Ayoob’s SHTF .308 Rifle

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Ayoob’s SHTF .308 Rifle

December 24th, 2023

4 minute read

In today’s article, renowned firearms trainer Massad Ayoob examines the M1A as a SHTF rifle. As a survival rifle, how does this .308 measure up? Read on for Ayoob’s take on the subject.

First, let’s define SHTF as treated in this article. A simple quiz. Question: “What is ‘The Walking Dead’?” Possible answers are (A) a television fantasy show, (B) a training film, (C) a documentary. If you answered anything but (A), please stop reading this now.

massad ayoob with his best shtf rifle in .308 the springfield armory m1a
Ayoob with a Springfield Armory SOCOM 16 and a spare 20-round magazine of soft-nose .308.

In a matter of weeks several months back, America went from normal to hitherto-unseen massive unemployment, shortage of critically needed goods, and a plague compared to the Spanish Flu of 1918 plus predictions of a depression equaling or exceeding that of the 1930s.

All of a sudden, it looked as if the S(tuff) was going to Hit The Fan. People who had never owned guns before started buying them en masse, and those of us who already had them discussed, “What guns for SHTF?”

shtf .308 rifle semi automatic grid down situation
The SOCOM 16 is based off the M1A, which was in turn based off the classic U.S. military M14.

The answer, of course, depends on what kind of “S” we expect to hit which “F.”

Urban or Rural

This writer lives more or less in the boondocks, in a part of the country subject to enough natural disasters that most folks keep plenty of food, water, gasoline and generators on hand. Those who make predictions about such things most fear urban dwellers who will quickly run out of food, become desperate, and go mobile and predatory, first raiding sources near them and then ranging out into the hinterlands. Road pirates, if you will.

While I think a semi-auto .223 is an excellent choice for urban self-defense use and have more than a couple on hand, as I look out over my acreage, I’m pretty sure that the first firearm I’d reach for would be my Springfield Armory SOCOM 16.

firearms trainer massad ayoob demonstrating how to use the m1a as a 308 shtf rifle
For his rural setting, Ayoob prefers the punch and power of a .308.

Why the SOCOM for a SHTF Situation?

Friends who sail the seas armed in areas where boats get hijacked and the legitimate owners’ corpses get dumped in the water tell me that drilling large holes just below the attackers’ waterline can be expected to have a powerful deterrent effect. The analogy with “road pirates” would be that the threat would come on wheels. In my decades as a law enforcement trainer I saw enough vehicles get shot up to know that I’d want a .308 for reliable, decisive penetration of auto bodies and safety glass.

Yes, a shotgun with penetrative Brenneke 12 gauge slugs would do admirably for that, but one would be limited to somewhere between one and 10 rounds before reloading became necessary, and if those vehicles contained hostile armed occupants, a .30-cal. autoloading rifle would seem much more practical.

socom 16 m1a 308 rifle semi-automatic gun
The SOCOM 16 is offered with either a pistol grip-style stock (shown) or a more conventional stock.

During World War II, the legendary Audie Murphy destroyed a German staff car and its occupants in a few seconds with a borrowed BAR, and somewhere I have a photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum in London of a similar vehicle destroyed with a BREN gun. So needless to say, a .30-caliber has some punch behind it.

Pushing Forward with the .308 Rifle

When the SOCOM 16 was introduced midway through the first decade of the 21st century, its keynote feature was its 16.25” barrel tipped with a brilliantly designed little compensator. It featured an expansion chamber to pull recoil forward away from the shoulder and ports on top to jet gases upward and help keep the muzzle down.

excellent accuracy for shtf gun testing
A group like this at a hundred yards is a very reasonable expectation from the SOCOM 16.

The improvement in controllability has to be felt to be believed. I’ve found the rifle capable of 2” groups at 100 yards, and it’s so shootable that one friend of mine gets 1.5” groups from his at 75 yards, offhand.

At 8.9 lbs. unloaded, the SOCOM’s short configuration brings its center of balance back far enough that it feels a couple of pounds lighter. Though Springfield offers an adjustable stock with AR-like pistol grip, I stayed with the conventional (original M14 configuration) stock because years of weapon retention has taught me that it gives much more range of movement to the defender in a struggle for the weapon.

muzzle brake on socom 16 apocalypse rifle
The SOCOM 16’s muzzle brake is an advanced design that reduces perceived recoil and muzzle jump.

Final Thoughts on the SOCOM 16 for SHTF

If the SHTF situation happens, the SOCOM 16 — with prices starting at $1,987 MSRP — will prove to be worth every penny. I know that I’m happy I have mine, and I feel very secure having it handy.

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Massad Ayoob

Massad Ayoob

Massad Ayoob is a renowned firearms expert with decades of experience in the firearms community. He's the author of more than a dozen books and hundreds of articles and has extensive experience as a law enforcement officer, competitive shooter and expert witness.

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