My brother and I had a small outing to the desert to do some shooting, and I finally (yes, call me PDB) shot my M1A.
The M1A is the most expensive gun I own, it's also the gun I waited the longest to get. It represents everything I love about rifles, and had been at the top of my list ever since I first laid eyes on one. I went with the scout squad because I knew that if I got a standard, I'd just want a National Match and a Scout Squad anyway. Now I can just get the NM if I want.
After feeling the surprisingly gentle recoil of the Garand, I was a little worried that a synthetic stock scout squad would be too light, and recoil harshly, but it somehow recoils more lightly than the Garand. I had heard that the muzzle break and rubber stock pad work overtime on this gun, but I severely underestimated how smooth and soft they made the recoil. By the end of the day, the Garand had begun to feel unrefined next to the M1A, which is quite a feat.
The perennial favorite of the desert is 3 liter soda bottles from the 99 cent store. We set them up, and blow them up, usually at close range. Since this trip out was just my brother and I, we set the bottles up a little further. Along with the 10" gong, most of the 3 liters wound up at around 200 yards, but I wanted one that would last. So I grabbed a suitably hi-viz (fiz?) orange one, and took the long walk through the wash and up the hill to about 325 yards and set it up.
We opened smoothly with the M1A, and after ringing the gong repeatedly, I decided I wanted to start the fun of taking pot shots at the tiny orange dot on the hillside throughout the day. Sadly, I ruined the fun on my second shot from a cross legged sitting position. At cleanup I saw it was a grazing shot, catching only about a half inch in from the left side, but it was still a hit on a 6" wide target at 325 yards off irons.
The M1A was the go-to gun for cleaning up targets that refused to be shot. Only one resisted its charms, but that target danced around all the other bullets too. It wasn't until I was shooting My Rifle later in the day that we finally got rid of it. It never ceases to surprise me how something so simple as "Front sight, press" gets consistent hits after magazines of mid-day misses due to fatigue. After loading My Rifle and looking for targets I decided to try for that slippery 3 liter with some renewed focus. A different focus. I placed the front sight in perfect focus, and the target became an out of focus tiny blob of white sitting on top of the front sight. From a standing position, I hit dead center on the first shot the target that we had missed for dozens of rounds from sitting and prone position.
Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.
It's easy (and fun) to get sloppy with both eyes open in the large aperture sight on close targets, but when your target is small and far, and fatigue has set in, what you really need is "front sight, press."
The only problem that day was that we didn't have enough 308 to shoot it all day long. But I'm not sure there's enough 308 in the world to get your fill of shooting that gun.
It is slick, it is smooth, it is light, it is accurate, it hits hard, and it will hold 20 rounds of reach-out-and-touch-someone in a light, balanced package. But what is most important is that it is worth every penny. The M1A is the most expensive gun I own, and to be honest, I was a little afraid I was going to walk away from my first experience with it wondering how much cash I could get for it to put toward an AR-10. I am extremely impressed with this gun, and would recommend that anyone who wants a high quality, full powered, detachable mag fed, classically styled rifle begin saving their pennies now. The M1A really is the pinnacle of classic American rifles, and it is no wonder it has endured.