I know this probably gets brought up a lot, but what should I look for when getting one?
Who makes the best?
Whats the difference between an M1A and an M14?
What else should I know?
Lotta questions and I'm drinking port now so we might need more help.
The M14 is the designation for the military rifle in 7.62 that replaced the Garand. It is a magazine fed FULL AUTO selectable rifle. In order to have a real M14 you need to qualify and complete all NFA regulations and pay around $8000-$10,000 for a real USGI M14.
There are actually some M14s that were NOT select fire. Most of these I am aware of were foreign made and inferior to the original USGI rifles. Some were great, some not. You guess. I think the Chinese rifles are marked M14. I think maybe some of the smaller manufacturers today also use the M14 name. Smith Enterprises and LRM (I think) etc.
M1A is a registered trademark of the current Springfield Armory semi only version of the M14. it is a pretty good rifle although they are using fewer USGI parts every year as they become scarcer. Some folks will get all testy that the reciever is cast instead of the orignal forged like USGI. I agree for the parts on it but the cast reciever will probably outlast you and your grandchildren. I would be more concerned with the other parts they bolt on them now. Still, with a lifetime warranty you can't worry too much.
Tell us what you want it for and what your $$$ pain threshhold is and maybe we can offer some advice.
Short answer; generally speaking,
M14 = select fire. Big bucks
M1A = Semi-auto. Moderate to big bucks depending on how much you want to spend.
The best, regardless of grade are custom built one at a time.
dont buy one, they are all junk
Chuck covered everything, only i think the "rebirth" started a few years ago.