As usual, the anti-gun rhetoric from the left pushes the buying spree through the roof. With asinine legislature coming out of more than one state, the people are in a frenzy to snatch up whatever AR-15s they can before they're all taken away and melted down in a giant pot of molten metal.
In an attempt to get as many rifles into the hands of gun-loving Americans as possible, many firearms makers have begun making a more affordable line of the popular sporting rifles, we've all come to love. One such rifle manufacturer, is FN America with their FN-15 1776. It is a version of the classic sporting rifle, the AR-15.
The 1776, which in my opinion is a perfect name because it implies freedom against all odds, is meant to be a high performing rifle with an MSRP of $899. I agree, $900 is nothing to sneeze at, especially in this economy. However, when you consider that you're getting a rifle backed by a company of this caliber, along with a street price somewhere a bit lower than that (check Gun Broker if you don't believe me) it's a recipe for success.
I asked the nice folks at FN America if they'd let me take this rifle for a test drive, and they happily obliged. During the course of the 3 months I had it (man does time fly when you're having fun), I didn't have any malfunctions while shooting the 55 and 62 grain ammo I used. If you're interested, I used PMC ammo with 62 grain, green tipped bullets, and American Eagle “Value Pack” with 55 grain bullets.
While we're on the subject of ammo, the 16 inch barrel with 1/7 twist worked great with those average to slightly above average bullet lengths (designated by the heavier bullet weight of 55 and 62 grains, respectively). They helped me hit a 9 inch paper plate at 100 yards, with 2 and 2.5 inch groups.
Does that sound bad? Keep in mind this is my “spare” $50, no-name Chinese scope I got from Amazon that goes on all of my test rifles and optic-ready shotguns. After being on countless guns, being dropped a few times, and taking the beating it has—I'll take those groups all day long.
The controls are exactly what you'd expect on any AR-15, but I was surprised to see that the rifle didn't come with a set of irons. Personally, I'd rather shoot with open sights than a scope because it is how I was taught in the Marines. There is no rear sight to speak of, and the front looks like it was sawed off so it would still retain the use of the gas block. Keep that in mind should you decide to buy this rifle.
Again, like I said above, a cheap $50 optic will do the trick if you're in it for budget reasons. Here's the link to the optic I used on it—for your consideration if you're as hard up for cash as I am.
Something that was a nice surprise, is that while the FN-15 1776 is technically a “budget rifle,” it is fully stocked with a forward assist and dust cover. Some of the less-expensive “budget” rifles don't come with these goodies, but this one does. That is likely why it's a $900 rile, instead of an $800 one.
It comes with standard A2 style hand-guards on it. So, while you can install a rear sight on the accessory rail, there really is no way for you to mount a front sight unless you get an adapter for a rail. I'm not sure I'd go there because while they don't move a lot, the guards aren't exactly a fixed and non-removable piece. In other words, you could move your zero without knowing.
Still, optics are where it's at these days, and most people would rather have a scope mount instead of a set of irons. So, it makes sense for them to not include it.
A 16” barrel with a 1:7 twist rate, that is chambered for 5.56X45 NATO is a good size for a CQB rifle, or a medium-distance rifle (think 300-500 yards). It will also shoot .223 Remington without any issues—though I almost always opt to shoot the NATO cartridge as a personal preference. Not that my preference will matter to you.
As a bit of a side note because not everybody knows this, you can shoot .223 through a rifle chambered for 5.56. What you cannot do, however, is shoot 5.56 through a rifle chambered in .223 even though they are almost identical. The keyword there is “almost,” and while you can't see a difference with your naked eye, the 5.56 NATO cartridge is loaded to higher pressures and isn't safe to shoot in a .223 chambered rifle.
This is one of the main reasons why I tell most people to buy a rifle chambered for the highest pressure so you can have your pick of ammunition. The .223 is usually just a bit cheaper and more plentiful in many of the gun shops I frequent. Because all of my guns are chambered in NATO, I can always buy whatever is cheapest. Though, admittedly, I still usually opt for 5.56 (again, just my preference).
Moving on, the overall length of the rifle with the butt-stock collapsed is 32 inches, and fully extended, it's just over 35 inches. Because I'm such a big dude, I shoot most rifles fully extended. But, you do have the ability to adjust it to your comfort level—which is much more than I can say about the rifle I was issued in the Marine Corps.
We've all got bills to pay, and most Americans simply cannot afford an AR-15 with bells and whistles. But, the average patriot still wants something to plink with on the weekends and prepare for the zombie apocalypse. FN America has provided an excellent option with their FN-15 1776. You get a brand name rifle that performs flawlessly round after round for under $900. The only thing I would enjoy seeing, is the option to keep the iron sights on it. Then again, I'm likely the exception to this rule, not the norm.
Does the FN-15 1776 get Gun Carrier's stamp of approval? You're damn skippy it does.
Here's a video of me shooting it, and talking about it during one of my trips to the range:
Manufacturer/model: FN America; FN-15 1776
OAL: 32 Inches collapsed; 35.2 inches extended
Caliber: 5.56X45 NATO/.223 Remington
Barrel length/twist rate: 16 Inches; 1:7 RH
Forward Assist/dust cover: Yes
Magazine: 10 or 30 round
Empty weight: 6.6 pounds