The M14 was introduced in 1959 as an upgrade to the iconic M1 Garand. The upgrade included a 20-round box magazine and the switch from .30-06 ammunition to the less bulky 7.62x51mm (.308). The M1A is the civilian version of the M14, without the practically unused full-auto party trick.
The M14/M1A was not designed to wear a scope. Nevertheless, the military has adapted a few versions of the rifle for wearing a scope. These include the M21 and M24 sniper systems. Besides snipers, these weapons are used by designated marksmen to give combat squads extended range.
Comparison of the Best Scope M1A Scope Mounts
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Why You Need a Scope Mount?
The scope mounts available for the M1A are carefully designed to offer rock-solid stability. This is no easy task on a rifle that was not designed to be scoped. Installation of an M1A scope mount is usually more complicated than on the average rifle. Your stripper clip adaptor will have to go. However, a good scope mount will offer enough space to quickly reload your magazine by hand, without removing it from the rifle.
The .308 is an excellent long-range cartridge. It has countless sniper kills and long-range competition wins to its credit. To get all the benefit out of your M1A, a reliable scope is essential.
As with everything about guns, this choice comes with trade-offs. Is your priority stability, weight, durability, or proven performance? The M1A is already a very heavy rifle, so weight is probably a priority. But lighter usually means less stable. Some mounts let you use the aperture sights as a backup without removing the scope.
Types of Scope Mounts – Fixed vs. Detachable
Scope mounts come in fixed or detachable varieties. Fixed scope mounts offer stability and accuracy over the long-term. They are for people who plan to only use their rifle with one specific scope for the foreseeable future.
Fixed Scope Mounts
Good fixed-scope mounts will keep the scope accurate even if you knock your rifle around a bit. You may drop it or bump it against a tree or a rock, but your scope should still hold zero. With fixed mounts, the focus is on reliability. However, you will need tools to bolt and unbolt them from the rifle.
Detachable Scope Mounts
Detachable scope mounts have small quick-detach levers. You can flip them with your thumb to remove the scope in an instant. In general, this allows you to switch to iron sights or something like a red dot sight. Good detachable scope mounts return the scope to zero every time you reattach it to the rifle. Mounts that do this effectively are expensive.
There are few, if any, detachable scope mounts available for the M1A. The fixed mounts available for the M1A usually feature a Picatinny or universal rail. You can find separate quick detach scope rings that come on and off that rail.
However, the scope mount will still be in the way of any other sighting system. You could mount a red dot sight to the rail, but there are better ways to mount one.
Features of a Good Scope Mount
There are a few key features to look for in any good scope mount.
First, the main purpose of the mount is to ensure your scope holds zero. It should do this even if you put your rifle through considerable punishment. This requires quality materials and a good, proven design. Steel is more trustworthy and expensive than aluminum.
There are single-piece and two-piece mounts available. Two-piece mounts may make it easier to operate the action, while single-piece mounts are a better choice for reliability.
The great benefit of a scope is that it can be accurate at a wide variety of distances, especially at longer ranges. A scope mount should add as little height as possible. The higher profile the sight, the harder it is for your scope to be accurate across various ranges.
A scope mount should interfere with your rifle’s action as little as possible. There should be no issues with ejection or loading. Some scope mounts also let you use your iron sights without removing the mount or the scope.
Review of the Best M1A Scope Mounts
Not all scope mounts are created equal. Some have a long history of use with the M1A and some incorporate cutting-edge innovation. Here are our picks for the top M1A scope mounts available today.
1. Sadlak M14/M1A Tactical Scope Mount
This is the ultimate M1A scope mount. These mounts are used by airborne forces on deployment overseas. They have a proven, reliable design.
There are three versions. The best is the lightweight steel airborne model. If you find low-profile rings, you will probably not need to raise the cheek weld. Installation can be a bit complicated.
It is vital to follow the instructions carefully. The mount is designed to compensate for out-of-spec receivers. Sadlak mounts are made in the USA by the Sadlak family.
The Sadlak Tactical is the best scope mount for the M1A. None are more reliable. None offer the same flexibility. Besides, none offer the credibility of airborne deployment. The design is impressive, considering it offers so many benefits, while compensating for out-of-spec receivers.
The steel mount is not light but makes up for it in ruggedness. Lightness and the M1A are rarely found in the same sentence anyway. This is a mount that will last a lifetime. When your M1A is handed down to your child and grandchild, the Sadlak will serve them reliably too.
2. Springfield Armory M1A Generation 4 Scope Mount, Matte Black
It’s hard to argue against getting this scope mount. That’s because it was designed and built in the same factory as your Springfield M1A. It will also work on M1As from other manufacturers.
If you want to save a few ounces of weight, this solid aluminum mount is a great choice. It sits a bit high on the rifle to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with ejection. You may have to raise the comb on the buttstock.
There are many affordable ways to do this. This scope mount has two points of contact. Therefore, it’s a bit easier to install. It is still vital to follow the detailed instructions. This mount will not obstruct your iron sights.
Some users complain about the mount’s alignment. This is usually because they did not install it correctly. Do not compromise when choosing and installing your mount and it will serve you well.
The M1A was replaced by the M16 because it is a heavy rifle. If you want to shave a few ounces, this mount is for you.
3. UTG New Gen 4-Point Locking Deluxe M14/M1A Scope Mount
This is another great aluminum scope mount with a universal rail. It features a relatively long six-inch rail with fifteen Picatinny slots. The design boasts four contact points, two of which lock.
It attaches without obstructing the iron sighs. Installation is easy. You can find videos to follow on YouTube. If you don’t like the huge knob on the side, you can buy an alternative bolt. The UTG is made overseas and this keeps costs down.
However, it shows in the tolerances and fit. The rail mounts low to the receiver compared to many alternatives. This means you probably won’t need to adjust the cheek weld. You probably should not use low scope rings.
This is a solid, lightweight option. This scope mount offers great value for the money. Nevertheless, it will get the job done. Some of us are not particularly handy with mechanical tasks. This scope mount is a good choice for most users.
It is also a great choice if you plan to use a long scope. Many users opt for the replacement bolt. It’s worth ordering them together to see which you prefer.
4. AIM Sports M-14/M1A Scope Mount
This is another classic side-mounted M1A scope mount. It is made of lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum. The mount features a short universal rail. Like the UTG, this model is made overseas to cut costs. This means tolerances and fit may not be top of the line.
Depending on your model of M1A, you may need to do some tweaking to make it work. It is, however, a popular clone of the Springfield Arms Gen 4 scope mount. You will need some skills and research to install this mount. It does not come with instructions. One option is to let a gunsmith do it for you.
Attaching this mount probably involves some tweaking, but that is typical for M1A scope mounts. This is a great option if you’re looking for value for money. Don’t be afraid to make any necessary adjustments. Not all receivers are up to spec.
Designing a reliable scope mount for the M1A is an engineering challenge and the AIM Sports mount does a great job. The hefty aluminum construction screams reliability.
5. Sadlak M14 Aluminum Scope Mount
This is the lightweight version of the Sadlak Airborne scope mount. It promises the reliability of the mount our troops take into battle, but at a fraction of the weight. Sadlak uses a proven, improved mil-spec design.
It is made in the USA to the highest standard. Like the steel version, correct installation is not simple. Consider checking YouTube or giving the job to a gunsmith. Some users find the rail to be a bit too high.
Consider playing with lower scope rings or raising the cheek weld to find your sweet spot to find the right fit. The mount is made in the USA by a family company. They offer great customer service if you run into any problems.
The fit and finish on this model cannot be beaten. Neither can the weight for strength ratio. This is an improved version of the previously best M1A scope mount available. If you mount it correctly, you will not have any regrets. For an aluminum mount, this is as stable and reliable as they come.
How to Assemble an M1A Scope Mount
Offering a stable base for your optic is no simple matter. Every scope mount design involves its own compromises and innovations. If your mount is not correctly installed, it will be nothing but an annoyance. You need basic mechanical skills and specific tools to install most M1A scope mounts.
These tools usually include a punch, bolt tightener, a small mallet, and Allen wrenches. If you have a torque screwdriver with bolt head attachments, that would be perfect.
If you do not have these skills and tools, take the job to your local gunsmith. Most of the instructions that come with M1A scope mounts have over thirty steps. They often begin with removing the stock. This is necessary in order to remove the pin holding the stripper clip guide.
Depending on your model, you will have to contend with various dovetails and tension bolts. It is important that all bolts are tightened enough without stripping the threads. Loctite is always a good idea. It comes included with some models.
Best practice is to de-grease all bolt holes before you start. Some people will oil all contact surfaces (careful to avoid the bolt holes) to avoid rusting. Otherwise, make sure you follow the instructions religiously.
Scope mounts come with a variety of design features, but if they are not solid and reliable, they are garbage. Some users install theirs incorrectly and blame any problems on the mount. If you choose a quality mount and install it correctly, it will hold zero for a lifetime.