The Springfield M1A SOCOM 16 is a semi-automatic carbine chambered in 7.62 NATO or .308 Win. The M1A is the civilian version of the famous M14, which was once a standard issue US military rifle. It was also known to be very accurate and reliable. Springfield recommends the SOCOM for military or law enforcement, but also hunting varmints.
It has a gas-operating system, so propellant gases are captured by a tube near the muzzle, the tube connects with the bolt where a valve catches the gas, and the gas pushes the bolt back so it can eject a spent casing and chamber a fresh round.
Springfield offers eight different models of the M1A and what makes the SOCOM 16 different from the others is its short 16” barrel and Picatinny rail for easy mounting of optics. Otherwise features of the SOCOM include a two-stage military trigger that sets off the action with a 5- to 6-pound pull. It has military sights that are adjustable for windage and elevation. It has a tritium dot front sight, so shooters can see it at night. And it has a synthetic stock.
|M1A SOCOM 16|
|Caliber:||.308 Win.<br />7.62 NATO|
|Sights:||Ghost ring rear sights and tritium dot front sight|
|Features:||California approved version available<br />Gas-operated; two-stage trigger with 4 to 5 pound pull; and muzzle break|
|Twist:||1 in 11"|
Editor ReviewI’m not real big on rifles. Oh, I’ve owned a few over the decades, shot a bunch more, and know enough about them to assess them intelligently, but I just don’t do the kind of shooting that requires a rifle, as a general thing. But one I am tempted by after shooting it is the Springfield Armory SOCOM.
This is the 16" version of the M1A rifle, which Springfield Armory has been making for the last four decades, designed to be a good, powerful, versatile rifle without a huge number of “frills”.
When I say “powerful”, I mean that the SOCOM 16 shoots the 7.62 NATO cartridge (the .308 Winchester), like all the M1A variants. With just a 16" barrel, you’re not maximizing the ballistics of the round, but you can still expect a solid, hard-hitting round good for anything from varmints (both four legged and two) to the largest deer.
The shorter length is good for ease of storage and use in either brush or close quarters. If you’re looking for a good rifle for longer range, then take a look at either the standard M1A or the National Match version. If you want a rifle dedicated to match shooting, then go for the heavier Super Match M1A. But if you want a solid, dependable rifle in a situation where you have to haul it around, the 8.8 pounds of the SOCOM 16 fits the ticket.
Like all the M1A rifles from Springfield Armory, the SOCOM 16 has a two-stage trigger - but one which is smooth and comfortable to use, and doesn’t have a hard “break,” meaning that it is easy to control and use accurately. It takes a 5-round, 10-round, or 20-round box magazine. The Tritium front sight is easy to see in any light. The larger rear ghost sight is easy to use, and easy to get behind. The SOCOM 16 has a short scope base only, suitable for either a scope or electronic optics of your choice - no other Picatinny rails. I was impressed by how much the muzzle break helped to control muzzle climb when firing quick shots. Another thing - Springfield has re-engineered the gas system because of the shortened barrel, and this works quite well, and all reports are that it is very dependable over the long haul.
But the thing that really stood out was just how solid the gun felt. Fit and finish were excellent. In examination and use, it was clear that this is a well made machine, from the butt stock with a protected storage compartment to the muzzle break. There was no slack, no slop, nothing even the slightest out of alignment or “odd.”
All in all, it’s a great rifle. So why only 4 stars? Well, mostly, because of the cost - the $1600+ price tag is a pretty big entry ticket for what is a pretty basic rifle. A very nice, well-made one, but still that’s a bit pricey. I said I was tempted by the SOCOM 16 - at a lower price point, that temptation would be just too hard to resist. As it is, I am still thinking about it.