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.
A gun is never a competition winner while it is in my hands.
I chuckled at that. I’m an extremely OK to good shot. I hit what I’m aiming at. My goal it to shoot better than me.
I don’t really need a $2k+ rifle. I’d rather have 2-3 and some other stuff too.**
**$2k is the rifle-out-of-box cost. Add appropriate optics, etc, etc, etc and we’re up to $3-4K. You want that, and/or shoot 3-gun? Get down on it.
Now if some kind soul would like to GIVE me one, I would be most grateful.
I assume you meant “My goal is to shoot better than me.”
If so, that is very quotable. Don’t be surprised if you see it again somewhere else.
I picked up a JP-15 a while back and wish I had know about this one (if it was around). I like the JP a lot but this probably would have competed nicely against it.
It would, but it is hard to go wrong with a JPE gun.
2nd that. I have 2 (JP15 and GMR13). I judge all high end ARs against the JP offerings, if the are close in price, I would go JP first.
Regarding the FN, I don’t think I would want a competition gun that lacks adj gas and a low mass operating system. But it looks like a very nice well performing gun. Curious about what street price it can be had at, if you could pick that up for $1700, that would be a steal.
Makes me wish that the FN 3gun championship had not gone away (for a number of reasons); they would offer discounted prices on FN stuff to people who attended the match.
After writing that comment I realized I had read nothing about adjustable gas. Does it really no have one? That seems like a big oversight and would have been an instant disqualifier when I was looking.
Also, don’t mistake me, I absolutely love my JP.
Half a minute with store bought rounds is outstanding. Nice job with integrating the trigger guard and a better hand guard lock-up system. At this price point, I would have rather seen a stock with an adjustable comb.
Any idea what the profile is on the barrel, or width?
I saw the msrp and exact words were, “holy fuck” I’m not one to care about badges, so for that price I’ll just build 4-5 in varying styles I want, thanks anyway though
Not in Kalifornia. The government overloads say its to dangerous to be in the hands of its LEGAL CITIZENS. Bow to the master and lick their boots or kiss their backsides. Only they know whats best for you.
That upper looks suspiciously like an aero design.
No it’s a Mega upper and Handguard.
The lower looks like a Mega too.
Let’s hope nobody mistakes it for a “trainer” – being blue and all. (eye roll …)
When I saw the photos, the first thing I thought was, “Wow, somebody made a USAF Commemorative AR.”
SARC ON… Yeah, they all look like that but no one can tell because the AF never lets them out of the arms room. SARC OFF.
“it hard to justify spending two grand on a super special AR-15 for the occasional weekend competition.”
No, actually, it’s pretty easy; it’s just sometimes hard to execute, especially without negative ramifications elsewhere in one’s life.
My SCAR is perfectly good, for my purposes. I’m just an average consumer and an O.K. shot.
meh, nothing mentioned here makes it special or worth that price.
Looks like a mega receiver and handguard
I think the only thing that is FN on that gun is the barrel.
While ATI is retailing an AR for $400, FN gives us one for $2K plus. Like others have said if I was going to spend that kinda money on a competition AR it would be a JP.
Looks like a nice rifle, but how many different variations on an AR-15 can a person see before they all just blur together?
Crap! I just settled on getting an Armalite M153GN18, and now you got me wanting one of these things. And it’s $600.00 more than the Armalite!
Back to square 1. lol
I would take the m15 3 gun over this FN in a heartbeat.
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