Early SAI M1As NEVER had forged receivers, the reason they demand high prices is collectors like the "Devine, TX" markings, and the fact that other than the cast civilian receiver, ALL the parts are US GI.
As to the Chinese M-14s, they WERE the best buy on the market, but thanks to the several M14 forums out there, shooters are finally catching on that these are the best deal on the market. They've gone from $375-$450 for several years to $700-$800 in the last few years and are now generally in the $800-$1000 Range!
The Chinese M14s have gotten a bad reputation mostly by armchair commandos, and people with agendas, such as several gunsmiths who make a good living off of doing US GI bolt swaps. I have 3 Chinese M14s, one Polytech, and two Norincos. Check the headspace with 7.62x51mm gages, NOT .308 gages, which are different and will give false excessive headspace readings. Then check the bolt locking lugs for stretching, cracks, or any other abnormallys, If all checks out ok enjoy your M14.
I only detail strip my rifles once or twice a year, at that time I toroughly check the bolt once cleaned up, if nothing has changed, she gets relubed, and reassembled. When in the field at the beginning of your shoot, and again at the end, inspect some fired brass, for signs of stretching, cracking, and for flatened primers. In over 5 years of Chinese M14 ownership Ihave NEVER had a rifle wear excessively, or go out of headspace.
The Chinese barrels are chromlined and VERY accurate, if you do need a GI bolt swap, find a M14 smith who can fit it to the Chinese barrel. A lot of gunsmiths say you need to swap out the barrel to use a US bolt. That is BOGUS information, as a couple of the better M14 gunsmiths fit the US bolt to the Chinese barrel, which can save you several hndred ollars by not needing to remove a perfectly good, and accurate barrel.
The one weak link on chinese M14s can sometimes be the rear sight assembly, they are marked WCE, and look US GI, but a lot of them are pure junk, and need to be replaced with a M14, or M1 Garand rear sight. But if they maintain "zero" I generally live with them.
Hope this clears up some of the UNFOUNDED rumors regardng the Chinese M14s. I've yet to see or hear of one detonating due to a headspace problem, and I'm on several M14 sites daily, and have been for over 6 years. That don't mean it can't happen, just that apparently it hasn't yet. So if you find a good deal on a Chinese M14, have it checked out by a COMPETENT (good luck with that) gunsmith using 7.62 NATO gages, and if she checks out, buy it, you won't regret it.
As to the above poster bad mouthing the M14, everyone has their favorite rifles, I admit I'm ADDICTED to M14s, but I've been in the military rifle game since I was 12-13 (I'm now 52), and I've owned ALL the cool stuff, especially FALs. I still like FALS (I've owned 7 of them including early G series), I would like to own a DSA Congo version someday. That being said, while they are both excellent combat rifles, if your FAL shoots only average groups, there isn't much you can do about it however. With an M14 there's all kinds of National Match updates, that can be performed to tighten up those groups, and still maintain excellent reliability. As to reliability, I have to give that edge to the M14, based on experience, and the fact the M14 is still soldjering on with the Navy SEALS, and the regular Army, and Marine Corps, in standard as well as the modernized "Crazyhorse" configurations.
For further information on the M14 check out the FiringLine website.