First designed to replace the M1 Garand, the Springfield M1A didn’t truly prove its strength and precision until the Korean war. While the civilian model is not the same gun that the troops carried through the steamy jungles of Vietnam and brutal Korean winters it is close enough and a beautiful piece of machinery.
Death from a distance. This is not a machine designed for close quarters fighting. I started out at twenty-five yards before I walked it back to fifty. I was still getting accuracy with iron sights from over 100 yards away. I can only imagine what sort of ability this weapon would get with a decent scope. Seeing the 7.62 NATO rounds doing damage to my targets, I know this gun struck fear in the hearts of America’s enemies in past wars.
The army builds things solid. That is a double-edged sword. Good if you are firing a gun they created, and bad if you have ever had to sleep in one of their beds. This rifle is heavy, but it held up to a solid day of work on the range. I experienced no misfires or feed failures in all the time I used it. I would not be averse to bringing this weapon next time I went deer hunting. If it can stand up to the green hell, it can stand just about anything. (However, I still prefer something else for smaller game.)
There is nothing like a trip to the past to make you appreciate modern conveniences. My AR-15 has spoiled me rotten. The M1A is longer than I am used to, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t get used to it. I feel this gun is more suited to a stable shooter that likes to sit in a tree blind for hours looking for the perfect buck. If you are like me and hate sitting still there is a nifty little sling fitting perfect for the long carry.
The M1A doesn’t have a hair trigger and I am even more grateful for it. With a light up take to a solid trigger break, it differs from my normal rifle, but I got used to it. The trigger pull weight is six pounds, which feels just right. Just enough to make sure without sacrificing accuracy.
Length and Weight
Did I mention this thing is heavy? If there is any flaw I can find it is that. Weighing around eight pounds it is not something you want to aim for too long. It is also rather long. It is a little longer than the previous M1 Garand. While the extra length gives it accuracy, it can also make it unwieldy for the smaller shooter. While this gun is perfect for extensive range fighting on the battlefield or for sniping an unaware deer, I would look elsewhere for a self-defense gun.
Magazine and Reloading
There is the right way, the wrong way, and the army way. The Springfield borrows from its M1 Garand forebearer and uses a lever in front of the trigger as a safety. To reload, you will need to press this lever to release the magazine. This is not as intuitive as pressing a button to release itself, but not impossible. I learned fast enough. The gun came with a ten round magazine which is plenty for your hunting. Still, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to go modern.
This was a surprising area for me. I am used to having a powerful rifle come at the cost of sore shoulders the next day. It appears some engineers also got tired of this because using this rifle was pain free. It features several cool innovations to do this. First, there is a flapper panel on the butt. This allows the M1A to rest securely and prevents it from jumping up. Second, the gas driven semi-auto action takes away more of the bite. Third, once again this gun is heavy. All that weight keeps it from going anywhere. If you want a light gun, I have other recommendations.
Why does everything cool have to be so expensive? Priced at around $2,000 this gun is proof that quality costs. Sadly, that is why the army pulled them from the inventory. If I had the money, I would buy this historical treasure. If you just can’t pry your wallet open that far I would consider a survival gun that you can love enough to make it your main gun.
I am both a gun nut and history buff, and I love this rifle. Perfect for the person who doesn’t need that second bullet but enjoys having it. It functions both to show off at the range and bring home whatever you are hunting. If you can handle both the weight and the price, I highly recommend this gun.
Richard Douglas is a long time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field. Columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller and other publications.