the ammunition must first be tailored to function well with the gun - then you worry about accuracy. Having a tuner lets you adjust the gun to the ammo for accuracy, instead of the other way around. This should simplify coming up with an accurate, reliable load that works out well for the rifle's mechanism.

Last edited by PVL; December 24, 2013 at 03:37 PM.
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Old December 24, 2013, 04:08 PM   #7
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44 AMP brings up a great point about the 5 round mags. They can be a bit tricky to remove while wearing gloves.
I have a little trick to make them easier to grasp. When the magazine is in place it sticks about 1/2" out of the stock. I have cut a thin strip of innertubing and stretched it around the very bottom of the magazine. This gives it some more "grippiness" (if that's a word.) I suppose you could use heavy rubber bands to the same end, but the black rubber innertube looks less MacGyvered
Of course, my Scout has a pistol grip and I use the middle finger of my shooting hand to push the mag release while removing the mag with my left hand. Yes, I have long fingers

I think I have some 5 round strippers lying around somewhere that never get used, if I can dig them up I'll let you know.
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Old December 24, 2013, 11:44 PM   #8
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Let's hope that you can use a 10 round magazine.



10 round mag next a 5 round stripper clip




Inserted

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Old December 25, 2013, 12:39 AM   #9
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I'm not giving up my 20 Round Mags, they make great palm rest in the offhand position.

Also the longer length makes for easier and faster mag changes.

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Old December 25, 2013, 12:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
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I'm not giving up my 20 Round Mags, they make great palm rest in the offhand position.

Also the longer length makes for easier and faster mag changes.
Agreed


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Old December 25, 2013, 01:25 PM   #11
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The 20rnd mags are the best for "real" M14 feel. 5rnds are necessary some places for hunting.

While the M14/M1A have a stripper clip guide, and charging from strippers does work, its a little more clumsy than the military Mauser system, as there is no "thumb cut" relief in the receiver.

Where the 5rnd strippers were most used was charging magazines. There is a little stamped stripper clip guide that slips over the back edge of the magazine (works on all mags) so you can charge the mags with strippers, without them being in the gun.

There is also something similar for M16/AR mags.

If you don't have a handful of these handy things, I recommend you get some. Sure beats filling mags one round at a time.
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Old December 25, 2013, 01:34 PM   #12
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Kraig - when are you gonna strip off all that nasty old stickum on that nice stock???
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Old December 25, 2013, 01:49 PM   #13
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44 AMP, you are speaking of the loader spoon guide.

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Old December 26, 2013, 08:42 AM   #14
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The 25 round C.M.I. magazine makes for even easier and faster mag changes

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Old December 26, 2013, 11:55 AM   #15
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yep, those are the critters I was talking about...
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Old December 26, 2013, 05:43 PM   #16
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One thing that I am looking for is a threaded cover for the barrel threads after the muzzle brake and front sight are removed.

The deer are not likely to observe my muzzle flash and shoot back, so removing the unit will take four inches off of the length of the gun, and a good chunk of unnecessary weight.

I haven't removed the rear sight yet. Last night my son suggested that we could pull out the guts, then "mill the ears off" for a more streamlined look on the receiver. Has anyone heard of this being done?

It seems radical to me, but if it can be done and come up looking clean, I might consider it. In any case, I don't plan on ever utilizing the open sights, it will always be fitted with optics though maybe not always a scope.

I'll have to disassemble the rear sight to get an idea of what should or should not be done about the ears. If I can get at least a pound off of the rifle by removing things not needed on a hunt though, it will make a big difference in the field.

I noticed that the manual mentioned using the combination tool to push down the rounds from a stripper clip. - That sounds like a thumb-saver, and one would want to have the tool with you on a hunt, in any case. Doing it that way removes all doubts about using the five round magazine in combination with the five round stripper clips.

I appreciate the suggestion about the inner-tube rubber around the bottom of the five round clip, that sounds like a great idea.

I would post a picture, but it's just a regular Scout Squad. The only thing non-standard about it right now is the folding metal butt-plate that I replaced the rubber kick-pad with.

Last edited by PVL; December 26, 2013 at 05:54 PM.
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Old December 26, 2013, 07:11 PM   #17
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You're concerned about the weight from a flash hider, but you are going to take the lightweight poly stock off and put on some considerably heavier wood furniture?
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Old December 26, 2013, 08:29 PM   #18
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The walnut stock I have is oversize in all dimensions, apparently so you can carve it to suit. Right now it looks like an M1A stock that has been swollen up, somehow.

I thought I'd carve it a bit slimmer than usual, see what can be done to cut down on weight that way.

To be honest, I have doubts about the composite stock's bedding and rigidity from an accuracy standpoint. I have a lot more faith in graphite or walnut and accuracy is important here, it's the one criteria that I cannot really compromise on.

My shop equipment is in storage... If I had my mill, lathe and TIG welder set up, I'd think about a minimalist chassis, made from aluminum and UHMW poly. - Something like that.

You'd be amazed at how much the weight adds up with things like unnecessary flash hiders, redundant open sights, leather slings, etc.. - I'm shooting for the direct opposite of 'tactical' accessorization overkill that some of these rifles are subjected to.

The gun doesn't feel heavy to me now unless I put a loaded 20 round magazine in it - but right now I'm not humping it across miles of desert, and later on I will be.

I found a scope I like... A Burris "Scout" 2-7x32mm with a ballistic plex reticule.

http://www.burrisoptics.com/scout2x7x.html

Seven power and the .308 from an 18" barrel should be good for 300 yard shots at big game, I'm supposing, but not much more than that from a lightweight rifle.

In any case, I won't be taking shots at game more than 300 yards away as that is my general policy. The ballistic plex reticule and my laser rangefinder working in concert should make that work out about right.

The Burris scope weighs 13 ounces, so it may be that I can find something lighter... I'm still looking at scopes.

Swift for example makes a 2-6x32 EER scope that weighs 10.6 ounces and might do the job.

http://www.swift-sportoptics.com/pscopes_premier.html

I've been using Swift laboratory optics for years, so I know what kind of quality I can expect, there. - I tried their 4x pistol scope on a T/C Contender once, and was very pleased with it.

An ounce here, a few ounces there and before you know it, you've knocked a pound off of the overall weight of the gun.

That's the theory, at any rate. - The challenge here is to maintain accuracy while whittling off ounces wherever I can.

Last edited by PVL; December 26, 2013 at 08:42 PM.
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Old December 26, 2013, 09:12 PM   #19
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I think milling the rear sight base off would be a mistake. The miniscule amount of weight dropped would not be worth making that permanent change to the rifle.

I think lightening the stock would get you more weight savings. Is the new buttstock bored for the cleaning kit? If not you could drill lightening holes and slim dwon the butt quite a bit.
If the clips don't work to your satisfaction, remove the stripper guide.

For what it's worth, I've fired my Scout without the muzzle break attached, and for me anyway it is worth it's weight. It is very effective in reducing recoil and percussion.

For what it is, the M1A Scout is pretty minimalist right out of the box.

All that being said, it is your tool and you must make it do the job you need it to do for you.
Interested in following you project along. Keep us posted on how it goes.
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Old December 26, 2013, 11:32 PM   #20
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I really don't think I could get much lighter than this setup here....I did go with an ARMS 18 mount and steel rings too....The SOCOM 16 is one of the early ones with the fiberglass stock and wrinkle finish....It sports a Burris fullfield 1.75x5 scope and sits about as low as U can get it....I would like to have a few 10 round mags for hunting....
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Old December 26, 2013, 11:58 PM   #21
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Quote:
PVL

An ounce here, a few ounces there and before you know it, you've knocked a pound off of the overall weight of the gun.

That's the theory, at any rate. - The challenge here is to maintain accuracy while whittling off ounces wherever I can.
Replacing the factory Scout optic mount and cut-out hand guard with the SHG will trim a few ounces. I would not mill the ears off the receiver, but you can remove the rear sight assembly. Replacing the factory muzzle device, castle nut and front sight with a Good Iron muzzle brake could trim some additional ounces.




Keg, what did your 16 weigh as pictured?



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Old December 27, 2013, 12:55 PM   #22
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Quote:
A Burris "Scout" 2-7x32mm with a ballistic plex reticule.
Should be a good scope, BUT, you need to do a bit of range work with it, before going afield. Actually shooting it at set ranges to find exactly where on the "ballistic plex" your bullets are going to hit.

While any of the scopes that compensate for bullet drop can be useful, they are only fully "correct" for a given bullet, at a given speed.

Generally, .308 ballistics are taken from 22" barrels. Yours is much shorter. It is quite possible that your chosen load won't exactly match the factory "presets", so a little range work to see how much, and where the difference is, is in order.
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Old December 27, 2013, 03:39 PM   #23
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I took it out today, and the 2x handgun scope I'm using didn't give me enough magnification to see the target clearly at 100 yards. Still, I managed a 3.5" 20 shot group with it by holding my mouth just right, shooting Russian steel-cased polyformance rounds.

The target was a big black circle with a 2" orange dot in the middle. The crosshairs on the 2x scope would cover the orange dot completely, so when I saw no orange, I would touch off a round.

Kind of primitive, but it got me by for today.

The M1A embarrassed me, as I also had a custom 7mm-08 bolt gun along that I was breaking in with several different handloads, using a 4-16x42 Nikon Monarch scope, and the bolt gun beat the M1A - but just barely.

The 16 power scope and my carefully crafted handloads didn't give the bolt gun that much of an edge. Both guns are still being broken in, so hopefully I'll see both of them improve with a bit more use.

I have some better quality .308 rounds, but I forgot to bring them along this time.
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Old December 29, 2013, 09:32 AM   #24
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5 round 'hunting' magazine

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Old January 1, 2014, 08:01 PM   #25
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Great picture! I love the scenery - and the rifle.

Today I ordered a five round magazine, a bunch of five round stripper clips and a combination tool.

The walnut stock is coming along. The inletting is close but not quite there yet. - The trigger group does not engage the action yet, but I can tell that it is getting close to doing so... I'm kind of creeping up on it as I'm hoping for a fairly tight fit, prior to reliving a few areas for glass bedding.

I intend to use Devcon "Liquid Steel" epoxy in combination with Kiwi "natural" shoe polish / release agent.

A general note about epoxies... The longer the formula takes to set, the tougher it will be when set.

I did find a few thread protectors for the barrel threads when I remove the muzzle brake - but I haven't found one like I like the appearance of yet. - Boy do I wish I had my lathe set up and running for this project!

Here is my son "Mini-Me" popping away with the Scout Squad.


Click image to see it bigger
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