Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Chinese M1A / M14 Clone - A Journey

I try not to refer to these rifles as Norinco products because North China Industries is merely a client of the manufacturer -- Factory 356 but I slip sometimes. So let's refer to this platform as a Chinese M1A clone. Are these Chinese M1A clones worth your hard earned dollars?

In my experience they are worth buying if you are prepared to familiarize yourself intimately with their tolerances, design and ammunition requirements because ultimately you will need to work on your rifle. Numerous Quality Control issues are associated with these rifles and you need to be prepared to either fix it yourself or ship it off to someone if the issue is more than you can tackle. For instance barrel indexing is a real problem with any Chinese M1A clone -- it just is. Swapping out parts for better quality components is a regularity with these rifles. These rifles generally come with head space between +0.014" to +0.017" SAAMI specifications. If this is a problem for you then you may need to invest in a Fulton, TRW, SA or other bolt and internals. It gets expensive pretty quick so please understand you are not buying a match grade M1A rifle for the meager price of $450 alright? The good news is that these Chinese M1A clones come with forged receivers -- not investment cast and as such the foundation for an amazing rifle is there.

So I look at it this way. When you buy a Chinese M1A clone for $450 you may as well agree that you are actually preparing to invest an additional $300 - $500 in gun-smith fee's and/or component replacements (not including your personal time investment). Some of you have been very lucky and have purchased a rifle that runs fabulously right out of the box. While that has not been my experience I know a few lucky individuals that have received good rifles for a very good price.

So are they worth buying?
Only you can answer that question.

For me... The answer is yes. I will always have a M1A in my gun safe, Chinese or otherwise After having transitioned through a M1A learning curve and performed most of the work on this rifle myself, I know it better and trust it with my life. In short, owning a Chinese M1A clone is a journey and a learning opportunity. Having gone through this process I am a more experienced and knowledgeable rifleman. If you don't want the journey then don't buy a Chinese M1A clone.

Here is a break down of the example used in this video.

2009 Polytech M305
Bedded into a USGI Fibreglass stock
Match spring guide
M1 Garand Rear Sight
National Match Flash Arrestor
No Stripper clip Guide
Bore is in excellent condition
Sling swivels replaced with studs
One extra stud for optional bipod
Gas system welded (unitized)
Barrel krylon black
One 5/20 Mag
Brass mic at +.015" ( good headspace ).