Springfield M1A Loaded
Springfield M1A Scope Mounts
Of the all the .308/7.62 NATO semi-automatic platform rifles, the only one currently in production with a “mil-spec” design or origin is the M1A, our semi-auto equivalent of the military M-14. To experienced shooters, that little point is a big deal, and it is why you will seldom go to a busy range on a Sunday afternoon without seeing an M1A on the line. Against proprietary AR-15 designs in the same caliber (which most people don’t realize is ***all of them***), the M1A dollar for dollar will match or exceed the big boy AR-15s in performance, and as long as it is lubricated correctly, the rifle rarely if every fails. There are Vietnam era M-14s that are still in service today.
Geneseo Illinois based Springfield Armory is the only manufacturer of the M1A, and I have found it amazing that despite an amazingly successful polymer pistol line in the XD series guns, Springfield supports the M1A with all the enthusiasm of a new and sexy firearm design to this day. The latest in the M1A line is an addition to the “Loaded” guns, and this one comes with a adjustable polymer Precision Stock. The stock, adjustable for both comb height and length of pull, comes in both black and Flat Dark Earth. Street price for all of the Loaded guns is just shy of $2,000, with a two stage National Match trigger and medium weight stainless barrel. Our test gun performed as well as I expected.
This is my third article in an M1A series, and this particular Precision Stock gun I would like to take partial credit for because I was one of several reviewers a couple years ago to review the Archangel M1A stock from Pro-Mag. As a big fan of the M1A, I was blown away by how well my out of the box Socom performed with an out of the bubble package polymer stock. The clicks of the adjustments are positive and stay put, and that Archangel is still on that rifle. We saw that gun again in my more recent M1A Sniper – On the Cheap or All the Way!, where I put a scope on it, as well as a scope on a full length wooden stocked M1A.
Since then, Springfield did a big service to those of us who love the M1A, but who also really need optics to fire the rifle at long range. When you put a scope on a rifle, you need a raised cheek piece in order to get a proper cheek weld. On the M1A, until now, you had a choice of either installing the military style leather cheek rest (which isn’t high enough), or investing another couple hundred bucks or more into an Archangel. The other option is of course to just hold your head up lol, which most of us do. But without a proper cheek weld your neck is just another muscle that you are trying to hold still. This Archangel actually says Springfield Armory on it, which makes the gun “all original,” with the adjustable comb that you really need to shoot the gun well.
The Archangel, which Springfield now calls the Precision Stock, equals the performance of the Springfield National Match wooden stocks, without the need for elaborate bedding. The design is fairly simple actually, but don’t confuse that with cheap. After hundreds of rounds through my original stock product, and another few boxes through this gun, I have never had either gun move in point of impact of loss of accuracy, and the positive clicks of the adjustments stay put, forever.
In my accuracy tests of this rifle with Hornady American Whitetail and Superformance SST, both in 150 grains, I reliably shot about 1.5 MOA over 5 rounds, rested. That means that the pattern of dispersal at 100 yards was about 1.5 inches. Some of my 3 shot groups were sub-MOA, but I don’t like to count those because most matches are at least 5 rounds. This was also with a hot rifle. In a sniper situation, with a cold rifle shot after a cold rifle zero, you can count on sub-MOA in my experience with these Loaded guns.
If you have never looked around before at adjustable competition and sniper stocks, they go into the 4 digits, and high 3 digits is not uncommon. The Pro-Mag Archangel was already a great deal on a great product, but included with the gun, I think it is a huge score. I’ll be buying this M1A from Springfield, which will be my 4th.
As you can see from the pictures, mounting a scope on an M1A requires a purchased mount, and none of the guns come with one at present. Springfield has sold an aluminum mount for many years, the newest 4th gen is currently $123, and I personally have never had an issue with it. But for the purists and heavy shooters out there, they have a new 4th gen steel mount that is $299. I am going to ask them to send me one for another article to compare the two head to head, but for this build I used a copycat mount from UTG just to see how it works, and it is currently only 26 bucks on Amazon. I don’t like to cherrypick high end equipment for my tests, and from what I have seen so far the UTG mount works pretty good, and it doesn’t have those bothersome roll pins to deal with.
And speaking of the roll pins… If you read my last M1A article, you’ll see a lot more detailed explanation of how the M1A scope mounts work. The connection point is the stripper clip guide. You have to push through the roll pin that holds that guide on, then you use that dovetail for the scope mount, which is held in place by the same roll pin. I have had a couple wars with that pin and I’m not a fan of taking it out myself, so if you don’t have the right sized punch, and experience with taking roll pins out patiently, you might want to ask your local gunsmith (if you even have one), to change it out for you. They shouldn’t charge you more than $20, because it is literally just removing the pin and putting it back in with the scope mount block. This UTG mount still requires that you remove the stripper clip guide, but it mounts with a set screw.
At present, Springfield is shipping all of the M1As with the stripper clip guide installed, but I have lobbied them to ship at least this gun with the guide not installed. I think most people are using this gun with a scope, and if you plan to shoot the gun with the open sights, or you are buying the Springfield mount or a copy, putting the roll pin in is a lot easier than taking it out.
If you want to order one of these guns, the stock number is MP9820. It has a medium weight stainless steel National Match 22″ barrel with six grooves in a 1:11 right hand twist, a National Match tuned 5 lb. trigger, and standard .052 adjustable rear peep sight with a .062 post in the front. The overall length with the standard M1A flash suppressor is 46.25 inches, and it weights just over 11 lbs. empty with the mag. The trigger on our test gun is just under 5 lbs., with a little bit of takeup and a crisp break with no scratch or drag. In several boxes of both high end Hornady ammo and cheap range ammo there were no failures. This is yet another great M1A in the Springfield lineup. If you don’t have one yet, don’t wait for the ban crisis.