March 16, 2010

Springfield Armory M21 Tactical Rifle .308, $2975

Per the company website, the M21 Tactical had a Douglas Premium barrel with 1:10 inch twist, with optional Hart or Krieger barrels available on special order. The two-stage trigger broke at about 4.9 pounds. Springfield has made enough M1As that it really knows how to put together a decent rifle, which this one surely was, so when the rifle performed perfectly with no malfunctions we were not at all surprised.

This was a serious-looking rifle, mostly because of the Springfield’s pleasant-looking wood stock of plain but straight-grained walnut. The stock had a decent non-glare finish. It was fitted with an adjustable cheekpiece that could be raised by inserting an Allen wrench into the right side of the stock. We noted that while lefties could use it, this stock would not be as pleasant for them as the McMillan, especially if the articulated portion were raised.


The price above does not include a scope. Our test rifle was equipped with Springfield’s own 4-14X56-mm Japanese-made scope labeled as “3rd Generation Government Model,” with green-illuminated reticle and 30 mm tube ($869). The scope had an interesting reticle that included tiny hold-over dots for long-range shooting with match ammunition, and a built-in and unobtrusive bubble level at the very bottom of the sight picture. The scope hood would add to the cost, as would the mounts and rings ($139). The attached Harris bipod was listed at $72. That comes to a total of about $4,075 as tested. Note that if you add $600 for a McMillan stock as fitted to the Fulton, the two rifles cost about exactly the same.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Springfield's choice of walnut for the stock gave the Tactical Rifle a slightly less businesslike look than the Fulton. We missed the traction of the Fulton on the grip areas, and didn't much like the fat stock, but this rifle performed quite well. The Harris bipod requires attention to keep it tight to the rifle, we found, on this and the Fulton rifles. That big scope had a long hood extension, and an illuminated reticle.

The scope was mounted to a thick aluminum plate that attached to the action via two thumbscrews and also attached to the clip-loading slot, similar to the ARMS mount on the Fulton, and to the Brookfield. The 30 mm rings were also aluminum. The scope was fitted with a forward hood and hinged Butler Creek covers fore and aft. The rear cover opened by pressing a button. The rifle also had NM-type iron sights front and back.

There was no provision for altering the length of the stock, which had a pull of 13.6 inches. The butt had a trestle-style rubber butt pad with white-line insert. The forend cover was brown. The rifle had a Harris bipod attached, and a single sling swivel beneath the butt, with no place to attach a sling at the front. We noted that the Harris bipods came loose from both rifles to which they were attached, during the course of our testing. The small screw that secures it needs to be firmly tightened to prevent this.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

It's a Springfield and it worked perfectly. No surprises there. The scope mount was thick aluminum, as were the rings. The good trigger was not as good as Fulton's.

The Springfield’s action was glass-bedded to the stock, as were the other two rifles. Both the Springfield and Armscorp stocks mimicked the military version, but were fatter everywhere and had no provisions for increased traction in the grasping areas.

The Springfield M21 Tactical had a rear lug, but the stock was not secured to it with a screw, as were the other two rifles. Though the overall performance was more than adequate, we wondered if accuracy would improve with the addition of that screw.

We did expect a bit more accuracy than we got, which was best with Federal’s excellent Gold Medal Match ammunition. Average three-shot groups were 1.2" at 100 yards. Again we used the bipod and a rear shot-filled leather bag for all test shooting.

Comments (15)

I was issued an M21 back in 82 while with the 101ST, it's great but would have been better with a McMillan stock. I'd LOVE to have on but cost is the issue.

Posted by: Dennis R | June 17, 2010 11:25 AM    Report this comment

OK snickers, If your comment was directed to me, I have long been a fan of the 7.62x51 (AKA .308 Win). As I noted in my first post above, I fell in love with the M14 in Vietnam in 1969. However, prior to my Vietnam experiences, I purchased a Savage M99 in .308 that I used with quite satisfactory results when I was stationed in Alaska. My collection now includes the following pieces chambered in this versatile caliber: Savage M99, Springfield SOCOM 16, Spanish M1916 Short Rifle, Spanish FR8, Ishapore Enfield, and Saiga .308 (an AK variant). While I don't shoot as much as I would like, all of these rifles are good shooters, but the old military models have pretty much taken residence on the walls of my home office.

Posted by: canovack | April 16, 2010 11:15 AM    Report this comment

Which rifels have you checked out in 308 cal. (auto)

Posted by: snickers | April 15, 2010 9:19 PM    Report this comment

OK, longarm45, I am still grasping at the meaning of your comment. Hopefully we can clear this up. You commented that the "30-06 is about the equal of the .50 MG cartridge". I don't quite get your response concerning the "missing 250 grains". While a target is going to know little difference between a hit from a 30-06 and a .50 BMG, the range and the kinetic energy of the .50 BMG outperforms any of the .30 rounds extant. Sure the .50 is well suited for engagement of lightly armored vehicles, and it certainly is an overkill on human targets, but having used "Ma Deuce" in Vietnam, along with the 7.62x51, I found that the .50 BMG just has a real knack for reaching out at long ranges and producing sure kills.

Now, jbmg50, as regards your comment about not making the point.....I don't understand whose point you were addressing. Is the comment to longarm45 or me?

Posted by: canovack | March 20, 2010 9:27 AM    Report this comment

No I believe that the .308 and 7.62x51mm are both more inherently accurate than the old long necked 30/06 Sprig.

Posted by: jbmg50 | March 20, 2010 3:26 AM    Report this comment

As an avid re loader and competitive shooter it has been proven to me that the 7.62x51mm cartridge is a very inherently accurate round I do believe more so than the old long necked 30/06 Spring. I also compete in 50BMG matches,if you have a point you did not really make it sorry?

Posted by: jbmg50 | March 20, 2010 3:22 AM    Report this comment

canovack, you are missing about 250 grains! how much velocity does it take to penetrate a human body? Those rounds are heavy to carry. use anti tank rounds for tanks!

Posted by: longarm45 | March 20, 2010 1:14 AM    Report this comment

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the old, venerable 30-06. I favor the 7.62x51mm (.308 Win) over it, though, because I like the shorter actions that chamber the 7.62x51mm.....and the recipient of the round is not likely to notice any appreciable difference. I don't quite get the idea, though, that a hot 30-06 is about the equal of the .50BMG. While I agree that "dead is dead", I have some difficulty equating a high energy 180 gr bullet from a 30-06 with a 500-600 gr bullet from a .50 BMG, which has vastly longer range capabilities than the 30-06. What am I missing?

Posted by: canovack | March 19, 2010 7:53 PM    Report this comment

The M14 was the first rifle I qualified on and would cherish purchasing one if it not for the price tag. Just have to hope for the CMP to get their hands on some to add to my collection of Garands and Carbines.

Posted by: Bruce I | March 19, 2010 7:15 PM    Report this comment

what's wrong w/ 30.06, still one of most versatile rifle loads for civil/military use! a hot 30.06 shell is about the equal of the .50 mg cartridge, dead is dead, after all!

Posted by: longarm45 | March 19, 2010 3:50 PM    Report this comment

As one who was issued an M-1 Garand for basic training and who later maintained qualification with an M-14 and used one in Vietnam, I have always had a notalgic feeling of warmth toward the Garand and Garand inspired family of rifles. In in a move to satisfy my nostalgia, I recently purchased a Springfield SOCOM 16. With its short 16" barrel and its mid barrel scope mount, it is a fine handling tactical rifle. I mounted a Burris 2.75X Scout scope on the mid-barrel mount using see-through mounts. This has increased the speed with which the piece can be brought into action, affording an immediate sight picture of cross hairs in the scope, or if preferred, of the metalic sights through the see-through mounts. The front sight blade has a tritium insert, facilitating quick sight alignment in dim light, and the 7.62x51mm round provides much more versatility than does the little 5.56x45mm round so common to the ARs. The Garand family of rifles may not be everyone's delight, but to this old soldier it is a welcome addition to my collection of very special firearms. Oh, by-the-way, I also own some pieces chambered 5.56x45mm, so I am not totally out of touch with the ARs. My SIG 556 is, however in my opinion, considerably superior to the ARs, especially those with DIG operating systems.

Posted by: canovack | March 19, 2010 11:01 AM    Report this comment

I really like the lines of the rifle

Posted by: edszydlik | March 18, 2010 9:45 PM    Report this comment

Aluminium mount? Why not a steel one?

Posted by: hobbyx | March 18, 2010 8:41 PM    Report this comment

Not a clean looking set up. I'm not an M1-A fan

Posted by: potshot | March 18, 2010 5:13 PM    Report this comment

Nice rifle but..I can't afford one.

Posted by: backup2 | March 18, 2010 3:02 PM    Report this comment

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