View Full Version : Thinking about a military semi-auto.

February 9, 2000, 07:09 AM
Ok, boys and girls, here's the deal. I've got a couple guns to sell plus I'm gettin' a pretty good tax refund. Add the fact that the antis are pushing hard and I'm thinking if I'm ever going to get an "evil assault weapon" its now or never.
Problem is I don't know much about 'em. I've had some experience with others M1As and Garrands. Spent some time with Uncle Sam's issue M-16, but I never really thought about buying one for myself until now. I'm not even sure if I should get one. I just don't like the idea that someday I might not be able to buy one.
First question: Should I or shouldn't I?
And of course that leads to what kind? What caliber? etc.
Things to consider: price, avalibility of GOOD twenty round mags, avalibility of CHEAP reloadable surplus ammo, quality manufacture, reliablability.
I'm not the biggest fan of AR-15's but could this be the best choice for money spent?
I'm leaning toward the M1A since I am familiar with the M-14 and already shoot and reload .308. But its expensive and heavy.
Fal? How do you tell inch from metric? Which is better?
What else is out there?

Well, I opened this can of worms. So let me have it! Do it or not? :confused:

Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. H.G. Wells The Time Machine

February 9, 2000, 10:01 AM
If you go with an AR, stick with the reputable mfgrs-Bushmaster, DPMS, Colt (used), Olympic etc. All these mentioned with the exception of some Colts are basically mil-spec and will accept mil-spec parts (less expensive). Also with the AR style, there are a myraid number of combinations that can be had. All the way from 7inch 9mm DOE entry guns (class three) to 24 inch stainless bull barrel varminters. I personally have two lowers with three uppers to switch around.
Don't know much about M1As.
FALs fall into three basic categories- original FNs, modern repros (DSA, Entreprise etc) and firearms built from kits. There are also different versions-metric, inch, Israeli and Indian. Most FALs in USA are built from kits. Century is the biggest builder of kits. Getting a Century is basically a hit-or-miss proposition as to getting a good one. The important indicator is which mags it takes. Look at the mag catch in the receiver. The metric mag has a cutout in the front of the mag as a catch while the inch mag has a block welded on. The receiver will be cut out to accept one or the other. Be advised that metric mags will work (but maybe not well) in an inch but not vice versa. Another way to quickly tell about your lower receiver is look at the buttstock/receiver interface. If all vertical, it's metric; if there's a 'hump' on the bottom portion it's inch pattern. As for parts interchange, subassemblies can intermix (eg. inch upper on metric lower) but individual parts cannot intermix with few exceptions or machining.
Another option may be an AK-style firearm. Just to be contrary :cool: when the elitists start complaining that you're disrupting them while firing their Perrazzi, Hammerli Olympic free pistol etc.
If going for more than practical accuracy, go for the M1A or an AR. Otherwise the field is wide open. Fire them all and see what fires your plugs :D

George Hill
February 9, 2000, 10:33 AM
Go with what you know.
Call up Springfield Armoury and talk about the M1A.
Your edging that way anyways - so if you go in another direction you will end up thinking about the M1A you coulda got.
ARs may leave you cold if your an M1 fan. Your used to the heft and the harder hitting round.

My Dad always told me "Go with your first instinct." My Dad is a smart man.

I mean, if I went around saying I was an Emperor because some
moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, people would put me away!

Art Eatman
February 9, 2000, 10:46 AM
I had a Springfield M1A Match Grade, about 15 years ago. Good rifle. Accurate. Fun to shoot. Trouble was, I couldn't really figure out how it fit into the shooting I usually do.

I already had a Garand. I could relate to it more, having toted one in Basic, and having shot a lot before and after my Army daze.

I kept the Garand. Glass-bedded, and a few match parts; it's about the same weight and accuracy as the M1A. And I'm an '06 guy...

Aw, shuckin's...Buy one of each. :) Then decide. Bulk ammo cost isn't all that much different, and God made Dillon for a reason. (For any semi-auto, small-base dies are real helpful.)

Hope this helps, Art

February 9, 2000, 02:02 PM
All these are good choices depending on what type of shooting you do.
I like AR's best myself but I also have an FAL. For the money the AR-15 is IMHO better than the FAL. Cheaper to buy cheaper to shoot cheaper to maintain and if you want to change parts around they are cheaper too. The FAL is a great shooter and ammo is cheap enough but mine is trying to put me into the poor house. I could have built two AR15's for the price of this thing.
I also had an M1A, I liked it too but it was just too darn big to cart around all the time and the cost of magazines was prohibitive. Aftermarket mags are of course less but I never found one that worked worth a darn. FAL mags can be had for $6 bucks if you look hard enough and they work great.

February 9, 2000, 03:19 PM
It depends on your perceived needs and how much money you want to spend. Personally, were I in your shoes, I would ponyup the $1100-1200 and buy a preban Colt SP1 AR15. It's a good gun in its own right, but more importantly it is a good vehicle to build whatever style AR you want. I have an M4gery built on an SP1 lower, and you could also build a conventional CAR15 or an A2 heavy barrel or whatever floats your boat. The quality will be better than most current production guns, and the price is not significantly higher---there are a couple SP1s on the internet ad boards right now for around $1100-1200. (www.subguns.com and www.sturmgewehr.com) (http://www.sturmgewehr.com))
If you go with a modern postban, I would advise Bushmaster or Armalite.
Now, that is me...I live in Florida and long shots aren't a priority in any sort of future "doo-doo hits the fan" scenario. If you live out west or on the plains and long shots might be more important, I would advise getting a good FAL clone. DSA is the best postban, but the Imbel-receiver STG58s can be good if they are well put together. If you have around $1500 you can also pick up a pre 89 Argentine or Armscor---though I don't have any experience with the Armscor. The Argentines are good guns though. For around $2000-2300 you can get a Belgian, which is the ultimate, but I don't know how much money you want to spend. My personal preference for a configuration is the full stock with a 16 inch congo barrel.
Metric FAL mags are still selling for around $10 a piece or lower and parts kits are plentiful for spare parts.
Good luck with your decision...the preban Colt SP1 or the pre89 Argentine FAL would be my reccomendations.

February 9, 2000, 03:37 PM
Since full auto is functionaly denied to us via our having to wave the Fourth, you don't get the advantage of an intermediate cartridge such as 5.56mm. No bursts are going to be let loose. And you already poses reloading equipment for 7.62mm.
You should go with the M1A.
Oh. And M14 types don't jamm as much as ARs.

February 9, 2000, 03:46 PM
If you can swing it, might I suggest the best "blend" between the AR-15 and .308 worlds.....

Knight Manufacturing - Stoner SR-25 Match.

Heavy as your M1A but if you can get one like mine, it'll be a tack driver. The tough part is finding one and then the magazines. I think that all you'll need is about 6. Take a look at


February 9, 2000, 04:35 PM
Build a FAL on an Imbel receiver (DSA if you like) or a G3 on a FMP receiver. The FAL will be less expensive all around and mighty sweet.

February 9, 2000, 09:33 PM
You say you are already reloading .308 so I'm assuming you have a .308 bolt rifle. As a practical, "reach out and touch them", weapon, with a scope, that's probably as good as they get.

If you want to augment the bolt gun, from a strictly practical viewpoint, I think you probably are looking for a defensive weapon for close-in work. In that role, I can't imagine a better rifle than an AR15. Light, compact, minimal recoil, cheap reloadable surplus ammo and wide availability of 30rd magazines. In your price range, the suggestion of an SP1 is a good one. With that as a base, you can legally build any tricky rifle you want, short of full-auto, since all SP1s are pre-ban by definition (they stopped making them in the early '80s, long before the '94 crime bill). A year ago, you could get SP1s for less than $1000. Now, every one I've seen has been in the $1200+ range so getting one would likely be a good investment
as well.

If you are just looking to get a cool rifle, any of the ones you mention would be great. My personal preference is a FAL. Its the kind of rifle that everyone just goes "oooh!" when they pick it up. Very classy, very cool, beautiful design.

I would personally *love* to have an M1A. My only concern is the cost of parts and magazines. Also, I shoot competitively and the cost of match conditioning an M1A is just prohibitive in my opinion. Particularly since you can get a match-conditioned AR15 for about the same price as a rack-grade M1A and the AR15 will be much cheaper to shoot and require much less maintenance to keep it in top match condition.

As far as how to tell an inch FAL from a metric FAL; the only test I know of is either the country-of-origin (British Commonwealth FALs are almost exclusively inch pattern) or whether a metric magazine will lock up correctly.

February 9, 2000, 10:33 PM
Truth is that I have no real need or practical use for one of these rifles. If I were to find myself in a SHTF scenario, I'd probably feel better with one of my lever guns. Any so called "assault rifle" I might buy would probably spend its life punching paper and occasional plinking. I just thought it would be nice to have one just in case the antis win this battle. I hate the idea of being told what I can and can't have. My budget isn't all that big. I might stretch to about $1200 which would have to include rifle, spare mags, accessories and all. Also whatever I buy would probably remain pretty much stock. But I would like it to be an accurate rifle.
Yes, I do have a .308 bolt action which is why Im leaning toward that caliber. I like the .308 and I already reload it.
Anyway, I stopped by my favorite gunshop today just to look. While I really had a M1A in mind, I'm afraid its just a little too much and I'll have to pass on it. DAMMIT! :(
I looked at the Century Arms FAL, but I'm not real sure about it. I hadn't read this yet and couldn't tell if they are inch or metric. I still don't have any idea which is better or why?
What can you tell me about the Armilite AR-10? It looked interesting, but I forget the price. Are hi-cap mags avalible? How much?
I also looked at Colt and Bushmaster AR-15s. The Bushmaster was cheaper but looked better for some reason. I have seen these at gunshows as low as $600. That would leave plenty for "goodies" but I remember the M-16 the Army gave me. Never really got used to that recoil spring "Twang". ;) But then for paper targets and plinking the .223 would no doubt be a better choice.
Oh Hell! This is gettin' confusing. I got time to think about it while I wait for Uncle Sam to send my money.

Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. H.G. Wells The Time Machine

February 9, 2000, 10:49 PM
Grayfox, it sounds like you want an AR15. The "twang" of the recoil buffer spring can be almost eliminated by a little grease. I shoot one of these a *lot* and I don't even notice it anymore which probably has something to do with lubrication and something to do with just getting used to it.

I'm guessing the Century FAL you were looking at it is either one of the L1A1 sporters or the newer C58. Either one is an "ok" example of a FAL. The newer one's, the C58, are the closest to a generic metric FAL but, in my opinion, suffer from hurried manufacture. I don't think they are dangerous, but I think the fit, finish and cleanliness leaves something to be desired. If you did a search here on "Century FAL", you'd find a few opinions on them.

The AR-10 is an expensive and relatively esoteric weapon. Parts and magazines are going to be expensive and relatively hard to find. Given that cost is an issue, if you insist on something in 7.62/.308, you ought to buy a metric FAL. Lots of cheap parts and magazines.

If you just want an evil looking rifle before they ban them all (unlikely anytime soon) and cost is an issue, you won't make a better buy than a Bushmaster or Colt AR15. The Colt will probably have better resale value over the long run but some of the parts are non-standard which tends to piss me off.

February 9, 2000, 10:53 PM
BTW & JFYI, I have a Mini-30. Its a good rifle, cheap to shoot and generally a fun gun. But its a Ranch model and I'd prefer good click adjustable iron sights. It irritates me because I can't find any magazines worth a crap and is therefore not all that dependable. I'd also like something a bit more accurate. So if I do buy something else, the Ruger will go to help pay for it.

Strength is the outcome of need; security sets a premium on feebleness. H.G. Wells The Time Machine

[This message has been edited by Grayfox (edited February 09, 2000).]