Joe, nice read! I am a bit surprised that you didn't mention about greasing the bolt roller bearing. There is a small special tool that helps to force the grease into the bearing as opposed to just applying it to the exterior. It is very important that the bearing is PROPERLY lubed otherwise it will actually hurt the performance more than helping it. An improperly or ungreased bearing can and will rust internally and can seize up. I love me a good M1A but caution must be observed when shooting match ammo or reloaded ammo with benchrest primers as the (heavy) floating firing pin is notorious for causing slam-fires.
Are m1a's downgrade m14's, or are they civilian makes?
As mentioned, Springfield Armory, Inc. M1As use a cast receiver, but the newer ones also use cast parts.Using cast parts on a USGI M14 would downgrade the M14.
I've heard from many sources that the Springfield M1A's cast receiver is slightly out of spec when it comes to installing a GI or GI spec scope mount. If you want a great FORGED receiver that is completely spec then find a Polytech. They were extremely popular for custom builds solely for the receiver and at one time the complete rifle was the same price or even cheaper than an aftermarket US made forged receiver. Some say that the bolts weren't properly heat treated but others have thousands of rounds through their Polys with no headspace issues.
...and where & how much can one get one of those tools for?
Can they be found for less?
Is there a polymer mag on the level of a MagPul P-Mag, for the M1A?
I'm not saying you should use an M1A for home defense, but I'm also not saying you shouldn't.
So... I kinda bid on one on Gunbroker. It's a low bid and I probably won't win but now I've convinced myself I can't live without one. So one way or another I'm gonna have one sooner rather than later.
That is one solid looking rifle.
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