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Uintah Precision Bolt Action AR Upper: High Precision AR [REVIEW]



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BOLT-ACTION GOODNESS IN AN AR-15 FORMAT

The AR-15 is hands down the best firearm ever made, and I’ll die on that hill. With unmatched versatility, it can do almost anything. And with a Uintah Precision upper, it can even be a bolt-action rifle.

While likely not what Mr. Stoner had in mind when he designed the AR-15, Uintah brings an interesting option to the AR that is worth taking a closer look at.

SPECS

Per Uintah’s website:

  • Compatible with all standard AR-15 lower receivers
  • Accepts all standard AR-15 accessories
  • Compatible with any AR-15 standard length magazines
  • Featuring fully stress relieved 416R Stainless Steel barrels by Preferred Barrel Blanks
  • Guaranteed 1 MOA or better 3 shot group at 100 yards with match grade ammo
  • 3 lug bolt, with a 60° throw
  • All of the materials we use in the main components are American sourced materials
  • The receivers are machined from Billet 6061 T6 Aluminum and type 3 hard coat anodized
  • The Barrels are made for us by Preferred Barrel Blanks from 416R Stainless Steel, fully stress relieved
  • .224″ barrels feature the 3R groove geometry, while the 6.5mm and 30 calibers are 5R.
  • .810″ diameter profile
  • They are all threaded on the muzzle end to either ½” – 28 or 5/8” – 24 depending on caliber 
  • Our Barrels are all coated with Cerakote Coatings
  • The Bolt bodies are one solid piece of machined 4140 CM they are then heat treated to 45 RC and finished with a Cerakote coating
  • Guarantee 1 MOA or better 3 shot group at 100 yards with match grade ammo.
  • Satisfaction guarantee, if for any reason you are not happy with your upper you may return it within the first 30 days for a full refund of your purchase price no questions asked fired or un-fired. (All returned custom orders will incur additional fees)

WHY A BOLT-ACTION AR-15?

My reasons are that it’s cool, it exists, and I like it. 

Really, this started while I was in a ban state. While getting an AR-15 was possible, California law required I mutilate it into a shell of its former self. A bolt action upper solves all of that.

Even outside of states with bad laws, I still like the bolt-action upper because it’s another tool in the box. AR-15s aren’t the most accurate platforms due mostly to their semi-auto nature, so I was interested in seeing if a bolt-action upper would still get the job done.

Be it for hunting laws, state-law, or just because you like the idea of it — bolt-action uppers for your AR-15 are pretty cool.

ON THE RANGE

My first Uintah Precision upper was the 22-inch 6mm ARC with a 15-inch handguard. Mea culpa, I didn’t read the installation instructions when I threw the upper on my Yeet Cannon lower that had my Trigger Tech AR-15 single-stage Diamond trigger in it. Turns out, the Uintah uppers are only compatible with some triggers, and the TT Diamond isn’t one of them.

Thankfully. Uintah also sent me a compatible Velocity trigger that I was able to throw in my lower and get it working.

Solid trigger, crisp, 3lb break, I dig it.

This first upper, I put almost 200 rounds of 6mm ARC through, all of that being Hornady ELDM or Hornady BLACK, and almost all of it provided by Hornady (big thanks to them!)

Function and reliability with this upper was 100 percent. Nothing ever jammed, nothing ever stuck, nothing ever didn’t work right. But there was one issue… the accuracy sucked.

This isn’t my first 6mm ARC rifle, so I know the cartridge is capable of shooting well, but with this upper, it was impossible to get lower than about 2.5 MOA groups.

I checked and rechecked everything else on the rifle. Scope, rings, trigger, etc. Everything was locked down tight.

I reached out to Unintah to get their take on it, and they confirmed this was way outside of their expectations. So, they sent a replacement.

The second upper is a 16-inch 6mm ARC barrel since they were out of stock on the 22-inch uppers. They also sent the brand new Uintah branded trigger. While I was totally happy with the Velocity trigger, I took it out and used the Uintah branded trigger to see how it worked. I honestly can’t tell the difference between them, they are both solid and crisp and break at 3lbs.

On The Range Part II

The new upper is performing wonderfully. Another 200 rounds of 6mm ARC (again, much of it provided by Hornady), and the upper is again working perfectly, but this time firing with some real precision. 

Between Hornady 108gr ELD-M and Hornady Black ammo (same lot number of ammo as the last upper was using) an average 5-shot group was measuring .8 MOA. 

This pretty well proves that the first upper was just a dud. It happens sometimes.

The Uintah trigger was crisp and feels great to shoot and with an Area 419 Hellfire Match muzzle brake the gun barely moved, even though it is fairly light for a precision gun.

Downside of the 16-inch barrel is that the 108gr ELD-M was getting around 2,430 FPS average. A bit slower than I would like from 6mm ARC, but that’s the tradeoff in the shorter barrel.

Still, for a coyote rifle or even mid-sized deer 2,430 FPS and 108gr maths out to over 1,000 ft.lbf out to 225 yards and over 1,500 FPS out to 650 yards. For a 16-inch barrel in an easy-to-use package, that’s pretty respectable. 

MANUAL OF ARMS

Something worth discussing about the Uintah uppers is how they work like a normal bolt-action, but they feel radically different.

In ye olden days, rifle design hadn’t really standardized on cock-on-open or cock-on-close. Meaning when you actually cock the striker of a bolt-action rifle. Lee-Enfield rifles are a great example of cock-on-close rifles. Bolt handle comes up and unlocks the rifle, bolt goes backward, bolt goes forward — this is when a Lee-Enfield striker would be cocked, then the bolt handle goes down into the locked position.

The bolt being pushed forward is when more pressure is needed to overcome the cocking spring.

While cock-on-open rifles have been around for a long, long time, most of the bolt-action rifles in common use today are derivatives of the Mauser 98 action. Since the Mauser 98 was cock-on-open, most of the rifles we use now are also cock-on-open.

Bolt handle comes up to unlock the rifle and, in so doing, also cocks the striker, bolt goes back, bolt goes forward, bolt handle back down to lock the rifle. The bolt handle coming up is when the most force is needed to lever the cam and cock the striker.

Uintah does neither. Kind of. Since you’re recocking the AR-15 trigger hammer instead of a striker, the motion to cock it is when you pull the bolt backward.

Bolt handle goes up to unlock the rifle, bolt goes backward and cocks the hammer, bolt goes forward, bolt goes down to lock into place. Pulling the bolt backward is where the effort is needed to overcome the hammer springs.

Basically, this results in the Uintah feeling weird if you’re used to shooting a normal bolt-action rifle. Even if you’re used to shooting something vintage, it still feels different.

I can’t really say this is a bad thing. It doesn’t take me off target, it doesn’t slow me down, it doesn’t have any negative that I experienced. It’s just different

MORE FROM UINTAH PRECISION

6mm ARC is pretty cool, but Uintah has more up its sleeve that might be worth considering. If you’ve ever wanted a black powder, muzzle-loading AR-15, Uintah has you covered.

They also offer AR-10 bolt-action uppers and complete rifles in 8.6 Blackout, .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, and 6mm Creedmoor.

LOOSE ROUNDS

Bottom line; I like the Uintah Precision upper. It’s different, it’s cool, it works really well, it shoots well, and it can be used in most ban states, like California. 

That being said, it ain’t cheap. $1,250 for standard barrels, or $1,850 if you want carbon fiber. For just an upper, that’s a big ask.

If it fits your needs, I think you’ll be really happy with a Uintah upper. I like that it exists and it is an option and that it simply adds one more layer of flexibility to your AR-15. 

This won’t be the perfect upper for everyone, but if you think it will fit your needs, I highly recommend it.

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