i am looking to get a 308 semi auto and i am between the fal or the m1a. it will be used for target/plinking. can anyone give pros/cons and explain the difference between inch and metric pattern. price is really not an issue as the m1a is in the 1500 range.
The m1a will typically be more accurate out of the box. Also, doubles as a respectable hunting rifle with a 5 round mag. Although I do occasionally hunt pigs with my FAL para.
Other than that if shtf I would probably grab either of my FALs before my m1a. The FALs are accurate enough, ergonomically superior IMHO (pistol grip, left charging handle...) and possibly a tad more reliable.
I have been very happy with my regular Springfield 18" scout and both of my SA58's. You can't really go wrong with either.
Will you be using optics? The M1A has a handful of rather expensive mounting options. The FAL has only one realistic mounting option, but it's cheaper than the M-14/M1A mounts. If no optics, the M1A's sight is probably a bit better, but the FAL's is significantly simpler.
If you want to change the configuration of your rifle, the M1A has (again) a handful of rather expensive options, with the FAL having numerous options ranging from cheap to rather pricey.
Reliable milspec magazines for the M1A are available new for about $25, surplus (used) milspec FAL mags are about the same. Some of the surplus FAL mags are virtually new, some are rough but usable, some are junk. DSA is making new 30 rounders which are reported to be reliable. The new-production Korean ones are hit or miss (mostly miss). A polymer FAL mag is imminent.
The M1A's gas system is a bit more finicky than the FAL's adjustable system. It is less tolerant of heavy bullet loads, as well.
The M1A is typically more accurate, but there's a lot of overlap. Both are plenty accurate for what you want to do.
FAL spares are still pretty easily available and relatively cheap. M-14/M1A parts are typically significantly more expensive.
The FAL is easier to work on, IMO.
I have both rifles and like them both very much, but I have only one M1A and multiple copies of the FAL. I look at the M1A as a "what you see is what you get": it's a very nice rifle as-is, without much owner-possible tweaking. The FAL is more of a LEGO, with myriad possible ways to tweak it to your liking, which is why I've got multiple different configurations. Oddly enough, I like the M1A as a 21" barrel only (having gotten rid of the 18"), but I'm partial to an 18" FAL.
As to metric v. inch, the short version is to get a metric rifle (or a metric receiver, if you're going to build one) as your first FAL. There are far more parts and (mostly) magazines for the metric rifles, and the receiver type determines which magazine you'll need. There is a lot of interchangeability between metric and inch versions for both individual parts and whole subassemblies, so you can sort of "mix and match" to get what you want.
The key thing right now is the magazine situation: inch mags are much less common and more expensive than metric, with no planned new inch mag production.
Visit falfiles.com for the detailed metric-inch interchangeability and standard configurations, which are stickied in the metric and inch forums.
I have had both, and I love both. Both are accurate and reliable. I never got to shoot my M1A long distance with the iron sights, but I did take my L1A1 to a 1,000 yard range and checked the rear sight adjustment out at 100 yard intervals. At 500 yards I was still hitting a full size sillouette center mass at 500 yards kneeling. At 600 (the last adjustment on the rear sight) I was dropping down to thigh level. This was with British surplus ammo. My L1A1 is an English made BSA and I love it! The only real advantage I see over the M1A is the wood stock; it would make a better club than the plastic, but the L1A1 has a bayonet and I'd rather have a spear than a club! LOL...
I think the m1a vs fn/fal is kinda like asking if you want ford or dodge, or chevy or a toyota. There are going to be people that argue for and against each rifle. But both the m1a and the fn/fal are solid rifles.
A few months ago I was looking at either the m1a, fn/fal or the ptr-91. I finally decided to go with the fn/fal mainly due to its military service reputation. Not trying to take anything against the m1a, but there is a reason why the rest of the free world picked the fn/fal and the USA picked the m1a.
If someone handed me an m1a and said "here ya go", I would not feel disappointed at all.
If price is a factor, you might find the DS arms SA58 a little cheaper then the typical m1A.
I mounted a scope on my FN/FAL last week and plan on using the rifle as my primary deer rifle this year. Most of my shots are less then 100 yards.
I'm assuming you want to buy your first FAL "off the shelf" and have it run reliably out of the box.
Based on that, I would stay away from the Century Arms rifles, as well as anything built on a Century Arms, Entreprise, Hesse, or Vulcan Arms receiver. Since your budget is north of a kilobuck, you won't be shopping in this blighted neighborhood anyway, but it deserves mention in case someone offers you "an awesome deal" on one of these rifles. Do not buy that rifle.
Those makers I listed have reputations for problematic QC. It's not that you can't make a doggy Century FAL run, it's just that you'd be better off starting from scratch and building it yourself.
As far as which FAL you do want to buy, the first thing to do is decide which of the myriad configurations you like. DSA has multiple "standard" configurations; if you prefer something built exactly the way you want it, Arizona Response Systems can do it.
If you can find a quality build on a Coonan, Imbel or DSA receiver would be a great place to start. I would look for a minimum 18" barrel or if you can find one, a short gas rifle ( I really like mine). Paras are great, but I find that the metal butt stock tends to beat me up a little bit. But that is just my opinion.I have enough parts to build three more and will probably have two done by January 2012.
A type 1 is considered the most basic and arguably the strongest of the FN-Fal receivers, it does not have any of the fancy lightening cuts, and it is what you see when you see most Imbel receivers.
I believe that would be a Type 3 receiver. At least, all of my Imbels are Type 3, and I don't think Imbel ever made any other type.
The Type 1 was the original, as you might expect. It and the Type 2 had lightening cuts. The Type 1 was changed to Type 2 because of concerns with durability in full-auto fire. The Type 2's cuts are a bit different, and were meant to allay those full-auto concerns. The Type 3s have no cuts, and were made that way simply for economy of production.
Type 1 and 2: http://www.dsarms.com/FAL-SA58%20Upp...s/products/13/
The "quick and dirty" way to ID an upper receiver as Type 3 is the absence of lightening cuts on the sides of the receiver. The Type 1's cuts run nearly the length of the receiver, and continue into the recoil shield on the lower receiver. The Type 2 has a "dip" in the cut just in front of the recoil shield, then a second curved cut comes up and into the recoil shield.
Any of the 3 types is perfectly adequate for any semi-only FAL. It comes down to esthetics. My personal preference is a Type 1 for a wood-stocked FAL, a Type 2 for a para, and Type 3 for a synthetic-stocked rifle.
you have a wife worth commending - tell her we all think she is great , can i give her my wifes phone number for a pep talk ?
congrats a nice rifle
as to the comparison , you need both - its like having a CQB rifle in the FAL and a sniper rifle in the M1A , both are neccessary and one must be prepared , personally i have both and wont part with either , you also need adequate handguns
There's no such thing as too many guns; they are tools each for a different purpose! I tried to explain that to a former wife once and she disagreed. Then I got the sledgehammer out to pund in a finish nail and she stopped me wondering what the hell I was doing. I once again reiterated the different tools for different jobs idea and then she understood. Well sort of....