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Don't underestimate the SOCOM

This is a discussion on Don't underestimate the SOCOM within the Accuracy forums, part of the M14 M1A Forum category; The SOCOM can get a bad rap in some circles for sub-par accuracy. With its shorter sight radius and fat, vague tactical sights intended for ...


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Old April 2nd, 2017, 02:14 PM   #1
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Don't underestimate the SOCOM

The SOCOM can get a bad rap in some circles for sub-par accuracy. With its shorter sight radius and fat, vague tactical sights intended for short-range tactical engagement, and given that the standard SOCOM v1 typically comes in a grotesquely weak plastic stock and is not available in a wooden stock, it is easy to question the initial groups you may get from a SOCOM out of the box. Combine that with the fact that most SAI rifles are poorly assembled/not fitted, with improper handguard clearance, no barrel tension, improper ferrule clearance, sloppy gas system fitment, loose barrel band, etc.....it is easy to lose confidence in the little guy. Further to the mix, due to sloppy tolerances of SAI parts and no proper factory fitment of accessories, many SOCOM v1 rifles will not have proper clearance between the aluminum SAI barrel-mounted forward "scout mount", and the forward inside portion of the operating rod.

For me, this all spelled 7"+ groups at 100 yards, and 4" groups at 50 yards, no matter what ammo or optic I tried. Shooting out at 300 yards was a guessing game and a joke. At first, I felt my new gun was a boat anchor and must have a defective barrel or some such. I was baffled.

After researching the topic for weeks, I slowly gathered some parts, the most crucial of which was a nice beefy Boyd's walnut stock, and all the necessary vintage USGI metal to build out that stock, especially the steel liner. I also got the proper shim kit for the gas system, and a proper gas system wrench from Sadlak.

After dropping my "defective" SOCOM into the awesomely tight, solid and well-made Boyd's stock loaded with the GI metal (all of which fit like a glove), I carefully clearanced the bottom inside of the stock's forearm forward of the strap mount, and the ferrule, with a dremel and round sanding barrel, so the gas system would not contact the ferrule or the inside bottom of the stock. I used sandpaper and a sanding block to clearance the bottom of the handguard away from the op rod and away from the stock, on both sides all along its length. I then shimmed the gas system which was also super-easy. I then took a dremel and relieved the alloy scout mount in areas where the op rod had been striking it, which was obvious where the black anodizing had been rubbed or knocked off by the op rod. No more op rod contact to the Scout mount after that, and I touched up the bare alloy with Birchwood casey Aluminum Black. Worked like a charm.

I doubt that I spent even two hours on this entire process. Took my time and enjoyed it. I reassembled the gun with an upgraded operating spring and a thick sadlak national match guide rod, while I was at it. All said and done, I had, for the first time....super-tight fitment of the action to the stock, smooth bolt/op rod action, no unwanted contact with the stock, barrel, op rod, or gas system, and one handsome little devil of a room-clearer.

Upon returning to the range, I was stunned. The mods worked way beyond my humble expectations. The gun was transformed. There was clearly NOTHING wrong with the accurate little barrel. At 50, 100 and 200 yards, the SOCOM is every bit as accurate as my walnut 18.5" scout, if not a little MORE accurate. After warm-up and sight-in, using a scout scope, the SOCOM was shooting inside 3/4" at 50 yards consistently, and inside 1.2" at 100 yards, if I did my part, using Hornady 168 grain boat tail hollow point factory loads. My 100 yard groups with that little Socom were better than the target of a gentleman sitting next to me with a full size Loaded and a 20x scope!

Do NOT underestimate the SOCOM. The only downfall of the gun is that SAI doesn't assemble and fit it right, the SAI plastic stock is utter rubbish, and it can typically be plagued with silly fitment issues out of the box. Don't sell your SOCOM, fix it! You WILL be rewarded, well beyond the effort you put into the process.

I liked this little guy so much after the initial stock and fitment upgrades, that I went the rest of the way and put USGI trigger parts and bolt guts in the gun, and now I have a USGI op rod on the way. She's a keeper, for the long haul!!! I am now every bit as confident shooting my SOCOM as I am with my Scout and my National Match, at the range.






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Last edited by MGSchindel; April 2nd, 2017 at 02:33 PM.
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Old April 2nd, 2017, 02:20 PM   #2
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Good job! Always nice to hear a story of success.

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Old April 2nd, 2017, 02:46 PM   #3
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MGSchindel, excellent look and excellent groups. Nice work. As soon as I get more time and $$ I will try to follow your footsteps.
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Old April 2nd, 2017, 02:52 PM   #4
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Excellent work!

Each time I've mentioned a SOCOM accuracy issue on the phone with SAI I always get the same general answer "We do not accurize the rifle before it leaves the factory". Tells me you're on to something!

Leon McKee

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Old April 2nd, 2017, 03:09 PM   #5
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I would add that my Scout shot "ok" out of the box, much better than the SOCOM, about 3"+ groups at 100 yards. I attribute this to the fact that it started life right out of the factory IN the same very model of excellent Boyds walnut heavy stock that I installed on the SOCOM. But it STILL had almost all the same fitment issues the SOCOM had. SAI just does NOT take the care and time to put these M1A's together with the proper clearances and tolerances. I performed the same mods to the Scout as I had on the SOCOM...gas system shims, clearancing hand guard and stock. Fortunately on the Scout, the op rod did not hit the scout scope mount, so that saved me some time. I added the same sadlak guide rod and nice silicone op rod spring to the Scout, along with a Sadlak TiN gas piston. These same procedures I had performed on the SOCOM, also cut the Scout's groups literally in half.

So I agree with you, SAI is NOT accurizing, or even properly clearancing, anything short of their National Match models and above. As buyers saving money on a commercial SAI, we need to be ready to do our research, and invest a little time and a little more money on a few tools and upgrade parts, to get the real value out of these great-shooting platforms! The fact that these guns are so well-spec'ed by SAI that they take the vast majority of vintage, strong USGI parts as direct, drop-in upgrades, is icing on the cake, as well as adding excitement and mojo to the package.

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Old April 2nd, 2017, 03:13 PM   #6
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I have to ask, you have 3 awesome rifles in the picture what's up with the mags? No 20's?

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Old April 2nd, 2017, 03:24 PM   #7
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Ha Ha, good question, I have lots of 20 rnd mags, no worries. I was shooting the guns off a low rest on the bench on that day, and the 20's get in the way of the rest I use. Also if I had the 20's in, all three rifles wouldn't have fit in the picture

I'd add that if you don't like the people that go to your local range, and you have a Scout, get an SEI coast guard muzzle brake!!!! I let my buddy shoot the Scout in my lane, while I fired his bolt gun from his lane right next to mine. That SEI USCG brake throws off some AWESOME baritone notes with an authoritative THUMP! I didn't notice the boom while shooting the gun, nor was it loud, from directly behind it, but it sure does shoot nicely off the bench with that brake installed! Kills lots of muzzle jump and perceived recoil. It's not sharp and irritating like a brake on a .223 cal AR-15, it's like a booming thunder clap. M1A thunder! I didn't even mind sitting in the cool blast zone, it was addicting, but I admit I had double ear protection going on (ear plugs in AND head set on).

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Old April 2nd, 2017, 09:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGSchindel View Post
After dropping my "defective" SOCOM into the awesomely tight, solid and well-made Boyd's stock loaded with the GI metal (all of which fit like a glove)
Where did you source the stock from? Looks like a Boyd's Medium Weight to me? Did you get it finished or did you finish it?

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Old April 2nd, 2017, 09:49 PM   #9
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That's great accuracy. My Socom was just my bodyguard so I wasn't concerned with that but it can be done with time, patience, and a methodical approach (change/test one part at a time). Good work there.
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Old April 2nd, 2017, 10:19 PM   #10
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Nice write up. Thanks for sharing. Glad she's running well for you.

Miss my shorty; I sold it to fund another project. I only shot it with irons, but I could ring steel off hand out to 300 no problem.

I'll have another in the stable eventually

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Old April 3rd, 2017, 08:01 AM   #11
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My Scout shoots fairly good but I'm going to follow your example and do some up grades when time permits.

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Old April 3rd, 2017, 08:14 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGSchindel View Post
The SOCOM can get a bad rap in some circles for sub-par accuracy. With its shorter sight radius and fat, vague tactical sights intended for short-range tactical engagement, and given that the standard SOCOM v1 typically comes in a grotesquely weak plastic stock and is not available in a wooden stock, it is easy to question the initial groups you may get from a SOCOM out of the box. Combine that with the fact that most SAI rifles are poorly assembled/not fitted, with improper handguard clearance, no barrel tension, improper ferrule clearance, sloppy gas system fitment, loose barrel band, etc.....it is easy to lose confidence in the little guy. Further to the mix, due to sloppy tolerances of SAI parts and no proper factory fitment of accessories, many SOCOM v1 rifles will not have proper clearance between the aluminum SAI barrel-mounted forward "scout mount", and the forward inside portion of the operating rod.

For me, this all spelled 7"+ groups at 100 yards, and 4" groups at 50 yards, no matter what ammo or optic I tried. Shooting out at 300 yards was a guessing game and a joke. At first, I felt my new gun was a boat anchor and must have a defective barrel or some such. I was baffled.

After researching the topic for weeks, I slowly gathered some parts, the most crucial of which was a nice beefy Boyd's walnut stock, and all the necessary vintage USGI metal to build out that stock, especially the steel liner. I also got the proper shim kit for the gas system, and a proper gas system wrench from Sadlak.

After dropping my "defective" SOCOM into the awesomely tight, solid and well-made Boyd's stock loaded with the GI metal (all of which fit like a glove), I carefully clearanced the bottom inside of the stock's forearm forward of the strap mount, and the ferrule, with a dremel and round sanding barrel, so the gas system would not contact the ferrule or the inside bottom of the stock. I used sandpaper and a sanding block to clearance the bottom of the handguard away from the op rod and away from the stock, on both sides all along its length. I then shimmed the gas system which was also super-easy. I then took a dremel and relieved the alloy scout mount in areas where the op rod had been striking it, which was obvious where the black anodizing had been rubbed or knocked off by the op rod. No more op rod contact to the Scout mount after that, and I touched up the bare alloy with Birchwood casey Aluminum Black. Worked like a charm.

I doubt that I spent even two hours on this entire process. Took my time and enjoyed it. I reassembled the gun with an upgraded operating spring and a thick sadlak national match guide rod, while I was at it. All said and done, I had, for the first time....super-tight fitment of the action to the stock, smooth bolt/op rod action, no unwanted contact with the stock, barrel, op rod, or gas system, and one handsome little devil of a room-clearer.

Upon returning to the range, I was stunned. The mods worked way beyond my humble expectations. The gun was transformed. There was clearly NOTHING wrong with the accurate little barrel. At 50, 100 and 200 yards, the SOCOM is every bit as accurate as my walnut 18.5" scout, if not a little MORE accurate. After warm-up and sight-in, using a scout scope, the SOCOM was shooting inside 3/4" at 50 yards consistently, and inside 1.2" at 100 yards, if I did my part, using Hornady 168 grain boat tail hollow point factory loads. My 100 yard groups with that little Socom were better than the target of a gentleman sitting next to me with a full size Loaded and a 20x scope!

Do NOT underestimate the SOCOM. The only downfall of the gun is that SAI doesn't assemble and fit it right, the SAI plastic stock is utter rubbish, and it can typically be plagued with silly fitment issues out of the box. Don't sell your SOCOM, fix it! You WILL be rewarded, well beyond the effort you put into the process.

I liked this little guy so much after the initial stock and fitment upgrades, that I went the rest of the way and put USGI trigger parts and bolt guts in the gun, and now I have a USGI op rod on the way. She's a keeper, for the long haul!!! I am now every bit as confident shooting my SOCOM as I am with my Scout and my National Match, at the range.





I'm a traditionalist when it comes to the M14 but this is a very well written post with excellent photos. Those beautiful Boyds walnut stocks certainly add a very classic look.

A very enjoyable read.

Well done!

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Old April 3rd, 2017, 08:45 AM   #13
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That is awesome. Glad to hear your hard work and persistence paid off. What you did with your rifle sounds similar with what I did with mine. Looks like we got similar results too.

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Old April 3rd, 2017, 02:45 PM   #14
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You did exactly the mods I did to my 16 minus the CG brake and I got my groups down to about 1.5-1.75 in at 100, almost identical to what you would be getting at that range.

Well done!

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Old April 3rd, 2017, 03:00 PM   #15
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Fantastic!

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