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View Full Version : Problems with Springfield Armory Inc.'s M1As?


TonyNorCal
02-20-2006, 5:49 PM
You see this with some frequency while making the rounds on various internet gun sites...

People lodging complaints about SA Inc.'s rifles.

One wonders whether how widespread this really is...or is it simply a disgruntled few that are being overrepresented by the internet.

Here are the complaints I've read...

1.) Use of cast commercial parts that are inferior to USGI. Some are prone to breakage. Some are out of spec. Quality seems to shift depending I suppose on which manufacturer they use.

2.) Receivers can be out of spec. On the M-14 forum a few claim that the grooves on a certain serial number range of receivers are out of spec such that they can't accept scope rail without modification.

3.) Cast receivers themselves are inferior in strength to forged.

4.) Some customer service complaints (although the majority seem to say they're quite good). Complaints are that problems sometimes aren't fixed and require multiple trips back.
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Ok, so here's what I think. (I have never owned an SA Inc. rifle).

1.) USGI forged parts are better than cast. But does that mean the cast parts are bad? Not necessarily. That would depend on how well they function and whether or not they're prone to breakage.

2.) I think some of their receivers probably are out of spec.

3.) Forged receivers are better than cast...but does that make cast bad? Again, not necessarily.
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So if you have a rifle from them or know someone who does chime in. I am especially interested in people who have rifles that have round counts in the thousands on cast parts.

How has your SA rifle performed?

30Cal
02-20-2006, 6:01 PM
Mine works fine (1998 vintage with a GI bolt and repro parts). Some thoughts on your points:

1. The cast parts work fine if they are dimensionally correct. Haven't heard of many if any at all breakages. Mostly there are one or two parts (extractor) that are not working at all because they are dimensionally wrong.

2. Scope mount gripes are pretty valid. It's not an easy beast to saddle. I dunno if the situation is the same with USGI M14's but I wouldn't be surprised--it's not the best set of mounting points to start with.

3. Sounds valid, but it hasn't worked out that way. I haven't heard of anyone wearing out a cast receiver or having one fail catastophically, even in overpressure situations.

4. I think a lot of the multiple return issues are due to miscommunication or faulty troubleshooting on the part of the shooter. If you want it fixed, you need to provide as much valid information as possible, and you need to talk with the guy working on the rifle, not Sally who's working the phones.

CalExile
02-20-2006, 6:08 PM
I have fired a number of military M14's, and my M1A (loaded, national match) beats them all. My M1A has roughly 3,000 rounds through it without a failure.

chickenfried
02-20-2006, 6:11 PM
I've had my M1A about two years ~600 rounds through it with no problems whatsoever.

KrazyKevy
02-20-2006, 7:09 PM
The cast SA receivers have shown to hold up extremely well. I believe the problem with cast is that most which are found on other weapons are inferior. Either break , wear out prematuraly, or not dimensionally perfect(making it hard to fit parts like a scope mount). So when people do hear the word "cast" they assume "POS". On the M14 forums they mention the Chinese receivers are built more to USGI spec than most US manufactures today, and they have forged receivers but are said to be "soft", so what can the so-called experts say about that, nothing really.

I would not hesitate to buy a SA M1A and be happy with it. But, just know there was a recall on their cast bolts which are ranged in the serial #s. They have a life time warrenty anyways, which is really hard to beat.

Fjold
02-20-2006, 7:10 PM
I just saw a brand new "Match" M1A at my gunsmith's two hours ago. This gun has had 20 rounds of match ammo shot through it. The 20 bullet holes could not be covered by an 8" plate.

Through the borescope you can see shiny and dull spots on top of the lands of the (cleaned) barrel. The muzzle shows what looks like corrosion pitting on the crown under the flash hider. It is going back to SA tomorrow.

xYourLocalAR15x
02-20-2006, 7:21 PM
i've got a standard m1a with chrome line barrel. this sucker is HARSH on brass!
Also there's a lot of wear and tear inside the reciever. Also after about 200 rounds or so, i start getting rounds that dont fire. light marks on the primer. Also, there's always a jam where the round doesnt seat into the chamber fully. my mag is also difficult to put in compared to others.

jtv3062
02-20-2006, 8:21 PM
I have a sa inc loaded ss barrel. When I first took it out it would have lots of ftf. It was sent back to them they change the whole gas system and I believe the bolt to. It came back with less ftf, before sending it back I thought it just needed to be broken in but that was not the case. along with what was replaced the trigger group was also the culprit it was a H&R t/g I have another one and its the same way the hammer hitting the side of the trigger. I also have 2 TRW & a taiwain t/g and they are perfect. Taiwain was sold the machinery to build the m14 so they have built them as the fab 4 did for the gov. except for the gas cylinder lock and thats why it uses metric threads. Iwould not hesitate to buy a sa inc m1a as my 1st m14 type rifle, if theres anything wrong wit your rifle you can always send it back. Im in the process of building a LRB m14 and thats way I have so many t/g's,op rods, and gas cylinders. btw the m1a has around 900 rnds through it.

JS-M1A
02-20-2006, 8:24 PM
I`ve had my M1A since 94.Never had any problems with mine.
It`s done fine with all ammo from norinco to federal match.
Accuracy was much better with federal match :D .I wish I had
enough $$ at the time to have bought a NM instead of a standard.
Round count is probably around 5k or 6k.It`s my favorite rifle.

jtyoshi
02-20-2006, 9:32 PM
Have a SA M1A Scout purchased 2004. Functioned flawlessly numerous times are the range and a 2 day frontsight Practical Rifle course. The 2 M1A's at the course were doing much better than the 10 other AR-15's :D
Probably 2k down here pipe... Only FTF were from a defective magazine.

Omega13device
02-20-2006, 9:59 PM
USGI forged parts are better than cast. But does that mean the cast parts are bad? Not necessarily. That would depend on how well they function and whether or not they're prone to breakage.


You have hit the nail on the head, sort of. Yeah, forged may be stronger but if the cast parts are already more than strong enough to handle anything you can dish out then the difference is irrelevant.

And to anybody who actually did have a breakage with a cast part, sorry but your experience is not relevant. All that matters is the overall rate of failure across all cast parts produced and how it compares with the rate of failure for forged parts. A few people having a parts breakage doesn't prove anything.

Here's another common sense approach: SAI is running a business. They have to make money. Given the fact that they have a lifetime warranty on their products, do you really think they would be around if they shipped their rifles with parts that broke regularly?

alcmaeon
02-20-2006, 10:48 PM
I have a SA M1a I picked up 3ish years ago. It performed flawlessly for 107or 108 rounds and than the bolt self destructed on the next shot. I than found out the takedown notch was too tight, even using a screwdriver (as numerous folks online told me to try) it would not come apart. Sent it back on their dime though I had to ask for reimbursement, they fixed the notch and the bolt but wouldn’t give me a GI bolt (said they didn't have anymore). Well the bolt stayed in piece for awhile (3000 rds) and than did it again. I rebuilt it myself with GI parts and it has been ok since. In researching this on the internet I found lots of folks who had had the same problem (researched thefiringline, the highroad and Battlerifles). Most recommended replacement of the bolt with GI parts or an entire GI bolt.

My big problem with all this is that a $1300 (on sale) rifle should just not have stupid problems like those I experienced. To do all over again I would not get a SA. Maybe a Fulton. It’s just not a rifle I can trust if I had to.
here is another person with MIA troubles: http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=47108

Mugwump
02-20-2006, 11:06 PM
Okay, let's get this *****-session started!

Here goes:
1. Purchased a brand new standard M1A, took it to the range with my brother-in-law (who has been shooting for nearly all his life) and neither one of us could get it zeroed in (kept shooting too high and to the left), nor could we get it to feed consistantly. After trying different mags and different ammo, decided to send it back. They replaced the extractor and put a really tall front sight on (kind of like putting a bandage on a broken arm in my opinion).

2. Took it to the range a few times and everything seemed to work okay, until it started acting up again and wouldn't stay zeroed. So, I took it to a gunsmith who has many years of working on M1 Garands (rear sight parts are exchangeable, plus this guy is a serious collector, has hundreds of M1 Garands, so he knows what he's talking about) and his conclusion was that the rear sight was cast crap out of spec. He showed me how the teeth of the rear sight didn't fit together properly with the other parts. His recommendation was to order some old USGI parts and it should do the trick. Sure enough, he was correct.

3. Took it to the range a few more times and thought everything was great, until the bolt roller came rolling off the bolt. I figured I would just order some bolt roller pliers to get the piece back on, and found that this tool is nearly impossible to find. So, back it went to the gunsmith and he wanted to swap out the bolt for a quality USGI TRW bolt. When he couldn't find a one to easily replace the existing one, he talked to his other gunsmith buddy (whom happens to have years of working on M1As, and is a trainer for police snipers, I'm not making this up) who tried about 5 different bolts with no luck. His recommendation was to ship it back again, but I really didn't want to go through the whole hassle and decided to see if I could just order a new bolt roller and find a gunsmith who had the tool to replace it. Luckily I found Tabor's in San Bruno and he had the tool and was able to stick it back on.

4. Finally, I feel the rifle is working properly, but after spending $1300 dollars on a brand new rifle, and countless hours trying to fix it, I don't feel that myself or other shooters should have to be the quality control department for Springfield. I think this situation is typical of most companies these days, they build a strong brand and reputation over the years, and then start cutting corners to save a few bucks. Meanwhile the consumer watches another American company throw their reputation down the drain. I'm willing to spend more when I can be assured that I will get a quality item, and respect from customer service, but I'm finding this to be a rare situation these days. Companies just don't care anymore, they're willing to take a chance with a few disgruntled customers if it means they can line their pockets with our hard earned dollars.

5. Before I forget, my next door neighbor purchased a brand new springfield 1911, and is having similiar issues with it as well. So, it's not just me.

m1aowner
02-21-2006, 12:02 AM
Have had my Loaded M1A for a year or so now. Only issue with mine is the extractor went south after the first few hundred rounds. Took it back to Reeds and Springfield covered shipping both ways. Had it back in three weeks I think. Don't know if extractor was replaced with a USGI part or SI INC production. Anyhow, she shoots like a dream now. I'm guessing over 5,000 rounds easily through her. Federal Gold Match 168s are her favorite. In hindsight I could've performed the minor repair needed. No big though, SI warranty is lifetime.

If you watch the PX over at www.m14forum.com a good deal can be had on a used M1A. Somebodys always selling and trading there. Might even be able to pick up a NM M1A for the price of a new Standard in CA. You could go with an LRB M14. Forged receiver and guaranteed to be all USGI, minus the barrel and receiver. http://www.lrbarms.com/pages/1/index.htm

xenophobe
02-21-2006, 12:22 AM
I just saw a brand new "Match" M1A at my gunsmith's two hours ago. This gun has had 20 rounds of match ammo shot through it. The 20 bullet holes could not be covered by an 8" plate.

Through the borescope you can see shiny and dull spots on top of the lands of the (cleaned) barrel. The muzzle shows what looks like corrosion pitting on the crown under the flash hider. It is going back to SA tomorrow.

20 rounds isn't enough to break in a barrel. Regardless of what you see in the bore scope, I wouldn't judge the rifle for accuracty until at least 50 rounds were put through it in a proper break in regimine (the bore DOES need to be lapped by a proper break in) and another 200-300 rounds of normal use...

I would ask what type of ammo was used, but since the rifle wasn't properly broken in, in the first place it wouldn't really matter. I would also question the shooter's comfort and familiarity with a M1A. Even a poor M1A with a poorly manufactured barrel with get better than 8" @ 100.

SkyStorm82
02-21-2006, 12:34 AM
20 rounds isn't enough to break in a barrel. Regardless of what you see in the bore scope, I wouldn't judge the rifle for accuracty until at least 50 rounds were put through it in a proper break in regimine (the bore DOES need to be lapped by a proper break in) and another 200-300 rounds of normal use...

I would ask what type of ammo was used, but since the rifle wasn't properly broken in, in the first place it wouldn't really matter. I would also question the shooter's comfort and familiarity with a M1A. Even a poor M1A with a poorly manufactured barrel with get better than 8" @ 100.

I'm not trying to start a fight over this or anything but I am curious about something. If those long break in procedures are so important, how come they don't mention that and detail the steps that need to be done in the owners manual?

Again, I'm not trying to be a smartass about that....just curious.:)

anotherted
02-21-2006, 9:24 AM
I have a standard M1A that was made in 2002. Ive had zero problems with it and its up around 3000 rounds. It shoots the lights out.

mike452
02-21-2006, 10:57 AM
I have one form Springfield and it is great.

The hype drove the USGI price a little too high.
The cast vs. forged argument is mostly hypothetical. Springfield offers lifetime warranty. I wouldn't spend $$$ to "upgrade" by M1A to USGI parts if they weren't broken.

Mugwump
02-21-2006, 11:56 AM
I have one form Springfield and it is great.

The hype drove the USGI price a little too high.
The cast vs. forged argument is mostly hypothetical. Springfield offers lifetime warranty. I wouldn't spend $$$ to "upgrade" by M1A to USGI parts if they weren't broken.


Hypothetical? Really? Tell that to my gunsmith(s) who couldn't get the rear sight cast parts to work correctly.:mad:

anotherted
02-21-2006, 12:02 PM
This debate goes on on every single gun board out there. Sure some of SA Inc.'s rifles are semi duds. The fact of the matter is that because they build and sell SO many rifles, some of them are going to fall through the cracks. Ive heard of LRB's and Fultons that have had problems as well. If you do the math, one non functioning rifle coming out of either one of those places makes their QC MUCH worse than SA Inc.'s.

gunshack
02-21-2006, 12:13 PM
If you do the math

Roger that! SA Inc's M-14 sales dwarfs the competition. If they sell 50 times more rifles, your going to hear 50 times more complaints. Besides, what other company offers a real life time warranty? That warrenty stands no matter who the original owner was, and no matter how many times it changed hands.

I liked my first one (Loaded Stainless) so much I bought a Scout to keep it company.:)

Top Cat
02-21-2006, 12:31 PM
Understand that the bolt roller is not prone to fly off the bolt for no reason. They actually are not removable and have to be cut off in order to be replaced...not a job for the amateur.

Losing the bolt roller during a range session, especially on a newer rifle, is a symptom of insufficient clearance between the bolt roller and the receiver rail. That dimension should ideally be around .002, but any clearance is better than none. If the roller smacks the rail when returning to battery, it will eventually fly off or break...guaranteed!

I have seen this condition in a large number of brand new weapons, not just Springfield, as they don't seem to check for this at the factory.

The M-14 is not a weapon's system that any assembler can just bolt together and hope that everything turns out ok. It used to be built by qualified armorers ...where have they all gone to, I wonder...

Top

HEUER
02-21-2006, 1:44 PM
Understand that the bolt roller is not prone to fly off the bolt for no reason. They actually are not removable and have to be cut off in order to be replaced...not a job for the amateur.

Losing the bolt roller during a range session, especially on a newer rifle, is a symptom of insufficient clearance between the bolt roller and the receiver rail. That dimension should ideally be around .002, but any clearance is better than none. If the roller smacks the rail when returning to battery, it will eventually fly off or break...guaranteed!

I have seen this condition in a large number of brand new weapons, not just Springfield, as they don't seem to check for this at the factory.

The M-14 is not a weapon's system that any assembler can just bolt together and hope that everything turns out ok. It used to be built by qualified armorers ...where have they all gone to, I wonder...

Top

Oregeon, Texas, and Southern California. ;)

50 Freak
02-21-2006, 1:48 PM
Seems like to me (and I don't own a SA M14) that the older SA M1As were good as they built with GI parts.

When all the GI parts became scarce and SA started making their own parts, that's when all the problems started coming out of the wood work.

I've heard/see stories of people who have just bought the Socom-16s or the SA's whitefeathers having to send them back to SA multiple times for repair.

I'd be kinda pissed if I plunked down a few thousands of dollars on a rifle that wasn't working.

HEUER
02-21-2006, 1:50 PM
The truth is ...

While I bought one stripped AR lower, my heart is really not into the AR. I am again starting to save funds for a third SAI.

Probably a second hand shooter standard model. I feel the balance and weight are best on these models.

Who knows I am starting at 0 in the M14 sock, so it will probably be a while. ;)

Fjold
02-21-2006, 1:59 PM
20 rounds isn't enough to break in a barrel. Regardless of what you see in the bore scope, I wouldn't judge the rifle for accuracty until at least 50 rounds were put through it in a proper break in regimine (the bore DOES need to be lapped by a proper break in) and another 200-300 rounds of normal use...

I would ask what type of ammo was used, but since the rifle wasn't properly broken in, in the first place it wouldn't really matter. I would also question the shooter's comfort and familiarity with a M1A. Even a poor M1A with a poorly manufactured barrel with get better than 8" @ 100.

The guy who owns the gun is a high power shooter who shoots a bolt gun in class and an AR in Service Rifle. He owns and shoots a Garand also in competition and wanted the M-14 to have another option.

I've never seen a new 8+ MOA rifle before but my experience it that I generally see less than 50%-75% group reduction from new after break in.

xenophobe
02-21-2006, 2:17 PM
In response to SkyStorm: A proper break in won't greatly affect your accuracy. It may tighten a 3/4" group to a 1/2" group at best, but it will also help aide in making your bore slightly easier to clean. With a match rifle, DMR or sniper type rifle, everything you can do to increase accuracy adds up.

Fjold, I completely agree with you. An 8+ MOA rifle, especially a M1A sounds more like an unskilled shooter, or someone just not comfortable with a MIA. Even a badly crowned barrel with junk ammo will shoot better than a pie plate at 100 yards.


As for breaking in barrels, it's more important with a match grade barrel, to squeeze every potential accuracy improvement out of it. From a standard hunting rifle or service grade barrel, it really won't matter if you get a <.2" reduction in group size.

HEUER
02-21-2006, 3:34 PM
I am happy with 10 rounds in a 3 inch group @ 100 yards with WIN white box out of a standard with a USGI chrome lined barrel consitently.

I am fine with that. ;)

jtv3062
02-21-2006, 7:32 PM
If your getting 8" groups, have you check to make sure your barrel is not touching the stock any where. I took off my hand gaurd and placed my loaded back in the stock and found the op rod guide was touching and the gas cylinder also, I relieved these areas but not have shot it yet to see if my groups have improved, I also installed a unitized gas cylinder.

nightmanta
02-21-2006, 7:42 PM
I have a loaded and a scout.I have a couple thousand rounds through each with no problems. My scout is my favorite all around rifle.

lostark374
02-21-2006, 8:26 PM
ive got 3.5 m-14 clones. 3 springfield incs's 1 (91) NM with about 1500 rounds only 1 problem .the op rod guide shifted off center. 1 (05) socom 16 2500 rounds no problems 1 (03) scout 1500 rounds no problems. the rest are parts that i havent decided which reciever im going to use yet but i havent ruled out springfield as one of the choices. it will be nm specs or better. i love my m1a's best semi's i own. hands down.