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Del-Ton Sport (AR style) Rifle Review

Across the past three decades, as I’ve served in both a military and a law enforcement uniform, and having been a firearms instructor for about 20 years now, I’d say I’ve handled several dozen AR-style rifles from various manufacturers.  My first experience with them was listening to my Drill Sergeants complain about how unreliable the design was in Vietnam.  They apparently still missed the heavier .308 caliber rifles.  When I got to “the street” as a police officer (mid-‘80s), the only cops who had such weapons were SWAT officers.  All this time later I consider myself lucky to have added this Del-Ton Sport rifle to my personal armory.  I like it so much I armed two of my primary characters with it in my book, “Surviving the Zombies: Things the CDC Didn’t Know.”  Let me share with you why…

I first received this rifle in May of 2012.  It was meant for Test & Evaluation (T&E) specifically for write up (if it passed muster).  It was delivered with an Insight Technology’s WX-150 LED Weapon Light and an L3/EOTech EXPS3 holographic weapon sight.  Del-Ton had included a TAPCO INTRAFUSE® AR-15 Stock Set in “dark earth” color and a TAPCO short vertical grip in the same color.  Because I live in the state of Maryland, the rifle was delivered with two 20-round magazines.  Except for the absence of a pop-up rear sight, I considered the weapon battle-ready out of the box (a hard plastic locking case that also had a cleaning rod/kit and nylon sling included).

Before I get into the information about range time, let me give you the basic run down of specifications from Del-Ton about this rifle as it is delivered in standard configuration:

Barrel:

  • 4140 Steel
  • 16" Length
  • 1x9 Twist
  • A2 Flash Hider
  • Manganese Phosphated
  • Phosphated under Front Sight Base
  • Taper Pins on A2 Front Sight Base
  • Threaded Muzzle
  • Light Weight Barrel

Chamber:

  • 5.56 X 45 mm

Bolt And Carrier:

  • Phosphated 8620 Steel Carrier Assembly
  • Carpenter 158 Bolt 
  • Heat Treated and Plated
  • Mil-Spec
  • Chrome Lined Carrier Interior
  • Carrier Key - chrome lined, attached with Grade 8 Screws
  • Properly Staked & Sealed Gas Key

Handguards:

  • Carbine Length
  • Aluminum Delta Ring
  • Single Heat Shield

Upper Receiver:

  • Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • A3 Flat Top with White T-Marks
  • Hard Coat Anodized
  • Mil-Spec
  • Ejection Port Cover and Round Forward Assist
  • Right Hand Ejection
  • Bore's surface is coated with dry film lube, over the anodized surface

Lower Receiver:

  • Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • Hard Coat Anodized
  • Mil-Spec
  • Aluminum Triggerguard
  • Semi-Auto
  • Aluminum Mag Catch Button

Buttstock:

  • M4 6 Position
  • Reinforced Fiber
  • Commercial Sized Tube

Weight:

  • 5.8 lbs Empty

Length:

  • 36.375" Fully Extended
  • 32.625 Collapsed

Accessories:

  • 1 x 30rd Magazine
  • Gun Lock 

 

After field stripping, cleaning, lubing and reassembling the weapon I was ready to head for the range.  Range day was a pretty nice spring day with few clouds and decent temperatures.  Unfortunately, my maximum engagement distance on targets was 100 yards (thank you again, Maryland).  I set up first at 25 yards and set about zeroing the EOTech to the rifle.  After I felt I was tuned in I moved the target out to the 100 yard mark and did some fine-tuning.  You can see from the accompanying photographs that I had no problem shooting sub-MOA groups with the rifle and my best 3-shot group of the day could have been covered by a dime.  After group size ran about ¾” but given how tight several of the groups were, I have to contribute the larger group sizes to the shooter (me) and not the weapon.  I have to also add that while I zeroed the weapon with Sellier & Bellot 55grain ammo, the rest of the afternoon’s shooting was done with whatever mix of .223 ammo I pulled out of the can.

In addition to the two 20-round magazines I had received with the weapon, I had four 30-round P-mags with me as well.  Through the afternoon I fired through three full loads of all six magazines which means I put (doing the math) 480 rounds down range.  I experienced no failure-to-feeds, failure-to-ejects, or jams/malfunctions of any kind.

I was pleased with the performance of the rifle/sight combination and started to prepare my report/editorial at that time.  Before I got the editorial published I was invited to attend a two-gun tactics course that focused on weapon transitions based on stoppages in the long gun or simple circumstance that mandated use of the handgun instead of the long gun.  It was a one-day course that saw me fire another 500+ rounds through this rifle (in addition to the approximately 300+ I fired through my handgun).  After my first range day with the rifle I had field stripped, cleaned, lubed and reassembled it and stuck it in my gun safe.  That’s where it had stayed until I pulled it out to go to the two-gun tactics course.  I added no extra lube prior to the class.  At the end of the two-gun day I was pleased to realize I’d experienced no stoppages or malfunctions other than those intentionally induced for the course.

Once again I prepared to write up my report… and then another invite came in.  This one was to teach a life-fire active shooter course.  Seeing another opportunity to expand my testing of the rifle and put more rounds through it, I held off on the editorial.  The Active Shooter response course focused on basic tactics of response but heavily concentrated on “kitting up” and getting rounds on the bad guy in efficient time frames.  Students started in “cruisers” that were staged at the starting point of the range, had to exit the driver’s seat, go to the trunk to get their gear on / grab their long gun, and then move through a predetermined shooting course with an instructor/coach over their shoulder to maintain safety.  The shooting lanes were close enough that the student shooters could shout/yell/communicate with each other and they had to continue to engage targets until the sounds of shots from down range (provided through one heck of a loud speaker system) stopped.

I didn’t fire near as many rounds from the rifle in this course: I’m going to guesstimate 150 or less, but I again experienced no malfunctions or stoppages of any kind.  I was pleased and received several comments about the rifle (including two from gentlemen who told me I needed to make sure I got a pop-up rear sight on the gun for when the battery in the EOTech died).  They were obviously right and I’ve since added a pop-up rear sight.

The most amazing thing about this rifle (in today’s world) is that the Del-Ton website still lists it with an MSRP of just $699!  Of course, that doesn’t include the TAPCO stocks kit, the weapon light or the EOTech, but a reliable and accurate AR-style rifle for just $699?  Unheard of.  (Remember that you might not find it for that price because the law of supply and demand means dealers can price the weapons higher)

I encourage you to check Del-Ton out.  They offer proven quality and value in a market that is (mostly) over-priced today.

 

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