The Springfield Armory M1A Story

posted on December 14, 2022

Of the many rifles offered by Springfield Armory Inc. today, one of its most iconic and popular lines is that of the M1A. A semi-automatic, gas-operated rifle fed from detachable box magazines, the M1A is a semi-automatic version of the M14 select-fire service rifle developed in the 1950s. After World War II, U.S. Ordnance went sought to create a rifle that could fill multiple roles in an infantry squad, like that of a support or infantry rifle. Designers adapted the action of John Garand's successful M1 Garand and adapted it with a different gas system and dropped the eight-round internal magazine for 20-round detachable box magazines.

Chambered for the 7.62 NATO cartridge, the M14 was adopted by the military in 1959, replacing the M1 Garand which it closely resembled. However, its term as the official U.S. service rifle was short-lived, as even when it was adopted, ArmaLite was developing the rifle that would later become the M16, which was accepted into service in 1967. While a robust design, the M14 proved to be hard to control on select fire, with its traditional semi-grip stock. Despite having a short-lived career as a service rifle, the M14 continued to see limited use all the way through the 20th century.

Despite its shortcomings, the M14 did prove to be an accurate platform for competition with its Garand-style sights. Yet, because the M14 was a select-fire rifle, it was not available for sale or surplus to the common commercial market like previous generations of service rifles were. A semi-automatic version, the M1A, was developed, which was different enough to be considered a separate model by the BATFE. Several smaller manufacturers began to produce M1As, taking advantage of the large amount of surplus parts for them. One of these, Elmer Balance, took up the Springfield Armory name after the U.S. Springfield field Armory in Springfield, Mass., was shut down in 1967.

The early models of these M1A rifles made by Balance contained more military-surplus parts than later rifles and have become a favorite of collectors. The Springfield Armory name was taken over by the Reese family in the 1970s. Since then, Springfield Armory has continually improved the M1A design and introduced a wide range of models from the competition-centered Super Match, to the smaller SOCOM 16 carbine versions with 16" barrels and more modern stocks and accessories. To learn more about the versions of the M1A currently offered by Springfield Armory, visit   

To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST. 



Rifleman Q&A: Sidehammer Navy Revolver

Can you identify this .36-caliber percussion pistol? It has no serial number or markings of any kind, save the number 17 on two of the parts. I did not completely dismantle it.

The Armed Citizen® Feb. 3, 2023

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Rifleman Review: Kimber R7 Mako

Kimber's R7 Mako micro-compact handgun was a serious departure from the company's traditional lineup of handguns, but as we uncovered in our testing, there's a lot to like about this latest concealed-carry gun.

5 New Optics For 2023

Today's optics are a far cry from the glass used yesteryear. Now, optics incorporate amazing technological innovations, all ensuring that shooters can get on target quickly and easily.

Preview: 5.11 Tactical Apex Pant

Clothing choices are highly subjective, but when it comes to functionality, the purely objective qualities of an ordinary pair of pants can either make them the default everyday choice or relegate them to the back of the closet.

2023 Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon

You won’t be seeing any exotic bolt-actions chambered in .22 LR winning Olympic gold if you attend the Southern Vermont Primitive Biathlon and Winter Shoot, which takes place February 11-12 at Skinner Hollow Farm in Manchester, Vt.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.