September 23, 2010
By J. Scott Rupp
Okay, not to date myself, but when I was in the Army and had the opportunity to shoot Service Rifle in NRA Highpower competition for a summer, it was with an M14. While my infantry training revolved around the M16, that design hadn't yet come into its own in competitive circles, and the M14 was still firmly entrenched.
And I loved it. I loved tilting those big, boxy magazines into the mag well and feeling them click into place. I loved pulling back on the op rod and hearing and feeling that heavy bolt slam home. I loved the two-stage trigger and the micrometer aperture sight.
The M14 and its civilian M1A counterpart have faded from the Service Rifle scene (although there are matches held just for them). But great designs don't die. They just find new ways to be useful.
A few years ago, engineers at Springfield Armory developed a shortened version of the M14 with a retuned gas system for the military, the civilian version of which became the SOCOM 16 (SOCOM is an acronym for Special Operations Command). Designers then took that rifle, added some rails, and the SOCOM II was born.
The gun isn't exactly new, so why are we reviewing it here? It has a new stock. Instead of heavy and slow-to-produce fiberglass, the company now uses an injection-molded stock that is not only stronger but a full pound lighter as well. Its dimensions and "extras" such as the hinged metal buttplate and button-latch storage compartment are unchanged.
The SOCOM II version I received for testing has an extended top rail for mounting optics. That's a real selling point for me because I like to experiment with optics, and the mounting latitude the extended rail provides is perfect for that. The sights are from XS Sights: an aperture rear and a tritium-insert front blade.
The SOCOM II features six-inch slotted rails at three and nine o'clock and a 10-inch rail section underneath. These rails also give you options for affixing a sling to the rifle.
I first started the rifle with a Trijicon 1-4x24, the scope shown in the photos. I can't think of a better option for a rig like this for all-around shooting--short range or long--and the battery-free illuminated aiming post makes a great choice in low light at any practical distance.
For the accuracy portion of the test, I switched to a Weaver Grand Slam 3-10x40. In previous reviews I'd seen, people were testing the gun at 50 yards, but I had more faith in the SOCOM than that. While I didn't set the world on fire, I thought the rifle shot quite well--especially considering the rifle's design puts most optics too high to get a good check weld.
And while I do still love that big ol' military two-stage trigger, it's a little on the heavy side for precision shooting. According to my Lyman digital scale, this one breaks at six pounds, four ounces but has surprisingly little creep.
Then I mounted a new red dot I'd been wanting to play with: the Insight Miniature Red Dot Sight (MRDS). That's when the fun began. Once I'd zeroed the sight, I set to ringing gongs out to 200 yards with ease--300 when I really hunkered down--as well as running some fast-action drills up close. The red dot made for a lively-handling rig, and it seemed like the right pairing for defensive use.
The extended top rail version of the SOCOM II makes it perfect for affixing optics such as this Trijicon 1-4x24, mounted in Weaver 6-Hole Picatinny rings.
The cluster rail group has sections at three, six and and nine o'clock The brake cuts muzzle rise.
While the rails are great for accessories, I didn't particularly care for the bottom rail extending back to where I place my support hand in most firing positions. It wasn't unbearable, and it didn't rip flesh or anything, but I'd prefer a little different configuration for the way I shoot.
There were only two malfunctions, both with Winchester Power Points, in which empties became lodged under the top rail just forward of the ejection port.
Other than that, it was smooth sailing and about as much fun shooting as you can have--thanks to the gun's overall weight and the muzzle brake, which tames muzzle jump almost completely and makes it a real sweetheart to shoot.
If you're looking for a defense rifle that delivers .308 power in a short, maneuverable package or have a hankering for a fun, handy rifle to have around, the SOCOM II could be just what you're looking for.
Gun services provided by Turners Outdoorsman. Range facilities provided by Angeles Ranges.
The SOCOM II's stock is now an injection-molded synthetic, so it's lighter and stronger.
|Accuracy Results | Springfield SOCOM II|
|.308 Winchester||Bullet Weight (gr.)|| Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Standard Deviation||Avg. Group (in.)|
|Federal Federal Sierra MatchKing || 168 || 2,409 || 18.8 || 1.14 |
|Hornady A-Max|| 168 || 2,488 || 9.0 || 1.92 |
| HornadyInterLock BTSP|| 150 || 2,418 || 11.9 || 2.17 |
|Winchester Power Point|| 150 || 2,518 || 17.5 || 2.67 |
|Average accuracy is the average of three three-shot groups fired at 100 yards off a Caldwell rest. Velocity was the average of nine shots measured on a CED M2 chronograph set 12 yards from the muzzle. Abbreviation: BSTP, boattail spire point |