What exactly is a “bug-out rifle”? At its core, a bug-out rifle is one that when things go wrong — terribly wrong — you know you can grab that rifle and be prepared. It could be used to hunt for food, or to defend your life. In a sense, it’s that one rifle that can help you survive a possible apocalypse-type scenario.
But what should you choose? There are plenty of options out there, from something as simple as a bolt-action rifle, to as sophisticated as a cutting-edge AR rifle with all the bells and whistles. It all comes down to what your needs are, your budget, and what best fits those parameters.
For us, we like a heavy-hitting .308 rifle, preferably in a semi-automatic configuration and in a proven design. Also, we’d like it in a reasonably compact and handy package. With those parameters set, we can’t think of anything better than the M1A Scout Squad from Springfield Armory.
A timeless design inspired by the U.S. Military’s rugged M14 rifle, this robust rifle packs a powerful round capable of taking practically every game animal you’d face here in the continental United States. There is likely not a role the M1A Scout Squad can’t fill well.
The point of the bug-out rifle might seem simple in concept, but it’s a bit more complex in execution. Think about it. You may have to hunt for food, and/or defend your life or your family’s life. And you would have to do all this with one rifle. You can’t pack multiple rifles, so you have to select one that can cover all your bases.
With the dual need of potentially having a rifle that is for hunting as well as self-defense, a semi-automatic model makes a lot of sense. And how many “fighting rifles” out there are capable of taking the largest North American game while also being a capable — and practical — self-defense rifle? Not many.
With the M1A Scout Squad model, you get a short and handy 18” barrel that combines compact dimensions with still capable ballistic performance. The rifle is offered with either a walnut stock or a lighter black synthetic stock — the latter is the one we personally picked.
It’s an easily handy rifle with the shorter barrel, yet still a good length for the .308 cartridge. Along with the shorter barrel and overall length, it makes this rifle lighter. A light rifle is a must in the hunting woods, whether it’s the mountains or low land brush thickets. With the M1A Scout Squad and its shorter overall length, it can also still defend a home or a building in an “end of days” scenario.
The M1A has the capability to hold a 5- or 10-round capacity box magazines, or larger 20-round magazines depending on the needs. The muzzle brake of the Scout Squad rounds out the rifle and tames recoil for faster follow-up shots if you need to defend your life.
Source of the Power
What you need to take into consideration is in a bug-out-type situation, it’s likely no one is coming to help you. You are your own first responder. The round this rifle shoots, the .308, has proven itself as being very effective for self-defense or hunting. The .308 caliber round packs the punch to stop threats in their track with one shot, or take a game animal with one well-placed vital shot. The ammo is readily available anywhere across the United States and would be far more plentiful than other less-mainstream, more specialized calibers if ammunition became scarce.
Lastly, the robust operating system of the M1a will stand up to a lifetime of abuse and keep on running. The polymer stock of our test model can be abused and still maintain its integrity. Growing up, we had a good friend of our father who served in the Vietnam War and was issued an M14. He praised the M14’s action for its reliability and ability to operate, no matter what the conditions.
He told us the bolt of the M-14/M1a could be kicked open or closed if caked with mud and grime after reloading and it would just keep on operating. If this isn’t a testament to its ability to withstand the worst of conditions, I don’t know what is.
Overall, the M1A platform is a very easy system to operate. In the bug-out scenario where maybe someone else had to pick it up to use it, they could do so easily. The M1A is also a very soft-recoiling weapon. A .308-caliber bolt action rifle can be a lot of recoil for those of smaller stature. However, the M1A Scout Squad’s muzzle brake helps tame this and make it more manageable.
The Scout Squad has a Picatinny rail mounted forward of the action in the “scout” position, which allows you to mount a scout scope or red dot. This forward mounting location lends itself to faster target acquisition and improved situational awareness.
To make a precision shot with a rifle, it needs a good trigger. The two-stage National Match trigger in the M1A Scout Squad offers the perfect balance between precision and “field use” practicality. It has a crisp 5-lb. break with no creep, and we found that making hits at 200 yards on 6” plates with iron sights was a breeze with this rifle!
A bug-out-type situation is the last thing anyone wants to find themselves in. But, if you prepare, you can succeed. The right gear with the right firearm, like the M1A Scout Squad, will give you the leg up on whatever threat you may face.
Most importantly, even if you don’t have to defend yourself, in a survival situation you will have to feed yourself through hunting. Well-rounded and ready to defend or hunt, the M1A deserves strong consideration when choosing a bug-out rifle.
I know if I had to pick one rifle to hunt big game as well as protect against human threats, I would pick the M1A Scout Squad. And remember, a bug-out rifle is only as good as its user. Train, prepare and defend.
Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in!