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ArmaLite 3-Gun Rifle, c Karla Herdzik

By the time I picked up my Armalite M-15 3-gun rifle from my local range, it was already covered in fingerprints. The guys at my range knew it was coming, and its arrival was highly anticipated – not just by me, but by them as well! So, they got a head start on inspecting all of the really cool features, but they were kind enough to save me the first shots. And wow, what shots they were . . .

While we were waiting on the paperwork, I spent some time checking out the Luth-AR MBA-1 stock, the super thin rail chock full o’ KeyMod attachments, ambidextrous safety and Raptor charging handle. The adjustable gas block and tunable muzzle brake sat atop the 13.5” barrel – by the way, that brake is pinned and welded making for 16” total barrel length and NOOOOOO extra paperwork! I was struck by the weight, or lack thereof; this rifle is incredibly light, weighing in at only 6.9 pounds.

I may have done a happy dance and hugged it right there in the showroom.

After what seemed like an eternity waiting till my turn to get a lane, I loaded up a couple mags with my Winchester Win3Gun ammo, squirted a little oil on the bolt carrier, and pointed the barrel downrange. I pulled the crisp 3-pound Timney trigger, and BOOM a sparkly fireball of gases and AWESOME shot out the comp…and “Sparkles” instantly became her name.

I actually laughed out loud and a huge grin burst across my face as I rapidly burned through the rest of the mag. What struck me the most about shooting it was that the gun simply did…not…move as I was shooting it. Like at all.

ArmaLite 3-Gun Rifle, c Karla Herdzik

Strangers from the booths next to me wanted to know what I was shooting, and seemed pretty jealous of my new baby. Over the next half hour, several of the range staff showed up with magazines that they had magically found full of ammunition and wanted to give it a try. Everyone who shot the gun agreed: this is an incredible little rifle straight out of the box. While I can’t imagine it shooting any flatter, I look forward to adjusting the gas system and tuning that comp to see just how beautiful Sparkles can really be.

ArmaLite 3-Gun Rifle, c Karla Herdzik

For anyone looking to buy a 3-gun rifle for this season, look no further than SHOT Show booth 11771. Armalite has built a true masterpiece here (and an 18” version, too), and it’s every shooter’s dream – no gunsmithing or aftermarket modifications required. Simply take it from the box, point it downrange, and you are game-ready.

There’s just one problem: now I have to decide what scope to put on it!

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  1. Hmmm, a real AR (Armalite Rifle). Price range isn’t insane. Like that big old brake, but boy would that flame the whiners at my range in the lanes next to me. Love a light AR. For me, it’s my DD M4 V7. But decided not to slap a brake on her if and until I actually get into a competition that matters. For now, it’s all FH.

    • As one of the “whiners”, I would say this: it’s awfully hard to have a good time shooting when the guy next to you is constantly blasting you with brake exhaust and noise loud enough to make your ears ring even through double earpro.

      • I can dig it, Kyle. And I’m definitely respectful of that. I basically don’t run brakes on my rifles anymore because of this. But it sure does take a capability out of my bag. Perhaps whiner was not the best term. Complainer maybe? I don’t like getting ‘blasted’ either. I actually started using brake shields and linear comps now as well. Eyeing up the Ferfrans CQB as my next piece to try out… Just sucks watching all these people running killer brakes and I can’t really mess with them if i want to be able to shoot at my range and not blast my fellow shooters out of their lanes. Ahh well, guess that’s ‘the brakes’, huh? (sorry, stupid pun, I know).

  2. Great article. The “weapons effect” cited as evidence, and discredited in court decisions discussed by Volokh, is all the progtards have left, vs the facts. You can see proof of same in the Brady and in Sheriff Prieto’s amici filing for Peruta en banc appeals.

    Its worded differently, but comes down to “OMG guns! Public safety!”.

    Pretty much the same faux hysteria from MDA.

    Thanks for the facts, Dean.
    Can’t stop the signal…

  3. Bushnell SMRS 1-6.5x is an outstanding optic for that type of rifle… not obscenely heavy or expensive. Avoid the FFP version; I know it’s counterintuitive but it is not daylight bright and the 1X reticle is just a blurry dot. I have the second focal plane version, it is as fast as an EoTech at 1X and more precise than my ACOG at 6.5x. Also MIL/MIL makes my brain happy.

  4. I really love the adjustable gas block as a stock feature. I shoot rifles lefty. So as little gas face as possible is nice. I know you can buy AR’s that are for left handed folks, and that it is not to much gas. But easier just to do adjustable in my humble opinion, especially when you add a supressor into the mix. Job well done Armalite

  5. The .308 version looks like a real beast. The MSRP on these is pretty low, the AR-10 version of this rifle is $2095 MSRP last I heard.

  6. It seems that everyone here likes super short rifle barrels. At 13 1/2″, I would guess the velocity loss to be quite a bit, and the muzzle blast to be unreasonable. Doesn’t anyone make these rifles with 22″ or 24″ barrels which would be more to my liking?

    • The velocity loss is not as great as you might think, but for 3Gun, it is pretty irrelevant, where runnin’ and gunnin’ is the game, and the lighter the gun the better. The longest barrel for a complete commercial rifle is usually 20″, the length of the original M16 and the length at which velocity peaks; there is no further velocity gain with a longer barrel than that, although there might be an increase in accuracy. You can buy 24″ varmint barrels, and it is an easy matter to do a barrel swap, but the downside is weight. For example, the 18″ HBar barrel I put on my rifle weighs in at 2 lbs 13 oz., and the 20″ barrels from the same company weigh just over three pounds. If I dropped to a 16″ M4 profile barrel, I’d chop 13 oz off.

  7. No ‘may’ about it. You did do a happy dance, and you did hug it. As for sparkles, it looked like it was shooting sparklers on the 4th of July! Absolutely awesome rifle.

    • The president bringing this new raft of Armalite products to market is new, like February new. Be interesting to see if he will revisit the decision to sell guns to NY cops that can’t be bought by NY civilians.

      Until then, I’ll stay away from Armalite while I acknowledge that Armalite has put together a great gun and use the Armalite as a template for my own competition gun.

      I just put in an order for a LUTH-AR stock.

  8. Just how durable is this piece? Was going to ask if it came in .30, someone already hit that point. But how much of a beating can it take. Say I smack Jethro, or Haji, or LaShaun, or Dejesus up side the head, am I going to bend the barrel. Inquiring minds and whatnot. I already know how big an animal I can drop with a 7.62 NATO rd, I just like a weapon that can take a bit of,,,,well, “use”, if ya know what I mean.

  9. “What struck me the most about shooting it was that the gun simply did…not…move as I was shooting it. Like at all.”

    I’ve never done 3-gun. Are their any restrictions on ammo choice?

    It would seem a very light projectile and a low pressure powder charge would recoil less and allow faster follow-up shots…

  10. I hate to be another whiner here but why doesn’t ANY AR nowadays come with iron sights? I mean nobody makes a plain Jane A2 style AR anymore.

  11. Picked one up last year right off the armalite truck at the rock castle pro am and ran it with a 1-4 burris at the FNH 3 gun match. Had no issues with hitting targets out to around 450 yards using xm193, I did have to adjust my hold slightly do to the shorter barrel but the learning curve was pretty short (at 400 yards I simply had to hold the 400 yard dot on top of the 10″ target). Shoots super soft and flat. The trigger is excellent, I think it breaks a little cleaner than my hyperfire, and the reset is pretty short.

    It did take me a little while to get used to the comp, I drilled the right side out, as recommended for right handed shooters, and it pushed my shots to the left till I got used to it. I normally run a JM break that has equal pressure on either side. I may replace that plug and not drill it just so it feels the same as all my other rifles.

    Haven’t made any adjustments to the gas system.

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