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.

  • 62
    Leave a Reply

    Please Login to comment
    31 Comment threads
    31 Thread replies
    0 Followers
     
    Most reacted comment
    Hottest comment thread
    45 Comment authors
    Old CodgerMikePeteGen.PattonRussell Parrish Recent comment authors
      Subscribe  
    Notify of
    BobbyJ
    Guest
    BobbyJ

    Yes I don’t agree with this article. The M1A (M14) is a accurate hard hitting rifle that is easy to fire. The extra weight helps to balance the gun. I think these guys are use to carrying around a sandbag or bipod to shoot. Off hand shooting that extra weight helps with recoil and steadiness. the .308 has much more hitting power and range than the puny .223. .223=varmint gun. .308 can take a deer. I would get the wood one over the plastic even though the plastic might take the elements better.

    Gregory Nunn
    Guest
    Gregory Nunn

    Geeze, just looking for some information from various sources on match loads for my 14, then I read some comments. What a huge number of assholes! So a guy gets a $2k+ “National Match” rifle that is about 1.5 MOA? Ok, well yes, that sucks. But guess how the jar heads and AMU get their 14s to drive tacks? They replaced them, because the M14 is not a capable or reliable target rifle. Oh, but in combat….sure, everyone kept the 14s because…oh, wait, nobody kept 14s. Well, the special forces guys…..do not keep 14s to use on missions. Oh, I… Read more »

    Jerald
    Guest
    Jerald

    Great post

    Dave Muir
    Guest
    Dave Muir

    It’s a fine rifle you moron.

    jerald callaway
    Guest
    jerald callaway

    Name calling is not necessary. This is taking from a great article http://looserounds.com/2015/01/30/the-m14-not-much-for-fighting-a-case-against-the-m14-legend/ To quote Lt. Colonel Chandler owner of Iron Brigade Armory and former Officer in Charge of many USMC marksmanship and sniping programs: “Remember that the US Army struggled for more than twenty years to transform the M14 into a sniper type weapon. The Army finally abandoned all attempts to salvage the M14 rifle. Continued use of the M14 as anything other than a drill rifle is better described as DISASTER. ( emphasis Chandler’s) The M14 is old and has never been more than a modified M1 Garand.… Read more »

    Russell Parrish
    Guest
    Russell Parrish

    I owned an M1A for over 20 years before I finally sold it. I bought it as a standard then had it bedded and a Barnett heavy match barrel installed for shooting in matches. About 20 to 25 years ago they started shooting the AR15 in matches. As much as I liked the M14 I found out myself and others could shoot the M16/AR15 better! The more I tried to stay with my, M1A the more$$ I was spending for ammo, gunsmith work, etc. Long story short owning a M1A to me was like owning a boat. To me The… Read more »

    Gen.Patton
    Guest
    Gen.Patton

    Sell it…you’re not worthy to own it obviously.

    Pete
    Guest
    Pete

    I understand what you’re saying. I had Clint build a scout version of his peerless rifle. That rifle shoots 1” or better consistently. The problem is with 3 to 5 shot groups. I love the rifle and will keep it until I am unable to shoot or die. Whichever comes first. Lol

    J.Dreiling
    Guest
    J.Dreiling

    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… Read more »

    Jerald
    Guest
    Jerald

    Most will not. Unfortunately. I think part of your point is you didn’t get the perceived value when you balanced cost with your reliability experience. So I can’t bash you for your experience.
    Again this is a great read:
    http://looserounds.com/2015/01/30/the-m14-not-much-for-fighting-a-case-against-the-m14-legend/

    Brian Deatrick
    Guest
    Brian Deatrick

    My experience using an M-14 was in 2nd Platoon, 1st Force Recon Co USMC, Vietnam 1966. Our issue at that time was the M3 “grease gun” but all preferred the M-14. I cannot claim great firearms knowledge or vast experience since that time although I have fired the M-16 a few times, both the version used at Camp Perry (Ohio) many years ago and as a security guard for Chenega/Blackwater at a remote radar base in Japan fairly recently. The 45 cal M3 had poor accuracy, failed to reliably feed even after doubling the springs and decreasing the loaded rounds,… Read more »

    Bruce
    Guest
    Bruce

    Thanks for fighting and making it home! My civilian M1A has never missed a beat and I have a M3A1 that has never missed a beat either.

    Ditto1958
    Guest
    Ditto1958

    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.

    Gen.Patton
    Guest
    Gen.Patton

    His inexperience with the rifle is outstanding…why would any writer ever state “match-tuned gas cylinder (whatever that might mean)” ?
    It shows he’s dismissed it before understanding it. Which is 99% of the haters mentality (or lack of it) concerning the M14/M1a rifle.

    Bruce Dzamba
    Guest
    Bruce Dzamba

    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!

    Police Tested
    Guest
    Police Tested

    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… Read more »

    Todd Jayne
    Guest
    Todd Jayne

    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.

    Knightvision
    Guest
    Knightvision

    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.

    Wrath of Horvath
    Guest
    Wrath of Horvath

    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

    CWOUSMC
    Guest
    CWOUSMC

    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.

    Mr. K
    Guest
    Mr. K

    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.

    Greg Painter
    Guest
    Greg Painter

    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… Read more »

    Hunterjar1970
    Guest
    Hunterjar1970

    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!!

    SFC J. Miller U.S. Army (ret.)
    Guest
    SFC J. Miller U.S. Army (ret.)

    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.

    Jerry S.
    Guest
    Jerry S.

    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

    Rob Lilley
    Guest
    Rob Lilley

    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… Read more »

    Jerald
    Guest
    Jerald
    Terry Crowell
    Guest
    Terry Crowell

    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.… Read more »

    Paul
    Guest
    Paul

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

    Greg vogel
    Guest
    Greg vogel

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

    Mark Tercsak
    Guest
    Mark Tercsak

    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… Read more »

    RambingRambo
    Guest
    RambingRambo

    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… Read more »

    Jon Easley
    Guest
    Jon Easley

    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.

    Allan Morrison
    Guest
    Allan Morrison

    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.

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @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.

    John Tate
    Guest
    John Tate

    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… Read more »

    Big Bill
    Guest
    Big Bill

    “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… Read more »

    Hurley MacMaster
    Guest
    Hurley MacMaster

    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?

    James
    Guest
    James

    I wholeheartedly agree!

    thefixer
    Guest
    thefixer

    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… Read more »

    Ken
    Guest
    Ken

    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.

    Michael Hayes
    Guest
    Michael Hayes

    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.

    justjim
    Guest
    justjim

    “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!

    1AbominAble1
    Guest
    1AbominAble1

    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,… Read more »

    Jon Easley
    Guest
    Jon Easley

    I concur sir!! Well stated!!!

    Mike
    Guest
    Mike

    Well, it looks like the Ford vs. Chevy debate again. I like my M1A NM and Supermatch just fine. I also like my AR rifles. I shot my NM in a match last weekend and did just fine. Yes, there were many more ARs on the line in both relays, but the M1A was still represented by some fine shooters. My NM shoots sub MOA with my hand loads. I find that the M1A just “feels right” to me, and that’s where I’m going to leave my opinion. I shoot many more rounds through my match ARs in practice than… Read more »

    Hatman1793
    Guest
    Hatman1793

    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.

    Jeff
    Guest
    Jeff

    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.