View Full Version : Help me decide...M1A vs AR

December 21, 2004, 10:07 AM
Hi guys. I am planning a purchase after the 1st of the year. I already have a M1 Garand and really love it. There is a range that is fairly near where I live and they do competitions that I'd like to try.

I was thinking of a M1A/M14. I know I can get into the rifle I want for about 1500. I also know that the AR does very well at these competitions.

Any recommendations?

Mike F.
December 21, 2004, 10:10 AM
I have no clue how this would stack up in the competions you are wanting to compete in, but this is what I'm currently drooling over:



December 21, 2004, 10:20 AM
I wish I had bought a M1A instead of an AR-15. ;)

December 21, 2004, 10:29 AM
I have no clue how this would stack up in the competions you are wanting to compete in, but this is what I'm currently drooling over:

The Socom wont work for what I'd like. Long Range competitions go out to 500yds.

The M1A/M14 will do that and then some. The AR's are very competitive at competitions.

December 21, 2004, 10:37 AM
I do not compete so take this for what it is worth. I have spoken to quite a few folks who do compete and right now the AR15 simply dominates from what I am hearing.

Now for me personally the wood and steel of a good ole' Merican' battle rifle is just as much a piece or art as it is a tool. So I would go M1A/M14 were it to be me. I do however love my AR15s as they are cheap and fun to shoot.


December 21, 2004, 11:07 AM
I vote for the M1A.

By all accounts the AR clones are wining matches, so if you are buying this rifle as a tool to win matches and you are that caliber of shooter then get the AR.

Having said that there are a bunch of other reasons to go with the M1A.

1. Historical Interest.
2. Heavy caliber useful for taking of game
3. Cheap (excellent) surplus ammo
4. WALNUT Stocks :)
5. Absolutely competitive and can win matches
6. Looks ( I know some guys like the way ARs look, hell some guys like rap music)
7. Easy and safer (as compared to 223) to load for.
8. People over 18 will still respect you
9. Preserves the chance of ever having a girl friend.
10. When you shoot steel at 300, 400, 500 yards it makes a nice WHOMP! sound as opposed to a sad little.......tink noise.

Mike F.
December 21, 2004, 11:20 AM
#10 for the win! :) Can anyone suggest any AR-15 setups for around the $1500 price range that would be competitive?


ETCss Phil McCrackin
December 21, 2004, 11:54 AM
I use an M14 for highpower shooting and on one hand I was drawn to the good old wood and steel, (or in my case, grey fiberglass and steel...) but on the other hand, some of the more experienced guys on the team indicated that it was harder for a beginner to shoot a 7.62 accurately and consistantly. Since I think that a skill aquired with difficulty is better and more completely learned than one gotten farely easly, I chose the big bullet and big recoil to hone my skills. Course, that may be a load of bull, but at least I get to be in the minority out on the line!

December 21, 2004, 12:32 PM
Can anyone suggest any AR-15 setups for around the $1500 price range that would be competitive?

I'm assuming you are talking about CMP (old DCM) service rifle matches.

The current hot setups for the money are the White Oak Armament and White Oak Precision guns as well as Compass Lake rifles.

I bought a RRA lower and pinned a White Oak Armament upper to it. The WOA upper has a free floated bull barrel, 1/4 or 1/2 MOA PINNED rear sight with multiple hooded aperatures, NM front sight and 1:7 twist. They are also smooth as silk. I added a Jewell trigger for $200, but you can get a RRA tuned trigger from WOA for around $100. The total for this cost me $1100 so you can perhaps do better, but this gun holds 1/4MOA groups with 69gr Sierra Match Kings.


Scott Evans
December 21, 2004, 08:13 PM
Go with an AR-10. I love mine.

December 21, 2004, 08:59 PM
I have owned several of both, I traded my M1A national match for a M1 grand, I know many of you will call me crazy but the Grand gives me a feel for history that no other gun gives.
But as for the two, The AR is much lighter and cheeper to shoot. If these dont matter then go with the M1A, remember the M1A will kick harder and extended range time will wear on your sholder.
I dont believe in shooting jackets.

December 22, 2004, 12:27 AM

10. When you shoot steel at 300, 400, 500 yards it makes a nice WHOMP! sound as opposed to a sad little.......tink noise.

I agree with you there, at the gravel pit that I shoot at, we had a heavy steel plate the size of a man's chest set out at 300 yards. I was shooting SP out of my Mosin Nagat and there was no doubt when I hit the target. One of the best comments I recieved was, "You can't wound someone with that gun." :D My 22-250 was the tack driver, but everyone paid attention when I got out my Nagat.

December 22, 2004, 06:56 PM

For what it might be worth, I would say that there is little, if any comparison between the AR type compared to the M-1A/M-14 type rifle.

The latter was always a Main Battle rifle, while the former was designed to be a relatively short range weapon, out to 300-400 yards. Yes, I know that service shooters and some civilian shooters are supposedly shooting much modified M-16 types out to 1000 yards, I used to do the same but with the 30-06 in both the Garand and bolt guns. Tried it with the .308 Win also, but I never could get it to work with that caliber. 600 yards was my limit with the .308.

In any case, I believe that, re competition, the M-1A/M-14 is no longer considered "the service rifle", though I could be wrong there. If you entertain thoughts of going Distinguished, these days, you would be better advised to go with the AR-15/M-16 type rifle.

I shot 30 caliber, meaning 30-06 and .308 Win (7.62 mm NATO), and I must confess that I've had no real experience in competition with any thing other than those two. In conclusion, the 30-06 was the first center fire caliber I that I had any real experience with, and I always thought that it answered most of the questions, perhaps not all, but certainly most. I also admit to the possibility of being just plain old fashioned.

December 22, 2004, 06:56 PM
this is an easy one. buy both

December 23, 2004, 09:46 PM
I'm with Mannlicher. Get both.

If you are talking Service Rifle competition, most people are using ARs these days. The M1A has some advantage on the 600 yard line, but you can do pretty darn well with 75 gr Federal Gold Match .223 (and handloaded 77 or 80 gr are even better). The AR15 is an advantage on the rapid fire stages.

Just get yourself one with a free-floated handguard, national match trigger, and national match sights. No need to worry about bedding the barrel, like there is with the M1A.

December 23, 2004, 10:43 PM
After having used both on a professional basis, I prefer the M1A/M14 for serious business. While the AR's have their place in shorter range competition, it is important to remember that steel plates generally don't shoot back. As far as match guns go, I have seen far more functional problems creep up on the basic AR design than any other. I think that the AR type of weapon has become all the rage for LE due to the fact that LE attracts many individuals with no prior shooting experience. The superior range of the M1A will become obvious when engaging targets over 250 yards.

December 24, 2004, 03:22 AM
At Camp Perry, and just about everywhere else in the U.S., the AR15 rules at all levels of competition .

December 25, 2004, 10:41 AM
there are .308 ar variants out there. Mike F has expierence shooting out to 500 meters with m16s, so his opinion on a 5.56 ar variant would be fairly acurate.

Either or could make a useful sthf weapon, with the m1a being slightly better because of penetration power.

btw, your shooting steel or paper targets in competitions, so you don't necessarily need penetration power, and you can build an accurate ar variant for under 6 bills.

December 25, 2004, 08:28 PM
I agree with Scott Evans...Love my ARMALITE AR-10. If I ever had to give them all up except one, this would be the one I would keep. I got the stainless barrel too. :)

December 26, 2004, 01:20 PM
I have both a match M1A and a match AR15 which are the most prized possessions in my collection. Accuracy is very close between the two with the AR15 having a slight advantage (.75MOA vs .5 MOA or better of the bench).

In deciding betwen the two there are several items I would consider. First ergonomics are very different. This comes down to a matter of preference. Next as stated numerous times the M1A is going to have much better range extending out way past 500m where the AR15 looses steam. A heavier bullet in the AR with a faster twist rate will counter this somewhat but the advantage is still in the M1As corner. I give the reliabilty edge to the M1A - never had a hiccup or issue with it to date. Difference in balance fit and finish will depends upon the choice of AR15 setup. The options for the AR are endless. The AR15 does not require bedding or lugging of the receiver as the M1A does. You can completely tear down the AR15 to clean, if the M1A is glass bedded then disassembling to clean is not a good option.

I agree that the AR provides a slight advantage in short-medium range competition. When you need to reach out and touch someone though the M1A is the way to go.

If I had to part with one of them though I'd keep the M1A ;) - - Size does matter......

Thats my 2 cents for what its worth.

December 26, 2004, 05:14 PM
I'm with Mannlicher too. Buy both. The M1A first cause its more expensive so then it'll be downhill for the AR. Cartridgewise, the 308 is more versatile also.

December 1, 2010, 11:12 AM
I realize this thread is quite old, and my reply is directed more to the others reading this post for advice on future purposes than to the one who asked this question years ago (although he is still welcome to my reply).

I have shot both, and which one you want depends on you and what you want it for. If it is for target shooting mainly I would say the AR...you can make it quite accurate and its controls are just about perfect. You will also get higher points because of the superior controls and higher magazine capacity. If you are getting it as a combat rifle get the M1A. It is proven on the battlefield and I know several men and women in the service that would drop the AR15/M16 in a heartbeat if they could pick up the M1A/M14 instead. Top reasons for this are: stopping power, greater range, and the ability to penetrate cover. I would like to add to these clearing malfunctions...when clearing a type-3 brass low malfunction (failure to extract, and a second bullet attempts to feed) the AR would sometimes trap the bullet between the bolt and bolt housing. This was VERY hard to clear due to the small charging handle and the lack of a proper grip and I had to use tools it (it took me over 3 minutes, I dropped 30 points off the test because of it and cut my index finger trying to rack the thing to boot) This cannot happen on the M1A system, quite the opposite, a quick drop mag-rack-insert/rack and I was good to go, always way ahead of the AR system.

conclusion: AR because of its customizability and ergonomics makes a better target rifle, but it fails in the field of combat. If I had to choose one it's be the M1A. But as many people here have rightly said, get both. You don't waste money on a rifle...remember it's always worth at least what you paid to the right person, so if you don't like it you can always sell it.

December 1, 2010, 11:22 AM
If you are going to be doing a lot of target shooting requiring lots of ammo, I'd probably opt for the AR, simply because .308 ammo is substantially more expensive. I say this even though my personal bias would be toward the M1A as I just like the look, feel and operation of rifle over the AR.

December 1, 2010, 11:37 AM
Both are fine weapons.

I have the AR and I like it.

The M1A will cost more to feed but you'll gain some more range and stopping power.

December 1, 2010, 11:49 AM
The AR is the superior rifle for Service Rifle High Power competitions.

I currently shoot an M14 in service rifle, but I'm saving for a WOA/WOP upper and a decent lower. I own a cheapie AR I built from a DelTon 1:9 A2 upper and a Cavalry Arms polymer lower, but I want to put together one of the 15-18 pound lead balanced cheater "service" rifles that everyone else is using.

December 1, 2010, 11:55 AM
If you are talking about High Power Service Rifle Compitition, then the AR is the way to go. And then White Oak is the best upper (lowers don't matter that much if you get a good trigger.

I love the M1A. I've been shooting my Heavy Match for about 35 years. It got my Dist. Badge, but I'm a realist. Any more to be competitive go to an AR.

Having said that, I wont get rid of my M1A, but again I have a couple ARs, one with a White Oak service rifle upper.

Even at 1000 yard service rifle matches the ARs are beating the M1A/M14s.

December 1, 2010, 04:12 PM
Go with AR
if all the comps at the local range are just 500 then a varmint rifle should do you just fine at the same 1500 price I got a dpms lr 308 put a magpul prs 308

A guy posted complaints about small charging handle ...Upgrade to a CQB charging handle

They have swept chargin handles now!

Everyone is forgetting there are 2 types of ars now Piston and Gas ! WOOOHOO

There are way too many upgrade and variants to choose an m1a not to mention the upper and lower divisions on the ar

December 1, 2010, 04:15 PM
I wouldn't take any of the Junk Springfield Armory is putting out right now. You'd definitely get more bang for the buck by going AR.

I have no idea what someone would have to do if they wanted a GOOD/REAL M14... but it's probably not cheap.

Tim R
December 1, 2010, 05:10 PM
I learned Highpower with a Navy M-14. I thought only real men shot 30 cal. When I was hooting for the Navy, the M-16 was just starting out. Back then a .30 would beat a .223 at 600 yards without question. After I left the service and 10 years later without shooting I had a M-1 match tuned in 308.
Wasn't as fun as I remembered. I loaded some 175 SMK's for a match which went over a weekend. I ended up having to shoot 42 of those 175's on the first day and I hurt. The next day I saw a guy shooting offhand with a AR and the butt of the rifle wasn't even in his shoulder. He wasn't getting kicked.

Orderd a WOP upper and used NM RRA lower to complete the rifle. I use 77 gr SMK for 2 and 300 yards and found the 80 gr SMK's fly better than the 168's or even the 175 gr. SMK's. I now have 2 WOP uppers with pinned and 1/4 MOA sights.

I still want to get a M-1A but it have to be the right rifle. I still like 30 cal but I can't shoot them all day like a AR.

December 1, 2010, 05:55 PM
The M1A is a superb rifle, but be warned, you will have way more than $1500 involved. Everything for them is very expensive. I thought just as you do and $3000 dollars later I was ready to buy ammo. I did splurge on a scope and I went with a Smith Enterprise rail, but magazines are expensive, ammo is expensive, everything is very expensive. It's not like an AR, where you can go to a gun show and get something really cool for $60 to strap on. Well, I guess you could with the Loaded or Socom 2 but I just had the Standard with the Walnut stock.

Now when it came to shooting, and I may have just gotten lucky, it couldn't be beat. I was shooting golf balls at 50 yards with the peep sight and at 100 with the scope very easily. My buddy had a tricked out M&P 15 that he couldn't hit **** with, and we went to the range one day and he had to have it. I was glad to sell it to him too... they are really impractical. They're very heavy and I never wanted to take mine into the woods... I had spent too much money on it. Had I slung it into a deer stand and banged it up I would not have been happy. I don't regret getting it or getting rid of it. For that kind of money you could have an AR-15 and an AR-10. If you're doing it for nostalgia go ahead but if you don't have an unlimited budget and like buying weapons with any regularity, be aware you will have a bunch of money tied up.

December 1, 2010, 06:17 PM
Just an FYI, the OP hasn't posted since 2004.

Ignition Override
December 2, 2010, 03:39 AM
My (sometime) 'Shooting Guru' has set iron sight records at 200 & 600 yards with the AR.
His match prizes often were a free Garand, and therefore has eighteen M-1s, kept in other states.

For what it is worth, he has two M-1As and are probably his favorite classic 'Battle Rifle'.

December 2, 2010, 04:30 AM
gotta be the M1a. I own 3 ARs but they just don't have the power at extended ranges

December 2, 2010, 07:12 AM
gotta be the M1a. I own 3 ARs but they just don't have the power at extended ranges

The AR is not limited to .223/5.56. There are several calibers available that well reach out past 1K yards.

As far as AR vs M1A debate, either can be made to shoot very well. Buy the rifle you feel the most comfortable with. The AR has a lot more aftermarket support. There's always the AR10, 7.62 in a black rifle platform.

December 2, 2010, 07:43 AM
For probably 2 years now I have been debating on selling my AR and getting an M1A...

Only thing that ever stopped me really was the disparity of the price of ammo between the two:cool:

gotta be the M1a. I own 3 ARs but they just don't have the power at extended ranges

I laugh at your puny .308...


December 2, 2010, 05:56 PM
This is sweet the
OP hasnt posted since 2004 and we tossed our 2 cents in to the sea of the webWhooo !