I just snagged a "used" M1a from a local shop. They told me of picking it up at an estate sale. From the looks of it, it was definitely fired, at least for proofing, however the complete absence of any visible wear marks, soot around the gas system, fully intact parkerizing in the Op rod channel, on all the bolt surfaces and the contact surfaces inside the receiver, suggest it may have been ONLY proof fired. It certainly hasn't been broken in.
Here's what I do know. Please school me on anything you might add. It's my first M1a and my experience is very limited with a Polytech M14.
It has a fiberglass stock with rubber recoil pad, originally a brown color, now painted black with a wrinkle finish. Based on stock wear far beyond that on the metal parts, I suspect it was a surplus stock that was repainted in it's former life, somewhat battered along the way. I wonder if it was supplied from Springfield Armory in this state, or if it joined the rifle after delivery. The stock appears to have been filled on the right side where the selector notch would have been. There is a small amount of glass bedding in the areas around the trigger group and the magazine well. The action fit is tight and the firing mechanism locks up very tightly when latched. Looking at the fit of the receiver before installing the firing mechanism, it's clear that the bedding was done when these two came together. I just have no clue if it was at the factory or after.
The hand guard is new, either plastic or fiberglass, but appears that it was painted at the same time as the stock in the same black wrinkle finish.
Sights appear to be standard M1A type with a typical winged front post and the non-hooded rear apeture.
The receiver is marked "US Rifle M1A - Springfield Armory" with a serial number of 086xxx. I found that serial number associated with a post-ban date of manufacture around Jan 1995. That is consistent with the lack of "7.62" caliber marking on the receiver as well as the absence of a bayonet lug on the flash suppressor.
The barrel is marked TRW and appears to be date coded to December 1963 or 1983. It's hard to make out. The number on the barrel is 7790190 with a BP. I don't believe the bore is chrome lined, but it is pristine and bright.
The bolt is a TRW marked 7790186 with a ZJ.
I presume the operting Rod is a TRW also, with a number of 7267064 and 66118.
The firing mechanism is marked with 7267030 SA with the hammer marked 646008-2 SA.
It seems I have a 17 year old rifle that spent it's whole life in a gun safe somewhere. I was surprised to find all these TRW parts after reading that most had dried up by the time this rifle would have been built in 1995.
So what exactly do I have here? I beat the cost of a new Loaded M1A by several hundred bucks, so I feel sure I did well, but would love to know more. Thanks!