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.