The Best Ammunition to Buy For Your M1A Rifle
Anyone who is serious about shooting knows that your choice of ammunition is important, whether it’s in a hunting or competition scenario. While your choice of weapon is the primary concern, ammo is definitely a factor and can make a difference in the health of a firearm and in terms of accuracy. A gun as well made as the M1A rifle deserves to have some good quality ammunition fed into it. So how do you know what type of ammo you should use with your rifle?
Well, first off you have to know what size of ammo that you need. The M1A is designed to use ammunition of 7.62x51mm NATO standard. It can also use .308 Winchester ammo, since the two types are essentially the same. Note that you should not just assume any ammo that says “7.62” is going to work for you. There are 7.62x39mm and 7.62x54mm, which are used for other types of weapons. Also, .308 magnum rounds are different from .308 Winchester, and won’t work in the M1A.
Once you’re sure you’ve got ammo that will work with you M1A, then you need to figure out what you’re going to be using the weapon for. If you’re just going to the firing range to unload some rounds, then you’re probably not overly concerned about pinpoint accuracy. However, if you’re going hunting for small game or you’re target shooting in a competition setting, then you may want some top-quality ammo that will give you better accuracy.
When accuracy is the concern, then you have to consider the grain of the bullet. Grain is a type of measurement used for bullets. The larger the grain, the heavier the bullet is. Bullets that are too light are more susceptible to factors such as wind, while bullets that are too heavy are pulled more by gravity, and will be pulled to the ground faster. The M1A can use any grain from 147 to 180.
It’s not a huge issue for relatively short-range shooting or shooting at large targets; so casual shooters can safely ignore grain as long as they’re within the right range. For tournament level shooters, Springfield Armory recommends 168-grain bullets manufactured by a match grade ammo company. 168-grain is also recommend for deer hunting, but a larger grain is better for bigger game, such as moose.
Another consideration is the actual type of bullet casing. Hollow point rounds are known for their improved accuracy, and many hunters also recommend them because they can cause quick and humane kills. The other common option is full metal jacket ammunition, the main advantage of which is that it has less chance of misfiring. The relatively new ballistic tip ammo attempts to combine the advantages of both, but is more expensive.
Finally, for the health of your firearm, it’s important not to use soft-tipped bullets. The problem is that the soft parts get shaved off the bullets and end up in the gun’s inner workings, and this can then jam up the whole gun. Stick to using bullets that are standard full metal jacket, hollow point, or ballistic tip.
- Any grain from 147 to 180 is usable.
- 168 grain is recommended for best accuracy
- Use FMJ, HP, or “ballistic tip” type rounds (Hsoi: i.e. plastic tiped bullets; note that the term "Ballistic Tip" is a registered trademark of Nosler, so it shouldn't be used as a generic term for "plastic tipped" bullets)
- Avoid soft points. The lead can shave and wind up down in the action and jam it up.
- Avoid steel-cased ammo (not necessarily SAAMI spec)
- Avoid Hornady TAP (not sure why this)
- Avoid Cavim ammo as it’s not very accurate and varies in size
- Winchester Silver Tip is OK to use (I'm not sure if they differentiate between Winchester Super-X Silvertip and Winchester Supreme Ballistic Silvertip, and/or if it matters. The Silvertip is an aluminum cap whereas the Ballstic Silvertip is a polycarbonate tip. Don't know if it matters, and it probably doesn't.)
- Hornady Ballistic Tip (technically Nosler makes Ballistic Tip, as it's their registered trademark. Are they meaning A-Max or V-Max? I don't know, but you get the idea.)
- Winchester Failsafe (Winchester doesn't make this any more, replacing with the XP3 line.)
- 168 grain for deer
- 175 grain for moose
- Moly coated bullets are OK to use but when you start to use them you must stay with them. You will have to clean the gas port more often. SAI does not recommend. If you do use them, it will gum up fast, and you’ll have to clean often and clean well.
- Tracer and armor piercing ammo is OK, as long as it’s NATO spec.
- Frangible ammo is too light, won’t work.
There’s a few other things in the posting, but it’s a bit redundant. Their terms are a bit informal so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s what, especially regarding hunting ammo. The key thing seems to be that you can NOT use anything with an exposed soft point. The reason is any exposed lead will shave off, get down into the action, and jam things up. I have read of people using exposed soft points in their M1A’s “without any problem” but why risk any problems?
So, what's on your mind? Have something to add? Feel free to comment below!