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Upgrading the M1A: A Gunsmith’s Perspective


Upgrading the M1A: A Gunsmith’s Perspective

The M14/M1A is, functionally, a Garand action for a shorter cartridge and a removable box magazine. It’s the result of John Garand himself telling the DOD (formerly the War Department, back when we used to flat-out win wars) that there was no way to achieve a full-auto rifle with a full-powered rifle cartridge with a .30-06 in a 10lb rifle. There’s just no way. If you review the historical accounts of the M14 project, you find that Garand was no dummy – he told the Army brass that we needed an “intermediate” power cartridge like the 8mm Kurtz or something similar to achieve full-auto fire in a 10lb rifle. But the Army brass . . .

…Not to be deterred from their damp dreams of a full-auto rifle in a full-powered “gravel belly” cartridge, barely listened to Mr. Garand and conceded to lower the power to what we now know as the .308. Which is really just a functional equivalent of the .300 Savage… but no further. We’re talking of only about a 200fps reduction in muzzle velocities from a .30-06 in 150gr bulllets. Where the cartridge really needed to go was to something like .260 or 7mm08 at 2600 to 2800 fps and a 120 to 130 grain bullet and I think .260 Rem would have been vastly superior to anything we got in the .308… and even more vastly superior than the 5.56 poodle-popping cartridge.



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  • Benjamin Fox

    I’d take my old Marine M1 at a 500 yards would take a head off, a beer that is.

  • 2War Abn Vet

    I loved the M1; never felt much affection for the M14.

  • jimcrowe

    I carried the M14 from Aug 1966 to Dec 1967 whem I got my first M16. Just before TET 1968.

    • Reb Biker

      So, did you like or dislike the switch? I own both an AR-15 and an M1A. I love both rifles, but highly favor the .308 bullet. It’s hard to hide from. I like the Garand action better than the AR-15’s action, too.

      • jong

        I also love the .308 but in the FNFL flavor. Lighter and to me more accurate. As for the M16 I can engage some one carrying that while they could not return accurate fire.

  • Rattlerjake

    Although the M1 Garand (in 30-06) is a great rifle and cartridge, the M14/M1A (in .308) was a great replacement. The M14/M1A made a great sniper weapon, both accurate and lighter than the garand. I carried and used the XM14 Sniper rifle for years in SF and NEVER had a complaint.

  • $29077531

    30.06 the American Cartridge that won many a war, the M1 at the time the best rifle for the American Soldier.

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