"My Disaster Gun"
American Rifleman’s Editor-in-Chief Mark Keefe: My Disaster Gun.
My friend Marty Morgan stayed behind in New Orleans—he lived on high ground and had plenty of food and water—and he had a rifle, an AKM. He survived the natural disaster no problem, but knew he might not live through the rampant anarchy that followed. There is no doubt in his mind that, if not for that rifle, he would likely not be with us today.
Handguns are handy in such situations—and I will always have one on my hip in such times—but a rifle is essential. A man with a rifle has options, he can put distance between himself and predators, and he has long-range firepower that is effective at long range, but devastating at close range. A man with a rifle can defend his home and family, or strap it across his chest and walk out, away from disaster and danger. . .
The rifle that lies ready for such a time for me is the Springfield Armory SOCOM, now called the SOCOM 16. The semi-automatic 16-inch barreled SOCOM—not the SOCOM II, which I like for the extra rail space on but found not as handy—is based on the M1A, which is itself based on the U.S. M14, the magnum opus of the U.S. Ordnance Dept. It is equipped with an effective muzzle break and with a top rail forward of the action port that bears a Leupold 2.5×28 mm Scout scope. I also have an Aimpoint that serves for closer work. But the rifle has excellent iron sights, an enlarged aperture rear and a XS front post with a Tritium insert. It is chambered for 7.62×51 mm NATO, and feeds from one of the best box magazines ever designed. They only hold 20 rounds, but they feed like a champ. It has the power of a battle rifle, but can also be used for CQB if necessary. I can hit a man-sized silhouette at 600 meters, time after time with it. And I can clean a table of steel plates in seconds at 25 yards. My SOCOM has a Wildness Tactical web Ching, a shallow web cheekpiece that gets my eye in line with the Leupold’s Duplex reticle. My only regret is a lack of a bayonet. A guy with a rifle might be dangerous to the criminal element, but a guy with a bared blade bayonet, well, he is obviously not only serious, but crazy.
Two comments --
First, I find it interesting that the editor-in-chief of American Rifleman is willing to write about defense in a breakdown situation which, if he had written this in an earlier time, would have cost him his job at the hands of the Elmer Fudds who once ran the NRA management.
Second, although I admire his taste in caliber and design, I am skeptical of Springfield Armory's quality control these days. My son bought a SOCOM when he was in-country on leave from Afghanistan and when we went to put it in a Sage stock, we discovered that the operating rod could not be field-stripped from the weapon. Now, admittedly, we sent it right back to the factory and they made the problem right, but you just have to wonder how it ever made it out of the factory. Also, I once had an SA M1A (circa 1990s) and had it out to an improvised range at a quarry one day. Leaning the rifle against the tailgate of my pickup, someone leaned against the truck and the rifle fell over onto the dirt road. When I picked it up, I discovered that the right front sight leaf and been folded by this modest impact over onto the front sight blade itself! Poor tin-pot metallurgy to be sure. I replaced it, and every other part that seemed reasonable, with USGI M14 parts. (I did the same with my M14S "China Doll," which I still own.) So, if you do buy a Springfield Armory product, go over it with a fine tooth comb.
my issue with the shorty M1A's is when you fire them a night they create quite a fireball.
I suppose if you're looking to tell some thug that you're not to be messed with and he should move on, that serves the purpose..tracers do too. but if you would rather not have that sort of signature, the standard length model is better.
Mike, more SA rifes have failed than ALL low number M-1903s during both world wars and after. Springfield armory has run an aggressive cover up from the time this started in the early 90s. Reciver failue is the reason the SA M-1 garand got stoped. No one Knows how many recevers on the M1a have failed.
I've had four Springfield firearms in the last 10 years, three M1911 style pistols and a .308 rifle. All of them had to be sent back to be worked on, and even after the second chance, they were never reliable.
If I'm gonna have a gun that's made in China, it's gonna be an AKM or RPK.
I'm happy to say that I have 2 Springer handguns, a 1911 Mil-Spec and a Service Model XD in .45 which both run flawlessly and neither is heavily modified.
Sigh. It's a muzzle BRAKE. As in, it puts the BRAKES on recoil, slowing it down. Not a muzzle break. I don't want my rifle's muzzle broken! A good muzzle crown is kinda important to accuracy, after all...
Sad day when not even the EIC of American Rifleman gets that right.
The M14 / M1A is a beautiful rifle... in it's original state. But then, a fuddie would never know that, eh?
I purchased my M1A shortly after it became probable that Slick Willie was going to make a play on making them illegal and shortly after some overtime cash courtesy of Hurricane Andrew made the purchase possible. That would have been early in 1992. Most of the parts, with the exception of the receiver of course, bear mil-spec markings from one of the M14 program contractors. The majority of these are from TRW. I've put quite a few rounds through it including two Appleseed trips and it's never missed a lick. Maybe the earlier ones with more mil-surp parts are better or maybe I just got lucky.
Sorry to hear others are having problems. It's never a good sign when a firearm company that makes "go to" weapons turns out ones that aren't dependable. I heard scads of horror stories about rifles built by Norinco or built up from their receivers. IIRC the bolt lugs' camming surfaces did not match the angle of the mating receiver cuts resulting in rapidly expanding head space. Not good.
Bought a Apringfield 1911 several years back. Continual problems. Sold it and bought an armscor 1911. Only problem; the seer spring wore out after apprx 3000 rds.
My Poly M-14 S is just fine after 20+ years. The receiver is the only Chinese part left, everthing else is Winchester from my days in CT, even the walnut stock, and the walnut handguard is from the real Springfield Armory...This stuff was available in the 70's in CT and cheap too!! SA Inc receivers are notoriously soft and not suitable for use...
For a quality alternative to SA check out Fulton Armory: http://www.fulton-armory.com/M14-M1A.aspx
Unfortunately I have to agree with the comments reporting unreliability with Springfield weapons. I have had two rifles and one 1911 with very disappointing results. While they may be outstanding guns -- and they look "gorgeous,"in a lean and mean way -- when only used occasionally, all of mine have broken down with any heavy use; you know, like you might need in a SHTF environment.
I get the best semi auto use -- very heavy use -- from my Rock River AR 15 -- followed closely, believe it or not, by my SS Mini 14 Ranch. In long rifle I have a long time love affair with Remington 700s.
I have an M1-A bush rifle shortened by a certain well known but obnoxious Arizona gunsmith. It is a very nice rifle now that I have worked out the kinks. But it definitely is not my go-to disaster weapon. It's too heavy and too loud. The first time I shot it at the local range the guy in the next bench complained about the noise and moved 4 benches away.
My go-to rifle is the humble and lowly Saiga AK 7.62x39 in its import configuration. It's funny looking and has a crappy trigger but is perfectly reliable, light weight, very handy, easy to clean/maintain and fun/cheap to shoot. I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it.
I have a SA Socom16 that I purchased in 2007. I've had no problems. 2k rounds and no FTF or FTE. Field strip no prob. I guess I'm a lucky one.
I have the Soc16 as well and I’ve grown quite fond of it. I also had to send it back for short cycling, and S/A repaired as needed. While I’m not happy I had to send the rifle in for warranty work, we’re probably hearing a lot from the vocal minority of us who’ve had to get the rifle worked on, not so much the satisfied customers.
Since the repairs I’ve had no failures which is ~ 900 rounds since.
I complicated my initial purchase with CMI 25 round magazines. These have had about a 60% success rate for me. That is, 6 out of 10 worked flawlessly. CMI has been similarly good about supplying both parts and replacement mags. I now have an inventory of 7 working 25 round mags.
I agree that the M1A is heavy, but, how heavy, as opposed to say, a FAL, or AR10? As they say on m14tfl - if you think the M1A is too heavy, do some more push ups.
I went to a tactical rifle class and was the only .30 shooter there. One other guy was fielding a 9mm carbine, but the remaining 8 were AR15’s. Every, single AR malfunctioned at least 2x, and some many more times. while I skated through the same drills and round count. I could’ t stop to see the nature of the malfunctions the AR guys were having, but it was happening to all of them.
I’m thinking that the failure rate of S/A M1A rifles probably isn’t any worse than firearms for other manufacturers.
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