This week, I got my hands on a rifle that is destined for greatness. Springfield Armory has surprised all of us by chambering the M1A in 6.5 Creedmoor! I am not generally a fan of what I consider ancient weapons, but I am prepared to make an exception for this one.
The History of the M1A & M14
You can’t tell the story of the M1A without bringing up the M14. Why? M1A is actually an M14 pattern rifle, with M1A being Springfield Armory’s trade name for it. In fact, all the way back in 1974 when Springfield started producing M1As, they did so with surplus M14 receiver blanks.
There are differences. Every M1A part today is made in-house of high-quality steel. But at its heart, an M1A is an M14.
The M14 has the distinction of having the shortest shelf life of any rifle in U.S. military history, at least as a general issue item. I often think of it as Korean War relic, but that isn’t right either. (I may have misspoken that in my video.) The M14 was adopted in 1957 and the last contract was filled in 1964. It was essentially a detachable magazine Garand shortened from 30-’06 to .308 Winchester. The “military science” of the day concluded that the best indicator of potential enemy killed was the number of rounds fired, and rapidly started switching to smaller bullets. It is also telling that the same tactical geniuses concluded that full-power .308 rounds were hard to control during full auto setting.
That whole “more bullets” concept may have been true among conscripts in Korea and Vietnam, but it doesn’t hold much water today.
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- Type: Semiautomatic rifle
- Cartridge: 6.5 Creedmoor
- Capacity: 10; 20; 30 rds.
- Weight: 11.4 lbs.
- Overall Length: 45 in.– 46.25 in.
- Barrel Length: 22 in.; 1:8-in. twist
- Trigger: 4 lbs.
- Handguard: Springfield Armory
- MSRP: $2,045
- Manufacturer: Springfield Armory
Modern Day GWOT & The Proper Instruments
We are fighting a different kind of fight, but I learned something early on in urban combat during the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The quickest way to stop the incoming fire is to eliminate the threat as quickly as possible. As in, hit what you are aiming at.
I have a personal love for the M14, though it is a lot more nostalgic than practical.
First, the SOCOM 16 came out not long after I was running around the USMC with an M16A2. This shorter rifle that shot 7.62×51 looked to my young eyes like a match made in heaven. It’s one of the only guns from my days as a jarhead that I have never managed to buy. It is my unicorn.
Second, as a USMC Scout Sniper, I am old school enough to have actually been issued an M14. The first version I remember was issued in 2002, designated the DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle). The idea of a semiauto sniper rifle was still novel in the USMC, SR25s had not achieved dominance like they do today. When we went ashore in Iraq not long after, semiauto 7.62 seemed like a very good idea.
So, I have always liked M1A rifles. But at this point in my life, I would be hard pressed to buy anything in .308. That round and I had a lot of good times, but it’s time has passed.
The Pros of the 6.5 Creedmoor
Outside of machine guns, where the jury is still out due to armor piercing needs, the 6.5 Creedmoor will absolutely stomp .308 into the dirt.
It flies better, bucks the wind better, and has less recoil. In match grade commercial rounds, the 6.5 Creedmoor is now cheaper than .308. Imagine my surprise then, to learn Springfield Armory was going to change the M1A! They have adapted better than most of the large-frame AR builders, and I am happy to see it.
Springfield’s Step in the Right Direction
To me, this caliber change opens the M1A up to a generation of shooters that otherwise would have passed it by. And that is a good thing. The M1A is a really cool gun both aesthetically and functionally. Just the way the action works makes shooters feel like John Wayne.
The rifle takes me instantly back to a time when men were men, coffee didn’t include caramel as an option, and PC stood for Philippine Constabulary. Think about it from the perspective of a young shooter today. Recommending they get a rifle in .308 is like recommending they should get a pistol in .45 Long Colt. It’s simply not practical.
The new M1A lets them pick a rifle of heritage, with a common caliber.
The new version of the gun doesn’t feature just a caliber change, but also a furniture upgrade. I like the wooden stock versions, but it does lack some features of a modern rifle. Springfield updated this model with a precision adjustable stock. Comb height and stock length are simple to change and rock steady. The grip is closer to a pistol-grip feel, complete with a hidden compartment. The forend features a Picatinny rail, meaning you can use any modern bipod you like.
Our test model was the loaded edition, and I couldn’t ask for any other features than how Springfield Armory equipped the rifle.
“The M1A’s National Match Grade, 22-inch medium weight stainless steel barrel provides a long sight radius with a 4-groove 1:8 right hand twist and shot-steadying muzzle brake for accuracy. NM Grade .062 post front sight and non-hooded .0520 aperture rear sight ideal for far targets, adjustable for ½ MOA windage and 1 MOA elevation. The 2-stage trigger is NM-tuned to 4.5 – 5 pounds for a crisp pull. A true 1000-yard rifle that delivers a level of shooting satisfaction few rifles can match, especially when paired with an SA scope mount and your optic of choice. Complete with a precision-adjustable stock to dial in fit and feel, and ships with a 10-round magazine.”
I asked for and received a scope mount from the factory on mine, which is a must for accuracy testing. The scope mount is built in-house and works like a charm. I particularly like that Springfield cuts a deep enough channel to use the iron sights without removing it.
This is not a typical AR-style rifle, where you slapdash some folding sights on. They are built into the M1A. The irons work extremely well. At the introduction event for this rifle, I shot a 6-inch plate at 100 meters like it was easy, and I don’t shoot irons often.
The new stock combined with a Leupold 20X scope worked miracles. It took about 10 rounds for the barrel to settle down, but my best paper group was right at 3/4ths of an inch at 100 meters. My 1,000-meter group was proportionally even better, turning in under 7 inches on steel.
For a firearm developed in the late ’50s, those are very impressive numbers. Springfield Armory hit one out of the park with the M1A in 6.5 Creedmoor. Now I just need to convince them to make a SOCOM 16 in the same caliber.
For more information about Springfield Armory, click here.
To learn more about Hornady ammunition, click here.
To purchase a Springfield Armory M1A on GunsAmerica, click here.