The Guns I Own: The Springfield SOCOM16

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.

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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.