The scout squad rifle design is not a new one. It was in the early 1980s that Jeff Cooper came up with the concept.
In my in-depth Springfield Armory M1A scout squad rifle review, there will be a section on Cooper and his proposed ‘perfect’ scout squad configuration. While that sets the scene, the main thrust will be to delve deeper into the M1A scout squad rifle.
The popularity of this type of rifle is easy to understand, and with that, some major reasons will be highlighted, including the fact that the M1A scout squad rifle is a popular civilian model designed around the iconic, full-size M14 US Military battle rifle.
Let’s get started with…
Who and What Was Behind the Scout Squad Rifle?
This could be an article in itself. Instead, here’s a potted version of who and what the scout squad rifle concept is all about.
Jeff Cooper was a former Marine who eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the USMC (United States Marine Corps). After leaving the Marines, Cooper received a master’s degree in history and held various part-time history teaching roles.
His continuing passion for firearms led him to become a prolific gun writer, firearms trainer, and all-around ‘small-arms’ weapon expert. He invented the self-defense color code of readiness and was the originator of the two-handed, modern pistol handling technique.
Cooper also had a vision as to what a general-purpose, compact rifle should be. One that was highly effective for hunting and self-defense. Enter the scout squad rifle.
Setting the Industry Standard for an Outdoor Survival Rifle
It was during the 1980s that he published an article describing his idea. This was to be a short, light, handy, and versatile weapon.
Due to proven reliability, his perfect rifle set-up was a bolt-action carbine chambered in .308 Winchester or 7.62×51 NATO caliber. But he was not opposed to a semi-auto .308 Winchester rifle. His rifle specification included a 19-inch barrel with a total length of less than 40 inches. It needed to be 6.6-7.7 pounds unloaded and have a sling attached.
As for the sighting system…
It should be fitted with ghost-ring rear and post-front sights. There should also be a forward-mounted optic giving 10 inches of eye relief. In terms of accuracy, the aim was to be below 2 MOA (Minute Of Angle).
It took until late 1997 for Cooper to oversee Steyr Mannlicher’s development of his dream scout rifle. That original scout squad rifle concept became the industry standard as an outdoor survival rifle.
Mainly due to more recent models being semi-auto over bolt-action, things have changed since Cooper’s initial specs. However, the design outline was so appealing to shooters that a variety of manufacturers have since produced their own version. This includes the likes of Savage Arms, Mossberg, and Springfield Armory.
That’s where my review of the Springfield Armory M1A scout squad rifle comes in, so let’s get straight to it…
Springfield Armory – M1A-A1 Scout Squad Rifle
Springfield Armory’s standard M1A rifle is the civilian version of the company’s legendary M14 rifle used by the U.S. Military. With the development of their scout squad version, they have produced a highly effective weapon.
That has been achieved through a combination to be reckoned with. It takes the legendary power and reliability of their M1A platform with the fast handling and rapid sight acquisition of a scout-style rifle.
So, here’s a look at the features which have made this such a hugely popular scout squad rifle. First up is…
A Brief Spec. Overview
The rifle is constructed of steel and comes with a quality wooden stock. It has an 18-inch parkerized finished barrel included in an overall length of 40.3 inches.
Weight-wise, it comes in at 9.3 pounds and is chambered in .308 Win with a capacity of 10+1 rounds. If you are looking for something a little lighter, there is a black synthetic stock model that weighs in at 8.8 pounds.
A Choice of Stocks
The model I tested comes with a pure, solid walnut wooden stock, one that matches the original M14 design. This sturdy, stylish stock gives shooters a very traditional feel. The focus of this stock is on ergonomics and balance. It achieves both very effectively.
With the wood stock model, you get an added feature. This is a small steel shoulder flap placed on the buttstock. When in the prone firing position, the flap can be used as a stabilizer. There are also two holes with a latch under the shoulder flap for storing cleaning rods.
Many shooters prefer the traditional looks of the wood stock model. However, as mentioned, Springfield does offer a tough-wearing synthetic stock model that will not easily damage. Choosing the synthetic stock version also means there will be no possible moisture tarnishing as with the wood stock model.
But make no mistake; the wood stock model is robust and highly durable. Better still, in terms of style, it will turn heads wherever you sport it!
A Barrel Designed for .308 Win Cartridges
The M1A scout squad rifle comes with an 18-inch 6-groove carbon steel barrel and has a 1:11-inch twist. It has a parkerized finish and is designed with durability and temperature tolerance in mind.
Shooters will find this is an excellent match for the .308 Win cartridge. Couple that with the trigger and sight system (up next), and you can expect accuracy and consistent performance.
Quality Trigger and Sighting System
Springfield has installed their proprietary two-stage match-grade trigger. It has a 5lb trigger pull and gives a clean break along with a short, crisp reset.
This quality trigger enhances the natural capabilities of a highly effective weapon. It allows for fast firing with precise follow-up shots. As for the trigger safety, this is located inside the trigger guard.
Yet another stand-out feature of the M1A scout squad rifle is the iron sighting system. This comes with National Match .062-inch post front sights. The rear sights are specified as standard military aperture and are windage and elevation adjustable.
Rapid target acquisition…
The sighting system has to be rated as one of the M1A scout squad rifle’s best features. Using them in tandem gives a generous sight radius while the clarity of view lends itself to a precise, very visible target image. As a result, shooters can expect rapid sight acquisition and accuracy out to 400 yards.
That accuracy over distance will suit many. However, it is also possible to add a quality scope via the included Picatinny rail. If choosing a standard scope, then go for one with at least 10 inches of eye relief. The alternative is a red dot or reflex optic.
A Standout Muzzle Device
The included muzzle device is another standout feature. Sitting a short distance from the rifle’s end to the front sight post, it has four and five rows of side holes. This proprietary muzzle device is highly effective at reducing the expected felt recoil the .308 Win is known to deliver.
While not included in the purchase Springfield also produces a Flash Suppressor. This is highly effective at reducing blinding flashes. Those who expect to be using their rifle on a regular nightly basis would be wise to consider this accessory.
A Tried and Trusted Bolt
Among a variety of features, the Springfield Armory M1A scout squad rifle shares with the original M1 Garand is the bolt design. Made from durable steel, it is built to last. The design comes with two large locking lugs, which are connected to the receiver edges. Both lugs include a roller that assists with bolt tracking and cycling.
Two other useful features are the last-round bolt hold-open and bolt catch. The latter is located on the left-hand side of the open-top receiver.
Unfortunately, there are no ambidextrous models currently available from Springfield (or planned), so when using, left-handed shooters need to be careful they are not hit in the face by flying casings.
Magazine and Mag Release
The Springfield M1A scout squad rifle comes with one included 10-round capacity steel box magazine. The mag is capable of taking .308 Win or 7.62×51 NATO cartridges.
This is classed as a detachable box mag and is positioned on the bottom of the receiver. There are also 5-round capacity magazines available.
Solid as a rock…
The magazine fit is rock-solid, and it sits very snugly into the rifle. When engaging it correctly, you will hear a clear audible, and tactile click. As for the mag release feature, this is positioned to the magazine’s rear. To release your magazine, simply push it forward.
There is an alternative way to feed the magazine with bullets. This is via the fixed stripper clip guide. It sits right above the rear sight and allows mag feeding from your en-bloc clips.
Springfield Armory M1A Scout Squad Rifle Pros & Cons
- Tried and trusted Springfield design.
- This rifle is with you in any situation.
- Classic, tough-wearing walnut wood stock.
- Barrel designed for the .308 Win.
- Quality 2-stage military trigger.
- Excellent front and rear sighting system.
- Fast target acquisition.
- Flexible use for multiple applications.
- A little heavier/longer than other scout squad rifles.
- Cheaper models out there, but quality comes at a cost!
Thinking of Upgrading your M1A?
Then, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best M1A Bipods, the Best M1A Cleaning Kit, the Best M1A Stocks, the Best Scout Scope for M1A, as well as the Best M1A Magazines currently on the market.
Or, if you’re looking for another firearm to add to the gun safe, check out our or our in-depth review of the Springfield Armory M1A Tanker, or thoughts on M1A vs AR10, plus, if you’re not sure which M1A scope mount will work best for your rifle, our Bassett vs Sadlak M1A Scope Mount comparison could be very useful.
Or, how about learning some interesting Facts About M1A Rifles to really impress your shooting buddies with, in 2023?
Springfield Armory’s M1A scout squad rifle offers ease of handling and flexibility of use. Regardless of what you put it through, this quality weapon has been built to last.
The quality 18-inch 6-groove carbon steel barrel comes with a 1:11-inch twist. It has been designed to maximize .308 Win cartridge use. Couple that with a top-quality trigger along with a front and rear sighting system that is hard to beat. The result is a highly efficient rifle that can be used effectively for range training, tactical situations, hunting, home defense, or as a truck gun.
And the icing on the cake? The M1A scout squad rifle is a joy to shoot and will enhance your shooting enjoyment by no end.
As always, stay safe and happy shooting.