Springfield Squad-Scout M1A

A Hoot To Shoot
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Duke’s M1A Squad Scout .308.

Over the past 40 years, I’ve encountered many Springfield Armory M1As. In the late 1970s, the first one I fired belonged to a friend — a Vietnam combat veteran. Upon his return to civilian life, he bought the rifle which he favored while “in-country.” Or bought the nearest he could come to available to American civilians. The U.S. M14 7.62mm NATO was his pick of fighting rifles while in Vietnam but since all M14 receivers have select-fire capability, they were prohibited for sale except for a limited number which could only be legally owned if registered with the BATF.

So my friend bought the semi-auto only M1A made by Springfield Armory. It closely duplicates the U.S. M14 but with no cuts in their receivers for full-auto fire. In fact, early in the company’s existence, their M1A used mostly surplus M14 parts fitted to their newly manufactured receivers. The M14 is only chambered for 7.62mm NATO, the military twin of the .308 Winchester, but some models have been chambered for .243 Winchester and even 7-08mm Remington.

The M1A ships with a 10-round magazine but military surplus 20-round magazines are commonly available.

Wishes Come True

Having found my friend’s M1A to be a hoot, naturally one was on my wish list. When it came, it was a standard model with a 22″ barrel, wood stock and peep rear sight. Several others of the same configuration have come and gone from my collection over the years but for some reason they didn’t stick. They were rather easy to sell when something else caught my fancy.

I even mounted a scope on one, albeit I don’t remember exactly which type at this late date. What I do remember is the scope and mount raised the rifle’s nominal weight from 9.5 lbs. with walnut stock to 11 lbs. Another thing I remember is it was deadly accurate. Anything as large as, say, a cantaloupe was easily hit on my 300-yard range if I had a rest. The weight of the scoped M1A ensured my shooting with it was only load development and plinking instead of trying it dard model with a 22″ barrel, wood stock and peep rear sight. Several others of the same configuration have come and gone from my collection over the years but for some reason they didn’t stick. They were rather easy to sell when something else caught my fancy.

I even mounted a scope on one, albeit I don’t remember exactly which type at this late date. What I do remember is the scope and mount raised the rifle’s nominal weight from 9.5 lbs. with walnut stock to 11 lbs. Another thing I remember is it was deadly accurate. Anything as large as, say, a cantaloupe was easily hit on my 300-yard range if I had a rest. The weight of the scoped M1A ensured my shooting with it was only load development and plinking instead of trying it on game. It was just too much to pack about Montana’s mountains.

As matters are bound to happen, my eyes aged along with the rest of me to the point peep sights became difficult. Therefore, a while back when perusing Springfield Armory’s website, I took special note of their Squad Scout M1A. Basically, it’s a standard model but fitted with only an 18″ barrel. What’s more, it also carries a Picatinny rail atop the handguard, meaning it could be fitted with a long-eye-relief “Scout” scope. A Leupold 1.5-4X Scout scope just happened to be sitting on my bench and enticed me enough to order one. Springfield Armory offers two Squad Scout options — wood stock with synthetic handguard or an all synthetic stock. Naturally my choice was walnut!

As with their standard full-length M1A, my Squad Scout came with sling swivels and a 10-round magazine although 20 rounders are commonly available. Of course one must obey his/her state’s laws as to magazine capacity but here in Montana, it’s “the more, the merrier.”

The butt plate is steel with a fold-up “door” covering a port for storing cleaning equipment. Its sights consist of fully adjustable rear peep combined with post front. In front of the latter is a muzzle brake. The front sight assembly is dovetailed to a barrel stud so it can also be drifted laterally for windage.

As indicated, my new Squad Scout M1A was quickly fitted with the Leupold scope. A nice touch is my scope mounts are quickly detachable so if the scope gives up the ghost, the iron sights are still usable.

Its length of pull is 13.25″, overall length is 40.5″ and metal finish is black Parkerizing. The stock has a pistol grip and is given an oiled finish. Rifling twist rate for all Springfield Armory M1A is one turn in 11″, which should do fine with bullets from 150 to 175 grains.

This is a typical five shot, 100-yard group from Duke’s scope mounted M1A Squad Scout rifle.

Rebellious Rifle

Mine chose to be contrary. It’s okay with any of several 150/155 grain factory loads with groups being in the 2″ to 3″ range. However, both factory and handloads with 165- to 168-grain bullets shot better. Some 100-yard five-shot groups were just barely over one inch.
For a standard load, I’ve settled on 168-grain Sierra or Hornady HPBT bullets over 42.0 grains of Hodgdon’s Varget powder. Brass and large rifle primers are both by Winchester. Velocity from the 18″ barrel is about 2,450 to 2,500 fps depending on day fired.

There are two things a handloader must remember in preparing loads for an M1A. First, a small-base resizing die might be needed as semi-autos slam cases about. I’ve had M1A rifles that would accept cases resized in a normal die and others that needed small-base die sizing. Another factor is overall cartridge length. It’s seldom a problem for my bolt action .308 Winchester but important for a detachable-magazine rifle. Simply stated, cartridges too long won’t fit in the magazine. Government specs for 7.62mm NATO is overall cartridge length of 2.810″. Lyman’s latest manual gives 2.800″ for some bullets, down to only 2.775″ for others.

Having hunted feral hogs in Texas on more than one occasion, I think something like this Squad Scout .308 might be the ideal rifle for them. It’s accurate at a distance, fast-firing if a herd of hogs is encountered and at 10 lbs. is not too awfully heavy for short jaunts.

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