There is something to be said about a rifle with nearly perfect balance and maneuverability. Today, I am here to share with you one of those rifles – an AR-15 that just feels perfect in my hands. Built from an Aero Precision X15 lower receiver, it’s mated with a lightweight 18-inch upper and barrel.
Obviously, that definition varies for most of us, but I’ll tell you what I think this carbine is perfect for doing. The lightweight barrel and handguard assembly make this rifle well-balanced, and it has an effective muzzle brake to help reduce any recoil or muzzle rise.
A fairly minimalist Magpul MOE SL-K buttstock also helps keep the weight down and offers all the agility and modularity I’d want for shooting on the move. The trigger in this rifle is nothing extraordinary, but it breaks cleanly enough to shoot accurately.
On top of the rifle is a Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24 LPVO. I know some of you will disagree with me, but I like this scope for this gun. Besides being a good color combination, I think the 1-4x power is great for a rifle intended to “shoot n’ scoot.”
In any kind of shooting scenario where you expect to be rapidly moving and engaging targets from short distances – be it a 2-gun or 3-gun competition or a close-up engagement around barriers – you’d find yourself well-equipped with a little carbine like this.
Your idea of a perfect carbine might be a little different than mine. I have no issue with that as 10 years from now we may have swapped opinions, and the role of carbines has a long and storied history.
Good parts make a good rifle, and while the X15 receiver from Aero may not be the greatest or best of all time, it is still a good place to start. The barrel in this rifle appears to be a Faxon gunner 18-inch barrel. It has a nitride finish with a nickel-Teflon-coated barrel extension and is 5R rifled. Sounds like a winner, but we would see for sure on the range. The handguard is an M-LOK carbine-length affair from AT3 Tactical – pretty minimalist, and comfortable to hold.
The first time I took this rifle to the range, I wanted to basically prove it out and make sure everything worked together. I was quickly pleased to see that everything was in order, and it was ready to burn up some ammo.
I ran several magazines through the rifle, and I found it to be easily controllable. The light recoil was further reduced by the muzzle brake, making target acquisition quick and easy. I was also impressed that the rifle’s lightweight made it much easier to hold on target – and not just hold it, but hold it still. That’s something I am not used to with the heavy guns I usually shoot.
My daughter had come along and wanted to give the rifle a try herself. She, too, found the rifle comfortable to maneuver and shoot.
I did put the rifle across some sandbags to see how it patterned. For a proper accuracy test, I would have liked to put a better riflescope on the gun and perhaps shoot some better ammunition than I had on hand. The Crossfire II scope did work well enough for my purposes. The best group I came up with during my testing was a 2-MOA pattern – not exactly match-grade shooting, but I’m sure I could have improved that with a little more refined aiming and magnification.
The maneuverability of the rifle was awesome and transitioning between various targets at different distances came easily. I really wish I could have shot the rifle in some kind of carbine match, as that surely would have exposed its weakness and mine. I also would love to shoot it more suppressed – personally I think it’s only proper to do so.
Pros & Cons
I can’t say that this rifle is perfect, but it certainly is a great rifle for a lot of scenarios. I love the lightness and clean handling of the rifle. Matched with its flawless function and mean green exterior, there’s little for me to complain about.
As a precision rifle purist, I am always motivated by accuracy. Pencil-thin barrels and carbines aren’t typically the best combination for improving accuracy. But accuracy is defined entirely by the shooter and his or her targets, and for many practical purposes, the accuracy potential shown here is just fine in my opinion.
This rifle is a perfect example of what makes the AR-15 platform so appealing: compatibility with a massive assortment of parts and accessories that seem to mesh in perfect unison.
Whether you are putting together a fighting rifle or a competition gun for matches, there is an innumerable selection of possibilities. I find this particular rifle to be fantastic for competitive-style shooting, but not ideal for the type of precision shooting I prefer myself.
The Aero Precision X15 or the more prevalent M4E1 receiver are both fantastic starting points for putting together a rifle, and as you might imagine, Aero has a whole catalog of other parts for your build.