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Springfield SOCOM 16


Springfield Armory sought out to further improve upon the idea within its own well-established M1A product, and the SOCOM 16 was born. The most obvious change came with the shortened 16-inch barrel, giving the SOCOM a decidedly tactical look and feel.

By Chad Adams
Shooting Illustrated

A decedent of John Garand’s M1, the M14 was first adopted by the Army in 1957. It served a relatively short tour in the U.S. military, as it was soon replaced by the M16 during Vietnam, and seemingly forever relegated to ceremonial parade decks and the world of competitive shooting thereafter. But along the way, a couple of pivotal events changed the way we look at the M14. First, the Navy and Marine Corps retained inventories of the M14 for field use, and eventually Marine Designated Marksmen put the M14 to even better use as a scoped, semi-automatic-only version in a McMillan M2A stock.

Fast forward to the modern-day battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, where Special Forces personnel in theater brought stocks of the M14 out of mothballs in order to have a rifle better suited for long-range fire that is effective on targets. Especially in Afghanistan, where the terrain is mountainous and the operations often covert, reports of the ineffectiveness of the 5.56 NATO round gave way to the comeback of the tactical M14. I even heard one unconfirmed story of an operator taking an M14, hacking off the barrel and crowning the muzzle in the most field expedient of ways—with a rock! I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if so, too bad he couldn’t have waited for a SOCOM 16, which is what he allegedly wildcatted in the crudest of ways.

While the military kept its on-again, off-again relationship in question with the M14, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Springfield Armory name was reborn, and the company began to acquire a reputation for its match-grade M1A. By 1997 Springfield released the M1A Scout Squad, with a walnut, fiberglass or laminated stock, 18-inch barrel, Scout mount and muzzle stabilizer. An outgrowth of the earlier M1A Bush Rifle, the Scout Squad claimed a spot within the tactical community. And why not? It is a smaller, lighter and more maneuverable arm than its bigger brother, and its debut didn’t come without precedent. Think back to World War II and the most famous battlefield weapon ever carried by American soldiers—the M1 Garand. Even though it was widely appreciated for both durability and design, there was still a place for the tanker version. Experience taught the military that certain battlefield applications could be better served with a smaller, more maneuverable rifle, and American law enforcement personnel would eventually follow suit in their pursuit for contemporary tactical carbines.

So Springfield Armory sought out to further improve upon the idea within its own well-established M1A product, and the SOCOM 16 was born...

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