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Thread: SA, Inc. M1A serial number chronology

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    SA, Inc. M1A serial number chronology

    Springfield Armory, Inc. M1A Serial Number Chronology

    by

    Lee Emerson

    100617

    Short answer: The collector’s choice would be a factory built standard model M1A rifle between serial numbers 0422XX and 063000. You can e-mail me for a complimentary copy of this in .pdf format.

    M1A Serial Number(s) Comments

    000001 to 003700 Texas era receivers tend to exhibit one or more dimensional flaws as identified by retired M14 gunsmith Art Luppino. Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas assembled about 2000 complete rifles using USGI parts before it was sold to Bob Reese (Geneseo, IL). An additional 120 rifles were built for Elmer Bal lance by Glenn Nelson and Wayne Young before June 1974 using stripped or barreled receivers supplied by Elmer.
    000001 to 063XXX Receivers machined by Valley Ordnance Co. were given a lot of hand grinding and polishing by Melvin Smith. Specifically, these areas were: 1) the exterior heel corners on the sides 2) the flat surface aft of the operating rod channel 3) the top surface of the left receiver wall from the cartridge clip guide to the barrel ring 4) the vertical surface on the right side behind the cartridge clip guide all the way back including the windage knob ear 5) the left side of the barrel ring forward of the horizontal scope mount groove 6) the magazine well aft of the feed lips and 7) the top surface of the barrel ring after all machining operations that located off the barrel ring had been done. This cosmetic detailing is evident as late as M1A serial number 062857 but was no longer being done by serial number 064922. Note that the hand polishing served to enhance the aesthetic appearance but did not add to the functional ability of the M1A receiver. As Melvin Smith moved to semi-retirement the receiver surfaces noted above were finished by machine. For example, the magazine well on M1A receivers was cut and broached by machine tool after Mr. Smith purchased Hillside Manufacturing.
    000011 Receiver left side connector lock hole is present.
    000049 Receiver left side connector lock hole is missing. Receiver heel rear end wall centerline thickness is ¼ “.
    000377 Highest observed serial number with 7.62-MM marking on the receiver heel.
    000440 Lowest observed serial number with 7.62-mm marking on the receiver heel.
    000567 to 000708 Within this serial number range, Valley Ordnance Co. changed the receiver design. The rear end of the M1A receiver bolt right lug slot, located under the rear sight base cover, was extended 0.080 " to the rear to prevent possible damage to the bolt roller.
    001XXX to 002XXX Gray-Syracuse, Inc. becomes the casting supplier of M1A receivers.
    002010 Receiver left side connector lock hole is still missing.
    002068 Receiver left side connector lock hole reappears for good.
    002709 Lowest known serial number (stripped receiver) sold by SA, Inc. located in Geneseo, IL.
    002877 Highest documented serial number (complete rifle) shipped from Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas.
    002884 Receiver heel rear end wall centerline thickness is 5/16 “. Serial numbers after this have noticeably less steel cut away in the bolt raceways after of the cartridge clip guide.
    002884 to 010048 At some point in this serial number range, the receiver design was changed to incorporate a hemispherical cut in the windage knob ear outboard side (commercial NM rear sight).
    002903 Lowest documented serial number (complete rifle) shipped from Springfield Armory, Inc. in Illinois.
    003306 Highest documented serial number (stripped receiver) shipped from Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas.
    003700 Highest documented serial number for receiver production while Springfield Armory, Inc. was located in Texas. Valley Ordnance Co. resumed receiver production on September 21, 1974 at serial number 003701. Springfield Armory, Inc. in Texas was sold around November 01, 1974 to Bob Reese in Illinois. During July and August 1974, Valley Ordnance was completing 75 receivers per week. Based on this output, the highest receiver serial number while Springfield Armory, Inc. was located in Texas is estimated at about 004075.
    004357 to 004379 January 01, 1976: In this serial number range, a factory one year limited warranty is in force after the initial purchase of a rifle.
    007XXX to 020XXX SOME receivers made from AISI 4140 alloy steel. The elevation serrations wear prematurely but can be repaired using an elevation disk. These receivers are serviceable, no other issues reported.
    007XXX to 037XXX Springfield Armory, Inc. does not have USGI chromium plated barrels for assembly of complete rifles. Factory installed barrels in this serial number range will be commercial manufacture but machined by Hillside Manufacturing (Dallas, PA) using Wilson Arms blanks.
    007041 A commercial unlined standard profile barrel and a commercial operating rod used to build standard model M1A.
    0093XX A commercial unlined standard profile barrel, a commercial bolt and a commercial operating rod are used in the assembly of this standard model M1A. Hillside Manufacturing machined reproduction operating rods, trigger housings, flash suppressors, bolts, operating rod spring guides and barrels. No gas cylinders were made by Hillside Manufacturing or Valley Ordnance. It has not been confirmed but most likely the trigger housing and flash suppressor castings for M1A parts were also produced by Gray-Syracuse, Inc. since Mr. Smith was loyal to his suppliers. Valley Ordnance did the finish machining on cast semi-finished cartridge clip guides supplied to the firm. The reproduction bolts, operating rods and trigger housings were stamped at Valley Ordnance. The operating rod spring guides were made from plate steel using a punch press with progressive dies. The operating rods were supplied to Hillside Manufacturing already welded together. Hillside Manufacturing machined the operating rods to final dimension.
    017XXX to 020XXX The 18 “ barreled M1A models first appear.
    030061 Receiver heel rear end wall centerline thickness is 3/8 “.
    0343XX Highest observed serial number with receiver bottom side right hand ridge.
    038XXX About this time, large quantities of USGI M14 parts are imported into the United States and become available on the surplus market. Springfield Armory, Inc. and other firearms related businesses buy large quantities of these USGI parts.
    038770 Highest observed factory built select fire model
    040XXX Receiver was redesigned to move the barrel chamber slightly forward to increase bolt lock up time.
    042201 Lowest observed serial number without the receiver bottom side right hand ridge. The bottom side ridge was removed from the design as part of the changes made for economic reasons. It meant two less machining cuts but it also had the benefit of a better fit with various makes of stocks.
    042201 to 063000 This is the serial number range that I refer to as the Golden Age of the M1A. The receiver design had fully matured by this time. The receivers were hand finished by the original designer and master craftsman, Melvin Smith. Springfield Armory, Inc. was awash in USGI parts during this period. Thus, factory built standard model M1A rifles in this serial number range were built with a very high USGI parts count.
    0630XX 7.62mm caliber marking is on the receiver heel.
    063112 7.62mm caliber marking no longer appears on the receiver heel.
    064872 Rear lugged receivers are now available from the factory.
    070005 to 072074 January 01, 1993: In this serial number range, a lifetime limited warranty is now in effect for the original buyer of a factory built rifle.
    07157X to 075XXX Factory shipping boxes change from green and white to blue and white.
    072XXX to 073XXX By this serial number range, the operating rod rail dimensions have been narrowed for a tighter fit with the operating rod tab.
    0748XX Late version SA, Inc. commercial manufacture operating rod now used to assemble complete rifles.
    081004 Built at the factory with the following USGI parts: TRW trigger housing, HR-N hammer, TRW bolt, Winchester barrel, and WCE USGI rear sight elevation and windage knobs.
    084000 Generally accepted highest “safe” serial number for pre-’94 AW ban rifles. Since about this serial number, no M1A rifles have been factory built with lugged flash suppressors.
    097726 The last completed receiver from Valley Ordnance Co. is shipped to Geneseo, IL.
    098XXX The loaded standard model is debuted.
    100042 Highest observed serial number with Gray-Syracuse, Inc. pour lot marking
    102570 Change in pour lot markings indicates the change in casting supplier for receivers.
    124XXX The factory is installing commercial manufacture forged bolts (F prefix series) in rifles.
    136XXX to 165XXX Some receivers in this range have scope mount grooves too narrow for side three point scope mounts offered by other companies, e.g., Sadlak Industries, Smith Enterprise, etc.
    139XXX Use of USGI parts in factory built rifles begins to noticeably drop.
    161920 With rare exception after this serial number, commercial unlined barrels are installed on standard model M1A rifles. SA, Inc. machines the barrels from Wilson Arms supplied blanks.
    162708 Lowest observed serial number for the M1A SOCOM series.
    165XXX About 300 receivers in this serial number range have heels stamped AROMRY instead of ARMORY.
    166761 Highest known serial number for a complete rifle built during the ten year federal Assault Weapons ban.
    192260 Factory built standard model with all commercial parts except USGI fiberglass (with black crinkle) stock, operating rod spring guide, trigger housing and hammer. Fit and function meet my expectations. I would buy this rifle and be proud to own it.
    218XXX About this serial number, M1A rifles may be assembled with new manufacture polymer stocks as the inventory of USGI fiberglass stocks (with blank crinkle) have been used up.
    241552 Most recent manufacture date (November 2009).
    By January 2010, 22 “ standard profile barrels, muzzle brakes and lugless flash suppressors are manufactured by Dasan Machineries, Ltd. (Jeollabuk, Korea).

  2. #2
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    Very useful list.

    Thank you.

    Off to find a "golden age" M1A.
    It's hard to be a ACLU hating, philosophically Libertarian, socially liberal, fiscally conservative, scientifically grounded, agnostic, porn admiring gun owner who believes in self determination.

    Chuck, we miss ya man.

    كافر

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    Thumbs up

    Thank you sir, this is valuable information. Mods please make this a sticky.



    “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."

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    Thanks! Off to the gun show this weekend.

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    Thanks. That's a great resource.

    Appreciate you taking the time to assemble it and then share it with us.

    Now stuck for reference.
    Employee of colonialshooting.com

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    Excellent information. Thank you for posting that.
    2012 National Zumba Endurance Champion
    Hi Point 9mm, Lorcin .22, Bushmaster Carbon 15, Norinco SKS, Leapers 10x

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    So could one read this to say that while the newer rifles have mostly commercial parts, that they're good to go?
    The Revolution will not be televised.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterWilson View Post
    So could one read this to say that while the newer rifles have mostly commercial parts, that they're good to go?
    I would say negative and upgrade key components with GI parts.



    “We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."

    ― Ayn Rand

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    Quote Originally Posted by MisterWilson View Post
    So could one read this to say that while the newer rifles have mostly commercial parts, that they're good to go?
    The intended application is going to determine what parts are used and how it is configured, e.g., barrel, stock, sights, mounts, optics, slings, muzzle attachments, etc. If you want a fun blaster, a factory built M1A works great.
    Last edited by Different; 06-18-10 at 19:42.

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    Im confused, would a present day SA M1A be considered reliable and accurate as the older M1As ? If not is it because of GI vs Commercial parts, & wouldnt the commercial parts be made to GI specs in order for the gun to function properly ? Its difficult to imagine a company like SA to produce less than top notch firearms . FYI, I just bought a preban M1A, because I wasnt sure about the quality of the SA parts on new rifles. The new M1As look great, but are they reliable?

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    Quote Originally Posted by onado2000 View Post
    Im confused, would a present day SA M1A be considered reliable and accurate as the older M1As ? If not is it because of GI vs Commercial parts, & wouldnt the commercial parts be made to GI specs in order for the gun to function properly ? Its difficult to imagine a company like SA to produce less than top notch firearms . FYI, I just bought a preban M1A, because I wasnt sure about the quality of the SA parts on new rifles. The new M1As look great, but are they reliable?
    There's no empirical study that can conclusively answer your question. However, there is hope for commercial made parts.

    Commercial barrels perform very well as compared to government contract barrels. Criterion Barrels, Inc. chromium plated barrels get rave reviews from M14 gunsmiths and civilian owners. Smith Enterprise, Inc. manufactured gas system components have been holding up just fine in 2nd Infantry Division M21A5 rifles since 2004. Springfield Armory, Inc. sells M1A magazines that are made by the same company that makes M14 magazines for the military, Check-Mate Industries. Springfield Armory, Inc. M1A operating rods have been in use by civilian match shooters for over thirty years. My select fire SA, Inc. M1A was factory built with a commercial M1A operating rod. On its third barrel, that commercial M1A operating rod looks good and works well. I've seen and read about more broken USGI operating rods than commercial SA, Inc. operating rods (hint: Harrington & Richardson Arms op rods are not my first choice). The Fulton Armory hand guard is stout, probably more rugged than the 1960s vintage USGI solid fiberglass handguard. Without a doubt, the Sadlak Industries match operating rod spring guide is better quality than the old AMTU design. Why? Because it is a single piece of 8620 alloy steel that has been heat treated to 40 to 45 HRC. The AMTU spring guide was of two piece construction with no post-weld heat treatment. This caused the magazine catch to wear prematurely. The U. S. Army has built over 5,000 M14 EBR-RI rifles with Sage EBR stocks that have been used by Army units in the sand box. Those Sage stocks are holding up to the abuse of combat operations. The Smith Enterprise, Inc. NM rear sight assembly is wire EDM machined from 4140 alloy bar stock and operates velvet smooth when assembled to a host receiver. It was favorably received by CMP. I have had a USGI chromium plated firing pin break at the tip after 8,300 rounds.

    Advances in technology have made many commercial manufacture parts longer lasting than 1960s era USGI contract parts. Also, some parts are not directly comparable as there was no such part made for the government. Example, rubber butt pad for the stock. Some civilian users prefer a rubber butt pad. How about Sadlak's tactical magazine latch? It's never been adopted for a government M14 variant but a lot of us civvies like it. The Sadlak tactical magazine latch went through a design and testing phase. It meets the USGI material specification and it is heat treated to 55 HRC. Sadlak Industries, LLC used the USGI drawing as the basis for its tactical magazine latch. The thumb pad was enlarged and given serrations. Will it last as long as a USGI magazine latch? No one knows but Sadlak Industries has an outstanding reputation and the part works well for me on my M1A.

    If a M14 type rifle is assembled correctly, it will be reliable and at least battle rifle accurate whether it is made up of USGI parts or commercial parts. If a M14/M1A is put together and a part is not fitted correctly, the matter is almost always resolved once the specific issue is addressed. IOW, once it's fixed, it's good to go.

    USGI parts did not always meet the drawing requirements, specifically for heat treatment requirements. I've read U. S. government and private independent lab reports on the hardness of USGI M14 receivers, hammers, operating rods and bolts. USGI M14 receivers did not always meet the drawing surface and core hardness requirements. And yes, this was into the seven digit serial numbers, way, way beyond the Harrington & Richardson Arms episode of 1960. LRB Arms has its receiver heat treatment down perfectly. Every LRB Arms receiver is individually tested for surface hardness. Sample receivers are checked for case depth and core hardness. The surface hardness of every LRB Arms receiver is recorded in a log book by the company. USGI HR-N hammer? Too soft in the core, bud!! Honestly, I would take a Smith Enterprise operating rod over a Harrington & Richardson Arms operating rod any day. Will both work and last a long time? Yes! But the HRA operating rod is like the Chinese operating rod, in the mid-30s HRC for hardness. And yes, the Smith Enterprise, Inc. operating rod has been accepted for M14 rifle re-builds by military units, e.g., Vermont Army National Guard. Yes, Virginia, TRW got the heat treatment right on the operating rod.

    Bottom line, just 'cuz it's 1960s USGI contract manufacture does not mean it was made right and just 'cuz it's a commercial part means it's crap.
    Last edited by Different; 06-20-10 at 11:50.

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    Different, Thanks so much for your time & information. Its frustrating to research a subject and come up empty. Your knowledge base of the M1A is amazing and Im certain has helped many people like myself make informed decisions when puchasing these rifles. Sincerly many thanks .

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    Score!! I got one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Different View Post
    042201 to 063000 This is the serial number range that I refer to as the Golden Age of the M1A. The receiver design had fully matured by this time. The receivers were hand finished by the original designer and master craftsman, Melvin Smith. Springfield Armory, Inc. was awash in USGI parts during this period. Thus, factory built standard model M1A rifles in this serial number range were built with a very high USGI parts count.
    I bought my M1A a few weeks after Purdy pulled his BS in Stockton. It is a great shooter.

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    68000 serial # m1a- good idea?

    it looks like i'll have an option to buy one. estate sale, owner was fussy.

    good idea?

    thanks for comments.

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