Firearms

Springfield Armory SOCOM 16: First Look, First Shots

SOCOM 16 rifle with Flatwood target

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.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (22)

  1. Have had my SOCOM 16 for 4 months so far, have pushed through 500 rounds of store bought ammo, with 3.0 MOA with iron sights @ 100 yds. Have had good results, but last week I have updated to the Archangel stock, reloaded those spent 500 rounds and found after 3 sets of test reloads have determined what it likes to eat. Bullet weight and powder load. Now it shoot under 2.0 MOA @ 100 yds. Consistent rounds down range using reloads is the way to go,

  2. The Socom 16 is a successful M1A variant, this Archangel stock is a decent upgrade for those wanting a pistol grip. I prefer my CQB-16 type SEI in a pistol grip stock.

  3. have the socom II mounted the springfield mount and yes it is a bit heavy also mounted after market cheek piece that straps on with Velcro needed it for the scope mount it is a beast at the range really enjoy shooting it

  4. I’m aware of that mount. It will work on a SOCOM 16 but not on a SOCOM II because the VLTOR Quad Rail uses one of the three screw holes.

    The mount on this new rifle appears to only use the stripper clip guide.

    1. Oops – put this in the wrong spot. Please delete it, as I put it in the reply in the thread that I meant to.

  5. “STILL NOT COMPACT ENOUGH”

    Waffen (Arms)-Greger of Germany, makes a BAR II Bullpup Conversion. That’s JUST 31.5-inches long with a 22-inch Barrel, Chambered .30-06 (7.62×63.3mmR/Springfield)…

  6. Would have been nice to have had on of these when I was ‘humping the boonies’ . way back when during that little dust-up in VN. Carried a full size M-14. Better range, greater fire-power than the M-16s available at the time. The SA SOCOM in this configuration looks to be just about perfect. Though, I know it can’t be done for the civilian market, a folding bi-pod and select fire would make it the perfect patrol rifle.

    1. Depends on which .308 AR. For a direct impingment build, I would say that they are night and day.

      If I compare my SOCOM II to my SIG 716, it’s a much tougher call. Both are great rifles. The M1A has better mid to long range iron sights, and would be easier to clean out and keep functioning in the mud. The SIG 716 (AR platform) is quicker on mag changes and takes a scope better than the M1A SOCOM series. Barrel length and weight of the rifles are similar.

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

    *ahem*, M1A SOCOM II in a VLTOR mod-stock??

    Good review. I too, am a big fan of the M1A platform. I’ve made a 500 yard shot on a 18″ x 24″ steel plate at 500 yds with my SOCOM II with the CQB iron sights. While I like my standard M1A just fine, the smaller package of the SOCOM series is easier to use in close in situations, without sacrificing too much long range ability.

    Did Springfield give an indication if the scope mount would be available as an aftermarket part? I like it, but not enough to buy another M1A that is about the same as one that I own already.

    1. I have a Socom 16 and yes you can either use the forward mount or Springfield sells a scope mount that replaces the stripper feed guide and mounts with 2 screws. I would suggest some lock tite on them or recoil will cause them to back out over time.

    2. I’m aware of that mount. It will work on a SOCOM 16 but not on a SOCOM II because the VLTOR Quad Rail uses one of the three screw holes.

      The mount on this new rifle appears to only use the stripper clip guide.

  8. I got a chance to handle (but not shoot) one of these recently and overall I was impressed. Springfield has managed to modify an M1A into a CQB configuration about as well as such a thing can possibly be done. In my humble opinion this seems like a square peg/round whole type situation. When you chop down an M1A like this you’re giving up the primary advantage of the M1A platform, which is greater accuracy at longer than CQB ranges. I think that in its standard configuration the M1A is already just about perfect for its intended purpose. This seems like a solution in search of a problem.

  9. Excellent rifle, good report. That is possibly the most exciting rifle covered in CTD Shooters Log this year or the previous few months.

    1. @ R K Cambell.

      If you’re INTERESTED in .30-06 30-round Magazines for a Garand Rifle, consider OOW (Ohio Ordnance Works) M1918A3 Magazine’s. NOT CHEAP, ~$90.00 USD/Magazine (when in stock) and try SARCO for a Garand Conversion Kit (if they still have them). Or Try a 1st Generation (before 1959) Beretta BM-59 ParaStock. They were M1 .30-06 Garand Compatible…

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