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Springfield Armory SOCOM 16: First Look, First Shots

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Article first appeared at Cheaperthatdirt.com

Cheaperthandirt – The SOCOM 16 adapts. Springfield Armory has consistently refined its M1A platform to suit long-range competitive match shooters, operators who want more caliber, and hunters wanting a reliable, rugged, accurate rifle. The new SOCOM 16 is even more adaptable and leaps into the 21st century. It’s a rifle that is modular, adaptable, and customizable, and it runs with the heart of an M1A.

Guest post by Robert A Sadowski

Springfield SOCOm 16 rifle on tan shooting mat

The new SOCOM 16 offers a level of customization and modularity not previously seen with the M1A platform.

Prior to the 2016 SHOT Show, I was shipped a model AA9611PK. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that I am a fan of the M1A platform. My only complaints are the fixed stock and heavy weight. The new AA9611PK not only addresses these issues, it does it in a way we modern shooters expect. We expect to be able to customize our rifles with aftermarket parts. We expect a variety of sight and optic choices. We expect a lot, and the new SOCOM 16 delivers.

First off, the old-school M14 dudes might wince at the non-traditional pistol-grip stock. It is an Archangel chassis that not only trims the weight of the SOCOM, it also trims the overall length. The exterior is flat-black polymer. At the shoulder end is a five-position adjustable CQB buttstock. Part of the issue with the M1A was the fixed stock.

Performance

Springfield Armory SOCOM 16

.308 Winchester Velocity (FPS) Best Accuracy (in.) Average Accuracy (in.)
Hornady Steel Match 155-grain BTHP 2,400 1.0 1.5
Black Hills Gold 168-grain A-MAX 2,440 2.1 2.25
Hornady Match 178-grain BTHP 2,390 2.2 2.5

Velocity data was collected using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle and accuracy for three-shot groups at 100 yards.

For some shooters kitted up with gear or wearing heavy clothing, the rifle was difficult to fire comfortably. The adjustable stock not only alleviates that situation, it also fits the rifle to a variety of shooter statures. It also features a rubber buttpad and a cheek riser. The cheek riser helps get a solid cheekweld on the stock, which is important for long-range shooting, and you will soon see what the platform is capable of out to 100 yards.

Vortex Venom reflex red dot sight on SPringfield SOCOM 16 rifle

The Vortex Venom reflex red dot gives the SOCOM 16 the ability for fast target acquisition.

If you want to swap out the stock, you can choose any other aftermarket AR stock. The rear of the chassis is built like a buffer tube. There is no denying that the pistol grip is atypical, and no doubt it is comfortable to shoot. The Archangel pistol grip flares out at the bottom and is serrated on the front and rear straps for plenty of hold when the SOCOM starts barking. It also has a storage compartment for batteries and small tools.

The stock will take any aftermarket AK grip—another plus for shooters who like to customize their gear. The stock has three Picatinny rails attached, two three-slot rails on either side of the forend and one seven-slot on the bottom. Want to add vertical grips, a tactical light, or laser? The new SOCOM can. The magazine well is also a gaping mouth ready to suck in magazines. It ships with a 10-round magazine but is compatible with five- and 20-round mags.

The iron sights on the SOCOM 16 have always been top-notch, adjustable, enlarged military aperture with front tritium. It has a forward rail to mount a magnified, long-eye-relief, scout-style scope. This SOCOM 16 also has a Vortex Venom red dot reflex sight that uses a Springfield Armory clip guide mount, which places the red dot at the perfect height and distance while not interfering when the rotary bolt ejects empty brass. At 25 yards offhand, the red dot was fast and accurate. The perforated muzzlebrake tamed the recoil and muzzle rise. I easily smashed a few magazines of clay pigeons like I had been shooting the rifle for years. Distance, though, is the key.

Muzzlebreak on Springfield SOCOM 16 rifle

The perforated muzzlebrake helps reduce muzzle rise and keep you focused on the target when shooting fast.

With an assortment of .308 Winchester cartridges—Hornady Steel Match 155-grain BTHP, Black Hills Gold 168-grain A-MAX and Hornady Match 178-grain BTHP—I put the SOCOM 16 through its paces using a rest. Though aiming a red dot at 100 yards is not exactly precision shooting, at 50 yards and under the 3-MOA dot offers fast, accurate shooting. At 100 yards, the dot is large. I assumed at 100 yards I’d experience different results. The 3 MOA placed on an 8-inch target provided a nice sight picture, a red center with a black donut outside edge.

With the rifle adjusted to me, it all came down to trigger work. The SOCOM 16 has a two-stage military trigger. After taking up the light first stage, the second stage proved to be nice with about a 5½-pound pull weight. The rifle was comfortable to shoot. Accuracy averaged 1½ to 2½ inches with a three-shot groups. Nice.

The new SOCOM 16 offers an out-of-the-box rifle ready for defense work or hunting. I can’t think of a better round and setup for feral pigs, deer, or black bears. The adjustable stock means it’s easier and more convenient to take in and out of a vehicle and store. The sight package is a nice setup. The SOCOM 16 adapts to how you want to shoot and the situation you are in and does it with a level of modularity and customization not seen previously in the M1A platform.

 
SPRINGFIELD ARMORY SOCOM 16, MODEL AA9611PK
Action Semiautomatic, long-stroke piston
Barrel Length 16.25 inches
Barrel Twist 1:11-inch
Caliber 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester
Overall Length 35.5 to 38.5 inches
Weight Unloaded 9.3 lbs. (empty)
Sights Adj. military aperture/Vortex Venom red dot
Stock Adj. polymer w/pistol grip
Magazine 10-round magazine
Finish Matte black

The author gave Springfield’s SOCOM 16 CQB high marks backed up by plenty of data. Will it be your next heavy hitter? Share your experience or opinion in the comment section.

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