The M1A is the civilian version of the M14, an American classic. All it lacks is the full-auto happy switch, which the military rarely used anyway. The military intended the M14 to be manufactured with the same tooling as the venerable M1 Garand.
It was to offer a 20-round box mag of 7.62x51mm (.308), easier for full-auto than the M1’s .30-06. It was also meant to replace about five types of guns the army had used in WWII, simplifying the military’s logistics. The military also suffered a case of ‘not invented here’ syndrome, which favored the in-house M14 over the adoption of a non-military-developed service rifle, like the M16, until 1964.
In fact, the M14 did not really meet any of its intended goals. Nevertheless, it is a formidable battle rifle still deployed in combat today, especially for designated marksmen.
To help outline some of the top accessories for the M1A, we've compiled a list of our favorites and explained what makes them stand out. If you're someone who likes to customize your firearm, or you know someone who might, stay tuned.
Comparison of the Best M1A Accessories
M14 Buttstock Cleaning Kit
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Sadlak Industries M14/M1A 4pc Service Tools
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Harris - S-L Bipod Sling Swivel Mount
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M1A / M14 Bipod Adapter
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U.S. M1 Garand WWII 1907 Pattern Leather Sling - Leather & Steel
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Matthew's Fabrication Adjustable Kydex Cheek Rest Riser .125" - Sniper Edition
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Buttstock Cleaning Kit
Standard Issue M14s come with a full cleaning kit, which is stored behind a latch in the butt. Commercial M1As are shipped ‘cleaning kit sold separately’. For the average civilian there is not much reason to add extra weight to the already heavy M1A on a regular basis, but it is great to have the option.
It could be useful on a long expedition or hunting trip, for example. Besides, it’s always nice to get your weapon kitted out as close to mil-spec as possible. One thing a gun owner cannot live without is a good cleaning kit.
This is a reproduction of the complete original buttstock cleaning kit manufactured by Springfield Armory. It includes a cleaning rod, a canvas case, bore brush, chamber brush, oil, and M14 combo tool. This cleaning kit is not only functional, but it is also a great addition to your M1A if you want to go for that full military-issue authenticity.
The kit can be a real pain to try to fit into your buttstock, but with a little diligence you’ll figure it out. Don’t expect a top-flight performance kit. This set replicates the rugged cost-cutting compromises and effectiveness of a 1960s mil-spec kit.
Occasionally your rifle needs a little extra cleaning and maintenance. Every firearm has its own design. Different firearms require different sets of tools. Compromising by using the wrong tools, or low-quality tools, can damage your gun. M1As are not cheap; quality tools that won’t damage your gun are a lot cheaper.
The M1A has a gas-operated rotating bolt. It ejects excess gas down and outward in front of the piston. This keeps the gas system cleaner than some rifles that spray gasses into the receiver. Nevertheless, the gas system requires cleaning now and then.
Sadlak is in the business of producing only top-flight products. You can bet your life on anything they make. As mentioned, if you buy quality tools, you will save yourself a lot of money and headache in the long run. This set comes with a gas cylinder wrench combo tool and three gas cylinder cleaning drills. These act as scrapers for the inner walls of your M1A’s gas system.
The wrench and drill handles are constructed of CNC milled aluminum with a baked-on mil-spec coating. M1As built at Springfield Armory don’t always meet exact design specifications, so there is a small chance the drills won’t work on your gun. Otherwise, these tools can cut hours off cleaning your rifle.
Today, the military most often uses the M14/M1A as a designated marksman’s rifle. The 7.69x51mm/.308 round is one of the best long-range options out there. The iron sights on the M14 are unsurpassed. Nevertheless, to get the most out of your rifle’s long-range capabilities, a scope is a must-have.
Depending on your skill level, the M1A’s effective range with iron sights is somewhere between 200 and 400 yards. A scope can push that out past 1000 yards. The record is somewhere north of 2000 yards with an M14/M1A.
This scope is designed for use with the 7.69x51mm/.308 round. The bullet-drop compensation (BDC) reticle allows you to use markings on your crosshairs to make accurate shots to the maximum possible distances. The 42mm objective lens gives good light transmission. This lets you make clear shots at dusk, but without the extra weight of a 50mm.
The magnification range of 4-16x is especially popular among the long-range varmint hunting crowd. There is a lot of crossover between what is best for knocking down coyotes and what the tactical-minded are looking for.
Bonus extras include tactical turrets, parallax adjustment, and a limited lifetime warranty. Some users find the 3.7 to 4-inch eye relief insufficient on greater than 8x magnification.
The M1A was never designed to be worn with a scope. Considerable engineering ingenuity has gone into mounting one reliably. This usually involves removing the stripper clip guide and having the right tools for a proper install. Instructions need to be followed religiously or the job should be taken to a qualified gunsmith.
A scope mount needs to do one thing; take the punishment of regular use while allowing your scope to hold zero. Scope mounts are made of steel or aluminum, steel being more solid and aluminum being of a lighter weight. Of all the accessories for your M1A, the scope mount is worth investing in the best quality you can afford.
This is the scope mount used by the airborne troops which pack the M14 into combat overseas. It is composed of solid, heat-treated, chrome-moly steel and skeletonized for weight reduction.
There are three contact points for rock-solid stability. The mount gives you a universal rail which accepts Picatinny or Weaver scope rings. The rail is positioned to allow the use of your iron sights without moving or adjusting anything.
This scope mount is designed to compensate for receivers that don’t conform to specs. Users only experience problems when they fail to follow the installation instructions. This is without a doubt the best scope mount available for the M1A.
The M1A is a hog to hold at the ready for long periods of time. The best way around this is a bipod. Shooting sticks are good, but a bit awkward to carry around. Bipods offer consistency. Most bipods are ideal for shots taken from the prone position. This combination is the most stable shooting position you can adopt.
A good bipod will be both robust and adjustable to fit your body type. The bipod should allow your rifle to tilt to aid in shooting on uneven ground. It should mount as close to the muzzle as possible to reduce the effect of minor movements. It should also have the widest stance possible for stability. Replaceable feet come in handy.
The Harris is the industry standard value bipod against which others are judged. Made with pride in Kentucky, USA. Various cheap knockoffs exist, so beware of imposters. This bipod features quick-adjust, spring-loaded legs that fold back along the handguard.
The height range is from 9 to 13 inches. It will not get in the way of shooting off-hand or carrying your rifle with a sling. It is very easy to install with a special M14/M1A adapter. It has systems in place to eliminate tremor and looseness.
The M1A isn’t your standard hunting rifle. It is an American classic with unique and innovative design features. One thing this design does not include is a front sling swivel. This is the default attachment point for the Harris bipod and many of its competitors.
To enjoy the benefit of rock-steady shooting with a bipod, an adaptor is unavoidable. The M1A has been around so long that problems like this have been effectively solved with fool-proof designs.
This is an easy to install front sling swivel for your M1A. It works with any wood or polymer stock. That said, the M1A comes in various shapes and sizes from SOCOM 16 to ‘Loaded’.
There is a small chance that you will need to Dremel down the bolt so that it does not contact your gas cylinder. In that case, Loctite, or even JB weld is recommended. This is a simple and foolproof solution that will be reliable on the vast majority of M1A configurations.
When the M14/M1A was first introduced, slings served double duty in the military. Not only could you use them to pack your rifle around over your shoulder, but they included loops designed to wrap your arm through to steady your shooting. This feature has fallen out of military doctrine in the decades since but is still a helpful option.
The M14/M1A was issued first with the M1907 leather strap and later with the USGI cotton webbing strap. Both have their relative advantages and disadvantages. There are a lot of modern synthetic options out there today as well. Slings are often an expression of the owner’s taste and style.
This is a reproduction of the iconic M1907 sling that American troops carried into both world wars. It is probably still the most common and popular sling out there.
This model comes with steel hooks like those issued in WWII rather than the brass ones issued in the previous war. It can take some getting used to, but every red-blooded American should know how to assemble this classic sling with their eyes closed.
It is even required for use in some national shooting competitions. This is partly because it features a special loop to tighten over your upper bicep while snaking your arm back under the sling before supporting the handguard.
This takes the tension off your muscles and allows for more accurate shooting. Note that the 1.25-inch width distributes weight well but will not fit standard one-inch sling mounts.
Cheek Rest Riser
It takes all types to make a world; we come in all shapes and sizes. That’s why competition gun stocks are all adjustable or custom-made to fit the shooter. Correct comb height and length of pull are vital for comfort and accurate shooting. Comb height refers to how high the cheek rest is relative to the bore.
Most long guns today are designed with a comb height optimized for the average shooter to find zero either with iron sights or with a scope. Scopes generally require a higher comb. Shooters who plan to use a scope on a gun designed for iron sights, like the M1A, will probably require an adjustable cheek rest riser.
This cheek rest riser installs by drilling holes through your buttstock so that it will accept two stainless steel bolts. The bolts will also need to be cut to the correct length. The Kydex rest fits over the top of your buttstock. Four slots fit over the bolts to allow you to adjust the height.
Anti-vibration locking knobs tighten the riser down and hold it in place. You can choose from a few configurations to suit your needs, like whether you are right or left-handed. Installation is best left to a professional if you don’t know your way around a power drill. The upside is that the riser offers rock-solid stability. The system resembles some used in the military.
Some M1A accessories are unavoidable, like a cleaning kit and service tools. Others are a matter of personal taste. The M1A is a versatile rifle ideal for a variety of use cases.
The accessories you choose will depend on what you want your rifle to do for you. In many cases, you won’t know what works for you or even what benefits you want until you give the relevant accessories a try. This process is a big part of the joy of firearms.