Pat’s Product Review: CORE15 M4 Rifle

It appears, at least for the time being, that AR-15 style rifle manufacturers are starting to catch-up with demand. Not all makers are caught-up, but a few are – the companies that specialize in making AR-15 style rifles only, appear to be the ones catching-up with supply to meet demand. Although some ammo makers are making some progress in manufacturing more .223 Rem and 5.56mm ammo, the great ammo drought of 2013 is far from over. As I mentioned before, my inside sources – at ammo companies – not gun shop clerks, or Internet warriors – tell me that it will still be at least another 18 months before they catch-up with supply and demand – for orders that they already have. There is some hype ammo makers are trying to sell you more ammo, they have not created intentional ammo shortages. And, to be sure, the ammo companies have not inflated their prices during this drought. Those companies that have raised their prices ever so slight, have done so, because they are paying more for the raw products to produce the ammo – in some cases, their costs have only gone up 5% – 8%  and it is many companies who sell to gun shops or to individuals on the Internet, who have taken advantage of having a large supply of ammo in-stock and they are just ripping customers off, it’s not the ammo makers doing this! (I’ll now step off my soap box.)
 
I have steadily observed AR-style rifles getting more and more accurate these days. I believe there are several reasons for this, one is better barrels, and another is better triggers, and of course tighter tolerances, too. And, we also have a wide selection of ammo to pick from, and if you haven’t experimented with different types, brands and weights of bullets in your AR, you are doing yourself and your AR a disservice. Some guns shoot certain types and brands of ammo better than other types and brands of ammo. If you take the time to experiment, you’ll find one or two types of ammo that shoots extremely well in your AR – most of the time. I will say, I had a Bushmaster AR-style carbine, with the poly upper and lower receivers, and it wouldn’t shoot anything well at all – at 25 yards, it “patterned” like a shotgun – it wouldn’t group any ammo. I traded it back to the gun shop the next day. So, there are exceptions – every now and then a lemon slips through, no matter who the  maker might be.
 
I ran across the CORE15 M4 rifle at my local gun shop, some time back. And, to be honest, I had never heard of the CORE Rifle Systems brand rifles. It appeared to be a very well-made specimen of the M4gery type of rifle, and it had a flat-top upper receiver with no carry handle or rear sight – not a problem, I had a carry handle with rear sight to attach to it.
 
I won’t bore SurvivalBlog readers with all of the specs on the CORE15 M4, but I wanted to cover a few of them. The upper and lower receivers are mil-spec forged 7075-T6 aluminum, hard coat anodized with a beveled magazine well for improved and faster reloads – I didn’t notice this when I first looked at the gun – nice touch. It also has M4 feed ramps – not all M4rgeries have this feature, and it aids in feeding rounds from the mag to the chamber. There is also a 1:9 barrel twist, which is pretty common on civilian M4s. The gun is chambered in .223/5.56mm too – and there is a difference between these calibers – regardless of what the clerk behind the counter at your local gun shop tells you. The stainless steel bolt carrier group is also chromed – making it easier to clean. The M4 handguards are Thermoset molded with dual heat shields – some makers don’t provide heat shields at all. The 6-positon retractable stock is also mil-spec. For the rest of the particulars, you can check out the CORE15 web site – and they are currently manufacturing a lot of different versions of the M4, including a gas piston model. (When I got my sample at my local gun shop, they were only making a couple of versions.)
 
The M4-style of AR is the most popular selling black gun on the market today, and some gun magazines have come up with a new title for these rifles, “Modern Sporting Rifles” and I have no problem with that, if that’s what they want to call these guns. However, aren’t all rifles, to a certain extent, “modern sporting rifles?” Let’s think about that – anyway, I guess they can call these guns whatever they want to help appease anti-gunners. I still hear folks calling anything that is an AR version an “assault rifle” and needless to say, that is the wrong nomenclature for these rifles, too. And, we need to help our fellow gun owners to stop calling these rifles “assault rifles” as it only adds fuel to the gun debate. True assault rifles are select-fire – all the M4s and ARs we purchase over the counter are just semi-automatic rifles – one pull of the trigger, one shot is fired!
 
To be sure, I don’t believe most gun buyers are buying the M4 or any type of AR as a “sporting rifle” in my humble opinion. They are purchasing these guns for self-defense of life and property. They are buying these guns to prevent an out-of-control FedGov from taking our Freedoms and Rights away. Folks are also purchasing these types of guns for the simple fact that, the FedGov and local and state governments are attempting to ban them, and confiscate them. So they are purchasing these firearms simply because they still can and because they want to own them! Off my soap box, again!
 
Without any further ado, I will report that, the CORE15 M4, is without a doubt, the most consistently accurate M4 I’ve ever owned. Not, the most accurate, but the most consistently accurate M4 I’ve owned – hands down, it holds this title! I had the opportunity to fire a wide assortment of ammo through my CORE15 M4 – and this was when .223 and 5.56mm ammo was still in great supply and prices were very affordable. Today, I rarely shoot any of my firearms just for fun – I can’t afford to purchase all the ammo I want, and my suppliers, out of necessity, can’t supply me with all the ammo I need – I understand this. So, when I first purchased this gun, from my local gun shop, I fired well over 1,000 rounds through it over a period of a couple months. I had from Black Hills Ammunition, a huge assortment of .223 ammo – to include: 40 grain Hornady V-Max, 50 grain Hornady V-Max, 52 grain Match Hollow Point, 55 grain FMJ both new and remanufactured, 55 grain SP, 60 grain Hornady V-Max and 68-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point. From the kind folks at Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their Sniper 55 grain Ballistic Tip and their 69 grain Jacketed Hollow Point.
 
For my long range accuracy testing, I removed the carry handle with rear sight, and put on an inexpensive 3-9×40 scope because I wanted to really wring out the most accuracy I could out of this rifle. At 25-yards, I was easily getting three shot, one hole groups – boring! No matter which brand of ammo, or which bullet weight or any other factor, I consistently was getting 1 1/2 inch groups – of course, some groups were higher on the target, and some lower – depending on the bullet weights. But no matter what ammo I used, I still got 1 1/2 inch groups, so long as I did my part. Amazing, to say the least. As I said, this is the most consistently accurate M4 I’ve ever shot, bar none. I did try some of the Black Hills 77 grain 5.56mm ammo – and as expected, because of the 1:9 inch barrel twist, the rounds were all over the place – not the fault of the ammo – it was the barrel twist – for these heavier rounds you need a 1:7 inch barrel twist to help stabilize the heavier bullets. I’ve used the Black hills 77 grain 5.56mm round in ARs with 1:7 inch barrel twists and had outstanding accuracy.
 
I fired a good amount of Black Hills 55 grain FMJ remanufactured ammo through the CORE15 M4 – and I had the barrel smoking and extremely hot. Still, the gun never missed a beat – in all my testing, the gun never had a failure of any sort. I was impressed, very impressed, with the performance and reliability of this M4-style carbine. The CORE15 M4 is well-made, and many of the specs are made to military specifications – not all, but many! I couldn’t find anything to fault in the sample that I purchased over-the-counter, and it was a used gun at that – not brand-new!
 
As already noted, CORE15 is now manufacturing a huge assortment of M4s these days – so you have quite a selection to pick from – assuming you can find one at your local dealer – I haven’t seen another one since I made my purchase, but they are on GunBroker.com if you care to check around for the best prices. I have no vested interest in CORE15 rifles, and I didn’t request a sample from the company, so this gun is the same gun you can buy, and I believe CORE15 is doing their guns up “right” in my book – everything was fitted, and not just “assembled” if you ask me. And the barrel was doing what it was supposed to do. It put all my rounds where I wanted them to go. You can’t ask for more than that.
 
So, if you are in the  market for an AR-15 style rifle, and in particular, an M4 type, you’d do well to take a look at the CORE15 M4 line-up – and they seem to be priced reasonable these days – all things considered I was totally impressed with my sample, and I’m sure you’ll be just as impressed as I was, if you get one for your shooting needs. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

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