A short time ago, I wrote about the M1A, and said that it is a good option for hunting. I stand by that. I think the M1A is well suited to hunting.
But if you do take your M1A hunting, what should you know beforehand?
More particularly, what if you are planning to use it to hunt hogs?
That’s what I’m going to talk about in my in-depth look at Hog Hunting with Your M1A Rifle and What You Should Know.
What Makes the M1A Good for Hunting?
The M1A was derived from the military M14 rifle. Its pedigree is that of a battle rifle. But several traits of the M1A make it more than suitable for hunting hogs.
Powerful .308 Winchester Cartridge
The M1A is chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge. It’s a powerful cartridge that is very popular for hunting. It is also an accurate cartridge that is used extensively for precision shooting. Finally, it’s a popular cartridge, so numerous manufacturers make a huge variety of hunting loads for it.
The M1A Comes in Many Configurations
You can get the M1A in several different models, each one well-suited to a different type of hunting. You can get it with 22”, 18”, and 16” barrels. With a standard-issue wooden stock like the original M14, synthetic stocks, and even telescoping stocks. Whether you want a rifle for long-range hunting or a brush gun, the M1A can deliver.
It Is Semiautomatic
Since the M1A is a semiautomatic rifle, fast follow-up shots are as quick as pulling the trigger. That makes it ideal for fast-moving game like Hogs. It’s also a good thing when hunting game that can turn on you. Because it was designed as a military firearm, the gas-operated, rotating bolt is smooth and reliable. It works, in essence, like a self-loading bolt action.
The detachable magazine holds up to 20 rounds, depending on what is allowable in your state. Even with a smaller capacity magazine, switching to a new mag is fast, even under pressure.
Advantage Over a Lever Action
Lever actions are touted as great brush guns because they are easy to maneuver in heavy brush. A SOCOM 16 or Scout Squad M1A is easy to maneuver and has the advantage over a lever gun of being able to use ammunition with more modern bullet designs. Lever guns must use rounded bullets to prevent potential ignitions in the tubular magazine. The M1A uses a box magazine, so it doesn’t have that concern.
The M1A has excellent ergonomics. It is well-balanced, and accurate, and the controls are simple and convenient. In other words, it’s a great shooter. And the fact that you can get it in so many different configurations means you can set it up to fit you like a glove.
Even though the M1A has lots of features that make it a good hog-hunting rifle, it also has some drawbacks. Most of these relate to getting it set up for hunting.
Mounting an Optic
Many hunters prefer to use the excellent iron sights that come with the M1A. But you may prefer an optic, especially if you want to mount a night vision or thermal scope for hunting hogs at night. In that case, there are plenty of scopes and thermals that will work great on the M1A. But it’s not the easiest rifle to mount a scope or red dot on. There are two ways to go about it.
Use the Rail
The simplest way to mount an optic is to use the rail. The SOCOM 16 and Scout Squad models come with a short rail. Rails can be added to the Standard Issue and Loaded models without too much trouble as long as you mount them where the SOCOM 16 and Scout Squad rails are mounted. Then you can simply mount the optic of your choice.
The problem with this approach is that the rails sit very far forward in front of the receiver. This places the optic too far forward for some folks. If that is the case for you, then you have another option.
Install a Different Scope Mount
After-market scope mounts are available for the M1A. Springfield Armory makes one specifically designed for the M1A. Sadlak also produces a great mount for the M1A. Neither is a quick and simple installation, and both involve some disassembly of your rifle to remove the stripper clip guide.
Installation is straightforward and doesn’t take too long. Instructions are provided, but if you need a little more guidance, there are videos on YouTube demonstrating installation for both the SA model and the Sadlak. If you still feel unsure about doing it yourself, take your rifle to a gunsmith for installation. Once the new mount is in place, you can add any optic you like.
Adding a Suppressor
Adding a suppressor to an AR10 rifle is simple. In most cases, you unscrew the flash suppressor and screw on the can. But it’s not so easy with an M1A. There are two issues you must overcome to suppress an M1A.
Mounting the Suppressor
The M1A uses a combination flash suppressor/front sight. You can’t remove one without the other. The muzzle does not have the requisite 5/8×24 threads that most suppressors mount with. That means that to modify your M1A to fit a suppressor, you have to get rid of your front sight. Not something I would want to do.
Fortunately, there are some alternatives. A company called Delta P Design produces a drop-in adapter that provides the necessary 5/8X24 threads and allows you to keep your front sight. This solves the problem, although it also adds a couple hundred dollars more to the cost of the process.
Dealing With the Gas
There are actually two issues centering around gas when mounting a can on an M1A: reliable operation and blowback.
The M1A was never designed to work with a suppressor. It was also not designed to be adjustable. Suppressors create a lot of back pressure which can adversely affect functioning. But there is no way to adjust the pressure on an M1A to address that. Enter the Schuster Manufacturing SOCOM Adjustable M1A Gas System. It provides a way to adjust the pressure to ensure proper operation with a can.
The other issue is blowback…
The M1A is designed with an open-top receiver which allows a certain amount of gas to vent there. Normally this isn’t a problem, but a can increases the amount of gas that blows back through the action and into your face. A scope mount will mitigate this to a point. The other option is a Breech Shield Adapter from Fulton Armory. This is just a piece of metal that mounts above the action and shields the shooter’s face from gas blowback.
Of course, all these additional requisites to using a suppressor add to the overall cost. All told, including the suppressor and the NFA stamp, you are probably adding something like $1,200 to $1,500 to the cost of your M1A.
The Best M1A For the Job
As I’ve mentioned, there are four model lines of M1A to choose from. The Standard Issue is your GI issue M1A version of the M14. Heavy furniture, a 22” barrel, and 44” long. The Loaded model has the right stuff for competition and adds a couple of pounds over the Standard Issue to weigh in at 11.24 pounds empty. Both of those are more rifle than I want to drag around when hunting hogs. And that’s before optics or a thermal sight.
That leaves either the SOCOM 16 or Scout Squad models to choose from. The SOCOM 16 has a 16.25” barrel and an overall length of 37.25”. It weighs in at 8.5 pounds. That’s more like it. Even with a 16” barrel, that .308 Winchester round is going to give you plenty of accuracy and power for taking hogs out to 3oo yards.
If you want a little more barrel for that bullet to accelerate down, the Scout Squad gives you an 18” barrel. It’s the same weight as the SOCOM 16 and only increases the overall length to 40.33”. Either one of these would make an excellent hog gun.
Looking for Some Quality Accessories for Your M1A?
Or, if you’re thinking of adding another rife to the gun safe, check out our comprehensive comparison of the M1A vs AR10, or our reviews of the Springfield Armory M1A Tanker or the Springfield Armory M1A Scout Squad Rifle.
Plus, if you’re unsure which scope mount will work best on your M1A, take a look at our Bassett vs Sadlak M1A Scope Mount comparison. Or find out some more interesting Facts About M1A Rifles to impress your shooting buddies with?
Is the M1A the ideal hog hunting rifle? I guess that depends on your preferences. There’s no question of either the effectiveness of the .308 cartridge or the accuracy and reliability of the M1A. It’s a solid rifle with a first-class pedigree.
On the other hand, it’s an expensive rifle. And it gets even more expensive by the time you’ve gone through all the extra work and expense to mount a scope, not to mention a suppressor if you’re so inclined.
There’s a third consideration, the classic lines and history of the rifle itself. It has a look and feel that no AR can come close to. That has to count for something.
Until next time, be safe and happy shooting.