Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

M1A
Springfield Armory M1A.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

  • Scoping the M1A
  • Receiver
  • The mount
  • Just starting!
  • Why
  • Get a longer scope
  • What you’re gonna do
  • The solution
  • Shim it
  • However
  • Too much parallax
  • Summary

Well, we shot the Springfield Armory M1A pellet rifle with its factory sights in Part 4. We learned that the rifle is not fussy about the pellets you choose and also it’s pretty accurate. Today we look at mounting a scope on the rifle.

At this point I usually just wave my hands and say a few clever things and poof! — the three hours of work I did to get the report together vanishes. Not today. Today you’re kneeling in the snow beside me, holding the hubcap of our Oldsmobile sedan so I can put the lug nuts into it. I told mom I would change the blown-out tire in four minutes and she’s timing me. Look sharp, Ralphie!

Scoping the M1A

The M1A underlever pellet rifle we are examining came with a scope base, and today we are going to mount it to the rifle. Then we will select a scope and mount it to the base. Like the Oldsmobile in the movie, A Christmas Story, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Some air rifles are easy to scope. They have bases built right into the rifle and they accept scopes with relative ease. If you doubt that you might want to review the 5-part series I did on How to mount a scope.

The M1A, however, is different. It does not naturally accept a scope and there are several things to be considered when you do mount one. This isn’t something you want to do on the phone with a salesperson as you are ordering the rifle either, because I’ll bet none of them have done what you are about to see!

Receiver

The special mount I’m installing fits several different air rifles. Let’s look at the receiver of this Springfield Armory M1A now and see where it fits.

M1A receiver
The special scope base for the M1A attaches to the two threaded holes in the rifle’s receiver indicated by the arrows. If you examine this picture closely you’ll notice that the top hole on the right is set back and not even with the hole at the lower left.

The mount

The mount for the M1A takes into account that the two threaded holes are not even. By “even” I mean both holes do not come out as far from the side of the receiver. The top mount hole that attaches to the top hole in the receiver has a long bushing that provides the standoff needed to keep the scope base aligned with the rifle barrel.

Please note that both those threaded holes are brass inserts that will strip out easily if you tighten the screws too much. This is not the time to be heavy-handed.

M1A scope mount
Looking at the back of the M1A scope base we see the long bushing (arrow) that provides the standoff for the upper mounting screw.

There is one more detail to note on the back side of the scope mount. Next to the lower hole there is a raised ridge that fits into a groove in the M1A receiver. That locks the mount to the receiver and prevents it from slipping when a scope is mounted to it.

M1A receiver detail
The ridge on the back of the M1A scope base fits into the groove (arrow) in the receiver, next to the lower screw hole to lock the scope base in place.

M1A scope base installed
Here the scope base is snugged down on the M1A receiver.

Just starting!

I told you I was going to let you look over my shoulder today. Well, what we have looked at so far wasn’t it! Now we get to the stuff that isn’t as pretty — the stuff where you have to think!

Okay, the scope base is attached to the M1A. What’s next? That’s simple, no? Now we mount a scope. But what kind of scope do we mount?

Danger, Will Robinson!

This is where some guys will immediately place an order for a 3-93X89 Orbital Platform telescope and other guys shop with their upper limit of $49 at the forefront. Neither way will work, for an M1A. Why?

Why

Eye relief
Can’t position the head high enough
Too much parallax

Instead of talking you through those topics, I mounted a scope. Let me show you.

M1A first scope
This is a UTG 4-16X44 Compact Scope. It looks great and is sized right for the M1A. Only problem is — it doesn’t work!

The first scope doesn’t work for a combination of reasons. The first is the eye relief. The scope can’t be mounted far enough to the rear for your sighting eye to see the image. You see an image that’s about a quarter the size of the eyepiece because you can’t get your head far enough forward to see it all. And if you add a cantelevered scope ring to the base the scope goes even higher than this!

Secondly, when you hold the rifle to your shoulder the scope eyepiece is well above your sighting eye. Everyone ought to be able to look at the buttstock and see that. However, it makes no difference because problem number one can’t be overcome on this rifle and base. You have to find a different scope.

This is where all the time was spent on today’s report. I was looking for a scope that was sized right so I could see the entire image through the eyepiece. When I initially thought about a scope for the M1A the Bug Buster was the first thing that came to mind. But if this scope that I tried won’t adjust far enough to the rear, a Bug Buster hasn’t got a chance!

Get a longer scope

I seem to be leading you to select a longer scope — only I’m not! Look at the loading port cover. It’s almost half covered by this compact scope. A longer scope will cover it completely and I already told you how difficult it is to load this rifle. Whadda ya gonna do?

What you’re gonna do

What you will do is pay attention to what I’m showing you in this report. It doesn’t help for you to learn all of this the hard way and spend weeks of frustration with packages going back and forth between you and the dealer because, well, things just don’t seem to work the way you thought they should. You now know that a Bug Buster won’t work because the eye relief is too short. That kind of scope can’t be adjusted to the rear as far as it has to be. And THAT is the clue!

You need a compact scope that won’t cover the loading port completely, but it also has to have either a super-long eyepiece tube or a long eye relief. My friends, let me show you my solution!

The solution

I have a UTG 2-7X44 SWAT scope that has a 9.5-11-inch eye relief and it works perfectly on the M1A. I say perfectly meaning that I can see the entire image in the eyepiece. And it works when I mount the M1A to my shoulder. I still have to shoot the rifle to see if it works the way I hope.

M1A second scope
The UTG 2-7X44 SWAT scope works well.

Shim it

Many air rifles and firearm rifles shoot too low for their scopes. We call it barrel droop. We have learned that if the rifle shoots low and you adjust the scope’s elevation high to compensate, the erector tube may float, allowing the scope to shift during firing. It won’t hold a zero.

If you know that up front and plan for it when you mount the scope you can save a lot of time. So I did. I had to adjust the scope rings on the scope I selected anyway, to get it positioned as far to the rear as possible — not for eye relief but to clear that pellet loading port. As long as the rings were loose I slipped a thin shim under the scope on the rear ring saddle to elevate the scope a little. That fixes a multitude of issues right up front.

However

All of this forethought sounds hunky dory until you realize the eyepiece of the scope is now positioned way too high. It is because the military stock on the M1A isn’t designed for scopes, plus the rear of the scope is now even higher and the scope is looking down. The M1A stock is designed for the sights that came with the rifle and they are quite a bit lower than the eyepiece of this scope.

BUT — the military has dealt with this problem since World War II, when they turned the M 1 Garand into a sniper rifle. I knew that, so I solved my problem the same way — with a lace-on leather cheekpiece.

M1A cheekpiece
The solution that worked for the M1 Garand also works for the M1A.

Too much parallax

Of the three problems I mentioned earlier, we discussed earlier, we have looked at just two. Now we come to number three — too much parallax. Because we now have to hold our head against the stock on an aftermarket cheekpiece, it is essential that our head contacts the rifle at the same place for every shot. We have to find a way to hit that cheekpiece the same every time or we will scatter the shots because of parallax. The only way I know of to test that is to shoot the rifle for accuracy and see what kind of groups we get.

Summary

I haven’t cut you any slack today. Today you got your nose pushed into the problem of scoping a difficult air rifle and I hope you have seen the solution. I say I hope because until we see the results of the next accuracy test, who can say?

A lot hinges of my success with the next test. The Springfield Armory M1A is a wonderful air rifle at a terrific price. Here’s hoping it works with a scope, too!

64 thoughts on “Springfield Armory M1A Underlever Pellet Rifle: Part 5

  1. B.B.,

    This platform needs to be stripped from its cosmetic cover and given its own stock. That way it can fend for itself on the marketplace without the added complication of the cosmetic doodads to make it look like an M1A, no matter how stunning it looks. That will allow a better relationship of the scopebase to the stock and maybe fix the safety.

    You haven’t taken a peek at the safety linkage have you?

    Siraniko


  2. BB,

    A good article. The lace did not get much extra height at all. I suppose that could be fixed by adding something between the lace on and the stock. At least the cheek swells gained you something for repeated feel/weld.

    Is the lace on dual sided for left and right shooters?

    Looking forwards to the shootin’.

    Chris


  3. BB
    I put a Crosman Center Point 1.5-6×32 PTL scope on mine and it is perfect. Comes back further and has a smaller objective lens to mount it lower. Not sure if the rings I have on it came with it but it can be lowered even more.
    It can be mounted flush with the front end of the scope mount rail or actually behind it depending on the eye relief desired.
    It’s not an EZ Tap but it’s a lot less expensive and has a nice dual reticle. Suggested for shotguns so it may hold up to a springer. They say it’s 100% shock proof.
    Crosman may be able to shed more light on that.

    Also, you ought to show a picture of the gear that moves the upper hand guard forward when cocked. It’s something else, KISS comes to mind.
    Bob M




        • RR
          Yes BB mentioned it as a possible problem with this rifle and that scope may not be the perfect choice but it fits very well and I just happened to have it already.
          Between my old eyes, trifocals glasses, eye relief ocular and magnifying adjustments I’m glad to be able to see the target. For me parallax is just another thing I have to compensate for with most of my scopes. Because of my glasses? So I am no authority on too much parallax and can’t comment on it with any authority.
          I don’t see much of anything clearly without head adjustments, and I simply can not use the open sights on this airgun. Just wanted to offer it up as an option that ‘fits’. And your comment has just added to the information people need to consider in deciding what to use here. Good point.
          Bob M



      • BB
        Well you made the main point. This rifle is limited to scopes that meet certain specs. It must be long enough to provide proper eye relief and short enough to clear the loading area.
        Just for the heck of it I tried my favorite airgun scope, a 35 yd. fixed objective Leapers 4×32 True Hunter.
        If I pulled it back so the rear ring, in the last weaver slot, just sat next to the reticle adjuster block the eye relief worked out OK and there was a reasonable amount of clearance for pellet loading up front.
        I would say a scope with a long tube behind the adjusting block, but not too long overall, to position it to the rear better and a small to average objective bell to keep it low and not interfere with pellet loading would be ideal. A 1″ tubular dot sight would probably work well too. Another Crosman item.
        Bob M



        • Hey Everyone,

          Check the M1C and M1D rifle reviews on the forgotten weapons website on the Internet. Ian does a good job of reviewing both rifles. I spent about as much time on that website as I do here.

          You also need to remember that military sniper rifles weren’t made for monster scopes.

          Brent



            • BB,

              I remember reading in Chris Kyle’s book that he had an 8×32 insanely expensive scope mounted on his custom bolt sniper rifle—but then Uncle Sam was footing the bill. Even in Vietnam, I’m sure that an M14 never had a scope over 10x—never read about one anyway. Too narrow a field of view and you forget what’s happening around you.

              Brent


              • Brent,

                “Too narrow a field of view and you forget what’s happening around you.”. Yup! We could call it tunnel vision! But in a Sniper Team the Spotter’s job is to keep the situational awareness to keep the team safe while the shooter concentrates totally on getting the shot. Hollywood has messed with that concept most of the time since it doesn’t play well on screen; but how often does Hollywood get anything REAL right?

                shootski



  4. B.B.

    Well it is a good thing that they made millions of the M1. Otherwise that scope base would never exists.
    You mentioned that the Army turned some of the M1’s into sniper rifles. What scope did those rifles use?
    I believe that the point you are trying to make is that gun stocks that are set up for open sights and gun stocks that are set up for scopes need to be completely different. Your line of sight is completely different. Riser cheek pieces and pieces of goat leather can only do so much….
    I wonder how many people shot an M1, with a scope and did not use a “cheek weld”, but a “jaw weld”, had their jaws broken?

    -Y



  5. BB-

    I would suggest the Tactical Cheek Pad made by Blackhawk. They come with 3 height adjustment pads. I have a couple on rifles and they work well. The M1 pads like yours look good, but frequently don’t offer enough height. I have used a piece of 1/2” closed cell foam from a sleeping pad glued to the underside to raise the line of sight. You will need a longer lace if you go that route.

    Yes, the M1 (and M14) does recoil, but not bad. A push, not a punch.



      • Blackhawk makes good stuff and is a good company to deal with. I had laid out out one of these pads for mounting on a Scout model M1A. Got called away, and when I returned, the pad was gone. Looking around the house, revealed the pup in his bed, happily chewing through the last strap. I called Blackhawk and after talking over the joys of dog ownership with the sales rep, I tried to buy replacement straps. They couldn’t do that. Darn. A couple days later, a new pad showed up. Good folks!


      • B.B.,

        I think this is a first.

        I’ve never seen a picture of a cheek riser that you’ve installed on an airgun. We talk about repeatable cheek weld being an important part of the accuracy equation in shooting but I think you’ve become such a good shooter and can adapt & repeat a chin weld and get away with it. Most airgunners can’t do that.

        Most shooters and many airguns would greatly benefit from a cheek riser. There are many out there including Adjustable Cheek Risers. Tourbon makes a variety out of a variety of materials and they’re now being sold on amazon. Shooters need to pay attention on how the cheek riser is attached. It needs to be secure on the gun or you’ll defeat its’ purpose of helping with a repeatable cheek weld.


  6. BB,

    Good that you pointed out the concerns and considerations of mounting a scope the M1A – you probably saved a lot of people some frustration.

    I went through a similar exercise when I was looking for a way to mount a scope on my FWB 603 for mini-sniping . It is possible but the amount of time and effort is just not worth it. I did come up with a passable solution by mounting a red-dot on the aperture sight dovetail.

    Maybe the M1A would be happier with a red-dot.

    Hank


    • Hank,

      Saving people time and frustration was my main motivation when I saw what had to be done. The M1A is an accurate pellet rifle. If the scope works like I hope, it will be a best buy.

      And I like the red dot idea, too! I think I’m going to try it.

      BB


  7. BB, If I didn’t have the .177 Synergis already, this one in .22 would be tempting me, it looks so much better. Now that there is an adjustable abs cheek riser, and a verticle grip added to the plastic stock, (that wont work with solvent based adhesives) I’ve put in more work than the rifle is worth to get it to fit better! If this one had a removable mag like the Synergis, and it was as accurate, Sale!
    You are very clever to put a scout scope on her. I have that scope. I think the cantilevered rings from BKL would work like a champ too, if they are the right height, color. dia.
    I hope it lets you walk your rounds right on target!
    Rob


  8. What about those rear peep sights with the flip up for sliding the elevation adjustment for long range shots. My dad had that on his Garand. He was a sniper in the Korean war. I shot that gun when I was a young’n. Don’t know if it was the gun he shot in the war. But I liked shooting that gun. And yep its a push. Not a kick when you shoot. But then again my dad reloaded and I remember him saying he slowed the load down. So maybe that’s why I don’t remember a kick. But it was very accurate.

    Oh and the 499. Yep here’s what I think of it.

    Is that a big enough thumbs up. 🙂


    • GF1, The Umarex HDR50 and the .68 cal HDS are smoothbores. Rockstar Tactical .com has upgrade valves.
      11 or 20 joules is possible, w/no valve.
      It’s not just paintballs anymore, hard rubber or steel core. Plus they have .43 cal semi-autos, with xtra mags.
      If a Crosman 1325 pumper isn’t available, maybe one of these would work instead. For mean dogs, one eyed or not.
      Rob


    • Gunfun1

      Glad you are happy about the 499. Have you determined how far this smooth bore will shoot before it falls off acceptable accuracy?

      I reload the Garand, 03 Springfield and K98 Mauser. The 03 kicks like the K98 using a similar reload. The same reload in the Garand is a shove compared to the two bolt action rifles whose recoil is a jab. Has to be the gas piston but that is just my opinion.

      Deck


      • Deck
        The 499 I got is crazy accurate. I can hit cans at 20 yards off hand all day long. At 15 yards I still get one hole groups bench resting it. At 20 yards it opens up to about a inch and the bb will only go through one side of a aluminum can instead of both sides at 10-15 yards. So I would say 20 yards is probably getting to be the max distance I can shoot it at.

        And what is crazy also is my 499 is more powerful than my adult Red Ryder I have. At 20 yards the adult Red Ryder won’t even penetrate a aluminum can. I have to move into 10 yards before it will go through only one side of a aluminum can. But the Red Ryder is fairly accurate too. I found out it shoots better with no bb’s in the barrel resivour and single loading a BB down the muzzle of the barrel like the 499. I’m getting about 1 inch groups at 12 yards with the Red Ryder and I can hit a aluminum can at 20 yards about 5 out of 10 shots. About 15 yards is max I think for me with the Red Ryder. I can then hit the can everytime at that distance.

        But all i know is the 499 I got is great. I want to get another 499 when they get back in stock. I hope its as good as the one I have now when I get it.


        • GF1,

          Did you chrony them yet? I think you will find the RR is doing 100 fps – ish faster. I can not explain the penetration difference. The 499 is doing 412 with the RR spring.

          Chris


          • Chris
            Yep that’s what the description said about the adult Red Ryder. It was suppose to be faster than the 499.

            That’s why I got the Red Ryder. I figured I would swap the springs out of the 499 and Red Ryder to get the 499 going a little stronger.

            I haven’t chronyed them because shooting them at the cans and how they penetrated told me what I needed to know about what velocity they are making. It’s 100% obvious my 499 is much stronger than my Red Ryder.

            I’ll tell ya the 499 I have shoots like its a lower velocity pcp power and accuracy wise. It just hits on the money every shot. I guess I really need to chrony them both though. But no doubt in my mind the 499 I have is stronger than the Red Ryder I have.

            Oh and I thought you used the 1938 spring. If I remember right the (adult) Red Ryder shoots faster than the 1938. Again that’s why I got the Adult Red Ryder because it shot faster than the others. But not the case with my 499.


            • GF1,

              I am not familiar with the “adult” RR. I know of it, but thought is is just the same action in a bigger stock. Do the PA specs show different fps?

              If doing the RR spring swap, stick with the part #’s already given you,… (if in fact there even is a difference). The youth spring is plenty. You get too heavy and the sear/latch will fail.

              Yup, do the chrony to let us know for sure.

              Chris



        • Gunfun1

          The adult Red Ryder is claimed in at least one ad to be around 25 fps faster than the Daisy standard. Did Daisy send you a souped up 499 or is this your doing? Know you were working on a mod with a 499 barrel but that didn’t pan out? If I knew I could get a 499 that performed close to yours I would spring for it.

          Still wondering about smoothbore accuracy potential at longer ranges using whatever pellets, bullets or lead balls that work.

          Stay safe!

          Deck


          • Deck
            Both my RR and 499 are right out of the box. No mods done.

            And yep that’s why I want to get another 499. If it’s as good as the one I have now I’ll be surprised and also happy at the same time. I will be getting another 499.

            And Chris has asked for chrony results on both guns. So going to try to do that this morning. If not definitely tomorrow because I’m off work. I’ll reply to you when I post the results if your interested.


            • Gunfun1

              Yes, I’m very curious about your velocity findings this morning.

              Received my chronograph, read all comments I could find about them on BB’s reports over the years. Set mine up measuring precisely using tape markers. Muzzle is 15 inches from first optical curtain and umbrella shaded bright sunlight. I had no error messages all day! My Ataman AP16 pistol averaged 515 FPS with JSB 13.4 grain pellets 10 shots and hammer spring relaxed to near the lowest setting. Pressure gauge read 157 bar at the start. Spread was a disappointing 34 fps but other pellets were better. I got an impressive total of 96 shots at this low hammer spring setting from 240 bar down to 90 bar with mostly 13.4 grain pellets. I got 75 shots before it fell off the regulator at about 120 bar. Velocity and noise increased gradually with the 96th shot registering 603 fps with AA 16.0 grain pellet and reading 90 bar. I’m thinking this pistol has an almost unlimited number of power settings between the lowest and highest.

              More later when I can refill air reservoir.

              Deck


              • Deck
                I have found that guns that chrony with a high spread of velocity can still be accurate. So don’t worry about that if your gun is accurate.

                And I just posted the chrony results on my bb guns. Kind of surprising.


        • Well here is the velocity of my 499 and (adult) Red Ryder.

          499 results. (adult) Red Ryder
          310 266
          310 265
          309 263
          310 265
          307 260
          312 267
          311 266
          308 264
          310 266
          309 262

          And a note here. My (adult Red Ryder) cocks much harder than my 499 does. And the other thing is I my 499 barrel is much tighter than the ARR barrel. Muzzle loading both guns the 499 bb takes seriously about 2 seconds to make it down the barrel. The ARR bb drops right down the barrel. So I believe the ARR barrel alows air to blow by the bb which is slowing that gun down. The 499 barrel is so precise to the bb that it uses all its air behind the bb to push it out the barrel faster. In other words no blow by of waisted air. Oh and the AAR is much louder when it shoots than the 499.

          So that’s why I think my 499 is faster than the ARR. And both guns I used the Avanti precision ground bb’s.


          • GF1,

            Well now that is some screwed up crap! It does however verify what you thought. The RR is definitely shooting weak. Thank you for the chrony work. Not sure what to make of it though.

            My 499 was 205 stock, so I guess I got 200 fps+ with the RR spring. Not sure if I ever did the RR. Yes, the 499 is way easier to cock. Another reason it would make a good kid’s first bb rifle.

            Thanks again,…. Chris


            • Chris
              I think it’s all about the size of the bore in the 2 guns.

              I think the ARR is waisting air because the bore is big and the bb fits sloppy.

              The 499 barrel bore is tight and it uses all its air when it shoots. Basically it’s more efficient.

              And I really like both guns. But the 499 I got is just amazing. I can’t stop shooting it. Well it and the ARR. Fun guns.

              I came upon something a bit different the other day shooting them. I have put aluminum beverage cans on sticks in the ground with the hole you drink from on the stick with the bottom of the can facing up.

              Well what I did was leave the stick short with about 3 inches sticking out of the ground. So now when I hit the can it spins around sideways at about a 45° angle. So a different kind of spinner target if you will. Fun stuff.


  9. B.B., I had to grin when you said that that variable scout scope was the right solution here, because of the eye relief. How ironic, that on a rifle whose loading port would preclude any possibility of mounting a scout scope in the usual position for that idea, the right solution would be to mount…a scout scope, but in the conventional position, taking advantage of the near end of its generous range of eye relief. Nice!

    I’m still tickled witless that you helped agitate to get PA to carry that glass back when it was introduced; I got one almost immediately at the time and it’s a great glass, especially for the cost. (It currently lives on my AirForce TalonP carbine, but at some point down the road I will probably use a different–meaning, more compact–sighting system on that piece, and instead use my quickly-mounted Leapers glass for precision load development on rifles that I usually use afield with ghost-ring irons…e.g., the 1895 Marlin, the AR…and the SOCOM-16 variant of the M1A. Develop a load with the help of temporary 7x precision, then remove and zero with the irons for real world use.)

    The scout scope mount on the SOCOM-16 variant of the M14 neatly solves the problems of mounting glass conventionally on the M1/M14 receiver, but again here, with this lovely underlever, that would be even worse for the loading port–and improved access to the loading port is one of the nice features of running scout scopes on centerfire rifles in the first place. Again, delicious irony. 🙂

    I’m with others, here, in thinking of this rifle as an iron-sight rifle, not a glassed one. My cranky gripes with the safety aside (a deal-killer for me), it’s a lovely reproduction and I like it as an underlever, with what appear to be solid sights. Plenty of precision for practicing singles.


  10. BB
    I would no be surprised if this airgun used parts shared by other airguns. Makes good business sense for cutting costs but one look at the wheel gear that moves the upper hand guard and you can tell it has been highly modified to work in this rifle. The stock has been modified, ( cut out ) to compensate for it also. Probably why it’s a little wider.
    Bob M


  11. So how accurate is this replica with regard to dimensions, weight and balance? I have an M1A Supermatch that I use for as-issued service rifle and High Power Silhouette. Could I use this to practice in the backyard and benefit from it being very close to shooting the firearm?


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