Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16 — Kickin’ it Old School (sorta)

You know how you sometimes just want to shoot a solid old-style large-caliber rifle, but you miss your modern stuff like red dots, muzzle brakes, and detachable mags? No? Well, maybe it’s just me. Anyhow, I love my Mausers and my Enfield and all, but I’ve kinda gotten spoiled. Anyway…I’ve been thinking about a Springfield M1A for a while, so I dialed up my old buddy S00tch00 to get his opinion on the M1A SOCOM 16.

Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16
The SOCOM 16 Chilling Out with its legendary grandpa, the M1.

We aren’t really buddies, but I watch his channel, so it’s like the same thing. Well, ~ish.

Fortunately, he had a video on that very model. Who knew?

M1A SOCOM Features

So, we get a good breakdown of what seems to be a solid rifle. Right off the bat, it looks sharp. I know that functionality is king, but I like a nice-looking firearm, and I’ve always looked covetously at the lines of the M14. The SOCOM 16 sports a polymer stock available in black, OD green, or flat dark earth. Tough choice right off the bat.

Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16
Sexy!

The rifle is 37 and a half inches in overall length and weighs 8.8 pounds empty. The 16-and-a-half-inch barrel features a 1/11 twist rate and comes with an integrated muzzle brake to help with the recoil of that short barrel coupled with the .308 Winchester chambering. But it’s loud, so remember that ear pro. 

Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16 integral muzzle brake
The integral muzzle brake helps with recoil from the short barrel.

The M1A is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor. Despite the weight, the rifle is well-balanced and the shorter barrel makes it handy and easy to point. The rifle features an aperture rear sight with a tritium-marked front post, which is a nice touch. The rear aperture is also expanded a little since the M1A SOCOM 16 is designed for closer work, though it’s certainly capable of reaching out for several hundred yards. The left side of the receiver is drilled and tapped for a side-mounted scope, but that will preclude the use of stripper clips.

M1A SOCOM 16 detachable box magazine.
Who needs stripper clips when you have a detachable box mag?

With detachable box mags available, I don’t think stripper clips would be a thing for me. I don’t know. Maybe you feel differently. The mags rock in and have a release tab just like the M14. The rifle ships with a 10-round mag, but 20-rounders are available. The rifle will also take surplus mags.

demonstration of how M1A SOCOM 16 magazines rock in place.
Rock-in mags with release tab.

As for some of that modern stuff I mentioned, there is a Picatinny rail mounted forward of the receiver that is just the thing for a red dot or a long eye relief scope.

SOCOM 16 rail with optics mounted
The rail forward of the receiver lets you mount an LER scope or red dot.

Accuracy was reported as “excellent” with match ammo at 100 yards and a 2-7x LER scope. It was said to have shot smooth and flat “for a .308.” Sootch notes that he really likes the zero-magnification red dot on this rifle. I think that would be pretty sweet too.

100 yard shot group with match ammo
Match ammo with a scope at 100 yards

The action is built around a strong rotating bolt cycled by the M14-style gas piston and long operating rod. The bolt is the same design as the M14, which was itself a direct copy of that greatest of warhorses, the M1 Garand. The trigger group has some heft to it, which Sootch shows us during the simple take-down process that is exactly like the M14. Seeing a pattern yet?

The safety is part of the trigger guard and easy to reach, just like…well, you get it. 

M1A SOCOM 15 safety on and off
Safety on (L) safety off (R).

The trigger on this particular rifle pulled consistently at just under six pounds and, according to Sootch, was “very crisp” with a quick reset. There is a bolt stop tab on the left side of the receiver.

removing M1S SOCOM 16 trigger group
Pulling out the “Beefy” trigger group

As noted earlier, the SOCOM 16 comes with a polymer stock and handguard and there’s some nice checkering on the lower handguard and the pistol grip. The butt pad is polymer and, say it with me…like the M14, features a hinged plate designed to go on top of the shoulder to increase stability. The hinged plate also reveals the access ports for your cleaning kit, should you choose to house it there. There’s no comb on the stock and Sootch uses an attachable cheek rest with the optics for better cheek weld and eye relief.

Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16
The compactness of the M1A SOCOM 16 makes it handy and easy to use.
Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16 basic field strip
Easy basic field strip.

Conclusion

All in all, the reviewer seems to really dig this particular rifle. No real negatives.

M1A SOCOM 16 review, sootch00
The SOCOM gets a BIG thumbs up.

Now, I get that a reviewer not saying anything bad doesn’t really mean anything. I’m pretty selective about my reviewers, and you probably are too. I like Sootch)) because I think he is honest, and I have seen him call things out when they need it.

I also like that he doesn’t get too technical since I’m not a gear head and my eyes start glazing over with that stuff. So, that’s my $.02. You decide for yourself, but other folks seem to agree. 

The words that kept popping up were “strong” and “beefy.” I always like that first one, and sometimes I like the second. For this kind of rifle, I definitely like it. Strong, beefy, accurate, handy, and sharp-looking, with the capability to add at least a few modern accessories and multiple configuration options. Not to mention a good track record based on a proven design. What’s not to like? But check it out for yourself and see what you think.

I’m just some guy on the interwebs.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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