A rifle that makes a statement
By Massad Ayoob
Issue #45 • May/June, 1997
I take the Springfield Armory rifle out of the box, and savor it. I seldom do that with guns, but a Springfield Match grade M1A will make a connoisseur out of anyone who knows their rifles.
The M1A is a reincarnation of the M-14 7.62mm NATO military rifle that became this nation’s standard and saw our country midway through the Vietnam conflict before it was replaced with the M-16. In the match grade, it is more accurate than many bolt action hunting rifles. They are used, sometimes with iron sights instead of telescopic sights, at 1,000 yards. That’s right. One thousand yards.
The last one of these I had was the M-21 sniper version. It would put every round of Federal Match Grade 168-grain hollowpoint .308 Winchester ammunition (.308 Winchester is the civilian designation for 7.62mm NATO) into a group measuring about an inch and a half at two hundred yards. Being semiautomatic, it would fire as fast as the trigger could be pulled.
I sold that fine rifle to someone who could make more use of it. At the time, I didn’t shoot rifle competition and felt no need to reach out a long distance with great precision and immediate repeatability.
Now, I find myself going to the cabin on vacations and taking with me a rifle instead of the shotgun I keep at my home in the city. In a rural situation, home defense is more likely to involve those inside having to engage those outside, often at considerable distances. A precision-shooting .308 semiautomatic rifle is the ideal tool for that mission.
For many years now, Springfield Armory has been in the forefront of those in the industry fighting legislation that would prevent law-abiding American citizens from owning certain firearms. Since it fires only one shot at a time, the Springfield does not fit a semantically correct definition of an “assault rifle.” Its rugged construction and inherent accuracy makes it suitable for hunting, so long as its 20-round magazine doesn’t exceed game law limits.
In the Kalahari Desert in 1987, I took the magazine out of my other M1A and hunted with it as a single shot, with only the one cartridge in the chamber. I shot a handsome Springbok at some 350 yards. The M1A’s accuracy speaks for itself.
Springfield Armory has a promotion going that they call “the loaded M1A.” Through May 1 of 1997, you can buy one of these rifles through a participating dealer and save up to $579 on accessories. Each rifle comes with a carbon steel barrel, a trigger fine-tuned to a 4 pound 12 ounce press, and a flash suppressor, all National Match grade. The flash suppressor, forbidden under the Clinton Crime Bill, is legal because it was manufactured prior to the ban. Similarly grandfathered are the three twenty-round magazines, which can’t be manufactured for civilians any more but are legal in this case because, again, they are pre-ban. I ordered mine with the stainless steel barrel option and third-generation telescopic sight mount.
What’s a rifle like this doing in a rural cabin? It has the power you need for deer, moose, elk, or bear, so long as there is short enough a magazine in it to conform to the game laws. It also has the power that neutralizes vehicles with judicious shot placement.
But, you know what else? Springfield making this “best buy” available is their way of making a statement, a statement that a law-abiding citizen should be able to own any firearm he or she wants, within reason.
The M1A is definitely within reason. Owning it responsibly is silent proof that you’re not the kind of whacko who climbs the Texas Tower and starts shooting at people. It’s silent proof instead that you know your rights, exercise your rights, protect your rights, and don’t trample the rights of others.
At a time in America when too many people try to make legislation make up for lack of human values, and too many people demonize segments of society for possessing things that the lightweights fear, I appreciate Springfield Armory making this low-cost package of a truly fine firearm available to the citizenry at remarkably low cost.
I haven’t fired a shot with it yet, but my new rifle already means a lot to me. It’s not just a piece of steel and walnut. It’s not just a gun.
It’s a statement…a statement about the values of a free and independent people.