Posted: 10/9/2005 3:45:44 PM EDT
I am getting a Springfield M1A in a trade sometime next week. I was wondering about what serial number range did they start to run out of USGI parts. I know not all M1As have all USGI parts in them now but about what time did they start to use the commercial Springfield parts. The serial number range on my M1A is 134XXX. I was also wondering what kind of spare parts should I keep around for this? I assume that a spare bolt roller would be one of the parts and an extractor would ba another handy part to have on hand. Also what surplus ammo should I avoid and which surplus ammo is the best to use with the M1A? Thanks Arvin
I do not know at what point they stopped using USGI parts. A USGI op-rod that is not a reweld would be a good spare to have. As for ammo, Portuguese, Australian, South African and Hirtenberger are all good. Avoid the Indian crap at all costs.
Avoid the Chilean and Indian surplus ammo. British, Portugese, Australian, Malaysian and South African are all good surplus ammo. Keep a spare firing pin, extractor and spring, ejector and spring and a trigger pin. Pass on the bolt roller IMO.
Since I wrote this my book has come out but it answers your question I hope.
Were they still using some USGI parts, other than the barrel?
I keep seeing "pre-ban" M1A's mantioned. Other than the bayonet lug, is there any difference between a "pre-ban" and "Clinton-ban" gun?
Keeping it simple, the Assault Weapons Ban removed the bayonet lug from the civilian legal American manufactured M14 type rifle in the United States but that's about it. Let me share a secret with all of you since you'll know it once my book comes out anyway. Springfield Armory, Inc. never totally ran out of USGI parts. They ran out of some parts at various times.
M14 type rifles made by Smith Enterprise, Inc., Armscorp, H&R Gun Co., Smith, Ltd., Maunz Manufacturing, Maunz Match Rifle, LRB Arms and Entreprise Arms almost always have USGI M14 parts. Federal Ordnance, Springfield Armory, Inc. and the Chinese rifles LARGELY (the majority of the time) do not have USGI parts. Armscorp did use some Chinese parts for a short while. My book discusses how to identify Chinese M14 parts or you can check out the shorter version at www.imageseek.com/m1a Making it simple to follow, here's what happened with the supply of USGI M14 parts.
In the late 1960s Elmer Ballance bought a bunch of USGI M14 parts. A lot, but not all, of these USGI M14 parts were transferred to the Reese family when Springfield Armory, Inc. was moved to Illinois in the fall of 1974. Mr. Ballance was still selling USGI operating rods and trigger groups until eBay stopped the practice of selling M14 parts. He MAY still have some left. In the early 1970s USGI M14 parts were plentiful and stupid cheap by today's prices. As early as 1977 Springfield Armory, Inc. begins using commercial reproduction parts ("Standard model M1A serial number 007041 left the factory in 1977 with a commercial manufacture barrel and a commercial manufacture operating rod" M14 Rifle History and Development by Lee Emerson copyright 2005). USGI parts were somewhat available but not laying-on-the-street plentiful from the late 1970s until 1985. Springfield Armory, Inc. was short on USGI chrome plated M14 barrels from 1978 to 1986.
From 1985 until about 1988 give or take a bunch of USGI M14 parts are imported back into the United States. Springfield Armory, Inc. was one of the companies able to import USGI M14 parts in the late 1980s. Armscorp of America, DuPage Trading and others also imported USGI M14 parts. Springfield Armory, Inc. had enough USGI M14 parts so that even by M1A serial number 081004 (made between April and June, 1994) they still had the major USGI M14 parts. I examined M1A serial number 081004 less than two weeks ago (summer 2005). It looks to have had no more than a couple hundred rounds through it. It was assembled with a TRW trigger group, HR-N hammer, TRW bolt, Winchester barrel, WCE USGI rear sight and the flash suppressor and gas cylinder don't look like commercial items to me.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program was selling USGI M14 parts from destroyed M14 rifles in the 1990s but the last batch of parts they got in was in 1996. They ran out of USGI M14 parts about 2003. Springfield Armory, Inc. ran out of USGI chrome plated barrels in January, 2004 as far as I can tell. They appear to have a very, very few USGI bolts and trigger groups left. They've always had USGI stocks but the UNCONFIMRED RUMOR is that they are down to less than 20,000 USGI synthetic stocks left.
So, the wise man understands that Springfield Armory, Inc. M1A rifles built from the late 1980s to 1994 TEND to have lots of USGI parts. There are USGI parts on M1A rifles built from the mid-1990s until today but they are the exception rather than the rule, especially from 2002 onward.