The M14, while not a standout among service rifles, has managed to cultivate a dedicated following over the years. This enduring popularity has led to its continued production, with Springfield Armory being the main manufacturer keeping the M14 legacy alive via the creation of their M1A range.
Springfield Armory offers a wide range of M14 derivative rifles. The M1A standard issue caters to traditional enthusiasts seeking the classic aesthetic of the M14. For those desiring a more contemporary look whilst still essentially shooting an M14, they make the M1A SOCOM 16 CQB. It’s probably one of the finest examples of a modern M14 or M1A rifle on the market today.
I was fortunate enough to spend a lovely week with the Springfield M1A SOCOM 16 recently, and can honestly say that I was very sad to see her go. Having managed to pull myself together, I present to you my findings in my in-depth Springfield M1A SOCOM 16 CQB Rifle Review.
What is the Springfield M1A SOCOM 16 CQB Rifle?
The SOCOM 16 is basically a shortened version of the classic M1A rifle. The barrel has been given a trim, and the walnut stock is out in favor of an Archangel polymer chassis system and adjustable stock. It’s an M1A that’s been optimized for shorter range engagement or for situations where space is at a premium. Think law enforcement or SWAT team applications. It could also potentially be used as a home defense firearm.
The same all-steel action, gas piston, and rotating bolt design present in all M1As ensures the SOCOM 16 packs as big a punch as its stablemates.
|Barrel:||16.2”, 1:11 right twist, carbon steel.|
|Action:||Semi-Auto, Gas-Piston operated, Rotating Bolt.|
|Overall Length:||35” – 38.5” dependent on adjustable stock.|
|Magazines:||Metal 10 Rounds.|
|Trigger pull:||5.2 lbs.|
|Stock:||Adjustable 5 Position CQB Shoulder Stock.|
|Front Sight:||.125” Blade with Tritium Insert.|
|Rear Sight:||.135” Aperture, Ghost Ring Adjustable.|
|Accessories:||1 Magazine, Carry Case, Owners manual.|
One of the standout features of the Springfield SOCOM 16 CQB is its integration with the Archangel chassis/stock. Not everyone would call this an upgrade, but there’s no arguing that this change firmly brings the M1A into the modern era.
This polymer structure is designed with a host of practical features that make it a valuable addition to the SOCOM 16 CQB. Firstly, the fore-end incorporates M-Lok slots, which provide a seamless and secure attachment point for the rails.
The removable rails positioned in the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions on the handguard, allow for a host of accessories like vertical grips or laser devices. The ability to remove these rails when not in use streamlines the rifle’s profile and loses unwanted weight. A nice touch, indeed.
For ease of carry, the Archangel chassis/stock also includes QD (Quick Detach) sling attachment points. The actual shoulder stock is 5-position adjustable with 3.5 inches of travel to play with. It’s AR compatible, so you can swap it out very easily if you want. A rubber recoil pad and a cheek riser are great to see.
In terms of optic mounting, the chassis/stock boasts a Picatinny rail on top, allowing for the secure attachment of various optics. Additionally, the inclusion of a dedicated red dot mount further enhances the versatility of the SOCOM 16 CQB.
The SOCOM 16 CQB features a 16-inch barrel, a reduction of 6 inches from a standard M1A. While this shorter barrel does result in a slight reduction in velocity when using .308 cartridges, it offers several advantages in return. The compact barrel design makes the rifle lighter, more maneuverable, and easier to carry, all while maintaining a comparable level of accuracy.
You might assume that the reduced weight of the SOCOM 16 CQB would result in increased recoil. No, siree, thanks to the highly effective muzzle brake, this is not the case. Alongside the smooth shooting characteristics of the gas operation system, the muzzle brake significantly eases recoil. This combination making the SOCOM one of the gentlest-shooting rifles I have fired in a very long time. More on that later.
The Springfield SOCOM 16 CQB features an enlarged military aperture rear sight with MOA adjustment for windage and elevation. The front sight is equipped with an XS post and a .125 blade, complete with a Tritium insert for enhanced visibility in low-light conditions. These sights provide intuitive and precise aiming capabilities, allowing shooters to acquire targets quickly and make accurate adjustments when needed.
Despite the inclusion of a shorter barrel, updated sights, and a modern stock, the fundamental ergonomics of the M1A platform remain largely unchanged. In this regard, the weapon’s ergonomics can be seen as somewhat of a step backward in comparison to more modern firearms.
One minor annoyance is the placement of the right side charging handle, which requires reaching around or temporarily adjusting your grip to manipulate it. Additionally, the ambidextrous safety, located within the trigger guard, is relatively easy to disengage by pushing it forward to the fire position. However, returning it to the safe position may pose more of a challenge without altering your grip or stance. The less said about that, the better.
Could be a little quicker…
Magazine changes aren’t nearly as fast and as intuitive as we’re used to on AR and AK platforms. The 10 round magazine is a little tricky to rock into place. This is a legacy from the M14 roots at the heart of this gun. After a while, you get the hang of it, but for most, mag changes will never be that smooth.
On the plus side, even though it’s a hefty 9.3 lbs, the weight distribution of the rifle is nicely balanced, contributing to improved handling and maneuverability. This allows for quick target transitions and smooth follow-up shots, crucial elements in tactical situations.
Overall, the SOCOM is pretty easy to manipulate and a very comfortable gun to handle over the course of an afternoon at the range. However, it would be nice to see a few upgrades in the ergonomics department, even if that means changing the classic M1A design slightly.
The muzzle brake deserves special recognition for its exceptional performance. It’s a great design, effectively aiding in controlling the weapon during rapid firing. This is a way more controllable firearm than you would expect from a .308.
Despite the expectations of heavier recoil due to its .308 caliber, the recoil of the SOCOM 16 CQB is remarkably mild. This can be attributed to the combination of its semi-automatic action and 9-pound weight, which work in harmony to ensure a comfortable shooting experience.
The ability to control muzzle rise and the manageable recoil are crucial factors for a weapon intended for close quarters combat (CQB), as the name implies. These features are vital for such a purpose.
The SOCOM 16 CQB not only proves to be an effective and reliable firearm, but it also offers an enjoyable shooting experience. Once you get used to the larger caliber ammunition, the louder noise, longer range, and improved accuracy all add up to good times at the range.
That being said, you’ll want to get hold of some 20 round M1A magazines if you’re going to make the leap and buy a SOCOM. The solo 10 round magazine that are included just doesn’t cut the mustard.
As long as you don’t feed her garbage ammo, the SOCOM 16 will chew through whatever you decide to use. I treated her to a variety of Winchester, Federal, and Hornady ammo ranging from 120 gr. up to 150 gr. Using scoped assistance at 100 yards range, the best our group achieved was just under 2” groupings (an ex-marine, predictably).
Take the SOCOM 16 out to 300 yards, and she is still a very capable performer in the right hands. Our marine managed to achieve a scoped 4 shot grouping of under 5”, with just one wayward shot taking it out to a five shot grouping of 11”.
There’s a reason why upgraded M14s were still being used in Afghanistan by Marines up until recently – the extra range accuracy they offer over AR platforms. These results appear to back that up.
Springfield M1A SOCOM 16 CQB Rifle Pros & Cons
- Very accurate
- High quality construction
- Adjustable, interchangeable stock
- Garand-style tough battle sights
- Versatile accessory mounts
- Effective custom muzzle brake
- Gas-operated system effectively reduces kick
- Uses the powerful .308 cartridge
- Expensive, but quality comes at a cost
- The .308 ammo also costs more
Looking for More Quality M1A Options?
Or, if you need some quality accessories for your M1A, then check out our thoughts on the Best M1A Magazines, the Best Scout Scope for M1A, the Best M1A Stocks, the Best M1A Cleaning Kit, the Best M1A Bipods, or our in-depth Archangel Springfield Armory M1A Precision Stock Review.
Plus, if you can’t decide on a quality scope mount for your M1A, take a look at our Bassett vs Sadlak M1A Scope Mount comparison. Or check out some interesting Facts About M1A Rifles to really impress your shooting buddies with in 2023.
The Springfield SOCOM 16 CQB proves itself to be an impressive piece of hardware that can excel in a multitude of roles. With its combination of modernized features and the timeless M14 platform, this rifle offers the best of both worlds.
As a do-everything piece of kit, the SOCOM 16 CQB truly shines. Its compact size and adjustable stock make it well-suited for close-quarter engagements and room clearing scenarios. The M-lok slots and removable rails, allows you to customize to your heart’s content.
Accurate and effective…
What truly sets the SOCOM 16 CQB apart is its remarkable accuracy and effective range. With its enlarged military aperture rear sight, XS front sight with Tritium insert, and the option to mount various optics, this rifle enables shooters to engage targets with precision and confidence.
Whether on close quarters defensive duty or taking down a target at 400 yards, the SOCOM 16 CQB proves its capabilities time and time again. It’s a firearm that combines the best of modern enhancements with the enduring legacy of the M14 platform. Its all round impressive performance and versatility make it a formidable choice for those looking for a compact and powerful rifle for a wide range of shooting applications.
As always, stay safe and happy shooting.