February 14, 2012

Fulton Armory FAR-15 Predator Varmint Precision 223 Rem.

After Gun Test magazine’s article on "Compact AR Carbines" in October 2007 and a related article on "AR-15 Adjustable Stocks" in March 2008, the magazine was besieged with requests to visit additional limbs on the AR family tree: New caliber performance match-ups, more accessories testing, and national-match gun comparisons were just a few of the suggestions that popped up.

They subsequently chose one of the most popular requests, the AR-15 varmint/predator rifle. They quickly found that choosing guns to test wasn’t going to be easy. It seems almost every manufacturer out there was turning out some version of this genre.

There was also a fundamental difference in the definition of the varmint hunter. To some, a varmint hunter is someone who blazes away at prairie dogs and other such small targets from a rest. In parts of the South, varmint hunters are calling in foxes, coyotes, bobcats and other predators. This often requires carrying guns through thickets of brush, and a rest, if available, is a handy tree branch. The guns manufactured for these uses also have this same variety in their construction.

Since they had so many choices, they decided to narrow the field by setting the following parameters: a barrel length between 20 and 24 inches long, constructed of stainless steel, and capable of shooting the most popular ammo weight of 50 to 55 grains.

One of the guns they chose was the Fulton Armory FAR-15 Predator Varmint Precision 003020 223 Rem.

Here’s what they had to say:

We knew this test would prove to be hotly contested, so we chose topnotch mounts and scopes for this showdown. AR-15s tend not to fit standard gun cases when set up with the high mounts required to clear the charging handle, and still provide a solid sight picture.

With this in mind, we went to LaRue Tactical (www.laruetactical.com) for the exceptional LT104 30mm QD Lever Mount, $195. This allowed us to position the scope well above the charging handle, yet remove the scope for transport, and re-attach it via two quick-throw levers. Despite being assembled and disassembled numerous times, we never lost zero on the rigs. LaRue has a huge following in the sniper community, and our experience reinforced why this is the case.

Gun Tests June 2008

The coolest and costliest gun in our test provided the best overall accuracy, although it just missed the claimed "1/2 inch MOA or better" guarantee. Each gun is built to order, so you can pick and choose the options you prefer to lower the price, but southpaws should request something other than the right-handed pistol grip normally provided.

Our lone exception to this mounting protocol was the Bushmaster, which came with two riser blocks already installed on the gun. We chose No. 49865 Leupold QRW 30mm Quick Detach Mounts for a robust, portable mount.

Next, we researched scopes and settled on the Super Sniper 16X42 Model SS16X42, $300, a brand marketed and manufactured to the specifications of SWFA, a large distributor of most major brands of optics (www.riflescopes.com). We selected this scope for several reasons. It was a fixed power, so we didn’t have to worry with testers fiddling with the magnification, and inadvertently affecting accuracy scores. Next, although fixed power (16x in this case), the Super Sniper had parallax adjustments for given distances present on a rotating indicator dial, along with a fast-focus eyepiece. We had planned on getting 10X scopes, but SWFA had shipped all they had to the Army for their Designated Marksman Program.

After mounting the scopes, each gun was given a good general cleaning, carefully lubricated, trigger pull weights checked on a digital gauge, and then it was off to the range.

An exceptionally volatile Texas spring brought a series of gusty winds, heavy rain, the occasional hailstorm, and a few tornados thrown in for good measure. As a result, we went underground. Our friends at Bass Pro Shops in Grapevine, Texas, graciously granted us permission to use the store’s 100-yard shooting tunnel. We found it an excellent choice for extreme accuracy testing, plus it was a designated tornado shelter to boot. We spent the better part of two days recording data in what Bass Pro employees affectionately call "the Dungeon." Our time there also allowed us to schedule testers to come in and fire away, including a young lady who broke away from her teacher’s job to "school" us, by posting the second best group of 0.49 inch in our tests.

For testing purposes we selected three mid-range bullet weights with different price points: The Remington Express 55-gr. Pointed Soft Point R223R1, $19/20 rounds), Winchester Supreme 55-gr. Ballistic Silver Tip SBST223B, $21.48/20, and Black Hills Match New Production Red Box 50-gr. VMAX ($40/50). We were somewhat constrained in our ammo choices due to a lack of enough rounds of ammo to run our tests properly. The bare shelves at Bass Pro were a shocking sight, and a testament to how difficult it can be to find ammunition these days.

Gun Tests June 2008

Righties liked the Predator Match Pistol Grip; southpaws reviled it. Above: the FAR-15 makes for an imposing combination when equipped with a Super Sniper scope, sunshade attachment, and a Harris bipod.

Once we began firing, we took the time to swab each barrel after each ammo change to ensure carbon build-up did not influence the gun’s accuracy with the new ammo.

The second part of our testing took place under blue skies at the Arlington Sportsman’s Club, one the largest private gun clubs in Texas with over 1300 members and offering a full range of shooting opportunities (www.arlingtonsportsman.com). Most of our testers were competitive shooters, and they were very picky about what they liked, and didn’t, on the guns—exactly what we wanted.

Fulton Armory is one of the top providers of M1, M1a, and M14, competition guns, and Clint McKee (the owner) and Walt Kuleck (sales manager) have also written books on firearms, including “The M1 Garand Complete Assembly Guide,” “The M14 Complete Assembly Guide,” and “The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide.”

Their gun arrived in a plain cardboard box, with no gun case, just the gun sandwiched between two sheets of foam, along with a set of tools and directions for the Geissele trigger, and a modified version of their “The AR-15 Complete Owners Guide.” The FAR-15 inside was a striking gun, complete with a Magpul, PRS Precision adjustable sniper stock, $245, which provides exact cheek-weld and LOP adjustments. Other accoutrements included a target-gray stainless barrel ($35), a tac-latch on the charging handle for easier access when a scope is used ($20), a pre-installed Harris bipod ($80), and a side-cocking module ($125). Rounding out the features were a Krieger heavy 1:13-twist barrel ($390) and a Geissele adjustable two-stage trigger ($200). All of these options bring the gun to a wallet-emptying $1994 retail price.

The side-cocking module deserves a little more explanation. In lieu of the standard charging handle, the side-cocking module replaces the bolt cover and fits into the side of the gun by machining away the brass deflector. The bolt remains open after the last round is fired, but the shooter releases it by hitting the traditional bolt-release lever or tugging backward on the side-cocking module. Even the two lefties in were impressed with this feature.

Gun Tests June 2008

The Magpul PRS Adjustable Stock was praised by all testers.

When we took the gun to the range, it was the first gun the testers reached for when the guns were laid out on a desk. The gun was termed a "Sexy Beast" by our female tester. In particular, they liked the Magpul stock, side-charging handle, and target handle. The testers’ preference for the Fulton gun was further enhanced when rounds started being sent downrange.

The Fulton turned in the best overall grouping at 0.89 inch, despite some balky performance by the Remington ammo we used that none of the guns could group under 1 inch. The two lefties in the test felt they might have improved their performance, but for the handle that felt it was installed backwards, or as another tester described it like trying to hold a "prickly pear." Southpaws should order any handle but this one if they decide on the FAR15.

We felt the Giessele trigger was the best out of all the guns tested, but was also the hardest name to pronounce. Perhaps the greatest praise was directed toward the side-cocking mechanism. Although it eliminated the brass deflector, we had no problems with the ejection pattern. One tester felt the handle should be black to reduce glare, because his ADD caused him to focus on the "neat little handle" running back and forth.

You might wonder why we listed the prices of each option at the beginning of this review. The reason is that the base price for the FAR15 is $900, and every gun is bench built, so each shooter can pick and choose the options he can afford. As configured, our testers said the FAR15 was a first-class performer that richly deserved the "A" grade we gave it. Its balance and weight will suit both the bench blaster and the predator hunter.

Comments (41)

@bear1, I used to see them at Dick's Sporting Goods and advertised in magazines. I can't remember the name, if I see it again I will let you know.

Posted by: Robert J | February 24, 2012 1:19 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Robert J, I will lookinto It, f I can find one some where.
God Bless America.

Posted by: bear1 | February 24, 2012 12:13 PM    Report this comment

@bear1, Have you tried that device for your hand that has 4 spring loaded units for each finger? They have a couple different strengths. It works on grip strength, however you can squeeze each finger individually instead of squeezing the whole hand.

Posted by: Robert J | February 24, 2012 10:01 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Cecil B, my family has a saying for our klan and it is "never quit, never surender, thats for the other guy". david b and canovack, if you can find a natual hot springs that has a pool or deep enough to stand in or a deep enough pool (at least 4ft deep and big enough to really move around in) and be heated you can do water arobics. Beleave it or not the one I have is made up from a water tank that was for holding water from a well for the house and cut in half, I use a solar blanket to heat it in the summer, sub pump serculates the water. Working on get it inclosed and way to heat the water in winter without to high a coast. can us wood heat though because the tank is thick plastic stuff, so thinking on camp type tankless water heater and another subpump.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future. Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry, Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | February 20, 2012 10:10 PM    Report this comment

Jesus Christ bear1, you really have paid your dues to us all, many times over. I truly thank you and salute you, sir.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 20, 2012 8:40 PM    Report this comment

Thanks Cecil B, david b, and canovack, for you ideas and ways to help. Cecil B the Va was in S Cal. As for ya'lls suggestion I think I will give them a try, I like the hand spring and the gyroscope ball. As for shooting one hand I am still good right handed, strong hand, and working hard to get the left back. I am lucky that the good Lord gave me the way to shoot with either hand almost as good as the other. So far I have started with .22lr/.22 mag single action and am up to .38 cowboy with my weak left hand, just can't do the fancy twerils that I used to do when I was in My regareal(old west) and the quick draw, just been put back a few years and have to keep working at it until I get at least most of it back. Also I am use water arobics to help useing weights while I work on the rest of the problems with the joints caused by agent orange, that is eating away at me, and the operations from Cancer caused by AO and a couple others, I ended up gaining a lot of weight, so water arobics and other exercises, I have lost 50lbs since this last Oct. I real do appreciate your helpful suggestions. By the way for those bad joints water arobics sure do help. Thanks again, and God Bless.
God Bless America.

Posted by: bear1 | February 20, 2012 4:18 PM    Report this comment

For what it might be worth, bear1, I have been using those inexpensive little spring gadgets that have two handles on them. They look sorta like a sear spring with handles. When held in the palm of the hand, you squeeze the handles together, and as strength improves, you can continue to increase the repetitions. In addition to improving hand and wrist strength for general purposes, I have found them to be good for keeping my hands and wrists in shape for guitar playing.

Posted by: canovack | February 20, 2012 12:34 PM    Report this comment

bear1 - I've got a boat-load of joint injuries and had a dozen or so broken bones. For a while I had a bone out of place in my wrist, and that left it weak for several years. Here are two things that I used, and still use for my wrists.

First, one of those 'gyroscope ball' things will in fact give your entire wrist a good work-out. Its a tennis ball sized plastic ball with another one inside. The inner one has a string wrapped around it - you pull that string hard and that ball starts spinning. As you move your hand around, it somehow creates pressures that work against you, so you get a pretty good work-out. After a while you can start playing around and see how long you can keep it turning.

I'm sure you know what kettle-bells are. They look like a road-side smudgepot, with a handle. Get one that you can move around now but with a bit of effort, and work your wrist with that. Having the weight on the outside of your hand creates entirely different stresses and will help make your wrist stronger a lot faster. But use a small one at first until you know you can go up in weight. Like dumbbells, they step up in about 5 lb. increments to around 50. I'm using a 25 pounder to work my lower back now, and it has helped me immensely with my lumbar problems. Heck, one session helped noticeably, and I've had very little trouble since I started, even with 4 "bulging" lumbar discs.

Posted by: david b | February 20, 2012 8:21 AM    Report this comment

If it is any comfort bear, when I was a police, way back when, we learned to shoot 1 handed. Sometimes I think this two handed shit was started by Starsky & Hutch. Those idiots were always running around with their guns up in the air in 2 handed mode. I know that I may be full of shit about effectiveness but I can punch your shirt buttons off at 25 yards with my .44, one handed. So, don't let it keep you down. By the way, which VA hosp. screwed up the operation?

Posted by: Cecil B | February 20, 2012 12:12 AM    Report this comment

canovack, my friend, I am still lucky enough to be able to hand my rifles and shotguns so far and I keep exercising that wrist. As for two handed hand guns I do all right as long as I don't get carried away with them great big cals. right now, I can even shoot some with my weak hand if I am real careful and whatch what I am doing. The main thing is to keep exercising it in hopes of it comming around, and I have found out that useing a sling helps take some of the weight off the wrist and sometimes I am clad I can shoot off handed.And I practice this often also to keep inshape. Also keep squeezing good old tennis ball to help steingthem the hand. Off corse open to any other ideas.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | February 19, 2012 10:28 PM    Report this comment

'Sorry about your wrist, bear1. It's a good thing that you can still hold a rifle or shotgun. How does the wrist injury affect two handed pistol/revolver shooting?

Posted by: canovack | February 19, 2012 11:40 AM    Report this comment

One of the guys on "The Walking Dead" packs a crossbow. Pretty bad assed.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 18, 2012 9:29 PM    Report this comment

david b, you made some very good points, and yes I already bpought it, like in my first post I pointed out the the VA Dr.s srewed up on an operation on my left wrist and hand so it makes it extremly hard to pull back acompond or recuvre bow. But I keep exercising that hand and wrist in hopes to be able to go back to my favorite recuve type bow if not at least to a compound. but untill then I will try out this cross bow. Thank you for pointing out the problems that can acure.

Posted by: bear1 | February 18, 2012 9:19 PM    Report this comment

From what david b has to say, it would appear that a crossbow can be a pretty intricate piece of weaponry. Extrapolating his comments to the long bow, it would seem that today's compound bows might also be somewhat intricate as well. The simple old wooden Ben Pearson recurve long bow, that I had as a kid, seems like a stone club in comparison to what is available today. That said, however, that little 35 pound bow accounted for several rabbits, squirrels, snakes, and a pheasant or two......No.....the pheasants weren't flying when I hit them.

Posted by: canovack | February 18, 2012 10:36 AM    Report this comment

bear1 - Did you buy the bow already? If so then don't ready any further. If not, then consider that a recurve bow is less maintenance. If you break a string on your recurve bow (crossbow or longbow) you can pull one of several new strings out of your pocket, change it in the field, and keep shooting. If you break a compound string - you need to go home, get out the tool box, restring the bow and retune all the cams and such, then take it out and re-zero it.

I suppose that only makes a difference if it's important to how you anticipate using the bow. Sitting in a tree stand waiting for a deer, it probably doesn't. Stalking, using it for defense or a survival bow, I think it would.

Posted by: david b | February 18, 2012 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Thank you Colonel for your kind words and thoughts. It appears that you and your bride should expect to be around for a while given the longevity in your families. I truly hope so. We need guys like you to help keep em honest. Thank you again.

And again, my thanks to all my friends that freqnent this forum. I know we will all stand or hang together.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 17, 2012 8:21 PM    Report this comment

Take care and enjoy your new toy, bear1. Let me know what you discover.

Posted by: canovack | February 17, 2012 7:50 PM    Report this comment

Sorry about that canovack, but you know how I like to pick your brian and expeiriance. I guess I will have to let you know how this one turns out, and if it works out for us Old Farts, if it is worth it or not. But like you said I am looking at not haveing to have a suppressor. Again just had to try Old Friend because I like your honest answers.

Posted by: bear1 | February 17, 2012 7:42 PM    Report this comment

Well, bear1, the last time I shot an arrow out of anything was when I was working for a merit badge to help me achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. As you can figure, that's back in the mid 1950s, so I am afraid that I have absolutely zip experience with bows and crossbows. I do, however, think that crossbows are definitely cool. I may yet find myself checking them out, since they can do pretty much what a firearm can do without the need for a suppressor.

Posted by: canovack | February 17, 2012 7:30 PM    Report this comment

Thank You Very Much Wwinnieguy for your prayers, it seems like with all of us regulars, when one hurts we all hurt and when one is happy about getting a knew gun or one of our kids gets married, or one of our grand kids starts learning how to shoot and hunt we all are happy. Maybe that is why I feel if and when the time to stand a fight to defend our rights as Americans, we here will do so standing side by side, sholder to sholder.
Hey canovack, I thought you might have had something to say to help me out with the cross bow my friend.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the Un and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | February 17, 2012 3:19 PM    Report this comment

I know that you and your mom were pretty close, Cecil, and it hurt when she passed. Maybe you can take some comfort in the knowledge that whatever she suffered, it is now past, and she is in a far better place. Still, my Rose and I send our condolences.

When we get to be the ages that we are, living parents get to be pretty rare. My dad made it to 88 and died in 1999; my dad-in-law made it to 82 and died in 2002; my mom made it to 96 and died in 2009; and my mom-in-law made it to 89 and died last May.

Posted by: canovack | February 17, 2012 10:42 AM    Report this comment

Thanks guys. I truly appreciate your thoughts.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 17, 2012 9:41 AM    Report this comment

Sorry to hear about your mother Cecil B.

Posted by: Robert J | February 17, 2012 8:48 AM    Report this comment

I have been reading this forum for about a year now, and though I seldom post I feel like I know all of you "regulars". Cecil and bear, I'd like to send my thoughts and prayers to you, both, regarding the loss of your mothers.

Posted by: winnieguy | February 17, 2012 5:11 AM    Report this comment

Thanks bear. I tried and took care of her and Dad for 9 years so I guess I did good.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 17, 2012 12:16 AM    Report this comment

Cecil B I know how ya feel, but I remember some thing Mom told me not to long before she pass and that was that no matter how much trouble or how much greif us boys caused her, she loved use with all her heart because we were her children and we made her proud more times than not. So I am pretty sure your mom felt the same way. I hope that helps.

Posted by: bear1 | February 16, 2012 11:57 PM    Report this comment

Thanks bear. I am sorry about your Mom too. I have just been wandering around the house in a fog since Saturday. I just hope I did all the things I was supposed to do for her when she was alive and didn't cause her too much pain when I was growing up. Thanks again for your prayers.


Posted by: Cecil B | February 16, 2012 10:51 PM    Report this comment

Cecil B, please acept my Symathies also, I lost my Mom this last Sept, and It is always hard no matter how ready you think you are to loose your mom, it seems that our mom's are always the closes one to us guys and dads are always closes to the gals. The Mrs. and I will keep you in our prayers.

Posted by: bear1 | February 16, 2012 10:17 PM    Report this comment

Thanks david. It has been difficult but we somehow get through these things. I really do appreciate your thoughts and sympathy.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 16, 2012 9:10 PM    Report this comment

Cecil B - I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. Geez, time or not, blessing or not, it's damned hard for a guy to have to bury his Mother. I think I can speak for every 'regular' on this site when I say you have our sympathy and our best wishes to get you through what must be a tough time for you.

Posted by: david b | February 16, 2012 9:00 PM    Report this comment

You know bear, I always hoped I would die before I ran out of money. But nowdays, it is a toss up. My Mother died last Saturday and I think she was just tired of all this crap. She was 89, much older that the age to which I aspire.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 16, 2012 8:51 PM    Report this comment

Again this one is getting up out of my price range, but I guess I might be able save up for one unless like what happened on valintines day when I dropped the Mrs. off to do some shoping and I went down to the toy store (GUN) and ran right into a great deal on a cross bow with all the trimmings. I have bee wanting one since the VA srewed up an Operation on my left hand and wrist and couldn't pull back a regular bow, so no I have to find someone that knows alot more about them than I do, LOL. God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future. Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | February 16, 2012 8:37 PM    Report this comment

SAM J. You didn't look at the site properly. That $2.00 thing is separate from this forum.
Go back and try it again. This is a good place to talk.

And Colonel. Yesterday, I was holding in my hands a street legal .308 HK full auto. It is 35 years old and looks a lot like the German Sturmgaver of WWII but was sure sweet. Belongs to a guy I know with a Class III.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 16, 2012 8:18 PM    Report this comment

Does anybody know what SAM J is talking about?

Posted by: canovack | February 16, 2012 8:17 PM    Report this comment

Sir or to who ever is responsible for "New Customers" I want to be removed from your $2.00 per month charge plan. At first it was indicated it was "FREE", then after I filled in all areas, it's indicated it's ONLY $2.00/PER MONTH...REMOVE ME AT ONCE! ANOTHER "RIP OFF", cannot even be honest in your sign up page, you will never win by being a CHEAT!
Sam J. Irvin, also remove me from your e-mail notices, I want no additional communications with you or your organization. I also will e-mail my entire address book and tell all what you tried to do...and are doing!

Posted by: SAM J | February 16, 2012 8:05 PM    Report this comment

Well, Cecil, I don't think the Zombies will know that mine aren't Fulton Armory either. I expect that my SIG 556, S&W M&P15, DPMS LR308, Springfield SOCOM16, and Golani Galil will all perform to the point of excellence.

Posted by: canovack | February 16, 2012 7:50 PM    Report this comment

I'm just glad that I grabbed a couple before I was priced out of the market. I don't think the Zombies will know that mine are a bit older.

Posted by: Cecil B | February 16, 2012 7:26 PM    Report this comment

Pronounced guys-lee I believe :)

Posted by: DougE | February 16, 2012 5:50 PM    Report this comment

I just want the updates so I can keep up with the comments.

Posted by: david b | February 16, 2012 5:28 PM    Report this comment

Looks as though as it might be a good item. I would perfer a 1 in 9 twist and would probably go with the Stag rifle for less money.

Posted by: baronkeith | February 16, 2012 3:35 PM    Report this comment

It is really quite phenomenal that the AR platform has become such a widely accepted shoulder firearm. What originally had its beginnings as a tactical piece intended only for military and police applications has burgeoned into what amounts to a rifle for all occasions and all tasks. The modular features of this platform have permitted a plethora of configurations and calibers that nobody had vaguely foreseen when the little black rifle made its debut as the M16, some fifty years ago.

I must admit that I was quite skeptical when we started seeing CETME rifles offered as sporters in the 1960s. Prior to that time, a sporting rifle was normally fashioned from wood and blued steel, and I was not at all interested in having any such thing as a plastic and black steel battle implement in my gun cabinet. Now, almost all of my pieces are so-called "tactical items", made of durable synthetics, alloys, and steel that will find themselves equally at home on the battlefield as well as the sporting field. We certainly have seen a quantum change, not only in technology, but in individual tastes as well.

Posted by: canovack | February 16, 2012 1:43 PM    Report this comment

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