Risen from the Ashes – The Redemption of an M1A

If you’re a firearm enthusiast, you might not like what you’re about to see – the results of a house fire that destroyed a number of interesting firearms. They were stored in a secure room, but unfortunately, not in a fire-resistant safe.

Among the weapons destroyed were an exceptionally rare AWC G2 bullpup M1A, several Class III items, ARs, shotguns, and a number of standard M1As.

Burned Firearms

A friend of mine is a young man who is not only exceptionally skilled when it comes to modifying and repairing firearms, but has a devious mind when it comes to such things. He’s a Marine and works in the firearms industry, building exotic weaponry all day long. As a result, he’s unimpressed with “average” firearms, and chooses to build something unique whenever he sets out on a project. Many of these are based on firearms he’s seen in movies or video games; others are simply products of the dark recesses of his mind, like the “Finn-Engineered Rifle” – a Chinese Type 53 with a Suomi barrel shroud, front sight, and muzzle brake.

Type 53 Suomi

He often works with Piece of History Firearms, a firearm restoration company which had taken “custody” of the destroyed weapons, and was given the opportunity to acquire one of the M1As for a song. He had every intention of quickly righting the grievous wrong that had been done to the rifle, but before he could do that, important parts such as the bolt, barrel and receiver, among others, had to be tested to see if they had been too badly damaged in the fire.

Luckily for him, every part except the barrel passed hardness testing. The receiver is marked Century Arms M14S; these were actually Chinese Norincos imported by Century. The receiver is forged and heat treated 5100 series steel, and was apparently durable enough to survive the fire with only cosmetic damage. It’s second from the left in the above photo.

With the testing done, he replaced minor parts such as springs and pins, and set out to clean and refinish many parts of the weapon. Because the barrel needed to be replaced, he found a replacement – a heavy match barrel – online. This barrel required the use of a unique op rod guide that wasn’t readily available, so he had the barrel turned down by his friend Dave, a very skilled machinist. While Dave was turning down the barrel, one of the unique touches they put on the weapon was to fin the barrel. Why? Because they could.

Finned barrel

The “Scout” upper handguard wasn’t chosen to show off the fins, rather, it was the only handguard that he could find for free. Besides the stock/handguards and barrel, the only parts that were replaced include springs, pins, spring guide, and the rear sight assembly.

If it’s not immediately apparent, the white-stocked M1A is a tribute to the rifle that was on the cover of the box for the PC game “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear,” which was pretty popular when it came out way back in 1999. I myself spent quite a bit of time playing it, and thought his choice of “themes” for this rifle was pretty cool.

As you can see, the metal parts of the rifle look essentially new, thanks to a complete manganese refinishing job, and what I think was a lot of good prep work. Beyond that, it functions like new – he’s put a lot of rounds through it without any problems.

I think he did a great job with the “Rogue Spear Rifle.” Even if I didn’t like the “snow camo” – and I do – I’d still be happy that he was able to bring this rifle back from the dead.



Andrew Tuohy

Andrew Tuohy was a Navy Corpsman with the 5th Marine Regiment. He makes a living by producing written and visual content within the firearm industry, and he also teaches carbine courses. He prefers elegant weapons for a more civilized age, and regularly posts at Vuurwapen Blog.


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  • Alaskan

    WOW.

    good work 😀

  • WeaponBuilder

    I suppose I’m not the only person that will chime in stating it’s a “Manganese” phosphate, which uses Phosphoric Acid and Manganese Dioxide. Magnesium & Manganese are two different elements.

    Magnesium would prove dangerously interesting if you put that in a pot of water & acid heated to 185 degrees! 😉

  • I got a nice shirt from Red Storm Entertainment for my participation in a play test of the Rogue Spear alpha. It has a version of the the cover art with the tag line “Missed Me?”

  • MCLMM

    He Never Fails to Impress – Very Nice Job!

  • Lance

    Its a good weapon, glad for you.

  • Ryan

    For some odd reason I can’t see any of the photos 🙁
    probably has something to do with my stupid work firewall. Anyway this sounds like a wicked cool gun.

  • Matt G.

    That picture hurts to look at.

  • Nadnerbus

    With the ribbing on the barrel and the open scout hand gaurd, does the heat mirage mess with the sight picture after heavy shooting?

    I always thought that the M1A would look classy with a matching walnut stock and hand guard, but I guess they (hand guards) were prone to catching fire in testing. Then they used slotted fiberglass hand guards and the slots hurt the sight picture from heat mirage.

  • That’s a very nice job of restoring the M1A. The unusual finned barrel and the open hand guard give the rifle additional character. Technical correction, Chinese M14 receivers are made from equivalent AISI 8620 alloy steel, not 5100 series steel.

  • If you wish to bring your bullpup M14 back to life you should check out the M14HDW.US Rouge bullpup chassis.

    http://www.athenswater.com/images/08-10-M14HDW.US-Rogue.JPG

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