I've made my decision to buy a variant of the Springfield M1A next month, but now I have some hard (for me) decisions to make. My first dilema is, do I get the SOCOM 16, which looks badass, is nice and compact, and a tad bit lighter, or do I go for the Scout with an 18" barrel and a little longer flash hider? I don't know how big of a difference say 3" is going to make on ballistics with a .308. My idea for this gun is to have a simple, powerful, tuff, "battle rifle". I had it all in my head to buy the SOCOM, but then I thought, well, I have my shotgun for close range, maybe I should get the Scout and put a quick detatch 1-4 power scope on it and a light weight bi-pod. In my head, it seems like the couple inches shouldn't make a difference if I need the gun for something close, but then, do I need those couple inches for the long shot either? Damn! If I get a SOCOM, I will not put optics on it, most likely. Second dilema - wood or synthetic? I love the look of a nice, solid wood stock, and apperance wise, it would match my 870P, annnddd, my girlfriend likes the look better too LOL. I know that in bad weather, synthetic is much better, and it holds accuracy better, black also looks pretty cool. So, don't try and talk me out of a M1A, I'm getting one, but if you have any advise that may help me make my pick, any easier, let's hear it, please! Even if it's just based off of looks. Thanks!