I absolutely love this rifle. It will always be my first choice, always. However, I am going to try my hardest to point out both the pros and cons of this rifle because I know this rifle is not good at everything in every situation (i.e, long distance precision shooting), even though I like to think so.
“Why is this so expensive?”
Is what I hear from my customers, and sometimes even people I personally know, every time a Springfield M1A is mentioned.
Let me start off by saying this: this has been my dream rifle since I was 18. I recently, FINALLY bought the one you see pictured above (well technically it was a Christmas gift from my unofficial fiance, but you get the idea)!
I have fired them plenty of times before actually owning one myself and I’ve never, ever had problems with any of them, no matter the model.
The one pictured (is the one I will be referring to throughout this post), is an 18″ barrel length with a generously thick rubber padded buttstock, a 3″ muzzle break, 40″ overall length in a synthetic stock and a picatinny rail. Overall weight is around 9lbs.
This rifle makes me want to chug black coffee and make bacon my staple food while wearing an American flag for an outfit. It’s got that strong of a patriotic vibe to it, even just looking at it in person.
“But how does it actually feel to shoot?”
Wonderfully. It’s hard to imagine why it costs so much until you actually get to squeeze the trigger, and the you kind of go through an “A-ha!” moment, and then you’re hooked. If you’re looking for a rifle that will always please the crowd, always have people asking questions, will always be a pleasure to shoot and deliver a rewarding, fun experience, THIS is the rifle. If you’re worried about recoil, don’t be. The rubber buttpad immensely helps – most of my experience with the M1A’s are the 16″ models with the Trijicon night sights, and that one sports a tougher recoil for me. That model in particular has a thin metal buttplate and it all kind of just rams into your shoulder. I’ll still pop off rounds, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll feel it the next day for sure. (Then again, it’s likely that I’m a bit smaller than most people that choose to own and shoot this rifle).
(P.E) This 18″ Scout model is wonderful, it really manages the recoil and the rubber buttpad proves to make it twice as enjoyable. I can focus on my shooting with the 18″ model better than the 16″ model. I am more comfortable with my Scout than I was with previous models.
(Fact) Some people may choose the 18″ model over the 16″ model simply because the Scout packs a much harder punch due the added velocity from the extra 2″ of barrel length. But that will end up turning into a science lesson as anything can affect ballistics, even humidity, especially depending on where you live. If you want to pack an extra punch than definitely lean towards the Scout model, so that’s something to think about as well.
The Scout model also has excellent eye relief on the iron sights as well (and my eyesight is rather awful and I don’t wear glasses, so it’s a really awesome perk for me). The front blade sight, unlike a lot of the 16″ models that come with the Trijicon night sights, doesn’t completely cover the target which again really aids shooters with less than perfect vision. The ghost rings make for quick target acquisitions and less guesswork – and they’re classic so they look totally nostalgic!
The other awesome thing about the sights is that the rear sights have tool-less adjustable for both up and down, and left and right. Which makes dialing in out of the box amazingly simple.
I would like to talk about reliability as well, but that would require a torture test. I treat my M1A like a newborn child and I am not going to do that with mine (BOO LAME! I know, sorry). I’ll just say it’s the most reliable, durable battle rifle to date, in all of history. It will not be fussy with ammo, it doesn’t care if it’s dirty, it doesn’t care if you drop it, it will still run when it gets wet and you don’t have to clean it. Robust, beastly, reliable, period. If you were looking at this rifle to see if it was reliable, the short answer is most definitely. If you want to see some action, scan through YouTube for a bit and you’ll find tons of great videos of it in action.
“BUT WAIT — Isn’t the receiver made in Canada AND made of cast-iron??”
Short Answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Yes, although I don’t see how this really determines someone’s decision to decide against purchasing this rifle. Oh Neutral Canada, our long time friend and ally. They aren’t a communist country and they aren’t a 3rd or 2nd world country where quality control could be an issue.
“HOLD ON — I heard they crack! I mean it is cast-iron don’t dodge the question!”
(Fact) After a few hours of research I found out that the people complaining about “cracked” receivers are people that are buying Norinco or other copies of “M1A”‘s, and even some that have bought some seriously heavily used ones that saw some time through the military.
And with some more research (I do lots of it), I found out that you can run about 350,000, (more or less) rounds through the gun before you will actually see any fault in the receiver. It is estimated that you will probably go through around 3-4 barrels before you even see any wear on your receiver. (*I will attach the source to my findings on the bottom of this post if you want to read into deeper details about it. It’s quite interesting, you should check it out).
So tell me, are you really going to spend $15k a year on ammunition for ONE rifle to find out if your receiver will crack? I know I won’t.
HOWEVER, I have discovered that you can purchase a forged steel receiver that you can find floating around the internet vs. the stock casted iron it comes with. If the casted iron really makes you go “ew I hate that”, there is always that option. But in all seriousness – why bother. You have a LIFETIME, “limited” (but not transferable between ownership) warranty from Springfield and they absolutely fix major factory-defect problems FREE of cost (unless it was your fault, of course). So really. Why bother. You probably won’t even have to use it, anyway. It’s quite likely that this firearm will outlive you, especially if you are a meticulous caretaker of your firearms like myself. But – yes, I am a bit disappointed they couldn’t do better on the warranty for such a pricey rifle, but at least it is lifetime I suppose.
I typically wouldn’t even bring this up but it is insanely common for me to hear this in my storefront. Think about this – there’s a reason that the bare-bones, as-is GI stock does not have a rail on the bottom. Why is that? Good question. The rifle was designed to be able to prop it on top of anything you come across and use that for your makeshift bipod. Trees/logs, rocks, sandbags, your friends (don’t do that please), whatever, it was meant pull up and rest it on top of anything you can find and fire it that way. They never really built it with the intention for someone to stand up and fire from the shoulder with it. This rifle was built for defensive fire behind cover.
I’m not saying it’s impossible to shoot it any other way and you can’t do that at all, but that’s what it’s general purpose was designed for.
If you were planning to take this rifle to a three-gun competition match, this isn’t the best choice. But anyone from casual target shooters, to hunters, to collectors enjoy this rifle very much. It is great for general purpose, and it it absolutely exceeds as a scout rifle. I chose this rifle in particular because I wanted a scout setup and this surpasses my expectations by miles for what I wanted out of it, it was exactly what I wanted plus more.
I’m a 120 pound-ish girl that occasionally goes to the gym when I feel like it. I have no problems going through a whole magazine firing from the shoulder while standing, kneeling, resting or lying prone.
“It’s not all that accurate.”
True and false. I’m not going to go too deep into this part of the topic because there’s just not that much to say about it and there’s already tons of information about this out there already.
If you want to run just iron sights, you’re going to have a hard time running long distances and getting satisfying groupings although possible.
If you want to run an optic, that’s a different story. You can get better groupings and of course stretch it’s legs quite a bit further.
All in all, it’s what I like to call “combat accurate”. If you have been scanning the different models you have probably seen the “precision” setups they send them out in. It’s really just sitting in the Archangel aftermarket stock you can purchase yourself, which is a decent stock I have used on my old Mini-14. It does help a little bit, but don’t expect to be able to get dime-sized groupings at 300+ yards with it, either. But I often hear complaints about how the gun doesn’t get pin-hole accuracy or how it can’t “stack bullets”.
It’s a piston driven rifle – it’s not meant to “stack bullets” in the same hole, it’s meant to stop the threat and get the job done. Or for you hunters, effectively dropping your target and bagging it. It was never originally built to be a sniper rifle, it kind of ended up getting mislabeled by the market to be such. If you’re looking for a precision rifle to key-hole your target at 500 yards, this is NOT the rifle. Do not be disappointed when you take this rifle out to discover it may not be able to meet that expectation if that is your expectation (See: Ruger Precision Rifle if that’s what you want). This rifle gets groupings that are tight enough for a center mass kill-shot between about 50- 300 yards.
I am not going to get into optics on this post as there are many, many options out there and I just don’t have the funds to go buy all of them and test them (maybe one day I will, but until then I can only dream). There are tons of different setups, magnifications, adjustments, etc and all of it really boils down to personal liking and what you plan on using it for. The only thing I can suggest at the moment is take the power to you and do some independent research on it. But I guarantee you will find many complaints from people who don’t know how to mount optics or choose the appropriate one for their rifle complaining that it sucks, so be wary with some reviews. Wish I could do better by you here, but fortunately I am only here to tell you more about the rifle itself as a whole.
A four word personal preference: I don’t like optics. I probably will not run an optic of any sort on my M1A for a while (which is why I am not going to do a paper test on this post), and most people probably won’t either if they plan on coughing up the $1k+ for just the rifle upfront, not including the optic or the appropriate mounts/rings etc – at least not for awhile after spending that kind of cash. You’re probably wondering if you can get away with running irons for a while before you can save up for that optic you’ve been eyeing. The answer is absolutely. But in reality, I know it cannot reach it’s full potential as a scout rifle without one and even I, an optic-hater, can state that as a fact. If you are an optics person, or plan on using this rifle for hunting or long distance, there’s huge advantages to running one on this rifle over just iron sights and there’s just no reason out there not to mount an optic to the rifle. Seriously, I hate optics and you will always see me shooting without one. I don’t even like red dots and I can say that this rifle will RULE with the right optic. And for you hunters, I highly recommend an optic on this rifle unless you’re feeling ballsy which is cool too!
It CAN group, and I would consider it to be average groupings. At any distance, all rifles will spread out, some more so than others, and that also depends on who is behind the trigger as well and many other factors too.
This gun only performs as well as it’s shooter, and it’s equipment if you decided to run an optic. Don’t blame this rifle for your inability to get a grouping at the appropriate distance. It’s not the gun – it’s you (and possibly your equipment). And it’s breaking up with you if use this excuse. Learn your rifle!
Moving forward, this rifle is worth the money because it will outlive you, never fail you, nostalgic as ever, totally Americana, decent accuracy, fun as Hell to shoot and just all around rewarding.
*Receiver Life (Scroll to post #13 – most informative)
*Warranty Info straight from Springfield Armory’s website
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