With an asking price that remains under $1K, FN's new Guardian AR platform is light, streamlined, and ready to go right out of the box.

Introduced in April on the eve of the NRA Annual Meetings, the FN 15 Guardian builds on the company's well-known "battle-proven" heritage to produce a no-frills AR that stands ready to meet most consumer needs. 

We checked it out at NRAAM and have been getting a feel for the new rifle for the past few weeks.

Here's what we have to report. 
 

FN's new Guardian AR platform
In a nutshell, the FN 15 Guardian is a 5.56 NATO direct impingement action AR platform with a mid-length gas system. (All photos: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
FN's new Guardian AR platform
Overall length is 32.1 to 35.5 inches depending on the position of the six-position adjustable stock. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
You don't have to worry about showing up at the range and people not knowing you have an FN, as the branding is for real. 

 

The FN 15 Guardian keeps the company's hallmark hard coat anodized forged 7075 lower receiver, complete with Columbia, South Carolina rollmarks. Established in 1981, the company's Palmetto State plant regularly makes thousands of M4s for the Army every year in addition to SCARs and the FN 15 line. 

 

FN's new Guardian AR platform
The slick-side upper receiver-- sans forward assist-- reduces snag points and cleaning time does retain a modified brass deflector. It looks to be an NBS-made billet upper, which has a great reputation for an easy fit and a good finish. Of note, the upper has M4 feed ramps. 

 

As with anything FN 15, the gun looks to have a great barrel. We're talking a 16-inch nitride-coated specimen made of 4150 chrome-moly-vanadium (CMV) steel. FN tells us it is MIL-B-11595 high-pressure tested and subjected to magnetic particle inspection after proof firing. It runs a 1:7 twist rate, which is one of the most common twists on AR-15s today and great for stabilizing heavier bullets, which have become more popular. 

 

FN's new Guardian AR platform
The barrel is swathed in a 15-inch free-floating aluminum handguard with 24 M-LOK slots (8-8-8 at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions) with a roof that runs a continuous Picatinny top rail for optics and sights. A series of 76 ventilation cuts shave weight (but don't serve as QD sling points) and help keep the FN 15 Guardian down to 6.6 pounds right out of the box. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
The barrel ends in an A2-style flash hider on 1/2x28 TPI pattern treads, which means you can easily swap it out for something else or add a suppressor. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
The guts of the action, the M16 style bolt carrier group, is made of nitride-coated 8620 steel carrier and uses a 9310 steel bolt that is MPI/HP tested. The gas key is Mil-Spec sealed, torqued, and well-staked. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
The single-stage trigger is listed as "Mil-Spec" and we found ours to be better than you would expect from that. FN lists it as ranging from 4.75 to 7.5 pounds in terms of break weight, and we found it out of the box to run an average of 5.5 with a short take-up to the wall followed by a short reset. If all Mil-Spec triggers were this good, folks would be a lot happier. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
The assembly, fit, and finish of the FN 15 Guardian were genuinely nice, which is often something not found in a pairing of billet uppers and forged lowers.  
FN's new Guardian AR platform
We found the castle nut to be staked in two different locations, which points to good attention to detail and QC in the build process. We've seen ARs from other – major – black rifle makers leave the factory without a single stake. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
The minimalistic FN-branded furniture seems to be made by THRiL, a U.S company that specializes in AR accessories and has a good reputation and growing market penetration. It includes a hollow grip with a 19.5-degree angle and an aggressive laser texture on three sides, as well as a simple and lightweight collapsible buttstock that has three slots for sling mounts. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
The buttstock slides up and down the receiver extension via a recessed latch that, rather than the latch on a standard M4 style stock, reduces the likelihood of snagging. FN has been using these same style stocks (although with a QD point) on its TAC3 series of FN 15s.
FN's new Guardian AR platform
With everyone having their own preferred mag these days, you almost don't need to ship a new AR with one, but the FN ships with a branded polymer-matrix (PMX) THRiL mag. It proved functional, and we have verified the Guardian works with every other AR mag we had on the shelf. 
FN's new Guardian AR platform
Other Mil-Spec items include the charging handle and safety selector lever, and both work as advertised. 

 

At a $999 asking price – typically lower with retailers – the FN 15 Guardian delivers a lot of performance for half the price of the company's $1,889 FN 15 TAC 3 and likewise comes in at a fraction of the cost of the $2,439 FN 15 DMR3. In fact, the Guardian is the most affordable FN 15 in the company's catalog, coming in at a price point lower than the $1,359 Patrol Carbine. 

Is it accurate? Reliable? We've only put about 150 rounds through it so far in initial testing and can report "yes" to both, but expect a more thorough review when we break the 500 mark.

Until then, check out this function check using four different magazines – the FN-branded THRiL, an Okay Industries SureFeed E2 mag, a common D&H aluminum mag, and a Magpul P-MAG. The ammo came from at least 14 different brass-cased loads I had around the house, including German, Malaysian, and South Korean military surplus, Federal XM855 Green Tip, Winchester NATO-marked overruns, Winchester black box BTHP Match, and bulk pack Wolf M193 NATO, all running the gamut from 55-grain to 77-grain in weight. No malfunctions (although there was some user error with the Okay mag when it came to insertion angle, but hey, it was 102 degrees, man – give me a break.) Note the ejection angle tends to stay consistent at the 2-3 o'clock area off the muzzle.

 

 

FN's new Guardian AR platform
The FN 15 Guardian, only available in black, has an MSRP of $999, Aimpoint PRO not included.
revolver barrel loading graphic

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