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.
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?”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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