Unless you're a military buff or a highpower competition shooter of a certain age, you may not know a whole lot about the M1A. It's the semiauto civilian version of the M14, a rifle that marked time between the M1 Garand and the AR-15 as the U.S. service rifle, and it introduced the 7.62x51 cartridge—which sporting enthusiasts know as the .308 Winchester.
My exposure to the M1A came one summer when I got to shoot the highpower at the National Matches as part of the Army shooting team. They really only took me along so they had another grunt to work the target pits during the team matches, but I fell in love with the rifle—the feel of it, the accuracy of it, the fun of it.
But the M1A/M14 is not perfect, and one of its problems is caliber. While the .308 is legendary for its accuracy, it's no shrinking violet in the recoil department. Springfield Armory recognized this just like the military did half a century ago, and it recently brought out an M1A Loaded version in 6.5 Creedmoor.
The new chambering offers a ballistically superior cartridge with much-reduced recoil, which is why the 6.5 Creedmoor is the darling of the long-range crowd. The rifle weighs 11.4 pounds, thanks in part to the Archangel stock that's adjustable for comb height and length of pull. It's heavy, yes, but as a rifle intended for long range work—off a bipod, bags or some kind of field rest—it doesn't have to be light.
It features a 22-inch stainless steel National Match medium-weight barrel with a muzzle brake, and it comes with a National Match front post sight and a National Match adjustable rear sight. For my testing I borrowed Springfield steel M1A scope mount and installed a Nikon Black X1000 4-16x50mm scope.
Between the rifle weight, the mild-mannered cartridge and the muzzle brake, the M1A Loaded is a pussycat to shoot. Because of its light recoil, you can spot your own hits or misses on steel—important in many long-range events.
I logged a lot of range time with this new rifle and came away impressed with its accuracy. My full review will appear in the May/June issue of RifleShooter magazine.
For more information, visit www.springfield-armory.com.