VIDEO REVIEW: The Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 was the rifle that broke the mold for me and began a new interest in alternate AR-style platforms.
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U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- The AR-pattern rifle is easily one of the most prolific firearms in the United States. The platform is known for excellent customization options and great overall utility. Naturally, many new platforms have been inspired by the now-classic layout and handling characteristics of the AR. With the dominance of standard-pattern AR15s and the sheer quantity of AR-styled rifles on the market today, it can be easy to overlook platforms whose innovations and improvements provide a truly distinct experience from that of a typical AR15.
The Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 was the rifle that broke the mold for me and began a new interest in alternate AR-style platforms.
In the past, I was very hesitant to move away from the standard AR15 platform, even strictly for recreational purposes. I had been on the range with alternative AR-pattern rifles before and had seen some funky mechanical issues and spotty performance. The other issue I’ve found with some of those platforms is that they lack a purpose for being different. Some offerings are featureful and well made, like the DRD Tactical Aptus, but are out of the average shooter’s reach in terms of price. The FM-15 from Foxtrot Mike Products brings both features and affordability to the table.
The FM-15 is a semi-automatic, forward charging 5.56 rifle. The rifle does not make use of a traditional buffer tube and spring as an AR does. This means the stock can be folded without disrupting the operation of the gun. The forward charging handle on the FM-15 works in conjunction with a proprietary bolt carrier group. This lightened bolt carrier group assists in the rifle’s ability to fire reliably with the stock folded or extended. The action also includes an interesting dual-nested recoil spring system, contained within the upper receiver of the rifle.
FTM FM-15 rifle Specs:
- Brand: Foxtrot Mike Products
- SKU: 100-043-206WB
- MPN: FMGEN2ZHUKOV
- Caliber: 223 Wylde
- Color: Black
- Model Name: FM-15
- MSRP: $1050.00
- Condition: New
- Action Type: Direct Impingement
- Barrel Length: 16″
- Capacity: NA
- Finish: Black
- Front Sight: NA
- Length: 35″
- Magazine Included: NA
- Magazine Type: Removable
- Muzzle: Flash Hider
- Rear Sight: NA
- Stock Material: Polymer
- Weight: 6.5 lbs
- Made in the USA
The front charging handle on the FM-15 is non-reciprocating and its orientation can be changed in a couple of ways to fit the shooter’s needs. The handle can curve either upwards or downwards. More importantly, it can be swapped from one side of the gun to the other. This was especially helpful for me as a left-handed shooter. The positioning of the charging handle feels very natural. It is easy to reach and manipulate, but out of the way if the shooter wants to mount a light or other accessory in front of it. The process of swapping the charging handle out by removing the M-LOK handguard is not complicated, but it is not something I would attempt on the range or without proper tools. While on the subject of the handguard, there is plenty of space for accessories on the Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 carbine. The included textured grip panels work great and kept my hand locked onto the gun even while shooting in the rain.
Other features of the Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 include a mid-length, direct impingement gas system. This is similar to those found in standard ARs and is a departure from the trend of piston-driven alternatives. It also includes a sturdy proprietary gas block that maintains alignment with the barrel through an interesting indexing system. The barrel itself is 16 inches long and sports a nitride finish. The FM-15 makes use of a .223 Wylde chamber, allowing for accuracy and reliability with both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO ammunition. The upper receiver of the rifle can be mated with most standard AR lowers.
Going forward I will be testing third-party AR parts for compatibility but decided to leave all stock components (with the exception of the pistol grip) in place to ensure the performance of the firearm was not altered before shooting tests could be completed.
FM-15, On the Range
On the range, the FM-15 surprised me in a number of ways. The manual of arms on the FM-15 was much more natural than I had initially imagined. While there is a bolt release, pulling the charging handle to drop the bolt is also quick and smooth. The action itself was pretty stiff out of the box but began to soften after a few range trips and lots of reloads. The charging handle now glides back smoothly during manipulation.
Another thing that I hadn’t expected was for the recoil impulse to be so different from a standard AR. Felt recoil is a bit more noticeable on the FM-15 than a comparable AR15. That being said, there is not much recoil to a full-size 5.56 rifle, to begin with, so it doesn’t hinder the accuracy of sustained fire on the FM-15 substantially enough to matter. The horizontal recoil impulse on the rifle is also more lively than an AR15. I find that this makes the Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 rifle all the more distinct and entertaining to fire. The natural feel of the Magpul Zhukov Stock on an AR-style platform was also a surprise. The stock that many shooters have enjoyed on their Aks for years feels right at home on the FM-15. It was comfortable for me to use even in the most collapsed position.
The reliability of the FM-15 was somewhat surprising to me as well. No major malfunctions were experienced during testing with the only real hiccups coming from user error having to do with how far back the charging handle needs to come to chamber a round. Occasionally I would go to reload the gun during a course of fire and think that I had chambered a round, only to find that I had not given the charging handle a hard enough pull back. This resulted in the bolt coming forward with the mag fully seated, but no round being pushed into the chamber. After it happened a few times, I realized what was going on and adjusted accordingly. The gun seems to shoot very clean as I have had little need to clean or maintain it between shooting sessions. Grease on the charging handle mechanism did help to smooth out the pull a little bit.
The gun proved every bit as accurate as a comparable AR15 at 100 yards. I plan on pushing the gun much further out in the coming months with the installation of a magnified optic. Much of the shooting was done at closer ranges, as the folding Zhukov stock at the back of the FM-15 makes maneuvering through barrel-filled match stages a breeze. The stock is easily deployed and shut. All mechanisms on both sides of the gun remain accessible when the stock is folded. The fact that the rifle fires and functions completely with the stock collapsed represents a major advantage over folding stock adaptors for AR15s. The 33.5” overall length of the rifle goes down to 26.25” when the stock is folded. I think this system would shine even more if a future FM-15 pistol or SBR was produced with a shorter barrel, where overall length would be significantly reduced in both configurations.
Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 Rifle – Verdict
My sentiment after spending some time firing the FM-15 is very positive. I find myself bringing it along on range trips I didn’t initially intend to. It’s a lot of fun to shoot and to operate. It feels different, yet the controls are mostly familiar. Much of the experience a shooter has on the AR15 platform carries right over to the Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 rifle. I truly hope that more guns will be added to the Foxtrot Mike lineup that makes use of this system. The FM-15 offers solid performance, decent affordability and is different enough from an AR15 that it’s worth picking up for long-time shooters of the platform.
Rifle, Parts & Accessories seen in this Review:
- Foxtrot Mike Products FM-15 223 Rifle with Folding Zhukov Stock
- Magpul Yugo AK Zhukov-S Folding Stock
- Odin Mini Tactical Flashlight
- Magpul AR-15/M16 B.A.D. Lever
- Trijicon MRO Red Dot Reflex Sight
About Sam Weitzner:
Sam is an NRA certified instructor and a videographer. His love for guns of all kinds started at a young age with an interest in military history. He began working with Renaissance Firearms Instruction while still in High School and continues to film videos for their channel to this day. He is currently pursuing a career in Law Enforcement in North Carolina. Sam is an avid shooter and is especially fond of handguns and braced firearms.