Fulton Armory M14 308 Winchester, $2755
In the world of 308 auto-loading rifles, the M14 and its look-alikes reign just about supreme. They have it all: looks, power, function, capacity, plus a great variety of stock and accessory configurations from wood to all manner of polymer that can convert an M14 or M1A into just about any configuration you might want, particularly if you have deep pockets. In this test we look at a new Fulton Armory M14 ($2755).
We tested with three types of ball ammunition, the only type recommended in these firearms. It was Federal Gold Medal match, Magtech 150-grain ball from Brazil, and mixed lot of recovered ammunition purchased in bulk with headstamps from Israel, Italy, Belgium, and Canada, which we used unsorted. Heres what we found.
Other than an extremely attractive rifle with a gorgeous stock, what do you get for your money over the cost of others in the category? Thats what we wanted to know. For one thing the metal finish is completely uniform on the Fulton, which its not on others. The metal bits seem to be slightly better finished, some of us thought, so theres some extra attention to detail. The Fulton had a full quarter-inch less wood on the bottom in front of the magazine well, and about an eighth of an inch less all along each side of the stock. The Fultons wood was extremely smooth to the touch, far smoother than others. It had a lightly applied linseed-oil finish with just enough oil on there to give it some protection, but not so much that the owner ends up with an oil-soaked mess after applying more linseed oil over the years. The Fulton stock had the companys cartouche stamped into the left side, giving it a touch of nostalgia.
Also included in the heavy-duty shipping box were a sling, and one magazine, holding your choice of 10 or 20 rounds. You also get a comprehensive book, The M14 Owners Guide by Duff and Miller, about the history, care, cleaning and modification of the M14. We believe this book should be required reading for the owner of any M14-type rifle.
We got a chrome-lined barrel with the Fulton, $55 extra, and the barrel is a new one, not a new-old-service (NOS) G.I. Some time ago all the NOS surplus barrels, like the Winchester on our M14S, ran out, and newly manufactured ones are today about the only option. Fulton provides its own barrels, which it declares are NM quality. Fulton offers several types of barrel, and a mind-boggling host of parts and accessories for the rifle, all shown on the website (www.fulton-armory.com). The bayonet lug is a proper-looking item for those who live in states that permit them.
The investment-cast Fulton receivers contours and cuts are quite different. Fulton says it provides a NM flash hider with bayonet lug. The flash hider has wider slots than others. The Fulton had a 5.2-pound trigger pull, very clean, and the rifle came with a dry-fire device for practice. One possible justification for the cost of this rifle is the well-known Fulton practice of using extreme care combined with deep-seated knowledge of the rifle as it is being put together. Yes, we realize this is not always visible to the untrained eye, and it might not be worth it to you, but many of us here consider Fulton Armorys reputation to be worth considering as having one of the better gunsmiths on military-type rifles in the business, Clint McKee, as the head honcho.
On the range we had zero problems, as expected. Our groups were all significantly smaller than what we got with other rifles. But how much accuracy do you need on a non-competition rifle of this type? We like all we can get, as do you, we suspect. A scope could have made the groups a bit smaller, but we thought it was better to use the iron sights to see if there were any gross differences between the three test rifles.
Our Team Said: The Fulton had a precise feel. It had better accuracy. It had a gorgeous, well fitted and finished stock. All those little things justified its cost to us. Bottom line, we could not fault the Fulton.