M1A Sniper – On the Cheap, or All the Way?

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The M1A's most classic scope is the Leatherwood, a copy of which we have recently reviewed. It is a cumbersome scope but really nifty, and not expensive right now.

The M1A’s most classic scope is the Leatherwood, a copy of which we have recently reviewed. It is a cumbersome scope but really nifty, and not expensive right now.

Resources:
Springfield Armory M1A:
http://www.springfield-armory.com/m1a-series/
On GunsAmerica:
/Search.aspx?T=m1a
M1A Scope Mounts on Springfield Armory (30% off right now)
http://store.springfield-armory.com/shop/pc/Accessories-c57.htm
Cheap Copies On Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=m1a+scope+mount
Burris Veracity on Optics Planet $599
http://www.opticsplanet.com/burris-2-10-42mm-riflescope.html

For this article we used the aluminum Springfield Armory branded mount as well as a couple exact copies, this one from AIM, as well as a UTG design.

For this article we used the aluminum Springfield Armory branded mount as well as a couple exact copies, this one from AIM, as well as a UTG design.


With Christmas approaching, it is a great time to think about all of those upgrades to your guns you have been thinking about. One I have been considering for some time is putting a scope mount on my M1A, but my assumptions were that it was both expensive and difficult, requiring a gunsmith. Turns out I was wrong on both counts. There are expensive options and inexpensive options for installing a rear scope mount on the M1A, and they work equally as well. I tried both the official Springfield Armory mount, as well as a couple exact copies, as well as a new design from UTG. They all worked, and some better than others.

If you are new to shooting, the Springfield M1A is the semi-automatic equivalent of a the M14 rifle that originated in the Vietnam era. It shoots the .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO US cartridge, and is 2nd only to it’s older brother, the M1 Garand when it comes to “classic” battle rifles. The M14/M1A uses mostly the same action as a Garand, but it has a detachable magazine and fires the .308 instead of the .30-06. I now have three of these great rifles, and they have been featured here in the pages of GunsAmerica many a few times before. You may recognize the Archangel stock on one of my SOCOMs from one of those previous articles, and it is that rifle that I have been thinking about putting the rear mount on. With an adjustable stock, it is almost a shame to not have a scope on the rifle, and I don’t like the forward position long eye relief “Scout” scopes that are used on that forward mount of the SOCOM. For this article I also asked Springfield to send me one of their National Match rifles, so I could show you guys just how good they are with a scope attached.

The AIM mount, the mount that came with the 10-50x scope, and the Springfield are mostly the same, except the Springfield has a split rail.

The AIM mount, the mount that came with the 10-50x scope, and the Springfield are mostly the same, except the Springfield has a split rail.


Fortunately, the M14/M1A receiver was created specifically for a scope mount. In fact there are many M14s still in service today overseas as sniper and designated marksman rifles, because the scope mount is so well done. Springfield Armory sells this mount direct to consumer from their website, and as I write this, the aluminum version is on sale for $86 and the steel one for $209. I purchased the aluminum one for $125 a few weeks ago, along with a couple of copies. To date I have not tried the steel one, but it seems to be an updated design that works more like the UTG mount I was able to test.

Snooping around on Amazon I discovered that the Springfield mount, which is more like the US Military mount, has been copied. You basically can buy the same mount for like $20, with free shipping on Prime. So much for spending $125 on it, but is a small difference between the Springfield mount and the $20 mount. On the Springfield mount there is a space between rail sections and the $20 mount has one solid rail. I didn’t have any issues with ejection using either mount, so I don’t know if it is functional or ascetic.

The bottom picture here is the UTG mount and the top one is the Springfield. They mount slightly different and the UTG is much lower, and lacks an easy on-off as well as specific windage adjustment.

The bottom picture here is the UTG mount and the top one is the Springfield. They mount slightly different and the UTG is much lower, and lacks an easy on-off as well as specific windage adjustment.


I also found the same mount, without the AIM packaging, sold together with a 10-50x scope for $140, and that deal is still on Amazon. So I bought that too, figuring that I would show you guys what you get, if it was worth showing. It is worth showing, and the mount is the exact mount, but the scope rings are chinsy and only have one screw per side. You’ll see pictures of the scope and the mount on my SOCOM here, and I may just get new rings and leave that scope on that rifle. The SOCOM is a handy little sniper rifle.

The only mount I wouldn’t suggest is the UTG. It mounts a little differently than the standard US mount, and I don’t care for it. On the standard mount there is a thumbwheel that is designated just for windage adjustment of the mount itself. Look in the pictures and you’ll see, that you adjust the screw on the side of the mount to swivel the mount into alignment. This makes the mount not only idiot proof, but also very easy to take off and put back on, without losing your zero. The UTG mount works, don’t get me wrong, but the windage alignment is made by drifting the mounting bracket back and forth, then locking it into position with a set screw. That means that you have to leave the mount on if you want to maintain zero. There is nothing wrong with the UTG mount if you always want to case your rifle with the scope. I don’t.

This is the dovetail that holes the stripper clip guide on the M1A. As you can see, I am pushing the lock pin out with a 3/32 punch.

This is the dovetail that holes the stripper clip guide on the M1A. As you can see, I am pushing the lock pin out with a 3/32 punch.


One other note on the UTG mount is that it is also about a 1/2 inch lower than the standard style mount. Both the UTG and standard mount allow you to see the M1A open peep sights (which is really cool), but the UTG does it with a channel in the rail instead of raising the rail above the sights. I like the lowest profile I can get on a scope so I used low mounts with the bell of that cheap 10-50 scope hanging over the front of the UTG mount on my first test, and not only did the scope block the open sights, I also couldn’t get the scope to zero because the highest position of adjustment was still a foot high on the target at 100 yards. The bore axis of the M1A I think is just made for the higher mount, so it is probably best to position the scope at that height regardless of which mount you use. As I said above, it appears that the new “4th Gen” steel mount from Springfield uses the same mounting approach as the cheap UTG mount, so the design can’t be all that bad. I did notice on Amazon that the UTG mount has terrible reviews, and it could be for the reasons I’ve outlined to some degree.
Then you knock it off with a plastic coated hammer.

Then you knock it off with a plastic coated hammer.


Now I’d like to back up a minute and explain how the scope mounts work on an M1A. It can be a little intimidating if you are not a tinkerer. You probably already know what a “dovetail” is. Most front sights on pistols and many rear sights use a dovetail to hold to the gun. It is basically a wedge that you bang in from the side, and it just holds. The M1A uses a dovetail to keep on the stripper clip guide at the rear of the action. If you don’t use stripper clips you don’t need it, and because the gun is fed from a detachable magazine, most people figure that the stripper clip guide is superfluous and not required. When you take it off, that dovetail is a great solid connection for the scope mount, and you don’t need a gunsmith to do the swap.
Don't be intimidated by the work. You can get these punches at Home Depot.

Don’t be intimidated by the work. You can get these punches at Home Depot.


Go to Home Depot or Walmart and buy a punch set. They are usually $8-$20. You need a 3/32nths punch. Also buy a plastic coated hammer, and maybe a small steel peening hammer. All of this shouldn’t set you back more than $40 and you’ll have them. The punch is used to remove the spring pin that is holding the stripper guide on. Take down the rifle by taking out the trigger guard, and remove the recoil spring from the op rod (on an M1A there is a little bar you have to push to the side). Look under the action and you’ll see the exit hole for that spring pin. Carefully use the 3/32 punch to drive out that pin. Then knock the stripper clip guide out with your plastic coated hammer. The block from the scope mount slides into the dovetail, and except for the UTG, it doesn’t go in easy. Don’t be shy. Use the plastic coated hammer and knock it in until you see the hole for the pin line up. Then use your peening hammer and punch to replace the pin in the new block.
The block that holds the scope mount bangs in, then you re-set the pin. It's easy.

The block that holds the scope mount bangs in, then you re-set the pin. It’s easy.


That’s it! The mount attaches with two thumbwheels. The only trick is that you do have to adjust the windage on the mount to match the axis of the scope. I freaked out at first because My bullets were hitting 3 feet to the right of the target, but then I realized how the mount works. See the pictures if this sounds confusing. It isn’t.

As a real battle rifle, you wouldn’t think that the M1A is capable of good accuracy, but it is not uncommon to find match guns that come in under 1 MOA, or “Minute of Angle.” That means that in the absence of human error, the rifle is capable of keeping shots into about a 1″ circle at 100 yards. I shot my test National Match gun into just under 1.5 MOA with Hornady 168 grain factory ammo. To get into the 1 MOA range you generally will need custom hand loads in these guns, and there are plenty of “pet loads” out there in discussion forums to start with if you want to compete in the M1A tournaments, which are generally out to 600 yards off hand (ouch). I shot these groups from a Caldwell Lead Sled, as you can see in the pictures.

I settled on this first focal plane Burris Veracity 2-10x to leave on the gun. It is a ton of scope for the money.

I settled on this first focal plane Burris Veracity 2-10x to leave on the gun. It is a ton of scope for the money.


There are three different scopes in these pictures. One is the current copy of the Vietnam era Leatherwood scope, which was actually created for the M14. It is a unique design that uses a cam system to adjust the scope for rangefinding and elevation. Please see our article on this scope for more information. I of course also tested the 10-50 scope that came in the Amazon package. I have tested about a dozen of these scopes under various brand names, and they work great for the money. 10x power on the lowest setting isn’t a big deal on the M1A because you can still see and zero the open sights, and that 40x really reaches out there. On this particular scope the reticle is listed as “range finding” but there were no instruction as to how to use the bars and dots inside the view. This is a standard second focal plane scope, so the rangefinding would only work at one power, usually the highest.
This is the 10-50x cheapo scope from Amazon that came with the mount for $140. Good buy? YES! Great tool for the job? Maybe with better scope rings.  This is the Archangel stock which you will find in our archive.

This is the 10-50x cheapo scope from Amazon that came with the mount for $140. Good buy? YES! Great tool for the job? Maybe with better scope rings. This is the Archangel stock which you will find in our archive.


The scope I settled on for the National Match, and one I will probably leave on the gun, is a Burris Veracity 2-10x. This is a 30mm tube scope with the reticle on the first focal plane. I have an article in the works on these amazing scopes, but in a nutshell, a first focal plane scope doesn’t work like the standard rifle scope you are currently used to. As you increase magnification on an FFP scope, the reticle gets smaller and bigger, with the target. So as you adjust the magnification, you go from a big reticle on a close image to a small reticle on a far image. This makes it so the elevation lines always match up to certain distances, no matter where the scope is adjusted. If you haven’t tried an FFP scope, try one they are awesome. Optics Planet has this Veracity for $599 right now, and there are a few other magnifications for a little more. This scope has caps on the adjustment knobs, so it is more for using the M1A as a flat shooting sniper rifle than for long range competition. The FFP competition scope from Burris is the XTR II, which we’ll be using for the upcoming FFP article as well.
I tested for accuracy with a couple different types of ammo. I could shoot this Hornady 168 grain Match .308 into just under 1.5 MOA reliably and repeatably.

I tested for accuracy with a couple different types of ammo. I could shoot this Hornady 168 grain Match .308 into just under 1.5 MOA reliably and repeatably.


Getting back to the gun, please look through the pictures below for my two M1A scope mount projects. The SOCOM is going to be a work in progress I think. I may get some beefier rings for that 10-50x and see if I like it on the gun. The SOCOM is not the most accurate of the M1As, so I will have to see just how well I can make it shoot. It is quite a handy little sniper rifle, and in South Florida, there aren’t many tactical situations that are going to take you out much more than 200 yards. I love bolt action sniper rifles, but for the SHTF situation that might be headed our way, the M1A is a much more effective weapon for multiple assailants. And while I love the original look and feel, and the accuracy (!!) of the National Match, there is something about that handy little SOCOM that tells me it is a better goto rifle if the chips are down.
Trick to the miltary/standard/Springfield mount is that rear thumbwheel. When you take it off, you can adjust the windage on the mount with the underlying collar.

Trick to the miltary/standard/Springfield mount is that rear thumbwheel. When you take it off, you can adjust the windage on the mount with the underlying collar.


The M1A is one of those guns that will eventually make it into your safe if you are a shooting enthusiast (people give me crap when I say gun nut GUN NUT GUN NUT GUN NUT). The question is just which one it will be, or more likely, which ones. Until now I had never ventured down the scope mount path for my M1As, but I’ll most likely be buying this National Match from Springfield, and I don’t think either of these guns will ever have their stripper clip guide reinstalled.

I initially tested the SOCOM with the UTG mount. It wasn't within the elevation adjustment to zero the scope at 100 yards. The mount is very low and I used low profile rings. You would have to put the scope higher.

I initially tested the SOCOM with the UTG mount. It wasn’t within the elevation adjustment to zero the scope at 100 yards. The mount is very low and I used low profile rings. You would have to put the scope higher.


Mounting the block and not messing up the pin is probably the hardest thing, but just go slow and be careful. I light peening hammer helps.

Mounting the block and not messing up the pin is probably the hardest thing, but just go slow and be careful. I light peening hammer helps.


This is how the UTG mounts.

This is how the UTG mounts.


This is the scope and mount kit from Amazon out of the box.

This is the scope and mount kit from Amazon out of the box.


The National Match liked the Przi Partizan range ammo I shot in it as well.

The National Match liked the Przi Partizan range ammo I shot in it as well.


The National Match trigger is very light and crisp, but it has a little bit of takeup which gives me the willys shooting at long range.

The National Match trigger is very light and crisp, but it has a little bit of takeup which gives me the willys shooting at long range. One of the few things I don’t like about the M1A


The National Match Rifle stocks are bedded and numbered to the gun.

The National Match Rifle stocks are bedded and numbered to the gun.


The National Match shot like this right out of the box with no breakin, and we found it to be consistent even when the gun was hot. Point of impact didn't really shift.

The National Match shot like this right out of the box with no breakin, and we found it to be consistent even when the gun was hot. Point of impact didn’t really shift.

{ 48 comments… add one }
  • John A. Morgan January 12, 2017, 4:56 pm

    I was going to type a lot about my life. But no, I’ll only say the Saint is a fine weapon and I hope I can own one someday. But being a disabled Jarhead on Socail Security Disability, it’s very much in doubt. But who knows. I am going to get a hunting licence for the first time in many years. I always have the lottery. Congratulations on designing something special. At least to me it’s much better then the one I was issued in the Marines. God Bless, John A. Morgan.

  • Marc October 22, 2016, 11:11 pm

    Can someone help me please? I want to mount the Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50 Riflescope (EBR-1 MRAD Reticle, FFP) on my M1 Garand. –Using preferably a one piece scope mount. I have this installed already but I was told it won’t work http://ultimak.com/m12.htm Can someone pleae be so kind as to help walk me through this? marc@aworkofmarc.com marc AT aworkofmarc DOT com

  • Artem Anisimov Jersey October 5, 2016, 7:14 am

    Prior to a Blackhawks will be able to target often the division, their sights are generally dress typically the Pinks. Looking at what’s on the line from the playoff kind plus the teams’ recent history, along with often the Blackhawks removing the Pinks from the playoffs very last year, Sunday’s gameplay is likely to often be brutal.

  • DHConner December 28, 2015, 9:58 pm

    When the last leftist “here we go again” anti-any gun campaign started, I traded an SAR 48 (Springfield’s FN FAL copy) For a Match M1A at $750′. The shop I sold it to said they had some friends at Springfield and would get me a “Good one”. After about 7 weeks, the rifle arrived at my dealer buddies house. That weekend, I took to Omaha, where one of my brother’s in law lives. Master, Distinguished Rifleman, and President’s 100, he put his loads for his rifle in mine, put on a 10x scope, and commenced firing. Once on target, he had 5 bullets touching at 200 yards off the bench. Gave me a call, and said “”I think we can make this a 1/4 minute gun when we work up some cases and loads for it.” To say I was happy would be the understatement of a lifetime.

    I never did shoot up to it’s ability, and when my wife needed money for her 2nd Master’s Degree, at a $1000 the Club President had it sold for me in 3 days. He;s known my brother in law for about 40 years, and just 1 call to him was his surety. I never did replace that rifles, and still want to. But at 69, quien sabe? Here today and gone tomorrow. But don’t try to cheap it out on mounts, rings, and scope. Get a Leupold, Smith mount, and rings at a price commensurate with the mount and scope. $200 should be in the right ballpark. DO NOT TRY TO CHEAP IT OUT!! All you’ll end up with is a pile of crap you’ll be lucky to give away, and kicking yourself in the butt for wasting good money. There is no amount of money ;;that can can make a trashy parts good.0

  • corpsman September 7, 2015, 5:01 pm

    Packed a M14 in Westpac, was there when we had to give them up. More Marines died.
    I have tried the SA steel mounts, Sadlak steel, and the Basset. Basset takes the prize. Low cost @$150, return to zero every time, if one follows manufacturers instructions, it will not shoot loose. Mounts in about 40 seconds, dismounts in 10. AND it does not supplant the stripper clip guide. The guide may seem superfluous to those who have not carried the M14 type in service, but we found it to be invaluable, particularly when stocks of magazines dropped on long operations.

  • Glen McClester July 27, 2015, 7:31 pm

    I have a Sadlak steel mount with a fixed burris 10x with mildot . Not all recievers are mil spec. My springfield m1a would not allow a proper scope mount due to machining issues at springfield armory. The Sadlak system has roll pins that you can use to measure your reciever for proper fit. My reciever was out of spec. and with the pins i was able to give Mike Sadlak my recievers measurements and he machined one of his steel mounts to fit my reciever for a perfect fit. If anyone wants to talk about customer service, let me say that Mike Sadlak and company are GREAT people to deal with and he is a shooter also. I have run close to a 1000 rounds downrange with this setup, and no problems it is as accurate as the day i mounted it. The Sadlak mounts aren’t cheap, but quality never is. Dad always said buy the best and you won’t be sorry.

  • Raleigh Thomas December 30, 2014, 12:54 pm

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU to buffalochip1! I’m in the process of assembling my ‘ always-wanted-to-have-one’ REALLY nice scoped M-1A. It’s not a full-blown M-21 setup, but an accurate ‘ Loaded ‘ or National Match with a GOOD Leupold, that’s hunting-accurate to 400 to 500 yds. I have a good friend, that also happens to be an MD, that over time set-up a real M-21 Sniper. I say ‘ over time ‘ because he bought a brand new M-21, and a very high-end Leupold, and proceeded to go thru a number of hair-pulling sessions with trying to achieve AND MAINTAIN a zero with two or three mounting setups, before ‘biting the bullet’ and getting a Smith mount installed. No more problems!! I personally watched ( thru his $4000 spotting scope…) bullet after bullet go thru the same ragged hole at 300 yds. once he got everything dialed in and settled! I learned MY lesson the easy way, at HIS expense, and am getting the Smith mount for my rifle. Bottom line is that ‘expensive’ is wasting three times the money on so-so stuff, THEN getting what really works AND WILL LAST, that you should have purchased in the first place. Tell it like it is! Thanks.

  • Harold Mendelson December 30, 2014, 12:41 pm

    I have a M1-A that gas served me well. I use the Springfield Armory 3rd Gen mount and it has never given me any issues. The mount does what it’s supposed to do. The other change I made was installing an Archangel stock. I believe the current list price is about $225. It provides a solid platform. It has a number of adjustments to make it fit any shooter. It also has a rail. My scope is a Leupold mark 4 8 X 25 mildot. I can shoot sub minute groups with 168 gr hpbt with a muzzle velocity if 2,700 fps.

  • Buffalochip1 December 12, 2014, 2:34 pm

    Without intending disrespect to the author, who is trying in good faith to help new M1A / M14-clone shooters enjoy their rifles, PLEASE TAKE THIS PIECE OF HARD EARNED AND ABSOLUTELY FACTUAL ADVICE TO HEART:

    NEVER, EVER TRY TO GO CHEAP ON AN M-14 MOUNT! Period, end of story, and without going into detail, I know what I’m talking about. THE ONLY ONES THAT WORK RIGHT ARE THE ORIGINAL MILITARY-DESIGNED MOUNTS THAT UTILIZE THREE MOUNTING POINTS, AND ARE MACHINED FROM MIL-SPEC 4140 STEEL, HARDENED AT LEAST TO THE HARDNESS OF A PROPERLY HEAT TREATED M-14 RECEIVER — MEANING HEAT TREATMENT TO ROCKWELL C58-C60, AND NOTHING LESS. ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES! There is no such thing as an aluminum mount that will work — they are ALL too soft, they all peen out under recoil, and they ALL fail to hold zero and require constant retightening and rezeroing. The bread dough-soft Springfield Armory mount is terrible, and all the asian aluminum mounts are worse. Even the mild steel mounts are ALL unsatisfactory, as they are insufficiently heat treated and also walk under recoil. DON’T waste your time and money, people! You will end up blaming your rifle, your ammo, or your optic, because of a faulty scope mount, and you will end up having unnecessary miserable experiences at the range — especially over time as the rifle constantly shifts POI, and you tear your hair out trying to figure out why. Do it right the first time, spend the money, and mount a quality scope CORRECTLY THE FIRST TIME, with a hardened steel mil spec mount and quality steel rings (never aluminum on this rifle). Pay once up front, cry hard once, and be satisfied forever thereafter, instead of being perpetually miserable because you bought lousy gear — this is not a time to get cheap.

    I’m only familiar with one manufacturer who actually makes mil-spec mounts and truly hardens them to GI specs, and that is Smith Enterprises in Tempe, Arizona. Their mounts do not come cheap, starting in the high $200’s, but you will get what you pay for, and the mount you buy will work for a lifetime. There may be other folks out there who really produce to true mil-spec standards, but I’m sure of this one, having used them before. If a manufacturer claims to produce at mil-spec, check their bonafides, as talk is cheap, and the “mil spec” lie is a common one. (Always ask what “mil spec” standard their product meets — if they can’t quote chapter and verse to you, they’re lying …) If you’re wondering, the answer is “no” — I have no connection with Smith Enterprises, other than having used their mounts before, and being familiar with their heat treating on these parts.

    Long and short of the lesson is that if you have a good M14 clone with a properly heat treated receiver (and not all of them are in fact good), and a lot of real GI parts instead of cheap castings, your rifle deserves a very good optic, and a correspondingly good mount and rings to fully tap the potential of the rifle. And make no mistake, this is a great platform if you latch onto a good example and do the optics and ammo right. So spend the money here and get the right mount … you won’t regret it. Enjoy … and Merry Christmas!!!

  • H2O MAN December 10, 2014, 5:51 pm

    Nothing of value in the M14/M1A world comes cheap.

  • H2O MAN December 10, 2014, 5:44 pm

    I am a huge fan of M14 pattern rifles, and I have tried numerous chassis/stocks, and configurations with & without optics, with & without a sound suppressor. The M14 is a robust design, it’s reliable, and it can be very accurate… the US ARMY now has several thousand TACOM M14EBR-RI rifles in their tool box. M14/M1A enthusiasts have more accessories & options than ever before… Basset, SEI, SADLAK, the CASM from M14.ca are really nice scope mounts. SAGE, TROY, Blackfeather and others offer accuracy enhancing chassis systems with additional methods to mount optics including full length monolithic rails. CMI makes modern USGI magazines, and the X-14 is a 50 round drum mag. Also, there are several individuals & companies that will custom build your dream M14 on the receiver of your choosing with as many, or as few whistles & bells.

    My builder of choice is Smith Enterprise, and I use old heel stamped Poly Tech receivers with an assortment of USGI, SEI, SADLAK and Poly Tech parts.
    This is my NM Crazy Horse M21 A5 EBR.
    http://www.athenswater.com/images/CH-M21A5-kit.jpg

  • Charles December 9, 2014, 6:08 pm

    As for the “mile-high cheek weld” that I’ve seen others complain about here, Look up the “American-made” Bradley Cheek Rest @ Bradleycheekrest.com. I receive NO consideration for this opinion.
    I studied the available offerings, and saved up for the best instead of spending twice -or- three times.
    Bradley’s adjustable model is PERFECT, made for an M1A/M14, and has been absolutely versatile between long arms in my experience.

  • Charles December 9, 2014, 5:59 pm

    I sure wish your “comments” program/software allowed for “preview” before submission. The end result would be SO much better than the “hope for the best” alternative we are forced to accept….

    • Wayne December 14, 2014, 7:33 pm

      Simple… Write the comment/response in WORD. Let WORD do the ‘proofread’. Do a ‘select all’, and copy. Then paste the results into the thread. Violà… Oh, but that’s too much like work.

  • Charles December 9, 2014, 5:49 pm

    Your explanation of the SA mount and the “exact” copies/replicas-whatever you care to call it- was flawed in several aspects.
    I’ll start with the “thumbwheel”? -windge- adjustment. NOT . That threaded sleeve/nut arramgement is there to adjust for manufacturing tolerances encountered between the mount which is screwed tight to the receiver, and the unavoidable variance of the exact location of the rear “stripper” dovetail mounting block.
    You first install and tighten the mount to the receiver, and then carefully adjust the hollow adjustment screw to the face of the rear “stripper” dovetail mount, lock the jam-nut against the bracket. – and then- the rear bolt/screw can be tightened to specified torque. By the way. when installing the properly adjusted mount, -LOOSELY- thread BOTH thumb knobs into their holes in the receiver & dovetail block, then tighten the receiver know FIRST, after which- the rear thumb knob can be tightened, This keeps the rear threaded stem bolt and the front receiver threads from suffering a cross-thread. You have been warned.
    Using that hollow “windage”? adjuster as you outlined is a recipe for an absolute lack of accuracy , a complete breakdown of ANY attempt to return to zero , loosening during use with no recourse , peening / destruction of the mount due to loosening-movement due to recoil forces, and -on, and – on , and ……
    As for the NC Star – UTG copies of the SA mount, they are so not-exactly-copied as to be comical in comparison.
    The rip-offs might look a lot like the original, but as they say- looks can be deceiving.
    I have an original ’98 vintage SA 3rd generation mount, and just bought a “green box” copy to compare, and hopefully use to swap onto my “loaded” with a red dot. The horizontal and vertical locating grooves on the receiver match up very well with the original SA mount (mount tightens appropriately – NO rocking between mount & receiver), where the “other” mount is questionable at best. The dovetail mounting block by SA is a tight/drive-on fit that is ultimately located and secured with the through pin. The copy’s block is a loose fit that is expected to be retained by that same through pin.
    The copy’s anchor bolt uses an inferior 10-32 thread versus the #12 machine thread of the original.
    As far as the 3rd Gen SA mount being the highest grade mount for the M1A/M14, I’m certain that it isn’t, but it is far from the worst, and might possibly be better than the latest iteration (4th Gen.) by SA because of the vulnerability of the scope tube to ejected casings. If I had the financial where-withal to choose a replacement for my 3rd Gen mount it would be a Sadlak due to their guaranteed machine-to-fit to individual receivers, or maybe a genuine Basset.
    As far as the rifle, that unbearable take-up of the trigger is a much desired 2-stage trigger that you pay extra for and is a hallmark of the National Match fire control group of the Springfield M1A.
    I loved reading about the battle rifle’s civilian contemporary BUT couldn’t help but be critical of the lapses in research that made the editorial cut for the final article.

    • Josh Dugan February 3, 2016, 12:13 am

      Thank you. Although well intentioned, portions of the review were killin’ me.

  • Bob Bowden December 9, 2014, 1:18 pm

    Great article about a great rifle. However, the old adage of buying a scope that equals the cost of the rifle remains truer then ever. And in the case of the M1A/M14, that also applies to the mount to a certain extent. Save your money until you can afford a mount like the ARMS as quality is never too expensive in the long run. Even if you are just plinking on the range, having a cheap mount come loose is a real waste of time and trying to fix it could result in damage to your expensive rifle.

  • Bob December 9, 2014, 12:52 pm

    Enjoyed the article but despite what the commentator had to say about some comments I don’t think commenters were, in particular, bragging about their modifications just stating what they did or didn’t do, liked or disliked.
    I brought the M1A “Loaded” version in 1993 and a few years later a DPMS LR 308. I really like my DPMS LR 308 but if I had to part with one or the other I would keep the Springfield. The M1A is a superb rifle right out of the box and is essentially a battle rifle, no modifications necessary, for it to perform for its intended purpose, but we are a nation on tinkers and are always trying to make something good even better. Sometimes it works and sometimes we just flush money down the drain.
    The first modification I made to my M1A was to have the stock drilled and a bi-pod mount bedded into it. Then I sent the stock off to Edwards Recoil Devices and had one of their fantastic anti recoil devices installed. The Edwards serves a dual purpose it greatly reduces recoil and helps you keep your eye on your objective. If you have neck or shoulder issues this is a great product.
    At the time I brought my M1A Springfield was only offering the aluminum scope mount which I purchased. Through thousands of rounds it has held its integrity, I have no issues with it and my iron sights are not blocked by the scope mount.
    I also removed the flash hider and installed Springfield’s compensator which also helps you keep you eye on your objective without having to look up from the scope.
    I used Bader Ordinance heavy duty rings for the scope mounts. They are expensive but they are steel and stay where you put them. I’ve used various incarnations of scopes from a Leupold VX 3, 4-12×40 to a VX 3, 6-18×40 and presently use a Counter Sniper 4-16×50 and repurposed the Leupolds to bolt action rifles. Say what you will about Counter Sniper scopes I’m quite pleased with mine and I can dump a 20 round mag into a 3 inch group at 120 yards, in a rapid manner, and never have my eye leave the scope. I call it a one possum MOA. When I take my time the group shrinks to about .75 inch.
    I know the key words to this article were “on the cheap” but if you are trying to build a house are you going to go with the cheapest material you can find? In most cases I think people want to build a house with good quality material that will last them a life time. A rifle is no different, invest in your project wisely research, and take your time. When you are done, your are done and not having to replace substandard parts that weren’t up to par, and as I stated earlier the M1A is superb right out of the box so even if it takes you a few years to save and build a rifle with good quality components you’ve lost nothing and can still enjoy a kickin rifle while you choose your parts.
    Some good source material is Richard Faurburn’s “Police Rifles” and David Lauck’s “The Tactical Marksman”. While these were written in the 90’s they are just as relevant today.
    Happy shooting all!

    • TOM December 14, 2014, 1:15 pm

      Where would i buy the MIA rifle??

      • WW1 Vet December 30, 2014, 4:52 am

        Look in the Old Folks Home Classifieds

  • Joe Mama December 8, 2014, 7:06 pm

    That’s a bad platform for a sniper rifle, I think the M21 in the day was a decent setup. The word sniper doesn’t go with, cheap mounts, cheap scopes, a mile high cheek weld on the stock with your chin and definitely not 1.5″ groups. My 300blk pistol shoots better groups. Only way around an M1A in that configuration is an M1A match rifle with a McMillan adjustable stock ARMS mount, quality steel rings and excellent glass. That’s alot of weight to carry.

  • Dave D December 8, 2014, 6:58 pm

    I’ll endorse the Basset mount. Works great….holds zero. No gunsmithing required. I put a Vortec Scope on mine. Shoots lights out….

  • Jayson December 8, 2014, 5:09 pm

    You’ve got some tough readers here. But I did want to say thanks! This is exactly where I am, trying to figure out which mounts to use for my M1A. I really appreciate the review! Now I’m gonna go read up on the Burris!

    • Administrator December 8, 2014, 5:31 pm

      Whoa kind words this must not be the internet lol! Thanks. I’m glad it helped you. The good news is that over 30,000 people have clicked on the article today alone, and there are only a few commenters, mostly from people who have a boutique expensive mount and want to brag. The silent extreme majority appreciate the in depth work we do here, but kind words are always welcome. The internet gives a voice to a lot of people who don’t really deserve one.

      • john December 8, 2014, 7:37 pm

        All the comments are valid.it is good just to read about the m1a.novices have yet to experience it. Yes writer made tech mistakes,I overlook minor stuff,get mort tech info from responses to check into if you are interested.btw,I made my expert on the M14 20 years ago with iron sights.It is a gun you have to LEARN to shoot.I will not sell my collection of them.

        • Larry March 30, 2016, 5:59 pm

          Pull off my expert in 1972, swore then I’d have me an M14, Loved it. Finally got her last year and have yet to fire one round due to this or that. At 61 it’s the only thing I pull out and play with as much as possible these days. Just Love the way she looks and feel, one of these days I’ll get her spittin down range……!!!

      • Rich Rupert December 30, 2014, 6:28 am

        I am one of the silent majority and did appreciate the article even with the several errors. I would offer though that as someone who has one of “boutique expensive mount and want to brag about” the Bassett Machine company mount, it is one of the least expensive mount available at about $100. I have tried several others including the SPA aluminum mount that was holding the ART IV scope when I bought the weapon. The mount was crap and shot to pieces. The scope while hardly excellent is holding up well for its age, while I save for a Leupold VX-6 3-18x44mm. Articles written by normal guys are appreciated since the pros to often are much like our congress, bribed to a degree by vendors offering the products for a favorable review.

  • Dean December 8, 2014, 4:40 pm

    No such thing as a cheek-weld on a scoped M1. Pass….

    • Administrator December 8, 2014, 4:41 pm

      I guess you missed the Archangel stock. Plus there are the leather pads you can get for like $20 for the wood guns and they look great.

      • Dean December 9, 2014, 5:42 pm

        Change the stock out on a Garand? Sacrilege!

  • Dan Fowler December 8, 2014, 3:21 pm

    I will ‘third” the Bassett mount. To really get zero return without question, glass-bed that mount to the receiver
    and torque it the same every time. Nothing is perfect, but this is close……….
    The story:http://www.bassettmachine.com/hist_home.htm
    I have a Mk4 with mil-dot and it shoots better than I’ll ever be able to on that firearm.
    At least the equipment isn’t in question………………

  • Chuck Love December 8, 2014, 1:52 pm

    I have tried both styles (yes the steel from Springfield as well) and neither are wort the time nor expense. Forget the aluminum, tighten it enough to hold and you will strip it out. As for the steel, it is serviceable but you to have to tighten the mounts till the threading is ready to give, and even at that point, it will not hold zero. If you want to mount a scope, find a military armorer who has worked with this setup, and pay him what he asks. You will be a lot happier with the result.

  • Tim Peterson December 8, 2014, 1:29 pm

    First off, the word you were looking for to describe a cosmetic feature is “aesthetic” not “ascetic”.

    Secondly, you have the way a FFP optic works backwards. The reticle gets larger as you increase the magnification. So it can be used as small reticle on a close target and a large reticle on a distant target.

    Thirdly, there is no “take up” in an M1A trigger. It is a two stage trigger. You write for a gun website and you don’t know that?

    Lastly, the ammunition company’s name is Prvi Partizan…………..not Przi Partizan. Good try though. Maybe proof read once in a while.

  • Doug December 8, 2014, 12:21 pm

    The Springfield steel scope mount for the M1A is plenty rugged enough.
    Where it falls down is with the 12-32 bolt that is screwed into the side of the receiver
    It would loosen up after about 5 shots. The problem is with the thread. It is too shallow
    hold properly. I machined up a 1/4 -28 grade 8 stud and threaded it on both ends leaving the center
    untreaded.
    Then drilled out the receiver to take the 1/4 – 28 to the proper depth, drilled out the hole
    in the adjusting washer to 1/4″ and used an acorn nut on the outside. This way we have a larger, stronger
    attachment and the threads in the receiver can be thread locked in place. It has yet to come loose in over 2
    years of steady use. We can send pictures

    • jack January 27, 2016, 3:11 pm

      I also re- drilled and tapped my scope mount to 1/4-28 thread and tightened it with a allen wrench.
      There is too much inertia in the scope weight and position for a 12-32 thread to possibly hold, and the screws are not able to be torqued enough to hold the scope mount in place, which is why the mounts peen.
      Those big knurled screws look good, but short of vise grips cannot be tightened tight enough, and the threads are too fine.
      I bought a steel mount, and once I re-fitted it, I am on my 3rd barrel, and the scope has never moved since 1997

  • Mike December 8, 2014, 10:51 am

    I second the Bassett mount. Accurate, maintains zero when removed and reinstalled. Also have a Millet LRS, a decent low- priced scope on my M-21.

  • wayne palmer December 8, 2014, 9:18 am

    If you want to try something as far as a spectacular mount for this that is even simpler and has a tremendous reputation within the M1A/M14 field as a superior mount for its ease of use and consistent return to zero, you might want to go over and visit the BASSETT MACHINE website. I’ve got a BASSETT on mine and it is awesome.

    http://bassettmachine.com/

    http://www.m1arifles.com/reviews/m1a-review-review-of-the-bassett-machines-high-picatinny-m1a-scope-mount/

    http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_6_6/357655_.html

    http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2010/05/praxis-m14m1a-scope-mount-from-bassett.html

    http://www.bassettmachine.com/prod_home_buynow.htm

    • Retired 1SG January 17, 2015, 9:18 am

      Looks like a follow-up to this article is in order. I’d like to see the writer give his thoughts on Bassett since he’s tried so many of the other options.

  • GT December 8, 2014, 9:02 am

    As a GunSmith I have mounted many scope. I found the S&K Insta-Mounts to fit better than most on Ex-Military Rifles, and have not had any return with loose base complaints. They are made to fit without any GunSmithing. S&K makes the rear mounts and Scout Mounts required on some military rifles. We charge $25.00 per hole to drill and tap for bases ( 4 in most cases), and the S&K prices are very close in price.

  • Lance Ishimoto December 8, 2014, 8:15 am

    Nice article. One caveat being that after a few thousand rounds, you might start seeing aluminum mounts start to shoot loose. For whatever reason, the Garand action is very hard on scopes and mounts. I’ve seen multiple scopes fail (both in the adjustment internals and reticles shearing). The aluminum Springfield mounts (gen 1and 2) also seem to flex and deform over time (particularly around the front screw hole– if the knob works its way a little loose, the hole will batter and enlarge pretty quickly during firing). The take home lesson for me as a lifetime M1A shooter is the Smith steel scope base and scopes with etched reticles.

  • Mike A. December 8, 2014, 7:33 am

    The stripper clip dove tail is designed to only go in, and out, one way.
    So don’t force it!
    To remove, gently tap from right to left.

  • Jeremy Westfall December 8, 2014, 5:13 am

    I’m a huge Springfield Armory fan and have two of their M1A’s – a “loaded” version and a Super Match version. Being a Springfield Armory fan I went with their steel mount when mounting a scope on my rifle. Needless to say I returned it shortly afterwards. Not because it didn’t do what it was intended to do but the split rail design on their latest model allowed the ejected brass to contact the bottom of the Leupold Mark 4 scope I had mounted and leave brass marks and even a ding or two. Being as anal about the condition of my firearms and accessories as I am this wouldn’t do. In short I replaced the mount with a Sadlak mount and had the scope retubed by Leupold. The Sadlak mount is a great product and the company has awesome customer service.

  • J Cole December 8, 2014, 3:25 am

    The mounts you reviewed are garbage.

    I previously owned the SA, INC M1A scope base. Made of aluminum, it will peen and impossible to go back to zero.
    I replaced it with the ARMS #18 base and ARMS #22M QD rings back in 2000. No issues at all. In fact, the ARMS #18 has a NSN, and is the lowest sitting base relative to the receiver. Highly recommended.

    There are other mounts out there besides the ARMS #18 that have much better reviews than the UTG and the SA, INC. bases.

    Hope this helps.

    • ANTHONY J DAVIS December 8, 2014, 2:41 pm

      The Best semi Automatic Rifle In The world, M1A, Deserves the Best Scope Package! ! ! !

      • Dave December 8, 2014, 4:27 pm

        As an old M21 shooter in ‘Nam, I would not part with my Leatherwood, despite other shooter’s letting loose of theirs for ‘latest and greatest’ scopes. Without exception they regretted their move and begged for the Leatherwood. Nope! I still use it, and it has never failed me. I’m old, but can still shoot the ass out of a knat at >750yds.

    • ANTHONY J DAVIS December 8, 2014, 2:42 pm

      The Best semi Automatic Rifle In The world, M1A, Deserves the Best Scope Package! ! ! !

    • Wayne December 10, 2014, 10:55 pm

      One thing I might suggest … instead of having to mess with your stripper clip setup, there is a spectacular set of mounts made by Bassett Machine Inc out of Texas. This mount ONLY uses the side bolt hole to attach with a well designed self torquing feature that is well loved by the M1A community. The mount has a reputation for “always returning to zero” on re-installing. It allows for simultaneous use of both the scope and the iron sites, one version has a very small profile while still being very stable.

      http://www.bassettmachine.com/prod_home_buynow.htm

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