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FN-15 Rifle, c Nick Leghorn

FNH USA is way late to the AR party. The FN-15 rifle was introduced earlier this year, well past the peak of the AR fever of 2013. You’d think the company responsible for manufacturing the military version of the M16A4 (and a large percentage of U.S. military rifles) would quickly tool-up to crank out civilian versions of the rifle. But that’s not the way FN rolls . . .

Due to legal restrictions and contractual requirements, the rifle you see here as the FN 15 is a completely different beast than the military version, made on different machines that just happen to be in the same vicinity of the company’s M16 manufacturing.

FN-15 Rifle, c Nick Leghorn

Despite FNH USA’s reputation for cold hammer forged awesomeness in their barrels, the FN 15’d barrel is button broached and chrome lined – just like its military counterpart. I’m no gunsmith so I can’t really say what is better or worse. The general consensus: if you’re looking for barrel longevity, go chrome lined. If you care more about accuracy, and full auto isn’t in the cards, then go for a non-chrome lined barrel.

As you can see in the pictures, the FN 15 is the “big boy” version outfitted with the fixed A2 butt stock and a 20-inch version of the aforementioned barrel. This version is quite a bit larger when compared to the much shorter 16-inch barreled and collapsible stock equipped M4 carbine edition of the same gun. This is as close as you can get to a “M16-esqe” rifle without actually joining up with your uncle Sam for a few years to travel the world, meet interesting people and kill them.

Mall ninjas who grew up shooting an AR with a collapsible stock and everything but a Mr. Coffee hanging off a quad rail won’t recognize this gun; it’s a retro-modern version of America’s Rifle (née ArmaLite Rifle). The FN 15 has all the pieces that made it to the later versions of the M16 fielded in Vietnam, save the rounded two-piece hand guard (the VC-fighting version was triangular). The FN 15 is a handsome beast, in a military minimalist sort of way.

While most AR buyers turn-up their nose at an A2 stock, it’s perfect for the majority of shooters. For buyers serious about shooting, the A2 stock provides a repeatable straight line slightly higher than the bore, enabling an utterly consistent cheek weld. Women, children, room clearers, plate carrier wearers and those not of “average” size need not apply. For me, the A2 is an ideal compromise between strength, weight and ergonomics. And it doesn’t catch my operator beard like an M4 stock.

Out front, there’s enough hand guard to run your hand close in (as below). You can do it middle-of-the-way like your daddy taught you, or all-the-way extended Chris Costa style. The end of the barrel is about another six inches beyond that. Yes boys and girls, that is a 20-inch barrel as God and Eugene Stoner intended. The extra four inches over your typical carbine barrel result in slightly higher muzzle velocities, something we can all appreciate. Truth be told, 5.56 NATO rounds need all the help they can get.

FN-15 Rifle, c Nick Leghorn

The rifle ships with M16-style iron sights: a fixed A2 front sight post and a removable rear carry handle integrated rear sight. Nick uses a similar set-up for his NRA High Power competition rifle with a permanently attached A2-style upper receiver instead of the detachable carry handle of the A4-style (shown here). A nice length of rail-encrusted real estate lives under that carry handle. It’s perfect for mounting your optic of choice, though that fixed A2 front sight is going to be there whether you like it or not. Note to newbies: find a gun like this and learn how to shoot with iron sights. Then go rail crazy.

The FN 15’s accuracy is hindered by the hand guard. Like the military version, the FN 15’s hand guards are mounted to the rifle using a delta ring attachment. This puts the hand guard in direct contact with the barrel. In most cases, any pressure on a rifle barrel forward of the chamber will impact point of impact – especially when you’re shooting off bags or using a sling. The FN 15’s delta ring system is a definite step down in accuracy from a free-floated hand guard. Which is why Rock River sells a DCM legal kit to solve this very problem.

The FN 15’s fire control aspects are mil spec. You’ve got your right-handed safety selector and a standard magazine release right where you’d expect. No B.A.D levers or ambi short throw safeties on this gun. High speed operators and left-handed people will surely hate this set-up. Given that I’m right-handed and decidedly low-speed, high drag, I wasn’t bothered by the controls’ placement.

The FN 15’s trigger is mil spec in the worst sense of the term. It feels like every trigger I ever pulled out of the budget bin lower parts kit bag that I promptly threw out in favor of something, anything nicer. It breaks at around seven pounds. The trigger pull is as draggy, creepy and long as Dr. Frank N Furter. Once the trigger breaks, you can rest easy knowing that the reset point is ahead of you, somewhere, announcing itself with a loud reset. The FN 15’s trigger is fine for combat. Not so great for civilians.

FN-15 Rifle, c Nick Leghorn

To check out the FN 15’s capabilities, I removed the detachable carry handle and mounted a big honking piece of Leupold glass. At 100 yards, with both the front and rear supported (yes that’s a bag of corn) and unlimited time to work my way through the trigger, I managed to squeeze off a few groups.

Did I mention that Nick loaned me this whole setup (rifle, scope, and ammo) so I could be a hero just for one day? I think the FN 15 is capable of a lot more than what I achieved. At a minimum, I would have liked some more time to try out some different ammo. Unfortunately, this is Nick’s personal gun and given our tumultuous history of property destruction recently, he’s hesitant to hand over the goods. After much tribulation, using 69 gr. Winchester Match, I produced this five-shot group:

FN 15 target

Using OnTarget, I measured this group at 1.060 MOA. As a point of reference, that piece of 300 BLK brass is ~1.365 inches long. Which means the FN 15 is more accurate than the Armalite M-15 rifle we tested a while back, but still not “knock your socks off” level of accurate. Again, more time with different ammo might have yielded a better result. But a hair over 1 MOA is perfectly acceptable.

That said, shooting the FN 15 offhand will open up this group. Considerably. I mentioned the main accuracy issues above: a lack of a free-floating tube for the hand guard and that trying trigger. These two design choices created a rifle that’s not able to perform up to the barrel’s capability.

FN-15 Rifle, c Nick Leghorn

Compared to the competition, and by that I mean ALL of the AR 15s on the market, the FN-15 rifle isn’t a standout winner in any category. The 3-gunners and tactical crowd will shun it for its lack of ambi controls, rail space, a collapsible stock and/or an assisted reset trigger. Guys like me, who love a practical historical piece in the safe, will smile fondly upon the FN 15. Very few manufacturers make a 1990’s era M16A4 style rifle; those looking for a retro build (or to make something that looks like their old service rifle from the military) are usually out of luck. Until now.

If you’re looking for an AR-style rifle with the pedigree and sleek styling of that classic military rifle, look no further. Add a service rifle-legal hand guard and a suitable non-mil spec trigger to the FN 15 , and you’ll have yourself a practical, accurate, well-built piece of ballistic nostalgia in your collection.

Specifications: FNH USA FN-15 Rifle

Caliber: 5.56 NATO
Action: Semi-auto
Barrel: 20″ government profile, 1:7 twist
Weight: 7.97 lbs
Length: 39.5 Inches
Magazine: Standard AR-15
Street Price: $1,149

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * * *
I shot my “best” group using a mega-large piece of glass on a smooth day, at 100 yards, with a supported rifle. Fix the trigger and further tweak things with a new hand guard and you’ve got a real shooter on your hands. Otherwise, not so much.

Ergonomics: * * * 
The A2 stock ergos would have earned four stars in the 90’s. It gets three stars at the back end of 2014.

Reliability: * * * * *
I spent an evening with the gal. Nick reports that he’s experienced zero failures since taking possession of the FN 15 in March.

Customization: * * *
Slap whatever dumb accessory you want on the gun; you’re basically dropping a wing on the back of a ’67 Mustang. The upper receiver has the Picatinny space for a proper scope.

Overall: * * * 
While you can upgrade the FN 15 to compete with more accurate ARs, buy it for its looks, pedigree and rock-solid reliability.

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    • Yes indeed!

      FWIW, the triangular handguard was uncomfortable and clunky (in feel but not in looks), but I don’t care. Gimme retro every time.

      • Yeah, that handguard took some getting used to, but I still kinda miss it sometimes. Not enough to buy one of these, though.

        • I had to use duct tape to hold the hand guards on for my issue m16. A bent nail held my front sling swivel in place. I do not wax nostalgic about the m16.

        • I sorta know what you mean. I am not a soldier but had the fortune of trying an old M16 (IIRC it was the A2 version). It had been through hell and back (used in the Yugoslav Wars) without much cleaning/maintenance + it was not good quality. Let’s just say it didn’t inspire confidence.

          But I will admit I might be biased against it since I have had positive experiences with other stuff but not it.

        • I have an AR-10 from Fulton. Awesome is about the only way to describe it. Even rank novices can shoot ridiculous groups off the bench with it. But what I really love are his M1As,Garands and carbines. Just fantastic shooters.

        • M1As and Garands are what they seem to be originally famous for, and those have plenty of good coverage. But their FAR-10 and especially FAR-15 lines seem to be a much more recent addition, and few people have any feedback on them, so a full length TTAG review would cover a lot of untrodden ground here.

    • I actually did this recently, I got a great deal on a StagArms Model 4, it’s the m16a4/a2 variant they make. Excellent rifle, paid $850 for it, and then slapped the A1 handguards on it and it looks just damn sexy. I’m convinced the A1 handguards will give me a higher kill to death ratio.

  1. Seems fair. I do wonder why there aren’t more full-sized rifles with M4 style stocks at this point. Combine the best of both worlds.

    I don’t necessarily need a 20″ barrel with my level of accuracy but I am not so enamored by carbines as most people. I like the overall design of the full-size rifle but it’s a shame the FN-15 seems like a throwback in some ways. Most of the problems Tyler has with the rifle have been solved by more modern designs. The FN15 seems to be marketed as a stubbornly dedicated civilian M16A4, warts and all.

    • Rob nailed it…

      As an aside: Tyler… Tyler… TYLER! Please explain your shooting stance in the third photo. What was going on off-frame that explains the position of your shoulders in relation to your torso and hips?

      • It looks like a target stance, the one I learned as a kid shooting a .22s in three- and four-position competition.

        The hip is tilted forward and upward. It serves as a resting place for the support elbow and provides a more stable shooting platform.

        You will see this position in every smallbore rifle competition. Don’t try it with a Mosin rifle. 🙂

        • I’m not a competition shooter, so you’ll have to excuse my ignorance. But a stance like that is TAUGHT?

          Seems like a terrible way to manage any recoil at all

        • I actually do it with a Mosin. Yes, I bring icepacks. 🙂

          And yeah, this is target shooting standing position. When you’re trying to hit a 7 inch ten ring at 200 yards while holding a rifle, you need to line up the weight of your rifle with your hips. Otherwise, good luck.

        • @HJ:

          That sounds AWFUL!

          I’m still trying to wrap my head around why you would want to do this. I understand that supporting for a shot is not always possible, and a proper fighting stance is a poor choice at range for many firearms. But it begs the question; why not properly set up for the shot ahead of time, given the opportunity?

          I can see how a stance like that would support the weight of the rifle, but I still can’t picture it being a stable shooting platform. I guess I’ll check it out next time I have the opportunity and see for myself.

        • @Matt

          I’m not sure what you mean about “Set up for the shot,” to be honest. You are “set up” before the shot, actually- you’ve adjusted your feet so that your natural point of aim is pointed at the bull, and your various shooting accoutrements are in the proper shape- sling adjusted (Where allowed), shooting jacket, all of that.

          What you have to remember is that rifles are surprisingly heavy. Target rifles are even more so- the heaviest rifles I own are for high power and smallbore shooting! One of the biggest issues in shooting a rifle is muscle fatigue- the small muscles of the body can’t hold too much weight for long, so you want to brace as much weight as possible on the bones of the body- bones don’t really get tired, after all. If you study all target shooting positions, then you’ll see that in each and every one of them as much weight is possible is held, not by muscles, that fatigue, but by bones, that don’t. That’s why “Muscling” the rifle is something every coach will get you to avoid- the more work the muscles do, the more the muzzle of the rifle moves, the wider your groups get. Remember- a “clean” target has all of its shots in a very small area, and a few 9s can cost you a match at the highest level!

          I’ll admit, other than prone, none of your target shooting stances are combat stances- but, they’re worth studying. You’ll improve your shooting if you incorporate the information in them, no matter your style. This isn’t strictly apples to apples, but I’ve found my IDPA scores go up the more my bullseye pistol scores go up, too!

        • Y’all trip up to Camp Perry for the national matches sometime, you’ll see that stance repeatedly, and not only in smallbore. Standing 100-300 yard high power sees it also. It’s a competition, guys, dropping to prone is not an option, and you can’t bring your pickup to use as a rest, either.

          First pistol match I watched, my brother and I decided we could whup these weenies without any problem, they didn’t have the sense to use two hands on those .45s. A few minutes later, we watched around 200 men in a string all firing at once, every one one-handed, and he asked, “do you suppose there’s a rule?”

        • It looks like a target stance, the one I learned as a kid shooting a .22s in three- and four-position competition.
          Yes, that was a standard position for the rifle team in high school.

        • Thanks for the links, Dan!

          I guess I’ll have to do some more homework. I’m still a little baffled. Seems unwieldy and unnecessary and knowing their is competition geared specifically toward this confuses me even further. What’s the point of training and competing in something so unpractical?

        • Well, I’d argue it’s not impractical- marksmanship is marksmanship, overall. There’s a lot more to a good shot than stance, too! What I’ve found is that this sort of shooting reinforces, over and over again, the fundamentals. There’s no room for error on these sorts of targets- if you shoot a sillouette at, say 100 yards, you might get all hits and say, “Great!” Then, shoot a bullseye, and you’ll say “Damn, not a 10 ring in sight!” It’ll get you focused on doing things well- and, if you can hold black on most targets, you can hit a person at those ranges, too.

          Sarge here says it a little more forcefully than I might, but I think he explains the reasoning well.

      • That’s the way I was taught to shoot offhand WAAAAAYYYY back in 4H BB gun. The problem then and the problem now is that I have a long torso, no discernible hip bones, and a shorter than normal humerus. If you want to see how its supposed to look, check out this photo of Leghorn posted up with the MCX shooting offhand and 100.

        The end result has always been that when I assume that position, even with my hand gripping the mag well, the rifle points about 30 feet in front of me. All I can really do is open up my stance as much as possible to angle myself back, or pray for bones that were made for shooting.

        If I got serious about it, I’d have to have a block installed on the bottom of the gun to get me the lift I need. Like this gal.

        • Take a look at the intro to a Kirsten Joy Weiss video, and if you’re quick-and not distracted-you’ll see she uses that stance.

        • You could also get yourself a shooting coat.

          Look at Creedmore Sports.

          Shooting coats have patches of checkered rubber on the elbow and waist area to help your elbow “grab up” on your hip bone. They also have similar rubber patches on the shoulder (where you’d mount the rifle), the left upper arm (to keep your sling from falling) and the right elbow.

          When you combine these with a shooting mat that has rubber on it, you can become very stable in a prone position.

          If you were asking me to shoot a rifle for a test off-hand, I’d be wearing my coat to do it.

      • The goal of the stance, as others have said, is to provide as stable a platform as possible when you’re shooting at long range offhand.

        I don’t know why you seem to be so concerned about the perceived “impracticality” but since you are I’m gonna blow your mind: Not only do USMC Primary Marksmanship Instructors teach this stance, they also teach a variation that has you holding the rifle with your left hand (provided you’re a right handed shooter) such that your hand prevents spent cases from clearing the ejection port while firing.

        • I usually do something similar on my last shot. I reach under the gun with my left hand and open the bolt and catch the case in one fluid motion. I primarily do it because it looks cool and is a bit practical.

          But yeah, target stances are good for longer ranges. If you need lead on torso and fast then you use an aggressive stance (leaned forward, etc.). If you want to shoot someones ear off or a tight group then you use a target stance at the cost of some speed and stability (seriously, don’t do that with a 300 winmag, shotgun or something if you aren’t a pro)

  2. Umm what? “That said, shooting the FN 15 offhand will open up this group.”

    Wouldn’t that happen with every rifle? It’s just harder to shoot offhand then shooting from a stable rest. At least that’s how it works out for me.

    • Sure. But mushing through that godawful trigger will make that group open up “more” than if you had a crisp 4.5 2 stage.

  3. I see people all the time talking about how free float shoots far more consistently than non free float because the POI is never changed regardless of the amount of pressure placed on the handguard. But unfortunately, I’ve yet to really see any definitive real world evidence proving this to be the case and showing us to what degree it actually is the case.

    I’d love to see TTAG do an actual test of this, putting varying amounts of pressure (like from a sling, bipod, resting the handguard on an object, squeezing the handguard tightly, and so on) on the handguard and measuring the POI change at 5, 25, 50, and 100 yards. If the POI change for a non free floated barrel is 2″ at 50 yards then that’s one thing, but if it’s only half an inch, then I don’t see the cost and work involved (I’d have to cut off the delta ring at the very least) as being worth it, to me.

    • Well, TTAG doesn’t really need to test it- it’s well documented in many forms of shooting- if you can put pressure on the barrel forward of the action, you’ll shift your POI, and in not exactly predictable ways. Does it shift it enough for the shooting you want to do in the rifle you use and the ammo you use? Hard to say. Feel free to pay for the ammo and rifle and do the testing, though.

      • I believe that the POI changes – the explanations make sense. The question is how much does it change. If it’s well documented, I haven’t seen that documentation. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places or not hard enough, but there are tons of free float vs. non-free float articles and forum threads out there and they just seem to be full of people saying free float improved their consistency and accuracy greatly, and then just as many people saying the change is wildly overstated and not worth the very small accuracy/consistency increase you’ll see, and anecdotal comments like “I switched to free float and it was like night and day” or “I switched to free float, then back, and noticed no difference whatsoever”.

        • You’re probably reading the wrong places. If you want exact numbers, that’s going to be very rifle dependent. But, if you go and study the body of knowledge around benchrest shooting, you’ll see it pretty quickly.

        • I suspect that there is a good reason why high end bolt rifles have been free floated for many years. The effect of pressure on the barrel is more pronounced the thinner its cross-section, so when you get down to an M4 pencil barrel, it will make a major difference. The thick varmint and bull barrels probably less so, but I’ve read that there is an impact on “barrel harmonics” when the fore end in in contact. Ask Dyspeptic about that–I am clueless.

    • This!!! So MANY times this! My personal experiences indicate that regardless of forearm style, for practical applications, if you know how to use the hardware, you’re gonna hit what you’re aiming at. Now, do you want to place a round between the 4th & 5th ribs, at 500+yrds? Yeah – maybe you need to float that barrel. Do you want to put meat in the freezer at something less than that? Can you SHOOT? You’ll be fine with whatever firearm you have demonstrated competency. You need to put that bad guy down at ranges close enough to almost smell what he ate for his last meal? Does sub-MOA accuracy really matter when you will probably have to beat on him with the gun should you MISS?

      Just my $.02 – and yeah, like everybody else’s, it’s worth exactly what you paid for it 🙂

      • Perfect response. I own a AK for the same reason. If I need it, I need it to work, and to be frank, I don’t care if I hit home the first or third round. The threat will be eliminated. Shooting a fly off the target at 100 yards is irrelevant to me. I can appreciate a person’s desire to perfect their skills, and target shooting is great. But if a real threat occurs, I want to be able to remove that threat. I have never seen a paper target threaten anyone, so the Adrenalin and stress is different, unless your are Delta Force or s SEAL, you haven’t trained enough to make a difference. And that’s my 2 cents.

    • If you want to know something about rifle accuracy, and see testing, experimentation, results, more results, etc. on an ongoing basis, with slavish devotion year over year towards the smallest group sizes, you need to wander over to the tables with “old, fat, white guys” (as TTAG likes to derisively call them) at benchrest matches. These men (and more than a couple of women among them too) will be able to show you what it takes to make an accurate rifle. Hint: It starts with a bolt action. No semi-autos need apply.

      How accurate? So accurate that most AR shooters think their claims are impossible.

      How accurate in numbers? The records for 100 yard, 5-shot groups in the US have been under 0.010″ at 100 yards for a long time, since the early 70’s, when the record was set at 0.009″. There are various classes of rifles in Benchrest, and I’m going to refer now to only the “light varmint” class of rifle, which is under 10.5 pounds (scope, rifle, etc), because that’s a rifle you could actually carry into the field. The “unlimited” benchrest rifles sometimes are more like gunsmith machining exercises than an actual rifle, so we’ll put those aside for the discussion here.

      In 2013, a benchrest shooter in the “light varmint” class of rifle shot a five shot group of 0.0077″ (scored by a computer program).

      Most all BR shooters are shooting free floated barrels. Typically they are using shooting 6, 6.5, 7mm (or .243, 264 and .284 caliber) and .30 cartridges, with short cartridge bolt actions (usually custom actions), and single-point cutter rifled stainless barrels (Krieger or Bartlein).

      When it comes to accuracy, we in the US know what works. We’ve known what really works under 0.5 MOA for 30+ years, and there have been gunsmiths building ever more accurate rifles for 30+ years. The information is out there for people to find and discover.

      You just need to get away from the action/3-gun shooting, semi-auto, .223/.308 mil-surp and hunting rifle world to discover this information.

      – The benchrest game might not be to everyone’s liking as a shooting pursuit, but they do know what they are talking about in the accuracy game. They compete for group size as wel as score.

      – The F-class boys and girls know what they’re talking about in the accuracy game at distance, as do the Palma shooters, shooting at known long distances (up to 1000 yards) against the wind. The F-class shooters use the knowledge of ballistics and best cartridges from the BR world in choosing their cartridge for competition. Palma shooters often use military calibers for their rifles.

      – The NRA highpower shooters know what they’re talking about as regards shooting for score, at known distances, in the wind, against the clock, with a sling, in 3 or 4 shooting positions (ie, not off a bench or rest, as in benchrest or F-class). Oh, and with iron sights, too.

      Of all shooting pursuits, things like IPSC/IDPA/3-gun are the least interested in accuracy.

    • For “battlefield accuracy” aka “minute of bad guy” purposes, you don’t need a free floated barrel, which is precisely why no-one does that on standard issue infantry rifles. For sub-MOA groups, it’ll start to matter.

    • Your comment got me interested, so I pulled out my copy of Roark’s, and did the math.

      I ran numbers for a 20″ 4140 steel barrel, with a uniform outer diameter of .75″ and a uniform bore diameter of .22″. I applied a 20lb load at a point 6″ from the muzzle.

      The deflection at the muzzle came out to be 0.0041″. Because the barrel does not bend linearly, the angle has to be calculated separately. The resulting angle of the muzzle is 0.015˚. This doesn’t sound like much, but it results in a 0.96″ change in POI at 100 yards, assuming a linear bullet trajectory. That is definitely a considerable change in POI, especially if you are trying to shoot sub-MOA groups.

      You can check my calculations if you would like at the following link:

  4. FWIW, you can cause a change in group size by handling or resting the magazine on support.

    I learned (the hard way) to not use the bottom of the magazine of my M1A as a support for offhand shooting from group changes.

    This rifle looks like a pretty good piece of work, without taking price into account Sure, people have issued with the furniture and such. But a 1+ MOA group out of a chromed barrel with conventional guards on the front (ie, not floated)? Not bad at all.

    As for free-floated barrels:

    Some rifles can shoot better with stock:barrel contact. The secret to success is determining where the stock should contact the barrel (it usually isn’t full-length contact, it’ll be contact at one particular place on the barrel), and how much pressure the stock should put onto the barrel. That’s the difficult thing to determine.

    Another thing that affects AR accuracy as much or more is how snugly does the barrel fit into the upper? Some AR barrels have too much slop as they fit into the upper, and they need to be shimmed.

  5. “After much tribulation, using 69 gr. Winchester Match, I produced this five-shot group:”

    Translation – “I’ve shot a bunch of groups until I found the one that I liked. Here you go.” That’s nice, but it says absolutely nothing about accuracy of this rifle. This could be a consistent level of accuracy this rifle will generate with this particular brand of ammo – or it could be a fluke.

    • Colt doesn’t seem to be producing this anymore. I called them to inquire about availability. They said they aren’t producing these every month and when they are its only a few. Less than 10. I wanted this Colt but I’m still waiting. 8 months later.

  6. BWAH!

    A plain-jane AR approaching $1300 with tax?

    I can get two Rock Rivers for a benjamin more.

    FNs ain’t that special.

    In fact, I’m startin’ to think it stands for effin’ nuts.


  7. The one feature of a collapsible stock that I really appreciate is that when it is collapsed, the rifle fits in the trunk of my Miata, unlike my .22 rifle.

  8. Let’s see, it’s shooting 1.365 MOA at 100 yards, but it’s a slug. Hmm? Milspec is 2MOA. It doesn’t have a free float? Don’t shoot with a sling in the field, which is what I was taught in the Infantry School. Slings are square range fodder, helpful to MP’s detaining non combatants in urban areas, but slings are not field equipment. They get hooked on vegetation, and work against you in CQB – buildings, on board ship, in a narrow third world alley.

    You don’t need a sling or a free float on a combat weapon. Said 1.365 group would be a 6.825 group at 500m – at least three inches smaller than the requirement. Combat weapons only need a ten inch group at that distance, precisely because the hit zone of a human (or whitetail deer) is 18″. The military specification is plenty accurate enough, especially in light of the fact that most hits past 125m are more often unintended. The shot was not directed at that specific enemy soldier, they walked into or were hit by random chance. Entirely why the Army went to the 5.56, to allow the soldier to carry a signficantly larger amount of ammo so that those unintended hits are increased.

    Of course, that runs counter to the macho warrior concept all to many fantasize about a soldier, but only one in one hundred actually serve now. During the Vietnam War, it was one in ten.

    What those soldiers then experienced was what Stoner designed – ammo moving along at 3100 fps. The M16 works quite well with a 20″ barrel, it was the way the designer intended.

    If you have a problem with the 5.56 being powerful enough, it’s really moot, as the concept of hitting a soldier to stop them from fighting back is entirely dependent from the fantasy civilian notion that our bullets should eviscerate and field dress the enemy while knocking them back ten yards at the same time.

    All you have to do is get them to stop shooting back. Do that, their combat power is lost, they become tactically fixed and subject to flanking, and the can’t cooperatively respond to the developing battle. They lose. They do not have to be Dead Right There.

    Even hit with 8mm Mauser, 50 BMG, or larger rounds, a soldier still may be able to respond. The size of the bullet does not guarantee stopping them, bullet placement does.

    But 1.365 MOA isn’t good enough? It’s better than what the military specifies, and better than the average service rifle. I don’t really see any reason to complain with the accuracy and kit out on this rifle.

    • Excellent post. Agree totally.

      Better than milspec accuracy in a non-tacticool platform made by FNH. I’ve been wanting one of these.

      But can someone clarify if the barrel is actually the CHF M249 ‘machine gun steel’ barrel with the doublethick chrome lining? I’m still not clear on that detail.

  9. I have been pursuing the art of the rifle with the AR15 for a few years now. The accuracy fantasy is so entrenched into the community that people are led to believe that free floating is a requirement to have an accurate rifle.

    But isn’t accuracy a target defined variable? If our enemy was a fly, then the FN15 is not accurate enough to kill flies at 100 yards. If our enemy is a human, then *as is* the weapon is accurate to as far as the projectiles capability and the operators application of marksmanship.

    Practically a free float rail adds space for accessories, but inside of 400 yards and in a defensive shooting situation it does not matter. If your target is a human torso at intermediate ranges, you don’t need free floating anything. The FN and many other box stock AR15s are good to go for learning the ropes of marksmanship.

    • Most of us don’t use our ARs for shooting humans, though. It is usually targets, rabbits, coyotes, prairie dogs and other vermin out past 100 yards.

  10. Some people are really missing the point of this rifle. It’s supposed to be a semiauto clone of the M16A2/A4. The M16 doesn’t have a free float barrel, so why would this? For this rifle, acceptable accuracy would be minute of B-target at 500 yards with iron sights (of which, clearly, it is more than capable). Complaining about this not having a FFB is like complaining that it’s not piston driven.

    The reasons to get a rifle setup this way is because 1) you want an AR pattern that was designed to maximize reliability instead of portability, 2) You don’t care if people at the range make fun of you for not having a shorter barrel or collapsible buttstock, 3) You intend to shoot with iron sights, and/or 4) You were issued an M16 once upon a time and you get nostalgic for it every time you start drinking, which is when the desire hits you to do some close order drill and slap those daggon’ handguards so hard they go flying off.

    • Accepting your premise, I am still left with one question: why is this rifle twice the cost of an identical rifle any of us could build for half the cost? Or ask it another way: other than the barrel, which parts are made by FN and which are outsourced?

      • It’s cheaper than Colt’s and BCM’s similar offerings and most people simply don’t want to put together their rifles.

        As far as building the same rifle for less, sure, if you only look at the costs of the parts themselves. Then factor in shipping costs for those parts (mitigated if one is buying a PSA or similar kit), then factor in the cost of proper tools (unless one has them already), then factor in how much your time is worth.

        And then, resale value. Factory rifles tend to be worth more than home builds, even if the home build has superior parts.

        Edit: Also your question has nothing specifically to do with this particular rifle, as the same can be asked of ANY factory AR. We could just as easily be talking about Noveskes.

        • Exactly, Dan!

          I bought this rifle because it reminds me of the M16A2 I used back in the Army between 1992-96. Yeah, it doesn’t have all the doodads and bling of more modern M4’s, but that is sort of the point. This is a classic rifle that will go “bang” every single time, and do so with all the accurately you’re ever likely to need. And since I primarily shoot inexpensive M193 ammo, the extra 4″ of barrel length is much appreciated. IMO, most people would do well to learn on a gun just like this (and with iron sites) before venturing out into the much broader world of blinged M4’s and optics. In that regard, this would be an excellent AR for beginner shooters, too.

          As for the “you can build it yourself for less” crowd, guess what? I’m not a hardcore gun owner who derives any pleasure from building a gun, nor is that how I want to spend my very limited amount of free time. I’m just a hobbyist shooter who wants to fill a magazine, shoot and then clean. No more, no less. And there are a LOT of people just like me out there. Besides, the “build it yourself” crowd tends to ignore the fact that time has an economic value attached to it. For me, and probably several others, it literally isn’t worth my time to build a gun even if I wanted to (which I don’t.) In addition, a factory gun has a warranty and almost always has better resale value. To some of us, those things matter.

          I’m not against anyone building a gun. If that’s your thing, have at it and have fun! But it is NOT the best solution for everyone; a fact the “build it yourself” crowd often seems to forget.

  11. the appeal is that this is “retro”. Yeah, I went there. All you “old f@rts” who grew up on the A1, and the young punks who’ve never seen a non tacticool build, are at opposite ends of the scale. those of us in the middle, well, like to pretend we;re not one of the old f@rts and like the idea of getting the “rifle Dad carried in ‘Nam”. 🙂

  12. If holding this rifle doesn’t make you “Love the smell of napalm in the morning” then something’s wrong with you Son! I love the nostalgic looks and the iron sight concept, but that trigger, oh that is goin’ away fast. It sure looks like a decent rifle to me, and would be an eye-opener at lots of ranges too.

    They have the M4 variant available so everyone can have their own way. One thing with FNH is the quality is there, I believe, based on their other products. Not the cheapest but unique and worth the cost IMO.

  13. I don’t remember the rest of the article because I’m still puzzling over this one:

    “The FN 15’s trigger is fine for combat. Not so great for civilians.”

  14. For the basic level of parts and the somewhat poor trigger I feel like the price point is considerably high. There are much better options at this price point that won’t require aftermarket parts.

    • I dunno. I paid $970 for mine, which was a couple hundred cheaper than Colt, BCM and a few others. The only cheaper A2/A4 clone I found was a Del-ton, and for some reason it just didn’t look precisely right. It’s true that the trigger is “mil-spec” (read: not good), but for my purposes of recreational shooting it’s good enough.

      Aside from that Del-ton, I’m not aware of any other factory A2/A4 options at this price point. So I’m curious as to what those better options are? Yes, you could build one yourself for less, but that’s true of just about every AR. As for aftermarket parts, I disagree that this rifle “requires” any. I suppose if you plan on taking the rifle into combat, yeah, you’d want to change some things. But for the 99.9% of us who won’t be using this rifle in combat, it really doesn’t “require” anything else to enjoy shooting it.

      This is the type of rifle you buy precisely because “it is what it is”: a civilian, semi-auto clone of the M16A2/A4. Aside from the trigger perhaps, if anyone feels they “require” aftermarket parts for this rifle in order to satisfactorily use it, I might suggest that person probably bought the wrong rifle to begin with,

  15. Well said Doug, I purchased this rifle for the same price…. I have no regrets other than I wish all my other AR variants had a 20″ barrel. It reeks… quality… This is my favorite rifle to shoot… period! Thank you FN

  16. In your pictures< I don't see you "tied in" to the weapon with the sling as all expert-marksman Marines are taught, which provides a DEFINITIVE stability advantage for the military trained marksman when combined with the military stances when shooting the M16A1. Therefor, being a USMC trained veteran who has apparently forgotten more than you know about shooting ARs, I am strongly suggesting that you are not qualified to judge the accuracy of this weapon,especially the effect of the no-free-flouting front grip if you have not properly tied in and assumed a USMC shooting stance which I cannot tell from the pictures other than the missing sling.. In fact, i haven't seen ANY of you self-styled experts on the web EVER say anything about USMC-style "tying in",how effective a technique it is, or anything else about the USMC rifle training except the patently false claim that Oswald was a bad shot. If Oswald was a bad shot, he would not have graduated from Marine Corps boot camp, it is as simple as that.

    & I can't even find any reference to the USMC training or the tying in technique on the web or the sights we used and can't remember (and couldn't then either except by trial and error, if the tie-in was wrong, it didn't work &I had a 50-50 chance at getting each of the two aspects of it correct on the first try). What I don't know or possibly don't remember about what you say about the floating hand guard but I remember the way the smooth triangular guard rattled on the weapon, which may have been free floating, and they m,ay have exzp[lained it to me why 40 years ago and I forgot. But I strongly assert this based on what I do remember about my traning:: you aren't qualified to judge if the fixed guard throws off the accuracy because YOU"RE NOT IN A PROPER USMC SHOOTING STANCE in the first placer and therefore have not eliminated that as the cause of the inaccuracy you are experiencing. Tying in position Marine Corps style had involves ;taking one end of the military sling off the weapon (which end is something I forget)and cinching it around your upper right arm (for right hand shooters) so tight (which direction is another thing I always forgot) that it cuts off the circulation of the arm. Then you wrap the spling around the rest of your arm once (direction dictated by direction the cinch on the upper arm is) and grgripe the forward pistol hand grip. Then in the initial training a recruit is told to sit in ton the bullseye of the target and the instructor, goes around knocking the barrels around showing the recruit how his /her sights barrel naturally, without fail, come right back down automatically in the exact same place on the target they were before he slapped the barrel. The point of the lesson: being in proper position and properly tied in properly "tied in," after the recoil of a shot, the sights automatically fall back on the (tiny speck of a) bullseye like magic, it seemed at the time. Unlike the Army, the Marines also train and qualify in the offhand position with 12" bullseyes at 200 yards; sitting and kneeling at the 300 yard line at head and shoulders bullseyes and the 12" circular and 500 yards prone,still with iron sites with long range flipped up, at the head &torso bullseyes that the Army shoots at at 300 yards. THAT's is the way Lee Oswald was trained and anybody that says that he was a poor shot (because there are no poor shots in the Marines, just good shots, better shots and best shots) obviously don't know one whit about this training or these facts (because most people don't bother to discriminate between someone else's opinion and fact as long as it aligns with their pre-held fears, prejudices and lies they all ready believe): #1 the second most scandalous thing about the JFK assassination was that the Secret service did barely nothing to protect him, so a moron who happened to have military firearms training could have pulled it off. In fact, there are several pictures and films in existence OF OSWALD IN THE WINDOW with the rifle and the people who took them innocently assumed that Oswald's was a Secret Service agent because they could not wrap their minds around the incredible fact that an assassin was in the window while in view of JFK's ENTIRETY SS detail traip[sing along behind as if on a frigging picnic in the park. It's a documented fact that Oswald was visible in the window with the rifle but the SS either was at least grossly negligent not seeing what dozens of others saw, OR if they did see him, they still DID NOTHing and therefore, were certainly, for a fact part of the assassination plot involving Oswwald, over the years, trained only as a USMC infantryman and a journalism degree and a healthy skepticism of the veracity and intent of the average person, trying to sort facts from all the lies put out about the assassination, that's what I've concluded that Oswald shot JFK, possibly unwittingly recruited by the CIA which had AMPLE experience arranging assassinations of the leaders of countries all over the world WITHOUT the knowledge or consent of the US President or Congress. The SS in fact allowed his route and the ETA to be broadcast all over the country in advance & t did NOTHING to secure the route such as sweep, close and secure the buildings along the route&the limo driver stopped for 5 seconds on hearing the first shots fired thinking something was wrong with the limo. But that 5 second stop was edited out of all the public versions of the Zapruder film so the conspiracy mongers can falsely claim that he didn't have enough time to make the shots when in fact with the proper time, has been duplicated NUMEROUS times by military trained sharpshooters.using the same rifle, scope and ammunition at the same target.#2 expert shooting in the Marines requires hitting the bullseye at least 90% of the time or more and the inner ring not more than the other 10%. for sharpshooter the ratio falls to about 80%-20% and marksman 70%-30%. anybody that misses any more bulleyes or shoots outside the inner ring, need not apply to the Marine Corps #3 at 300 yards, Iron sites in kneeling or sitting position as a marksman with iron sites, Oswald would have been expected to nearly miss Kennedy's head a couple times and hit it once, just as he did. But there is still a catch to make the copious lying even more bald: Kennedy's head was not 300 yards away. it was 100 yards away! &Oswald wasn't using iron sites, he was using a properly sighted in 10X scope. #3 real human physiology experts will tell you that a high-powered steel jacket round will pass through a human's 1/8" skull with no resistance and not much distortion, but causing a massive energy- intense, liquefying shock wave inside the skull to brain matter which in turn puts enormous pressure down on the spine and then to back and neck muscles to violently convulse which causes the head-shot victim in all cases no matter which direction the shot comes from. to jerk upwards and back just after impact.

    • Thank God I’m not the only asshole (I.E. Marine) sitting here thinking the same thing. I can just see the veins in the old range Gunners and PMI’s head throbbing.

      I have one, Iron sights and all, and I love the disgruntled looks I get when the range goes cold and all the tacticool kids that don’t even know what the inside of a recruiting station looks like are getting outshot by a weirdo with iron sights and a parade sling.

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