U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Reviewing AR-15s at this point in American history is pretty interesting to reflect on. There are so many good builders out there, that it’s getting harder and harder to find a bad one. So when something goes wrong during a review, it takes time to suss out exactly where the problem is. Optic? Ammo? Poor assembly? As you may have guessed with the lead-in, something did in fact go wrong when testing out the Lead Star Arms Grunt, a 5.6lb 17: barreled AR-15 pattern rifle. What happened and how did it turn out? Read on.
Let’s check the tale of the tape before hitting the reminiscent range.
Tech Specs as per the Lead Star Arms website:
- Grunt Upper Receiver (MIL-SPEC): CNC machined, 7075-T6 aluminum forging with M4 feed ramps.
- Grunt Lower Receiver (MIL-SPEC): CNC machined, 7075-T6 aluminum forged receiver.
- 17″ Grunt™ Handguard: CNC machined from 6061-T6 aluminum. Unique design eliminates the requirement for anti-rotation tabs. Four Picatinny slots at the 12 o’clock position for mounting backup sights. M-LOK slots at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions and full-length M-LOK at the 6 o’clock position for mounting only the Picatinny rail needed or accessories. Designed for compatibility with 16″ barrels.
- Fire Control Group: Nickel boron coated and polished surfaces for an extremely smooth and crisp MIL-SPEC trigger. Includes reduced power trigger and disconnector springs for a ~ 6 lb pull.
- Barrel: 16″ 4150V 5.56 NATO chamber with black nitride QPQ finish. 1:7 Twist. 1/2″-28 muzzle device threads.
- Gas Block: Micro-style steel with black nitride QPQ finish for lightweight and increased durability.
- Bolt Carrier Group: M16 profile with black nitride QPQ finish and properly staked gas key. Carpenter C-158 black nitride QPQ finish bolt.
- Gas System: Direct impingement with mid-length gas system to reduce recoil and minimize wear on moving parts. Features black nitride QPQ finish gas tube.
- Muzzle Device: Ravage™ Linear Comp. Greatly mitigates muzzle concussion by redirecting muzzle gasses away from the shooter. Enhanced design dramatically reduces perceived decibels. Control of muzzle concussion creates enhanced experience for shooters and bystanders.
- Grip: Grunt Combat Grip. Black with rubber over-mold for maximum comfort and weapon control in all conditions.
- Stock: MFT Battlelink Minimalist lightweight with 6 position adjustment.
- Finish: Type III Class 2 MIL-SPEC hard coat anodized.
- Magazine: Comes standard with 1 Magpul 30 Round MOE PMAG black magazine.
- Weight: 5.6 lbs
One of the first things I noticed on the Grunt was the branding. I totally understand wanting to stand out in an excessively crowded market, but wow… the Grunt has at least 11 brand marks on the rifle, not including the ATF required manufacturers info/serial number. The charging handle, bolt carrier, forend (4x), grip (2x), upper, lower (2x) are all marked with “Lead Star”, “Grunt” or the company’s eponymous star. That’s a lot.
After adding on a PSA 1-6x optic (and later a Primary Arms 5x prismatic optic, yet later a Vortex Spitfire 3x), I hit the range. I started off with a light break-in, shooting clay pigeons on a berm at 25 yards. I got the optic roughly zeroed in, enough to pop the clays so I would be on paper when I started grouping. Here’s where something interesting happened.
I don’t like muzzle brakes. I’m much more of a suppressor guy. My hearing already sucks and the concussive force usually sets off my concussion rattled brain. Shooting with a break just isn’t enjoyable, usually. The Lead Star Ravage muzzle brake is the exception to that rule. Yes, it’s loud. The concussion isn’t directed back at me the same way it is when I’m shooting a 10″ barreled 5.56 gun. Also, I have never seen a muzzle brake this effective at reducing felt recoil. This gun stays FLAT when doing a mag dump. Check out my potato quality video.
When it came time to start grouping, the trouble started. I wanted a tighter zero, so I kept the paper at 25 yards to start. The groups with 55gr Federal American Eagle were between 1″ and 4″, a dismal start. I field stripped the rifle and checked it for obvious issues, none. Checked the scope and mount, all seemed fine. One group managed .5″ (minus a called flyer), but the wide spread persisted. I finished the range day with some other guns, then headed home.
Determined to isolate the issue, I swapped optics and headed back out. The next range day had similar results, though slightly improved. I switched to some other inexpensive ammo, 55g Hot Shot FMJs, and the group size shrunk down to around 2″ at 25 yards. Still not good. After another disassembly and check out, I decided it was time for a last chance range trip.
My last time out with the Lead Star Arms Grunt, I brought two types of Hornady match ammo, 73gr ELD and 75gr BTHP. The rain stopped, the clouds parted, the sun shone down…. and the gun grouped. While the 1/7 twist rate is geared towards heavier bullets, I’d never seen one this drastically biased towards heavier rounds. The groups went from a 4″ cluster to a ~1″ hole, one group to the next. Things improved a bit more from there, enough to know that the Lead Star Arms Grunt has good accuracy potential with rounds that are >70gr.
Lost in all the concern over accuracy was how comfortably the Grunt is set up. The rubberized grip is gold, the trigger is above par for mil-spec geometry, and the charging handle is extended enough to get past the most cumbersome scope mounting setups. Also, the Grunt had no difficulty feeding the various types of ammo, despite a lack of cleaning and using a wide assortment of mags.
Lead Star Arms has a pretty eclectic assortment of firearms for sale. Though most are AR-pattern guns, some feature the most aggressive weight cutting I’ve seen on a factory gun. Others are set up more conventionally. While the name “Grunt” may bring to mind a more military-minded rifle, I feel like the grunt would be a good entry-level competition rifle where match ammo, longer barrels, and beefy muzzle brakes are more common. While the Grunt performed poorly with cheaper ammo, I was happy to see the tables turned when match ammo was used. The Lead Star Arms Grunt has an $879.99 MSRP, with a street price of $749.99. Check it out!
About Rex Nanorum
Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fisheries and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”