My Choice For A Rifle System And Caliber

100_0219-1Mason Dixon Tactical

“What rifle do you use?” is one of the most frequently asked questions I get via email or on FB. One of the reasons is probably due to the pics people see from different classes I’ve taught ( I regularly carry my M1A SOCOM, an AKMS, or an M4). Then comes the inevitable, “If you could only pick one, what would it be?” My answer is usually prefaced with “It depends on what your scenario/situation is, and it depends on YOU.” My choice for a Survival/Combat rifle is the M14/M1A system, and the .308WIN/7.62Nato chambering (yes, it was also available in 7MM08 and .243WIN).  

Why this rifle type, and why that caliber you ask. It’s simple. The M14 is still in the US military inventory, and is still issued to troops for certain applications (SF uses the carbine a lot, and regular Army in the Designated Marksman role, but not as much as pre M110). The parts and mags are still readily available in mil storage, and are being manufactured on the open market. The .308 Winchester round will effectively kill (you have to do your part in shot placement obviously) whatever you might hunt with it in the continental US (just because you can kill it with a 5.56, or 7.62×39, doesn’t mean you should actively plan to hunt large, dangerous game with them) . The .308 will out power any other readily available “Combat” cartridge on the market, while still being available in a number of reliable, combat proven systems (M14, FN FAL, HK91). .308 semi autos will effectively shoot cast lead bullets (try that with your 5.56) I know, I know that falls under the “Mad Max” scenario, but it’s good to know what you can do with it, worst case, right?

To the 5.56/.223 fan boys, or 7.62N/.308 detractors I say this. Comparing the two cartridges, shot for shot on a living target is ridiculous, and just because you’ve “Seen it done”, doesn’t mean you should plan on “having to” if you have more effective means at you disposal, and you are able to effectively use it. I’ve killed a lot of deer in my time(I explain the reason for the deer analogy further down), and probably 95% of those deer were killed with a .223 or a .308. When I was younger, I used a .223 a lot, and the big difference I noticed in the two cartridges was this. To get a solid one shot kill with a .223/5.56, I had to get a good central nervous system hit (usually the neck). But to get a solid one shot stop with the .308/7.62N, only required a solid pulmonary or circulatory hit. “What’s the difference?” you say. The difference is this. it is easier to get the pulmonary or circulatory hit (larger target area) than it is to get the central nervous system hit.

Why would easier hits be important? Oh, I don’t know, you’re a Survivalist, and you’re 4 weeks into your trip to TEOTWAWKISTAN. You’re tired, hungry, maybe hurt, and on edge. If you had to make an effective one shot kill on a deer (food) or a threat, which would you rather be using? BTW, The reason I use the deer analogy is this. Being in combat doesn’t mean you do some morbid examination of the bodies after it is over to see how effective caliber X might have been (go ahead, tell me how you did a post combat autopsy when you were “In country”). I use the deer as an example, simply because after shooting it, I have to gut, skin, and butcher it, and I see exactly what kind of damage, or a lack thereof, those calibers and bullet types had on living flesh.

Is the .308 for everybody? HELL NO! In a Survival group, I advocate the 5.56 for women, children, and smaller statured and/or older men, simply because carrying a .308 battle rifle is more work (more bang for the buck though) than it is to carry an equal amount of 5.56 ammo, and a comparable 5.56 caliber combat rifle (can’t be an effective combatant if you can’t effectively carry your weapon).

If you are a leader in a patrolling element (NPT, or militia), and especially if you are the medic, or commo guy (there’s a reason the first guys in “Regiment” to get shorter, lighter M4/CAR15’s were commo guys) in the Team, you probably shouldn’t be carrying a .308, simply because you are dealing with leading your element (unfortunately that means more directing less shooting), or your specialty requires you to carry more gear oriented towards that task.

Of late, some have gotten on the .308 bandwagon that a few of us have been riding for years. No matter what their reasoning, it’s good to see they’ve “Come to the light”, and hopefully, more will advocate the use of rifles of that caliber. Although I would never recommend arming a whole Team/Squad with .308’s (that goes overboard on the typical “logistically practical” reasoning for everyone having 5.56 caliber weapons), I do recommend at least one, if not two .308’s in a six man NPT (Neighborhood Protection Team) for the more effective practical range and penetration it gives your group. If everyone else in the team or squad carries two mags for the .308 guys, their lack of “round count” will be negligible.

As noticed from the picture above, I have two M1A’s that I use. One is a SOCOM (16 inch barrel), and one is a National Match (22 inch barrel). Depending on what needs to be accomplished, one of these two rifles can accomplish it for me. The Load Out can be the same (it’s a system Load Out that fits either rifle. BTW, I prefer Match ammo for the NM rifle, but it will shoot Ball under an 1 MOA) for either rifle.

Primary differences between the two rifles are these. The SOCOM is more compact (33.5 inches-Sage stock collapsed) NM is 44.3. The SOCOM has a DBAL, Surefire Tac light, and aMillet DMS 1-4x illuminated optic, and I have an X Products 50 round drum for it. The NM has a4-16x Horus Vision Raptor optic. I consider the SOCOM a 1-400 meter gun, and the NM a 50-800 meter gun (hey, I’m trying to give practical distances here).

Are they heavy? Sure, the SOCOM weighs 15 lbs. with a steel 20 rounder in it (A SAW weighs 18 lbs empty guys). Are they effective? Sure are, but who wouldn’t want to have a guy with a semi auto .308 supporting him in a “Break Contact” or an “Assault”, huh? Take the time and figure out if a .308 system is for you, then train and equip to effectively use it. And don’t forget to do more practical PT.



American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

4 thoughts on “My Choice For A Rifle System And Caliber

  1. Well, i do love my M1A std synthetic stock, it it very accurate with open sights. In fact i can dispatch targets easier with it at range than a M-(forgery) The sights are similar to a M4/AR15, and obviously there is a greater sight radius on th M1A, yet somehow the M1A sights are easier on these 50+ yr old eyes for me. It is a heavy ‘long tom’, with 2x the ammo weight in carry vs 5.56 of equal quantity, yet it is awesome. 5.56 mforgery is great for a truck/urban/tight dense forest or swamp weapon – but when then range to target opens up,(200 meters+ for me) the 7.62×51 shines like gold. It does depend on the terrain and personal ability/preference.
    The G3/91 is very nice for what it is, having a shorter barrel, and being very rugged and nicely accurate, yet one CAN NOT effectively/reliably reload out of those fluted chambers. (31 yrs reloading experience)
    The downside of the M1A is that most quality scope mounts are VERY expensive and will NOT co-witness the iron sights, a big bummer in my book. Also the M1A does not suppress well.

  2. love the .308.. i got a Sniper system i built in this caliber..

    old 1940s Mauser 98K Preduzece 44.. 24in 4140 bull barrel. free float entire length where a playing card will slip all the way down.. chamber reamed and lapped to a good tight fit.. older model Ram-Line nylon stock..modified thumb safety.. custom built bent bolt handle. Weaver style one piece billet scope rail.. .. fire formed brass with hand loads with a shallow seated bullet that contacts the rifling when bolt is closed (removes all the bullet jump).. old steel tube 4x weaver scope

    i live in Northern Alabama which is very hilly and got lots of woods which is the reason that i got the 4x scope.. it does no good to put a 16X scope on a rifle only to need it at less than 100M.. idea is to sight the bugger in and not examine the hair follicle on its cheek..

    this is where a lot of people screw up at.. size your scope to your rifle and environment. a lot of folks will pop for the biggest scope they can get (seen an idiot with a 16X on a dang 22cal), but when they try to sight in a target they either can’t find it because their FOV is compromised or all they see is furr or skin and can’t tell where they are aiming at on the target..

    as a rule, if you can’t get the entire target in the scope then the scope is too big.. id also stick to a fixed magnification if at all possible. i know we all like those fancy zoom scopes with the lighted recticle, but the zoom on most cheep scopes will actually case the POI to move when you adjust the zoom and will wear out eventually.. i also have seen the BSA and other crappy scopes with the lighted recticle do stupid crap, where the ocular piece would move around and cause problems with aiming consistency..

    but the bullet im using is a 155Gr HPBT Sierra Match King loaded to 2,900FPS, this speed eliminates time to target greatly and flattens out the trajectory here where i live to where i don’t have to touch the scope adjustments (if i can get 400m-500m here in my environment then im doing good)…. this is a very nasty round combination.. the bullet upon impact penetrates soft or squishy material about 3-4inches and then fragments to where there is nothing left bigger than a pinhead. i left a 12inch diameter hole in the wet hill with it after a rain..

    but even though the bullet fragments in squishy environments it will still penetrate 1/4in mild steel plate at 300m.. setup will also happily plink soda cans at 300-400m all day. and for something that is always fun, tie a soda can to a long string and let it wave in the breeze for a good random pattern moving target..

    but i did all the work on the rifle myself and set it up to my preference.. my other favorite rifle is a Hakim in 8mm..

      1. yep, will feed well even if upside down.. i like them for another reason also. they are built like a tank and is the rifle that the other gun companies try to imitate but fall short in.. instead of going for Mauser style this and Mauser style that, just go for the original and have the best of all their worlds..

        but i polished the extractor in mine to where i can just drop a lose round in and push it forward without having to load it in the mag.. it don’t take much, just enough to round the step on the thing to allow it to snap onto the rim.. can load 6rnds this way. but the real reason for this mod is for during a panic situation where you have to fire fast and can’t load the mag, you just drop the round in and slam the bolt shut..

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