Date added: 12/04/2013 Guns and Ammo: CORE15 Tac III Rifle Review



by Patrick Sweeney   |  December 4th, 2013   |  

The AR-15 was, to a great extent, designed to be manufactured as a precision-machined industrial product. Many of the parts in it are simple industrial fasteners, and even the big parts were designed with the idea of modern industrial processes. That is why we see firms making ARs that are not traditional firearms makers, but instead have a background of precision manufacture.


Core 15 machines uppers and lowers from forgings in-house — on its own CNC machines — and ships them off to be anodized. Anodizing is an electro-chemical process that is best done by people who do it — and nothing else — all day long. In the case of Core 15, the anodizing shop is two miles away — hardly what you could call “shipping” at all.

A New Arrival
The rifle the company sent me was a TAC III, a perfect setup to build on as a 3-Gun competition tool. While it has a number of mil-spec details, it exceeds mil-spec, which will probably make the heads of some of the “M4-gery” mavens explode. The upper and lower are forged 7075-T6 alloy and given the correct Type III Class II anodized finish.

The medium-profile, chrome-lined barrel is 4150 chrome-moly steel and features a 1:7 twist, so you’ll have no problem shooting the heavier 5.56 bullets.

The barrel is inside of a Midwest Industries Gen 2 free-float forearm, with short sections of Picatinny rail attached only in the places you’ll need them, producing a slim, well-balanced carbine with a forearm small enough to really get your hand around. The forearm goes right out to the start of the flash hider, so you can grab it as far out as you wish. The current trend is to run the off hand out as far as possible, making the left arm (for right-handed shooters) almost straight. That’s a little more reach than I’m accustomed to, but in this case more is better if you want it to be.

The carrier is 8620 steel and chromed inside, as it should be. The bolt is made of Carpenter 158 and magnetic particle inspected. The gas key on the carrier is well staked, a sign of paying attention to the details. The chamber passes the 5.56 test. In other words, it doesn’t rub on a Michiguns’ 223/556 test gauge. The upper has M4 ramps machined in; the low-profile gas block is designed to fit under the MI handguard. The TAC III features a mid-length gas system. The longer gas tube taps off gas at a lower pressure, easing stress on the bolt and carrier and softening felt recoil.

The lower is also 7075-T6, forged, Type III Class II anodized. The front of the magazine well has serrations, for those who have the opposite approach to the off hand and wish to grab the lower receiver for support. The stock, pistol grip, sights and included magazine are all Magpul and hard to argue with. Well, I can argue with one: the Magpul MOE pistol grip. My shooting style has my shooting hand as high on the grip and receiver as I can get it. The upper filler of the MOE pistol grip, behind the receiver, shoves my hand down and pushes it to an angle I don’t like. But it’s easy to change.