An M1A for $199.99? | The Armory Life

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Have you noticed anything different about this past year? A worldwide pandemic fomented unprecedented turmoil, and the end result is that guns are hard to find and ammunition is even worse.

An M1A with a walnut stock priced at $199.99? Oh, and you can shoot it in your backyard? Image: Air Venturi

If you’re like me and find that just glancing at a tricked-out Springfield Armory M1A rifle tickles your fancy, you’re likely feeling the pinch. When quality 7.62x51mm ammo can run two bucks a round, what’s an M1A fan to do?

The Simulator

Back when I was an Army aviator, we used the simulator to do things we couldn’t or shouldn’t do in the real aircraft. Considering the DOD reimbursable rate for my $30 million aircraft was around $7,000 per flight hour, it made fiscal sense as well. Now, Air Venturi offers the same option for your favorite Springfield Armory M1A rifle.

Springfield Armory M1A alongside an Air Venturi M1A Pellet Rifle
At top is the Air Venturi M1A, and below is Will’s .308 M1A rifle from Springfield Armory.

This air rifle is absolutely massive. The dimensions are just a hair larger than the Real Steel, and it weighs a whopping 9.9 lbs. That’s about half a pound heavier than the actual standard rifle. The beautifully stained walnut stock provides the same heft and feel as the real weapon. With the exception of the lack of a protruding magazine, the Air Venturi M1A could pass for the original in dim light, even after you pick it up.

The particulars will seem familiar to anyone who has ever fired a live M1A. The safety is a pivoting tab in the front of the trigger guard, and the trigger has the same smooth predictable take-up and crisp break. The rear sight easily adjusts for both windage and elevation in the same manner as the original. Bringing the heavy gun up to your shoulder creates the same cheek weld and ergonomic interface as the classic American battle rifle.

The Air Venturi M1A Air Rifle is a licensed representation of the venerable Springfield Armory M1A battle rifle. Image: Air Venturi

How Does It Work?

The Air Venturi M1A is a single-shot, spring-action air rifle available in either .177 or .22 caliber. Cocking force is 35 pounds, and my .177 version pushes pellets to around 1,000 feet per second. The way the Air Venturi folks adapted the gun to fit the M1A format is fascinating.

To charge the rifle you use what would be the gas piston on the real gun. This appendage snaps loose from the barrel and pivots downward. The end of this charging handle will slide out another 6″ or so for added leverage if needed.

Air Venturi M1A Underlever charging
Charging the rifle is easy, and employs a lever that locks up under the barrel and looks like the gas piston of the original rifle. Image: Air Venturi

Retracting the lever slides the forearm forward to open up the loading tray automatically. At the bottom of the stroke the power lever locks in place. Slip a pellet into the bore and press what would be the bolt catch on the real gun to release the power lever for closing. When fully closed the lever snaps in place in its bracket alongside the barrel.

The Air Venturi crew did a splendid job of recreating the classic Springfield Armory M1A rifle.

The safety works in the opposite direction of that of the live rifle. Forward is safe, and the rear position is fire. The right-sided charging handle is spring-loaded and moves back and forth just like that of the real M1A, but it is only there for looks. As a single stroke powers the gun, the rate of fire is dependent solely upon your enthusiasm and stamina. Move like you mean it and you can put some pretty serious lead downrange.

The safety is a pivoting tab on the front of the trigger guard. Its operation is opposite that of the live weapon.

Accessorizing the Beast

Air Venturi and Pyramyd Air offer everything you need to run your M1A pellet rifle for fun or food. Their spring-loaded dueling tree reactive target features eight steel plates in two stacks of four. Hitting one pivots its opposite number into view on the other side. The theory is that you can compete with a friend to see who can move all the plates to one side or the other. I’m an introvert so I can burn an afternoon just bouncing those things from one side to the other.

The flash suppressor is polymer and, on an air rifle, obviously non-functional.

Air Venturi’s paper targets come in thick pads and are great for zeroing, competition, and recreation. Steel silhouettes let you go hunting big game without leaving the backyard. I mounted mine on a length of 2×6 lumber to keep them oriented. Each different animal makes a unique sort of noise when you hit it.

Pellets come in a wide variety of weights and designs. Czech Exact Heavy Diablo 10.3-grain target projectiles shoot straight for plinking and target work. German-made H&N 9.57-gr. Baracuda FTs are a little faster and suitable for the same applications. H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets are frankly terrifying.

Air Venturi and Pyramyd Air can hook you up with anything you need to optimize your range time behind the M1A air rifle. From steel or paper targets to pellets, they have everything you need.

The nose of these vicious little rascals is crenellated like the turret on a castle. Upon impact with something soft and gooey these crenellations are designed to open up like the petals on a flower. The end result produces a forward surface area up to 165% larger than the unfired projectile. This is the round you use for bunnies or tree rats. Additionally, the really expensive sort are still only around three cents per shot. You can shoot all afternoon for about nothing.

Unlike centerfire ammunition, air rifle pellets are dirt cheap and, just as importantly, reliably available.

Impressions

I settled in behind my new Air Venturi .177-caliber M1A pellet rifle and started throwing lead mid-afternoon. Two hours later my steel targets looked like they had the pox, my cocking arm was tired, and the stresses of life had melted away.

The Air Venturi M1A is the spitting image of its real steel brother. With the exception of the lack of a protruding magazine, the gun is just spot on.

This was pure shooting enjoyment of the sort that drew us all into this quirky sport in the first place. You can also conceivably run this air gun in places you might never safely shoot a full power battle rifle.

Unlike live weapons, the Air Venturi M1A pellet rifle is also surprisingly inexpensive. Serious wooden stock and all, this gun runs some $200 at Pyramyd Air online. There are many lighter air rifle options, but they don’t look nearly this awesome. Hefty, fun, accurate, powerful, and incredibly cool, the Air Venturi M1A is a must-have in my book.

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