Should the M1A Have a Scout Scope?

By Beyond Seclusion
Posted in #Gear
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Should the M1A Have a Scout Scope?

May 7th, 2021

9:38 runtime

Everyone has heard the saying, “have your cake and eat it too.” I think we all know what it means, but how does it apply to firearms?  Well, just in a broad sense, most of us want the following: power (stopping power), accuracy, low recoil, light weight and reliability. And that is the problem — several of these directly conflict with each other, such as power versus light recoil and light weight versus accuracy. You get the idea.

The scout scope on a M1A rifle might be one of those things where the old adage applies. Few will dispute that the M1A has power, accuracy and reliability. I would even say it has very acceptable recoil. The problem has always been that this is not a particularly compact or lightweight gun. This is where the SOCOM 16 comes in.

Man shooting rifle with scout scope on M1A SOCOM 16 CQB rifle
The addition of a scout scope on this Springfield SOCOM 16 CQB rifle made ringing steel at 500 yards relatively easy.

Recently, I did an article where I used the M1A SOCOM 16 CQB with the Vortex Venom red dot to go all the way out to 400 yards.  I was surprised at the accuracy I was getting using a 3 MOA red dot at 100 yards using TULA ammo. It really got me thinking, just how accurate can this “mini” M1A be? Recoil was about the same as the larger rifle, and the reliability and power were the same. Would this allow me to “have my cake and eat it, too?”

Scouting Ahead

I realized I was not going to be able to accurately assess accuracy (no pun intended) with a 3 MOA red dot; not at real distances, anyway. So, I started looking into scout scopes. To be honest, I had never tested one, or even looked down a gun with one. I had always been sceptical and figured they really were not that great, as it’s not like we see a lot of them. To me, it seemed like a halfway attempt between a scope and a red dot.

Different scope types on M1A rifles
The above rifles show a traditionally located scope and a red dot optic on M1A rifles. A scout scope mounts forward of the action.

What is a scout scope?

A scout scope is a low power optic that is mounted ahead of a gun’s action. they were designed to allow a shooter to keep both eyes open when shooting – similar to a red dot optic. Original scopes would often offer 2x magnification while modern optics can be variable power.

At the same time, one of the big attractions to the SOCOM 16 CQB is for CQB, thus the optional addition of the Vortex Venom. As I was playing with it out at some distance, I really wanted that extra magnification for accuracy and possibly hunting applications. I could push the red dot with some success out to 400 yards, but 500 was just not hitting the steel. Thus, I decided I needed to reconsider the scout scope option and take a closer look.

Group size with scout scope
The author sighted the rifle in at 100 yards before reaching out to 200, 300, 400 and 500 yards.

When you look for an M1A scout scope, there are not a lot of options available.  You can find optics ranging from $150 to $500. I wanted to start with the most affordable and go from there. After all, if we can get 1 MOA or even 2 MOA with a $150 scope, why keep looking? For this article, it came down to two for me: the Hi-Lux 2-7x32mm and the Vortex Crossfire II, both under $200.

The Contenders

The purpose of this article is not individually reviewing these optics, but rather just seeing what we can get with an entry-level/affordable optic for under $200. I just wanted to see how small we could get our groups on the SOCOM 16 CQB, and also consistently hit the steel out at 500 yards.

Vortex Crossfire II on SOCOM 16 CQB
The Vortex Crossfire II scout scope mounted on the Springfield SOCOM 16 CQB rifle.

First up is the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout, which I found on Amazon for $149. Next up is the Hi-Lux Long Eye Relief 2-7x32mm with three-post BDC Reticle, which Hi-Lux offers for $160.

So, I mounted each optic and got it zeroed at 100 yards using Tula ammo. I also wanted to see what I could expect with affordable ammo like this. I was shocked at a few of the groups I was able to get.

Ammo for testing scout scopes
Ammunition matters. In this case, the author selected affordable options to test the performance of these affordable optics.

I had only a box of Federal match grade ammo to test, so I wanted to make sure it was on paper and good to go. I also played with some other military surplus ammo just to see what kind of groups I got. That is actually going to be another review for down the road, where I am going to test several different types of ammo at all different price points to find what my M1A SOCOM CQB prefers, and what is the best groups at the cheapest price.

Results

I was equally impressed with the eye relief and clarity of both optics. Much to my surprise, it was really quick and easy to get a good sight picture — even at such a forward-mounted distance.

Hi Lux scout scope on M1A rifle
The Hi-Lux scope proved itself a worthy addition to the SOCOM 16 CQB at 500 yards.

On low power (2X), it is almost the same as bringing up with iron sights or a red dot. It could be a bit challenging to find your sight picture under 50 yards, but it was perfect beyond that.

Once I got them zeroed, I started ringing the steel at distance. It was much quicker, simpler and more consistent on hits using the scope over the red dot. I did discover that even though the Hi-Lux may not be as solid feeling as the Vortex, I really did like the reticle for the longer distances. It made hitting the steel at 500 almost too easy once I found the location on the BDC.

Bottom Line

The M1A SOCOM 16 CQB was impressive with the Vortex Venom, even out to 300 yards. It was perfect for CQB and making accurate (center mass) shots under 100-200 yards.

If you are looking for a great gun for hunting that packs a punch or simply wanting to bang steel at distance, consider putting a scout scope on this gun and I think you will be very surprised — and happy. I certainly was. Until next time, happy shooting, help educate our young people to gun safety, and be safe.

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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 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.

Beyond Seclusion

Beyond Seclusion

Drew of “Beyond Seclusion” earned both his bachelor of science in nursing and his master of science in nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He has always had a love of the outdoors and shooting and has been shooting for 40+ years.  He started a YouTube Channel reviewing guns and ammo just for fun and it is now a full-time business for him.  He resides in southeast Nebraska with his two children.

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