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November 21, 2012     The New Era Paper
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Page 12 CtJtnco le , 'ra - November 21,2012 .308 Winchester simply a classic military firearm The Winchester Repeating Arms Company introduced the .308 Winchester cartridge to the ci- vilian/sporting world in 1952. Up until this point the .300 Savage cartridge had held the place as TIlE "less than 30-06" .30 cali- ber offering. The .308 was origi- nally developed for the military to replace the 30-06 Springfield, and it did. It was obvious that the im- iSroved smokeless propellants of the day could be used in a shorter cartridge case to produce the same velocities as the standard 30-06, especially since the weight of the projectile in the '06 had been re- duced to 150 grains. Actually, the engineers basi- cally just took the .300 Savage and lengthened the neck as there is a benefit to more neck tension in mi/itary cartridges that will be handled roughly and used infully- autorJatic arms. Ihe result was nothing but beneficial. The shorter cartridge was cheaper to produce, lighter in weight and easier to package in new military firearms designs. As the .308 Winchester's ori- gins are in military use I will begin its story there. The U.S. developed and chose the M-14 rifle for service. It was a good one but fell short of the cre- ations from the European conti- nent. The M-14 is essentially a mod- ernized version of the M 1 Garand. That is not a bad thing as the Ga- rand was "the greatest battle imple- ment ever devised," according to Gene'al Patton, but firearms design was making giant leaps and bounds in the early '50s. An evolutionary rifle was nothing compared to the revolutionary rifles being created elsewhere. It pains me to admit it, but his- tory would show that the British/ Belgians (Browning) actually had the best option on the table at the time. Their product was the L1A1 (FAL) in a very interesting .280 Happy Thanksgiving 2013 Dutchmen Kodiak 300BHSL STK#RV129 MSRP $41,687 Lassen PriceS28,587 SHOOTING Hutchins caliber. This was an intermedi- ate cartridge; not the equal of the .308/30-06 class but more power- ful and flatter shooting than the Soviet 7.62x39mm. This cartridge combined good power, light weight and less recoil in about perfect pro portions. The U.S., however, forced its will on the other NATO countries and Winchester's new round was designated the 7.62x51mm NATO and universally adopted. The Brits redesigned their rifle for it and the Spanish produced the unique CET- ME, which later evolved into the Heckler & Koch G-3. Of course, there were others such as Eugene Stoner's predeces- sor to the M-16, the AR- 10, but these three were by far the histori- cal stand-outs. To alleviate some confusion, I "need to make some clarifications. The M-14 and the M1A are the same basic rifle; the M-14 is ca- pable of fully-automatic fire and is highly restricted. The M1A is the semi-automatic version available easily to law-abiding citizens in most locales. The LIA1 and FAL are basically the same rifle as well. The LIA1 is an "inch pattern" rifle and an FAL is a "metric pat- tern" rifle. Either full or semi-auto they are still called by the same names. The Spanish designed the CETME and then the West Ger- man firm of Heckler & Koch (po- nounced Coke) refined it into the Happy Thanksgiving 2013 22KLS STK#RV|37 MSRP $21,225 Lassen Price $14,656 2012 Dutchmen 2011 Headland Rubicon R2600 Elk Ridge 29RLSB STK#RPI08 STK#RP]07 . Lightly Used Lightly Used Lassen Price $24,898 Lassen Price $30,998 2012 Chalet Takena 2265EX. STK#RS079 MSRP $25,707 Lassen Price $18,873 2013 Dutchmen Kodiak 20OQB STK#RV131 MSRP $25,129 Lassen Price $18,686 G-3 (full-auto) and H-K 91 (semi- auto). The proof of the superiority of the L1A1/FAL is that it was by far the most wide-spread and adopted battle rifle in the world until the AK-47 assault rifle eventually took first place by virtue of its cruder manufacture, allowing a much lower pric e . The Spanish CETME and its H-K offspring did very well also and are still found all over the globe, especially in Africa. You'd have to look much harder to find an M-14; it simply was not as good and was more time-consuming and expensive to produce. This country is full of M-14 fans - some because of their good experience with it early in Vietnam or as a designated marksman tire, or even main-line sniper rifle, in today's military. Its current military use is by default. The good 5.56x45mm NATO has been found lacking in some ar- eas in the wide-open spaces of Iraq and Afghanistan. The easiest and "simplest fix was to grab a bunch of retired M-14s out of storage and put them to use. Too bad the rest of our govern- ment isn't as practical and frugal. This frugality was limited, how- ever, since someone decided to upgrade these antiquated rifles to compete with current rifles like the Stoner SR-25, Armalite AR-10 and the Mll0. To do this, a very expensive Sage Industries stock was procured to upgrade these rifles. In my opin- ion, we should have sold the M-14s to American shooters and used that money to upgrade to modern rifles. For the same expenditure of funds we could have had at least 50 to 100 percent more rifles - and bet- ter ones at that. As /he FAL is generally ac- knowledged to be the "best of breed," let's compare it and the M-14. The ergonomics of the FAL are better. The protruding pistol grip of the FAL gives the shooter better control of the rifle and it can even be fairly effectively operated with one hand in a pinch. The butt stock is more in line with the shooter's shoulder, which reduces muzzle-rise significantly. This is important in semi-auto fir- ing and vital when firing full-auto. The FAL is so much easier to con- trol in automatic mode, it's incom- parable and inarguable. The FAL has an adjustable gas Photo by Jeff Hutchins FALL, left, and M-14 rifles system that lets the shooter regulate the amount of gas that is sent into the action to operate it. This lets the rifle be adapted to a much greater variety of ammunition styles and power levels. The gas can even be completely shut-off for more effec- tive launching of rifle grenades. The civiliar who reloads can also use this to his/her advantage since the system can be shut down to single-shot operation or just tuned down so as not to launch the empty casings into the weeds or off of a shooter down the firing line. The M-14 gas system has to be manufactured to let too much gas into the system, which allows for the inevitable fouling that will occur and so that a slightly lighter- than-normal load will still operate the action. It's a trade-off and balancing act that puts undue strain on the ri- fle and shooter. The gas system can also be completely removed and cleaned independently in the FAL; with the M-14 the entire rifle must be disassembled. If it becomes nec- essary to completely field-strip an FAL, it is very easily done. I have seen many hobbyists completely and competently build an L1A1/FAL rifle from a receiver and parts kit. I have never seen a non-gunsmith build a safe, func- tional M- 14 (or M 1A as it is known to civilians). The FAL is just a more modern, simpler, better weapon de- sign. One feature I've always found interesting is that the L1AI/FAL was not conceived with the use of optical sights in mind. The M-14, however, was. That being said, the FAL is much more tolerant of and functional with a scope attached. There are quite a few good scope mounting systems available for the FAL that mount the optic very securely. There are also a few for the M-14/M1A, but they are ex- pensive and, for that reason, most owners buy the less expensive, but not cheap, versions. Inevitably, I am enlisted to try to get the scope zeroed and kept that way. If the time and money is spent to build a top-notch, accurate FAL, once it is completed it is like a well-conceived bolt-action rifle project. Once it's done, all it re- quires is routine maintenance and cleaning until you finally shoot the barrel out. If you build an equivalent M1A you have to re-bed it about every 1,000 rounds and possibly fight the scope mounting system the whole time. That action/stock bedding that needs re-doing every thousand rounds is also an art that few have perfected. The barrel on the FAL can also be free-floated just like a precision bolt-action rifle or AR-15's barrel would be. This is not possible on the M-14 and there is no way that a non-floated barrel can be as consis- tent as a floated one. Another important factor to ac- curate shooting, especially at long range, is the quality of trigger pull and neither rifle has an advantage here. They both have two-stage military triggers. They both can be "cleaned-up" for better results and to about equal levels of sucess. Some versions of the FAL family of rifles even had grooves machined into the bolt carrier. These grooves were known as "sand cuts." The idea, and real- ity, was that if dirt, mud or sand got packed around the bolt carrier these grooves would give the crud somewhere to go and let the rifle slough it off. In this regard the FAL also protects the innards of its action from the intrusion of foreign mat- ter more thoroughly. The placement of the safety is in a better location on the M-14. It is in the front of the trigger guard and can be operated equally as well by right or left-handed shooters. The FAUs safety/selector is perfectly positioned above the dominant thumb of a righty but in- conveniently for a lefty. This is a design flaw of many military rifles, including the great AR-15/M-16, and should have been addressed at the conception of every modern military arm. Some versions of the FAL also had a folding bi-pod built into the foreend that folds completely out of the way when not deployed. The sight radius on the M-14 is longer but the rear sights on the FAL/ L1AI are graduated for distance shooting. I would never tell a fan of the M-14/M1A that they are wrong in their love of that rifle. It is unique- ly American and an evolution of a truly great-for-its-time battle rifle. It has and will continue to serve WWW. ASSENRV.COM 54 .9 7.7395 877.373.2678 03 PRICE ROAD SE, ALBANY, OR 97 ;22 3195 S. Santiam Hwy, Lebanon, OR 97355 I 541-258-2175 I (DLR # 3102) Hours are Monday through Friday 8-6, sat 9-6, sun 9-5. crockerscars.com See .308, page 13