Editor’s Note: Each week until he runs out of guns, Dave will be writing about each of the different firearms in his collection here on The Gun Nut. This is the first.
When I reported for basic training in 1963, the Army was just phasing out of the M-1 (Garand) and into the M-14, which was an improved Garand. The M-14 lasted only 4 years as a general-issue infantry rifle before it was supplanted by the M-16. However, it continues to see specialized use with the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Its range, penetrating power and reliability are superior to those of the M-16, and there are still places where these qualities are highly useful. New ones–called M1As–are made by Springfield Armory of Genesco, IL., at very high prices.
Springfield’s most recent M1A wrinkle is an evil-looking firearm called the SOCOM 16. SOCOM stands for “special operations commander,” and the 16 refers to the fact that this rifle–actually, a carbine–has a barrel that’s just over 16 inches long, which is the shortest length rifle barrel you can own without the ATF coming to have a talk with you.
It’s heavy (9 pounds plus), all black (courtesy of a fiberglass stock) and evil-looking. It is a rifle of no redeeming social value, and it’s a ball to shoot. There’s almost no recoil, courtesy of the gun’s weight, a recoil suppressor that keeps the muzzle from jumping, and the fact that the 7.62mm NATO cartridge for which its chambered doesn’t kick much anyway.
All I have to do is lay hold of this anti-social little powerhouse and I’m once again a 22-year-old Private E-2 squad leader, shivering my ass off on the cinder track in front of the World War II-era barracks that housed November Company, 4th Tng Rgt., Ft. Dix, NJ. Believe me, you can buy lots of fun for $1,700.