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M1A - A Rifle for Close Spaces and Far Places

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by RightHand, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. RightHand

    RightHand Pioneer in a New World Moderator Founding Member

    M1A: a rifle for close spaces or far places
    Guns Magazine , July, 2004 by
    Clint Smith

    The John C. Garand designed M1 rifle, often called "the finest battle rifle every made," is the grandfather of the M14 rifle. Adopted in 1957 the M14 rifle's tenure as a main battle rifle made for the probable European war against mother Russia was interrupted by the massive commitment of U.S. troops to Southeast Asia in a little place called the Republic of Vietnam. With this jungle jaunt replacing the hedgerows of Europe the M14 was sort of pushed out of line so to speak with the introduction of the M16 rifle.

    As in the past, again the current military M16/M4 family of rifles are being dabbled with yet again in regard to possible caliber changes and retrofits. Through all this the M14 has remained a steady benchwarmer of sorts. Currently being issued as a "designated marksman's rifle" by some organizations and the Navy SEALS have always kept some around for team use.

    Taken in a civilian context the M1A/M14 may seem to be too much rifle and in fact could be too much gun based on location and application. In the reality of conflict though persons not hit by initial fires often go to cover or concealment or a combination of the two. Dug in like ticks on a coon dog, dealing with these behind-cover-bad-guys often calls for a gun with a bit more punch than the .223 provides.

    Conceptually the idea of shooting through stuff brings several points up to consider. One should know what they are shooting through and be aware of potential problems with bystanders or hostages. Only if everyone down range is a known bad guy can we then roll the ball.

    One of the many purposes of a rifle is to generate violence. By shooting through mediums of concrete, glass or metal the .308 from the M1A/M14 generates said violence in the form of secondary projectiles or indirect fire debris, which is good for us and negative for the bad guys. Real rifles eat through armor and the .308 eats armor in big hungry bites as well as eating through the chest-mounted magazine pouches typically worn by many of our current opponents worldwide.

    No Problem For You and Me

    Fortunately most reading this are not in the military. So you know, it wouldn't matter if you were. If you are, you generally are not involved in a democracy as far as selecting your equipment--you carry what they give you. So since we are not in the military we can use and or carry whatever we can afford or are smart enough to acquire. This of course is why many of the innovations in techniques and equipment come from the private sector not the military and police communities.

    The police and military often have no money (at least the people who need it) and they are inhibited by regulations and a structure that most often does not always promote the learning curve. Some groups of Spec Ops folks have lots of money but probably the 4th Infantry Division did not have any huge surplus of funds for ammo and equipment to train with before they went to Iraq.

    So back to it, you and I can carry or train with whatever we like, or can afford, or are strong enough to carry. Hence we discuss the M1A or our civilian version of the M14 rifle. It is a "big stick" and it's not bashful about showing off it's muscles down range.

    When tasked to do so, it shoots holes through stuff. Perfect! It will shoot far if I need to. In all candor though, as civilians we are probably better served by the ability of the M1A to penetrate obstacles than we are by the fact it shoots far. Shooting far is fun but it may be hard to justify shooting a threat at 400 yards to the inquisitive grand jury.

    Shooting through stuff? Sure, it's an asset but requires what I call logic. Logic dictates I would not want to use that .308-caliber M1A in my 300-unit apartment complex. Duly noted. But if I live in individual housing or in areas more removed from population centers it might be a good choice.

    Nay sayers and whiners will announce, "you're crazy, I can't use a rifle like that where I live!" Then don't, but some of us live in more open areas. Ever been to west Texas, or southern Oregon? Wanna' know why I would live there? Because I can, and because I can use a real rifle if required to protect Heidi, dog Boo and our home.

    The Rifle People

    The most prolific and in my opinion best made of the current M1A rifles are made by Springfield Armory of Geneseo, Illinois. The Springfield people need no introduction from me, as they've been a force in the firearms industry for many years. The Springfield M1A rifles come from the plant in about eight variations or grades of service. From the lightweight M1A Bush rifle to the M25-M1A White Feather model made in recognition of GySgt. Carlos Hathcock, these rifles run the spectrum of basic tool to high tech rifle systems.

    The Long Version

    I like what we will call the long version. The Springfield National Match version is a very good rifle and the old adage of "if I can see it I can hit" comes close to being a true statement using this rifle. I have successfully engaged stationary targets (with witnesses present and spotters to call hits) to 800 yards from prone with loop sling and iron sights. No, not every day, with every shot at every target, but often enough as to be discouraging to anyone down range.

    Weighing in at a nominal 11 pounds the rifle in its 44-inch long configuration is a relatively large platform but then it is a main battle rifle. The National Match version is a strong rifle capable of minute of angle work at extended ranges when competent personnel are attached to the rifle's steel butt plate.

    The Short Version

    I grew up with and approve of the long version but the short rifle is the one that really "rings the bell" for me. The Springfield M1A Bush rifle weighs in at eight pounds with an overall length of 40 inches. By comparison a Remington 870 riot gun measures in at 38 inches, and a Colt AR15 comes in at 39 inches.

    My personal rifle is set in a military surplus composite stock of the original brown color from Fred (the world's largest owner of all the surplus M14 rifle stocks in existence, or so it seems) with a vented hand guard and a standard flash hider.

    The choice is very handy and the size and weight make it an effective tool to deploy if required inside or around built up areas. The short version also works well accuracy wise at moderate ranges where I can identify threats with the unaided eye. There maybe a slight muzzle velocity loss compared to the longer barrel but that loss is insignificant except to those addicted to chronographs.

    With a 20-round magazine inserted it makes for quite the tool for social functions of an unpleasant nature. Springfield also makes a Scout version for those who feel they must hang something on their rifle. The Scout has a muzzle comp brake thing full of holes that makes lots of extra noise if that appeals to you.

    The plain Bush rifle without any extras is the version I prefer because it solves my problems with the least amount of "fussgadgets" attached.

    Accuracy And Penetration

    As far as accuracy, here's the results from testing the Springfield M1A Bush Rifle equipped with iron sights only. These figures represent five-shot groups fired from bench rest using Black Hills 175-grain match grade .308 ammunition.

    Range Group size

    100: 2 1/2"
    200: 4"
    300: 6"

    As a penetration comparison I fired .223, 7.62x39 and .308 projectiles through wet sandbags with results as shown. Military type ball was used in all rifles.

    Caliber Penetration Depth

    .223: Nominal 8" no projectile recovery
    1.62x39: Nominal 12" with projectile recovery
    .308 Nominal 16" with projectile recovery

    Under the interesting but not scientific category, while protected I shot through a heavy rock and grout wall with a nominal eight to 10 inch wall thickness from 25 yards. Below is the number of rounds required for projectiles to cause complete penetration through the wall.

    Caliber Number of rounds fired

    .223: 12
    7.62x39: 8
    .308 6

    All of the Springfield M1A rifles serve a purpose. Based on requirements, location and even sometimes just personal preference one has a broad spectrum of rifles to select from. I believe whatever the choice a Springfield M1A can be a wise addition to the smart rifleman's (or woman's) battery. When employed with skill and logic, it's a very capable instrument.


    Springfield Armory

    [800] 680-6866


    Black Hills Ammunition

    [605] 348-5150



    M14 stocks and parts

    [336] 879-2144

    P.O. Box 629

    Ramseur, N.C. 27316

    COPYRIGHT 2004 Publishers' Development Corporation
    COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
  2. Bear

    Bear Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++ Founding Member Iron Monkey

    Backwoods Home - Nov/Dec issue has an article by Ayoob on the SOCOM 16
    SOCOM-16: This rugged descendant of the military's renowned M-14 may be the ultimate "ranch rifle."
    from the article
    "The SOCOM-16 is an extraordinary rifle, and the team at Springfield Armory is to be congratulated for translating this excellent concept into functional reality. I have now seen well over a thousand rounds ro downrange from SOCOM-16s, and I have yet to see on of these rifles jam.
    'Built for business,' the SOCOM-16 is expensive (in the $1800 range) but as a purpose-built rifle that fulfills multiple functions, its worth every penny. Short, handy, powerful, and controllable, it is probably the ultimate 'ranch rifle' and it gets my vote for 'the gun of the year'."

    Its a good article.... actually the mag is a great magazine as well.... I could be biased... I subscribe to the magazine and own the SOCOM-16.... :D
  3. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I like my SOCOM so far. I'd like to try and get a FS instead of that silly Brake though...
  4. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Yeah brakes are no fun.
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