October 2011

Fulton Armory UPR Retest

Two years ago, we shot and liked Fulton’s 308 Win. autoloader, but it was plagued with malfunctions. Our team and the company shot and reshot the same rifle to find the cause.

In the May 2009 issue we tested four semi-automatic rifles chambered for 308 Winchester. Our test rifles were the DSA FAL SA58 No. SA58B21CM, $2095; the FNH USA FNAR Light Barreled Rifle No. 3108929250, $1821; the Springfield Armory Loaded M1A No. MA9226, $2363; and the Fulton Armory Universal Precision Rifle, $1969; an AR-style gun based on Fulton’s Titan II lineup. The winner of the test was the Springfield, which earned a B+ grade from our testers, followed closely by the FNH with a B grade. Trailing those rifles were the C- rated DSA, which didn’t show enough accuracy for our tastes, and the Fulton Armory Universal Precision Rifle, which we rated as a D. The summary for the UPR said, "Too many malfunctions caused us to downgrade this rifle. If it were only a matter of a bad magazine, then this is a good example of why all guns, especially expensive ones, should be shipped with an extra magazine. But when it ran properly we think this was the best AR-10 we’ve handled. If you’re willing to fix the problem under warranty, then adjust the grading yourself."

Because the article was negative regarding Fulton’s UPR, we offered W. Clint McKee, the company’s president, the chance to respond at length to the May article. He did so in "Firing Line" in the July 2009 issue, writing, "Regarding your test and D grade of the Fulton Armory UPR in the May issue, we received the rifle back and test-fired it without doing anything to it. That is, we simply took it out of the shipping box, ran a patch down the bore to clear any potential obstruction and then just shot it. Shot it with the mag Roger Eckstine received, and with some mags off the shelf, with round counts of 4, 9, and 19. We even shot it with one additional round forced into the mag (10 in the 9-round mag, 20 in the 19-round mag), and we even held it loosely (not against a hard backstop like a shoulder) which can cause short-stroking in semiautos), and still it fired every round, every way, flawlessly. Not a single malfunction. Not one.

"The rifle has not been disassembled, cleaned, lubed, nothing. I have instructed that it remain this way, ‘untouched,’ so we can test it again, and again. For a rifle that reportedly functioned so poorly it could not even be used to complete your testing, a rifle that performed so horribly that you failed it in a public venue (by dropping it from the test) without any communication/question/elucidation as to possible causes from the manufacturer is simply incomprehensible to me.

"Though we didn’t find anything wrong to repair, we’re shipping it back to Houston for the ‘customer,’ the Gun Tests team, to reshoot. If it functions correctly, as I expect it will, I hope you’ll revise the gun’s grade because you’ll find the UPR works properly, and Fulton Armory gave its customer the prompt attention that every purchaser of our products gets."

This Special Report recaps our follow-up testing of the UPR. The results from our retest were conducted by Benjamin A. Brooks, one of the magazine’s FFL gun coordinators and a longtime shooter with a Master ranking for across-the-course High Power.

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