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Posted: 8/5/2003 3:25:13 PM EDT
OK, so I've decided that I'm going to buy a detachable magazine .308 battle rifle (already have a Garand and an M1 Carbine). The debate is between an FAL and an M1A/M-14 type rifle.

Now, whether or not to buy an FAL may actually come up to whether or not I'm comfortable with it. Most rifles that have a pistol grip that "protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon" don't fit me well. I have shouldered one FAL but it has been a while. I don't recall being horribly uncomfortable with it, but being left-handed, the safety was awkward. Pro for the FAL, though, is cheap standard cap mags ($6-$15/mag).

For an M-14 clone, I know I'll be comfortable with the feel of the gun as it should be similar enough to my M1 Garand and my Mini-14, plus the safety is already in a place where I'm familiar with, so big bonus there. Disadvantage to the M-14 on the price of magazines, though. Cheapest I've seen any that would be considered reliable have been from Cole Distributing for $37 or so per. If you buy 10 of them, you can get them for $36 per.

So, if the FAL fits, it's still in the running. Otherwise, it goes to the M-14. So let's assume, for right now, that the FAL will fit me and I have to consider both. Which one and why? Also, what to look for (good and bad) in an M-14 clone. I want to keep the price of the gun under $1500, and don't really need much more than the base model of either type.
Link Posted: 8/5/2003 3:43:23 PM EDT
My own experience with both systems (both military and civilian) has kept me with the M14 system. The M14 has good sights, doesn't need diddling with the gas system, and feels right expecially if you've been shooting the M1. Open design keeps maintenance and stoppage to a minimum.

You should be able to keep the price of a M1A down around $1000. Look for USGI chromelined barrel. Parts like the extractor and ejector are the same as your M1. Avoid the "loaded" models, they're loaded with non-military parts. Good used M1A should be in the $900-$1100 range.

Since you don't have the pistol grip on the M14 you get to have a flash supressor.

FAL? Best feature of the C1 was the open ended carry handle which allowed the beast to hook on the loop of the rucksack frame and take some of the weight.

If want an inexpensive 7.62mm NATO rifle consider the CETME. Cheap magazines here too.

-- Chuck
Link Posted: 8/5/2003 4:32:31 PM EDT
Right up until you got to the left handed thing, I was ready to scream FAL!!! I own one M14 and 4 FALs. The M14 does have much better sights right now but that is about to change. One guy at the FALfiles is about to release a rear sight for the FAL that will be every bit as good as the M14.

The FAL also has the advantage of parts availability. Yes, you can get M14 parts but the FAL has them in every configuration you could want. Don't like a 21" barrel? Cut it. Want a different safety? Different stock? Different pistol grip? Folding charging handle? No problem. Want to mount a scope? That is another area where the FAL is superior. The open top of the M14 just isn't as stable a place to mount optics.

Being a lefty, the M14 has a distinct advantage in the location of the safety. Some of the home shop guys at the FALfiles have been working on an ambi one but nobody has marketed on yet. I suspect that is just a matter of time.

When you look at the FAL again, I suggest finding one with a "hump back" stock. The stock on the STG is a fairly high comb and many people find this uncomfortable when shooting. The Imbel style stock is much more kind to the face during recoil.

Oh and Chuck ia right about the flash hider. I hate that about the FAL. Hopefully, we only have 13 more months to worry about that.
Link Posted: 8/5/2003 4:37:27 PM EDT
I think you left out an option. The AR10.

All of this depends on what you plan on doing with the rifle. For example, if you wish to shoot irons, then the M1A is better than the FAL. Of course you can upgrade the basic FAL sights.

But, if you wish to mount a scope, it is a royal pain in the ass and IMO not worth doing to an M1A. But, the FAL isn't as inherently accurate as say an AR10.

Course, for reliability, the AR10 doesn't have the track record of either the FAL or M1A. But for pure accuracy neither can touch a flattop scoped AR10T.

Sooo, you gotta figure out what it is you want this rifle for. If it is purely a battlerifle, meaning minute of human accuracy and blasting away with surplus ammo, I would suggest the FAL as it offers less expensive parts and magazines and a longer term of service in real world use. But do get a good FAL. The real cheap ones can be problematic.

I got one of each and they all have they strengths and weaknesses. The AR10T I rarely shoot as all I feed it is Federal match ammo. It can easily outshoot me and I think with a real master marksman shoot inside .75 MOA. But, the 10T is not a blaster and I won't shoot surplus in it.

I have considered getting a carbine upper for it to make it a blaster, but I already have the M1A and FAL, so haven't done t hat. Consider though with an AR10 you can have all worlds with different uppers.




Link Posted: 8/6/2003 5:10:34 AM EDT
Jimmy makes some good points about accuracy. The M14 has it all over the FAL. My all GI Springfield (older pre-ban) is a genuine MOA shooter with several ammo types and has a forward mounted scout scope. The FAL is a shooter, not a target gun.
Link Posted: 8/6/2003 1:07:33 PM EDT
Thanks for the input, guys. The AR-10 has been pointed out to me before, but all I have seen of them have the same grip angle on the pistol grip as the AR-15, which I'm not comfortable with. Bonus here, though is that a guy could take an ambi safety from the AR-15 to mount on an AR-10 and fix the southpaw problem.

Now, the angle of the pistol grip on the FAL is different from that on the AR type rifles, and it seems - from what I recall the one time I handled one - that the grip was not horribly uncomfortable. Assuming that the shooter is up to it, will a good FAL (DSA?) consistently hit the rams at 500 meters? I don't compete yet, but I'd like to be able to and I want a gun that will do the job.

I'm sure an M1A will do the job on the rams if the shooter can. You guys seem to prefer the iron sights on the M1A. I guess I should have mentioned that I intend to leave this gun without optics, so another bonus goes to the M1A. Now, the Chicoms made M-14 clones, and I've seen a few of them. They look good, but I've heard and read too many stories of soft receivers. This leads me to really only want to trust Springfield M1As, and I really only need the standard model, which is the only one with a chrome-lined bore, as far as I know (loaded models don't, from what I've read). Is there any way to tell by the serial # whether the gun is mostly GI or not?

As for the CETME, I've looked at those, but there are a few things that make me lean away from them. One is the risk of getting a Century CETME that has had the bolt ground to "fix" headspace issues. Replacing the bolt and putting in oversized rollers if necessary can fix this, but I'd prefer to not have to worry about it. I've seen CETMEs for $300-$350 out at the shows, but I can get an L1A1 for twice that and probably have just as good a gun, if not better. It probably wouldn't be hard to fix one, but if it has problems, I would rather be able to send my new gun back to the factory to be fixed, which you can't really do with CETMEs.

Thanks guys. Any other thoughs, please share them.
Link Posted: 8/6/2003 1:41:22 PM EDT
SS

Well, based on your input, no optics, long range accuracy, good iron sights, I think we have a winner. While a FAL can probably be made accurate enough, and improved sigghts installed to meet your needs, it just sounds like the natural is M1A. Not as a battle rifle but as a competition rifle in this case. I am wondering why the Garand won't fit the bill, but need is never the primary guide in buying new guns is it?

Things to consider are:

Accuracy - yes, M14/M1As CAN be very accurate. Or not. In truth, the AR platform is more inherently accurate. An out of the box M1A might not shoot any better than 3-4 MOA. For what you want, I would not get a standard M1A.

Springfield Armory sells a national Match version that includes the NM sights and bedded stock and improved gas system and trigger assembly. Note that even then, Springfield Armory does not mention a guaranteed level of accuracy. And this model costs $2000.

Fulton Armory does some good work I hear. Note that their service grade rifle equal to a basic SA M1A costs $1750. To get to a guaranteed MOA accuracy costs $2500. That is some serious dinero.

What you might do is start hanging around battlerifles.com. Ask some questions and watch their for sale board.

It is a shame that the AR10 is so uncomfortable for you. Truly, you are describing an accuracy level easier to achieve with that platform. It can be done with the M14 but it is more complicated and rebedding will be required each year to maintain.

Good shooting.

Link Posted: 8/7/2003 3:32:59 AM EDT
The AR10 is an unreliable firearm at present and I doubt it'll get much better. Uses diddled M14 magazines too. For low round counts it'll probably be OK, but they're expensive.

You can get a FAL parts kit and USA receiver fairly inexpensively. Already assembled versions are in the $450 range many times. Hodge podge of parts, but if the right guy has built it, it'll probably run fine.

I'm personally happy the US Army selected the M14 over the FAL and that Springfield Armory and the commercial contractors had problems making them fast enough. Got us the M16.

-- Chuck
Link Posted: 8/7/2003 10:55:35 AM EDT
My $0.02, cost should be considered but not the determining factor when making such an important decision, i.e., which .308 MBR works for you. I've shot the FAL several times and had buddies who owned them. I'm a M14/M1A man myself. Either choice is a winner but ergonomics seems to be the deciding factor more often than not. If you can afford an AR-10 you can afford M14 magazines. If you don't mind cleaning an AR-10 or AR-15 cleaning the FAL or M14 is a snap. While prices differ, parts and gunsmithing services are available for both.

Enjoy your quest,

Different

Link Posted: 8/7/2003 11:01:49 AM EDT
securitysix, if you buy a M1A ask the seller or look at the rifle (depending on the situation) and check for markings on the barrel, trigger group housing, hammer, bolt, operating rod, and both rear sight knobs. If you post these markings on this forum or over at www.battlerifles.com myself or someone else can tell you if each part is USGI or commercical manufacture.

Springfield Armory was low on USGI parts in the early 1980s and then again from the mid-1990s until the present. Best thing to do IMO is to check the part markings on the rifle you are considering. Worst case, get a fair deal price pre-'94 ban M1A and then just replace the commercial parts as you want over time with USGI parts.
Link Posted: 8/7/2003 1:43:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jimmybcool:
SS

Well, based on your input, no optics, long range accuracy, good iron sights, I think we have a winner. While a FAL can probably be made accurate enough, and improved sigghts installed to meet your needs, it just sounds like the natural is M1A. Not as a battle rifle but as a competition rifle in this case. I am wondering why the Garand won't fit the bill, but need is never the primary guide in buying new guns is it?

Things to consider are:

Accuracy - yes, M14/M1As CAN be very accurate. Or not. In truth, the AR platform is more inherently accurate. An out of the box M1A might not shoot any better than 3-4 MOA. For what you want, I would not get a standard M1A.

Springfield Armory sells a national Match version that includes the NM sights and bedded stock and improved gas system and trigger assembly. Note that even then, Springfield Armory does not mention a guaranteed level of accuracy. And this model costs $2000.

Fulton Armory does some good work I hear. Note that their service grade rifle equal to a basic SA M1A costs $1750. To get to a guaranteed MOA accuracy costs $2500. That is some serious dinero.

What you might do is start hanging around battlerifles.com. Ask some questions and watch their for sale board.

It is a shame that the AR10 is so uncomfortable for you. Truly, you are describing an accuracy level easier to achieve with that platform. It can be done with the M14 but it is more complicated and rebedding will be required each year to maintain.

Good shooting.




Thanks for the input. I'm sure the Garand could do the job quite well, but I want an excuse to get another gun. Mostly, the gun will be a toy to blast with. I don't know that I will compete, and I could probably get a cheaper gun to do it with, or just use the Garand. I just WANT a detachable magazine .308 battle rifle.

Concerning the NM, with iron sights, I can't shoot to that gun's potential, and would be lucky to do so with a standard model. From a solid rest, I can barely shoot my Mauser into 4 or 5 MOA at 100 yards (inferior sights, I know). Since this will mostly be a toy that gets surplus ammo blasted down it, I don't want to waste a perfectly good NM on that. A standard model should at least tell me if I enjoy competing enough to get a more accurate gun for it. If I do, I can save up for another gun later (can't have too many). If competition isn't for me, I still have a cool toy whose price isn't overkill for what I'll use it for.

I have decided that I'm not going to pay more than $1500 for a .308 battle rifle, which rules out the NM. For a pure competition rifle, I might think about $2000 for the gun, but this won't be a pure competition gun. My plan is to be able to go to a show with a wad of money and hopefully come out with the gun and a little ammo. The more I spend on the gun, the less I have to spend on the ammo.

Is it safe to say that between a standard model M1A and a base model FAL from DSA or some other reputable maker, the preferred gun would be the M1A, given my criteria?

And now, the real kicker. If both fit like a glove, I'll go for the M1A because I'm more familiar with it's operation. If one fits better than the other, it is the one I will get. You guys have been great. Y'all's advice has made me think.
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