July 2009

Fulton Armory Responds to Test

In the May 2009 issue, we ranked the company’s UPR rifle as a D-grade gun because of malfunctions. Fulton’s Clint McKee fires back that a factory follow-up session failed to find any problems.

Re "308 Semi-Auto Rifles: FNH-USA,

Springfield, Fulton, and DSA," May 2009

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

Fulton Armory
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.

Also, allow me to quote from a prominent gun magazine:

"Our trips to the range gave the team ample time to access the shooting

capabilities of the gun. At the conclusion of the tests, we found that, unlike the Armalite, our two test groups were in complete agreement. All of our testers preferred the Fulton FAR-308 over the competition. The remarks were remarkably similar: ‘accurate,’ ‘balanced,’ ‘easy to shoot,’ and ‘low recoil.’ Two of our SWAT-team members gave it their highest compliment, stating they would plunk down their own cash to buy the Fulton Titan FAR-308."

"The empirical data tended to back up the comments, as the Fulton proved to be the most accurate with all three brands of ammo fired through it, including an average 0.9-inch group size with the Silver State Armory 175-gr. Sierras."

The prominent magazine is, of course, the April 2009 issue of Gun Tests. The back-to-back reports with diametrically opposite results strains credulity.

No other AR-type rifles are as carefully crafted as the Fulton Armory AR-15– and AR-10–type rifles. No other AR-type rifles are manufactured from as high quality components as Fulton Armory AR-15– and AR-10–type rifles. Fulton Armory’s reputation rests on producing the highest-quality rifle humanly possible, and supporting them with the most intensely personal service, backing that up with an unprecedented (and unequaled) no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee. Fulton Armory can offer that guarantee because, quite simply, customers don’t return their Fulton Armory rifles once they’ve unpacked and fired them.

And if I may add, the owner (yours truly) personally handles any and every "warranty" issue when such unusual event occurs, and it is handled immediately. That is, once it hits our door, its job #1—no waiting, and I personally discuss the issue with the end user.

As I’ve noted above, we’ve examined the gun and treated it like any other customer-service warranty issue. 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.

—W. Clint McKee

President, Fulton Armory

We’re happy to put the original article, Fulton Armory’s additional function testing, and any further followup in front of the Gun Tests readership for them to judge. If

GT’s readers think that Fulton was short-changed in how the magazine handled the reporting, they’ll still buy the Titan.

To recap, after the test Roger Eckstine clarified that "During our initial testing, the Titan failed to chamber at least four rounds of each test ammunition by either double feeding or smashing the cases in the process. The frequency of the malfunctions became greater the more we shot the rifle. Inspection and lubrication did not offer a solution."

The testers didn’t venture a "why" for those malfunctions because we don’t know why. Neither does Fulton Armory—you say the gun runs fine with no modifications. So a phone call during the test would have netted us the same result as we have now: You got the gun back, examined it, it works fine. When the gun returns to Houston for further testing, we’ll treat that as a warranty call and produce a follow-up. In fact, that’s what we counseled readers to consider in the May article’s Report Card: "If you’re willing to fix the problem under warranty, then adjust the grading yourself." If the problem doesn’t duplicate, then we’ll report on Fulton’s customer-service problem resolution as well as the function of the gun.

—Todd Woodard

In your review of the 308 semi-auto rifles in the May issue, all of the comments regarding the M1A appeared to be positive, yet you scored it a B+. Why didn’t it receive a A+ since there weren’t any negatives?

—Jerry Bortner

Probably the most difficult part of producing an evaluation for publication is assigning a grade. We know what a failing performance looks like, but what is A+ performance? The Springfield Armory rifle received the highest grade, no matter what the letter or suffix. In the context of these three rifles it was the best. Yet, the team was expecting at least one of these guns to achieve accuracy on par with a bolt-action rifle of the same cost, so that dampened its letter grade a notch.

—Roger Eckstine

Re June 2009 Color Pages and Other Topics

I noticed the color illustrations in Gun Tests. In my opinion, not necessary or desired. Gun Tests. can stand on its contents alone. We don’t need fancy color, slick graphics or other useless nonsense so prevalent in the other gun magazines. I wouldn’t care if Gun Tests. was just in black and white!

If you have extra cash in your budget, use it to test more guns or keep subscription rates in check. I pay a premium for your publication because it is valuable to me as a source of information. Ten bucks a year is my limit for the others. If I don’t get a deal, I drop them.

On another note, who makes the ‘97 pump gun tested in the June issue? I know

Norinco made clones once. Seems hard to believe there is enough demand for two outfits to tool up. Could Norinco be making them for Cimarron? You ought to note the country of manufacture in your specs.

—Greg Fischer

Chris Ballard from Cimarron F A Co said, "The shotguns are made in China, at a factory down the street from where the Norinco guns were made. This factory has newer CNC machines, and we think puts out a better overall gun." —tw

The color was a splendid surprise this month—thank you for that, and thank you for your fine work through the years. If you don’t mind, please explain how a Savage—or any rifle, for that matter—is capable of shooting groups smaller than the bullet diameter. Do you measure the size of that single ragged hole and divide by the number of shots?

—Robert Geyer

Schererville, Indiana Group size is measured center to center. In the case of one hole, the bullet diameter is subtracted from the longest distance between "holes." If all shots went perfectly through the same hole, the group size would be 0.00 inches. Smaller-than-bullet-diameter group sizes are not uncommon in competition. It is standard practice for smallbore benchrest competition targets to be scanned and auto-scored as opposed to measured by hand, as the difference between a "win" and second place can be a couple of thousandths of an inch. Extremely tight groups are fun, and remarkable. That’s why we enjoy remarking about them.

—Randy Wakeman

As a longtime subscriber, I enjoyed the addition of color to your June issue. What I did not think wise was the use of pale or color type for the "Our Team Said" sections of your reviews. For me and perhaps many readers, the pale/colored typeface was difficult to read, and substantially detracted from, rather than added to, your publication.

—William R. McCants

Neptune Beach, Florida

I agree. I’ve changed that treatment in this issue. Now the "Our Team Said" summary paragraphs are underlined with the corresponding grade colors near the module recommendations. —tw

Re "Firing Line," June 2009

I thought Gene Taylor did a very good job of answering the question from Tim St. Onge regarding barrel twist rates for the 223/5.56mm. However, I would beg to clarify two details:

First, it is not actually the weight of the bullet that affects stability, but rather the length of the bullet relative to its velocity. The longer or slower the bullet, the faster the twist required to stabilize it. Thus, a specialty bullet such as a Berger VLD (Very Low Drag), or an all-copper bullet such as the Barnes TSX, which are longer for their weight than a similar weight lead-core bullet, would actually need a faster twist than their weight alone would indicate. Gene’s guidelines for twist rate to bullet rate were spot on for lead-core bullets, but these specialty bullets should be bumped up to the next higher weight class for best results. Additionally, it should be understood that if light-recoiling lower-velocity loads are planned, again a faster twist may be called for. On the opposite end of the spectrum, very light bullets, such as a 45-grain hollowpoint varmint bullet, require a slower twist rate—in fact, many offer a warning on the box not to fire in a barrel of faster twist than 1:9. This is because the extra velocity attained with the lighter bullet, in combination with the faster twist rate, can actually cause a very light bullet to deform or even break up upon leaving the muzzle.

So, the real answer to Tim’s question is another question: "What is the intended purpose of the rifle?" If the rifle is to be strictly a varminter, and will only be used with very fast, light bullets, then go with a slower twist such as 1:12. If the rifle will be a varminter, but you might like to experiment with some heavier bullets either for windy days or for larger varmints like coyotes, maybe bump up to a medium twist rate, say 1:9 or 1:10. If you expect to push the caliber’s upper limits on medium-large game such as deer or hogs, then go with a fast twist of 1:8 or 1:7, to handle the heavier, longer bullets needed for larger game.

One way to learn what other shooters are using, and how it works for them, is to go to a website such as MidwayUSA, and read the reviews for various bullets (either loaded ammo or components). Many of the reviewers will describe how they use this particular bullet in their rifle, what their twist rate is, and how well it shoots for them. You may be surprised how many people successfully take deer with the .223. This is a great way to get a feel for what combinations work well, and which don’t, before spending any money.

—John Behling

Cape Coral, Florida


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