Some time ago, I began upgrading my on duty gear by a great degree. During the war on terror, and the war on drugs, peace officers often faced heavily-armed felons willing to shoot it out with peace officers. Working in a rural environment, where every household it seemed had a scope-mounted rifle, also colored my choices. The primary focus was people passing through, and I worked a pipeline of drug smuggling.
The dynamics of the incidents I survived were little different than those faced by urban officers, and the rifle never came into play. Just the same, it would not have been wise to not be prepared on a level playing field. In common with Washington State Police at the time, and the LAPD a little earlier, I began with a Winchester .30-30 WCF rifle in the trunk. Later, I tried the SKS rifle and then the Colt HBAR. Each had its points.
While I subscribe to the one-shot one-hit paradigm sometimes one doesn’t do it and sometimes the shot misses. Having to work a bolt or lever is ridiculous when quality self-loading rifles are available. The availability of a hard hitting .308 caliber self-loader made for the ideal patrol rifle.
Although I have long been retired, if I were back in the saddle today and working the same area, I would deploy the Springfield M1A .308 rifle. This hard hitting rifle is hell on barricades and would be a good roadblock gun. The .223 rifle’s frangible bullets make it a good urban choice but not so good for rural use. If humanely putting down large domestic and wild animals that have ran afoul of trucks and cars are a duty—common in rural areas—the .308 looks even better.
The 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge will successfully engage subjects behind cover or while wearing heavy body armor. The .308 will cut through two vehicle doors, and still exhibit excellent wound potential. I once personally experienced a .45 ACP bullet bouncing off tempered door glass when it hit the glass at a severe angle. On another occasion, a .41 Magnum 210-grain load penetrated a door, struck the heavy metal backing of a 1970s Chrysler front seat, and bounced upward and through the roof.
This should not occur with the .308 Winchester. The .308 beats all handguns, .223 rifles, and shotgun slugs for penetration and accuracy. Pistol caliber carbines are a poor choice for police work, but I suppose they are a useful expedient for half-trained individuals.
The history of the M1A is interesting. The U.S. Army adopted the M14 rifle after the Korean War with the rifle officially adopted in the later 1950s. It was in some ways an historic upgrade of the successful M1 Garand rifle but with a 20-round box magazine. The M14 is chambered for the .308 Winchester. The .308 Winchester 7.62x51mm NATO is a rimless .300 Savage or a short .30-06 Springfield depending on your source.
This was a rifle that was termed a battle rifle in the day. Heavy but powerful, the M14 was designed for European warfare, and to handle human wave attacks as we faced in Korea. The AR-15 rifle replaced the M14, but that is another story. In the early 1960s, Springfield Armory—the military branch not the modern company that bears the name—produced a number of match grade M14 rifles. These rifles were match-type rifles without the selector switch or the possibility of being converted to fully automatic fire. They used Garand internal parts hence the M1A designation.
This is the rifle the Springfield Armory M1A1 rifle is based on. With good accuracy, real power, and a 20-round magazine, the rifle gives a trained shooter many options. Lets face it, when intervening cover of even moderate resistance is present, the .223 simply doesn’t cut it. Structural members, or even heavy glass, will defeat the .223 but not the .308.
If you love the AR-15’s ergonomics, the M1A may not endear itself to you at first. The safety is located in the front of the trigger guard and must be pressed forward with the firing finger, and while it works fine with practice it requires acclimation. The magazine change is also different. The rearward rocking motion, after insertion, locks the magazine in place. To remove the mag, the magazine release is actuated, and the magazine rocked forward.
|Caliber||7.62 NATO (.308)|
|Overall Length||38 to 41 inches, Scout and SOCOM rifles|
|Sights||Military post and aperture|
|Capacity||10- or 20-round box mag|
|Trigger||5- to 6-pound, two-stage military|
One of my M1A rifles is fitted with the EOTech HWS. This red dot is among the finest and most proven ever fielded. It makes for fast hits and excellent accuracy. I have learned to use the chin weld versus the cheek weld and visibility is excellent. The other rifle is fitted with a Leatherwood Hi-Lux riflescope. This scope features a long eye relief, as the scope must be mounted ahead of the receiver. For precision shooting, this is the ticket. Then again, the EOTech also is very accurate. The rifle has many choices, but be certain to get the mission down pat before you purchase expensive optics.
When I have the time to load, the Hornady 155-grain A Max and 40.5 grains of H4895 for 2,400 fps is a great overall loading. Accurate, and with a bullet well suited to taking medium game, I like this combination. For serious deployments, the Hornady Black is a good choice. This loading uses the 168-grain A Max. This has been an accurate combination that I find ideally suited to many tasks. Remember, garbage in garbage out. Feed your rifle good stuff.
What is your favorite load for the M1A? Do you use it for hunting, self-defense, or target shooting? Submit your answers in the comment section.
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