I have spent the last few weeks testing a new Springfield M1A, the semi-auto, civilian version of the military M14.
The M14 was the military replacement for the M1 Garand. It was replaced by the M16. But its story does not end there. Since the beginning of the war in the Middle East the M14 has come back in a big way.
First the Special Forces guys started carrying them for long-range work, at which it excelled. Eventually there was an M14 to be found in almost every Special Forces team. They have become so desired that there are no longer any M14s in the armories; they are all out in the field, doing what they do so well – fighting wars.
I wanted to test the M1A for very personal reasons. During the late 1980s, when the Border Patrol was finally starting a search for a real, combat-worthy, long-arm to replace the pathetic little Remington Model 760 pumps that were the only long-guns that we had for many years, they acquired a bunch of M14s, probably from the Marine Corps. These guns were put in our armories and issued to the agents on the line, as needed. I carried one many a mile along the Rio Grande, and felt much safer because of it. Then finally they were pulled from service and replaced with Ruger Mini-14s, and finally with M16s, and now with M4 carbines. I always felt that the bigger M14s were the better weapon, but I admit that the lighter guns were much easier to carry, and that most of the agents neglected the heavier weapons.
Well, I got in touch with Springfield Armory and requested an M1A for test and evaluation. First I went to the bench and sighted the big battle rifle in at 100 yards. I was amazed at the accuracy that was possible with the peep-sights with which the gun was equipped. 2-inch groups were commonplace and even with my old eyes I occasionally managed to put three shots into an inch.
Not only was the big gun accurate, it was dependable. So far I have not had a failure. That is saying a lot since I have, purposely, refrained from cleaning the gun, trying to see how long it would go before it began to falter. I may never find out. After several hundred rounds it still runs like a Swiss watch.
There is no reason that a battle rifle not to be used for hunting. This has been going on since George Washington, and before. The 1903 Springfield, the 1917 Enfield, and the 1892 .30-40 Krag, are perfect examples of this.
If you want a deer rifle that can also double as a combat/self-defense weapon, get one. I suggest the M1A. With an M1A and a few 20 round magazines you will be ready for absolutely any situation that may raise its head. This is a powerful, accurate, dependable rifle.