The M1A is Springfield Armory’s civilian version of the iconic military M-14. These classic steel and walnut rifles remind us of days gone by. However, many modern shooters swear by these traditional rifles for hunting, precision target shooting, and tactical applications.
The M1A is perfect for long range shooting. When held in capable hands and loaded with quality ammo, the rifle can punch holes in bullseyes out to 1000 yards (and sometimes beyond). However, since it’s really hard to hit what you can’t see, you’ll want a quality optic to help you effectively reach that far. Thankfully, there are tons of good optics to choose from. However, with so many options on the market, finding the best scope for M1A shooting can feel like an impossible feat.
We’re here to guide you through the process. We’re going to look closely at the capabilities of the different M1A models to help you match the right optic to your rifle as well as your shooting endeavors. We’ll also share a few of our favorite models to help you narrow down your options.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for the details, here are our best picks for M1A Scopes:
- Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50
- Leupold VX-3i LRP 6.5-20x50mm
- Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mm
- Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50
- Nikon M-Tactical .308 4-16×42
- Burris Ballistic Plex 2-7×32 Scout Scope
- UTG 2-7×44 Long Eye Relief Scout Scope
- Aim Sports 2-7×32 Scout Scope
- Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot
- Sig Sauer Romeo5
Table of Contents
- Understanding the M1A
- Best Scope for M1A on the Market Reviews
- 1 Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50
- 2 Leupold VX-3i LRP 6.5-20x50mm
- 3 Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mm
- 4 Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50
- 5 Nikon M-Tactical .308 4-16×42
- 6 Burris Ballistic Plex 2-7×32 Scout Scope
- 7 UTG 2-7×44 Long Eye Relief Scout Scope
- 8 Aim Sports 2-7×32 Scout Scope
- 9 Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot
- 10 Sig Sauer Romeo5
- Final Thoughts
Understanding the M1A
The M1A is a civilian rifle inspired by the classic military M-14. The iconic M-14 first saw military service in 1959 when it replaced the United States military’s M1 Garand. Although the M-14 has seen little action since it was replaced in 1964 by the legendary M-16, Springfield Armory’s civilian semi-auto version, the M1A, has seen a serious rise in popularity in recent years.
The M-14 was originally chambered for 7.62x51mm NATO cartridges. Today, hunters and target shooters can find civilian M1As chambered for either the classic .308 Winchester or the zippier 6.5 Creedmoor.
Modern shooters can choose traditional M1A models or versions finely tuned for target or tactical applications. Here is a quick run down of the different models Springfield Armory currently offers.
M1A SOCOM 16
A great tactical carbine designed for CQB (close quarter combat), the M1A SOCOM 16 has the shortest barrel length (16.25 inches) of any of the M1A models. Although the short barrel length robs this rifle of some of its long-range accuracy, the SOCOM still manages to effectively and accurately reach targets out to 600 yards.
If you’re looking for a good DMR (designated marksman rifle) or truck gun, the M1A SOCOM 16 is definitely up to the task.
M1A Scout Squad
With an 18-inch barrel, aperture-style rear sights, and a two-stage military trigger, the Scout Squad is designed for snap shooting. It also offers the maneuverability necessary to meet Jeff Cooper’s exacting criteria for a scout rifle.
The barrel length will limit the effectiveness of your ammo, so you’ll want to keep your targets within 800 yards. However, this rifle excels at CQB to mid range shooting. Plus, it’s lightweight design makes it well-suited for a guide gun or mountain rifle.
M1A Standard Issue
This is the civilian-legal version of the legendary M-14 battle rifle. It has a longer, 22-inch barrel and comes with a windage and elevation adjustable rear sight and a standard A2 front post. This version does not come optic ready. Mounting an optic on this model can be extremely problematic but not altogether impossible.
The M1A Loaded series combines the tradition of the classic M1A with cutting-edge modern upgrades. If you want sniper level accuracy, this is a good place to start. M1A Loaded models feature a premium National Match barrel, a National Match two-stage trigger, and several other cool bells and whistles. If you want to reach out and touch targets at 1000 yards and beyond, this is a snappy way to do it.
M1A Match Rifles
Designed for breaking hearts at high-stakes competitions, these M1As have been transformed into some of the most accurate shooting machines on the face of the planet. Upgrades include serious match-quality barrels, crisp competition triggers, and glass-bedded actions.
Best Scope for M1A on the Market Reviews
1 Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50
We mentioned that the M1A has a range of up to 1000 yards. A high-end, long range scope like the Viper PST Gen II will help maximize your rifle’s long-range performance.
This is one of the best optics Vortex has to offer. The image quality is absolutely brilliant thanks to the optic’s extra-low dispersion glass, fully multi-coated lenses, and massive 50mm objective lens.
The Viper PST also has awesome, laser-etched target turrets that offer crisp, audible clicks with just the right amount of tension and resistance.
Long-range shooters will also appreciate the Viper’s detailed FFP (first focal plane) reticle. This thing really delivers at maximum magnification and has easy-to-read detail to help you make precise ranging, holdover, and windage corrections.
2 Leupold VX-3i LRP 6.5-20x50mm
The Leupold VX-3i LRP is another serious long-range performer. If you want to reach out and touch targets at distance with your M1A, this one really delivers. It even has “Long Range Precision (LRP)” right in the name, and Leupold takes their acronyms very seriously.
With a highly visible FFP reticle that stays true through the scope’s full magnification range, easy side focus parallax adjustment, crisp target-style turrets, and an easy-to-read zero-stop adjustment dial, this optic has everything the serious long-range shooter dreams about at night.
Speaking of nighttime, the VX-3i LRP also features Leupold’s proprietary Twilight Max Light Management System. Using quality glass and unique coatings, Twilight Max eliminates internal glare and maximizes light transmission for incredibly bright low light images. The system is designed to extend shooting time by up to 20 minutes at dawn and dusk.
3 Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mm
The PLx riflescope from Primary Arms has a 6-30x magnification range which will adequately cover targets out to 600 yards (and maybe beyond on a good day). It also features Primary Arms’ proprietary ballistic reticle, the DEKA AMS MIL. Basically an updated version of the classic, battle-proven mil dot, this detailed reticle features 5 MILS of holds for easy ranging on extreme distance targets. Plus, it is conveniently calibrated for the most popular .308 loads.
The reticle is etched on the first focal plane, so it stays consistent through the scope’s full magnification range. It is also illuminated in red for easy visibility in bright light. However, the reticle is night vision compatible on the lowest illumination setting.
The PLx is made with premium Japanese glass with multiple layers of quality coatings. While the image quality is less impressive than Leupold or Vortex, the Primary Arms PLx is definitely better than average.
4 Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50
If you want a long-range scope but don’t have a ton of cash to drop on a high-end model, the Athlon Argos BTR needs to be on your radar. This scope features fully multi-coated optics, a large 50mm objective lens, and a practical 6-24x magnification range, all of which make this a solid long-range performer.
The Argos BTR also has an etched-glass FFP reticle, which is surprising for a riflescope in this price range.
Made from 6061T6 aircraft grade aluminum, this scope is plenty durable for most shooting scenarios. It is also argon purged and o-ring sealed for improved thermal stability.
5 Nikon M-Tactical .308 4-16×42
The Nikon M-Tactical .308 is engineered specifically for .308 Winchester/7.62 NATO rounds loaded with 168-grain hollow point boat tail match bullets. If that seems pretty specific, it definitely is. However, if you want a scope for match competition, you need a scope fine-tuned for precision.
This scope features a BDC 800 reticle, which is designed for a 100-yard zero. The unique reticle design has the traditional crosshairs, but also features open circles, dots, and hash marks for precise aiming points on targets from 200 to 800 yards.
Other handy long-range features include side focus parallax adjustment, exposed target turrets engraved for easy reading, and a spring-loaded instant zero-reset.
6 Burris Ballistic Plex 2-7×32 Scout Scope
Burris Optics practically invented scout scopes, and their popular Ballistic Plex Scout Scope embodies all the qualities you’ll want in a scope for the M1A Scout Squad.
The Burris Scout Scope has a super low profile which helps maximize the maneuverability. With a massive 11 to 21 inches of eye relief, this scope is perfect for forward mounting and both-eyes-open shooting.
The scope also has quality, index-matched, multi-coated glass. The body of the scope is filled and purged 24 times with laboratory grade nitrogen. This ensures crisp, clear, fog-free viewing in low light and extreme temperatures.
Of course, this scout scope features Burris’ famous trajectory-compensating Ballistic Plex reticle. The design may seem basic, but its uncluttered sight picture allows you to get on target fast. In addition to the basic crosshairs, the Ballistic Plex reticle also features BDC hash marks for precision shooting out to 500 yards.
7 UTG 2-7×44 Long Eye Relief Scout Scope
This high-quality scope from UTG pairs perfectly with your M1A Scout Squad. The scope has miles of eye relief (up to 11 inches), making it fitting for a forward style mount.
The UTG Scout Scope is a surprisingly affordable optic, but somehow the company managed to squeeze in several top-notch features. Personally, we love UTG’s innovative EZ-TAP Illumination Enhancing (IE) System. This innovative system has a dual-color mode (red/green) for reticle illumination. It also has a multi-color mode that lets you find the perfect option from 36 different reticle colors to optimize visibility in every lighting or weather condition.
Target shooters will also appreciate the Scout Scope’s high-quality target turrets. These are seriously user-friendly. They adjust quickly, are lockable, and quickly reset to zero. The UTG Scout Scope also features a Side Wheel Adjustable Turret (SWAT) for parallax adjustment from “True 10 Yards” to infinity.
8 Aim Sports 2-7×32 Scout Scope
If you’re looking for a budget scope for your M1A Scout Squad, this is it. Priced well under $100, the Aim Sports Scout Scope provides some serious performance in spite of its cheap price tag.
While we think this scope may be a tad bulky for a true scout scope, it offers long eye relief, an easy-to-use mil dot reticle, and a practical 2-7x magnification range. The Aim Sports Scout Scope also features a generous 42mm objective lens and green fused, multi-coated lenses which combine to provide awesome light transmission.
This scope is also plenty durable. The housing is milled from a solid piece of aircraft grade aluminum which is then nitrogen charged and o-ring sealed. This construction allows the scope to withstand serious recoil and also provides reliable fogproof performance in all weather conditions.
9 Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot
A red dot works surprisingly well when paired with the M1A SOCOM 16. Perfect for CQB to mid range targets, a red dot helps you get on target quickly, and it won’t weigh down your carbine.
The Micro T-2 is one of the most exciting new red dots we’ve seen. This is the smallest, lightest tubular red dot currently on the market. It also features an advanced objective lens system for incredible light transmission and some of the best optical clarity you’ll ever see through a red dot optic.
This optic is as tough as they come and features Aimpoint’s patented ACET battery technology which provides at least five years of uninterrupted run time.
We almost forgot to mention that the Aimpoint Micro T-2 is night vision compatible.
10 Sig Sauer Romeo5
If you don’t have a ton of cash to drop on a red dot, the Sig Sauer Romeo5 offers plenty of value at a refreshingly affordable price point.
This model actually performs like a much more expensive model. In fact, we still have a hard time believing you can get the Romeo5 for under $200. Even with that price tag, we refuse to call the Romeo5 a “budget red dot.” It just has too much to offer.
The Romeo5 has a crisp, clear 2 MOA red dot with 10 illumination settings (8 for daylight and 2 for night vision).
This optic also has Motion Activated Illumination (MOTAC). This awesome feature will automatically switch your optic on when it senses motion. It also powers down after an extended period of rest to preserve precious battery life. MOTAC can extend battery usage to an astonishing 40,000+ hours and ensures that your optic is always ready to go when you are.
The Springfield Armory M1A is an iconic rifle. However, this rifle has much more to offer than nostalgia and tradition. Modern M1As are incredibly accurate, especially when engaging mid to long-range targets. The best scope for M1A will enhance the rifle’s already impressive abilities. Any of the optics on our list pair well with modern M1A variants.
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Larry Toporek says
I have a WWII STYLE M1 Garrand with 8 cartridge clips that load and eject from the top. The gun is a reissue by Springfield circa 1980 something. The peepsights are very good and the gun is very reliable. However, I would like to be able to use it accurately up to approximately 200 meters. Rarely does a shot require more than 200m for Michigan Whitetail hunting.
What can you recommend for this particular rifle as far as a scope is concerned?
Mark Grimsley says
The M1 Garand is a rifle that is very similar to the M1A. Most all the scopes in the article will be just fine for what you need. What I will recommend is that you take your M1 to a gunsmith to get mounting options figured out on the scopes you’re interested in before you buy. This will save you some headache once you’re ready to mount. I hope that helps.