Read more at Springfield Armory: http://www.springfield-armory.com/m1a-series/
Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=springfield%20armory%20m1a%20socom
From M1A SOCOM 16 to SOCOM 16 CQB
For the past 20 years I have been on a quest for the perfect close-quarters .308 Winchester rifle. This year, I have found a rifle that may be “the one”: Springfield’s newest offering in their line of M1A rifles, the SOCOM 16 CQB or Close-Quarter Battle rifle.
This gun has promise right from the start. Based on the M1A SOCOM 16 with a 16-inch barrel, the rifle is equipped with the legendary muzzle brake and gas system that makes the M1A so reliable and it has the SOCOM’s forward scope rail. It also comes with an XS Systems tritium front post night sight and a rear ghost ring aperture sight.
The traditional stock has been updated with a new Archangel pistol grip composite stock featuring a 5-position buttstock and adjustable cheek riser that can be fit to any shooter and collapsed for storage. But wait, there’s more! They have added an M-Lok rail system to the stock that comes with two three-slot Picatinny rails installed on the right and left sides of the forend and a 7-slot rail fixed to the bottom.
The ability to add accessories like a white light or laser is now a must on close-quarters long guns, and the M1A SOCOM CQB accommodates this need admirably. The stock is also fit with a soft buttpad, which makes an already soft-shooting gun even easier to shoot, facilitating rapid strings of fire.
All this in a zippered nylon case for storage and transportation.
|Caliber:||7.62X51mm NATO/.308 Winchester|
|Barrel:||Carbon steel, 16.25 inches, 1-in-11 twist|
|Front sight:||XS Systems tritium night sight with a .125-inch sight blade|
|Rear sight:||.135-inch ghost ring aperture|
|Overall length:||35.5 inches collapsed, 38.5 inches fully-extended|
|Stock:||Archangel adjustable 5-position pistol grip M-Lok|
The M14 rifle was introduced in 1961 to replace the U.S. Army’s M1 Garand and later modified to replace the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle. This gave birth to the M15 — think M14 but with a heavier barrel and stock, a hinged buttplate, a selector switch for fully automatic fire and a bipod. Next came the M14E2. It came with a pistol grip stock, a lightweight plastic handguard, a muzzle brake, an M2 bipod and a folding metal vertical foregrip.
Much more recently the rifle was put back into service as the Mk 14 EBR or Enhanced Battle Rifle. The tactical version of the M14, the Mk 14 EBR has a compact 18-inch barrel, a retractable stock, and rails for accessories. This is the SOCOM’s big brother — emphasis on big, weighing in at over 11 pounds.
Sights and Optics
The SOCOM 16 CQB is slimmed down, which makes it more versatile. I wanted to try multiple optic and iron sight configurations, as this rifle is modular and thus allow for easily swapping accessories. The detachable cheek piece also facilitates a good cheek weld with a tall optic.
I really prefer simple when it comes to optics and sights. In my mind, optics and sights are there to help you shoot, not distract you from shooting. To that end I chose a Leupold FX-II Scout IER 2.5x28mm with see-through rings, allowing use of the iron sights. I also plan to run an Aimpoint Micro H1 red dot sight on this gun at some point.
On the Range
I set up two targets at the 50-yard line, with one on the left for iron sights and on the right for scoped shooting. Moving back in increments I adjusted the sights and scope so that I would at least be on paper at 50 yards where I could finish the zero on the bench. A few adjustments later, and I could not have been happier with the rifle.
At 50 yards I could cover three-shot groups with a Kennedy half dollar using both the scope and the iron sights. For the second trip to the range I had two tests in mind: longer range, and up close and personal.
At 100 yards, I got to work trying to find out what ammunition produced the best accuracy with this rifle. After extensive testing, I found that the Black Hills 168-grain match ammunition delivered the best groups, hands down. Shooting from a bench using a Caldwell Lead Sled, consistent 1-inch groups were possible if I did my part. While the rifle was more accurate with lighter ammunition, it was 100 percent reliable with every brand and type of ammunition I tested.
For the last test I set up three targets various ranges up close for some fast shooting, putting multiple rounds down on each target. I was interested in seeing how this gun would transition from target to target at close range. To my delight, the M1A SOCOM 16 CQB handled more like an AR-15 than a .308 battle rifle.
It rapidly recovered from shot to shot and it was easy to shoot with precision even with fast follow-up shots. As short as the rifle is, it transitioned quickly between targets as well. The mass of the rifle did become noticeable after slinging the rifle for longer stretches — dead weight is dead weight — it’s up to you to decide if the extra weight is worth it for the larger caliber.
From AR to M1A
I do have some issues with how I ran this rifle, but all of them can be overcome with training. The magazine change seems to take me forever — I am so used to the button-style magazine release on ARs — an oversized magazine latch might help.
The safety, positioned in front of the trigger guard also takes some getting used to. On the plus side, the safety is ambidextrous. And I don’t know if this is even a possibility, but I like sights that can co-witness with the optic.
I think what I really should say is that these two platform are obviously different, and different doesn’t necessarily mean bad — it means training opportunity.
Is The Quest Over?
MSRP for the new SOCOM CQB with the Vortex Venom it is $2,396. It is selling for closer to the $2,000 mark. Without the Vortex, it should be even less. Price aside, I would say that this may not be “the one” forever, but it definitely is “the rifle right now.” The M1A SOCOM 16 CQB is a keeper — that is, as soon as I can buy one.