Along with all the other toys I want, I've been thinking about a carbine in 7.62x51/.308. On my short list currently are the DPMS Panther LR-308AP4, DSA SA58 Tactical Carbine 16.25" barrel, and the Springfield armory Socom 16 (not Socom II )
My plus and minus thoughts for each are as follows:
On the plus side - Lowest in price. Same basic ergonomics as all other A/R's.
On the minus side - Shortest time on the market. Proprietary magazines. The need to stock up on magazines (a consideration due to the potential political wind shift next year).
DSA FAL Carbine
Plus side - It's an FAL! DSA reputation.
Minus side - Costliest carbine, especially with added options. Same need to stock up on magazines as with AP4
SA Socom 16
Plus side - Already have an M1A standard, so know the ergonomics, can share magazines.
Minus side - Quality issues I've read about. Price.
If you own/have usage knowledge of one, two, or all three of the above carbines, I would like to hear your experience.
I own the DPMS AP4, and with a Trijicon Accupoint mounted on it, I was able to manage a 3/4" shot group at 100m with Federal blue box ammo. Average group size was about 1.5". So far I really like it for the basic AR ergonomics. The only issue I've had was that it wouldn't take a RRA match-grade trigger, so I'm stuck with the stock trigger.
The answer is clear.
You already have the magazines and are familiar with the platform for maintenance purposes.