My Choice For A Rifle System And Caliber



“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


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