Some rifle owners never do more than stand and deliver. For others, the adrenal thrill of 3-Gun competition is their ballistic raison d’etre. While run-and-gunners can shoulder most any semi-auto rifle for competition, a rifle purpose-built for the task is what you really, really want. Is the FN 15 Competition that gun?
FN has been making M16 and M4 rifles for the military for ages; they’ve only started selling them to the civilian market within the last couple years. We’ve reviewed FN’s AR-15 rifles and they’re solid. Tough and dependable. The heavily modified Competition gun feels solid in every respect: no rattles anywhere. It’s an excellent foundation for whatever you want to build.
Starting on the pointy end of the gun, a SureFire muzzle brake caps off the 18-inch barrel. Some AR-15 muzzle brakes force the muzzle down so violently you have to apply upward force to keep the gun on target. The FN Competition’s SureFire brake reduces the recoil of a 5.56 NATO round without over-compensating. FN got it just right.
The FN Competition’s 1:8 twist chrome-lined hammer forged barrel is free-floating within the handguard. Unlike some manufacturers, FN’s barrels are made in-house. The resulting accuracy lasts for tens of thousands of rounds without significant degradation.
What makes the FN 15 Competition extra special: rather than simply replacing some components of a standard rifle, they’ve redesigned the receiver. And back where the bespoke receiver meets the handguard is where the magic happens.
Instead of placing all the pressure from the handguard on the barrel nut, FN attached the handguard directly to the upper receiver and bolted it in place. That makes it easier to remove the handguard for maintenance and supports the handguard more securely for those awkward shots.
The FN 15 Competition’s handguard includes a full-length top Picatinny rail that indexes properly to the top rail on the upper receiver. The sides are slotted for MLOK attachments. The handguard feels slimmer and it’s easier to grip than traditional cheese grater quad rails.
Normally the “ping-pong paddle” release on the left side of an AR is the only way to drop the bolt on a fresh magazine. FN’s added a bolt release on the right side of the FN 15 Competition. With the release, reloads are a split second faster — without the need to install a B.A.D. Lever or similar work-around. And in 3-Gun, split seconds matter.
And the upgrades keep on happening . . .
The FN 15 Competition’s bolt carrier is nickel boron treated (sporting the FN logo for extra cool points). The Boys from Belgium replaced the stock mil spec trigger with a Timney product offering an extra crisp and clean single stage experience. And the trigger guard is integral to the receiver, so no sharp edges to worry about there.
Out on the range, putting double taps on targets is effortless — thanks to the muzzle brake and longer barrel tamping down recoil. And the Timney trigger, a finely tuned workhorse ploughing the field of precision.
Of course, accuracy is the final measure of any rifle. Out on the fixed distance range, shooting 100 yards from a rest, the FN 15 Competition earned its spurs.
There’s a pretty good chance that the variability above reflects my inability to dope the wind on a gusty Texas day. It’s a 1/2 MoA group at 100 yards for sure. But note that 100 percent of that movement is in the horizontal axis. I’m confident that with a better scope and a less windy day the FN 15 Competition would be good for a one-hole group. That’ll do pig.
The FN 15 Competition isn’t cheap, but neither is your time. More than that, it’s the exact competition rifle I’d build if I was building a competition rifle from scratch. Just add optics and you’re holding a winner in any competition you’d care to enter. Providing, of course, you do your part.
Specifications: FN 15 Competition
Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Barrel Length: 18 inches, 1:8 RH twist, cold hammer forged chrome lined
Weight: 8.1 lbs
Length: 39 inches
Price: $2,249 MSRP
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * * *
It makes this Penn State alum very happy, but YMMV. The blue and black look is very cool, and the receiver set is styled nicely.
Accuracy * * * * *
I’m calling it perfect.
Reliability * * * * *
The rifle eats anything and spits it back out. Zero issues of any kind.
Overall * * * * 1/2
Now that you can buy a [INSERT GENERIC RIFLE HERE] for under five bills, it hard to justify spending two grand on a super special AR-15 for the occasional weekend competition. But not impossible. If you want a solid, dependable, accurate, full-featured, easy-to-clean, box fresh, ready-to-rock competition rifle, the FN 15 Competition is that gun.