Just wondering if my own personal preferences and biases match those of others.......
I've owned just about every semi auto MBR that has been offered........the notable exceptions are the SIG AMT and the Armalite AR-10 series, but I've shot both.
In the past, I've owned multiple HK 91's, Galil AR's in .308 win., Yugoslavian M90's in 7.62x51mm, Beretta BM-59 Nigerian Model, several Springfield Armory M1A's, and FAL's from FN, Springfield Armory, and DSA.
Of the major systems, I find it a damn close tie between a properly built FAL and a properly built M1A/M14.
Both have excellent accuracy potential, although the M14 system usually gets a nod there, and both are extremely durable and reliable.
The HK roller locking sytem, while reliable, is gives a much sharper recoil compared to the M14 and the FAL systems, and the ergonomics generally suck for anyone over 5'10". In my experience they are also a major pain in the ass to clean properly. The design is taken from a last ditch WWII system.......while the FAL and M14 rely on old school manufacturing processes which "ooze" quality when done correctly.
For sheer reliablity and durablity the AK system, as found in the Galil and the Yugoslavian rifles, are way ahead of the pack, but the lack of parts and magazines made me sell both of mine off.
The same can be said for the BM-59, which is truely the Cadilac of battle rifles, but parts and mags are expensive.
For a general purpose rifle, it's hard to beat the FAL, with it's combination of durablity, reliablity, excellent ergonomics, accuracy, and the wide array of spare parts and dirt cheap magazines. The M14/M1A is an excellent rifle, with a history of durablity and the rifles do have beautiful lines which appeal to many old school riflemen....but the spare parts situation is problmatic now with the War on Terror entering it's 4th year and the re-issue of many M14's into the GI's hands.....parts have dried up. Mag prices have come down, but you won't ever see them at $5.00 like the FAL's are.
The M1A/M14 has better sights, and a positive forward assist in the operating rod, but I still think the FAL has a superior lay out ergonomically.
The AR10's tend to be more accurate on paper, but are still somewhat problematic when it comes to reliablity over the long haul.
Anyway, my unsolicited $0.02 worth........I think you should own as many as you can and make your own judgements........