One of the ongoing tinkering projects around here has been customization of a Springfield Armory M1A Standard, which we reviewed a while back. One of the first things done to this rifle was installation of a tritium sight post for low-light capability with the iron sights. We chose the Smith Enterprise Tritium Close Combat Sight (TCCS) and mounted that front sight assembly on the standard front sight dovetail.
So far so good!
But now it’s time to get crazy with flash suppressors and muzzle brakes. Yeah, I know, those are contradictory things, but as this is a tinkering project, we’re going to try both at different times and report on the results. We’re going to compare the Smith Enterprise M1A / M14 Direct Connect Vortex and the Smith Enterprise Good Iron Muzzle Brake. Not to each other, but to a factory standard configuration. Stay tuned for separate articles on how well they control flash and compensate for recoil compared to the default setup.
But, like many of those Saturday honey-do projects, this one also has somewhat of a domino effect. If you remove the standard flash hider from an M1A or M14, you lose the front sight dovetail. As I really like having iron sights on this rifle, it’s time to figure out how to keep a front iron sight while being able to swap out the standard flash hider with other options.
Enter the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight.
Smith Enterprise offers a couple different options that allow installation of a front sight on top of the gas lock instead on top of the standard bird cage flash hider. For flexibility, we’re going to install the Smith Enterprise GLFS-D-22, which is designed for standard 22″ barrels. It’s really more of a front sight platform as it features standard male dovetail. This allows you to reinstall the factory front sight on top of the gas lock or use an upgraded version like the Smith Enterprise TCCS or match sight models.
Let’s get busy:
Before we can do anything with aftermarket flash hiders and muzzle brakes, we need to relocate the front sight back to the gas lock. This assumes you want to keep iron sights. If you don’t, you can just remove the default flash hider and not worry about the gas lock.
You’re going to want to remove the barreled action from the stock to make things a bit easier. It also helps to put the barrel in a padded vise, as the castle nut can be tight. You’ll need a pair of castle nut pliers which you can get at Brownells for about $15.
Since I’m going to keep my front sights, I need to move the base to the gas lock. Loosen the gas plug and remove it. This should be fairly easy. Remember, this is a dry area, so don’t slop gun oil all over it!
Now it’s time to remove the gas lock. This should also be fairly easy. Just unscrew it until it slides off the barrel.
Since you’ve moved the front sight post to a new base, you’ll need to head to the range and re-zero your rifle. Bummer, time to go shooting!
After relocating the front sight to the Smith Enterprise Gas Lock Front Sight dovetail, I reinstalled the standard flash hider, but only because I want to try to get some nifty before and after muzzle blast photos when we go to the next step – installing the Smith Enterprise Vortex Flash Hider.