My Experience With Springfield Armory’s National Match M1A

The timeless M1A is a nice connection to the ill-fated M14 service rifle. The National Match variant is slightly upgraded to be a bit more accurate.

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- The Springfield Armory National Match M1A has been the gold standard of accurate autoloading rifles for quite some time before the .308 ARs stole the crown and beat the M1A into submission with said crown.

Guess what though, there are a whole bunch of old guys that have been shooting them for some time that could put most shooters to shame. Don't dismiss the M1A National Match, it might just be the wood and steel, throwback rifle that you are looking for.

Inside the box:

The M1A National Match ships with a pretty dang nice rifle case.

I was surprised when I opened the cardboard box to find a useful nylon rifle case inside, instead of just a rifle. It seems all too often that manufacturer will forgo something of actual value in an effort to cut costs. When a rifle is shipped out with an appreciated extra, like a case, I take notice.

The rifle comes with a single, 10 round magazine sadly. I would have preferred to see more than one or even a single 20 round mag but I imagine that Springfield Armory only included the reduced capacity magazine to ensure that the rifle was legal in states like California.

Beyond the usual things like user manuals and a lock, there wasn't anything else of note in the box when the rifle arrived.

Features, Controls & Operation:

The M1A ships with the National Match two stage trigger group.

The National Match M1A has some slight enhancements made to it, like a National Match two stage trigger group, upgraded sights, and a glass bedded stock, to eek out as much accuracy as possible from the aging platform. The trigger is identical in function to the standard M1A trigger pack, with the exception of a slightly better trigger. The safety is also identical to the standard M1A, a simple push forward and the rifle is ready to make loud noises.

Springfield Armory glass beds each National Match rifle at the factory.

Some of the other selling points of the M1A National Match are the upgraded National Match sights, that feature a .0595″ rear aperture, a .062″ front sight blade, and1/2 MOA adjustments that allow you to dial in the perfect zero. The rifle is also glass bedded at the factory in an effort to give the shooter the most consistent rifle possible.

Springfield also fits the National Match M1A with a match-tuned gas cylinder (whatever that might mean) and a National Match recoil spring guide.

Shooting Impressions:

The National Match rear sight allowed me to shoot smaller groups than expected.

Even though it has been forever since I have spent some time trying to get an iron sighted rifle to shoot tiny groups, the M1A did an alright job with match grade ammo. I loaded up several mags of Silver State Armory 168 grain match ammo, and got to blasting, but sadly the best group that I could muster was just over a minute and a half at a hundred yards. That means larger than 1.5″ at 100 yards for ye knuckle draggers.

Recoil was manageable and the trigger wasn't half bad. While I have been long spoiled by Geissele triggers on AR platform rifles and tuned, two-stage triggers on my bolt guns, the National Match trigger still allowed me to shoot reasonably well. The overall feel of the rifle was quite nice. There is just something about shooting a gun with irons and a nice wood stock.

Pros:

It has a shoulder thing that goes up.

The pros for the rifle are kinda short. While the rifle is more accurate than a standard M1A, it isn't that much more accurate based on my experience. The overall feel of the rifle did put a smile on my face, but really the gun just isn't up to modern standards.

Springfield did add some nice features that make the rifle feel like it is worth closer to the hefty asking price of $2,359 but not close enough for me to seriously consider buying the rifle.

I really did quite like the stock and the fact that it had been glass bedded without me having to do it myself. I have to admit, they did a far nicer job than I would have. The 22″ 6 groove barrel with a 1-11 twist that has been air gauged is a nice touch as well.

Cons:

The included 10 round magazine is nothing short of annoying.

Pretty much the biggest con is that the rifle was designed off of one of the worst service rifles our nation has adopted since we have moved to a semi-auto for general issue. The National Match M1A is not anything beyond a target rifle in my mind, it just isn't designed in a manner that would allow it to operate reliably in harsh conditions.

You can wipe that zombie fantasy where you fend off hoards of lumbering undead from the roof of your local Walmart now. This rifle is gonna jam and your neighbor is probably going to eat your eyeballs.

Other cons include the singular 10 round magazine. Factory magazines are expensive and it would have been nice to have more than one included given the hefty price tag.

Conclusion:

I have to say, there is just something to the M1A that I can't put my finger on.

Is the National Match M1A a rifle that I would spend my hard earned dollars on? Probably not. There are just too many other options that aren't $2,359 that either beat the National Match M1A in performance or are exactly as good.

That said if you are looking for an M1A that is more attainable than the ludicrously priced $3,708 Super Match M1A with a McMillan stock, the National Match M1A might just be the right gun.

You can find all the specs that your heart might desire on the Springfield Armory website.


About Patrick R.Patrick Roberts

Patrick is a firearms enthusiast that values the quest for not only the best possible gear setup, but also pragmatic ways to improve his shooting skills across a wide range of disciplines. He values truthful, honest information above all else and had committed to cutting through marketing fluff to deliver the truth. You can find the rest of his work on FirearmRack.com as well as on the YouTube channel Firearm Rack or Instagram at @thepatrickroberts.

  • 49 thoughts on “My Experience With Springfield Armory’s National Match M1A

    1. Jesus H Christ Patrick…..did you put your foot in your mouth on this one….As a former combat Marine I am more than familiar with the M-16-A2 and M4 in all types of environments and conditions. I absolutely disliked those two rifles and continue too to this very day. When I was reattaching the hand guards that would fall off when the weapon got bumped or trying to tune out that distracting “Boing” sound of the buffer spring every time I fired a round All I could think of was “Is this the best the greatest country in the world could come up with!?” Shot expert with these weapons not because they are good weapons but because I was trained to. 23 clicks left windage at 500 meters on a calm day is something that sticks in my mind. But the fact that I had to hit the Forward Assist constantly at the range and more importantly when the next shot could actually mean life or death is where I draw the line. The 5.56mm couldn’t penetrate some walls that a 7.62mm could. We are taking service rifles here and s**t like shooting through things matter. Would only injure and wound insurgents instead of turning them inside out like what should have happened. Had to hit them sometimes 5 or 6 times. Marines are trained with a ‘one shot…one kill” policy. Cannot achieve that mission on the 5.56mm. I would have traded my m16A2/M4 rifle for an M-14 or even M1A on any day. Loved the M16 on the parade deck and that’s about it.

    2. Patrick,

      I have watched and enjoyed quite a few YouTube videos of yours, and I generally respect your work. As for this article, though, it’s pretty shoddy work. It does seem to have accomplished one thing. It has gotten numerous readers into a heated debate about the M-14/M-1A platform. Other than that, your article seems to be pretty sloppily written. You are more than entitled to voice your opinion on the National Match rifle, but I think you need to do a much better job of backing it up.

    3. I own a Springfield Armory M1A. Standard model I recall when I bought it right after 911. I have used several different manufacturers of ammo in it and it has never jammed once! It’s roots came from the M1 Garand and we all know what reputation that rifle had! The M14 was a great rifle but useless in full auto. The author should maybe talk with some men that used & carried it in the military! And still used today in special applications. Maybe Mr. Roberts should go to the gym and do some curls so he can handle it!

    4. Sorry you are not capable of mastering the M1A rifle. It is a fine rifle and is far from unreliable. It is obvious your experience is limited to this umm shall we say “review”. Like all military firerams the M1/M14 are built to operate in all conditions…kind of like the AK, Galil, FNFALs. All work when AR will not..

      The Natl Match trigger is easy to shoot. Then again l grew up shooting surplus 30/40Krags, M98s, M1Garands, M1Carbines, Schmidt Rubins, Enfields etc. All of those rifles were/are capable of consistent accuracy in all weather. These are all rifles that still stand the test of time and still perform well today…and yes l led a wasted youth shooting.

      My first issue M16 was built circa 70.It was new in box when l received it at my first security police sqd. It was the worst fireram l had ever shot. Trigger was beyond abysmal, it was reliable in perfect weather when it was clean. The A2 versions of the 16 were not that much better, but you learn to shoot what issued. Our K-frames, 1911s, Berettas, and others had less than competition grade triggers, but they went bang.

      Its a safe bet your ARs all have bells and whistles to make them perfect paper punchers. Take yourAR out and run it in the rain, snow, ice, mud…then tell us about reliability. They require constant attention to be reliable, that is why they pushed weapons maintenance day and night in the service.

      Yes l own ARs, run 4lb Timney or CMC Triggers in them with boron nitride coated bolts so they are more reliable shooting three gun. If push comes to shove and its a time of collapse it would not be my first choice. That would be an AK, a M1carbine or my M21.

      Before trashing the M1/M14, learn how to shoot it. Yes it weighs more than an AR-do some PT, no it does not have a million gadgets to add on; its a tool. A fine one, and served in the worst clinates all over the world. There are thousands of troops whose luves were saved by it from Nam until today.

      1. http://www.slip2000.com/blog/s-w-a-t-magazine-filthy-14/

        Yeah, those ARs are so unreliable…
        My experience with military-issued, police-issued, and personally-owned ARs is perfectly in-line with the above article. I have shot them in pretty much any condition you can name, and have had no issues. I also have shot 50k+ rounds in the last 18 months, between 9mm, 5.56, 7.62×51, 7.62×39, .45, .40, and 12ga, with the vast majority being 9mm and 5.56.

    5. Patrick Roberts is a POS and should stick to writing about plastic guns that are not heavy for him and do not kick 73 years old and shot more ammo through my M1A than this snowflake can carry with not one jam but I do keep it clean.

      1. When Patrick Snowflake mentioned “jam”, he was thinking about the dozen jelly donuts he just put away.. Speaking of which; he resembles the Lard Lad Donut mascot on The Simpsons..
        Clearly the M1A is too much gun for Chub-Chub

    6. Hatman 1793, I was in the first recruit platoon through Parris Island with the M14, qualified Expert and earned my first stripe(high score in the platoon), carried one during 3 tours in Nam. MSRs are the Legos of combat rifles, I don’t own one and have no desire to own one, cheaply made and loved by all the wannabe ‘Operators’ that load them up with accessories that make it weigh more than an M14.

    7. An M1A National Match was the first rifle I ever bought for myself brand new right after high school as a reward to myself. I have shot groundhogs running with the iron sights at over 400 yards. I freaking love that gun, many guns have come and gone over the last 16 years but that ones a keeper.

    8. I own two M1A’s, one a NM, the other a synthetic stock standard. Neither one has ever jammed. Both shoot well, and yes, the NM is more accurate, about 1 MOA, versus 2 MOA.
      I got bit hard by the M1A bug when I first saw the NM at the gun shop about 10 years ago. I thought to myself “That is a very impressive, very beautiful rifle” and I bought it. I brought it home, worried about what my wife would say. I opened the case, and she said “That is an impressive rifle, and beautiful too – can I shoot it?” Boy, I am lucky!
      We went wild pig hunting a few months back, and my wife, my son, and my father in law all harvested nice sized pigs with the NM. The .308 worked great, putting them down instantly. What a great, memorable family time we had! We can’t use an AR chambered in .556 for pigs in my state
      I have an AR, and it shoots well, actually it jammed a lot until I switched to a Magpul magazine. And you can rightly say that a bolt .308 would probably be better for hunting and target shooting, but I love the M1A. Is that rational? Probably not, but love never is! That is part of the fun of our sport!

    9. Notice in his bio: no military/law enforcement experience? This generation of know it all firearm journalism. The annoying 10 rnd mag? Stock thingy? Bet the FAL he’s posing with is an Airsoft!!

    10. Ignorant armchair commando. I can rip him all i want, but waste of time. Cant fix stupid!
      M14/M1A Is still in service, lethal and 100% reliable.
      Extremely stupid article.

        1. Patrick, you did mention that the arm thingy flips up, but did you realize that the chamber under the floppy thingy is to hold a fully serviceable CLEANING KIT! if you have jamming difficulties, maybe try holding your stock a little tighter so you don’t lose the mass of that rather large bolt/slide that makes it not jam? or try adjusting the gas release at the front on the tube that has the adjustment notches to adjust the amount of gas released into the action to make it just about jam proof? My M1A’s are all (3 of em) are just about jam proof if I use that cleaning kit ( $23.00 at Brownells or on the infernal net) and keep the gas release clean and the gas port clean. Robert Seddon

    11. Qualified Expert on the M-14 in the Army. Owned two National Match M1A’s over the years. Sold my last one when I went blind in my right eye. I can’t shoot left handed and felt it needed a new loving home. I sold it to a current Army soldier and he promised to keep it near and dear to his heart….haha

      1. I shot expert with the M-14 and carried one in Nam. My right eye was never much use and my left eye is very dominate. As such, I learned to shoot lefty from the get go. Very interesting learning not to be distracted by ejected cartridges wizzing by at forehead level. I was best shot in my training brigade at Dix. Like you, I’ve got right eye trouble now – macular degeneration. I can still see out of the eye and get a shot in it every month. Still a pretty good shot lefty but I don’t know what it’s gonna be like when it goes out. I love my M1A! When I picked it up out of the box I knew I was home.

    12. I am an old guy, USMC. I was on the Marine Corps Reserve National Rifle Team for four years, 1964 to 68. Our Staff Sargeant Sweet, built M14 National Match M14’s, were the finest match rifles I have ever fired. My last 1000 yd match, I had 11 center hits out of twenty rounds fired, that is X ring tens for those who are unfamiliar with the scoring of the competition target back then. Dropped two rounds into the 9 ring, because of me, not the ability of the weapon. Today, I own a Springfield Armory M1A, NM grade rifle. It shoots nearly as well, and has never failed to function. Beats the crap out of the AR15 223 I also own, not from an accuracy standpoint, but the handling of the M1A is so better balanced, the ability to hold a good sight picture, and squeeze off an accurate shot just feels right to me.

    13. What jamming issue is this guy talking about? M14 reliability issues? I think not. Beginning to doubt this guy even fired one

    14. Worst service rifle since we adopted a semiautomatic platform…??? This article just lost all credibility.

        1. I’m no expert on military rifles, but isn’t the M1A based on the M1 Garand? You know, the rifle Patton called the best combat weapon ever invented. The rifle that went to hell and back in WW2 & Korea.

          I’ve got a synthetic-stocked M1A Loaded model. Only been to the range twice with it, so it’s not even broken-in. There were ZERO failures of any kind firing NATO-spec ammo.
          Most new autos will exhibit problems, if at all, before being broken-in.

          Accuracy? I consider maximum accuracy as only necessary in a hunting or competition rifle. In a SD or combat arm, I want reliability above all else. Can you say AK?

    15. As far as battle Rifles our concerned.
      A number of Vietnam Vets whom I talked to over the years preferred the M14,
      Most of it can be field striped by hand.
      It can be thrown in the mud and guck and still work.
      It jammed no where near as often as the Original Ar-15 Military model or the M16 or the M16 A1.
      If it did jam far easier to clear.
      It does not faul up like the AR’s direct gas impingement system which blows unspent powders with gases back into the receivers action.
      The Ar-15 / M-16’s series thus requires far more maintaince.
      With out question the AR-15 series has almost zero recoil,
      But remove the recoil buffer in the stock group and then see how it feels?
      No question the Ar-15 series are extremely accurate, but so is the M14 and out to 600 yards with Iron sights.
      Many guys told me while in Vietnam they would disassemble the M-14 run a cost hanger through the barrel and dunk it in rivers or creeks with moving water , pull them out dry and oil them and run a clean road through them and reassemble them you were good to go.
      They said not so with the M16 or M16A1.

    16. You admit you don’t know how to shoot an M1A trigger, yet you bash it because you are not capable of shooting it accurately, or maybe you used “hoards” of cheap ammo. Did you carry this weapon in combat? What makes you qualified to say this was a bad service rifle. It was in fact a solid combat platform for when it was adopted. This snippet of a review is typical of want to be gun writer’s today, long on book knowledge and short on personal history and experience. I’d tell you to stick to what you know, but then I suspect you wouldn’t be writing anymore.

      1. No, I said that I was spoiled by nice Geissele triggers, not that I couldn’t shoot the National Match trigger. Let’s face it, the National Match trigger is nowhere near as good as a modern two stage.

    17. I agree with this man’s comments, my national match glass bedded in a Wolfe fiberglass stock is a 3/4 of an inch performer at 1000 yards this is with 168 grain match bullet handloads.

        1. Sorry for the typo, that is 3/4 moa @ 100 yards.
          I will agree that a AR-10 is easier to make shoot
          More accurately, however I own both types of rifles and prefer the M1A.

    18. Your research ignorance as to what GREAT rifles the M14 and M1A are, is also reflected in your slovenly proofreading: Use “eke” instead of “eek”, and “hordes” instead of “hoards”. So there Mr. Journalism.

      1. @AM, The author’s spell check is probably another case of demonic possession. I know that mine is. All in all, not a bad review. I am going to his website to see his other work.
        Note to author Roberts: You may have mentioned that Elmer Kieth did not like the M-1 Garand either, as a way of fending off some righteous indignation in advance. Just a suggestion.

    19. The M14 and M1A are the only target rifles I have used in competition. I earned Distinguished with them – and this was when the armed forces were switching to ARs. So the old gun can’t be too bad. As was said by Michael Hayes above, whether at 100 or 1,000, it takes a good bolt gun to beat a good M14/M1A. Now, it’s true, I only shoot iron sights. So I’m a factor, but I have a Remington 40X in .308. I shoot about as well with one as the other … and with the M1A I don’t have to move as much to reload. Finally, the accuracy (1.5 in) for a match M1A is a crime against nature! Either Springfield (or you) is to blame. Sub-one-minute (i.e.,hit the spotting disk) is the worst I can imagine from a well built M1A.

    20. “Pretty much the biggest con is that the rifle was designed off of one of the worst service rifles our nation has adopted since we have moved to a semi-auto for general issue.”

      Since the M14 is an improvement over the Garand M1, and the M1 was generally perceived as the best battle rifle (up to that time), and the M1A is the same as the M14 except for the ability to fire in automatic mode, that quote shows the author’s ignorance.
      Is the M1A outdated as a battle rifle? Of course. Did it serve very long in our combat efforts? No. But that was a matter of timing, not a comment on its abilities.
      As for the jamming, I can attest to the fact that I carried the M14 on live fire exercises in the rain, prone, in all kinds of terrain,and it didn’t jam. Anecdotal evidence to the contrary, the Garand design served extremely well in combat from the arctic conditions of the Aleutians to the desert of North Africa, That includes all of Europe and the Pacific islands.
      Being relatively young (I’m in my 70s), Patrick may be excused for his ignorance of history (it certainly isn’t taught well in schools recently), but his lack of knowledge about one of our country’s best battle rifles seems strange, given his claims to knowledge of firearms.

      1. Big Bill sounds like anyone that I ever read in ” Guns & Ammo” or Soldier of Fortune. Patrick R. is unaware that there are aftermarket stocks of fiberglass, and other materials that would help with accuracy. Didn’t the Army use these with their Designated Marksman Program?

        1. I am well aware that they make fiberglass stocks and a ton of other things to squeeze performance out of the rifle. I should be able to attain match performance out of a rifle called a National Match without spending a grand on a McMillan.

    21. Here’s what I like about today’s MSR’s and the shooters that have learned their skills with them. The MSR is a platform that can be very forgiving of the beginning shooter. Especially starting off the the .223/5.56 chambering, the recoil isn’t distracting. Given some basic tools, most accessories or upgrades can be accomplished by a beginner. Which means that more and more people can experience the joys of shooting accomplishments.

      But, this article demonstrates one of the shortcomings of this education, and that is the lack of versatility and depth of knowledge that comes with learning the disciplines of firearms that are harder to master. Your breathing has to be better. Your trigger control has to be better. Your dope has to be better. I would love to have the answer to the question: how good is your shooting of that .308 MSR with iron sights at one hundred yards? (and, no, red dots don’t count). Might change your perspective of that dinky 1.5″ at one hundred yards.

    22. I am a 1966 71 year old Vietnam Vet that trained and qualified on the m-14 and was handed that Colt piece of junk prior
      to getting on the ship for our Division’s 19 day cruise to Nam. While there a whole lot of us would have loved to get an M1A1 instead of that piece of plastic that jammed so often we carried a cleaning rod to poke them out during a
      fire fight.
      So I’m going to be one of those old 71 plus year men holding on to that sweet American made M1A I dreamed of over 50 years ago.

    23. My first military rifle was an M-14, one of the best rifle I ever fired. At 100 or 1000 yards it was dead on. And in Vietnam I would trade one of the worthless m-16 in for a 14 any day of the week. More accurate and a great deal more fire power.

    24. “an improved gas system… whatever that is…” That’s some fine journalism.
      And if it’s too heavy for you, drop the soy burger and do some PT!

    25. I’ve fired countless thousands of rounds through my SOCOM 16 variant and several hundred through my NM rifle. There’s been exactly one jam and that happened while it was being fired by a 70 year old man who was unable to give enough resistance in his shoulder for the action to properly cycle against, a quick pull of the op rod and it was running again. Your statement that ” it’s gonna jam ” is a bit harsh for such a fine running system. I’ve fired mine in temps from -10 to 105, in the rain, dirt, mud, and snow, I’ve had to pull it from under snow drifts after sitting for hours still hunting with no blind, the rifle never fails to put meat on the table.
      The rifle was never made to be a tack driver, it was pressed into that service by snipers looking for a semi auto during a time of bolt action sniper rifles and by civilians trying to compete in 1,000 yard matches. The fact that it can be tuned or modified to do well at such levels with a round that inherently goes trans sonic at 800 yards speaks to its adaptability.
      Should it be a tool of combat in our modern military, probably not, there are much lighter, more capable, and modular platforms available now.
      That said, the M14 has been a part of the war on terror and has served well in whatever rolls that it was pressed into, just like it did in Vietnam.
      Although I think Springfield prices them a grand too high I think like the Garand ,and the M1 carbine, that this is a rifle every gun guy should own. After all, it’s basically an easier to load Garand that won’t give you Garand thumb and holds more ammo with an improved gas system.
      Let’s show this old timer the respect it has earned through the years.

    26. Patrick R does make some valid points. Inserting & extracting the magazine, even the longer one is difficult & slow. The price is way to high too. There is a veritable conucopia of MSR’s chambered in 308 that are cheaper, faster & better.
      The Allies all started their WW2 armies with bolt action rifles while the US Army had the 8 shot semi-auto M1Garand. That makes the M1 a superior design.

    27. Don’t knock the M14 or M1A. Springfield may be the modern commercial manufacturer but a lot a lot of guys cut teeth and earned marksman, sharpshooter, expert, master classifications with them. Many high masters are former M1A shooters. The gun can shoot and they are pretty reliable. Close cousin to the Garand. M1A’s and AR’s are just different animals, both go bang.

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