If you have been shopping for an AR-15, the task should have gotten a little easier. A year ago, you might’ve sucked it up and learned to appreciate whatever you could get, but now is the time to relax and consider your next firearms purchase wisely. You might be a competitor hot and heavy into 3-Gun matches, or you may be seriously concerned about home defense. You may want to do a little mid-range varmint hunting or even prepare to join the next generation of Minute Men. Then again, some of us may want to do it all.
The problem with this scenario? In recent years, buying even one AR-15 could be expensive. Fulfilling all of these roles might require purchasing several rifles, with each having a different mission-specific configuration. But I recently discovered a rifle that may be capable of handling all of these chores, thus leaving you with only having to buy a single AR-15. It really isn’t farfetched to think one rifle can be more than capable of handling each of these roles as long as it is reliable and accurate.
The drawback to this is that we often have to sacrifice a bit of one trait to get the other. Tighten things up for accuracy and you may lose some reliability. If we loosen our tolerances for reliability, accuracy may suffer. Still, at times you come across a manufacturer, such as Patriot Weaponry, that is just too stubborn to accept either condition.
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For the past several months I have been testing the P-51 Carbon, which is Patriot Weaponry’s premier AR-15, and during that time I have had several conversations with the company’s owner, Kody Karch. I don’t know if it is due to the fact that Kody is an Army veteran, or if it is a trait born from living in the harsh winters of Wisconsin, but stubborn is just a good way of describing him. To say that he is persistent may be a more polite way of phrasing it, but the first year of Patriot Weaponry’s existence was spent doing nothing but studying every aspect of the AR-15. Sorry, but we Southern boys just call that stubborn.
Before the introduction of the P-51, Kody not only studied every part of the AR, but he also considered how each part interacts with the other parts of the rifle. Then, part by part, he searched out what he considered to be the best on the market. If he could improve on it, he did. If not, he incorporated it into his new rifle. Patriot Weaponry wanted to produce a rifle that was not only 100-percent reliable, but also attained a level of accuracy that would make any company proud.
The P-51 Carbon starts with a set of upper and lower receivers crafted from a billet of 7075-T6 aluminum. These receivers tie all of the rifle’s parts together, and this is where its inherent precision begins. The dimensional tolerances of the receivers dictate how each part is located and interacts with the other parts of the rifle.
The upper sports a 16-inch, carbon-fiber-wrapped Proof Research barrel with a 1-in-7-inch twist rate and a .223 Wylde chamber. The .223 Wylde chamber improves the rifle’s accuracy due to tighter dimensions for handling both .223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO rounds. Proof Research claims superior performance, extreme accuracy and durability in its carbon-fiber process, and few in the industry would disagree. The only drawback I’ve ever noticed with Proof Research barrels is their cost. However, Patriot Weaponry was going for the best, not the cheapest.
The barrel uses a mid-length gas system and is fitted with an adjustable gas block and VG6 Precision’s Epsilon muzzle brake. Surrounding the barrel and gas system is a 12.63-inch, free-floating Midwest Industries G3 M-Series handguard with a long Picatinny top rail and M-LOK slots along the sides and bottom. The upper is also fitted with a lightweight forward assist, ejection port cover and rod. A Griffin Armament charging handle is also included as well as a titanium bolt carrier. An enhanced JP Enterprises bolt with an improved extractor, ejector and gas rings is installed for increased durability and reliability.
The upper receiver is a flattop design, which most would consider standard in the AR world, and mounting optics is a breeze. However, Patriot Weaponry also includes a set of Magpul MBUS Pro flip-up sights.
The lower receiver’s takedown and pivot pins, magazine release and ambidextrous safety selector all made from titanium. The mil-spec carbine buffer tube, attached to the lower with a titanium castle nut, houses a JP Enterprises Silent Captured Spring System. The buffer retainer and end plate are also made of titanium.
For anyone who loves a good trigger pull, the lower features a single-stage CMC trigger with a 3.5-pound pull weight. For furniture, Patriot Weaponry chose Magpul’s K2 pistol grip and adjustable CTR buttstock. A 30-round Magpul PMAG is included with the rifle.
As soon as I unpacked my test rifle, I noticed something that was always supposed to be a trait of the AR-15 but had been lost over time: This rifle is light! Unloaded and without any optics, the P-51 weighs 5.88 pounds. With its collapsible stock and 16-inch barrel, the rifle is already relatively compact, but when you add in its light weight, you’ve got a handy little rifle.
The overall finish blends well from one part to the next, and the bright unfinished titanium magazine release and safety provide a stylish contrast. The “We the People” engraving on the dust cover will have any good patriot smirking. Yet, no matter the quality of the parts used, it is their fitting and assembly that brings it all together. The parts have been optimized for their function, but it is the fitting that allows them to operate smoothly. Just handling the P-51 Carbon and working the action gave me the feeling that Kody and his staff knows what they are doing. At that point, the only question I had was how all of this would work on the range.
Let Freedom Ring
Patriot Weaponry guarantees that the P-51 Carbon will maintain 1-MOA accuracy with match-grade ammunition, but Kody boasted much better groups in our conversations. I don’t blame any man for being proud of his product, but I wanted to see if this rifle would live up to his claims. Plus, this would be my first experience with a Proof Research barrel, so I was eager to get this rifle to the range.
My normal optic for testing a 16-inch-barreled AR is the U.S. Optics 1.5-6X SR6, and I halfway considered switching to a scope with more magnification because of Kody’s claims about the rifle. But a 16-inch-barreled carbine normally isn’t the choice of a long-range marksman, so I decided to stay with my normal game plan. Since this scope had been used on several 5.56mm rifles, it only took a few moments to dial it in to where I was hitting within an inch or two of dead-center.
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My test ammunition consisted of Winchester 55-grain FMJs, Federal 69-grain Gold Medal Match BTHPs and Creedmoor 77-grain Tipped MatchKings (TMKs). The Winchester load was never intended to be match-quality ammunition, but it got the scope sighted-in and served as a good test load for general reliability. However, even these rounds created five-shot groups averaging 1.5 inches, and many AR owners would be happy with those results.
The real accuracy began to show itself once I switched over to the Federal ammo. Kody had mentioned 0.25- to 0.38-MOA results in our conversations, but I’ve also heard of unicorns, and they are just about as common. The average group size for the Federal load was 0.75 inches, and the smallest group I managed that day was 0.69 inches.
But Kody wasn’t exaggerating. Given a more powerful scope and another shooter, I could see this rifle achieving 0.25 MOA. I wish I had gotten the chance to spend more time with this rifle, since I can count the number of 0.25-inch groups I’ve fired on two fingers. Any time I can hit near 0.5 inches, I tend to brag for days.
The 69-grain bullets must have been the sweet spot for this barrel, since the 77-grain Creedmoor TMKs opened the groups up slightly. It should be noted that Patriot Weaponry’s 1-MOA accuracy guarantee would be safe with either of these match loads.
After the shooting rest and chronograph were put away, I fired another 120 rounds of the Winchester FMJ load on 6-inch-diameter metal plates at 100 yards just to get a good feel for this rifle. The trigger was very easy to work with, but I did have to adjust slightly to the change in balance between this rifle and my personal rifles. The Proof Research barrel might look like a bull barrel, but it doesn’t weigh anything close to one. Any misses on the plates were directly related to my skill as a shooter. As to reliability, the rifle ran flawlessly, and you can’t improve on 100 percent.
Ready To Shop?
You may still want to take some time to consider your purchase, since Patriot Weaponry’s P-51 Carbon is priced a little higher than the average AR-15. Yet, once you consider the cost of the various parts combined to make this rifle, you will understand the pricing. It may not be the rifle for everyone, but I assure you that it will keep its new owner happy. There is a deep satisfaction in owning a tool that works the way it should day in and day out.
During my review process, I went online to see what others were saying about this new rifle. I read where a few people were making references to this being the Ferrari or Lamborghini of AR-15s. But I’ve got news for them: This rifle is all American, and it’s the Cadillac of weapons.
For more information, visit patriotweaponry.us or call 715-467-1461.
Caliber: .223 Wylde
Barrel: 16 inches
OA Length: 33.25-36 inches
Weight: 5.88 pounds (empty)
Stock: Magpul CTR
Sights: Magpul MBUS
Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
Finish: Matte black
This article was originally published in ‘Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement’ February/March 2017. For information on how to subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.