Rifles to use for Service Rifle Competition
It took a lot of words below to say:
Get a lower, build it up with a decent trigger and stock, get a flat top upper and a decent scope.
The M1 and M1A are still "legal" for service rifle competition, but are rarely seen in serious matches, there are dedicated Garand and M1A matches for them.
The AR15A2 was the absolute king of Service Rifle for 20 years. Now that scopes are permitted, fewer and fewer serious competitors use iron sights. At one match at Camp Perry, I walked the line and looked at every rifle on the firing line and ready line. There were more M1 Garands than Iron-sighted ARs. It is now official, the AR15A2 is even more antique than a genuine 75 year old antique!
You can either buy a whole rifle or build one from parts.
Back in the iron sight days I used to recommend the RRA NMA2 with 1/2x1/2 or 1/4x1/4 sights.
You can start with iron sights and upgrade to scope later. The Rock River National Match A4 has a detachable carry handle with good sights.
you can order it with the carry handle and A2 front sight and shoot it that way for a while, or you can order with no carry handle and gas blcok sight base only (no front sight tower) and go straight to scope.
Again if you get the carry handle rear sight, you can choose 1/2x1/2 or 1/4x1/4, either is fine for a beginner, but 1/4x1/4 (that is, each click is 1/4moa) might be better over the long run.
I will discuss scopes and mounts below.
Another option is is "build" the rifle from the ground up.
Start on the https://www.whiteoakarmament.com/ website. They often have a sale in January!
You will need:
* WOA will gladly sell
you the assembled lower, shipped to your FFL.
You can get the stripped lower locally for $50 to $120 (at a licensed dealer/store, this is the "firearm" you do the paperwork and the background check for) It doesn't matter the brand, but it must be true mil-spec, none of the funny modifications like checkering, ribs or skulls on the front of the magwell, expanded mag well, integral trigger guard etc. Those lowers would not qualify for Service Rifle. Marking variations are OK, so if its marked "pew" and "shhhh" instead of "fire" and "safe", its still OK for Service Rifle.
Get a $45 LPK (locally or from WOA), you will throw away the trigger parts and put in a proper trigger. The other springs, pins and the grip and just fine.
Do NOT get an ambi safety.
You can use an extended bolt release such as the clamp-on Magpul "B.A.T." lever. https://www.whiteoakarmament.com/shop/lower-parts/lower-receiver-parts/magpul-bad-lever-battery-assist-device.html
If you are shooting scope you probably will prefer it, but it can cause failures to hold open.
You can get either an A2 buttstock, tube, spring and buffer, OR the Magpul UBR gen 1 https://www.whiteoakarmament.com/shop/lower-parts/buttstock-parts/magpul-ar-15-ubr-stock-1357.html (NOT gen 2, https://d3fknx2v3di431.cloudfront.net/media/wysiwyg/files/UBR_gen1_2_comparison.pdf) from WOA with the required tube, spring and buffer (carbine length I think confirm with WOA when you buy it).
Trigger. Decisions. I'll make it easy: Get the Geissele National Match 2-stage.
https://www.whiteoakarmament.com/shop/lower-parts/trigger-parts/geissele-automatics-national-match-2-stage-trigger.html There are other choices, make certain the one you choose makes the 4.5 lb Service Rifle limit. The National Match trigger that RRA installs in their rifles is decent too. Most of us prefer 2-stage triggers.
If you have the skill to read this webpage, you probably have the skill to put a lower together.
search Youtube, Bill Geissele himself has a video on installing his trigger. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rCa3pUsPvw
You can build it, but the custom, service-rifle dedicated vendors can do build it for you.
https://compasslake.com/ is one such vendor.
Another (the one I will make more references to) is:
Now you have decisions to make. Get a pre-ban (with flashhider) not a post ban unless you live in a ban state.
Ignore the Match Rifle uppers (unless that is what you are building). A "match rifle" is not a Service Rifle. Start with Service Rifle, after you go distinguished you can consider trying match rifle category. Ignore the A2 with the handle and the flat-top with A2 front sight tower, unless that is what you are building.
Mk7 rail or A2 style handguard, honestly either is just fine. The rail looks cooler, it grips (and sometimes damages) your glove better. The cheap rubber rail covers make the rail FE a bit more comfortable.
Barrel: There are numerous options and twist rates. WOA won't sell you a service rifle in a twist slower than 1 in 8, good. Get a 1 in 7 or 1 in 7.7, something like that.
For a beginner, get the least expensive one, after you wear it out, you will be shooting Master Class scores and can decide for your self if you want to spend the extra money on a Krieger or Shilen.
Now, scopes and mounts. Whether you are putting it on a RRA NMA4 or the WOA upper and home-assembled lower.
The problem with scopes is, in this daytime sport, we don't need hubble telescope optics, you're not counting antler tines hidden in the shade at dusk... the target market for nearly all affordable scopes... so we don't need really good glass... we turn the know maybe 50 times a day, literally! We need Mack Truck mechanics! the part that fails on a cheap, or not so cheap, scope is the adjustment mechanics.
The easy answer is hardest on the wallet:
Nightforce 4.5X service rifle scope.
WOA reducer & cap.
as to the reticle:
most of us get one of these too:
WOA should have it.
But what if $2500 worth
of glass and tax is overwhelming:
a lot of AZ shooters like the Hi Lux
made in China Peoples Optics Factory Number 26, but they seem to be doing a good job.
The Athlon on WOA website is similarly priced
The "freedom reaper" mount is less expensive.
The scope mount must mount to the receiver (per rules), not the rail, so we need some type of cantelever mount to hold the scope far enough forward you can shoot prone with the proper field of view.
WOA makes an extended Picatinny rail for use with standard rings.
But you may need to experiment with the rings you buy to get ones high enough for the scope bells, but not too high for head position.
some other info from my
older page on this topic:
Sling: Most of us use a good leather one. The standard M1907 is not long enough for most humans to use with an AR. Turner Sadlery and others make good extra long slings. 50" or 52". I find the "all weather" slings to not be as good as the leather slings. The CANVAS web slings from the M1 days are actually quite usable and can be found for $10. The "nylon" web slings from the M14 days are just about worthless DO NOT BUY ONE! Creedmoor usually has an assortment of good slings.
This was written in Dec 2019, check club calendars and my main website to confirm everything is still up to date!
Some of the photos were shamelessly borrowed from the internet. Linked to their source where possible.