308s: Ruger’s SR-762 Versus Springfield Armory’s Socom 16
We recently tested these two production rifles built on familiar, but vastly different, gas platforms to see which one we’d buy as a handy rifle for self defense, hunting, and all-round fun.
If you haven’t noticed, what used to be called the AR-10 platform has made a comeback. Eugene Stoner’s design in 308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO) has gone on to unprecedented popularity with military and civilian consumers. But many shooters prefer an even older military-style platform — a compact variation of the M1A rifle, with lineage credited to the John C. Garand M1 rifle. We recently tested two production rifles built on these different platforms, the $2200 Ruger SR-762 and the $1900 Springfield Armory Socom 16, to see which one we’d buy as a handy rifle for self defense, hunting, and all-round fun. Both had barrels around 16 inches long and used gas-piston mechanics to operate.
We began by breaking in each rifle using a variety of rounds featuring different bullet weights. We tried two different types of less-expensive 150-grain 7.62x51 NATO jacketed ball ammunition from MagTech and variety of rounds, such as Black Hills 175-grain boattail hollowpoints that have been known to excel in bolt-action rifles. We settled on three Black Hills rounds that shot the best, the company’s 168-grain BTHP, 165-grain Gold Nosler Ballistic Tip, and 155-grain Gold Hornady A-Max ammunition.
For break-in and accuracy shooting, we used the same $310 Leupold FX-II 2.5X28mm IER (extended eye relief) Scout scope No. 58810 on both rifles. That was in part to accommodate the Socom 16, which offered only a short Picatinny rail above the forend. The Ruger SR-762 had a long top rail able to accommodate any type of scope. We could have added a receiver mount to the Socom 16, but, in our view, that would change the platform significantly. For accuracy, we fired five-shot groups from the 100-yard benches at American Shooting Centers in Houston (AMShootCenters.com).
Beyond accuracy and reliability we also compared the rifles based on practical handling. This included methods of loading and switching magazines as well as reviewing each gun’s strengths and versatility.