Is the steel and wood Springfield Armory M1A still a viable battle rifle?
Stick around, because we put a ton of .308 through a National Match M1A and a SOCOM 16, and had a profoundly weird experience.
First things first: Historical firearms are cool as hell, and there’s nothing quite like owning, holding, or shooting a wood-clad gat that’s got a story to tell, if only it could speak.
The M1A, obviously a civilian variant of the iconic M14, fits squarely in that niche – you can check our full video over on our YouTube Channel!
Table of Contents
Springfield M1A Background
Now, obviously the M1A is merely the civilian variant of the iconic M14, and the M14 itself is essentially only a slightly modified M1 Garand that was developed after WW2 to fill the niche for a fully automatic battle rifle.
While the countries in the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization quickly agreed on a need to standardize small arms cartridges, a debate ensued over which exact cartridge that should be.
While the British focused on a smaller .280 cartridge out of concern for controllability in full auto, the US refused to adopt anything smaller than .30 caliber, citing concerns over diminished stopping power.
Fast forward a bit past a lot of bureaucracy and a point where the US almost adopted the FN FAL, and finally we have NATO’s adoption of the 7.62x51mm cartridge as its official battle rifle round – and with it, the US adopted the M14 in the late 50s.
The M14, in theory, would simplify the makeup of the weapons fielded by the standard American infantry squad.
The leading brilliant minds of the time legitimately saw a future in which the M14 would replace the M3 grease gun and Thompson submachine guns, the BAR as a squad automatic weapon, the Springfield 1903 as a marksman rifle, and the M1 Garand and M1 carbine – a total overhaul of the ammunition and parts needed to keep a squad well supplied and operational.
The gun was first fielded in Vietnam, and although 7.62 NATO proved great at punching through thick vegetation, the gun’s overall length was poorly suited for jungle warfare, it was basically uncontrollable in full auto, it’s wood stocks were subject to swelling from jungle humidity, which affected zero, and a DOD report found that the rifle overall was inferior to both the M1 Garand it descended from, and the soon to be introduced M16.
What About Today?
So where’s that leave us?
Why, with an ensuing internet argument, of course!
We’ll just say this: The M14 and M1A have incredibly vocal supporters and detractors both – and if you have the misfortune of wading into Mekong Delta of that online shit-flinging fest, it’s probably going to be quite hard to discern how these guns actually perform in real life.
Springfield Armory was kind enough to send us both a National Match M1A and a SOCOM16 to try out for ourselves – and we hoped that by the end, we’d have enough insight to give you a reasonable everyman opinion.
Considering that you have folks claiming that these are sub MOA guns at 1,000 yards with irons on one side of the debate, and uhhhhh some nerd that won’t shutup about how the US should have adopted the FAL over the M14 on the other.
The Two Models: M1A & SOCOM 16
The National Match M1A is, according to Springfield, hand-built to win competitions.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
The gun’s action is glass bedded into the walnut stock, which overcomes the traditional issue M14s face with poor fitment apparently affecting accuracy.
The gun’s also got a 5lb two-stage trigger, which might feel sort of heavy, but it’s really obvious when it’s going to break and there’s very minimal creep on the takeup.
The SOC16 is obviously a bit more compact and includes a 16” barrel in a black polymer stock with the iconic SOC16 muzzle brake upfront.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
The gun also has a scout style picatinny mount just forward of the action, allowing for the addition of red dots or scout scopes if that’s your jam.
First things first – in all honesty, these rifles are quite dated in terms of design ergonomics – as again, they’re civilian M14s, and the M14 was dated design-wise at the time even compared to the AK and FAL.
Considering you’ll be rocking the ergonomics of an 80 some odd-year-old rifle design, you can expect to feel out of place if you’re the type of dude that’s used to adjustable length of pull and a c-clamp style grip.
The rifles are heavy and quite cumbersome – weighing in at 8lbs for the SOC16 and 10lbs for the National Match, both unloaded.
Because of the op-rod placement, you’re likely going to have to jump your support hand out way further than what feels natural if you’re used to firing modern carbines – otherwise, you’ll be in for quite a shitty surprise when the gun bites you.
However, the sling mount kinda gets in the way of what, for me, feels like a natural hand placement – and you’ve got to keep your fingers away from the op-rod all the same.
The M1A’s safety is located within the trigger guard itself, and is essentially a metal tab that you press forward to disengage.
Again, a bit of antiquated design here – I don’t particularly care for a safety mechanism that I have to get my finger near the trigger to operate, and the lever itself is quite stiff.
Kinda sketchy, and I prefer to use my left thumb to flick it forward.
The swell of the rifle’s stock also creates a fulcrum point around your hand itself.
Whereas an AR platform is going to recoil directly back into the buffer tube, the M1A essentially uses your dominant hand as an anchor point for the muzzle when it climbs upwards.
I also find that for me personally, the combination of hand and head placement when shooting from a rest position always winds up grabbing a bit of facial hair that the rifle takes with it when it fires, so make of that what you will.
Additionally, the magazines are a bit wonky to insert at first.
You’ve got to rock them into the receiver sort of like an AK, but because the guns ship with short 10 rounders, you’ve really got to drive the front notch of the mag deep into the mag well, rock the rear of the mag back towards the trigger, and simultaneously push up to get the magazine seated correctly.
It’s not the end of the world, and it does get easier over time as the mags get broken in.
So, yes – the design of the rifles isn’t super comfortable and feels antiquated, well, because it is.
But how do they shoot?
Springfield M1A at the Range
We took these guns out to the desert to ring some 200-yard steel, and in all honesty…the results were not fantastic.
It seemed like no matter what type of .308 ammunition we used, from shitty PRVI to decent PM to federal gold medal match, we’d hit 1or 2 shots every 3-4 rounds using consistent holds on our steel target.
Admittedly, we are not marksmen, and while we all have a good amount of long-range shooting experience, our inability to hit relatively close targets with these guns seemed pretty damn wild.
The M1A’s worst critics online will tell you that the gun’s design itself literally prevents them from being accurized, due to the mechanics of how the rifle’s receiver fits into the stock itself.
There’s also an infamous study on the M14 that essentially says the same thing, noting that the US Army tried for a few decades and concluded, a couple million dollars later, that the M24 was a better weapon system than the marksman-tier M14 they tried to create.
Could it really be us? Do we not understand the point of aim with M14 irons? Are they that different from the ARs and AKs we’re much more familiar with? Are we posers? Comment below if you think we’re posers.
We weren’t sure, but we did find that both the National Match M1A and the SOCOM 16 performed about the same in this department – with the SOC16’s ironsights being a bit worse considering they’re thicker and obscure most of the target at 200 yards. (You know, because it’s a CQB gun)
After a few mags, we decided to setup a shooting mat and rest to take some prone shots with an optic mounted to the SOC16’s scout mount to see if the irons themselves were just inexplicably way off.
Unfortunately, we still weren’t getting great results, and the forward-mounted Picatinny rail on the SOC16 means that you’re essentially relegated to scout scopes with good eye relief.
Again – we totally accept that we are by no means amazing shooters, but this shouldn’t be that hard. So what’s going on here?
Considering the fact that it was 100+ degrees on our shoot day and firing a shitton of .308 on guns with meat tenderizers on their buttplates isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world, we resigned ourselves to chill on the M1As and take them to a local range to shoot groups and get them dialed in.
Range Day #2
Fast forward to our next shoot day! This time, we shot 100 yard groups with irons from the bench, and… the results were still pretty bizarre.
As you can see… the shot placement was all over the place.
One of the weirdest parts of the entire experience was the tendency for both guns to pull off consecutive rounds either through the same hole or touching one another, only for the next round to be a complete flier somewhere else on the paper.
Again, we’re not so arrogant as to think that this isn’t our fault – but if so, why / how were we putting 2 rounds through the same hole only to completely fuck up the next round by several inches? At 100 yards from bench?
That seems pretty unlikely.
Troubleshooting the M1A
Not wanting to publish a pretty damning review on 8 MOA guns, we wondered if there might be something wrong with the rifles themselves. We therefore reached out to Springfield to see if they had any idea what the case might be.
While they were alarmed at our results, they offered to bring the guns back and test them at their facilities to ensure we didn’t get flawed rifles for whatever reason.
Springfield’s techs looked the guns over and purportedly found zero issues with any aspect of them.
Springfield then mounted optics to the rifles using a 4th Gen Steel Receiver mount and tested them thusly.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
The National Match came in at 1.25 MOA with a Vortex 4-16x optic, and the SOC16 shot 2MOA with a Vortex 1-6 both at 100 yards.
Again, obviously much better than the results that we were getting in the two different times we shot the guns previously.
At this point, we were pretty blown away.
Is it really us? Do we really just suck that hard?
Springfield offered to send the guns back to us for another round of testing, and we accepted. They even included the optics and mounts to ensure we’d be able to repeat their results.
Fast forward to range trip number 3, and close to 900 rounds of .308 later aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we were finally able to get some usable numbers out of these guns!
Sweeet Jesus thank you!
Range Trip #3
With the Vortex optics mounted we were now shooting about 1.5MOA out of the National Match, and ~2 MOA out of the SOC 16 using 168gr Gold Medal Match ammo.
PRVI 145 and 180 grain out of the SOC16 both still felt subpar however, and PMC Bronze was decent but did have a flier in the group you see on screen.
The National Match didn’t much like PRVI 145, but did okay with with PRVI 180, because literally nothing about any of this makes sense.
PMC was okay and Match was, of course, the best.
We should note though that you’ll likely want to invest in a cheek riser if you wind up using an optic on these rifles, as they tend to sit quite high above the bore.
By the Numbers
For all of the weird issues we had with the M1As, reliability in terms of operation wasn’t one of them. We did experience one light primer strike on some of the poorer PRVI ammo, but are good to go outside of that.
This feels a little bit odd to grade with a number value, as the rifle’s design is quite dated. It was par for the course during the 40s, but is it fair to judge an antiquated set up by modern standards? The gun will work just fine if you adapt your shooting style to it, but it is not the most comfortable experience in the world.
We’re genuinely super confused about what happened with the accuracy tests of the guns, and don’t feel particularly comfortable assigning this area a grade while the results were inconclusive.
There are a ton of aftermarket accessories available for the M1A, such as radically different chassis that update its design ergonomics to something that feels much more modern if you can’t stand the old-school vibe.
The M1A is a little bit pricey depending on model, but if you’re in the market for a .308 American service rifle, it’s essentially your only option.
Again…highly recommend you check out the video so you can see everything in motion.
So the guns did okay and shot pretty close to what Springfield reported with the addition of optics.
However, that makes the entire ordeal feel that much stranger?
We still aren’t quite sure what to make of this entire experience, in all honesty.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
We really hope we don’t accidentally end up summoning the M14 defense squad by even suggesting that these guns are not the absurdly accurate sniper platforms it feels like a segment of pop culture has made them out to be, and for the umpteenth time we’re readily willing to accept that the problem may very well have been us.
What sticks out as extremely odd for me personally though, is that we’ve never experienced issues quite like this with any of our other .308 guns, and the issues occurred across multiple reasonably experienced shooters.
It also seems unlikely that we’d be able to get two rounds to touch back to back if we weren’t decent shots to begin with, only to have a subsequent round end up nowhere near the previous two.
Springfield’s lead tech also managed to shoot a 1.25” group with the national match using irons, so blaming the iron sights doesn’t seem quite right either – although I think it’s fair to assume a tech at springfield is likely a goddamn pro with the M1A.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Truthfully, we have no idea, and we actually deliberated for a while on what approach we wanted to take with this review – because at the end of the day, it’s still sort of inconclusive.
It’d be easy to pretend like the entire gaff just never happened, but that’s super disingenuous, and we try to be as real with y’all as possible.
We will say that Springfield’s responsiveness in helping us sort out what was going on was fantastic, and worth letting all of you know about.
If for whatever reason you do have issues with your guns, it’s nice to know that the manufacturer is going to look into the issue and treat your concerns as valid.
That being said, it’s certainly frustrating to present a gun review where the results are sort of inconclusive.
Are we just miserable with iron sights? Did the guns get banged up in shipping? Are the guns haunted? Was mercury in retrograde? We may never know.
As for the rifles themselves – they certainly have their niche. Guns that are a nod to the past are definitely a blast to own and shoot, and if you’re considering purchasing an M1A, we’d imagine it’s likely because you have some sort of sentimental or historical interest in the rifle – not because you’re looking for something that’s going to outperform an AR-10.
Additionally, most models of the M1A are naturally featureless if that’s a concern for you, although it certainly would have been fun to play with some of the wilder EBR style chassis.
That being said, the M1A is still a blast if you want a big, chunky battle rifle with ties back to the iconic M14 – though we’d certainly still recommend finding a way to try one out before you buy it just to make sure you know what exactly you’re getting yourself into.
Let us know what you think of the M1A and how it went all wonky for us. If you’re committed to the M1A, you can check out the list of Best Models. And check out the Best .308 Ammo, Best AR-10s, and Best 7.62×51 Battle Rifles.
90 Leave a Reply
I decided to relent and sell my M1A because I didn't want to drop a thousand into a rifle I feel should have been better out of the box BUT I kept the SOCOM 16 because with iron sites at 100 hundred yards produced anywhere from touching to 2 1/2 inches! Surprised me! I have no answer for this.
It seems as if you suck with iron sights. Who even really uses irons anymore. Get with the rest of the modern world and throw a scope on that thing. Problem seems to be solved
Just took mine out Wednesday.
Open sights, 200 yards. I'm 72 years old and can't even get corrected to more that 25/20.
Shot a 10 round group that was 3.6" width and 6.8 inches high. For a result of 3.29 MOA
If I had changed my sight picture to shoot bottom of circle instead of center, I believe I could have shot a group with height no larger that the width. This would give me a 1.5 MOA result
I am going to test this theory again next week.
Again I'm 72 with way less than perfect vision. I think this gun in the hands of a good shooter is easily a sub MOA gun.
Plus it's just a lot of fun to shoot :-)
Forgive me if I sound like Captain Obvious, but do you think the fact that you shot .308 and not 7.62 might have something to do with it? I know the debate about whether it's ok to use both in a rifle chambered for one or the other, but the fact that these are both 7.62 tells me you should use that if you're testing accuracy.
I sent my SOCOM 16 back to Springfield 2 months ago. I was getting better grouping with my shotgun at 100 yards. They sent it back saying they recrowned the barrel and replaced the gas block on the end of the barrel. They said it now shoots 3 MOA at 100 yards using my scope which was attached at the time of repair, which is their spec for the SOCOM. They also sent the targets they used and were signed by the repair technician. I’ve not tested this rifle since their repair. Their customer service was excellent, but I still have my doubts about the rifle. Especially since it left their factory with defects. That seems like very poor quality control with no recalls, even though many people are having similar problems. They used Federal Match 168 grain ammo for testing.
I shot my first M14 in the crotch, now I have a JRA M14 Rockola which shoots lights out with irons! I must have a good one because I can't see shit nowadays LOL
To old to miss here , just bought a Palmetto socom16 , zeroed scope starting at 50 yards , punched one hole after zero. Moved out to 100 yards , 1.5" group shooting 150 grain fmj handloads , nothing special just basic loads . Rifle has a Burris 2x pistol scope . Have a friend that has a m1 garand in 3006 that does the same . Probably an anomaly in your case . That's what my doctor told me once when he didn't have a clue
Now you should do a head to head comparison of both the Springfield Armory M1A and the DSA made FAL….
I own an ex military Winchester made M14 and like everyone else pretty well has commented it’s a very accurate rifle. I’ve also owned a standard M1A and really couldn’t tell any difference.
I liked the M-14 for it's accuracy and ease of disassembly for cleaning. I was disappointed when I had to trade it in for an M-16. Had no choice. In my opinion the M-14 was a great battle rifle. Too old now to buy an M-1A.
I qualified expert with the M14 in ‘66 with targets from 50 to 400 yards. In RVN a VC carrying six rifles 600+ yards away was sent to the big rice bowl with another non-National Match M14. I believe you approached the test with bias against the rifle and then set about to prove the bias. The SuperMatch I’ve owned for 3 decades
still gives me sub moa groups … as recently as the beginning of the month. Further, I learned to shoot the weapon not whine about it.
If u started young , 5 or 6yrs old(22lr) it's easy to remember ergonomics. My loaded M1a shoots sub MOA @ 100 yards & has since 1998 when I purchased it. My SR25 shoots sub MOA as well. My FAL shoot well but so did my FN 49 in 30 06 (& another 1 in 8×57 shot good also). Had a SVT40 that shot well also. Never owned a rifle that after i learned it that didn't shoot well. The gun is out dated ergonomically & pen il barrel has issues. I learned to solve these issues. Their approach was bias.
Bummer about your results with the M1A and M1A SOCOM. I've had an M1A Squad Scout (18 inch barrel) for about 9 years now and have never experienced the inconsistent performance you identified in your review. I had been interested in the SOCOM version, but decided against it due to the shorter barrel length (16 inch) being a little more inefficient with the .308 WIN cartridge.
Not challenging your experience with and observations of the rifle. I just find it interesting and completely different from my experience with this rifle. It works well for me.
Thanks for the review!
if u are going to war u want the m1a. The 7.62 does the job !
Ammo can make a huge difference in these rifles depending on the age and wear of the barrel. However, with brand new rifles it is hard to determine which is at fault and presuming SPGFLD was not "shining" you, I would highly recommend that you acquire some of the MK118 LR ammunition and give it another try.. Also I would definitely clean the barrels with a copper dissolving solvent (your choice). Once you have done all this and you still have not satisfactorily tightened the groups...........................................................................................................................................................................
THEN YOU ARE A SUCKASS SHOOTER!! TURN IN YOUR MAN CARD AND GET CUT!!
I packed an m 14 for two years while stationed in Germany, and I was a combat medic. I had to be qualified with that thing at all times. I was sick of that heavy thing. So 50 years later what do I do, but go out and buy an M 1A. When I took it out of the box, my heart nearly stopped. Here was my old heavy friend back. Go figure???
When I was growing up the FN FAL was the dream rifle of everyone but now they are just a fading memory. Not to mention noone our age at least ( I'm a 60 model) had the $ for one of those things, not when you could buy a 69 340 Barracuda for $800!
Great article. I would just be satified with getting my hands on the NORINCO copy of one as I hear they are great for $600 . But it would have to come from Canada.
I'll say, nerd or not. The US would have been better off with the FAL.
This review saved me from being hugely disappointed. I was trying to find a M1A in 6.5 Creedmoor and all the information I found online talked about what an awesome rifle it was. Then I came across this video review. When I got done watching it I realized that the other articles and videos I watched and read were just “blowing” the manufacturer’s so they would keep sending them guns to review. I went back and looked at the other reviews and noticed all of their reviews were 100% on every gun. What made this one stand out was that you could tell that they didn’t want to make a negative review of such an iconic gun. It takes balls to do that! There are very few sources online that have the credibility to be able to tell the truth, this is one of them. I don’t always agree with everything they say, but I do believe that they are telling you what they actually think. Thank you!
P.S. the comments video they made for this review is a must watch! I really hope you guys keep making those in the format you used, it was perfect.
I'm no great shot, but my M1A loaded regularly gets 3 shot groups from 100 yards, off bags, where all 3 rounds touch a quarter, with irons. That's shooting 168 gr match ammunition.
I would love to shoot the M1A. I fired expert in basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in the winter of 62/63 with the M14, but I am out of practice. We were the first training regiment at Wood to be issued the M14 and I have fond memories of that rifle.
Interesting review and a bummer about your results. I'd be disappointed too if I had those results.
I am no sniper and I don't get to go out to the range much. I have a M1A Loaded that I bought used. Admittedly, my first experiences shooting it were not great. I am a skinny guy and I found out that a 308 rocks me back some. I have trouble shooting off a bench with it.
I did make some modifications to it to improve accuracy. Nothing that involved extensive gunsmithing or modifications. Most of the stuff I did was learned from Youtube videos and the M14 Forum online. It just took me a while to find time to work on it.
Next, I had to adjust my shooting style. I found I shoot it best while prone. I have to line my whole body behind the recoil for best results. I originally shot it using an ammo box with a piece of carpet for a front rest. This rifle does not like resting "hard-on-hard". I eventually started using a bipod. it did not take too much work to get a group about 1.25 inches at 100 yards.
I still wonder what is going on with the rifles you reviewed. It's possible for any company to turn ot a lemon. But Springfield did respond to your inquiries. Like I said, I am no expert marksman by any means so I am not sure what happened. This one is a headscratcher.
Hi John, thanks for the review. I own an M1A Scout and had a totally different experience. My first real prolonged exposure to shooting was in the military, so I basically grew up on the AR platform. That being said, we used the M14 for drill and ceremony purposes and I had a desire to purchase one. I have to say I absolutely love my M1A Scout. The ergonomics of the rifle design suit me better I guess. It just feels good to me, and I find that I actually get a more consistent sight picture with the M1A than I do with ARs. Shooting iron sights I had no issues getting tight shot groups at both 100 and 200 yards. I later purchased a relatively inexpensive scout long eye relief scope from UTG. The rifle has proven to be a tack driver, making me look like a better shooter than I am. I also love the fact that the M1A is much less finicky with maintenance. This rifle actually likes to fire dirty, whereas you can't really say the same for an AR. I can't really pinpoint why we would have such differences in experience except to say that sometimes you just get used to a certain platform. The only complaint I have with the M1A is that I agree with you that the safety is very stiff and can be somewhat counter-intuitive, particularly if you have trained in CQB/MOUT shooting where you need to rapidly go from safe-to fire-to safe again. I would actually prefer a selector switch similar to the AR platform for that sole feature. Otherwise I actually prefer my M1A to my ARs. Just my experience and preference at this point.
Imagine doing CQB with a 1903 or a K98 Mauser..............The safety for that scenario is only in your trained body and mind. Finger off the trigger but posted on the trigger guard. Rifle in a high ready OR (you won't believe this) tucking the stock under the arm pit to shorten the rifle immensely. Here, it will be up close and bad breath range. You'll get one shot then have to work the bolt as usual (just a LOT faster)...There are a couple of other inventive, adaptive techniques to move through tight quarters with a 45" cannon, but it can and has been done. As it is aptly stated: Necessity is the mother of invention.
...Incentive is the key. Hopefully, one would not be alone in their endeavors.
Well, it's the weapon I was trained for, BCT 1969 Ft. Bliss, Tx. I do have an M1a1 (M14) but I changed the muzzle suppressor with one that have a bayonet lug bought from Brownell's. Purchased a bayonet w/scabbard at a local gun show. This rifle really brings back memories.
I have a Scout Squad and it is accurate enough for its intended purpose, hog hunting. I also run a PTR-91 for the same purpose. They are about equal as far as accuracy. I love both rifles. I have zero issues with the ergonomics of the M1A. I grew up shooting M1's. As far as loosing facial hair my AR platforms are the worst. Yes I am a bearded wonder and find shooting shotguns and AR's uncomfortable in the unwanted grooming department. Point is you own one of these rifles because you want to. I am an ageing Marine infantryman that trained on an A2 service rifle. I can run my M1A just as well as any AR pattern rifle. Like anything else in life just takes training.
I was an across the course NRA high power service rifle shooter for many years and I took the Match M1A out to 600 yards shooting with iron sights and it was great! My hand loads had the sierra 168 grain matchking with Varget and I could routinely shoot greater than 90% at 600 yards. I don’t like the socom version, Just the match M1A and of course, the super match M1A. Maybe you should have tried the high power sling supported positions.
Great rifle, just takes skill and practice to know how to shoot them. I made NRA highmaster class and distinguished with one. I’ve seen marine Corp team shooters shoot 3” groups at 300 yds with irons. Takes time learning it.
Trained with an m14 in the Corps in '68..I can tell you that to obtain consistant groups requires proper sight alignment, sight picture, and a proper grip, and consistant weld. To get the proper weld you have to place the knuckle of your thumb of your trigger hand against your nostral...this brings your cheek to stock weld in the exact same position every time. The drawback to this is that the recoil can give you what is referred to as a " whores lip" ... just like the Garand, and the '03, some shooters can put ten rounds in the black at 500 yards, while others could go nonqual at 25yards. Damn few servicemen today are in former group, and seem to be trained in the "spray, and pray" method and would be lost without an acog.
You sir are correct.
mine gives me a small mouse of a black eye when I do it right !
have shot 98/100 in NRA Match prone with it.
Thanks. Good review. I have both of the rifles tested and must say I own them for many reasons none of which are long range accuracy. Don't care. They are deadly center mass as far as I can see. When I go to any range and get out one of these or my Garand Tanker, people stop and walk over. That's part of what makes these rifles so special. Thanks again.
I’ve seen more bad reviews than good on socom 16 version. I was going to purchase one, then decided on something different. Anyways for every 1 good review I found 5 bad. Which was enough for me, I’m not gonna buy a rifle at that price that has a 1:5 good:bad honest review ratio. They were all accuracy problems, every stinking one.
I've had an M1A for about 11 years now and had zero problems with achieving acceptable levels of accuracy that are comparable to other rifles that I own. Very surprised by your experience with the platform.
It is very likely your shooter not being familiar with the weapon system that got you the results that you achieved. I purchased a SOCOM 16 in 2010 and my first outing with it, I found the sights hardly needed to be adjusted. I regularly saw slightly over 1 MOA with iron sights and probably 1 MOA with an ACOG at distances less than 300 meters, probably 3-3.5 MOA out to 600 meters with 147 grain federal fmj, and I could get back down to that 1.5 MOA range with 168 blackhills. With practice, reloads can be just as fast as AR.....one thing I would like to mention, when I went through Marine Corps boot camp and infantry school, we were doing reloads with the shooting hand, and not the offhand. When you use the m14 platforms, as well as AK’s, you will find that there is a more natural use of controls using your shooting hand for everything. With the AR platform, I find I can keep magazines on my left and right side and reload with off or shooting hands very quickly, with using using just one.
I have a M1A National Match in 6.5 Creedmoor. I have to say my results are very different than yours. Out of the box I've found the weapon to be very accurate with iron sights. The looks are seconds to none. The feel is amazing. The fit and finish are great. I'll give it that inserting a magazine requires a little practice. Even a little wonky compared to my Smith & Wesson M&P 15, but shooting it is a hell of a lot more fun!
Thanks so much for doing this review. I have a standard m1a and love it. It shoots very reliably and I love the looks and history. The piece that always nagged at me is that it has never shot as accurately as I thought it should. I was worried there was something wrong with mine, but not enough to try to do anything about it. The results you were getting were similar to mine, but a bit worse. I think now what I’m seeing is more like an average typical Springfield m1a. My accuracy comparison is to a 30-30 lever gun and an sks both with iron sights at 100yds. One thing that might be useful for folks is that I found certain bullet weights to be more consistent than others. Mine really seems to like 147 grain PMC xtac. Also, it seems to be more consistent once it warms up. From cold to warm it seems to move a bit.
Hate to pick out just one thing...but this "ergonomics" thing...some people are Glock Fanatics, some are AR/M4 lovers...me not so much. But I am left handed. Maybe that makes a difference. The AR's charging handle is the most mis-placed of any in the firearms world. It cannot be operated from the shoulder at all. It is impossible to operate in a straight-line motion, without side loading the handle, with a scope that overhangs the handle. Also, and this surprised me more than anything you wrote...why...WHY would anyone want to disengage the safety WITHOUT putting their finger near the trigger? An AR with an ambi-safety (I am left handed) rubs my thumb/finger junction when I fire the weapon. The M1A's is perfection. Ready to fire? Finger in the trigger guard...push forward, safety is off...pull finger back and fire. Why have the safety where you have to move the safety off before finding the trigger? Think what (aside from reliability) made the Glock so attractive to police, military, etc. The safety was inside the trigger guard. Actually, on the trigger itself. How neat is that!?!?! So, the safety being operated from inside the trigger guard is not "dated" or inconvenient. It is exactly where it needs to be. So-called "modern technique" keeps the finger off the trigger until ready to fire...so what is wrong with having the safety in the same locale as the trigger? It worked for Glock, and most every modern hand gun manufacturer. Me-thinks you are an AR snob. Just sayin'.
I am left handed and know several other lefty shooters that can't second any of your claims about the AR. You are also misguided about Glock's safe action triggers as well.
I totally enjoy your video on this every time I see it!
The first time I was exposed to the M1A was when I qualified with it in Guam with the Marines back in 1980 or so. It was a semi-auto and had no full auto switch on it. I was on a sub so we had to know the .45, .12 gage and M1A. You had to be a torpedoman to play with full auto-anything. (Lucky bastids) As a kid from Texas this was a day doing one of my favorite things with a new rifle thrown in to boot. I don't remember the number of rounds fired for qualification but I'd fulfilled all my points before I was half way through so the rest was gravy. My friend pulling targets down in the pits said the Marine Sargent supervising and making sure no one's head became a desirable target asked if I was using a scope because my groups were so close. This was a 100 meter range so it was a little over 100 yards and, in all fairness, I had done some competitive shooting but only in small bore. The rifles were well cared for and I'm sure there was no "new" on any of the barrels but I told the guy assisting me right then an there that "I have GOT to get me one of these!!" Needless to say the Marines don't like it when Navy guys out shoot them. I have my Garand and it does need a buddy but I've not sprung for one yet. (Beware of the scammers on Craig's List!) Your video makes it just that much more of a thing to do one of these days!
The reason that the safety on the M1 and M14 is located on the trigger guard is so when the soldier or Marine using the weapon reaches to place his finger on the trigger he will feel that the safety is still engaged.
I did enjoy the review on the M1A and this little short-barreled partner. Your review was very accurate been there done that. I've been playing with blinkers my whole life to include 23 years in the military. My love affair with a 308 as lasted my lifetime. But I have experienced the same thing as you have, are beautiful rifles and sexy as hell just not something I need around my house. I've shot and loaded 308 most of my life and I kind of know what works. If somebody wants a 308 battle rifle I always recommend just go buy a AR 10 and be done with it. I have one and loved it along with my 700. There are probably at least eight maybe 10 calibers that may outperform a 308 none of them are very interesting to me and I really don't like hearing about all the new stuff. I know what works for me and has my whole life. Interesting though, I've had a c308 laying around my closet for 2 years and really didn't like it even though I hadn't fired it. the pandemic hit and I need is something to keep my mind off so I tore it completely apart rebuilt it and made it something I don't know whether to call it a G3 or let's just call it Smitty's 308. Would love to send you a photo of it and I keep records of all my targets. I'm certain I made some changes that nobody has on a c308. Turned out the way a s*** ton more than it started off as even though it's shorter than it was. Wonderful rifle gives me lots of headaches on my reloading if I was more into people knowing or I lived and who I was I do a video on it myself but I try to stay to myself. Enjoy your review it was very accurate good job
Semi-autos have more moving parts. Look at slow motion videos of an AK-47 vs an AR-15. The AK looks like a wave of motion. The AR-15 moves much less and is more accurate. My M-1 Garands are tack drivers at 100 yards. I've heard that the Browning BAR modern rifle is very accurate with the BOSS muzzle device.
In my opinion, if you want accuracy, stick with a bolt action rifle like a Remington 700 with a ported barrel. Less moving parts. Of course, I could be wrong. Ask my wife!
This article and the YouTube video were perplexing.
the first two range trips were awful, the third range trip you guys did manage to get 1.5 and 2 MOA from the two rifle variants.
From the comments below and the Springfield tech’s results, it seems that the rifles are capable but getting the most out of them takes a high level of technique.
Great discussion folks. I own a Springfield National Match M1A with a Krieger barrel which I have used in NRA competition for about 12 years. I load my own ammo from new components whenever I go to match. Here's what I've learned after 12 years of intimate marriage:
First, she likes to eat only certain kinds of ammo. I know this differs from gun to gun because of all the odd mechanical claptrap which also differs from gun to gun. Ask any Camp Perry M1A shooter. This is one of the key reasons why the Army was unable to accurize these weapons effectively.
Next, there is an Evil Kneval jump from the mouth of the 7.62 cartridge to the lands and grooves of the standard M1A (or any other 7.62 rifle) rifling. If there is ANY concentricity variance in the round you will have a flier on your hands. This is why any serious shooter of M1A match competitions will check EVERY ROUND for concentricity variations.
There are several other items that can affect M1A accuracy which I won't go into here. Suffice to say she can be very accurate when she's treated as she demands.
And just to let you know what she's capable of: when her barrel was new (about 1,400 rnds ago), I put 20 rnds of my match ammo through her from the bench and you could put a quarter over holes. No shucking or jiving here. These rifles can be very accurate if you're willing to invest the time & $$.
What weight bullet are you using? Do you prefer boat tail or straight wall? What type powder and how many grains? What brand of brass and bullet do you prefer? Which reloading dies are your favorite? Thank you,
42Gr 4895 Federal match primers lake city match cases and 168 gr BT hollow points.
I have recently purchased a new m1a socom , it shots terrible groups at 100 yds with a scope, it shoots 5"-8" groups, have shot numerous different types of store bought ammo & hand loaded ammo , I sent it back to springfield , they agreed it had a problem , kept it for 7 weeks & sent it back , said it was down t0 2" groups , but it still continues to shoot terrible , it will shoot 2 or 3 touching every once in awhile, and then send one 6"- 8" off , gonna send it back again
Maybe the solution is to get an experienced M1A shooter to SHOW the PewPew writer that it can be done, that these rifles are accurate and that accuracy can be proven consistently. The gun industry is ripe with lying sacks.... just to sell their product or people who claim they can do something and never willing to back it up in person.
I have a very old....springfield M1A with a TRW chrome GI barrel... I have had no problem with iron sights.. using surplus ammo hitting … consistently a two foot gong at 600... yes 600 yrds. This summer I had about 3 witnesses who after I walked away from the line... could not believe I could strike the gong consistently at that distance with only military iron sights.. NOT bragging... but this was with iron std sights and surplus ammo that was at least 40 yrs old. I do not waste my time going for groups with 40+ year old Spanish surplus ammo. It never was match grade when manufactured. And my Springfield M1A was their field grade... Not match anything with a chrome lined barrel.. Also I am an old timer too. So eye sight picture is challenging. Sorry to break the bad news to you... but it is not the rifle. My opinion is that it is a difficult toy to achieve its maximum accuracy. Not sure why. I lived in Illinois and I met jerk who owned the company and purchased this m1A from him... when he operated a retail shop in Illinois....he does hire craftsmen who can and do build an excellent toy... BUT... it takes skill to achieve results using iron sights. I prefer to challenge myself using iron sights.. The boys on the range who all use huge scopes on bolt guns could not believe my consistency...with an old not match chrome lined barreled M1A. If someone is looking for an M1A as an easy rifle to master.... although I do not have negative impressions... they should look else ware … or ask someone on the range if they could have a go at it with a borrowed model. Also, as designed by the military... the gas system was only designed to handle 147 grain projectile with fast burning powders.. Yes you can pump anything through it... but the gas system was not designed to handle slow burning powders with long heavy projectiles. Very interesting YouTube but it was painful to watch you not extract the accuracy expected and achievable... The problem I believe with these new M1A's is the price...Some makers want up to $6,500 bucks for one. I hope the buyers of those toys realize... that is a high price to pay for implied accuracy. Enjoyed the video.
Honestly I couldn't read all of this, but what I did seems like a lot of operator error. Frankly it gets a little annoying people talking poorly of this rifle or any other when 99% of the time, it is a bad shooter and or bad expectations. An M1a has an acceptable precision of 3moa and accuracy of 1.5moa. Yes there is a difference. Snipers in ww2 had even lower standards. This is what it comes down to with a m1a, shooter, then rounds, then trigger, then making sure all mounts are secure if if scoped. I have shot quite a few m1a rifles and all with decent ammo would shout 1.5moa precision with .75moa accuracy. That is plenty accurate to be an urban or close range sniper. No, a sniper does not need a precision rifle. They need a consistent, repeatable and fairly accurate one. If you can shoot this rifle, don't tell me you are getting .5moa with your 700 because you are not.
FAL all day
Straight up no BS. The M14 I shot in service compared to the m1a I purchased are two totally different dogs but they both like 162 and 168 grain bullets. And I have found shooting 150 and 180 grain that they send spoilers down range. But military surplus ammo and you will have better luck or at lest I did.
I’m not going to recite everything Duckford said but, the dude is on the mark
He references head position. This is crucial to shooting consistent groups. The how too is, engage the stock with the same amount of facial surface area and the same pressure every time. Be sure to stay in there, head down on the gun, vision through the sights under recoil. I’m not saying you don’t know how to shoot, I am saying AR’s are the most forgiving platform, having been designed by an aero space engineer and all, they have great ergonomics and manage more recoil themselves than any other system to date.
The one other thing I don’t see addressed in the comments below is dealing with the comment that, “ the gun wants to twist in my hand.” Every rifle must recoil the same every shot in order to shoot good groups. Preferably, almost necessarily straight back. To achieve this it is best to start by getting acquainted with a shooting sling and building a rock solid prone position. Then branch out to shooting over other objects. You still need something between the gun and the rock or you can develop both recoil direction issues as well as barrel harmonic issues. If the experience with the M1A’s is really in your head. Spend a few months of Saturday’s going to high power rifle matches. The knowledge base there has been handed down since the late 1800’s in America and Britain, and built on for generations since. These are the people that teach our nations sniper instructors. It’s not 3 gun fun, but you’ll notice the successful 3 gunners incorporate key element from high power.
Lastly your article seems to discount the M1A as an almost unuseful relic, taking shots at every tiny thing. To the readers it sounds like excuses. As students of the gun we have to be competent with anything we pick up off the ground. No excuses. Hang in there, you’ll get it. You just found a new world to explore and it’s a little unnerving.
USMC 1967 -- M14 final qualification day -- good grouping from offhand, kneeling, and sitting -- excellent grouping, from prone @ 500 yards with iron sights -- M14 was a very reliable weapon (not on automatic, of course) -- resisted mud and dust well -- however, recoil was not favorably received if wearing tank top (!), but tank tops were not standard issue in RVN
Been shooting these little guys for three decades & have found some quirks that need addressing before they shoot well. First of all, the 1.25 MOA that was finally obtained is acceptable even for 400m antelope shots but the one single issue that seems to affect this rifle the most is ammo. The 1-12 twist used in milspec and civilian barrels for many years was designed to stabilize the 147gr. ball projectile. The one you tested was a 1-11.25 twist however, few of these do a good job of stabilizing bullets much heavier than 165gr. Sierra has their 175gr. Matchking bullet for the M1 Garand & M1-A but not all rifles shoot them well. At Aberdeen, the army figured a max effective range of 656 yards for these guns because that was the range at which bullets began to wobble a bit due to lack of stability. That said, there has also been quite a bit of chamber variation over the years which necessitates handloading brass which has been fire formed to a specific chamber and carefully checked for case stretching to obtain top accuracy. This is a pain for most shooters who want to buy ammo & just go shoot. Many match shooters do this BUT Springfield warns very strongly against it for safety reasons. ( It even voids the factory warranty). They are great rifles with 300m kill shots being natural but their limitations need to be observed or buyer's remorse may set in.
The only thing I agree is backwards about the rifle is the exposed rod which can catch on things and cause malfunctions, and forces you to be careful where you hold the weapon. Otherwise, I don't agree with much else here written. Some of us prefer straight stocks, and done right the straight stock helps control and absorb recoil better than a lot of pistol grip set ups. (I have never have understood the popularity of pistol grips on shotguns with full power loads). The pistol grip only became "ergonomically superior" when the assault rifle concept came into play, where the grip is superior for moving assault cover fire. Outside of that, rifle to rifle, is the old grip inferior? NO. With ergonomics, the Garand and M14 family are sleek and well balanced rifles compared to others.
The magazine insertion issue is easily resolved by standard 20 round magazines, with the extra length offering superior advantage and grip to rock the magazine in. Other well proven 1st rate designs like the FAL, G3, AKM are rockers. One can argue about value of a safety that is separate from the selector switch, one can leave a weapon on full automatic without having to fumble through, you can get your weapon on safety without having to push through two selections. A lot of safeties are rough on new rifles, guess what they break in with repeated regular use. The M14 is no different. Once worked in, the safety is quick and easy to disengage by simply pushing your trigger finger forward without losing your grip on the rifle, then have your finger ready for firing. The rifle may be different, but to act as if it is some sort of antique is laughable.
As for accuracy, it is probably due to inexperience. Even if someone is a decent shot, it takes time to adapt to a different weapon both individually and model wise. If you shoot nothing but pistol grips, you might find the old stock hard to handle. Worse, if you hang your head way back on the stock instead of behind the sight directly when shooting on the bench at paper, don't be surprised when you aren't getting the best from the best iron sight system ever developed. Inconsistent cheek weld and sight picture is the usual problem with the kind of shot groups you were showing. More than likely shifting of head, where you sat your cheek, how you looked through the ring. ESPECIALLY considering your two shots hitting the same mark with the rest scattered, indicating the gun is on but the shooter's picture is probably off. The scope shooting helped to prove this, and that the National Match can shoot very well indeed. Combine that with shooting something new, I think the conclusions draw themselves.
My GI M1a has done 2 inches off the bags even with cheap steel case at 100 yards. Same or better than my SA58 FAL or PTR91 with the same ammunition. And, when I do have problems with groups, I call my shots and realize that I, too, am making problems with how I'm sitting and how my sight picture isn't right. With good discipline they are the best irons ever put on a combat rifle, but sloppy cheek welds and head placement turn them into a nightmare.
The G3 and FAL better battle rifles? I won't argue against that assertion. But I think the gun gets a bad rap it doesn't deserve. Old and outdated? The vaunted mid 20th century designed AR15 is over 60 years old, and only 25 years younger than the "antique" Garand design. It ain't the best rifle, but it sure isn't outdated or the worst.
One thing I really like about the safety on the m14/M1A is that if you forget that the safety is on and put your finger on the trigger (which of course should only be done if you’re about to fire) your knuckle will hit the safety inside the trigger guard as an instant reminder that the gun is in fact NOT ready to fire. As someone who shoots a lot of handguns and thinks handguns should not have manual safeties (all long guns should of course, but with a handgun a good holster is your safety) i worry about forgetting the safety is switched on, this solves that problem. The fact it’s ambi is a plus too. For the record I also prefer a traditional stock over a pistol grip.
Another thing- for me the ability to reload straight into an empty gun with stripper clips is a huge plus. Stripper clips are a great way to organize a bunch of ammo while having it “ready to go” (so to speak). All you need is 2 magazines (a ten rounder to get low and keep the rifle light and sleek (relatively speaking of course) for carrying and the 20 rounder for capacity and better grip) and the rest of your ammo on stripper clips. Less weight than a bunch of magazines and less magazines to maintain and worry about the springs wearing out or whatever.
For the record I own the 18” scout model
One more important thing about the m1a in my experience that does seem to get glazed over a bit in the review (which was great by the way, appreciate the honesty) is that the gun goes bang every time, which, again, is pretty cool.
I have both M1A Scout (nothing fancy) and a S/W AR-10 both are fed Hornandy 164 gr bt Amax. Only thing added is scopes and shoot the same of 1.125-1.50” @ 100yds and only the M1A 2 tapped a hole numerous times. I’m not a great shooter so I can’t blame the gun when holes seem to migrate.
I found I was able to hit whatever I wanted with the M-14's that I used in the USMC. How M-1A's equate to the real thing I have no idea. Perhaps you are expecting too much from a battle rifle. And blaming the rifles for the flyers sounds pretty sketchy to me.
I bought an M-14 from Springfield in the late 1980's. Handloaded it shot groups from .50 to .75 all day long. The action and barrel are geared for 168 gn bullets travelling at 2750- 2850fps. Any more or less and the accuracy becomes squirrely. I happened to try 168gn German machine gun ammo which was real hot. It blew the op-rod away from the bolt. No more of that! The gun liked a lot of sling pressure and shot better in prone than off the bench. A good Tam sling worked well in this aspect. Like everything else made today I suspect the fit and finish of the action is not up to par to the production from the 80's. Just my take
I have found that the M1A likes you to be vary consistent. If you aren't it will bitch and complain at you all day. This is from some one who owns a super for long range shooting. We have a 1000yd range here. Certain days it's every round on Target and the recoil feels right and the same. Other days you hold the rifle wrong and the recoil will throw it out of position. I had one day where the recoil impulse on my third shot made me think I had a squib round. Round went nowhere near the target. I believe now that my shirt bunched up and the rifle may have slid while prone. My point is, this platform takes a lot to get use to and to get consistent. It will amplify any inconsistency. Hell there are days where it's 10 rounds through .75 moa and other like you saw.
This review is not catching the heat I expected.
This is the sad reality, for the price the rifles are very subpar on the iron sights front compared to other battle rifles and even the forebearer (Garand)
Definitely was you. But ammo choices didn't help the national match should have had 175g. I run custom load serria match kings but xm118lr would have ran beautifully I used them in mine before I had my custom loads going for it much more stable in the heat than the 168g. I have a vortex viper hst 6-24 mounted on mine and consistently hit 1000 yards (10 inch plate) I can easily put 4 rounds in under an inch at 100 yards and I am by no means an expert shot. When I got the m1a I was really amazed at how easy it was to shoot and once zeroed everyone who shot it hits dead on out to at least 300 I could understand having trouble with the irons most people do but not with an optic. I will say if you didn't loctite the mount for the optics they do have a tendency to work loose. But over all it's one of the friendliest and most accurate out of the box guns I've ever had.
I own two of the Springfield's M1A. One is a the first SOCOM that came out with the 1913 rails it was just to heavy to shoot with the rails on the front end. The other is the standard which i bought a year after the SOCOM.
I love these rifles they are true battle rifles don't get me wrong i own two AR'15's one in .223 and the other in 6.8 which if going into combat the 6.8 is the shit by a long shoot, for it's recoil and it's stopping power (80% stopping power of a .308 round in such a small package).
Anyway the standard I'm giving to my son who is getting out the Marine Corps soon (every Marine needs a M14 :-).
But the SOCOM I can hit what i shoot at with iron sights, now I have a trick I do.
l fill a gallon milk and shoot not letting it touch the ground and see how many rounds i can shoot through it at 100 yards the most is three rounds so far.
I have people who have seen this trick but no one wants to try it. I myself feel the M1A is a great rifle.
There are some things that need to be improved like replacing the spring guide $35-$40.00) and the guide spring ($35.00) both from (Sadlak Inc.) acquire at the same time this will improve your groups somewhat.
Next you can put a tactical 1913 rail made by Troy it is the length of the hand guard too the rear sights ($200.00).
Next you can upgrade your stock and that choice can be made from a wide range of stocks.
There is so much more you can do at a total cost of about another $ 500.00 to get a better rifle or you can just keep what you have and go for it.
I have the Scout Squad, which is a hybrid of the socom and standard. With a 2-7 ler scope, on a good day I am 100% on 4" steel (yeah, the plate's kind of beat, hence the 4" chuncks on the chain) at 200 yards. In the plastic stock, shooting 150 imi, this gun was disappointing, but switching to a boyds thicker than GI walnut and bedding it made a huge difference, as well az tuning the gas block which seems to come severely overtightened from the factory. Got a sadlak guide rod and piston in it, and of my 18 guns, this one's my baby. If I want sub moa, the RPR comes out, if I want lightweight, the AR sbr comes out, but all in all, the m1a scout gets the most comments and provides the best day. Shooting nato surplus lately, malaysian mainly, some austrian in the que.
I heard that!
This was the last original Springfield design. Apparently inferior to the Garand in every metric, accuracy, recoil, reliability... and then they shuttered the original armory.
Seems like the supporters of this gun are supporters of the m14 not SA M-1A. I had a socom 16 and didn't shoot worth a damn. For the 2k I was into even tried gas system upgrade, the 2.5 moa I got was horrible. Had same issues as your video. That being said seems like Springfield armory is the issue. Also had a 1911 from them where the front sight fell right off as I was shooting and the finish so thin it rusted in my leather holster. Also found a screw in my grip back out on it's own. Not a big deal but shows lack of attention to detail and quality control. I know their Croatian made guns are phenomenal however like the XD series.
Certainly seems to be the case - though some folks still swear they're getting crazy good groupings with the M1A. The answer is most likely in the middle - there are both poor and fantastic performing M1As in circulation for various reasons - perhaps quality control.
Back in the 1970-80’s, I shot on a military rifle team that was issued NM M14’s. Although issued M14’s, a fair percentage of the shooters purchased M1A receivers and built up match rifles using military M14 parts which we shot in competition. My M1A match rifle has a Springfield Armory Inc. cast receiver and a Kreiger heavy barrel mounted in a SA heavy stock. All National Match parts and modifications were incorporated plus a few other tricks that were shown to us by the “old guys” on the team. This rifle, with heavy stock and barrel was made heavier by putting rolls of pennys in the cleaning rod cavity of the stock. It is heavy and was a chore for me to shoulder in offhand but it shot sub 1” (and smaller) groups consistently. My best target was shot at a Regional match which shot the 600 yard target first. I got a good prone position with a nice tight sling, shot two nines for sighters, then fired eight tens (or X’s) then called a nine and finished with a ten. Don’t tell me an M1A won’t shoot. I never was a particularly good shooter but a 99 at 600 isn’t too shabby!
I still own that rifle plus a SA that I bought from Elmer Ballance and another that was purchased from Smith Ent. I haven’t fired any of them in a couple of decades. As I was finishing my military career, the M16 was just coming online in competitive circles and were giving the M14/M1A a run for the money.
Back in January, I did something I have wanted to do for a long time. I assembled/built an AR-10 in 7.62 X 51 cal. I’ve only put about 80 rounds through it so far so don’t really have an impression of how it might shoot but it looks nice.
At 81 (soon to be 82) I’ll not be a threat in the competitive game.
I have owned the National Match, Standard and Socom versions of the M1A, I had all the same issues, they are extremely finnicky with optics and mounts. I found Basset to be the most stable mount. I have some time on long range shooting, I’m accomplished at about a half mile, but even the national match failed me at what I would expect at 100 yards, for $2,500+ it should shoot sub moa, I couldn’t get below 2 moa. I also had a lot of FTE’s using Federal Match ammo. That being said, I really wish it lived up to it’s name as the rifle feels really good in hand. This was just my personal experience and 2 cents.
I bought a used but as new M1A national match. The guy I bought it from simply said he "couldn't get with it" and he was going back to his schmidt-rubin to shoot steel. I had the same problems with the thing and could not keep rounds on paper. One day I happened to notice that the rear sight assembly was loose somehow. After some internet research I determine that the rear sight spring was not fitted properly. I bought a new rear sight cover from Franklin and assembled and the thing shoots like a monster now. I'm a little surprised with Springfield's quality control that such a defect made it through the process on a $2,000 gun. That's disappointing. But now at least I have a rifle that shoots.
I love the aesthetics of the M1 and M14 rifles but they are from a bygone era and it shows. I'd love to own either but I have better stuff to spend 12-1500 bucks on unless I can find someone else to pay my rent for me (any volunteers?)
Back off one turn on the gas cylinder lock.
All right, you have my attention! Why back off one turn on gas cylinder lock?
From the factory, they're way too tight. Iirc, they should be torqued to 14-18 "lbs.
Best to use the sadlak gas block wrench, and first time around, I had to use an extension on it.
So much to say... so little time... As a (albeit also somewhat clunky and antiquated) Marine who clambered up, down and side-wise on the hills of the Central Highlands during what you so eloquently described as that "online shit-flinging fest" (I liked that!) carrying an M-14, I could write an article in response to yours... I won't do that. And while I appreciate your detractions, what I will do is cut straight to the chase. And here it is: It's ALL about what you've trained with! I shot 243 on qual day... 49 from the 500 Meter line. And for slinging shit, I would not have traded my "smoke pole" for a dozen M16s (which due to that damned recoil spring in the stock, I always thought it should have had "Mattel" stamped on the receiver.
Thanks for sharing, Anthony! We don't doubt it at all - it seems the general consensus is that the M14 was, on average, a much better performing rifle than the M1A - though some folks still swear by their M1As as well. Still totally willing to accept a lack of training on my part, though!
This was a great review. Absolutely spot on in my experience.
I've been shooting M1A's since the early 90's. After the Marines, I sold my 'Super Match' equivalent that was hand built by a former USMC Armorer back in California (like in 1990).
This was the rifle that I went to the National Matches (hence the small sights on the "National Match" line) at Camp Perry in '92 with. It was an amazing piece of machinery. It never failed me, shot 1/2 M.O.A. groups (yes, seriously) and I was able to accomplish some pretty cool scores in the Junior Division those thousands of years ago. The civilian market in High-Power competition only saw M1A's on the firing line, standard or highly accurized, through the late 1990's. Then AR-15's started taking over with free-floating handguards, and Extremely Low Drag bullets being pushed downrange at the 600 yard line. Lot less recoil, easier to maintain, and a lot cheaper.
Fast forward to 2007ish and I bought a Brand New Springfield Armory Super Match at a local Gunshop. Nothing but problems; all encompassing what you guys experienced, and then the bolt froze into place, and I had to send it to them. Like you guys, excellent customer service, and once back in my hands, no problems (the bolt roller cam pin or something or other had broken after ~200-400 rounds), and I was able to get my full confidence back with the weapon, with ~3/4" M.O.A. with the right ammo.
The M1A/M-14 platform is a ornery, grumpy, and non-linear rifle. Meaning no two are alike. Each has it's own characteristics and preferences. They are most definitely not like the AR-15's of today. You can't swap any parts between two different rifles. Once the rifle starts the build process, unless you are really lucky, and/or really, really know what you are doing, that rifle's parts are staying with that weapon, period. From all of my reading and talking to various folks over the years, one of the primary requirements for the M-16 platform back in the early 60's was the ability to swap out parts between rifles.
As far as I know, the only guys that really used M-14's after Vietnam on the regular where Navy SE.A.L.'s and Army S.F. & Delta. The issues you guys had with the stock was/is a huge problem (hence the pistol grips of the AR-15's), and thus the Sage Platforms for the weapon's furniture. Totally different way of handling the M-14/M1A platform (DuckDuckGo / G*^%&e Sage Stocks and you will see what I mean). Both Army and Navy latched onto those platforms big time, although you can still see pictures in the aughts of super high-speed dudes over in O.I.F. and O.E.F. with the 'traditional' profile stocks, as in this review. From additional reading and talking to folks, the M-14 works quite well when wet (like emerging from the sea, weapons at the ready).
Also, as the immediate need for longer-range S.D.M.'s emerged in Afghanistan in the early/mid aughts, a whole lot of M-14's were pulled from storage, accurized/updated by independent civilian contractors, and sent along with units so that they could engage targets ~600-800 yards out (with new scopes and cheek pieces). From my understanding, the 'lucky' S.D.M.'s that were issued these rifles had to do some pretty serious range time to get familiar with the platform (coming from using the M-16/M-4's from Basic onward). So the M-14/M1A platform saw a pretty serious re-emergence starting around 2004.
Then the AR-10 platform got going at flank speed, and those accurized M-14's (as far as know) went back into storage.
Again, this was an excellent, spot on review, mirroring the same issues I had, and then some.
Wow. I shot the m-14 briefly in the Marines. Loved it, then had to switch to the m-16. What a disappointment. Still I qualified good with it. I looked at buying a M1A. Sad to hear that they suffer from lack of quality product now days. Guess I will have to stick with my Swiss 7.5mm 1911. I wonder if the rebuilt Italian version of the m-14 is better?
I own M1a Loaded and shoot at 100 yds with 168 gr Match gold Fed i usually achieve a 1 moa 200 and 300 yds iron sight vary with 2.5
the riffle is tricky and you need to know how it shoot.
This is not a AR 10 ( I own a Sig 716 Patrol 1st Gen)
I wonder if the difference was that you were using .308 instead of the 7.62 NATO round that the rifle was made to use....I wouldn't use .223 in my AR 15 that is chambered to use 5.56 just because
We thought that as well, but the M1A barrels themselves have ".308" stamped into them... ♂️
As someone who shot the M14 both in training and in combat ( "nam 1966), I had complete faith in and grew to love it. Old and heavy? Sure. Antiqued design? You bet. But, would punch threw anything, had great range and did incredible damage when it hit. Accuracy? The USMC shot 500 yd targets with iron sights. Make me chose between the M14 or any of the AR's. I'll take the M14, thanks.
I'm not really into shilling for Springfield, recent research into the AR platform had me seriously eyeing their Saint Edge, but after reading about some of the local politics Springfield Armory has engaged in, I believe I'll spend my money with a company that cares about the 2nd Amendment for ALL Americans.