Date added: 07/20/2015 HEAVY HITTER: CORE Returns With a Hard Hitting .308
CORE RIFLE SYSTEMS HAS BUILT A NAME FOR ITSELF WITH THE CORE15, the company’s flagship AR, in little more than five years in the industry. Since that launch, CORE has beefed up its lineup and hit back harder than ever with several new rifles, including the CORE30 MOE, the .308 heavyweight version and older brother of the original 5.56 platform.
CORE, based out of Ocala, Florida, designed the CORE30 with the same upper and lower receiver contours as the CORE15 to give it an unmistakable family resemblance. The larger-caliber rifle was meant to reach the burgeoning hunting segment of the AR market. In particular, CORE Sales Manager Justin Raney said the company saw a need for a well-built, reasonably priced .308 brought on by the popularity of hog hunting in the South.
“As a Southeastern-based company, we couldn’t help but notice the growing interest in hog hunting. [Owner Norm Clifton] saw an opening in the marketplace for a well-manufactured AR that had the same CORE look available in .308,” Raney said. “You can dispatch a hog in no time, and nothing hits home like a .308. It has a lot more kinetic energy and a wider array of hog-specific ammo, and overall it is really catching on.”
CORE also wanted to appeal to American hunters who’ve been accustomed to a bolt gun their entire life, so it chose a 16-inch barrel to reduce weight and make field carry as manageable as possible. The CORE30 weighs 8 pounds, equivalent to typical bolt-action rifles, and is chambered in the most popular hunting caliber in the U.S. Not surprisingly, the CORE30 has been a hot seller even in a down market.
CORE prides itself on manufacturing more than 75 percent of its parts in-house, and it’s no different with the CORE30. That formula has allowed the Florida-based company to reduce price while maintaining strict quality-control standards. For the CORE30, it all starts with the billet upper and lower, both of which are CNC machined at the company facility in Ocala from 7075-T6 aluminum. The lower features an integral oversize triggerguard, beveled mag well and hardcoat anodized finish that replicates the design of the CORE15.
The rifle utilizes a 16-inch 4150 CMV midlength barrel with a 1:10-inch twist that is drilled, button rifled and profiled at the CORE facility. The idea behind the midlength gas system, Rainey said, was to help mitigate recoil and make offhand shooting as easy as possible. At the end of the barrel is a SureFire SOCOM three-prong flash-hider, and a low-profile gas block is utilized for the gas system.
Since it is the MOE model, the CORE30 comes with a Magpul MOE grip, midlength forearm and six-position stock. The rifle also ships with a 20-round PMAG and hardcase. While the furniture makes for a plain, simple look, Rainey said the intended goal was to bring an all-billet rifle to the customer for $1,900, a price he said is well below the market average for .308s. All that and a “no BS” lifetime warranty that’s transferable with the rifle are what make the CORE30 a dependable bargain for the weekend shooter who doesn’t want to skimp on quality.
“We built the CORE30 with the same principles that got us started in the first place. We set the bar high with the quality of our components and delivered it to our customers at a relatively inexpensive price point,” Rainey said. “Like we’ve always done, we’re providing the most bang for your buck. It’s a simple gun, but an all-billet .308, just 8 pounds and well under $2,500? No one is doing that.”
I hit the range with the CORE30 MOE, braving the subzero temperatures of a brutal Midwestern winter to put the rifle through its paces. The rifle was tested with three different loads for accuracy at 100 yards off a benchrest. Measurements were taken and averaged using multiple three-shot groups for each load. A Nightforce ATACR 5-25x56 scope was mounted on the CORE30 with standard aluminum bases, also from Nightforce. Velocity was measured by a Competition Electronics digital chronograph.
Federal Fusion 150 grain was the first load tested and posted an average velocity of 2,493 feet-persecond with a standard deviation of 32 fps and an extreme spread of 47 fps. The average group was 1.72 inches, and the best was 1.54 inches.
Hornady’s 155-grain Steel Match posted an average velocity of 2,340 fps. The standard deviation was 18 fps, and the extreme spread was 28 fps. The average group was 1.67 inches, and the best group was .76 inch.
The final load was Australian Outback 165-grain SBT, which had an average velocity of 2,552 fps, an extreme spread of 26 fps and a standard deviation of 17 fps. Average group was .98 inch with a best of .35 inch.
Overall, the CORE30 performed well at the range, especially given the extremely cold temperatures and intermittent gusting winds. The Mil-Spec trigger isn’t optimal for producing tight groups at the range, but an easy trigger upgrade would take care of that. Simple in design, well built and backed by a lifetime warranty, the CORE30 MOE is a hard-hitting .308.