Gun Review: ArmaLite M-15

A few months ago, through the collective efforts of RF and the good folks at ArmaLite, my modest gun safe found itself home to the greatest collection of avant-garde military firepower in the history of Dumm-dom. Translation: for a few weeks, I had a shitload of Evil Assault Rifles, er, Modern Sporting Rifles, in my closet. I was as happy as a clam in sand. Before I offer you my stop – start review of the ArmaLite M-15, I need to share this moment with TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia . . .

ArmaLite’s AR-15 variant—the M-15 A4 Carbine—was a central part of this zombie-killing collection. It took me several shooting sessions, many hundreds of rounds of ammo, and a trip to the factory for repairs, but I can finally pronounce that . . . gotcha! Average time on site needs must . . .

Overview

The M-15 A4 is ArmaLite’s nearasdammit entry-level flattop AR carbine. The lower half features an M4 collapsible buttstock and a forged lower receiver. The upper half offers a flattop forged receiver, a mid-length handguard and gas system, a chrome-lined 16” heavy barrel, a rail front gas block (no sight post, no bayonet lug) and an A2 flash hider. The chamber boasts elongated M4-style feed ramps for more reliable feeding with heavier bullet weights. Not that you’ll want them . . .

All steel surfaces are phosphate-finished to milspec standard. You can have any iron sights you like with the gun (i.e. the gun comes without them). That’ll be at least another $75 for a set of aftermarket BUIS.

The whole package weighs a hair over seven and a half pounds without a magazine or optics. Our T&E gun featured olive drab furniture. According to the Armalite website, so do the rest of them.

Fit and finish are top-notch, both inside and out. Unlike G.I. M-16s and many lower-grade civilian ARs, the M-15 receiver halves mate together precisely and securely, with tight-fitting action pins and no play between the upper and lower receivers. I searched in vain for any machining marks inside or outside the gun. I found a single milling mark on the inside of the M-15′s lower receiver.

Ergonomics

All of the M-15’s controls are in the standard AR positions, and all of them function with solid precision. There’s no stickiness in the magazine release, no rattle in the charging handle when it’s locked forward, and no stickiness in the safety lever. (There is some shake & rattle in the polymer stock furniture, but that seems common to most ARs.)

Southpaws need not apply. While the M-15′s charging handle is ambidextrous, the magazine release sits on the right side of the gun, the safety and bolt release are San Fran (they live on the left). FN tweaked their SCAR’s safety and magazine release by adding a handful of new parts, producing a wonderful switch-hitter’s rifle. I’d like to see more AR builders follow FN’s example; it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and easier than building entire ‘mirror image’ AR.

The M-15 handles and shoots much like any other quality AR-pattern carbine, although the heavy barrel and longer handguard do inflict a one-pound weight penalty. It may already qualify as a ‘classic’ design because of its ubiquity, but I’m not a huge fan of the M4 collapsible stock. I don’t find it particularly comfortable nor stable. Then again I don’t need to adjust my buttstock to fit the hard Kevlar vests our soldiers and Marines wear.  The heaviest shooting gear I wear is a parka with a fleece liner.

Trigger

All M-15’s are equipped with two-stage triggers. Our tester’s trigger broke cleanly at about six pounds. If you think this is too heavy for a tactical carbine, think again. The M-15′s go pedal was extremely smooth and crisp, with no creep or overtravel Armalite ships this rifle with a Goldilocks trigger: not so heavy that it throws off your aim, and not so light that it gets the job finished quicker than a jackrabbit on a date. I’m sure it contributed to the rifle’s excellent accuracy.

Recoil and Muzzle Blast

The M-15’s recoil is mild, just like any .223 carbine’s. Muzzle jump is more pronounced than that of a SCAR or AK-74. Those rifles and others feature highly effective muzzle brakes, which substantially reduce or eliminate muzzle climb. The M-15 does not.

Muzzle brakes come at a price: they subject your shooting buddies to substantially increased noise and muzzle blast. The almost-recoilless SCAR is one loud sumbitch; nearly as loud as an 18” barreled .308 battle rifle. AK-74s direct powerful gusts of muzzle gas at your range companions, and when you shoot corrosive Soviet-surplus 7N6 5.45×39 ammo those fumes smell a lot like cat pee.

The M-15 doesn’t go in for any of this; it wears an old-school A2 flash hider that does just what it advertises. It hides the flash, and it spares your buddies the head-splitting concussion and cat-piss aromatherapy that muzzle brakes deliver.

Ain’t No Clang In That Thang!

Many ARs create an odd “clanggg” sound when fired, caused as the buffer spring bounces around inside the buttstock buffer tube. It’s not loud, but it seems to vibrate right through my hearing protection and straight into my brain. It makes the gun sound like a Red Ryder BB gun, and maybe I’m weird but I find it uniquely irritating.

I don’t know how ArmaLite solved this problem, but the M-15 clangs less than a roomful of square-dancing cowboys. I didn’t try to remove the buffer tube to find out how they did it (after a bad experience with an FN-FAL recoil buffer spring, I don’t f*ck with them unless I have the proper tools). The ArmaLite M-15 rifle makes the one sound a real rifle should make. Bang.

A Word About Weight

With a lightweight optic and no accessories weighing it down, the M-15 handles quickly and points instinctively. We didn’t mind it being a bit muzzle-heavy during our testing, since the extra heft up front kept it steady on target.

If weight is a concern for your tactical rifle, you’ll want to be sparing in your choice of weapon-mounted gadgets. Instead of a six-pound, two-ounce M4, the M-15 weighs 7.5 pounds empty. A loaded 30-round magazine adds another pound. Now you’ve got an 8.5 pound rifle. It’s not a candidate for The Biggest Loser, but it’s no Bob or Jillian either.

And now you wanna add an Eotech? Add another 11 or 14 ounces. And a doubler? Add another four ounces. A carbine should wear a sling, and that will add another six or eight ounces. Your weapon light and mount will add another four ounces. If you gotsta, gotsta have a quad rail and verti-grip, it will cost you another half-pound. Need a bipod? Another half pound.

A half-pound here and a half-pound there (and there, and there) and pretty soon your tactical carbine weighs twelve or thirteen pounds; double the weight of an empty M4.  The Moral Of This Story is that you don’t want to be the guy lugging around the 16” carbine that weighs more than a loaded, sling- and bayonet-equipped M14 with a 22” barrel. You’ll feel like a complete tool, and more importantly you’ll get tired really quickly.

Reliability

Thanks to the twin joys of free ammo and tight deadlines, press guns tend to see a lot of use in a short time. I have no idea how many thousands of rounds our M-15 had fired before it came into my hands, but I know it was well-used because the shell deflector already wore the dings and scars of hard use, and the charging handle’s anodized finish was well on its way to being worn off.

Whenever and however it may have happened, our T&E rifle was initially shipped to us with a damaged left feed ramp. ARs have two feed ramps, one for each stack in the magazine, and the left one caused a failure to feed when every fourth or sixth round got stuck on its way to the chamber.

We discovered this problem on our first day at the range. The bullets were getting pretty scored up, but the mainspring still had almost enough strength to force the round into battery anyway. I could sometimes clear these jams by just shaking the rifle and pointing the muzzle down and letting gravity do the rest. We gave up on nursing the M-15 through our run-and-gun firing course, but we managed to do some accuracy testing despite the FTFs.

Our first range day with the M-15 was something of a bust, with only 100 or so rounds downrange. I gave the gun a very thorough cleaning afterwards, and I lubricated it until it was swimming in oil. It didn’t fix the burred feed ramp, but the oiled-up action had much less friction and it let the mainspring chamber the rounds reliably. This remedy got me through a successful day at the range the following weekend, and we shot another 150 rounds without a single malfunction while testing it for accuracy at longer ranges.

The feed ramp problem didn’t seem to affect accuracy, but we still needed some run-and-gun testing so I called ArmaLite to arrange a repair. When I emailed them the pictures of the jam and the chewed bullet ogive, their machinist immediately understood the problem and he speculated that it could have been caused by steel-cased ammo. I cleaned it again and sent it back to the factory for repairs. I wasn’t getting any special ‘gun writer’ treatment here; all new Armalites come with limited lifetime warrantees.

I got the rifle back about a month later (yes, it was the same gun, and yes I’ve learned to check), and we headed to the hills for some run-and-gun testing as soon as we could.

All roads to our favorite shooting quarry were blocked by fallen trees and snowdrifts, but we persevered and found another quarry with steep gravel banks and plenty of tin cans to blast. Oh, the things we do for the sake of journalism . . .

We burned through about 450 rounds, shooting in a cold drizzle that occasionally turned into a downpour. The M-15 performed flawlessly. Andrew, a former infantry captain and an AR owner himself, was impressed with its handling and reliability. He ran it through a very improvised run-and-gun course several times. He’s got a very quick trigger finger and he’s a riot to watch in action, but I regret that I have no photographic proof of his efforts that day.

I tried to take home videos from the safety of our picnic shelter, but Andrew’s camouflage raingear seemed perfectly designed to frustrate my cinematic efforts. In my tiny camera he blended into the scenery, and the videos were completely useless.  I think he wore the Mossy Oak “Rainy Oregon Shooting Quarry” camo pattern.

The drizzling rain prevented me from risking my phone/camera by getting too close to the action, but I got some shots of Wayne having fun. Astute readers may remember him from the Chiappa Rhino write-up back in October.

While its post-repair functioning was perfect, it appears that the feed ramp has not been completely smoothed out. This photo shows the scratching that the bullets still show after chambering, and it’s not nearly as ugly as it was before but it still shouldn’t be happening.

But this leaves me wondering . . . if rifle is still 100 percent reliable and exceptionally accurate after an imperfect repair, is there a problem? And if a ‘problem’ doesn’t cause a problem, is it still a problem? One good range day can’t prove that any rifle is service-grade reliable, but this gun is well on its way to earning my trust.

Accuracy

Using the same mix of cheap factory and commercial reload ammo that we used to test the FN-SCAR 16S a few months ago (when the Armalite jammed) we also tested the Armalite M-15 for accuracy a few weeks later.

Other variables held constant from the failed run-and-gun testing: the same ammo, the same magazines, and the same shooter. Only the weather had changed (it was 40 degrees and raining, instead of 24 degrees and sunny) and the rifle had been meticulously cleaned and lubricated between shooting sessions. We fired approximately 150 rounds through the Armalite, and experienced no malfunctions. The numbers below represent the average of several 5-shot groups each.

50 Yards (Eotech) 50 Yards (9x) 100 Yards (9x)
55-grain FMJ 2.6” 0.79” 1.56”
64-grain BTSP 2.30”

We didn’t have enough 64-grain ammunition to test at shorter ranges. Considering that ammunition’s lackluster performance at 100 yards I don’t think we missed much. The results are clear, and the ArmaLite M-15 has shown its preference for lighter-weight bullets. This is not a criticism of the M-15; in fact it’s an advantage, since the 55-grain ammo is the cheapest and most common 5.56x45mm ammo available.

ArmaLite advertises that the M-15’s 1:9” twist is appropriate for 52-69 grain bullets, but the 64 bullets seemed to be under-stabilized. The smallest group with the 64-grain bullets was 2.1” and was strung out vertically. There was no stringing with the 55-grain groups, and the smallest group was 1.3”.

The M-15 was also much less sensitive to barrel heating and cooling than other tactical carbines. The pencil-thin SCAR barrel loses accuracy quickly under sustained firing: it’s smallest cold-barrel group was 0.5” smaller than the average, and a full inch smaller than its largest hot-barrel group.

The mechanically superb Heckler & Koch HK93 will string its shots as much as 6” off zero under sustained firing. The M-15, on the other hand, only lost or gained about 0.2” as the barrel heated up or cooled off. Richard Roundtree said it first, and I’ll say it now: solid!

All in all, the M-15 exhibited outstanding accuracy for a rifle of its type. If accuracy is a priority for you, its fully rifled heavy barrel (.75” diameter at the gas block) is well worth its extra weight.  If I could test several brands of match-grade 55-grain ammunition, I would probably find one that prints 1.2 MOA with this rifle.

If you check the ArmalLte website, they advertise the M-15 as a 2-2.5 MOA gun. If a used and abused press gun can shoot 1.2 MOA with the cheapest box of commercial reloads at the gun show, ArmaLite needs to update their web page!

Don’t Call It An M4!

As I mentioned in my preview video, the M-15 has several features that distinguish it from the currently fashionable M-4 styled carbines on the market, and I dig all of them.

1.  A 16” fully rifled barrel.

M4s and their civilian clones may wear 16” barrel tubes, but only the first 14.5” is rifled. The last inch and a half of a civilian M4 is an over-bored barrel extension whose sole raison d’etre is NFA compliance; it does nothing for velocity or accuracy. The M-15 is the same overall length and it gives you a smidge more velocity and accuracy.

2.  No grenade-launcher barrel cuts.

I know they look cool, but there’s just no excuse for civilian M4 barrels to be turned down to a pencil-thin diameter just forward of the gas block. You and I will never get to sling an M203 grenade launcher under our AR carbines, but we can all benefit from the additional strength and heat stability of a full-profile barrel.

3.  A mid-length gas system and handguard.

I personally prefer mid-length or even full-length AR handguards because they allow room for longer gas systems. The AR-15’s gas system was originally designed around a 20” barrel, and engineers had fits trying to downsize it for the original CAR-15 and later M4 versions.

Larry Vickers always recommends full-size 1911s because smaller versions tend to become less reliable the more they deviate from the engineer’s original vision. I think this holds true for the AR pattern as well. Longer AR gas systems run cooler and cleaner than shorter ones, they’re gentler on bolts and bolt carriers, and they suffer from fewer timing problems.

Click here for a detailed engineering discussion of these issues if you’re technically inclined: the takeaway is that longer gas systems are more reliable and more durable than shorter ones.

In addition they’ll give you a longer sight radius for your backup iron sights, and they also give plenty of room for longer handguards so you won’t fry your support hand on the hot barrel. As I’ve repeatedly done with AKs, HKs and Galils.

Summary

The Armalite M-15 is a well-executed modern AR-15 variant. For a few hundred dollars more than a generic M4 clone, the M-15 gives you a solid gun with high-quality materials like a chrome-lined barrel and an all-forged alloy receiver. It weighs a pound more than a civilian M4, but that pound of barrel steel gives you <1.5 MOA accuracy, exceptional heat stability, and slightly higher velocity from the same overall length as an M4.

Our test rifle seems to have been damaged before we ever laid hands on it, and it certainly gave us one bad day at the range. On the other hand, malfunctions dropped to zero as soon as I lubed the rifle thoroughly, and we already know that all AR’s are sensitive to proper lubrication.

So I can’t say it’s perfectly reliable, but it’s halfway there. It’s gone over 600 rounds without a hiccup, and once it hits 1,000 malfunction-free rounds I’d be prepared to pronounce it completely trustworthy. Any gun can break after untold thousands of rounds in the hands of trigger-crazy gun writers.

Specifications
Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO/.223 Remington.
Barrel: Chrome-lined 16” full-contour, 1:9” twist.
Overall Length: 32” fully collapsed, 35.6” fully extended.
Weight: 7.56 lbs empty.
Action: Direct gas-impingement (internal piston) semi-automatic.
Finish: Hard-anodized alloy receiver, manganese-phosphate barrel, O.D. green stock furniture.
Capacity: 30 rounds with supplied magazine; any other size you like.
Price: $1,050.00 list.

 

RATINGS: (out of five)

Accuracy: ****1/2
A 16” tactical carbine that gives you 1.5 MOA with dirt-cheap commercial reloads? That’s a keeper in my book.

Ergonomics: ***
Quick handling, a grownup-sized handguard, a crisp trigger and solid, positive controls are great. The handy M4 buttstock may be uncomfortable, but it can be replaced easily and at least it doesn’t go clang.

Reliability: ****
How do you balance one bad range day against 600+ rounds without a single hiccup? I’m adding a star because this rifle has been heavily used and abused, and your new M-15 won’t be.

Customize This: *************1/2
As modular as Lego’s. If anybody makes it at all, they make it for the AR. I subtracted half a star because it doesn’t have a quad-rail. That’s a joke.

Overall Rating: ****
Much more than an entry-level M4 flattop, at little more than an entry-level price. If you like ARs, you’ll like the ArmaLite M-15 A4 Carbine.

32 Responses to Gun Review: ArmaLite M-15

  1. avatarPatrick Carrube says:

    “machinist immediately understood the problem and he speculated that it could have been caused by steel-cased ammo” Really? Steel cased ammo damaging the feed ramp on an AR? That would be a first for me. Sounds more like a bit of B.S. than it does a valid reason, so I don’t know what to think about this rifle… especially since you sent it back to Armalite and it returned to you with the same/similar problem. I run cheap… I mean cheap-cheap ($4 a box) steel-cased .223 ammo all the time and can’t find a single indication of wear on my feed ramps in any of my AR’s. $1050 for an AR that scratches bullets and needs to be “swimming in oil” to run? No thanks – I’ll stick to my CMMG and LWRC rifles!

    • avatarRalph says:

      I’ve run thousands of rounds of cheap steel-cased ammo through every pistol and rifle I own with zero issues.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    Thanks for yet another super-solid Chris Dumm review. I find that AR-15 rifles are boring — not because they’re bad, but because they’re good. They’re like Mom’s meatloaf, which is the best on earth but kinda ho-hum after the first couple of hundred servings. Man, are we spoiled or what?

  3. avatarGAKoenig says:

    Eh.

    So, it had to go back to the factory (after they sent it to you in the first place).

    It only ran when you had it dripping with oil.

    Even the factory couldn’t correct the problem you sent it in for 100%.

    The factory blamed the ammo (classic gun company explanation).

    Why would I not spend my $1050 at Bravo Company on a basic, middy M4? I see BCM rifles in classes that work. I see people who’s opinions I respect (because they run thousands of rounds through a stick in a weekend, hard) using BCMs (and Colts, DDs, Noveskis).

    I don’t see anyone of note recommending an Armalite…

  4. avatarChris Dumm says:

    I ought to clarify my ‘swimming in oil’ remark, not in an effort to defend the gun or its manufacturer (or to defend my thesis), but to describe the timeline of events: malfunction, repair, and shooting. I seem to have been a bit confusing.

    The rifle jammed like crazy on our firsy day out with it in early January. I lubed the rifle heavily *after* the first day’s jams, but *before* the repair. I needed to get through another day at the range for accuracy testing, while I accuracy-tested the SCAR in mid-January.

    Heavily lubed, it worked fine for the accuracy testing, but it was a short range day and it didn’t prove anything in terms of reliability. I sent it back to Armalite for repair, and I got it back about two weeks ago.

    After the repair (or partial repair) the gun didn’t need any special treatment at all. When it came back from the factory I didn’t clean it or lube it; I just inspected it, loaded it and shot it all afternoon without a problem.

    I’m not trying to tell you what you should think about the gun. I just want to make sure I’ve corrected anything I wrote that was confusing or misleading.

  5. Chris, thank you for your comprehensive and honest article. It is well written. You’re a pretty good photographer as well. You praised our M-15 AND you were no-nonsense about its faults. Some of it was tough for me to read. However, the second time I read your review, I saw what makes ArmaLites so darn good. An older gun… handled by lots of writers… thousands of rounds… yet:

    “While its post-repair functioning was perfect, it appears that the feed ramp has not been completely smoothed out. This photo shows the scratching that the bullets still show after chambering, and it’s not nearly as ugly as it was before but it still shouldn’t be happening.

    But this leaves me wondering . . . if rifle is still 100 percent reliable and exceptionally accurate after an imperfect repair, is there a problem? And if a ‘problem’ doesn’t cause a problem, is it still a problem? One good range day can’t prove that any rifle is service-grade reliable, but this gun is well on its way to earning my trust.”

    ArmaLites are built to be tough, dependable and accurate. They’re built to last a life-time and they come with a lifetime warranty. We offer customer service un-matched in the firearms industry. I sit next to one of our technical experts who fields dozens of calls each week from ArmaLite owners. He talks them through problems. He’ll stay on the phone while somebody either takes apart their rifle… puts it back together, or both. Other times, he’ll offer advice on ammunition. Or, he’ll go to other companies’ catalogues to explain what after-market accessories are compatible with our guns.

    Our gunsmiths are the same way. When a rifle comes back to us, they are painstaking in their efforts to diagnose and solve problems. That doesn’t just mean, “What did the customer do wrong.” (One aside here… Chris’s gun was here a month. During that time, we were dismantling, moving, and reassembling the repair shop in a brand new part of our building. Usually, turn-around is about two weeks.)

    Chris, I’m glad that M-15 is earning your trust. We want our customers to trust our firearms and to trust us. Though we are a well-known top of the line manufacturer with in-house design engineers, machinists, quality assurance inspectors and master gunsmiths… we are STILL a small, family owned company. When you returned that rifle for repairs, we didn’t just send you a new one as a replacement. We serviced it and sent it back to you come what may. We wanted to be as truthful as “The Truth About Guns.”

    One question: now that you’ve posted your review… are you still planning to keep that ArmaLite in your zombie-killing collection? If not, there’s already somebody here at the factory who wants to take it home with them.

    Arthur Steadman
    Communications Director
    ArmaLite, Inc.

    • avatarChris Dumm says:

      Arthur: There will be a hole in my heart and a void in my gun safe without it, but my boss (not the editor) has spoken and I’ll be sending it home to you next week. I value accuracy very highly in any gun, and this rifle is outstanding. I’m glad to know it will have a loving home!

    • avatarRalph says:

      Thanks for staying engaged, Arthur. I’m “up to here” with disinterested big companies — in any industry — who are tone-deaf to their customers. We never want to see Armalite join that group.

    • avatarJoseph Sowers says:

      Chris,
      This is probably one of the best reviews i have read on the M15. I currently own the M15A4 with quad rails and Aimpoint M2 red dot. I have it zeroed at 300yards with a 2″ group. I spent 12 years in the military as an Infantrymen and i have fired thousands of rounds and coached hundreds of Soldiers. I see the M15 surpassing the M4 Carbine in reliability and performance. As far as the burrs on the rounds, did the burrs cause any change in velocity or accuracy?

      Mr. Steadman, I have been trying to purchase a .22LR conversion kit for the M15. I saw one on your website a few months ago and now they are gone. I have read a few reviews where the CMMG conversion kit is not fully reliable in the M15. Accuracy went out the window with the shooter have a 10″ scatter group at 50 yards. Also with switching to a .22LR Conversion, how do your trigger assemblies hold up. Is the trigger too heavy of a strike for the .22LR round or is in not heavy enough. I would love to see some testing done on this before i purchase.

    • avatarJames says:

      Mr.Steadman, I own an M 15. Even though I’m not really an “AR Guy” I’ve been happy with the rifle. It’s accuracy is as good, or better than any other AR I’ve been around, and it has never failed to function properly. I am a left eye dominant shooter though. That fact may have something to do with my not being an “AR Guy.” My M 15 has now had just over 1400 rds., including Wolf and Tula steel case, fired through it without anything other than a boresnake pulled through the barrel, and as of this afternoon it was still running like a Timex watch. I think I’ll go ahead and clean it now as the dirty AR experiment seems to be a waste of time. Congratulations on producing a fine product.

  6. avatarBill says:

    I own an Armalite AR – 10A4 and it is one awesome rifle. The next rifle I buy will be an Armalite M – 15 Carbine just like this one, except with black furniture. Armalite is one of, if not the, best AR pattern builders on the planet. Those of you trashing this rifle, a very well used one at that, simply don’t know what you are talking about and have most likely never shot an Armalite, let alone owned one. If you compare Armalite rifles side by side with any other builder, the Armalite is clearly the more solid and better built piece. The only downside is they do tend to weigh a little more than their counterparts as Chris mentioned.

    Of course, I don’t feed ANY of my rifles cheap, steel cased junk ammo either, but that’s just me. I will say that of the two hundred rounds of Israeli and British surplus 7.62 NATO ammo I have fired, which is NOT steel cased BTW, I experienced not one failure to feed or failure to fire.

  7. avatarChris says:

    I own a M-15 upper. Havent had any problems with it so far as far as fte, jams etc. I have had it since July 2011, and have run about 3k rounds through it. It’s my first ar-15 variant rifle. After seeing your review, the feed ramp thing, I have this problem also. I thought maybe it was just what happened to them in AR’s or somethig I always have a scratch on my bullets if I ejects them out once thy are chambered. Ughh I don’t like this recent turn of events lol.

  8. avatarARShawn says:

    Long to short the M15 is a spectacular AR for the money.. why do you even want to shoot dirt bag steel cases through a $1000+ rifle? They don’t clean the Mona Lisa with 409….

  9. avatarSoundsprettygood says:

    I own the same rifle that was featured in this review and have really enjoyed it. I haven’t had any problems with any ammunition that I have run through it. I regularly shoot Silver Bear and it cycles reliably and shoots straight. I’ve even shot a couple hundred rounds of Tula without an issue (other than the hour it took to get it cleaned out!). The ONLY ftf that I have ever had is if I don’t get a clean release of the charging handle when loading the rifle. Even in that case, a quick tap on the foward assist and the round chambers up fine. All of the positives that the author listed are accurate. The rifle is tight and the trigger is crisp. As the author and the other owner indicated, the M15 is not a flyweight gun. However, it’s not a hog and I can’t help but think the weight contributes to how solid the rifle is. The M15 is an all around great performer that I would gladly recommend.

  10. avatarbeef says:

    Awesome weapon have shot thousands of surplus 5.56 without a hiccup. Love my armalite and the accuracy it brings to the table, not to mention the ruggedness and lifetime warranty! Thanks armalite!

  11. I have the M-15 in 7.62 x 39. I own 112 guns. I am not an expert. I just enjoy my hobby. My M-15 in 7.62 defies everything I have ever read about an AR in a Russian round. My M-15 operates without a flaw. I have put every type of 7.62 you can imagine through this weapon. I am a coyote hunter and this gun fits the bill perfectly. I might add that I hunt in Georgia. So, long range shots for me are about 100yards. Most are within 50 yards. If you want a short-range firearm to use in heavy brush, the M-15 (in 7.62 x 39) is the ticket. It is light, fast, dependable, and just fun. I shoot about 300 rounds/month and I clean this weapon once a year. (I know, you don’t have to say anything). But, cleaning is not fun and this is my hobby so once a year is it for me. Anyway, my Armalite M-15 and my 300 AAC Blackout are my favorite weapons….period.

  12. avatarWill says:

    Eight months ago I purchased an M-15A4 carbine identical to the reviewer’s with the exception of black furniture. My decision was influenced by the excellent reviews this rifle has garnered as well as the fact that it is apparently widely approved for issue to law enforcement agencies. Bottom line, after running about 2500 rounds through it, it has only FTF twice, when it was in the hands of an
    inexperienced shooter who did not pull the charging handle fully rearward and did not release it cleanly. I have mostly shot American Eagle practice ammo, but everything I try feeds perfectly with the same ho-hum regularity.

    I find it to be equally accurate and the trigger surprisingly good. At the time, it was on sale for under 800. There may be sexier rifles out there but it seems unlikely to me there are many that are more reliable.

    Of course, I have succumbed to
    temptation and begun to add goodies: Magpul grip, MI iron sights, and recently a Nikon 1-4 scope, all of which I would wholeheartedly recommend.

    On a side note: some of the reviews state that the gas key is not staked. In my rifle it is fully staked. YMMV

  13. avatarPreston says:

    I am about to purchase my 2nd M-15. I sold my first Armalite, but was not satisfied with my M&P-15 or the one I built. I am very impressed with Armalite’s zero tolerance mil-spec. Every part is well machined, great 2 stage trigger and heavy barrel. Accuracy from the bench with my 3×9 scope was never more than 1″ at 50 yards with zero wind. I am looking forward to receiving my order and will never part with this one. Everybody’s seems to have a Smith, DPMS, Colt or other…I’ll put my Armalite up against them any day. Preston

  14. avatarSSONB says:

    I just bought a M15A4 and it had the same scoring and gouging of the bullet and a lesser extent the brass. To make a short story long the info that was on your site helped me on this first repair to reduce the gouging to the level that you had after Armilite “repaired”yours. I will keep you updated on my efforts when I get time to fully test my “repairs”

    • avatarbill says:

      I just purchased an Armalite m15 . And as mentioned I’m having feed ramp problems. Some rounds get caught on the star ramp and actually shove some of the bullets back into the case. The ones that do feed appear like your first picture. I have tried three different mags with no help. When I watch the rounds while cold cycling, I can see them getting pinched in the star ramp opening.This sucks. I have wanted a m15 for years and now this. My buddy has a Bushy and a Rockie that runs like magic. And I pay hundreds more to get Armalite due to name and history. Should have bought a m1a1. Had one for a few years but Uncle Sam wanted it back if I wanted to go home.

  15. avatarGerald Peek says:

    I bought my Armalite M-15 almost a year ago and have run about 5-600 rounds through it. I have never had a problem with it failing to chamber,eject or fire. My son has a Smith M&P and has been no match for my Armalite regarding accuracy FTF issues. I did a lot of research before buying my AR and it has been everything I hoped for and more. I have shot everything from cheap steel to expensive brass and as I said earlier, have never had one problem. I recently took an AR course at a range in Greenville, SC and had one of the instructors help me sight the scope in and he absolutely loved it. Thanks Armalite for a quality rifle and I would certainly recommend the Armalite AR-15 to anyone who is looking to not be disappointed in purchasing a quality AR.
    Regards,
    Gerald Peek, CCIM

  16. avatarTom A says:

    I shopped for an AR for awhile. After asking a friend for advice (he happens to be a forensic firearms examiner, armorer and instructor) that shoots thousands of rounds a year, he recommended Armalite. In my capacity as an LEO I am allowed to buy my own rifle and the Armalite fits the bill. Its topped off with a Aimpoint PRO Optic and everyone who has shot it loves it! Talk about accurate and easy to handle…not a hiccup with any .223 ammo or 5-10-20-30 round mags. 50 yard groups offhand ranging around 2″-3″ for anyone who has ever run an AR-nuttin like it for me!

  17. avatarHarley Emery says:

    I have had my Armalite M-15 for over 6 years and well over 5000 rounds through it. It has done exceptionally well for me. Only 2 or 3 FTFs and that is only because my friends and I shot over 500 rounds in a short day at the range and It was very extremely hot and well used that day, let alone the ammo was very cheap Russian ammo. Over a 1000 rounds later and it still runs like a champ with absolutely no failures. I love my M-15 and will be purchasing another one very soon.

  18. avatarTed Perez says:

    Can flip up sights be placed on a factory M 15. The front are attached to the barrel appears to be lower than the rear rail on top of the receiver.

  19. avatarJesse G says:

    Ain’t it funny how every AR-15 reviewed is always compared to Colt? It’s still the standard by which others are judged. By the way, I just checked the barrel of my 6920 and it is fully rifled from the end of the chamber to the end of the barrel, no overbored barrel extention. I’m not sure where you got your info, but it’s wrong, the colt has a fully rifled 16″ 1/7 twist barrel. As far as carbine vs midlength, outside of hypothetical internet forum discussions, there’s really nothing that a midlength can do better than a carbine, the bolt and carrier parts are made of high strength steel, they’re not going to wear out anytime soon with either a carbine or a midlength gas system, and even if something does break, it’s fairly cheap and easy to replace. You didn’t mention if Armalite hpt and mpi tests every barrel and bolt like colt does. The Armalite may be a decent rifle but personally I’d choose the one that was built to the TDP, made alongside the military M4′s in the same factory, and made with the same parts as the military M4′s.

  20. avatarTyler says:

    Can you clarify your statement: (M4s and their civilian clones may wear 16” barrel tubes, but only the first 14.5” is rifled. The last inch and a half of a civilian M4 is an over-bored barrel extension whose sole raison d’etre is NFA compliance; it does nothing for velocity or accuracy). I have never seen a barrel bored out near the end as you describe other than attaching a shroud or other muzzle device to achieve legal length on very short barrels. But never a 16 inch barrel with only 14.5 inches of rifling either I have misunderstood or you have made a very uneducated statement.

  21. avatarFred Johnson says:

    Just a comment on those curved scratches on the bullets. That ammo is unfired and has scratches on the bullets from extraction. Meaning those scratches typically are not happening on chambering a cartridge, but from when the ejector is angling the unfired cartridge into the locking lugs of the barrel extension. The front side of those lugs are known to be quite sharp on many brands of newly built ARs.

    To check if it’s happening before or after chambering a live round, just fire a virgin unscratched round into a stack of phone books and recover the bullet. The bullet may be bent up a bit from impact, but it shouldn’t have that curved scratch on it.

  22. avatarFred Johnson says:

    I just wanted to say thanks to The Truth About Guns for this review. About 9 months ago I bought a mid-length M15 (15A4CBA2) with fixed front sight. The TTAG review went into the pile of info I processed before making my purchase.

    My M15 only had one single jam which pushed the bullet deep into the brass, which was caused by a crappy 20 round mag that did not have a non-tilt follower. The ArmaLite metal mags, PMAGs, and other no-name mags with good followers have run flawlessly in my M15.

    Thanks TTAG for keeping me informed and pointing out a quality built AR carbine.

  23. avatarRene A says:

    My first AR was an Armalite M15A2 “Fixed carry handle”, with OD green fixing’s…. Man.. was I shocked at the fit and finish of this rifle. Having only ever used a service rifle, to have my own and with such a high degree of engineering and craftsmanship gone into it.. amazing. I’ve since sold that one… and once again…I am on the hunt for the configuration I wanted in the first place… the A4. I put 600 rounds through my A2, no issues what so ever and was very accurate. I plan on buying the same rifle pictured in this article, should be a nice addition to my collection.

  24. avatarMichael B says:

    You lost me at: “When I emailed them the pictures of the jam and the chewed bullet ogive, their machinist immediately understood the problem and he speculated that it could have been caused by steel-cased ammo.”
    The day that steel cased ammo, simply because it’s steel cased, causes damage to a feed ramp, chamber, extractor or any other component is the day I drink the Kool-Aid and pop a lead Tylenol.
    Any manufacturer, ‘smith, LGS, writer and/or firearm enthusiast that propagates the myth of steel cased ammo is either in the pockets of the big American ammo corps, or is totally inept and devoid of the proper knowledge and intelligence required (SHOULD be required) to be an informed firearms aficionado.
    If Armalite’s ‘smith actually stated that to you, I’ve lost all respect for them. If you believe(d) it, well, I’ll read your contributions from now on with a lot more skepticism.
    Blaming steel cased ammunition is a convenient way for manufacturers to lay blame elsewhere. I could imagine such a comment coming from Kel-Tec, Diamondback or Kahr even, but Armalite? Really?
    My Armalite M15A2 circa year 2000 must be an oddity then – in excess of 5K or Russia’s finest through it without a hiccup.

  25. avatark. bell says:

    I have an armalite and love it. It was the last AR on the shelf when i happened to have the cash for one. The only issues ive had with it were most definitely caused by the ammunition manufacturer…which is myself…and still shoots 1 moa after thousands of rounds. I refuse to fire steel cased ammo out of any non-soviet firearms. Even if it doesnt directly damage a rifle theres no question it causes more wear on it. lf

  26. Buffer for folding

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.