M1A: Too Outdated for Self-Defense, or Best Bug-Out Gun Ever?

By Hunt Fish Shoot
Posted in #Guns
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M1A: Too Outdated for Self-Defense, or Best Bug-Out Gun Ever?

October 13th, 2022

4:01 runtime

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.

M1A as bug out rifle
Looking for the perfect bug-out rifle? With a shorter overall length, the M1A Scout Squad is powerful and easily maneuverable in tight quarters.

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.

shooting from cover when bugging out
The heavy hitting .308 round is just what you might need in a bug-out type situation. It is equally suitable for self-defense and putting food on the table.

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 Premise

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.

M1A bug out rifle
The robust action on the M1a rifle can take a lifetime of abuse and keep on operating. In a situation where replacements and repairs might not be available, this is important.

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.

A Solution

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.

using the Springfield M1A to bug out
Powerful yet unassuming, the Springfield Armory M1A Scout Squad offers excellent firepower and durability in a reasonable size.

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.

carrying the M1A while bugging out
Long range, short range and everything in between, the M1A Scout Squad is up to the task. It can put deer in the freezer and attackers down.

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.

packing a bug out rifle
If you need a rifle for bug-out purposes, consider how you will carry and pack it. Lashing it to your gear can be a real advantage when moving through rough terrain.

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.

Overlooked Features

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.

shooting the M1A in a bug out scenario
In a real bug-out situation, you might face a variety of threats including wild animals or human attackers. The M1A hits with authority to keep you and yours safe.

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.

perfect bug out rifle
Especially when outfitted with a 20-round magazine, the M1A can pack some serious firepower.

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.

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Hunt Fish Shoot

Hunt Fish Shoot

Hunt Fish Shoot provides you with honest, objective and professional firearms-related content. Hunt Fish Shoot also provides a multitude of outdoors-related content. Hunt Fish Shoot’s Mike Chiarappa is currently employed as a law enforcement officer in a large metro area with 10 years of experience. He has experience in tactical operations, firearms training and drug interdiction. Most importantly, Mike is a staunch 2nd Amendment advocate who loves to help educate people about their inalienable rights.

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