Colt AR-15 A2 Sporter II .223 Rifle
Classification: Long Guns
Model Name: Sporter II
Manufacturer: Colt’s Manufacturing Co.
Model Number: AR-15 A2
GunReports.com – -(AmmoLand.com)-Black rifles, mouse guns, great machines, useless junk — these are a few of the names given to our country’s current military rifle and its semi-automatic civilian clones, which are commonly called AR-15 types. Let’s first clear the air by stating they are certainly not useless junk. The design, which some consider fragile, is instead war-proven and more than adequate for its purpose. They don’t have the punch of a .308, but ammo for them is lighter and cheaper. They work, last a long time, are easily maintained, and are in many ways delightful.
Moreover, these AR-15/M16 clones can be set up to be absolute tack drivers, and in that guise have made a serious name for themselves at Camp Perry, location of the annual National Match competition. Common versions are accurate enough for most purposes. The most common target configuration of this military-look rifle has a flat-top receiver to make it easy to mount a suitable scope. This, however, is at the cost of the carrying handle, and that handle can be mighty useful. Several makers offer detachable handles that have the same configuration as the original design, adjustable sights and all, and we’d surely have one if we had a flat-top rifle. However, we prefer having an integral handle, so we don’t have to go looking for it when we want it.
Attaching a scope to the carry handle is easy if you’ve got one of the now-discontinued Colt units, which has an integral single-lever mount. There are also military-specific mounts available for attaching scopes and other items such as night-vision devices or high-intensity lights to the carrying handle of your AR15. A2-type “Weaver” bases are available to fit these handles from numerous sources, including Bushmaster, and sell for $40 to $60.
We had the loan of a personally owned pre-ban Colt AR-15 A2 Sporter II in near-new condition with flash hider, 20-round magazine, bayonet lug (whoopee), and Colt scope.
Current Colts have 1:9-inch rifling, but ours had the fast 1:7 twist designed for NATO ammunition which was supposed to have a heavier bullet (62 grains) than normal (55 grains). Apparently this particular heavy-bullet NATO ammo didn’t materialize in any great quantities worldwide, so the fast-twist callout has been eliminated, and most AR15-type rifles today have 1:9.
Our test rifle didn’t have the forward-assist button or raised, protective ridges around the magazine release, as did both of the other test rifles. Finally, the Colt lacked the raised bump that is supposed to keep ejected brass out of the face of lefties. Our left-handed tester didn’t complain about shooting the Colt, though empties sailed close to his face on the way out. These
Courtesy, Gun Tests
all seemed to be worthy additions, and new Colts have them.
Another difference between older and newer Colt AR-15 rifles is the ease of adjusting the windage on the rear sight. Ours had a wheel with a series of holes. The recommended method is to use the nose of a bullet to change windage. The bottom hole in the adjustment wheel had a spring-loaded plunger to lock the setting. This worked well, and once the sight was adjusted there was no chance of its changing, unlike the situation with current mil-spec sights. Elevation adjustment on this Colt was in the front sight. This required depressing a plunger and rotating the square post as needed.
All three rifles utilized this front sight adjustment, but both the Bushmaster and ArmaLite also had a dial adjustment for elevation, which we’ll describe later. (New Colts have this too.) Although we could move the Colt’s front sight with the tip of a ball cartridge, we thought a dedicated square-socket tool would have made the task easier. Bushmaster sells a tool for $8 that easily adjusts both front and rear sights of this type.
Our Colt had a 3×20 Colt (Japanese) scope with Duplex reticle and dial-up elevation knob reading from 100 to 500 yards. This well-made scope also had an adjustable ocular, and protected sighting-in adjustments for elevation and windage. The scope provided fast and easy sighting, and we thought it to be a worthy addition to any rifle of this type. The iron sights are visible with the scope mounted.
Overall fit and finish of the Colt were very good, although the shiny forend didn’t mate well with the rest of the rifle. The trigger pull, at 6.5 pounds, was heavy but crisp. All of the rifle’s functions felt precise, a quality shared by all three of the test rifles. Blindfolded, it was difficult to tell which of the three we had in our hands based on manipulation of the controls.
On the range, our Colt punched out battle-acceptable groups with all ammo. It did the best with Winchester ammunition, with five-shot groups averaging 2.3 inches at 100 yards. There were no malfunctions of any kind, not much of a surprise. With the handloaded 75-grain match ammunition, the Colt managed 3.5-inch groups.
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