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Time for some heresy. I've owned a loaded M1A since 2002. I am up to approximately 11,000 rounds through it. Only recently have I had any problems with stoppages and it was reloaded machine gun brass which decided to have case separation issues. There has never been a stoppage with the 8,000 rounds of Portuguese surplus. There has never been a stoppage with the 1,000 rounds of South African surplus. There has never been a stoppage with a few hundred Malaysian surplus. There has never been a stoppage with a few hundred Lake City surplus. There has never been a stoppage with a 100 or so Australian surplus. The closest I've come to taking the rifle down was to replace the stock with a GI fiberglass stock and occasionally checking headspace. It has never been lubed, greased or cleaned. The gas plug still moves freely when I pick it up. The headspace is still good. It was sold with 1.632" and is still between 1.630" and 1.634". The last 10 shot group at 300 yards was 14" with iron sights and 59 year old eyes. The last 10 shot group at 100 yards was 4" same sights, same eyes. These were with the aforementioned machine gun brass reloads. Portuguese surplus at least used to be better, but I'm running out of it, hence the reloads. I have to admit to taking a chamber brush to it when I get a stuck ruptured case. This has occured perhaps 10 times. I know this makes me a bad person, but consider it a torture test on the "crappy" Springfield Armory rifle. And to make some of you, myself included, cry, I bought the Portuguese for $139 a case. I have 2,000 rounds left.
 

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Powders for the M1A should be in the medium range not out of deference to the rifle but the cartridge. Bullets can go up to about 180 and that is due to the barrel twist not any inherent shortcomings of the M1A. So anything with a burn rate like 4895 or 4064 or in that general neighborhood would be fine. One of the improvements of the M-14 over the M-1 was handling a wider range of pressures so powder and bullet selection isn't nearly as critical as on the M-1.
As to ammunition to avoid? I'd stay clear of Indian, Pakistani and Venezuelan surplus. Some, and perhaps most of their collective surpluses may be fine but how do you know? I've read posts that bragged how good their Indian ammunition was but they were very selective on the dates. But part of the Indian surplus fiasco was that they were selling seconds? and also some that had storage issues. Life is just too short to shoot ammunition that you got cheaply only to have that nagging little doubt about a kaboom or whether the round will even feed etc.
 
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