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Preview – FN 15 First Look

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Photos: Henry Z. De Kuyper and © 2013 Brian Dressler /

FN has been making variants of an AR-15 in its South Carolina factory since 1989, which was originally set up in order to fulfill Uncle Sam’s 1976 order for the M240 machine gun. None of us have ever seen Stoner’s gun with an FN rollstamp at our local dealer, however, because each and every one of them has been destined for service in the U.S. armed forces. After quietly producing more than 600,000 M16s of various types, the company’s focus switched in 2009 to the upcoming M4A1 carbine contract.

The FN 15
In 2014, FNH USA is launching its own version of the storied AR platform, dubbed the FN 15. It’ll come out in two variants to start — the rifle (with a 20” barrel) and the carbine (with a 16” barrel). In order to keep things legal, the FN 15 will be produced in parts of the FN Manufacturing plant which are separate from the military model. FN is justifiably famous among the cognoscenti for the quality of its barrels — if your biggest moneymaker is belt-fed machine guns, you tend to have a bit of experience in making barrels that hold up well under a large volume of rounds. On the range, the non-free-floating barrel on this particular sample held 1.25-MOA groups with match ammo.

Although we were limited in both time and range space, we noticed one particular aspect of our sample’s performance that was worthy of note. Most of the M4geries we’ve shot (like the one we had in the back of the rig — we used it as a control that day) are fairly violent when it comes to cycling the bolt carrier, usually due to larger-than-necessary gas ports plus the high pressures at the chamber end. The FN 15, however, was smoother — more like a mid-length gas system in fact — and it dropped spent cases at three o’clock and about 4 feet out. Without completely stripping the weapon it would be hard to determine why this might be, but we suspect the gas port was sized just right for the Samson M193 ball used in the function test.

FN 15 Preproduction Shooting

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