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Review: the Specter Heavy

I am not a fan of AR-10 rifles. Anyone that knows me well will confirm this. This is a little odd, granted. I’m an absolute fan of its little brother the AR-15. The original ArmaLite 7.62 design is often plagued with accuracy and reliability problems and has better served many when scaled won and chambered in 5.56. As you can imagine I was dubious about the Specter Heavy, from Grey Ghost Precision.

The AR-10 began life in the 1955, in Hollywood California of all places, and suffered many setbacks in it’s early years. With limited production and the contemporary free world embracing the M-14, FAL and G3 battle rifles, there was little interest left over for the the AR-10. It’s interesting to note that during that era the rifle’s biggest customers were the Dutch and Portuguese (and the invincible armies of Sudan, Guatemala, Burma, Italy and Cuba). The extremely short production runs and purchase orders helped chase this platform into the history books for the next couple of decades.

No one seemed upset about that.

ArmaLite’s failed rifle saw a resurgence in the 1990s when Eugene Stoner partnered with Knights Armament Company to reintroduce the 7.62 rifle. Although all makes and variants of the AR-10 are generally regarded as relatively accurate for a semi-auto platform, the KAC “match grade” version proved to be a big step forward. Combining features of the original AR-10 and improvements made over the decades to the AR-15, the SR-25 emerged as a much better weapon. This rifle lead the way for further advancements to the design in the subsequent forms of the MK-11 and M110. During approximately the same time, the ArmaLite name was resurrected and the AR-10 became widely available for commercial sales (despite the draconian Assault Weapons Ban we all escaped in 2004). The KAC guns slowly gained popularity in the U.S. military, specifically in SOF units.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan witnessed further improvements to the AR-10, as the demand for accurate, reliable 7.62 rifles increased. Used as Squad Designated Marksmen (SDM) rifles, sniper rifles and in other capacities throughout SOCOM, civilian interest increased in the 7.62 design as well. Today we have plenty of options to choose from (thanks to the “Black Rifle Boom” we have been enjoying the last 10 years).

Of the many choices for an AR-10 that exist on the market, I have been unimpressed with most. The system still seems fickle in comparison to the AR-15 style guns competing for my dollars. Having shot many of these variants over the years, to include the M110 currently fielded by the Army and Marines, it boggles my mind why so many of the 7.62 guns will not fire as reliably or as accurately as the AR-15. My stance on the AR-10 has been firm: I will not buy one that cannot survive the abuse I know it will be subjected to under my ownership. To this day, I remain without an AR-10 type rifle in my collection. After shooting this new rifle by Grey Ghost Precision, however, that just might change.

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Grey_Ghost_Precision004The ability to shoot .308 quickly and accurately is very attractive and is desirable for many different applications. I for one, would love such a rifle that shot 1 MOA, and would continue to do so over a long service life. Having the opportunity to recently shoot the new GGP Specter Heavy, I was surprised to find myself really liking the design. Build around a 7075-T651 billet upper and lower, the Specter Heavy runs more like a 5.56 gas gun than a 7.62 boat anchor.

To execute the daunting task of building a light, accurate, reliable and manageable 7.62 carbine, GGP partnered with renowned AR parts maker Mega Arms. Mega assisted with design support and some of the individuals at GGP provided hard won perspective. The Specter rifles launched this past Veterans Day, when I was invited to come and gain a first look at the new setup. Utilizing the facilities provided by Range 37 PSR, the GGP crew had several rifles in both 5.56 and 7.62 waiting with a literal pile of ammo. The day prior to our evaluation, I watched the same rifles in use during the Green Beret Pro-Am charity event, and was skeptical of their internal cleanliness.

Picking up the Specter, I was surprised by how light the firearm is.The gun is comparable to a SCAR H in weight but with a better balance. With an ambidextrous safety selector and bolt release, the lower will accommodate both hands. After dry firing the gun a few times, my finger immediately fell in love with the smooth 4.5 lbs single stage trigger. Getting down to the prone to shoot the Specter Heavy, I noticed the carbon on the bolt and smiled. Dry and dirty usually makes for a short lived range outing if no one brought lube. This is only accelerated by shooting suppressed! Loading the rifle with a magazine, I was pleased to note the lack of a forward assist. This is a part many find to be practically worthless, myself included. The slick side of the upper receiver still sports a well-angled brass deflector, which I would later find to work perfectly for shooting southpaw. The 16” medium weight 416 stainless barrel on the Heavy is a 1/10 twist and threaded to the standard .30 cal pitch of 5/8-24. The barrels have a 11 degree target crown, and Gemtech brakes to attach an upcoming line Grey Ghost Precision line of sound suppressors. The muzzle brakes and barrel are both black nitrided, ensuring you will never find the need to remove the 14” forearm shrouding the front. Set up in Keymod, the lightweight forearm complements the medium contour barrel and will soon offered in M-LOK as well.

Grey_Ghost_Precision001Overall, the Specter Heavy is set up as a carbine, with a collapsible stock and shorter barrel. These features combined with the lightweight suggested more recoil and muzzle rise then most AR-10 variants I’ve shot over the years. With my first shot, that proved to be wrong. Shooting the rifles suppressed and unsuppressed, standing or prone, the recoil felt more like a 5.56 than a .308! Shooting hammered pairs, NSR and Failure-To-Stop strings at 25 yards was as fun as it was easy. Proned-out and shooting 100 yards, quick controlled pairs was easily achieved off a simple rest. After making adjustments to the Vortex scope, I was able to bust multiple clay birds in only a few seconds with targets remaining in my view. The “bounce and hop” of other 7.62 semi-autos seemed nonexistent on this carbine. I shot several hundred rounds of ammo through the various Specters, with zero issues. The guns were still dry, only more dirty then when we began. Several times rifles were handed off with hot barrels, to the point where the forearm was almost too hot to hold. I didn’t see anyone lube a single gun, all day. Using both the new Lancer Systems steel feed lip polymer magazines and those provided from Magpul there were no failures to feed or extract. If I had not been there to personally witness the thousands of rounds being shot through the three filthy sample guns, I would not have believed it.

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Grey_Ghost_Precision005The Specter line of rifles are built solid for the long haul. Their 5.56 Light feels like you are shooting a Ruger 10/22, and the Heavy feels like a 3-gun setup 5.56. They are extremely high quality rifles – and the price tag validates that. Unlike many of the other 7.62 AR-10s out there, I doubt you will be left disappointed or feeling buyer’s remorse. The carbine shoots well enough to be used as a precision platform, and reliably enough to bet your life on. Coincidentally some users of these new rifles have apparently already done just that overseas. If you are in the market for a AR-10 carbine, I’d recommend putting the Grey Ghost Precision Specter Heavy on your short list to consider. They live up to the hype and the price tag.

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Read more from Nate here, in his review of the Century Arms C93 or here in an article about the TNVC T.A.P.S. system.

Learn more about Grey Ghost online, on Instagram or on Facebook. You can also find them at booth #61 at this year’s NRAAM.

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