Springfield Armory has earned a reputation for manufacturing reliable and high-quality firearms that capture the essence of classic designs. Among their esteemed offerings, the M1A series draws inspiration from the iconic M14 rifle. So, I decided to make an in-depth comparison between two popular M1A variants, the Scout Squad and the SOCOM 16.
While both rifles offer exceptional performance and versatility, they possess distinct features and characteristics. Join me as we examine the similarities, differences, and practical considerations of these Springfield Armory gems, helping you make the right decision when choosing between the M1A Scout Squad vs SOCOM 16 CQB variants.
A Brief History
The genesis of the M1A rifle can be traced back to two legendary firearms that left an indelible mark in military history, the M1 Garand and the M14. Designed by the iconic John C. Garand, the M1 Garand rifle became the standard-issue firearm for the United States military during World War II. Renowned for its reliability, ruggedness, and semi-automatic action, the M1 Garand set new standards in battle rifles.
However, as military tactics and requirements evolved, the need for a more compact and lightweight rifle arose. In response, the M14 was developed in the late 1950s. The M14 combined the successful features of the M1 Garand with select-fire capabilities, allowing for both semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. This new rifle served as the standard-issue weapon for U.S. forces until the early 1960s, when it was gradually replaced by the M16.
Despite the transition to the M16, the demand for the robustness, power, and pure accuracy of the M14 rifle endured among civilian shooters and enthusiasts. Springfield Armory recognized this demand and introduced the M1A in 1974. Retaining the core design principles of the M14, the M1A became a semi-automatic civilian version of the military classic, offering civilians the opportunity to own a piece of history.
Fast-forward to today, and the M1A is still going strong, with Springfield Armory manufacturing a range of M1A variants. So, let’s take a look at two of the more compact models by starting with some basic specifications.
|M1A Scout Squad
|M1A SOCOM 16 CQB
|Front: XS Sight, Rear: Adjustable Aperture
|Front: XS Tritium Dot, Rear: Ghost Ring Aperture
|Walnut or Composite
M1A Scout Squad Model
The Springfield M1A Scout Squad is basically a shorter iteration of the standard M1A, designed specifically for civilian and law enforcement use.
The Scout Squad is designed to be more mobile than the standard M1A while still providing ample weight to absorb the substantial recoil generated by the powerful .308 caliber. The inclusion of a muzzle brake also mitigates the extra recoil that the shorter 18” barrel produces in comparison to the full length 22” barrel.
Apart from the shorter barrel length, the only other physical difference of the Scout Squad rifle from a standard M1A lies in the inclusion of a forward-mounted Picatinny rail. Scopes or a red dot sight can be easily mounted where they won’t get in the way of the rifle’s action.
Nearly all other aspects of the Scout Squad rifle closely resemble the standard issue M1A, including the sights and stock design. The internal components of both models are also identical, ensuring consistent performance and reliability across the board.
Old School Elegance
When you buy a Scout Squad, you’re essentially buying a shortened standard M1A, not that that is a bad thing. This gun has style.
The stock and fore-end of the Springfield M1A Scout Squad are crafted from solid walnut, a material that stays true to the original M14 design from which it draws inspiration. This rifle exudes elegance with its robust walnut stock, parkerized finish, and a sense of tradition that is hard to replicate. Traditionalists will surely prefer the aesthetics of the Scout Squad over the SOCOM.
There is also a version of the Scout with a synthetic black composite stock if you so desire, but at that point, you might as well just go ahead and buy a SOCOM.
M1A SOCOM 16 CQB
The SOCOM 16 CQB rifle is the shortest variant of the Springfield M1A rifle. For utmost maneuverability, whilst still staying legal, the barrel has been shortened to just over 16”, and the traditional walnut stock has been replaced with a more lightweight and adjustable Archangel polymer chassis system.
This modification makes the SOCOM 16 well-suited for close-range encounters and scenarios where limited space is a factor, such as law enforcement operations or SWAT team missions. Actually, its compact nature means it’s not off the table for home defense purposes, either.
Remaining true to its M1A lineage, the SOCOM 16 retains the robustness of an all-steel action, along with a reliable gas piston and rotating bolt mechanism. This means that the SOCOM 16 CQB delivers an equally powerful impact as the larger M1A rifles within the family.
Probably the main difference between the two rifles is the integration of the Archangel chassis/stock on the SOCOM 16, a feature that brings the M1A rifle firmly into the modern era. While opinions may vary on whether this change constitutes an upgrade, its significance cannot be denied.
The Archangel polymer structure offers a range of practical elements that give the SOCOM way more versatility than the Scout. M-Lok slots on the fore-end, provide a secure and seamless attachment point for rails. This enables easy customization with a ton of different accessories.
The rails positioned at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions can be removed when not in use, reducing the rifle’s profile and shedding unnecessary weight. That’s the best of both worlds right there. A Picatinny rail on the top of the guard allows for any optics you want to add. A red dot mount only adds to the versatile nature of the SOCOM.
The adjustable shoulder stock offers five positions and 3.5 inches of travel, providing a high degree of flexibility unavailable on the Scout. It is also compatible with AR stocks, allowing for easy swapping if desired. The inclusion of a rubber recoil pad and cheek riser adds to the overall comfort and functionality of the rifle.
Both guns will chew through rounds without any hitches as long as you’re feeding them decent ammunition. All M1A variants have a good reputation when it comes to reliability.
As a rule, shorter barreled rifles usually have more recoil to manage than longer barreled guns. That is certainly the case with both the SOCOM and the Scout, but the muzzle brakes do a great job of this. Felt recoil from both models is way less than you would expect for guns of this caliber, enabling faster follow up shots.
Quick and precise…
Both rifles are equipped with a Springfield match-grade trigger. The slim trigger features a two-stage function allowing for quick and precise follow-up shots with minimal effort.
The trigger offers a clean break and a short, crisp reset, ensuring a smooth and responsive performance. With a pull weight of approximately 6 pounds, it’s a consistent and controlled trigger pull that aids in achieving accurate and efficient shooting.
There really wasn’t a lot to differentiate the Scout and the SOCOM when shooting at 100 yards out. Both are very capable at this distance in the right hands. Extend it out to 300 yards, and the better groupings were achieved with the Scout Squad. The difference wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was pretty consistent. I guess that extra 2 inches of barrel makes a difference at longer distance.
Also Interested in the other M1A Options?
Or, if you need some high-quality accessories for your M1A, then check out our thoughts on the Best M1A Stocks, the Best M1A Magazines, the Best M1A Cleaning Kit, the Best Scout Scope for M1A, the Best M1A Bipods, or our comprehensive Archangel Springfield Armory M1A Precision Stock Review.
Plus, if you can’t quite decide on a scope mount for your M1A, you’ll love our Bassett vs Sadlak M1A Scope Mount comparison. Or find out everything you need to know about Hog Hunting with Your M1A Rifle or some interesting Facts About M1A Rifles that will really impress your shooting buddies in 2023.
Ultimately, the choice between the M1A Scout Squad and the SOCOM 16 depends on individual preferences and specific use cases. If you will be primarily using your rifle for hunting at quite long range, then the Scout Squad would be the better choice of the two. For shorter range and more tactical applications, the SOCOM 16 CQB makes for a more logical selection.
It may well just come down to aesthetic appreciation. Whilst both rifles are descended from legendary firearms, the Scout Squad pays more direct homage to this line with its classic walnut stock. The Archangel stock of the SOCOM 16 CQB brings the M1A range into the modern era, and whilst it may not be to everybody’s taste, it brings with it a host of practical benefits.
Whether you prioritize traditional aesthetics or modern functionality, both rifles offer exceptional performance and pay a solid tribute to the storied legacy of the M1 Garand and M14 rifles. Either gun would make an excellent addition to your collection.
As always, be safe and happy shooting.