Gun Tests magazine compared three AR-15s by Rock River Arms, ArmaLite, and Bushmaster in the September 2013 issue. The specific guns were the Rock River Arms LAR-15 Tactical CAR A4 AR1201X ($1065), ArmaLite M15A4 Carbine No. 15A4CBA2K ($1031), and the Bushmaster Carbon 15 SuperLight ORC No. 90689 ($845), all in caliber 5.56 NATO.
None had a top handle. All had the numbered-notch Picatinny rail. The Rock River and ArmaLite had front sights, but no rear. The Bushmaster Carbon 15 had no sights whatsoever, but came with a Chinese-made electronic red-dot sight. All three had the collapsible M4-type stock, and all three had 1:9-inch twist, 16-inch barrels. Here is what the magazine’s shooters found, used with permission:
ArmaLite M15A4 Carbine No. 15A4CBA2K 5.56 NATO, $1031
This rifle looked a whole lot like the Rock River, but with a slightly smaller (0.720-inch) barrel, measured midway on the exposed portion. The forend was a bit longer than the Rock River’s and, like the butt stock, it rattled. Like all three of these rifles, it had the forward-assist button, and we don’t quite know why.
In case of a malfunction or partial feed of a fresh round, the best way we’ve found to quickly and positively clear it is to withdraw the bolt, not try to jam it forward. We’ve found that jamming the bolt forward generally succeeds only in making it harder to get the offending round out of the gun, because the bad round just about never goes fully home, can’t be fired, and has to be pulled out the back manually. But to each his own.
We shot all three rifles with a 36x Weaver CT36 Micro-Trac target scope with central dot. The Weaver scope was mounted in a proprietary base that was adapted to Picatinny rails and secured by two hefty screws to which we could put adequate torque.
We shot the rifles at 100 yards using just two types of ammo. This was Black Hills’ 68-grain Heavy Match HP, and Russian TCW ball (55-grain FMJ) ammo, representing some of the finest and some of the least costly 5.56 ammo available for these rifles. All other types of 5.56 or 223 ammo would, we thought, fall between these two extremes. Some might be better and some worse, but with today’s limited supplies, we thought these two ammo types would give a good look at what you can expect.
On the range this rifle gave us the smallest group we’ve seen in a long time, three shots into 0.3 inch at 100 yards. The ArmaLite M-15 averaged just under an inch with all the groups fired with the target ammo. The Russian stuff was not bad either, averaging 2.5 inches.
So, despite its 7.4-pound (consistent) trigger pull, it shot the best of the three rifles. We plan to put the Timney trigger into this rifle and try the Magpul stock in a later report, but the bottom line is it shot extremely well as it came to us.
Our Team Said: In light of its accuracy, we gave the ArmaLite an A. We would have liked it better if it weighed less, and we might have preferred the fancy Magpul stock, and we wanted a better trigger. But this setup worked pretty well as it was, we thought.