As I began my career in the industry and I had the opportunity to learn more about a wide range of firearms, my love for the M14 and its variants only grew. I have been a fan of this design since childhood, and that has not diminished any over the years.
Then, in 2020, I had the opportunity to write my first article for The Armory Life. Naturally, I chose the Springfield Armory M1A Loaded Precision to write about. Since that article, I have written 10 articles involving M1A rifles, three of which deal with the legendary team at Smith Enterprise LLC.
I had the honor of working with Ron and Andy over at Smith Enterprise, Inc. (SEI) to build out an M21A5 Crazy Horse rifle as well as a SOCOM variant. Through the process, I was blown away by their commitment to craftsmanship as well as the history of the shop. I decided to hand them over my beloved M1A SOCOM with a Sage Int. EBR chassis. My goal was to have them turn that rifle into a Mk 14 EBR Mod 0 SEI similar to the one that they delivered to the Navy SEALs.
The history of that rifle is quite interesting, to say the least. In the year 2000, the United States Special Operations Command requested a more compact version of the M14 that could be used for close-quarters combat as well as long-range engagements. This new version required a telescoping stock, adjustable cheek comb, pistol grip, picatinny rails on the handguard, and a Picatinny rail for a magnified optic.
Over the next few years after the tragic attack on 9/11, the U.S. Military began to realize the majority of their engagements were 500+ yards. The current M16s and M4s weren’t as effective at those distances, so the pressure was on to deliver firepower at those distances. The timing was perfect for the Mk14 EBR to shine. In 2003, Smith Enterprise created its own version of the Mk 14 EBR (Mk 14 SEI) that used a medium-weight 18” barrel and their Vortex flash hider.
Ron and Andy got to work on my M1A and, over the next few months, I would get updates with sneak peeks on the progress. I’ve never been so antsy to get a rifle back from a craftsman as I was for this one. This was my dream build coming to life. I provided Smith Enterprise with an M1A SOCOM, Sage EBR Chassis, Eotech Vudu 3.5-18×50 and an Atlas Bipod. Below is a list of the work that I had done for my M1A via Smith Enterprise, Inc.
- Medium Weight 18” SEI barrel Salt Bath Nitride
- Vortex Flash Hider
- Warfighter Gas System with improved piston
- Gas Lock with Dovetail
- SEI Extended Bolt Stop
- SEI Trigger Job
- Polished and Salt Bath Nitride Op Rod
- Tactical Sniper Mount M14
- Bolt Engraved with M14 Mod 0
Andy and Ron over at SEI pored over my rifle until everything was perfectly dialed in. A few weeks ago, I got a text with a grouping from the range showing off the sub-MOA capability of the rifle. I was down at their shop the next sunrise to pick up my rifle, and boy was it worth the wait. Bucket list rifle number one complete.
The next day, I took my newly built Mk14 EBR Mod 0 clone out to the range to send some lead downrange. This build is an absolute beast weighing in around 14 lbs. when fully loaded. Shooting the EBR always brings a huge smile to my face. You can just feel the power of the .308 rifle cartridge thumping out of this beauty. There’s also nothing like the sound of the mechanics in the M1A as it cycles a round — it’s just so satisfying.
A range day without accuracy testing this venerable legend would be a crime, so I set up for a five-shot group to see what she was capable of. The ammo I used for these precise groups was 168-gr. Remington Premier Match .308. I’ve had fantastic results with this ammo before, so I wanted to see if my M1A would like it.
I pulled the very first shot, and I felt it immediately. Settling back in and getting a better feel for the trigger, I restarted the group. Five shots later and I was sitting at about .75” MOA with a few shots going through the same holes. Call me impressed. This is exactly the kind of results I was hoping to get out of this newly refreshed M1A from Smith Enterprise.
For the purists out there, you will notice the lack of foregrip and my choice of bipod and optic. For me, I appreciate having this platforms with my personal spin on it. This isn’t a safe pony, but rather a usable, viable platform worthy of training and usage.
I feel incredibly blessed to be able to have friends such as the team at Smith Enterprise to work with creating iconic rifles like this, and then telling those stories on The Armory Life to readers like yourself.
If you own an M1A, give Smith Enterprise a close look. You can order parts from their website ala carte, or you can send your rifle in for the full treatment. Either way, you will breathe new life into your venerable rifle that continues to show its strength and stand the test of time.
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