Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16

By Todd Burgreen
Posted in #Guns
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Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM 16

February 24th, 2020

4 minute read

It’s hard to follow a legend, but some can do it. The M14 service rifle went through this by superseding the M1 Garand after World War II. The M1 Garand had given U.S. forces an advantage with its semi-automatic operation and eight-round capacity compared to the bolt-action rifles of the opponents. The M14 took everything learned with the .30-06 M1 Garand and applied it to a newly refined design. It switched to a shorter yet equally capable round in the 7.62x51mm, added a detachable 20-round magazine and offered full-auto capability.

The M1A SOCOM 16 takes everything that makes the M1A great, and packs it into a very compact package.

This article is about the M14’s semi-automatic civilian counterpart, the Springfield Armory M1A — specifically the compact SOCOM 16 variant. When initially introduced in 1974, the M1A was an immediate hit for Geneseo, Illinois’ Springfield Armory. Springfield Armory showed the accuracy potential of the M1A with its National Match and Super Match rifles, and it did not take a large leap of imagination to realize there would be a demand for tactical and self-defense versions of the design. The result of this was the SOCOM 16 family of M1A rifles.

The 16.25″ barrel is topped off with a highly effective muzzle brake that dampens muzzle rise.

Short and Long of It

The SOCOM 16’s name gives away one its top selling points — a short, 16.25″ barrel. The combination of svelte handling characteristics and potent 7.62mm power is likely key to its appeal. While the 5.56mm round may receive a lot of criticism (founded or unfounded) for downrange lethality, the 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. round doesn’t suffer from the same reputation.

The SOCOM 16 features a forward-mounted optic rail in the “scout” position.

The SOCOM 16 weighs approximately 8.8 lbs. and measures 37.25” in overall length. A black composite stock provides interface with an enlarged ghost ring aperture rear sight and XS Sights tritium front post, giving you quick target acquisition.

With an overall length of 37.25″ and a weight of 8.8 lbs., the SOCOM 16 offers a lot of .308 power in a very compact package.

The rifle features a forward scout-style Picatinny mount for a red dot or intermediate eye-relief optic (a low-mount is a must with this to ensure to a proper cheekweld). The specially engineered 16.25″ barrel is mated to a proprietary muzzle brake to help keep muzzle rise to a minimum.

The author topped off the SOCOM 16 with a Trijicon MRO 1X red dot.

Hands On

I had a chance to try out one of these rifles myself recently to see how it performs. I mounted a Trijicon MRO red dot for the evaluation. I headed out to the range with a selection of ammo, including Speer 150-gr. GDSP, IMI 150-gr. FMJ, American Eagle 150-gr. FMJ, and Black Hills 168-gr. Match and 180-gr. Accubond loads.

Todd ran a broad selection of ammo through the SOCOM 16 during testing.

Accuracy was good, with the gun averaging roughly 2 MOA at 100 yards with all loads using the non-magnified MRO. I found that the 16.25″ barrel sacrificed roughly 150 fps against a 22” barrel of a standard M1A. The handiness gained from the short barrel outweighs the velocity lost, in my opinion. Velocity is important, especially for extended ranges, but the 7.62 round does not rely on only hyper-velocity to be effective.

Anyone familiar with the M1 Garand system of operation would be right at home with the M1A SOCOM 16.


Anecdotally, a casual observer can easily tell a steel target smacked with a 7.62 NATO versus 5.56mm. While there is much to be offered by a 5.56, there are some times when you just want the reassuring “whomp” of the 7.62. And the fact you can get that in a short, quick-handling carbine like the M1A SOCOM 16 makes it just about irresistible as an option.

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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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Todd Burgreen

Todd Burgreen

Todd Burgreen has been a freelance writer for the last 20 years with articles appearing in numerous publications. He has attended countless personal defense, team tactics, and firearms and driving courses over the years from some of the most influential training personalities and schools in the country.

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