Gun Review: FN 15 Military Collector M4

FN15 Military Collector M4 (photo courtesy of jwt for thetruthaboutguns.com)

FN USA has released a series of its full auto firearms used by the U.S. Military to civilians in semi-automatic models. The FN 15 Military Collector M4 is their release of the current U.S. service rifle, also made by FN in South Carolina I got ahold of one to see how closely it matches the rifles I used in combat. I really didn’t expect to think much of the rifle. After all, I was never particularly enamored with my service rifles. They really were just tools, but tools I could rely on. I was wrong about the FN 15. The damn thing felt like home . . .

The FN 15 Military Collector M4 doesn’t feel almost like the rifles I carried. This gun feels exactly like the rifles I carried in combat in Afghanistan. It has the same rails and rail covers, the same forward grip, the same stock, same charging handle and the same overall barrel length. FN gets away with the 14-inch barrel by welding the flash hider onto the barrel, making the overall length of 16 inches.

FN15 Military Collection M4 front end (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

The trigger on the FN Military Collector M4 redefines “mil-spec” — in a good way. I weep for the new soldier that gets issued these rifles, as they will never know why we derided our triggers so long and so mercilessly.

This one has a little bit of creep, followed by a thud of a break at just over the 5lb mark. World class? Not by any means, but it’s light years better than any of the service rifles I ever shot and better than the vast majority of aftermarket AR15s sold today. Infantrymen today will have an experience we never encountered: leaving the military to own a rifle with a worse trigger than the one they were issued.

FN15 Miltary Collection M4 receiver set (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

They will also be unaware of the “Bang…SPROIIIIING” of the buffer and spring against their face. The FN15 M4 doesn’t use any kind of silent spring system, but the experience is same. No annoying vibration in your ear. Poor kids will never know. The horror…the horror.

I never used any of my service rifles in full auto or burst fire in combat and neither did anyone else in my teams. It was always semi-auto fire. If we needed full auto fire, we used one of the crew-served weapons. Given that, I really didn’t miss the full auto setting at all. The giggle switch was really just that, purely for fun.

FN15 Miltary Collection M4 left side receiver set (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

What is slightly different from the Colt M4s I carried in combat (but completely authentic with the current FN made M4A1s being shipped to our service members):  the Unique Identification bar code marked lower receiver with an ambidextrous safety.

I didn’t have an ambidextrous safety on my Colt M4s and I’ve never put an ambi safety on any of my guns. But I like it. I find it very natural to take the safety off with my thumb, but put it back on again with my trigger finger after it has come off the trigger.

The FN 15 Military Collector M4’s safety, regardless of right or left side, snapped on and off quickly and surely, never getting stuck in an in-between position.

FN15 Military Collection M4 at The Range at Austin (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

I ran 560 rounds through the FN M4 over the course of about a week. The vast majority of those rounds were M193 and M855 from IMI. It seemed appropriate to put mil standard rounds through the gun, but I also put 20 SMKs and 20 Winchester 64gr Power Points through the rifle.

Using either the supplied steel magazine or 30 round PMags, I never had failures or stoppages of any kind. Just to see what would happen, I went ahead and buried the semi-auto service rifle in a cedar mulch pile and shoveled some dirt into the open action. I dropped the mag, shook the dirt out, cycled the bolt a few times, and dumped a magazine of M855 out without issue.

I did no more than boresnake the rifle a few times and spray a bit of Rogue American Apparel’s Gun Oil in the action and down the barrel prior to shooting. I never had to perform SPORTS and the rifle needed no maintenance of any kind.

FN15 Military Collection M4 group size (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Accuracy ranged from a solid “meh” to “great!” The IMI M193 55gr FJM scored an average of 1.5″ for four, 5-round groups off bags at 100 yards. That was the worst performer of the group. The IMI M855 62gr green tip, as well as the Cap Arms 69gr HPBT SMK both measured 1.1″ on average.

The only time I got the rifle to break the 1 MOA mark consistently was with my own hand loads, pushing a 77gr HPBT SMK with 23.5gr of Varget powder. That load scored 0.9″ and the group was so consistent that NASA is now calibrating their instruments to it.

The FN 15 Military Collector M4’s shorter barrel, with a 1:7 twist rate,  certainly likes the heavier grains. I would expect that the Mk262 77gr OTM would also score particularly well in this round, should you choose to stick with all .mil pills.

All of the shooting was done on a dirty bore, starting at the 480 round mark and using the Atibal Nomad 3-12 scope. I also shot the gun quite a bit with the basic iron sights. It’s a good set up, with the standard fixed triangular front post off the barrel and a rear pop-up peep sight that is windage and elevation adjustable.

Even at it’s worst, the 1.5″ groups, this is significantly better than any of my service rifles ever shot. 2 MOA was usually the norm for any of my Colt M4s and frankly, given the ballistic limitations of the M855 cartridge itself, that was good enough.

The army says the effective range of the weapon system is about 550 meters. At that range, the round is generating plenty of energy to kill the opponent, but only if it is in just the right place, and rarely quickly. 2 MOA still puts that round inside the chest cavity at 500 yards. 1.1″ puts you inside the head, again, on a really good day.

The almost twice as precise FN M4 is a huge improvement over my service rifles, and one I would have very much welcomed in Afghanistan, where my initial engagement distance was usually about 400 meters.

FN15 Military Collection M4 rear site (image courtesy of JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

About 200 rounds into drills with this gun, I wanted to know the FN’s price. It was on the very, very short list of AR15s I wanted to own, because it felt just like the rifles I used in combat. By round 500, it was no longer on the list, because it felt just like the rifles I used in combat. So, worth an MSRP of $1,750 ($1,599 retail)?

The FN’s trigger is good, but there are better out there, and I prefer a single stage trigger with a flat shoe. I also like a big boy charging handle; this one is the mil-standard. I’m also partial to silencers. With the FN 15 Military Collector M4’s flash hider permanently attached, that’s a no-go. And while we’re at it . . . I like a better stock, a better pistol grip and a slim-line handguard with just a few pieces of rail. Finally, I like a piston driven gun.

In short, if you want the “real deal” minus the full-auto capability that soldiers almost never use anyway, the FN 15 Military Collector M4 is the gun for you. But if you want better, there’s better out there for this price. FN makes those, too.

FN 15 Military Collector M4 (photo courtesy of jwt for thetruthaboutguns.com)

Still, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the best M4 ever made. The rifle FN is fielding to our service members is a great gun; our men and women in uniform should have a lot of confidence in this rifle. And if you want to have the same gun they have, or maybe you used to have, this is it.

Specifications: FN 15® Military Collector M4

Caliber: 5.56x45mm
Operation: Direct impingement
Mag Capacity: 30 Rd.
Receiver: hard-anodized aluminum with forward assist, ambidextrous selector
Weight: 6.6 lb.
Barrel Length: 14.7″ Button-broached, chrome-lined, with A2-style compensator permanently attached
Overall Length: 30.5″ – 34.2″
Sights: A2-style front, adjustable rear sight
Twist Rate: 1:7 RH
Stock: Matte black Collapsible, 6-position with sling mount
MSRP: $1,749.00 (about $150 less via Brownells)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Authenticity * * * * *
This is the M4 minus the selector switch to full auto. When it comes to the rifle I used in combat and how I used it, it’s not “close to the real thing.” It is the real thing.

Customization * *
You can swap just about everything, if you no longer want the “M4” furniture. But not the flash hider, that’s on for good.

Reliability * * * * *
It fired everything without issue. No problems loading, firing, or ejecting any round put through for over 500 rounds.

Accuracy * * * *
About 1.5” groups with common military ammunition. That’s more precision than any of my service rifles ever achieved.

Overall * * * *
This is the new military standard. It resets the bar on what “mil-spec” should mean for AR15s. Yes, the vast majority of the gun is the same as you’re used to, but the better trigger and better barrel make for an important improvement over previous service rifles.

comments

  1. avatar Astigmatizm says:

    “Bang…SPROIIIIING”
    LMAO!!!!!!!!
    Never read a more perfect description!

    1. avatar Ing says:

      I thought that had to be exaggeration by people who set their standards ridiculously high, but when I finally got around to actually shooting an AR, I realized it wasn’t.

      If your ear pro is touching the buffer tube, that sproing! is almost louder than the bang. It’s never not audible if you’ve got any kind of cheek weld. I find it a bit disconcerting. There’s no sproing in a lever-action rifle.

    2. avatar Tile Floor says:

      Oh my god that makes me laugh. Especially on the M16s it was BOING BOING BOING.

      I never had an FN manufactured rifle (did tote a 240 though). All the ones I used were Colt.

    3. avatar California Richard says:

      Thats why God invented white lithium grease…. lube your guns.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        What the good Lord invents is a far cry from what Uncle Sam issues you and what your First Sergeant approves.

  2. avatar ORCON says:

    I got the full-sized version, $1225 after shipping and FFL fee. I gotta agree, it’s nigh indistinguishable from the A4 I carried; brings back memories. 😀 I plan on converting it to SDM-R at some point.

  3. avatar James69 says:

    Who makes the rear sight? I like it.

    1. avatar Craig says:

      That’s a MaTech buis.

  4. avatar Joe R. says:

    FN makes a good weapon, I like to buy stuff I wouldn’t be scared taking to war. It would be nice to hang a M203 off of that thing (even if only a 37MM version) and it would be hard to put down at the gun store. Still, I too like piston ARs.

  5. avatar Yellow Devil says:

    I would love to get one, but service nostalgia alone isn’t enough for me to spend over grand for an AR-15.

  6. avatar Cloud says:

    Lol $1,750. It’s got a “cool” factor to it’s but not worth the price. Not even close. Considering you coulda got their FN15 Rifle a year before this dropped for $900.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      You still can. There are other FN15 models for much less than this, and some of them retail for between 900 and 1 k.

      1. avatar Cloud says:

        The one I’m talking about isn’t in production anymore. It was their first entry into the ar market. It was basically an M16A3 clone(also had a basic carbine version with a 16″ barrel).

        It was the exact same rifle as these military collectors minus the furniture and knights armaments rail system and rear sight.

        I love FN’s products but this is just too funny. A cash grab for those willing to spend $1750 on a rifle that’s basically work $800. Lol

        1. avatar Cloud says:

          Worth*

          Omg, the auto correct is annoying.

        2. avatar Em says:

          Yeah not really seeing a value even to someone wanting an “authentic” M4.

          A Colt LE6920 MSRPs at $1K (999, actually, but whatever). The Knight’s Armament RAS is $250. MaTech sells their BUIS through Amazon for $90. This leaves a $490 price difference for a barcode on the side and an inch+ off the barrel?

  7. avatar DrewR55 says:

    It’s a great idea and if someone intends to buy one and leave it unmolested then it costs about the same as buying any other quality SOCOM build and adding the parts. I wouldn’t mind having one but I wouldn’t be able to resist ‘making it mine’ by swapping all the parts that I didn’t like or those that could use an update (::cough:: RAS M4 ::cough::). So, $1500 for the rifle and another $750 to upgrade it? That gets a bit pricey at that point.

    Either way, thanks for the review.

  8. avatar Docduracoat says:

    FN and Colt both build rifles for our military
    Most would consider them solid mid range, mil spec builds
    The Colt 6920 without the quad rail or vertical fore grip is $861 at Buds
    You could add those to the Colt for a lot less than the $800 price difference
    Numerous other companies make
    M 4geries as well
    At both above and below mil spec
    You could certainly trust your life to a Colt or FN
    Our soldiers do!

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Did Colt win any part of the new M4 contract? All of my service rifles were Colts, but I thought that entire M4 contract went to FN. https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=a8b1633ff75540f9e3fb13da1720d9ab&tab=core&_cview=0

  9. avatar Joe R.j says:

    “77gr HPBT SMK with 23.5gr of Varget powder”

    What:
    Primer
    Case Length
    COAL

    ?

    : )

  10. avatar Anon in Ct says:

    The Halo silencer will attach to the A2 birdcage.

  11. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

    A rare miss fire from the Belgians. Yes it’s cool and yes as far as service rifles go FNs were the nice (ish) ones to have but this ain’t worth 1700 bones. I had an FN m4 issued to me. The difference between it and the Colt my buddy got issued were negligible at best and both ran pretty good unless given one of the black follower mags. Given black follower mags (and older Vietnam era 20 rounders) both would double and triple feed with alarming regularity.
    Newb tip: With any AR ALWAYS feed from Mag Pul or if you just have to go USGI steel make sure to get the green follower or whatever color is the latest and greatest.

  12. avatar JoeinCT says:

    You can build a much better rifle from the ground up for about $1,200-$1,400. Complete with a mid-length cold hammer forged (What ever thats really worth.) barrel, a coated bolt carrier, (Pick your coating.) Larue Trigger, Geissele Super 42 buffer spring, free float handguard, more comfortable stock, and quality irons. It will be lighter, softer shooting, and arguably more reliable.
    The only thing this rifle is good for is nostalgia. FN should give former service members a steep discount. The gun is not worth $1,700 on todays market. Someone looking for a quality rifle can do better.
    Never the less I have to admit that it is really cool that someone can own the same rifle our men and women in uniform carry. If I had substantial cash to burn, I would want it for my collection.

  13. avatar Mike says:

    Great read!

  14. avatar WhiteDevil says:

    It’s disgusting that we allow and are conditioned to tolerate being sold neutered firearms. The bastards that introduced the NFA and the Hughes Amendment, as well as every law that effectively turns a right into a privilege, should have been strung up the moment they announced their intentions.

  15. avatar David says:

    No thanks. I recently had to BZO my issued M-4 and the trigger gave me issues because it was such garbage. Seems the match grade trigger on my AR-15 had spoiled me a little too much. Of course my AR-15 also has a free floating hand guard, hydraulic buffer, etc. A lot better rifle for roughly the same money. If FN was selling it for 600-800 I might be interested but nostalgia isn’t worth that much to me.

  16. avatar CS says:

    I like those rear sights. Where can a Civvy go online and find some for sale?

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/20171120_170459-685×513.jpg

    1. avatar Jackson says:

      Amazon. MaTech.

  17. avatar Dave says:

    Overpriced bare bones AR? No thanks.

    That rear sight is pretty sharp though.

  18. avatar raptor jesus says:

    I could build 3 ARs for this price . . . .

  19. avatar M2AP says:

    These have a 14.7″ barrel while a M4 has a 14.5″ barrel. That extra 0.2″ makes the difference by allowing them to weld a standard A2 flash hider on rather than having to use an extended one.

  20. avatar Alan says:

    For that price I would get a top end Daniel Defense, BCM, or Sons of Liberty Gun Works. All top notch guns and from what I’ve seen of their rifles and the humanitarian things they do as well, I’m leaning towards SOLGW

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