View Full Version : Why isn't the M1A more popular than ARs and others?

January 22, 2000, 04:23 AM
I have been shopping around and comparing the different types of assault type weapons on the market and I seem to be convinced that the M1A would be the best militia type gun to get because it is accurate as hell and the 308 is a very deadly round and mags are easy to find and composite stocks are cheap and abundant and its not much more expensive than an AR type gun. Also it is a good looking gun, so why is it not a little more popular? Just wondering what you all think of the M1A.

January 22, 2000, 04:34 AM
AR is still current type produced and mags are very plentifull M14 MAGS are rising in cost. Some recievers are of suspect quality. The plus if you call it that is that it passes "assault bans" more easily than do AR type. I think they are better myself but them again I enjoy shooting a heavy 308. Payload is another factor if you plan on humping up a mountain, you can carry about double the little stuff compared to full size cartridge. I like the range and power so will stick with 7.62mm's as primary. Have heard of too many durability issues with AR'S to spend that kind of money. For low cost 7.62 check out FAL's. Another plus for the M14 is for all those times you just had to crush skull with the buttstock and something with hollow plastic just wouldnt do. ;) and lastly why they are better, it sounds better "Dont want no tennage queen just want my M14"
Seriously, have seen the SEALS use them in Desert warfare and in arctic like mountain settings, or anywhere else they have to shoot long range and or through tough cover. Good enough for the Navy Seals good enough for me.

As to popularity the AR wins hands down, why? Its just so sexy! Another reason go to gun show and look at all the parts avaliable for the AR type, they are everywhere. The M14 parts (original GI) are a lot harder to find. You have to remember they quit making these guns in 65, in 35 years a lot of the parts are now starting to dry up. Though you can find what you want you just have to look harder. Would I buy an M1A again? You better believe I would. Mine has been nothing but good to me. I cheated a little and bought a FAL to and love the ease of take down but hate the import/receiver/thumbhole stocks/u.s parts law/and pain in the ass regs reguarding building one.

[This message has been edited by oberkommando (edited January 22, 2000).]

George Hill
January 22, 2000, 06:47 AM
This is a subject for the Rifle Forum.
Maybe Gale could answer this over there. I am going to try to move this over there, so everyone just hold on for a sec.

"A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." - Sigmund Freud

Edmund Rowe
January 22, 2000, 01:48 PM
I think the 3 biggest reasons people buy ARs over M1As for (ahem) ;) "practical individual usage" are:

-.223 ammo is cheaper
-ARs look like what most military use now
-They are lighter. (usually)

I don't think too much logic or performance evaluation goes into the decision of most people out to buy their neato freedom rifle.


Harley Nolden
January 22, 2000, 02:09 PM
Just a thought: Is the M1A considered an assault rifle? If it is the one introduce years ago, and used in the National Rifle Competitions, I would have to think that we are comparing Apples and Oranges.


January 22, 2000, 02:24 PM
Well, we're comparing apples to BIG apples with this question. It's all in how the weapon is going to be employed.

For shooting assault rifle matches where you're doing a lot of moving around, a nice short carbine with lighter rounds (lighter recoil, and lighter to run around with them hanging on your body) are the better choice.

If you're sitting up on a ridge holding off rampaging waves of roving marauders, then the M1A/M14 is the better choice.

So weight, maneuverability, CQB/urban application (try to clear a room with an M1A vs. a 14" M4), long-range performance (try to drop a rampaging marauder at 700m with a 14" M4), etc. are all factors to consider when chosing between the two. Remember, the Navy Seals don't have to choose just ONE weapon to use on all their missions, they carry MP5SDs, M4 carbines, shotguns, etc. depending on the mission. And I should add that the M-16 (or "Armalite" as they call it) is the favorite rifle of the British SAS--another seriously rightous band of warriors who used to carry the big FNs.

Personally, I like them both!


January 22, 2000, 02:31 PM
Why isn't the M1A more popular than ARs and others?

Price, plain and simple. I'd own two if I could, but I can't even afford one.
M1A = $1200 at least, with $40-$50 mags

January 22, 2000, 03:36 PM
I think the reason more are not seen is cost, I have an M1A Springfield and love it, but it is expensive all the way around, it is a blast to be on the fireingline and open up with it, the SKSs, AR15s, and Aks do not have the hitting power down range, I love my SKS ,AR and AK, but shooting the M1A is a few notches above, the only gun I like shooting better is my Garand. If you can afford a M1A, get it, you will like it.

Peter M. Eick
January 22, 2000, 04:13 PM
As an M1A collector, I am probably biased, but I like the reliability, accuracy and easy of recoil out of my M1A's. I currently have 3 good ones and a "beater" for field use. My Supermatch was the first because I wanted accuracy and I figured I could only get one. When I got a big bonus I took it and picked up a National Match and these are my target guns. I could not pass up a loaded conventional last year so that made 3 and finally a buddy had one that he used for hunting and is a beater, so now I have 4.

Currently I am saving for a M-21.

When I tried an AR-10T. I found they were nice, but they lacked the feel of the M1A's. Mind you that I have no military background, I was a kid during Vietnam, so I do not know the M-14 from first hand anything. But I do like the style and ease of shooting.

By the way, other then a loose sight from the factory on my National Match, and a few problems keeping the scope mount tight (my fault) I have never had a failure to feed, eject or operator in years of shooting.

Hope this helps.

January 22, 2000, 06:58 PM
weight, parts commonality w/ current issue military rifle, wide range of accessories, are typical reasons.

but there are other reasons such as; suitability of the 5.56 for varmint/predator hunting, ergonomics, and a combat-friendly sight ("ghost ring" sights? the M16/AR family has had them for nigh on 3 decades. and accuracy, for those who want it, is as easy as a trigger job and a free-floated forend. no screwing around with bedding, no POI changes with humidity, etc. the 5.56 performs quite well with softpoint ammo, which makes it a Good Thing for civilians not hampered by int'l accords.

but, the M1A has its advantages as well, which is why one is on my shopping list.

Jake 98c/11b
January 22, 2000, 07:09 PM
I have said it before and I will say it again, if I could only choose one rifle it would be an M1A. It can do it all, long range work, penetrate light cover, maintain a volume of fire, down most any animal in North America, works well, keeps working and looks good doing it. As to why it is not as popular as some others I don't know. It could have something to do with the almost universal use of the HK and FN rifles, the AR is heading the same way. The M-14 was not in use very long and I'm sure that has a lot to do with it too. I suppose the wood stock and lack of a pistol grip on most examples has limited its appeal, its hard for most to ignore the esthetics I suppose. The last of the walnut and steel seems an anacronism to some I am sure. It may not be the best choice for every task but it can accomplish more than any other rifle I can think of. If anyone would dispute that I would appreciate the debate. Just my humble opinion of course.

January 22, 2000, 07:53 PM
I think the popularity of rifles goes right along with price, parts availability, ammo, and what the Military is currently using.
When I first got into competition shooting M1As were "in", but there were still quite a few Garands on the firing line. A few years later you would start to see a "Black gun" or two in with all the M1A/M14s, but not as many Garands. Now about all you see is M16/AR15s and just a few M1As and VERY few Garands.
From what a few of the "old timers" tell me, before the M14 came around Springfield bolt guns and Garands were all you saw.
My personal preferance is my M1A, besides I'd rather be shooting a .30 caliber round in a 1000 yard "Rattle Battle" match! :D

Screw the Anti's!!

January 22, 2000, 08:12 PM
The M1A has really made an impression on me. I really want one BAD. I have a customized mini 30 and its a good 30 to 70 yd gun and is real reliable, but if for some reason (and there are alot of them) civil war over the 2nd ammendment or Government tyranny broke out, I think I would feel better equipped if I had a M1A and about a half dozen 20 rd mags in my duffle bag. And on top of that I would rather take on the enemy from as long a distance as possible and the M1A fits the bill in My mind. If your in a war against an opponent that out guns you, your only chance would be gorrilla tactics, like hitting from a distance and then running for cover to fight another day. I think the M1A wins in these tactics hands down. But then I could be wrong...

January 22, 2000, 09:06 PM
AR-15 are a couple hundred dollars cheaper than M1A's. Some don't like the recoil produced by its .308 round. A big factor is cost of ammunition. 5.56mm is a lot cheaper than 7.62.

However, the M1A is a far superior weapon in terms of accuracy, reliability and raw power. If you find the standard M1A too large for your personal needs, Springfield makes a short, carbine style M1A called the Bush/Scout Rifle (18" barrel, .308 cal.)

January 22, 2000, 10:44 PM
As another TFL'er who: A) Owns Ar-15's and B) Is planning on acquiring an M14 type rifle, I offer the following...

AR15 - As others have noted, the AR15 is relatively inexpensive to shoot, fairly light and, when properly maintained, is very accurate and reliable.

It is also highly configurable. You can swap out your carbine length barrel with carry handle and handle mounted Trijicon reflex sight, with a 20" or 24" barrel flat top upper with scope in about 10 seconds. Parts and components are also widely available from a variety of manufacturers.

The M1A/M14 offers a more powerful (and IMO a more versatile) cartridge. The M1A refers to the Springfield Armory version of the rifle.

Unlike the AR15, receivers for the M14 are produced by only a few manufacturers, and their production is sporadic at best. Springfield Armory is the largest and most consistent - their receivers are investment cast. Armscorp also provides cast receivers as well as Smith Enterprises, but it appears that Smith may have ceased production.

The original M14 receivers were forged. They were also forged as select fire and thus sale to civilians are bound by all the restrictions of the 1934 NFA. Availability of these original receivers is all but non-existant. *sigh*

What I plan to do is try to purchase one of Entreprise Arms machined receivers and have the rifle built from there.

This is NOT meant to be critical of Springfield Armory. They make a high quality product.

Whenever I see an M1A at the range, I am seized by equal parts envy and pure shameful lust. :)


[This message has been edited by Cliff (edited January 22, 2000).]

January 22, 2000, 11:16 PM
Personally, I don't think much of the M1A/M14 as a battle rifle. It is a nice target rifle, but as a battle rifle it is poorly balanced, overweight and obsolescent. FN FAL is a much better 30-cal battle rifle and for a civilian buying a 308 semiauto today, I would reccommend a DSA US-made FAL over an M1A.

Jake 98c/11b
January 23, 2000, 12:16 AM
Pete, try Century Arms for their PMP .308 ammunition, new production 147gr. ball ammunition for $129/1000 delivered. Its Berdan primed so its not reloadable but for that price who cares.
Rik, you say you don't care for the M1A but you offer little to support your case. You say the balance is wrong (for you) but balance is very subjective, what works for you may not be right for others. As to its being overweight it is about the same as the FAL you prefer I can't see how it is any better. Finally I must ask how you define obsolescent. As I see it your argument is based on your personal bias, not on a supportable argument. The DS Arms rifles are quality rifles but they can't do anything any better than the M1A, and they cant do some things as well as the M1A (find a quality scope mount for one). If that is not bad enough I can purchase the Springfield for less and I can take delivery in a week or so rather than 6-8 months. That is an extra 6 months or more trigger time for the new rifle, thats always good.

January 23, 2000, 12:36 AM
Jake, I wasn't aware I was submitting a scientific article for peer review...I was under the apparently mistaken impression that I was giving my opinion about why the M1A wasn't as popular as other battle rifles.
Anyway, I don't really have to give any support for my statements. They are my opinion. The whole post was my opinion...of course it was subjective, how could MY opinion of a rifle that I have shot be anything but subjective? It's poorly balanced for me...the weight is too far forward, which makes it hard to shoot well offhand for ME.
It's obsolescent because it's much more complicated to field strip for cleaning than more modern rifles, and it doesn't use lightweight materials in its construction that could help save weight that would make it easier to hump.
Its mag release is harder to operate than most modern battle rifles. It lacks the versatility of most modern battle rifles for conversion to other configurations. I can turn my AR from a heavy barreled sniper rifle to a CQB carbine by swapping out the upper and screwing on a collapsible buttstock. A FAL can be changed from a heavy barrelled SAW to a light, short-barrelled carbine by popping a couple pins. A FAL takes apart for field stripping by pulling ONE lever...and out pops the bolt and carrier, off slides the dust cover.
For civilian purchase, FAL metric mags cost $10 and under. M14 USGI mags run $40-50. I see DSA guns at every show I attend for $1100-1200, while Springfield M1As sell for no less than $1300 here.
Hell, you can find Imbel-receiver STG58s for $600-700. And I am always seeing preban Argentine and Israeli FALs in the $12-1500 range, which isn't much more than a postban M1A.
The ONLY place an M1A wins over a FAL is in mounting a scope and as a bench gun. If you want a bench gun or a gun for competition, sure, buy an M1A. If you want something practical, for defense or SHTF type gun, go with a FAL.

Jake 98c/11b
January 23, 2000, 01:29 AM
Rik, ease up big guy, all I was saying is that you did not explain why you thought the FAL was better. Kinda like saying "I like Ford better than Chevy" without saying what features made up your mind, cant learn much from that and we are here to learn. I meant no offense, I just wanted more info. You, and others, have made valid points about the ability to change configuration on the AR easily but I don't see how this can be done with the FAL, isn't the barrel screwed into the receiver? Light weight materials? Sure the M14 has a steel receiver but so does the FN, weight is still about the same. While it is easier to remove the bolt from a FAL for cleaning it is easier to clean the trigger of the 14, better trigger out of the box too. The M1A hasn't as convenient a mag release as the AR, it works the same as the FN and is larger than the one on the FAL. Not to mention the fact that the FAL release is on the right side with the bolt release on the left, with the 14 you dont have to go past one to get to the other. Yes the mags are cheaper for the FAL but not by much if you know where to shop. If you are a member of a DCM affiliated club you can buy them from the CMP for about 20 bucks, limited to five per year bolth new and used. The prices here put the M1A cheaper than the FAL and FedOrd guns are a bit under 800 and the chinese guns are about 500 so the cost savings are questionable. I did not intend to offend, Rik, I was just wondering why you thought that way. I will admit I have a bias toward the M1A, I was hoping for a debate not an argument.

January 23, 2000, 02:30 AM
As a person who actually carried and used the M-16A1 and A2, and the M-14, and who now owns both an AR-15 and an M1A, I can personally attest to the good and bad points of each weapon. However, given a choice, if I could only keep one rifle, it would be the M-14/M1A.

Accuracy is outstanding, the rifle is capable of far better accuracy than anything else I have ever fired. Hands down. I always shot expert with the '14. I couldn't say that about the '16. The M-14 may not be the prettiest, or the lightest, or most modern, nor is the ammo cheap, but it hits harder and I will trust my life and that of my loved ones to it any day, any time.

In my personal battery, my Springfield Armory M1A is top gun, if you will. Backing that up is a Garand, and the AR-15 is the third string. Some of you may not understand this, but as a rifleman, I consider those first two in properly trained hands among the most formidable weapons against just about any adversary. I'll take my chances with these "outdated" old rifles any day.
Not to mean insult to the '16/AR-15, just puttin' my 2 cents in!

January 23, 2000, 08:56 AM
Gentlemen I have read with some interest your comments on the M-14/M1A, and the AR15/16. I had occasion to use both firearms while in Vietnam.(69-71) Both have it's uses, advatages and disadvantages. For a position that must be held by squad of rifleman, I would arm them with the M-14.
(This would be dependent on conditions, terrain, position of the enemy etc.)
The advantages to the M-16 are numerous and have already been mentioned by many of you. As an arm to the average grunt (if in fact there is such an animal) the 16 has much more going for it. THe military unfortunatly has seen fit to place all kinds of gadgets and gear on it making it heavier than the 14. By the time some urban commando finishes
playing around with the 16, they have in reality a heavier clumsier weapons system, than was designed. At what point are you going to use a night scope? When will you use that 37mm grenade launcher and where? Why did you put on the collabsible stock? Now add the foolish flashlight that everyone can see, and don't forget the lazer target sensoring unit/coupled with the $800.00 night sights. Now you are ready? Hell keep it simple, if you are comfortable with a 14 use a 14, if you can hit more with the 16 use it. Just remember the 16 is not a heavy duty brush arm.

January 23, 2000, 11:17 AM
Jake, sorry I took your post the wrong way, I wasn't aware you wanted a debate---I was simply posting my opinion on the subject. BTW, the mag release on the FAL is in the back, not really on one side or the other and can be easily reached with either hand. Yes, the FAL barrel is screwed into the receiver, but the upper and lower receiver can be separated with the removal of a single screw.
My perspective on this is that of a former "light" infantry soldier, and I know I would not want to be humping that huge, heavy M14 through the boonies and I also wouldn't want to be trying to attempt many offhand shots with it after having to hump it.

January 23, 2000, 11:27 AM
Everyone who's posted pretty much sums up the answer. For me, it came down to a number of differing factors. And those being:

1. Cost. $1300.00 vs. $800.00, I don't have alot of cash to throw around. I could have waited and saved up more for the M1A, but what's the fun in that. Plus accessories ie; magazines and scope mounts are more plentiful and more affordable for the AR.

2. Familiarity. After 8 yrs in the USMC I'm familiar with the AR. I've never shot an M1A.

3. Mission Requirements. I live in an area that is rapidly urbanizing. My longest practicle shooting is at 100 yds or less. More suited for the AR. The potential that the M1A has would rarely be realized.

All that said, I really want an M1A. I do feel it is a better battle weapon, but then who will I be going into battle against?


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January 23, 2000, 02:56 PM
Dan: You say who could you possibly be going to battle against?.. I feel you need to read the writings of our founding Fathers because they felt that the right to keep and bear arms was a right established to keep the American population ready to fight a possible war against our Government if it decided to turn to tyranny and establish laws that are unconstitutional. The polititions are already making unconstitutional laws and the attack on Waco should tell you the government will slaughter innocent people if they can get away with it. I suggest you wake up and look around.

January 23, 2000, 03:19 PM

I'm awake and I see what's going on. At the risk of starting a flame war (which is what I think Rich has been trying to end), all I will say is that any battles that are going to be fought will be done at the ballot box.

I know that view seems to chafe those that have an overthrow the govt by armed conflict fantasy. I just don't see it happening. I think those who talk about it are probably the last ones prepared to actually participate in any armed conflict.

Just my observations...


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Gale McMillan
January 23, 2000, 06:51 PM
All of the above are the reason that the ARs lead in popularity. Price difference, ammo avail, The Black rifle mystic, Less recoil. The M14 -M1A is not a assault rifle but rather a battle rifle. We who were old enough to remember when the M14 replaced the M1 were not for it at all because we were going with a mid range cartridge and now they have gone to a short range rifle. The spray and pray strategy is more fun for most people so the AR is ahead. In popularity

January 23, 2000, 08:13 PM
Gale, in the Infantry, we used M16s and were not taught, nor encouraged to use spray and pray. Our weapons were to be on semiauto at all times and every shot was meant to count. I remember getting reemed by a full bird colonel once because one of my men who was surrounded by Opfor at contact ranges didn't practice trigger control on his SAW...don't think the popularity of the AR/M16 has anything to do with spray and pray mentality.
More to do with less weight and better ergonomics.

Jake 98c/11b
January 23, 2000, 10:10 PM
Rik, my appology sir, I just re-read my earlier post and I don't like the way it came out. Have to be more precise with the written word than the spoken word.

January 23, 2000, 10:25 PM
No problem Jake, we all do that sometimes...partially my fault for taking offense so easily.

Jake 98c/11b
January 23, 2000, 10:48 PM
Damn right it was. Kidding, really.

January 24, 2000, 12:30 AM
Dan I agree with you 100%, But I am not so innocent minded to think that our citizens won't be lied to by polititions and the media and elect a anti constitutional Government like the people did in Germany. We can still keep the few rights we got left if we keep the pressure on at the voting booth. So I will try to stay optimistic. But will always be ready for the worst.

January 24, 2000, 06:37 AM
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[This message has been edited by Schmit (edited January 24, 2000).]