By Dave Bahde
For most of my 20+ years working in law enforcement and the firearms industry, being the supplier of our military’s rifles meant something. From my earliest days working the counter at Custom Arms, to the first rifles ordered for my department, there was and remains a demand for civilian versions of genuine military AR-15 rifles.
Securing contracts to provide these rifles is no easy task, with endless testing in every conceivable condition in which a human can survive and fight. Typically simple to operate, they have been proven reliable with a predictable service life. For police agencies money is tight, so why gamble: if it works for our soldiers, sailors and marines, it will work for us. Early in my police career, AR-15s from military suppliers were the only rifles our department would consider. Law enforcement agencies could get the very same rifle used by the military, absent only the selective fire capability. Every part met the military specification for strength, compatibility and longevity. Barrel bores and chambers were chromed for reliability, ease of cleaning and years of use. Accuracy was acceptable, but above all they worked and did not break the bank.
As demand increased it became very difficult to get these rifles, with wait times measured in months, sometimes in years. Prices started to rise, especially in the civilian market. In order to meet demand and keep prices low, some manufacturers began to abandon many of the military specified features. Internal parts were no longer particle tested for strength and durability. Barrels were no longer chrome lined, and overall fit and finish diminished. Many police departments noted and commented on the significant differences in quality.
Federal bans and restrictions altered configurations, and demand for more gadgets than substance altered the AR market considerably. Hardened rifles built to simple specifications were replaced with “cost effective” weapons with substandard parts and spotty operation. Focus turned to precision rifles, specialty versions, and a huge accessory market. While that is great for the industry as a whole, there was still a need for a simple, civilian version of the rifle fielded by our military . . . and those days are back.
FN 15 Patrol Carbine
FNH USA is providing the latest version of the M4 to our armed services, and it was only a matter of time before civilian versions made it to the market. FNH USA’s FN 15 Patrol Carbine, chambered in 5.56 NATO, is the civilian version of the carbine provided to our troops, with a number of standard accessories required for a duty rifle. Constructed from high-quality forgings built to U.S. Military standards, the flat-top receiver includes the Mil-Spec detachable carry handle along with A2 sights and flashider. At the heart of the rifle is its 16 inch, M4 contour, button-broached, chrome-lined barrel rifles a twist rate of 1:7”. Built to withstand the rigors of fully automatic fire, the chromed chamber and bore remain accurate and clean easily. Feed ramps cut to M4 specifications assist with feeding in the harshest conditions. Internals are tested to meet rigorous military specifications for fit, strength and longevity. Built using the M4A1 as a guide, the FN-15 Patrol Carbine includes A2 front sights, pistol grip and 6-position collapsible buttstock. In order to facilitate tactical lights or other aiming aids, a Midwest Industries MCTAR-16G2 quad rail is installed. Adding the Samson Manufacturing FRS-A2 flip up rear sight facilitates the use of red dot or reflex sights. Sling duties are accomplished with a quiet and simple carry sling.